Oliver Polak-Rottmann won the previous European Grand Prix in Europe with Mono-Blue Devotion. Since then, Nightveil Specter and Tidebinder Mage had rotated out of Standard, and he switched to Sidisi-Whip. He ran the deck, which is based around Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Whip of Erebos, at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir and is piloting it today as well.
Jan van der Vegt, a popular streamer who made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Gothenburg, is on a spicy brew: UW Heroic. "It looks like an aggro deck, but it's more of a combo deck," he said to me before the match. "It's a 3-card combo: a heroic creature, a way to pump it, and a protection spell."
Let's see how their decks match up!
Polak-Rottmann started off the game by filling up both his graveyard and his board with Sylvan Wayfinder and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Meanwhile, van der Vegt wasn't doing much, passing on turns one and two without playing a single creature.
The two players squaring off.
A peek at his hand revealed what was up: He had a bunch of pump spells and a Gods Willing, but only one creature in hand. Unwilling to lose his only threat to a one-mana Murderous Cut, Van der Vegt decided to wait until turn three before playing his Battlewise Hoplite. This way, he had Gods Willing mana up to protect it.
However, Polak-Rottmann didn't challenge the heroic creature with a removal spell and was content to see it grow larger and larger. A Defiant Strike, Ordeal of Thassa, and Aqueous Form later, Van der Vegt was attacking with a 6-power unblockable creature.
Van der Vegt still had Gods Willing to answer a removal spell, but Polak-Rottmann had something much better: Whip of Erebos. The lifegain ability provided him with over 10 life a turn, and suddenly it was nearly impossible for van der Vegt to win the damage race. No matter how big he made his Hoplite, Polak-Rottmann was gaining just as much life. A couple attacks with Sidisi and her zombies later, van der Vegt was down to 0 while Polak-Rottmann was sitting comfortably at 30 life.
"The Whip is so good against me," Van der Vegt said while reaching for his sideboard.
Van der Vegt came out of the gates quickly with Favored Hoplite and Ordeal of Thassa, and he was able to protect it as well. Thanks to Stubborn Denial and Gods Willing to say no to Sultai Charm and Hero's Downfall, Van der Vegt made sure his threat stuck around, and started attacking for a bunch. When he had Aqueous Form to make sure that blocking was not an option either, Van der Vegt quickly took the second game.
Van der Vegt started with Favored Hoplite on turn one, Defiant Strike on turn two, and Ordeal of Thassa on turn three. When Polak-Rottmann played Murderous Cut, van der Vegt had Gods Willing in response. So on turn three, van der Vegt was attacking with a 5-power creature and drawing two cards for his troubles. Not bad.
Polak-Rottmann killed it off with Hero's Downfall when he had the chance, and then cast Whip of Erebos. His board was empty, but not for long: He returned Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (put there with Satyr Wayfinder earlier) from the graveyard and got immediately two 2/2 Zombies: one when Sidisi entered the battlefield and one when Sidisi attacked. In the process, he put a new Sidisi in his graveyard, ensuring that he could keep on going.
Jan van der Vegt
But would it be fast enough? Van der Vegt had rebuilt with Hero of Iroas and was relentlessly targeting it with a flurry of pump spells. The game turned into a close damage race, but van der Vegt was able to grow his creature faster than Polak-Rottmann could produce tokens. With a Feat of Resistance to seal the deal, the heroic creature took it down.
Jan van der Vegt moves to 5-1 and has a good shot at making Day 2, while Polak-Rotmann will have to win all the remaining matches of the day to make it.