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Congratulations to Ben Stark, Pro Tour: Paris 2011 Champion!
Note: This posting is being updated as every game ends. Check back often for more play-by-play!
Hello, and welcome back to The Brewery at the uncharacteristically early 8:00 AM hour. Why be awake so early? To watch the Top 8 of Pro Tour: Paris, of course! The Quarterfinals have come and gone, and here are the results:
Vincent Lemoine (BEL) 3-2 Shintaro Ishimura (JAP)
Prediction: Ishimura in 5 (Boo)
Paul Rietzl (USA) 3-0 Patrick Chapin (USA)
Prediction: Rietzl in 4 (Yay)
Naoki Nakada (JAP) 3-2 Nico Bohny (SUI)
Prediction: Nakada in 4 (Yay)
Ben Stark (USA) 3-2 Tom Martell (USA)
Prediction: Stark in 5 (Yay))
Not bad on the predictions, if I might say. 😉
Boros prevails over Blue-based Control in both Quarterfinal matches, and two UW Control decks make up the other half of the bracket. The finals are set to be Boros versus UW Control, but will it be Vincent Lemoine or Paul Rietzl piloting the RW deck? And will it be Ben Stark or Naoki Nakada trying to dig for answers? We should know within the next couple of hours!
Obligatory decklists, in case they haven't been burned into your memories yet from seeing them all weekend.
Vincent Lemoine, PT Paris Top 8
Paul Rietzl, PT Paris Top 8
Naoki Nakada, PT Paris Top 8
Ben Stark, PT Paris Top 8
Vincent Lemoine (Boros) versus Paul Rietzl (Boros)
Preview: Both players are piloting Aggressive RW Boros decks, and the differences between the decks are fairly minimal. However, there are significant departures in strategy from each player in their 15-card sideboards.
Paul Rietzl has a similar makeup of creatures to Lemoine, but Rietzl has a couple of key differences: Instead of the full set of Mirran Crusader, Rietzl has access to a singleton Spikeshot Elder and a couple of Hero of Oxid Ridge. However, hiding in Rietzl's sideboard is a playset of Cunning Sparkmage (hello, Landfall creatures!) and the lone copy of Basilisk Collar in the entire Top 8. Will this be enough against Lemoine?
Both players have the same set of equipment except for one key difference: Lemoine has Bonehoard, and having a "creature" to search for with Stoneforge Mystic is pretty killer.
Rietzl has 4 Arc Trail, 3 Kor Firewalker, 4 Cunning Sparkmage, and a Basilisk Collar. Lemoine has 2 Arc Trail (with 2 maindeck) and 4 Kor Firewalker.
Overall, this match would appear to favor Paul Rietzl!
Ben Stark versus Naoki Nakada
The webscast begins with Ben Stark and Naoki Nakada trading short words and drawing their openers. Island and Glacial Fortress for Stark are met by a pair of Celestial Colonnades for the lone Japanese left in the Top 8.
Both players play draw-go until Tumble Magnet for Nakada is met with a Mana Leak from Stark, who untaps and drops down a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Brainstorm. Nakada's hand appears to be a Day of Judgment, a Tectonic Edge, and a Stoneforge Mystic as he draws his 4th card. Stoneforge Mystic is the choice, fetching up Sword of Feast and Famine, but there is no immediate answer to Stark's billion dollar Planeswalker. Nakada reveals the last cards in his hand to be land and an unknown, playing a Plains and passing the turn back to Stark with Mana Leak mana up as a bluff.
Stark responds with his own Stoneforge Mystic and searches for his own Sword, however this time it's a... Sword of Feast and Famine. Jace, the Mind Sculptor sits on the table with a "3" showing after another Brainstorm, and Stark's hands are full of cards! Stoic Rebuttal, 2x Day of Judgment, Spell Pierce, and others are staring up at the camera as he chooses his option, which ends up being Squadron Hawk (with Spell Pierce mana up). Stark shuffles up and passes back the turn.
Elspeth Tirel and Journey to Nowhere are waiting in Nakada's hand for the right opportunity to play them, and he shuffles his cards up with a purpose as he tries to break through Jace and Stark's superior board presence. Nakada ends up simply casting Journey to Nowhere on the Squadron Hawk and passes the turn back.
Stark untaps, equips his Sword onto Stoneforge Mystic, and attacks Nakada down to 17 for the first damage in the match. The camera pans down to a gassy hand for Ben Stark after casting another Squadron Hawk and a Preordain. Stoneforge Mystic goes to the bottom and Tectonic Edge stays on the top of the deck.
