Posted in NEWS on June 29, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

Brian Burns was surprised to hear his name called over the PA for a feature match, and even more nervous as he began to shuffle up for his first game under the lights.

"Are you a pro?" He asked his opponent, Noah Walker, as they rolled to determine turn order. "I've never had a feature match before."

"Definitely not," Walker replied. "I just beat Shahar (Shenhar, the world's 14th-ranked player) last round."

That's the beauty of the king of the hill. It gives any player a chance to stay under the camera (or the figurative pen), so long as they keep winning. Walker took the title by knocking off Shenhar; would he retain it or would Burns take his turn atop the throne?

Game 1

Mogis, God of Slaughter may not have made an impact on Standard yet, but the god proved in the first game just how powerful he is if left unchecked. And in Sealed Deck, indestructible gods that can win the game without ever turning into a creature are pretty difficult to check.

Both players kept their opening seven cards, but neither had much aggression. An early creature from Burns met a removal spell from Walker, and nothing else happened until Mogis hit the board on turn four.

All Walker could do was shake his head as both players began to draw running lands. A Gild took out a creature and finally an Eater of Hope hit the board for Walker, but by then Mogis had done his dirty work, bringing the king of the hill to two life. A Magma Jet to the face later, and it was off to Game 2.

Burns 1 — Walker 0

Game 2

Walker continued to shake his head as he was forced to mulligan to five cards in the second game and he failed to find a third land and merely activated his Returned Phalanx to attack for three.

Burns, on the other hand, began to fill his board with imposing creatures. First came Master of the Feast, followed by an Archetype of Aggression and an Arena Champion. That put Walker on the back foot as Master quickly halved his life total over two turns.

But the drawback on Master of the Feast is always relevant, and soon it began to fill Walker's hand. Having drawn two extra cards from the Master and finding land, Walker finally unlocked the cards in his hand. A Gild removed the flier, a Gray Merchant of Asphodel buoyed his life total, and with the help of the Gold token Walker's Eater of Hope was enough to earn an unlikely concession from Burns as he watched the game slip away.

Burns 1 — Walker 1

Burns' Mogis, God of Slaughter proved how powerful it can be without ever even threatening to attack.

Game 3

With the king of the hill title on the line, both players finally drew well enough to have a competitive game.

After two games of slow starts, Game 3 saw the board fill up quickly on both sides, though neither side could break through for attacks. Impetuous Sunchaser for Burns broke the stall, but it was going to take a long time for the 1/1 to end the game.

A Keepsake Gorgon for Walker put the momentum on his side and provided a long-term answer to the Bladetusk Boar that had found its way onto Burns' side. Not that he would need it. Gild took down Burns' freshly-drawn Master of the Feast, Nyx Infusion took out the Boar, Vaporkin traded with the Sunchaser and thanks to the Gold token produced by Gild Keepsake Gorgon was one mana away from going Monstrous.

It was a growing army for Walker. But Mogis has no problem slaughtering armies, and when Burns drew the god the next turn the game changed very suddenly. Walker began to play the Mogis subgame, where he faced the tough choice every turn of losing a creature or losing life, one of which would happen every turn anyway as Burns was plenty devoted to the god of slaughter.

Thanks to a hand full of creatures Walker wasn't immediately dead to Burns' army, but he was forced to give up his chance at activating Keepsake Gorgon by sacrificing his token to cast Rise of Eagles. But a Lightning Diadem entering play attached to Labyrinth Champion was enough to wipe Walker's board and prompt him to extend the handshake, making Burns the fourth king of the hill in as many rounds.

Burn 2 — Walker 1

Brian Burns, Black-Red

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Noah Walker, Blue-Black

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