Semifinals: Oliver Polak-Rottmann vs. Dan Lanthier

Posted in Event Coverage on October 25, 2015

By Josh Bennett

Two former Grand Prix Champions. Both former National Champions of their respective countries. Both playing what many believe is the best deck to come out of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. Only one of them would advance to the finals.

Canada's Dan Lanthier is a member of Team Face-to-Face Games and a fixture on the Grand Prix circuit. Earlier this year he finally cracked the Top 8 at Vancouver and made the most of it by walking away with the trophy. He's looking to shake the dust of a disappointing Day 2 at the Pro Tour and notch his second championship.

Austria's Oliver Polak-Rottmann is no stranger to GP Top 8's. This was his fourth, and a fine follow-up to his Top 64 finish at the Pro Tour last weekend, and most importantly locked up Silver for him, earning him hearty cross-Atlantic congratulations from Matej “Big Z” Zatlkaj via Twitter.

The Decks

Both players are playing extremely similar versions the Jeskai Black deck that propelled both Jon Finkel and Owen Turtenwald to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. Polak-Rottmann has Dragonlord Silumgar, Negate, and an extra Kolaghan's Command where Lanthier has Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, an extra Wild Slash and an extra Dispel. The decks are packed to the gills with reactive two-for-ones. It was unlikely to be a quick affair.

Dan Lanthier

The Games

Polak-Rottmann led out, and got on the board with a third-turn Mantis Rider. Lanthier took the hit, then passed his third turn after playing his land. Polak-Rottmann played a land and hit again, content to wait on his single threat. Another land-go from Lanthier, but he pulled the trigger on Crackling Doom when the Rider swung in for the third time.

It was all land, all the time for the next few turns. Finally Lanthier gave them something to fight over, a Dragonmaster Outcast. Polak-Rottmann tapped four for Ojutai's Command and it went uncontested. Lanthier waited and undid the advantage with Kolaghan's Command, getting back his Outcast and forcing a discard. The 2-for-1 tug-of-war continued on the next turn with a Kolaghan's Command from Polak-Rottmann, gunning down the replayed Outcast and getting back Mantis Rider. They matched a pair of Dispels fighting over it, but it resolved.

Of course, Polak-Rottman wasn't about to play it, not when he had perfectly good instants he could be spending his mana on. He resolved Dig Through Time, pulling further ahead. Lanthier tried Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, but it fell immediately to Crackling Doom. Still Polak-Rottmann was content to wait. A few turns later Lanthier tried Soulfire Grand Master. Polak-Rottmann cashed in his Ojutai's Command. Lanthier had no follow-up.

And so it went as they worked their way through their libraries. Polak-Rottmann tried to stick both Jace and Soulfire Grand Master, but neither lasted. Nor did the Jace that Lanthier brought back. Lanthier did manage to successfully resolve a pair of Dig Through Times, but Polak-Rottmann was sitting on a grip of six cards. Lanthier grabbed for yet another small edge, delving his graveyard down to just Ojutai's Command and Dispel to summon Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Polak-Rottmann tried to remove it with Utter End, but Lanthier had the Dispel. He fired a second barrel with Crackling Doom, and this time Lanthier could not defend. He activated Tasigur, getting back Ojutai's Command, then put him in the bin and passed the turn.

This was the moment Polak-Rottamann had been waiting for. He tapped six and brought out a pair of hasty Mantis Riders, and Lanthier's ravaged life total couldn't survive a hit from even one of them.

Polak-Rottmann 1 – Lanthier 0

Game two started poorly for Polak-Rottman. He stalled on two lands and a Dragonmaster Outcast while Lanthier resolved Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. A third land showed up only a turn late, but by then Lanthier had resolved a Dig Through Time thanks to fetchlands and looting. Still, Polak-Rottmann had a grip of powerful weapons, and a fourth land helped unlock it. When Lanthier went to loot at end of turn, Polak-Rottman dropped Kolaghan's Command, killing Jace and forcing a discard. Lanthier tried to return the favor on the Outcast, but the fourth mana meant Polak-Rottmann could Dispel.

Lanthier wasn't done yet. The last of his mana and most of his graveyard went into Dig Through Time, and then he untapped and played Painful Truths for thee cards. A Duress revealed Polak-Rotmann's hand of Mantis Rider, two Crackling Doom, Exert Influence and Kolaghan's Command. Lanthier stole the Influence and tapped out to summon Jace.

Polak-Rottmann found a Mystic Monastery waiting for him and as expected fired off his Command to kill Jace and force a discard. That was fine by Lanthier, as he had Exert Influence to steal away the Dragonmaster Outcast, a perfect fit with his six lands. Even more perfect was the Dispel in his hand to stop Crackling Doom, and Polak-Rottmann was unable to fetch a black source to cast the second one in his hand. He played Mantis Rider and passed.

Lanthier untapped, got a free dragon, and now the end was in sight. Duress took Polak-Rottmann's last card, and not even a topdecked Tasigur could save him.

Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Polak-Rottamnn 1 – Lanthier 1

For the first four turns there was nothing but fetching and shuffling, then Lanthier broke the silence with a delved Tasigur, the Golden Fang, one blue mana left conspicuously open. It resolved and he passed the turn. Duress from Polak-Rottmann revealed a hand of Exert Influence, Dispel, Prairie Stream, Painful Truths and two Crackling Doom. He took the Dispel to clear a path for his own Crackling Doom, getting rid of Tasigur.

Lanthier untapped and pressed the offensive with Mantis Rider. Polak-Rottmann fell to fourteen. On his turn he cast a Dig Through Time, leaving himself three untapped mana. It resolved, and he added Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to his board before passing it back. Lanthier took a moment to think things over. He decided to spend three on Crackling Doom and hit for three more, then passed. Polak-Rottmann cast Kolaghan's Command, dealing two damage to the Mantis Rider and forcing a discard. It resolved, and so did the second one, sending the Rider to the graveyard along with Fiery Impulse and Crackling Doom.

The only bright side to this for Lanthier was that Polak-Rottmann was down to just two cards in hand. Painful Truths let Lanthier get way ahead on cards. Polak-Rottmann brought out Jace, and Lanthier removed it with Utter End on his turn. When Polak-Rottmann passed another blank turn, Lanthier got back Mantis Rider with Kolaghan's command and started attacking. Unable to answer the aerial beats, Polak-Rottmann was forced to act. He delved out Tasigur and activated it. Lanthier was happy to give him Kolaghan's Command over Dispel, and untapped to steal the legend with Exert Influence. Polak-Rottmann bricked on his draw step and extended the hand in defeat.

Dan Lanthier defeats Oliver Polak-Rottmann 2-1

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