These players have been seeing a lot of each other this weekend. They met in the first round of the Team competition and Tuomo Nieminen eliminated Gabe Walls from the Top 8 prior to the start of this draft. This was the third time Gabe and Tuomo would face off in less than twenty-four hours.
Yesterday's draft went slightly in the Finn's favor but Justin pulled out a stunning win when his opponent had lethal damage on the stack. He used a Skirk Alarmist to flip up an off color Frontline Strategist and steal Game 2 from Arho Toikka. The American took Game 3. Gabe Walls had dropped two straight to Tuomo and the match came down to a National Champions battle.
They took it to Game 3 but Joshua Wagener could not finish Tomi Walamies off and the rubber game ended in a draw. That was all forgotten by the time they sat down for the draft. The topic of discussion was Tuomo and Gabe's five game struggle that had just reached it's conclusion. Gabe was commenting on his opponent's luck prompting a laugh from his teammates. "He had ten cards left to find a Wake and a green source," Justin agreed with sarcasm. "How lucky."
Onslaught Pack One
Tomi has tended to put blue-black in the B-seat all weekend and there was no question that he would pick the Cephalid. The Finns gestured to ignore the Glade—there are enough disenchant effects that you can snap up in this format that it should not be too powerful as a rule. Tuomo wanted to take the Pacifism but Tomi insisted that he take the Grassland Crusader instead.
Onslaught Pack Two
This pack earned a whistle from just about everyone at the table over Future Sight and Infest. After some hesitation, the Finns decided they would prefer to have the black Pyroclasm—even if just to keep it away from the Americans. Again, they could track where the enchantment was going and try to draft answers.
Onslaught Pack Three
Tomi defensively drafted a Searing Flesh but when Justin Gary got a Wave of Indifference on the twelfth pick the Finnish team realized they had made a mistake. Searing Flesh would be bad for him if his opponent went black-red but he was not paying attention to Arho's match-up. Arho picked up two key cards but probably should have given up one of them to not only keep Justin from the Wave but to have it for himself.
Onslaught Pack Four
In the same way that enchantments are less powerful because all the picks are public certain tribal cards are affected as well. Justin's Wirewood Savage was especially insane because his opponent had already selected a couple of beasts. Similarly, last packs Aven Brigadier becomes a dicier card to play when your opponent gets to pick a bird soldier with his next pick. More subtle is the Cruel Revival followed by Imagecrafter. Tomi loves the little guy and Joshua would have a tough time banishing anything with the wizard on the table.
Onslaught Pack Five
Gabe Walls had made a move toward blue red in the last pack when he selected the Pinpoint Avalanche. His best white card was Aven Brigadier and it might not be playable in the soldier mirror. Justin loves to play Wirewood Pride in the mirror when it counts his opponent's elves as well. With both players potentially running Heedless Ones it could be important.
Onslaught Pack Six
Tuomo really wanted to pick Pacifism but his teammates insisted that he take the Swat. Tuomo wanted Tomi to take it but the captain wanted the three toughness flier that would live through an Infest.
Legions Pack One
With two Pacifisms and an Aven Warhawk it was looking like Gabe was sticking with white. Opinions are divided over which card is better but Gabe falls squarely on the Warhawk's side. He does not especially like the Stinger unless his has an overload of soldiers but the Warhawk is fine even if you just amplify for one.
Legions Pack Two
Considering Gabe's previous statements regarding the Stinger it was surprising to see him take one and push the Aven Redeemer—a bird cleric—to Tuomo's growing team of clerics.
Legions Pack Three
Legions Pack Four
Justin's elves outnumbered his beasts but even so, there is no contest between the Crawler and a Timberwatch Elf. There was nothing he could do to keep Arho from getting two excellent and synergistic cards.
Legions Pack Five
Tuomo was eager to grab the Sunstrike Legionnaire and was willing to give up a Deftblade Elite to Walls. With two Grassland Crusaders and a Stinger you could make a case for the Finn taking the provoker. Justin had shown a willingness to splash blue all weekend and his defensive drafts could make the deck if the Scourge cards fell in way that allowed him to pick a Rush of Knowledge.
Legions Pack Six
Gabe pleaded with Justin to defensively draft the second Celestial Gatekeeper away from his opponent but that was not the card Tuomo had his eye on. When he got the Daru Sanctifier he almost let out a yip of joy. He had an answer for Future Sight or any Scales that might fall Gabe's way in the remaining packs.
Scourge Pack One
The Scales fell Tuomo's way and he happily snapped them up while Justin was thrilled with a Torrent of Fire—a card he values extremely highly in his match-up.
Scourge Pack Two
Joshua picked up his only answer thus far to Anurid Murkdiver in a Lingering Death. Justin was happy with his second Torrent.
Scourge Pack Three
Justin was even happier with the Ancient Ooze. There is a build up of creatures in green on green and the Ooze had the potential to be enormous.
Scourge Pack Four
The Wirewood Symbiote was going to be insane in Arho's deck with both Wellwisher and Timberwatch and it would have been reasonable for Gabe to push the Templar and draft it defensively.
Scourge Pack Five
Gabe had a tough decision but sent the elemental his adversary's way for the combat trick.
Scourge Pack Six
The Rush of Knowledge would have sent Justin in to a blue splash but he put all thoughts of that aside when Arho went that route. The Decree of Justice for Tuomo brought back horrible memories for Gabe and a laugh to the table. Justin taunted his opponent with his Frontline Strategist that he took away from Tuomo on the way back.
As usual both teams felt they had gotten the better of the other in the draft. Gabe Walls felt that his deck-also as usual—was ridiculous. "I was shocked by how much they gave us. I am going to be depressed if we lose this one. My deck is ridiculous!"
Gabe continued, "I think all three match-ups are good across the board."
Joshua was not as convinced, "You always say that."
Gabe: "Yeah but which ones are bad?"
No one would go so far as to say they had a bad match-up but Justin did admit, "My opponent's deck is very good."
Josh: "So is mine" Josh was excited about Infest in his match although Tomi did not fear it very much. He was not sure whether or not he should run the Lingering Death when his opponent had two Echo Tracers but his teammates reminded him about the Murkdiver. If Tomi had to bounce and replay his Murkdiver the tempo swing would be tremendous. Tomi was planning on saving the tempo swing for his opponent's Twisted Abominations.
Justin's only problem with his deck was a deficiency in the two-drop department. He values dirge-effects highly—Wave of Indifference, Flamewave Invoker and Torrent of Fire—and he did not want to lose in the early game when the late game was clearly his. "That Wave should have never come around."
Gabe would have worried more about his opponent if he had focused on one tribe but with a collection of soldiers and clerics, Gabe dubbed his foe's deck, "He's the mixed bag."
Tomi was running Phage, the Untouchable. "People tell me she is good. I won with Scion of Darkness yesterday. Now I am trying Phage. I'm here to play the fun cards."