Round 13: Frank Karsten (Affinity) vs. Jelger Wiegersma (Splinter Twin)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 7, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

It's rare to see a pair of Hall of Famers playing against one another in the feature match area. It's downright magical to see a pair of Dutch Hall of Famers forced to face off when still in Top 8 contention late in Day Two of the Pro Tour.

Frank Karsten has been an outspoken voice of the game for the last fifteen years. Karsten is the brain behind some of the game's all-time favorite decks and his prolific writing ability has elevated the play-skill of the community at large for well over a decade. Karsten already has three Pro Tour Top 8s and six Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, and adding a fourth Pro Tour Top 8 to his already storied career would cement his status as one of the game's all time greats. Karsten's record in the Modern portion of this event remains untarnished entering the thirteenth round of competition with his powerful Affinity deck.

His opponent, Jelger Wiegersma, already has a staggering four Pro Tour Top 8s and thirteen Grand Prix Top 8s. Wiegersma has long been considered one of the most consistently dangerous players on the Pro Tour and his ability to control a draft table is envied by even the most decorated professionals. It's no surprise that Wiegersma went undefeated in the draft portion of this weekend's event, but he's going to need to put up some more victories in Modern with his Splinter Twin deck to secure a Top 8 in Pro Tour Fate Reforged.

It was a battle between two Dutch Hall of Famers, both aiming to remain in contention for the Top 8.

Wiegersma made an announcement as he entered the feature match area. "This is for champion of the Netherlands!"

Karsten pressed his teeth together, squinted, then nodded, "Well, this match-up is traditionally in Jelger's favor. Both in terms of the decks and the players."

The Games

Karsten won the roll and got off to a fast start with Memnite, Vault Skirge, Signal Pest, Mox Opal, and Blinkmoth Nexus all on the first turn!

Wiegersma leaned back. He'd need a lot of interaction to survive and pull off his combo finish against a start this fast. He tried to find something with Serum Visions, but Karsten kept turning up the heat as he added another Vault Skirge and Signal Pest to the table to represent the fourth-turn victory.

Without enough interaction to survive, Wiegersma found himself onto a second game before he played a real spell.

In between games, the players enjoyed their opportunity to converse in Dutch. We can only assume they were talking about baked goods, dogs, and Ben Rubin.

Karsten's start was less impressive this game and his lone Signal Pest met a Lightning Bolt from Wiegersma.

Karsten's artifacts could do some serious damage if left unchecked, but in sideboarded games, that could be tricky.

Steel Overseer was next, but Ancient Grudge quickly dealt with the potential powerhouse.

Karsten was trying to apply pressure with a pair of Blinkmoth Nexus, but Wiegersma wasn't under much pressure and he was given plenty of time to find the necessary combo pieces to achieve victory.

Karsten needed to get defensive with Spellskite when Wiegersma used Deceiver Exarch to tap down a land during his upkeep.

Spellskite would prevent Wiegersma from assembling his combo, but he soon found Engineered Explosives and played it with a pair of counters.

Still being pressured by Karsten's lands, Wiegersma used the Engineered Explosives to deal with his fellow countryman's Arcbound Ravager and Spellskite. Karsten sacrificed the Spellskite to Arcbound Ravager and dropped a pair of +1/+1 counters on a copy of Inkmoth Nexus that quickly ate the second half of Wiegersma's Ancient Grudge.

Now Wiegersma had a tough decision. He had Splinter Twin and the requisite target, but Karsten could easily have a copy of Dismember in his hand.

"Come on. Don't slow-roll me," begged Karsten.

Wiegersma went for it and Karsten happily showed him the Dismember he had been sitting on.

The game devolved into an awkward race between a few copies of Blinkmoth Nexus and some Deceiver Exarchs. Karsten looked to be ahead in the race, but Wiegersma was able to buy an extra turn with Cryptic Command to throw the math off.

Wiegersma already went undefeated through Limited. Now, he needed his Splinter Twin deck to hold up through Modern.

Karsten was just one attack from victory when Wiegersma stuck a Splinter Twin and sent a few billion creatures into the red zone to force a third game.

Karsten was forced to mulligan on the play in the third game and kept a hand without much pressure. It's always disheartening to see an affinity player play a land and pass on the first turn.

Throughout the game, Karsten struggled to apply any sort of real pressure on Wiegersma.

Karsten had Spellskite to block the combo, but Wiegersma was ready with Ancient Grudge again.

Karsten was attacking with a pair of Blinkmoth Nexus again, but two points of damage per turn wasn't all that threatening to Wiegersma, who could win the game completely out of nowhere.

Wiegersma tried to cast Pestermite to block and trade with a copy of Blinkmoth Nexus, and Karsten thought long and hard before deciding to use a valuable Galvanic Blast to clear the way. Karsten needed to be applying pressure if he wanted a chance at victory and allowing one of his only threats to die would be a disaster.

Wiegersma deployed the first half of his combo in Deciever Exarch and Karsten started speaking Dutch. Once more, Wiegersma went for the Splinter Twin and Karsten was ready with Dismember.

Wiegersma took a few more hits from Karsten's Blinkmoth Nexus before he found another copy of Splinter Twin to make infinite attackers.

Karsten 1 – Wiegersma 2

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