Tommi Hovi being the only player to win two Pro Tours faces the relatively unknown Edward Fear and is based on this the favorite. However, both players have impressive 11-4 records and are fighting for top 8.
Interestingly Hovi is playing what seems to be the only Mercenary deck in attendance. Fear is also playing mono black, but with bigger creatures like Thrashing Wumpus and Primeval Shambler. This means that they both have many unusable cards like Vendetta and Snuff Out.
After a deck check Fear is given a warning for having marked sleeves, but without any discernible pattern in the markings. He blames it on Ultra Pro. The deck check came as a surprise as Hovi was also checked the previus round, and Fear two rounds before.
Hovi starts the first game and is presented with a choice to cast Unmask, but does not as he has much land but not many cards to discard. Instead he casts a dark Ritual and a Cateran Persuader taking one point of mana burn. Fear just plays a swamp. Hovi then attacks with the Persuader and plays a Divining Witch.
Another swamp is played by fear. On the third turn Hovi searches with the Persuader for a Rampart Crawler then uses the Diving Witch for a Delraich. This leaves 4 cards in Hovi's deck! He then sacks his creatures to play the Delraich. Fear needs a Dark Ritual to cast one of the two Thrashing Wumpuses in his hand, instead he can only play a useless Rain of Tears destroying one of Hovi's swamps. The two following turns Hovi brings Fear down to 6 life, while Fear does not get his fifth land. He does subsequently draw a Chilling Apparition which has regeneration, but Delraich has trample. It does make him live an extra turn. Hovi then wins with zero cards left in his library.
During sideboarding they had opposite strategies. Fear took out his useless removal cards for Vicious Hungers and Massacres while Hovi put in Distorting Lenses to make his useless cards useful.
This time Fear starts and leads with a swamp. Hovi has a slow start and plays a Rampart Crawler on his first turn and a Divining Witch on his third turn, after Fear took out one of his lands with a Rain of Tears.
A Massacre then clears the board. Nothing is played until Fear plays a Primeval Shambler on turn seven, Hovi draws and plays a Rathi Intimidator. Fear kills it with a Vicious Hunger, but Hovi sacks it to play Dark Triumph denying Fear the two life. He then hits Hovi for 8. Hovis sideboarding has not payed off as he has multiple Snuff Outs but none of his Lenses. Unable to deal with the Shambler it kills him on the next turn with the aid of a Peat Bog and a Dark Ritual.
The last game sees Hovi mulliganing a 5 land draw only to mulligan again a one land draw. He keeps a hand of four swamps and a Dark Ritual which is worse than what he started of with. Fear on the other hand keeps a hand with only a Peat Bog for mana. He proceeds two draw three swamps in a row followed by a Dark Ritual. Hovi's draws were similar, but since he had no spells this was no good. Fear plays a Primeval Shambler on turn four followed by another on turn 5 as well as a Vicious Hunger on Hovi's only spell that game, a Rampart Crawler. Hovi concedes, Fear is now almost assured a spot in the Quarterfinals while Hovi might have to win out.