Round 5: Feature Match – Michael Jacob vs. David Ochoa

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.

"Really," groaned Michael Jacob as he made his way to the feature match area. "No one wants to see this."

He was very unhappy with the deck he had drafted -- after going 3-1 in the Standard portion with RUG-Pod. For better or worse, when you are one of the most successful U.S. Nationals players in the room you are going to get featured regardless of the quality of your draft deck. Jacob has been on two different National teams. In 2008 he was the National champion and led a team with Sam Black and Paul Cheon to the World Team Championship in Memphis to close out the 2008 season.

"Am I playing this card?" laughed Jacob at one of his main deck inclusions. "Yes I am. Am I splashing for it? Also, yes."

His opponent David Ochoa came close to making the National team last season but ended up as the alternate instead. Ochoa is on the short list of top players who have yet to get a Pro Tour Top 8 on their resume. He came close last season with a 12th place finish in Amsterdam. His next Pro Point will be his 100th -- which a Top 16 finish would guarantee him.

Game One

"I will draw!" said Jacob without any hesitation when he won the die roll. "Have you been manascrewed yet? Are you due?"

Ochoa maintained his trademark straight face and Jacob continued his patter about his draft: "I think more than one player at our table was forcing something."

Ochoa kept his opening hand and Jacob slumped: "There goes my way to win."

Neither player did anything on this first couple of turns until Ochoa plopped down a Royal Assassin against two Plains.

"So that is how it is going to be," laughed Jacob, who played a third land and passed the turn. "You know what I have to say to that? Absolutely nothing. How did you know I would be weak to Royal Assassin?"

Michael Jacob

Ochoa played Divination and dug into a Distress.

"You figured me out," said Jacob sheepishly as he laid out a fistful of creatures and Day of Judgment. One of those creatures was Goblin Bangchuckers -- the card he was embarrassed about earlier.

Jacob drew and played Bonebreaker Giant a turn later and Ochoa came back with Drifting Shade. Over the next few turns Jacob dumped Griffin Sentinel, Benalish Veteran and the Bangchuckers onto the board. Ochoa played Æther Adept and bounced the 'Chuckers.

"You think I am ever going to win a coin flip?" snorted Jacob.

Ochoa flew over for 5 with his Drifting Shade and Jacob replayed the Goblin and took another five from the Shade. Jacob untapped and promptly used the Bangchuckers to try and kill the Assassin. Just to be safe, Ochoa used the Assassin in response. True to his word, Jacob lost the flip. Ochoa blocked the Bonebreaker Giant with his Æther Adept. When he played Gravedigger to get the Adept back, that was enough for Jacob to throw in the towel.

Game Two

"Was that a first pick?" asked Jacob regarding Ochoa's Royal Assassin.

"No the guy who was in between us passed it to me," said Ochoa with just a hint of a grin.

Jacob, who had chosen to draw again, led off with Goblin Arsonist: "My secret tech to beat a Royal Assassin."

Ochoa played Alluring Siren and blocked the Arsonist at first chance.

"There goes my out."

Devouring Swarm came down for Ochoa while Jacob played a second copy of the Arsonist: "Secret technology reveals itself again!"

Ochoa drew four extra cards over the next two turns with a pair of Divinations sandwiching Jacob's Griffin Sentinel. Ochoa also had Reassembling Skeleton to go along with the Swarm.

"Your deck is better than mine," frowned Jacob.

"Slightly," Ochoa deadpanned.

Bonebreaker Giant came down for Jacob while Ochoa flew over for two and added Drifting Shade. Things were looking good for the straight man in this comedy act. He had air superiority and Reassembling Skeleton to lock up the ground. Then things turned around for the former National Champion when he played Spirit Mantle on the Bonebreaker. Jacob let the card linger in his hand for a second waiting to see if it was going to elicit any response from Ochoa.

"Yup," was all the California player could say. Jacob attacked with everything. Ochoae blocked the Arsonist with Skeleton and then reassembled it to save the Devouring Swarm. Jacob had Pacifism post combat for the Swarm. The life totals were 10 to 14 in Jacob's favor.

Ochoa still had the Drifting Shade and took a four point bite out of Jacob's life total. Divine Favor graced the Griffin Sentinel and Jacob went up to 13 -- attacking Ochoa down to three. That was enough to send them to a third game.

Game Three

While Jacob was off asking something of a judge Ochoa muttered some expletives about the card Spirit Mantle. He actually had very few cards in his deck to deal with it. There were a couple of counterspells and an Unsummon but none of the Doom Blades you might associate with the Islands and Swamps he was playing.

"I will play," announced Ochoa, despite Jacob's clear enthusiasm for being on the draw. He had Reassembling Skeleton erected on turn two and Jacob was not happy about it. He played a second turn Arsonist.

Ochoa attacked for one with the Skeleton and Jacob was clearly surprised. "You have another one?!?"

Devouring Swarm was actually what was lurking on the other side of the attack step and Jacob nodded: "Oh the nutter butters." He played Griffin Sentinel.

Ochoa attacked and then cast Drifting Shade.

David Ochoa

An "Ugh" announced Jacob's next draw step. He got in for two and had no fourth turn play. Ochoa was hesitant about his next turn and wanted to attack with both fliers, then seemed like he was going to sit back -- not wanting to commit mana to protecting either of them -- and then finally attacking with both. The Shade was blocked by the Griffin and Ochoa pumped once -- then went in the tank before pumping a second time to try and kill it. Ochoa sac'd it to the Swarm in response to the Chandra's Outrage to counter the spell.

Ochoa went to 16 from Jacob's next attack. The former Nats Champ followed up with Pacifism on the Swarm and Crimson Mage.

Ochoa played Divination -- the card he was agonizing over on the previous turn -- and found a fifth land to also play Distress. Lurking in Jacob's hand were Volcanic Dragon and the land to play it. He took the dragon.

Ochoa played Gravedigger to get back Drifting Shade but had to wait a turn and took two from a freshly cast Peregrine Griffin that was given haste by the Mage -- Ochoa went to 12.

Ochoa replayed the Drifting Shade and braced for impact as Jacob added a hasty Bonebreaker Giant. Jacob sent in the Giant, the 2/4 Griffin and the pesky Arsonist. Ochoa -- who only had two black mana untapped -- looked for productive blocks. He could not find any and eventually settled on having the Skeleton absorb the brunt of the Giant and took two in the air. He reassembled EOT

Ochoa attacked for one with Drifting Shade which may not have been much but it was enough to turn on bloodthirst for Vampire Outcasts -- 4/4 with lifelink is much better than 2/2. He also played Royal Assassin.

Jacob could only peck away for one with his Sentinel. Drifting Shade struck back for six in the air. Sentinel kept plugging away but the momentum of the game had swung toward Ochoa. Peregrine Griffin chumped the Shade. Divine Favor on the Sentinel made things interesting. Vampire Outcasts joined the attack next turn and ultimately traded the blocking Arsonist for his Royal Assassin and four precious life points.

Peregrine Griffin was Mana Leaked and Jacob conceded.

Final result: Michael Jacob - 1 David Ochoa - 2

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