Semifinals: Ben Stark (Dark Jeskai) vs. Martin Jůza (Abzan)

Posted in Event Coverage on March 20, 2016

By Tobi Henke

In the quarterfinals, the more experienced players had prevailed, and with a combined 42 Grand Prix Top 8s between them, Ben Stark and Martin Jůza were easily the most accomplsihed of the bunch. But now one had to go.

To avoid his own departure from the tournament, Stark had enlisted the help of Dark Jeskai, the red, white, blue, and black aggrocontrol deck. Jůza, meanwhile, was playing classic Abzan, a mix between aggressive and more midrange-oriented threats.

The Games

Playing first, thanks to his higher standing after the Swiss rounds, Stark was able to turn Jace, Vryn's Prodigy into Jace, Telepath Unbound as early as turn three. He was also able to dismantle Jůza's early offense and everything was looking great for the Hall of Famer. Except he just couldn't find a fourth land, even after drawing three extra cards via Painful Truths.

Ben Stark

Still he was able to keep Jůza's creatures under control, not least because Jace, Telepath Unbound allowed him to cast things like Roast and Crackling Doom multiple times. He even found a fourth and fifth land.

In the meantime, Jůza was able to loop Den Protectors, which looked strong at first. But having one Den Protector on the battlefield and another in hand wasn't really something which would allow him to make inroads. He eventually decided to retrieve Siege Rhino instead.

Stark simply killed off all of Jůza's creatures once again, however, and also stopped dead a Wingmate Roc via Disdainful Stroke. Mantis Rider may have dealt the damage, but the game had long been decided by Jace.

Ben Stark 1-0 Martin Jůza

Jůza's turn-two Duress left Stark with Roast, Dig Through Time, Disdainful Stroke, and three lands in hand. Neither these nor the one Stark had played on turn one could produce blue mana, however.

Martin Jůza

So this time around, Jůza was able to get some offense going, in the form of the one-man army Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Stark had his own 4-mana token producer in Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Jůza had Siege Rhino.

On the following turn things took a deciding, well, turn: Stark, now with five lands and also blue sources, killed the Rhino with Roast, got a Zombie token in the process, and attacked Gideon with his Vampire. Jůza had two 2/2 tokens and a Warden of the First Tree as blockers, but Kalitas could grow to 5/6. End result: dead Gideon, undead Kalitas.

Further removal meant more Zombies for Stark, and Jůza soon had to admit defeat. Afterward, Stark sheepishly admitted that he had indeed drawn pretty well.

Ben Stark 2-0 Martin Jůza

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