Round 1: Team Outland (Norway) vs. Panzer Hunters (Japan)

Posted in Event Coverage

By Kim Eikefet

In the first round of the very first Team Masters Series event, two non-American teams were pitted against each other. Team Outland from Norway, who finished fifth in the 2000 Team Pro Tour New York, went into the Masters as the fourth seed. They were randomly picked to play the team that made it into the event in the last minute after a ratings appeal went through - Panzer Hunters from Japan.

The Players

Team Outland consists of three solid players from Oslo, Norway. Nicolai Herzog is the most well-known of the three, having won the 1999 European Championship as well as making the Top 8 at Worlds the same year. Herzog has since then had several strong performances at the Pro Tour. Eivind Nitter hasn't had his breakthrough performance yet, however, he has done well at a lot of major tournaments in spite of missing out of the Top 8. Nitter has a reputation as the Bad Guy of Norwegian Magic, a reputation that he seems to enjoy. Bjorn Petter Jocumsen is probably the least known player of the team, but he is one of the veteran players of Norway. He has attended a lot of Pro Tours, and he is the defending Norwegian National Champion.

Panzer Hunters weren't initially invited to the Masters Series. However, they appealed as the ratings of some tournaments they had attended had been recorded incorrectly. The appeal went through, and Car Acrobatic Team was pushed out of the competition. Panzer Hunters' most well-known player is Itaru Ishida. He is one of the veterans of Japanese Magic, and he was the very first real Pro player from Japan. Ishida represented his country in the 1998 Worlds, and he finished 13th in 1998 Pro Tour Los Angeles. Kazuyuki Momose and Ando Reiji have both attended several Pro Tours. Both of them have top 8 finishes from the APACs, and Momose was the finalist of Grand Prix Tohoku.

The Draft

Panzer Hunters' second player, Ishida Itaru, was the first one to pick. He spread out a pack that contained quite a few good cards, including a Soul Burn, a Razorfoot Griffin, a Sleeper's Robe and a Pouncing Kavu. Itaru, being the leader of the team, chose to take the Razorfoot Griffin as his first pick. He then set Reiji up for the Soul Burn. Herzog's chose the Sparring Golem, while Nitter picked up the Sleeper's Robe. Finally, Jocumsen scooped up the Pouncing Kavu. Reiji took a Maniacal Rage and a Prohibit as the wheel. The rest of the cards in the pack were not really interesting.

Reiji then opened a Tribal Flames, which he picked. Herzog got into green by taking a Thornscape Apprentice, Nitter followed up his first pick by taking a Tower Drake, and Jocumsen signalled that he wanted to go red/black by taking a Hate Weaver. Momose picked up a Kavu while Itaru settled for a Vodalian Zombie.

Herzog's first pack held a bomb for the Norwegian team - a Ghitu Fire. Herzog went into red by taking a Tribal Flames, Nitter got a Fact or Fiction for his deck and Jocumsen happily went for the Ghitu Fire. The Japanese team also got decent picks out of the pack, though. Momose scooped up a Shivan Zombie, Itaru got a Glimmering Angel and Reiji picked a Duskwalker and a Maniacal Rage as the wheel.

Then it was Nitter's turn. He opened another good card for his deck, a Probe. Jocumsen took a Zap for his deck, then the Japanese players drafted a Slinking Serpent, a Razorfoot Griffin and a Nomadic Elf, clearly going for the beatdown. Herzog got a Benalish Emissary and a Tidal Visionary, then the good cards dried up except from that Ishida picked up a Death or Glory for his deck.

Jocumsen then opened a pretty strong pack that contained both an Agonizing Demise and a Reckless Assault. After quite a few gestures, he chose the Demise. The Japanese were quite happy with that. Momose got a Shivan Zombie, Ishida picked an Angel of Mercy and then Reiji got the Reckless Assault for his deck. Herzog got a Pincer Spider while Nitter picked up two creatures for his deck before Nico got a Wax/Wane as well.

Then it was Momose's turn to pick first, and he got an Exotic Curse. Ishida didn't really play black, but he hate drafted an Andratite Leech to keep the Norwegians from getting it for their decks. Then, Reiji got a Cinder Shade. Herzog got a Rampant Elephant and a Thunderscape Apperntice out of the pack, Nitter got a white Djinn and a Dream Thrush, and Jocumsen picked a Hooded Kavu and a Slimy Kavu. Reiji scooped up a Quirion Trailblazer on the way back, and the rest of the cards were rather insignificant.

After the first pack, Ishida had a healthy amount of white cards. Reiji was into red and black with a touch of blue, while Momose had red and black with a couple of green picks. Jocumsen also had red and black as his colours, Nitter was blue and black with a little white, and finally Herzog had gone for green and red with a little white.

