Quarterfinals: Martin Müller vs. Christian Calcano

Posted in Event Coverage on May 14, 2017

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

For Martin Müller of team Genesis, a Top 8 this weekend marks a second opportunity for him to not only shine on the Sunday stage of the Pro Tour, but potentially another crack at the World Championship. After two rough years competing in Magic's most prestigious tournament—with a 2015 showing in which he felt his play wasn't tight enough and a 2016 that went south—it's a goal post that is fueling Müller's excellent play this weekend.

For Christian Calcano of MTG Bent Card, this Top 8 meant validation for years of dedication to the Pro Tour. Despite the American player's continuous success at staying in the Pro Club and on the Pro Tour, the closest he had ever gotten to a Sunday appearance was in 2012 at Pro Tour Theros, where he finished in 13th place. After playing on the Pro Tour for close to seven years (having made his debut in San Juan 2010), his Top 8 this weekend came with an explosion of emotion and support from his teammates.

The quarterfinals would decide whether Müller would be one step closer to the World Championship, or if Calcano's long-overdue Top 8 would turn into a victory.

The Games

Calcano's double–Metallic Mimic draw prompted an early Servant of the Conduit block from Müller, but it did little to slow down Calcano's fourth-turn flurry of creatures: Diregraf Colossus, Dread Wanderer, a Zombie token—all made larger by the one Mimic that remained in play. Müller's response was only to build up energy with creatures like Whirler Virtuoso and Rogue Refiner.


Martin Müller calmly faced down the Zombies on the other side of the board.

Those creatures, however, were enough to buy time for Aetherworks Marvel, but the first spin only netted Müller a Rogue Refiner. However, time wasn't a problem, as Calcano's initial push was followed by nothing but lands and a lack of action. Spin two from the Marvel got another copy of the legendary enchantment, which legend-ruled the first one but gave Müller another chance. Spin three got him Chandra, Flamecaller, letting him clear the board for -3 loyalty.

It took a grand total of seven spins of the Aetherworks Marvel before Müller finally found Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but that final hit was more than enough to push Müller to a Game 1 victory.

Game 2 for Calcano started with a six-card hand and early answers from Müller, stifling both a Metallic Mimic and a Dread Wanderer. Unlike the first game, Cryptbreaker played a pivotal role in this one, allowing Calcano to recover from an early halt to his first two turns by reloading on cards. The trouble was that Muller's draw was also chugging along, as he hit his land drops in each turn until he was able to cast Chandra, Flamecaller to mop up the battlefield.


Martin Müller's Chandra, Flamecaller made quick work of Christian Calcano's Zombie hoard.

Müller, having stabilized with Chandra, used her 0 ability to reload his hand. This found Aetherworks Marvel. When Calcano sent in his creatures, a flurry of Marvel activations left Müller's Chandra intact, Calcano with 4 damage through to Müller via Diregraf Colossus, and an unfortunate tapping of mana that stranded a Cryptbreaker in hand, as Calcano passed with a Westvale Abbey open.

Müller was unable to capitalize, as his Aetherworks Marvel activations continued the trend set in the first game. He kept finding opportunities to re-spin, but little action. This let Calcano untap for a second Diregraf Colossus. As Müller continued to fumble on Marvel activations, Calcano's battlefield began to grow very wide and tall, forcing Müller to find an answer.

Müller found it.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger came from the next Aetherworks Marvel spin, ridding the board of Diregraf Colossus and a Lord of the Accursed. And despite a horde of Zombies bringing Müller to 6 life on the following turn, another Marvel spin found Müller Chandra, Flamecaller to leave Calcano with a heavily diminished battlefield and down to just one game to stay in the match.

"It's weird, I feel way more relaxed now that I'm down 0-2," Calcano said as they waited for the third game to commence. "I hope I can at least play another game."


Christian Calcano didn't let the pressure dull his smile going into Game 3.

Calcano started the third game in a bit of a bind by missing his second land drop, but he found one on the third turn. Multiple Cryptbreakers and a Dread Wanderer let him dig further, finding a third land for Lost Legacy, exiling all of Müller's copies of Chandra, Flamecaller. Müller only had creatures to add to the board, as Calcano's Zombies went to work drawing him cards. A second Lost Legacy wiped all copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger from the picture as well.

However, Müller still had a Marvel, and still had a path to victory if he could get enough attacks in. Müller began to send in his creatures and Lumbering Falls to pressure Calcano's best resource—his life total. Rogue Refiner traded with Dread Wanderer, and the two Servant of the Conduits got in for 4. A post-combo Marvel activation found Müller one of the better creatures remaining in his deck: Tireless Tracker.

That creature ended up being what was needed. Over the course of a few turns—and a few Clues—incremental Cryptbreaker life loss and Müller's attacks were enough to give him a window of opportunity. A Marvel activation found him Sweltering Suns that, once combined with Harnessed Lightning, left Calcano with a nearly empty board and no blockers, and a clear path for a big Tireless Tracker to end the game and the match in favor of Müller.

Martin Müller defeats Christian Calcano 3-0 and advances to the semifinals!

Christian Calcano - Mono-Black Zombies

Martin Müller - Temur Aetherworks Marvel

 

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