This first round feature match paired up this year's French Nationals Champ, Yann Hamon, against two-time APAC Champ, Masaya Mori. Both players were sporting their Accelerated Blue decks. This classic blue on blue match-up always comes down to someone forcing through a Morphling and serving for a few turns. Almost always that is, so read ahead and find out the inside stuff.
Game one involves lots of islands and Ports hitting the table. Hamon chose to play Remote Isles which seems to be a good choice considering the high preponderance of red decks and hermit decks sporting boils. Hamon makes the first play laying Monolith on turn 2. The next few turns involve both players playing lands. Hamon gets double port and forces out a Morphling on turn 5 with one blue left over. Mori forces through one of his own having to tap out. Yann has the Treachery and we're off to game 2.
Hamon sides in a variety of singular cards after game one electing to add 1 Machinist, 1 Biologist, 1 Scrying Glass, 1 Opportunity, and 1 Annul. He took out Masticores and Treacheries. Mori also added annuls and Temporal Adepts. Blue and artifact afford both players many choices and it's interesting to see the routes both players have chosen. They both elected to keep one Masticore each realizing that after the smoke clears from counters and kegged Morphlings that creatures of any kind are invaluable.
Game 2 starts with Hamon playing a couple of islands and Mori playing a Port and an Island. Hamon plays a turn 6 Keg. At the end of Hamon's turn Mori strokes himself for 3 which gets countered. Mori tries to play Morphling which gets countered and after Mori's misdirection arrives in play. Mori is able to counter Hamon's retaliatory Morphling and we're off to the races. Mori's hand has been emptied of counters and Yann is able to play a Machinist and a Monolith on the following turn. The key play of the match occurs when Hamon has 3 counters on his Keg and he is at 10 life. Mori attacks with Morphling but does not give it flying allowing Hamon to block with Stronghold Machinist giving him the one extra turn needed to get the essential extra counters on the Keg. Mori, after realizing his mistake, elects to go for the kill right away and plays a second Morphling which successfully arrives. Yann follows up with a Morphling of his own and brings the Keg to 4 counters. Keg gets to 5 with Hamon on 5 life. Mori then draws and successfully casts Temporal Adept. Mori starts attacking the following turn. The Temporal Adept isn't much of a clock but when your opponent is at 5 and everyone has emptied their hands it can be and was just enough to pull it out for Mori.
The 3rd and deciding game left Hamon with a weak hand containing 5 non-Port lands and a Keg, and an Annul. A very weak hand indeed but with all the bluffing and slow play characteristic of a blue on blue match up, Hamon would surely have time to draw into some threats. Mori mulligans and keeps his very good six card hand. They both play islands and Hamon casts the first spell with a turn 2 Powder Keg. The only successfully cast spell for many turns as they trade Dustbowls and Portings. Hamon keeps trying to bait counters with an Annulled Masticore and a countered Scrying Glass. He finally gets Morphling into play only to have Mori cast one of his own on the following turn. At this point, both players have 2 cards in hand with each Hamon having a Morphling and 2 Kegs and Mori having just a Morphling. Mori casts a second Morphling and Hamon blows his Keg. Hamon had only a Stroke in his hand of import but elected to play Machinist instead of tapping lands and casting a small stroke. With his hand it might have been the wrong choice. He told me after the match that he was too afraid of Thwart because he had no counters. Hamon appeared to have the advantage after Kegging away two Morphlings to his one but drew into only lands while Mori drew Counterspell, Thwart, Masticore and some other quality draws. Mori casts Masticore and on the following turn Hamon tries his Stroke with the Machinist back-up because Mori elected not to shoot it during his own turn. Mori Misdirects the Stroke which is countered by the Machinist and Rewound. That wrapped up the game as Hamon drew into counters but not much else. Three attacks later from Masticore and Mori had claimed the match 2-1.
Masaya Mori defeats Yann Hamon 2-1