Both of these competitors were the focus of some controversy during the previous round. Ever since the mind numbing Wake on Wake mirror match from World Championships there has been some incentive for judges to prod along slow play in the untimed rounds of Day 3. In Rickard's previous match he received a caution from the judges for slow play when he took too much time deliberating his options.
Yann's match was 'played' out in a hotel room last night. Yann was paired up against the co-designer of his deck, Nicolas Labarre and they found themselves without a way to change the flight plan that involved them being on a plane at eight this morning. The two decided to have one player forfeit and played out their match privately to determine which player would be on a plane and which one would face the winner of the Österberg/Harvey match.
Before the match could begin Head Judge Mike Guptil addressed all of the semi-final participants and clarified his position regarding slow play. "Both players are responsible for playing in a timely fashion. At the same time we are not going to punish you for thinking."
Yann wanted more clarification, "What about bluffing?"
"There is a difference between a one minute bluff and a five minute bluff..."
Yann was still not satisfied, "Perhaps the five minute one is a better bluff?"
"Not in this tournament!" said Mike putting an end to the matter.
Yann was playing in his second semi-final match in seven days. He was fresh off of a victory at Grand Prix Lyons, defeating a field of over 1,000 players. This was the former French National Champion's first Top 8 in a Pro Tour. He was playing the Charbelcher combo deck that he and Labarre co-designed. Yann's contributions to the deck lay mostly in the sideboard. He did convince Nicolas to switch the Ensnaring Bridge in their deck to a Mindslaver at the last minute.
Rickard is no slacker himself-actually he is one of the Original Slackers. His team fell in the finals of the last Pro Tour to the Brockerfellers. The recent Oslo transplant is a member of Team Punisher and was playing their blue-red Tinker deck that they call "George W. Bosh". Lovre Crnobori-another member of the Slackers-designed the original deck and it was polished by the whole of Team Punisher and run through their Gauntlet.
Rickard's sideboard should give him a significant edge after Game 1 with access to three Rack and Ruins and a pair of Shattering Pulses.
Yann won the die roll-many players this weekend considered this to be the most important aspect of their matches-and Rickard tried to convince his adversary to choose not to play first, "I hear your deck is better if you do not play-55%?"
Yann agreed that this was true in goldfish games, "That is if you do nothing. It is better for me to play first."
Both players kept their openers and Yann used his Underground River to Brainstorm. Rickard also had some turn one action and used Shivan Reef to play a Goblin Welder. The Welder can be a frustrating card to play against if you are trying to keep relevant artifacts on the board.
The Frenchman used another Brainstorm-after shuffling with a Delta-and followed it up with a Talisman of Domination. Yann had all the tools he needed to win in hand or on the top of his library. He had another Talisman, a couple of Vampiric Tutors and the Charbelcher.
Rickard drew an Ancient Tomb and used it to cast a Grim Monolith which was tapped to play a Tangle Wire. Rickard had another Goblin Welder and played that as well. Yann checked the card count on his opponent's hand-three-and decided to Vampiric Tutor for Mana Severance.
On Yann's turn he floated a black and resolved the Tangle Wire. He used another Vampiric Tutor to find a Grim Monolith. Once the Wire faded away he would be in a good position to go off. He had fallen to twelve between his Tutors and his pain lands.
Rickard played a City of Brass and Tinkered his Monolith away for the deck's namesake, Bosh, Iron Golem. Yann looked at the Tanglewire, confirmed his life total was twelve and decided to move on to Game 2. It would have been a fourth turn kill had Yann not conceded on the third turn.
Yann Hamon - 0 Rickard Österberg - 1
Yann reached for his sideboard and brought in a Steal Artifact, Engineered Plague, Cursed Totem and a Stifle. He took out one each of Talisman, Mystical Tutor, Thran Dynamo and Chrome Mox.
Österberg's sideboard plan was more devastating as he brought in two Shattering Pulse, two of his three Rack and Ruins, and another Mindslaver. He took out a Citanul Flute, Masticore, Gilded Lotus, Lightning Greaves and a Pentavus.
Yann's opening hand featured a pair of lands, a pair of Talismans, Duress, Brainstorm and Tinker. When he used the Duress he saw that the Norwegian was holding Tinker, Shattering Pulse, Thirst for Knowledge, Voltaic Key, two Shivan Reef and an Ancient Tomb. He took the Tinker without much deliberation. Österberg nodded in agreement.
The Voltaic Key was Rickard's opening play and he was forced to scratch his head when a Talisman of Dominance saw play on turn two. He tried to gauge how relevant the mana was for the Frenchman and tried to get a read on him, "Do you need that one?"
Yann knew his opponent was thinking about burning the Shattering Pulse and shrugged, "Your choice..."
Österberg has drawn a Thirst for Knowledge and decided to hold off on the Pulse to draw three cards at the end of Yann's next turn. He played the Tomb and passed the turn. Yann had been out of land but he used the Talisman to Brainstorm and saw additional lands on the way. He played a land and another Talisman on the next turn. He then tapped the two Talismans to play a Grim Monolith.
