by Sideboard Staff
Jason Zila (U/W Control) vs. Ben Rubin (Survival/Tradewind)
Background: This matchup features a semi-control deck (Rubin's) vs. a complete control deck (Zila's). Zila's deck harkens back to a deck that was popularized by Mike Donais in the spring of 1998, Five-Color Blue, a deck that used Wrath of God, Wall of Blossoms, and counterspells to get control of the board. Zila's modern version of the deck uses Morphling (instead of Gaea's Blessing recursion) to win the game, but is otherwise very reminiscent of Donais' powerful deck. Rubin is playing a deck that is geared towards abusing two cards: Survival of the Fittest and Tradewind Rider. It can win through Tradewind Lock or through simple beatdown.
Prognostication. Zila should have a slim advantage in the first game. He has slightly more counterspells than Rubin, and with some luck should be able to keep Rubin's Survival off of the board. Then he can Wrath away any creatures that Rubin casts, and win either with his own Morphling or with Gaea's Blessing Recursion. But after sideboarding, Rubin can bring in his four Back to Basics against Zila, and they will be devastating against Zila's deck, which does not use any basic lands at all.
Prediction: Rubin, 2-1
Warren Marsh (Trix) vs. Sigurd Eskeland (Survival/Tradewind)
Background: For those who thought that the banning of Dark Ritual and Mana Vault would kill or cripple the Illusion-Donate deck known as Trix, the results of the Masters proved to be a rude awakening. Using Mox Diamond to provide both speed and color, the new Trix is almost as devastating as the older version. Marsh's version also features 2 Misdirections, which often function as extra Force of Wills in this deck. Eskeland's Survival Deck is similar to Rubin's deck, although it does feature two main deck Annuls.
Prognostication: This matchup slightly favors Trix. Trix has both disruption (Duress) and counterspells (Force of Will), and still features the best card drawing engine in the game, Necropotence. To stop the combo, Eskeland has to use his counterspells, but he doesn't have the tutoring capability that Marsh's deck has. After sideboarding, Eskeland can bring in some more Emerald Charms and Annul, but Marsh has Firestorm, which can devastate Eskland's Birds and Elves, thus cutting off Eskeland's mana base at its knees.
Prediction: Marsh, 2-1
Bob Maher, Jr. (Classic Survival) vs. William Jensen (Survival/Tradewind)
Background: Maher is playing a more old-fashioned survival deck, with lots of different utility creatures, a Recurring Nightmare, and some Academy Rectors to fetch the Nightmare or the one Opposition in the deck. Duress provides a bit of disruption. Jensen is playing the same deck as Zila.
Prognostication: Jensen has two big advantages in this matchup. First, Jensen has counterspells, which can stop Maher from getting his Survival on the board, and he also has four Tradewinds, which are absolutely crucial in this matchup, because he can bounce the Survival back to Maher's hand. After sideboarding, Maher's four Pyroblasts should help, but probably won't be enough to overcome Jensen's built in advantage.
Prediction: Jensen, 2-1
Trey Van Cleave (Countersliver) vs. Dirk Baberowski (Trix)
Background: Baberowski is playing the same version of Trix that many other members of the European Alliances are playing. Van Cleave is playing a heavily metagamed version of an old Extended favorite, Countersliver.
Prognostication: Van Cleave is heavily favored in this matchup. Before sideboarding, he has a number of cards that are great against Trix, including Annul and Daze, which is particularly effective because Trix so often taps out in its first couple of turns. After sideboarding, Van Cleave has eight more cards to bring in (the Erases and the Pyroblasts) which will cause even more misery for Baberowski.
Prediction: Van Cleave, 2-0