The semifinals saw two pretty different decks face off against each other, one aggro-control and one very aggressive one. Daniel Zink's Counter-Rebels had defeated Patrick Mello's combo deck. Mark Ziegner, on the other hand, had burned his way through Michael Neumaier's red and green stuff. It was time for blue and white to go against the flaming red.
Mark won the die roll and chose to play first in a very quick first game. He got a pretty good start, and Daniel just couldn't deal with a third turn Chimeric Idol. After the Idol had dealt a lot of damage to Daniel, Mark cast two Urza's Rages to finish him off.
Zink 0 - Ziegner 1
Daniel chose to pull out three Disenchants, a Rebel Informer and one Brainstorm for a Reverent Mantra, two Mageta, the Lion, one Dominate and one Worship. "He had Kris Mages and also a Tahngarth in the sideboard, and I wanted the Dominate to deal with those. If I get five creatures out and then Worship he can't burn me out, and Mantra can save my creatures," Daniel explains.
He went first, and as usual, he took some damage from a few early creatures. A Flametongue Kavu killed a Meddling Mage, but Daniel managed to get a searcher active and got to deal some damage, too. In the end, Daniel was at six life when Mark drew a Ghitu Fire. He had seven lands in play, but still, he didn't play his Fire. And when he cast it during his following turn, it was too late - Daniel had topdecked a Counterspell and won the game.
Zink 1 - Ziegner 1
Mark went first again in the third game, and he played a turn one Kris Mage that beat Daniel down to 15 life. After struggling for a little while, Daniel managed to play two Ramosian Sergeants the same turn. Mark tried to kill one of them with a Flametongue Kavu, but a key Reverent Mantra saved the searchers and Daniel could start working the rebel chain for the victory.
Zink 2 - Ziegner 1
Game four was all about the Avatar. Nothing much happened during the first few turns. Daniel cast some Meddling Mages, but Mark kept removing them. Eventually, Mark got out a few weenies, and when Daniel got up to seven lands, the Avatar of Fury hit the table. Unable to counter it, Daniel was knocked down to three life. He had managed to get out some rebels and started chumping with a Sky Marshall, using his Lin Sivvi to shuffle it back into his library every turn. However, Mark had a Kris Mage in play and the Mage dealt the last three damage to Daniel.
Zink 2 - Ziegner 2
After a lunch break and a photo session, the fifth and deciding game started. Daniel played first, but he was unable to draw white mana in the start. Meanwhile, Mark got out a Kris Mage and started attacking - and altogether, the Mage dealt eleven damage to Daniel throughout the game. An Adarkar Wastes gave Daniel a white source, but Mark kept tapping it down during his upkeep. Still, having drawn only four lands, Mark was unable to play any other threats while doing the tapping.
Eventually, Daniel drew more white lands. He played a Meddling Mage, calling Flametongue Kavu, and the two players kept trading beats. Daniel attacked for one more each turn, but some burn took him down to five life. When Mark attempted to burn him out though, he Absorbed a Shock and then he Absorbed Mark's Avatar of Fury. Without any counterspells in hand, Mark really needed more lands to get some damage done. It took him several rounds to get that land though, and when he finally could play Skizzik with kicker, a Defiant Vanguard make sure it got destroyed anyway.
Daniel then Dominated Mark's Kris Mage and played a Sky Marshall. He was down to six because of a pain land, and Mark had killed the Meddling Mage and cast a Flametongue Kavu to get rid of the Marshall. Daniel got out a Lin Sivvi and a Ramosian Lieutenant though, and when Mark attacked with his Kavu, he double-blocked it to kill it. In response, Mark attempted to Urza's Rage the Lin Sivvi, but a Reerent Mantra saved the rebels and Daniel could attack for the win during the following turn. "I was very nervous in the game, but it's really great to make the finals. I really didn't expect this. Now I don't think it would be bad to lose in the finals. I'm happy, and I don't think it matters that much," Daniel smiles.
Final Result: Zink 3 - Ziegner 2