Posted in NEWS on March 16, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Ivan Argimon and Axel Rodriguez both smashed through their nine rounds yesterday in brilliant fashion, with both players securing undefeated records at the end of Day One.

Rodriguez specifically has not let go of his King of the Hill title, maintaining status since earning it in Round 7 yesterday. Would we have a new King of the Hill at the end of this round, or would Rodriguez maintain his place at the feature match area with a win?

The Decks

Both Argimon and Rodriguez were sporting midrange strategies. However, while Argimon was playing only Orzhov colors, emphasizing the removal suite black offers alongside powerful white-black creatures such as Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Rodriguez had access to three colors and an emphasis on white specifically with Esper.

The Games

The first action from Argimon came from a Thoughtseize on the second turn, revealing a brutal hand from Rodriguez: Hallowed Fountain, Detention Sphere, Ephara, God of the Polis, and three Lyev Skyknights. Argimon settled on discarding Ephara before passing the turn. While Rodriguez's top-decked Brimaz, King of Oreskos would normally be a threatening force in this situation, Devour Flesh quickly cleared the path.

The cat king did allow Rodriguez to gain some additional life from Devour Flesh, but Rodriguez had plenty of offense, playing one of his Skyknights. Argimon, however, was not deterred by the hand, casting Lifebane Zombie to exile one of the two remaining Skyknights in Rodriguez's hand. The second came down, and Rodriguez's game plan was set.

Unfortunately for Argimon, nothing more was coming off the top of the deck other than lands. Lifebane Zombie was capable of attacking in, but his final non-land, Desecration Demon, was hit with Rodriguez's Detention Sphere.

Axel Rodriguez

While Argimon had two Mutavaults as those lands, allowing him to double-block Rodriguez's Precinct Captain, the glut of lands was too difficult to overcome, sending Argimon to his sideboard for Game 2.

The first action of the second game came from Rodriguez, who hit Argimon with a second-turn Thoughtseize, revealing Argimon's own un-used Thoughtseize, Devour Flesh, and Doom Blade. Argimon lost his Thoughtseize to Rodriguez's discard spell.

Rodriguez forced removal spell #1, Doom Blade, with Precinct Captain on the next turn. However, he did not get a chance to bait out any more before Argimon had information, as a freshly drawn Thoughtseize let Argimon see what was going on. Rodriguez revealed Godless Shrine, Hallowed Fountain, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Far & Away. The Blood Baron immediately ended up in the graveyard.

Brimaz was hit with another Doom Blade, and Argimon's Mutavault began taking two point chunks out of Rodriguez's life total. After another draw, it was clear that Rodriguez was out of threats, but not answers. Desecration Demon was immediately hit with Dark Betrayal. When Argimon drew Blood Baron of Vizkopa, things started to get worse for Rodriguez, as Argimon also had Mutavault at the ready to sacrifice to Rodriguez's in-hand Far & Away. A second Blood Baron of Vizkopa was more than enough to earn Argimon the win in the second game.

Rodriguez had the advantage in the third game, attacking for 2 with Precinct Captain before Argimon had mana for his Hero's Downfalls. However, that advantage quickly dissipated when it Rodriguez passed without a land or any color of mana other than white. He did have an Imposing Sovereign on the third turn, as well as a replacement Precinct Captain, but he lost both Captains to Hero's Downfalls on sequential turns.

Ivan Argimon

Worse yet, while he found a third land, he still only had blue and white, missing the critical black mana that he needed to cast Thoughtseize. Brimaz, King of Oreskos from Rodriguez immediately met a third Hero's Downfall. Argimon had a Thoughtseize of his own, leaving Rodriguez's alongside Ephara, God of the Polis and Detention Sphere in favor of discarding a second Brimaz.

However, Rodriguez was not out of the game yet. While Argimon was sitting on two Blood Baron of Vizkopas in his hand, he lacked the fifth land to cast either for multiple turns, instead having to stem bleeding with removal while his hand was stalled up from a lack of lands. The attacks from the Precinct Captain token and Imposing Sovereign were beginning to add up, and when Rodriguez found a Thoughtseize of his own, he saw what the problem was.

After multiple turns, it was Rodriguez who found a fifth land, black mana, and a Blood Baron of Vizkopa in play, which closed the door on Argimon's chance to take a game which, if he had found a fifth land, would have been over.

Rodriguez, despite the odds being against him, has retained his king of the hill status.

Argimon 1 – Rodriguez 2