Frank Karsten needs little introduction. The Dutch pro is one of five Hall of Famers playing at the Grand Prix this weekend and is still very active in playing the game.
His opponent, Thomas Enevoldsen from Denmark, has a Grand Prix title under his belt as he won GP Strasbourg in 2013. That tournament was Legacy, which is about as far as you can get from Limited. Enevoldsen has had a frustrating run of late. In the last round of PT Fate Reforged he played a match with 3 x qualification to the Pro Tour on the line. Okay, so a win would qualify him for the same Pro Tour three times over, but that's still a big game. Unfortunately he lost that, as well as a PTQ final last weekend. Maybe his luck will change this weekend.
Oh, he's also part of the Danish team that are reigning World Magic Cup champions. Probably should have remembered that bit.
Karsten had drafted Jeskai while Enevoldsen looked to be on Abzan.
Game 1 saw some early card filtering from Karsten as his Jeskai Elder got in for a couple of hits. Then the game started to get gummed up on the ground with high toughness creatures (Salt Road Patrol for Karsten, Disowned Ancestor for Enevoldsen). Karsten tried to break through in the air with Scaldkin. That ended in an ambush as Enevoldsen unmorphed some Sagu Archers.
Both players jockeyed for position with their ground forces. Cunning Strike looked like it might be enough to push Karsten's Glacial Stalker through Sagu Archer. Grim Contest from Enevoldsen ensured the Archer would take the Stalker down with it.
Then it was time for the bombs to appear. Necropolis Fiend for Enevoldsen; Ojutai, Soul of Winter for Karsten. Reach of Shadows stopped the dragon from staying around, although Karsten had a Torrent Elemental to replace it.
With his back to the wall Karsten used Channel Harm to neutralise Enevoldsen's next attack, taking out the dangerous Necropolis Fiend in the process. Soul Summons and Ainok Tracker added some more defences.
Hunt the Weak for Enevoldsen finally put the game away as it fed Karsten's Ainok Tracker to Enevoldsen's hungry Siege Rhino. The resulting attack left Karsten at one life and with no creatures to Enevoldsen's three. Karsten found no miracle on the top of his library and it was time to go to game two
Enevoldsen 1-0 Karsten
Well, not quite time for game two. An early finish in one of the televised feature matches allowed them to put the rest of this match on camera.
So I can run off and grab a bite to eat...? Apparently not.
Game two started with Karsten taking an aggressive line of attacking with his creatures and representing tricks with his open mana. Enevoldsen chose not to risk blocks and raced back with his creatures.
At 4 life, Enevoldsen knocked Karsten down to 8 with his attack and then nearly cut Karsten's forces in half with Hooded Assassin and Reach of Shadows. The Dane had tilted the board back in his favour, but was on too low life. Crippling Chill and Set Adrift cleared a path, and the prowess triggers they generated gave Karsten the opening to level the match.
Enevoldsen 1-1 Karsten
Game three and ouch. This was one-sided slaughter as Enevoldsen's Abzan all-stars came early to the party. Turn three Anafenza, the Foremost followed by Siege Rhino is a fairly decent constructed opening.
"Not even fair," was Karsten's comment on this.
His Jeskai Elder and manifested card were a little outclassed.
That wasn't even the end of it as Enevoldsen's fifth turn saw Armament Corps appear to make his already ridiculously cheap and big creatures even bigger. Karsten not finding a fourth land seemed rather superfluous in the face of a draw like that.
Thomas Enevoldsen beats Frank Karsten 2-1