Going into this match, Jéremy Dezani was clearly the favorite to win. Then again, being the first-ranked player in the world meant he was basically the favorite everywhere. And so far into the tournament he didn't disappoint, going 7-0. But so did his opponent, Simon Ritzka, a veteran of the Grand Prix circuit with a couple of money finishes to his name but no breakout performance as of yet.
Early on in his career, Dezani had been famous as a pilot of Jund in Modern and even though the format du jour was Sealed his deck again sported the familiar colors of green, black, and red. Meanwhile, Ritzka had built an aggressive blue-white.Game One
After a mulligan, Ritzka kept three Plains, Oreskos Sun Guide, Mortal's Ardor, and Ghostblade Eidolon. He wasn't happy about it but another mulligan was hardly going to increase his chances either. Neither did Dezani's Thoughtseize taking Ghostblade Eidolon.
After Oreskos Sun Guide, Ritzka never summoned another creature, whereas Dezani cast Fanatic of Xenagos, Servant of Tymaret plus Springleaf Drum, Nylea's Disciple, and Nessian Wilds Ravager. The resulting game was no game at all.
Despite his win, Dezani wasn't happy with his performance during the game. "I missed a point with Servant of Tymaret and Springleaf Drum there," he chided himself. Ritzka pointed out that, "It didn't really matter." But Dezani was committed to higher level of perfection. "Still bad ..."Game Two
This time, Ritzka led the way with Flitterstep Eidolon but had no follow-up for a long, long time. Dezani again cast Servant of Tymaret and Fanatic of Xenagos. "My deck is mocking me," Ritzka complained as he played land after land after land. Next, Dezani had a 7/7 Snake of the Golden Grove, then had all of his creatures returned to his hand via Sea God's Revenge.
Fanatic and Servant returned to the battlefield and Ritzka cast his third spell of the game in Phalanx Leader. Nessian Wilds Ravager tried to kill Flitterstep Eidolon but Ritzka did Hold at Bay such a murderous attempt. Next turn, Ritzka double-blocked the 6/6, cast Mortal's Ardor and Retraction Helix on his Phalanx Leader, only lost his Flitterstep Eidolon and returned Snake of the Golden Grove to Dezani's hand yet again.
But all was for naught. Ritzka's hand was empty at this point and Dezani's wasn't. More creatures followed and took Dezani to victory.(1) Jérémy Dezani 2-0 Simon Ritzka
After the match Ritzka admitted to "something of a loose keep in the second game." He had kept a hand of four lands, Flitterstep Eidolon, Hold at Bay, and Mortal's Ardor. "I didn't see a lot of tricks on his side in the first game, which makes my own tricks more powerful, and I do have 15 or 16 creatures in my deck, including some bestow cards which can profit from a lot of lands," he explained. "Still, as I said, a loose keep." Dezani agreed but wished Ritzka more luck for the round to come.