Round 7: (13) Ivan Floch (4-Color Rally the Ancestors) vs Mike Flores (Red Aggro)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 1, 2015

By Josh Bennett

With 5-1 records, these players had already cleared the tournament's first major hurdle: securing a spot on Day Two. Now they needed to stack up some extra wins to set themselves up for a run at the Top 8.

Slovakia's Ivan Floch followed up his win at Pro Tour Magic 2015 with another Top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir. His 2014-15 season has been a success, with him already having locked up Platinum status for the coming year. Now he's in the hunt for an invitation to the 2015 World Championship, just outside of the top three Pro Points leaders in Europe.

On the other side of the table sat one of the game's oldest and most respected voices, Mike Flores. A writer, commentator and player since the earliest days of the Pro Tour, Flores has lately stepped back from the public eye. In fact, his last Pro Tour appearance was all the way back in 2006. He earned his spot this weekend by spiking a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier with his innovative Five-Color Dragons deck. I asked him if he'd been playing more in anticipation of this event. "I always play, but I never draft. I played my first FNM three weeks ago, won two FNM's learning how to draft this set."

Flores is on Red Aggro, like his Ultra Pro teammates. Floch is with a four-color version of the Rally the Ancestors combo deck that has become quite popular in the last two weeks.

The battle between Ivan Floch's Rally combo and Mike Flores's Red Aggro quickly got underway.

The Games

Flores was on the play, a huge advantage in the matchup, and was first on the board with Eidolon of the Great Revel.

"My teammates are going to make me do push-ups if I miss an Eidolon trigger."

Floch put out a Satyr Wayfinder and milled, finding Mana Confluence and stocking his graveyard. Flores played a third Mountain and cleared out the Wayfinder with Wild Slash, hitting for 2. Floch replaced it with Deathmist Raptor, taking still more pain from the Eidolon, but Flores spent his last two mana on Lightning Strike. He untapped, hit for 2 more, and added a second Eidolon to his board. Floch simply played a fourth land and passed.

It was a loud signal of Collected Company, but Flores felt he couldn't just sit back. He took a risk and sent both his creatures. The Company revealed bad news: Nantuko Husk and Sylvan Caryatid. Floch was allowed to block, and he happily traded off his Husk for one of the Eidolons, safely blocking the other with the Caryatid. Things were looking up for Floch.

He untapped and took a moment to survey the situation. Eventually he settled on a course of playing a morph and passing. He took 2 from the Eidolon (no push-ups for Flores!) and then another 4 from an end-of-turn Stoke the Flames, falling to a more precarious 6 life. Flores dashed in Goblin Heelcutter and swung in, stunning the morph, but of course it had to be Grim Haruspex, flipped up and returning a pair of Deathmist Raptors to the battlefield. Flores swept his creatures into the bin.

Floch flanks his opponent's team.

Floch hit back for 6 and sat back behind another Sylvan Caryatid and a morph. Flores fired off his last card, Lightning Strike. He needed 3 damage and would get one chance to draw it. There was no joy in Mudville, however, as he plucked a useless Mountain and was trampled underfoot by Floch's horde.

Flores kicked off Game 2 with a curve of Zurgo Bellstriker into a pair of Monastery Swiftspears. Floch played a second land, but had no play. That suited Flores just fine. He dashed out Lightning Berserker and bashed, pumping for the full amount.

Ivan Floch untapped on his third turn with 9 life left in the bank.

He frowned at his hand and laid out a Mana Confluence. Flores couldn't resist a grin. "Sweet! My favorite land."

It hardly mattered, however. Floch tried a Liliana, Heretical Healer, but a pair of burn spells from Flores added up to more than enough damage for the win.

Again Flores led out with Zurgo Bellstriker in the third game, but Floch was able to get a Sylvan Caryatid in the way before it could hurt him. Flores added Eidolon of the Great Revel and passed. Floch brought down some very bad news: Reclamation Sage, killing the Eidolon. The only bright side for Flores was that Floch was again saddled with Mana Confluence, and had failed to find a third land.

Flores seeks to gain ground in a favorable matchup.

Searing Blood dispatched the Sage and Flores attacked Floch down to 12. Satyr Wayfinder got Floch Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to take the edge off Mana Confluence, and he added Arashin Cleric to his team, gaining a vital three life. Flores dashed in Goblin Heelcutter and hit again, stunning the Cleric. Floch's Wayfinder dove in front to save him three damage, and Floch was down to nine.

Now that he had some lands, he could at least keep Sylvan Caryatid untapped to spare himself attacks from Zurgo. He summoned Liliana, Heretical Healer but she was taken down by Exquisite Firecraft. Floch replaced her with another Wayfinder (who milled four creatures) and the mighty Nantuko Husk, leaving Floch with just one card in hand. Flores found a second Eidolon, but when Floch got white mana out of his Caryatid and sacrificed it to his Husk, it was clear that it was far too late.

Sure enough, Floch ate the rest of his board and showed Rally the Ancestors for three, getting back ten creatures. A few more sacrifices and he attacked for a lethal 20.

Ivan Floch 2 – Mike Flores 1

"Did you just pull the Rally that turn?" inquired Flores.

Floch shook his head. "I had it."

I asked Floch about his hand for Game 2, and if being on the draw narrowed his range of acceptable keeps. "I probably shouldn't have kept given that I didn't have a turn two play, but my three and four were so powerful I felt I had to go for it. In general, though, yes, things are bad enough that you can keep fewer hands."

I asked him how he felt about the match-up. "Game 1 is unbelievably bad, but the thing is, after sideboarding I feel like the match-up is completely turned around. So it's not quite as bad as it looks. It's not just that the Cleric is good on turn two, just having it in my deck makes all my other cards much more powerful."

I caught up with Flores to get his take on things.

"I think I win that matchup an overwhelming amount of the time. If you look at the way the match played out, he drew his sideboard cards—I mean, how many Reclamation Sages could he have? I think if it's any other creature there he just can't win." I told him that it seemed impossible for him to lose Game 1 in the matchup. "And yet I did! I mean, alright, I guess I was just any draw away from winning. The thing is, even on the draw in Game 3 I don't think Arashin Cleric is very good against me. Yes, it blocks and soaks up a burn spell but my creature is still out there."

Ivan Floch's Four-Color Rally the Ancestors

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Mike Flores's Red Aggro

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