1998 World Championships
Featured Match Reports, Thursday
Day two of play was constructed, and the players used the same decks all day. They re-used these decks during the finals on Sunday.
Sigurd Eskeland (Norway) - Jon Finkel (Team USA)
Although Finkel prefers to play control he chose to go with Sligh this time around. Having playtested the format extensively he and his fellow testers decided that Sligh is the most consistent strategy. Sigurd Eskeland decided to play "Draw-Go" - a mono-blue control deck with a lot of counterspells that uses Steel Golems and Stalking Stones as the win cards.
Finkel's good game one draw was matched by Eskeland's counter magic, which was able to match his Sligh mana curve thanks to the Force Spike. Eskeland was able to stop Finkel's early offense, removed his Hammer of Bogardan out of the game via Dissipate and proceeded to win with a Steel Golem.
Finkel got off to a good start game two, playing a Cursed Scroll and several creatures. Eskeland played a Nevinyrral's Disk on turn five and was able to counter the Shattering Pulse by sacrificing his Svyulinute Temple - the only land he had untapped. Although Eskeland cleared the board Finkel had already dealt enough damage and, at 1 life, Finkel managed to force a Hammer of Boagardan through Eskeland's counterspells to win that game.
Both players were slightly manahosed in game three. Unfortunately for Eskeland, Sligh has no problem operating off two lands. Draw-Go however is unable to play its Steel Golems and Nevinyrral's Disks (which Eskeland drew in abundance this game) and so Finkel was able to overwhelm Eskeland and quickly win the match.
Finkel 2 - Eskeland 1
Satoshi Nakamura (Japan) - John Chinnock (USA)
Satoshi Nakamura played an Oath of Druids deck against John Chinnock's Weenie White. Nakamura began with an powerful first turn, Forest/Vineyard. Chinnock managed to use one of the mana for a second turn Paladin en-Vec, but he burned for one, a serious problem for him throughout the course of the match.
On turn three, Satoshi surprised Chinnock, casting an Oath of Druids, which he was able to use every upkeep for an assortment of Spike creatures. Eventually, a Spike Soldier became very large (6/6) due to Satoshi's transference of spikes from other creatures. Not only did John have to chump-block the Soldier, but he took over ten points of burn damage from the Vineyard. Eventually, he conceded the game, as he had no way of dealing with the burn.
Keeping a one Gemstone Mine draw, Chinnock found himself facing yet another first turn Vineyard. This time, he was able to Tithe for another Plain at the end of Satoshi's turn and lay a Soltari Visionary, mana burning for one. Nakamura, not having one of the better draws, used a Creeping Mold and Winter's Grasp to take out John's only sources of colored mana (he had two Wastelands out), but the Visionary did it's job, taking out the Vineyard.
Eventually, Satoshi was able to draw into a Spike Feeder, playing it and a Cursed Scroll. He managed to rub out the Visionary and play two more Spike Feeders. John's only hope was to play a Cataclysm while at 3 life and play a Warrior en-Kor on his following turn to stop Satoshi's remaining Spike Feeder. Satoshi, though, played another Vineyard, forcing John to concede when he had no way of dealing with both the Vineyard AND Spike Feeder.
Nakamura 2 Chinnock 0
Alan Comer (USA) vs Svend Sparre Geertsen (Denmark)
Alan Comer, one of the top deck constructors in the world, was at it again, playing a Recuring Nightmare machine deck vs. Svend Sparre Geertsen's Sligh. After shuffling, Comer decided to call a mulligan, reshuffling and drawing six cards. After his next draw, he opted to call a second mulligan, going down to five. In an ironic twist of fate, the five cards he drew were three lands and two Birds of Paradise. By the time he got his Recuring Nightmare out on turn three, he'd already been reduced to the magical number of seven life. On Svend's fifth turn, he Incinerated and Fireblasted Alan to death.
