Semifinals: Antoine Ruel vs. Tom Van de Logt

Posted in Event Coverage

By Josh Bennett

Dreamy Antoine Ruel

Antoine Ruel of France and Tom Van de Logt are both pretty easygoing guys. You can see it in their smiles as they play the game, and their relaxed posture, even during matches as stressful as the quarterfinals. This isn't to say that they don't possess the same laser beam intellect attributed to the Tour's Great Brains. Just watch them during a tense all-or-nothing moment and you'll see the full focus of concentration that is the mark of a top player.

This is Van de Logt's second Worlds Top 8, but he'll gain no advantage from that. Ruel is a longtime pro player best known for his work with the French team Black Ops, but sure to secure his reputation in singles play with his performance this weekend.

Of course, Ruel does have one thing going for him. All the girls think he is just dreamy.

Both players kept their opening hands. Van de Logt Duressed, and saw Ruel's hand of two Counterspells, Fire/Ice, Spite/Malice, Nether Spirit and Shivan Reef. With just a single Salt Marsh in play, it must have been tempting to Van de Logt to steal Fire/Ice to stop Ruel from cycling into another land, but he held fast and took Counterspell.

Van de Logt busted out Plague Spitter and Ruel removed it with Fire. He drew another instead of a land and passed the turn back. Van de Logt drew the remaining Counterspell with a kicked Scuta. Ruel again failed to find land. Van de Logt kicked up a Skizzik, and Ruel stopped it for a turn with Ice. He drew Salt Marsh.

Ruel played out his Marsh and passed the turn, taking five to the face. Van de Logt Duressed away Crosis's Charm, leaving him a spare as well as two Nether Spirits and a Duress. Ruel drew Fact or Fiction.

Van de Logt dropped Blazing Specter and swung. Ruel used the remaining Charm to deep-six the Skizzik and pitched a Nether Spirit. He untapped and drew Tsabo's Decree, which he probably thought was hilarious considering his three land in play. He Duressed away Terminate, then took two more and lost Spite/Malice.

He drew Accumulated Knowledge and turned it into a Tsabo's Web. Unfortunately, he was still one short. His Fact or Fiction was Duressed, and two attacks of the Specter later, he began sideboarding for game two.

Ruel brought in Meekstones and Pyroclasms, taking out the ineffective Crosis's Charm and Spite/Malice, as well as the very slow Tsabo's Decree.

Ruel's opening hand for game two was excellent. Three Fire/Ice, Opt, two land and his sideboarded Meekstone. He brought out the fattie-beater on turn one only to be one-upped. Van de Logt Ritualed out a Phyrexian Arena. A spectator in the crowd could do little to suppress a loud "Woo-hoo!"

Van de Logt followed it up with a Rishadan Port, constraining Ruel's mana further. Ruel held off on his cantrips, waiting to see if he drew into more land. A Duress from Van de Logt relieved him of Fact or Fiction.

Ruel found drew a second Fact or Fiction and played his third land. Van de Logt matched him. Ruel used Accumulated Knowledge to find his fourth land. Van de Logt played a second Port and smiled. He tapped Ruel's land during his upkeep, and Ruel responded with Fact or Fiction, getting Accumulated Knowledge and Opt over two lands and a Nether Spirit.

This made for an interesting situation. Van de Logt was already on a clock from his Phyrexian Arena, and now his opponent's Spirit was starting to work him over. Between that and the Meekstone keeping his heavy hitters down he would need to act quickly to outrace his opponent.

Van de Logt Addled, and Ruel cast Accumulated Knowledge, unfortunately finding another Knowledge for Van de Logt to take. Seeing his opponent stripped of countermagic, Van de Logt made a Crypt Angel to bring back his Specter.

Ruel Iced the Angel to lock it under the Meekstone, commenting briefly about his "combo deck," and drew into Undermine. A Van de Logt Duress took Counterspell and left a pair of Undermines. Port cleared the way for a post-combat Blazing Specter.

Ruel took a hit from the Specter, discarding Duress, holding up to be able to counter twice. He Fired the Specter at the end of Van de Logt's turn. He untapped and Duressed Van de Logt. Van de Logt couldn't even launch his Urza's Rage for fear of Undermine. He scooped.

Van de Logt started game three with an Urborg Volcano, only to have a Duress from Ruel reveal how terrible his hand was: Three mountains, Dark Ritual, Duress and Crypt Angel. The Duress went by the wayside, and Van de Logt pulled a Rishadan Port to stall Ruel. Then, with Ruel's land tapped for Meekstone, he peeled Persecute. He wasted no time in Ritualing it out.

Ruel smiled with chagrin at what he saw coming. Van de Logt called "blue," and left him with just two lands in hand, two Accumulated Knowledge and Fire/Ice hitting the graveyard. Ruel pointed to his top card, saying "Do you know what this is? This is a Knowledge. Come on, Knowledge!"

Unfortunately, it was a land, as was his next draw after he took five from an unkicked Skizzik. Van de Logt drew and made a Plague Spitter. Ruel drew his card with a stoic expression. Van de Logt tapped out for Crypt Angel, and Ruel tossed the Knowledge onto the table. The crowed shouted in excitement.

