The match-up is R/W Slide on G/W Vegetation.
The players are two of the most colorful characters on the Tour. Color commentator Brian Kibler designed William 'Huey' Jensen's Vegetation deck and he was fresh off of his victory over Gabriel Nassif. Gabriel was hanging over the rail keeping a watchful eye over the man who defeated him—wanting at least the solace of saying he lost to the tournament winner.
Osyp is the charismatic "Joe Black" from TOGIT. Many consider his tournament reports for their site the best there are. They are usually funny, insightful and chock full of—how shall we say?—exaggerations. The rails are lined with his supporters but the usually boisterous Osyp was uncharacteristically stoic. To be fair, Jensen had his best poker face on and there was almost zero banter—or even convertion—as they prepared to see who would advance to the finals.
Osyp kept his opening hand but Huey shipped his hand back twice and started the game with five cards—with only a Plains and for his Wirewood Elf and Explosive Vegetation.
Osyp played a morph and showed it to be an Exalted Angel on his next turn. The angel did 16 points and a Lightning Rift did the remaining four.
Floor spotter Justin Gary wandered over to get an update for the commentators and was stunned to see the players shuffling for the next game, "What happened?"
Osyp – 1 Huey – 0
Although both players had Pro Tour Top 8's under their belt—two for Huey and one for Osyp—neither of them had advanced this far before. With the finish line within view both players were intensely focused. Even more unsettling than Osyp's uncharacteristic stoicism were the hushed tones of his normally irreverent fan club on the rail. The tension was such that that was enough for Huey to ask a judge to have the peanut gallery quiet down.
It was Osyp's turn to mulligan this time and he groaned as he learned this game was going to be on the monitors. If it was Osyp's turn to mulligan then it was clearly Huey's turn to unmorph an Angel on the fourth turn.
Huey rode the Angel to a 31 to 8 life advantage until Osyp was able to cast Akroma's Vengeance, killing it and a sideboarded Gigapede. Huey was unfazed and played another Angel face-up on his next turn. Osyp played his own morph and passed the turn.
Huey considered whether or not Osyp was bluffing Exalted Angel and decided to play around his hole card and cast Silvos, Rogue Elemental. Osyp unmorphed his Angel at the end of the turn. She was joined by Akroma, Angel of Wrath on the next turn and when Huey chump blocked he knew that a Vengeance was coming.
Huey did not disappoint and regenerated his Pit Fighter. Osyp's a scrapper though, and he played an Astral Slide and passed the turn back to Huey, who played two Wirewood Elves after Silvos was removed from the game temporarily. At the end of Osyp's second main phase Huey Demystified the Slide—no 'at end of turn' tricks for Osyp—and cast Akroma on his turn. Starstorm for five bought Osyp a turn but his draw step yielded nothing.
Osyp – 1 Huey – 1
Justin held up the match for a few minutes for the benefit of the commentators and I took the opportunity to ask each player who the preferred to face from the other bracket. Osyp like his match-up against Tomi's goblins very much but did not want to see his friend Jordan lose—this round anyway. Jensen was all business, "It doesn't matter. I still have to get though Osyp first."
For the first time in the match, Osyp's showed a glimpse of his sly old self and grinningly drawled, "That's riiiiight."
Osyp was back on his heels early in this game, cycling during his main phase to keep up with his land drops. For the third straight game Exalted Angel was swinging in on turn four—twice for Huey and once for Osyp. When Osyp was able to Vengance it away he had only fallen to 16 thanks to two cycled Renewed Faith. Silvos was waiting in the wings but Osyp had Slide for his next turn. An untargetable Gigapede demanded more answers from Osyp and he tapped out to play an Akroma but Huey had the techy Oblation at the ready and was able to smash in for fourteen points on his turn—leaving Osyp at a 27 to 2 disadvantage.
Osyp had no play on his own turn despite the cards drawn off Oblation. When Huey attacked for the win he had Starstorm for 5, killing the Gigapede and forcing him to regenerate the pit fighter. Huey played another Gigapede and sent the turn back to Osyp who played a morph. Huey returned a Gigapede to his hand, discarding a Vengeance and attacked with both his men. Osyp blocked the Silvos with his morph and Starstormed for 1 killing the 'Pede. With that out of the way he cycled to remove Silvos before damage. Huey played the Gigapede he had just returned.
Osyp wasn't out of it yet and played a Lightning Rift. Huey continued to return Gigapedes each turn and attacked with both of his men. The morph blocked the Gigapede and Silvos was cycled away before damage—Osyp forgot to activate Lightning Rift. After damage he saved his morph with another cycler—removing Exalted Angel from the game. Huey got rid of the enchantments with Vengeance and Silvos and Exalted Angel returned to play.
Angel attacked bringing Osyp up to a slightly more manageable 6 and he played another morph. Silvos swung into the morphed up Angel and an Akroma's Blessing saved the Angel and Osyp stayed at 7 and Huey Vengeanced everything but his Silvos away. Akroma took Huey to 17 and promised to hold off Silvos all day long. Huey counted the Starstorms in Osyps bin and risked tapping out to play bit of his Gigapedes.
