Semifinal – Marijn Lybaert vs. Kenny Öberg

Posted in Event Coverage on August 29, 2010

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

The battle commenced long before the first card was played. In the feature match area, Öberg attempted to have the table switched to the side of the arena where the horde of Swedish fans was waiting expectantly. Lybaert, meanwhile, having won his quarter final in front of a rabid collection of Belgian reprobates, led by ringleaders Niels Viaene and Mark Dictus, had shotgunned the lucky table – or at least his supporters had.

Garruk's Companion arrived on schedule turn two for Öberg, while Lybaert started the deck-stacking process with Augury Owl. Sacred Wolf added to the Swedish team, while Æther Adept for Lybaert couldn't touch the Sacred Wolf, although it could trade. Gravedigger returned the Æther Adept for Lybaert, in the kind of move that's been irritating non-recursion players since the dawn of time.

Öberg aimed Acidic Slime at Lybaert's only Swamp, but the Belgian had a replacement handy, thanks to Preordain. Not wanting to bounce the Acidic Slime, Lybaert instead bounced and replayed Augury Owl, allowing him to Scry once more. Slime traded for Adept, and the next phase of the game commenced, with Cudgel Troll for Öberg and Nightwing Shade for Lybaert, wholwas down to just six life once Öberg added Awakener Druid to the mix, crashing in with a hefty Forest.

Lybaert had Assassinate for the Forest, Öberg responding to the threat of Nightwing Shade with removal of his own in the form of Plummet. Sign in Blood dropped Lybaert to just three, with Öberg continuing to apply the beats. Stabbing Pain held things off for a turn, but it was only for a turn. Öberg had Pyroclasm to clear out the remaining Child of Night blocker, and Sweden was one game away from having a finalist on home territory.

Lybaert 0 – 1 Öberg

Kenny Öberg

Augury Owl got the Belgian ball rolling for game two, with Barony Vampire close behind. Fireball took out the Vampire, which was replaced by Azure Drake. Canyon Minotaur isn't anyone's idea of a stellar creature, but it would create damage parity for Öberg. Æther Adept sent it packing, and in came the flyers. Acidic Slime took out an Island, which didn't seem to disturb Lybaert unduly, who used Gravedigger to return the Æther Adept. Öberg knew he was in danger of being outraced. Doom Blade killed the Azure Drake, Canyon Minotaur completing the turn.

Preordain for Lybaert left him leaving both cards on top of the library, so Sign in Blood was always going to yield positive results. The Augury Owl dropped Öberg to eleven. Yavimaya Wurm was offered up by Öberg as 'something to bounce', a prophecy that came true moments later. Just as certainly, back it came.

Foresee put three cards to the bottom, leaving Lybaert looking for good news, and a nice surprise. Augury Owl dropped Öberg to nine, before Quag Sickness efficiently killed the Yavimaya Wurm. Awakener Druid sent a Forest into the red zone, Öberg completing the turn with Sorceror's Strongbox. Nightwing Shade arrived for Lybaert, who added to Öberg's problems with Assassinate for the Forest. It didn't seem as if Öberg would be able to win the race.

Sorceror's Strongbox delivered when Öberg successfully picked the lock, netting him card advantage. Garruk's Companion joined Öberg's crowd, but another Æther Adept saw Canyon Minotaur gone away. Nightwing Shade, Æther Adept, Augury Owl, Gravedigger, all into the red zone. Combust was good, but Lybaert's board was better, and we were headed for a decider.

Lybaert 1 – 1 Öberg

Marijn Lybaert

For the second game running, Garruk's Companion faced Augury Owl by the end of each turn two. Sylvan Ranger fetched Öberg a Mountain after the Companion had dealt the first damage of the match. That was enough to attract Assassinate from Lybaert, who nonetheless was under pressure, at sixteen, and facing Canyon Minotaur and Sylvan Ranger. Phantom Beast changed matters, but only briefly, Prodigal Pyromancer arriving for Öberg.

Sign in Blood allowed Lybaert to dig for answers, but, just as black does, those possible answers would come at a price. Knowing the Phantom Beast was destined for the graveyard, Lybaert attacked, choosing Unsummon to bounce the Prodigal Pyromancer, protecting his Beast for at least another turn.

Öberg chose not to replay it, opting instead for Greater Basilisk. Liliana's Specter forced Öberg to discard, which was only a humble Forest. Barony Vampire joined the Belgian board position, which was now confronted by Prodigal Pyromancer, Sacred Wolf, Canyon Minotaur, Sylvan Ranger, and Greater Basilisk. The decider was turning into a decent game, with both players on eleven life, and down to just two cards apiece.

At last, the Prodigal Pyromancer was able to dispose of the Phantom Beast, Lybaert trading Barony Vampire for Canyon Minotaur. The Sorceror's Strongbox had been great for Öberg in game two, but not in game three, as Lybaert used Mana Leak to counter it. The Prodigal Pyromancer, though, was going to be a big, big issue....which is why Quag Sickness put it in the graveyard at top speed.

Greater Basilisk and Sylvan Ranger resumed hostilities, dropping Lybaert to four, staring across at Öberg on nine. Next time around, the Augury Owl got in the way of Greater Basilisk. Lybaert at three. Plummet arrived for Öberg, and suddenly it was all over. The all-Swedish final had become a reality, a tremendous achievement.

Marijn Lybaert 1 – 2 Kenny Öberg

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