Florian Koch is a German player who made the trip to Vancouver after competing in the Sunday Super Series Championship in Seattle the week before. He's 10-2 and looking for a Top 8 to get back on the Pro Tour. Aeo Paquette is local to Vancouver and had Pro Tour success twelve years ago. “I'm from here. It was a twenty minute drive,” says Paquette. Paquette is 10-1-1 and is in a great position to Top 8 this weekend.
The players made friendly banter as they shuffled up for Game 1. Paquette asked Koch if he's looking to qualify for the Pro Tour this weekend.
“I'd love to qualify. I've done a lot of traveling with friends last year. We went to the United States and Canada for three GPs: Cleveland, Vancouver, and Miami. It was expensive but worth it. You Top 8ed a Pro Tour a while ago right?” asked Koch.
“Twelve years ago. It was short and sweet.”
“Not many players can say they Top 8ed two Pro Tours.”
Paquette won the die roll but hesitated on a decision on whether to play or draw. “I wish I thought of this earlier,” he said. After a few more riffle shuffles he decided to play.
“Good luck and have fun,” said Koch.
“You too, man,” replied Paquette.
Both players kept their opening hands and Game 1 was underway.
Paquette's deck was a White-Black Ally deck that was heavily focused on cohort. His deck was very defensive and his main win condition was the slow burn of Zulaport Chainmage. Koch was on a green-white go wide strategy with Retreat to Emeria and lots of ways to give +1/+1 counters to his creatures.
The game took a while to get off the ground and Paquette's first play was a Zulaport Chainmage on turn four but it was destroyed by Gideon's Reproach before any damage could be done. Koch's first creature was killed by Immolating Glare. Paquette cast a second Chainmage while Koch had nothing, and the Chainmage got in for four. Every creature that Koch played was killed by a removal spell from Paquette, and the Chainmage kept beating down.
Koch finally stabilized with an Affa Protector and a Retreat to Emeria. Expedition Raptor entered the battlefield a turn later and made the creatures big enough to block and trade. However, the damage was already done and Koch was already on low enough life where the Chainmage's cohort ability slowly drained him of his last few life points.
The players sideboarded and shuffled up for Game 2 and continued with the friendly banter from earlier.
“So you're from Germany? Do you know Kai?” asked Paquette.
“Yeah, we're from the same town, but I was a bit younger so I didn't know him well.”
“I was starstruck when I met Kai twelve years ago.”
Koch elected to play and began with Evolving Wilds. Paquette noted that Koch must have taken the Evolving Wilds pretty early. “Yes, and I almost first picked one,” Koch said. The players agreed that Evolving Wilds' value in draft went way up since Oath of the Gatewatch.
Paquette started with Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim but a Stasis Snare from Koch took care of it. A Wall of Resurgence from Paquette made a 3/3 and started beating down. He was stuck on three lands but had no problem dropping threats every turn.
Koch was getting beaten up by Paquette's creatures but stabilized with Warden of Geometries and Stalking Drone. A second Wall of Resurgence from Paquette makde the 3/3 land into a 6/6 and the beats continued. Koch played Expedition Raptor adding four power to his side and the board was stable once again. Paquette played two copies of Fortified Rampart and neither player was attacking anytime soon.
Paquette played Zulaport Chainmage and things were suddenly looking bad for Koch, but Koch began creating threats and Saddleback Lagac made them large enough to attack past the Walls. Paquette played a second Zulaport Chainmage and Koch's window was closing. Paquette wasn't in any danger of dying due to his four 0/6 chump blockers.
Zulaport Chainmage activations ended the game in Paquette's favor once again and Paquette took the match 2-0.
“The matchup seemed favorable for me,” said Paquette to Koch. He could deal with ground guys very well, but would have struggled against flyers.
Paquette's friends came over to the feature match area and congratulated him on being one step closer to Top 8. Paquette thanked them and said, “I walled up. Four 0/6s.”