Everything's riding on this match. The spot in the Top 4. The money. Reputation. Pride. All that makes an already gruelling day that much harder. How do you find the resolve to put on your best game just once more?
Neither of these teams have that difficulty. Courtney's Boys have been around the block more than once. Gary Wise has been through the Team Pro Tour before and came out on top. Bob Maher's claimed a singles title. Neil Reeves was at the final table earlier this year. All of them know what it takes to be a champion, and have shown they can handle it.
Their opponents might not be so lettered, but they have that confidence and unflappability that is the mark of a true professional. Star-Maker are a team everyone's kept a wary eye on. Wiegersma's already got a Pro Tour Top 4 under his belt, and there's all kinds of whispering about the potential that Victor Van der Broek and Frank Karsten represent. Combine that with their 3-1 performance today, and it's no wonder players have been giving them regard.
In the first seat Wiegersma's white-black faced Maher's white-red. Wiegsma poured out Tireless Tribe, Shieldmage Advocate and Battlewise Aven while Maher managed only a Dwarven Recruiter. Maher untapped and passed it back with five mana open. Wiegersma didn't bite. Maher caved and cast an Advocate of his own and a Mystic Familiar. Another attack brought him to thirteen. Wiegersma hired Militant Monk. Things were going to get tricky, and soon.
Van der Broek also gave his opponent little time to breathe. His blue-green shelled the battlefield with an opening of Chatter of the Squirrel, Seton's Scout, Ironshell Beetle and Anurid Swarmsnapper. Reeves hid behind Krosan Restorer with Elephant Guide, but van der Broek had Dematerialize. Reeves replayed and chumped the next attack, but the damage had been done. He started shuffling up for Game 2.
Wise won the die roll against Karsten and chose to draw first. Karsten started with Suntail Hawk, which Wise Toxic Stenched, and restored card parity with Unhinge. Treacherous Werewolf joined his force. Wise Butchered, but Karsten had the Chainer's Edict. Their forces mounted, Wise with Inkshrouder and Whispering Shade, Karsten with Earsplitting Rats and Battlewise Aven. Another Unhinge stole Wise's Waste Away. Both of them stared at the board, trying to find the best line of play.
Meanwhile Maher had reached an uneasy stability against Wiegersma. His Second Thoughts took down the Battlewise Aven, and Unquestioned Authority Armored up his Mystic Familiar. He was in single digits, but his defenses looked like they would hold.
Karsten swung into Wise's two creatures and single untapped swamp. Wise traded them both for two pitches and the Werewolf, falling to eight. He dropped Balthor and passed it back.
Van der Broek had another blistering start against Reeves: Wild Mongrel, boost it with Ironshell Beetle, and then Ghostly Wings. Reeves had Wormfang Crab and then Phantom Centaur, but it looked like it wouldn't be enough. Puppeteer came down not a moment too soon. Van der Broek smiled, and crashed in with all his creatures. Sudden Strength pumped the Mongrel, while providing enough cards to match Reeves's life total.
www.star-maker.nl/lap 1 - Courtney's Boys 0
That match win put a cloud over the rest of Courtney's Boys. Reeves just got up and left, leaving his teammates to focus on the task at hand. Wiegersma reached over and read Maher's Shieldmage Advocate.
"You drew Glory, didn't you?" - Bob Maher.
Wiegersma smiled and said nothing.
Karsten swung again, and then again into Wise's Balthor and five mana. Wise activated Balthor to bring back Faceless Butcher, but it wasn't enough. The loss only served to increase Wise's focus. All traces of personality left, replaced by an unblinking stare.
Wiegersma stopped his figuring, and sure enough it was Glory. Double protection put his team past Maher's defenses and brought The Great One to four. He couldn't even strike back. Wiegersma tried again. Maher had topdecked gold. Shieldmage Advocate prevented the damage to Maher from the Militant Monk with Shade's Form. Before that happened, though, the card targetted by the ability, Glory, was hit with another effect: Funeral Pyre. Embolden prevented the remaining four damage. Chainflinger took down the spirit token. Now Maher was moving into the driver's seat. He started hitting for four with a pair of 2/2's. Wiegersma let it through.
