Poland vs. United States of America
The last time we saw America in the feature match area for the teams competition, they weren't faring too well, suffering defeat at the hands of the Slovak Republic. A strong draft day had ensured that Team America was still well positioned to get some Sunday play, and as Saturday dawned, they found themselves up against Team Poland.
The Poland national team: From left to right, Piotr Andrys, Tomek Pedrakowski, and Mikolaj Wyspianski.
The U.S. team consists of Josh Utter-Leyton, a regular on ChannelFireball.com, Anthony Eason, who might be having one of the more impressive starts to a Pro Tour career depending on success this weekend, and Conrad Kolos, the man, the legend, who sat down in his American bandana, every inch ready to battle.
From left to right, Josh-Utter Leyton, Anthony Eason, and Conrad Kolos.
Facing them is Team Poland, consisting of Piotr Andrys on Extended, Tomek Pedrakowski playing Standard, and Mikolaj Wyspianski in the Legacy slot.
When Andrys asked about the bandana, Kolos replied, "This is the American flag. I'm wearing it to remind us that we're not just playing for ourselves. There are a lot of people back home who will be cheering if we win, and cursing if we lose."
Never one to pile on the pressure, eh Conrad?
Act 1: The Elvish Civil War
Extended: Piotr Andrys (Elves) vs. Conrad Kolas (Elves)
The Extended match was an Elves mirror, with both decks having access to more than just green mana. You wouldn't have known from the way that the early stages of Game 1 went. The match-up tends to be a race to generate critical mass of mana, and initially both players were all green all the time, starting early with accelerators into Elvish Archdruid. Kolos of America stayed that way, building up to a Vengevine that could profitably attack.
Andrys's mana engine was looking to go bigger. He drew a white mana source to allow for Ranger of Eos. This set up the Nettle Sentinel / Heritage Druid combination which has the potential to generate crazy amounts of mana. Those crazy amounts of mana soon came along. When Joraga Warcaller came out multikicked for four, it was enough to convince Kolos to go to Game 2.
Poland's Piotr Andrys navigates an Elves mirror match.
Game 2 saw a little more in the way of disruption, as Kolos led with a Thoughtseize to take Elvish Visionary from Andrys's hand. The plan was to strand the two copies of Nettle Sentinel left behind without being able to untap much, as much of the remaining collection of cards cost quite a bit to cast. Andrys did cast his Sentinels, and start attacking with them, but drew just enough other Elves to keep them from having troubles untapping. Kolos had Shriekmaw to cut down one Llanowar Elves, but it was soon replaced with another. He built up his own team, which soon contained, amongst others, a pair of copies of Elvish Archdruid. Andrys cast a Ranger of Eos, having already cast Nettle Sentinel number three. He found a Heritage Druid, and was potentially off to the races.
Conrad Kolos: Crazy for the red, white, and blue.
Kolos cast Ezuri, Renegade Leader. The powerful new card from Scars of Mirrodin would give him plenty to do with his mana, and threatened to end Game 2 fast. It didn't seem that there would be a chance for this to all kick off though. Andrys used his Nettle Sentinels and Heritage Druid to build up mana, casting small Elves all the while. This allowed for a Regal Force for 8. Those cards let him them cast a whole bevy of additional pointy-eared friends. His second Regal Force drew him 14 cards. With each additional Elf Andrys cast, he would net himself a little mana, having tapped three Nettle Sentinels for three green mana, then seen them all untap while only a small proportion of the mana was spent on whichever Elf was next.
Even the flags look a bit combative.
What's a man to do when he has a lot of mana, and a lot of cards, but just absolutely positively wants to end things? Casting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn seems like a good choice. It was enough to get Conrad Kolos to extend his hand.
