Team Draft 4: USA vs. France

Posted in Event Coverage

By Randy Buehler

Things were very straightforward for the United States and France as they sat down for their final round Feature Match. The winner was through to Sunday's final and the loser was not.

 

Hegstad Benalish Heralds  
Harvey Agonizing Demise Tigereye Cameo
Malherbaud Reckless Spite Aggressive Urge
Pagorek Tower Drake Tidal Visionary
Ruel Pincher Spider Worldly Counsel
Blackwell Kavu Scout Plague Spores

What a pack to start with! Team USA is forced to pass a Reckless Spite, but they get a Plague Spores passed back to them.

 

Harvey Scorching Lava Samite Ministrations Protective Sphere
Malherbaub Kavu Aggressor Ruby Leech Overload
Pagorek Reckless Spite Ancient Spring Phantasmal Terrain
Ruel Glimmering Angel Liberate  
Blackwell Phyrexian Slayer Urborg Skeleton  
Hegstad Galina's Knight Wings of Hope  

The U.S. clearly does not think Reckless Spite belongs in Eugene Harvey's green deck. The French don't want two in Malherbaud's black-red, especially since he's expecting to play against black, so they give this second one to Pagorek and his blue-based deck starts leaning toward black.

 

Malherbaud Tribal Flames  
Pagorek Tower Drake Cursed Flesh
Ruel Crimson Acolyte Tranquility
Blackwell Sleeper's Robe Firescreamer
Hegstad Sparring Golem Wings of Hope
Harvey Thornscape Apprentice Phyrexian Reaper

 

Pagorek Zanam Djinn  
Ruel Ordered Migration  
Blackwell Soul Burn Wings of Hope
Hegstad Crusading Knight Irrigation Ditch
Harvey Thornscape Apprentice Rith's Attendant
Malherbaud Explosive Growth Nightscape Apprentice

Everyone is now settled down into the familiar mirror matchups. The captains are both black-red blow stuff up, the runner-ups are both blue-black-white control, and the 3rd place finishers are both 3- to 5-color green.

 

Ruel Darigaaz, the Igniter  
Blackwell Shivan Zombie Maniacal Rage
Hegstad Probe Prison Barricade
Harvey Harrow Sulfur Vent
Malherbaud Exotic Curse Quirion Sentinel
Pagorek Spirit Weaver Prohibit

Dragon in the house! After drafting Darigaaz, Ruel indicated to Pagorek that Pakorek should drop black from his control deck and just leave Reckless Spite in his sideboard. This way Ruel would get enough black to support Darigaaz.

 

Blackwell Darigaaz, the Igniter  
Hegstad Stormscape Apprentice Lobotomy
Harvey Thornscape Apprentice Yavimaya Kavu
Malherbaud Plague Spores Firebrand Ranger
Pagorek Opt Metathran Zombie
Ruel Hypnotic Cloud Ravenous Rats

Two Darigaaz's in a row. How about that? Team USA decides to have Blackwell splash green in his black-red deck for the dragon. This way Harvey's colors don't explode and they pass a Plague Spores instead of having to pass Thornscape Apprentice. The rest of the draft could have gone very differently if they'd given Blackwell the Plague Spores and Harvey the dragon, but I think I agree with their decision (for whatever that's worth).

 

Blackwell Magma Burst  
Ruel Gaea's Might Steel Leaf Paladin
Pagorek Sawtooth Loon Arctic Merfolk
Malherbaud Lava Zombie Pygmy Kavu
Harvey Kavu Recluse Bog Down
Hegstad Disciple of Kangee Terminal Moraine

Blackwell's Magma Burst pick here required no thought whatsoever. Malherbaud goes with Pygmy Kavu here, special French technology for the black-red versus black-red match that Raphael Levy debuted at Grand Prix-Columbus.

 

Ruel FALLING TIMBER  
Pagorek Silver Drake Crosis's Catacombs
Malherbaud Volcano Imp Hull Breach
Harvey Stone Kavu Thornscape Familiar
Hegstad Samite Pilgrim Pollen Remedy
Blackwell Singe Alpha Kavu

Olivier Ruel simply could not make up his mind what he wanted to draft here, and he forgot to grab anything before time expired! The judges gave him a random card, which turned out to be Falling Timber, one of the worst cards in the entire set. Ouch.

 

Pagorek Rushing River  
Malherbaud Sparkcaster Pygmy Kavu
Harvey Gaea's Might  
Hegstad Cavern Harpy Ertai's Trickery
Blackwell Nightscape Familiar Sinister Strength
Ruel Quirion Explorer Sea Snidd

A second Pygmy Kavu and a Sparkcaster indicate that Malherbaud is indeed going to splash green. The captain's black-red mirror is actually a black-red-green mirror.

