Saturday, 11:10 a.m.: Dech Tech - Drafting with Helge Nelson
by Tobi Henke
The end of day one saw two players with undefeated records: Florian Koch, whose first draft we already covered, and Helge Nelson who is currently 8-0 in draft matches over the weekend. 8-0? Why, yes, he started the tournament early, by winning one of the last-chance qualifiers on Thursday. That meant 5-0 and his 7-0 winning streak in the main event obviously included a 3-0 in the draft portion. He definitely considers draft his stronger format, and we considered him an ideal pick to watch in the second draft.
He opened a booster with lots of unexciting cards, Greater Basilisk, Aven Fleetwing, and two stand-outs in Oblivion Ring and Doom Blade. He went with Doom Blade and was passed a choice between Merfolk Looter, Stingerfling Spider, and Wring Flesh as the only black card. Time for a second color, apparently, and after some deliberation he picked Stingerfling Spider.
Next up was Sorin's Thirst over Greater Basilisk and Griffin Sentinel, then Acidic Slime over Wring Flesh and Duskhunter Bat. He stuck with green for his fifth pick and took Sacred Wolf, passing Assault Griffin as well as Aven Fleetwing.
The rest of pack one:
Rampant Growth › Auramancer, Armored Warhorse, Crumbling Colossus
Naturalize › Auramancer
Mind Rot › Rampant Growth, Disentomb
Aven Fleetwing › Titanic Growth, Brink of Disaster
The second booster he opened had exactly one green card (Fog) and exactly one black card (Child of Night). Even the blue, in which Nelson had dabbled a little, disappointed with Aven Fleetwing. The goodies, like Gideon's Lawkeeper and Blood Ogre, were all elsewhere on the color wheel. He picked Child of Night. The next pack had Rampant Growth and Tormented Soul as well as Merfolk Looter and Skywinder Drake. He chose blue, specifically Skywinder Drake.
Black returned to him with a third-pick Sorin's Thirst, passing Belltower Sphinx, and fourth-pick Gravedigger, passing Devouring Swarm. Even green found its way back to Nelson, when his fifth pick offered him the choice between Lurking Crocodile and Mind Rot. He took the Crocodile.
The rest of pack two:
Vastwood Gorger › Zombie Goliath
Greater Basilisk › Mana Leak
Goblin Arsonist › Mind Unbound
Greatsword › Ice Cage
Circle of Flames
The third pack compensated for the weak second pack with the obvious first pick of Grave Titan which moved to Nelson's draft pile in record speed. The next booster gave him pause, though. So far, the packs in this draft had seemed a tad on the low side of the power curve. This one contained: Archon of Justice, Incinerate, Chandra's Outrage, Azure Mage, Assault Griffin, Merfolk Looter, Volcanic Dragon, Lurking Crocodile, andGravedigger, which Nelson took.
Next, he had a hard time deciding between Mind Control and Consume Spirit. It was still unclear, whether green or blue would make up his second main color, but, by my count, the green seemed to be ahead. A three-color deck was also very possible, what with the Rampant Growth and the Darkwater Catacomb he already had, so he chose Mind Control. Then he took Devouring Swarm out of a rather empty pack.
The rest of pack three:
Consume Spirit › Æther Adept
Phantasmal Dragon › Plummet, Stampeding Rhino
Belltower Sphinx › Stampeding Rhino
Merfolk Looter › Lurking Crocodile
In the end, his deck indeed turned out to be three-colored.
Saturday, 11:19 a.m.: Deck Tech - What Makes an M12 Draft Tick?
by Hanno Terbuyken
Walking through the rows of tables during the draft rounds on Saturday, one thing was clear: M12 draft is creature-heavy. The matches are decided on the battlefield. Creatures are king, as they so often are in draft formats, but M12 is complex enough that players are still figuring out the best cause of action.
General consensus on the floor was that aggression was the way to go, though. "You need to be aggressive!" was the most echoed statement. Even Tormented Soul saw plenty of play, becoming a player's favorite among those who championed the aggro plan.
