Even though there were three rounds remaining, Round 11 here at Grand Prix Gothenburg featured two players playing for one of those coveted Top 8 spots. Eivind Nitter from Norway was at 9-0-1 while his opponent Alex Shvartsman had a 9-1-0 record. A win here would most likely secure a Top 8 spot.
Eivind was running a very fast green/red deck featuring the very powerful Ghitu Fire. Shvartsman on the other hand had a very controllish blue/white/black deck.
Alex arrived at the feature match area early but was forced to wait quite some time for his opponent, who apparently had gone out for a smoke. When the Norwegian finally showed up they quickly randomized their decks and started playing.
Shvartsman had won the die roll and elected to play. But the first spell of the game, a turn two Star Compass, was played by the Norwegian. Eivind's mana development then skyrocketed on turn three when he played two Quirion Explorers. Alex had a slow start and dropped his first creature on his fourth turn, a Glimmering Angel. Nitter then used his huge amounts of mana to summon a Serpentine Kavu, and still he had one red mana left to give it haste and come over for four points of damage. So far things were looking good for Nitter. But as we all know, in Magic things can, and often will, change very fast. Coincidently that is exactly what happened on Alex's fifth turn when he played a Wash Out: Green, returning all of Nitter's creatures to his hand. This, however, forced Alex to tap out which gave Eivind the opportunity to destroy the Glimmering Angel with a Lightning Dart.
During the following couple of turns Nitter replayed his green monsters while Alex was struggling with smaller guys like Disciple of Kangee and Galina's Knight. The fact that Nitter used a kicked Explosive Growth didn't exactly make things better for the American who now found himself at three lives. He did however have a fresh Stormscape Apprentice to deal with the big 4/4 Kavu. Little did he then know about the Ghitu Fire residing in Nitter's hand. Fire for three spelled game one to the Norwegian.
Alex once again elected to play. He dropped a turn three Disciple of Kangee which was instantly Lightning Darted by Nitter. Nitter then summoned a Raging Kavu and came over for three. Alex drew his card and sighed. He then passed the turn to Nitter, still stuck at three lands. "You're pretty good at this game", Shvartsman said in a somewhat bitter voice. Nitter nodded.
But time would tell that Eivind wasn't really THAT good as he also missed his next land drop and was unable to play any creatures. Alex then drew and played a Lashknife Barrier and the card he got to draw off that spell was indeed the fourth land he needed so badly. With mana issues out of the way the American was able to stabilize the board with a Galina's Knight and a Prison Barricade. He then tried to go on the offensive with a Zanam Djinn, but that was quickly killed by Nitter's Ghitu Fire.
This didn't bother Shvartsman much though as he played a Glimmering Angel and a Stormscape Apprentice. Nitter's creature development was disrupted by a kicked Rushing River and things now looked very grim for the Norwegian.
With Nitter at four lives, Alex attacked with the Angel and the Knight. Nitter responded by making his Ancient Kavu colorless thus allowing it to block the protection: red Knight. Shvartsman let out a "D'oh!". But he was still able to get the win as he used his Stormscape Apprentice to tap the Kavu before blockers were declared. Game two to Shvartsman.
Both players, and especially Alex, were now very anxious to finish the third game within the time limit, of which there were thirteen minutes remaining. Alex even shuffled his deck so fast that he accidentally dropped it on the floor. After gathering his cards he finished shuffling and presented his deck - ready for the third game.Eivind Nitter
Nitter started and came out fast with creatures on turn two and three, and by the time turn five came around he was attacking with two Horned Kavus and a Pouncing Kavu. Alex at the time had no creatures in play, and his only play in this game thus far was a Glimmering Angel which he had traded for one of Nitter's 2/2's the turn before.
This looked to be a safe win for the Norwegian but Shvartsman still had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. Like a Tsabo's Decree for example. That card got him a three for one card advantage taking out two Horned and one Ancient Kavu. One could think that this might make the American really happy. But Eivind's hand of one mountain and one Ghitu Fire didn't exactly make Shvartsman smile. He was now at seven lives. In play he had no creatures. Nitter also had no creatures, but he had six lands and another land plus a Ghitu Fire in hand. One more land and he would be able to burn out the American.
The pretty large crowd now started to move away from the feature match area, perhaps presuming that the match was over. But much to the surprise of the spectators and this reporter he was able to mount a comeback. At end of turn he cast a Reviving Vapors which got him a Dromar's Charm and three points of life in the process. During the following turns Shvartsman played some creatures like Stormscape Apprentice and Glimmering Angel. Nitter tried to fight back with a kicked Pouncing Kavu but it was stopped by the tapper. Alex then summoned a Zanam Djinn and Shackled up his own Glimmering Angel to make the Djinn bigger! On his turn, Eivind tried to cast a Flametongue Kavu, which was countered. The following turn the American flied over for a total of seven damage putting Nitter at nine.
At this point there was very little time left and Alex was visibly upset at Eivind's slow play. During the following turn, time was called. Eivind then played a Ghitu Fire destroying the Zanam Djinn and passed his turn. Alex used Stormscape Apprentice's black ability to drain one life at end of turn. He returned the Shackles and attacked to put Nitter at six. On the second extra turn, Eivind tried to secure a draw by playing a kicked Pouncing Kavu. Shvartsman let it resolve and drained with the Apprentice before he took his own turn. Nitter was now at five life and was staring at a Glimmering Angel, Disciple of Kangee and a Stormscape Apprentice. At this point, Alex tapped four mana and cast Wash Out for red, returning all of Nitter's creatures to his hand and letting him come through for five - which was just enough to win him the game!
Final Result: Alex Shvartsman beats Eivind Nitter 2-1