Posted in GRAND PRIX MILAN 2015 on December 14, 2014

By Olle Rade

With Modern on the menu. What could be better than two Modern master chefs being paired up in one of the most important rounds to make top 8?

That's the scenario that took place when Andrej Prost and Eduard Sajgalik pulled each others names from the pairings hat in round 14. Both players with top 8 finishes at Modern Pro Tours to their resumes. Andrej Prost made top 8 at the first Modern Pro Tour in Philadelphia 2011 and Eduard Sajgalik in Seattle 2012.

”I was actually qualified for Philadelphia, but chose my Silver level invite for another Pro Tour,”  Sajgalik explained when the players compared their Pro Tour results.

As for their deck choices this weekend Prost was on Birthing Pod and Sajgalik, one on the few Jeskai Ascendancy players in Madrid, was running his deck back in Milan, with some slight changes.

Both players were 4-0 on the day, making the stakes high, as the winner would most likely only need one win in the last two rounds to clench a spot in the top 8.

Prost won the die roll and took a mulligan before keeping a risky hand with only Forest and two Gavony Township for lands. It did however have a Scavenging Ooze and a Qasali Pridemage, which could be a game winner if he could find a white mana source fast enough.

Meanwhile, Sajgalik kept his opener, and with a second turn Sylvan Caryatid it was easy to understand why. The Briton followed up with a row of cantrips, a Treasure Cruise, a second Sylvan Caryatid and a Birds of Paradise on his next one.

Prost, still without a white source could only pray that his Scavenging Ooze would go the distance. Or rather that Sajgalik was lacking his key card, Jeskai Ascendancy. He was in fact lacking Ascendancy, but not a Glittering Wish to get one from his sideboard. He went for it, along with enough cantrips, now free via his two Sylvan Caryatid, to attack for more than lethal with his Birds of Paradise, thanks to the +1/+1 triggers from Jeskai Ascendancy.

”So, are you playing the last Modern Grand Prix before they ban the cards?” Sajgalik asked with a  grin between games, hinting his opinion on the power level of certain cards in the format.

It turned out Prost was not.

For the second game it was Sajgalik's turn to mulligan, all the way down to five. Since he didn't see any of his 16 lands in his first two opening hands.

”There are lands. I'm keeping,” Sajgalik established.

Prost had no plays for his first two turns, despite keeping his opening seven. What he did have, was an Abrupt Decay, allowing him to take out a Jeskai Ascendancy if Sajgalik could come up with one.

Sajgalik laid his second land and continued his friendly banter.

”So far I'm looking like a Scapeshift deck.”

”Yeah, maybe that's your sideboard plan,” Prost answered.

Kitchen Finks came down for Prost, but with no more lands in his hand, he would be unable to add  more to the board and still hold mana up for Abrupt Decay. So the game might end up more exciting than a mulligan to 5 usually suggests.

Sajgalik made up for the card loss from his mulligans with a Treasure Cruise on his third turn, fueled up with Thought Scour and a Gitaxian Probe.

”Let's Ancestral Recall,” he said, ending his turn with a Sylvan Caryatid.

Prost attacked with Kitchen Finks to put Sajgalik on a slow, but steady clock. But still with no lands it looked like Sajgalik might be in the game, if he only had a solution to the Abrupt Decay, still in Prost's hand.

Sajgalik postponed the problem with a Glittering Wish for Jeskai Ascendancy, and fueled up his graveyard with two more copies of Thought Scour, when Prost again only attacked and passed the turn.

A second Treasure Cruise sculpted Sajgalik's hand further. Serum Visions and Faithless Looting almost guaranteed that he would be able to win on his next turn. If Prost couldn't come up with anything.

On what might be his last turn Prost finally drew a land. He attacked with Kitchen Finks, and when Sajgalik removed it with Path to Exile, Prost was glad to add Spellskite to his board. Still holding up mana for Abrupt Decay.

With a grip full of cards though, odds were that Sajgalik could win anyway. When he cast Jeskai Ascendancy Prost figured as much, and Abrupt Decay in response to a Serum Visions was answered by two copies of Manamorphose, generating mana by untapping the Sylvan Caryatid between Ascendancy triggers. And after his Jeskai Ascendancy hit the graveyard Sajgalik could follow up with a second copy.

By now his graveyard was also full of Fatestitchers and his hand full of cantrips. After playing out his combo with his hand face up for a few minutes Prost could see the writings on the wall and graciously congratulated his opponent for the win.

“Good games, although I think you should learn to play a bit faster.” was his summary of the game.

And he did have a point. Not much time remained in the round, even though the Modern master chefs had only finished two games.

With the win  Eduardo Sajgalik moves to 5-0 for the day, and most likely only needs one more win to make top 8. And as he actually went 7-0 yesterday he might be the tournament's last truly undefeated player.

Andrej Prost would have to win his next two matches, and hope that his tie-breakers are good enough to save him a seat in the top 8. Something that Sajgalik will make his best to ensure by winning the next round.