Round 12 Feature Match: Antoine Ruel (France) vs. Paco Llopis (Spain)
By Ben Ronaldson
Antoine has a strong u/r deck with a good mana curve and some bombs like Scoria Cat and Volcanic Winds. Paco managed to draft some great black removal and a few good flyers too so this match was set up to be a close one.
Llopis won the toss and elected to play first and both players made their first four land drops before the Frenchman dryed up. The Red Mage was not to be stopped by this as he continuously served with haste monsters thanks to a turn three Battle Rampart - the Fault Riders were frustrating the Spaniard who first threw a Viscious Hunger at it (it was Seal of Removaled in response) and then Seal of Doomed it. The only damage being dealt to Ruel was from a Windscouter and a Plague Witch, but this was not enough to race a Commando, Rhystic Lightning and a Scoria Cat. There is relatively little to report on here as Antoine's beatdown draw savaged his opponent and finished him off with a Panic Attack.
France 1 - Spain 0
An explosive start for both players. Ruel made Cloudskate, Fault Riders, Balloon Peddler whilst Llopis whips out a Percher and an Airship. The race swung heavily in Paco's favour when he made a Highway Robbers.
On turn 5 Antoine had to make a judgement call and attacked with all his creatures to reduce his opponent to 8 (sacrificing a mountain to the Fault Riders), then Rhystic Lightninged him to the dome. He was on 11 at the time, but was reduced to 6 in return, then a Darting Merfolk came to town. With paco on 4 (he was tapped out when the Lightning was cast) Ruel decided to cast Panic Attack and attack with the Fault Riders, sacrificing a land, but sure enough his opponent had the answer and it received a Greel's Caress, so Paco went down to three.
From this point the black deck won in the air, but Antoine did have one chance to win if he had top-decked a land. He had devestate in hand which would have shot both the Darting Merfolk and the Airship, but no land came.
France 1 - Spain 1
90% of this game was played with their hands face up as Paco's Wandering Eye meandered its way amongst the skies. This time Ruel had what appered to be a slow start with only a Battle Rampart and a Whip Sergeant to show for, then his Scoria Cat was wrenched off the top on turn 5, but a Darting Merfolk is lying in wait for the fatty. The two players had a bit of a fight over the Merfolk as a result - a Rhystic Lightning and Seal of Removal were both used up in the battle, but the Merfolk held fast and sat looking smuggly at the big pussy.
Then the answer came in the form of a Balloon Pedder who gained haste as soon as he was summoned and sent the Cat in for 6. Now the Peddler became the problem card for Llopis, so a Viscious Hunger whistled over only to result in Ruel's Seal of Removal being used up and the cat launching machine was thrust back into play.
Because the Merfolk had managed to stall the ground a bit the Spaniard was beginning to amass walkers like Hollow Warriors, so the Cat could no longer sprout wings because it had to lie back in defense, and a Stormwatch Eagle reinforced the issue. Then Ruel found the solution yet again as he tore a Rootwater Commando off the top. Faced with no option but to race Pacowas beginning to show signs of a comeback when yet again Antoine "he's on fire!" Ruel whips up his bomb and casts Volcanic Winds. Now.......his oponent was on 7. His opponent had a Belbe's Percher, Stormwatch Eagle, Darting Merfolk, Wandering Eye, Hollow Warrior and Plague Witch; he had a Battle Rampart, Ballon Peddler, Scoria Cat and Rootwater Commando. Ten damage. Now, let there be no doubt that Antoine is a good player, but he was tired and feeling like he was winning, so he spent his ten damage killing the Percer, Eye, Witch and Warrior, leaving a merfolk and an Eagle in play which had to block. If he had dealt damage to the Eagle and Merfolk the Percher would not have been able to block and he would have won outright, but as it happens he won 3 turns later instead.
He assures us he'll be concentrating in the Top 8. He's a good man, so I hope he does.
France wins 2-1