Matej Zatlkaj had just won his first Grand Prix three weeks ago in Stockholm. Marc Tobiasch had recently made his first Top 8 at Grand Prix Boston-Worcester, a couple months back. Of course, both were looking for another Top 8 here and they had done well so far with five straight wins. But, of course, only one of them would continue the winning streak now.
Marc Tobiasch was playing a mostly blue control deck featuring Dig Through Time, Engineered Explosives plus Academy Ruins, a small splash for Blood Moon, and an even smaller splash for a couple white sideboard cards.
Matej Zatlkaj brought Slippery Bogles, Gladecover Scouts, and a lot of Auras, highlighted by Ethereal Armor and Daybreak Coronet. This deck had made waves in Modern a couple of years ago, but now it's back thanks to a good matchup against Delver and Burn.
After mulligans on both sides, neither deck worked as it was supposed to. The first play was Zatlkaj's Kor Spiritdancer on turn two, closely followed by Tobiasch's Lightning Bolt. Zatlkaj replaced it with Dryad Arbor and immediately enchanted it with Hyena Umbra and Rancor. Spider Umbra joined the pile of cards and over the next couple of turns Tobiasch fell all the way to 8.
Not too worry though. A timely Cryptic Command returned Dryad Arbor to Zatlkaj's hand and Tobiasch build his own monster in Batterskull. Dryad Arbor was replayed, as was Rancor, and now Zatlkaj had another Rancor as well as Spider Umbra. When Tobiasch attacked with Batterskull's Germ token, Zatlkaj blocked and had his Umbra returned to his hand with Repeal.
This time, Zatlkaj led with Gladecover Scout and Slippery Bogle. He had no enchantment, however, and Tobiasch had Pyroclasm. "I expected nothing less from you," said Zatlkaj. He smoothly untapped and cast Kor Spiritdancer plus Hyena Umbra while Tobiasch had no mana available and was very much helpless.
Tobiasch had no third land, slumped in his chair, and passed the turn right back. He did have a Spell Snare for Daybreak Coronet but had no answer for Kor Spiritdancer. Zatlkaj cast more enchantments including more Umbras. Soon the 9-power Spiritdancer took Tobiasch to 3.
Tobiasch tried to dig for help with Dig Through Time, but it was stopped by Zatlkaj's Guttural Response. Tobiasch's last-ditch chump-blocker Vendilion Clique, likewise, was stopped by Path to Exile, and already Zatlkaj had evened the score.
Zatlkaj kept a creatureless hand, not counting the Dryad Arbor which he searched up on his first turn. He did have a Slippery Bogle on turn two which met Remand but was forced through via Guttural Response. At the end of this exchange, Zatlkaj controlled three 1/1 creatures, one of them Dryad Arbor, plus one more land.
"No Pyroclasm this time," sighed Tobiasch and passed his turn. Zatlkaj had Keen Sense, followed by Daybreak Coronet which met Spell Snare. A couple of attacks followed which didn't deal a lot of damage, but Zatlkaj was getting ahead on cards. Tobiasch dug for answers with Izzet Charm and finally found Wear // Tear to destroy Keen Sense.
Zatlkaj restocked with Spider Umbra and Rancor, creating a threat not even close to what his deck was capable of, but in the end good enough. Tobiasch, with more than enough lands on the table already, simply revealed the last two cards in his hand—yet more land—and conceded.
"Halfway through the game, I didn't think I would ever win this," said a surprised Zatlkaj, happily advancing to 6-0.