Posted in NEWS on June 15, 2014

By Oliver Gehrmann

Igor Gorbunov is one of Russia's finest; he has already participated in the Magic World Championship twice and he's also advanced to the finals of his country's National Championship before. Here he is again, this time facing off against Sergey Zheleznov in the last match of the Grand Prix Moscow 2014! Could he finally claim a title that has eluded him for so long?!

The deck of his choice is a Boros Burn build - red has always been the color of choice for Gorbunov and as long as he felt that it was competitive enough, he would always put his money on the most aggressive of all colors.

Igor Gorbunov is a huge fan of red burn decks!

It wouldn't be an easy task to walk away victorious, though. Sergey Zheleznov was riding to the finals on the back of an army of Pack Rats, the "best card in the format" according to him. He has tasted glory before when he took down a PTQ and he wanted to crown his Magic career with a victory in the Russian capital with the help of his very reliable Mono-Black Devotion deck.

Could he stabilize fast enough or would Gorbunov's burn spells be the deciding factor in this final? We will know in just a minute!

Zheleznov won the die roll, which resulted in him choosing to mulligan first. Gorbunov on the other hand kept, seemingly feeling OK with his opening 7. His poker face didn't give much away; the fact that he was tired, sure, but as for the quality of his hand, Zheleznov didn't have much of a clue.

Zheleznov then went down to 5; he tried to recover with Underworld Connections after such a bad start, but against the quick Boros Burn deck, this seemed like a risky move.

Gorbunov started to dish out damage with a Young Pyromancer. Zheleznov wanted to fight back with Mutavault, but Shock dealt with it. A Devour Flesh in response dealt with Young Pyromancer, but that didn't ease the pressure for long...

Gorbunov found a second Young Pyromancer to keep the pressure coming!

Gorbunov had a second Young Pyromancer and it stayed on the field despite Zheleznov casting another removal, thanks to a timely Boros Charm. Gorbunov now had a small army of tokens and they started to pick apart Zheleznov's life totals, leaving him - after Mutavault had joined the fray - on a meager 13 points.

Underworld Connections found Lifebane Zombie, Zheleznov cast it and he saw this hand:

Igor Gorbunov would now get to play with his hand revealed!

With his hand exposed, Gorbunov explained how he would now go on and wrap things up. He started with Magma Jet, he saw another Magma Jet and a Mountain on top of his deck and he sent them both to the bottom. Searing Blood then took down Lifebane Zombie, Mutavault turned into a creature and the following attacks made it 1 - 0 for Gorbunov!

Igor Gorbunov takes the lead!

Zheleznov kicked things off in the second game with a Thoughtseize. This cost Gorbunov a Magma Jet.

Gorbunov's opening seven in the second game!

Zheleznov found his signature card: Pack Rat. It wouldn't stay on the field for long, however, thanks to Searing Blood.

A Nightveil Spectre then threatened Gorbunov and he had no immediate way to deal with it; he instead relied on Chandra's Phoenix to set his opponent on a clock!

Zheleznov bought himself time with Bile Blight, but Gorbunov had several ways to bring back his Phoenix.

Gorbunov wouldn't run out of burn cards anytime soon!

Nightveil Spectre started to put in work for Zheleznov (netting him Skullcrack and Boros Charm), with Gorbunov willingly ignoring it, instead trying to race his opponent. He did so with Boros Charm and Lightning Strike.

Meanwhile, Zheleznov's Pack Rat started to put him even further ahead and when he added Gray Merchant of Asphodel, it seemed like Gorbunov couldn't win this race as soon as he had been hoping for.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel put Zheleznov out of Gorbunov's reach!

Zheleznov now finally had the time to start using the effect of his Pack Rat. This provided him with a threatening field that put Gorbunov on a clock. The Boros player drew, he didn't find a way to deal the last points of damage and he then shuffled up.

Sergey Zheleznov ties the score!

Gorbunov said something in Russian about his Chandra's Phoenix, but it was a little too hard to make out what exactly. Zheleznov simply chuckled, he then accessed his sideboard to swap a few select cards, Gorbunov then followed suit and with that we were ready to get started with the final game of the day!

Gorbunov took a slower approach in the last game of the day!

At first it appeared like Gorbunov would start a little slower, taking out his opponent's threats with the cards he introduced to the game from his sideboard: Chained to the Rocks and Banishing Light.

He shifted gears shortly after, finding a Chandra's Phoenix to deal the first blood of the game. Zheleznov, meanwhile, tried to stem the bleeding with Thoughtseize, sending a Young Pyromancer to the graveyard.

Over the following turns, Zheleznov cast plenty of removal (Pharika's Cure, Doom Blade and Hero's Downfall) to deal with the several copies of Chandra's Phoenix that Gorbunov had drawn into.

Zheleznov tried to fight back with Mutavault and he attempted to further stem the bleeding with another Thoughtseize, but Gorbunov cast Warleader's Helix in response to claim back his Phoenix.

Zheleznov tried to buy himself some time with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but it couldn't put in much work thanks to Gorbunov's second copy of Banishing Light.

In the following turns, Gorbunov kept burning his opponent with Magma Jets, getting back his Chandra's Phoenix, while Zheleznov in turn used Bile Blight and Pharika's Cure to hold them at bay and hang in there just barely.

Nightveil Spectre started to threaten Gorbunov. He had drawn into another Chandra's Phoenix, however! He cast it and opted to not attack.

Zheleznov added Desecration Demon. He then declared an attack with Nightveil Spectre and Gorbunov thought long whether he should block or not. He didn't and he lost Boros Charm.

Could Zheleznov turn this game around with a Desecration Demon?

On his following turn, he cast Young Pyromancer. His Chandra's Phoenix sacrificed itself for Desecration Demon.

Nightveil Spectre connected again. This was turning into quite the race!

Gorbunov drew into Skullcrack and it would have been fatal, were it not for a Devour Flesh from Zheleznov in response, targeting himself and getting rid of his own Desecration Demon to heal up again!

Chandra's Phoenix returned from Gorbunov's graveyard. He cast it and attacked with it before he passed.

Zheleznov once again cleared Gorbunov's field, but he now had to hope his opponent wouldn't draw into a burn spell.



Gorbunov drew...




Gorbunov found a Warleader's Helix to decide the thrilling final!

Igor Gorbunov is your Grand Prix Moscow 2014 Champion!