Back before the days of LSV and PVDDR, there were only three men in Magic known by an arcane arrangement of letters. BDM (Brian David Marshall) we get to see at every Pro Tour working the coverage. EDT (Eric Danger Taylor), was last seen eating his hat around the time that Kai Budde won his second straight Pro Tour in a row. TBS is still around and playing, though he's not someone we see at European Grand Prix quite so much.
TBS stands for 'The Ben Seck', and Australian player who relocated to San Francisco to work in the computer games industry, and who by a convoluted turn of events finds himself in Europe for the next few months. The only player ever to have won a Grand Prix in Africa, he has yet to lift a trophy in Europe, and came to Poland hopeful of righting that wrong. With just a single bye, and a tricky deck-build, he'd found himself in a tough spot early on, and without a loss to give, he found himself up against Swedish pro Denniz Rachid.
Rachid shot to prominence with top eight finishes at both Pro Tour Dark Ascension and Pro Tour Avacyn Restored. While Theros block hasn't treated Rachid as well as Innistrad block did, Rachid is still hardly the sort of opposition that you want to face when you can't afford to lose another match at the event you're in.
The last hope for Seck was that given the number of byes Rachid had, his deck could very well be fairly poor, with Rachid starting just 1-2 in the rounds he'd had to play.
As Denniz started with Forest, Plains, Island, TBS remarked "Three colour no fixing? Come on, please let your deck be as bad as I hope it is!"
Both players could not afford another loss in the tournament, and while the banter was friendly, it was clear that neither would be happy losing. The early run of the cards appeared to be with Rachid, who got down a fast Nessian Courser to attack with, and gradually used it to knock down Seck's life total to just six. Seck had a blue black deck that took a while to get started, and indeed it wasn't until a Sudden Storm, a Hubris and a Shipbreaker Kraken that there was something of a glimmer of hope for the Australian in game one.
With a gleeful 'Let's get crackin', Seck was very much back in the game. Rachid had to pass without a play for his turn, and soon saw a Shipwreck Singer from Seck to further advance his board.
A Griptide on Shipbreaker Kraken looked to provide just the window Rachid needed, as he used a Nyxborn Triton to pump one of his creatures for a big swing. TBS had other ideas though. Annul stopped that plan, making Rachid's attacks a little less scary. The swing did take TBS to three, but three is very much not dead, and he was able to untap into playing his big kraken once more.
Rachid had TBS on the back foot, and while TBS had the biggest threat on the board in terms of sheer card quality, he had very little life to work with. Rachid's played an Agent of Horizons which would be lethal the following turn.
The play for TBS was more or less scripted. He had to use Shipbreaker Kraken's ability to 'eat' Agent of Horizons. After that, he pretty much had to attack. Who holds back with a 10/10, right? Rachid was hoping that TBS would see things that way. He had the Divine Verdict, and won on the swing back.
Denniz Rachid 1 - 0 Ben Seck
For game two, having seen a fairly fast start from Rachid, TBS elected to change his plan. Where previously he had been a fairly ponderous blue black deck, now he was lean, mean, black and green.
'This game' remarked TBS, 'I am going to go beatdown'. He had a turn one Renowned Weaver, followed by Leafcrown Dryad. With a Call into Darkness on Rachid's first creature, a Stonewise Fortifier, he was able to keep that plan alive for some time. Hunt the Hunter let him kill off a Swordwise Centaur, and attack Rachid to 11.
The Swede had plenty of creatures though, and in Pheres-Band Tromper, he found one that stuck and successfully was able to hold off the beatdown plan.
The Tromper got in and was soon joined by Centaur Courser on Rachid's side of the board. As Akroan Skyguard joined the assembled ranks of Rachid's team, it seemed the beatdown plan might be over. However, Seck wasn't finished yet. He had a Nightmarish End for Centaur Courser, and continued to get stuck in. Rachid was able to use Ray of Dissolution to stop that plan though, removing an attacker and gaining some life in the process.
While Seck had Weight of the Underworld to apply to Pheres-Band Tromper, it had been attacking and getting bigger thanks to Inspired for some time, meaning that the centaur remained a very credible threat. Soon Seck was on seven, to Rachid's ten life, and facing down yet another big attack. Necrobite was the answer, with an improbable fight between the huge centaur ending in favour of a Golden Hind from TBS.
Stonewise Fortifier had been chilling on the sidelines, unable to block, or profitably attack for the entire game thanks to Cast into Darkness. This all changed when Rachid drew his Godsend and equipped it. Now attacks put TBS to 4. Attacks the next turn put him at 1.
TBS was in a desperate situation. He had to use Extinguish All Hope to kill off Rachid's one creature, and was dismayed to see a Leonin Snarecaster the very next turn. Odunos River Trawler got back a Leafcrown Dryad for Seck, who was battling where he could. Rachid was on 4 following attacks, and Ben, scrabbling for blockers, declared his draw 'probably the best I could have hoped for' as he cast Pharika, God of Affliction, with four mana up.
The green black god was able to make a blocker for Rachid's one creature, keeping TBS in the game a little longer. He had one creature left in his graveyard, and with the life totals 4 vs 1, the game could not have been closer.
Noble Quarry from Rachid drew a wince from Seck. Now a stream of blockers from his god would not even be enough to keep Seck in Grand Prix Warsaw. Spiteful Returned was bestowed on Leafcrown Dryad. Attacks put Rachid at 2 life, but Rachid still had two creatures, which was just enough to seal things. While TBS had the potential to make extra blockers, Noble Quarry was exactly the creature that Rachid needed; ensuring that he would always be able to get one attacker through.
Denniz Rachid wins 2 games to 0 over Ben Seck!