Former team greats Team Antarctica have fallen on hard times in recent times, forced to grind through the Gateway tournament to prove their worth in the Masters. With a team rating of 1701, they only barely met the qualification target of 1700 to enable them to participate in the gateway. Team Outland 2 were attempting to join their brothers-in-arms Outland 1 in the Masters.
Match 1 – Dan OMS vs Endre Skjetne
Dan O'Mahoney-Schwartz was given a R/G speed deck with a great mana curve (including great creatures such as Wild Mongrel, Springing Tiger and the like) topped of with breakers such as Narcissism and Overrun. Skjetne, was also of an aggressive mindset, but had his red cards paired with those of the black variety.
In game 1, Dan came out of the blocks quickly, with a second turn Mad Dog and third turn Hell-Bent Raider. Endre had the answers with a Firebolt for the dog, and then a Pardic Arsonist tostabilise the board. Though Dan attempted to put through more damage with a Narcissism, he was somewhat countered by Skjetne's attempt at a counterattack, with a Recklessly Charged Imp reversing the damage race. Unable to draw anything significant, Dan's board position deteriorated fast as the Imp came through a few more times, with the help of a Firebolt.
Game 2 saw Dan having a bad mana curve, with an Ember Beast and Barbarian Lunatic coupled with a several four mana and higher spells. Skjetne opened early with a Mesmeric Fiend, holding an u, whilst Dan cast the other creature he had, the Lunatic. He attempted to trade the Fiend for the Barbarian, but was thwarted by a timely Muscle Burst. But Dan's mana situation did not improve, still stuck on three mana he decided not to trade a freshly cast Lunatic with Endre, and played the previously held Ember Beast. He paid for his lack of willingness to trade when a u came down hard on the Barbarian, making the Beast awfully lonely. With Endre casting more and more creatures, it became imperative that he draw some land, but none was forthcoming, drawing Narcissism and a Springing Tiger in consecutive turns. The Ember Beast could only watch idly as the army of the Scandinavian came crashing through to facilitate Dan's demise.
Outland 2 1-0 Antarctica
Match 2 – Steve OMS vs Lorre Crnonori
Steve was playing a synergist U/B deck, whilst Lorre played a U/G concoction from his team, though it was hard to tell when he failed to drop a forest, while Steve OMS summoned a turn 2 Nantuko Shade that went all the way in under 4 minutes.
The second game was a little more competitive, but Steve still had an early Shade, but it was accompanied by a Mindslicer and a Crypt Creeper. Crnonori, having drawn green this time, showed what his deck was made of with a Wild Mongrel holding down the board whilst an Aven Windreader came over the top. The match seemed to be turning in Team Outland's favor when Lorre added a Rabid Elephant to his team, but a final alpha strike by Steve OMS brought Crnonori to 4, close enough for him to be killed when the younger OMS cast a Sickening Dreams for 4.
Antarctica 1-1 Outland 2
Match 3 – Jon Finkel vs Ovyind Odegaard
This matchup paired 2000 Invitational Winner (amongst other things) Jon Finkel vs the feisty Norwegian Ovyind Odegaard. Both are playing control decks, with Odegaard adding black to what otherwise would be a mirror matchup.
Game 1 soon developed into a stall, as control mirror matches are wont to do, with Odegaard attempting to take the advantage by casting Jon's Magical Card alter-ego, Shadowmage Infiltrator. But Finkel would have none of his clones attacking him and so stabilized the situation with a Militant Monk. With multiple Teroh's Faithful being played, the match slowed to a drawl, only punctuated by a Graceful Antelope from Finkel (which was Kirtar's Desired by the Norwegian), a Grotesque Hybrid from Ovyind (Stupifying Touched) and a Puppeteer. With no real way to break either defense, both players were content to draw and go. Finkel did have two Cephalid Looters though, and combined with the Puppeteer, they gave Jon the ability to deck Ovyind just mere turns before he was going to deck himself.
The second game began a little more quickly than Game 1, with Finkel casting an Aquamoeba and a Cephalid Looter, but was countered by a Pyschotic Haze which killed the Looter. Every threat seemed to be answered by Odegaard, with a DreamwinderMorbid Hungered, and most of the other offense stalemated by a Norwegian Dirty Wererat. The Norwegian continued to cast creatures, but none could really get through the stabilizing Aven Flock that Jon had cast. But he was hampered somewhat by his inability to draw white mana, so the Flock was in constant danger of being hungered out of the graveyard. Suddenly the face of the game changed with the casting of a Sadistic Hypnotist by Ovyind completely stripping Finkel's six card hand (mostly land, as well as a Militant Monk and Antelope). With an attack and a Pyschotic Haze, the board was clean and with a few cards in hand, the Scandinavian took control, casting a Scriviner and a Soul Scourge. In a few short turns it was all over, bringing the game to a deciding rubber.
By now the time had nearly been called, and with the single elimination rules as they were, the player with the highest life after the mandatory three extra turns would win the match and allow his team to advance to the penultimate round of the Gateway. Finkel sideboarded in all his 1/1 creatures, like Tireless Tribe, Confessor, Escape Artist and Dedicated Martyr. He had a good hand, with a Escape Artist and Beloved Chaplain as well as Teroh's Faithful. Odegaard was able to match Finkel to an extent, but not before he has dealt a crucial damage with the Artist. After casting Teroh's Faithful, Finkel looked set to take the match with life scores. But with two turns remaining Odegaard cast his own Faithful, and in the final turn, he found a second Faithful, to move his life total to 26 and 2 above Finkel, taking the match in the eleventh hour.
Final Result: Team Outland 2 wins 2-1