Round 9: Chris Benafel vs. Brian Kibler

Posted in Event Coverage on September 2, 2015

By Matthew Vienneau

Wearing a black polyester shirt decorated in bright red Chinese dragons, Brian Kibler looked rather dashing as he faced off against Chris Benafel in a black cotton T-shirt with a "London England" logo. In the earlier questionnaire, both players described themselves as "the top 2% or higher" of sexy magic players but despite this, the crowds of women spectators were sparse.

We joined this match just in time to see Benafel crushing Kibler with a very hard to kill Iridescent Angel in game one. With the ground stalled, as it often is by blue-white decks, Kibler was unable to get through as he continued to take an unstoppable four.

Benafel was now up a game, which coincides with what was predicted. Between the pro-red and pro-green 2/3 fliers, and the already mentioned "pro-everything" 4/4 flier, Benafel was in a good position to take this match in only two games. His one vulnerability was if Kibler managed to draw some of his many mana-acceleration cards. Kibler drafted both Werebears and Millikin very early, catching many of the other drafters by surprise. But this plan was looking less and less probable as Kibler mulliganed game 2. Not all predictions came true, however, as Benafel did lose to Fujita in the previous round as he was unable to deal with Fujita's Bomb Squad.

Benafel took early control of the board from Kibler's Barbarian Lunatic by playing the pro-red and pro-black Mystic Crusader. Kibler quickly responded with a Diligent Farmhand and Still Life, but already momentum was lost. Benafel playing a Cephalid Retainer for further board control reinforced this. The reason for Kibler's poor position was obvious once one realized that he only drew four spells (one of which was a Mossfire Egg) and seven lands in his first 11 cards.

At this point Benafel began what is affectionately referred to in PT circles as the "Benafel Stall". Despite being in a winning position, Benafel often suddenly lurches to a halt in the early game to ponder all his possible plays for seemingly the next eternity. This is particularly frustrating if you're in a losing position and just want to get to the next game. Benafel's canny mind games continued as he whistled tunelessly even while Kibler was in his favorite spot - the Red Zone.

An Aven Smokeweaver wasn't even necessary for defence and began attacking as the Retainer flooded the creatures on the ground. A seemingly out of place against the non-green deck Leaf Dancer was defended with the knowledge that Benafel has a Mystic Enforcer in his deck and may actually be playing a forest. Ironically, Benafel played the Mystic Enforcer the next turn off his Sungrass Prairie, and thus no forests would likely be seeing play.

Kibler was very aware of how he had almost twice as many land as Benafel in the mid-game, but he also realized that it was this very lack of land on Benafel's part that was giving him a chance of winning. This chance became much smaller as Benafel drew and for once immediately played his just-drawn spell - Treetop Sentinel. With creatures protected from both of Kibler's colors, Chris was getting confident as he chuckled and with a big smile complained about his inability to draw a fifth land.

Everything looked to be going Benafel's way when Kibler suddenly dropped a Mine Layer from the sideboard. With Benafel stalled at five lands, it looked like maybe this would give Kibler a chance, but realistically, with a Luminous Guardian making his protected fliers even bigger, Chris wasn't really in any trouble. Chris was scared enough to deal with it though, using Persuasion to bring the Mine Layer over to his side.

With the board stalled, and Kibler drawing nothing but land, eventually Benafel attained Threshold and with a giant 6/6 pro-black flier, Kibler threw down his hand of land in disgust and conceded.

Final Result: Benafel 2 - Kibler 0

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