Michael Bauer and Mark Herberholz battle it out on the big stage.
With a camera crew hovering nearby at all times, amateur player Michael Bauer found himself under even more pressure than he normally would be staring down the barrel of a Pro Tour Champion. Mark Herberholz is not only the Pro Tour–Honolulu
Champion and appeared in the Top 8 of a Pro Tour four times, but he has also been the focus of attention from an outside film crew this week at Nationals. You know... just to add a little more pressure on the Long Island
, NY player who qualified for the event via Regionals.
The two players talked about the tournament and the pressure of being on camera and in a Feature Match.
"You're the professional," said Bauer. "You are used to this. For me this is the first time I have ever faced anything even half as big as this."
"Well you got off to a pretty good start," said Mark. Both players were sitting at 2-0 coming into this last round of Standard on Day One.
Michael was playing Reveillark. He qualified at Regionals with the deck but had modified his list somewhat since then with the addition of Fulminator Mage. That addition could be a painful one for Mark, who was playing an updated five-color Quick ‘n Toast list.
"I was not excited about any particular deck in this Standard format," said Mark when asked why he chose the deck. "I just wanted to play a control deck."
Bauer led off by suspending a Greater Gargadon while giving a couple of points head start to the Honolulu champion with Grove of the Burnwillows. Mark had the toasty opening with Wall of Roots, while Bauer gained some life on his side of the ledger with Kitchen Finks.
Bauer examined the array of three lands, which included Reflecting Pool and Dreadship Reef, and tried to figure out what he could expect from Mark via the potential mana he could make.
"You can make black with the Reflecting Pool right now?"
"Just checking. I am just trying to figure out what you got."
You can make black with the Reflecting Pool right now?
"I don't know..." shrugged Mark, who was much more interested in the blue mana he could make to dismiss Bauer's Reveillark
with Cryptic Command
Mark was digging for a fourth land with Careful Consideration. He pitched two Firespouts and was tapped out for Bauer's next ‘Lark. Mark then cleared the board—sort of—with Damnation. Bauer sacrificed both of his creatures to Greater Gargadon. Mark gladly pointed out that the Kitchen Finks came back into play before the Damnation resolved, and Bauer sacrificed it once again. He suspended another Gargadon on the following turn and bided his time on the first one.
Cloudthresher—while still on the stack—was Vensered back to Mark's hand. Bauer followed up with Fulminator Mage and ran his Venser into the Cloudthresher that he knew was looming in Mark's hand. Mark gained a little life with Kitchen Finks and left his Cloudthresher back to man the fort with a 9/7 red monster looming next turn.
Bauer chose not to send his Gargadon into battle and instead attempted to play Reveillark. Mark countered it with Rune Snag. Mark took this opportunity to go on the offensive and sent in his ‘Thresher. Fulminator Mage blocked and took a Dreadship Reef with him. Mark fortified with Wall of Roots and Mulldrifter.
Bauer was down to one card in hand, while Mark had a full grip that included a groan-inducing Oona, Queen of the Fae.
"That is going to be nasty," sighed Michael.
"Yeah, but what color do I name?" asked Mark, who still had four mana open. He named blue and hit for one token.
Bauer checked on the text for Oona: "Are they in the graveyard or removed from game?"
"That would be sick with your Reveillarks. I could just load it up for you," laughed Mark, as Bauer's cards were indeed removed from the game.
Bauer's Gargadon was on one counter, and he knocked on his deck. "We have one more shot here..."
Murderous Redcap was not the card he was hoping for, though, and it was all over but for the formalities.
Herberholz 1, Bauer 0
Herberholz made the first play of the game with Wall of Roots, and Bauer reset the PT Champion's mana development to par with Fulminator Mage, taking out a Vivid Creek. He then bogied Mark when Sower of Temptation took a freshly grown Wall of Roots.
Mark looked to reset things with Firespout
but Bauer had Pact of Negation
(not to mention the (very much in vogue) counter on top of his deck to remind him to pay his usurious upkeep). Mark restocked his hand with Mulldrifter
and also blocked the airways for the Sower. Bauer left the flyer back and sent in a Kitchen Finks
and Mark was happy to trade with the Mulldrifter
. Mark played another, but it was Vensered
back to his hand.
Bauer's team trundled across for 6, and the Regional winner, with Mark more or less tapped out, went for a Reveillark, but the Toast player was prepared with Pact of Negation. He paid his upkeep and still had a mana ready to rip the Reveillarks out of the ‘Lark player's deck with Extirpate. Bauer shrugged and came over for 6 more.
Mark played Oona with only two mana showing and Bauer knew he had one shot at finding an answer. He evoked Mulldrifter but did not find what he was looking for, judging by the Prismatic Lens he played. Mark blocked Bauer's team judiciously and fell to 4, but with an untap step looming the game seemed secure for the Honolulu Champion.
Having had a look at Bauer's deck, he now switched his Oona color call to red and hit four times over two turns. Bauer extended his hand, congratulated Mark on going 3-0 in the Standard portion of Day One, and got the chance to talk with Mark on camera about their match.
Mark Herberholz 2, Michael Bauer 0