Finals: Steve Hatto vs. Przemek Knocinski

Posted in Event Coverage on June 21, 2015

By Frank Karsten

After seventeen rounds of play, the original field of 1,345 players had been cut down to just two: Steve Hatto and Przemek Knocinski.

Hatto entered the tournament as Luxembourg's reigning national champion and had already secured another team captaincy with his performance here. He was piloting a traditional Scapeshift deck that aimed to play a controlling game before eventually incinerating opponents via Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Poland's Przemek Knocinski was running Merfolk, the archetype that surprised everyone by placing two people in the Top 8. It looked as if Merrow Reejerey, Master of the Pearl Trident, and Lord of Atlantis were still pretty good cards, especially when they are all on the battlefield together.

Both players had been around at high levels of play before, but this marked the first Grand Prix Top 8 appearance for both them. They were thrilled to be in the finals, but the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. The players offered mutual congratulations on earning an invitation to the Pro Tour, reviewed each other's decklist, and shuffled up their weapons.

Hatto had just defeated Christoffer Larsen's Merfolk deck in the semifinals, but he wasn't too confident about his matchup against Knocinski's version. "Your deck is much more disruptive than the one I faced in the semifinals," Hatto said. Indeed, Knocinski's list contained main-deck Cursecatcher and more countermagic in the sideboard.

Knocinski's list also included a few lands that Hatto had to read before the finals started. As Hatto learned, Minamo, School at Water's Edge, Oboro, Palace in the Clouds, and Wanderwine Hub were just in the deck as an insurance against Choke. Not very relevant in this matchup, but an indication of good deck-building nevertheless.

Game 1

Knocinski started with Æther Vial and quickly added Cursecatcher and Silvergill Adept to his board. This gave him some early pressure and put Hatto on the clock.

In addition, Knocinski had managed to turn both of Hatto's Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle into Islands with two Spreading Seas by turn four. As Hatto's deck contained only two copies of the land, this meant that Hatto would have to free one of his Valakuts with Cryptic Command before he could combo off.

Steve Hatto

But it never came to that. Knocinski had a fast draw boosted by Master of the Pearl Trident, while Hatto stumbled on lands. Knocinski was even able to counter a Cryptic Command with Cursecatcher, and moved in for the kill.

Steve Hatto 0 - Przemek Knocinski 1

Game 2

For Knocinski, it was all lords all day, with Master of the Pearl Trident and Lord of Atlantis in play by turn three. Meanwhile, Hatto used Search for Tomorrow to ramp into Obstinate Baloths on turn three and four.

However, the Merfolk lords gave each other islandwalk, and because Hatto controlled Breeding Pool, his Obstinate Baloths were unable to block any of Knocinski's creatures.

Knocinski proceeded to add more Merfolk lords to his board. Once they turned into 5/5s, they were out of reach even of Lightning Bolt. Hatto had no good answers, then no answers at all, except to extend his hand in defeat.

Steve Hatto 0 - Przemek Knocinski 2

Przemek Knocinski

"I'm so proud to win a GP. It's a dream come true," Knocinski said after the match. "And I'm back on the Pro Tour, finally," he added enthusiastically.

"I have been playing Magic for fifteen years, and I had played a lot of Merfolk before. I decided to take the deck that I was familiar with. It's great as long as I can dodge Affinity," he said about his deck choice.

So with Merfolk taking two slots in the Top 8 as well as the trophy, is it the hot new deck in Modern right now? "I think there will be a lot of Merfolk decks going forward, so play Affinity right now," Knocinski offered as a recommendation.

Undeniably, Lord of Atlantis is back, and Przemek Knocinski is your Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015 champion. Congratulations!

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