For years, Gary Wise has yearned to square off against an equal. Someone whose maturity, wisdom, and raw talent matched his own. Today, in thirteen year-old Cole Swannack, he has found that equal.
Though that hardly seems fair to Swannack, does it?
Kidding aside, Wise is probably one of few who won't dismiss Swannack out of hand for his age. He mentioned him in his last Wise Words, and recognized the talent that brought him the New Zealand National Championships. That's right, thirteen years old and already National Champion. And in case you don't think that means anything, Swannack has already fought his way to 3-1 against the toughest competition the world has to offer. Well on his way to following in the footsteps of the prodigies who preceded him, such as Ben Rubin.
The contrast between the two was made abundantly clear as Wise offered a handshake to open the match. Not only did Swannack have to lean all the way forward to get his hand to meet Wise's, but Wise's massive fist completely eclipsed his hand. David and Goliath, indeed.
Wise kicked off with a Careful Study for two Basking Rootwallas. Swannack returned the favor, dropping Yavimaya Coast and Deep Analysis. Wise hit for two and hired a Looter. Swannack stopped his assault with Wild Mongrel. Wise Looted, Studied up another Rootwalla, then dropped a second Looter. Swannack hit for two and got another Mongrel. Things were pretty static.
Wise swung with his team. Swannack blocked a Rootwalla and let damage go on the stack. Wise saved the Rootwalla, and Swannack took two. All he had left was Aquamoeba.
Swannack had better surprises. Careful Study turned up Arrogant Wurm and put Wonder in the graveyard. Now it was a race. The Mongrels brought Wise to fourteen. Wise Looted into a Wurm of his own and attacked with his creatures, loosing the Aquamoeba to the Wurm token. He couldn't pump because the damage from the painland would leave Swannack with just enough damage to kill him. He held back.
"And you're on fourteen?"
The way Swannack asked Wise's life total, it was clear he had him. Deep Analysis got him two cards. Then he put down Centaur Garden. He swung, pitched to threshold and activated the Garden, taking the game.
And he had Yavimaya Coast for Logic backup, just in case.
Swannack 1 - Wise 0
Down a game, Wise's mood turned serious. Just because Swannack is thirteen doesn't give him a free ride to 4-1. Besides, sportsmanship demands you play your best, out of respect for your opponent's abilities. After the drubbing he got Game 1, Wise had respect in abundance.
He kicked off, and again opened with Careful Study, this time discarding Basking Rootwalla and Deep Analysis. Swannack did the same, but his Rootwalla was joined by Roar of the Wurm. They compared Merfolk Looters.
But then Wise Looted up Arrogant Wurm, while Swannack only had Aquamoeba. Wise Looted Wonder into his 'yard and hit, busting up Swannack's Roar with Circular Logic.
Swannack found a Wonder of his own, but he didn't have the quality of action Wise had. His Looter gave him another Rootwalla, and he went for the double-block. Wise saved his Wurm with Sylvan Might. Mongrel joined his team. Another Logic stopped a second Roar from Swannack.
Now, with two mana open, Wise had to figure if Swannack had a trick back. He turned sideways and pitched for lethal damage. Swannack showed him Aether Burst with a shrug. He untapped and refuelled with Looter and Careful Study, pitching Roar and Wonder. After casting the Roar of the Wurm, play was stopped as a spectator pointed out to the Judge that Swannack had forgotten to discard to his Looter. A conference ensued, during which some very unfavorable looks were sent Wise's way.
The initial penalty was a warning, but Head Judge Collin Jackson was called in, and after receiving testimony from both players, decided to hand Swannack a Severe Procedural Error penalty: A game loss.
The crowd was abuzz. Suspicious whispers were passed around. Quite possibly saying things like "Gary Wise steals from children."
The worst part of it was that Swannack was holding the second Burst, meaning that Wise's next assault would have been crippled. He had a very real shot at stealing the match.
"If I win this match, I'm going to be Magic's greatest villain." - Gary Wise
Swannack 1 - Wise 1
Wise was really worried about Aether Burst, putting in Sylvan Safekeeper to combat it. He had to mulligan his first hand. Swannack, going first, had already found his acceptable.
Swannack started with island. Wise played a Safekeeper. Swannack showed him Merfolk Looter. Wise made a Mongrel. Swannack held back on his three mana, showing his intention to Arrogant Wurm.
Wise swung in. Sure enough, Swannack Looted out a Wurm.
"Do you have any blockers?" - Gary Wise
Wise made a Wurm of his own through his Mongrel, then pitched Safekeeper and Roar of the Wurm to make the save. Swannack untapped and Looted up Roar of the Wurm. Wise matched him.
Swannack went one better with a Careful Study that gave him a second Roar and a free Rootwalla. Wise turned his token sideways, and the Rootwalla dove to protect Swannack. Wise made another Arrogant Wurm, but grimaced when Swannack Looted up Wonder at end of turn.
He smashed in for twelve. A Mongrel and four mana made his position quite secure. Wise returned fire with his token and both Arrogant Wurms.
"And you're on eight?" - Cole Swannack.
Wise passed it back. Cole made an Arrogant Wurm at end of turn, and crashed in with all his guys. Wise didn't even pretend he had a chance.
"You're gonna make one hell of a World Champion." - Gary Wise
Final Result: Swannack 2 - Wise 1
2002 Worlds (Type 2): UG Madness
2002 Worlds (Type 2): UG Madness