This was the moment of truth for Kai Budde. Perennially qualified for the Masters, Budde has thusfar failed to defeat anyone besides Sol Malka. A Masters Victory is one of the few laurels he doesn't have cluttering his brow. And what better opportunity to claim that than with Pheonix Foundation Teammates Dirk Baberowski and Marco Blume? They proved they're way more than hired goons when they smashed through Pro Tour - New York to take the Championship.
Across from him sits Kazuyuki Momose of Panzer Hunters. Momose's been in this position before. Last year at Tokyo he helped Panzer Hunters upset some of the biggest teams and advance to the finals. In fact, Momose had retired from Magic shortly after that shining hour, but came back for this run at the Masters. Now all he has to do is beat the best player the game's ever known.
Momose rode the curve in the first game, playing out Mad Dog and Cartographer. Budde, without defenders, was forced to Syncopate the Gray Ogre. He spent another on Momose's Springing Tiger, the whole time beating down with Cephalid Scout.
Budde put a stop to the Mad Dog with a Mystic Zealot. Momose made a Chainflinger. Budde was ready with Stupefying Touch. Then came Pardic Lancer and Lithatog, but Budde had Kirtar's Desire for the 'tog and then Angelic Wall and Mystic Visionary.
Meanwhile, Dirk Baberowski had dropped Game 1 to Itaru Ishida, deepening Budde's reflexive frown. A Firebolt off the top took out the Visionary and Scout, but that only put Budde to threshold and let him start hitting for three in the air. He Concentrated, looking unbeatable.
Momose waited. He made a Leaf Dancer. Budde answered with Luminous Guardian. At five, Momose still had just two green mana at his disposal. He swung with his team. Budde's Guardian doubled-up on the little ones and pumped. The Angelic Wall blocked the Lancer. Momose thought hard, his head in his hands. He chose to activate the Lancer to kill the wall. Budde randomly chose ... Overrun.
The crowd groaned. Momose kept at it. Arrogant Wurm joined his side of the board. Budde hit him to two, but had no play, playing it cool behind the Guardian.
Momose had to act. With three cards in hand, including Temporary Insanity, he had a play to take it. He agonized over the decision. He could Insanity the Guardian, swing with his team, and pitch his hand to the Lancer, dealing exactly fourteen. However, if Budde had anything, anything at all, he was guaranteed defeat. Considering his other option was to use the Insanity as Fog, his decision was clear.
He stole the Guardian and pushed his men into the Red Zone. He pitched his hand. Budde put his four cards face up on the table: All islands. He had drawn sixteen of his eighteen land.
Momose 1 - Budde 0
Momose thought briefly about boarding in Simplify, but thought better of it, choosing to leave his deck unchanged. His opening hand held two mountains, Flame Burst and Mad Dog. He chose to keep. Clearly, the power of Japan was with him, as a forest was waiting for him.
Budde frowned at the Mad Dog opening, reminding his opponent that he had only one in his deck. However, he had a strong answer in Pilgrim of Justice. Momose added Cartographer, but Budde one-upped with Cephalid Aristocrat. Momose sent the Mad Dog in, and finished it off with Flame Burst. The Aristocrat milled Budde for two in the process, but he wasn't sad to see the two land go.
Budde went on the offensive with Thought Devourer, while Phantom Whelp and Angelic Wall held his opponent at bay. Momose drew into Demoralize, but couldn't go for the instant kill because Budde had mana open to sacrifice the Pilgrim.
His draws refused to co-operate. Budde swung in the air for four a turn, bolstering his life total with Teroh's Faithful. There was simply nothing Momose could do.
Momose 1 - Budde 1
While shuffling for their final game, and with Blume already eliminated, Budde watched Baberowski kept hope alive winning his second game against Ishida. Cheering, he turned back to the task at hand.
He started strong, with Cephalid Scout and Mystic Visionary. Momose held Firebolt, but chose to wait for his Chainflinger, maximizing the possible destruction. When he finally did hit four mana, with no other plays, mind you, Budde answered the 'flinger with another Scout and the amazing Stupefying Touch!
Again, the Japanese fans couldn't believe it. Too bad that the 'flinger was Momose's whole game. He had Overrun, but no creatures to go with it. Firebolt took down the Visionary. His remaining cards were Rites of Spring, Rites of Initiation and Fiery Temper.
Momose drew Nantuko Calmer but held back on it, fearing Syncopate. Budde tapped out for Luminous Guardian. The Calmer hit play. Budde continued to make trouble with Pilgrim of Justice. Momose thought hard before making a Rabid Elephant.
Budde smiled as he busted out Thought Devourer, sensing the end was near. Momose was at seven. He dropped a sixth land and Cartographer. Budde was at sixteen. He swung in with the Elephant, and after Budde blocked and tapped out to save, offed it with Fiery Temper.
Budde's airforce dropped Momose to one. He dug for a card with the Scout, then started nodding. He tapped a plains and put Kirtar's Desire on the Rabid Elephant. Momose, holding the kill of Overrun and Rites of Initiation could only shake his head.
He drew a land, and checked and rechecked. There was nothing he could do. He extended the hand in defeat.
Final Result: Kai Budde defeats Kazuyuki Momose 2-1