2009 United States National Championship

The United States has a 2009 National Champion! The champion was crowned after a monstrous Top 8. Mark Hendrickson, who managed to make it through half of the Swiss rounds without a single blemish on his record, was joined by newcomer Drew Dumanski of Texas. They fell in the Quarterfinals, along with Grand Prix-Los Angeles Top 8 competitor Brett Piazza, and Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Robinson.

The Semifinals saw Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson fall to eventual finalists Adam Yurchick and Charles Gindy. Nelson, the famous Magic Online aficionado known as “FFFreak” brought a Conley Woods special to the tournament, tuned to beat Cruel Control. With his 3rd/4th playoff opponent Todd Anderson having full information about his deck, however, his tricks were no good and Anderson managed to earn the final slot for the team.

That left just one match to play out. In a powerful back and forth affair between Adam Yurchick and Charles Gindy, the Pro Tour-Hollywood champ Gindy managed to come back from a haymaker of an Identity Crisis out of Yurchick in the second game. The two players wrestled the match to a fifth and final game, but Adam just couldn’t hold on. Your 2009 United States National Champion is Charles Gindy!

top 8 bracket


(1) Mark Hendrickson

(8) Charles Gindy

(4) Brian Robinson

(5) Todd Anderson

(2) Brett Piazza

(7) Brad Nelson

(3) Drew Dumanski

(6) Adam Yurchick


Charles Gindy, 3-0

Todd Anderson, 3-1

Brad Nelson, 3-0

Adam Yurchick, 3-0


Charles Gindy, 3-2

Adam Yurchick, 3-0


Charles Gindy, 3-2

3rd Place Playoff

3rd Place Playoff

Todd Anderson

Brad Nelson

3rd Place

Todd Anderson, 3-2


  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Charles Gindy (Cruel Control) vs. Adam Yurchick (Cruel Control)
  • byTom LaPille
    3/4 Playoffs
    Todd Anderson vs. Brad Nelson
  • by Kelly Digges
    Sunday, July 26, 1:52 p.m
    The Final Fold
  • by Steve Sadin
    Brad Nelson vs. Adam Yurchick
  • by Bill Stark
    Charles Gindy (Cruel Control) VS Todd Anderson (Cruel Control)
  • by Kelly Digges
    Brad Nelson (Jund Mannequin) vs. Brett Piazza (Jund Mannequin)
  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Breaking the Mirror - Adam Yurchick (Cruel Control) vs. Drew Dumanski (Cruel Control)
  • by Scott Johns
    “I Think My Mulldrifters are Better” - Mark Hendrickson (The Spanish Inquisition) vs. Charles Gindy (Cruel Control)
  • by Bill Stark
    Brian Robinson (Sygg Jund) VS Todd Anderson (Cruel Control)
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
  • by Bill Stark
    Top 8
    Player Profiles
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Event Coverage
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Event Coverage
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


1. Gindy, Charles $5,000
2. Yurchick, Adam $3,000
3. Anderson, Todd $2,000
4. Nelson, Brad $2,000
5. Hendrickson, Mark $1,000
6. Piazza, Brett $1,000
7. Dumanski, Drew $1,000
8. Robinson, Brian $1,000

pairings, results, standings


14 13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 Player profiles

Name: Adam Yurchick
Age: 22
Profession: Student/Poker

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 6-1-1
Draft 1: 2-1
Draft 2: 2-1

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Five-Color Control
Deck name: Swag Surfers
Designer: Thanks to DJ Kastner. We designed and tested the deck, and thanks to Josh Wludyka, Brian Six, and Ben Ashman for testing.

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Great Sable Stag , Deathmark , Doom Blade , Island , Jace Beleren .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weekend?
For me = Island , Jace. Against me: Mountain , Jace

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Top 8 Grand Prix-Minneapolis 2005, 2nd at Grand Prix-Philadelphia 2008, Ohio State Champ 2007, Pro Tour-Hollywood 9th place.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
It’s always been a dream. It would be a fun and rewarding experience.

Name: Brett Piazza
Age: 27
Profession: Magic card dealer.

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 5-2-1
Draft 1: 3-0
Draft 2: 3-0

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Jund with a blue splash for Mulldrifter
Deck name: Conley Woods Special
Designer: Conley Woods

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Great Sable Stag .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Great Sable Stag for me, Lightning Bolt against me.

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Top 8 Grand Prix-Atlanta and Grand Prix-Los Angeles.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
A lot.

Name: Brad Nelson
Age: 23
Profession: Magic Online Grinder

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 5-2-1
Draft 1: 3-0
Draft 2: 2-1

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Conley Woods Special/Mannequin Control
Deck name: Conley Woods Special/Mannequin Control
Designer: Conley Woods

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Great Sable Stag .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Lightning Bolt .

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
9th Pro Tour-Honolulu, 2nd Magic Online World Championships 2004, 16th Nationals 2006.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
A great accomplishment for myself to compete versus the other countries and to represent the U.S.

Name: Brian Robinson
Age: 32
Profession: Bank Manager

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 6-2
Draft 1: 2-1
Draft 2: 3-0

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Aggro Jund
Deck name: Aggro Jund
Designer: Dave Nolan/Jerry Freedman

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Great Sable Stag , Sign in Blood , Lightning Bolt .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Sable Stag.

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Top 4 Pro Tour-Kyoto, 77th Pro Tour-Hawaii.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
Defending our country would be awesome!

Name: Drew Dumanski
Age: 18
Profession: www.TexasMagicZone.com, www.Twinfu.com

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 5-2-1
Draft 1: 3-0
Draft 2: 3-0

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Five-Color Control
Deck name: River Jack
Designer: Everyone

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Doom Blade , Essence Scatter , Great Sable Stag , Deathmark .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Stag (pro-blue, pro-black), Jace is bad for me.

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Won a Pro Tour Qualifier. Played at Pro Tour-Honolulu.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
It would mean a lot because I started playing this game not knowing about tournaments.

Name: Todd Anderson
Age: 23
Profession: Starcitygames.com columnist

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 7-1
Draft 1: 2-1
Draft 2: 2-1

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Five-Color Control
Deck name: Five-Color Control
Designer: Shuhei with minor changes.

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Doom Blade , Essence Scatter , Great Sable Stag .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Great Sable Stag – Beat Faeries 3:3 times aka the nuts.

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Played at Pro Tour-Honolulu (the first one), PTQ road warrior.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
I would be honored to represent the U.S. at Worlds in Rome.

Name: Charles Gindy
Age: 24
Profession: Pro Magic Player

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 5-2-1
Draft 1: 3-0
Draft 2: 2-1

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Five-Color Control
Deck name: Five-Color Control
Designer: Met some friends.

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Great Sable Stag and Essence Scatter .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Only cast Essence Scatter so I guess that was best for me and worst for me was Honor the Pure.

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Pro Tour-Hollywood champion, Team champion Grand Prix-Washington D.C. 2004

What would making the National Team mean to you?
I would do my best to bring the World Championship back to the U.S.A.

Name: Mark Hendrickson
Age: 38
Profession: Technician.

What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
Standard: 6-1-1
Draft 1: 3-0
Draft 2: 2-1

Please tell us about your Standard deck.
Deck type: Red-White Control
Deck name: The Spanish Inquisition
Designer: Mark Hendrickson

What Magic 2010 cards did you use?
Earthquake , Great Sable Stag , Lightning Bolt .

What been the best Magic 2010 card for or against you this weeknd?
Earthquake .

Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
Attending Worlds the last two years, Top 32 at Pro Tour-Geneva.

What would making the National Team mean to you?
Being able to go to Rome and finally play on the National Team.

Top 8 - Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Drew Dumanski

Download Arena Decklist

Brett Piazza

Download Arena Decklist

Mark Hendrickson

Download Arena Decklist

Todd Anderson

Download Arena Decklist

Brian Robinson

Download Arena Decklist

Charles Gindy

Download Arena Decklist

Brad Nelson

Download Arena Decklist

Adam Yurchick

Download Arena Decklist

Quarterfinals: Brian Robinson (Sygg Jund) VS Todd Anderson (Cruel Control)

by Bill Stark

Brian Robinson entered the 2009 U.S. Nationals tournament as a leading contender for the Rookie of the Year title. With a win against his opponent Todd Anderson in the Quarterfinals, he’d leave the weekend at the top of those standings. Anderson, his opponent, hailed from Alabama and was a regular columnist for the Magic website Starcitygames.com. He was hoping to quash Robinson’s Rookie of the Year hopes, at least for this weekend, but he did have to contend with the reality that he was facing a tough competitor who already had a Premier level Top 8: Brian broke through at Pro Tour-Kyoto earlier in the season.

On the play, Robinson’s aggressive Jund deck missed the opening turns with no creatures. On the third turn he had Boggart Ram-Gang , and thanks to Vivid lands Todd couldn’t even use Broken Ambitions to counter, having only a single land untapped. Anderson fell to 17, and had to watch as Brian’s follow-up to the Ram-Gang was a Bloodbraid Elf .

Pro Tour-Kyoto Top 8er Brian Robinson.“Fallout. Come on Fallout!” Todd chanted, jokingly. Should his opponent reveal the Conflux instant Volcanic Fallout for the Elf’s cascade, Robinson would have to figure out whether he was better off casting the card or not. Instead, Sygg, River Cutthroat made its way to the table au gratis, but was countered by Broken Ambitions . The attack from Robinson took Todd to 11, and the Five Color player wiped the board clean with Firespout . Brian rebuilt with Sign in Blood followed by Putrid Leech , watching as his opponent missed a land drop, stuck on three. Robinson’s side of the battlefield had virtually exploded as he had a whopping six on the table.

A second Sign in Blood from Brian allowed him to cast Sygg, River Cutthroat , but Todd had Agony Warp for Putrid Leech . Robinson cast Lightning Bolt to drop his opponent to 8, drawing a card in the process. Anderson was able to keep the table clear of additional creatures beyond the Sygg, but Brian landed a third copy of Sign in Blood , then a Lightning Bolt to draw from his Sygg. He was allegedly the beatdown deck, but he had drawn far more cards in the match than his opponent. Todd Anderson fell to a paltry 4 life.

