eing undefeated after Day 1 is an incredible feeling but it brings with it an equal amount of pressure; suddenly, making Top 8 is no longer a dream, it's expected
. No one wants to fall from first place to something below the magical eighth. There's an immeasurable sense of relief that comes with winning the match to clinch your Top 8 berth. And no one wanted that feeling more at this point than Anton Jonsson, who had fallen to 10-2 after a 9-0 run to start the tournament.
When asked about his fifth draft deck, he was all business:
"It's fine. It could have been insane but after I got a third pick Ray from a pack with Kumano, the guy to my right took the red Honden over an Innocence Kami. Because of this he later took a Glacial Ray that would have gone to me otherwise."
He shook his head.
"My plan is just to win this one…then I can relax."
Anton established his board with Floating-Dream Zubera and a Ronin Houndmaster that stayed home in the face of a Nezumi Ronin. Anton clearly realized that he was the control deck in the matchup.
Then Shu played out Kiku, Night's Flower, which threatened to change the equation. Anton chumped with his Zubera and cast Sift through Sands, searching for an answer. He found exactly what he was looking for in the form of Glacial Ray and Reach Through Mists, but took a turn off to play Honden of Seeing Winds. With only four points of power on the other side, he was in no great hurry.
The Japanese player simply served and then accelerated his mana with Kodama's Reach and his board with Dripping-Tongue Zubera. Anton fought back with Reach Through Mists splicing Glacial Ray on the Nezumi Ronin, plus a Callous Deceiver. Shu's response was Moss Kami, but it was bounced by Consuming Vortex splicing Glacial Ray at Kiku. Blue Honden and the Splice mechanic work well together, it seems. Anton also added a Soratami Rainshaper to the board.
On his next turn the Swede had his choice of Earthshaker and Kumano, and chose the former, perhaps hoping to bait out removal. Pull Under did indeed take it down and Anton responded with Glacial Ray on the Moss Kami, putting four damage on it so that it wouldn't be able to attack through his Deceiver, and killing the Dripping-Tongue Zubera. Ashen-Skin Zubera then made an appearance.
Anton paused, trying to remember what removal Shu had picked up during the draft. Eventually he decided he had to commit and he tapped the five for Kumano. Moss Kami reduced him to 11. Shu added Feral Deceiver to the mix, clearly out of removal.
On end stop Anton went for the double shot on Feral Deceiver but Shu found a land on top of his deck. Anton played another land and now had enough for five points per turn. In other words, he had a machinegun, and he used it mow down Moss Kami. On his upkeep, Shu revealed the Forest again and the Deceiver crashed in as a 5/4 trample. Anton again racked his brain to figure out what he needed to worry about. Strength of Cedars, for example, would finish him if he didn't block (although Shu didn't have a copy in his deck). In the end Callous Deceiver gave his life to the cause and Anton fell to 9.
Shu played out Gibbering Kami and shipped the turn. Anton couldn't be happier when he was allowed to simply untap. He went for the double ping on the Deceiver again, but Shu activated in response to the second. Anton didn't take any chances and just shot in response to that. It was Burr Grafter regardless.
He used his next two shots to take down Gibbering Kami and then passed the turn. Shu played out Burr Grafter, just trying to buy time. Anton crushed that plan by playing and equipping Tenza, Godo's Maul, making Kumano a 7/7 trampling monstrosity. Shu had seen enough and scooped up his cards.
Anton Jonsson 1 - Shu Komuro 0
Anton chose not to sideboard while Shu brought in Distress to try to contain Anton's deck.
Shu's first creature, Nezumi Ronin, was on the board for about three seconds before it was whisked off by Consuming Vortex followed by a Hinder to the bottom. Feral Deceiver then stuck. Anton Sifted through Sands discarding Island, then played a fifth land and a Callous Deceiver.
Shu played Kami of the Waning Moon and then Kodama's Reach. Feral Deceiver waltzed in for a quick 3 points. Anton leisurely played Sire of the Storms, but it was Pulled Under into the graveyard. He tried Godo, Bandit Warlord next, fetching Tenza, Godo's Maul, creating a 6/6 trampler that could attack twice per turn. It's almost as if the two cards were meant for each other.
