agan smiled as he sat down to the Final table across from his good friend Jeremy Dezani. "This feels like home," he said. "Like we're play-testing in Paris."
It is supremely fitting that in a weekend utterly dominated by Blue Devotion that Les Bleus should meet in the finals in a virtually identical mirror match. These friends and teammates have survived the crucible of this Top 8, which, at first glance, seemed so bad for the trio of Mono-blue Devotion decks in the field. Yet they persevered, and won through some incredible circumstances to meet in the finals.
Only two main deck and two sideboard cards separate these two lists.
"Raphael Levy wanted to play Ætherlings and Disperse, and I didn't," Dagen explained. "We were doing jiu-jitsu earlier this week, and he choked me out, so this was my form of defiance."
Teammates, countrymen, and friends battle for the title of Pro Tour Theros Champion.
In place of those cards, Dagen comes packing Rapid Hybridization and an extra Bident of Thassa in the main deck, and his extra copies of Jace, Architect of Thought are in the sideboard. This theoretically gives the edge in the first game to Dezani, who has access to extra Jace, Architect of Thoughts. After boarding, though, things are balanced more closely. Dagen's Rapid Hybridization is capable of killing Master of Waves, but Dezani's Disperse is capable of bouncing Thassa, God of the Sea.
On the play, Dezani set the tone for the opening part of the match. With a Thassa, God of the Sea in his hand, he committed an impressive number of blue mana symbols to the board in the first three turns, including the mirror-breaking Nightveil Specter. Dagen was able to remove it with a Rapid Hybridization before it could hit him, keeping Dezani from pulling too far ahead, and keeping him below Thassa's threshold. Still, in a deck as packed with blue cards as these are, she only sat idle for one turn before a Tidebinder Mage once again animated it.
Dagen, meanwhile, had been working towards a different devotion card: Master of Waves. His start was slowed a small amount by necessity of stopping the Nightveil Specter, but he was still able to make four 2/1 elementals on his fourth turn.
Both players got their Thassas online and began to attack. Dagen went straight for the life total, while Dezani wanted to cripple Dagen board. He had an advantage in devotion, and he wanted to push that advantage so that his Master of Waves would be lethal. This would force Dagen to throw his smaller creatures away or die, putting him out of devotion, and thus Dezani out of danger of being killed by an unblockable Thassa. It took two tries, but when Dezani managed to make a Master of Waves stick, it pumped out an impressive eight tokens, more than Dagen could handle, giving the first game of the match to Dezani and his Master.
Dezani pushes the advantage with Master of Waves, a game-breaking card in the mirror match.
Game 2 seemed to start off in Dezani's favor. Cloudfin Raptor evolved thanks to a Tidebinder Mage, allowing it to outclass Dagen's unevolved Raptor. Dezani also had the Thassa advantage, landing the powerful deity on the third turn. Even with this in his favor, things quickly fell apart for Dezani. He attacked into Dagen's Raptor, and the one-card difference in their lists became the defining card of this second game. Rapid Hybridization turned the 0/1 flier into a 3/3 token, allowing Dagen to block and kill it. From there, the Frog Lizard turned into a recurring Lightning Bolt, eating three-point chunks out of Dezani's life total.
You would think that with a Thassa scrying every turn that Dezani would be able to draw into the right cards to deal with that little problem, especially because Dagen wasn't adding anything else to his board. But that wasn't the case. Dezani scryed away land after land, watching his life total drop each turn. Mutavault accelerated the clock by two turns, giving Dagen five points of power. He even eventually made a Master of Waves for one Elemental just to press his advantage and end things. After three turns of scrying, Dezani flipped his hand of four Islands onto the table with a shrug and a smile.
"Our decks looked really bad that game," Dagen joked after the game.
Dagen climbs back into the match with a win in the second game, evening things up 1-1.
Game 3 looked like it might turn out to be as anticlimactic as the previous one, but it ended up closer than expected. A mulligan to five left Dagen with precious few resources to fight Dezani. Importantly, Dezani left the door open for Dagen with a slower than normal start. This allowed Dagen to climb back in, matching Dezani's Jace and Master of the Waves with his own. The primary advantage Dezani held over Dagen was his Thassa, God of the Sea, and the fact that he was on the play. Coming down as a 5/5 creature, Thassa allowed Dezani unblockable access to Dagen's life total. The fact that he was on the play made all of Dezani's attacks hit their targets before Dagen could make the mirrored attack back. Having to attack back with virtually all of his creatures to kill Dezani's Jace left Dagen wide open for a large attack, reducing him low enough that an unblockable Thassa was able to finish him off.
After taking a 2-1 lead over Dagen, Dezani looked to bring the match home. Cloudfin Raptor preceded Frostburn Weird and Nightveil Specter, eventually being capped off with a Master of Waves for seven. Dagen had a trio of Specters in his opening hand, usually incredibly powerful in this matchup, but he found himself in a deep hole after one of the best starts Dezani's deck can offer. One massive swing dropped Dagen all the way down to 8. The last, lethal attack never even happened. Reading the writing on the wall, Dagen flopped his hand on the table, stood up, and reached over to give Dezani a big hug, congratulating him on winning the title of Pro Tour Theros Champion.
Congratulations to Jeremy Dezani, Pro Tour Theros Champion!