Alexey Isupov's day started a little more than an hour ago thanks to his 2 Byes. The Russian was able to boost his confidence with a quick win, but he would now have to put in some extra work to maintain it; he got paired against Germany's Patrick Dickmann - one of the most accomplished players as of late. Dickmann has already amassed 39 Pro Points this season thanks to strong finishes at both the Grand Prix and the Pro Tour stage including an excellent third place at Pro Tour Born of the Gods!
Both players would soon find out that they went with the same deck: B/G Devotion. Isupov had already been toying with the archetype for several months, so he felt he was well-familiar with it. Dickmann on the other hand told us in confidence that he originally wanted to play Mono-Blue Devotion this weekend. He sat down with Anssi Alkio, however, who ended up not making it to the event since he wanted to apply for his visa at the very last minute, not realizing that his application would reach the consulate on a Russian holiday, which in turn meant that he didn't get back his papers in time. He then shared his list with Dickmann so at least one player would reap the rewards of the hours of playtesting that Alkio had put in.
What made B/G Devotion better than Mono-Blue Devotion, according to Alkio, was that you didn't need to have an extremely good opening with the former. That convinced Dickmann, who hasn't been feeling as confident with his choice as Isupov, but confident nonetheless.
So much for the introduction, let's get to it, shall we?
Isupov gave away what he was playing when he started the game with Temple of Malady, sending the card he saw to the bottom. Dickmann wanted to double check and make perfectly sure what his opponent was playing, however, using a Thoughtseize to strip his opponent off his Desecration Demon.
With 3 more removals in hand, Isupov was now left without a threat, but that changed momentarily when his Deck provided him with Scavenging Ooze. Dickmann let out a sigh, certainly not liking what he saw.
Lifebane Zombie allowed Dickmann to take another look, but it couldn't put up a strong opposition as Abrupt Decay immediately dealt with it. This series of plays continued over the course for the next turns - Dickmann tried to match the ever-growing Scavenging Ooze with a threat of his own and Isupov used a removal to deal with it.
Since the German's deck wouldn't provide him with a removal, Dickmann decided it was time for game 2.
Once again, Dickmann opened with a Thoughtseize on his second turn, which cost Isupov his own copy of the Spell.
The game turned into a war of attrition, with both players continuing to drop lands, but not making any other plays. That changed on Dickmann's fourth turn, when an Underworld Connections enchanted one of his lands. It was immediately met with an Abrupt Decay.
The Russian then tried to switch gears and put himself into the driver's seat, adding a Pack Rat and creating a token. Dickmann immediately discarded 2 copies of Abrupt Decay to make sure the Rat plague wouldn't get out of hand.
Over the following turns, Dickmann started to pull ahead slightly with Courser of Kruphix that started to provide him with much-welcome extra Lands, most notably a Mutavault. He couldn't really apply a lot of pressure, though, but an Underworld Connections would provide him with a stream of cards in the turns to come.
Since Isupov wasn't exactly on a big clock, he now started to amass cards, courtesy of an Underworld Connections of his own.
Dickmann then finally found a threat in Desecration Demon, once again turning the tide in his favor. Isupov, however, had drawn into a Scavenging Ooze that was immediately getting busy, exiling creatures from Dickmann's Graveyard! Things would get interesting in the second game after all!
A second Underworld Connections and a second Scavenging Ooze put Isupov ahead, who also found another Hero's Downfall to get rid of Dickmann's Desecration Demon. While the German found a second copy, he was now forced to double block one of the Scavenging Oozes. Isupov continued to impress with the cards that his deck provided him with; a timely Golgari Charm allowed him to make sure his Scavenging Ooze would survive the battle.
The German attacked with Desecration Demon and he added a Pack Rat. Isupov drew into more solutions with his 2 copies of Underworld Connections, both copies of Scavenging Ooze went in and Dickmann used the effect of Pack Rat twice to create 2 Token copies. Isupov found Ultimate Price, however, to deal with Pack Rat, forcing Dickmann to block with both Tokens and losing them, which left him with only Desecration Demon. To make things worse for the German, Isupov also found a Desecration Demon of his own.
Dickmann wanted to attack with Desecration Demon, but Isupov felt confident he no longer needed 2 copies of Scavenging Ooze, so he sacrificed it. Dickmann found his last copy of Courser of Kruphix and he passed.
Isupov then added Vraska the Unseen and Dickmann immediately shuffled up, openly showing his frustration that he had mostly drawn Lands while Isupov had always found the perfect answer to every play that Dickmann made. Definitely not the start that Dickmann had been hoping for.