by Adrian Sullivan
Two of the top players in the Player of the Year Race face off here with quite different decks. Maher is playing a Green/White creature and combat trick deck with a large amount of sub-par cards, while Shvartsman's Black/White deck has a more traditionally successful combination of elim and creatures.
Bob starts with a Pygmy Razorback and starts racing Alex's Steadfast Guard. A Spore Frog and Giant Caterpillar join Bob's side, but Alex Vendetta's the Caterpillar while Bob is tapped out. Alex adds a Rathi Intimidator to his team, while Bob brings in a Minebearer and uses Thrive and Treetop Braces to make his small creatures come through.
Things end though when the Troubled Healer joins Alex's side. Continuing to bring the beatdown with the Intimidator and Guard, he holds off Bob's continued attack. Bob has managed to get Alex to 3 life with his weaker creatures, but the ample land keep Bob from being able to finish the job.
Shvartsman 1 - Maher 0
Bob starts his first turn with Skyshroud Cutter and Marsh Boa, but Alex will have none of it. Quickly Vendettaing the Cutter and Last Breathing the Boa, both Bob and Alex are above 20 life, and Bob continues with Bad Aggro Critters with a Pygmy Razorback.
As Bob gets more mana, his higher end comes in. Giant Caterpillar and Silverglade Elemental come out, and Alex mounts little to no resistance falling quickly.
Shvartsman 1 - Maher 1
With a pair of mostly unexciting first games, leave it to these pros to keep the excitement for the last game.
As with the previous games, Bob opens with fast little creatures. Pygmy Razorback is quickly followed by Sustenance, and Alex answers with a Plague Witch. Untapping, Bob brings in the Razorback, and Alex retaliates on his own turn by laying a Rathi Intimidator and attacking with the Plague Witch.
That attack would cost him.
Maher lays a Marsh Boa and Thrives both the Boa and Razorback, attacking to bring Alex to 15. Alex serves back with the Intimidator and drops a Voice of Truth, leaving it at home with the unhappy Plague Witch.
Again Bob serves, bringing Alex to 10. Bob drops a Caterpillar, and Alex brings down the Troubled Healer just to make things sticky. With 5 land out, Alex will be able to heal quite a bit. Things get slightly more confusing from there.
On Bob's turn, he drops Defender En-Vec and attacks with everything.
The Intimidator and Truth Healer block the Razorback and Caterpillar, with healing effects saving all the monsters except the unlucky Intimidator. Alex drops a Steadfast Guard and a Seal of Doom, and on Bob's turn, all the creatures come in again. The Angel and Healer join up to block a Caterpillar and the Guard blocks the Ridgeback. Healing saves the Healer and Caterpillar from death, but Alex isn't the only one to sacrifice land. Bob uses his Sustenance to increase the Ridgeback even more, drawing fire from the Seal of Doom on the Table. Alex is now at 2 life, and Bob drops a second Caterpillar.
With only a single untapped Caterpillar and no untapped land, Alex attacks with the Steadfast Guard, hoping to kill the Caterpillar with his Plague Witch or to get in 2 "free" damage.
Bob takes the bait, blocking with the Caterpillar. Alex shrinks the Caterpillar with the Witch and uses the Healer to save the guard. Without a Defender En-Vec fading counter to heal the Caterpillar, it would normally die, but Bob taps it to play his Orim's Cure. With a tapped Witch, only 2 life, and 4 lands remaining each, things looked close.
On Bob's turn, he comes in with everything once again. The Angel and Witness block one Caterpillar, the Guard blocks the Boa, and the Healer blocks another Caterpillar. Bob sacrifices 2 land to the Caterpillar fighting two blockers, 1 more to the Boa, and 1 to the Caterpillar fighting the Healer. Alex puts damage shields on the healers and the Devout Witness, and both Players are left without land.
Alex's side now has a Healer and a Plague Witch, while Bob has a pair of Caterpillars and a Sustenance. Alex concedes on the next turn.
Shvartsman 1 - Maher 2