(Note: Paul Rietzl has just won game 1 of his matchup)
Nakada slams down Day of Judgment with a purpose after playing a Tectonic Edge of his own. Ben Stark, for his part, "just" gets to draw 3 with Jace, and another Squadron Hawk hits the board alongside his earlier Sword of Feast and Famine, and the bird gets equipped. Stark is left with 2 Counterspells in hand while Nakada has a Tectonic Edge, Stoneforge Mystic, and the earlier Elspeth Tirel. They flip back and forth in his hands as he settles on Tectonic Edge #2 (facing down 2 Celestial Colonnades for Stark) and an Elspeth Tirel that gets Mana Leaked. Nakada has to just play Stoneforge Mystic (no search) and passes the turn.
Ben Stark would appear to have a stranglehold on this match as Gideon Jura hits his side of board. A second die adds his loyalty to 8, Squadron Spector attacks for 3, and Stark gets to untap all of his lands before saying, "Go."
Nakada draws his card and puts both hands on his two piles of lands. He holds them there for a few moments, separated into piles of 5 and 2, and just says, "Go" himself. Ben Stark starts his turn off the way all of his others have been: Drawing 3 with Jace. Gideon, Celestial Colonnade, and Squadron Hawk get into the formerly Red Zone, and Tectonic Edges trade for each player with a Celestial Colonnade before Nakada scoops.
Stark 1 - 0 Nakada
Nakada leads with a Tectonic Edge and a Plains into Squadron Hawk (getting all 3 after his mulligan), and Stark has a Celestial Colonnade and Plains into Stoneforge Mystic (Sword of Feast and Famine).
Tumble Magnet and an attack for 1 is Nakada's play, and two Tectonic Edge for the Japanese player should be a threatening sight for Stark, whose third land enables Sword of Feast and Famine to hit the board. Another Hawk hits the board for Nakada, and Tumble Magnet keeps the Hawk/Sword from attacking. Tectonic Edge then hits Stark's Colonnade in an action-filled turn.
Stark uses his last Colonnade to Preordain before dropping his critical fourth land again. One card scrys to the bottom and Stark pauses a little longer before scrying the second card to the bottom too. An attack gets stopped by Tumble Magnet, now on 1 counter, and Stark plays a second [card Sword of Body and Mind]Sword[/card] with an Island.
Three Hawks now turn sideways for Nakada, and is joined by another of its buddies. Tectonic Edge again takes out Stark's Colonnade, and the last Tumble Magnet stops a Squadron Hawk with both Swords equipped. 19-10 Nakada after 3 Hawks attack.
Stark untaps, plays his fourth land for what seems like the tenth time, and attacks with his double-equipped Hawk into Nakada's untapped Hawk. Nakada's Tectonic Edges have given him a huge advantage in land, but he's struggling to find colored mana symbols with his board being 1 Plains and 2 Tectonic Edge.
Stark plays Gideon Jura and pumps him up to 8 immediately. He once again looks to be in a fairly commanding position.
Nakada finally hits a Blue source, playing an untapped Glacial Fortress, and gets to cast his Preordain (into Preordain and Jace, the Mind Sculptor). Tectonic Edge again hits the graveyard, this time targetting Stark's Tectonic Edge. The Hawks crash into Gideon, and Ben Stark's response is to untap and slam down Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Nakada is forced to discard Jace when attacked by Stark's lone Hawk, and Ben Stark moves even further ahead before Nakada finally gets a chance to cast his Day of Judgment. Still, the American has a hand full of gas, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Gideon Jura on board.
Gideon does his best Squadron Hawk impression, animating into a 6/6 and picking up both Swords. 14-9 Nakada. Stark untaps all his lands, casts Baneslayer Angel, and Nakada scoops again.
Ben Stark 2 – 0 Naoki Nakada
The start of game 3 mirrors that of game 2, though this time without a Nakada mulligan so Squadron Hawk only got 2 buddies. Stark responds with a Hawk of his own instead of a Stoneforge Mystic, however.
Nakada Preordains, plays an Island, and the Squadron Hawks trade in the air. Nakada plays his second Hawk and searches up the future fourth Hawk before passing the turn tapped out.
