Semifinal - Caleb Durward vs. Tomoharu Saito

Posted in Event Coverage on August 1, 2010

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Caleb Durward and Tomoharu Saito met earlier in the day today, with Saito taking a 2-0 victory in round fifteen.

"Yeah, he crushed me. Probably because he's good at the game or something."

Saito won the roll and chose to go first. Both players started with a mulligan, keeping things even. Saito was the first on the board with a second turn Coralhelm Commander. When Durward tried to match it with a Wild Mongrel, Saito Dazed. A Lord of Atlantis came down, giving the Commander a free pass to knock Durward down to seventeen.

Saito is 'good at Magic.' Or something.

Durward, recognizing that Saito failed to play a land on the previous turn aimed a Wasteland at Saito's Underground Sea, locking him to a single Island. HE also played a Basking Rootwalla. Saito managed to draw a Mutavault on his turn, and he used it and his Island to level the Commander up to two, making it a 4/4. The Commander and Lord seung in, knocking Durward down to eleven. Durward untapped and played an Umezawa's Jitte, though it was a touch too late. After having his Tropical Island hit by a Wasteland on the following turn, Durward conceded.

Caleb Durward 0 – Tomoharu Saito 1

For the second game, Durward started out significantly faster with a Noble Hierarch. On his next turn, he used a Misty Rainforest to search out a Forest to match his first one, careful not to give Saito a chance to Islandwalk. When he used them to attempt to play a Wild Mongrel, Saito countered it with Force of Will. He then added insult to injury with a Submerge on the Noble Hierarch. He then added a Silvergill Adept to fill the void.

Now forced to rebuild, Durward started off with a Survival of the Fittest. Saito added a second Adept to his board on the next turn and left a Wasteland up, just waiting for a target. At the end of Saito's turn, Durward began the searching fun by discarding Vengevine to get Basking Rootwalla. After untapping, he discarded that Rootwalla to snag another Vengevine before playing the Rootwalla with madness and a Noble Hierarch. The Vengevine crashed over, knocking Saito to fourteen.

Saito tried to wrest control of the clock from Durward with a Lord of Atlantis that would give all of his men a free pass. In response, Durward floated a blue mana before trying to Daze it. This served both the purpose of forcing Saito to tap his Mutavault rather than attacking it, it also got rid of the Island, allowing him to chump block with his Rootwalla.

On the following turn, Durward sent his Vengevine over for five, knocking Saito down to nine. Not wanting to replay the Island with a Lord of Atlantis in play, Durward just passed the turn. For his turn, Saito had a bomb. An Umezawa's Jitte could dominate this creature-centric matchup, and as of his turn, he had the only copy. A Silvergill Adept picked it up and swung in, knocking Durward to eleven. At the end of Saito's Turn, Durward started his Survival chain. Vengevine got Vengevine got Basking Rootwalla. Wonder got Rootwalla. On the next turn, it appeared that he would be able to send a quite lethal team of Vengevines through the air at Saito.

The kid gloves are off. The gauntlets are on.

On his turn, Durward started thinking hard. When he began his play, he started by discarding a Rootwalla to get the last Vengevine. That Vengevine found another Rootwalla. That Rootwalla found a Noble Hierarch. With two Rootwallas entering play via madness, the three Vengevines in Durward's graveyard all came back into play. Durward turned his elementals sideways through the air and Saito packed it in.

Caleb Durward 1 – Tomoharu Saito 1

"How long was the flight from Japan," Durward asked while shuffling after a mulligan?

"About fifteen hours," Saito responded.

"That's crazy," Durward said as he shook his head.

Saito just smiled and offered a quick, "I'm crazy," with a smile. That brought a good round of laughter from the crowd.

Durward's laughter died quickly as he was forced to mulligan to five cards. Saito started strong with a turn two Coralhelm Commander. Durward tried to match it with a Wild Mongrel, but Saito had a Daze. Making matters worse, Saito had a Wasteland for Durward's Tropical Island. Add to that an Æther Vial, and it seemed as though things were going south quickly for Durward. Free to use his mana to level, Saito just kept putting counters on his Vial and Commander, content to put creatures into play rather than cast them.

Durward was in a world of hurt. He had whiffed on his second turn and was facing down arapidly growing army and a hand full of cards from Saito. Durward tapped out on the following turn to play an Umezawa's Jitte. Saito must not have cared much about it, because he waited until after it resolved to tap his Vial and put a Cursecatcher into play. His team smashed over on the following turn, dropping Durward to nine. Two fetchlands dropped him to seven.

A Basking Rootwalla showed up to pick up the Umezawa's Jitte, but Saito just added more men to his team. All it took was a Nature's Ruin on the following turn to push the Rootwalla out of the way, and Saito's Merfolk could swim over for victory.

Caleb Durward 1 – Tomoharu Saito 2

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