In a match pitting two teams fighting for survival, France's fourth, veteran Mike Sochon faced off against Finland's Mike Wall in a match that opened this reporter's eyes to proper deck building strategy in this format.
In game one, Sochon's mono-black deck was able to run over Wall's WB deck. With Wall starting with 6 cards, the Fin was able to come out strong with a first turn Charm Peddler and a second turn Steadfast Guard before Sochon's Bog Smuggler entered play. Wall helped Sochon's offensive by playing a swamp the next turn in order to eventually get a Cateran Kidnapper into play, but the strategy backfired as Sochon cast Maggot Therapy at the end of the turn.
Soon, Sochon was swarming Wall, playing Undertaker, Fen Stalker and eventually Scandalmonger as a helpless Wall could only watch while waiting for his sixth mana to come so he could cast his Cho-Arrim Bruiser. By the time it did, Sochon had Wall low enough on life that Rathi Fiend was able to finish the job, with Wall holding a useless Black kill spell in hand at the end of the game, suggesting that the mono-black deck will always beat the B/X deck in game 1.
Game two saw the veteran make a mistake that ensured a loss from the start. Drawing first, Sochon found himself looking at an opening hand of 6 Swamps and a Cateran Persuader. Drawing more land, Sochon could only watch as Wall's creatures beat him hard enough that he was eventually forced to concede, only after receiving a warning for stalling.
Game three was all about the one true bomb in this match-up: Sochon's Cateran Slaver. Starting the game off with a turn two Jeweled Torque, Sochon stayed around 20 life until he played a turn 4 Cateran Kidnapper. After Wall played a Kidnapper of his own, Mike was able to search, though Wall's playing Primeval Shambler meant that Sochon would have a tough race on his hands.
Playing the Slaver on turn 6, Sochon attacked on the next turn taking Wall to 15. Wall then played Highway Robber as time was called and then Agent of Shauku. Fortunately for Sochon, he was able to get a Bog Smuggler into play in enough time to kill Wall on the 5th extra turn of play, thanks largely to Wall's forgetting that if he were to sacrifice all of his swamps to the Agent, the Swampwalkers wouldn't be able to get through.
With Sochon's win, the French team were able to beat the Finns 3 matches to 1, with only national champion Yann Hamon losing en route to picking up 18 points.