by Sideboard Staff
Ben Rubin is a seasoned Pro Tour vet despite an entire year with no Top 8's. He started his career with a 2nd place finish at PTLA3, and duplicated that feat at the 1998 Worlds. Recently, he's been Top 4 at PT London and PTNY3, and his team won Team GP Pittsburgh. Trevor Blackwell won the Masters Draft Challenge, and was the winner of PTLA 1999. Ben is playing Green/Blue Tradewind, and Trevor is playing Secret Force.
Trevor wins the roll, and chooses to play first. He starts with a turn-one Llanowar Elves, and attacks with them on his second turn, dropping Ben to 19. Ben plays a turn-two Survival of the Fittest, and Trevor attacks again with his Llanowar Elves, playing another one and a Gaea's Cradle. Ben cycles an Uktabi Orangutan into a Wall of Roots, plays it, and cycles an Ophidian into Squee, Goblin Nabob. Trevor plays a Priest of Titania, increasing his mana, and then plays Deranged Hermit, which stays. At the end of the turn, Ben sends Squee to fetch a Tradewind Rider, then plays it on his fourth turn. Trevor pays the echo on his Hermit, and attempts to make a pair, but is stopped by Ben's Force of Will. Trevor then casts Natural Order, searching out a third Hermit, and attacks for thirteen, knocking Ben to 5. As a last-ditch effort, Ben sends Squee to fetch out a Spike Weaver, and plays it, thwarting Trevor's attacks. Trevor sends an army of squirrels, forcing Ben to use the Weaver, and then plays a Verdant Force, taking three mana burn to 17. At the end of the turn, Ben bounces the Verdant Force back to Trevor's hand, then uses Squee to find a Quirion Ranger. He uses Squee on his sixth turn to find a Wall of Roots, and plays it, along with the Quirion Ranger from earlier. Trevor again forces Ben to fog, attacking with all eight tokens. Ben bounces the Spike Weaver at the end of turn, and recasts it on his turn, along with Land Grant and a fetched Wall of Roots. He bounces a Squirrel token at the end of Trevor's turn after thwarting another attack. Ben Impulses to start his eighth turn, kills another token, and sends Squee to find a Birds of Paradise, which he plays. Trevor again tries to play Verdant Force, this time with Woodripper, but the Force is again bounced back to his hand at the end of his turn. Ben casts a second Tradewind Rider, turns Squee into his own Deranged Hermit, and casts the Hermit. Trevor attacks again, forcing Ben to fog, and again attempts to cast the Verdant Force, which is bounced again. Ben bounces the Hermit before paying its echo, and recasts the Hermit and a bounced Weaver. Ben attacks with two of his eight tokens, both of which are blocked. Ben continues to bounce the Verdant Force each turn, recasting the Hermit and killing off Trevor's tokens, until he can attack with ten of his own 3/3 tokens.
Trevor plays first in the second game, laying a Forest. Ben plays a Birds of Paradise; Trevor plays an Elvish Lyrist. Ben plays a second-turn Survival of the Fittest. Trevor attacks with his Lyrist. Ben uses Squee again in this match, first searching out a Tradewind Rider during Trevor's end step, then searching out a Quirion Ranger to start his own turn. He plays the Rangers and another Birds of Paradise. Trevor plays a Quirion Ranger of his own, then lays the Cradle and uses the extra mana to play Masticore. He attacks for one again, knocking Ben to 18. Ben Impulses at the end of the turn, then casts Gilded Drake, swapping it for Trevor's Masticore. Ben shoots the Quirion Ranger and the Elvish Lyrist on the other side of the board. Trevor responds with something too big to shoot: a Squallmonger, squalls for one, and attacks with the Drake, putting Ben at 14. Ben attacks with the Masticore, dropping Trevor to 15, and casts a Wall of Roots. Trevor again attacks with the Drake, and casts Llanowar Elves and a Deranged Hermit. Ben, now at 11, cycles a Birds of Paradise into a Spike Weaver and a Squee into a Wall of Roots. He plays the Spike Weaver, hoping to outlast Trevor's attack. Trevor doesn't pay the Echo for his Hermit, and attacks again with the Drake, which Ben doesn't stop, instead going down to 8. Ben cycles the Tradewind Rider he searched out early in the game for a Wall of Roots, and casts two, but Trevor squalls for 6 in Ben's end-step, and Ben concedes.
It all comes down to a third game. Ben elects to play, laying a Birds of Paradise. Trevor matches the mana acceleration with a Llanowar Elves. Ben plays Quirion Ranger; Trevor plays two Quirion Rangers in his second turn. Ben lays his third land, a Forest, and plays the game-breaker: Masticore. Trevor attempts to play Natural Order to find some way around the Masticore, but Ben has the Force of Will. Ben shoots all three of Trevor's creatures and attacks for five, and Trevor passes two turns in a row with no play. He finally finds a Quirion Ranger and an Elvish Lyrist for speed bumps at 5 life, but Ben shoots them down, and sends the Masticore and the Ranger in for the final five.