Final: Tobias Dreger vs. Helge Nelson

Posted in NEWS on August 15, 2011

By Tobi Henke

This is it. The culmination of one weekend of thrilling Magic. Three more wins and one of these players would be crowned champion of German Nationals 2011. The match-up was Pyromancer Ascension played by Tobias Dreger and, on the other side, a deck and a player not many had expected at the beginning of the weekend to end up here. Helge Nelson won a last-chance qualifier on Thursday and made it all the way to the finals with his mono-red deck.

Game One

Dreger won the die-roll and kept his seven, Nelson took two mulligans. Both players had tapped lands on their first turn, Halimar Depths for Dreger, Teetering Peaks for Nelson.

On turn two, Nelson summoned two Goblin Guides, one of which was stopped by Mana Leak. Dreger cast Pyromancer Ascension and passed the turn with one Mountain untapped. Nelson used the opportunity and cast Shrine of Burning Rage as well as a third Goblin Guide. One of the Guides died to Burst Lightning, the other got Dreger down to 16.

Dreger cast Preordain, paid 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, saw that the single card in Nelson's hand was Staggershock, paid 1 more life to fetch Island with Misty Rainforest, and cast another Preordain to put the first counter on Pyromancer Ascension. He passed the turn with no blue mana available, an opportunity Nelson used to resolve Staggershock.

Goblin Guide was hit by Lightning Bolt. Now, since Nelson was tapped out and couldn't use his Shrine, Dreger seized the opportunity and bounced the artifact. He passed the turn with Mana Leak mana up. Nelson didn't have much choice and re-cast his Shrine and Dreger did indeed have the Mana Leak, which also put a second counter on Pyromancer Ascension

Now on 9 life with a fully-powered Ascension, Dreger looked firmly in control. The game continued for a couple of turns in a flurry of copied Preordains, Ponders, Gitaxian Probes, with the occasional See Beyond for good measure. Nelson fought back valiantly with Chandra's Phoenix, a second Staggershock, and Lightning Bolt. And in fact, he did manage to get Dreger down to 4. But when a second Pyromancer Ascension made its way to the table and was charged in record time, a couple of Lightnings soon finished the game

Tobias Dreger 1 – 0 Helge Nelson

The match-up was about to change considerably, because both players boarded some extremely effective cards, though it was hard to say who gained most from his sideboard.

Nelson's sideboarding:

-4 Searing Blaze
-1 Staggershock
+2 Manabarbs
+2 Manic Vandal
+1 Vulshok Refugee

Dreger's sideboarding:
-4 Gitaxian Probe
-4 See Beyond
-1 Foresee
-1 Red Sun's Zenith
-2 Into the Roil
+2 Batterskull
+4 Flashfreeze
+3 Pyroclasm
+3 Mental Misstep

Tobias Dreger

Game Two

Both players kept their opening seven, neither had a play on turn one. Turn two, Nelson had Grim Lavamancer, whereas Dreger had Pyromancer Ascension. What Dreger lacked, however, was blue mana. Nelson attacked, summoned Plated Geopede, and played a Scalding Tarn.

Dreger still didn't have an Island, but he did have a Lightning Bolt for the Geopede. Dreger was in dire trouble as Nelson cast Koth of the Hammer, which Dreger couldn't stop without blue mana. Dreger killed it with two Burst Lightnings which got him a first counter on Pyromancer Ascension, but not without taking 5 damage on the attack.

Again no Island, while Nelson made Hero of Oxid Ridge, exactly when Dreger was out of instant burn. He did have Pyroclasm to take out Hero and Grim Lavamancer, but Nelson simply untapped, and pointed two Lightning Bolts and a Staggershock at Dreger's face

Tobias Dreger 1 – 1 Helge Nelson

Game Three

Dreger's start was much better this time, with Preordain, Pyromancer Ascension, Preordain, Ponder, and Burst Lightning, all in the first three turns.

Nelson's draw was certainly not bad either, with Grim Lavamancer, Shrine of Burning Rage, and Vulshok Refugee. Nelson continued with Grim Lavamancer and left three mana up for Shrine of Burning Rage.

Dreger had Burst Lightning for the Lavamancer, putting a second counter on his Ascension. But on his turn, when this reporter was expecting a number of spells and copies, Dreger just laid a land and passed. A quick peek at his hand confirmed: he only held red cards, and a Batterskull which was still one turn away from being cast.

Staggershock, its rebound, Vulshok Refugee, and Shrine of Burning Rage ended the game before it ever came to that.

Tobias Dreger 1 – 2 Helge Nelson

Helge Nelson

Game Four

Nelson had Goblin Guide on turn one, Dreger had Mental Misstep. Nelson tried Shrine of Burning Rage, Dreger had Mana Leak. When he continued to not do anything on his turn, it became clear that Dreger's deck was giving him the full counter suite this time.

Next, he countered Manabarbs with Flashfreeze, then made a Pyromancer Ascension and allowed Chandra's Phoenix. The Phoenix swung in for 4 thanks to Teetering Peaks and was joined on the following turn by Goblin Guide. Dreger really had to manage his resources, one of which was Pyroclasm and killed both of Nelson's creatures. Another couple of spells were traded against counters which left Dreger with a fully active Pyromancer Ascension, but no cards in hand, to his opponent's Grim Lavamancer. He drew his card and made a face of pleasant surprise. Down came Batterskull. Nelson found no way to handle the Skull and was competently battered.

Tobias Dreger 2 – 2 Helge Nelson

Dreger made a little adjustment to his deck, switching the third Pyroclasm for a third Into the Roil.

Game Five

Nelson was happy to play first in the final game, but not too happy with his opening seven, happy enough, though, to keep. Dreger had the first play with Preordain, Nelson had the very important Shrine of Burning Rage. Dreger cast a second Preordain and triggered his Ascension.

At the end of his turn, Nelson cast Staggershock, which Dreger stopped with Flashfreeze. Nelson untapped, played a fourth land and cast Koth of the Hammer. On his turn, Dreger cast Into the Roil on Koth and left mana up to be able to counter the planeswalker if needs be. Nelson chose to play Grim Lavamancer instead, leaving mana up for Shrine of Burning Rage, which had six counters already.

Dreger had Burst Lightning for the Lavamancer, but apart from that all he had left was Mental Misstep and Flashfreeze, and nothing with which to advance his Pyromancer Ascension status. Meanwhile, Nelson was prepared to wait for his Shrine to reach lethality.

Preordain changed the plans, however, because a) it revved Pyromancer Ascension and b) found Into the Roil. When Dreger cast it on Shrine of Burning Rage, it dealt 9 damage and he went to 6. But now Nelson actually had to fight to get rid of the rest. Koth of the Hammer met Flashfreeze, Goblin Guide, however, went unimpeded directly into the red zone and revealed Dreger's next draw to be Mana Leak. Nelson cast Burst Lightning to put Dreger at 2. Mana Leak didn't really help.

Tobias Dreger 2 – 3 Helge Nelson

Congratulations to Helge Nelson, the German National Champion 2011!