Round 7: Top Tables Round-up

Posted in Event Coverage on August 19, 2011

By David Sutcliffe

M12 Draft is a quick format.

As understatements go, that's a pretty big one. It's not just quick, it's blisteringly quick.

As the first day of Great Britain Nationals 2011 draws to a close we had some of the best players in the country battling it out at the top of the field, with two players going head-to-head for the sole 7-0 record that would survive going into Day Two. Heading the field with Tim Pinder and the one-man-show Mark Aylett, who would duel it out on 6-0 for the top spot. At the table next to them the former national Champion Jonathan Randle was hoping to prove too hot to handle for Matthew Johnson. Across the way, Sebastian Parker and Timothy Lim went head-to-head, while the seasoned multinational wanderer Eduardo Sajgalik had David Greenwood in his sights.

These were the top four matches, and the players jockeying for prime position in Day Two.

Public Health Warning: Following one game for a feature match can cause whiplash if you're not careful, so take my advice and strap yourself in for the flurry of cards and savage beatdown of following four matches at once.

Kicking off the four matches, Jonathan Randle found himself locked in a game of chicken with Matthew Johnson as the two players stared each other down while trying to decide the classic question of 'who's the beatdown?'. A pair of Garruk's Companion seemed to hand that title to Randle, but when Johnson bestowed his Tormented Soul with a Dark Favor, in addition to his Stormblood Berzerker, things turned on their head. It was car crash Magic, and Matthew Johnson emerged from the wreckage with a 1-0 lead in just five turns.

Matthew Johnson 1 – 0 Jonathan Randle

While Randle and Johnson shuffled up their cards for the second game, Sebastian Parker was just about sealing his own first game victory. His aggressive R/U deck had raced out some early damage onto Timothy Lim's mono-white army before Lim was able to stall the board. It was too late for Lim though, and his lifetotal was too low. Playing a Fiery Hellhound and pumping it up to a 5/2, Parker signalled his intent to Lim... "is there a Fling in there?" his opponent asked. There was, and Parker was ahead.

Timothy Lim 0 – 1 Sebastian Parker

Those two games had taken virtually no time at all to decide, while Eduardo Sajgalik and David Greenwood seemed to be playing a different game – one with blocking and creature stalls. The board was flooded with creatures on both sides, but neither could attack fruitfully. Sajgalik has a Cemetery Reaper trapped inside an Ice Cage, while Greenwood was drawing desperately through his deck with a Merfolk Looter and Azure Mage, but couldn't quite get ahead. A Dark Favor freed the Cemetery Reaper from the ice, and Sajgalik began to grow his zombie horde, while a puny Goblin Arsonist attacked each turn with impunity – despite Greenwood's defences he didn't dare block the little Goblin and lose one of his card drawing creatures. Despite having all his best creatures denied him by Mana Leaks Sajgalik finally wore his opponent down, and a horde of shambling zombies handed him the first game.

David Greenwood 0 – 1 Eduardo Sajgalik

Back in the first game, Matthew Johnson was showing once again just how fast his deck was. Screaming out of the blocks he had very quickly dropped the former champ to just 5 life. Randle had tons of cards in hand but his back was against the wall – he blocked and traded valiantly, and even managed to stop the rot... for a while. Abandoning Plan A (Operation Little Red Men), Johnson turned to Plan B (Operation Fiery Dragon Death) and his Flameblast Dragon arrived to wrap up the match.

Matthew Johnson 2 – 0 Jonathan Randle

The 6-0 game was late to start, following a deck check, but it didn't take long for a pattern to emerge. The pattern was that Tim Pinder would play creatures, and then Mark Aylett would do something unpleasant to them: Consume SpiritSorin's ThirstUnsummonAether Adept. Pinder was struggling to make any headway at all, and it was playing right into Aylett's hands. Getting up to six mana, Aylett played the Sorin Markov that that accounted for Matthew Johnson two rounds earlier, and the vampire gobbled up a second opponent.

Tim Pinder 0 – 1 Mark Aylett

The second game between Timothy Lim and Sebastian Parker had turned into a huge stall – Timothy Lim had, basically, every 2/2 or 2/3 white creature in the format, while Parker was hiding behind a couple of burly 4/4 and 5/5 creatures. Neither dared attack, though, and the two just continued to build their armies. It would take something special to decide this mammoth arms race, and that arrived in the form of 'the white Overrun', Guardian's Pledge. Swinging for the fences, Lim took out not just the fence but half of the baseball field and the car park with it, levelling the match.

Timothy Lim 1 – 1 Sebastian Parker

The third game in the Lim-Parker match was over in a blur. After the early turns had been spent trading creatures the way was clear for Parker to press home an advantage. Turning to his Phantasmal Dragon, Parker took to the skies while Lim could only draw land after land, watching helplessly as the Dragon tore through his lifetotal, and all his hard work in the second game was undone.

Timothy Lim 1 – 2 Sebastian Parker

Back in their second game, Eduardo Sajgalik was in a bit of trouble against David Greenwood. The French-Canadian player was stuck on four lands, then dropped to three when he was forced to Deathmark an Archon of Justice. It could easily have signalled the end for Sajgalik, who had been left with three Swamps as his only lands, but from there he immediately pulled up a replacement Mountains, and then a Swamp, and was back in business. For his part, Greenwood drew Divination,Ponder, and a second Divination, but ultimately nothing that could handle the seemingly-modest threat of a Blood Ogre. It took a while, but the Blood Ogre went all the way, finally sneaking across the finish line thanks to the help of a Goblin Tunneler.

David Greenwood 0 – 2 Eduardo Sajgalik

Only one thing remained to be decided, and that was the fate of the 7-0 title, which Mark Aylett already had one hand on following his first game win. And it turned out that the second game was very similar. A trio of Aether Adepts ensured that Tim Pinder couldn't get onto the front foot, and then Aylett played an Onyx Mage to discourage Pinder from blocking any of the Adepts and moved onto the offensive. Adding a Phantasmal Dragon for the lethal blow (and remember NOT to give it Deathtouch) the exuberant Aylett bullied his way to the win.

Tim Pinder 0 – 2 Mark Aylett

Aylett's U/B Control deck had simply dominated the whole of the top draft pod, and the player who had come primarily for the Vintage tournament on Saturday would find himself unable to play in it, due to his prior commitment as the #1 ranked player in Day Two of Great Britain Nationals 2011!

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