Semifinal Feature Match: Antoine Ruel vs. Trey Van Cleave

Posted in Event Coverage

By Mark Wraith

Both of these players have two Grand Prix wins to their credit, and are playing for their third.

Game 1

Antoine started in the third game, but after both players laid an Island and a Plains, it was Trey who played the first creature of the match - a Spirit Weaver. Ruel didn't have a creature on his third turn either, and a Tower Drake joined Van Cleave's forces.

Ruel had to wait until his fourth turn to play an Aurora Griffin, but it only traded with the Spirit Weaver, while Antoine went down to 16 life. The Dane followed this up with a protection from Blue Voice of All.

Antoine played a Silver Drake with the help of a Stormscape Familiar, but this could not block the Voice of All, and it was Hobbled to prevent it from attacking. Ruel did have a way to stop the Angel, though, a Glimmering Angel, but he elected to play a Hunting Drake instead.

The Frenchman went to twelve life before playing his Angel, but by then a 3/3 Faerie Squadron had been summoned by Trey. The board seemed fairly stable, though, since this could be blocked by the Silver Drake. Trey soon dispelled this illusion, as he attacked with all his flyers - the Voice of All getting blocked by Glimmering Angel, and the Faerie Squadron by the Drake - but then Ertai, the Corrupted entered play.

Trey also had Dromar the Banisher, but wanted to play the Ertai first to make sure his Dragon was completely safe. This was certainly a wise decision, as Antoine was sat there with Sunscape Battlemage. He played it anyway, of course, to remove the Tower Drake from play, and attack for three, but looked a little pained when Dromar entered play on Van Cleave's next turn.

It was pretty difficult for him to do anything about the Dragon while Ertai was in play, and he had to pass the turn. Dromar hit Ruel down to four, and Trey summoned an Acolyte whose ability in this game was solely to be sacrificed to counter a spell. Antoine tried to enchant his Hunting Drake with Armadillo Cloak, and the Dane strangely did not decide to counter it.

It's attack put Ruel back up to 11, but Trey showed why he wasn't too bothered by the Cloak, using a Sway of Illusion to turn all of Antoine's creatures red, and attacked with Dromar. He couldn't return red creatures now though, as that would tap him out, and then the Battlemage would kill his Dragon. Trey obviously made a mistake here, since there was no reason to change the Battlemage's color as well as the flyers.

So Trey merely ( ! ) did seven damage, and brought Antoine back to four. Ruel retaliated with his Hunting Drake, gaining four and bringing Trey to nine. Now Van Cleave because of his silly mistake with the Sway of Illusion could not afford to attack with the Dragon again, but he did cast Probe with kicker.

Ruel played a Llanowar Knight which resolved, and a Riptide Crab which Trey countered by sacrificing his Crimson Acolyte, almost certainly Trey should have countered the Knight as he had no way of dealing with this on the board. This left him with no creatures capable of blocking the Knight, and he went into even more trouble when Antoine played an Allied Strategies, threatening to draw three cards. Van Cleave thought long and hard about whether to sacrifice Ertai to counter it, but decided he couldn't afford to do so. The Knight brought Trey to seven life. He found a creature that could block the Knight on his next turn, but it wasn't large enough to survive the block - only another Crimson Acolyte.

After going down to five Trey did find a creature capable of killing the 2/2 - a Disciple of Kangee, so when Antoine tried to cast Strength of Unity on his Knight, he was ready with the Confound. This was still not enough to stop the Knight, as Ruel could make it fly with the Disciple, and attacked with all of his flyers for the game.

Trey must be very annoyed himself to lose the game with a silly mistake like the one he made with the Sway of Illusion, and this first game took up forty of the available ninety minutes for the match.

Game 2

Trey began, and summoned a Tidal Visionary on his first turn. The 1/1 hit twice and Trey played a Metathran Transport as well. On Ruel's third turn he dropped a Disciple of Kangee, which held off the Visionary but not the Transport. Trey didn't have anything of his own to cast though, and passed the turn.

Similarly, Ruel had nothing to do on his fourth turn expect attack with the Disciple of Kangee, but after Trey again did nothing, Antoine summoned a Glimmering Angel. Now Van Cleave found something else to do - laying Ertai the Corrupted, which stabilized the board.

This stability was very short-lived, Antoine played Strength of Unity on his Glimmering Angel and attacked for 5. Trey was one mana short of being able to cast the Confound in his hand on it, so he had to take the damage, going down to eleven.

Van Cleave managed to deal with this threat as well though, since he had a Dismantling Blow in his hand, which he could play with kicker if he chose to. He decided to wait until he was sure Antoine wouldn't cast anything he really needed to counter - playing it at the end of the Frenchman's turn. This could have been risky, as it gave Ruel chance to play Prohibit on it if he had had one.

Trey slowed the game down even more on his turn by casting Protective Sphere which meant he would never take more than one damage from an unblocked white or blue card.

Nevertheless Antoine attacked with his Angel, and of course Trey blocked with his Transport. Ruel tried to give it +3/+3 with a Gerrard's Command, but this was Confounded. Van Cleave's Disciple of Kangee was Excluded, and Trey could have sacrificed either the Tidal Visionary or the Protective Sphere to counter the Exclude, but did not do so.

He did, however, decide to counter a Stormscape Apprentice which Ruel tried to summon, giving the Frenchman a window of opportunity to cast a Sulam Djinn. Trey couldn't use the Sphere on the Djinn, at least not without turning it blue with the Transport first. Instead he used his Sway of Illusion to make it white, just so he could prevent the damage with his Sphere. He should have made it blue instead, since when he paid one life, Antoine used a Disciple of Kangee to change its color again and forced Trey to take another life point.

Trey was now at three, and chose to play a Teferi's Moat, stopping blue creatures from attacking on the ground. This was because he had a Transport to turn Ruel's creatures blue, but it already looked to late. The Disciple gave flying to the Sulam Djinn, and Antoine attacked with the Djinn, the Stormscape Familiar, and the Glimmering Angel, reducing Trey to one at the cost of the Familiar. After his attack Antoine played a Sunscape Battlemage to kill the Transport, since Trey was tapped out.

Without any way of blocking enough flyers, even though he drew Dromar, the Banisher, Trey had to hope that Antoine believed he had a trick of some sort since an all out attack would certainly kill him. Antoine did think for a while, but eventually made his Battlemage fly and attacked for the match.

Trey must be very annoyed to go out of the competition after playing so well all weekend by making so many mistakes at the end of the competition, and now it is Ruel who tries to win his third Grand Prix in the final of GP Cologne.

Final Result: Antoine Ruel defeats Trey Van Cleave 2 - 0

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