Round 15: Martin Müller (Jeskai Tokens) vs Peter Vieren (Esper Dragons)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 18, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Martin Müller was among the youngest competitors to participate in the World Championship this year. Balancing his school and friends at home with the world travel of competitive Magic has been a whirlwind of successes. A team Denmark victory at the 2014 World Magic Cup, a Grand Prix Top 8, and an appearance at the 2015 World Championship put Müller firmly on the competitive map.

And he wasn't alone in reaching even higher at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar.

Peter Vieren had a similar background to Müller's but one that came over the years. With a 2012 World Magic Cup appearance as part of Belgium's team and two Grand Prix Top 8s half a decade apart, Vieren was after the same thing as Müller: A breakthrough to Pro Tour Top 8.

Both players entered the round with a record of 11-3, putting each into position to draw into Top 8 if they took the win here.

The Decks

While there were plenty of Jeskai decks in the tournament, Müller's Jeskai Tokens was among the oldest and less popular. Using Jeskai Ascendancy and the new Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to pump up creatures—like Goblins from Hordeling Outburst and Dragon Fodder—the ability for the deck to chain spells and explode with damage was high. With Treasure Cruise to help keep the hand full of pressure, it had been enough to keep Müller in the line of battles for a potential Top 8 appearance.

Vieren's Esper Dragons was another returning face from the previous Standard. Swapping in new options, like Scatter to the Winds, Complete Disregard, the faces of Dragonlord Ojutai and Dragonlord Silumgar were completed by the potent Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. With a suite of removal and countermagic for every situation, Esper Dragons looked to take hold of the game and never let it go.

The last rounds of Swiss at a Pro Tour tend to be tense, as Martin Müller and Peter Vieren's Top 8 dreams were hanging in the balance.

The Games

Vieren led the way in the first game with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in the second turn but Müller had none of that thanks to Fiery Impulse. Jeskai Ascendancy was Müller's reply thereafter, which Vieren hit with Utter End after untapping and taking away any chance for Müller to use it.

The Hordeling Outburst that followed and Müller was poised to attack the following turn. Vieren had a follow up Jace, Vryn's Prodigy that Müller hit with a Silkwrap, beginning his Goblin assault. Crux of Fate finally cleared the rabble away for Vieren.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar was Müller's next call, but Vieren went big: Dragonlord Silumgar to steal Gideon and pop him for an emblem was a powerful way to answer the Planeswalker. Müller's follow-up Hordeling Outburst seemed small compared to Vieren's Dig Through Time.

But looks could be deceiving.

Silumgar's Scorn countered Müller's second Gideon and a Duress stripped Treasure Cruise as well. Another Hordeling Outburst gave Müller a massive Goblin army as Vieren kept passing back to Müller with all his mana up.

Müller's deck can quickly turn a board of critters into a frightful assault if given the opportunity.

But when Müller cast Jeskai Ascendancy, it resolved, and let him cast Wild Slash to attack for a ton of damage. Foul-Tongue Invocation kept Vieren alive at 4 life, but a second Jeskai Ascendancy on the next turn was enough for the tokens to take the lead.

Vieren opened the second game with a first turn Duress, taking out Crackling Doom and leaving behind Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. A second turn Jace, Vryn's Prodigy forced the Wild Slash Müller had into action. On the third turn Duress took out Hordeling Outburst. A fourth turn Duress cleared Jeskai Ascendancy.

While Vieren worked to keep Müller off of any action, neither player had hit four lands. The one Müller finally hit was a Smoldering Marsh that didn't help him cast his two Gideons in waiting.

Dig Through Time from Vieren let him begin to pull away with cards. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy appeared again for Vieren but Müller made three 1/1 Warrior tokens with Secure the Wastes in response. Silumgar's Scorn was waiting for the follow up Jeskai Ascendancy—revealing Dragonlord Silumgar. A second Scorn hit the Narset Transcendent Müller tried next.

Virulent Plague was the sideboard card for Vieren, annihilating Müller's meager forces.

With a second Battlefield Forge, Müller could make Gideon, but at the cost of 2 life. Dragonlord Silumgar took the Gideon and made an emblem, but this time it was enough to give Vieren the tying game.

The third game began with Dragon Fodder on the second turn from Müller but no matching Jace, Vryn's Prodigy for Vieren. A second Dragon Fodder found the first Silumgar's Scorn in Vieren's hand. Hordeling Outburst hit Negate and Vieren kept the opposing forces from growing.

Vieren's Dragonlords were very good at giving him an emblem collection.

When Müller tried Treasure Cruise next the wall of counters ceased. Out of reactive options, Vieren went for Dragonlord Ojutai but Müller revealed his own counter to stop it before reloading with Treasure Cruise again. Vieren was down to 10 life from the repeated Goblin attacks. Disdainful Stroke hit the second Dragonlord Ojutai from Vieren, and Jeskai Ascendancy into Hordeling Outburst for Müller's next turn put presumably lethal pressure on Vieren.

Dig Through Time was the first step for Vieren on his turn, with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy as his follow. With the third Dragon Fodder, Müller's Jeskai Ascendancy triggered and Vieren extended his hand.

"Good luck in the Top 8," Vieren said, shaking Müller's hand.

Müller 2 – Vieren 1

Martin Müller—Jeskai Tokens

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Peter Vieren—Esper Dragons

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