"The mana curve is infinitely important", explained Tai Scharfe, who was one of the many behind the aggressive strategy. Small, fast creatures with evasion, preferrably in red combined with white or black, make the backbone of these decks. Scharfe, for example, had managed to draft a mono-black deck, even, "which is always a 2-1 deck".
To his point, he played just four cards above a casting cost of three, leaving Rune-Scarred Demon in his sideboard. "The games are short. If you're behind, you will lose" – and a cumbersome seven-drop like the Demon just didn't cut the mustard. Scharfe was especially aggressive in his strategy, eschewing White's best common, Gideon's Lawkeeper, "because it Stone Rains me every turn". He just wasn't a fan of using ressources for anything else but aggression.
Any bomb would have to have a significant impact on the board to even get played in one of these decks. Laying down business every turn from turn 2 to turn 5 was paramount to most players. Cards like the highly valued Goblin Fireslinger and especially the bloodthirst beaters in M12 were high on player's pick orders. "I'm happy if I have a deck with Bloodthirst, Fiery Hellhound and Fling", said Florian Pils, who ran a mana curve that had just three creatures at four mana and everything else below that.
But not everyone can draft such a deck at his draft table. There is not enough aggression to go around for everybody, so some players either had to settle for second best – cumbersome green-based decks – or an entirely different strategy.
"You definitely want to be aggressive, but control also works in a pinch", explained Denis Sinner, who had kicked his draft off with a Grave Titan as first pick. He claimed that a good aggro deck would usually be better than a good control deck. But he didn't dismiss controllish strategies out of hand, especially given that one of his favorite first picks was Mind Control.
A small handful of people tried to evade combat altogether, aiming for mill strategies, like André Müller and mohawk-wearing Emanuel Sutor. However, to work, these decks had to come together really well. "And then your opponent has Cudgel Troll", remarked Kai Budde, who was not a fan of the fringe milling but instead went for a deck that – no surprise – aimed to put down pressure every turn. And fast to boot: "60 minute rounds? Who needs those?"
Saturday, 1:35 p.m. – Müller Genuine Draft
by Tobi Henke
Might there be a great non-aggressive strategy in M12 Limited? Andre Müller whose name literally translates to "Miller", naturally, likes milling. Very much so, in fact. Yesterday, he drafted this monster of a deck, which has all the best control cards blue/white has to offer, as well as two copies of Mind Unbound ...
Andre Müller (Magic 2012 Draft #1)
German Nationals 2011 – Day 1
Most players, when asked about Mind Unbound, say it's rather weak or downright unplayable. After all, it certainly is slow and, at times, dangerous. But if you have means to ensure that your opponent's library depletes faster than your own, the card might be a veritable powerhouse. Jace's Erasure is one such means, Merfolk Mesmerist another. Müller liked Mind Unbound so much, he picked up one copy of it as his first pick in the first pack.
And to be sure, he got yet another one for his second draft deck today, again featuring the milling strategy. But this time, his deck has even more tricks up its sleeves. Jace's Archivist and Jace's Erasure are clearly insane in combination, but so is Mesa Enchantress along with seven enchantments providing extra draws that again translate into milled cards per Jace's Erasure.
Andre Müller (Magic 2012 Draft #1)
German Nationals 2011 – Day 2
Round 10: Feature Match - Andre Müller vs. Matthias Ludewig
by Tobi Henke
For this round, we wanted to see Andre Müller's mill deck in action. Or rather in inaction, because that's what it's all about: preventing action, especially combat action.
Müller went off to a fast start with Gideon's Lawkeeper and Jace's Erasure. Ludewig had Duskhunter Bat and then no more play until turn five, when Peregrine Griffin joined the Bat. Müller himself had no further plays either, but his Jace's Erasure started working on Ludewig's library. Duskhunter Bat got through for 1 point of damage. "Always the beginning of the end, especially in this format," Müller commented and was proved right by Ludewig's Vampire Outcasts.
