Look, it's a bird! It's a plane! No. It's the Esper Dragon deck, that's been flying through the field here in Kraków all weekend. So what could be more fitting than two Dragon masters facing off in the finals to battle for the trophy and the title as Grand Prix champion.
With near identical decks, neither Canadian Alexander Hayne or Slovenian Robin Dolar didn't need to study their opponents decklist too close before the match started.
”Quite similar decks,” Dolar exclaimed, and got a laugh out of Hayne.
”How many mirrors have you played this weekend? I've played three,” the Canadian said, and concluded that it was as many as he had Grand Prix titles.
Dolar had played quite a few mirrors himself this weekend, but was unable to match Hayne's Grand Prix record.
As in so many mirror matches we've seen this weekend, both players did nothing but play lands for the first few turns. As there is no real reason to tap out to play a threat into open mana only to have it dealt with and your opponent resolving something like a Dragonlord Ojutai on their turn.
Play started cautiously, Alexander Hayne seemingly most calm about doing nothing, not even casting a single spell for the first eight turns of the game. Would it come down to one crucial turn with Thoughtseize and counterspells flying left and right? Or would one player cast a Dragonlord with enough mana to make sure it stuck on the battlefield with counterspells? Even though the finals was a mirror match, the way it plays out is quite unpredictable, depending on which spells the players draw.
Dolar opened the game with a Dig Through Time at the end of Hayne's turn, and wasn't surprised to have it countered. He had a plan though, and went for Thoughtseize on his turn. Hayne met with Dissolve, Dolar cast Anticipate, let Dissolve resolve and passed the turn.
Hayne cast a Thoughtseize of his own on his turn, revealing Dolar's hand of Bile Blight, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Dragonlord Ojutai, Silumgar, the Drifting Death and Hero's Downfall. He opted to discard Ojutai, and passed the turn back.
Having already shown Hayne his hand, Dolar found no reason not to tap out for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon on his turn. Unfortunately Hayne had a Silumgar's Scorn waiting, and couldn't wait to cast a Dig Through Time on his turn, refilling his hand.
Card draw it seems, would be the deciding factor in the match, as Dolar found none of his, and in a desperate move felt forced to go for Silumgar, the Drifting Death. It did resolve, but Hayne sent it to the graveyard with a Crux of Fate on his following turn. It felt almost as Dolar was playing an aggro deck with 6 casting cost threats, and Hayne had all the answers he needed.
With Dolar down to just two cards in his hand, Hayne felt safe to start casting spells again. Dig Through Time refilled his hand again, and a Dragonlord Ojutai backed up by Silumgar's Scorn and Dissolve put the Canadian firmly ahead.
It looked like an easy victory, as Hayne got to draw twice with his Dragonlord Ojutai. Then it looked like Dolar might come back into the game by getting back an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon that Hayne had countered earlier in the game.
In the end though Alexander Hayne resolved his third(!) Dig Through Time to Robin Dolar's zero, and after recurring his Ojutai and drawing extra cards while getting attacks in became a route to victory, even though Dolar and his recurring Ugin put up a good fight, finally conceding on turn 25 when Hayne for the second time countered his Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
“It feels nice not having to rush this, like we would have if we'd played during the Swiss,” Hayne commented in between games, fully enjoying the untimed final. He also predicted that the start of the second game would be a classic “land, land, land, land”-start.
He quickly proved himself wrong though , as the action started right away in the second game. A second turn Anticipate for Hayne, fueled by two fetch lands allowed for a Tasigur, the Golden Fang on turn three. Dolar however, had a Hero's Downfall.
This time Dolar looked to be the man with the answers. Hayne went for Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, but Dolar had a second Silumgar's Scorn. Hayne went for a second Tasigur, the Golden Fang, which resolved, and actually lived through Dolar's turn. Dolar did take the opportunity to resolve Silumgar, the Drifting Death with the Canadian tapped out. But Foul-Tongue Invocation for Hayne cleared the path for Tasigur. And in an anticlimactic matter, Dolar couldn't muster more than a Haven of the Spirit Dragon, that was already matched by Hayne, bringing back a Dragonlord Ojutai at the end of turn.
Dolar drew Dragonlord Ojutai and cast it and this coverage reporter suddenly realized that it would be impossible to do this complex game justice in text. Meanwhile, Dolar's Ojutai got sacrificed to Foul-Tongue Invocation.
Robin re-bought his Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with Haven of the Spirit Dragon for the full flavor points and tapped out to cat it. Hayne answered with Dig Through Time, making the score of resolved card drawing spells of the match four to zero and countered the Ugin with Dissolve.
Another Dig Through Time put him ahead even further, and Robin Dolar now slumped in his chair. He was beginning to suspect that the Grand Prix would soon be over.
Dragonlord Ojutai came down for Hayne, and Dolar's Dig Through Time was countered by Silumgar's Scorn. And even though the Slovenian took the opportunity to resolve Dragonlord's Prerogative with Hayne tapped out, Dragonlord Ojutai once again lead the way to victory for Alexander Hayne to claim his fourth Grand Prix victory in the last two years. What an amazing streak, and what an amazing match to finish the Grand Prix this weekend.
Congratulations to Dragonlord Ojutai and to Alexander Hayne, winner of Grand Prix Krakow 2015!