Posted in NEWS on May 10, 2014

By Tobi Henke

Meeting here were Hall of Famer Olle Råde whose best finishes all lie in the past century and recent upstart Fabrizio Anteri who claimed two Top 4s at Grand Prix last year. When I joined the players at their table in the feature match area, the two were discussing their respective travel plans for the upcoming Pro Tour in Atlanta, followed by some small talk regarding possible Block Constructed decks. The atmosphere was decidedly friendly, but then it was time for business. With one loss already, neither player could afford another just yet.

Råde brought a green-white deck, Anteri was on red-white. Heroic played a large role in both of their builds, arguably more so in Råde's. Anteri, however, as was revealed later, felt more happy about his deck and chances.

Game 1

Råde led with Setessan Oathsworn and Time to Feed to both kill Anteri's Akroan Line Breaker and grow a sizeable threat. While Anteri regrouped with Sigiled Skink and Loyal Pegasus, Råde added further pressure in Akroan Skyguard and Voyaging Satyr. However, the Gods Willing he used next turn was the last spell he cast for the entirety of the game.

Instead Råde played land after land. "Now I know what's wrong with my deck. I probably shouldn't have played 20 lands," the usually soft-spoken Swede mocked.

Fabrizio Anteri

Meanwhile Anteri had Battlewise Valor, Oracle of Bones plus Starfall, and finally an Akroan Skyguard of his own. Råde's five spells against Anteri's eight was not a fair fight, and not one that took particularly long to decide.

"The opening hand was five lands, Setessan Oathsworn, and Time to Feed. Not great, but still a keep, I think," Råde said while shuffling for game two.

"Yes, definitely," Anteri agreed. "And I think if you had one more spell, you would have been in charge of this game."

Olle Råde 0-1 Fabrizio Anteri

Game 2

Råde had a somewhat slow-ish start into the game, again casting his first creature on turn three, whereas Anteri opened on a pair of Akroan Skyguards and Wingsteed Rider. He was stuck on three Plains for a couple of turns, though, and couldn't really capitalize on the early creature advantage.

Nevertheless, after some trades and tricks on both sides, a race developed, all culminating in the following turn: Råde was at 8 life, facing a tapped Wingsteed Rider with Dragon Mantle (3/3) plus Akroan Skyguard (3/3) and Supply-Line Cranes, both untapped. He attacked Anteri, who was at 9, with his own Akroan Skyguard, Setessan Oathsworn, Nemesis of Mortals (all without counters), Tethmos High Priest, and Elite Skirmisher. Anteri was fully tapped out, Råde had all his mana up, not enough to turn Nemesis of Mortals monstrous though, with two cards in hand.

Anteri took a long time figuring out his blocks. On the one hand, he didn't want to lose both his blockers to still be able to deal lethal damage on his next turn. On the other hand, he didn't want to die to potential tricks from Råde. In the end, Anteri decided that, "If you have a pump effect, I'm dead no matter what," and blocked Elite Skirmisher with his 2/4 and Setessan Oathsworn with his 3/3. Råde cast Hold at Bay on his Akroan Skyguard, dealing exactly lethal damage.

Olle Råde

"That was a very interesting situation."—"It was!"

Olle Råde 1-1 Fabrizio Anteri

Game 3

The final game in the match was a bit of a let-down. After initial trades (Anteri's Sigiled Skink versus Ajani's Presence, Råde's God-Favored General versus Glare of Heresy), Råde managed to almost stabilize the board, in no small part thanks to Nessian Asp.

But the standoff didn't last long. While not even fliers could breach Råde's line of defense, Akroan Line Breaker certainly could. It intimidated all blockers into submission, first with the help of Mogis's Warhound, then Hopeful Eidolon. Forced to try and race, Råde finally lost to Impetuous Sunchaser.

Olle Råde 1-2 Fabrizio Anteri

Afterward, the players spent some more time at the table and looked at each other's deck. "What do you think?" Anteri asked for advice. "I have these three in my deck"–he pointed at Pinnacle of Rage, Oracle of Bones, and Starfall—"and people tell me, my deck is so aggressive I should run my two Oppressive Rays and Blinding Flare instead. I don't like the Rays one bit, though." Råde agreed: "Don't do that. Oppressive Rays is just bad."