Wise was all business going into Game 2. Crippling Fatigue took out Vigilant Sentry and Fledgling Imp, leaving Dusk Imp. Morgue Theft got back the Fledgling, and an attempt at Angelic Wall was Syncopated. Wise came back with Whispering Shade. Karsten's Edict could only catch Childhood Horror. Faceless Butcher caught the Imp, and the Shade started clobbering.
Maher couldn't get much more damage through against Wiegersma. Both were drawing their defensive creatures, including a Teroh's Faithful to buoy Maher's life total. Chainflinger was hitting for a point every other turn thanks to Militant Monk.
The Shade had dropped Karsten to six and Wise had other attackers at the ready. Karsten swung into Wise's board of Faceless Butcher, Hapless Researcher and Wormfang Turtle. Wise blocked the incoming Pardic Collaborator and Fledgling Imp with Hapless Researcher and Wormfang Turtle. Karsten turned over his last card: Mutilate for three. The only creature on the board was Karsten's freed Dusk Imp. Wise had a strong grip of Aven Fisher and Gloomdrifter.
The Fisher forced the flashback of Chainer's Edict. Karsten regrew his Collaborator and played it. Wise's Waste Away was just in time, and the Gloomdrifter got busy. Karsten fell to four. He Unhinged, catching a land, and brought Wise to five. Wise made Cephalid Inkshrouder and held back, trading Gloomdrifter for the Imp. Karsten busted out Phantom Flock and Earsplitting Rats. Wise topdecked Patriarch's Desire to kill the Flock. They traded two damage. Karsten dropped Blessed Orator, leaving five mana open. He was at two. Wise drew Toxic Stench.
If it had been a land, it would have been easy. But now he had two ways to try and win the game. If the card in Karsten's hand was Embolden, he needed to kill the Orator to have a chance to win. If the card was Second Thoughts, he needed to pitch it for unblockability and untargetability, swinging for the win. He looked at the ceiling. He shrugged and pitched it. Karsten turned over mountain. Wise didn't even smile. He was already looking at Game 3.
Things were well past complex in the Maher-Wiegersma match. Crippling Fatigue had long ago negated Maher's Bodyguard and Chainflinger. Every defensive white creature was on both sides of the table. Still, Wiegersma had the advantage, and was diminishing Maher's resources with every attack. Maher was two turns from giving up the ghost. He drew Grim Lavamancer, and passed it back. Some fancy work involving a re-used Embolden answered an involved combat phase.
"Alrighty, nothing happens." - Bob Maher, Jr.
Wise's hand for Game 3 was the gassiest yet. He started with Researcher, then Mental Note put Crippling Fatigue in his graveyard. Faceless Butcher took out Karsten's Dusk Imp, and then all Karsten had was Unhinge. Whispering Shade was somewhat better. Karsten tried Phantom Flock. Wise untapped and dropped the second Butcher! He even had Balthor back! Karsten thought hard, then Stenched the Researcher and played Treacherous Werewolf. Wise simply Fatigued from the 'yard. Another attack, and the teams were even at 1-1.
"Come on, Bob!" - Gary Wise
www.star-maker.nl/lap 1 - Courtney's Boys 1
Facing a lethal attack, Maher ripped Sonic Seizure. His hand was Burning Wish and mountain. He double-checked the board. The Wish sent out for Flash of Defiance. He swung in, and Wiegersma blocked and prevented as best he could. Maher Lavamancered him, then he Sonic Seizured him, reducing him to exactly zero. Game 1 to Maher. Just three minutes remained on the clock. A whoop went up from the crowd. The Dutch asked for a draw, since that's all Courtney's Boys needed, but they couldn't be sure it woulnd't cost them money if they exit the tournament in the semifinals. The Dutch understood their position and wished them good luck on Sunday.
Fnial Result: Courtney's Boys defeat www.star-maker.nl/lap 2-1