Rahman apologised nervously as she sat down at the feature match table. "I'm still a little slow", she explained, having only started playing a few months ago. This was her first GP, and she had battled her way to the 3-0 table only to be summoned to a feature match against the dreaded Saito. "I know who you are!", she laughed as the players introduced themselves.
Rahman summoned a Tormented Hero and ran it into Saito's Leafcrown Dryad, regenerating it with a Boon of Erebos. Saito summoned a Nessian Courser and passed, Rahman happy to trade her Hero against it with the aid of a Pharika's Cure.
Saito summoned a Heliod's Emissary, then bestowing it with another Leafcrown Dryad. Rahman played what defence she could, but Saito didn't give her any opportunity to recover. He flashed in a Boon Satyr to take the first game in brutal fashion.
In between rounds, Saito and Rahman chuckled about the incongruously flamenco-style guitar music being piped over the speakers at the venue. "The music is good, but not good for thinking", Saito laughed. "I cannot do combat math to music."
Tomoharu Saito 1 - Diyana Abdul Rahman 0
The second game started off less aggressively, with Saito summoning a Nessian Courser, Rahman with a Returned Centaur to keep things under control. Saito tried an attack with his Courier, and Rahman blocked. A pause stretched into eternity - we all held our breath - and Saito smiled and moved his Courier back to his side of the battlefield. Rahman pumped a little first in victory - correctly calling a Pro's bluff is one of the better feelings in competitive Magic - and looked to her board to see how she could take the game.
Rahman summoned a Baleful Eidolon, while Saito had a Fabled Hero and a Chosen by Heliod to swing the game in his favour. When he attacked, Rahman had a Boon of Erebos to block and kill the Courier, while the Fabled Hero punched on in for a healthy chunk of her life total. A Sip of Hemlock finished off the Hero, allowing Rahman to attack unopposed for the first time in the match.
Saito had a Vulpine Goliath, while Rahman summoned a Grey Merchant of Asphodel to even out the life totals somewhat. Saito played a Phalanx Leader and then flash-bestowed a Boon Satyr onto it, spreading a Heroic trigger around and generally getting all up in Rahman's grill. An attack step later, and it was all over.
Tomoharu Saito 2 - Diyana Abdul Rahman 0
Post-match, Saito and Rahman chatted briefly about their mutual love of excellent Japanese food, before Saito offered to workshop Rahman's deck with her. Rahman's deck was originally mono-black in construction, but with a bevy of powerful cards in her sideboard.
A few pointers from the master, and Rahman moved on to the rest of the day's rounds with bolstered confidence (and a mean-looking deck!), having survived her first feature match against one of Magic's true gentlemen.