Ben Stark untaps, plays a Seachrome Coast, and casts another Squadron Hawk as well. Caw! Caw! Caw! Baneslayer Angel, Spell Pierce, Squadron Hawks, and a couple of White cards sit in Stark's hand against a few lands, Deprive, and Squadron Hawks for Nakada. Squadron Hawk and Celestial Colonnade are Nakada's plays, and it's once again Ben Stark's turn to do something.
Stark however has no 4th land drop, simply casting a Squadron Hawk and shuffling up his library. Oh, there's the fourth land, a Celestial Colonnade. The Squadron Hawks trade in the air before Stoneforge Mystic searches up Sword of Feast and Famine for Nakada before Naoki casts, no surprise, Squadron Hawk.
Stark pauses for a few minutes before settling on Tectonic Edge and another Squadron Hawk. Nakada uses Stoneforge Mystic to play Sword of Feast and Famine, and he uses his remaining 3 lands to equip his Squadron Hawk and attack. However, Stark has the Divine Offering to trade Hawks once again in the air. 23-20 Stark after the lifegain.
Tectonic Edge for Stark takes out a land for Nakada, and Stark has yet another Tectonic Edge to keep the pressure on, but Luminarch Ascension hits the board for Nakada after most (all?) of the Squadron Hawks in the two decks are depleted.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor for Nakada! But Stark has the Mana Leak as well as the Tectonic Edge at the end of Nakada's turn. Nakada's hand appears to be Elspeth Tirel, Gideon Jura, and Deprive. Stark has Tectonic Edge, Spell Pierce, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Baneslayer Angel.
Baneslayer Angel gets Deprived, and Deprive gets Spell Pierced. Take THAT! Luminarch Ascension (on two counters).
(Paul Rietzl just lost the first game of his life, or something similar, and he's tied 1-1 with Vincent Lemoine)
Naoki Nakada plays a Gideon Jura and taunts the Baneslayer Angel to crack him in the face. Awkward spot for Ben Stark, but he takes out Gideon with Baneslayer and Celestial Colonnade together and still has the mana to play a Stoneforge Mystic post combat.
Luminarch Ascension hits the third counter and he stops to survey his options. Five lands, a handful of cards, and a very unfortunate board position for the Japanese pro, lead to what looks like a very painful set of decisions with his back to the wall in game 3. Nakada ends up playing the Sword of Body and Mind and equipping up the Stoneforge Mystic. Ben Stark gets the opportunity to untap against his tapped out opponent.
How better to take advantage of that than Jace, the Mind Sculptor? Stark Brainstorms and passes the turn after Baneslayer takes another slice out of Nakada's life total. 33-13 Stark.
Stoneforge Mystic sends Jace to the graveyard, but Nakada is left drawing pretty slim. Baneslayer Angel attacks alongside a Sword-wielding Celestial Colonnade. Nakada slowrolls a.... Celestial Colonnade! He scoops Stark into the finals!
Ben Stark 3 – 0 Naoki Nakada
We resume the Boros mirror matchup between Paul Rietzl and Vincent Lemoine in game 3, tied 1-1.
Paul Rietzl begins his game with a mulligan to 4 on the play, but he has a Mountain and an Evolving Wilds to keep up with Lemoine's Plains and Marsh Flats. Rietzl unmulligans a few times by casting Squadron Hawk, getting three buddies, and passes back the turn.
Vincent Lemoine has no play except Scalding Tarn, and Paul Rietzl swings with his Squadron Hawk. 20-18 Rietzl thanks to the Marsh Flats. Another Squadron Hawk hits Rietzl's board, but Lemoine has the Arc Trail to undo some of that unmulliganing. Bonehoard, Journey to Nowhere, Lightning Bolt, Arid Mesa, and Teetering Peaks sit in Lemoine's hand, facing off against Rietzl's depleted resources, who has just a Sword of Body and Mind to join his otherwise empty board.
Lemoine draws Steppe Lynx for his turn, and casts a Bonehoard. Paul Rietzl's hand appears to consist of Lightning Bolt, Steppe Lynx, 2 Squadron Hawks, and a pair of Arc Trail, though the Arc Trails are hard to see. He massages his forehead with his head hung slightly, clearly trying to figure out the optimal play before settling on Arc Trail for Bonehoard. 19-15 Rietzl.
Lemoine, unsurprisingly, casts Steppe Lynx and equips Bonehoard with an Arid Mesa held back. Rietzl's board is Steppe Lynx, 2 Plains, 1 Mountain, and a Sword of Body and Mind. Lemoine has a Lightning Bolt for Steppe Lynx in response to Rietzl's equipment activation, and Rietzl has no real answer.