Müller grimaced when he forgot the ability of Jace's Erasure. Still, he wasn't too unhappy because now he wiped the board with Day of Judgment. Ludewig restocked with Armored Warhorse, Müller cast Mesa Enchantress and Ice Cage. But Ludewig had more: Throne of Empires and Griffin Sentinel on the next turn. Müller had Stonehorn Dignitary, then Merfolk Mesmerist. The Mesmerist went into Oblivion Ring, but Müller had another.
Meanwhile Throne of Empires had created four tokens. So far, however, Griffin Sentinel was the only creature that could attack profitably. Ludewig returned a milled Pacifism via Auramancer, but chose to wait for a better target.
"Well, if you want to enchant a good creature, you'll have to choose one of yours," Müller quipped. Despite Pacifism waiting in his opponent's hand, Müller decided to summon Siege Mastodon on his turn, which was prompty pacified on Ludewig's. Ludewig attacked with Griffin Sentinel, five 1/1 tokens, and Auramancer. Mesa Enchantress, Stonehorn Dignitary, and Merfolk Mesmerist each blocked a token, killing two. Müller took 5 damage down to 12.
Müller cast Æther Adept and re-cast his Siege Mastodon. Again, Ludewig could only attack with his Griffin. Jace's Erasure and Merfolk Mesmerist raced that clock comfortably.
Andre Müller 1 – 0 Matthias Ludewig
The game started with Blood Seeker for Ludewig, Merfolk Mesmerist. Ludewig forgot Blood Seeker's triggered ability, evening the score of forgotten triggers.
However, this time, Ludewig curved out nicely, with Benalish Veteran followed by Bloodrage Vampire. On turn four, Müller put a stop to those advances via Æther Adept, simulataneously removing Benalish Veteran from immediate consideration and providing a fine blocker for Bloodrage Vampire.
Ludewig replayed Benalish Veteran, Müller made Stonehorn Dignitary. Again, Ludewig forgot the Blood Seeker trigger to the general amusement of the watching crowd.
Ludewig still had no fourth land, to Müller's five, and simply played Griffin Sentinel. Müller had no play on his turn, Ludewig had Pacifism for Æther Adept, which allowed him to get through with Bloodrage Vampire and Griffin Sentinel, while Benalish Veteran ran into Stonehorn Dignitary.
Müller cast Pacifism on Bloodrage Vampire and Jace's Erasure. But Ludewig had Oblivion Ring for Müller's 1/4 and got in for more damage. Müller had no play once again. Ludewig got in for yet more damage, and summoned Stormfront Pegasus.
Müller had no Day of Judgment and that evened the more important (game) score.
Andre Müller 1 – 1 Matthias Ludewig
Müller had to mulligan and went without turn-two play, while Ludewig made Child of Night. The Child was returned to its master's hand via Æther Adept and Ludewig replaced it with Bloodrage Vampire. Müller summoned Jace's Archivist. Bloodrage Vampire and Æther Adept traded, then Ludewig cast Griffin Sentinel. Müller cast Crown of Empires and, during Ludewig's draw step, used Jace's Archivist to trade in his three cards in hand for a new grip of six.
Unfortunately for Ludewig, those six included Jace's Erasure. When Müller used Jace's Archivist the next time to make both players draw another six cards, Ludewig lost an additional six to Jace's Erasure, Sorin's Thirst among them. This left Ludewig with but one out: Oblivion Ring to remove Jace's Archivist. His next draw step didn't provide, and in the face of losing another 14 cards to the combination of Archivist and Erasure, he shrugged and picked up his cards.
Andre Müller 2 – 1 Matthias Ludewig
Round 11: Feature Match - Gerry Stahl vs. Florian Pils
by Hanno Terbuyken
Round 11. Three losses. Three more rounds to go. These players are still in the race for a Top 8 slot, but both were teetering on the edge between success and disappointment. Florian Pils especially was looking to repeat his Top 8 appearance from last year, but would he stumble three rounds before the finish line?
Pils led with Inquisition of Kozilek and saw Lightning Bolt, two Goblin Guide, Searing Blaze and Grim Lavamancer all waiting to light up his life. One of the Goblin Guides hit the dirt and Pils definitely had given himself a solid information advantage.