 

Malherbaud Caldera Kavu  
Harvey Mirrorwood Treefolk Primal Growth
Hegstad Cavern Harpy  
Blackwell Death Bomb Thunderscape Familiar
Ruel Quirion Explorer Gaea's Might
Pagorek Mana Cylix Surprise Deployment

Here the French make another mistake. Pagorek took Surprise Deployment instead of Primal Growth because he wanted to leave Primal Growth on the table for Ruel to draft. However, Ruel didn't want it - he wanted the Gaea's Might. This miscommunication led to a free Primal Growth for Harvey's green deck. Primal Growth isn't exactly great, but sometimes it can make all the difference in a five-color green deck and the French seemed quite rattled at this point. Ruel made soothing gestures, trying to calm down his teammates.

 

Harvey Lashknife Barrier  
Hegstad Rushing River  
Blackwell Lava Zombie Phyrexian Bloodstock
Ruel Terminal Moraine Aura Blast
Pagorek Slingshot Goblin Marsh Crocodile
Malherbaud Mire Kavu Nightscape Familiar

Team USA let a Slingshot Goblin go over to Pagorek that he is more than happy to splash for. Opinions differ as to whether this was a mistake and how much difference it will really make against Hegstad.

 

Hegstad Silver Drake  
Blackwell Shivan Wurm  
Ruel Thornscape Familiar Aura Blast
Pagorek Rushing River Phyrexian Bloodstock
Malherbaud Magma Burst Singe
Harvey Darigaaz's Caldera Treva's Charm

I had never seen Magma Burst get passed to the other team during a Team Rochester draft. I have now. Hegstad was committed to all three of white, blue, and black so he couldn't run it and Blackwell preferred to draft Shivan Wurm.

 

Hegstad Living Airship  
Harvey Coalition Honor Guard  
Malherbaud Zombie Boa  
Pagorek Dwarven Patrol Reef Shaman
Ruel Standard Bearer  
Blackwell Tundra Kavu Squee's Embrace

Team U.S. made a crucial mistake here. First they debated and decided the Honor Guard should go into Eugene Harvey's deck, not Hegstad's. That seemed fine. However, they let a Standard Bearer go over to Olivier Ruel that Hegstad could have drafted instead of Living Airship. The Airship is a fine creature, but that Standard Bearer could absolutely destroy Harvey. The strength of Harvey's deck is three Thornscape Apprentices and he doesn't have a ton of removal so if Ruel ever keeps it in play, the Flagbearer will almost certainly win him the game.

 

Harvey Penumbra Kavu Urborg Elf
Malherbaud Penumbra Bobcat Temporal Spring
Pagorek Living Airship Orim's Thunder
Ruel Dead Ringers Mournful Zombie
Blackwell Grave Defiler Quicksilver Dagger
Hegstad Dega Disciple Reef Shaman

Ruel's deck started really coming together here. Almost all of Harvey's creatures are green so that Dead Ringers will be really good against him.

 

Malherbaud Kavu Howler  
Pagorek Raka Sanctuary Dega Disciple
Ruel Dead Ringers Ana Disciple
Blackwell Bloodfire Colossus Gaea's Skyfolk
Hegstad Living Airship Evasive Action
Harvey Urborg Elf Temporal Spring

Dead Ringers #2 for Ruel and a Raka Sanctuary for Pagorek, one of the most powerful cards in the format for a blue-white splash red deck like Pagorek's. Instead of remaining rattled, the French are now on a roll.

 

Pagorek Jilt  
Ruel Necravolver  
Blackwell Dwarven Patrol Gaea's Skyfolk
Hegstad Diversionary Tactics Life/Death
Harvey Manacles of Decay Glade Gnarr
Malherbaud Llanowar Dead Ana Disciple

Another great pack for the French -they got two amazing cards and didn't pass much of anything.

 

Ruel Life/Death  
Blackwell Strength of Night Necra Disciple
Hegstad Standard Bearer Ceta Disciple
Harvey Lay of the Land Raka Disciple
Malherbaud Sylvan Messenger Quicksilver Dagger
Pagorek Goblin Legionnaire Dega Disciple

 

Blackwell Urborg Uprising  
Hegstad Whirlpool Drake Ceta Disciple
Harvey Flowstone Charger Yavimaya Coast
Malherbaud Llanowar Dead Ana Disciple
Pagorek Necra Sanctuary Necra Disciple

All in all I think this will be a very close match. Blackwell should beat Malherbaud (it's basically Pygmy Kavus versus Darigaaz and Shivan Wurm - my money is on the fatties) but Ruel should beat Harvey. That means it all comes down to Pagorek versus Hegstad. Pagorek has higher card quality, but his mana base looks a bit sketchy. I guess I'd have to give the edge to the Americans, just because they seemed to draft better. The French alternate between arguing, fuming, and calming each other down while Team USA was unselfish and rational. The French got saved by the packs a bit, but their emotional style may hurt them again when they actually play.

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