Momose then opened his second pack, and he was quite happy to see a Tribal Flames. Jocumsen took a Trench Wurm out of the pack, Nitter chose an Urborg Emissary while Herzog took a Glimmering Angel for his deck. But there were more good picks in the pack. Reiji got a Duskwalker and Ishida picked a Recoil and then a Benalish Lancer before Reiji got a Kavu Aggressor as well. Herzog scooped up an Elvish Champion before the good cards were mostly gone.

Jocumsen then broke open a pretty strong pack. He chose to take Plague Spores over a Tribal Flames. Nitter got a Tower Drake, while Herzog picked an Assault/Battery to compliment his red and green deck. The Japanese then enjoyed the rest of the pack. Reiji got a Tribal Flames and an Exotic Curse, Ishida got a Thornscape Apprentice and a Benalish Lancer, and Momose got a Recoil and an Ardent Soldier. The rest of the pack was rather weak cards.

Nitter's deck was rather light on removal, and so he first picked an Exotic Curse out of his second Invasion pack. Herzog went beatdown and chose a Kavu Aggressor, while Reiji was happy to get a Plague Spores for his deck. Ishida scooped up a Sleeper's Robe, then Momose got a Hate Weaver before Jocumsen, left with rather weak cards, picked a Tidal Visionary and a Utopia Tree. The three Japanese players then stripped a Mourning, a Rampant Elephant and a Thunderscape Apprentice out of the pack before Herzog got a Slimy Kavu. The rest of the cards were rather weak.

Herzog then opened his last Invasion pack. The rare was Atalya, Samite Master, but Herzog went for the Power Armor instead as he wasn't that heavy on white. Reiji picked up a Yavimaya Barbarian, while Ishida was happy to take the Atalya. Momose scooped up a creature while Jocumsen picked a Thunderscape Apprentice for his deck. The rest of the cards were rather weak, although Reiji got a Quirion Elves as his second pick of the pack.

Reiji then opened a Kavu Chameleon that fit nicely into his red, green and black deck. Ishida got a Glimmering Angel, and Momose picked a Tribal Flames, leaving a Duskwalker for Jocumsen and a Ravenous Rats for Nitter. Herzog went for two cards that wouldn't make it into his deck, a Galina's Knight and a Planar Portal. Nitter then got his second Sleeper's Robe, and Jocumsen picked Rith's Attendant.

The last Invasion pack gave Ishida a Serpentine Kavu. Momose got a Soul Burn for his deck, while Jocumsen got a Plague Spores. Nitter picked up another Ravenous Rats, Herzog got a Nomadic Elf for his deck and then Reiji took a Viashino Grappler and a Shivan Oasis. The rest of the cards were less important, although Jocumsen got a Scavenged Weaponry that made it into his deck.

Itaru was the first one to open the first Planeshift booster, and he chose a Sunscape Battlemage for himself and a Terminate for Reiji. Herzog took a Death Bomb, and then Nitter picked an Arctic Merfolk before Jocumsen could get to his Caldera Kavu. The rest of the pack mainly consisted of various creatures and a few pretty bad spells.

Reiji then opened a Samite Elder that he chose. Herzog picked an Alpha Kavu, and then Nitter chose Confound. Later, he realised that it probably was the wrong choice, considering the fact that there was a Marsh Crocodile in the same pack. Jocumsen got a Volcanic Imp, then Momose picked a Nightscape Familiar and he got the Marsh Crocodile as well after Ishida had taken an Allied Strategies and a Bog Down for himself.

Herzog was quite happy when he broke open his Planeshift pack. His first pick was a no-brainer, and Nemati, Grove Guardian was quickly added to his pile of cards. Nitter chose a Phyrexian Bloodstock, then Jocumsen took a Nightscape Battlemage for his deck. Momose took a Singe, then Ishida got a Silver Drake and Reiji got a Thornscape Familiar - and those were the best cards of the pack.

Nitter's Planeshift pack gave him a Horned Kavu, while Jocumsen got the really good card - a Flametongue Kavu. Momose chose a Caldera Kavu, then Ishida got a Cloud Cover before the red/black/green Reiji got a Darigaaz's Charm. Herzog picked a creature, then he hate drafted a Death Bomb. Reiji then picked a Thunderscape Familiar, Ishida got a Shifting Sky while Momose got a Root Grevil.

Jocumsen's Planeshift pack gave him the only Magma Burst of the draft. Momose got a bounce card, then Ishida picked a Fleetfoot Panther and Reiji picked a Slingshot Goblin. Herzog got a Hobble and a Horned Kavu for his deck, and Nitter picked a Stormscape Familiar. The rest of the cards were nothing special except from the March of Soul that Ishida scooped up.

