Recent Invitational Champion Jens Thoren may not be the most flamboyant player, but his steely-eyed consistency is hard to ignore. That applies equally to Brian Kibler, who likes to spice up his performance with the occasional overbearing shirt. Today Thoren is looking for payback for the 2-1 bashing Kibler handed him in the Online Extended portion of the Invitational.
Thoren started strong with Sparksmith and a morph. Kibler made a face-up Daru Healer and hoped. Thoren did not have a second Goblin, nor was his face-down creature a Skirk Commando. He played a Nantuko Husk and passed it back. Kibler answered with Dive Bomber. Thoren was eager to keep the pressure up, and dropped Crown of Fury on the Husk and swung in. He morphed his Battering Craghorn for extra damage.
Kibler was ready with Pacifism, and the Dive Bomber traded with the Craghorn on his next attack. Thoren, seemingly out of gas, played Shepherd of Rot. Kibler decided to upgrade his board to "Ridiculous", first with Shieldmage Elder, and then a Riptide Replicator that would churn out 3/3 black clerics. Unfortunately, all that lockdown would do nothing against the Shepherd, who was joined by another Husk and an Anurid Murkdweller, bringing Kibler to zero too quickly.
Thoren 1 - Kibler 0
Thoren didn't waste much time deciding to keep a two-lander for Game 2. He was rewarded with a third swamp on his third turn, enabling a face-down Haunted Cadaver. Kibler had meantime made a morph. He missed his fourth land drop, though, and had no other play.
Thoren had no such problem, ripping the mountain he needed. He Cadavered away Shieldmage Elder, Dive Bomber and Doubtless One, then played Sparksmith. Kibler still had no play on his fourth turn. Thoren hammered with Husk. Kibler drew his fifth land and busted out Prowling Pangolin.
Shockingly, Thoren let him keep it, rather than losing his Sparksmith and Husk. It seemed doubly odd since he was holding Aphetto Dredging. He ate six while he made a morph, and then Cabal Archon and tried to take it down with those two and a ping from the Smith. Kibler decloaked Daru Healer for the save.
Thoren tried again, this time with a morph and Wretched Anurid. It succeeded. A new morph from Kibler earned a block by Anurid Murkdweller, and it turned out to be Fallen Cleric for the trade. Thoren's situation worsened thanks to Kibler's Convalescent Care. He Dredged up the Husk, Murkdweller and the Anurid. It seemed like it would be too late. Kibler already had a Replicator for two online. And then Aurification.
Thoren's last out was Shepherd of Rot. He brought Kibler to eight, then four, and with no Dirge at the top of his library, drew the game.
Thoren 1 - Kibler 0 - Draws 1
This time around Thoren had to go to six. He started with Taskmaster and Kibler feared Sparksmith. It was just Shepherd of Rot, and then Nantuko Husk. Kibler hadn't done anything on his third turn, prefering to cycle Renewed Faith. Then had nothing on his fourth turn.
Thoren hit and made a second Husk. Kibler responded with Pangolin. He swung in and was ahead of the race. Nevermind the Aurification that he played. He was sitting pretty at fifteen life. Thoren eyed his Shepherd but didn't activate it.
That was his blunder. He could have Shepherded for three, untapped, played Anurid Murkdweller, Shepherded for four more, then sacrificed all his guys to Nantuko Husk and hit for eight. Fifteen exactly. Instead, he hit with his Husks for four and dropped the Murkdweller. After Kibler's next turn it was clear his wasn't a winning position, and between the Murkdweller and Shepherd he earned the second draw.
Spectator Jeff Fung was taken aback at the suggestion that Thoren could have erred. "Jens doesn't make mistakes. It's all just part of Jens's plan. He could go land, burn for one and it would be right."
Thoren 1 - Kibler 0 - Draws 2
Kibler played a turn-two Battlefield Medic while Thoren started to make guys. He made a morph after Kibler missed his third land drop, and then a Screeching Buzzard. Kibler found land number three just in time for Daru Healer to slow the beats. Land number four was hot on its heels, and enabled a very large Doubtless One.
Thoren didn't even blink. However, his stoicism was very little help when Kibler played a cleric on every successive turn. When the Doubtless one hit 6/6, backed by two Daru Healers and and a Battlefield Medic, Thoren admitted it was time for Game 5.
Thoren 1 - Kibler 1 - Draws 2
From the crowd, Zach "The Baby Faced Assassin" shouted: "Kibler! I believe in you!" Jeff Fung countered by removing his visor and donning a Sweden baseball cap.
For what would hopefully be the deciding game, Thoren curved out with Shepherd of Rot and Spined Basher. Fung nodded sagely, saying simply "It begins". When Kibler made a morph to throw in the way, Thoren just armored up with Crown of Fury and hit for four.
Kibler stalled on mana, and just made a Battlefield Medic. Nantuko Husk was next on board, and Convalescent Cave showed up too late. The Shepherd brought Kibler to six, and then finished him off after the following turn. Fung pointed to his hat, and finally, Thoren smiled.
Final Result: Jens Thoren defeats Brian Kibler 2-1-2
Masters Top 32 Draft, Pod D
Masters Top 32 Draft, Pod D