Round 15: Ben Rubin vs. David Williams

Posted in Event Coverage

By Anthony Alongi

Ben Rubin vs. David Williams

The Matchup

Both of these regular Pros are well known to the Magic community. Dave Williams was playing Opposition-Orb; Ben Rubin was playing green Stompy.

As they finished shuffling, Ben hoped aloud for a "drama-free match." This reporter started a pool among observers to determine how long that hope would stay undashed. (Of course, that's not true. No Minnesotan gambles, or encourages games of chance in any way . . . except on Election Day, when we choose our Governor.)

The Match

Both players kept their opening hands for the first game; Dave elected to go first. Lots of cards came out quickly on both sides: Dave took a bit of pain from a Yavimaya Coast to get a Bird of Paradise out; Ben ditched an Elvish Spirit Guide to get out a River Boa. The second turn saw more action: a Wall of Roots and Quirion Ranger for Dave as he set up the mana acceleration phase of his lock; and another River Boa for Ben as he silently dared Dave to set down a pure blue source of mana.

Another Wall of Roots and a Quirion Ranger came down for Dave on his third turn, and there was a short, quiet, but intense argument as Dave put a counter on his Wall to pay for the Ranger, reconsidered before taking his hand off the counter, and then set the counter aside and paid for it instead with the Bird. Ben took issue with that; a judge ruled that as long as the hand had stayed on the counter, the "take-back" was legal. (This spat had no impact on the outcome of the game; but those participating in local tournaments may want to take note of the line the Level 3 judge drew.)

David Williams

At the end of his own third turn, Ben sported two River Boas, a Wild Dogs, and a Quirion Ranger compared to Dave's own Ranger, two Walls of Roots, and a Bird of Paradise. This stand-off played into Dave's hands, and on his fourth turn he played Opposition. He was extremely careful to lay down and return his Tropical Island (via the Ranger), so that the River Boas could not come swinging; but with this game-breaking enchantment down, things looked bleak anyway for the two-time Masters' champion.

By swinging with everything, Ben was able to punch through for two damage; but on Dave's next turn he had to watch a Winter Orb and Ophidian come down.

The game went on for six more long turns, but it didn't have to, as it just got worse for Ben: as Dave's available creatures tapped out potential blockers for Ophidian to swing through and draw cards, the Texan soon had two Ophidians, two Tradewind Riders, and plenty of additional creatures to power the entire mess. Even with Opposition falling to an Elvish Lyrist, Dave had control of the board; and when he slapped down Deranged Hermit on his eleventh turn, Ben conceded.

To start game two, there was a whole lotta shuffling going on: Ben, going first, took two mulligans; while Dave took one of his own. Ben's five cards, however, were terrific: he laid out a Lyrist on turn one, then at the end of Dave's first turn pitched a Bounty of the Hunt to play out Vine Dryad, then threw a Briar Shield on the Dryad and swung away. The swinging went on for three consecutive turns, until Dave felt compelled to block with a Wall of Roots . . . of course, with two forests out, this was illegal, and he quickly apologized. A better solution was his Spike Weaver, which had come in along with more Hermits. After a Rider and an Orb came out, Dave correctly observed:

"Unless you have tech, that's a hard lock."

Ben, with his trademark understated style, simply started his turn, played the alternate casting cost for Land Grant, and revealed two Cursed Totems (along with Wild Dogs). Even Texans call that tech, and Dave was suitably impressed. Of course, he still had enough wind left to Force of Will the first one, bouncing the enchanted Dryad and keeping himself in the game a little longer.

Ben Rubin

But when the second Totem came down on turn eight, Dave realized that every one of his creatures was a vanilla dude. He swung away at Ben for eight damage over two turns with a Rider and Weaver, but Ben showed him a more efficient attack: a Dryad with a Rancor and Briar Shield on it. On his tenth turn, facing lethal damage the following combat phase, Dave scooped in hopes of having enough time to take control of game three.

Game three started with about 15 minutes left. This favored Ben immensely, since he was playing a deck that could win more reliably with that much time, whereas Dave would have to push his deck hard to get better than a draw. When pressed by Dave, Ben made it clear that he would neither stall, nor concede without facing lethal damage. Dave was happy with the first clarification, but less so with the second, and asked a judge to watch the match carefully. (In this reporter's opinion, both players behaved absolutely correctly.)

Dave made sure to side in his Uktabi Orangutans. Would they make a difference? Could Dave pull this one out against all odds? Do "tension-building" questions like this actually build any tension? Let's find out.

Both players kept their opening hands. The first few turns were clearly Ben's, as he played Skyshroud Elite and then Rancored it the following turn. Dave Impulsed in response to the Rancor, and chose an Uktabi over a Force of Will. This proved key, as a third turn Cursed Totem fell to a fifth turn monkey. (Dave used turn four to play a Tradewind Rider.) After Dave played a second Tradewind Rider on turn six, and a Deranged Hermit on turn seven, Ben conceded with five minutes to spare in the round. Orb-Opposition: the new beatdown!

Final Result: Williams wins, two games to one.

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