Melbert Rala was all smiles facing off against one of Magic’s best, Martin Jůza, at the feature match table. The Filipino local was facing a man with two Pro Tour Top 8s and 4 GP wins and was looking to achieve his 20th GP Top 8 at GP Manila. The die was cast and the games began.
Jůza, on the play, cast a quick Satyr Wayfinder. Rala smiled. “This deck again? I just played it!”. Jůza grinned and played a second satyr. Rala soon caught up with a Rabblemaster. Jůza summoned his favourite pet Rhino and the two traded blows for a little. For a while Rala was stymied at every play; an Ashcloud Phoenix was sent to exile by a Banishing Light and a Stormbreath Dragon was destroyed by a Murderous Cut. A smart play by Jůza saw Rala tricked into blocking a Satyr Wayfinder with his lone Rabblemaster, only for Jůza to finish it off with a Doomwake Giant. Eventually Rala summoned an Ashcloud Phoenix that isn’t immediately killed.
Jůza called for a judge. The Soul of Innistrad in his hand was Japanese, and with Doomwake on the board he wanted to check if it was an enchantment. The English version isn’t an enchantment and it turns out the Japanese printing is not an enchantment either. Not that it mattered; the Soul of Innistrad is followed by a Whip of Erebos and Rala has no chance of catching back up.
Jůza 1 - Rala 0
In the early turns the two build up their armies. Rala has four lands, a Rattleclaw Mystic, Savage Knuckleblade and a Rabblemaster. Jůza has four lands, a Courser of Kruphix and a Siege Rhino. On Turn 5 Rala summoned a Stormbreath Dragon and swung in. Jůza responded by hitting back with a Rhino and playing a Doomwake Giant.
Melbert Rala knuckles down.
Rala spotted an opportunity. He announced his attack; the Savage Knuckleblade, the Stormbreath Dragon and a goblin token. Jůza choose to double block the Knuckleblade with both his giant and centaur. Rala smashed the Doomwake Giant with Destructive Revelry leaving his Knuckleblade to easily finish of the centaur. Jůza was clearly on the back foot. His next Siege Rhino was countered by Disdainful Stroke, and while he found a Murderous Cut for the Stormbreath Dragon, a second Savage Knuckleblade from Rala spelled the end.
Jůza 1 - Rala 1
The two decks followed their gameplan perfectly. A Sylvan Caryatid and Savage Knuckleblade faced off against a Satyr Wayfinder, Courser of Kuphix and a graveyard of goodies. All Jůza needed to do was find a Whip of Erebos. Jůza summoned yet another Siege Rhino but Rala took it down with Crater’s Claws. Jůza found a Doomwake Giant, which again was answered by Destructive Revelry.
Martin Jůza expresses his fondness for Rhinocerotidae.
Jůza considered his options, tried to summon another Siege Rhino, but it was countered by a Disdainful Stroke. Rala tapped out for a Stormbreath Dragon and Jůza immediately killed it with a Murderous Cut.
Next turn Jůza played a Wayfinder, filling his yard with yet more goodies, and with his opponent tapped out stuck the Whip of Erebos he’d be holding onto. With the Whip on the battlefield, Rala could not keep up with Jůza’s lifegain and card advantage, and eventually conceded to Jůza’s superior board.
Jůza 2 - Rala 1