Round 2: Feature Match – Paul Rietzl vs. Alex West

Posted in Event Coverage on August 5, 2011

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

"Morning, gentlemen," I said cheerfully as the two competitors sat down for the second round of the tournament but I was still looking down and getting the camera ready and opening up a blank document and did not see the glum look on either of their faces.

"You realize that we both lost, right?" sighed Rietzl.

Both players came into this event with their eyes no doubt on picking up some of the precious Pro Points available at Nationals. With his Finals finish in Paris — and double tabling of Grand Prix Paris at the same time -- Rietzl is within the Top 10 of the Player of the Year race. Additionally with 10 days left for members of the two Pro Tour Hall of Fame committees to submit — or even resubmit — their ballots a National team berth might be the Magic equivalent of shaking hands and kissing babies.

For Alex the Pro Points are even more important. The Star City Games columnist has not even gotten on the board for the Player of the Year race — the only players listed on the page have 10 or more points so far this season — getting the minimum point payout at each of the first two Pro Tours so far this season.

When you lose round one of an event like Nationals the hope is that you will get paired with a relatively inexperienced player in the 0-1 bracket and will be able to get back on track. As they walked to the pairings board the last name they wanted to see across from their was one they recognized.

Paul Rietzl

"Should I have said 'Mourning gentlemen.'"

"I haven't won a Constructed match at Nationals since 1999," Rietzl said wryly.

"Some would say the odds are in your favor," offered Alex who rolled very low on his dice. "You are a favorite to win this die roll..."

"Tied it," slumped Rietzl who would eventually win the reroll.

Game One

Rietzl led off with Porcelain Legionnaire off of a Plains and Inkmoth Nexus — he was playing Tempered Steel. Alex played Spreading Seas on his Plains rather than his Inkmoth Nexus out of respect for the eponymous enchantment. Rietzl added Vault Skirge to his team as well as Glint Hawk Idol. West played Colonnade and passed the turn.

Rietzl offered up another Idol but it was Mana Leak ed. Rietzl paid to animate the one from the previous turn and attacked for 6. Day of Judgement from West cleared away most of the threats but Rietzl was able to animate both Idol and Nexus and swing in for 2 and 1 before playing another Nexus.

West's deck was starting to rumble to life as he played an Everflowing Chalice for 1 and Oblivion Ring ed the Idol. Rietzl sighed and went to his back up plan, animating both of the Inkmoths and scratching away. West paid full price for Tezzeret's Gambit and nudged up his Chalice to two counters. Rietzl had Spellskite. He was tight on mana and could only get in for 1 poison counter that turn.

Rietzl played a second Chalice for 1 and then summoned Consecrated Sphinx. Rietzl frowned at the board but he had a plan. He animated both his Nexi during his upkeep and Dispatch ed the Sphinx before drawing a card. He snuck in for another point of poison. West slowed the infection with Spreading Seas on one of the two Nexi. He played another Gambit for full price and forged another Chalice.

Rietzl attempted to land Tempered Steel bit it was met with Mana Leak. His Nexus got in for the 6th poison counter. West tapped an Island and a Chalice with three counters on it to Gambit again. He left Colonnade mana up and ORinged the Spellskite but he had to Mana Leak another Tempered Steel on Rietzl's turn. Rietzl was able to get 7th or a 7th poison but — with just a little sweat starting to show on his brow — West finally found a Tectonic Edge. He attacked with two Colonnades and passed.

Rietzl finally landed a Tempered Steel and followed it with Vault Skirge and Signal Pest. West killed the Inkmoth EOT and untapped to kill everything else with Day of Judgement. He played yet another Tezzeret's Gambit and had his Chalices at 5,4, and 3. Baneslayer Angel was enough for Rietzl to slide the pair of Seas across the table and wrinkled up his face in disgust as he reached for the sideboard.

Alex West

Game Two

Glint Hawk Idol led off for Rietzl and West's Mana Leak on Steel Overseer saved two points of damage with no third land for the Pro Tour Amsterdam champion. West played a pair of Chalices over the next two turns and then went to 16 to pay the Phyrexian mana cost for Gambit and boost them both up with Proliferate in between Rietzl playing Memnite and Signal Pest.

Rietzl was able to attack for 5 but was still scuffling for mana. Meanwhile, West had all the mana in the world and played Preordain into Baneslayer Angel. He O-Ringed the Idol and then played Angel. Rietzl who had sided out all but one of his Dispatch es shrugged and said okay as he played Signal Pest.

West attacked for nine and then Spread a Plains and Oust ed a Signal Pest. Rietzl nodded and started to fill out the result slip.

Final result: Alex West - 2 Paul Rietzl - 0

"I don't really like the new versions of CawBlade," said West after the match wen asked about his decision to play a blue-white control deck. "Once you are paying full price for Swords I would rather be paying that price on better guys. Everyone keeps teasing me that it is the control deck of a small child. Last round I cast a turn 5 Karn with Cancel backup."

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