he two non-teenaged Europeans were facing off for this Top 8 match. Thomas Didierjean, hailing from France, was playing his first Pro Tour - and having a very successful one at that. His opponent this round was Pro Tour perennial Bram Snepvangers, hailing from the Netherlands. Both players drafted very strong decks with strong removal, early creatures, and late-game bombs. Thomas probably had the slight edge in the matchup with his pair of Corpulent Corpse, but don't count Bram out, with Firemaw Kavu, Evangelize, and years of high-end Pro Tour experience. Both players shook hands, wished each other a sincere "good luck," and got down to business.
Newcomer Thomas Didierjean faces off against the well-established Bram Snepvangers.
Thomas and Bram each began with a third-turn creature. Thomas went with Flowstone Channeler, while Bram cast a Zhalfirin Commander. Thomas had to read the purple flanker; rather ironic given that he had passed the Commander in pack one, pick one. Channeler hit once while Bram simply continued to play lands and keep the Commander home on defense.
Sensing weakness, Thomas played a Corpulent Corpse, and Bogardan Rager to increase the damage. Feeling it was time to clean the board, Bram tapped out to play his most powerful spell, a kicked Desolation Giant. Thomas appeared unconcerned with losing all of his creatures. The reason for his indifference became apparent when Thomas played his most powerful spell, Kaervek the Merciless.
Kaervek was the strongest card Thomas could play here, but once again, Bram had the trump. Evangelize was cast, targeting the Legend, Thomas's only creature. At this point, Thomas made a big error. With five points of damage to assign, his best move was simply to kill his own Kaervek the Merciless. Had he done this, he may have been able to get back in the game. However, Thomas simply dealt five points of damage to his opponent and let the creature go. Not able to muster any defense to the Giant and the legend, Thomas quickly fell in the first game of this best of five series.
Snepvangers 1 - Didierjean 0
During sideboarding, Thomas was quick to acknowledge his opponent's excellent draft deck. Bram took the compliment with aplomb, and they spent some time discussing the top 8 experience. Strangely, during this discussion Bram chose not to point out his opponent's game-sacrificing error.
Didierjean: "I guess I can only play Kaervek when you are at five life!"
Both players mirrored suspend this game, Thomas using Corpulent Corpse as Bram had Ivory Giant. While the creatures were stuck in their time zone, Thomas spent his turns casting a pair of Basal Sliver. Bram came back with a Sliver of his own, of the Watcher variety. With the two 2/4s, Thomas felt safe attacking, and drew first blood. A Foriysian Totem attack next turn shaved another 6 points off Bram's life. This time Bram sacrificed his Watcher Sliver for mana post combat, killing the Basal he had blocked.
On his own turn, Bram attempted a Firemaw Kavu on the remaining 2/2. In response to the spell, Thomas sacrificed his Basal Sliver. The Kavu came into play, saw no one but himself, and flamed out to the grave. With his opponent tapped out, Thomas' just-resolved Corpse came into play and attacked - for 7, thanks to Bogardan Rager. When Thomas attacked with his army on the next turn, he could only laugh as Bram stayed alive with an unmorphed Fortune Thief. The Thief kept Bram alive for a few turns, but when Bram couldn't kill his opponent's Urborg Syphon-Mage, the players moved onto Game 3.
Snepvangers 1 - Didierjean 1
Bram sees a Stoker.
As Thomas was reviewing his deck for third game, he paused for a moment over his copy of Stuffy Doll. With an invulnerability to Desolation Giant and an adequate defense against Evangelize, Thomas knew the Stuffy Doll could be a major player in the rest of the series.