Todd cast a Broodmate Dragon , finally reaching six mana and glumly said “Well, if you got it, you got it.” He was referring to a Bituminous Blast from Robinson and sure enough, the second Todd tried to pass the turn, Robinson responded with the instant. “I think I’m dead to pretty much anything...” Todd bemoaned, referring to a free spell Brian would get from the cascade. When Robinson revealed Boggart Ram-Gang , Todd conceded.

Brian Robinson 1, Todd Anderson 0

Sygg, River Cutthroat was the first creature onto the battlefield in the second game and it came from Brian Robinson. His opponent didn’t have a problem with it landing, instead using Brian’s end of turn step to Esper Charm in order to draw two cards. When the Massachusetts resident cast Boggart Ram-Gang , Anderson again let it resolve, killing it with a Plumeveil that became 1/1 from the block thanks to wither.

Todd wasn’t missing lands for the second game of the match, casting Ajani Vengeant to deal with his opponent’s Sygg. Calm in stature, Brian Robinson serenely untapped and cast Blightning , choosing to redirect the damage from the sorcery to his opponent’s planeswalker. Bloodbraid Elf hit the battlefield for Brian, and he revealed Lightning Bolt , choosing to target his opponent’s 1/1 Plumeveil . Anderson had the perfect trump: Cryptic Command to counter the Elf and bounce his defender. It was a nice one-card solution to a two-card threat.

Untapping, Anderson plucked the top card of his library and quickly offered up a “Thank you!” as he tapped 3BRG and cast Broodmate Dragon . Robinson, now in trouble, could only follow up with a Blightning , but he fast needed a Bituminous Blast or some other form of removal to deal with the double Dragons he was facing down. The 4/4s bashed Brian to 12, and Todd passed the turn with six mana up.

Brian Robinson reacts to a Todd Anderson play.Robinson wasted no time untapping and casting Bituminous Blast . The instant revealed Anathemancer , dealing 5 to Todd. That put him at 15 life, but an Esper Charm in response to the removal spell couldn’t find him a counter and he was forced to allow his Dragon token to die. He did make it to seven mana, opening up the possibility of a Cruel Ultimatum , but he simply attacked Brian to 8 and passed the turn. Robinson sent with Anathemancer , which was munched by Anderson’s re-cast Plumeveil . Post-combat, two Lightning Bolt s were aimed at the Broodmate Dragon , but Anderson used Cryptic Command to bounce the Dragon and draw a card in response to the second copy of the Magic 2010 instant. Todd re-cast the Dragon giving his opponent a single draw step to find a solution. When he didn’t, they were on to the third game with the match tied.

Brian Robinson 1, Todd Anderson 1

“Finally!” Brian Robinson exclaimed as he took his second turn of the third game. “My friend and yours...” With a smile from its caster, Putrid Leech entered the battlefield on the second turn for the first time in the match. When Robinson tried to follow up with Sign in Blood the next turn, Anderson had Broken Ambitions to counter. He won the clash, but considering his opponent was playing Anathemancer , that was actually not a good thing. If the 2/2 wound up in his opponent’s graveyard, it could potentially be lethal late in the game.

Plumeveil traded for Putrid Leech , leaving the scores tied at 16-all. Brian cast Great Sable Stag , but missed a land drop. The 3/3 Stag was a prominent member of the Magic 2010 rare class, and had seen plenty of action throughout the weekend. “Don’t like that...” Anderson whispered under his breath. Robinson attacked him to 13, and Anderson used Firespout to kill the 3/3 Stag. The battlefield soon saw a second copy of the 3/3 land off the cascade from Bloodbraid Elf .

Anderson had a Mulldrifter to chump the Bloodbraid Elf alongside his Plumeveil , but Robinson trumped after drawing his fifth land: Bituminous Blast cascaded into Lightning Bolt killing both of his opponent’s blockers. That allowed Brian to attack unimpeded, putting Anderson down to 7. A second attempted all-in attack saw Anderson Fog with Cryptic Command , tapping Brian’s team and drawing a card in the process. He then cast Ajani Vengeant to get back in the game, shooting the Sable Stag and crawling up to 10 life. His opponent, who had continued solidifying his creature base with a Putrid Leech , was still threatening a sizeable crack back.

Maelstrom Pulse from Brian killed Ajani, and he cast Boggart Ram-Gang to attack for lethal. Anderson made no motion to scoop, and when Brian attempted to pump his Putrid Leech , the Alabaman revealed why: Agony Warp to kill the 2/2 Leech and shrink Bloodbraid Elf . He took only 3, falling to 7, then untapped and cast Broodmate Dragon . “Get there Dagron!” He said, using a colloquialism to refer to his 4/4.

Magic writer Todd Anderson. Sygg, River Cutthroat entered the battlefield for Robinson, who was able to cantrip immediately with a Lightning Bolt , dropping Todd to 4. Anderson still needed to do some maneuvering with his life so low; Cruel Ultimatum would be a pretty hot topdeck. Instead Todd did some mental calculations upon taking his own turn, attacking Brian with his Dragon token. Robinson untapped, drew a card, and moved into his attack step. He sent his entire team, Ram-Gang, Bloodbraid, and Sygg, and Anderson cast Plumeveil to block. He took 1 from Sygg, falling to 3, but survived the turn with a huge exhalation of breath. He attacked back to put Brian at 2 life, and when Brian tried to take the game with a topdecked Anathemancer , Todd revealed Essence Scatter to seal it up in his favor.

Todd Anderson 2, Brian Robinson 1

Sygg, River Cutthroat was Brian Robinson’s two-drop for the fourth game of the match, and he spent his third turn casting Sign in Blood to make sure he had a land. Great Sable Stag entered the battlefield for Brian Robinson, but he opted not to attack with his Sygg for fear of losing it to Plumeveil . Todd Anderson cast Esper Charm to draw two cards, and Brian responded with Lightning Bolt .

“Um, this is end step...” Todd said, unsure why his opponent was casting the instant.

“So...this triggers, right?” Brian replied, motioning at his Sygg, River Cutthroat . He gave no sign of regret about resolving the Bolt when it was revealed the 1/3 would not, in fact, trigger, and Robinson chugged right along with a Putrid Leech and Anathemancer to put his opponent at 12 life the following turn. When he turned them both sideways after they lost summoning sickness, Todd cast Plumeveil and traded it with Putrid Leech . Robinson had Sign in Blood for the second time in the game to re-stock his hand post-combat, but a second try on Putrid Leech met its demise at Essence Scatter .

Runed Halo hit for Todd Anderson, a techy sideboard choice he had picked up from watching Shuhei Nakamura win at Japanese Nationals the previous weekend. It was set on Anathemancer , and Robinson tried to ace it with Maelstrom Pulse on his turn. Anderson cast Cryptic Command to Dismiss it, but allowed his opponent’s Sygg, River Cutthroat to resolve. Untapping for his own turn, the Starcity writer revealed why as he cast Ajani Vengeant , dropping it to one loyalty counter to kill the 1/3 and pad his life total to 13. Brian’s Anathemancer moved to the red zone to take out the planeswalker, unable to hit Todd thanks to Runed Halo .

Boggart Ram-Gang hit the battlefield for Robinson, but it was shut down by a second Runed Halo from Anderson, who set the enchantment on the 3/3 Goblin. After complaining about not being able to draw the card throughout the match, Todd Anderson finally hit Cruel Ultimatum and plopped it onto the table. The play brought some responses from Robinson, who cast Lightning Bolt in anticipation of being forced to discard the card. The turn ended with Anderson sitting on a Plumeveil in his hand, at 12 life, and plus three cards while his opponent was at 9 life and minus an Anathemancer .

Robinson cast Bloodbraid Elf , fetching up a free Putrid Leech , but Anderson untapped and cast Ajani Vengeant to kill the 3/2. His opponent used a combat step to send both of his creatures at the planeswalker, and Todd cast a Plumeveil end-of-turn to block during the next combat step. His follow-up was a Mulldrifter , which entered the battlefield fully instead of being evoked. Brian attacked with Putrid Leech to trade with Plumeveil , but Anderson untapped, attacked with Mulldrifter to put his opponent at 5, and revealed a second Cruel Ultimatum . Brian Robinson nodded solemnly, extending his hand in defeat.

Todd Anderson gets some love from the crowd as he moves on to the Semifinals.

Todd Anderson 3, Brian Robinson 1

Quarterfinals: “I Think My Mulldrifters are Better” - Mark Hendrickson (The Spanish Inquisition) vs. Charles Gindy (Cruel Control)

by Scott Johns

Mark HendricksonMark Hendrickson came into this round running a very impressive Constructed streak of 11-0. Running an innovative red-white control deck, he went 5-0 in a grinder to gain entry to the main event, and then went 6-0 in that event’s constructed rounds. After that Hendrickson made Top 8 by taking a draw and conceding to his current opponent Gindy. But, chatting with Gindy during the pre-game, Hendrickson admitted this was a nightmare Top 8 for his deck, and that the match-up against Gindy’s Cruel Control deck was particularly rough. Gindy just smiled, continuing to shuffle up while looking pretty comfortable all things considered.

Hendrickson chose to play first for the opening game. It was all vivid lands for both sides across the opening turns. Gindy quipped, “Going to be an action-packed game clearly. Plus you having no creatures and all.”

Hendrickson cast an Armillary Sphere , joking that this was his red-white deck’s version of a Mulldrifter . “I think my Mulldrifter s are better,” laughed Gindy.

Gindy got his own card advantage going with help from an Esper Charm , and both decks settled into the business of getting mana into play and more cards in hand. Gindy stopped at 6 lands, having just a Plumeveil in play. Hendrickson had the first big threat in the form of Call the Skybreaker . A rogue card that has really flown under the radar, it’s particularly good in this kind of situation where Hendrickson is under no pressure and able to get plenty of lands going for the retrace ability.

But, Gindy wasn’t without answers. A Broken Ambitions hit the first one, revealing a second Broken Ambitions for later. A Broodmate Dragon tried to solidify Gindy’s position, but Hendrickson had Hallowed Burial to send all the creatures to the bottom of Gindy’s deck. Next a Gindy Mulldrifter went down, wiped out by a Martial Coup that left five soldiers on the battlefield.

