“Little kid luck” from Denmark, 17-year-old Martin Müller already has a win in the World Magic Cup and a few Pro Tour money finishes on his resume. On the Grand Prix circuit however, he has yet to reach his first Top 8. So at least in that department he is trailing Austrian Oliver Polak-Rottman, who proved himself a Standard master by winning Grand Prix Utrecht last year.
”How was the PT last week?”, Polak-Rottmann opened conversation, adding that he sadly wasn't qualified after doing less than stellar on Pro Tours lately.
Müller shrugged, and explained that he made the top 75, but not as good as he had hoped.
”I went 10-6, but lost my last two rounds,” he answered.
Both players had 5-0 records and already a toe into the second day of competition. But they needed two more wins to guarantee a seat. Like at any important round in a Grand Prix the friendly banter was left to a minimum as they both shuffled up their Esper Dragon decks to start the match.
As one might expect, the close-to-75-card-mirror played out in a quite complex way. What you might not expect however, was the lightning fast pace of both players while doing so. Surely with the 50-minute-rounds on their mind both players took their turns frantically, although mostly playing scrylands and contemplating the top cards of their decks for the first few turns of the match.
Thoughtseize on turn five for Polak-Rottman was the first spell of the game. Müller met with Silumgar's Scorn, revealing Dragonlord Ojutai. Polak-Rottman answered with a Scorn of his own, resolving the Thoughtseize to discard a Dig Through Time. This left the Dane with another Dig Through Time, two Hero's Downfall and the already revealed Dragonlord Ojutai in hand.
Did I mention that the quick and complex decisions in the mirror match was hard to follow? In fact, it was near impossible to figure out what would be the mirror-breaker. In a classic control on control fashion both players seemed to agree that it was good to keep playing lands, and build up mana to resolve key spells at the end of their opponents turns. This prompted the game to go into somewhat of a stalemate after Polak-Rottman answered Müller's first attempt at action – a Dragonlord Ojutai, with Foul-Tongue Invocation.
A few turns later it looked like the Dane had pulled ahead slightly in the lands-in-play race, with eight to Polak-Rottman's five.
Both players just drew and passed for a few turns until Müller finally went for a Dig Through Time at the end of Polak-Rottmann's turn. Polak-Rottmann went to Dig Through Time himself and refueled his hand before countering Müller's with Silumgar's Scorn.
With Polak-Rottmann tapped out Müller seized the opportunity to resolve a Dig Through Time on his turn.
Dragonlord Ojutai came down for Polak-Rottmann. Signaling that he might be ready for a counter-battle against Müllers removal. He did however just pass his next turn without attacking, and Müller took out the Dragonlord with Foul-Tongue Invocation at the end of turn.
Müller might have found a small trump though when he played Dragonlord's Prerogative on his turn, drawing four cards and made sure to hit his lands drops and set up for further card draw and counterspell battles.
Müller kept refilling his hand with another Dig Through Time at the end of Polak-Rottman's next turn. Now firmly ahead in the card drawing race.
”Yeah, yeah, it's fine,” Polak-Rottmann sighed as the young Dane kept playing lands, and discarding surplus removal.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, came down for Müller, but only dealt three damage before getting destroyed by Hero's Downfall. Polak-Rottmann tried an Ugin of his own, but Müller countered it with Silumgar's Scorn. And went for Dragonlord Ojutai on his next turn.
Dragons, removal and an endless stream of card drawing spells and land. The first game was exactly as spectacular as you could expect.
With the card drawing race now looking lost Polak-Rottmann attempted a Crux of Fate to take out Müller's Dragonlord. And even though he even had a Silumgar's Scorn to force it through, Müller had both Silumgar's Scorn and Dissolve to save his Dragonlord Ojutai and keep up the card drawing.
After finding, and casting a Thoughtseize on his turn, Müller finally countered Polak-Rottmann's last attempted spell in a Jace's Ingenuity, and the Austrian conceeded the game. Looking demoralized by being buried in Müllers card advantage.
”I'll start again,” Polak-Rottmann said as he led game two with a mulligan, joined by Müller to six-card starting hands.
Two lands, Thoughtseize, Silumgar's Scorn and a pair of Dragonlords was a keep for the Austrian. He fired off his discard spell on turn two to see Müller's hand of three lands, Foul-Tongue Invocation, Anticipate and Dragonlord Ojutai. He got rid of the Invocation, perhaps hoping to draw lands and summon a dragon before Müller could get anything going.
A few scrylands and Anticipates later it looked like both player were once again settling for the long game. Unfortunately for Polak-Rottman he missed his fifth land drop for a few turns, whereas Müller was drawing and playing lands like he had nothing else in his deck.
An end of turn Dragonlord's Prerogative for Müller, made sure that he once again took the lead in the race for lands in play and cards in hand. Unsurprisingly a key factor in the matchup.
Müller opened his next turn with Thoughtseize, which was countered by Polak-Rottmann. But Müller, keen to see the Austrians hand, countered back with Dissolve and saw three dragons in Polak-Rottmann's hand, but only a lone Silumgar's Scorn for defense. He quickly discarded the counterspell to ensure that he could keep resolving his card drawing spells that weren't already uncounterable.
Polak-Rottmann, now desperate to do something, tapped out for Dragonlord Ojutai on his turn, but Müller answered with Silumgar's Scorn.
Dig Through Time on the Dane's turn pulled him ahead even further. And Polak-Rottmann's only chance was now to land a dragon and cross his fingers that Martin Müller had drawn literally nothing but lands.
He hadn't however, as he played another Thoughtseize to strip a Dragonlord Ojutai from Polak-Rottmann's hand and followed up bycasting a Dragonlord Ojutai of his own to bait out the Foul-Tongue Invocation he knew was in Polak-Rottmann's hand.
Polak-Rottmann drew a Tasigur, the Golden Fang, which might make him able to claw his way back into the game. Müller tried to Silumgar's Scorn it, but Polak-Rottmann had drawn a Scorn of his own on the previous turn. Müller however, did not only have a second Scorn, but also enough mana to cast a Dig Through Time with a smile on his face, now feeling the game was almost certainly his with Polak-Rottman on just one card left in hand.
A second Dragonlord's Prerogative on the Danish turn put another nail in Polak-Rottmann's coffin. The game went on for a few turns and Dig Through Times later for the Dane. But finally a Dragonlord Ojutai once again wrapped things up. Ending the game in a stylish fashion of Thoughtseize leaving Polak-Rottmann with zero cards in hand, forcing a lightning fast extending of his hand in defeat.
“My draw was quite absurd these games,” Martin Müller summed things up,
”Yes, and I only resolved one card drawing spell in the entire match. And on that Dig Through Time I had to pick lands because I hadn't drawn any.” Oliver Polak-Rottmann replied.
”Yeah, I think I drew all my card drawing spells in game one.” the Dane humbly admitted.
”Not to mention all your counterspells,” Polak-Rottmann added.
After exchanging sideboard advice and realizing that Martin Müller probably did have an edge in the matchup with three copies of Dragonlord's Prerogative after sideboarding to Polak-Rottmann's one, the players exchanged wishes of good fortune and good games before taking off to prepare for the next round.
Result: Martin Müller beats Oliver Polak-Rottmann 2-0 in an Esper mirror as lightning fast as the Mono Red deck Müller played at the Pro Tour last weekend.