Posted in NEWS on January 28, 2014

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Peter Sundholm re-picked up Magic in May, after 15 years off. He stopped playing during Black Summer (when Necropotence reigned supreme), as he was a blue player and he was so disheartened to see so many black mana symbols. He played the game so long ago, "I used to mana burn!" He laughed. He was extremely happy coming back to the game and seeing that blue mana was indeed a viable strategy.

No. 18 Alex Hayne was sporting Tomoharu Saito's Azorius Control deck. He was also sporting the fact that he'd taken down two Grand Prix in the last year, and a win here would make it three for seven. In fact, a win here would make it three Grand Prix wins in six months. This Montreal resident is a crazy pants.

Though the Azorius Control deck has a tough time post-board against Mono-Blue Devotion, Hayne believes that his Archangel of Thune tech turns the battle "from a bad match-up into a good one." We'll see how true that proves.

Sundholm had a higher seed going into the Top 8, so he elected to go first. "Is that ok?" He asked his opponent.

"Yeah, that's ok. Most of my opponents have been choosing that this weekend, and most of them have lost." Hayne laughed playfully. Out of another player's mouth that could have come off differently, but Hayne is so jovial, the line worked well.


Alexander Hayne vs. Peter Sundholm

Game One

Sundholm started with three Island, Master of Waves, Domestication, Frostburn Weird, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in his hand. He led with two Frostburn Weird, which were promptly removed with a Detention Sphere from Alex Hayne. Kids, we call that card advantage. For another example of card advantage, see Hayne casting a Jace, Architect of Thought the subsequent turn.

Buttressed by a Supreme Verdict, Hayne was able to fire off the Jace to net multiple cards and also cast an Elspeth, Sun's Champion basically unimpeded. The scores were still 19-20 and Hayne had two planeswalkers plussing themselves to high heaven. Sundholm was in some trouble real quick.

Hayne made Soldier tokens at will, and kept doing so until Master of Waves made the token counts even. Hayne was having none of that and cast a Supreme Verdict to start fresh again. And by "start fresh" I mean, Hayne had two active planeswalkers and four cards in his hand, and Sundholm had nothing on his bored and two cards in his grip.

It really wasn't fair.

And just like that, Hayne was one step away from his third Grand Prix in six months.

Alex Hayne 1 – 0 Peter Sundholm

Game Two

"Let's try that 'on-the-play' plan again, Alexander." Sundholm wasn't going to make it easy for Hayne. It's a funny thing about being in between someone and history—the person standing there doesn't really care about you achieving your goal all that much.

"It's been working out for me so far," Hayne replied, echoing his earlier sentiments.

The second was a game of questions and answers. Sundholm kept posing questions, and Hayne kept providing answers. Hayne was like Batman to Sundholm's Riddler. Tidebinder Mage? Last Breath! Thassa, God of the Sea? Detention Sphere! What has yellow skin and writes? A ball-point banana!


Peter Sundholm 

Hayne went for the windmill slam of Elspeth, Sun's Champion, but this time it was the Riddler providing the answer. Sundholm cast Negate. Sundholm's Frostburn Weird had taken Hayne to 12 life, and when Sundholm cast Domestication on Hayne's Archangel of Thune, he had to think he was sitting pretty. Until Hayne activated Jace, Architect of Thought and found two Detention Sphere and another Archangel. Sundholm laughed. His sitting/pretty went out the window.

After that, the Batman came back. Sundholm had a second Domestication, but Hayne cast his second Detention Sphere. In response, Sundholm tried a Rapid Hybridization, but Hayne had the Gainsay.

But surprise! Aha! Sundholm then played a third Domestication!

"You had one-two-three Detention Sphere; it was only fair that I one-two-three Domestication. Oh, kill your Jace." Sundholm attacked with Frostburn Weird to remove the final Jace loyalty counter.

Sundholm knew that the Archangels were coming in and he planned accordingly. Sundholm was an incredible foil to Hayne.

Hayne had enough of these shenanigans and decided it was time for a reset. Supreme Verdict cleared both sides. But then the Riddler unleashed his super-secret weapon: Jace, Memory Adept. Immediately ten cards from Hayne's library hit the bin. Big Jace was a huge trump in this match-up, and with Hayne out three Detention Spheres, finding a real solution could be an issue—especially since the second millstravaganza took out the last Detention Sphere.

Hayne had 15 cards left in his library.

Two Archangel of Thune and a Jace, Architect of Thought was good, but the Memory Adept was a true threat. Sundholm's life was so high, upwards of 30, Hayne was going to have to kick it into high gear if he was going to outrace the Jace.

Hayne attacked Sundholm with one of the Angels (one was summoning sick). He couldn't kill the Jace this turn anyway, so might as well hit Sundholm and grow his dudes in the process. On Sundholm's turn ten more cards hit Hayne's yard. It was getting scary for the eighteenth-ranked player.

The Angels both took out the Jace, Memory Adept and the life totals were 25-25. Hayne had about five cards left to burn in his library. Unlike other Azorius Control decks, Hayne did not play an Elixir of Immortality for situations like this one. But I guess that's why there're dual Archangel of Thunes—for the situation when you need to deal 25 damage in a hurry, instead of shuffling your library back in.

Then, a small rules hiccup ensued. Though you might intuitively think that when both Archangels attack, each Archangel only triggers once, Head Judge Toby Elliott verified that Comprehensive Rule 118.9 states thusly: multiple sources of life gain will produce multiple life-gain events, even though all the life is gained simultaneously. Make sense? It's weird, and don't worry about it if you don't want to. Just know that both creatures shot up to six +1/+1 counters after the rules kerfuffle, and threatened to hit for nine damage a piece next turn. That would outrace the library depletion by about two turns.


Alexander Hayne

The last gambit Sundholm had up his sleeve was finding another Jace, Memory Adept. He had about one more turn to do so. A Jace, Architect of Thought was there to help him find it. One mill activation from big-daddy Jace would be more than enough to take out the remaining four cards for Hayne, and Sundholm would have his day.

So Hayne had to do some math. If he attacked smaller Jace with one Angel, could he still make it in time? He decided yes, and swung in. Hayne put four more counters on each Archangel and sent the Jace to the graveyard.

It was Sundholm's last turn. The Riddler's last chance to pull the rug out from under Batman. Without the planewalker, he would have to draw Big Jace right off the top. Sundholm untapped . . . and drew . . .

No help. Peter Sundholm extended his hand to Alex Hayne. For fun, Sundholm flipped over the top three cards to see if Jace would have found what he needed. The third card down was Jace, Memory Adept. Sundholm smiled.

The game was over. Alex Hayne had done it. His third Grand Prix win in six months. Congratulations to Alex Hayne!

Alex Hayne 2 – 0 Peter Sundholm