By Matthew Vienneau
Undefeated Japanese National Champion Tsuyoshi Doyama played Katsuhiro Mori in a round five feature match. Mori was invited to this year's Magic Invitational but had missed so much school attending previous Magic events that he was forced to decline the invitation if he wanted to pass the year!
In contrast to previous feature matches, a coin was flipped to determine who played first and Doyama chose to play. His opening hand were two Wastelands, two Impulses, Counterspell, Force of Will and - wait for it - Crater Hellion! He elected to keep this hand and started by Wasting Mori's Flood Plain. Mori appeared to be playing some sort of blue/white control deck using Lilting Refrains and it wasn't until several turns in, after both players had Impulsed and Brainstormed multiple times that it became that this was an Oath of Druids vs. Replenish match-up.
As is usual with control on control, both players spent their first couple of turns setting up their board position and trying to get as much land into play as possible. Eventually Mori cast Intuition and selected two Saproling Burst and a Pandemonium. Doyama correctly gave him the Pandemonium (the non-active portion of the combo) that Mori then put into his graveyard with a Frantic Search that he protected with a Counterspell.
After several turns of gathering cards and counterspells, Mori attempted to go off by casting Replenish. While I'm sure he was expecting a vicious counterspell battle, Doyama had nothing but green spells in hand and conceded the game.
Doyoma opens with Enlightened Tutor, Counterspell, Force of Will, Seal of Cleansing, Treetop Village and two other land. He Enlighten Tutored for a Phyrexian Furnace at the end of Mori's turn and played it on turn two to get graveyard control. Traditionally the Furnace is not a silver bullet against Pandeburst decks but it forces them to go off all at once which can be difficult. The early game had more active spells as two Lilting Refrains and a Seal of Cleansing hit play after some minor counterspell battles. Again an assortment of Impulses and Brainstorms were cast revealing a Swords to Plowshares that Doyoma left in his deck as a surprise life gain tactic. Doyoma's hand is incredible, if low on land and he manages to build up two Counterspells, two Force of Wills and a Pyroblast when he impulses and chooses a land over a third Force of Will.
Doyoma takes Force of Will in the second Impulse over Sylvan Library but remains at five land as Mori continues to improve his hand and the lone remaining Lilting Refrain builds up counters. Mori attempts two Intuitions that are Pyroblasted but finally decides he has to go off and Seals the Phyrexian Furnace. In response Doyoma sacrifices it to remove target card from the graveyard and draw a card. Mori attemps a Saproling Burst and like a drunken marriage gets it Annulled. At the end of Mori's turn, Doyoma Enlightened Tutors for a Seal of Cleansing in order to deal with the 10-counter Lilting Refrain.
Mori casts two main phase Frantic Search over two turns, discarding Pandemonium to one and Replenish to the other! This appeared to be incredibly foolish as Replenish is one of the must-counter spells that should be used to empty an opponent's hand. But it soon became apparent that Mori knew what he was doing as he cast another Replenish. Doyoma Counterspelled, Mori Counterspelled, Doyoma Sealed the Lilting Refrain and then Counterspelled again, Mori Counterspelled, Doyoma Force of Willed, Mori Force of Willed, Doyoma Force of Willed *again* and Mori Force of Willed it!
Doyoma gazed with disbelief at the eight counterspells on the table and at the Force of Will remaining in his hand that he couldn't cast with his two untapped lands. Despite Mori misusing the Lilting Refrain (with a Seal of Cleansing in play he should have used it on the first Counterspell targeting his Replenish), Doyoma ended up suffering for taking a land over the fourth Force of Will during his early game Impulse and Mori benefits by winning the match 2-0.