Round 14: Pascal Vieren (U/R Pyromancer) vs. Jean-Emmanuel Depraz (Traverse Shadow)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 3, 2018

By Frank Karsten

This was a win-and-in match between two players near the top of the standings. Although both players had already won eleven of their matches, Vieren had the better—and technically undefeated—record of eleven wins and two draws. Depraz had eleven wins and two losses. For both, however, a win would almost surely yield a Top 8.

The matchup was one between two of the more unusual decks in the format. Pascal Vieren was playing U/R Pyromancer, a deck designed by his brother Peter Vieren. It plays like a control deck that eventually wins the game with Young Pyromancer or Thing in the Ice. These creatures were fueled by a large number of card draw spells and interactive spells.

Jean-Emmanuel Depraz was playing Traverse Shadow with blue. His Traverse the Ulvenwalds effectively acted as additional copies of Death's Shadow. Between Mishra's Bauble, Street Wraith, fetch lands, and a variety of sorceries and instants, he could reliably achieve delirium.

Both players had recently shown their Magic playing skill at recent Grand Prix tournaments: Jean-Emmanuel Depraz won Grand Prix Warsaw a few months ago, whereas Pascal Vieren made it to the semifinals of Grand Prix Bologna earlier in 2017. Both were in the hunt for that first Pro Tour Top 8.

The Games

The opening turns were slow and consisted of card draw spells, Thoughtseizes, various counterspells, and a Field of Ruin activation as both players tried to maneuver into a favorable position.

Eventually, the players felt it was time to cast some creatures…but they didn't stick. Depraz' Death's Shadow was countered by Cryptic Command, while Vieren's Thing in the Ice died to Fatal Push. Afterwards, the players were content to go into draw-go mode, while most of the other tables in the feature match area were already deep in Game 2.

As the game progressed, it because clear that the long game favored Vieren. Depraz had Stubborn Denial and Temur Battle Rage in hand, while Vieren's spells were not reliant on having a ferocious creature on the battlefield. Vieren's Ancestral Vision in particular provided a good amount of card advantage, and eventually he exploited the fact that Depraz's mana base had already reduced Depraz's life total down to 6. The good old Bolt-Snap-Bolt did the job, and Vieren won the first game without even declaring an attacker the entire game.

Depraz, on the play in the second game, kept the following opening hand:

  • Inquisition of Kozilek
  • Thoughtseize
  • Overgrown Tomb
  • Overgrown Tomb
  • Marsh Flats
  • Stubborn Denial
  • Snapcaster Mage

Pascal Vieren, on the draw, kept the following opening hand:

  • Opt
  • Serum Visions
  • Young Pyromancer
  • Snapcaster Mage
  • Mana Leak
  • Snow-covered Mountain
  • Spirebluff Canal

Depraz's discard spells stripped Young Pyromancer, Mana Leak, and Snapcaster Mage, in that order. This gave Depraz the perfect opportunity to resolve a big threat and close out the game quickly, but he lacked Death's Shadow. His only clock was a Snapcaster Mage, which was too slow.

Vieren had all the time in the world to find Ancestral Vision, suspend, it, and eventually draw three fresh cards. Depraz could only shake his head as he felt the game slip away from him. To make matters even worse, he was again sitting with multiple useless cards in hand: a Temur Battle Rage without a high-power creature, a Traverse the Ulvenwald without delirium, and a Stubborn Denial that got stranded after Vieren destroyed the only blue source in Depraz's deck with Field of Ruin.

By this time, Depraz had already fallen down to single-digit life total (as a Death's Shadow deck is wont to do) and Vieren went on the offensive with a pair of Snapcaster Mages. Soon after, the 2/1s attacked for lethal.

Jean-Emmanuel Depraz 0 - Pascal Vieren 2

Pascal Vieren, still technically undefeated, defeated Jean-Emmanuel Depraz and locked up his Top 8 berth. Depraz wouldn't be out of Top 8 contention with this loss, but he would have to win at least one of his next to matches to have a shot.

Depraz, Jean-Emmanuel - Traverse Shadow

Vieren, Pascal - U/R Pyromancer

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