Finals: Olivier Ruel vs. Claudio Bonanni

Posted in Event Coverage on July 5, 2015

By Craig Jones

After two days of hard-fought Legacy action, the tournament came down to only two players. And once again, as with Grand Prix Kyoto earlier this year, it was an all Miracles final. Those dinky little Sensei's Divining Tops are some good in Legacy, it seems.

Claudio Bonanni had been leading the field for most of the day and carried that success into the Top 8. Opposing him was a player very familiar with Grand Prix Top 8s. Hall of Famer Olivier Ruel has about a billion of them. (Okay, 28. I think. We might have dropped some down the back of a sofa.)

Ruel hadn't been as active recently as he once used to be, but his experience and skill would still make this match a daunting prospect for Bonanni.

There were no preliminaries and we got straight to it. Because of his standout performance in the Swiss, Bonanni had the choice of whether to play or draw. He kicked things off and immediately put Ruel under the cosh with Sensei's Divining Top into Counterbalance.

Ruel flipped his own first-turn Top in an attempt to find a blue card to go with the Force of Will he had in hand. He found one, but it was all moot anyway as Bonanni had Daze to make sure his enchantment stuck. This was the key moment of the game and Ruel knew it.

Olivier Ruel

"That's trouble. If this wasn't a GP final I would have already conceded."

Ruel's own Counterbalance was predictably stopped by Bonanni's Counterbalance. He tried to go bigger with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The casting cost of 4 made the planeswalker very likely safe from interference from Counterbalance … but not Daze.

Bonanni gave Ruel something to use his Swords to Plowshares on in the form of Snapcaster Mage. Bonanni wasn't too bothered about it being exiled and revealed as such when he let Swords to Plowshares resolve, only to reveal he did have a 1-mana card on top of his library when Ruel tried to follow up with Brainstorm.

Bonanni had a Monastery Mentor to come anyway.

The only nervous moment for the Italian was when Bonanni passed through his upkeep to his draw step a little too quickly. Ruel had wanted to do something in Bonanni's upkeep. Fortunately, the drawn card hadn't advanced far enough to be mixed up with the rest of Bonanni's hand. Head Judge Kim Warren was on hand to clean up the game state and we avoided an awkward situation. A player losing a game they had locked up on turn two just for being too eager to get to their draw step would have been no fun at all.

Olivier Ruel 0-1 Claudio Bonanni

In the second game, it was Ruel's turn to drop the one-two hammer of Sensei's Divining Top and Counterbalance. A Daze from Bonanni put paid to that.

For a while there was the typical early game jostling of control decks developing their hands with Ponders, Brainstorms and Tops. Ruel had the early advantage as he got a Snapcaster to stick while making sure Bonanni's Vendilion Clique didn't with Pyroblast.

The next turn we had one of those old-fashioned counterspell stacks. Bonanni looked to complete the soft lock with Counterbalance. Ruel cast Dig Through Time in response. Bonanni aimed a Pyroblast at it. Ruel thought about which card to use his Force of Will on and decided on the Pyroblast. This left him without any cards in hand, and when Bonanni came back over the top with his own Force of Will, the stack was blown apart and the Italian came out on top of the rubble.

Ruel wasn't quite done yet. He found a Council's Judgment (on Counterbalance) to break open Bonanni's soft lock. He even managed to dig out a Pyroblast from his library when Bonanni tried to lock it up again with another Counterbalance. But Flusterstorm left Bonanni on top again.

Or … maybe not as Ruel summoned a Monastery Mentor to take charge of the battlefield. Bonanni slammed the door right back in the illustrious Frenchman's face as he matched with his own Monastery Mentor.

Ruel conceded. "It's yours."

He already knew the top two cards of his library were either useless or wouldn't resolve past Bonanni's Counter/Top. That was too long for him to be able to get back into the game, especially when facing both the Counter/Top soft lock and the army-creating Monastery Mentor

Claudio Bonanni

There was no Grand Prix title for the illustrious French player this time. This time it was Claudio Bonanni who emerged victorious in the Miracles mirror and got to take home the title of champion of Grand Prix Lille 2015!

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