U.S Nationals Quarterfinals – David Ochoa (CawBlade) vs. Noah Koessel (CawBlade)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 7, 2011

By Marc Calderaro

Game One

Noah Koessel had to mulligan to five. Boo. This allowed Ochoa to get a clear advantage with Squadron Hawks. Early on, Hawks abounded, as per usual in this type of mirror match-up, as Koessel, though down in cards, used his own Hawks to refill his grip. And, again as usual without equipment on either side, Squadron Hawks soon abounded their way to the graveyard. Ochoa had the upper hand in the early game, netting some nice damage in with flyers, but Koessel soon even back up the board at zero. Though at a severely reduced life total; it was 15-8. He seemed poised fairly well, considering his card disadvantage.

Koessel was able to resolve a Spellskite, though that just powered up Ochoa's Timely Reinforcements to some sort of usefulness and Ochoa cast a de-flyered Spectral Procession. He ticked his opponent down to 7, and upon seeing a freshly cast Consecrated Sphinx on the other side of the board, killed everything with a Day of Judgment.

Koessel still had the man-land in Celestial Colonnade, so after thinking long and hard about the activation, he sent in the flyer against an open Island and Tectonic Edge.

"Cards?" Ochoa asked.

"Four." Ochoa rifled through the graveyard, then Dismembered the attacker. 11-7.

On Ochoa's next turn, he tried for a Gideon Jura that was immediately Mana Leaked to join the litany of dead Hawks, cast Preordains, and cracked Fetchlands all sitting together in the graveyard. Jura's demise was ok; Ochoa resolved the Jace, the Mind Sculptor the next turn. He left open the Tectonic Edge mana necessary to bin another Celestial Colonnade when it fool-heartedly tried to attack.

Another Gideon came down and it was two Planeswalkers to zero. Not the fairest of numbers, one must admit. And when Ochoa's own U/W flying land came in, Koessel had to bring out his bag of tricks: Into the Roil the Jura, block the big flyer with Inkmoth Nexus, then Dismember. He was down to 3 life, with a Mana Leak and a friendless Sword left in his hand to Ochoa's grip of six.

Yet another Colonnade from Koessel allowed him to take out Jace and we were back to square one. Well, until Ochoa cast a Consecrated Sphinx. Then we were back to a different kind of square one. It just took another Dismember on the Colonnade blocker to cause Koessel to scoop them up and shuffle for the next game.

David Ochoa 1 – 0 Noah Koessel

David Ochoa

Game Two

Koessel got to keep all seven cards, and this time it was Ochoa who reshuffled his deck to try his hand again; he stayed at six. Both players spent the early game Pondering to make their hands a little more prepared for the battles to come.

Emeria Angel, Squadron Hawk and Sword of Feast and Famine were Ochoa's gas in-hand. On Turn 4, into four untapped mana, Ochoa resolved a Squadron Hawk to negate his early mulligan. Koessel responded by simply showing the Tectonic Edge and Ochoa moved his Colonnade to the yard, though Koessel's next play of Jace Beleren was Mana Leaked away.

The two players traded blows with Day of Judgment for Hawks and Oblivion Ring for Swords. Koessel showed some sort of advantage with another Jace Beleren and a couple Hawks, but the life totals were still 19-18, hardly a large margin either way. Ochoa had an Inkmoth Nexus to keep the Jace from doing too much, and a Mana Leak for the Consecrated Sphinx to keep it from doing, well, anything. So they both sat, each at seven cards, jostling for position.

Finally, when Ochoa tapped out, Koessel was able to resolve and equip a Sword of Feast and Famine onto one of his two Squadron Hawks. Ochoa chumped with his own lonely Hawk, and replied with Emeria Angel and a land drop. He passed with just enough mana to activate Inkmoth Nexus or cast Mana Leak. Koessel called his counterspell bluff and cast a Gideon Jura, having it jump to eight counters upon entering the field.

Koessel was now up 11-18, and had two more cards in his hand. Ochoa made two free blockers with an Arid Mesa, then laid a Gideon of his own into two untapped mana, with three on his side to pay for soft counters. Koessel allowed the Planswalkers to trade, then allowed his other blue Planeswalker to depart when his Into the Roil on the attacking Angel was Spell Pierced.

More Angels and Sphinxes were inefficient, as another Wrath sent them all packing without much ado. Koessel saw Ochoa was short on cards, so a fresh Hawk did wonders when equipped with something that causes discard. Tectonic Edge cleared the way of any manlands, and Koessel took his opponent to 7, then 4. and soon, nothing.

David Ochoa 1 – 1 Noah Koessel

Noah Koessler

Game Three

Koessel went to Paris once, and stayed at six. So far each game was won by the player who hadn't mulliganned. Would this be the same?

The early turns saw Ochoa get a leg up with a Squadron Hawk and a Swords to just Koessel's Hawk, and a Spell Pierced Oblivion Ring solidified his position further.

Ochoa got in one hit, and Koessel's hand was just Hawks and a Deprive. He had three of the 1/1 flyers in play and a tapped Celestial Colonnade when he passed back to Ochoa, who added insult to injury with another sword equipped to another Hawk. Koessel had no choice up to chump it up. The next turn, Ochoa made it 18-10.

His next draw was blank. "I'm at ten?" Koessel double-checked.

"Yeah."

Koessel scooped up the cards. He had a decent hand, but multiple Spell Pierces played spoiler rather well.

David Ochoa 2 – 1 Noah Koessell

Game Four

The mulligan-win-predictor was not active this game as both players kept seven cards for the first time in the match-up.

Dueling Hawks (surprising, I know) started for both combatants, as an early Jace from Koessel met a Spell Pierce. Ochoa took the early life lead of 20-13 with the help of Koessel's Dismember on an Emeria Angel, but a Feast and Famine equipment threatened to even the field. Ochoa cast a second Angel, dropped a fetchland, then passed the turn back to Koessel. He gladly wiped the board; the totals after a land-crack was 18-11.

The two refilled quickly with Hawks (surprising, I know), but where Koessel had an equipment, Ochoa had a Consecrated Sphinx. Koessel equipped and swung in and Ochoa sent one of his Hawks packing. They were momentarily even on cards, but the Sphinx threatened to change that in a heartbeat. As Gideon Jura came down through a Mana Leak, Ochoa changed more than just handsizes, taking down the equipped Hawk.

Koessel was sitting on Dismember, Revoke Existence, Squadron Hawk and another Sword of Feast and Famine in his hand. He went into the tank, full of thought, and ripped a Gideon off the top. This prompted more tank time. Ochoa was tapped out, so there were no shenanigans to be had. Koessel deemed it best to tap out and trade Planeswalkers.

A Ratchet Bomb from Ochoa, who then Spell Pierced Koessel's four-life Dismember (17-3). Koessel was in block-Sphinx mode, and Ochoa was in draw-infinity-cards mode.

It only took another turn for Koessel to extend his hand and send David Ochoa to the semifinals.

David Ochoa 3 – 1 Noah Koessel

Congrats to David Ochoa!

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