Posted in GRAND PRIX MANILA 2015 on January 3, 2015

By Chapman Sim

With only three Pro Tour Champions in the room of over 1400 (1401 to be exact), the probability seemed low that two titans would clash. Not this early, at least. It did happen in Round 5 however, when Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma and Ivan Floch were summoned to the Featured Match area.

Their Pro Tour wins had a gap of ten years between them, with Wiegersma clinching his title back in Seattle 2004 and Floch's win coming in at Portland just several months back. Incidentally, both players are aligned with the Abzan Houses. Wiegersma opted for the faster build, Abzan Aggro. Floch, on the other hand, opted to be on Abzan Whip.

Anafenza, the Foremost seemed like the most crucial card in this matchup, since it had the ability to shut down Floch's graveyard shenangans and deliver swift blows before Floch could stabilize with Hornet Queen and Whip of Erebos.

Game 1

Floch won the die roll and opened with double Llanowar Wastes into Sylvan Caryatid, and Wiegersma wasted no time plucking away Commune with the Gods with Thoughtseize. This move literally let the air out of Floch's tyres and he could only pass his turns three and four with no plays.

Wiegersma added Fleecemane Lion to his board, which quickly fell to Murderous Cut. By the time Anafenza, the Foremost and Rakshasa Deathdealer joined the board, Floch was only a turn away from dropping the bomb that is Hornet Queen. When it happened, Wiegersma was ready with Bile Blight, clearing away the pack of insects. Literally a buzzkill, pun intended. Floch could only trade Anafenza, the Foremost with Hornet Queen and chump Rakshasa Deathdealer with Sylvan Wayfinder. Wiegersma's last two cards in hand turned out to be another Anafenza, the Foremost and Rakshasa Deathdealer. With the graveyard entirely shut out and not having drawn much of relevance, Floch soon folded to the pressure.

"Now, how do I sideboard?", wondered Wiegersma as he reached for the sideboard.

Double Anafenza and double Rakshasa Deathdealer does the trick.

Jelger Wiegersma 1 - Ivan Floch 0

Game 2

Wiegersma went down to six cards but had Thoughtseize to remove Sylvan Caryatid from Floch's land-light hand. It consisted Siege Rhino, Murderous Cut and double Courser of Kruphix but only 2 land.

A topdecked Commune of the Gods netted Floch Sylvan Caryatid. A freshly drawn Temple of Malady ensure that his mana problems were over.

Wiegersma could only manage Rakshasa Deathdealer. When it charged into the red zone, Floch shoved Courser of Kruphix in his way. Despite knowledge of Murderous Cut, Wiegersma performed the customary "pump", and Floch naturally responded by getting rid of it.

When Floch untapped to drop Siege Rhino, it seemed like Wiegersma was terribly behind, until he deployed Siege Rhino of his own. This resulted in a staring match, to Wiegersma's disadvantage. Long drawn-out games could only benefit Floch. He had already found Whip of Erebos, a card that would surely win the game for him if left unchecked.

When Wiegersma attacked with his lone rhino, Floch shoved his entire team in its way, losing only one of two Courser of Kruphix. Wingmate Roc was the reason of this seemingly senseless but legitimate attack. A second Wingmate Roc was not quite useful at racing Whip of Erebos. When Floch pointed Glare of Heresy at one of the four birds, Wiegersma conceded soon after seeing a third Rhino on the top of Floch's deck. It would be impossible to kill Floch with just 9 damage on the board.

Floch equalizes game with the help of Whip of Erebos and triple Siege Rhino.

Jelger Wiegersma 1 - Ivan Floch 1

Game 3

A pair of Murderous Cut and a Banishing Light relieved Floch from all forms early pressure. He made use of the time to assemble a trio of Coursers, Whip of Erebos plus a Siege Rhino. The army threatened to end the game quickly against Wiegersma's empty board. Floch was in a comfortable position, having drawn into double Bile Blight.

Despite drawing Siege Rhino and Anafenza, the Foremost off the top, there was little that Wiegersma could do against Floch's grip of removal spells. Except for the Back to Nature that was lying on the top of his deck after he had scooped his cards up.

Jelger Wiegersma 1 - Ivan Floch 2

Ivan Floch defeats Jelger Wiegersma and moves on to 5-0.