ROUND 5 FEATURE MATCH: PIERRE DAGEN VS. VJERAN HORVAT

Posted in GRAND PRIX MILAN 2015 on December 13, 2014

By Tobi Henke

These two—Frenchman Pierre Dagen and Croatia's Vjeran Horvat—had made it this far without a loss, but one of them would surely lose now. Dagen could boast three previous Grand Prix Top 8s, including a finals appearance just two weeks ago, whereas Horvat's major accomplishment so far was winning a Modern Grand Prix in Prague earlier this year.

Back then, Horvat had been playing a blue-white-red aggro-control deck featuring Geist of Saint Traft and Restoration Angel for beatdown. Since then, most players have switched to Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer but Horvat stayed true to his cards. Dagen was playing a version of Jeskai Ascendancy similar to the one popularized by deck designer Josh Utter-Leyton and his teammates at the World Championship. So, while both players were running Jeskai builds, the decks couldn't have been more different from each other.

Game 1

The match began with Dagen cycling through some cards via Peek, Thought Scour, and Izzet Charm discarding Fatestitcher. When Horvat made his first move and cast Snapcaster Mage at the end of Dagen's third turn, Dagen even increased his card selecting and resolved Dig Through Time.

Unsatisfied with the development of the game so far, Horvat finally decided to get something done on his turn four: he played Celestial Colonnade and tapped out for Geist of Saint Traft. Now it was all in Dagen's hand. If Dagen had the combo, all would be lost for Horvat, but if Horvat would be able to untap with 8 power worth of attackers, things would quickly go downhill for Dagen.

Dagen did have the combo. He unearthed Fatestitcher, cast Jeskai Ascendancy, and basically just won. The messy reality of it involved a Gitaxian Probe, an Izzet Charm, a Treasure Cruise, and another Gitaxian Probe, all interspersed with various Jeskai Ascendancy triggers and the ability of Fatestitcher untapping lands in between. Jeskai Ascendancy allowed Dagen to dump a second Fatestitcher and a third, which were both unearthed, and when it was obvious Dagen would neither run out of cards nor mana before growing his blue army to lethal proportions, Horvat conceded.

Pierre Dagen 1-0 Vjeran Horvat

Game 2

This time neither player had much action, no cantrips or otherwise, until Horvat summoned Vendilion Clique at the end of Dagen's turn three. Dagen stopped it with Remand, or rather delayed it until Horvat's main phase when he re-cast it and took a look at Dagen's hand: two lands, two copies of Jeskai Ascendancy, two lands, and three Izzet Charms …

Horvat swallowed, Dagen chuckled: "A very good hand against Vendilion Clique, isn't it?"

Horvat took one Ascendancy anyway, then took the other with Wear & Tear after Dagen had cast it. Vendilion Clique died to Izzet Charm, but Horvat was able to establish a clock anyway in the form of Restoration Angel.

Dagen tried to get his hand back into shape via Izzet Charms and Serum Visions, but before he found a solution or another threat of his own second Restoration Angel sealed the deal.

Pierre Dagen 1-1 Vjeran Horvat

Game 3

Horvat opened on Relic of Progenitus, a card Dagen hadn't seen before in the match and one that would make all of his Dig Through Time and Fatestitcher along with the Izzet Charm that much worse, especially when Horvat added a second Relic and was able to keep Dagen reliably at zero graveyard cards without ever having to crack one of the artifacts.