In any case, Shu calmly played an eighth land and ravaged Godo with a Swallowing Plague for the full amount, then attacked Anton down to 9. The Swede had Glacial Ray for Feral Deceiver and reinforced his board with Soratami Mirror-Guard, but was still in a heap of trouble. He took a hit for 1 and a menacing Moss Kami entered play for Shu. A dejected Anton drew a card, then looked at the top card of his deck, saw Kumano peeking out at him, and was suddenly right back in it.
Gutwrencher Oni from Shu made for another large threat and gave Moss Kami fear, taking Anton down to a precarious 3. He played out Kumano and equipped the Maul, then shot down Kami of the Waning Moon and ended his turn. Shu drew and pondered the possibilities of an attack. He would end up trading both his creatures for Callous Deceiver, the Mirror-Guard, and a point of damage to Anton. Not worth it.
Anton played out a tenth land and gunned down Moss Kami for the second time in the match. Shu pitched a land to his Oni, clearly mana flooded and about to lose his last creature. Tasting victory, Anton shot down the Oni and attacked for 11, bringing the score to 3-12 and bringing Shu one turn away from death.
Shu drew a card. Quicker than lightning, he tapped two and Ashen-Skin Zubera hit the table. He seemed far too excited to be just playing a chump blocker, but the reason was soon clear.
His other card?
Anton Jonsson 1 - Shu Komuro 1
Anton clearly couldn't believe that he had lost that game after finding Kumano on just the right turn, but did his best to mentally prepare himself for the deciding game. He wished Shu good luck, who nodded in return.
Shu had the turn-two Sustainer but Anton had the usual Reach through Mists splicing Glacial Ray as well as a turn four Mirror-Guard. Shu's Gibbering Kami was frozen by the Ray and the Mirror-Guard swung along with a fresh Ronin Houndmaster.
It was now safe for Shu to make Kiku. Anton shook his head, looking at the Kumano in his hand. He drew a sixth land and made the Maul, then put it on his Houndmaster. His team swung for 6 and reduced Shu to 9.
Shu played a sixth land and nudged the turn.
Anton attacked with both and Kiku assassinated the Mirror-Guard. Shu fell to 6. A Floating-Dream Zubera from Anton picked up the Maul. He then Hindered Nezumi Ronin to keep the way clear.
Anton attacked and Kiku assassinated the Houndmaster. He quickly played his seventh land, which meant Kumano jumped out of his hand and exacted sweet revenge on Kiku. Talk about a battle of bombs.
Rend Flesh from Shu evened it up again and Sakura-Tribe Elder bought some time. It blocked the Zubera, fetching a Swamp. Anton slapped down Soratami Savant; a fine, fine topdeck for the situation at hand.
Yet, Shu still had the answer. An eighth land plus a Swallowing Plague for 3 took it down. Floating-Dream Zubera then entered the red zone and Shu agonized over whether to block.
Fall to 3 or lose a creature and give Anton a card?
He took the damage. Anton's Glacial Ray sitting in his graveyard had to be some comfort to the young Japanese player. He then tapped into his dark side and brought out a good one in Gutwrencher Oni.
Anton, who was sitting on seven lands in play and two in his hand, drew into Sift Through Sands and immediately cast it, finding Sire of Storms and an additional land. Notice the problem? By holding the two lands on the previous turn, he didn't have enough mana to cast the flier and had to end his turn. Still, he was at a high life total and it should be good enough to play it next turn, right?
Not so. A timely Distress from Shu was a crushing blow. He followed it with a Devouring Greed that upped Shu to 5 and knocked Anton to 10. Anton, thoroughly frustrated, knocked his deck hard but found only land. The Oni reduced him to 5. One more knock, one more draw.
He threw his cards on the table in disbelief and extended the hand.
Shu Komuro 2 - Anton Jonsson 1
Both players now need to win one of their next two to have a good shot at Top 8. Having been denied by Shu, Anton will have to look elsewhere for that elusive 11th win.