While neither Martin Jůza nor Thoralf Severin can be called a stranger to the feature match area, Jůza's accomplishments clearly dwarf Severin's. Jůza has a whopping 18 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, with four wins, whereas Severin made it to the final eight only once, though a couple of near-misses in recent months were well-documented in our live coverage just the same.
Both players entered this round with perfect scores of 4-0, eager to continue the winning streak. Severin had got this far with the help of a Sultai deck featuring Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Satyr Wayfinder, Whip of Erebos, and Hornet Queen as its key cards. Jůza was piloting a deck built by former Player of the Year Brad Nelson; Nelson had been brewing a lot of different decks lately, curiously all with a sizable token component, first in red and white, then in Mardu, and now this black and white deck with Raise the Alarm, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Wingmate Roc.
Severin had the perfect opening for his deck with Elvish Mystic, Satyr Wayfinder, and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant on turn three. But it was Jůza who led the charge with two copies of Seeker of the Way. When he attacked with both and had one of his prowess creatures double-blocked, the result was a minor blow-out as Jůza had both Bile Blight to kill Sidisi and Raise the Alarm to turn his Seekers 4/4.
Severin tried to stabilize with Courser of Kruphix, but that met Hero's Downfall and the two copies of Seeker of the Way as well as the Soldier tokens got in for 8 more damage. Things were looking grim for Severin.
Things took a turn for the better, though. Murderous Cut plus Hero's Downfall gave Severin a little breathing room and then a pair of Hornet Queens showed up and basically took over the game. While things didn't just end on the spot—1/1 Hornet tokens typically take some time to end a game—there was no coming back for Jůza.
Martin Jůza 0-1 Thoralf Severin
Again, Jůza was able to mount some early pressure with two copies of Herald of Torment, but Severin had all the answers: Hero's Downfall for one Herald, Murderous Cut for another, more removal for the few creatures that followed. Meanwhile Jůza was mostly drawing land: at one point he had cast six spells, but played nine lands. Severin's deck, famous for its late-game power, was not to be denied.
Martin Jůza 0-2 Thoralf Severin
"I kept two Heralds and five lands," Jůza admitted after the game. "Since flying is so good against you, I thought this would be better than a random six-card hand."
"A creature on turn three and four isn't really fast enough against this deck though, is it?" Severin wondered. "I mean, this deck here is incredible in the late game." Jůza pointed out the fallacy: "Well, if I had drawn another creature in the first four turns, it wouldn't have been just one creature on turn three and one on turn four. Then I would have had one Herald and one big flier via bestow—plus the leftover Herald if you deal with it."
Severin had to agree that that would have been quite good actually.