Team Outland II from Norway consisted of members Lovre Crndbori (in the A seat), Oyvind Odegaard (in the B seat), and Endre Skvetne (in the C seat). The French Team Metagames was formed by Wilfried Ranque, Raphael Levy, and Franck Canu (in the A, B and C seats respectively). They were playing for entrance into the final 2 of the Masters Gateway here in Osaka, for the opportunity to test their mettle in the team Rochester draft format.
Both teams seemed eager for victory, with the French team psyching themselves up with handshakes and high fives, while the Norwegian team quietly nodded and gilded themselves for battle. The matchups were as follows:
Seat A: Lovre (Green/Blue) versus Ranque (White/Red/Green)
Seat B: Odegaard (White/Black/Blue) versus Levy (Green/Black)
Seat C: Skvetne (Red/Black) versus Canu (Blue/Black)
Seat A, Game 1:
Wilfried won the die roll, and chose to play first. He kept his opening hand, and his opponent was forced to mulligan a no land hand. Lovre's luck ran short as his second hand contained only a single Forest, but he decided to keep it, since it also consisted of a Diligent Farmhand and a Wild Mongrel.
The game ended quickly on a mana screw, but ironically the French player was the unfortunate soul crushed by a lack of lands. He failed to draw past the initial two Plains in his opening hand, while the Norwegian top decked two straight lands to allow him to cast the Farmhand, the Mongrel, Hydromorph Guardian, and Cephalid Scout on successive turns. The only opposition to this creature horde was a sole Angelic Wall, but after discarding for a turn, Wilfried scooped his cards and hoped for a better second game.
Lovre 1 – Ranque 0.
Seat A, Game 2
Once again Wilfried opted to start the game, and both players traded playing lands for the first couple of turns. Wilfried led with an Angelic Wall, and Lovre made the second creature of the game, bringing a Skywing Aven into play on his third turn. Ranque answered with flare, slapping down a Chainflinger triumphantly on his following turn.
The Chainflinger shot the Aven out of the sky, and the Norwegian opted not to return it to his hand. Instead, he brought forth a Hydromorph Guardian and Rabid Elephant on successive turns. The Frenchman temporarily removed the Norwegian's sole Forest with a Petravark, but quickly another Forest replaced it, as the Elephant hit for three. The game continued much in this fashion, with the Chainflinger pinging for one, and the Elephant blowing past the Wall, Flinger, Petravark and a Mystic Zealot for a couple of turns.
Wilfried attempted to put a stop to his bleeding by enchanting his Petravark with a Seton's Desire, and then using Spirit Flare to deal four to the attacking Elephant. Unfortunately, this play tapped him out, allowing Lovre to cast Circular Logic, countering the Flare. The Flare was flashed back the very next attack, but it was again countered, this time through the sacrifice of the Hydromorph Guardian.
Suddenly, things looked very badly indeed for the French player. He had been pecking away with the Chainflinger, but the life totals stood 14 to 5 in the favor of the Norwegian player. He was forced into chump blocking, throwing his Wall in the way of the ¾ attacker. Things got even worse when the Petravark was Repelled at the end of his turn, and an Aven Windreader joined the Elephant on the offense.
However, the game would not end so easily! With the Elephant reducing Wilfried to two life, the player calmly top decked an Aven Flock, allowing him to stop the offense for a turn (since Lovre did not want to lose his Windreader to a combination of the Flock and the Chainflinger). Lovre began using his Windreader to see the future draws of his opponent, but was visibly dismayed when he viewed a Hallowed Healer. This creature slowed down the entire offense, and the game seemed to be shifting momentum towards the Chainflinger's slow win.
Lovre used a Krosan Archer to discard lands and bring himself to threshold. Then, he next summoned an 8/8 Krosan Beast, setting himself up to finally break through Ranque's defenses. His Aven Windreader revealed a forthcoming Embolden, and this pressed him into attacking with all his creatures.
Here's how the attack phase looked that turn:
After damage was on the stack, the Healer was used to prevent two damage to the Chainflinger. This killed the attacking Cartographer, and the blocking Healer and Petravark. Ranque opted to shoot Lovre with the Chainflinger rather than kill the Windreader, bringing the life totals to Lovre 6, Ranque 2. He then sacrificed his Abandoned Outpost to reach threshold, and attacked with his two flyers for the win.
Except it wasn't for the win, as Lovre calmly played a Moment's Peace to the center of the table, turning a fatal attack into an opportunity to counterattack for the win. Faced with unsurmountable forces even with the Embolden in hand, Wilfried could do nothing but scoop.
Lovre 2 – Ranque 0.
By this point, the Norwegian team had won the first game of match C, and had just lost the first game of match B. Since Oyvind and Raphael were still shuffling up between games one and two, I sat down to watch their match.
Seat B, Game 2
(Oyvind Odegaard of Team Outland II versus Raphael Levy of Team Metagames)
Oyvind had lost the last game by having his hand stripped of a Vengeful Dreams at the last moment by a Last Rites. He decided to draw first this game, giving Levy the first play of the game. On the third turn, the French player summoned a Cabal Torturer. It was met with the protection from black Pilgrim of Virtue. Levy muttered something under his breath. Oyvind inquired, "What does that mean?" to which Levy replied, "It means lucky bastard!"
Levy didn't seem all that concerned with the Pilgrim dropping green creature after green creature. His next two turns consisted of Nantuko Disciple and Elephant Ambush, allowing him to punch through the Pilgrim for five. Odegaard drew, and began to play that card—a Beloved Chaplain—but then hesitated when he realized his opponent controlled a Torturer. Quickly though he smiled and realized that protection from creatures includes creature abilities, and he brought the blocker into play with a cry of "Yes! It's excellent!"
Raphael made a Seton's Scout, and swung with both the Scout and his Elephant. After some quick match calculations, Oyvind decided that the Chaplain should block the Scout, forcing the smaller creature to be pumped. The Norwegian then cast an Angelic Wall.
The next turn went badly for Team Outland. Oyvind was holding a Vengeful Dreams, but allowed damage to be put on the stack before using the Dreams. He blocked the Elephant with the Wall, allowing Levy to Torture the Wall to death, while using the Disciple to keep the Scout alive. This allowed Odegaard to kill the Disciple with a Morbid Hunger the following turn, but it was replaced by a 4/4 Gorilla Titan.
The Titan began swinging on his own, and though a Teroh's Faithful stabilized Odegaard's life total, he refused to remove the attacker from the game. Raphael brought forth a Crashing Centaur, but on his following turn cast a Mind Sludge for three, stripping all but one of the cards from his opponent's hand. Odegaard thought long and hard about which card to keep, and eventually chose to hold onto the white Dream, tossing a Morgue Theft, Scrivener, and Spirit Flare.
Things just got worse, as Canu came back his next two games to win the match in the C seat. Suddenly Oyvind was in a losing position of a game he needed to win to keep his team alive. He flashed back the Theft to retrieve his Scrivener, but had his hand re-stripped by a Last Rites. All this discard left him nearly defenseless, and even a last minute Second Thoughts could not reveal enough answers to stop the onslaught of green monsters.
Levy 2 – Odegaard 0.
Final Result: Team Metagames 2 – Team Outland II 1