Estonian Hannes Kerem might not be a well known name on the Grand Prix scene, but the 27-year-old is in fact National Champion for Estonia for the second year in a row. He has also captained his team to both a Top 8 and a Top 16 finish at the World Magic Cup. Not to mention his own accomplishment of a World Championships Top 8 in 2008.
Eliott Boussad is a 26-year-old teacher from Toulouse, more known as the hometown of Hall of Famer Raphael Levy. He's been displaying his skills in standard with Top 8 finishes at both Grand Prix Prague 2013 and Grand Prix Utrecht 2014, where he lost in the finals to Oliver Polak-Rottman.
“We were hoping to play in the finals again here in Prague, when we both made Top 8. But I guess Oliver lost, so now maybe I can win,” Boussad joked before the match.
Hannes Kerem's deck of choice this weekend was Hangarback Abzan, a seemingly random choice in his own words. But it turned out to be the most popular and perhaps best deck in the room with as much as 30% of the players on Day Two piloting it.
Boussaud on his part was on a quite unorthodox choice, opting for Red-Black Dragons. A deck packed with removal, four copies of Kolaghan's Command and heavy hitters like Thunderbreak Regent, Stormbreath Dragon and even Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. He was glad to explain his deck choice.
”It's strong against Abzan and fights well against Hangarback Walker,” he said.
The semifinal against the Estonian would be the test to see if he was right.
“Good Luck, I will play first,” Boussad exclaimed as the match got underway.
A second turn Hangarback Walker started things off for the Frenchmen.
Kerem met with a face up Den Protector.
Magma Spray took out the Den Protector, and Boussad grew his Hangarback Walker to a 2/2. Proving not only that his deck also plays the powerful artifact creature, but also that it had good answers to any opposing Hangarbacks.
Kerem's third turn Anafenza, the Foremost was taken out by Hero's Downfall, but he quickly replaced it with another. Both players proving why they've been successful in the Hangarback Walker heavy field this weekend.
Boussad opted, surprisingly to attack his 2/2 Hangarback Walker into Anafenza, the Foremost, finishing it off with a Draconic Roar, dealing three damage to Karem, but not getting any Thopter Tokens, due to Anafenza's ability.
Hannes Kerem, down to 10 life could only play his fourth land and pass the turn.
With Kerem on the play for the second game things started quite differently.
A first turn Thoughtseize for Bousadd revealed 2 Abzan Charm, Siege Rhino and an Ultimate Price. He thought carefully how to best dismantle Kerem's plans before snagging the Rhino out of the Estonian's hand.
A timely Fleecemane Lion was waiting of the top of the library for Kerem before a Duress discarded one of his Abzan Charms. Boussad still without Red mana to cast the Draconic Roar in his hand to answer the Lion. All he had for lands were two copies of Haven of the Spirit Dragon along with his first turn Swamp.
Boussad drew for his turn …. a Mountain he desperately needed, allowing him to take out both the Vampire created by Sorin and the Planeswalker itself by revealing Stormbreath Dragon.
Weary of this, Boussad instead went for Outpost Siege, trying to pull ahead in the lategame and find removal for the Roc and any minions Kerem could come up with.
Kerem did drop him down to six life with his next attack before Boussad stabilized the game with Thoughtseize for Kerem's Ultimate Price followed by removal for the Roc and a Stormbreath Dragon to put Kerem on a clock.
Kerem drew a Hangarback Walker, but Boussad calmy answered with Murderous Cut followed by Crux of Fate for the tokens. His Stormbreath Dragon left unanswered then did short work of the Estonian champion, who would have to try again to claim the first Grand Prix victory under Estonian flag.
“I hope the drafts are open,” Hannes Kerem exclaimed before shaking Boussad's hand for the match and wishing him luck in the final.
Eliott Boussad defeats Hannes Kerem 2-0.