Poland 1, United States of America 0
Act 2: In Which Elves Learn What It Means To Burn
Legacy: Mikolaj Wyspianski (Zoo) vs. Josh Utter-Leyton (Elves)
The Legacy matchup saw Josh Utter-Leyton's Elves deck up against the Zoo list from Mikolaj Wyspianski from Poland. Initially, things looked bleak for Wyspianski, whose turn-one Grim Lavamancer was soon trumped by a Survival of the Fittest from Utter-Leyton. Eager to strike back, Team America was not afraid to use the powerful enchantment, along with an abundance of green mana, to wreak havoc.
The unfair race was made a little more competitive by the addition of Tarmogoyf and Qasali Pridemage to the Polish side of the board. The Pridemage stayed around for just long enough to grant exalted to the Tarmogoyf, before pumping it in quite a different way by sacrificing itself to deal with Survival.
U.S. national champion Josh-Utter-Leyton plays as Brad Nelson looks on.
Deal is rather a strong word to use perhaps. Josh did manage to fetch a Heritage Druid and discard a couple of Vengevines with the enchantment before it was consigned to the grumper. Those Vengevines came back in short order thanks to a pair of copies of Heritage Druid. They didn't start attacking right away, but did a great deal to stablise the board, holding off useful attacks from Wyspianski. The killer blow came shortly after, when a second Survival of the Fittest came down, along with Cloudstone Curio.
Pedrakowski and Wyspianski conspire (don't worry, it's allowed).
The Curio let Utter-Leyton set up an unassailable kill. Nettle Sentinels and a Heritage Druid could get tapped for mana to cast a one-mana elf that would untap the Nettle Sentinels and return the Heritage Druid only to get replayed. The net result: infinite mana. Survival then found an Elvish Visionary that could get cast again and again to draw the rest of Utter-Leyton's deck. Finally, a Primal Command could finish things off. Wyspianski didn't need to see all that, and simply conceded the first.
The second game was more positive for Poland. While Utter-Leyton did land a Survival of the Fittest, he was unable to get much value from it before a Qasali Pridemage dealt with it, and a tag-team of Ethersworn Canonist and Umezawa's Jitte did a good job of keeping the elvish side of the board clear. While a Viridian Shaman did kill off the Jitte, the elvish plan was too slowed down by the Canonist to really get things going, meaning it was soon on to Game 3.
Poland's Mikolaj Wyspianski runs right into a cliffhanger.
The third game was the fastest of the three for Legacy. Utter-Leyton saw a spot to pull the trigger on Natural Order and did so, fetching a Progenitus to put Wyspianski on a two-turn clock. How could Progenitus possibly lose? Wyspianski had only one good answer ... to point to the game to his right.
Act 3: The World on Fire
Standard: Tomek Pedrakowski (Valakut Ramp) vs. Anthony Eason (Valakut Ramp)
The final match of the Poland-U.S.A. battle was a Valakut mirror match. Anthony Eason of the USA was up against Tomek Pedrakowski of Poland. With little to choose between the decks themselves, the matchup was down to draws and play skill rather than anything matchup dependent.
Tomek Pedrakowski, in stripes, hopes to have his opponent seeing stars.
Anthony Eason gets some advice from the vanquished Conrad Kolos.
It seemed that Game 2 could be more of the same, as again Primeval Titan came down fast from Poland. This time, though, Eason had a Summoning Trap in response to find his own. Getting the first attack in with a Titan proved critical, and Eason was able to fetch up enough Valakuts / Mountains to push the match to Game 3.
Game 3 was all about Poland in the early game. A quick Oracle of Mul Daya translated into a huge number of lands on the battlefield for Poland in short order. A pair of copies of Khalni-Heart Expedition sat in readiness, waiting for more Valakuts. It was the USA that pulled the trigger on Primeval Titan first in this game, but that had to look on as Poland had the Summoning Trap. No attacking was necessary for Poland, as with the Expeditions at the ready, Valakuts could do the full 20 damage (plus a little extra) before the Primeval Titan of the USA even resolved.
Poland defeats the United States of America!