Gindy cast a Volcanic Fallout , pointing out that he hadn’t expected to be using that card much in this match. Hendrickson now had a Goblin Assault in play, but was having trouble pulling ahead as his attempts to Call the Skybreaker went down to multiple Cryptic Command s. At this point Gindy was up to seven cards while Hendrickson was completely out of gas. Gindy cast another Volcanic Fallout to control the goblin outbreak while also dropping Hendrickson to 1 after some swings from a Broodmate Dragon . Hendrickson tried getting back into the game but a third Cryptic Command from Gindy locked things up so that the dragon could swing in for the final blow.

Charles Gindy 1, Mark Hendrickson 0

Game 2

Hendrickson led with a Great Sable Stag but Gindy came back with one of his own. Gindy’s went down to a Path to Exile while Hendrickson’s caught fire thanks to Ajani Vengeant . Hendrickson’s Mutavault took Ajani out and a Goblin Assault joined the team to start getting some pressure on.

Gindy had another Stag to try holding the fort, but Lightning Bolt put an end to that plan. Next Gindy went for Esper Charm to empty Hendrickson’s hand, but this too was answered, eating a Guttural Response . Stag #3 for Gindy managed to stick a bit, and when Hendrickson went for the big move with Identity Crisis Gindy was able to save himself with Cryptic Command . Putting his own big move on, Gindy played out a Violent Ultimatum to send Hendrickson teetering, allowing a Dragon Broodmate finished the job. Both players had cast some of their biggest spells, but Gindy’s were just fitting the match better so far.

Charles Gindy 2, Mark Hendrickson 0

Game 3

Charles GindyTalking about how bad this bad match-up was for his deck, Hendrickson chose to draw first this time, figuring his best chance was if Gindy had a shaky opening. Hendrickson opened with a mulligan but was able to put some offense together with the help of double Mutavault . Double Stag got in the way but double Lightning Bolt handled that nicely.

Gindy was the first in with a haymaker, casting Broodmate Dragon . When Hendrickson started tapping his own six mana Gindy cried out “Don’t do it!”

Hendrickson chuckled. “What, wreck your hand?”

Gindy winced. “Yeah, that. Don’t do that.”

Hendrickson smiled. “No, it’s just this.” As Obelisk of Alara entered the battlefield Gindy was visibly relieved. “Oh, ok. I’m more ok with that.”

The life totals were close at this point, 14-12 in favor of Gindy. He bought time with a Cryptic Command to bounce the Obelisk, but when he tried it a second time Hendrickson had a Guttural Response . Both of Hendrickson’s Mutavault s kept pounding in, but the dragons dropped him to one on the final turn once Hendrickson had bought just enough live to survive the turn thanks to his obelisk. Unfortuantely for him, Gindy had the Ajani Vengeant to finish things off, pointing the burn ability straight at Hendrickson’s life total.

It had been an impressive run, but here in the quarterfinals Hendrickson took his first loss of the weekend with his deck, ending his event while Gindy moved on to the semi-finals and one last hurdle to making the US team. Waiting for him there will be Todd Anderson.

Charles Gindy wins 3-0

Quarterfinals: Breaking the Mirror - Adam Yurchick (Cruel Control) vs. Drew Dumanski (Cruel Control)

by Brian David-Marshall

With a slightly later start than the previous two days of tournament play I stayed up late into the night playing Magic. One of the last players still in the hall as they were locking up were Adam Yurchick and Cedric Phillips testing Adam’s semifinal match-up against either Brad Nelson or Brett Piazza. Adam had the luxury of knowing exactly what deck he would be facing since that quarterfinal pairing featured matching sets of 75 cards. This is not to imply that Adam had not tested his quarterfinal match-up against Drew Dumanski. They had played out the sideboarded games many times over; two Negate s after sideboarding, maindeck Jace Beleren , plus Identity Crisis and Ajani Vengeant from the board left Adam confident that they would need to be prepared for the semis. He was concerned about a couple of cards from Dumanski like Lilliana Vess, Scepter of Fugue , and a Pithing Needle and his record against the deck in games that counted this weekend.

“We played the first round of Standard after the drafts,” said Adam as the two players sat down to determine which of them would not have a shot at a U.S. National team berth. “He won.”

“I don’t feel good about it though,” said Drew, “You were mana-screwed in Game 3.”

Drew had not tested the match-up as extensively. The 18-year old explained about this mirror match of Cruel Control decks, “I have played this match-up a lot. I know my sideboard plan.”

Game 1

Adam was on the draw and attempted the first play of the game with Drew only having two open mana -- Jace Beleren . Drew had the Broken Ambitions . Adam revealed Esper Charm to Drew’s land, which drew him two cards at the end of the next turn. When next we pick up the action both players had nine lands and a Plumeveil as the two players crafted their hands for the eventual endgame. Adam continued to draw lands while Drew had to discard Volcanic Fallout , two Broodmate Dragon s, Hallowed Burial and Agony Warp while “stalled” on nine lands. Adam decided to break the seal with a Broodmate Dragon rather than discard his. He had significantly out-mana’d his opponent and could afford to get into a fight. Drew was not willing to accept the challenge and Adam reached for his dragon token.

Adam looked to clear an airstrip for his dragons with Maelstrom Pulse on Plumeveil but Drew countered it with Cryptic Command bouncing the token. Adam nodded and then sent the other half into the Plumeveil . he played Cruel Ultimatum after combat and Drew’s Cryptic Command was Negate d. When the dust settled Adam was discarding and Drew had two cards. One of them was Cruel Ultimatum but Adam still had enough mana left to Cryptic Command that. Esper Charm finished off Drew’s hand. It is hard to call someone “mana-screwed” with nine lands in play but that was how this key sequence felt.

Adam redeployed his Broodmate Dragon and Drew attempted to rebuild his hand/get a chump blocker with Mulldrifter . Adam played another Cruel Ultimatum and when Drew did not cast the last Cryptic Command of that turn he scooped.

Adam Yurchick - 1 Drew Dumanski - 0

Game 2

Adam’s sideboarded out 3 Plumeveil , 3 Volcanic Fallout , 2 Hallowed Burial , and a Doomblade for Negate , 2 Ajani Vengeant , 2 Identity Crisis , 2 Great Sable Stag , and 2 Runed Halo . Adam sided out a similar set of cards for Lilliana Vess, Pithing Needle , Runed Halo s, and Stags.

Both players kept their hands and Drew kicked off the action with Scepter of Fugue . Adam dropped Runed Halo naming Scepter and evoked Mulldrifter a turn later to find lands. Drew played Great Sable Stag only to have it bolted by Ajani Vengeant . Drew untapped to name Ajani with his own Runed Halo . Adam was still able to lock down a land but he was stalled on four. When Drew attempted to draw cards with Esper Charm , Adam Cryptic Command ed the spell and his land. Now it was Adam’s turn to discard while Drew drew plenty of lands over the next handful of turns. Drew played a second Runed Halo also naming the now ultimate-enabled Ajani.

Adam played an end of turn Esper Charm , and Drew was fine with it as long as it did not interact with him or his board, “Drawing two?” Adam nodded and the two cards got the lands flowing for the Grand Prix Philadelphia finalist. The two players silently bided their time as Ajani’s loyalty was nealry great enough to fire off twice. Adam began to work his way toward that dream and destroyed one Runed Halo with an Esper Charm . Drew untapped into Pithing Needle -- a card that Adam had joked was going to get him the night before. There was no counter from Adam and Drew Needled Ajani. Adam Esper Charm ed the remaining Halo at the end of Drew’s turn.

Adam deliberated about getting into a fight over bouncing the Needle but remained patient. Once he bounced that Needle he could blow up all of Drew’s land and the game would end soon thereafter. Adam instead played a Great Sable Stag and passed the turn, waiting for his opponent to do something he could get into a tussle over. Drew offered up Broodmate Dragon and that was the opening Adam was looking for. “That’s fine,” said Adam knowing that the end game had arrived. Both players had eight mana available to them which would mean Adam was on the losing end of Cryptic Command Fight but he had brought extra bullets to this gunfight. At the end of Drew’s turn he attempted Cryptic Command to bounce the Needle and draw a card. Drew countered with his own Cryptic Command -- attempting to bounce Ajani -- but Adam had a Negate for it and the Broken Ambitions that followed.

Adam got to untappageddon with seven loyalty still in the tank. Cruel Ultimatum , also on that turn was enough for Drew to scoop.

“I think I made a mistake that game...not killing your Runed Halo early,” said Drew, who had used an early Esper Charm to draw two cards while his Scepter of Fugue was blanked by the white enchantment.

Adam Yurchick - 2 Drew Dumanski - 0

Game 3

Drew kept his openers but Adam sent a one-lander back for something better.

While they shuffled, Drew continued to chew on not killing the Scepter. “Were you worried about the Scepters after you saw them?” he asked Adam in regard to his overnight playtesting session.

“Yeah...they cost two.”

By now the two players were off and Adam was able to Negate a turn three Scepter. He untapped into Jace and greedily drew one card for himself only. Drew evoked Mulldrifter to keep pace. Adam one-upped him by paying full price his Mulldrifter and went up three cards that turn. Drew had no play and took two from the flier a turn later. Adam ticked the loyalty up on Jace and they both drew. Adam’s card advantage mounted as he Esper Charm ed for two cards at the end of turn. Drew stuck a Scepter but at this point it was just going to save Adam the trouble of discarding at the end of his own turn.

Adam leveraged his advantage to force through an Identity Crisis . Drew did his best to scratch his way back out of his existential miasma with Esper Charm into Mulldrifter but Adam was loaded for bear and played Cruel Ultimatum without any resistance. He Esper Charm ed Drew’s lone card after it was drawn during the draw step. Drew extended his empty hand in defeat.

Final result: Adam Yurchick defeated Drew Dumanski in three straight games to advance to play the winner between Brad Nelson and Brett Piazza

Quarterfinals: Brad Nelson (Jund Mannequin) vs. Brett Piazza (Jund Mannequin)

by Kelly Digges

The start of this Nationals Quarterfinal saw both players sit down looking refreshed and ready. Brad Nelson got his start as a longtime Magic Online terror, but with a 9th-place finish at Pro Tour–Honolulu and now a Nationals Top 8, it seems safe to say he’s the real deal in meatspace as well. Brett Piazza, who hails from Colorado, broke the premier level Top 8 barrier earlier this year in GP–Los Angeles.