Stahl had little other choice than to just follow his game plan. Goblin Guide followed Grim Lavamancer, then Furnace Scamp. Stahl attacked for four, taking Pils to 14. Goblin Guide revealed Black Sun's Zenith and Stahl threw his Scamp at Pils' life total, taking him to 11. Pils used his Zenith to clear the board, and Stahl hit him with Lightning Bolt – down to 8.
Stahl played Shrine of Burning Rage, but Pils' Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas easily outshone the artifact, both in style and in function. For example, Pils had no proper answer to Stahl's Shrine, so he transformed it into a 5/5 creature with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, and then played Consume the Meek. Shrine of Burning Rage and Stahl's Grim Lavamancer died, and Stahl even forgot to use the Lavamancer's ability off his untapped lands.
From then on, Gerry Stahl did not get any more damage in. Tezzeret provided Pils with Tumble Magnets, Ratchet Bomb and more Everflowing Chalices. Even the Incinerate that Stahl threw at Pils life total was countered. When Pils activated Tezzeret's Ultimate abillity to deal lethal damage after a couple of attacks with Blinkmoth Nexus and Creeping Tar Pit, Stahl scooped up his cards.
Gerry Stahl 0 – 1 Florian Pils
Stahl kicked off in true style this time, doing just what the deck does: Playing Goblin Guide on turn one. Even though he had Inquisition of Kozilek, Pils crucially was on the play and had no way to turn the early beats away yet. The Inquisition revealed Staggershock, Shrine of Burning Rage and Incinerate, so Pils removed the Shrine. But Stahl quickly drew into a second one.
Goblin Guide took Pils to 13 until he found Doomblade to kill it. Two Duress removed the two remaining cards in Stahl's hand, Staggershock and Lightning Bolt, and all he now had was a Shrine of Burning Rage ticking away.
Pils had stabilized, but with just four lands in play was far off from actually winning. Stahl would throw every burn spell at Pils, while charging now two Shrines of Burning Rage. Lighning Bolt brought Pils to 10, giving Stahl 8 counters combined on his two Shrines. Pils played Ratchet Bomb. "Will this do it?" Pils asked himself, as Stahl sacrificed one Shrine for six damage.
Down to 4 life, every burn spell from Stahl would now potentially be lethal, with Shrine of Burning Rage promising to seal the deal either way – over time or with a spell.
Then Stahl tapped three mana and went to play a spell, but he caught himself at the last minute – it was a Manic Vandal! Pils would just have sacrificed his Ratchet Bomb in response to the spell and Stahl would have had to kill his own Shrine. After not playing the Vandal, Stahl simply killed Pils with the Shrine of Burning Rage.
Gerry Stahl 1 – 1 Florian Pils
Stahl was on the draw, but also on the offensive. Goblin Guide, Goblin Guide, Grim Lavamancer – Pils stopped one Goblin Guide with Mana Leak and had Inquisition of Kozilek, but the early momentum favored Stahl. Pils used the Inquisition to get rid of the bloodthirst Berserker, leaving two Dismember and a Manic Vandal in Stahl's hand.
Black Sun's Zenith killed Lavamancer and Goblin Guide, while Pils went to 10 from the Lavamancer's last gift. Stahl wasn't happy with the way the match was going. "This was not the plan, but I need pressure", he said, as he played Manic Vandal without a target in sight.
Pils had a rather better play himself: Everflowing Chalice and, once again, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Stahl decided not to attack the Planeswalker, taking Pils to 8 with the Vandal. Pils' answer was Batterskull, but Stahl quickly Dismembered the token. Ember Hauler from Stahl was met by Mana Leak – with just 7 minutes left on the round clock, both players looked to finish this game quickly. To buy himself more time, Pils used Tezzeret's Ultimate ability for a 12-point life swing, bringing himself to 12 and Stahl to 8.
Stahl now had to consider if to kill Tezzeret or press on against Pils. But he realized that with an active planeswalker, Pils would both have a source of card advantage and a win condition. He could do nothing about Pils' returning Batterskull, though, and a second Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas simply added insult to the injury. Stahl had Dismember to kill the Batterskull token again, paying half his life for Phyrexian mana (going to 4). After that, he had nothing left, looked at his next card, shook his head, extended the hand and buried his Top 8 amibitions.
