by Craig Jones
Round 11 saw two Europeans battling it out on top table. The Frenchman Antoine Ruel had opened up a three point lead over the rest of the field. Ruel already has Grand Prix wins under his belt, one with his team Black Ops and another as an individual in Grand Prix Porto. If he won this match he would almost be guaranteed another top eight place. Standing in his way was the relatively unknown Belgian, Jan Doise.
Both had drafted strong black/blue decks but Doise had chosen to also go into a third color, white. Doise won the coin flip and elected to go first.
Neither player brought anything really exciting out in the first few turns, their decks both being more about removal and card advantage. A Dream Thrush and Phyrexian Battleflies traded off but not much else happened until Doise reached six mana and dropped a Goham Djinn. It was only a 3/3 but it regenerated and Ruel hadn't found more land than three swamps. He then found an island but was still under pressure. Strangely, when Doise Repulsed his Sparring Golem, Ruel summoned a Shoreline Raider which tied the number of black and blue permanents. Doise summoned a Tower Drake and suddenly the Djinn was attacking for five. Ruel Soul Burnt the drake but then things got a lot worse for the Frenchman when Doise dropped a monster bomb - Yawgmoth's Agenda! Now the Belgian's hand included his graveyard and Ruel was only on three life. Surely grounds for scooping, but then Ruel's deck went into overdrive. He dropped two creatures in case Doise Repulsed in the end step. Recoils and various Curses flew in all directions. The Drake returned and vanished just as quickly to Cursed Flesh. The Thrush attempted to come back, got excluded. Doise had managed to knock Ruel down to one life but the restriction of only being able to cast 1 spell a turn was really starting to hurt. He couldn't get his Djinn back on the table and Ruel was bashing away with a Vodalian Zombie. Then Ruel made a Vodalian Serpent with kicker and suddenly it looked as though he might beat the Agenda. The Djinn came back down but Ruel was able to recoil it and the serpent crashed in for the game. Against all odds Ruel had managed to beat the Agenda and that isn't something you see very often.
Both players started with weavers. When Doise cast Mourning on Ruel's Hate Weaver Ruel was happy to chump block with it to ensure the Mourning went to the graveyard. Doise seemed to have a weak hand as he went for a few turns without being able to add to the Spirit Weaver and Dream Thrush on his side of the table. A Vodalian Merchant cycled one excess land away. The creatures on Ruel's side of the table were equally unimpressive and he was happy to trade off everything and then follow up with an Urborg Phantom. Doise Cursed it and then nothing happened for a while as both players tried to draw something useful. Ruel found a threat first with a Phyrexian Slayer and then followed it with a kicked up Probe to take control. Doise tried to Shackles the Slayer only for Ruel to fizzle it with a Recoil. A Hypnotic Cloud with kicker from Ruel wiped out the useless land Doise was holding in his land. Doise managed to topdeck an Andradite Leech, but Ruel had a flying force of a Sapphire Leech and Slayer and the black leech had to sit helplessly on the floor as its flying relative flew over for the win.
Final Result: Antoine Ruel beat Jan Doise 2-0