Round 5 Feature Match: Olivier Ruel (Elves) vs. Kenji Tsumura (Sultai Delver)

Posted in Event Coverage on April 18, 2015

By Chapman Sim

While it might not be surprising for 800 Pro Points to be assembled at a Draft Table, it's very rare for nearly 800 Pro Points to be seated at a Feature Match table. With Olivier Ruel at 512 lifetime Pro Points and Kenji Tsumura at 278, this promised to be an epic battle of mythic proportions. It's not every day that you get a great pairing between two Hall of Famers and I wasted no time dashing to the Feature Match area like a fanatical Mardu Scout.

Olivier Ruel was inducted in 2008 and has five Pro Tour Top 8s under his belt. As if that wasn't impressive enough, Ruel has a staggering twenty seven Grand Prix Top 8s. Oliver Ruel was cool even before Yuuya Watanabe debuted in his first Pro Tour. To this day, Ruel holds the world record for "Most Lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s", a record that he has had firm grasp onto for possibly a decade.

Kenji Tsumura received the honor in 2012 and has 6 Pro Tour Top 8s and 15 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name. In addition, Tsumura has also been earned one of the most prestigious accolades in Magic history when he earned the Player of the Year title, incidentally edging out Olivier Ruel by a single point in the 2005 Pro Player Race (Tsumura's 84 points to Ruel's 83). What a fun factoid to further accentuate the friendly rivalry between the two greats!

After briefly reminiscing the good old days, both players proceeded to roll the dice. Kenji won the right to begin first, a nice advantage to have in the world of Legacy.

Game One

Cracking Polluted Delta for Underground Sea, Tsumura kickstarted the match with Deathrite Shaman. Ruel mirrored the move, fetching Bayou to summon a copy of his own.

The Bayou turned out to be a costly liability. Tsumura wasted no time stripping it away with Wasteland, before pointing Disfigure at Deathrite Shaman.

Kenji Tsumura paralyzes Oliver Ruel with a timely Wasteland and Disfigure.

"Oh dear, I did not see the double whammy coming!"

Unfortunately for him, both his other lands in hand were Gaea's Cradles and without any creatures on the battlefield, they produced absolutely no mana at all. Ruel was forced to pass his second turn without any action.

Tsumura used double Ponder to fill up his graveyard, before dropping Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Delver of Secrets to the board. Tarmogoyf joined the ranks a turn later, creating a two-turn clock against Ruel's empty board.

Hymn to Tourach forced Ruel to ditch Birchlore Rangers and Elvish Visionary, but that was the least of his concerns. He needed to draw a land fast! He whiffed on his next draw step, but the subsequent attempt netted him a much-needed Forest.

Ruel deliberated whether he could survive. It seemed like he could, with the assistance of some chump blocking.

Eventually managing to summon Llanowar Elves and three Wirewood Symbiotes, Ruel was able to generate enough mana that allowed him to expend the very last card in his hand (Green Sun's Zenith) to tutor up Elvish Visionary. Glimpse of Nature came off the top.

Turning Wirewood Symbiote upside down to denote that it had already been activated this turn, Ruel returned Elvish Visionary to untap Llanowar Elves, resummoning the Elvish Visionary again. This granted him Heritage Druid.

When Tsumura's next attack wasn't lethal he passed the turn with only one card in his hand, a Force of Will that he couldn't cast. This was the perfect window for Ruel to attempt the combo. Drawing a second Glimpse of Nature from his first, that allowed Ruel to recover from practically nothing to turn the tables and steal the game. A couple of Nettle Sentinels, ten other elves and twenty over cards later, Tsumura was convinced that he was a turn too late.

"I'll play an Elf, untap my Nettle Sentinels and draw a card. Rinse, wash, repeat."

Olivier Ruel 1 – Kenji Tsumura 0

Game Two

Tsumura led with Delver of Secrets, which immediately transformed into Insectile Aberration on the very next turn. Ruel summoned Llanowar Elves and passed back.

Using Thoughtseize, Tsumura determined that Wirewood Symbiote was the most dangerous card for now and used Grafdigger's Cage to keep Natural Order in check.

Ruel dropped Deathrite Shaman and Gaea's Cradle, and used Abrupt Decay to relieve him of the aerial pressure. He then passed the turn while staring at his awkward grip of cards.

Ruel loses Wirewood Symbiote from Tsumura's Thoughtseize.

After holding it out for a couple of turns, Ruel tried to combo off with Glimpse of Nature and Tsumura wiped away Llanowar Elves and Wirewood Symbiote with Golgari Charm with Nettle Sentinels on the stack. The Glimpse was not 'wasted' though, since it gained him Reclamation Sage to kill the opposing Grafdigger's Cage.

If Tsumura had no countermagic, Natural Order would be lethal the next turn. Hymn to Tourach had two thirds chance of discarding it though. Things went according to plan and Tsumura lived to see another day.

However, his fortune was short-lived since Ruel topdecked Wirewood Symbiote. This enabled him to return Elvish Visionary to his hand to draw another card.

Ruel flipped it over. It was Natural Order.

Ruel joked about putting a Quirion Ranger onto the battlefield, but eventually decided on the game-ending Craterhoof Behemoth.

Olivier Ruel 2 – Kenji Tsumura 0

Good friends autograph “I Played A Hall of Famer Badge” for each other, for old times sake.

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