What did Jonathan Paton and Zac Roorda have in common? Seveal things actually. Both were now qualified for a Pro Tour in Brussels later in the year. Both lamented not being able to play in their local Prelimary Pro Tour Qualifiers. Both were excited by Modern and playing deck they just wanted to play.
And they both had a great sense of humor throughout their short match.
Paton’s Merfolk deck was more than just a tribal deck. While it was full of “Lords” that gave his Merfolk +1/+1 each – adding up quickly with the ability to play three or more in a turn off Æther Vial – the utility access to Chalice of the Void, Tidebinder Mage, and countermagic like Spell Pierce. Efficient and disruptive, it took many players by surprise throughout his weekend march to the Top 8.
Roorda brought a similarly surprising deck: A variant of Zoo adding Seige Rhino to the mix. Powering out efficient creatures with burn like Lightning Helix to back it up, Zoo’s plan was the same as it always was: Play bigger creatures and attack, then attack again.
It was good enough to make Top 8, and there was no sign the beefy train would stop here.
“I can not believe this,” Roorda said, laughing. It wasn’t a comment at the start you’d expect from the first game in a Grand Prix Top 8. The tip to what was happened came from Paton’s grin and tapped creatures.
Paton’s Merfolk were going to town, pumped by Lord of Atlantis and two copies of Master of the Pearl Trident, Mutavault joined the stomping to overrun Roorda in just a four turns. Roorda didn’t know what hit him. Both players continued laughing between games.
“I don’t know what I should be putting in or taking out here!” Roorda admitted between fits of chuckles.
The second game was a Kird Ape off Stomping ground start for Roorda, typically a strong play from Zoo, but Vapor Snag and missing lands meant his aggression stalled out immediately. Aether Vial meant Paton could begin flashing creatures in: The problem was that he didn’t have any.
“This is the most uneventful aggro matchup ever,” Paton said as Roorda discarded at the end of a turn.
Paton finally drew into creatures as Roorda drew his second land. However, with just a little countermagic, Paton protected his flurry of troops through Roorda’s attempt to recover.
“You did what you could,” Paton offered.
“I just didn’t draw lands.” Roorda’s run had come to its end.
Jonathan Paton defeated Zac Roorda, 2-0, and advanced to the semifinals.