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Pro Tour-Chicago 1999
Round 14 Feature Match

Stephan Valkyser vs. Dirk Baberowski

It was German versus German when Stephan Valkyser and Dirk Baberowski met with Top 8 on the line in the last round of Pro Tour Chicago. Baberowski was trying to become the first person ever to win the same Pro Tour twice (he won in Chicago last year) while Valkyser is at least the best German player without a Top 8.

Stephan won the roll and led with Jackal Pup. He followed up with a Mogg Fanatic and when Dirk tapped two mana on his own second turn Stephan asked "Oath?" No, it was just a Powder Keg. The Keg was still pretty good, but Stephan did get to serve for 4 and then drop another Pup after the Keg blew up. With both players smiling and joking with each other in German, Dirk started Thawing and played a turn 5 Spike Weaver. Stephan knew the creature damage portion of the game was almost over with Dirk at 12, but he had 8 points of burn and a Fireslinger in his hand. After drawing an Incinerate he was capable of burning Dirk out, but Dirk had untapped blue mana and Stephan smelled permission. Dirk did have a couple counters in his hand, but Stephan draws another Shock and then starts unloading is hand. Dirk manages to Mana Leak the last Fireblast, but he goes down to 4. Now that Fireslinger is a huge threat and Dirk has to activate Treetop Village and attempt to race it. Unfortuneately that left him with 4 mana untapped and no other blue cards in his hand so he was unable to cast Force of Will when Stephan top-decked a Reckless Abandon.

Stephan got in some early damage in game 2, but Dirk had drawn one of his Spike Feeders so his life total was fairly high when he finally found an Oath on turn 5. Stephan did have an Emerald Charm in his hand, but by this point Dirk had used Wasteland to blow up both his Taigas. Stephan blew up his own creatures rather than let Dirk Oath and so both players sat there without casting spells for a few turns. Those situations are almost always good for the control player and this was no exception. With Dirk at 13 and starting to Thaw things looked pretty good. Stephan had 3 Fireblasts in his hand, but only 2 Mountains in play. Eventually Stephan manages to destroy the Oath, but doesn't have any creatures so Dirk plays and starts attacking with another Spike Feeder. Stephan asked, in German, for Dirk to show him two counters. Dirk was happy to oblige.

So it all came down to game 3. Stephan's draw included two Jackal Pups, but Dirk's draw had 2 Hydroblasts and Dirk's first draw phase brought him an Oath of Druids. Once again, Stephan had Emerald Charm in hand but no green mana (his deck includes 8 sources of green - 4 Taigas and 4 land Grants). Dirk was at 14 when Stephan imploded his own creatures. After a couple turns of Dirk Thawing out Islands Stephan knew it was pretty much over. Dirk finished him off by attacking with Treetop Villages.

Had Stephan won this round there would have been 8 different decks in the top 8. Instead Dirk will be forced to play Oath versus Oath tomorrow morning. He now joins Christian Lührs and Peer Kröger as the only Germans with 2 top 8's and he's just three wins from becoming the first person to win the same Pro Tour twice.

Baberowski - 2
Valkyser - 1

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