Round 6 Feature Match: Ondřej Stráský (Green Mardu) vs. Sebastian Thaler (U/B Aristocrats)

Posted in Event Coverage on March 19, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Both Ondřej Stráský and Sebastian Thaler are two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitors, but from widely different eras. Stráský made it there in 2014 and 2015, and he's currently ranked 13th in the Top 25. Thaler, in contrast, claimed his Top 8s back in 2007 and 2008, before dropping out of the competitive scene a few years later.

But now he's back to look for another chance at glory. "I took a bit of a break after playing my last Pro Tour in 2011," Thaler told me. "Now, my son is three years old, so it's okay to play more Grand Prix events again. I would like to play another Pro Tour if I qualify!"

Sebastian Thaler

Both Stráský and Thaler are undefeated at pristine 5-0 records. Stráský registered the popular Green Mardu deck, whereas Thaler entered the tournament with a more unusual choice: Blue-Black Aristocrats. The deck, which aims to repeatedly sacrifice Bloodsoaked Champion to Nantuko Husk, broke out at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, but failed to make a big impact afterwards.

According to Thaler, the deck has a good matchup against Four-Color Rally and a decent matchup against Green Mardu, especially after sideboard. His updates from Oath of the Gatewatch also helped. "Grasp of Darkness is a really solid removal spell that can kill Jace, Vryn's Prodigy on turn two. My deck is heavy back, so it fits in the mana base. And Eldrazi Skyspawner is much better than Sultai Emissary, which was too weak in my testing."

Game 1

Thaler got to play first and had a fast start with two Bloodsoaked Champions. Stráský fought back with Fiery Impulse, but it wasn't long until Bloodsoaked Champion returned from the graveyard.

Stráský then switched from the plan of removing Thaler's creatures to blocking them. Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Siege Rhino came down, but they didn't get to do a lot of blocking: Thaler used Murderous Cut and Whirler Rogue to maneuver his way past them.

By then, Stráský had gotten down to a dangerously low life total, but no game is over when you can still add a pack of angry rhinos to the battlefield. Siege Rhinos number 2 and number 3 came down soon enough, and they made the game into a close race.

The players had a good laugh when Siege Rhino number 3 came down

However, after a timely Whirler Rogue topdeck, Thaler was able to set up a lethal attack.

Ondřej Stráský 0 - Sebastian Thaler 1

Game 2

Thaler had Bloodsoaked Champion on turn one and Hangarback Walker on turn two, while Stráský cast Virulent Plague on turn 3.

The enchantment threatened to deal with any Thopter tokens that Hangarback Walker would leave behind, and Stráský was planning to sweep the board with Radiant Flames on the next turn.

But Thaler had the right disruption at the right time in the form of Duress. Stripping Stráský of the crucial sorcery, he left him with Goblin Dark-Dwellers (which couldn't flash back Radiant Flames properly) and Chandra, Flamecaller (which was still a long way off at six mana).

Thaler kept attacking, and after casting Murderous Cut and Disdainful Stroke to disrupt Stráský, he was able to attack for the win.

Ondřej Stráský 0 - Sebastian Thaler 2

Thaler moves to 6-0 and locks up his Day 2 berth, while Stráský falls to a 5-1 record.

Sebastian Thaler's Blue-Black Aristocrats – Grand Prix Paris 2016

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Ondřej Stráský's Green Mardu – Grand Prix Paris 2016

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