came for the German! Where is he?!" Osyp Lebedowicz bellowed as he sauntered into the feature match area. Kai Budde had yet to arrive. And when he did, he looked at Director of R&D Aaron Forsythe and said, "You know, Aaron, this was a bad person to give a pity invite to." It was more than loud enough for Lebedowicz to hear.
"For your information, I won a PTQ! I beat a thirteen year-old to get here, thank you very much." Lebedowicz wasn't taking any of Budde's trash talk.
This was old-school Magic, folks. These two titans of a different time, Budde a Hall of Fame member and Lebodowicz a three-time Pro Tour Top 8 finisher with one title to his name, both came in here at 5-1 and treated the lighted, camera-ed feature match area as if it were their local game store. The match-up is a telling one of the format – Mono-Blue Devotion against Selesnya Aggro – but the focus here was two old pals slinging some cardboard. Though there were four feature matches in the area, these two owned the floor. They conversed loudly and often, as Budde bit Lebedowicz's trademark taunts and conversation at each opportunity. As they shuffled, Lebedowicz picked one conversation topic after another.
Kai Budde and Osyp Lebodowicz, both legends from another era of Magic, entered the spotlights as though it were a local store and not one of the most prestigious stages for the game.
"If [Chris] Pikula wins this event, will you vote for him next year?"
"Definitely." Budde replied.
"I mean, you Europeans had your time dominating the Pro Tour...in like 2006. It's our turn."
"You're on Mono-Blue Devotion, right? I'm on Green-White."
"Really?" Budde was surprised Lebedowicz would just volunteer deck information like that; the German Hall-of-Fame legend had no idea what Lebedowicz was playing.
"Yeah, why would I lie? You going to change your strategy? Hey Cifka! You know I'm on Green-White, right?! Tell him." Stanislav Cifka, who was in a nearby feature match, declined to respond. Budde could only shake his head. Lebedowicz continued.
Then the two decided they should probably start playing.
The match played out as one would expect: Lebedowicz's usually beatdown Selesnya Aggro tried to contain Budde's explosive Mono-Blue Devotion deck, while sneaking in damage in medium chunks where it could.
The first game started with Solider of the Pantheon from Lebedowicz, which he followed by declaring, "I feel like I'm gaining a lot of life with my solider."
Spoiler Alert, he did not.
Lebodowicz opened up with a fast start, his Selesnya deck capable of some powerful draws with larger than normal creatures.
Throughout the opening turns, Lebedowicz spoke openly to Budde: "Can I bluff attack you?" "Will you block?" "What if I have a Selesnya Charm?" "Really? Then I won't attack." He followed up with Experiment One, Loxodon Smiter and a mid-combat Boon Satyr. It sounded good, but it was no match for Budde's curve.
The German Juggernaut went Cloudfin Raptor, Omenspeaker, Nightveil Specter, Bident of Thassa. Then Thassa, God of the Sea.
"I hope you just make a terrible mistake on this turn." Lebedowicz was reaching. 'You're so old; you can't be that good anymore, right? I mean, don't you have jetlag or something?"
"I'm European." It was less than a two-hour flight to Dublin. Budde, completely un-jet-lagged, then cast two Judge's Familiar as blockers, one off a stolen Plains thanks to Nightveil Specter. Budde gave a smile and a thumbs-up as he did tapped the land.
Lebedowicz shrugged and turned all his dudes sideways. Boon Satyr was blocked by two owls, Smiter walked into the indestructible Thassa, and the 2/1 Soldier met the 1/3 Omenspeaker. Experiment One got through.
"Uh, yup. You take 3 and all my guys die." Budde went to 9 and obliterated Lebedowicz the following turn.
"All right, now it gets hard for you." Lebedowicz shuffled up. Both players unconsciously shuffled their entire sideboards into their decks—a nice old-school touch. It's a simple way to mask how many cards you actually sideboard, and it's a tactic that has fallen into more disuse in recent years. They both concentrated hard. During sideboarding, the loudest table in the room had fallen silent.
Eventually, Budde broke the silence: "I wish I had paid more attention when [my team] talked about sideboarding."
Budde had kept Cloudfin Raptor, Judge's Familiar, Rapid Hybridization, Thassa, Tidebinder Mage, Master of Waves, and a lonely Island (not to be confused with a Lonely Sandbar). If Budde didn't draw a land, it wouldn't look good; but if he did draw land, Lebedowicz was in trouble.
And then, Lebedowicz was in trouble. He had kept a slow hand, and Budde drew the runner-runner. Though in this case it was Island-Island-Island. Lebedowicz sighed.
Budde backs Lebodowicz into a corner early on in the second game.
"Is that the German sigh?" Budde quipped. Now it was Budde who was dishing it out. He cast a Master of Waves adding five 2/1s to the battlefield. "Hey, is the Wurm a 6/6?" He was referring to the Advent of the Wurm Lebedowicz was clearly holding in his hand. Lebedowicz shrugged.
"Do I really have to get a judge?"
"Just attack and see what happens." It was indeed the Advent of the Wurm (which was only a 5/5, for those at home), but Lebedowicz still took a huge hit. The game was already in Budde's pocket.
"That's the first scry trigger I've missed," Budde remarked as he forgot about his Thassa, God of the Sea triggered ability. See kids, even the best of the best have their moments. Lebedowicz cast Selesnya Charm to remove the god from the game.
"Now I can't even scry anymore?" Kai made the "whatever" face, drew his card, and attacked for a ton.
"Yeah, I can't actually beat that deck." Osyp scooped up his cards.
Osyp was exaggerating, as Kai also had some of the most killer draws imaginable. Osyp opined that he should have played that deck, but was too scared of Supreme Verdict.
It might lose to that, but Osyp sure wasn't playing it. "I should have put two-and-two together when only one person in our entire playgroup was even testing with Supreme Verdict."
This game was about two of the strongest Standard archetypes going head to head, but it was also about two old friends having an incredible time doing what they've loved since adolescence. Lebedowicz extended his hand; the two looked each other in the eye; Budde and Lebedowicz shared a hearty handshake.
Budde 2 - Lebodowicz 0
Kai Budde's Mono-Blue Devotion
Standard – Pro Tour Theros
Osyp Lebedowicz's Selesnya Aggro
Standard – Pro Tour Theros