Vincent Lemoine's massive Steppe Lynx smashes in for 7 with Teetering Peaks and passes the turn back. His hand appears now to be Mirran Crusader, Basilisk Collar, and the same cards from earlier. Six cards in total. Squadron Hawk and Basilisk Collar is the play. 15-12 Lemoine.
Marsh Flats makes Steppe Lynx a little larger for Lemoine, and it turns sideways for another attack. The Steppe Lynx is not lethal, but it's close, and Paul Rietzl pauses for some math. He doesn't look at all like someone who has played almost three dozen PT and GP matches this weekend, but he's clearly behind in this game.
Lemoine shuffles Journey to Nowhere to the front of his hand, joined by two lands, as he waits for Rietzl to decide on blockers, but the Steppe Lynx gets through unblocked. 14-5 Lemoine.
Rietzl keeps the pressure on and attacks with a Sword-equipped Hawk. 11-5 Lemoine. A Wolf token hits the board, but Lemoine has the Journey to Nowhere for the win.
Vincent Lemoine 2 - 1 Paul Rietzl
Paul Rietzl keeps a gassy 1-lander after a long, agonizing wait while Vincent Lemoine sends his first 7 back.
Lemoine keeps his 5-card hand with a shrug, and Paul Rietzl starts things off quickly with a fetchland, Plains, and Steppe Lynx. That card has been so kind to him over the last 6 months.
Squadron Hawk, Stoneforge Mystic, Goblin Guide, and Steppe Lynx sit in Lemoine's solid hand. Steppe Lynx, Kor Firewalker, Adventuring Gear, and Arc Trail sit in Rietzl's hand, but he still does not have another land. Steppe Lynx stays back as a 0/1 and Lemoine gets his second turn.
Arid Mesa for a Plains lets Squadron Hawk hit the board. Lemoine had Goblin Guide on turn 1, but elected to lead with Teetering Peaks instead. Perhaps because Rietzl took so long to keep his hand, and Lemoine didn't want to gift Rietzl any cards?
Stoneforge Mystic for the Belgian hits the board, searching of a Bonehoard, and Squadron Hawk smacks Rietzl's gourd for 1. Okay, no more rhyming, I promise. Lemoine has a hand full of gas but no 3rd land, and he is forced to discard an extra Squadron Hawk.
Paul Rietzl finally rips a Scalding Tarn, and he sacrifices it immediately for a Mountain. Both of his Steppe Lynxes grow massively to 4/5 monsters as Arc Trail clears off Lemoine's board and the life totals sit at 18-11, Rietzl.
Goblin Guide and Steppe Lynx both come down for Lemoine, still stalled on land. Paul Rietzl does not have another land, simply a Squadron Hawk, and the Steppe Lynx duo is forced to sit back. Three Squadron Hawks leave Rietzl with 7 cards in hand to Lemoine's 6.
Lemoine (strangely?) attacks with Goblin Guide, and Rietzl is rewarded with a land. Squadron Hawk is the play for Lemoine post combat, and Rietzl gets another turn with his growing team. That third land enables Cunning Sparkmage, and his attackers take Lemoine down to 8. 16-8 Rietzl.
Lemoine finally rips his third land too, and the Marsh Flats takes him down to 7 as this game enters its end stage. Kor Firewalker for Lemoine is likely too little, too late.
Rietzl thinks for a few minutes before playing his second Cunning Sparkmage, but Goblin Guide doesn't think it's a very funny joke. Evolving Wilds prompts the concession from Lemoine.[card]
Paul Rietzl 2 - 2 Vincent Lemoine
Vincent Lemoine is on the play for the deciding game, and he ships his opening 7 back. It would appear as if going to Paris is a lot easier when actually playing in its namesake city. Rietzl keeps his 7 and Lemoine keeps his 6.
Mountain and Marsh Flats for Lemoine leads into a Stoneforge Mystic, whereas Rietzl's side of the board has a single Steppe Lynx. Bonehoard goes straight into Lemoine's hand.
Steppe Lynx, Mountain, Mountain, Arid Mesa, Squadron Hawk, Mountain, and Kor Firewalker are Paul Rietzl's cards in hand. Steppe Lynx and Arid Mesa is his play, leaving Arid Mesa uncracked.
Kor Firewalker, Arc Trail, Kor Firewalker, and Sword of Body and Mind join the Bonehoard in Lemoine's hand, and the Belgian plays a Goblin Guide and passes the turn back. This is setting up to be an extremely entertaining finale.
