Semifinal - Eduardo Sajgalik vs. Tim Pinder

Posted in Event Coverage on August 21, 2011

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.

Both these players have two more matches here at Great Britain Nationals 2011. One of them will advance to the final, with a guarantee of a place in the World Championship team for San Francisco, with a chance at the National title, while the loser here faces a 3rd/4th play-off for the final slot on the team. Still, at least a place on the plane to California is already secure.

Game One

The curse of the mulligan struck early, with Pinder holding at six, but Sajgalik starting at just five. Inquisition of Kozilek was countered by Sajgalik's Spell Pierce. Nantuko Shade also got countered, this time by Mana Leak, meaning Bloodghast was the first card into play.

"So, let's see" said Sajgalik. "I basically mulliganed to eight..." as he cast Squadron Hawk, and reloaded.

Tim Pinder

Bloodghast attacked for the first damage of the match, Sajgalik adding a second Squadron Hawk. Pinder added Vampire Lacerator, but Sajgalik had Into the Roil ready with kicker during the next attack.

Blackcleave Cliffs represented red mana for Pinder who had a lot of good cards left in hand. Sajgalik, meanwhile, wiped the board with Day of Judgment.

The second phase of the game began with Sajgalik at 12, Pinder quickly making that 9 with Lightning Bolt, 7 with Bloodghast, and Gatekeeper of Malakir coming down. Timely Reinforcements and Squadron Hawk came down for Sajgalik, who was back up to 13, just when it seemed Pinder was closing in on the opening game. After a brutal attack, the board cleared, Gatekeeper of Malakir taking out Sajgalik's final Reinforcement Soldier. Lightning Bolt put Sajgalik to 10, and Bloodghast returned from the graveyard before joining Gatekeeper of Malakir in the red zone. Sajgalik was back down to 8.

Sajgalik had plans, however. Terramorphic Expanse took out Blackcleave Cliffs, and he banged down the white planeswalker Gideon Jura.

Although Pinder had Dismember for an activated Celestial Colonnade he certainly didn't have any more pressure. The following turn, Sajgalik cast Sun Titan, returning the Colonnade to play. Pinder had been in topdeck mode for several turns, while Sajgalik was sending the Colonnade turn after turn. Into the Roil with kicker kept him comfortable, and the double mulligan had again been defeated.

Tim Pinder 0 - 1 Eduardo Sajgalik

Eduardo Sajgalik contemplates his sideboard plan

Game Two

Pinder opened with Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing Sword of Feast and Famine, Day of Judgment, Emeria Angel, Inkmoth Nexus, Seachrome Coast and Plains - oh, and a Squadron Hawk, which went away. Kalastria Highborn and Vampire Hexmage were down before Sajgalik had a play, his Sword of Feast and Famine on turn three. Although Sajgalik cast Day of Judgment, Pinder had the mana left to make him pay, dropping Sajgalik to 10 via Kalastria Highborn.

Inquisition got Mental Misstep, leaving two land and Emeria Angel in hand for Sajgalik. Pinder used Manic Vandal to kill Sajgalik's Sword of Feast and Famine, who replied with his Emeria Angel. That got the attention of a Pinder Lightning Bolt, and Pinder had Sajgalik down to 8, with Vampire Hexmage and Manic Vandal opposite one lonely token from the Emeria Angel.

Sajgalik found Squadron Hawk, fetching up the other two. Two Hawks traded for Manic Vandal, but Sajgalik was still down to six, and a freshly-played Kalastria Highborn was going to be an issue.The third Inquisition of Kozilek saw Sajgalik respond with Into the Roil with kicker, sending Vampire Hexmage back to hand. Then the Inquisition resolved, stealing the last Squadron Hawk, leaving Sajgalik with just Terramorphic Expanse.

Sajgalik fell to just one life, and really needed some Timely Reinforcements. Moments later, he had them. From the top. Three Soldiers, back up to seven life. Next turn, he topdecked Sword of Feast and Famine, activated his Inkmoth Nexus, and dealt four poison damage, untapping his lands...

An amazing comeback, with Emeria Angel completing the deal, and leaving Pinder in a 0-2 hole.

Tim Pinder 0 - 2 Eduardo Sajgalik

Game Three

Pinder mulliganed to five, and his turn one Inquisition of Kozilek showed only Day of Judgment and Consecrated Sphinx apart from lands.

Turn two Kalastria Highborn was decent, as was turn three Kalastria Highborn. They were presumably only going to live, however, until Sajgalik laid land number four and cast Day of Judgment. In came the Highborns, Sajgalik fell to 14, cast Day of Judgment, and Pinder had the mana to punish Sajgalik all the way down to 8. Pinder tried to reload with Vampire Hexmage.

Sajgalik had Timely Reinforcements right when he needed them. Now he was back up to 14. He added Emeria Angel and started making tokens.

Consecrated Sphinx lasted almost no time before meeting Doom Blade, but even at 12 life Sajgalik was in total control. He activated Celestial Colonnade, piled in for eight damage, with Pinder now close to elimination. Terramorphic Expanse ensured Pinder would have no red mana, although Blackcleave Cliffs would eventually change that. If, that was, eventually would get to come around.

Who makes the final?

Sajgalik activated Celestial Colonnade and dropped Pinder to just five, with six flying damage available for the following turn. Doom Blade killed the Colonnade, but Pinder was still at three life. Could he escape, with Sajgalik at 12? Vampire Hexmage, Bloodghast, and Kalastria Highborn were in play. Bloodghast and Vampire Hexmage were in hand.

The Bloodghast attacked alone, puting Sajgalik to 10. Another Celestial Colonnade attacked with one Bird token, causing Pinder to respond by sacrificing both Vampire Hexmages. Pinder was at 2, Sajgalik at 6.

One last attack from Pinder, and we were done. This had been almost as one-sided as the quarter final, with Sajgalik seemingly finding exactly what he needed every time he needed it.

Tim Pinder 0 - 3 Eduardo Sajgalik

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