Drawing more of what he wanted against a Sligh deck, Comer came out strong with two Walls of Blossoms by turn three, and a Spike Weave on turn four. Svend Incinerated Alan to begin his fourth turn, then Firestormed all of Comer's creatures away AND dealing four points of damage to Comer, bringing him down to 11. After all that, Svend attacked with his two Jackal Pups, lowing Comer to 7. Alan did manage to summon a Spike Feeder on his following turn, but it had to block a Jackal Pup (he removed a counter to go up to 9 life, then went back down to 7 after damage was dealt). Alan played a Man-O-War to put the Jackal Pup back in Svend's hand two turns later, but it wasn't enough, as Svend cast a Hammer of Bogardan and Fireblast to put Comer at negative two life total.
Svend Sparre Geertsen 2 Alan Comer 0
Geertsen 2 Comer 0
Tomi Walamies (Team Finland) vs Tommi Hovi (Finland)
Hovi decided to play Prosperous Bloom today - a deck he has been playtesting for months. With several interesting sideboard choices such as Boil, Final Fortune and Shivan Dragon the deck is versatile and capable of surprising most opponents. Walamies played a "Draw-Go" mono-blue control deck. Walamies was unable to stop Hovi from going off game one, but luck was not with the pro tour veteran as he did not draw any of the cards that would allow him to complete the combo. Hovi took a lot of damage from his Infernal Contracts and gave Walamies extra turns with Meditate so, unable to win that turn, he conceded the game.
Neither player would cast a spell in game two, waiting for each other to tap out. Eventually Walamies tapped his six lands during Hovi's discard phase to activate his Staliking Stones. In response, Hovi cast Vampiric Tutor and Abeyance, drawing and casting the Final Fortune he tutored for. With Walamies tapped out, Hovi was able to easily win that game.
Third game was a long battle, with Walamies drawing a lot of counter magic and enough land to keep Hovi at bay. Walamies cast a Steel Golem on turn three (he would get two untapped mana if Hovi went off that turn and cast Natural Balance) but Hovi removed it with a Disenchant. About twenty turns later, Hovi finally decided to go for it. During Walamies' discard phase Hovi cast Abeyance and Boil, forcing Walamies to tap most of his mana and counter them. He than was able to force through the combo on his turn and win with a 20 point Drain Life.
Hovi 2 Walamies 1
David Price vs. Olle Rade
In this match-up of Pro Tour winners, Olle Rade got an incredibly slow start with his Kastle deck while David Price drew the standard Sligh draw. Summoning a horde of Pups, while using Wastelands to control lands and burn to control Birds of Paradise. In dramatic Sligh fasion, Price finished off Olle with a skillful Fireblast.
Regrouping in game two, Olle played a series of walls and Spike Feeders, and it looked like he might gain the time to build up his graveyard and use Living Death to gain a major advantage. However, David managed to take care of the walls and in order to keep Olle's graveyard from growing out of hand, he cast a timely Phyrexian Furnace. Still, David had used most of his hand, failing to draw the necessary damage so crucial to Sligh. This gave Olle time to put out a 2/5 Tradewind Rider (with a 1/1 spike from a Feeder) and take Price down to 1 life. Finally, Price's deck came back, giving him a Hammer of Bogardan and an Incinerate to kill the Tradewind. After that, he laid out a Cursed Scroll and Jackal Pup. After taking Rade down to 4 life (Olle had a Spike Feeder on table), David double Fireblasted for the victory.
Price 2 Rade 0
Jon Finkel v. Jakub Slemr
Jon Finkel is the most likely candidate to receive the Player of the Year title this season. Jakub Slemr is the reigning world champion. This is truly a dream match-up. Slemr is 8-1 going into this round while Finkel is still undefeated at 9-0.
Finkel is playing Sligh complete with a lot of direct damage and especially Hammers of Bogardan that allow him a chance of winning against slower control decks that manage to survive an early game. Slemr went with Draw-Go but, unlike most decks of that type, it splashes white for Disenchants.
