Kai Budde is the best player in the world. He's won five Pro Tours, countless other events and perhaps most impressively, fifteen consecutive matches on Sunday at the PT. Very few players can claim to have ever defeated Kai in those rare moments where he's shown weakness in Grand Prix top 8s. Bram Snepvangers is one of them.
Playing in the final of GP Florence, Snepvangers, known for his unusual deck builds, beat Kai with a four color Oath deck based off of Maher Oath, but despite that success hasn't seen the glory of top 8 play since. Today that all changes, as he faces the greatest of all time in the quarter-finals.
With Kai playing first, Bram was forced to mulligan in this mirror match pitting blue-white decks with splashes of black against one another. The first play of the game saw Bram play Angelic Wall on turn two, with Kai remaining inactive through turn four. Playing his third land type, Bram smiled and said 'OK, I'll do something', casting Aven Cloudchaser. Kai then cast Deep Analysis, one of his favorite cards in the format, let out a little 'hey hey!', and played the Plains he'd been missing.
Bram, already having the apparent advantage, played Think Tank, ensuring the quality of his draw steps, to which Kai responded with Aven Flock, which looked capable of holding his defense for a while. Despite the Flock though, the Cloudchaser attacked, and with Kai tapped out, he had no choice but to take two, after which a newly cast Soul Scourge did three more, taking the Juggernaut to thirteen.
Instead of staying with his defensive plan, Kai made an interesting choice. Instead of playing Hallowed Healer to lock down the board, he cast Dreamwinder, a real powerhouse against Bram's Islands. This allowed him the mana needed to pump the Flock while changing the game's mentality, creating a race instead of the decidedly one-sided affair it had been.
Bram untapped and cast Waste Away targeting the Flock, discarding Pay No Heed, prompting Kai to remark 'your deck's not the best either, huh?' before Aether Bursting the Flock. The ensuing attack took Kai to 8, but Kai had seven cards in hand after drawing to Bram's two. Kai cast Treetop Sentinel and Hallowed Healer, attacked for four with the Dreamwinder and passed the turn.
Unfortunately for Budde, Bram had an answer to the Sentinel, casting Ghastly Demise, then attacking for three. Then, to make matters worse, he cast Psionic Gift on Angelic Wall, killing the Healer. With Kai on three, he attacked with Dreamwinder, taking the Dutchman to twelve and then thought for some time, finally wasting away the Wall and casting Kirtar's Desire on the Scourge, leaving the Cloudchaser to take the German to one.
Bram drew and played a Swamp
before casting deep Analysis, to which the German could only nod grimly. The Chaser attacked, leaving Kai with a mere one life point before Bram flashed back the Analysis, moving to nine life. On Kai's next turn, the Winder took Bram to five, but Kai could only muster the Flock that could apparently block the Cloudchaser, but Bram looked confident. He drew, played a Plains
, cast Hypochondria
, then Aven Cloudchaser
, destroying the Kirtar's Desire
and attacked with the first Chaser and the Scourge, ending the game.
Snepvangers 1, Budde 0
Kai sideboarded out his Kirtar's Desires bringing in their stead Ray of Distortion and Tattoo Ward while also adding Cephalid Coliseum and Mossfire Egg, a pure cycling card, to his deck before choosing to draw first. Assuming Bram would bring in his enchantment kill, this move was designed to force wasted cards on the Dutchman.
The players exchanged land drops until Bram's second turn Aquamoeba, to which Kai had no answer. Then, Bram cast Cabal Torturer, which he'd boarded in much to Kai's chagrin, forcing the German to hold on to his Skywing Aven, originally destined to see play on turn three. The next play was also Bram's as he cast Angelic Wall, but despite this lack of follow up, he had to be pleased as Kai discarded the Aven on turn four.
Unfortunately for Bram, he was out of options also, passing his turn without a play despite having all his mana. Kai then discarded Luminous Guardian before Bram played a land and passed the turn in what was quickly becoming one of the less eventful games in top 8 history. The next discard though was Deep Analysis, providing Kai the option of action in his next turn, but with his life total at nine after Bram pumped the Aquamoeba, that option looked dubious. Kai drew and played Nomad Decoy, but he knew it was too little too late, with Bram taking Kai to six on the next turn, casting Psionic Gift on the Wall then playing a seemingly huge Mystic Zealot. Kai finally drew his fourth land, playing Dreamwinder with it.
