lbuquerque Isotopes, or the team formerly known as "Make Fetch Happen" (they changed their name this year because it was no longer hip), finished 10th at Pro Tour-Seattle, but find themselves sitting on the bubble in this final round of Day 1, needing one more victory to secure a spot in Day 2.
Mike Thompson, left, and Kai Budde each faced elimination.
Sitting before them is a very familiar set of faces that combined together for the first time here in Atlanta. Marco Blume had prior commitments in Germany, leaving The Phoenix Foundation incomplete for this Pro Tour. When Dirk Baberowski stated he wasn't sure he wanted to attend either, it left Kai looking for teammates -- which he found in the form of Mattias Jorstedt and Bernardo da Costa Cabral. Things haven't gone as well as this uber-team had hoped Friday, and they too are sitting at 3-2, needing a win to secure a spot at the draft tables.
The game started as expected, with Kai's green-red deck playing fatties and Thompson's blue-white deck looking to set up a defense. Kai pushed Gnarled Mass, Orochi Ranger, and Ronin Houndmaster into River Kaijin and Innocence Kami, baiting Thompson to call his seeming bluff. Mike stared at Kai, asked how many cards he had and then did just that, letting Kai destroy him with Roar of Jukai while keeping his whole team intact, reducing Thompson to a lonely Shimmering Glasskite.
The good times only lasted one more turn for the German Juggernaut, as Thompson played Final Judgement to reset the board. Soon Teller of Tales was facing off against Orochi Ranger and Lifespinner. Mystic Restraints shut down the Spinner, Blessed Breath untapped Teller and soon Hikari was on the board, causing Kai to briefly lament the quality of Thompson's awesome blue-white monstrosity.
On the very next turn, however Kai played his eighth land and attacked with Child of Thorns. Thompson chose not to block with Hikari, Twilight Guardian letting Kai casually flip over Strength of Cedars for exactly enough damage to win the game.
Kai's steely eyes lock on his opponent.
Budde 1, Thompson 0
Just after Budde won Game 1 in such improbable style, his teammates reported in with wins as well, putting www.cardshark.com up a game in all three matches -- Jorstedt winning his on the wings of Genju of the Falls alone.
Thompson started Game 2 with almost as much gas as he ended Game 1, ramping from Soratami Cloudskater to Hikari, with Mystic Restraints and Waxmane Baku in between. Kai made a brief race of things by reducing Thompson to eight, but tappers and five-power flyers every turn plus no removal for Kai meant it was quickly on to Game 3.
Budde 1, Thompson 1
Over in the C seat, Da Costa Cabral dropped his Game 2 as well and then fell behind early in Game 3, while Goldman held a fat demon and Kokusho in hand, waiting for another land to push his advantage.
Game 3 started much better for the German this time, with Gnarled Masses lumbering across the red zone for a couple of turns until Nagao, Bound by Honor arrived to spoil the fun. Thompson's deck is patently ridiculous!
Thompson could only smile at the thought of his deck.
Kai cast Moss Kami to give him a fatty of his own, but Thompson equaled that with Hikari, wielding serious lumber in his battle with the Juggernaut. Kai sent his Green men charging into the red zone, but all it got him was six damage on Thompson at the cost of his Moss Kami. Thompson's deck continued to hum, generating advantage all the time until the flyers once again dispatched Mr. Budde. While Kai's deck was filled with brute force and creatures, Thompson's deck seemed very much like a piece of German engineering -- powerful, efficient, and completely destructive, grinding the most successful Magic player ever beneath his boot and sending the card sharks to the brink of elimination.
Thompson 2, Budde 1
Jorstedt won the A match, leaving the outcome of both teams' tournaments hinging on what happened between Da Costa Cabral and Goldman in Seat C. Bernardo managed to fight through a Gutwrencher Oni and a Kokusho to stay in the game, but a glut of lands plus card advantage from Bloodspeaker searching out Scourge of Numai left Kai crashing out of his second Team Pro Tour in a row on Day 1.
Final Score: Albuquerque Isotopes 2 - www.cardshark.com 1
"It figures that the only match I lost all day long was the one that really mattered," said Da Costa Cabral