Semifinals: Ben Rubin vs. Cody Lingelbach

Posted in Event Coverage on January 11, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

After a slogging through a very long quarterfinals match against Rally the Ancestors, Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Ben Rubin has pushed through to the semifinals. It’s been a while since he’s been in this spot—a Grand Prix Top 8. In fact, his last one was right here in Oakland in 2004. But now he’s back. And he’s ready.

His Abzan-with-counterspells had be working for him all weekend. In fact, it was a key Dispel on Rally the Ancestors that got him out of the quarterfinals. We’ll see what he can do against Cody Lingelbach’s unorthodox Mardu Thopters deck.

Both players thought the matchup was slightly in Lingelbach’s favor, but Lingelbach admitted that the extra Tasigur, the Golden Fangs from Rubin made it look a mite more difficult.

Lingelbach hails from Portland, and drove the ten hours to get down here. He’s been a big fan of Mardu, so was pretty happy this version of his was paying off. “I’ve been playing Mardu forever; I was all for this.” He said.

As Rubin was looking over Lingelbach’s decklist he exclaimed, “You beat the Rally guy?!”

“Yeah, we got lucky—real lucky. We don’t usually beat Rally.” Lingelbach chuckled as he looked at Rubin’s.

“What a mixed bag of a manabase you have...” Rubin continued.

“Yeah, triple green in a deck that doesn’t play any green.” Lingelbach took it as a compliment. They both smiled.

The two presented the decks and readied for battle.

The Games

In the first game, Lingelbach had to go to Vancouver once, and settled on a shaky but powerful six cards. It was a one-land hand, however his scry found a second land. So that was a good omen. Lingelbach had tons of removal and hoped he could buy time until he’d take the game over.

If he could draw the land to do so.

The Oregonian was unflinching with his removal, and 2-for-1’ed himself to take out a Hangarback Walker and its token with Wild Slash and Fiery Impulse. Then he used a Secure the Wastes for one to chump block an Anafenza, the Foremost the first time it attacked.

Though these plays could seem a bit strange, Lingelbach was stuck on two land and was making food for Murderous Cut.

He wasn’t drawing lands. He had drawn zero lands.

Though the Murderous Cut took out the Anafenza, Lingelbach was far from out of the woods. But really, Lingelbach would’ve been content with a couple woods, or some sort of landscape.

Ben Rubin refilled his board with a second Walker and a Tasigur, the Golden Fang. The field was all Rubin. Rubin was recurring cards before Lingelbach drew his third land.

By that time, the game was over. Lingelbach fought valiantly, but his sketchy keep never became a full portrait.

In the second game, things were a little more solid for Lingelbach. Rubin started with multiple creatures that Lingelbach removed in short succession.

He was keeping the board as clear as possible for his Pia and Kiran Nalaar. But Ojutai's Command took that out while returning yet another impediment for Lingelbach, a Warden of the First Tree. Lingelbach was hoping the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in his hand could swing the pendulum back his way.

Rubin played his own Gideon first, but that worked out well for Lingelbach, who was able to get his in there to take out his mirror. Things were looking all right for Lingelbach.

But Rubin was drawing more and more cards that kept him on the assault. Lingelbach was woefully lacking in creatures on the board or in his hand, and Rubin was flush with 4/5s in Siege Rhino, 4/4s with Anafenza, the Foremost, and a could-become-huge Warden of the First Tree. Though the life totals were 14-15 in Lingelbach’s favor, his car was running on fumes.

The early parity Lingelbach was able to hold slipped away after a few extra lands at inopportune times. Lingelbach drew a second Gideon, but by that point the game had slipped from his grasp.

The creatures pummeled Lingelbach to the ground and Ben Rubin was on to the finals. In the hopes of avenging his last Grand Prix Oakland Top 8 loss—back in 2004.

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