Tony Dobson vs. Brian Davis
After day 1 there were just two players with perfect 7-0 records, and they met in a round 8 feature match. Tony Dobson has 3 Grand Prix Top 8's and a Top 8 at the Euro Championship to his credit, but he has never broken through on the Pro Tour. Most of the English players shared information and worked together to prepare for this tournament and the deck they came up with - Cocoa Pebbles - is doing quite well. Cocoa Pebbles uses the normal Enduring Renewal/Goblin Bombardment/Shield Sphere combo, but splashes black for Duress, Dark Ritual, and Necropotence. Brian Davis credits Craig Wescoe for designing his Necro deck. In a good example of convergent evolution, it's also quite similar to the deck Pat Chapin used to get to 6-1 yesterday (which was independently designed by Eric Taylor). The most distinctive aspect of the deck is the high number of "free" spells, including the Mercadian Masques card Unmask (along with Spinning Darkness and Contagion).
Tony won the die roll and then chose to mulligan a hand with 2 land and an assortment of combo bits, but no mana acceleration or tutors. His 6-card hand included Dark Ritual and Necropotence. Brian went down to 5 cards before settled for Swamps, a Duress, and a Ritual. Tony played a first turn Necro and set aside five cards. Brian then Duressed him and took away his Consult. On Tony's second turn he Duressed the last spell out of Brian's hand (Dark Ritual). Then he cast Mox Diamond, Mana Vault, and Academy Rector. Finally he set aside 8 more cards with Necropotence. Brian didn't top-deck a Duress while Tony did find a Goblin Bombardment and a Shield Sphere among his new cards. Tony cast a Duress just to be sure, dropped the Bombardment and Brian immediately saw that Tony could just sacrifice his Rector to go get an Enduring Renewal. That's a turn 3 kill.
Game 2 was much closer. Brian removed Skittering Skirge from the game to cast a first turn Unmask. The rest of his hand was just Swamps and a Necro so he chose to take Tony's Duress rather than Goblin Bombardment, Dark Ritual, Shield Sphere, or Mox Diamond. Tony dropped the Mox, Bombardment, and Shield Sphere on his first turn. Brian drew Demonic Consultation and immediately used it to find a Dark Ritual and cast turn 2 Necropotence. His 7 new cards included a Duress, 2 Nevinyrral's Disks, and a Planar Void. All Tony could do on his third turn was play a land. Brian cast Duress to take Tony's Dark Ritual and then used Wasteland to prevent Tony from getting to four mana on his next turn. Brian also cast Planar Void and then set aside four more cards, dropping him to 9. He really needed to find a Dark Ritual in order to cast Nevinyrral's Disk as soon as possible so he probably should have set aside more cards - it's not like Tony is going to do more than 1 or 2 damage without being able to kill him.
Tony drew Academy Rector and played a land, giving him 3 mana in play and just the one card (Academy Rector) in his hand. Brian played a land (giving him three), set aside two cards, and said done. Tony drew the perfect card on his next turn - land. That allowed Tony to drop his Rector and, as I wrote in my notes, "It's time to find out if he knows his rules." Brian played his fourth land and his Disk. Tony then asked a judge whether the following is true: "If Academy rector goes to the graveyard on my opponent's turn, Planar Void's ability goes on the stack and then the Rector's ability goes on the stack. So I can play the rector ability and remove it from the game before it is removed by Planar Void." The answer is yes - so long as it is your opponent's turn, that's the way the effects stack. So Tony went and got Enduring Renewal out of his library, untapped, and went through the motions of his combo.
He sacrificed the Shield Sphere, moved it toward his graveyard, then his hand, then put it in play again and looked at Brian, waiting for him to officially concede. Brian looked confused and asked the table judge "doesn't Planar Void stop that?" No - according to Oracle, Enduring renewal is a replacement effect. Creatures that die while Enduring Renewal is out go to their controller's hand instead of the graveyard (it's not a triggered effect). Once again, Tony proved that he knew his rules. Graveyard removal just isn't good against the Fruity Pebbles combo.
Tony Dobson - 2
Brian Davis - 0
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