Posted in NEWS on March 1, 2014

By Pip Foweraker

Patrick Pepper is one of the Old Guard of Australian Magic, playing since earlier than he's willing to publicly admit. Jun Young Park is coming out to Melbourne fresh off a 3rd-place finish at Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. Both players are piloting decks that are antithetical to creatures hanging around on the battlefield, Park hewing to a more traditional U/B build, Pepper bringing a concoction to the table that, well, just wants to kill everything. Players have remarked over the weekend about how well position Rakdos's Return is, and Pepper's deck takes full advantage of the plethora of powerful removal to the R/B/W colour combination.

Both players led off with scry lands before Pepper threw out the first discard spell of the match with a Thoughtseize. He cleared out an Underworld Connections and followed up with a Rakdos Keyrune, Park left sitting on a handful of removal.

Park tried summoning a Nightveil Spectre, but Pepper offed it with a Hero's Downfall. Park, stripped of his Underworld Connections, needed to regain momentum. A Thoughtseize revealed Pepper's hand of Read the Bones, Desecration Demon and Orzhova, Ghost Council. Park elected to take the Read the Bones.. Pepper summoned his Desecration Demon, which was instantly killed with a Devour Flesh. This is not a matchup where creatures are likely to hang around for very long...

Park puzzles out how to keep a creature around long enough to attack.

Park found another Underworld Connections to gain himself some card advantage. He Thoughtseized Pepper, taking the dangerous Orzhova out of contention before it could hit the board. Pepper, stalled on lands, could only watch as Park used his Connections to draw and then fuel a series of Pack Rats. Park remained within nearly-lethal range of a Rakdos's Return that Pepper had been sandbagging for most of the game, but Pepper couldn't find a land before the Rats took him down.

Jun Young Park 1 - Patrick Pepper 0

Pepper's opening Thoughtseize showed Park with a hand of gas, an Underworld Connections, Spectre, Bile Blight and Thoughtseize. Pepper took the Thoughtseize...Second Thoughtseize from Pepper shows double Devour, Connections, Spectre, Bile Blight. Park summoned his Spectre and passed, Pepper having no action on his 4th.

After taking a hit from the Spectre, Pepper pondered his next move carefully. Expecting something non-interactive from Park on his turn, he let the Spectre come through, weighing the danger of a connected Spectre swing against his desire to cast his Rakdos's Return. He ended up taking the attack and using the Return to knock Park down to 1 card in hand the following turn.

Pepper: "Guess who's back, back again..."

Pepper had a Merciless Eviction to finally deal with the Spectre, while Park was forced into an aggressive stance with a Mutavault. Pepper had an Elspeth, Sun's Champion to stabilise, leaving Park in an unenviable position. Park had a Hero's Downfall for the Elspeth after she had spawned some tokens, and then both players summoned a Desecration Demon each. Warleader's Helix from Pepper took out Park's Mutavault, and Park had a second Desecration Demon to drop to increase the pressure on Pepper.

Pepper drew a second Rakdos's Return, breathed deeply, and ran through the math. He sacrificed his last Elspeth token to tap down Park's remaining Demon, dropped his untapped Blood Crypt, and cast his Rakdos's Return for exactly lethal.

Patrick Pepper 1 - Jun Young Park 1

Park spent the first few turns aboslutely demolishing Pepper's hand with a series of Duresses and Thoughtseizes. Pepper played land after land as his creatures were stripped away or killed the moment they entered the battlefield, Park piling on pressure with first one and then two Nightveil Spectres. Pepper played defensively where he could, but as the Spectres denied him all the goodies on top of his library and left him with a series of sub-par draws, there was little he could do to combat Park's relentless card advantage engines.

Jun Young Park 2 - Patrick Pepper 1