The very last pack gave Momose a pretty strong creature. He opened a Waterspout Elemental. Ishida got a Suntooth Loon out of the same pack, and Reiji got a second Darigaaz's Charm. Herzog picked up a Horned Kavu. Nitter chose a Aurora Griffin and then Jocumsen picked Volcanic Imp and Singe. Herzog scooped up a Gerrard's Commands and Reiji got a Root Greevil, and that was the end of the good cards of the draft.

The Decks

These are the decks that the players registered:

Team Outland

Nicolai Herzog

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Eivind Nitter

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Bjørn Petter Jocumsen

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Panzer Hunters

Kazuyuki Momose

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Itaru Ishida

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Ando Reiji

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Nicolai Herzog wasn't really happy with the outcome of the draft. "They all drafted black, and they all got rewarded for it. The draft was the darkest night, black was everywhere. So they were lucky," he complains. Herzog also reckoned that his team made a few mistakes in the draft. "We passed them a Marsh Crocodile and took a Confound because we were confused. That's pretty bad. Then we passed a Darigaaz's Charm to a red, green and black player. We could have defensive drafted it. But we'll win on superior playing skills," he jokes.

While the Norwegians thought that the Japanese team had been the luckiest during the draft, the Japanese players thought otherwise. "Their packs were of better quality," Ishida thinks. He was in charge of Panzer Hunters' draft. "We just follow him," Momose says.

Ishida's strategy was to go for the beatdown. "In this block, hand destruction is very good, so we wanted to play decks that are good against hand destruction. Speed is important," he says. Still, he figured that luck would be important in the games. "In this type of draft every deck has a strong point and a weak point. Luck will matter a lot," he thinks.

The Games

Herzog vs. Momose

Game 1

In game one, both Herzog and Momose got out a few creatures, and both of them used some removal to get rid of the opponent's creatures. Herzog stalled on three lands though, and he couldn't draw a plains for his white cards. Eventually, he drew into more lands, and he was able to get a creature advantage with a well-timed Wax/Wane. Finally, Momose dropped his Marsh Crocodile, emptying his hand. However, he put the discard ability on the stack before the bounce ability, and thus the Crocodile ended up in his graveyard. A few turns later, Herzog won the first game.

Herzog 1 - Momose 0

Game 2

The second game was all about Herzog's Nemata, Grove Guardian. Herzog got out an early Nemata and a Glimmering Angel, and although they were both bounced back to his hand, they came back to haunt Momose. In the end, Nemata and the squirrels became too much for him.

Herzog 2 - Momose 0

Nitter vs. Ishida

Game 1

Ishida speed strategy worked well against Nitter. The Japanese player bust out a lot of cards, and although Nitter Probed with kicker, he was unable to deal with the swarm on the other side of the table. Eventually, he had to give in.

Nitter 0 - Ishida 1

Game 2

In the second game, Ishida got out Atalya and Shifting Sky, calling black. Nitter got a pretty quick start though, and a few turns into the round he had a Arctic Merfolk, a Dream Thrush enchanted with Sleeper's Robe and a Tower Drake in play. Nitter then used an Urborg Emissary to bounce Atalya to Ishida's hand.

Ishida had a Sunscape Battlemage that killed the Drake, and he also cast a Glimmering Angel. But Nitter had drawn his second Sleeper's Robe and enchanted his Merfolk. He then attacked with his two enchanted creatures, and although the Dream Thrush died, the Merfolk got through and gave him a card. The land he drew gave him enough mana to play Aurora Griffin.

But soon Atalya was back on Ishida's side of the table, and when an Angel of Mercy joined her, Nitter was in trouble. However, the Norwegian top-decked an Exotic Curse that took out the healer, and then he attacked with all his creatures. Ishida was unable to stop it all, and eventually he took lethal damage

Final Result: Nitter 1 - Ishida 1

Game 3

The third game was pretty bad for Nitter. Ishida summoned a whole lot of creatures, while Nitter stalled on three lands. When he drew his fourth land, Ishida had four creatures in play, and soon Nitter found himself at three life only.

Nitter drew an Exotic Curse and killed a flyer, but still he had only four lands in play. He had also drawn very few creatures, so although he could kill a few of Ishida's critters, he was unable to mount a defence, and eventually he died to Ishida's beatdown.

Nitter 1 - Ishida 2

Jocumsen vs. Reiji

After the two other matches were over, it all came down to the match between Jocumsen and Reiji. Jocumsen lost the first match after getting a very slow start, and thus it was hard for him to get the upper hand. Reiji had drawn his Reckless Assault, and the Assault killed most of the Norwegian's creatures.

Jocumsen cast Plague Spores to take out Reiji's black mana by killing his Nomadic Elf and destroying a swamp, but Reiji then cast a Quirion Trailblazer and got another swamp into play.