Bram's turn saw him ask for Kai's life total, and when it was verified that Kai was at five, he attacked with the Torturer, Moeba and Zealot, and when that attack did three damage thanks to the blue beast pumped for three, Kai asked 'Soul Scourge?', Bram responded 'just a Morbid Hunger'.
Snepvangers 2, Kai Budde 0
Kai once again chose to draw first, for third time saying 'good luck' to Bram with no reply. The players played only lands until Bram cast Aven Fisher on turn four, to which Kai replied with the mighty Dreamwinder. The Fisher took Kai to eighteen before it was joined by Aven Cloudchaser, but after the Winder took the score to 16-18, Kai played the answer to Bram's flying swarm in the form of Treetop Sentinel, whose one extra toughness looked like the end all be all.
Bram Wasted the Sentinel Away, discarding Angelic wall, a signal that he was feeling the offensive was where he should be. The ensuing attack took the score to 16-14, but the Dreamwinder took another chunk out of the Dutchman, with the following Repel definitely giving Kai the advantage in the damage race.
With the 'Chaser taking the scores to twelve life a piece, the Fisher came back down as the Dreamwinder swung by. Kai played his second Plains then cast Aether Burst on the Fisher, making apparent his intentions to take the Dreamwinder all the way to victory. Bram cast Dematerialize on the Dreamwinder only to have it countered by Circular Logic, attacked with the Cloudchaser taking the score to 8-10 and passed the turn.
Kai attacked with Dreamwinder
taking Bram to four and cast Mossfire Egg
, activating it and playing Graceful Antelope
, a potential problem for Bram and his one Island
. Bram drew and cast Morbid Hunger
on the Dreamwinder
, then made the interesting choice to attack, allowing the Antelope to make the Island
and take the score to 8-6 in Kai's favor. Kai then cast Aven Flock
and passed the turn.
Bram played an eighth land with the Hunger in the graveyard, cast another Cloudchaser and passed the turn. The Antelope attacked, converting one of Bram's four swamps to a Plains, after which Kai played Hallowed Healer. The race to Morbid Hunger was on, with the Antelope trying to eliminate the black sources before Bram drew another land, and after Bram passed the turn, the Healer became active and Kai Wasted Away a Cloudchaser and attacked with the Flock and Antelope only to have the Plainswalker Second Thoughtsed. Leaving the life totals at 8-3, Kai with no cards and Bram with his reinstated Island. Bram played a second Island and cast Morbid Hunger, but he made a crucial error, forgetting Kai had threshold, allowing the Healer to prevent four damage to itself. The Chaser attacked, taking the score to 6-6. If he'd attacked with the Chaser, Kai may have activated it to prevent the damage to himself, making the Healer vulnerable.
Kai's next turn went by with an attack taking the score to 6-4, before Bram played Aven Fisher then Deep Analysis, another error as the cards should have been drawn first, leaving Bram more options. The Flock attacked, killing the Aven Fisher, allowing Bram to draw a card, and Kai had no choice but to pass the turn.
Bram's turn was more eventful. First he played Angelic Wall, then Hypochondria and then Aquamoeba, leaving him one Plains to activate the enchantment if needed. At the end of turn, Kai Ray of Distortioned Hypochondria, but tapped seven mana in error, mana burning for one, causing both players to remark on their own misplays in a sarcastic way.
The Hypochondria was a ply though. Bram drew and cast Psionic Gift, again before casting a Deep Analysis froom his hand that could have given him more options, but regardless of his misplays, it was obvious that the deck's contents were what counted. He then cast Mystic Zealot, with Kai's uneventful turn making it obvious the streak was about to end. The Gift 'tapped' the Healer at the end of the turn, Bram Dematerialized the Flock and the game, match and most amazing streak in Pro Tour history were over.
Final Result: Snepvangers 3 – Budde 0