Slemr did not get a very good draw in the first game - his opening hand included three Quicksands and four spells. Slemr drew Islands just soon enough to put up a bit of a fight but not soon enough to win the game. Finkel was able to finish him off with direct damage. Second game offered a closer batte with Finkel pounding on Slemr with early creatures but losing them to a Nevinyrral's Disk. Finkel managed to force many of his spells through thanks to drawing all four of his Hydroblasts. On top of that, two Hammers of Bogardan were too much for Slemr, who drew none of his two Dissipates.
Finkel 2 - Slemr 0
Randy Buehler (USA) vs Steven O'Mahoney Shwartz (USA)
Buehler has skyrocketed to the Magic Olympus ever since winning Pro Tour-Chicago - the first Pro Tour Buehler has ever played in. A member of team CMU, Buehler has performed very well in constructed and limited tournaments alike. Steven O'Mahoney Shwartz has been playing competitively and winning for years, recently finishing in the second place at Pro Tour: Meintz.
Steve OMS is playing a Sligh deck, an almost exact copy (if not card for card) of the deck Finkel is using. The two playtested the format and arrived at the conclusion that Sligh is the best deck to play in the current type 2. Randy Buehler is using the good old Draw-Go, also known as Cuneo Blue.
It seems Sligh has an advantage over Draw-Go based on the several feature matches we had today - this match was no diffirent. In game one Steve had an explosive draw, dealing a lot of early damage to Randy. Buehler played a Disk but it was a turn two late and OMS managed to finish him off.
Buehler surprised Steve OMS in game two by playing a second turn Sea Sprite. Still, OMS played his Cursed Scroll and was able to remove the potent blocker soon. Although Buehler went through about 30 cards of his deck, thanks to Impulse and Whispers of the Muse, he simply could not find any of his Disks. Taking advantage of that, Steve dealt enough damage with his Cursed Scroll to win the game.
O'Mahoney Schwartz 2, Buehler 0
Tom Guevin (USA) vs Lukas Ladra (Czech Republic)
While shuffling before the first game, Tom Guevin has admitted that he had never been able to defeat a player from a Czech Republic before. Even so, neither player in this matchup could be said to be at a disadvantage. Both Ladra and Guevin have done very well on the Pro Tour recently - not quite making top 8 but finishing close to it.
Both players in this matchup were playing Draw-Go. Guevin used a mono-blue version with Capsizes and Ludra splashed white for Disenchants. In this matchup a player that draws more mana usually wins. With Guevin playing 26 lands and Ladra 23, Guevin had a clear advantage.
Ladra had to mulligan game one and accept a one-land draw after the mulligan. He was stuck at one land for four turns while Guevin kept playing land. Guevin's Steel Golem dealt 19 points of damage to Ladra before he was able to steal it with Legacy Allure. Guevin proceeded to disk and activate his Stalking Stones in order to win the game.
Although Ladra was not manahosed in game two, he did not draw enough lands to win counter wars. Stuck at four mana, Ladra watched helplessly as Guevin's Rainbow Efreet. Eventually Ladra played his own Efreet but it was too late - Guevin Capsized it without buyback and attacked to finish his opponent off.
Guevin 2 - Ladra 0
Arto Hiltunen vs. Manuel Bevand
Sometimes the Bloom goes off in your opponent's face, sometimes it doesn't. Arto Hiltunen found this out the hard way as France's Manuel Bevand used a timely Disenchant to wreck Arto's Squandered Resources and throw his plans awry. Manuel's use of a Wasteland on Arto's City of Brass further hindered Hiltunen's effort. In desperation, Hiltunen Meditated at the end of Bevand's fourth turn, allowing Manuel a chance to know him down to 1 life. After getting his four cards and fourth turn draw phase, Arto looked at his hand and conceded.
Arto, choosing to play first, laid a Forest, City of Brass, and Swamp by turn three. Manuel laid a first turn Mox Diamond and White Knight, another White Knight in the second, and a Soltari Monk on his third. The key play of the game came when Arto played a Gloom on turn three, to which Bevand promptly Sleighted to Black. This was the bomb that ended the war.
