en Stark was 11-3 at this point in the tournament. That is a record that allows most players to sigh and take a draw into the Sunday competition. He was paired down this round with the other 2-0 player in his pod, Ben Rubin. Ben was 9-3-1 and a loss or a draw would knock him out of the running for one last seating around the draft table on Sunday.
In the past, Pro Tours were fourteen rounds. An extra round was added beginning in Amsterdam and that further frustrated Stark who was one win away from back to back Top 8 performances--one in each discipline. "Eleven wins should put you in the Top 8. Stupid extra round."
Stark led off with a Vedalken Engineer. Rubin had nothing on the first few turns. When Stark cast Vedalken Engineer on the next turn there was a moment of confusion when Stark went ahead and cast a Vulshok Morningstar and a Soldier Replica as well. He thought Rubin had passed on the Morningstar by saying, "Sure" but Rubin claimed he only said the name of the card. He had Annul and wanted to Annul the equipment. After sorting out who said what they finally agreed to back up and Annul the equipment. Stark then cast the Soldier Replica.
Rubin's draw saw him play a lot of land and very few creatures save an Arcbound Stinger and a Steel Wall. Stark did not have much pressure casting more Soldier Replicas and an authentic Yotian Soldier. Stark played a Vulshok Battlegear and was able to force through some damage. Rubin had a Scale of Chiss-Goria that allowed his Stinger to block a 1/3.
Rubin took a long time figuring out his late turns with a Spire Golem and a Disciple of the Vault. After much debate he decided to attack with his Spire Golem even though Stark could kill it with his Soldier Replica and the Engineer. Stark decided to not kill it and took three from the Stinger enhanced flier. Rubin followed it with a 5/5 Broodstar but Stark was able to swarm in and finish off the Californian with Detonate.
Stark - 1 Rubin - 0
Worth Wollpert was watching the match and he shook his head at the low quality of Rubin's Game 1 pulls, "That was quite the watery draw, Rubin."
Rubin shook his head, "Neither of our draws were especially good."
Stark laughed, "No my draw was fine. All my deck has is 1/3 creatures."
Rubin's draw in Game 2 seemed equally poor while Stark's was much improved by the presence of Vedalken Archmage on the fourth turn. He proceeded to draw at least a half dozen cards on Rubin. At the end of the game the only non-land cards that Rubin was showing were three Spellbombs in his graveyard, Pewter Golem, and Myr Enforcer. He fought as hard as could with those spells but his deck never offered him any other help.
Rubin dropped the lands in his hand on the table and looked at Stark, "I offer you the draw."
Stark shook his head, "I have been trying to figure out if I can do that all game long but I can't. The difference between second and seventh is significant--more than the $1,000 you are looking at for the draw."
Final result: Ben Stark - 2 Ben Rubin - 0
Ben Stark would be advancing to play tomorrow in his second consecutive Pro Tour Top 8. Between his Top 8 in Constructed at Kobe and his limited performance this weekend there can be little doubt that Ben Stark is among the elite Americans playing competitive Magic today. As for Ben Rubin, he finished in the Top 16 and continued his string of impressive performances this year since his return to competitive play.