Before the match, as usual, the players had the chance to look at each other's decklist. Thomas Enevoldsen at first had trouble finding Lion's Eye Diamond on Rodrigo Togores' Storm list.
"It's definitely in there," Togores assured his opponent. "My deck is bad, but not that bad. I'm most certainly playing Black Lotus."
"It's probably even better than Black Lotus in your deck, because this way you get to play Demonic Tutor," Enevoldsen replied smartly, referring to the interaction between Lion's Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor.
That interaction, alongside Dark Ritual and Cabal Ritual and various card-draw spells, both big and small, was what Togores's deck was all about: Trying to cast as many spells as possible in one turn, then end the game with Tendrils of Agony.
Thomas Enevoldsen, meanwhile, was playing his famous Death and Taxes, an update of the list he had already won a Grand Prix with three years ago. His plan in the matchup would be to throw a wrench into Togores's engine with "hatebears"—2-drop creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Phyrexian Revoker, and Spirit of the Labyrinth, as well as Ethersworn Canonist out of the sideboard.
Going first was a big advantage, even more so than usually, in the clash between these two decks and, due to his better finish in the Swiss rounds, Enevoldsen would be the one to do so ...
Enevoldsen opened on Rishadan Port and Æther Vial, but had no second land, while Togores spent his first two turns fixing his hand with the help of Brainstorm, fetch lands, and Preordain. Eventually, Gitaxian Probe revealed why Enevoldsen had kept his one-land hand: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, possibly his strongest card in the matchup.
Thalia made its way onto the battlefield via Æther Vial, and was soon joined by a pair of Phyrexian Revokers, revoking Togores's right to activate Lotus Petals and Lion's Eye Diamonds. Between the extra tax on his spells and his inability to use eight of his mana generating artifacts, Togores would have a hard time getting his game off the ground.
A pair of Flickerwisps put further pressure on Togores. "I guess I have to try it," said Togores and cast a Dark Ritual, a pair of Cabal Rituals, and a Sensei's Divining Top before accepting the inevitable. His stream of cards ended right there and he picked up his cards in concession.
In the second game, Enevoldsen mulliganed into a hand with two lands and two copies of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. But it didn't really matter. Togores began his first turn with Gitaxian Probe, then fetched a land and cast Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and Lion's Eye Diamond, sacrificing the artifact in response to Ad Nauseam.
This left Togores with three black mana and 17 life at his disposal. He got a massive amount of cards off of Ad Nauseam, cast another Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, another Lion's Eye Diamond, Rain of Filth, and sacrificed Lion's Eye Diamond in response to Infernal Tutor. Now empty-handed, Togores was able to search for Tendrils of Agony and even the score.
In the third and final game of the match, Enevoldsen, playing first, once again had a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for turn two. But once again, the legendary creature never made it to the battlefield. This time, because of Togores's turn-one combination of Gitaxian Probe and Cabal Therapy.
Togores apparently had no second land, but did have Lotus Petal plus Ponder to look at some cards. He did a few calculations, drew off Ponder, did further calculations, played and cracked a fetch land, and did some more calculating.
Eventually, he cast Dark Ritual (3 mana), Lotus Petal (4 mana), Infernal Tutor revealing Cabal Ritual (2 mana), Cabal Ritual (5 mana), Cabal Ritual (8 mana), Infernal Tutor empty handed (6 mana), Infernal Tutor (4 mana), and Tendrils of Agony (0 mana, tenth spell of the turn).
"Yeah, you got it," said Enevoldsen after quickly checking the math. He was impressed. Getting to ten spells without involving anything like Ad Nauseam or Past in Flames was quite unusual for Storm. Enevoldsen offered his hand in concession and wished Togores good luck in the finals ...