In the first round, top 8 finisher from 1999 European Championships Holger Meinecke, faced Gero Mayer from Mannheim. Mannheim is a rather unknown name, but he has attended five Pro Tours. Holger had brought a black and blue Nether-Go deck to the tournament. Gero had chosen to play a very burn-ish red and black deck with Pyre Zombies, some hand destruction, Grafted Skullcap and Ensnaring Bridge.
Holger won the die roll and chose to play. His opening hand consisted of five lands, a Foil and a Vendetta, and after thinking for a while, he chose to take a mulligan. The second hand held one Salt Marsh and five spells; Vendetta, Counterspell, Undermine, Repulse and Ancestral Knowledge, but he eventually decided to keep it. Gero's hand consisted of four lands, a Ghitu Fire, an Addle and a Grafted Skullcap. He kept as well.
Holger played his Salt Marsh, while Gero started with an Urborg Volcano. Then, Holger failed to draw a second land for several turns. Meanwhile, Gero cast Addle, calling blue. A Counterspell went into Holger's graveyard. Gero continued by playing a third turn Ensnaring Bridge, then a fourth turn Duress followed by an Urza's Rage during Holger's end of turn step. He also cast a Seal of Fire and a Ghitu Fire before Holger drew his second land and cast Tsabo's Web.
With an almost empty hand, Gero played his Grafted Skullcap. However, Holger had held back an island and Foiled the Skullcap, discarding his island and a Nether Spirit. So during his following turn, he suddenly had a Nether Spirit in play.
Again, Gero Addled, but this time Holger Undermined it. Gero spent his last card, a Desperate Research, trying to get a Pyre Zombie. He didn't find it though, and with zero cards in hand he had to go draw-go for a few turns trying to find something useful. The Ensnaring Bridge helped him though, making Holger unable to attack with his Nether Spirit.
Holger dug one card deeper into his own library by Repulsing his own Nether Shadow. For a few turns, the two players went into draw-go mode, Gero looking for a Pyre Zombie, Holger looking for more lands. Holger got his lands, but Gero got his Pyre Zombie as well. In order to minimize the damage, Meinecke Counterspelled it when Gero cast it for the first time. The second time it hit the table, Holger Repulsed it. Then, it stayed put, and it was joined by yet another Zombie.
A Fact or Fiction gave Holger the choice between two Salt Marsh and an Undermine and an Undermine and another Fact or Fiction, and Holger picked the latter. After Gero had attacked with his creatures, Holger cast the new Fact or Fiction, and this time he took an Undermine and a third Fact or Fiction over a Counterspell, a Foil and an Underground River.
The third Fact or Fiction was rather easy for Gero. A Nether Shadow, two swamps, a Tsabo's Web and an Accumulated Knowledge were put on the table, and Gero quickly put the Nether Shadow in a pile of its own. Holger had to choose the Shadow, knowing that the Seals of Fire on the table could kill the one he had on the table, thus destroying his main source of damage.
Gero was still in Zombie mode though, but in spite of Holger Undermining it and then Counterspelling it, it kept coming back. Eventually, Holger realized that the game was over, and the two of them started sideboarding for game two.
Maier 1 - Meinecke 0
Holger chose to play first again, and this time his hand looked better - four lands, a Nether Shadow and a Counterspell. Gero got a quicker start though, playing a third turn Fire Diamond and then a fourth turn Nether Spirit. Holger let it through, and it started attacking.
Gero then tried to play Addle, but it was Undermined. He then tried to play Kill Switch, only to discover that he didn't have enough mana to cast it - and so he took to mana burn. An attack and a failed Desperate Research later, it was Holger's turn to play. A Fact or Fiction gave him an Undermine, a Recoil, a Nether Spirit and a Salt Marsh as Gero put a Lobotomy in a pile on its own. Then, Holger tapped out and played - a Mahamoti Djinn! With Holger tapped out, Gero cast another Nether Spirit and the Kill Switch, but the Mahamoti Djinn brought him down to ten life. Looking dissatisfied, he attacked with both Nether Spirits, but he was soon down to five life. And when Holger showed him two Undermines, the game was over.
Maier 1 - Meinecke 1
Gero chose to play first in the third and deciding game. Both players kept their hands, and Gero played a land while Holger chose to discard a Nether Spirit. Gero sped up his mana base by playing a third turn Charcoal Diamond. Then he cast Duress.
Holger's hand revealed two Undermines, a Counterspell, an Ancestral Knowledge and three lands. An Undermine went to the graveyard, then, Gero cast his Ensnaring Bridge. So the Spirit got to attack once before Gero went down to one card in his hand, playing a land, a Seal of Fire and a Pyre Zombie. Two turns later, Gero cast an Addle that was Undermined. Then, another Ensnaring Bridge hit the table.
Soon, a second Pyre Zombie came into play on Gero's side of the table. Holger Repulsed one of them during Gero's end of turn step, and so he could attack with his Nether Spirit, bringing Gero down to ten life. With three cards in hand, Gero chose to play his Pyre Zombie even though it took him down to nine thanks to his Sulfurous Springs.
A timely Duress stripped an Urza's Rage from Gero's hand, and then the two players played lands for a few turns. Gero then played a Nether Spirit, and Holger thought it was time for another Fact or Fiction. The Fact or Fiction was very successful, and he got one of his strong sideboard cards against Pyre Zombies - Engineered Plague. Naturally, he cast the Plague. Gero sacrificed one of his Zombies to kill Holger's Nether Spirit. Then, the other one died to the Plague. other one died to the Plague.
Left with only a Nether Spirit, Gero attacked. He then played Ghitu Fire to bring Holger down to twelve life. Soon, Holger's Nether Spirit was back, putting the two players into play land mode again. But as soon as Gero was up at two cards in hand, Holger attacked with his Spirit, and when Gero traded Spirits, a Cremate removed the Spirit from the graveyard. Gero couldn't do anything but playing a Seal of Fire.
A third Ensnaring Bridge was Counterspelled. Gero then finally succeeded in using Desperate Research. He called Addle, and two came up when he flipped over cards. While the first Addle got Counterspelled, the second one went through for black, stripping a Duress from Holger's hand. Gero was far from happy to see a Recoil and a Mahamoti Djinn in his opponent's hand, though.
Another Fact or Fiction later, Holger could put a Recoil in his graveyard and fill up his hand with a Counterspell, an Ancestral Knowledge and two lands. He Ancestral Knowledged for three before playing Lobotomy, taking all Desperate Researches from Gero's deck. Then, Mahamoti was back.
During his following turn, Holger Recoiled one of the Ensnaring Bridges. Gero discarded it. He then Recoiled the second Bridge as well, and Gero chose to discard that one, too. Sighing, he Urza's Raged the Mahamoti before blasting it away with the two Seals of Fire.
A Fact or Fiction threw a Nether Spirit, an Undermine and three lands on the table. This time, Gero had to think hard before deciding to put the Spirit and the Ancestral Knowledge in one pile. Holger chose that pile. He used the Ancestral Knowledge, then he repulsed Gero's Spirit and hit for two, bringing Gero down to six. The second Nether Spirit hit the table before time was called.
During the first extra turn, Gero played his Nether Spirit, but Holger Countered it. Then, Holger's attack brought Gero down to two. Holger also played a third Nether Spirit, and with two lands in hand, Gero conceded.
Final Result: Gero Maier 1 - Holger Meinecke 2