Brett PiazzaBoth Nelson and Piazza came to the table with a Jund Makeshift Mannequin deck designed by PT–Honolulu Top 8er Conley Woods. With Conley finishing 12th (with an 8-0 Standard record) and Brad and Brett both in the Top 8, Jund Mannequin has an incredible record on the weekend. But with only three people playing the deck, their extensive pre-tournament testing did not include the mirror match—exactly what Nelson and Piazza now faced.

Piazza’s mirror match experience remained theoretical, but Nelson had tested the mirror (along with the other Top 8 match-ups) Saturday night into the early morning with Woods and found that all 75 cards in the main deck and sideboard are potentially relevant in the mirror match. The match hinges on sideboarding, with the optimal decisions depending on what you expect your opponent to sideboard. Of course, what he sideboards depends on what he thinks you’ll sideboard ....

Nelson showed no hint that these mind games were taking their toll, but Piazza looked a little grim

“You look so serious,” said Nelson as the two shuffled, then together, chuckling, they chorused: “Why so serious?”

Piazza shrugged. “I’m taking it seriously this time,” he said, back to business. “No joking around up here.”

“Well, you’ve got to enjoy it while you’re here,” replied the jovial Nelson.

“For sure, for sure,” said Piazza ... but he still wasn’t smiling.

Game 1

Both competitors kept their seven-card hands, and started the game off cluttering the board with Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool s. Nelson, on the draw, had the first spell with Kitchen Finks , but Piazza answered with Bloodbraid Elf . A cascaded Volcanic Fallout killed the Finks once, and then the Elf crashed in and traded with the diminished persist creature.

Nelson evoked Mulldrifter , and Piazza added a Kitchen Finks of his own, but Nelson had Shriekmaw , at full price, to kill the Finks the first time. So far, both competitors’ life totals were going up instead of down. Piazza’s second Bloodbraid Elf spun up Putrid Leech , and so did Nelson’s first one the next turn. Neither Elf attacked, and Piazza’s Putrid Leech kept Shriekmaw back as well.

Piazza had no play, and Nelson, on his turn, attacked with Putrid Leech . Piazza reached for his own copy of the Zombie Leech, then paused and started doing the math. He picked up the Leech, put it down again, and finally declared no blocks. His end-step Cloudthresher —no doubt the cause of some of his difficult blocking decisions—had an effect on the landscape.

On his turn, Piazza evoked Shriekmaw to kill the opposing Bloodbraid Elf , then swung his whole team across at Nelson’s single untapped creature, a lonely-looking Shriekmaw . But Nelson had Makeshift Mannequin to put Kitchen Finks back onto the battlefield, blocking Piazza’s 2/1 Finks with his fresh ones and putting Shriekmaw in front of Bloodbraid Elf . Even doubling up on the Finks’ life gain, though, he had fallen to 9 life. Piazza himself was down to 14, largely because of his own Putrid Leech , but his Cloudthresher posed by far the most serious threat on the board.

Nelson’s now petite Finks got in for 2 through Piazza’s tapped-out team. Nelson evoked a Shriekmaw to kill Piazza’s looming Cloudthresher , then cast another Kitchen Finks , putting the life totals at 11–12 in Piazza’s favor.

Both players kept their graveyards splayed out for easy Makeshift Mannequin reference—both a courtesy and a convenience. Speaking of Mannequin, Piazza had another one to pull his Cloudthresher back from the grave at the end of Nelson’s turn. Between persist, evoke, Mannequin, and a willingness on both sides to clear the board with trades, the game’s cast of characters had more exits and returns than a soap opera’s.

Piazza’s Putrid Leech and Cloudthresher attacked. Nelson’s Leech traded with Piazza’s, and his Kitchen Finks stepped in front of Cloudthresher . A Shriekmaw from Piazza killed a Kitchen Finks , but on his turn, Nelson once again had a solution for the 7/7 in Maelstrom Pulse , plus his third Kitchen Finks of the match. He was on 11 (back on it, not still on it), and Piazza was down to 6 off of his own Cloudthresher and Putrid Leech and a few hits from Nelson’s Finks.

“11-6,” Nelson dutifully reported when Piazza leaned over to check something.

“I know,” said Piazza. “I was just looking at your graveyard.”

Nelson laughed. “Oh, I wouldn’t do that.”

“I think I know what’s cooo-miiing,” said Piazza in a singsong voice, sending his Shriekmaw forward anyway.

But there was no Mannequin, and Piazza’s Shriekmaw just traded for Nelson’s 2/1 Finks before he added Caldera Hellion to the board. Nelson had an end-step Cloudthresher , however, and Piazza, with no answer to the 7/7 and a precarious life total, was dead on the board.

Brad Nelson 1, Brett Piazza 0

“So did you break the mirror?” asked Nelson.

“I think so,” said Piazza.

“Really?” said Nelson. “That would be sick!” After a moment, he added, with audible irony: “I think Anathemancer ’s not that good, personally.”

Piazza took advantage of the new rules allowing outside notes between games, pulling out a folded-up piece of notebook paper covered in reminders on sideboard strategy.

“This is where it gets fun,” said Brad, sideboarding. “This is where the fun starts.”

“I haven’t played this game yet,” said Piazza.

From the sidelines, Conley Woods—having served as consultant for both players—started expounding about the contingent nature of sideboard strategies in the mirror.

“Don’t you think you’re being a little loud there?” said Nelson. “This is a Top 8 match, and you’re right there ....”

Conley held up his hands and subsided at this point, but he was nice enough to share some of his sideboarding insight with me privately after the match.

“There’s no definitive way to do it,” he said of sideboarding for the mirror, and every card in main deck and sideboard has a potential role to play. Basically, he said, there are three approaches, although Deathmark figures in all of them: There’s the aggro plan (with Bloodbraid Elf , Anathemancer , and Great Sable Stag , but taking out Volcanic Fallout ), the burn plan (leaving Fallout in and leaning heavily on Putrid Leech to win the race), and the control plan (with Thought Hemorrhage , optional Anathemancer s, and Great Sable Stag , hoping to kill opposing creatures and win on the back of Mulldrifter card advantage). But there are endless nuances and variations depending on the opponent’s plan, and Thought Hemorrhage gets better as the match progresses.

Game 2

Piazza, on the play, mulliganed to five, played a single Forest , and then sat on it for turns on end. Nelson summoned Great Sable Stag —in from the sideboard—and then Bloodbraid Elf , with a long cascade revealing more information than he wanted, eventually hitting a useless Deathmark . Still, he had no room to complain.

A second Great Sable Stag hit the table, and while Piazza had a Vivid land to let him Deathmark the Bloodbraid Elf , he quickly scooped up both of his lands.

Brad Nelson 2, Brett Piazza 0

Nelson was up another game, but the players joked that Piazza now had an advantage: he knew some of Nelson’s sideboard plan, while his deck had given up almost no information. Neither of them made any changes.

Nelson still seemed concerned at his opponent’s serious demeanor. “Take a breather,” he said. “Pretend you’re at FNM.”

“You just play the game, right?” Piazza replied. “FNM, Top 8 of Nationals ... You just play the game.”

Game 3

Brad Nelson”Gimme a sec,” said Nelson, surveying his hand, then: “Nah, I’m good.” Piazza was not so good, sending his hand back once more to stand on six.

As in the first game, the board filled up with a salad of nonbasic lands, and as in the second game, Nelson had a turn-three Great Sable Stag . This time, though, Piazza had the turn-four Bloodbraid Elf .

“No whammies ....” said Nelson. On seeing Kitchen Finks hit the battlefield, he and Woods, on the sidelines, both cried, “Whammy!”

Nelson had no play on his turn, and Piazza had another Bloodbraid Elf . This time he hit his own useless Deathmark , but Nelson noted with interest that Caldera Hellion was still in Piazza’s deck, and he’d brought Thought Hemorrhage in from the board.

Still, Piazza now had three 3/2s on the table. He attacked with all of them, but a timely Volcanic Fallout from Nelson left him with just a 2/1 Kitchen Finks . Nelson cast Mulldrifter the next turn, and happily blocked the Finks. Piazza had another Finks, to go to 21 vs. Nelson’s 15, but Nelson had Deathmark to shrink that one as well.

Nelson’s own Kitchen Finks put him to 19 when it got double- Deathmark ed, the second one courtesy of Piazza’s third Bloodbraid Elf . Nelson fell to 14 on the attack, but his Great Sable Stag took Piazza to 17, and a Finks of his own left him at 16, the life totals surging up and down like a jumpy stock market.

Piazza’s attack drew a Makeshift Mannequin on Mulldrifter , putting Nelson up two cards and letting him block and kill Piazza’s team. Piazza came back with a Shriekmaw for Nelson’s Finks, and the board was once again empty, like a sensible-sounding metaphor.

Finally it was Nelson’s turn for Bloodbraid Elf , hitting an Anathemancer to put the life totals at 18-13 in his favor, then attacked, trading the Elf for Shriekmaw and putting Piazza to 10 with the inexorable, untouchable Great Sable Stag .

Piazza had an Anathemaner of his own, the hard way, to drop Nelson to 13. Nelson swung with both the Stag and his own Anathemancer , but with him at seven mana and Piazza at just five, Piazza’s decision to trade Anathemancer s seemed to inure to Nelson’s advantage. Nelson’s Anathemancer stayed in the graveyard for now in favor of a Great Sable Stag from Nelson’s hand.

Piazza had another Anathemancer to drop Nelson to 8, but that was all he could do. On his turn, Nelson started doing the math, but Piazza did it faster—Nelson had the 9 damage. “That’s game,” said Piazza, extending the hand.

Brad Nelson 3, Brett Piazza 0

The two discussed their sideboarding plans with Conley as they packed up. Conley told Piazza that he shouldn’t have cast Deathmark in Game 2; he couldn’t win the game, and it helped Nelson win the sideboarding.