Bevand 2 Hiltunen 0
Jon Finkel (Team USA) vs Raphael Levy (France)
Finkel has done exceptionally well so far, going into this round with an 11-0 record, losing only one duel. This is the longest consecutive winning streak at Worlds since Jeff Donais' performance last year. This round he is facing Raphael Levy of team Legion, one of the most promising young players in France. Levy is best known for creating the LLL mono-green land destruction extended deck that did very well in the round of qualifiers and Grand Prix in Europe.
Finkel is playing Sligh (see previous feature matches). Raphael Levy is using a very interesting black-green deck designed by a fellow French player Marc Hernandez. The deck is similar in design to 5cKastle but it has several very large creatures such as Verdant Force and Spirit of the Night which it can get into play via Recurring Nightmare or Living Death.
Finkel got off to a very fast start in game one, and was able to defeat color-shy Levy quickly. In the second game both players had excellent draws but Levy was able to gain enough life to stay alive and eventually achieve a winning position - he gained a lot of life recursing Bottle Gnomes and Spike Feeders and than brought a Verdant Force into play. Finkel conceded the game at that point.
Game three lasted about half an hour. Although Levy was in a better position throughout the game, he was playing extremely cautiously, knowing (thanks to Cursed Scroll) that Finkel is holding multiple Fireblasts. Finkel dealt a lot of damage, going down to six himself thanks to several attacks and his own Fireslinger. The game lasted so long that Levy got up to nine lands and actually cast his Spirit of the Night. Finkel, at six life was forced to double Fireblast it. He than proceeded to attack Levy bringing him down to only four life. At this point Levy will win the match if he draws a creature but lose it if he draws anything else. After waiting for several seconds, Levy drew a card...and it was a Nekrataal! He cast the Nekrataal and used Recurring Nightmare to bring Spirit of the Night back into play and win the match.
The first person to defeat Jon Finkel in this tournament, Levy has a 9-2 record at this point. Jon Finkel is still in the lead with 11-1 record.
Levy 2 - Finkel 1
In other news, Bachman def. Eskeland 2-0 and Kastle def. Gallitz 2-0
Kim Eikefet vs. Jakub Slemr
Featuring one of the more entertaining match-ups, Sligh playing Kim Eikefet was pitted against reigning World Champion Jakub Slemr who was playing a Draw-Go Variant. Things began nicely for Kim as she was able to lay out a first turn Jackal Pup. On turn two, however, her attempt at casting an Ironclaw Orc was denied (Force Spike). Jakub brought out a Steel Golem on turn three, only to see it fall to an Incinerate after it had blocked the Jackal Pup. At this point, Jakub began to gain control as Eikefet drew land after land. Another Steel Golem proved to be problematic for Kim after Jakub achieved control. In the end, Kim took Slemr down to 6 life, but the land glut was too much. The Steel Golem eventually took away all of Kim's life on it's march to victory.
Failing to draw a card she could play on the first two turns, Kim saw her third turn Ball Lightning Hydroblasted. On his turn three, Jakub summoned a Suq'Ata Firewalker which hung around throughout the entire game. With little going via the creature game, Eikefet attempted to establish Hammer of Bogardan recursion. This lasted all of one turn before Slemr's Phyrexian Furnace and Dissipate spoiled the fun. On turn eight, with a hand of counters, Jakub played a Steel Golem. The Golem, along with the Firewalker, took Kim down to 0 over the course of the next several turns. Though Eikefet managed to take Slemr down to 5 life, her four consecutive land draw and failure to draw a single sideboard card kept her from the win.
Slemr 2 Eikefet 0
Steven O'Mahoney Schwartz vs Kyle Rose
Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, finalist of PT: Mainz and winner of Grand Prix Madrid and Zurich is facing Kyle Rose who finished 5th at PT: LA and 7th at PT:Chicago. Both are skillful players and both are playing similar deck types so this match was more likely to be decided by luck of the draw than anything else.
