Team Round 4: Germany vs. United States
Germany already took down the so-called "best national team ever assembled" when they beat the Dutch squad in round 2. They also took out one of the other leading teams when they beat Sweden in round 3. A third win – over upstart Argentina – added up to Germany already having clinched a spot in Sunday's finals when they sat down for the final round. However, there was still some unfinished business to take care of: Team USA.
The worlds team competition has been all about Team USA ever since it began. They've won 6 out of the 7 titles in history. This was supposed to be the year that they finally lost one, and their performance through the individual Swiss rounds was fairly mediocre. However, the boys from the states rattled off wins in each of their first three rounds on Saturday and a win over Germany would give them a good shot at moving on to the finals – a win away from ruling the world yet again.
It was only fitting that the road to the title went through the United States and Germany seemed up to the challenge.
Germany seemed to wind up with better decks during the draft. There were several packs where Germany was quite surprised at the saucy cards that the USA wound up passing them – Beast Attack and Sylvan Might came from packs that Team USA only got one or two cards from. Mirari's Wake, though, was met by slack jaws when all three Americans declined it.
While the Germans probably have better cards, the Americans so have a pretty cool plan:
Mise with Dragons.
Eugene Harvey got the Mongrel – Wonder draw in game 1 against Kai Budde. That draw is hard to beat in constructed, much less team Rochester draft. Budde wound up dead before he could even cast the Beast Attack he was holding.
Eric Franz got some early beatdown going, but Felix Schneiders looted his way into a Teroh's Faithful and a Firebolt. He almost had the board stabilized when Franz sent both Sonic Seizure and Fiery temper straight at his done for a 1-0 lead. Meanwhile Andrew Ranks had too much removal for Mark Zeigner to handle and team USA was suddenly up a game in all three matches.
A pair of Earsplitting Rats from Zeigner forced Ranks to discard his Vampiric Dragon and slump empty-handed. A couple turns later the rats dealt lethal damage and the match was even at one game apiece. Eugene Harvey did everything he could to hold off Budde's beastly beats in game 2, but one 4/4 beast token kept busting through for damage and that match also went to game 3.
Ranks drew a bunch of land in game 3, and was simply helpless at the hands of Zeigner's good draw. Germany thus claimed first blood, putting a match up in the W column.
Harvey got the Mongrel- Wonder draw again in game 3 and moments after Ranks went down to defeat, Harvey evened the score at one match each. Thus it all came down to Eric Franz versus Felix Schneiders.
Franz seemed poised to win his match when Schneiders couldn't find any blue mana in game 2, but Schneiders stalled long enough to draw out of it and Franz made a crucial mistake – enchanting his own creature with a Crackling Club that he intended to immediately throw at Schneiders' Skywing Aven. Schneiders' Repeled as a response and Franz could do nothing but hang his head.
It was about then that news came that Denmark had defeated Argentina. That was exactly the help that USA needed. Now they knew that if they won this match, they would get to go to the playoff they were hoping for all along. What seemed impossible just 24 hours ago was now one game win away.
Schneiders stabilized at 5 life and started attacking Franz. Franz drew into a Chainflinger and pinged Schneiders down to 1. Franz made another mistake at this point – not realizing that he could have simply attacked for the win with his 3 fliers. It looked like Schneiders couldhave sent Mystic Zealot crashing down to the ground by returning a card to Franz's hand with Shieldmage Advocate, but Franz could simply have responded ith Chainflinger and won the game. Schneiders then killed the Chainflinger with Swelter and used Teroh's Faithful to limb back up to a slightly less scary 5 life.
The game totally bogged down at that point and Franz settled in to go for the deck. Schneiders had been looting like a madman so he was in grave danger of running out of cards. Any bad memories that Franz might have walked away with disappeared in one moment as he found the winning play: Book Burning. Schneiders shrugged and said sure. "No, no – Book Burningyou." That was enough – Schneiders extended his hand and the Americans started to celebrate.
Whether they win or lose the playoff against the Danes, no one can question this American team's heart. Everyone counted them out, but they came all the way back and beat the best player in the world to earn the right to play (at least) one more game.
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