Gerry Stahl 1 – 2 Florian Pils
Round 12: Feature Match - Bernd Brendemühl vs. Lino Burgold
by Tobi Henke
In 2009, these two players met in the final rounds of German Nationals, playing for Top 8. Back then, Burgold won their match and went on to make the National team. Brendemühl was looking for revenge. He brought a mono-red aggro deck, while Burgold entered the fray with a Bant-colored Birthing Pod deck.
Brendemühl had to take one mulligan, Burgold two. But the card disadvantage was promptly evened out with the help of Brendemühl's Goblin Guide, which revealed Island. Burgold's Llanowar Elves met Incinerate, Birds of Paradise met Burst Lightning.
Brendemühl summoned Grim Lavamancer, which then killed Burgold's Viridian Corrupter. Burgold had to settle for Phyrexian Metamorph, copying Goblin Guide, but Grim Lavamancer killed that as well, and a second Goblin Guide took Burgold to 5. One more Lightning Bolt and another Grim Lavamancer activation ended a very lopsided first game.
Lino Burgold 0 – 1 Bernd Brendemühl
"Six lands, one Grim Lavamancer ... I'd better mulligan."
"Maybe if there are enough fetchlands ...?" Burgold joked.
Burgold had Llanowar Elves on turn one, Brendemühl had Burst Lightning, then Ember Hauler on turn two, whereas Burgold's next play came on turn three, in the form of Blade Splicer.
Lightning Bolt got rid of Burgold's Golem token and Teetering Peaks pumped Ember Hauler to put Burgold at 16.
"How lucky you killed my Golem! Now, I can cast Viridian Corrupter." Burgold's Corrupter met his fiery demise at the hands of Incinerate.
Archon of Justice prevented further attacks, and even went on the offense himself, as Burgold summoned Emeria Angel and created another flier. Brendemühl killed the Angel with Searing Blaze and made a Manic Vandal. The perfect time for Burgold to cast Wurmcoil Engine, but Brendemühl had another Vandal. Still, it was abundantly clear, that Brendemühl's deck was out of gas by now, and Burgold's fliers finished him off in short order.
"Of course, I draw Manic Vandal after I've wasted Lightning Bolt on the Blade Splicer token," Brendemühl complained.
Bernd Brendemühl 1 – 1 Lino Burgold
Once again, Brendemühl was forced to mulligan. On the other side of the table, Burgold's opening seven were: Forest, Ponder, triple Viridian Emissary, Lone Missionary, and Obstinate Baloth. He took some time, but in the end decided: "I couldn't forgive myself, if I kept that hand and simply never got the land." He announced his mulligan and peeked at the top card of his library: Island! His six cards were similar. "Now, the Forest turned into Tectonic Edge! I cannot keep this."
Burgold's five had only one Forest and he used it to play Llanowar Elves. Brendemühl who had cast Grim Lavamancer on turn one, immediately killed the Elves with Lightning Bolt.
Burgold had no second land. Brendemühl had Kargan Dragonlord.
Burgold found a land and made Viridian Emissary, but Kargan Dragonlord swung itself up in the air and made the Emissary look rather pointless. Over the next couple of turns, Burgold found another land, and even a fourth, and was able to cast Obstinate Baloth. Nonetheless, Kargan Dragonlord's advance was inexorable.
Bernd Brendemühl 2 – 1 Lino Burgold
Saturday, 4:14 p.m. - Metagame Breakdown
by Tobi Henke
Caw-Blade is still number one, at least in pure numbers. But now, that probably didn't surprise anyone, did it? Actual news, however, is the rise of U/B control brought about by Ali Aintrazi's win at US Nationals last weekend. Indeed, most of those decks are carbon copies or minor tweaks of his winning list.
In third place among the most-played decks is Valakut, as it was in the US. So far, the deck was not particularly succesful, but it sure is popular. A more unusual favorite among German players seems to be the mono-red aggro deck in all its different forms. Feuer frei!