“Sure,” said Piazza. “Both games we played came down to Mulldrifter s, though. You had ‘em, I didn’t.

“Yeah,” said Nelson. “The Fallout was huge too.”

“Definitely,” said Piazza.

Nelson now advances to the semifinals to face Adam Yurchick’s Five-Color Control, and apparently he doesn’t like his chances.

Woods disagrees, citing the trio’s near-flawless Standard record and maintaining that the deck “literally beats everything.” The Five-Color Control match-up, he says, is easy if you know how to navigate it. And Nelson has clearly done his homework.

Semifinals: Charles Gindy (Cruel Control) VS Todd Anderson (Cruel Control)

by Bill Stark

“Good luck Todd!” Charles Gindy offered to his opponent in the Semifinals of the United States National Champion.

“Thanks. You too!” Todd Anderson offered back. The two players were battling for a guaranteed slot on the National Team, with the loser off to try one more chance in the 3rd/4th battle. Charles Gindy, a long time pro out of Florida, returned from semi-retirement to take down the top slot at Pro Tour-Hollywood. His opponent, Todd Anderson, hailed from just up the road of Florida in Alabama. He had earned a reputation online as a columnist for Starcitygames.com, and was clearly excited to be playing in the Top 4 of the event. As the players were given the go ahead, however, he turned all serious.

Todd Anderson chugs right along through the Top 8 at Nationals.Things started well for Charlie Gindy, who resolved an early Esper Charm to draw two cards, but things were not as fortunate on the other side of the battlefield. Todd Anderson got to three lands, and then missed back-to-back land drops, forcing him to discard a Firespout . When he missed yet again the following turn, he was down yet another card while his opponent had built up a manabase that outnumbered his more than two-to-one. Gindy tried for a Mulldrifter , but it was countered by Essence Scatter . When Todd finally drew a fourth land and attempted Ajani Vengeant , Gindy was ready with Negate .

A second Mulldrifter from Charles resolved, but soon died to Firespout from Todd. That opened up an opportunity for Gindy, well out-manaing his opponent, to resolve Ajani Vengeant , and a turn later he stuck Broodmate Dragon . The two players fought a mini counter battle over the 4/4, with Charlie coming out on top. Anderson had just five lands but was getting one tapped down each turn via Ajani. He finally managed to pick up a few extra cards with an Esper Charm , but that left him tapped too low and Charlie untapped to resolve Cruel Ultimatum . Anderson considered his options facing overwhelming odds, but conceded to get to the second game, rather than limp on through Ultimatum, two Dragons, and an active Ajani Vengeant .

Charles Gindy 1, Todd Anderson 0

“Good luck!” Todd offered his opponent, despite having lost the first game.

After being manascrewed in the first game, Todd Anderson got a slight reprieve in the second as his opponent started on a mulligan. The control mirror meant the games were likely to go long, so being down one card could potentially be a minimal hindrance, but when Charlie sent his second hand of six back for five he had to face the reality he would be overwhelmed by superior advantage from Anderson. As if on cue, Todd piped up with “Looks like this game might go as quickly as the last game.” Gindy offered up a sly smile, clearly not afraid to be on five cards in the Top 8.

Anderson opened on double Reflecting Pool and Vivid Creek while Gindy missed his second land drop for a turn. He found one on his next draw step, but was stuck on two while Todd worked his way to five. It was going to be a long game for Charlie Gindy. His odds started looking even longer as Todd resolved an Esper Charm to draw two cards, then cast Mulldrifter to net himself both a creature and two more cards. He passed the turn to a Charles Gindy board that featured three lands.

Charles missed yet another land drop, but was finally able to get onto the board with Great Sable Stag . Anderson was ready for the 3/3, however, casting Ajani Vengeant and quickly moved the planeswalker to one loyalty counter to kill it. Charles just re-anted with a second copy of the rare, but had to watch disdainfully as his opponent drew yet another two cards with Esper Charm . Looking to go on the beatdown, Todd used Cryptic Command to tap his opponent’s 3/3 Stag on Charlie’s upkeep, drawing yet another card for doing so, and soon was locking the Stag down each turn with Ajani Vengeant . A second Mulldrifter put Todd up two more cards, and it seemed all but a lock for the Alabaman.

Gindy tried to soldier on, considering all of his options on his own turn. “I’m not sure how I can win this game...” He muttered, before casting an Ajani Vengeant of his own.

“I have Negate ,” Todd Anderson said, showing the instant from his hand. “I also have Cruel Ultimatum ...”

That was all Charlie Gindy needed to see.

Charles Gindy 1, Todd Anderson 1

“I’m going to draw first,” Charlie Gindy said, the decision drawing a small amount of surprise from his opponent. Todd was quick to ship his hand back taking a mulligan. “This is just like my match in Hollywood.” The Pro Tour champ opined. “I thought I was a goner, but then my opponent mulliganed to oblivion.” Gindy finished his thought by playing a land, quickly scooping it back up when he remembered he had put his opponent on the play.

Charlie’s ploy paid off, as the extra card made sure he hit his first four land drops. Todd Anderson, meanwhile, was stuck at three. Gindy closed in, using Cryptic Command to bounce Todd’s Vivid Marsh , but Anderson had a Broken Ambitions to counter. Was the play by Charlie just a ploy to resolve a better spell on his turn? It was! He untapped and cast Ajani Vengeant , using the planeswalker to tie up his opponent’s Vivid Marsh , tapped from countering with Broken Ambitions .

Anderson found a fourth land in the form of Reflecting Pool , but could only say “Yep...” frustratedly as his opponent cast Great Sable Stag . Anderson attemped Firespout to kill the 3/3, but Charlie was ready with a counterspell. “Ugh. Whatever, I can’t win this game,” Todd replied, scooping up his cards with a sense of frustration he took control to keep in check for fear of offending his opponent and the crowd.

Charlie Gindy 2, Todd Anderson 1

“Three games, and six damage dealt!” Charlie Gindy pointed out as they were shuffling for the fourth game of their match. It had not been the drawn out, haymaker filled control mirror many spectators had expected. On the contrary, the match was almost boring with the victor of each game being determined by light mana draws. Almost as soon as the though had permeated the air, Todd Anderson was back to the land of mulligans, shipping his hand for six yet again in the match.

Charlie Gindy considers his options before making the play.Happy with that total, Anderson kept rolling the game onwards with three lands in a row and an evoked Mulldrifter . He apparently disagreed with his opponent’s play to start on the draw, but which was the right decision would have to be determined by the pace of the game. Gaining access to four mana, Charlie Gindy cast Great Sable Stag . He cursed under his breath as his opponent cast Ajani Vengeant to kill the creature, but untapped and cast a second copy of the 3/3.

Firespout was Todd Anderson’s solution to that threat, and Gindy evoked a Mulldrifter to find himself some more gas to keep his game going. “Discard, or land?” Todd Anderson asked his opponent as Gindy shuffled the cards in his hand around nervously. When Gindy failed to play a land, it looked like yet another game determined by a light mana draw from one of the opponents. Todd cast Great Sable Stag to get his beat on, then countered a second evoked Mulldrifter from Charlie Gindy.

Charlie missed yet another land drop, moving to his discard step. Todd responded with Esper Charm to draw two cards, and won the ensuing counter battle. When he untapped and cast Broodmate Dragon , Charlie Gindy had seen enough. Two 4/4s, an Ajani Vengeant on five loyalty counters, and an opposing Great Sable Stag were all he needed to read the writing on the wall.

Charlie Gindy 2, Todd Anderson 2

“Play or draw?” Todd Anderson asked his opponent as they prepared for the final game. Gindy didn’t answer at first, mulling over his options carefully.

“Ummmmm...I’ll play.” Gindy replied, changing his decision from the last time he’d had the choice. Pro Tour champion or no, it looked like Gindy agreed with Todd Anderson’s strategy in the match.

Great Sable Stag hit the table for Charles Gindy on the third turn, while Todd Anderson evoked Mulldrifter . With more than seven cards in his hand, he opted to discard a Great Sable Stag of his own. The play left him tapped out and he could only watch as Gindy cast Jace Beleren , drew himself a card, then attacked for 3. It was a big turn for Charlie, but he did miss his fourth land drop again.

Todd considered his plan on his own turn, ultimately opting to use Cryptic Command to bounce his opponent’s Jace, drawing himself a card in the process. Like a pro, Gindy ripped a Vivid Creek from the top of his library, re-cast the Jace, and drew an extra card. His opponent was having none of it, untapping and casting a planeswalker of his own in the form of Liliana Vess . She quickly undid her blue brethren’s efforts, forcing Gindy to discard a Broodmate Dragon . If he couldn’t get rid of the Vess, Charlie’s Jace would actually draw his opponent functionally more cards than its controller if he intended to keep it around.

Gindy found a fifth land waiting for him on his turn, quickly hustling it onto the battlefield and then taking a moment to consider his options. A second Great Sable Stag was the play, and he attacked with his first copy of the card to knock Liliana down to three loyalty counters. Anderson untapped and played the game’s third planeswalker, Ajani Vengeant . That merited a Broken Ambitions from Charlie for one, even though Todd could pay the slight tax. Pay he did, using the resolved Ajani to blow up one of the Sable Stags.

His opponent essentially tapped out, Charlie Gindy untapped for a potentially big turn. He activated his Jace to make both players draw a card. He ripped a land with a victorious “Got there!” then flopped Identity Crisis onto the table. Todd didn’t look pleased, using his lone mana to Broken Ambitions for zero. He wanted to stack the top of his library with the clash, but had only a land waiting for him and sent it to the bottom. His draw step yielded Firespout to blow up his opponent’s Sable Stag, with Liliana forcing Charlie to discard a third copy from his hand.

The game had swung decidedly in Charlie Gindy’s favor, with an active Jace Beleren staring down Todd Anderson’s Liliana Vess . Gindy untapped, found a seventh land, and cast Cruel Ultimatum . “That’s a good one...” His opponent replied, marking the totals on his life pad. Thanks to not having any creatures nor cards in hand, the effect of the powerful Shards of Alara rare was mitigated slightly; still, a 10-point swing in life totals combined with an Ancestral for Charlie was not a good position for Todd Anderson to be in.

