Grand Prix San Jose Finals

Posted in Event Coverage on January 29, 2017

By Marc Calderaro

“You’re seed’s 7?! I actually get to go first!" John Asbach was extremely excited by this notion. He had been on the draw all Top 8, and felt like he’d been fighting an uphill battle the whole way. Although that was technically true, his fights were going quite well—his Blue-Black deck was yet to drop a game.

Asbach’s a military man living in Temple, Texas and this first Grand Prix Top 8 has been a joy for him so far. His smiles have been bright, and he’s having the time of his life. Getting to go first in the finals was just icing on the cake.

The crazy part about his opponent, Ari Hausman-Cohen, being seeded seventh was that Hausman-Cohen’s deck was an all-out aggressive Red-White strategy with a full eight two drops. The fact that Hausman-Cohen got this far on the draw every time was a testament to the quality of his deck and play.

After Hausman-Cohen finished his semifinals, he had watched Asbach compete on the other side of the bracket. This matchup was the one Hausman-Cohen had been wanting for the Finals. In the first draft of day, Asbach beat Hausman-Cohen handily to go 3-0 in their pod, and drop Hausman-Cohen down the rankings. It was time for redemption—he hoped.

Both players were extremely jovial with each other, and all the happier for it.

“I don’t know if I could take it if someone were real serious during this—it’s been too long a day," Hausman-Cohen said.

The two laughed, shuffled up, and played the final match of the weekend.

The Games

Both players kept their opening hands and Asbach’s excited first turn saw an Augmenting Automaton, and he was off to the races—as much as a 1/1 gets out of the gate.

What are you doing with your lands, man?!" Asbach said a few turns later, seeing the completely haphazard set-up of white-bordered, full-art, and mismatched mana-producers. “Ooohhh, you’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Just to tilt me?" Hausman-Cohen was doing it on purpose, but not to tilt his opponent—to tilt the expected Twitch stream. When Hausman-Cohen found out the stream was at Grand Prix Prague this weekend, he was quite disappointed.

Pretty much the only thing Hausman-Cohen had going for him in the early game was the lands. Everything else belonged to Asbach. Especially after Metallic Rebuke tagged an Aether Chaser, to stumble Hausman-Cohen before he even started. Asbach’s board presence came early, and was imposing.

Prakhata Club Security and Hinterland Drake put Hausman-Cohen on the defensive, and there he stayed. Because once Asbach cast Tezzeret’s Touch on his Implement of Experimentation, Hausman-Cohen wasn’t getting aggressive anytime soon.

The enchantment caused a raspberry from Ari, “Pfft," he said. “Yeah, I’m down to ten life? You know, I saw a lot of those in the draft." He worried that Asbach had more than one of the powerful enchantment. Spoiler Alert: He did.

Hausman-Cohen thought a lot about his turn when he got it back—only an Irontread Crusher to his name. He puzzled, paused, and then said, “You know what? Let’s just go to the next game. It’s not worth showing you more of my deck."

He extended his hand and scooped up his board.

“You just want to be on the play, don’t you?" Asbach said chuckling. Man, he really cares about the play doesn’t he?

As they shuffled for the second game, Hausman-Cohen mused, “You know, if you beat me, you will account for two of my three loses this whole weekend."

“Then hope you don’t see me at Nashville," Asbach returned. They both smiled.

“Oh man, you could be my nemesis. I’ve never had a nemesis before!"

The two were both excited by this idea, then they readied for the second game.

Ari was on the play in the second game. He kept his six-card hand and started with a Renegade Map. After a few turns, again, his lands became a talking point.

“You see, this Plains is a Battle for Zendikar Plains, but this one is a Zendikar Plains," Hausman-Cohen pointed out to Asbach.

“Yes, I see that." Asbach begrudged, trying to focus on the game at hand. He cast a Trophy Mage for Prakhata Pillar-Bug. To many, this might not seem like much, but Hausman-Cohen knew better. He knew of the Aethersphere Harvester in his opponent’s deck. If he didn’t fetch it with the Trophy Mage, the worst-case scenario was quite likely.

“You’ve got everything in your hand, don’t you?" he asked to no reply.

The next turn Asbach cast the Aethersphere Harvester and grinned. Again, a raspberry emanated from Hausman-Cohen’s lips. But this time, his raspberry could be premature. His board was a Propeller Pioneer, Ghirapur Osprey and Bastion Artificer—he had the creature count, at least, and some more time.

After the first swing with the vehicle, Hausman-Cohen sunk to 17 life, but the crackback brought Asbach to 11. He could still win the race yet!

But that Trophy Mage–fetched Pillar-Bug turned out to be a big help. Hausman-Cohen was basically unable to attack, so the board just filled up on both sides, stalled out.

“Stalled out” is a terrible phrase if you’re a gung-ho aggro deck like Hausman-Cohen’s. The extra time was allowing Asbach to cast more evasive threats and sneak them through the skies while still protecting the ground. In a few turns, the life totals were 17-9 in Asbach’s favor. Things were looking bleak.

It was a sad sight seeing at all Ari’s creatures on the ground, unable to help Hausman-Cohen take damage from the sky. Frontline Rebel, Night Market Guard, Veteran Motorist, Audacious Infiltrator, Metallic Mimic and a Servo, all held back by a Prakhata Club Security pumped up by Midnight Entourage, and that dastardly Pillar-Bug.

Hausman-Cohen fought valiantly, but it was death from above. In a few turns he extended his hand to Asbach in defeat. It looks like Ari Hausman-Cohen has a new nemesis.

John Asbach has won Grand Prix San Jose, defeating Ari Hausman-Cohen, 2-0!

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