Both Steppe Lynxes attack Lemoine down to 13 after no one blocks the 2/3 cats. Arc Trail from Paul Rietzl takes out the Stoneforge Mystic before it can put Bonehoard into play. Journey to Nowhere is Lemoine's only response, taking out one of the two Steppe Lynxes and leaving Goblin Guide on defense once again.
Steppe Lynx eats a Goblin Guide before Squadron Hawk refills Rietzl's hand (which, remember, has a waiting Kor Firewalker). Rietzl passes back the turn with two fetchlands unused rather than play the Kor Firewalker, and a Marsh Flats saves his Steppe Lynx from Arc Trail on Lemoine's turn. Squadron Hawk isn't so lucky and hits the bin.
Rietzl untaps, draws his cards, and bobs his head to some sort of imaginary music. The game looks to be his if there are no surprises. After drawing Cunning Sparkmage, perhaps that explains it slightly. Steppe Lynx becomes a 4/5 and takes off half of Lemoine's life total. 18-4 Rietzl. Kor Firewalker and Cunning Sparkmage both hit the board, in the order, putting Rietzl back up to 18.
Arc Trail for Lemoine takes out Steppe Lynx and Cunning Sparkmage, leaving just a Kor Firewalker for Rietzl. Half of Lemoine's life again goes away as Rietzl drops down 3 Squadron Hawks at once.
Lemoine draws his card and extends his hand. Paul Rietzl will meet Ben Stark in the finals!
Paul Rietzl 3 - 2 Vincent Lemoine
Pro Tour: Paris, 2011 Finals - Paul Rietzl (USA) versus Ben Stark (USA)
Paul Rietzl, PT Paris Top 8
Ben Stark, PT Paris Top 8
This matchup would appear to favor Ben Stark in 5 games, thanks in large part to his sideboard plan. 2 Baneslayer Angels, 2 Divine Offerings, 2 Flashfreeze, 4 Oust, and 3 Ratchet Bomb, in some quantities, will all be making the maindeck for Stark after game 1. For his part, Rietzl looks to be able to add on Koth of the Hammer and Mark of Mutiny. I would like Rietzl's chances a lot better in a 3-game match, but then again, he has appeared to be downright unbeatable at times on the weekend. Look for Rietzl to snag game 1, with Stark battling back to win the finals in 4 or 5 games. Boros is typically favored in this matchup, but I like Ben Stark's particular sideboard configuration to give him the overall edge here.
Divine Offering in particular my be key. It turns off Bonehoard and, by extension, Stoneforge Mystic, and it gains critical life against the extremely aggressive Boros deck for Ben Stark.
We should be in for an exceptional finals! Thank you so much for reading <3 Both players draw their opening hands in black-sleeved decks. Stark keeps. Paul Rietzl shrugs his eyebrows a couple of times before checking the top few cards of his deck and shipping his 7 cards back, then 6. His 5 card hand is better, leading to a turn 1 Steppe Lynx against Stark's turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. Stark ships the turn back with two tapped Seachrome Coasts and a grip full of cards. Squadron Hawk, Mana Leak, Spell Pierce, and a couple of lands sit in Stark's hand. Arid Mesa, Steppe Lynx, Evolving Wilds, Marsh Flats, and Squadron Hawk are in Rietzl's grip as he plays an Arid Mesa, a Steppe Lynx, and serves for 2. 20-18 Rietzl. Stark untaps, casts a Squadron Hawk, and searches for two buddies. Stoneforge Mystic stays out of combat and the turn ships back to Rietzl, who quickly plays Evolving Wilds. The 2/3 Steppe Lynxes both crash in, threatening to get extremely large with the two unused fetchlands. No blockers leads Rietzl to crack both fetchlands, taking Stark down to 6 after a couple of massive 6/7 Steppe Lynxes deal damage. Rietzl plays a Squadron Hawk of his own and searches up three avian reinforcements too. 19-6 Paul Rietzl. Stark untaps and purses his lips to decide what to do. Island is his fourth land, and he stops to consider his options. He eventually settles on another Squadron Hawk to search up the 4th copy out of his library and simply passes the turn with two lands untapped. Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Deprive join the rest of Stark's gassy hand. Marsh Flats hits the board for Rietzl, and he crashes in with two 2/3 cats and a 1/1 bird. Stark picks up his Stoneforge Mystic to chump block, preparing to play his Sword of Feast and Famine at instant-speed during combat. The limited master Ben Stark picks up his three creatures and sets them all back down, trying to order his blockers in an optimal way. Squadron Hawks trade, and Stoneforge Mystic blocks a Steppe Lynx. Stark takes 2, falling to 4, and Rietzl plays another Squadron Hawk. 2x Plated Geopede, 2x Squadron Hawk remain in Rietzl's hand. Rietzl sits looking extraordinarily calm and composed as the two players chat about the game state. Ben Stark casts a Squadron Hawk and equips it up with Sword of Feast and Famine before casting a second Hawk and passing the turn. Now, with Stark at just 4 life, Rietzl calculates his options to push through those last bits of damage. Teetering Peaks targets his Squadron Hawk, and he attacks with his whole team to take Stark to a single life point. Ben Stark now needs Day of Judgment or Gideon Jura or his first game will be over. Two Plated Geopedes from Paul Rietzl leads to a concession from Ben Stark. Paul Rietzl 1 - 0 Ben Stark
Both players keep their opening hands, although Ben Stark has Oust for the turn 1 Steppe Lynx from Rietzl. No turn two play from Rietzl except for a Mountain has Stark in a comfortable opening sequence, and he responds with Preordain. His hand is Day of Judgment, Gideon Jura, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and a land. Rietzl plays a Squadron Hawk and Steppe Lynx on his third turn, and Stark has another Oust for the cat. His hand flashes to the camera and shows a bunch of Squadron Hawks and land. Ben Stark appears to be in a commanding position for this game. 26-19 Rietzl.
Rietzl draws his card and gives a small fist pump. Or was it in frustration? He casts a Stoneforge Mystic and reveals what his topdeck was. Rietzl searches up Adventuring Gear, plays it, equips it to a Squadron Hawk, and Evolving Wilds comes down to make the Steppe Hawk a 3/3. Stark's Squadron Hawk blocks the Steppe Hawk and Stark falls to 17 on the attack. His response is simply to play another Hawk on his own turn and passes back to the Boros deck.
Rietzl untaps and plays a land, making Squadron Hawk a 3/3, then moves his Adventuring Gear onto another Hawk. Two fetchlands threaten to make this a fairly big turn for Rietzl. He fetches with Evolving Wilds, moves the Adventuring Gear once more to a third Hawk, and then serves with his entire team of 2 3/3 Hawks, a 1/1 Hawk with Adventuring Gear (and Arid Mesa open), and Stoneforge Mystic. The end result of the attack step is Ben Stark takes 5 damage. 26-12, Rietzl.
Ben Stark wipes the board with Day of Judgment and passes back to Rietzl.
Squadron Hawk and Steppe Lynx make up Rietzl's followup, and Adventuring Gear gets suited up in some strange way to a Squadron Hawk. Rietzl has two fetchlands in play and two more lands in hand.
Ben Stark untaps and fails to draw his 5th land, but he has Divine Offering for Adventuring Gear. Squadron Hawk uses up the rest of his untapped lands, and Stark passes back after flashing a hand of Ratchet Bomb, Day of Judgment, Gideon Jura, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Stark's Squadron Hawk chump blocks Rietzl's Steppe Lynx, and he has a Plated Geopede off the top to follow it up. Day of Judgment ends Rietzl's fun once more. Finally, without a play on his turn, Stark has an opportunity to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor but plays Squadron Hawk, land #5, and Squadron Hawk instead. Gideon Jura should hit play the following turn, sealing Rietzl's fate as Stark draws a Baneslayer Angel to follow it all up. All that Rietzl can come back with is a lowly 1/1 Spikeshot Elder. 25-11 Rietzl.
Baneslayer Angel hits the board, and instead of attacking with Gideon, he +2s the Planeswalker to protect against Mark of Mutiny. Journey to Nowhere makes the Angel moot, with Stoneforge Mystic and Lightning Bolt as Rietzl's remaining two cards. Stoneforge Mystic searches up Adventuring Gear, which ends up equipping the 1/2 White creature.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor joins his friend Gideon as Stark shows another Day of Judgment and another Oust during his Brainstorm. Insane! This game should be over very shortly. Rietzl's attack with Stoneforge Mystic, and the 3 fetchlands he used to power it up take a chunk out of Gideon Jura's loyalty count, with Arc Trail + Lightning Bolt finishing the job.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor lets Paul Rietzl draw his top card twice before turning on the 10-damage-per-turn clock of Gideon Jura and Celestial Colonnade. 12-11 Rietzl.
