At this stage neither player could reach top 8, and Chris had suffered a bit of a raw deal this round as he had been paired up against the winner of the draft having gone 1-2 himself.
Chris won the toss and asked Bram to play first.
Chris would like me to note that he was 1-0 in feature matches.
Neither player had to mulligan, so Bram made the first play – a Frightcrawler, who was matched by a Patrol Hound from the other side. Snepvangers then made an Aquamoeba which blocked the Hound, but was then Afflicted.
Bram's Rotting Giant started holding the fort for a bit, but then attacked into a freshly made Dirty Wererat. A powerful play then saw the Dutchman cast Mind Sludge for 4 whilst the American was tapped out – forcing him to discard Militant Monk, Swamp, Aven Flock and Gallantry – leaving only one card in Chris's hand.
Despite this huge card advantage the Wererat was doing a good job of stabilizing the game on the ground. The lock might have been broken when Snepvangers summoned a Thought Eater, but a Patriarch's Desire saw its swift demise.
Unfortunately for the American his Wererat had approached threshold and became unable to block, so he started swinging with it instead – realizing he had to start racing. This rapidly became an unrealistic prospect though as Bram had summoned a Skywing Aven and a Chamber of Manipulation which was making things incredibly difficult for Benefal. When Chris tried to cast Gallantry on his Patrol Hound, Bram used the Chamber to remove it from combat – so Chris was not entitled to draw the card as the Patrol was no longer blocking.
Once again the Chamber of Manipulation was used to great effect as an attempted Shelter on a freshly laid Auramancer was effectively countered as Chris no longer had control of the creature when the Chamber was used.
One would have thought that the Mind Sludge would have given the Dutchman enough advantage to control the game, but Chris' draws had been pretty good from that point onwards. The Auramancer had brought back the Patriarch's Desire, which then killed an Aqamoeba, and the life scores were balanced precariously at 3 to 2 in the American's favour as he prepared for his attack. The Chamber of Manipulation managed to deter him from swinging, but Chris had drawn an Angelic Wall to stop the Skywing Aven from finishing him off.. Snepvangers was faced with a difficult choice. Chris had one card in hand and mana open. Bram decided he would risk the possible Embolden or other trick and took control of the Angelic Wall with his last remaining card in hand, then swung across with his 1/1 Frightcrawler and his Aven. Should this attack have failed Chris would have won, but he did not have a trick in hand.
Chris once again asked Bram to play first who made a third turn Organ Grinder which managed to swing across unopposed for 3. Chris rallied with a Teroh's Faithful to stop the beats.
"What have you got for me Bram? A little Mind Sludge action?"
"I have nothing," said Bram making an Aquamoeba on his fifth turn to join the Grinder and a Sandstone Deadfall.
"Not sure if I believe you," said Chris making a couple of Dirty Wererats in two consecutive turns.
It became rapidly apparent that Bram might well have been telling the truth as he could only muster a Rotting Giant to hold off the beats, but it was sufficient. Chris made an Angelic Wall.
Finally – off the top I think, Bram threw a Mind Sludge at Benefal who said "I saw that one coming a mile away". Before it resolved Chris cast Afflict on the Organ Grinder, then discarded Gallantry, Second Thoughts, Plains, Plains.
Deciding it was time for the beats to commence, Chris swung across with two 2/3 Wererats. One of them was blocked by an Aquamoeba, but Chris had Shelter 'blue' and achieved threshold. Bram responded to the Shelter by using his Sandstone Deadfall, but Chris used the last card in his hand to regenerate it again.
At this stage Bram had 3 cards in his hand to Chris's none, but was facing down two 4/5 regenerators. He rallied with a Gravedigger, which fetched an Organ Grinder. Chris swung again with the rats – one of which was double blocked, but he had drawn a great card for the situation – a Shelter, so no cards were lost from his hand as the Rotting Giant sailed to his opponent's bin.
Still on heavy defense Bram made a Thought Eater and a second Aquamoeba, then chumped a rat with a Gravedigger.
Chris: "These guys are savage!"
Bram: "Yes they certainly are."
After a few more chumps and an Obsessive Search Bram conceded gracefully.
Chris: "I liked that Mind Sludge – it gives me threshold every time!"
Bram decided to draw.
Swamp, Angelic Wall
B:Swamp, Rotting Giant
C:Plains, Militant Monk
B:Island, Thought Eater (had to discard Obsessive Search, then had to discard Island)
C:Swamp, Teroh's Faithful
B:Swamp, Treetop Sentinel
C:Plains, Aven Flock
B:Aether Burst the Flock, attack with the fliers. STANDSTILL! – Ouch. This was a crippling blow for Chris who then passed his next turn, and attempted to cast Second Thoughts on the Sentinel, triggering the Standstill. It resolved, but the game was pretty much lost for the American from this point as Bram summoned a Dirty Wererat, slapped a Ghostly Wings on it making it a 5/6 regenerating flier, then spanked his bottom blue with it. The re-summoned Flock looked like it might stabilize the situation, but it was Dematerialised twice in two successive turns for the win.
Final Result: Bram won 2-1