Saturday, 3:46 p.m. – Talking to Kai Budde
by Hanno Terbuyken
You were the first Hall of Famer from Germany. How does it feel to be part of the Magic history in such a way?
It is obviously cool, and the invites are nice. But the Hall of Fame is not as glorious as it could be. There are too many people eligible. Magic produces maybe one super-player every two, three years. It may just happen that the Hall runs out of steam.
You stopped playing Magic for a while. What made you come back?
During Ravnica block I played almost no Magic at all. The main reason I picked it up again is that there are a lot of people in Hamburg playing Magic again, more than just the occasional casual group – people who go to nearly all the PTQs. A group that you can talk to about Magic is a big motivation to keep caring about the game. Also, the game itself remains a very good game. Wizards is doing a good job with their set releases.
Wizards announced yesterday that Pro Tour Philadelphia will be using the new Modern format instead of Extended. Is that an incentive to go and participate, or a deterrent?
No, I will not be going to Philadelphia, but that's mostly because of my job. The weekends are usually the days I have to work most, and I can't just take a day or two off. If the Pro Tour falls on a free weekend, I can maybe go, but this year it didn't come together. Maybe I'll play Worlds. The World Championship is more fun than the Pro Tour anyway.
Also, I had tested a lot of Extended for PT Amsterdam. And if I spend the time and money to fly to the USA for a Pro Tour, I want to have a solid chance. I am not going to a Pro Tour for an 0-3 drop result. For the Germans, the Modern change is not that bad, because they had Nationals to test for and only now start working on Extended. For the Americans, this change is harder. They had their Nationals and did nothing else but test Extended. I saw LSV and Nassif testing Extended constantly on Magic Online. For them the switch to testing Modern now is tough.
Kai Budde drew crowds all day.
Speaking of Nationals, why did you decide to play Birthing Pod?
Caw-Blade was alright, but I don't like to play the mirror match. The deck has so many different angles that the mirror match is tough to plan for. I tested a lot for Nationals, and in the end I ended up with Ascension with Splinter Twin or the Pod deck. Patrick Chapin and Mike Jacob went a combined 10-2 with the deck at US Nationals and really liked it, and I found that it was slightly better than Ascension.
In the end, though, it was not a good choice because a lot more players played Mono-Red than I thought they would. The deck itself is very good, though. It rewards thorough testing, especially if you know all the other decks well enough to pick your Pod targets wisely. And I played enough Standard to know them all well enough.
Is there a goal in Magic that you would still like to attain?
Winning the World Championships would be nice. Overall though, I think that what I did in my day will never be repeated. It was not necessarily easier to win back in the day, but the players were simply worse, myself included, of course. But: You could be so much better than the average player that the luck factor was nearly eliminated. The average player today has become a better player, thanks to MTGO. Also, back then you could have the best deck for a given tournament. Today, that doesn't work anymore. There are so many matches played on Magic Online that it is almost impossible to miss something. When you look at al the published decklists, nothing remains a secret.
For Extended in Amsterdam it wasn't as bad, and we could play Nassifs White Weenie deck that few people had. But in Standard it was absolutely clear that Caw-Blade and Valakut would be played the most, and what else could be viable. I don't think so much information is necessarily bad. But Standard has just been beaten to death since Pro Tour Paris.
Saturday, 5:00 p.m. – Feuer Frei!
by Tobi Henke
Burn, good ol' burn. And old is exactly correct. Lightning Bolt has been around since the very beginning of Magic, and even Goblin Grenade is 17 years old. Michael Diezel has finished at least one of his matches telling his opponent: "See, this card is actually older than you are." Of course, he's using the Fallen Empires version.
His deck is a little different than most Goblin lists. "I don't have Goblin Chieftain and Goblin Wardriver. Those are only good if you're attacking with lots of creatures and especially after sideboarding that doesn't happen very often."
On the other hand, you do need Goblins to sacrifice to Goblin Grenade. "I'm using all the Goblins which are good on their own, like Spikeshot Elder, Goblin Guide, Ember Hauler, and Goblin Fireslinger," Diezel said. "But sixteen are not quite enough to reliably cast the Grenade. That's the reason for the two Goblin Bushwhackers."