Jocumsen top-decked his Ghitu Fire, but he was low on life and constantly taking damage from Reiji's small critters. Finally, he got out a Duskwalker with kicker. Reiji spent a lot of time thinking whether to ping or not, and he eventually decided to ping for one to take Jocumsen down to six life, going down to ten. He then attacked with his creatures, and when Jocumsen blocked his Thornscape Familiar with his Duskwalker, Reiji went down to eight to kill the Duskwalker.

At this point, Jocumsen had too few lands to kill Reiji with his Ghitu Fire. However, he could use it as an instant if Reiji tried to kill him with the Reckless Assault, so Reiji held back and kept counting and thinking. He then Soul Burned Jocumsen for one to gain a life, and the Quirion Trailblazer kept whittling down Jocumsen's life total. Eventually Reiji could use his Reckless Assault safely for the win.

Jocumsen 0 - Reiji 1

Game 2

In the second game, Jocumsen drew a hand that consisted of one land and six spells. The spells were kind of cheap though, so he took some time considering whether to keep or not. In the end, he chose to take a mulligan, and his next hand was better - it had four lands and two spells. The Norwegian got out an early Plague Spitter that took out Reiji's Thornscape Familiar, but the Japanese player drew plenty of creatures that couldn't be killed by the Spitter alone.

The two players both attacked a few times, but Jocumsen got dangerously low on life thanks to his own Plague Spitter. He cast a Caldera Kavu, but Reiji had a Tribal Flames for it. Jocumsen then played a Trench Wurm, but Reiji Terminated it and the Norwegian went down to eight life. Then a Duskwalker came into play on the Japanese side of the table, and things looked bad for Jocumsen.

Finally, Jocumsen was allowed to keep his Urborg Skeleton and a Volcano Imp, but Reiji played a Morgue Fiend and soon Jocumsen was down to six life. Again, the Japanese player counted and thought for a while, then he attacked with all his creatures. Jocumsen blocked the creatures he had to block, going into Soul Burn range at three life. However, Reiji didn't have the Soul Burn, and Jocumsen could start attacking with his Imp, playing a Hooded Kavu that could block.

Reiji drew and cast his Kavu Chameleon, and even though Jocumsen had enough mana to play his Plague Spores, Reiji had green mana open to turn his Chameleon black. So the Norwegian played another Volcano Imp instead, knocking his library and calling for his Ghitu Fire. He didn't draw it though, but Reiji drew a dangerous creature - a Thunderscape Apprentice. "Write down that the card is broken," Jocumsen said before Plague Sporing it.

After this, Reiji went into topdeck mode. He attacked with his Chameleon, and Jocumsen had to put his Volcano Imp and the Hooded Kavu in front of it. Then, Reiji played the Kavu Aggressor he had just drawn.

Reiji wasn't the only one who could topdeck, though. Jocumsen knocked his library, and then he drew Flametongue Kavu. "This is damn good," he grinned. The Kavu knocked out the kickered Aggressor, and Jocumsen then dropped Kavu Recluse as well, emptying his hand. Then he attacked with his flyer, taking Reiji down to seven life.

With no cards in hand, Reiji had to draw something. He didn't draw anything useful though, and he ended his turn, holding his two 1/2s back in defense. Jocumsen attacked with his Volcano Imp, the Flametongue Kavu and the Kavu Recluse, and Reiji double-blocked the big Kavu. Jocumsen then played a Slimy Kavu. Unable to draw something, Reiji scooped.

Jocumsen 1 - Reiji 1

Game 3

After a really chilling second game, the third game was less exciting. Jocumsen went first, and he played a second turn Hate Weaver and a third turn Hooded Kavu. Unfortunately, Reiji had Tribal Flames for both of them. And when Jocumsen failed to play anything at all, including a land, during his fourth turn, the Japanese went to action. He played a Quirion Trailblazer to get a swamp into play, then he had a Reckless Assault for Jocumsen's turn five Volcano Imp.

Reiji then played a Duskwalker with kicker, but Jocumsen Magma Burst it. The Norwegian then played another Volcano Imp, but Reiji just played a Pygmy Kavu, attacked with his Trailblazer and shot the Imp down. He then played a Thornscape Familiar and a Root Grevil.

Jocumsen eventually got to five lands, and turn nine he was able to play a Kavu Recluse. He also sacrificed his Sulfur Vent to put a Scavenged Weaponry on it, hoping to prevent Reiji from killing it easily. However, the Japanese player had something even nastier in his hand - a Plague Spores. The Spores took out both the Kavu and Jocumsen's only swamp, leaving him with three mountains only in play. He then attacked with everything, bringing the Norwegian down to nine life.

Jocumsen finally drew another swamp. He Singed the Thornscape Familiar, and then he used the Ghitu Fire he had been holding to kill a Pygmy Kavu. But it didn't matter. Reiji attacked with everything and Soul Burned Jocumsen for the victory, sending Panzer Hunters to the quarterfinals of the Masters Series.

Final Result: Jocumsen 1 - Reiji 2

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