Round 6: Lukas Blohon (Jeskai) vs. Matej Zatlkaj (Jeskai Tokens)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 16, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

It was a battle of friends in the feature match area, as Matej Zatlkaj sat down across from Lukas Blohon. As the jackets came off, the same bright blue peeked out as both Zatlkaj and Blohon were representing the same European group.

"This won't be as fun for you as it will be for us," Zatlkaj joked as he began conversing with Blohon in Slovak.

"Represent!" Blohon agreed as they looked around a feature match area with more than one teammate present.

Representing is something both players were already doing quite well. They entered Round 6 at 4-1, and one of them would walk away from this match in a great position to finish Day One on a roll.

EUreka teammates Lukas Blohon and Matej Zatlkaj settled in to a duel between different Jeskai strategies.

The Decks

It was no secret entering the tournament that Jace, Vryn's Prodigy would be very strong, and both Blohon and Zatlkaj were sporting the four full copies of the Planeswalker and sharing plenty more cards between the two decks as they shuffled up similar copies of Jeskai.

But, while it wasn't that many cards that were different, those cards completely changed the focus of the decks. Blohon was battling with a traditional list, eschewing the common black splash while retaining the Mantis Riders, removal spells, and Planeswalkers that have made Jeskai such a force in Standard.

Zatlkaj had a much different take. With Dragon Fodder, Hordeling Outburst, and a full set of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, he was looking to swarm the board with as many tokens as possible. Once that plan was achieved, the four copies of Jeskai Ascendancy allowed him to take full advantage of the bodies, going wider than many decks in Standard were prepared to answer.

The Games

A pair of Mystic Monastery revealed the two players to be in a mirror match—or at least it looked that way when both followed up with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. But the differences became clear when Zatlkaj's Hordeling Outburst was met with a Mantis Rider from Blohon, drawing first blood and kicking off what would come down to a race.

It was a race that Zatlkaj was well-prepared to kick into high gear. He led his fourth turn with Jeskai Ascendancy, then following up using Wild Slash to remove Blohon's Jace before activating and then transforming his own to unleash Jace, Telepath Unbound. Along with the Ascendancy trigger, he was able to even life totals at 14 apiece.

Zatlkaj was content on showing off the "fair" side of Jeskai Ascendancy at this Pro Tour.

On the back foot thanks to Zatlkaj's huge turn, Blohon tried to fight back, casting Hangarback Walker and hoping for an opportunity to block. And while he got it on the next turn, it was far from what he had envisioned. Zatlkaj led the turn with a second Jeskai Ascendancy, then following up with a Jace-powered Fiery Impulse to burn out the Rider before closing with a Treasure Cruise for a total of five Jeskai Ascendancy triggers. That was enough to earn the concession a turn later.

The second game was much more to Blohon's liking, as he led off with Jace and Mantis Rider again, only this time Zatlkaj did not have a start to match. When his draw step failed to find a critical third land, Zatlkaj quickly sent the pair into the third game.

Both players traded resources early before again matching Mantis Rider against Hordeling Outburst. With no Ascendancy to tilt combat, Zatlkaj decided to risk it anyway; he attacked with all three tokens, counting on the fact that Blohon would play around the burn spell Zatlkaj didn't have. The gambit paid off, and he was able to sneak in damage without losing a goblin, allowing him to double up with another Outburst post-combat.

The next turn showed exactly why Blohon valued his Mantis Rider so highly, as a second one joined and the pair began to truly pressure Zatlkaj's life total. That forced him to use Silkwrap to remove one of the Riders, but Blohon had Dragonlord Ojutai to provide an un-targetable blocker and another potent attacker.

Blohon went with the more traditional Jeskai deck, omitting any fancy splashes or enchantments.

That prompted Zatlkaj to tap the brakes. He threw one Goblin into the Dragonlord's claws to enable the raid trigger on a follow-up Wingmate Roc to match Blohon's air force. Blohon mustered a 3/3 Hangarback Walker, and with a small shrug Zatlkaj, sent his entire team into the red zone. A flurry of blocks later and Zatlkaj revealed why he felt so confident: Jeskai Charm, granting his team +1/+1 and lifelink. That knocked Blohon down to a scant 2 life, and a Crackling Doom finished him off the next turn, sending Zatlkaj into the next round with a 5-1 record.

Blohon 1 – Zatlkaj 2

Lucas Blohon - Jeskai

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Matej Zatlkaj - Jeskai Tokens

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