by Liam Coltman
Star of Australian magic, Rod Ho, paired up against one of the best players that is yet to make the top 8, Stu Gillard. After narrowly missing out last year, Stu was hungry for the win, and was hoping that his bargain deck could give it to him. Rod won the die roll and chose to play.
Both players drew their opening hands, looked at them, and proceeded to mulligan all the way down to four cards. With no real choice Ho kept his hand, and ended his turn straight away, playing no land. Over the next 5 turns the two players played two lands each, with Rod getting the upper hand, dropping the first Phyrexian Tower on turn 4. On turn 6, Ho casts a Grim Monolith while Gillard rituals out his Academy Rector. Again the two still while Gillard sends his rector in for the 1-point beats. Ho is helpless 4 turns later when Stu renounces his rector, brings out the bargain, and starts the combo. We all know how that ends.
Ho 0 Gillard 1
Ho again chooses to play first and drops down the tower first turn, which is met by a smile from Gillard. On turn 2 all Ho can do is cast a monolith, while Gillards first turn Peat Bog allows him to cast a tower, and then use it to bring out the rector. On his next turn Gillard, with no way to sac his rector, rituals out a bargain attacks with the rector. After a long time looking at the cards in his hand he ends his turn and Ho knows exactly what he must do. Ho casts the bargain using the monolith, leaving an untapped swamp, and draws all the way down to 1. Since he hasn't played a land its still possible for him to go off with only a ritual, a monolith and the skirge since he can drop a land midcombo. However theres nothing he can do but extend the hand when the 18 cards yield no ritual.
Ho 0 Gillard 2
On a side note Ho dropped from the tournament after the match, the first time that he has failed to make the top 8 in 4 years.