This is a tale of two impossible dreams come true.
Tomi Walamies has been threatening to retire from pro Magic after this tournament; he fell of the Gravy Train shortly after his appearance in the finals at Pro Tour – New Orleans, and he couldn't really afford the travel any more. His family had traveled here to Venice to see him play but they've already left because he assured them he'd not be playing on Sunday. Such confidence! But now, after this impressive run that landed him in the finals of this event, he promises that he's back, he'll be at all the other events, including Worlds, and the fire has been rekindled.
Osyp Lebedowicz, on the other hand, has been doing well in Magic in general, but was expected to lose—badly—in the semifinals. Brian Kibler and William Jensen claimed up and down that Jensen's deck was built specifically to crush Astral Slide decks, and there was no possible way for Osyp to win. Needless to say, Osyp won.
And here we are. Winner gets $30,000.
Walamies played Goblin Sledders on the first two turns. Lebedowicz put out his deck's key card, Astral Slide, on the third turn. Tomi attacked for four with the aid of Goblin Burrows, but his attack on the next turn was halted by a two-point Starstorm. Walamies put out a Goblin Goon.
Lebedowicz sat back on his turn, and the fun began when Walamies played a Menacing Ogre. Let the bidding commence! Walamies anted two life to Osyp's 0, and the Ogre came in as a 5/5. When Walamies attacked with his 11-power worth of guys, however, Osyp simply cycled twice and removed them both with the Slide. When the Ogre came back at end of turn, they both bid 0 life.
Osyp: "Annoying card there, Tomi, can you board those out for the other games?"
Osyp dropped Jareth on his next turn, and Walamies meager offense was ground to a total halt. He played out a Sparksmith and a Skirk Prospector, trying to get a large enough force in play to overwhelm the white Legend.
Osyp slid out the Ogre and bid one life when it came back (to Tomi's 0), keeping it at 3/3. A three-point Startstorm decimated Walamies' board, leaving him with just the Goon. Jareth started in.
Osyp drew a Lightning Rift, and Walamies was going to have a tough time keeping creatures in play. He played out another Goon and another Prospector, and the low card count of Osyp's hand gave him hope that maybe the American didn't have a cycling card. He attacked with all three. Too bad for him. Osyp cycled a Forgotten Cave, Rifted the Prospector, Slid a Goon, and let Jareth eat another. Walamies was wrecked.
After that, Walamies couldn't piece anything together, and Osyp finished him off with Jareth and Lightning Rift.
Lebedowicz 1 – Walamies 0
Between games, these two amiable fellows talked about everything under the sun—school, heritage, plans, life, and money. It was a nice friendly atmosphere, which was refreshing to see.
Walamies had no early plays in game 2, but had a Thoughtbound Primoc on turn 3. Osyp played Astral Slide, then Tomi played a Sparksmith.
Osyp made a sizable error on turn four. He played a land and had both Lightning Rift and Exalted Angel in his hand, but said go before playing either. He tried to back up, but decided not to push the issue as he probably wouldn't win any resulting argument.
Walamies dropped the annoying Menacing Ogre on turn 5, and outbid Osyp 2 to 0. He swung in, but Astral Slide kept the Ogre from hitting. The Primoc was also slid out, and Osyp took a measly 1 point from Sparksmith.
Osyp couldn't get off of four land. He played his Rift and passed the turn. Walamies added a second Menacing Ogre to the table and attacked. A cycled Gempalm Incinerator took down the Sparksmith and slid out one Ogre, but the other Ogre and the Primoc took Osyp to 11.
Osyp played his fifth land—a Secluded Steppe—and passed. Tomi played a third Menacing Ogre, winning the bid 2-0, and swung in with the team. Two cycling cards prevented any 5/5's from hitting, but Osyp went to 8.
When the two Ogres came back into play, Osyp was under pressure to win both bids so he could kill them all with a three-point Starstorm. He won one bid, but Tomi won the other. The game was getting good.
Walamies played another haste creature—Clickslither—but that played right into Osyp's hands. When he attacked, the American Starstormed for 3, as expected, killing all but the 5/5 Ogre, and then tapped his last remaining land to cycle a Secluded Steppe, removing the big man from the game again. Walamies was dejected.
Osyp played a face-down Angel on his next turn and from there he really couldn't lose. The Angel and the Rift took care of Tomi in short order. Osyp's turn-4 mistake did not end up costing him.
Lebedowicz 2 – Walamies 0
Between games, Osyp made his plea again. "Seriously. Can you board out the Ogres? I mean, put in whatever you want, but if we have to do that bidding thing again..."
Walamies changed the subject. "Who do you think is the better writer, you or me?" Walamies (infrequently) writes for StarCityGames, and Lebedowicz writes some hilarious reports on TOGIT.com. Both agreed that they were fans of each other's stuff, and fans of tourney reports should be on the lookout for stuff by the two of them in the near future.
Walamies had to mulligan, and as he pile shuffled, Osyp regaled him with stories of people that were on his plane flight, including a little girl that looked like Gabriel Nassif, and a woman that looked like Randy Buehler.
"You're trying to break my concentration," said Walamies, "This is disturbing!"
Osyp also mulliganed to make things fair, and they were off.
Walamies put out a Skirk Prospector on turn 1, and attacked with it for the first few turns, often enhancing it with Goblin Burrows. Osyp played a morph on turn three, but Walamies had the Shock. Osyp put out a Slide on turn 4 and passed.
On Tomi's fifth turn, leading 20 to 13, he played everyone's favorite Menacing Ogre. Osyp, holding Starstorm, bid four life to keep it small, and then took the hit down to five. A turn later, he Starstormed Tomi's two creatures away.
Then Jareth came down, followed shortly by Lightning Rift. Walamies' position quickly fell to pieces, and just like that, Osyp swept the finals.
Final Result: Lebedowicz 3 – Walamies 0
Walamies is now the only person to have lost in two Pro Tour finals and an Invitational finals. Quite the feat.