Osyp took him to 11 and braced for what looked like a lethal counter attack. Osyp still had tricks in his bag and blocked a Gigapede, Oblated the Silvos and fell to one from the remaining insect. Huey shrugged and played another Silvos—Oblation drew him two cards after all.
Osyp looked to be pulling off the impossible dream and took Huey down to 5 with a chance to win if he could survive Silvos and Gigapede. Renewed Faith allowed him to say at one after the Angel made Silvos regenerate. Huey regenerated it again when he cast another Vengeance—you could hear Osyp's heart break. He wasn't out of it though and played a Jareth to the delight of the crowd—he was undoubtedly kicking himself over the missed two points of Lightning Rift with Huey teetering just out of Jareth's claws at 5 life. Huey played two Gigapedes and a colorless morph that could chump block Jareth if need be. Osyp was finally out of tricks and conceded when Huey attacked with everyone.
Huey let out a deep sigh of relief, "Whhhhooooaaa... Quite a game."
"I was relieved when you played the morph. It makes my mistake from before less painful," said Osyp shaking his head.
Osyp – 1 Huey – 2
Osyp: "Do you think Kibler is pumping the fist?"
Kibler certainly was not pumping the fist when Huey mulliganed his opening hand. Osyp felt pretty good about his though and led off with turn two and turn three Lightning Rifts. Huey's third turn elf got fried and Huey took 2 himself. Huey missed his crucial fourth land drop and passed the turn back to Joe Black.
Osyp was stuck on four land but was digging like crazy doing four at a time to Huey's dome. When Huey missed another land drop and played a Morph it was Oblated. He played another one and when it was unmorphed it was Oblated as well. Osyp drew enough cyclers to finish him off.
Osyp – 2 Huey – 2
A loud round of applause from the European contingent announced to both players that Tomi had defeated Jordan and both players frowned for their friend Jordan. "So much for an American finals."
Huey mulliganed his opening hand for the third time this match. He came out of it in good shape though and was attacking the fourth turn with Exalted Angel. Osyp had the Astral Slide and was able to keep the damage to a minimum. Huey ramped up with Explosive Vegetation after his Angel was slid out of the game. Osyp did not have a fifth land and he played a Lightning Rift. When Osyp used the enchantments to remove the Angel and shoot Huey, an Akroma's Vengeance disked them away for his Angel's safe return. Osyp just played another copy of each on his next turn prompting an, "All right then," from a visibly annoyed Huey.
He attacked with the Angel bringing the life totals to 25 – 14 in favor of Huey and he Demistified the Slide. A gigapede hit play as well. Osyp had no play this time and took 10 going to an impossible 4 with Huey at 29. A cycled Starstorm took him to 27 and Osyp untapped and cast Vengeance.
Huey started rebuilding his forces with Gigapede. Osyp went up to 6 with a cycled Renewed Faith and Starstormed for 1 to kill the Gigapede. Huey played a morph, which took Osyp back to 4 on the next attack. Ravenous Baloth hit the table but a Starstorm for 4 at the end of turn merely turned him into a Lifeburst—Huey went to 31.
Things slowed down briefly and Osyp played a Lightning Rift, which he used to shoot Huey down to a 'managable' 27 while digging for answers. Osyp found Akroma and sent it in but Huey chose to Oblate it immediately. Huey started returning and played a Gigapede.
The crowd erupted when Osyp plopped another Akroma down and life totals went to 21 – 4. Gigapede got eaten by Akroma but it didn't matter since Huey was going to show her her Wrath.
The crowd went berserk when Osyp flipped another Akroma on the table. Huey—on the other hand—was reeling. He had finally drawn his eighth land and was holding two Akromas of his own that he could not cast. He used one of those Akromas to return a Gigapede, which prompted Osyp to gloat, "I drew 'em both off of the Oblation." (Keep in mind what I said earlier about his tendency to exaggerate.)
Osyp sealed the deal with an Exalted Angel that he unmorphed during Huey's end of turn. He didn't need to untap—Huey offered the hand and Osyp's fans were finally able to make some noise.
Final Result: Osyp –3 Huey – 2
"I made that one mistake and I got really rattled. I was soooo nervous," explained Osyp in a rare sincere moment. "It is such an impossible match-up and all my people were telling me I couldn't win. Plus, I needed this match to be in the last Masters."
The 'mistake' that everyone was talking about was Huey Oblating the Akroma while at 27 life during the attack phase. Everyone from Justin Gary to Randy Buehler was talking about the critical rare 'mistake' by one of the game's best intuitive players.
"It's clear that the instinct is to not take six damage but at twenty-seven you can afford to take it for a few turns until you draw the eighth land. Then you Oblate it EOT. Osyp was at four—he can't lose," explained spotter Justin Gary.
"There is no question that Huey should have won the match," agreed commentator Randy Buehler.
The only person who did not think Huey made a mistake was Huey himself. He had to chance that he would draw the eighth land out of respect for Akroma's Blessing, which Osyp had cast in an earlier game.