Round 18: Jin Okamoto vs. Bob Maher, Jr.

Posted in Event Coverage

By Sean McKeown

Jin Okamoto vs. Bob Maher, Jr.

In the last individuals round here at the World Championships, it is a match of Extended between reigning APAC Champion Jin Okamoto and "Mr. Extended" Bob Maher, Jr. Worlds has been good to Bob in the past, as last year he lost to Jon Finkel in the finals of Worlds, but had an easy enough time getting to those finals. Bob is also playing his signature deck, Maher Oath, with which he won back-to-back Pro Tour events, racking up the champion's titles in Chicago and Seattle in the 1999-2000 season. Jin won the die roll and chose to play first. Starting the game out with a Treetop Village, it appears this might just be a mirror matchup. Bob played an Underground River, then Jin played Flood Plain while Bob started the real match off with a Tropical Island and Sylvan Library. Jin used the Plain to get his Tundra, then attacked with Treetop Village to reduce Bob to 17. Bob used Sylvan and found an Enlightened Tutor, Counterspell, and Gaea's Blessing, then took the counterspell and left the other two. Bob's next play was a Powder Keg, which Jin attempted to Force, but Bob used Force right back, then played his own Flood Plain. Jin played a Flood Plain and was finished while Bob used his Plain to get a Tropical Island as well as see three new cards with Sylvan Library. Given the choice between Enlightened Tutor, Force of Will, and Flood Plain, he took the Tutor and Force, leaving the Flood Plain behind. Bob paid four life for this, then played a Tundra, and Jin played a Tundra as well.

Both players settled in a bit, but Bob had the advantage, as on his next turn he played the Flood Plain, and used it to get a Tundra and, again, shuffle with the Sylvan out. With a Wasteland, Enlightened Tutor, and Tundra, Bob again paid four life, keeping the Wasteland and Tutor, then playing the Wasteland. Jin showed that he was 'old school' on his next turn when he played the Reflecting Pool, and Bob merely used the Sylvan, then played a Tundra. When not liking the cards on top, Bob played Gaea's Blessing on his Force of Will to shuffle them up, with his card quality advantage becoming higher and higher. Bob passed the turn again, and his opponent once again merely played a Land and said go.

Jin Okamoto

Bob kept the card quality coming, and played a Tropical Island, while Jin played another Tropical as well. Bob used Brainstorm at end of turn, putting his worse cards from his hand back on top of his library, then Impulsed, clearing both the Brainstorm and the last turn's use of the Library. Seeing three new cards, Bob kept a Treetop Village, played it, and passed the turn. Jin played a Wasteland, and Bob used Brainstorm again at end of turn, then cast Enlightened Tutor to find his copy of Overgrown Estate. Bob used a fresh Sylvan once again, keeping the Estate, and then cast it... with Jin trying to figure out the correct impact of the card on the matchup. Jin Brainstormed in response, then followed up with an Impulse. Jin cast Annul at the Estate, and Bob a Counterspell on the Annul, while Jin hard cast a Force of Will. Bob played a second Counterspell, and Overgrown Estate resolved. Bob then played a Tundra, and passed the turn, with a high expectation of using the 'combo' of Overgrown Estate and Sylvan Library to step up his card advantage ways. Jin had no play on his turn, and Bob sacrificed a Tundra to go up to eleven during his upkeep, in case he wanted to keep all three. Bob paid four life and played a Savannah, and Jin played Powder Keg, which Bob allowed. Bob drew one extra again, going down to three, then played a Flood Plain and passed the turn.

Again, Jin had no play on his turn, and Bob used Flood Plain to grab a Tropical Island. Bob's hand slowly began to fill up in this manner, while Jin continued merely to play what he had drawn, quite unlike what Bob was pulling off with his turn-two Library. Bob Impulsed, then sacrificed the Savannah to his Estate, and went down to two life from the Sylvan. Playing a Volcanic Island, Bob passed the turn, and again Jin passed the turn back, and again Bob Impulsed, then sacrificed his Underground Sea to the Estate, going to five life altogether. Sylvan Library again took a bite, with Bob going to one life, temporarily at least. Bob then animated his Treetop and attacked, using Wasteland on the Village when Jin animated, and likewise Jin Wasted Bob's Village. Sacrificing the Village for three life, Bob first played another Village, then passed the turn, and Jin played nothing on his turn. Bob drew, then played a Wasteland, with Jin doing the very same on his next turn. Bob used his fourth Impulse of the game at end of turn, then Bob attacked with the Village, sacrificing for three life in response to Wasteland. Bob played another Village, and Jin another Wasteland.

Bob paid more life to Sylvan Library, going to three life, then played Gaea's Blessing, targeting Gaea's Blessing and two Treetop Villages. Jin played Force of Will, and Bob played Counterspell; Jin played Counterspell and Bob played Force of Will. Gaea's Blessing resolved, with Bob shuffling in the cards that he and Jin had been fighting over for the last half of an hour. Bob played a Wasteland and finished for the turn. Jin had the opportunity, given Bob's tapped-out state, to make a break here, and he started with a Brainstorm, then an Impulse, everyone's favorite tricky interaction. Jin played another Brainstorm, then conceded to Bob's ability to out-draw him when his searches had not revealed any of his breakthrough cards.

