The last round of swiss is brutal. You've been playing all weekend and the mental fatigue is starting to build up. The excitement of the run at the Top 8 has been climbing too, slowly, with each hard-fought win. Now you're one win away, one measly win when you've already notched twelve, but this is the one that matters. Focus. Play through the nerves. Win.
Quebec City's Pascal Maynard has become a fixture of the Canadian magic scene, not just through his play, but also as a writer for Mana Deprived, and as a streamer on Twitch. With three Grand Prix Top 8s and a Worlds Team appearance under his belt, he's ready to move on to gold medals. He's on thirty-four points, so a win gives him a very good chance at the Top 8.
Things are much more clear cut for Steve Rubin. A win locks him for Top 8. A loss and he goes home. Rubin's been a player on the rise for the past couple years, and was instrumental in the design of Ari Lax's winning deck at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir. He tasted Top 8 glory at GP Chicago earlier this year, and he's ready for more.
Rubin drew his opening hand, and immediately called a judge. Shaking his head he told the judge that his opening hand contained a card from his sideboard. The judge explained that he would receive a warning, then he would fix his deck so it was in its proper game one configuration. He would then draw a new opening hand of six cards as a forced mulligan.
Players, take note of this. The rules are everyone's responsibility, and sportsmanship and integrity demand we uphold them. Especially when we're on the wrong side of them.
Maynard opened with Bloodsoaked Champion. Rubin, on the play, blunted it with Archer's Parapet and then summoned Watcher of the Roost. Unfortunately for him, Maynard was set to rule the skies first with the humble Gurmag Swiftwing, then Alabaster Kirin.
Rubin switched gears, building a ground force of Sultai Flayer and a morph. Pascal had to spend a turn on Bitter Revelation and was behind in the race. He gave his Kirin Molting Snakeskin and passed. While he was tapped out, Rubin attacked again, and when both Flayer and morph went unblocked he tapped six to flip over the mighty Wooly Loxodon. Maynard was down to just three life.
Still he had his regenerating flier. He hit for four and played Mardu Hordechief. Rubin carefully considered his next move, eventually deciding to hold back. Maynard took a think on his turn, then played Defiant Strike on his Warrior. That was just preamble to his Rush of Battle, and he swung with everything save the Swiftwing. Rubin shuffled his creatures around, trying to find satisfactory blocks. He settled on Water of the Roost in front of the 4/2 token, Loxodon in front of Mardu Hordechief, Flayer in front of Bloodsoaked Champion, keeping his head above water.
That was plenty of lifegain for Maynard, who spent his last mana bringing back his Champion. Rubin attacked with his Loxodon again and Maynard chumped with Gurmag Swiftwing. That was just what Rubin needed, as his last card was Dead Drop, set up to be castable thanks to the creatures he'd traded away. The regenerating Kirin was no more. The Loxodon and Parapet were the only creatures on the board.
As hard fought an advantage it was, was erased by Maynard's second Bitter Revelation. His three remaining mana allowed a morph, which turned out to be Ruthless Ripper to kill the Loxodon. It also gave him Swarm of Bloodflies to start up his offence again. Rubin held on, clawing out an advantage with Grim Haruspex, but the Bloodflies were soon 6/6 and coming in for lethal. Rubin burst that bubble with Abzan Charm. Seconds after he put it in exile, Maynard realised he could have saved it with the Throttle he had in hand. It still killed the Haruspex and left Rubin needing to draw action. He didn't, and Maynard took a game he almost threw away.
Maynard 1 - Rubin 0
Maynard did his best to shake off his frustration at his near-fatal blunder while they shuffled up. In contrast to the intricate back and forth of the first game, the second was a straight-up clubbering. Maynard opened with Gurmag Swiftwing, then Molting Snakeskin and Jeskai Student. Rubin stumbled on lands and was well behind by the time he got a morph onto the table. Alabaster Kirin gave Maynard still more air power that Rubin could not answer. A couple of attacks, and it was over.
Pascal Maynard defeats Steve Rubin 2-0
There wasn't much to say. They shook hands, and Rubin wished Maynard good luck with his breakers.