Esper Charm was waiting for Todd on the top of his library, but in his excitement to draw two cards with it, he neglected to tutor with his Liliana Vess first. He sheepishly admitted the error after making it, passing the turn. Gindy used Jace to make both players draw a card, then undid the effect with an Esper Charm on Todd’s draw step to force his opponent to discard two. Todd tried a counter, but Gindy was ready with a Negate .

He was far ahead on the battlefield, but Charles Gindy needed a threat. Broodmate Dragon was more than willing to step up to the task, entering the battlefield the following turn. Cryptic Command from Todd Anderson bounced the Dragon token and drew the player a card, but when he attempted Runed Halo to stop the Broodmate Gindy had Broken Ambitions .

“Show me a Cryptic Command and you’ve got it.” Todd Anderson said, resignedly. Gindy flipped over two copies of the card, locking up the match. “Congratulations.” Anderson said, extending his hand with a smile.

The opponents amicably end their match with mutual respect.

Charles Gindy 3, Todd Anderson 2

Semifinals: Brad Nelson vs. Adam Yurchick

by Steve Sadin

Walking around US Nationals you could hear people talking about three decks. Mark Hendrickson’s R/W Control deck that he used to grind into Nationals, and then rip through the swiss rounds before losing to Gindy in the quarterfinals. Shuuhei style 5 color control decks that made up nearly a third of the field, and took up three of the top 4 slots.

And, the real story of the tournament, Conley Woods’ Jund Mannequin deck.

The deck was played by Conley Woods, Brad Nelson and Brett Piazza. This contingent of Magic Online superstars have begun to make their names known on the Pro Tour. Conley posted a top 8 at Pro Tour: Hawaii, Nelson came in 9th at that same Pro Tour (his first Pro Tour to boot) and Brett Piazza has multiple Grand Prix top 8s to his name.

Brett and Brad both top 8ed with the deck and Conley had to settle with a top 16 finish after some bad luck in his second draft pod led to an 0-3 and elimination from top 8 contention.

Yurchick, much like Sam Black at Nationals last year, is a player who has been noticed by the Pro Tour community for quite some time, but has up until this point mostly escaped the public eye. Yurchick can often be found floating near the of the standings at American GPs and has a finals appearance at Grand Prix Philadelphia, a top 4 at Grand Prix Minneapolis and a 9th place on tiebreakers at Pro Tour: Hollywood to his name.

This weekend could very well change that.

Conley’s deck performed incredibly well against 5 color control during the swiss, and Yurchick even lost his first 5 games when he was playtesting the matchup the night before. But, after playing the matchup more and learning the ins and outs of his opponent’s deck, Yurchick felt that the matchup was firmly in his favor.

Nelson agreed that the matchup was in Yurchick’s favor, but he felt that he still had a very strong chance, especially if he drew an early Putrid Leech .

Game 1

Yurchick won the roll, but Nelson made the first play of the match with a turn 3 Kitchen Finks . Yurchick passed his fourth turn with only a land and Nelson attacked with his Finks knocking Yurchick to 17 before he cast a second Finks. Yurchick laid his fifth land and cast a Hollowed Burial.

Nelson played a Shriekmaw for the full 5 mana, but when he went to attack with it the next turn Yurchick had the Volcanic Fallout . Nelson didn’t have a follow up play and Yurchick used his remaining mana to draw two cards with an Esper Charm . Yurchick then untapped and laid a Jace.

Nelson attempted to Maelstrom Pulse the Jace, but Yurchick was ready with a Negate . This left Yurchick without enough mana to offer up an answer to Nelson’s follow up play of Kitchen Finks .

Yurchick had both players draw an extra card with Jace and then passed the turn with 6 mana up.

Nelson attacked Jace with Kitchen Finks which Yurchick attempted to block with a flashed in Plumeveil , Nelson had a Makeshift Mannequin to get back his Shriekmaw to destroy the would be blocking wall, but Yurchick was ready with a second Plumeveil .

Yurchick untapped and cast the gamebreaker of gamebreakers, Cruel Ultimatum knocking out Nelson’s hand and leaving himself in a commanding position.

On Yurchick’s next turn he resolved a Broodmate Dragon and then after Nelson’s draw step Yurchick knocked out his cards with an Esper Charm .

Things went from bad to worse for Nelson when Yurchick cast a Broodmate Dragon

Yurchick untapped, flopped down a second Broodmate Dragon and Nelson immediately conceded.

Yurchick 1 – Nelson 0

In between games Yurchick sideboarded out:
-3 Broken Ambitions , -2 Volcanic Fallout , -2 Jace Beleren , -1 Doomblade, -1 Cruel Ultimatum

And sideboarded in:
+2 Ajani Vengeant , +2 Runed Halo , +2 Deathmark , +1 Identinty Crisis, +1 Negate ,+1 Firespout

Nelson sideboarded out:
-4 Volcanic Fallout , -3 Caldera Hellion , -2 Shriekmaw , -3 Kitchen Finks

And sideboarded in:
+4 Anathemancer , +3 Thought Hemorrhage , +1 Cloudthresher , +4 Great Sable Stag e,

Game 2:

Nelson again made the first play of the game with a turn three Kitchen Finks . When Nelson attacked Yurchick was ready with a Plumeveil . The Plumeveil successfully blocked, but Nelson had a Maelstrom Pulse to give his now 2/1 Kitchen Finks a free path to attack on the next turn.

Nelson cast a Great Sable Stag on his next turn and Yurchick, unable to counter the popular M10 three drop, could only draw two cards with an Esper Charm .

Yurchick untapped, cast an Ajani Vengeant and chose to add a counter to keep the Kitchen Finks tapped down instead of destroying the Great Sable Stag and gaining 3 life.

Nelson immediately recognized that Yurchick was representing Hallowed Burial as he was attempting to keep his Ajani Vengeant alive through the turn.

Nelson, who was holding a Bloodbraid Elf and an Anathemancer , both of which were capable of destroying the Ajani Vengeant pondered his options before he decided to attack Yurchick with his Great Sable Stag and use his Anathemancer to destroy the Ajani Vengeant .

Yurchick had the Hollowed Burial to deal with Nelson’s intimidating board, but Nelson was able to rebuild with a Bloodbraid Elf revealing Putrid Leech .

Things seemed to be looking ok for Nelson until Yurchick untapped and cast a Cruel Ultimatum . Nelson sacrificed his Bloodbraid Elf and discarded two Makeshift Mannequin s.

Yurchick had the Plumeveil , which he had brought back with Cruel Ultimatum , for Nelson’s Putrid Leech and a Path to Exile for Nelson’s follow up Putrid Leech .

An Ajani Vengeant , a Jace Beleren and then a Broodmate Dragon allowed Yurchick to take out Nelson before he had a chance to rebuild his position.

Yurchick 2 – Nelson 0

Nelson “You do know that you’re probably the sexiest man I’ve ever seen, right?”
Yurchick “I get that a lot, it’s probably my diet.”

Tom Lapille, who was watching the match chimed in “I like that Yurchick is actually carrying around a fresh apple.”

Yurchick “I do love my fresh fruit.”

Lapille “It’s true, you haven’t seen Yurchick until you’ve seen him eat an entire grapefruit in under three minutes in-between rounds at a PTQ”

Remember kids, eat your fruits and vegetables and you too could be on the US National team when you grow up.

Game 3

Nelson had a turn 2 Putrid Leech , which Yurchick answered with a Deathmark .

Nelson had a Great Sable Stag to follow up with and when Yurchick played a third Vivid land tapped, Nelson hit him for an extra three damage with an Anethamancer knocking him down to 14.

Yurchick had a Runed Halo to protect him from Anathemancer s and a Negate to protect his Runed Halo from a Maelstrom Pulse .

On Yurchick’s next turn he made Nelson discard his only two cards, a Mulldrifter and a land with an Esper Charm .

Neslon drew a Makeshit Mannequin to get back his Mulldrifter , but Yurchick was more than ready with a Cruel Ultimatum .

When Yurchick played a Broodmate Dragon on his next turn Nelson drew, revealed the two lands that he had drawn since the Cruel Ultimatum and congratulated Yurchick on making it to the finals.

Nelson is as gracious in defeat as he is in victory.

“I hope you take it down man.”

“Thanks. Win your next match, I’d love to have you on the team with me.”

Yurchick 3 Nelson 0

Sunday, July 26, 1:52 p.m. – The Final Fold

by Kelly Digges

There’s a big crowd gathered to see the final match of 2009 U.S. Nationals. Meanwhile, though, I sought the conclusion to another, quieter drama: Would Legion Events’ Matt Danner finish his level 2 Menger sponge before the end of the event?

The answer, as it turned out, was a resounding yes. Matt proudly showed off the culmination of his solitary effort at the public events registration table. Passersby stopped to marvel at it, and he even gave a few demonstrations on how the cards are folded to curious onlookers.

Now that Matt has spent the whole weekend transforming 2,400 unloved cards into a fractal art project, I had one question. Matt was elsewhere, so I asked tournament organizer Steve Port: What are they going to do with it now?

“We don’t know yet,” said Steve. Several people had expressed interest, he said, but getting it home was the problem. Last year’s sponge hadn’t even made it out of the hall before disintegrating. They’ve got a few potential plans, but if it can’t be saved, Steve’s not going to let its destruction go to waste.

“If nothing else,” he said, “we’ll auction off the right to smash it or something.”

3/4 Playoffs: Todd Anderson vs Brad Nelson

by Tom LaPille

Brad Nelson is FFfreaK on Magic Online. Not Ffreak, or FFreak, or even FFFreak, but FFfreaK. Nelson started using that handle online when Starcraft released, and for a few years that name has stricken fear into the hearts of men and women on Magic Online. His first Pro Tour was in Honolulu this year, where he placed ninth. That was the first time Nelson’s real name went up in lights, and Todd Anderson was having his own breakout tournament this weekend. Hailing from Alabama, he is a columnist for StarCityGames.com who has played in various Pro Tours but lacks a notable finish.

