In this football crazy country, what better way to reference the final match than with a classic match. The finals of the Grand Prix this weekend would be a game between Italy and Sweden. Very much like when they met in the group stage of the European Championships in 2004, and Italy took the lead, but a beautiful goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic tied the match. This time however, Sweden wouldn't be able to draw 2-2 with Denmark to keep Italy out of competition after their match.
The match-up was be a nail-biter. With both players playing almost identical Birthing Pod decks. The big difference being that Bellini was playing Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune, two cards Lantto lacks, and that could give an edge in the mirror
”I guess we both play the best deck,” they chuckled as they shuffled up for game one.
Sweden was on the play, and the match was on.
A mulligan to six started things off for Bellini. Who still was first on the board with Birds to Paradise. Lantto had a turn two Spellskite. But Bellini had his dream opener. A goal straight after kick-off? Almost, with a second turn Birthing Pod.
Lantto had no play on his third turn, and could only watch as Bellini cast Reclamation Sage, taking out the Spellskite, and sacrificed it to Birthing Pod, fetching Siege Rhino and dropping Lantto to 17.
No third land for the Swede on his fourth turn either left him again with no plays. And the Siege Rhino went to victory like a clean strike from Alessandro del Pieri.
Lantto packed up his cards and went to sideboarding.
“The key decision in the mirror is how many discard spells you decide to play,” he explained before the match. In Lantto's case, that meant 2 Thoughtseize and an Entomber Exarch, as a multi purpose discard outlet.
The Swedish restaurant manager went first again in the second game. This time with a first turn Birds of Paradise. Bellini matched it, and Lantto Thoughtseized him, stripping a Path to Exile from a hand of Siege Rhino, Wall of Roots and Kitchen Finks before adding a second Birds of Paradise to his squad.
Bellini cast a Wall of Roots and passed the turn, and Lantto had a killer – Linvala Keeper of Silence. A card of Ibrahimovic strength in the mirror match according to both football and Birthing Pod fans worldwide. Bellini had no response, and when Shriekmaw took out his Wall of Roots he scooped in the face of Lantto growing his team with Gavony Township.
1-1 and the result was now the same as when Sweden and Italy clashed at Euros 2004. This time there would be overtime though and someone would have to score the decider to take home the Grand Prix title.
“Not the two closest games I've played today,” Lantto commented between games and got a silent nod from Bellini. Both players clearly happy with their finish so far, but still longing for the title and the trophy.
The decider was a game to be remembered. Bellini’s opener was super strong with 2 Siege Rhino, Birthing Pod and lands. But Lantto was first to action with a Thoughtseize, stripping one of the Rhinos from the Italian's hand.
Bellini had turn three Kitchen Finks. Lantto answered with Eternal Witness, getting his Thoughtseize back. But it looked like he might fall too low in life and being dead to the remaining Rhino.
Witness blocked the Finks and shrunk it, and Siege Rhino came down for Bellini.
Lantto had no answer for the Rhino yet, but could discard muster a Orzhov Pontiff to take out the Kitchen Finks.
Bellini’s attack sent him even lower in life, and when Lantto eventually did manage to kill the Siege Rhino with Murderous Cut he was down to just ONE life before staring to mount a comeback with Birthing Pod.