Starting the day with eight wins under your belt puts you in pole position for a run at the Top 8. You can afford another loss, say to the inevitable unlucky matchup, so it feels like you are in control of your own destiny.
Germany’s Florian Koch has been off the radar lately. His career peaked early, with a win at GP Lyon in 2010, and he’s been on and off the Pro Tour since then. He’s on something of a whirlwind tour of US GPs this month, chasing down another qualification. He’s playing the format’s foundation, Abzan.
His opponent, Evan Parker, hails from Calgary and is something of a Modern Constructed maven. This weekend he’s battling with Tarmo-Twin. “I’ve been a Twin player for over a year. I went with this version because it trumps the straight blue-red version.” His record reflects that, with five of his Day 1 wins coming against Twin.
Koch opened with a Thoughtseize that stole Cryptic Command from Parker, leaving him with Lightning Bolt, Vendilion Clique and lands. He followed up with Tarmogoyf, already out of Bolt range. Parker fetched lands from his deck and waited. Koch added Scavenging Ooze to his board and hit for three. An end-of-turn Vendilion Clique let him see that Koch was holding Noble Hierarch, Lingering Souls, Siege Rhino and Batterskull.
Parker untapped and hit for three. He Bolted away the Ooze when Koch sent his creatures, falling to 11 life. Koch played his Lingering Souls. He was tight on mana and had no disruption, opening the door for a quick combo victory. Parker gave him a brief sweat with an end-of-turn Deceiver Exarch, but didn’t have the Twin to go with it. He just hit with it for one, unwilling to lose his Clique to a Souls token. Koch hit back for five and cleared out the Exarch with Maelstrom Pulse. Parker needed action, and quick.
He found Serum Visions and cast it immediately, but had no follow-up. Again Koch’s creatures crashed into the Red Zone. Parker flashed in Snapcaster Mage and readied the Bolt in his graveyard as he blocked Tarmogoyf. However, a fourth land for Koch forced a change of plans as Siege Rhino hit play and drained Parker down to just one life. He Bolted one of the Souls and prayed for a miracle. None was forthcoming, and he was trampled.
Koch 1 – Parker 0
After Parker’s opening Serum Visions, an Inquisition of Kozilek from Koch showed that Parker was holding a pair of Remands, Tarmogoyf, Scavenging Ooze, and Jace, Architect of Thought. Koch took away the Tarmogoyf. When he went to play his own a turn later, Parker naturally Remanded. Parker untapped and brought out Jace, immediately minusing it for cards. He took Tarmogoyf over Serum Visions and a land. With Parker’s mana tied up, Koch summoned Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze.
It was a solid board, but Parker was getting way ahead on cards. Electrolyze took down the Ooze with a bonus, and then Parker summoned Tarmogoyf to protect Jace, who upped to three loyalty. Koch wasn’t out of tricks yet, however, and dropped end-of-turn Slaughter Pact on Tarmogoyf. Even with Jace’s penalty to attackers, Koch’s ‘Goyf was big enough to kill the Planeswalker. Thoughtseize stole a Snapcaster Mage and left Parker with Splinter Twin, Remand and Scavenging Ooze. Parker’s promising board had been completely upended.
He brought out his Ooze and passed with three open including one green. Koch considered his next move before settling on Path to Exile to get rid of the Ooze. Parker exiled his Jace to shrink the Tarmogoyf, but the spell resolved. Koch hit him down to twelve. Parker’s deck refused to cough up any useful tools, and after a blank turn he could only watch as Koch knocked him down to five with Tarmogoyf and Stirring Wildwood. Another brick on his draw step, and the match was Koch’s.
Florian Koch defeats Evan Parker 2-0
As the players de-sideboarded, they chatted about the match. Evan was regretting his decision to try to keep Jace around. “I think I should’ve just expected you to have removal for my ‘Goyf and just minused to get extra cards.”
Koch agreed. “Preboard I have some, but postboard I go up to I think twelve. I think maybe if you had the combo and needed to bait out removal you could play it that way, but I think it’s just better to cash in Jace.”
“I could’ve got my Ooze out earlier, too. Might have made a difference.”
They wished each other good luck with the remainder of the tournament.