"It was very hard not to laugh when I drew it." said Ruel, throwing a Knowledge on the table. Unfortunately, he drew Duress, Fire/Ice and a land, and so had to let Van de Logt regrow his Skizzik. The fourth Knowledge was waiting at the top his library, and now the crowd cheered because the game was completely his. He filled his hand. Fire took care of the Spitter and Angel. The Skizzik came down unkicked and smacked Ruel around, leaving him at four.

Ruel was still in fine shape. He Duressed away a very dangerous Urza's Rage, and left Van de Logt with only a Crypt Angel. Now it was Van de Logt's turn to topdeck like a fiend. He pulled Blazing Specter off the top and forced a Fire from Ruel's hand.

He wasn't done yet. Next was a Skizzik taken down by Urza's Rage. Then another Specter. Ruel couldn't counter for fear of the Crypt Angel still in Van de Logt's hand. He took a hit, falling to two, removing it with Pyroclasm during his turn.

This was all fine by Ruel. Van de Logt had drawn three boss cards off the top of his deck, no big deal. All he had to worry about was Urza's Rage.

Van de Logt drew, and his face lit up. He let the Rage slip from his fingers and on to the table.

Tom Van de Logt

Ruel couldn't stop giggling as he shuffled for game four. After finding the remaining two Accumulated Knowledges to go from a losing position to a dominant one he had to watch as Van de Logt pulled four successive kill cards from the top of his deck. He leaned forward in his chair and said "You know, I think the winner of this match will be World Champion." to which Van de Logt replied "Sure, if it keeps up like this."

Both players mulliganed to start things off, and Ruel was relieved that he wasn't the only one. Van de Logt started off with a Duress for Ruel's Undermine. Ruel drew a Duress of his own, taking Dark Ritual and leaving Van de Logt with a mediocre and of Port, two lands and Crypt Angel.

Ruel, however, was wallowing in mediocrity all his own. His Accumulated Knowledge turned up land, and a second Duress from Van de Logt left him with nothing but land.

That wasn't about to stop the amazing Antoine Ruel. He found a Counterspell waiting at the top of his deck, just in time to stop Crypt Angel. His next draw was a second Knowledge, which yielded a second Counterspell. Van de Logt had little to say about it. Then Ruel drew Undermine. Turnabout is fair play.

Van de Logt tried to break out with Addle. Ruel Undermined. Figuring the way had to be clear, he kicked up a Phyrexian Scuta. His face fell when Ruel Counterspelled. Ruel couldn't help but play up his fortune for the cameras. He was chagrined to draw Meekstone.

Van de Logt can't match him, and had to pass his turn. Ruel drew the third Knowledge, and the crowd went wild. Said Van de Logt "I don't know how you do it." When his resulting Fact or Fiction turned over the fourth Knowledge Ruel burst into giggles he tried desperately to stifle. The crowd was firmly behind him, wowed at the way the game had turned around for him.

After drawing those next four cards, the outcome of the game was academic. Ruel had answers on top of answers for every card Van de Logt threw at him. His last hope was to hold out for two kicked Rages, but a Duress burst his bubble.

Van de Logt mulliganed in game two, but Ruel had a draw that was short on insanity. A Van de Logt Port kept him tied up for a turn, and the Dutchman Ritualed out a Phyrexian Arena, shrugging his shoulders as if to say "I hope this works."

Ruel played a third land and dropped Tsabo's Web, stunting Van de Logt's mana while freeing his own. Van de Logt drew and Duressed away an Undermine. A Duress from Ruel deprived him of his Persecute. Even with his Arena working, Van de Logt was struggling. His triple-Port draw meant that he couldn't put pressure on Ruel.

Ruel meanwhile was digging through his deck with Opt and Accumulated Knowledge. He countered an unkicked Scuta from Van de Logt, then drew Duress to show Van de Logt held two more Arenas, a Dark Ritual and a Plague Spitter, none of them very good with his life dwindling away. Ruel tapped low for Nether Spirit.

Van de Logt expended his untapped Ports denying Ruel access to double-blue, and summoned a Blazing Specter, but Ruel took it and Pyroclasmed it away. He countered a kicked Skizzik on the next turn.

Ruel drew Fire/Ice and swung with his Spirit. Van de Logt's Arena knocked him to eight. He Addled, and Ruel tapped his Urborg Volcano with Ice to find a counter to hide the fact that his hand was two land and two Nether Spirits. He drew land number three. Van de Logt called "blue," but didn't mind missing. He Ritualed out Crypt Angel, bringing back Skizzik.

Ruel drew land number four and brought out his second Spirit. Van de Logt kicked up a Skizzik and swung. Ruel chumped and took three, falling to eleven. Ruel drew a fifth land and played out his last Spirit.

Van de Logt untapped and Addled, to which Ruel said "I think you will miss." turning over his hand of three land. Down came the unkicked Skizzik. Van de Logt checked everything twice before sending the whole gang. Ruel was forced to double-block the kicked Skizzik, taking nine and falling to two. His Spirits were sent to the graveyard permanently.

Ruel untapped and drew, then burst out laughing. Van de Logt's Arena had dropped him to six, so he sent the Spirit and Raged Van de Logt. The crowd went wild. Van de Logt cut Ruel's celebration short by asking "So I'm at one?" Just as Ruel realized what this meant, Van de Logt turned over a Rage of his own to take the match in spectacular fashion. The crowd broke into uproarious applause.

Final Result: Van de Logt defeats Antoine Ruel 3-2

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