||Latins Strike Back
Illuminati is one of the most dominant teams around. They placed in the Top 4 at Pro Tour New York last year, and came in second at Grand Prix Jersey. Today hasn't quite followed that pattern. They are currently 3-2, and need a win this round to advance to tomorrow's draft portion. Bandana won't be pushovers either. Ostrovich was the first seed in the individual competition at Worlds a few weeks ago, and Caligaris joined him on the Argentinean National Team.
Gary started off strong with Diligent Farmhand and Wild Mongrel, and Ostrovich gave his Cephalid LooterUnquestioned Authority. The Argentinean's defense improved with Mystic Zealot, and Sonic Seizure took out the Looter. Ostrovich simply brought out another board dominating enchanted creature, when he put Ghostly Wings on Resilient Wanderer. Not helping matters was the fact that Gary was stuck at three land (even after sacrificing the Farmhand), but Werebear was keeping him in the game. The Mongrel was blocked by the Wanderer, and Gary changed color after damage was on the stack. This convinced Ostrovich to bounce back his Wanderer. This was likely a mistake, since Ostrovich didn't seem to know that the Mongrel changing color after damage went on the stack would affect the Wanderer's protection. Call of the Herd gave Gary an elephant and seven cards in the graveyard, and he attacked with an impressive army. Volcanic Eruption annihilated Ostrovich, leaving him with no non-land permanents and no cards in hand to Gary's Mongrel and 4/4 Werebear. Call of the Herd was flashed back on the following turn, and Ostrovich scooped soon after.
Mowshowitz's Mirror Wall and Mystic Zealot stared down Caligaris' Forcemage Advocate and Nantuko Tracer with Seton's Desire. Squirrel Nest gave Caligaris a significant threat, but due to Mowshowitz's defense it would take some time to build a squirrel army before an attack would be beneficial. Beloved Chaplain and Cephalid Scout provided a slow but efficient clock for Mowshowitz, and Battle Screech increased the pressure a great deal. From this point, victory was inevitable.
Shvartsman and Gabrenja exchanged removal and creatures, until Gabrenja drew Laquatus' Champion. Shvartsman had no answer, and they were off to Game 2.
Once again, Shvartsman and Gabrenja played the parity game, as every early creature that came out died to removal. Gravegouger took away Gabrenja's Crippling Fatigue, and Aven Fisher followed.
Shvartsman- "Kill my man! I'll get something out of it."
Fiery Temper gave Gabrenja back his Fatigue, which was flashed back to kill the Fisher. Morgue Theft brought the flier back to Shvartsman's hand. It died and made yet another encore appearance when Shvartsman flashed back the Theft. This card advantage carried Shvartsman through the game.
Game 2 between Caligaris and Mowshowitz was a battle of first pick commons: Caligaris had Mongrel, and Mowshowitz had Looter. This was followed by Cephalid Scout, and Caligaris killed both with Lava Dart. He then played Seton's Desire on the Mongrel, which went away due to Frantic Purification. Caligaris was stuck at two land, but was doing his best to stay in the game with Werebear to provide him with a little more mana. Blessed Orator was given Ghostly Wings, and Caligaris dropped a bomb: Narcissism. Still, it wasn't horribly efficient due to a lack of creatures. This was alleviated somewhat, as Caligaris brought out Krosan Avenger. All the while, Mowshowitz's Orator was swinging through the air for two damage a turn, while the Zealot held down the fort. An attack was slowed down thanks to Prismatic Strands, but Caligaris' army was growing. Mowshowitz Peeked when his opponent had one card in hand and saw Demoralize. Obviously, this did not make him very happy. Still, the only mountain Caligaris had seen all game was sacrificed in the early game to kill Mowshowitz's Cephalids with Lava Dart. Eventually the mountain was drawn, and Caligaris took the second game.
Ostrovich seemed to have Game 2 well in hand thanks to a Patrol Hound with Ghostly Wings, and Shieldmage Advocate. Gary came back with Arcane Teachings on Nullmage Advocate, and Skyshooter. Kirtar's Desire nullified Rabid Elephant, and a second stopped the huge Advocate dead in its tracks. Ostrovich had no cards in his graveyard, so the Advocate's special ability was not relevant for the time being. The Advocate shot down the Scout, and a land went into Ostrovich's graveyard. The Argentinean improved his defense with Resilient Wanderer. Gary used the Advocate to get Kirtar's Desire off the Elephant, allowing him to attack for damage. This was followed by Barbarian Outcast. Gary also had an Anurid Swarmsnapper out, assuring that Ostrovich would not be attacking anytime soon. Ostrovich was able to build his side back up to the point that Gary could not attack either, and started making birds with Spirit Cairn, while making the Wanderer pro-green and red. Gary sent two direct damage spells at Ostrovich, and used Flaring Pain in response to the Advocate to win the game and the match.
Shvartsman and Gabrenja started off Game 3 the same way the first two started off- with removal flying everywhere and creatures ducking for cover. Shvartsman's Mesmeric Fiend revealed Gabrenja's trump card- Laquatus' Champion. However, the hand also contained Psychotic Haze, which Shvartsman took instead. This wasn't as dangerous as it could have been, since Gabrenja was stuck at four lands. While Gabrenja waited to draw lands, Shvartsman was assaulting through the air with Aven Fisher and Balshan Collaborator. Cephalid Inkshrouder joined as well, A few turns later, Illuminati had the match and advanced to Saturday.
Caligaris started Game 3 with Werebear and Narcissism, but the dominating enchantment was destroyed thanks to Aven Cloudchaser. Battle Screech gave Mowshowitz a bird army, while Caligaris simply played dorks on the ground. Ghostly Wings enchanted Mystic Zealot, which was even more intimidating due to Nomad Mythmaker. Mowshowitz swung overhead for a few turns, and eventually took the match to give Illuminati the sweep.
Final Result: Illuminati- 3 Bandana- 0