by Randy Buehler
1997 World Champion Jakub Slemr came out aggressive in game 1 against Frenchman Michael Sochon with turn 1 Ramosian Sergeant, turn-2 Ramosian Lieutenant, and turn 3 Devout Witness. Sochon didn't play a land on turn 3 or 4 and it looked like Jakub would run him over with Rebels. When Jakub attacked with a Devout Witness on turn 5, Michael blocked with a Lieutenant of his own and pinged it with a Crossbow Infantry. Jakub had Tiger Claws ready to win the combat, but Michael slapped Cho-Manno's Blessing on his Lieutenant and saved it. Of course, Jakub's Devout Witness could just kill the Blessing next turn, but Michael finally top-decked land #3 and Afterlife turned the 3/3 Trampler Witness into a 1/1 flying Spirit token.
That took the steam out of Jakub's attack and the game stalemated for many turns. Jakub's green/white deck was splashing black for one card and that card -- Notorious Assassin -- sat in Jakub's hand for the first 10-15 turns of the game while Jakub hoped to draw a Swamp. Michael seemed about to take control of the game when he drew and played a Stinging barrier, but on his next turn Jakub finally drew that Swamp. From there, Notorious Assassin started to take over the game. It slaughtered 4 of Michael's creatures before Michael came up with a Cho-Manno's Blessing that he used to save a (second0 Stinging barrier. But Jakub had been saving an Arrest in his hand for most of the game. After Arresting the Wall and killing some more of Michael's creatures, Jakub was able to break through with a Glider and that 1/1 Spirit token.
After the game Jakub asked a judge to bring him 2 extra Swamps and Michael Sochon confessed that he forgot what his Diplomatic Escort did for one turn and that that may have cost him the game (because Jakub killed it as soon as Sochon tapped out.)
After a 30 minute game 1Michael was forced to go beatdown with his blue/white deck in an effort to win quickly before the 50-minute time limit expired. Jakub took some hits and shook his head in disgust, frustrated at his draw and at his inability to find the right numbers on his life die. Of course, it was all just a bluff because what he was really doing was trying to convince Sochon to overextend himself so Slemr could wreck him with Wave of Reckoning. Alas, Sochon's blue and white creatures have more toughness than power and all Jakub could manage was a 1 for 1 trade, killing a Nightwind Glider.
Jakub then played a Giant caterpillar and a Deepwood Drummer. Sochon's Trap Runner could shut Slemr's offense, but Michael wanted to try to win so he played aggressively and tried to race. The key play came with Michael at 7 and Jakub at 6 with a barbed Wire in play on his side. Michael put Inviolability on a Crossbow Infantry so it could hold off the Caterpillar while the Trap Runner knocked Jakub down to 4. Jakub served with caterpillar, pumped it up with Deepwood Drummer and slapped down a Tiger Claws that could give it Trample. The trample damage was crucial as Sochon wasn't expecting it and it knocked Sochon down to 2. Jakub had no cards in his hand and no blockers available, but Sochon only had 3-power worth of attackers in play. Sochon didn't have any tricks, so he died to Barbed Wire one turn later.