Quarterfinals: Andrew Ohlschwager (Blue-Black Control) vs. Ondrej Strasky (Green Devotion)

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 12, 2015

By Tobi Henke

In the third quarterfinal of the day, the United States' Andrew Ohlschwager faced off against Czech player Ondrej Strasky. It was the first time playing in a Top 8 for Ohlschwager, not counting a previous quarterfinal appearance at Grand Prix Denver 2012, whereas for Strasky, the memory of his rather recent Top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir must have still been very present. With his second Top 8 this season, the 19-year-old had already locked up Platinum.

As the players were preparing for the match, they discussed how their tournament had went so far, particularly Ohlschwager's unusual route to the Top 8 of intentionally drawing the last two of his rounds the day before, and the tiebreaker math that went into this somewhat risky decision.

The decks squaring off here couldn't have been more different, but they had one thing in common, as both featured a small splash for one of the new set's signature Dragons. Ondrej Strasky was playing a Green Devotion deck with four copies of Dragonlord Atarka. Ohlschwager had brought Blue-Black Control with two copies of Dragonlord Ojutai.

Andrew Ohlschwager's Dragon-centric strategy had permission and some power, but Strasky's Devotion deck was capable of some real scary stuff.

The Games

Both players took a mulligan on their opening seven, but kept their six. Ohlschwager kept four lands, Thoughtseize, and Foul-Tongue Invocation, whereas Strasky had Forest and Temple of Abandon plus a nice curve of Elvish Mystic, Courser of Kruphix, Surrak, the Hunt Caller, and See the Unwritten.

Thoughtseize took away Strasky's Courser of Kruphix and Foul-Tongue Invocation removed Elvish Mystic. But by that point, Strasky had already summoned Surrak, the Hunt Caller.

A pair of Mystics followed; one a replacement Elvish Mystic, the other a face-down Rattleclaw Mystic. Along with Surrak, the Hunt Caller, this team could legitimately be described as formidable and charged into the red zone to put Ohlschwager into the single digits.

Ohlschwager had Hero's Downfall for Surrak. However, Rattleclaw Mystic was bestowed a Boon Satyr and put Ohlschwager at 3 anyway. When the 6/2 Rattleclaw Mystic next attacked, it was blocked by Dragonlord Ojutai, leaving Strasky with one Boon Satyr and one Elvish Mystic soon to be joined by Polukranos, World Eater.

Strasky deck can be a real boon for his win record, and a real bane for his opponents.

Desperate for answers, Ohlschwager cast Anticipate, looking for something, Crux of Fate preferably. He didn't have it and conceded the game.

"I had nothing left," Strasky freely admitted afterward. "Well, Atarka, See the Unwritten, and other expensive stuff."

"Yeah, you had three lands all game," Ohlschwager agreed. "I guess, if you would have had four, things would have been so much easier."

In the second game, Strasky once again had the turn one Elvish Mystic, this time with a Courser of Kruphix that actually made it onto the battlefield, followed by Rattleclaw Mystic face-down. Meanwhile, Ohlschwager had just played tapped lands, but he found an untapped one to cast Perilous Vault.

Surrak, the Hunt Caller entered the fray to put Ohlschwager at 9. Sacrificing a Polluted Delta brought him to 8, but also allowed him to activate Perilous Vault. With the battlefield wiped clean, the game now entered a stretch where Strasky would cast some threat and Ohlschwager always immediately removed it.

Ohlschwager's deck of choice are like walking on a tight-rope. One mis-step with sequencing spells, and it's game over.

It looked as if Strasky was out of threats when he finally passed his turn without play, but sure enough, Strasky had Boon Satyr to cast at the end of Ohlschwager's turn, and followed it up with Surrak, the Hunt Caller. Ohlschwagger had Hero's Downfall for the latter. Nevertheless, he fell to 4.

Dragonlord Silumgar finally put a stop to Strasky's onslaught, and over the next couple of turns, it was actually Ohlschwager who delivered the beats, attacking for 7 a turn. In the meantime, he stopped Whisperwood Elemental with Silumgar's Scorn, Arbor Colossus with another Silumgar's Scorn, and another Arbor Colossus with Hero's Downfall. Ohlschwager had already attacked for 21 damage by this point, but Strasky was still hanging in there thanks to the life he had gained earlier off of Courser of Kruphix.

Finally, Strasky cast the best threat yet, a Nissa, Worldwaker he had been holding for at least four turns. Just like that, he used the Planeswalker to turn an untapped land into a 4/4 creature and attacked for lethal damage. Ohlschwager didn't have an answer and extended his hand in concession.

After the match, with the pressure lifted, the two resumed their friendly chat from earlier and discussed a couple of interesting situations.

"You tapped your mana wrong for Hero's Downfall," Strasky said accusingly, referring to a point in Game 1 where Ohlschwager had failed to keep two blue mana up. "That was huge! To know that you can't counterspell, I mean."

"I know," Ohlschwager said. "I realized that as soon as I had passed my turn." Naturally, Ohlschwager didn't have Silumgar's Scorn in hand then. Still, he shouldn't have given that information away so freely.

The other topic was whether it was correct for Ohlschwager to attack with both Boon Satyr and Dragonlord Silumgar in the final stage of the second game. Strasky felt Ohlschwager should have held back with one, to not die to Nissa, Worldwaker. Ohlschwager argued that he needed to close this game quickly. "Against Arbor Colossus, Whisperwood Elemental, Polukranos, it's better to be more aggressive," he said. "Just not against Nissa."

Ondrej Strasky defeats Andrew Ohlschwager 2-0 and advances to the semifinals!

Andrew Ohlschwager's Blue-Black Control Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir

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Ondrej Strasky's Green Devotion - Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir

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