As I sat at the table I asked Matteo Moure the customary question of whether he had any other Grand Prix Top 8 finishes. This was rather stupid of me considering I was there when he lost to Fabrizio Anteri in the final of Grand Prix London just under a year ago. I even covered the final. In my defence, it's a long day when you're behind the coverage desk.
That awkwardness out of the way I asked him how he felt about his deck.
“It's horrible,” Moure answered. “I'm mostly green and only just have 23 cards.”
He did mention he was splashing for a couple of bombs. Ulrich of the Krallenhorde and The Gitrog Monster wouldn't be the easiest to play in the same deck, but their raw power justified the stretch to his mana base.
With Andreas Reling at least there wasn't any previous Top 8 finishes for me to forget. This was the German player's first Top 8 and it also qualified him for his first ever Pro Tour invite. Reling said he'd put a lot work in over the last year to try and get on the Pro Tour and was very excited about managing to do it. It's great to see players put in the time and see their efforts rewarded.
Reling had drafted an aggressive white-black deck with many cards that wanted to hit delirium as soon as possible.
As Moure finished top of the standings after fifteen rounds he got to choose to go first.
The first game was short, extremely brutal, but very interesting for the lines pursued by both players.
Very early on Reling decided to go all-in on Olivia's Dragoons. Normally this is a pretty good madness enabler, but Reling very quickly revealed an aggressive intent as he powered it up with Strange Augmentation and started throwing away cards to send it into the air over Moure's creatures, including a deathtouch-laden Gnarlwood Dryad. It was the cards he threw away, Midnight Scavengers and then his fourth land rather than playing it, that revealed he wasn't interested in dragging this game out.
He needed to be fast as Moure hit back very hard on the ground thanks to Ulrich of the Krallenhorde.
Reling went for bust. A second Strange Augmentation on the Dragoons followed by pitching two cards to take him to delirium turned the Dragoons into an 8/8 flying monstrosity. At this point the game was perched on a precipice. Moure either had to bust through Reling's chump blockers on the ground for lethal, or have an answer for the augmented Dragoons before it killed him on the following turn.
Unfortunately for Reling, Moure had an answer. Prey Upon getting his deathtouch Dryad to fight the augmented Dragoons comprehensively smashed Reling's basket of eggs, and as the German had earlier been forced to throw away his creatures chump-blocking to stay alive, that spelt the end of the first game.
Moure 1-0 Reling.
Moure missed his third land drop, but as he'd previously summoned an Ulvenwild Captive on turn two he was able to continue developing his board without taking too much of a hit to his tempo. In contrast Reling had kept a very slow hand that didn't do anything until an Inspiring Captain on turn four and then a slightly awkward Graf Rats on turn five.
It was the Evangel that proved decisive. Reling had Ruthless Disposal, which is costly to cast in terms of resources, but is normally good at clawing back a bad board state, especially when facing down busted mythic creatures. Unfortunately, the Evangel made a mockery of those steep costs as Moure sacrificed it and the creatures targeted for disposal to replace his losses with a fresh army of 3/2 Eldrazi Horrors.
To be fair to Reling, as unpalatable as the play was, it was not like he had a choice. Rather predictably he was unable to find a way back from that and the win allowed Moure to advance to his second Grand Prix Final in less than a year.
Reling wasn't too disappointed. He'd still managed to qualify for his first Pro Tour after a year of trying.
Matteo Moure defeated Andreas Reling 2-0.