Round 10: Steven Rubin vs. Daniel Kwiatkowski

Posted in NEWS on June 22, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Daniel Kwiatkowski is the reigning King of the Hill. Kwiatkowski enters the second day of competition with an unscathed record. A top 32 at the Indianapolis Legacy Grand Prix shows that Kwiatkowski has what it takes to compete at the highest level. Kwiatkowski is armed with Boros Burn, one of Standard's premier strategies.

His opponent, Steven Rubin, is a two-time Pro Tour competitor (Atlanta and Montreal) that piloted his Black Devotion strategy to an undefeated record through the first nine rounds. Rubin's sideboard features Brindle Boar and Duress to augment the Grey Merchant of Asphodel in his maindeck. These lifegain effects could prove difficult for Kwiatkowski to overcome.

Game 1

Kwiatkowski won the roll and both players kept their opening hands.

Rubin started things off with a Thoughtseize and quickly realized he was staring down the barrel of a fiery canon. Skullcrack went to the graveyard, but Kwiatkowski's hand was still full of gas.

Chandra's Phoenix came down for Kwiatkowski and flew directly across the table for two points of damage. It met Hero's Downfall on the following turn, but Kwiatkowski's Warleader's Helix ensured that it would be back to fight another day.

Chandra's Phoenix returned to the board, but the freshly cast Desecration Demon from Rubin kept it on the defensive.

Chandra's Phoenix blocked Desecration Demon the following turn, and Boros Charm at the end of Rubin's turn left him at a precarious six life.

Another burn spell put him to three. Mutavault was sacrificed to the demon, the Phoenix returned to put Rubin down to one life, and a Magma Jet was enough to finish the game in a flurry of fire.

Kwiatkowski 1 - 0 Rubin

Steven Rubin

Game 2

Rubin's matchup improved significantly after sideboarding. The dangerously painful Underworld Connections and the clunky Hero's Downfall were replaced with Duress, Brindle Boar, and cheaper spot removal.

Duress plucked Skullcrack from Kwiatkowski's hand, and Rubin saw an opportunity to play Pack Rat. Kwiatkowski had no cards that interacted when Rubin used his Duress, and a few Pack Rat activations would be very difficult for the Burn deck to race.

Kwiatkowski had found a Lightning Strike on the top of his deck, though, and it quickly took down Pack Rat before Rubin had the chance to make a token.

The game stalled out for a moment as Kwiatkowski drew too many lands and Rubin couldn't draw enough. Eventually, Rubin found Overgrown Tomb and used it to cast Brindle Boar, which would block and activate when Kwiatkowski's Mutavault entered the fray on the following turn.

Thoughtseize for the second copy of Skullcrack cleared the way for Grey Merchant of Asphodel, which was quickly Chained to the Rocks.

The game turned into a race when Lifebane Zombie and Mutavault began trading blows. Kwiatkowski broke serve with a Skullcrack to leave Rubin at three, but Rubin responded with Abrupt Decay targeting Chained to the Rocks.

The tides had shifted and Kwiatkowski was forced to Lightning Strike the Lifebane Zombie so that he wouldn't fall too far behind in the race.

Pack Rat on the following turn closed the game quickly while Kwiatkowski drew one too many lands to contend.

Kwiatkowski 1 - 1 Rubin

Daniel Kwiatkowski

Kwiatkowski started the third game on six cards and quickly went down to five when Rubin cast Thoughtseize. Kwiatkowski revealed three copies of Eidolon of the Great Revel and a Skullcrack. After some thought, Rubin decided to take one of the eidolons.

It was a cunning move. Rubin had Bile Blight in hand and was hoping that by taking Eidolon of the Great Revel he would be able to induce Kwiatkowski to cast both copies, thus giving him a two for one against what would surely be the most important card of the game.

Kwiatkowski refused to bite, though. Instead, with a single Eidolon of the Great Revel on the battlefield, Kwiatkowski started sending his Mutavault into the red zone.

Rubin blocked the first Eidolon with a Mutavault of his own, but the second copy followed shortly thereafter.

Rubin struggled to hang on, but his hand was filled with burn spells that target himself thanks to the opposing eidolon.

A timely Toil//Trouble off the top of Kwiatkowski's library dealt a massive blow that left Rubin in range for a lethal Skullcrack.

Kwiatkowski 2 - 1 Rubin

Daniel Kwiatkowski defended his King of the Hill title, winning in three games!