This match was buried under the accolades of its competitors. They combine to have twenty-two Grand Prix Top Eights, and that's only in the last twelve months! AlphaBetaUnlimited.com (ABU) each have a title to their name. They busted into this Masters through the Gateway. Black Ops have already demonstrated their skill in this format, winning the Grand Prix Cannes and the New York Masters last year.
The draft didn't seem to go well for Black Ops. They started with three-color combinations, maneuvering within them to adjust to ABU's strategy. They were forced to sacrifice card quality to stabilize their mana bases. ABU, on the other hand, settled into two-color combinations quickly, ending up with very focused decks.
When asked about the draft, Black Ops were quick to recognize their mistakes. Though they felt ABU had the better decks, they did insist that they had a chance to take the match. Said Olivier Ruel "Well, we might be able to win, but we can definitely lose."
Florent Jeudon drafted U/B/w against Ryan Fuller's G/W/r deck of five tappers. They were four turns into their first game before their opponent's finished shuffling. Fuller jumped the mana curve with Quirion Elves and Harrow. Jeudon aimed Bog Down at his hand of four cards and found two more land.
At the other end of the table, Olivier Ruel was mulliganing. He drew his six and kept, despite the fact that he held all white spells and no Plains. He drew the land shortly thereafter, but was staring down Chris Benafel Caldera Kavu with no defenses.
Antoine Ruel was under early pressure from Noah Boeken's Dream Thrush and Cavern Harpy. He made a Phyrexian Reaper and started to race, helped along with the damage from Smoldering Tar. When Boeken added a kicked Ardent Soldier to his lineup, he sacrificed the Tar to take it out. He was soon on the wrong end of the race. Boeken put Shackles on his Reaper and Recovered his Soldier. Antoine played Cursed Flesh on the Thrush to save himself some pain.
Fuller seemed to be taking command of his match. A hasted Serpentine Kavu caught Jeudon off-guard. He summoned a Metathran Zombie to deal with the problem, but Fuller played out a Benalish Trapper and Repulsed Jeudon's next blocker to push through more damage. Jeudon tapped out cast a sorely needed Phyrexian Bloodstock. Fuller tapped it at end of turn and attacked. Rather than lose his Zombie, Jeudon took the damage. Fuller tapped out for a kicked Explosive Growth for the win.
He turned to Boeken to display the eight land, Harrow and Quirion Elves he had drawn that game, not to mention the two that Harrow pulled out of his library. Boeken gave him a low-five and turned back to winning his own match. He spent one turn assaulting Antoine's hand with Ravenous Rats, bouncing his Harpy to play them twice. Antoine cast a Viashino Grappler, but it didn't matter. Boeken had sickness in hand: A Hunting Drake to go with his Harpy. Boeken couldn't contain his excitement at what looked like a game win, giggling so much he nearly fell out of his seat. Antoine conceded as soon as it hit the table.Team Black Ops
Olivier took two hits from the Caldera Kavu, his unkicked Vodalian Serpent couldn't trade with it. A Treva's Attendant on the other side of the board made things look all the worse. Olivier upgraded his Serpent into a Silver Drake, but wouldn't trade it for either of the monsters, falling to ten. He untapped and kicked his Serpent. He was taken aback when Benafel sacrificed his Attendant to get the mana he needed to Exclude. Benafel Repulsed his remaining blocker and attacked, showing Olivier the Recoil that would win him the game next turn.
Black Ops was visibly demoralized after being swept in the first games. They couldn't even get too excited about Fuller's mulligan in his Game Two. Boeken was a little surprised, letting out a surprised cry of "Mulligan?" Fuller quieted him by flashing his hand and saying "You keep one land hands?" His six-card hand came out quickly with Sunscape and Thornscape Apprentices and a Benalish Trapper. Jeudon Bogged him Down, catching a pair of creature enhancers, but falling quickly to Fuller's weenies.
Antoine decided to gamble in his second game. His seven-card hand had only two Swamps, but a number of quality red spells that he felt could defeat Boeken. Soon, he was under attack by a Harpy and Ravenous Rats. He had a Cursed Flesh for the Rats, but couldn't cast any of his other spells.
Olivier seemed to have resigned himself to his teams defeat. Looking over at Jeudon's frantic attempt to stabilize against Fuller's horde and his brother's two lonely Swamps, he couldn't help but figure that he and Benafel were playing for fun. That seemed to give him the right frame of mind. He kept a questionable hand that drew into the mana it needed and started playing out threats. Benafel played out some inferior creatures to try and match him.
Unlikely as it seemed, Jeudon was taking control. Fuller blew a sac-land to get an Aurora Griffin into play, but Jeudon summoned a series of monsters: Galina's Knight, a kicked Duskwalker and Phyrexian Bloodstock. He even had a Shackles for Fuller's tapper.
Before Black Ops could pick up any motivation from this situation, Antoine crumbled. He had drawn his Mountain, but Boeken had the Hunting Drake again. He sent his fliers over for the win.AlphaBetaUnlimited.com's Chris Benafel vs. Olivier Ruel of Team Black Ops
At this, Olivier's mood fell. Benafel had a hand full of removal, and started taking his offense apart. Wayfaring Giant looked like it would stop Benafel's ogres, but he Repulsed it once, then ran his creatures into it and played Flametongue Kavu after combat. Olivier scooped his cards.
Fuller was happy not to have to win his game, and while ABU was celebrating, the spectators watching the other semifinal erupted into applause as Panzer Hunters advanced to the finals.
Final Result: Team AlphaBetaUnlimited.com defeats Black Ops