Only once in the 8-year history of the Pro Tour has someone won ten consecutive matches and then failed to make the Top 8. That was at Pro Tour Chicago '98 when I turned the trick, declining an intentional draw because I thought I already had it all locked up and a win would help my teammates. Darwin Kastle won his first ten matches this weekend and had a full 5-point lead on the field when he was paired against his teammate Justin Gary in round 11. Kastle, figuring he only needed 2 more points in the next three rounds, conceded to Gary in order to help gary also make the Top 8. Then Kastle lost, then he got paired down so he couldn't draw and he lost again. It turns out that he only needs one more point but his round 14 opponent can't draw in so they'll be playing for it.
Kastle's opponent is Dario Minieri, the 17-year old Italian wonderkid. Minieri went 6-0 on the block constructed day at Worlds and helped the Italian national team post a very respectable finish. Then, two weeks later, Minieri posted his first high-level Top 8 at Grand Prix London. Minieri is running a Suicide Black deck while Kastle is running The Rock.
Minieri won the die roll, but he had to mulligan before game 1 and then his only creature got thrown off the boat by a Diabolic Edict. Minieri did manage to knock a Spiritmonger and a Pernicious Deed out of Kastle's hand with Duress and then Cabal Therapy, but by the time he found a second creature Kastle had already Living Wished for and played out a Stronghold Taskmaster – some good against Suicide Black. Kastle also had two Treetop Villages up and running so Minieri scooped 'em up and started shuffling for game 2.
Two Edicts and two Pernicious Deed
s made Minieri's life miserable in game 2, but he did manage to knock two Ravenous Baloth
s out of Kastle's hand with a Cabal Therapy
while Kastle was using his mana to play and activate his Deeds. Kastle promptly drew Living Death
off the top of his deck, but Minieri proved that he too could top-deck like a pro: Perish
! Kastle finally blew his second Deed and once all the dust had settled Minieri had a Sarcomancy
and Kastle had a Treetop Village
and 8 life. One Snuff Out
later, Kastle was down to 6 and Minieri looked like he might pull this game out, but then Kastle drew the land he needed to flashback Chainer's Edict
. Both players were in top-deck mode and that had to favor The Rock. While Minieri drew Carnophage
, Kastle drew Spiritmonger
When Minieri finally extended his hand, the biggest cheer came from Justin Gary. He had long since clinched his own berth in the Top 8, but he would have felt horrible if his teammate, who had conceded to him to put him into that position, had missed out. Kastle was doubly happy about his good performance this weekend because he actually came into this weekend unqualified for the next Pro Tour – Kastle's last good performance was a Top 8 at last year's Extended Pro Tour and with it falling off he was in danger of falling off the "gravy train." He is in danger no more – now he joins fellow YMGers Justin gary and Rob Dougherty in a star-studded Top 8 that the three of them got into with three radically different decks.
Final Result:Kastle – 2, Minieri – 0