by Randy Buehler
Nicolas Labarre and Terry Tsang both came into today 6-1 and drafting on table 1. They also each split their first two matches today so this match was crucial to their top 8 chances. Neither player wanted to pick up a 3rd loss this early. Labarre opened a Two-Headed Dragon and then got passed Wave of Reckoning, so his colors were set right away. Tsang wanted to go green/red, but Christer Ljones sucked up all the green on his right so he wound up with an uncharacteristically aggressive red/black. Well, uncharacteristic for the color combination, anyway, not uncharacteristic for Terry.
Labarre had Wave of Reckoning in his opening draw for game 1 along with a Steadfast Guard and a Nightwind Glider. He decided to play out his creatures aggressively in an effort to win the game that way or at least trade them for Tsang's removal spells. Tsang played a Sniper and a Wild Jhovall and then Labarre decided to try blocking the Jhovall with his Nightwind Glider. Flaming Sword threatened to kill the hill giant, but Tsang cast Lunge to kill the Glider before damage was dealt. After absorbing that 2 for 1 trade, Labarre untapped and did nothing. He now wanted to see if terry would cast a third creature before Nicolas used his Wave. Terry did cast a 3rd creature, but it was Gerrard's Irregulars and they joined the attack right away, dropping Labarre's life total to 4. Labarre tapped five mana and Terry asked, "Wave?" Yep. Terry knew he might be 3 for 1ed, but life advantage is more important than card advantage sometimes. Tsang untapped and dropped both Kris Mage and Undertaker. Labarre had Last breath for the Undertaker and a Blaster Mage for blocking purposes, but Terry had Kyren Negotiations and the game ended two turns later.
Labarre's opening hand in Game 2 had a different broken rare: Two-headed dragon. Terry's hand was a nice mix of land and creatures. Labarre's turn 2 Crossbow Infantry held off Tsang's creatures for a few turns, but Tsang eventually drew into a Kris mage. Labarre had Shock Troops available, but chose not to attack with them or to kill the Kris mage. Instead he just cast turn 6 Dragon and said done. Terry got beaten in the head for 10, and then Labarre did finally elect to kill the Kris Mage with his Shock Troops (despite not sending them in to attack) out of sudden fear that Terry might top-deck a Thunderclap. Terry killed Crossbow Infantry as a response, untapped, used a Shock Troops of his own to remove Labarre's only blocker and then counter-attacked for exactly the 12 points of damage that were needed to win. Had Labarre used his Shock Troops more effectively, there's no way Tsang could have out-raced the Dragon and thus they would have gone to game 3. Instead Nicholas must go 3-0-1 from this point if he wants to make his 3rd Top 8. And Tsang needs 2-1-1 to make his second.
Labarre - 0
Tsang - 2