This game saw the first mulligan of the match, from Thomas' side. The next six were a keeper, and they once again began to fight. An Errant Doomsayer kept down a threatening Mana Skimmer from Thomas's side. A Basal Sliver got a few points in, but was later inexplicably sacrificed before combat for mana. That boost allowed Thomas a nice turn with Coal Stoker and Fury Sliver. Both creatures attacked at the next opportunity. Bram nonchalantly told his opponent he had no blockers, but he was merely setting a trap, as he wanted to draw out Bogardan Rager. Indeed, the Elemental came down to give the Sliver +4/+0, right before the Sliver drew Bram's Temporal Isolation. People get so greedy with double strike…
Despite losing out on the extra damage, Thomas was still in a commanding position with a 3/3 and 3/4 in play. Bram's Ivory Giant made a fine blocker, though, and a Watcher Sliver from Snepvangers made an excellent attacker thanks to the double strike. Both players tried to build their position, but when Thomas's Corpulent Corpse took on an Eternity Snare, the advantage swung solidly to Bram. Despite Evangelize being a completely dead card, Bram was still able to continue adding creatures to his side. A Tendrils of Corruption on Watcher Sliver was Thomas's last-ditch effort, but Momentary Blink fizzled that plan. After the flashback targeting Ivory Giant removed all blockers, Bram swung in for the kill.
Snepvangers 2 - Didierjean 1
Both players started off with creatures in the beginning of this fourth game. Bram suspended an Ivory Giant and played a third-turn morph. Thomas's Flowstone Channeler was excellent against either of Bram's face-up morph guys, but face-down, the morph was a credible threat. A Mana Skimmer from Thomas gave him some evasion to work with. Bram decided to give his creature a Fire Whip, and after everything attacked on the next turn, used both cards to trade with both of Thomas's.
For a moment, Thomas seems to doubt his chances.
Didierjean replaced his depleted board with Coal Stoker into Phyrexian Totem. Bram merely passed the turn, allowing both of the creatures to hit for 8 life. The turn before Ivory Giant was set to hit, Bram played his big timeshifted special, the Desolation Giant. It didn't stop the Totem problem though, and after the Wrath-man went down to Strangling Soot, the Totem slammed in for another 5. Things slowed down a bit after that, although Bram was at a precarious life total. He started trying to equalize that problem with Venser's Sliver, while Thomas remained uninterested in using his graveyard Soot to kill it. Finally the artifact creature fell to an Assassinate from Thomas, and he played another damage source in Faceless Devourer.
Bram was stuck with his Firemaw Kavu in hand. While it could kill the Devourer, the Soot meant the Kavu would kill the last creature on the board, Snepvangers' own Ivory Giant. After some more attacks by both sides, Thomas activated his Foriysian Totem to block. With another creature available to shoot, the Kavu came into play and finished the Totem. A lack of paid echo killed the Devourer, but by this point Bram was on one life. Thomas's flashbacked Soot killed Zhalfirin Commander, and the Phyrexian Totem trampled over Ivory Giant for exactly 1 point - and the kill.
Snepvangers 2 - Didierjean: 2
At this point the players were moved to the feature table so the Internet community could watch the final game of this epic series. Both players had exceedingly strong decks, but only one could move on. With smiles, hand shakes, and another wish of good luck to each other, the players began their final game.
For the first time of the match, Bram took a mulligan. His next six were acceptable but slow. This turned out be disastrous for the Dutch player, as Thomas got his speediest draw of the match. A suspended Corpulent Corpse led to Faceless Devourer and Mana Skimmer. Bram's first play was a third turn Basalt Gargoyle, which cost him his fourth turn as well. He tried to get in a racing situation with the 3/2 flier, but the two black creatures were cracking back.
Clearly needing a Desolation Giant
, the best Bram could manage was Eternity Snare
on the Mana Skimmer
before the Corpse came into play. Another 7 points of damage from the Devourer, the Corpse, and a Basal Sliver
took Bram down to the single digits. Thomas's final play, much to the appreciation of the spectating audience, was a sacrificed Sliver to cast out Kaervek the Merciless
. Bram couldn't come back from that, and conceded the game and match.
Snepvangers 2 - Didierjean 3
Thomas Didierjean moves onto the semifinals, where he will face off against Brazil's Willy Edel.