by Matthew Vienneau
With no chance to come first in the Invitational, Chris Pikula was fighting to not be last. He was also fighting to help his close friends Dave Price and Jon Finkel make it to the finals as Alex was in a tie for second place. Alex boldly brought a deck of his own creation that used cards that he promised "had never been seen in a Type I tournament before".
Chris's opening hand contained Dark Ritual, Sol Ring, Duress, two Badlands, a Scrubland and Necropotence. His first turn Duress revealed that Alex had kept a sub-par hand that contained only mana sources, a Seal of Cleansing and an Incinerate the he was forced to discard. Chris was feeling very confident until Alex played Mox, Mox, Land, Demonic Tutor (off the top!), Black Lotus and Blastoderm - the green Juzam! First turn Blastoderm is hard to deal with in any format!
Chris was just stunned and commented on how Alex was a fantastic topdecker. Alex replied that in Type I, every draw is supposed to be a topdeck! Chris proved that himself by Ritualling out Necropotence and drawing 10 extra cards on turn two. With his open mana, he cast a second Dark Ritual and used Diabolic Edict to get rid of the Blastoderm.
Alex just peeled a Serendib off the top and threw it into play. Again Chris was forced to find an answer as his hand contained two Juzams and little else. Using Necro to draw three cards, Chris got a second Diabolic Edict (with only three of them in his main deck) and Ritualled it out during his end step and mana burned a second time.
From there, Alex lost his topdecking touch as Jackal Pup just wasn't a very good chump blocker for the Juzam Djinn that was rapidly killing him (as well as slowly killing Chris). At three life Chris played a second Juzam to block the Pup and Alex drew Tropical Island allowing Chris to finish him off the next turn in an attack for 10.
As he sideboarded, Chris commented on how hard it was to find answer for red creatures, blue creatures *and* untargetable creatures. Chris's didn't want to be sitting there with a Hydroblast while getting beat down by a Serendib!
Alex's first turn play of Mox Pearl, land and Circle of Protection: Black wasn't as spectacular as his first game, but it was extremely effective. Chris calmly stared at his hand of Mox, Necropotence, Ancestral Recall, Demonic Tutor, Hypnotic Specter, Juzam Djinn and a land for a couple of moments before exploding! He loudly began yelling about how Alex Shvarstman was going to win the Invitational because he was so crazy and doing these nutty things with his deck. The entire Invitational came to a halt as people came over to laugh at the first turn COP: Black versus the mono-black deck.
After accepting the COP: Black, Chris cast Demonic Tutor on his turn for an Underground Sea. Alex Wasted Chris's land and played a Jackal Pup followed by a Kird Ape. Chris Duressed an Incinerate revealing Blastoderm and Serendib Efreet and then Ritualled out a Masticore - a non-black damage source. Alex cast Regrowth to get the Wasteland back and destroyed Chris's Underground Sea. They each attacked and Chris shot the Kird Ape right before Alex drew a Taiga and made it 2/3.
Demonstrating that Masticore is good in any format, Chris kept the board clear as he kept attacking for four. Alex had only three mana sources, one of which was a City of Brass that was slowly pecking away at his life total. It appeared that Alex was trying to get a fourth mana for the Blastoderm but Chris drew a Mox Sapphire and Time Walked to get an additional attack for the win. Alex revealed the top card in his library - a Mox Jet - and the Mind Twist he was holding that would have emptied Chris's hand and killed the Masticore. Chris yelled with excitement, as Alex looked resigned as his 7-0 start slowly crumbles.
Chris Pikula 2
Alex Shvartsman 0