Rickard's EOT Thirst for Knowledge was spicy. He drew another Shattering Pulse, Rack and Ruin and a Goblin Welder. He discarded a City of Traitors and his Shattering Pulse. His draw step yielded a Grim Monolith but he held it back and cast rack and Ruin to smoke a Talisman and Monolith on the other side of the table. He fell to thirteen when he tapped his Shivan Reef to play a Welder.
Yann used a Brainstorm to find more cards and dug up Duress. He cast it and had a choice of Thirst, Monolith or Shattering Pulse. Yann took so much time deciding which card to choose that Mike Guptil came over and gave the table judge a nudge to speed things up. The Japanese Sideboard reporter's eyelids were fluttering and he was threatening to slide out of his chair at any minute. Eventually he took the Thirst for Knowledge.
Now it was Rickard's turn to waffle. On his turn he kept threatening to play a Monolith but would pull it back at the last possible moment. His hand was shaking and he seemed desperate to make the correct play. Finally he played the Monolith and did his Key nonsense. He played a Chromatic Sphere and cycled it for red mana and cast Shattering Pulse on the remaining Talisman with buyback.
After all of his machinations, Yann asked the judge if there was any mana left in the Norwegian's pool. It turned out that there was and Rickard sacrificed his Monolith to get back the Chromatic Sphere and cycled it with his remaining mana for another red. He drew a Rack and Ruin and burned for one-he was at ten.
Yann had no play and on Rickard's next turn he drew and played a Mindslaver after Welding his Voltaic Key into a Grim Monlith. He fell to eight-at this point he had to be very careful about his life totals with the threat of a randomly raw-dogged Charbelcher finishing him off. Yann cast Vampiric Tutor at the end of the turn and got an Engineered Plague to kill the Welder. Rickard did not have enough mana to activate the Mindslaver. He drew a Metalworker and played it but he fell to a perilously low six life. Yann drew a Monolith and played it and Tinkered it into a Charblecher. He activated it and aimed it at the Metalworker but it only did one. Yann was out of cards.
City of Traitors allowed him to activate the Mindslaver. Yann was out of cards but if there was a Mana Severance on top of his deck they would be onto Game 3, "Will I topdeck?" laughed Yann.
Rickard drew a Chrome Mox for Yann's turan and played it. He then activated the Charbelcher targeting Yann. He missed an opportunity to use two blue mana from a pair of Underground Rivers which would have been an additional two points of damage. He hit four cards before a land was revealed and Yann went to eight although it should have been six.
The Norwegian played another Metalworker and used Rack and Ruin to hit the Mox and the Charbelcher. Yann was out of cards and non-land permanents but Rickard was at five.
He Brainstormed into Mystical Tutor on the next turn and passed the turn back to take two from attacking Metalworkers.
He fell to five when he Tutored for Mana Severance and promptly cast it on his next turn. He could theoretically win if he drew a Monolith and Tinker over the next two turns. Rickard had a Tangle Wire and was able to prevent Yann from being able to do anything.
Yann Hamon - 0 Rickard Österberg - 2
Yann wanted to side in a Lobotomy but could not decide what to take out and stood pat on his original sideboard choices. Rickard added another Rack and Ruin taking out a Voltaic Key.
Yann's opening draw was mediocre with land and spells but nothing that excited him and he shipped it back perhaps recalling advice from Dirk Baberowski, "A mulligan is an opportunity." It was an opportunity to draw no land and he was forced to go down to five cards where he stopped.
Rickard had a fistful of lands with a Tanglewire and a Metalworker. He had been prepared to ship it back but felt he had to keep it with his opponent going down to five cards.
Yann opened with a Delta and passed it back to the Slacker who peeled a Lightning Greaves off the top and played it off an Ancient Tomb. Yann had no second land but played a Chrome Mox pitching Mana Severance and played a Monolith. Yann's hand was remarkable for a double mulligan. He had the Mystical Tutor and the Charbelcher. If he could draw a two-mana land he could win in two turns. He leered at his opponent, "I probably won't kill you next turn."
The only problem with his plan was that Rickard peeled George W. Bosh. He looked over his hand and played a Shivan Reef. He cast Maetalworker and equipped it with the Greaves. He tapped it and revealed Bosh, Tanglewire and two Seat of the Synod. He played Bosh, moved the Greaves over and smashed in for six-on turn two!
The crowd let out a roar of approval and Rickard was beaming, "It will be cool to kill you with Bosh."
He would never get that chance as Yann offered the hand. His next card would have been the City of Traitors but he was dead on the next turn.
Final result: Yann Hamon - 0 Rickard Österberg - 3
Rickard Österberg advanced to the finals of his second Pro Tour in as many tries to face Gabriel Nassif playing a mono-blue version of Yann's deck.