Bob Maher, Jr. 1 - Jin Okamoto 0

After both players sideboarded to be more suitable for the mirror match, Jin played first, starting with a Flood Plain, which Bob attacked with Wasteland. This was repeated exactly on the next turn, and then Jin played a Tundra, while Bob played Treetop Village. Jin then Wastelanded the Treetop, and Bob played Flood Plain, and we all know what happens to those... Wasteland again. Jin played his own Treetop, while Bob played Savannah and cast Sylvan Library. Jin played a Tropical Island and attacked with the Treetop Village, and Bob drew from Sylvan and paid four life to keep one of the cards thusly drawn. Quite the repeat of the previous game, and then Bob continued the deja vu all over again by playing an Underground Sea and Powder Keg. Jin also played his Powder Keg, and a Volcanic Island beside, and Bob used Sylvan aggressively, paying another four life. Bob played Volcanic Island, then cast Seal of Cleansing, which Jin allowed. Jin then put a counter on his Powder Keg, then played Tropical Island and Abundance. Given the choices of allowing Abundance to resolve, countering it, or using the Seal already in play, Bob chose to allow Abundance to resolve, then Impulsed at the end of the turn. Bob peeked with Sylvan Library, then used the Seal of Cleansing on the Powder Keg. and Jin called nonland on the Abundance, to learn that his top card was Sylvan Library.

Bob Maher, Jr.

Sylvan Library and Abundance is an unpleasant control deck-style combo that allows its controller to draw three cards, of the variety of their choice, each turn, with no penalty. When Jin played Sylvan Library on his next turn, the fight was on, and Jin played a Pyroblast when Bob used Force of Will. Bob used Brainstorm to peek, and Sylvan-Abundance was on the table... to the minds of some, on the wrong side of the table, given Bob's history with the Oath/Tutor deck that bears his name. Jin played a Tropical Island and was done, while Bob sacrificed his Flood Plain to fetch a Tropical Island and shuffle the Brainstormed cards away. Looking at three new ones, Bob hoped to find an immediate solution to the problem at hand, and thus he paid four life to keep what he found. Bob played Sacred Ground and passed the turn, while Jin used Sylvan-Abundance to draw Annul, Pyroblast, and Gaea's Blessing. Jin attacked with the Treetop Village only to have Bob target it with Swords to Plowshares, and Jin ended his turn. Bob looked at three cards and kept just one of them thanks to his dwindling life totals, but the 'combo' remained in play.

Jin got even more Counterspells off the Sylvan-Abundance duo, and Bob merely window-shopped then cast Gaea's Blessing, shuffling in two Impulses and a Seal of Cleansing. Jin knew he had him beat, though, and an Impulse found yet another counterspell, Force of Will. Jin used the combo to get Powder Keg, Annul, and a Tundra, then played the Keg on Bob, and discarded an Annul. Bob browsed and passed the turn, making Jin prove that he had the ability to kill him, despite the overwhelming card advantage... learning a little more about Jin's sideboarding. Jin cast Morphling, and Bob paid for a Force of Will, which Jin Pyroblasted. Fighting the downhill battle, Bob Counterspelled, and Jin Pyroblasted it; Bob Pyroblasted the previous counterspells, and Jin had yet another Force of Will, earning Bob's concession with ten minutes left for the third game.

Bob Maher, Jr. 1 - Jin Okamoto 1

With ten minutes left the main goal for both was to avoid a draw, as it helped the position of neither of the players. Both shuffled fast and Bob played first, opening with a Tropical Island. Jin had Flood Plain, and at end of turn Bob used Brainstorm, then played a Treetop Village on his turn. Jin fetched a Volcanic Island, then played a Tropical Island and dry-Blessed to draw a card. Bob played Underground River and attacked, while Jin played Flood Plain. Bob brought it again, and Jin used Brainstorm, which Bob Force of Willed to prevent impending Wastelands thanks to the Brainstorm/Flood Plain card quality interaction. Jin used the Flood Plain to get a Tropical Island, and played Spike Weaver. Bob played a Wasteland and passed the turn, while Jin played a Tundra and did the same. Jin used an Impulse to keep digging, presumably for a Wasteland, and on his next turn he had exactly that. Spike Weaver brings on the attack, and Bob passed the turn with no play, receiving the beating again. Jin played Flood Plain, and Bob played a Tropical Island off the top, passing the turn and taking the Weaver again. Jin played another Flood Plain, then Bob drew and played a Treetop Village.

Jin used Brainstorm to improve his hand, and the Flood Plain to keep the chaff away while fetching a Volcanic Island. Jin untapped, then attacked Bob again, bringing him to seven life. Jin played Sylvan Library and Bob used a Counterspell, then untapped and attacked Jin right back with the Treetop Village. Jin Brainstormed again, then sacrificed the Flood Plain again, reaching for a Tropical Island. Jin got to drop Bob to four life, and Bob then untapped and played Volcanic Island, electing not to attack because of his inability to win that race. Jin dropped Powder Keg, which Bob Counterspelled, and Jin Forced it, removing Annul from the game. Bob Forced back losing Force of Will, and Jin again removed an Annul from the game, and after a promising start Bob conceded the third game and the match with forty-five seconds left on the clock.

Final Result: Jin Okamoto 2 - Bob Maher, Jr. 1

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