Rietzl scoops up his cards on the next turn.
Ben Stark 1 - 1 Paul Rietzl
Steppe Lynx starts things off for Paul Rietzl, and Preordain ships a land to the bottom of Ben Stark's deck and a Day of Judgmentinto his hand off of Seachrome Coast. Rietzl's Mountain makes Steppe Lynx a 2/3, and Goblin Guide joins the board to take Stark down to 16. 19-16 Rietzl.
Squadron Hawk is the play for Stark, passing the turn back to Rietzl. Rietzl shows Goblin Guide, Scalding Tarn, Teetering Peaks, Mountain, and an unknown 5th card. Goblin Guide hits the board, along with a Scalding Tarn, and the team crashes in. Sylvok Lifestaff is the top card of Stark's deck as he falls to 10. 19-10 Rietzl.
Ben Stark casts another Squadron Hawk and tries to buy one more turn for Day of Judgment. Sylvok Lifestaff hits the board as well for the UW Control player.
Paul Rietzl untaps and makes room for a 4th land, a Teetering Peaks. He attacks with everything and reveals a Ratchet Bomb for Stark. Squadron Hawk blocks the 4/2 Goblin Guide, and Rietzl uses his Scalding Tarn to take Stark down to 4. 18-4 Rietzl.
Ben Stark casts his Day of Judgment before Rietzl is finished shuffling his deck, and the board is wiped except for the single Sylvok Lifestaff. Plated Geopede and Marsh Flats are the only followups for Rietzl, finally allowing Ben Stark a little bit of breathing room. Jace, the Mind Sculptor comes down and Unsummons the Plated Geopede, showing Ratchet Bomb, Squadron Hawk, Day of Judgment, and Tectonic Edge as his hand. Rietzl, for his part, has a Squadron Hawk, the earlier Geopede, and a couple of land. Squadron Hawk hits play and searches for three more for Rietzl, dropping down one more Hawk and the Plated Geopede to threaten Stark. The board at this point is 2 Squadron Hawk and 1 Plated Geopede for Rietzel, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Sylvok Lifestaff for Ben Stark.
Stark has an excellent opportunity for Day of Judgment #2, but chooses to play Gideon Jura instead. Jace Brainstorms for Stark, and the turn is Rietzl's to try and clean up the mess he's been presented with. Stoneforge Mystic comes off the top for Rietzl and he searches up his Sword of Body and Mind with just enough mana to play the Sword, equip to the Geopede, and attack Gideon Jura with his team. Gideon falls to a single loyalty with Jace on two.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor's fateseal pushes Rietzl's top card (Goblin Guide) to the bottom of his deck, good news for the Boros player as he's drawing live. Day of Judgment has Gideon Jura's back though, and the board is clear of critters once more. Gideon then jumps up to 3 counters and Sword of Feast and Famine hit the board as well for Stark.
Squadron Hawk again hits the board for Paul Rietzl, equipping it with the Sword of Body and Mind. The last two cards in his hand are Squadron Hawk and Arid Mesa, but not for long as the last Squadron Hawk caws into play.
Stark shows two Gideon Jura in his hand as he casts a Squadron Hawk of his own, searching up the last copy in his deck. Both pieces of Stark's equipment jump onto the Squadron Hawk, Jace, the Mind Sculptor does some Brainstorming, and Gideon jumps up 2 more loyalty. Stark gains 3 life from the Squadron Hawk trade the next turn, sitting at a much more comfortable 7 life. 17-7 Rietzl.
Stark starts his turn off with Brainstorm, Jace still sitting at 4 loyalty. He ships back a couple of lands and reshuffles with his last Squadron Hawk.
Oust from Ben Stark leaves Rietzl with zero creatures on board, and Stark fiddles with the die on his Ratchet Bomb before leaving it at 1 counter and untapping. Gideon animates, equips with both equipment, and a Stoneforge Mystic hits the board for Stark, prompting the concession from Rietzl.
Ben Stark 2 - 1 Paul Rietzl
Paul Rietzl starts game 4 on the play again, and he ships back his hand for yet another 6-card hand, but 6 is good enough. Fetchland into Mountain into Goblin Guide is his start. 19-18 Rietzl, but Oust undoes Rietzl's first turn. 22-18 Rietzl.
