Round 11 Feature Match: Don Van Ravenzwaaij vs. Jelger Wiegersma

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 11, 2015

By Josh Bennett

It was an all-Dutch throw-down at the close of the Limited rounds. Both players are at 8-2, the winner would not only sweep the pod, but also be in a great spot for a run at Top 8.

Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma is hot off a Top 4 finish from Pro Tour Fate Reforged. He'd love to add his name to the list of players with back-to-back Sunday appearances. His draft game has been impeccable this season, with 5-1 and 6-0 Limited performances at the last two Pro Tous. A win here would make him 17-1 on the plane of Tarkir.

Don Van Ravenzwaaij has been living in Australia for the past three years, and has become something of a leader in the Magic community there. Known affectionately as "Don the Dutchman," Van Ravenzwaaij has only been playing on the Pro Tour since Gatecrash, but has been putting up solid results. He's also already got a Grand Prix Top 8 to his name, earned last year at Sydney.

Blue-Black has been a popular choice among the pros this weekend, and both these players are showing its power. Wiegersma has are more typical Blue-Black Control build, topped by bombs like Sage-Eye Avengers and Dragonlord Silumgar. Van Ravenzwaaij's deck is much more tempo-oriented, with many evasive threats and a pair of Silumgar Sorcerers. He gets ahead early and can shut the door in the opponent's face.

The two Dutchmen battle each other in the last draft round of the weekend, each possessing very powerful blue-black decks.

The Games

Van Ravenzwaaij took a mulligan and they were off. His start didn't suffer for it, however, as he rolled out Elusive Spellfist and Write into Being. Wiegersma had Typhoid Rats and a third-turn morph. He moved to trade his Rats for the manifested creature, but Van Ravenzwaaij paid two to turn up a Sultai Emissary, getting a replacement 2/2 and staying ahead on the board. Wiegersma played a fourth land and a Gurmag Drowner, exploiting away his morph to get more action.

Ojutai's Summons was bad news for Wiegersma. Not only would it give Van Ravenzwaaij 4 power worth of fliers, it would also enable two unblockable hits with the Spellfist. Wiegersma had Updraft Elemental to blunt the sting of the air force, but his mana-hungry deck was stuck on four lands. Van Ravenzwaaij rebounded his Summons and hit for 2 with Spellfist, then played Rakshasa Gravecaller, who upgraded the manifested 2/2 into a pair of Zombies. Meanwhile Wiegersma missed on land again and could only play Ukud Cobra.

Things continued to roll Van Ravenzwaaij's way with a Flatten on the Updraft Elemental. Van Ravenzwaaij hit for six, leaving Wiegersma at just 8 and defenceless against fliers. Palace Familiar joined the party. Wiegersma played out Silumgar Monument and a face-up Stratus Dancer. Van Ravenzwaaij counted his potential damage. On the board, he could get through for 6 at the expense of his Gravecaller, a Zombie, and a Djinn token. He decided against an all-out move and just sent his fliers. Stratus Dancer traded with one of them, and Wiegersma fell to 5.

Van Ravenzwaaij's blue-black deck possess an army of fliers, along with a number of creatures that are very good at clogging up the ground.

Wiegersma did his best to stabilize but there were simply too many threats. Soon enough Van Ravenzwaaij was coming across for lethal.

This time it was Wiegersma's turn to mulligan. His six earned a rare wince, but he kept.

He led out with Jeskai Sage. Van Ravenzwaaij answered with Palace Familiar and declined to block. Wiegersma passed back without playing a third land. Van Ravenzwaaij had no such trouble, hitting for 1 and playing out a morph. Would he be getting a walk this game?

Wiegersma's deck came to his rescue, offering up a land and enabling Douse in Gloom on the morph. Van Ravenzwaaij replaced it and passed back. Wiegersma stopped up the ground with Ukud Cobra, but Van Ravenzwaaij spent his extra blue unmorphing his Gudul Lurker. He untapped, hit for two, and added Sultai Emissary along with Elusive Spellfist to his board. Wiegersma exploited away his Sage with Gurmag Drowner, but was again facing a lot of evasive damage.

As if on cue, Van Ravenzwaaij tapped 5 for Ojutai's Summons, then came across for 5 damage. Elusive Spellfist was definitely earning his keep. Sage-Eye Avengers for Wiegersma represented a long-term solution to the two flying Djinn tokens, but in the meantime, he took 8 thanks to the rebounded Summons and an Enhanced Awareness. The Avengers returned fire, killing a token. Van Ravenzwaaij cashed in his Emissary. Wiegersma passed back with 6 mana open.

Quiet, yet intimidating, Wiegersma has proven why he's in the Hall of Fame time and time again.

Van Ravenzwaaij attacked again, this time with Familiar, Djinn token, and Lurker. Wiegersma had Whisk Away for the token and Douse in Gloom for the Lurker. Both resolved, and he took 1. Would he be able to stabilize at 5 life? Van Ravenzwaaij played possum, and when the Avengers came across again, he Flattened them, then double-blocked to rid himself of the problem.

Illusory Gains from Wiegersma complicated Van Ravenzwaaij's next plays. He was forced to trade off two manifested 2/2s for his own Soulflayer. However, with the Gains off the board, he was ready to push for the finish line. Wiegersma brought back his Avengers with Fearsome Awakening, but Aven Surveyor sent it packing and tripled Van Ravenzwaaij's clock. Wiegersma untapped and drew. It was no help against the fliers, and he extended his hand in defeat.

Van Ravenzwaaij 2 - Wiegersma 0

I asked Wiegersma if the matchup against Van Ravenzwaaij's deck was as horrible as it seemed. "It's really bad," he replied. "None of my ground guys are useful, and he has so many evasive threats."

Van Ravenzwaaij echoed Wiegersma when I asked him about it later. "He didn't even see the Silumgar Sorcerers. With my three Sultai Emissaries, this deck is capable of some pretty brutal starts." I asked him if, after the draft, he thought he was holding a 3-0 deck. "Absolutely. This is one of the most powerful decks I've drafted." I asked him if his sights were on the Top 8, but he shut that down immediately. "There are still a lot of rounds left. I'm just going to take them one at a time and play my best."