The two time French Champion Pierre Malherbaud has already eaten one member of team Godzilla, Patrick Mello, now its time to move onto the end of level boss – Kai Budde. Kai Budde is looking for yet another trophy for his cabinet to go with his six Grand Prix titles, five Pro Tour titles, one World Championship title, Masters Title and possibly a Nobel Prize for all we know.
Budde won the coin flip and decided to go first while they bantered about whether Budde would get the Mongrel-Arrogant Wurm start. He didn't and it was Malherbaud who started the stronger with Crypt Creeper and then Cabal Torturer. Budde cast the three mana Fire-axe (Longhorn Firebeast) and then stuck on three land.
Budde could do little more than Flame Burst a Famished Ghoul while a whole load of weenies burst out of Malherbaud's deck.
Land number four arrived with a Chainflinger in tow and when it became active Budde blocked a Filthy Cur and shot a Crypt Creeper. Muscle Burst saved the Chainflinger when the Torturer tried to ensure the block was uneven and dealt another four points to Malherbaud.
Cartographer came out and the Chainflinger went down flinging like crazy but it was too little too late as Malherbaud had too many creatures by this point.
One to the mana screw.
Malherbaud 1-0 Budde
Game 2 Budde went first and this time the Mongrel appeared on turn 2. No Wurm though but a Lithatog appeared on turn 3. Malherbaud found his Mongrel with a Tainted Pact and cast it to dissuade Budde from attacking. The German looked to rectify the situation with a Nantuko Disciple only for it to be sucked under a Slithery Stalker.
When a Chainflinger appeared it didn't look like Malherbaud would be keeping the Disciple for very long.
"How many of those cards have toughness of one?" Budde asked of Malherbaud's hand.
Zombie Assassin seemed like an appropriate retort.
Budde gave Malherbaud choices to ponder over as a Krosan Constrictor also joined the fray.
The Frenchman made a Crashing Centaur as the Constrictor started slithering in through Malherbaud's swamps. A Pardic Lancer appeared on Budde's side as a further deterrent to attacking through conventional means.
"And you're laughing at my deck," Malherbaud laughed as Budde summoned a Dwarven Recruiter that was only a mediocre Grey Ogre as he had no Dwarves to search for.
Malherbaud summoned a Dirty Wererat but it wasn't the ground he needed to shore up as Budde was happy to ping away at the Frenchman's life total with Chainflinger and Constrictor.
Malherbaud sent in the Mongrel and Budde dismissively blocked it with a Nantuko Disciple enhanced Dwarven Recruiter. The "bad" recruiter took down three of Malherbaud's cards.
But it was all part of an evil plan!
Malherbaud discarded a Crypt Creeper to the Crashing Centaur to gain threshold and then summoned Gloomdrifter! The German Juggernaut was stunned, and that's not a sight seen often in any Top 8.
Into the graveyard with Chainflinger, Constrictor, Disciple and Lancers as the Gloomdrifter hit Budde's board like a wrecking ball. He was able to save the Mongrel and Lithatog and the Chainflinger dragged the Elephant token down with it but there was no denying the game had changed completely. Now Budde was facing down Zombie Assassin, Gloomdrifter and a Wererat and Centaur both at Threshold.
The German Juggernaut wasn't done quite yet as a Mongrel/Arrogant Wurm double team took down the Centaur. Then his deck tossed out a Springing Tiger after Malherbaud had removed both the Mongrel and Chainflinger with the Assassin. A Torturer from Malherbaud looked to dissuade Budde from being able to block the Wererat if it ever got active.
Magma Vein ensured it wouldn't.
"Can't really complain about my draws," Budde said as his deck tossed up a Chainflinger to give him a chance of killing the Gloomdrifter before it finshed him off.
Unfortunately Malherbaud didn't just attack and say go as Budde wished, but summoned a Frightcrawler that was far more than a mere annoyance now he had threshold.
"I didn't want to see that," Budde said.
The German was facing defeat but still had outs as he checked the life totals. Malherbaud was at 11 life and had nothing that could block. Budde had threshold, a Chainflinger and Springing Tiger as well as a Muscle Burst. If he could just draw a Sylvan Might or Flame Burst he could still snatch the game.
He didn't and the audience witnessed a rare Top 8 defeat for the illustrious German player.
It had been a thriller.
Final Result: Pierre Malherbaud beat Kai Budde 2-0 and advances to the finals of Grand Prix-Naples.