Rietzl untaps and casts Stoneforge Mystic, searching up Sword of Body and Mind and shuffling the Goblin Guide into his library for later. Squadron Hawk is Ben Stark's response, finding just a single reinforcement Hawk as Stark shows a hand of 2x Day of Judgment, Squadron Hawk, and land. Rietzl has Steppe Lynx, Squadron Hawk, Goblin Guide, and Sword of Body and Mind in his hand to go along with a Plains and a Mountain in play.
Could this be the end for Paul Rietzl? It certainly seems like it as Stark gets more and more control over the game with Squadron Hawk #2 (finding #3).
Paul Rietzl dumps the Sword into play with Stoneforge Mystic, and when it attacks on his next turn equipped, Stark chump blocks with his extra Hawk. On his turn, Stark plays draw go and simply plays his 4th land.
Rietzl's Squadron Hawk searches up another Squadron Hawk (So. Annoying. To. Type. Every. Time. At least I'm not shuffling a deck every time?) and the Stoneforge Mystic eats Stark's Hawk during combat.
Day of Judgment and a Celestial Colonnade are Stark's answer, but Rietzl has a Goblin Guide and a land to attack back for 4 hasty damage. The Wolf token is likely not long for this world as Stark threatens another Day of Judgment, but goes with just a Squadron Hawk instead. Rietzl's grip is 3 Squadron Hawk, a Steppe Lynx, two land, and Lightning Bolt as every turn that drags on makes a Ben Stark PT Paris victory more and more likely. 20-13 Rietzl after the combat step.
Goblin Guide shows Jace, the Mind Sculptor on the top of the deck, and Celestial Colonnade animates to reveal Ben Stark's plan. Squadron Hawks trade and the Colonnade blocks the Wolf token, leaving it vulnerable to a Lightning Bolt that kills the Worldwake manland. Goblin Guide gets in for 2. 20-11 Rietzl. Postcombat, he drops another Squadron Hawk and passes back.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor gets cast for Caw Go and immediately Brainstorms. Gideon Jura, among a grip full of other cards, is revealed to be in Stark's hand. Squadron Hawk reshuffles the Brainstorm rejects, and Paul Rietzl gets another crack at an attack step with two creatures in play. Goblin Guide takes Jace down to 1 loyalty, and the Squadron Hawks trade. Paul Rietzl plays one of the Steppe Lynxes that he's been holding for what seems like ages and passes the turn back.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor Brainstorms again (did anyone mention that this card is pretty good?) and Day of Judgment clears the board. Stoneforge Mystic follows up the carnage and finds Sylvok Lifestaff.
The board is now 2 Mountains, 1 Plains, Evolving Wilds, and Scalding Tarn for Paul Rietzl. Ben Stark has a Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor on 1 loyalty to go along with his pile of lands (7). Paul Rietzl's only play is a Squadron Hawk.
Preordain puts Gideon Jura on the bottom of his library and he draws an unknown card before Brainstorming with Jace again. Stark has just enough lands to cast Gideon Jura without cracking his Misty Rainforest, and Stoneforge Mystic serves for 1. 19-11 Rietzl.
Rietzl attacks Gideon Jura down to 7 loyalty and casts Steppe Lynx, but this game is almost over. The crowd looks excited to see Ben Stark crowned the PT: Paris 2011 champion, but he has to finish off Paul Rietzl first.
Sylvok Lifestaff gets cast and equipped to the Stoneforge Mystic, and Stark attacks with the 2/2. Day of Judgment is the followup, and Stark's Planeswalkers are the only permanents on the board (oh, and the mostly irrelevant Sylvok Lifestaff). Ben Stark's hands are shaking slightly as he leafs through his cards, and both players start getting a little more chatty. And while all this is happening, Jace, the Mind Sculptor draws about a billion cards before Stark got around to casting Baneslayer Angel and Ratchet Bomb.
Rietzl draws his card and fans his hand out a couple times, but Mark of Mutiny into Gideon Jura's loyalty count, and a Journey to Nowhere on the Baneslayer Angel is nowhere near enough to keep his hopes alive.
Ben Stark wins Pro Tour Paris 2011, 3 games to 1
One thought on “Live! PT Paris Top 8”
Okay, so that was a lot of work, but it was a ton of fun! Congrats to Ben Stark in an exceptionally well-played Final!
To all of you who took the time to read any of the coverage this weekend, please share your thoughts for making it better! More writers? More analysis? Less of anything?
Thanks for reading 🙂