Round 7 Feature Match - Mike Long vs. Bob Maher

Posted in Feature

By Wizards of the Coast

by Randy Buehler

After 3 sets of pairings and an apology from head scorekeeper Gordon Culp, Mike Long and Bob Maher finally sat down to play against each other. Both players have represented the US at Worlds in the past and both would like to do it again. Maher made the same choice as a lot of Pro Tour regulars -- he's running Control Black. Jon Finkel, Steve OMS, Rob Dougherty, and others all came to the same conclusion. Because there was so much green getting played in the Meatgrinders and because black has such powerful anti-green cards, Control Black was thought to be the right choice for this field. Most versions even run a main deck Perish that they can access with Vampiric Tutor. Mike Flores used a version of this archetype (which he likes to call "Maher Oath" since it too uses Tutors and main deck hosers) to qualify for national via Regionals and the Flores deck served as the basis for Maher's deck (and Finkel's, by the way). The presence of many Control Black decks had lots of players speculating that mono-red (either Ponza or "Red Deck Wins 2000") would be an excellent choice for this field. Long is running Accelerated Blue.

Maher won the die roll in game 1 and used Vampiric Tutor to set up a turn 2 Phyrexian Negator. He then Tutored for Duress since he was afraid Long had Treachery in his hand. Long didn't, but Long promptly drew Treachery off the top of his deck. Thanks to his 2 Grim Monoliths, Long was able to steal the Negator, play a Morphling, and still leave up Counterspell mana, all on turn 4! Long, who was playing to a large crowd mostly composed of JSS players, stuck out his hand to see if Maher was willing to move immediately to game 2. Maher played it out but admitted that he was just going through the motions and didn't think he could recover.

Game 2 was closer, mostly because Maher got lucky with an early Stupor and knocked the only land out of Long's 5-card hand. That plus Maher's Rishadan Port prevented Long from having access to 4 blue mana (and thus the ability to Counterspell twice). Since Maher had enough mana to cast two threats on any given turn, he was able to get some threats into play. However, Long brought in multiple copies of Seal of Removal from his sideboard and they allowed him to slow Maher down and bounce his threats until Long finally drew into some lands. Once he had 6 land, Long began to work Maher with Masticore. After losing his Negator and a Skittering Horror to the 'Core, Maher found and successfully cast a Cursed Totem. However, Long just paid the upkeep for his 4/4 vanilla creature and just attacked with it. When Long used treachery to steal Maher's Thrashing Wumpus, that left Maher with no way to deal with the Masticore beatdown.

Interestingly, 5 of the 8 players in feature matches this round were playing Control Black (3 were with a Flores version and 2 ran the Your Move Games version). Flores.dec went 0-3 while YMG-Black went 1-1 (winning the pseudo-mirror against Flores.dec).

Long 2 (now 5-1-1)
Maher 0 (now 4-3)

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