Magic is a game with both an always-new feature and a little history that comes with it. Players all over the world learn what's new together, and continually explore the every-growing game. Some have been doing that for longer than you might think.
Richard – better known by Neil – Reeves was once considered one of the best Limited players in the world. Jumping to the world's attention with two Pro Tour Top 8 finishes in 2002, Reeves fell into the background thereafter. With his solid performance this weekend, after winning his way back to the Pro Tour through a Pro Tour Qualifier this year, it was on him to find a way into the Top 25 for an invite to the next.
Across from him sat another longtime player that had just qualified again through a PTQ: Neil Rigby. While his record isn't as flashy as Reeves's, Rigby was similarly carrying well over a decade of Magic experience. Fighting his way to at least Top 25 would ensure he'd have another chance to prove he still compete with the best.
Goblin Kaboomist was Rigby's second-turn play, and Reeves took it as well as you'd expect.
"Really? I can't beat that guy! This is absurd!" Reeves railed.
"Last game he made like four things." Said Rigby, playing it along – and up.
Mirroring Mountains and Krenko's Enforcerers were a stalemate broken only by lucky rolls of Rigby's die. There were three Landmine tokens in play.
Paragon of the Fierce Defiance added to Rigby's impressive battlefield, but a Forest from Reeves turned his Kird Chieftain into a powerhouse of pumping. Hunt the Weak bumped Reeves's Enforcer up but Stoke the Flames from Rigby cleared the Chieftain.
"That's the only card that makes Hunt the Weak good on this guy," Reeves said, pointing to his now deceased Chieftain. However, Chaining Satyr Wayfinder into Runeclaw Bear meant a Living Totem notched Reeves's Enforcer up to a 4/4.
"I have to use two of these guys to kill your 4/4," Rigby lamented with a grin, but two blew up Living Totem when it attacked the next turn. Carnivorous Moss-Beast after the attack put Reeves in command. When Reeves attacked with it the next turn, both of the remaining Landmines went off before Rigby when to block it. Lightning Strike stopped that from happening.
"That did not work out well for our hero," Rigby said.
While Rigby did reveal a Heat Ray, killing just the Moss-Beast wasn't enough to save him from the rest of Reeves's army.
"How do you beat the Ernham Djinn, bro?" Reeves asked, referring to the Moss-Beast with his nickname for it from another era.
"I don't know, but not like that."
Game 2 quickly got underway.
"Timewalk. Go." Reeves had played an Elvish Mystic.
Rigby passed back before Reeves continued. "Playing the beats now!" Satyr Wayfinder joined Reeves's side. Rigby's third turn Rummaging Goblin didn't serve to filter cards. Instead, it joined in several attacks, led by Thundering Giant.
"We like to call this one 'First pick in my second pack.' Reeves said as he laid Gargoyle Sentinel on the table. He had opened two different enemy-colored lands in his draft.
Then Reeves tapped all his lands and most of his creatures.
"Beasts!" Reeves called out as Feral Incarnation tipped the scales back. After a curious attack with just one Beast token, Reeved passed. It was enough mana for Heat Ray at the end of Rigby's turn, putting the Pathmage down to a "Bzzzt!" from Rigby. Satisfied, Reeves attacked with almost everything: three Beast tokens, Gargoyle Sentinel, and Satyr Wayfinder. Stoke the Flames helped stymie some damage but it wasn't enough.
"Too little too late," Rigby lamented before drawing and playing a desperately needed sixth land. He revealed his remaining cards and extended his hand. "I was just desperately searching for land. I couldn't even draw it off the Divination," referring to when he cast it late in the game to no effect.
"The only card I could think of the could beat me there was Ætherspouts and I wasn't sure you had it." Reeved said. Rigby had cleverly left up exactly the mana for it several turns.
"If I played anything you'd just come crashing in. I left it up for several turns to see what I could do. If I had drawn a land earlier I could have taken care of the Beasts handily." Rigby just shrugged and smiled. "Good luck."
Neil Reeves 2 – Neil Rigby 0