Nelson was playing a Jund-based Makeshift Mannequin deck designed by Pro Tour Honolulu top eight competitor Conley Woods. He lost the semifinals to Adam Yurchick’s five color control deck. Anderson is playing a similar five color control deck that is set up to dominate the late game with powerful spells like Cruel Ultimatum and Broodmate Dragon . Nelson will need to use his Putrid Leech es, Boggart Ram-Gang s, and Bloodbraid Elves to win games quickly or be buried under six and seven mana spells.

I eavesdropped on Nelson and deck designer Conley Woods while they chatted before the match began, and they believed that the details of Yurchick’s deck were much worse for Nelson than the details of Anderson’s deck. Would Brad Nelson solidify his reputation by taking the third slot on the 2009 United States National Team, or would Todd Anderson walk away from the match with an even brighter first feather in his cap?

Game 1

The first action of the game was a Kitchen Finks from Nelson that met a Broken Ambitions . The Caldera Hellion that Nelson revealed ended up on the bottom, while the Broken Ambitions that Anderson kept on top stopped an evoked Mulldrifter from Nelson. Anderson dominated the second clash with a Cruel Ultimatum that he kept on top for later. Nelson’s second evoked Mulldrifter met a Cryptic Command . Nelson was stuck on three lands, which did not bode well for his chances.

The Mulldrifter that Anderson cast with a full five lands was unopposed, then followed up by a vivid land. Would Anderson finish with a Cruel Ultimatum next turn? Brad played a tapped land and passed with no action again. Anderson’s seventh land was another vivid land. Nelson finally cast a spell with Bloodbraid Elf into Volcanic Fallout , but that was stymied by a Plumeveil before the Cruel Ultimatum that had been waiting in Anderson’s hand since turn four finally hit the table. Nelson’s chances went to near zero.

After the Cruel Ultimatum resolved, Anderson forgot to play a land and discarded an Island , but it didn’t matter. His Broodmate Dragon , Plumeveil , and Agony Warp kept Nelson’s Bloodbraid Elf from digging him out of the Ultimatum-created hole he was in, and a Volcanic Fallout for two damage finally put Nelson away.

Anderson 1, Nelson 0

While shuffling for Game 2, Anderson and Nelson betrayedtheir recent arrival to high level competition by exchanging stories from years of grinding at Pro Tour Qualifiers. Despite years of Magic Online play, Nelson had not actually won a qualifier top eight until this year. Anderson had similar tales from this past extended season.

After a little of this, Nelson changed the subject. “My advice for this game is don’t [forget to play a land and] discard a land on turn one.”

Anderson frowned. “Thanks.”

Game 2

Nelson once again had the first action of the game with Great Sable Stag . Unfortunately, he was short on lands again and an evoked Mulldrifter that might have solved his problem was stopped by Essence Scatter . His deck produced a fourth land a turn later, which allowed him to Makeshift Mannequin the Mulldrifter in response to an end step Plumeveil from Anderson. However, Anderson’s Firespout emptied Nelson’s board of creatures. Nelson replaced it with a Putrid Leech . Both players were still stuck on four lands.

The first player to find a fifth land was Anderson, who cast a Mulldrifter . While he was tapped out, Nelson hit him with a Thought Hemorrhage naming Broodmate Dragon . Anderson revealed that he had two in his hand, then thought better of it and conceded rather than allow Nelson to see how he had sideboarded.

Nelson glowed. “Was that as good for you as it was for me?”

Anderson 1, Nelson 1

Nelson sensed weakness in Anderson and needled him while they shuffled. “We’re in the top four, you’re already going to Rome. How can you tilt?” Anderson was quiet. Perhaps Nelson’s years spent terrorizing the Magic Online world as FFfreaK were enough to make him a hardened veteran even after only one Pro Tour.

Game 3

Nelson started off with a second turn Putrid Leech that was stopped by Broken Ambitions . Anderson was once again mana shy this game as he failed to play a third land, although he had another Broken Ambitions to stop a Kitchen Finks and put another unhelpful spell on the bottom. He was rewarded for this with a land, then played Runed Halo naming Thought Hemorrhage .

A Bloodbraid Elf from Nelson hit a Great Sable Stag . “Aww, that’s no fun.” The Elf got in for three. Anderson drew a Sunken Ruins that let him cast Ajani Vengeant and Lightning Helix the Great Sable Stag . Nelson’s Mulldrifter convinced Ajani to go away next turn. An Agony Warp from Anderson killed the Bloodbraid Elf , but a second Great Sable Stag was waiting in the wings to replace it. Anderson paused to make sure the appropriate charge counters were placed on Nelson’s Vivid Grove , then cast a Mulldrifter that he traded for Nelson’s Mulldrifter .

One might have guessed from Anderson’s body language that he was far behind, but the only damage he had taken thus far was two attacks from a Great Sable Stag , and his Ajani Vengeant had gained him three life. At seventeen life with six lands in play, Anderson was in great shape.

Nelson destroyed the Runed Halo with a Maelstrom Pulse , then cast a Thought Hemorrhage .

Nelson: “This is tough.”

Anderson: “Don’t worry, I sided them all out.”

Nelson: “Yeah, sure.”

Anderson: “ Broodmate Dragon .”

It was a miss. Anderson’s hand was Negate , Cruel Ultimatum , Esper Charm , and Plumeveil .

Anderson had six lands in play, and a seventh would enable a Cruel Ultimatum . “Looking like a land on top to me, boys.” He paused. “Probably a Vivid Land though.” It was neither of those things, but the Esper Charm found a land. Nelson’s Stag knocked Anderson down to 14, then Nelson passed with no action on 7 untapped lands and 3 cards.

Anderson picked up Nelson’s graveyard. “Let’s see what the worst thing you can do to me is.” Anderson was no doubt worried about a Makeshift Mannequin in response to his Cruel Ultimatum , but he decided to go for the Ultimatum anyway. That’s exactly what Nelson had, and it returned a Mulldrifter before the Ultimatum promptly killed it again and took half of Nelson’s hand away.

After the Ultimatum, he stated “I’m going to play a land this turn.” It was a Vivid Creek . All Nelson could do after the Ultimatum was attack with Great Sable Stag . At this point, Anderson realized he had eight cards in his hand. A warning was issued and a card was discarded. Then Nelson cast another Thought Hemorrhage , this time on Cruel Ultimatum .

Nelson was entirely out of gas, although Anderson was going to have to win with Great Sable Stag s and Mulldrifter s rather than the Broodmate Dragon s he had hoped to use. A Runed Halo naming Anathemancer would protect Anderson from any surprises, then a second Mulldrifter and a Great Sable Stag gave Anderson enough of a squad to win with. Nelson had only a Putrid Leech . A second Stag from Anderson with a Negate and Cryptic Command up put the game away.

Anderson 2, Nelson 1

There was a little more small talk before the fourth game.

Anderson: “I don’t think I’ve ever played against you online.”

Nelson: “I’ve never heard of you.”

Anderson: “I’m ‘Strong Sad’.”

Nelson “Oh.”

Game 4

Nelson kept quickly, then Anderson spent a moment studying his hand.

Nelson: “What, did you draw eight?”

Anderson: “No, although I did forget to discard earlier.... Nope, not getting there with this one.”

Anderson’s hand of six was good enough to keep. Nelson started with a Great Sable Stag , then a Putrid Leech . Anderson’s Firespout killed the Stag and forced Anderson to pump the Leech. A Mulldrifter found Nelson more lands, then a Bloodbraid Elf found him a second Putrid Leech . A second Bloodbraid Elf found a Maelstrom Pulse , but the only legal targets were his own Putrid Leech es. The Pulse disappeared to the bottom of his deck.

Anderson cast a Runed Halo , once again protecting him from Thought Hemmorhage, but he was short on other action. An Agony Warp took out one of the Bloodbraid Elves, then the rest of Nelson’s creatures won the game with little fuss.

Anderson 2, Nelson 2

While they shuffled for the final game. Nelson proposed that they play for double or nothing on the semifinalist trophies. Anderson declined, but made a counter-offer.

Anderson: “If I beat you, can I have the lunchbox?”

Nelson: “There is no number of trophies that this lunch box is worth.”

Game 5

Nelson mulliganed to six. He still started strong with a turn two Putrid Leech but was stymied by a Broken Ambitions . It revealed a Great Sable Stag that popped into play next turn. Nelson replaced the countered Putrid Leech , but for the umpteenth time in the match was stuck on three lands with no action. A second Great Sable Stag from Anderson piled on the pressure, and the only defense that Nelson found was an Anathemancer that couldn’t even block the Stags. The pair of elk killed Nelson in only three attacks.

Anderson 3, Nelson 2

Congratulations to Todd Anderson for making the 2009 United States national team.

Finals: Charles Gindy (Cruel Control) vs. Adam Yurchick (Cruel Control)

by Brian David-Marshall

Having locked up National team membership with their semifinal victories the pressure was off for both of these Pro Tour veterans, who were assessing the dreaded 3rd/4th matchup between Todd Anderson and Brad Nelson. Like every other National team they were imagining how they would match up against the Japanese. Someone pointed out that there was talk that the third player on the Japanese team, Yuma Shiota, might not be attending Worlds due to a demanding work schedule.

“Was Kenji fourth?” asked Adam Yurchick, who had not dropped a game yet in the Top 8 and was playing with tremendous confidence, to a chorus of bobbing heads. “That’s gross. At least I never lose against Shuhei.”

Meanwhile Gindy was getting the lowdown on how Adam played the control mirror.

“He always has a turn seven Cruel Ultimatum ,” said a friend who had watched the semis. “That’s what you need to know.”

As they sat down to play they high-fived.

“Its what we predicted!” exclaimed Gindy who was looking around for Tim Aten, who had a special card for him. “I want my Broodmate token.”

It was a Tim Aten player card that Tim had customized with a word balloon: “You’ll have 2 dragons out, and you’ll prolly still lose!”

“Tim just wants me to know how bad I suck,” laughed Gindy.

“Remember Hollywood when we were ranked first and second in the World?,” asked Gindy who won that Pro Tour. Adam finsihed ninth in that event. “Where do you think we are now?”

Game 1

Adam mulliganed but kept his next six. Gindy started on seven. Adam played the first of many Vivid lands and, despite ten D6 on the table, looked for more. “Does anyone have dice?”

