In the eleventh round of the German Nationals, 20-year-old Felix Schneiders from Cologne faced 28-year-old Mark Ziegner from Mainz. Felix has attended five Pro Tours and finished 14th in the Nationals last year. "I always go 4-2 in the drafts, so it depends on the deck I choose," he explained. Mark has attended two Pro Tours, but he has missed the two last Nationals. This year he was one point short of qualifying on rating, but he managed to get in by qualifying in the regionals. And before the eleventh round, both players had 24 points and needed one more victory in order to be safe in the top 8.
Felix won the die roll and chose to play first. The two of them shook hands, and then they took a look at their opening hands. Both players chose to keep their hands, and while Felix laid a land, Mark bust out a first turn Kris Mage.
During Mark's end of turn step, Felix used a Brainstorm to improve his hand. He then played another island and passed priority. The Kris Mage attacked him for the first point of damage, and then Mark attempted to cast a Firebrand Ranger. It was Counterspelled.
The Kris Mage continued to attack, and then Mark played a Chimeric Idol. He chose to play a land before playing another Chimeric Idol though, keeping Force Spike in mind, but the Idol was Counterspelled. Mark then played Seal of Fire before activating the Idol to attack - but Felix had a Disenchant.
Felix then showed what kind of deck he was playing by casting a Ramosian Sergeant. Mark thought for a while. Then he chose to discard a Mountain to the Kris Mage to kill the Sergeant. The Mage then attacked to get Felix down to 16 life and then 15 life. A Firebrand Ranger joined the Mage, and then it was Felix's turn again.
Spending three mana, Felix summoned Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, keeping two mana open for the Counterspell he had in his hand. Mark could use his Seal of Fire and the Kris Mage to kill it, but first he attempted to Ghitu Fire it. When the Fire was countered, he tried the other option. Unfortunately, Felix discarded a Meddling mage to cast Referent Mantra, saving the Lin Sivvi, and Mark swore and had to let the Lin Sivvi live.
Felix used his Lin Sivvi to get a Ramosian Sergeant while Mark shook his head, dissatisfied. Still, he attacked with his Firebrand Ranger, sending Felix down to 13 before passing priority. That was Felix's cue. He activated Lin Sivvi and got a Defiant Vanguard out of his deck. But before he could untap, Mark Urza's Raged the Lin Sivvi.
Felix still had two rebels on the table, and when Mark attacked with his Firebrand Ranger, he blocked with his Ramosian Sergeant and used it to find a Ramosian Lieutenant after damage was on the stack. Then, as Mark went draw-go-ing, he started working the rebel chain by getting a Defiant Falcon into play.
Mark played a Skizzik with kicker and attacked, and the Defiant Vanguard jumped in front of it to make sure it went away. Then another Lin Sivvi hit the table, and the rebels started attacking. Mark tried to get rid of the Lin Sivvi by playing a Flametongue Kavu, and with only an Absorb in his hand, Felix had to think for a while before deciding what to do. He decided to use the Lin Sivvi to search for a Ramosian Sky Marshall, keeping the Absorb for another threat. He then attacked with the Falcon and the Marshall, but the Falcon died to the Kris Mage.
Mark sent his Flametongue Kavu over for a visit, and in response, Felix searched for a Defiant Vanguard. But Mark Shocked it before it could block, and so the Ramosian Sergeant had to jump in front of it instead. Felix also chose to tap out to use the Sergeant to get another Sergeant. Perhaps it would have been better to keep the mana open. Because the new Sergeant was pretty puny compared to the creature that followed. Mark counted Felix's lands - and then he summoned an Avatar of Fury.
The Avatar and the Flametongue Kavu decided to attack the following turn, and at ten life only, Felix decided to block both creatures - the Sky Marshall jumped in front of the Avatar while the Lieutenant blocked the Kavu. Felix used the Lieutenant to get a third Lin Sivvi before it went to the graveyard.
Then the Avatar and the Flametongue Kavu made another attack. Felix, at ten, had to block or do something, and he chose to search for a Defiant Falcon that could block the Avatar. Mark looked through his opponent's graveyard, and then he discarded a Rishadan Port to kill the Falcon. In a last attempt to survive, Felix shuffled the Falcon back into his graveyard with a Lin Sivvi, and he then retrieved it again to block the Avatar. But Mark had an Urza's Rage and finished him off.
Schneiders 0 - Ziegner 1
Felix chose to play first, and both players kept their hands. Again, a Kris Mage came into play during Mark's first turn. Felix thought a lot during his second turn. After looking at his hand for a long while, he decided to play a Ramosian Sergeant. When Mark tried to kill it with the Mage, he discarded an Absorb to a Reverent Mantra to save it.
Now it was Mark's turn to think. He eventually decided to discard a Sky Weaver to kill the Sergeant, and in response, Felix retrieved a Ramosian Lieutenant from his library - but it was promptly Scorching Lavaed. Finally, Mark was rid of the rebel threats.
Holding a Defiant Vanguard, a Dominate and a land in his hand, Felix pondered for a little while before passing priority. Mark played a Rishadan Port, and then he attacked with his Kris Mage before ending his turn. But during Mark's end of turn step, Felix used his Dominate to take control of the Kris Mage. He then cast a Defiant Vanguard after attacking with the treacherous Mage.
Mark didn't want the two creatures on the table though, and so he cast Earthquake for two, killing them. Felix played a Ramosian Sergeant, but it was Ghitu Fired. And as both players had one card only in their hands, they went into draw-go mode.
Felix drew the first threat. The played Meddling Mage, calling Flametongue Kavu. Mark shrugged. Then he summoned a Skizzik with kicker, attacked for five and brought Felix down to seven life. Felix attacked back with the Mage before the Skizzik took him down to six life. Then, another Dominate gave him control of the Skizzik.
Mark had to keep up the pressure, and during Felix's end of turn step, he played Urza's Rage to bring his opponent down to three. He also played a Tahngarth, Talruum Hero during his own turn. Felix Brainstormed and found a Reverent Mantra that he kept. He seemed to be unsure about whether to attack or not, but eventually he decided not to. Mark did nothing during his turn, keeping the Tahngarth untapped and ready for action.
During Felix's end of turn step, Mark activated the Tahngarth to kill the Mage, and the Mage went to the graveyard. Then, Mark Shocked Felix, bringing him to one. The following Scorching Lava would have killed him if it weren't for the Counterspell he had to play. The two players went into draw-go mode - then Mark drew another Skizzik, played it - and Felix extended his hand to the winner.
Final Result: Schneiders 0 - Ziegner 2