by Gary Wise
In a match pitting the top two archetypes in the environment against one another, the Mogg Squad's Sigurd Eskeland, a long time pro player playing in his long-awaited first Top 8 squared off against independent player Travis Turning, playing in just his third pro tournament. Eskeland, playing the Rising Waters deck built primarily by teammates Zvi Mowshowitz and Scott Johns, seemed to have the edge in the fact that his deck appeared to be tuned much better than Turnings, and also because Turning, who hadn't anticipated the Waters deck in his metagame analysis only had four ways to deal with Rising Waters, as opposed to the 8 that most Rebel decks packed.
Game one began quickly with Travis, playing second, played the best Rebel searcher in the environment against the Waters deck, a Ramosian Sergeant. When Eskeland responded with a key to Waters' victory in the matchup, a Waterfront Bouncer, Travis dropped a second Sergeant, ensuring that with the playing of a land the next turn, he'd be able to search regardless of the bouncer's existent. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done, as Travis third turn saw him miss a land drop, and when Sigurd cast a Drake Hatchling, Travis offence was halted. This defensive lock was soon tightened by the playing of a Rising Waters, and Sigurd was able to easily win soon thereafter.
Game two wasn't quite as foregone a conclusion as Travis, with a better mana draw, came out fast with a first turn Sergeant and a second turn Steadfast Guard. Sigurd, failing to find a third land for his third turn, was forced to Gush, enabling him to play an Eye of Ramos, leaving him far behind in the mana race. After Travis began searching, Sigurd started stabilizing first with a Bouncer, then two Drakes, but his attempts were thwarted by Travis' casting Parallax Wave, whose price had rose to $15 the night before the tournament. Sigurd, trying to stem the tide, made what turned out to be a fatal error, choosing to cast a Rising Waters instead of a Stinging Barrier, slowing his own development enough that Travis was able to squeeze through the last two points of damage.
Game three didn't start so well for Sigurd. Playing an Island and a Rishadan Port on his first two turns, he had to decide whether to use the Port during Travis' upkeep or save his Island to cast Brainstorm, the issue being the lack of a third land in the big Viking's hand. Sigurd decided to use the Port, and when he failed to draw a land, he was forced to Brainstorm during his main phase. Fortunately, the fates were on Sigurd's side as he found not only an Island, but a Bouncer to cast that turn as well. When Travis untapped and attempted to cast Last Breath on the Bouncer, Sigurd Misdirected it to Travis' Steadfast Guard, and when Sigurd cast the Waters the next turn, the rest was a foregone conclusion.
The fourth and final game was an unfortunate way for Travis to leave the tournament. Forced to mulligan, Travis playing first, looked at his six card hand and saw only one land. Mulliganing to five, Travis declared he'd 'never Parised to four in my life' and proceeded to do so. With an opening hand of Plains, Last Breath, Devout Witness and Lightbringer, Travis was forced to watch as Sigurd's excellent draw, which included three Rishadan Ports, supressed him enough that he never actually cast a creature in the entire game. Eskeland now moves on to the semi-finals where he'll be facing Mattias Kettil's Rebel deck.
Eskeland 3 - Turning 1