Round 6: Feature Match - Till Riffert vs. Daniel Gräfensteiner

Posted in Event Coverage on August 12, 2011

By Hanno Terbuyken

The Gräfensteiner brothers have been a mainstay in the German tournament scene, always hovering close to breakout success. Tobias has a second place in GP Lyon 2010 to his name, but Daniel has a Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour San Diego – and had the upper hand in this Nationals so far.

Both players came into the match on 12 points with a 4-1 record.

Game One

Riffert was on the play and put early pressure on Gräfensteiner, as he deployed an army of blue creatures: Merfolk Looter, Aven Fleetwing and Æther Adept were quickly joined by Jace's Archivist. Gräfensteiners red-white deck held his own with Griffin Rider, Siege Mastodon and Griffin Sentinel, but Riffert just kept pouring out blue fliers. Belltower Sphinx was next. Riffert put his Merfolk Looter to good use.

Both players traded creatures in combat until Riffert tapped out for Flameblast Dragon. Gräfensteiner attacked into the beast, and Riffert, on 14 life, did indeed block with the dragon: He put Flameblast Dragon in front of a Siege Mastodon, and Belltower Sphinx in front of a bloodthirsted Blood Ogre. Maybe he shouldn't have done that, as Mighty Leap elevated the Mastodon high enough to kill Flameblast Dragon.

However, Riffert was far ahead in cards. His Merfolk Looter was working overtime, and he also had Jace's Archivist that he was using for a net gain of cards. Out of that came a Mana Leak for Gräfensteiner's new Siege Mastodon, and Divination gave him even more cards. Though Riffert had run low on life – 7 to Gräfensteiner's 14 – the stream of cards he was getting gave him defensive cards like Æther Adept and Frost Breath. Gräfensteiner saw himself overwhelmed by card advantage and the opposing blue army and scooped up his cards.

Till Riffert 1 – 0 Daniel Gräfensteiner

Daniel Gräfensteiner

Game Two

Gräfensteiner chose to play first and kicked off with two Gideon's Lawkeeper and a Goblin Arsonist. The Arsonist quickly died attacking, taking Rifferts blocker with it and enabling Blood Ogre to come in with a counter, but the two tappers stayed on board.

While Riffert busied himself with Merfolk Looter and Æther Adept, Gräfensteiner preferred Griffin Rider and replaying his Blood Ogre. With Riffert already down to 12, the two Gideon's Lawkeeperhad proved quite capable of pushing through damage.

Riffert tried to build a defense with Jace's Archivist and Belltower Sphinx, clogging up the battlefield, and clearing away Blood Ogre with Unsummon at the end of Gräfensteiner's turn. But even the Archivist could not find Riffert a way to deal with the two tappers which kept Gräfensteiner on a comfortable 20 life. He used the comfortable lead to go on the offensive with Bonebreaker Giant and pumped up Griffin Riders. Riffert went to 5 life, but he kept defending bravely, blocking where he could and using Unsummon to buy him time.

Gräfensteiner had apparently run out of patience, and dropped down a Flameblast Dragon of his own. Riffert considered his options, but he had no choice but to give up game 2.

Till Riffert 1 – 1 Daniel Gräfensteiner

Till Riffert

Game Three

Riffert chose to play first and began things with a mulligan, egalizing the ill effects with a first-turn Ponder and a third-turn Divination. Gräfensteiner was more into permanents, but his early creature was first sent back by a Æther Adept and then by a second one immediately after that. Gräfensteiner had five lands in play and nothing else, and his attempts at Auramancer and Peregrine Griffin were both met by Mana Leaks. And Riffert attacked constantly.

After stopping Gräfensteiner cold, Riffert now had seven power worth of ceratures to Gräfensteiner's nothing – and Frost Breath, too, to push aside Gräfensteiners puny defensive line. Riffert dealt another seven damage, taking Gräfensteiner to a precarious 2 life. Then Riffert dropped the bomb, in the form of Flameblast Dragon, and Gräfensteiner could only look on helplessly.

Well, not quite that helpless, as Gräfensteiner fiddled with Mighty Leap and Fling shenanigans to deal five damage to Riffert and dispatching the Dragon via Fling. He even managed to stop another attack via blocking and Chandra's Outrage. But with a mere one life left, Gräfensteiner had not enough wiggle room to claw his way out of the hole, and extended the hand.

Till Riffert 2 – 1 Daniel Gräfensteiner

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