This two Toronto natives have both represented Canada in international competition twice before. Both were on the very first Canadian National Magic Team in 1995 along with Gab Tsang and the long lost Eric Tam. Pollock made the Canadian Team again last year, but Ito has the largest accomplishment – winning the Worlds Team Championship in 1997, the only time a non-US team has done so. Ito's teammates at the time have met various fates; Mike Donais now works for Wizards of the Coast R&D, and Gary Krakower was not qualified for this tournament (and failed at his attempts to grind in yesterday.) But Gab Tsang and Ito are here, trying once again to represent the red and white at Worlds.
Ito hasn't played much recently, and is unfamiliar with staple cards like Urborg Volcano and Nightscape Familiar. So what to turn to? Red/green beats – the best deck to play when you're unsure of the environment.
Ito came out with an aggressive start: turn-1 Llanowar Elves and turn-2 Yavimaya Barbarian. Pollock, playing Psychatog with a splash of red for Fire/Ice and Flametongue Kavu, put out a Nightscape Familiar, but it was quickly dispatched by an Ito Firebolt. Ito kept up the beats by playing a Wild Mongrel.
Pollock dropped a Psychatog, and used it to block the Mongrel, pumping the 'Tog to 2/3 before damage. Ito was fine with that, and once damage was on the stack, he saved his Mongrel by discarding... a Basking Rootwalla. Yikes. Ito then really turned up the heat by casting Meteor Storm.
Pollock tried his best to stabilize, Counterspelling a Grim Lavamancer and killing off Ito's Elves and Rootwalla with Fire/Ice, but Ito made another Mongrel and attacked Pollock to 8.
Pollock finally managed to cast a Fact or Fiction, and Ito was forced to give him a Fire/Ice. Pollock used his extra cards in the graveyard to overwhelm one Mongrel, and Ito pitched his hand to the other, knocking Pollock to 2. But Pollock was up for the challenge. Ito had only a Mongrel, a Meteor Storm, and two land in play. Pollock cast Fact or Fiction again, and flipped over an Island, another FoF, two copies of Duress, and a Flametongue Kavu.
Ito: "What is this?!"
Pollock took FTK and Island and used the red beater to kill Ito's other Mongrel. Ito had only a couple turns to come up with something and couldn't, eventually falling to the Flametongue and the Psychatog.
Pollock 1 – Ito 0
Pollock said that he and Gab Tsang changed their Psychatog decks just minutes before the tournament to handle the inevitable sea of red/green. Fire/Ice replaced Force Spike, and two Flametongues went into the main deck. It gets even better after sideboarding, when they add cards like Pyroclasm
In game 2, Ito came out blazing again with Mongrel/double Rootwalla/Call of the Herd. But Pollock killed both Rootwallas with Fire/Ice, and put out a Nightscape Familiar and a Psychatog as blockers.
Ito attacked anyway, and when Pollock blocked the Mongrel with Psychatog, Ito showed off his old-school tech of Giant Growth, and Pollock resigned to let his 'Tog die.
Pollock: "That's pretty cool."
Pollock stayed cool himself, however, and dropped an FTK on Ito's Call token, prompting comments of unfairness from Ito. Pollock then added another Psychatog to the table, and Ito answered with a Meteor Storm. On his next turn, Ito emptied his hand, putting out a Grim Lavamancer and a Llanowar Elves.
Ito: "Let's play fair! No Fire and Ice!"
Pollock had no such thing, just a Recoil for the Lavamancer. Neither player attacked for a few turns, and Ito eventually got up to four mana and two cards in hand for the Storm. Pollock Fact or Fictioned, taking Upheaval and two land, and then cast the Big Ups on his turn. The Upheaval looked good for Ito; once he Stormed Pollock down to five, the Upheaval left him with fewer than seven cards in hand, whereas Pollock had to discard a bunch.
Both players regrouped, but Pollock had a full graveyard, making the imminent 'Tog a problem for Ito. But Ito had some good post-Upheaval draws, playing out two Elves, a Barbarian, a Mongrel, and the Meteor Storm. Pollock redeployed the Familiar and the FTK, whacking the Barbarian, and the dropped the Psychatog.
Ito had to go for it, attacking with everyone. Pollock blocked what he could and fell to four, but Ito didn't have four mana for the Meteor Storm. He tried to cast a Lavamancer instead – to chump the 'Tog – but Pollock had two blue untapped and a Counterspell in hand. How very close.
Final Result: Pollock 2 – Ito 1
Eduardo Ito, 1-5
Elijah Pollock, 2-4