NagoyanDreadful pun aside, there's plenty to fear about Breaking the Ruels. The brothers Olivier and Antoine Ruel are both Invitationalists, and are usually found near the top of the standings at any given Pro Tour. For reference, Olivier is the silly one, and Antoine is the giggly one. Today they are without their legion of stuffed animals. That could be the stern influence of the King of the Asian Grand Prix, Alex Shvartsman. He's looking to take home the Nagoya crown again, having done it years ago with the help of Nick Wong and Trevor Blackwell.
Forgetting their arm-length resumes for a moment, their card pool is also ridiculous. Olivier has two Overruns and a Savage Firecat. Antoine has recursion overload thanks to Morgue Thefts that fetch Anarchists that fetch Concentrate. Shvartsman's blue-white with all the best tools is their "bad" deck.
After relaxing for two round they square off against NAGOYAN. The best home-town defence you could hope for, they are Ryo Ogura who made Top 8 at the overstuffed Grand Prix - Kobe, Ryoma Shiozu (Top 4 GP Shizuoka), and Koji Nose, still struggling for a title of his own.
Four land, Werebear, Halberdier and Mad Dog seemed like a great start for Olivier, but after drawing five consecutive land, it needed re-evaluation. Ogura's blue-green was meanwhile dropping bombs like Thought Devourer and Balshan Griffin. Finally Olivier drew Nantuko Cultivator to try and turn things around, but he met Standstill from Ogura, and from their the game was unsalvageable.
Antoine was busy in the in the red-black mirror against Shiozu. Innocent Blood kept Shiozu from beating down, thanks to Anarchist and Morgue Theft. Shiozu was content to do his part keeping Antoine's position tranquil. Antoine played Deep Analysis, and it looked like he might start to take control.
Seeing two blue-white players sitting across from each other, you would expect the game to progress at a snail's pace. Not so with Shvartsman v. Nose. Shvartsamn was short on tools and under fire from Nose's creatures, already at six. He waged the battle as best he could, buying time with Aether Burst, but Nose just dropped Angel of Retribution and Shvartsman couldn't handle it.
The stalemate between Antoine and Shiozu had grown. Neither could keep a creature on the table. Balshan Collaborator made a brief appearance, but couldn't go the distance. Antoine cast Concentrate, and it was clear how this one would end. Unable to mount an offence despite his overwhelming card advantage, Antoine ran out of cards in his deck and lost.
Breaking the RuelsStill, the three were resolute. Olivier put on his best game face and walked right into turn-four Thought Devourer. He had drawn both his Overruns, but just two forests to go with them, so his two small dudes couldn't put up a fight. Four turns later he drew Savage Firecat, just in time to watch Thought Devourer come in for the final four points.
NAGOYAN 1 - Breaking the Ruels 0
It was do or die. Breaking the Ruels needed to win four games straight. Nose curved out with Patrol Hound and Nomad Decoy, Shvartsman with Cephalid Scout and Looter. However, Nose trumped with Mystic Zealot and Militant Monk while Shvartsman struggled to find defenders with his Looter. Hallowed Healer was pinned by the Decoy. His Graceful Antelope fell to Syncopate.
Finally Shvartsman had to play Kirtar's Desire on the Zealot and Waste Away on the Decoy stop his death, only to watch Nose play Psionic Gift, off the looter and swing in to leave him at two with just Hallowed Healer in play. He Concentrated, drawing Aether Burst but not the island he needed to cast it at the end of Nose's turn. The Healer died to the Zealot, having bought him one more turn.
He dropped Zealot and Guardian, hoping they would hold. Nose drew and smiled, dropping Crackling Club on one of his creatures. He sacrificed it to deal one to the Guardian and the Zealot finished it off. He swung with both his men to give his team the win.
Shortly thereafter, Antoine took his match, rarely having fewer than five cards in hand.
Final Result: NAGOYAN defeats Breaking The Ruels 2-1