German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)
Round 14: Feature Match - Tobias Dreger vs. Christof Kovacs
by Hanno Terbuyken
This was an interesting match. Christof Kovacs had 30 points and stood on ninth place after round 13. That meant if he drew this match, he was very likely out of the Top 8 on tiebreakers. For him, this match was a win and in affair. Dreger, on the other hand, came in with 28 points and could still make Top 8, like he did in 2010 – but only with a win and only if at least one of the other top tables had not drawn their match.
Dreger played Pyromancer Ascension, Kovacs had brought a Splinter Twin deck.
Dreger had the better set-up from the get-go, opening with two Pyromancer Ascension. Kovacs had Shrine of Piercing Vision. Deceiver Exarch from Kovacs tapped one of Dreger's Islands in response to a See Beyond. Later that turn, Dreger used Into the Roil to return the Exarch to Kovacs hand. Kovacs replayed the Exarch, untapping one of his Islands.
A second See Beyond resolved and gave Dreger the first counter on each of his two Ascensions. Kovacs had Gitaxian Probe targeting Dreger, who played Lightning Bolt in response on Kovacs Deceiver Exarch, and a second one to boot. That set up his two Ascensions, while Kovacs used Into the Roil to save his Exarch from death.
Both players decided to play draw-go for a turn until Dreger played Gitaxian Probe targeting Kovacs, copying it twice. The Probe and its brethren saw Dispel, Dispel, Spell Pierce and Pyroclasm. Dreger drew his cards, played and copied Ponder and passed the turn.
Kovacs cracked his Shrine of Piercing Vision with 11 counters on it. With the activation on the stack, Dreger responded with Lightning Bolt and two copies taking Kovacs to 6. Another Bolt followed, and Kovacs used one Dispel to stave off one copy and the second one to stave off the actual Lightning Bolt. However, Dreger had Mana Leak for the second Dispel (also copied twice), and Kovacs could not stop the lethal damage.
Tobias Dreger 1 – 0 Christof Kovacs
Both players opened with Hallimar Depths. Dreger immediately went into filter mode to shape his hand with See Beyond and Ponder. Gitaxian Probe gave Kovacs the insight that Dreger held 3 Lightning Bolt, Into the Roil, and Gitaxian Probe of his own. That Probe revealed that Kovacs held Deceiver Exarch, Spell Pierce, Dispel and a couple of lands. Both players mostly played lands and shuffled their libraries through fetchlands. The difference: Dregers Ponder resolved, Kovacs did not, thanks to Mental Misstep.
When Dreger had another Probe, he saw Spell Pierce, Dispel, Deceiver Exarch, Into the Roil and two Splinter Twin. Kovacs was ready to assemble and protect his combo. His end-of-turn Deceiver Exarch resolved, though Kovacs let it go back to his hand when Dreger played Into the Roil. It didn't matter that much at this point, as Kovacs was missing a crucial piece: a second Mountain.
Kovacs had his pieces ready but how would he get them on the board? Ponder helped him find the land he needed. He had to let Dreger play and resolve Into the Roil once more and answered with an Into the Roil of his own to bounce Dregers Pyromancer Ascension.
The tension was palpable. Dreger could put a single counter in his Ascension via Ponder, and a second one through See Beyond. Gitaxian Probe showed him that Kovacs now also had Negate in addition to Spell Pierce and Dispel, as well as Deceiver Exarch, two Splinter Twin and a Mountain.
Dreger held a full grip. Fetchlands and Lightning Bolts had already taken Kovacs to 11, then Dregers copied Lightning Bolt took him to 5. Dreger continued to burn, with Burst Lighning and a copy. Kovacs had Spell Pierce for the original spell and went to a measly one. Dreger had another Burst Lightning. Kovacs tried Negate, Dreger answered with Mana Leak and a copy, and now Kovacs could not fend off the Burst Lightning that ultimately killed him.
Tobias Dreger 2 – 0 Christof Kovacs