And luck it was - Kyle Rose drew only seven spells and ten lands in game one. Besides having to remove Rathi Dragon - Rose's "secret tech" of the day - O'Mahoney-Schwartz did not have much of a hard time winning that game. The second game went just as badly for Rose as he drew only two Mountains. Normally that is enough for a Sligh deck but his hand looked like this at one point: 3 Rathi Dragon, 2 Ball Lightning and 1 Hammer of Bogardan. Manahosed completely, Rose lost his match about twenty minutes into the round.
O'Mahoney-Schwartz 2 Rose 0
Chris Pikula vs. Brian Selden
Excitment is what happens when you pit a Sligh deck versus the latest in Recurring Nightmare tech. Chris Pikula, playing one of the quicker Sligh decks in the tournament, faced up against Brian Seldon's Nightmare, keeping him low on land via Wasteland and Seldon's inability to draw mana. Unleashing a beating consisting of a Jackal Pup, Mogg Fanatic, and Fireslinger, Pikula dropped Brian down to 14 life by turn 4. After a Firestorm by Selden cleared the boards of Chris' creatures, Pikula responded by taking him down to 5 via Cursed Scroll and Incinerate damage. But Brian somehow managed the miraculous comeback, casting a Recurring Nightmare and sacrificing his Wall of Roots to bring out a Verdant Force from the Graveyard. This stopped the bleeding, though Selden wasn't out of the woods yet. At five life, he knew Pikula had something up his sleeve. But Chris never could topdeck the cards necessary to put the win away. The Verdant Force and it's little token brothers marched on to victory, applying what one onlooker described as "a busty beating".
Some days, you just lose. Brian Selden saw this up close and personal, as his lands damaged him just a little too much over the course of the game. It didn't help that Pikula had two Fanatics, a Jackal pup, and Fireslinger running wild all over the board. After establishing a Scroll Rack on the board, Selden used it, finding nothing that could save him from an inevitable death, so he scooped.
With lightning quickness, Pikula came out fast once again, laying a Fireslinger and Jackal Pup by turn three. On turn four, he got just a little greedy, casting a Ball Lightning and declaring an attack. Selden Firestormed all of Pikula's creatures away, stopping the damage for just a short while. With Pikula burning him the end of every turn, Selden cast a Recurring Nightmare and sacked his Wall of Blossoms in favor of a Staunch Defenders from the graveyard. This gave him the life to keep alive for the moment, and a threat that Chris would be hardpressed to overcome. It only got worse as Brian cast a Survival of the Fittest and put a Verdant Force in his graveyard. The following turn, he Recurring Nightmared again, sacking his Staunch Defenders to bring out the Force. On the next turn, he sacrificed one of the Force tokens to the Nightmare to bring back the Staunch Defenders.
Selden 2 Pikula 1
Brian Hacker (USA) vs Dave Price (USA)
Dave Price is often referred to as the "King of Sligh." He won Pro Tour: Los Angeles '98 using a Tempest-only Sligh deck, passed undefeated through the day of type 2 at the 1997 US Nationals with Sligh, etc. Even when not playing Sligh, Price's play style is always aggressive. Brian Hacker loves playing aggressively as much - if not more. When these two competitors are paired up, the sparks are going to fly.
True to his style, Price was playing a Sligh deck. Brian Hacker was using a monocolor white weenie deck with four pro-red Soltari Priests and a lot of en-kors as well as other weenie creatures and Empyrial Armor. This is a very bad matchup for a Sligh deck and even the King of Sligh could not do very much to prevent defeat. Redirection creatures played a crucial role in game one - Hacker would attack with his pro-red shadow creature and allow a Warror and Nomads en-Kor to block a horde of red weenies Price had summoned.
Game two was no better for PTLA champion - white weenie creatures were too much for his deck to handle and Hacker emerged victorious in this lightning-fast match.
Hacker 2 - Price 0