In some ways, not that much was on the line when Mike Sigrist and Joel Larsson sat down for the finals of Pro Tour Magic Origins. After all, by simply making it to the Finals, Sigrist was the newly-crowned Player of the Year—completing a miracle run to narrowly edge out year-round leader Eric Froehlich—while Larsson locked up Platinum status for the season thanks to his semifinals appearance in Vancouver.
Of course, no matter how happy both players were with their accomplishments to this point, nothing beats that trophy shot.
There was no doubt that the two pros had the best decks of the tournament. Of all archetypes with at least ten players in Day Two, Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact, and Red Aggro had the best win percentages, and the decks stuffed with cards from Magic Origins had delivered their pilots straight to the final match of the tournament.
"Just another game of Magic," Sigrist opined as the two shuffled before the opener in the best-of-five series. "No big deal."
Mike Sigrist has won just about everything he could in this tournament, except for the Pro Tour trophy. Joel Larsson was dead set on preventing that, as he did not want to repeat his finals loss from Pro Tour Gatecrash.
Sorry, Mike. We don't believe you.
The Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact deck presents a series of razor-edge decisions for its pilot to consider, and one of those comes before the game even starts. The range of hands that can be kept varies from match-up to match-up, but one of the consistent facets of the deck is that's sometimes correct to keep one-land hands, something that's rare across Standard. But with the Vancouver Mulligan in effect at the Pro Tour, Sigrist decided in Game 1 to keep on the draw a one-land hand that contained a Temple of Epiphany, Ornithopter, and Springleaf Drum. The combination of cards meant that he had several chances to find a second land, and even if he didn't he could make mana from the Drum.
Unfortunately for Sigrist, his deck didn't cooperate, and Larsson took a lightning-fast first game to take the first volley of the match.
It was Larsson's turn to go slow in the second game, as he played just one Mountain and 1-drops for the first few turns of the game. Hangarback Walker and a pair of Chief of the Foundry began the beatdown for Sigrist, and a Phyrexian Revoker joined up to slam the door on Larsson even after he found his lands and tried to fight back.
Sigrist has demonstrated precisely why he earned the Player of the Year title all weekend.
With things tied up, it was Larsson's turn to again play first, and he made the most of the opportunity. Monastery Swiftspear began the attacks early, while Eidolon of the Great Revel followed. Meanwhile Sigrist had a strong start of his own with Ghostfire Blade and Ornithopter. The Blade was a fearsome Equipment in Sigrist's deck, but it turned out to be an even better attacker on its own once it was given a soul with Ensoul Artifact.
The 5/5 attacker put Larsson on the back foot, and he was forced to take damage from his own Eidolon triggers just to try and stem the tide of attackers from Sigrist. Falling to 11 life to cast Lightning Strike on Hangarback Walker, the follow-up attack from the ensouled Blade and the leftover Thopter left Larsson dead to Shrapnel Blast and put the Player of the Year one game away from adding Pro Tour champion" to his already-impressive resume.
"I hope this isn't déjà vu," observed Larsson, who also won the first game in the finals of Pro Tour Gatecrash before losing three straight.
Larsson locked up his World Magic Cup captaincy. He locked up Platinum. Now, he was just one match away from a Pro Tour title and a seat in the World Championship.
He needn't worry, as a string of mulligans left Sigrist just short on gas after knocking Larsson down to 10 life. Ensoul Artifact made an appearance and gave Sigrist an unkillable attacker, but Larsson had enough creatures to continue to block it while also lobbing burn spells across the table. A few attack steps and an Exquisite Firecraft later and the pair were off into the decider.
"I'll go first," the American said.
"Good choice, my friend," Larsson replied.
"Just another game of Magic, right?"
It wasn't an easy one for Sigrist, who took a mulligan all the way down to three but had hope after finding Ornithopter and Ghostfire Blade. And while a Wild Slash took down the Thopter and seemed to tilt things solidly into Larsson's favor, the American refused to go quietly.
Sigrist took 4 damage from a pair of Eidolon of the Great Revel, but he made the most of it by casting Ensoul Artifact on Darksteel Citadel. The indestructible wall held off Larson's attacks, and the pair played draw-go for a few turns as they sought a way around the other.
It was Larsson who found it first, playing a pair of creatures and knocking himself down to 8 life to play enough attackers to ignore the 5/5 wall. Seeing the writing on the wall, Sigrist playfully cast Shrapnel Blast targeting himself to go out on his own terms.
You wouldn't expect anything else from the Player of the Year. But it was Larsson who was the player of the weekend, and he is your Pro Tour Magic Origins champion.
Joel Larsson defeats Mike Sigrist 3-2, becoming the Pro Tour Magic Origins champion!