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Gateway Round 6: Ben Stark vs. Mark Zeigner

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Ahh...single elimination.

The winner of this match will win $2,000.

Minimum.

The loser? He gets a good night sleep for tomorrow's Pro Tour.

Ben Stark is a young player on the move. He won the Last Chance Qualifier in Houston, has had strong finishes at recent Grand Prix's and is generally considered one of the game's rising stars. Mark Zeigner recently finished second at Worlds and was part of the team that won the team portion of that very same tournament. This one could be a keeper folks.

Game 1

There are no mulligans and both players lay lands for three turns. Everything seemed pretty peaceful until Ben end of turn when Mark set the tone for the game and aimed a Flame Burst at Ben's dome. The next turn it was Fiery Temper which was followed by a main phase Volcanic Hammer. By the time he started his fifth turn Ben was at 12. To make matters worse he had three Underground Rivers in play and couldn't effectively counter any of Mark's burn. A Violent Eruption, a Fiery Temper and a couple of Barbarian Rings later they were ready for Game 2.

"That's the type of Magic I like," mused Mark. "No one has to block!"

Mark - 1 Ben - 0

Game 2

Mark got to play first this game when Ben decided he wanted the extra card he would get by drawing. Nothing happened until turn three when Ben Duressed a Grafted Skullcap out of mark's hand the turn before he could cast it. Instead he played his Blistering Firecat that was Spiked. His next four casting cost spell--a Violent Eruption--was met with Circular Logic and his next Firecat was countered.

Both players still had plenty of cards but Mark was able to resolve two Violent Eruptions and take Ben down to 11. An Earthquake for six was Force Spiked but that only served to make Mark tap his barabrian Ring to pay the one mana. When it resolved Mark fell to 10 and Ben was at 5. With two Rings and a Petrified Field in play the game seemed like a lock for the German.

But then Ben started talking to himself.

Nobody could make out what he was saying but it caught Mark's attention. "I have the Upheaval," Ben explained as he looked at his seven lands--one of which was Polluted Delta. "But I don't have the Tog. Do I sac the Delta to increase my chances and go to four. I think I just draw."

Just draw...hah!

If by 'just draw' he meant 'rip a Tog off of the top of my deck!'

It's a great feeling when your deck rewards you with the precise card you need even when you're playing a casual game of Magic. I can't begin to imagine how good it feels when it brings you one game closer to $2,000--minimum.

Mark - 1 Ben - 1

Game 3

Mark was till shaking his head at Ben's good fortune, "If you had played first that game..."

Ben was still glowing: "So...what are you going to do? Play or draw?

"I'll draw."

"That's what I thought. I wasn't sure. If I had won Game 1 I would have followed whatever you did Game 2 for this game. But I had to guess last game."

Ben played a turn two Compulsion and Mark answered with a Grim Lavamancer. The red mage started going to work on Ben's life totals--swinging with the Lavamancer and Volcanic Hammer were his tools. Cunning Wish found Ghastly demise and Ben put an end to the Grim Lavamancer shenanigans toot sweet.

Ben was stuck on three lands for a few turns and played a Tog at thirteen life. A Falme Burst took him to eleven and an earthquake for three took him to eight--although the Tog emerged more or less unscathed. A fourth land allowed Ben to Compulse twice but it cost him four life in the form of Violent Eruption and he fell to four with Mark once again sitting on a pair of Barbarian Rings at a robust 16 life.

Then Ben started talking to himself again, "I think its exactly enough...I need to check the math. I think it's exactly... Attack with Tog."

Read the Runes for four cards and sacrificing his lands gave him exactly sixteen points of damage and $2,000.

Final Result: Mark - 1 Ben - 2

PT Chicago Masters Gateway 2003: Burning Bridge
Mark Ziegner

PT Chicago Masters Gateway 2003: Psychatog
Ben Stark

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