Finals: Poor Shark vs.

Posted in Feature

By Monty Ashley

David Williams vs. Tomomi Otsuka

To start the Finals, head judge Takashi Aida introduced each of the six competitors to applause from the crowd. It was a little muted as David Williams had stepped away from the table to freshen up, and everybody was waiting. He got a big, if somewhat sarcastic, round of applause when he showed up and things could finally start.

Otsuka is just the second woman to make the finals of a Grand Prix, following Michelle Bush, who lost to Bill Stead in Grand Prix New Orleans. The only other woman to make the cut to "Top 8" (or, in the case of Team play, Top 4) was Marie Laure Saulnier with Legion of Rabbits at Grand Prix Cannes.

The players started with Apprentices: stormscape apprentice for Williams, nightscape apprentice for Otsuka. By the time a third creatureee (Phyrexian Battleflies) joined the party, Fuller had already won his Game 1. The Battleflies, having served their purpose, were promptly Recoiled. Williams's Tower Drake contracted an Exotic Curse, and the only creatures on the board were again the two Apprentices.

Otsuka's Phyrexian Bloodstock was matched by Williams, and the game's parity continued until Otsuka Singed Williams's Apprentice. After terminate a Phyrexian Slayer, Otsuka increased her Apprentice Advantage with one from the Thunderscape team.

Otsuka had three creatures to Williams's one, and had two removal cards in hand (neither of which would affect black creatures), so she felt confident in attacking with everything. Williams used Rushing River to slow down the attacks, and played a Faerie Squadron as a blocker. Since he had only one Island, he had to do it without kicker, and Otsuka used a Plague Spores to remove both the Squadron and the lone Island.

The next turn, Williams drew another Island and played a second unkicked Faerie Squadron. When Otsuka Death Bombed it (sacrificing her Thunderscape Apprentice), Williams scooped.

Otsuka leads, 1-0

Game 2

A fourth-turn Lobotomy by Williams pulled a Trench Wurm and showed him a hand with Swamp, Scorching Lava, Agonizing Demise, and Nightscape Apprentice. Williams took his time going through Otsuka's deck, preparing himself for what she might bring at him.

Otsuka held onto a handful of removal spells (Terminate, Scorching Lava, Agonizing Demise) for as long as possible while Williams attacked her with a Bloodstock and a Reaper. On Otsuka's side were a Nightscape Apprentice, Slingshot Goblin, Morgue Toad, and a Phyrexian Bloodstock of her own.

Williams, with a black-blue deck, could not cast any small blue creatures, because they'd get killed by the Goblin. And he couldn't play any big blue creatures, because they'd get Agonizing Demised, probably with kicker. Meanwhile, Otsuka had a handful of powerful removal spells that she either couldn't use (Death Bomb, Agonizing Demise) or was saving for something better (Cursed Flesh, Scorching Lava, Terminate).

At this point in the overall match, Fuller was 1-1, and Benafel was 1-0.

Once Otsuka had five creatures to his three, something needed to be done. Williams Repulsed the Slingshot Goblin at the end of her turn and played a Ravenous Rats, getting a Mountain. He followed that up with a Cavern Harpy, bouncing the Rats, and replayed the Rats, getting another Mountain and leaving Otsuka with six cards in hand.

On Otsuka's turn, she played a Shivan Zombie and the Slingshot Goblin, which got Williams to Recoil her Morgue Toad. Finally despairing of ever having a nonblack target, she discarded her Agonizing Demise.

On his turn, having finally given the Slingshot Goblin summoning sickness and gotten Otsuka to tap herself out of red mana (and almost out of black mana; she had only two swamps untapped), Williams played a Sky Weaver and gave his entire army flying, winning the game in dramatic fashion.

Match Tied, 1-1

Chris Benafel had won his game, 2-0. If either Williams or Fuller could win his game, the match and tournament would be over.

Game 3

Williams's first creature was the Sky Weaver that won him Game 2. He followed that up with a Tower Drake and a Stormscape Apprentice, possibly hoping that Otsuka had sideboarded out the black removal that had clogged her hand in the last game.

With no red mana available, Otsuka was limited to a Morgue Toad and a Trench Wurm, although she got the fun of casting the Wurm twice when it was Repulsed the first time. She was down, 16-9, when she drew her first Mountain, and immediately used Tribal Flames and Exotic Curse to reduce the Williams army.

At this point in the Fuller-Kuroda match, Fuller was able to successfully kill tahngarth talruum hero even through a Samite Pilgrim's damage shield when he used Gerrard's Command and Gaea's Might on Tahngarth's intended victim.

Williams replaced his dead creatures with a Stormscape Familiar and a Metathran Zombie. The Familiar fell to Scorching Lava, and Otsuka finally felt confident in attacking with the Toad. A kicked Faerie Squadron on Williams's side drew a Thunderscape Apprentice, which didn't really meet the situation. After an attack, Williams was up 12-5 and played a second Squadron, which got Terminated once Otsuka drew her next card.

After using the Stormscape Apprentice to remove one of her points of life, it was Williams's turn. He attacked with the remaining Squadron, knocking her to 1, and the Apprentice finished her off.

Result: Williams wins, 2-1

In Fuller's match, he eventually lost in a huge creature-filled mess. The turning point came when Fuller played an Elvish Champion, giving all of his Elves +1/+1 and Forestwalk, and Kuroda responded by playing Falling Timber, sacrificing his only Forest, and canceling the Forestwalk plan.

Final Result: Team wins the match, 2-1

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