Magic: The Gathering Invitational 2000
Round 11 Recap
by Randy Buehler
If ever there was a "must win" game at the Invitational it was the one Gary Wise sat down for against Brian hacker in round 11. Hacker and Wise had been in 15th and 16th all weekend, but Hacker had just opened up a 2 game lead by winning round 10. If Gary lost this one he was almost assuredly doomed to finish last, but if he won he'd be only 1 game behind Brian and he'd have the head to head tiebreaker advantage.
Hacker mulliganned before game 1, but his 6-card hand was good. He played turn 1 Jackal Pup and then on his second turn he played Sol Ring and Wheel of Fortune. Off the Wheel he drew Black Lotus, Gorilla Shaman, another Jackal Pup, and a Black Vise. Black Lotus has shown this weekend that it really is worth all that money. Gary reaction at the end of that turn was just "huh?" Welcome to Type 1, Gary. Wise was ready with a pretty good turn 2 of his own. He used Dark Ritual and Yawgmoth's Will to cast a Nevinyrral's Disk that was sent to his graveyard by Hacker's Wheel. Hacker's Gorilla Shaman wasn't quite up to the challenge of eating a Disk and so Gary was able to sweep the board next turn and stabilize the game. Brian found another Shaman and continued applying pressure while Gary built up land and was eventually able to cast a Mirror Universe. Hacker immediately started mana burning himself to try to deny Gary as much life as possible. It isn't possible to directly kill someone with a Mirror Universe under 6th Edition rules, but the life swing can still be impressive - impressive enough that Wise put 2 in his main deck. When Gary switched it left Brian at 5 and Gary at 12. Gary had Drain Life in hand along with 6 land in play. One more land would allow him to Drain Brian to death, but meanwhile Brian added a Goblin Cadet to his assault. When Gary drew a second Drain Life, he used the first one to suck four points of life from Brian and reduce his score to 1. This play told Brian that Gary must have another Drain in his hand - otherwise why wouldn't he wait for one more land and kill him with the first one? When Brian top-decked a Demonic Tutor he looked through his deck and elected to take Windfall, just so he could make Gary discard his hand. And it worked! Gary did indeed have that Drain, but Gary's new cards were just a Swamp, a Sinkhole, and an Unmask. Hacker's Cadet and Shaman killed Gary two turns later. All the spectators congratulated Hacker on his fine play.
Hacker kept a hand for game 2 with lots of mana, but not many threats. Gary ritualled out a turn 1 Necropotence. That should have been bad for Brian, but Wise's Necro deck is creatureless and instead relies on Drain Life, Corrupt, and Mirror Universe to damage the opponent to death. It doesn't even use Hypnotic Specters. Gary did Necro into one of the Masticores he sideboarded in, but the upkeep on Masticore forced him to keep necroing for more cards. Gary never drew a Drain Life and eventually he was forced to Necro down to one and Hacker drew a Lightning Bolt off the top and killed him with it. So the real story is that Gary's deck is so badly built that it can't win when it plays a turn 1 Necro and Gary's creatureless Necro monstrosity allowed him to wrap up last place earlier that any competitor and any previous invitational. He hasn't mathematically clinched last, but down three with four rounds to play isn't good.
Hacker - 2
Wise - 0