Semifinals: Christian Seibold vs. Tomoharu Saito

Posted in GRAND PRIX LYON 2015 on November 1, 2015

By Frank Karsten

These two may have been the two most accomplished players in this Top 8, but they clearly weren't equals in that regard. Germany's Christian Seibold has one Pro Tour Top 8 to his name and was now playing in his fourth Grand Prix Top 8. However, Tomoharu Saito of Japan could boast a whopping five Top 8s plus one win at the PT as well as 21 previous Top 8s including four victories at the GP level.

Saito had drafted a base-green deck with several token producers and two copies each of Valakut Invoker and Bone Splinters to take advantage of them. His Omnath, Locus of Rage and Desolation Twin also meant he was looking forward to the late game. But he knew just as well about the deck's weaknesses. "Against an aggressive deck it's not good," he said.

Meanwhile, Seibold came equipped with a solid white-blue deck: ground defense, air offense, and a few tricks, most notably Planar Outburst. Seibold was confident. "I'm pretty happy with my deck," he said.

The Games

Both players went off to a somewhat slow start into this match. Saito led with Lifespring Druid, Seibold with Cloud Manta. Saito had a Catacomb Sifter next, then Valakut Invoker and Natural Connection, while Seibold was happy to add further fliers with a pair of Ghostly Sentinels.

Tomoharu Saito

However, both were taken out via Bone Splinters and an activation of Valakut Invoker, and now Seibold was facing, well, an active Invoker! It appeared as if his air force would come up short.

Seibold cast, and subsequently, lost another Ghostly Sentinel, while continuing to pressure Saito with Cloud Manta. The German then summoned a pair of Incubator Drones and things were looking up again for him. Despite Saito's last-ditch effort Desolation Twin, Seibold managed to fly to victory.

Christian Seibold 1-0 Tomoharu Saito

Various creatures on both sides—Kor Castigator and a pair of Incubator Drones plus their tokens for Seibold, Broodhunter Wurm and Eyeless Watcher plus its tokens for Saito—quickly clogged up the ground. But Seibold's trusty Shadow Glider kept attacking and managed to bring Saito all the way down to 12 before he shot it down with Bone Splinters.

Christian Seibold

Left in Saito's hand at this point were only lands whereas, in Seibold's hand, Planar Outburst was waiting for its big entrance. It wiped the board and left behind a land with four +1/+1 counters.

Saito did topdeck a Boiling Earth to match his opponent's 4/4 but was summarily outdone by Clutch of Currents. His next draw didn't provide an answer and that was that.

Christian Seibold 2-0 Tomoharu Saito