He knew they would be settling in for a long game -- especially with so many dead Game 1 cards. Each player had Volcanic Fallout s, Plumeveil s, Hallowed Burial s, and additional spot removal to bias their decks against the Elves, Kithkin, Faeries, and Jund decks through the Swiss rounds. Both players had four lands when Adam cracked the seal with an Esper Charm to draw two cards. He attempted to stick a Jace but it was Negate d. Gindy was content to play draw-go and just used Esper Charm at the end of Adam’s turn while they both played lands and the occasional Plumeveil .

Deep into the “action” Gindy was ahead 13 to 9 -- on lands that is. The life totals had not been scratched yet. This is the most exciting match,” groaned Gindy. “So exciting.”

Rather than discard, Adam played Path to Exile on his own Plumeveil bringing the land totals to 15 to 12 for Gindy. It was 16 to 13 when Adam decided to go “aggro” and asked Gindy to discard two cards with Esper Charm . Gindy pitched Essence Scatter and Fallout. Adam did it again and this time Gindy decided to Cryptic Command that one. That drew Negate from Adam and another Cryptic Command from Gindy. Adam played Broken Ambitions for three and Gindy paid and then drew two from the Commands on the stack.

Adam untapped to play the Cruel Ultimatum that the previous fight had been the undercard to. There were two cards left in Adam’s hand and Gindy had five mana to attempt the third Cryptic Command . Adam played Broken Ambitions for two and revealed Ajani for Gindy and land for Adam. He got back a previously pitched Dragon. Gindy could only keep one card and pitched Mulldrifter , Ajani Vengeant , and Negate . Gindy Untapped to play the revealed Ajani with one mystery card left in hand.

Adam played Broodmate Dragon and the card turned out to be Gindy’s fourth Cryptic Command . Adam shrugged, played Cruel Ultimatum , and got the Dragon back to try again next turn. Ajani went up to five loyalty keeping a Sunken Ruins submerged for Gindy but the best he could hope for was a fog effect from his Planeswalker in the long run as Adam’s next attempt at Broodmate was succesful.

“I don’t get the Tim token?” asked Adam.

“No, you don’t get the Tim one,” pouted Gindy who ticked Ajani’s loyalty up to six before she fell to the twin strike from the dragons. Gindy tried to climb back into the hand business with Esper Charm into Mulldrifter . Adam played Broken Ambitions on the elemental for 10. Gindy X-spelled back for 6. Adam had Cryptic Command .

“Do you have anything left?” asked Gindy who was at 10 before the next dragon hit. “Do you have a Fallout?”

Adam flashed him Cruel Ultimatum .

“Thank you.”

“I just drew it.”

Charles Gindy - 0 Adam Yurchick - 1

Game 2

Gindy’s sideboard plan was as follows:

-2 Hallowed Burial
-1 Essence Scatter
-3 Plumeveil
-4 Fallout
-1 Dragon

+4 Great Sable Stag
+2 Identity Crisis
+2 Jace Beleren
+1 Negate
+2 Runed Halo

Adam’s was:

-3 Plumeveil
-2 Volcanic Fallout
-1 Doomblade
-2 Hallowed Burial
-1 Path to Exile

+2 Ajani Venjeant
+2 Great Sable Stag
+2 Identity Crisis
+1 Negate
+2 Runed Halo

Gindy took a page out of Adam’s book with a discard mode Esper Charm at the end of Adam’s fourth turn. Adam pitched a land and Ajani. Gindy missed his fifth land drop and played a sideboarded Great Sable Stag . Adam untapped and killed the Stag with Ajani.

“Another one? Really?” said Gindy who knew there were only two copied of Ajani in Adam’s deck. Adam began to play draw-grow with Ajani while Gindy dug for more cards with Esper Charm . Gindy offered up Jace Beleren and Adam cast Cryptic Command to counter it and bounce one of Gindy’s untapped vivid lands. Gindy did not have the Negate and replayed the land tapped. Adam untapped into Identity Crisis and grew Ajani. They played draw-grow for a while -- Ajani was two turns away from going ultimate. Adam attempted another Identity Crisis but it drew Negate from Gindy. All his lands went away a turn later.

Adam also played Jace. He did not have a way to start doing damage on the board but he was in total command. Gindy played three straight lands but Adam was nine up on him. Gindy evoked Mulldrifter . Adam untapped and decided to protect himself from Identity Crisis with Runed Halo . Gindy tried to banish Jace with his own copy but Adam had the Cryptic Command . Both players summoned Great Sable Stag .

Adam drew a pair of cards expending his Jace. He made Gindy ditch two of his three cards -- including a blank Identity Crisis -- and Adam played another Jace. Gindy was Esper Charm ed in his draw step and Gindy said, “Show me a Cryptic Command ...”

Adam showed it to him along with Negate and Broken Ambitions .

“I still had all of theeeeeese....” said Gindy with an eye roll.

Charles Gindy - 0 Adam Yurchick - 2

Game 3

Adam swapped out one Burial for another Stag and there were no changes for Gindy

“How’s it going over there,” shouted Brad Nelson who was in a two to one hole in his match with Todd Anderson.

“Yurchick is killing me!” shouted Gindy.

“I just realized I messed up my sideboarding,” clucked Adam, as the two players pitched back their opening hands. “I am so used to these games going back and forth I thought I was on the play.”

Gindy resolved Jace on turn three and Adam played a Stag. Gindy was about to lose Jace to the Stag but set Adam back by Cryptic Command ing a Vivid Meadow . Gindy paid full price for Mulldrifter .

The two players traded cantrip Boomerangs in a battle over reources but Gindy was ahead in hand and on the board with a pair of Mulldrifter -- and Runed Halo on Sable Stag. The two fliers took Adam down to 12. He Esper Charm ed for two cards EOT but passed the turn back to Gindy who did the same. Adam fell to 8 from the fliers. He drew two more cards as Gindy discarded Broodmate Dragon . Jace stuck for Adam. Both players drew. Gindy ignored the Planeswalker and dropped Adam to 4 who was digging frantically with another Esper Charm . Adam attempted an Ajani but it was Negate d. Adam attempted to buy another turn with an upkeep Cryptic Command but when Gindy started tapping mana Adam began getting ready for Game 4. At least he was sideboarded correctly for it.

Charles Gindy - 1 Adam Yurchick - 2

Game 4

Adam mulliganed a two-land hand with a quick peek at the Identity Crisis on top of his deck. Gindy kept his seven. Nothing happened until the ceremonial first Esper Charm was thrown out at the end of turn five by Gindy. He untapped and attempted to land an Ajani. He had the Negate for Adam’s Cryptic Command and Adam’s Reflecting Pool was locked down. Adam peeled back the top card of his deck -- he needed it to be a land that did not come into play tapped -- and he was rewarded. Gindy staggered under the body blow of Identity Crisis .

“That might have been a blow out,” declared a spectator along the rail.

Adam tried Cruel Ultimatum but the one card in Gindy’s hand was a timely Negate . Adam played a Great Sable Stag and protected it from a Cruel fate with Negate . He could not do anything about Ajani zapping it though. Both players were on one card after Adam played Runed Halo on Ajani. They both played Sable Stags but Gindy still had a supply of Lightning Helixes from his Planeswalker and he began the long road back through the red zone. Adam went to 8 from the Stag. He tried Runed Halo but Gindy had Broken Ambitions -- revealing Cruel Ultimatum to Adam’s Broodmate. “I am going to keep.” Ajani ticked up to 7 loyalty and was a Cryptic Command away from blowing up all of Adam’s land and forcing a game 5.

Adam attempted Broodmate but Gindy had Cryptic Command and drew a card instead of bouncing the Ajani -- Adam had enough land to replay it. Adam made Gindy discard two during his draw step but still had no answer to the Stag which dropped him to five. He fell to 2 a turn later. Adam played Cryptic to tap and draw a card during Gindy’s upkeep. Gindy drew a card and beamed as he pointed the freshly drawn Esper Charm at the Runed halo.

“Wooooooow!” exhaled Gindy who had all but resigned himself to losing after the Identity Crisis struck. He beamed at Adam, who seemed stunned to have lost. “We have to make it interesting for the crowds”

“I could have done some things differently,” sighed Adam.

Charles Gindy - 2 Adam Yurchick - 2

Game 5

The two players shook hands and dove into the deciding game. Adam deliberated if he wanted to play for the National Championship with a hand of three lands, Ajani, Negate , and two Cruel. Ultimately he decided that he did. The players traded Cryptic Command s to bounce lands in the early turns. Adam landed an Ajani Vengeant and kept Gindy’s Cascade Bluffs tapped. Adam kept the Bluffs tapped and played a Stag. Gindy bounced the Ajani with Cryptic Command and Adam chose not to fight over it with three lands open.

He swung with the Stag for first blood but Gindy was winning the only battle that seemed to matter in this match-up; who could get the most lands in play. He was up 8 to 6 on Adam who used Esper Charm for two cards. He played a second Stag. Gindy used a Cryptic Command to bounce a land at end of Adam’s turn. Gindy was setting up to have the mana advantage going into a battle over Identity Crisis . He hit land number nine and fired the first salvo. Adam tapped out for Negate and Gindy cast Broken Ambitions -- revealing Runed Halo -- to force it through.

Adam attacked Gindy down to 8 and played Jace ripped right off the top of his deck, which found him a sixth land -- but Gindy was on cruise control now. He legend ruled the Jace and played Cruel Ultimatum .
Adam attacked with his remaining Stag to get Gindy to 10. Another Cruel Ultimatum and Great Sable Stag was Gindy’s next turn. A pair of Runed Halo came down a turn later for Gindy naming Cruel and Identity Crisis . Gindy flashed Adam yet another Cruel Ultimatum . Adam was unmoved. Gindy showed him Cryptic Command .

That was enough and Adam extended the hand. While the two competitors were in the post game ritual Tim Aten marched up and took back his token.

“Hey! That was mine!” declared Gindy who soon forgot about the token as it began to sink in that he had just won the 2009 U.S. National Championship. He would add that trophy to a mantle that already had awards for winning a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour.

Congratulations to the 2009 U.S. National Champion Charles Gindy and to the rest of the team; Adam Yurchick, Todd Anderson, and alternate Brad Nelson.