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.
|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|
|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.
|Pagorek||Tower Drake||Cursed Flesh|
|Hegstad||Sparring Golem||Wings of Hope|
|Harvey||Thornscape Apprentice||Phyrexian Reaper|
|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|
|Malherbaud||Exotic Curse||Quirion Sentinel|
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|
|Harvey||Thornscape Apprentice||Yavimaya Kavu|
|Malherbaud||Plague Spores||Firebrand Ranger|
|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).
|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.
|Pagorek||Silver Drake||Crosis's Catacombs|
|Malherbaud||Volcano Imp||Hull Breach|
|Harvey||Stone Kavu||Thornscape Familiar|
|Hegstad||Samite Pilgrim||Pollen Remedy|
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.
|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.
|Harvey||Mirrorwood Treefolk||Primal Growth|
|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.
|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.
|Ruel||Thornscape Familiar||Aura Blast|
|Pagorek||Rushing River||Phyrexian Bloodstock|
|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.
|Harvey||Coalition Honor Guard|
|Pagorek||Dwarven Patrol||Reef Shaman|
|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.
|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.
|Blackwell||Dwarven Patrol||Gaea's Skyfolk|
|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.
|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|
|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.