John Ormerod hardly needs an introduction at a European tournament. Along with Ronaldson and Dobson, he first gained fame in the tournament scene at Pro Tour Chicago '99, where he was among the British players who navigated the NecroPebbles deck to the top of the standings. Since then, Ormerod has continued to do well, recently making finals at Grand Prix Manchester.
Dave Montreuil moved to Switzerland from Canada less than four months ago - and became the country's national champion. Montreuil, a professional musician who moved to Europe in order to participate in a jazz program, navigated his mono-red Ponza style deck through many rounds of competition, first to win his nationals and now to be one of the few undefeated players at this tournament. "I was incredibly lucky at Nationals, and have been very lucky today as well," Montreuil explains his success away humbly. He also asked us to say a quick "Hello" to his friend, Dave Herder.
Montreuil's mono-red deck has an advantage over Ormerod's mono-blue Opposition/Orb strategy. Although the British player feels the advantage is minor, it seems that the red deck can often overrun the blue one early in the game.
Montreuil summoned a turn two Goblin Raider. As it attacked for damage, he managed to kill off a Merfolk Looter and let Spiketail Hatchling counter a Stone Rain. Ormerod cast Thieving Magpie and was willing to block the Raider despite being tapped out. He then counters a Ghitu Fire for one via Thwart, but had to let the second Goblin Raider resolve.
For the next several turns, Montreuil kept on attacking for four points per turn. Ormerod was attacking for only one point of damage per turn, but he was also drawing a card every turn thanks to his Bird. He soon summoned a Glacial Wall, slowing down the mana-flooded Montreuil.
Ormerod stabilized the table and was ready to begin attacking after having summoned a Blind Seer. Montreuil used the last card in his hand - Ghitu Fire - to bring the British player down to two life points. He now needed an Urza's Rage, or any direct damage spell before his opponent drew counter magic. Although Ormerod had a hand full of cards, he actually drew no counterspells at all - but Montreuil did not know that.
Unfortunately for Montreuil, Ormerod drew a Counterspell before he had a chance to draw a threat. Ormerod also had his Static Orb/Opposition combo at the ready, and used it to lock Montreuil up. He would tap all the permanents that his opponent untapped during the untap step, then tap his own Static Orb at the end of his opponent's turn. Very soon, Ormerod was able to attack for four points every turn, sending Blind Seer and Thieving Magpie in. Unable to do anything further, Montreuil had to concede the first game and hope that the inherent matchup advantage will carry the day for him over the next two games.John Ormerod
2 Thieving Magpie
1 Sleight of Hand
1 Temporal Adept
3 Stinging Barrier
1 Glacial Wall
4 Stone Rain
1 Ghitu Fire
1 Dust Bowl
4 Mogg Sentry
3 Blood Oath
2 Chimeric Idol
Montreuil began the game by casting his sideboard card - Mogg Sentry, and following it up with another one a turn later. In a true Sligh fashion he followed it up with Goblin Raider and went straight to the dome, casting a Volcanic Hammer at Ormerod.
Ormerod summoned Blind Seer, but even Urza in disguise could not save him. Ironically, Urza's Rage removed Urza the Potential Blocker. The game was over on its sixth turn.
Montreuil kept a one-land hand, which worked out just fine - he ended up not missing a land drop for several turns. Some direct damage took care of a pair of Spiketail Hatchlings, but he did not get to cast a creature until the fourth turn, when he managed to summon a Firebrand Ranger.John Ormerod vs. Dave Montreuil
Urza's Rage took out a Thieving Magpie, clearing the way for the Ranger and a Mogg Sentry that joined it soon after. Ormerod played out a pair of Glacial Walls, prompting one of the spectators to comment "Shields Up!" as Montreuil no longer had ground offense. Ormerod was also forced to Thwart a Chimeric Idol, allowing his opponent's Blood Oath to become useful and deal six points of damage, naming lands.
Despite a horde of creatures steadily growing on Montreuil's side of the table, Ormerod began to establish control. He summoned Merfolk Looter and cast Opposition. Montreuil drew and cast one of his better cards against the Orb deck - Kris Mage, capable of taking out Looters and Hatchlings all by itself. He removed the Looter and kept attacking with the other four creatures he had in play.
Down to four life points, Ormerod summoned a Stinging Barrier - but was it too late? Montreuil attacked with all of his creatures, bringing the British player down to two life, and summoned another Mogg Sentry. Ormerod was literally overwhelmed by the red creature horde.
Final Result: Montreuil 2 - Ormerod 1