When you're facing a Level 8 mage, it probably pays to play the cards, not the man. That was the challenge facing Gertjan Woltjes of the Netherlands, going up against Martin Juza of the Czech Republic.
With both players looking at their opponent's lists before the game began, there was no surprise when Juza opened on turn two Plague Stinger, nor when Woltjes used Grasp of Darkness to send it packing. Contagious Nim was infect creature number two for Juza, which faced off against Necropede for Woltjes. Instill Infection ensured that the Contagious Nim would at least get in for one poison damage, a fact that might be key, with Juza relying on Proliferate later in the game.
Vulshok Replica singularly failed to hang around, with Contagion Clasp and Cystbearer a powerful turn for the Czech, who now had a recognisable route to victory with the Contagion Clasp, even if Woltjes could deal with the Infect team. Trigon of Corruption from Juza suggested very strongly that he couldn't, Woltjes now up to five poison and without a creature in play. He did have Trigon of Rage and Tumble Magnet, with the latter possibly allowing the former to be useful down the road.
Necrotic Ooze seemed unlikely to do too much, especially as Juza had Proliferate at end of turn, shrinking the Ooze to 2/1, and making it decidedly vulnerable on the following turn. Die it duly did, and Woltjes followed soon after.
Juza 1 – 0 Woltjes
The man from the Netherlands was forced to look at six cards to begin game two, which did at least begin reasonably with turn two Iron Myr against no play from Juza. Necropede and Perilous Myr joined in, meaning Juza would certainly have some work to do before commencing the poisonous path to victory. Ichor Rats didn't need to attack to Infect, opening the bizarre possibility that Juza could fall behind on poison to the Necropede across the table. With Snapsail Glider and Trigon of Rage, the Dutchman couldn't have handpicked a better start after his mulligan.
Ichor Rats traded for Perilous Myr and two damage, with Juza content to use Corpse Cur to, er, re-Cur his Ichor Rats. Snapsail Glider piled in for five in the air thanks to the Trigon of Rage, and Woltjes seemed quite happy to take two poison. Perhaps Ichorclaw Myr and Cystbearer would change that? Not next turn, at least, with a repeat of the five flying damage leaving the Trigon at one counter, and Juza at eight life.
The Czech man equipped Ichorclaw Myr with Darksteel Axe, Woltjes choosing to block the Corpse Cur and then take out the Ichorclaw Myr once his Necropede died. It was starting to look as if it was Juza who would win the race. That thought was confirmed with the arrival post-combat of Ichor Rats, taking Woltjes to nine poison, and leaving him no outs.
While Woltjes could look back on a fabulous weekend that qualified him for his debut Pro Tour in Paris 2011, Juza advanced to within a match of his second Grand Prix title of the season.
Martin Juza 2 – 0 Geertjan Woltjes