Semifinals: Lukas Blohon (Esper Dragons) vs. Martin Müller (Four-Color Rally)

Posted in Event Coverage on November 15, 2015

By Frank Karsten

In this semifinals, two of Europe's best players at the moment met: Gold level pro Lukas Blohon and No. 22-ranked Martin Müller. A lot of spectators were curious how this matchup between Esper Dragons and Four-Color Rally, the two breakout decks of the tournament, would go.

Before the match, Müller explained to me that his main plan was to rely on early pressure and then bottleneck Blohon on mana in the mid-game. That is, his game plan was to cast a bunch of cheap creatures, get Blohon low on life early on, and then force him to answer multiple cards over one turn cycle by playing an instant like Rally the Ancestors or Collected Company in Blohon's end step.

Blohon, on the other side of the table, said that the key would be to play a turn-five Dragonlord Ojutai because he felt that he would not be able to tap out later in the game without punishment. But if he could use his spot removal spells and countermagic to survive early on, then he felt advantaged in the late game.

Game 1

Müller, on the play, managed to get Blohon down to five life before the Blohon cast Crux of Fate. At that time, Müller had two Catacomb Sifter, two Elvish Visionary, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Nantuko Husk, and a Grim Haruspex on the board. The sweeper resolved, giving Müller six card-draw triggers and twelve scry triggers. But how to stack them?


Martin Müller

After some thought, Müller decided to scry twice, then draw a card six times in a row. In other words, he got 6 Preordains.

These fresh cards gave him the tools he needed to close out the game. Over the course of the next few turns, he resolved several creatures including two Zulaport Cutthroat and a Nantuko Husk, which together drained away Blohon's remaining life points.

Martin Müller 1 – Lukas Blohon 0

Sideboarding

Blohon boarded in 2 Arashin Cleric, 2 Negate, 1 Ultimate Price, 1 Horribly Awry, 1 Duress, and 1 Infinite Obliteration. To make room, he cut 3 Foul-Tongue Invocation, 1 Murderous Cut, 1 Ojutai's Command, 1 Crux of Fate, 1 Dragonlord Silumgar, and 1 Clash of Wills. What this meant was that Blohon was going for a more nimble game plan: rather than expensive sorcery-speed cards, he focused on Arashin Cleric to block the small creatures, Negate to stop Müller's instants, and Infinite Obliteration to hopefully exile Nantuko Husk and stop the entire engine.

Meanwhile, Müller brought in 2 Dispel and 2 Abzan Ascendancy, removing 4 Sidisi's Faithful. The 0/4 doesn't do that much against the creatures in Esper Dragons, while the cards that he brought in would likely have a larger effect on the game. Interestingly, Müller preferred to add Abzan Ascendancy rather than Duress, possibly favoring the flying chumpblockers against Dragonlord Ojutai.

Game 2

Both players had Jace, Vryn's Prodigy on turn two. Blohon's lived, but Müller's didn't. That was not a huge surprise considering that one deck contained a bunch of spot removal spells, but it did provide a good amount of card selection for Blohon.

On turn six, when Blohon had managed to trade one-for-one against most of Müller's threats, he cast Duress to make sure that the coast was clear and added Dragonlord Ojutai to the board, while ticking up Jace, Telepath Unbound's loyalty. All Müller had was a lone Nantuko Husk, along with a few other creatures and a Dispel in his hand.


Lukas Blohon

Müller could have clawed back into the game if he had drawn Rally the Ancestors, but he never did and succumbed to the steady card advantage that Blohon's Jace and Dragonlord Ojutai provided turn after turn.

Martin Müller 1 – Lukas Blohon 1

Game 3

This game, at least early on, was all about Jace. Müller's first Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was destroyed by an Ultimate Price, but the second one lived. It promptly transformed into a planeswalker and provided a free card to Müller when it flashed back Collected Company. But Blohon turned the tables by gaining control of that Jace, Telepath Unbound with Dragonlord Silumgar.

On the subsequent turn, Blohon used the stolen planeswalker to flash back Ultimate Price, added Arashin Cleric to his board to go back up to 12 life, and seemed to stabilize as a result. But the game wasn't done yet, as Müller had managed to resolve an Abzan Ascendancy, a Zulaport Cutthroat, and a Nantuko Husk in the meantime, which meant that the game turned into a complicated math problem.

Although Rally the Ancestors would be lethal, Blohon had countermagic at the ready for that, and Müller couldn't yet win with the cards that he had in play. Blohon then found a spot removal spell for Nantuko Husk, an Utter End for Abzan Ascendancy, and showed the late-game power of the Esper Dragons deck by pulling ahead with Dig Through Time and Dragonlord Ojutai.

The game still took a while, but Müller eventually succumbed to these card advantage machines.

Martin Müller 1 – Lukas Blohon 2

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