Dette er en ørlitegranne redigert artikkel jeg skrev for et engelsk-språklig Magicforum, og tenkte jeg kunne poste den her. Det kan jo være artig å lese, og å copy-paste er tross alt ikke så mye jobb!
At last, I got to play Nationals again. It was two years since last time, and while that might not sound like a lot, it sure felt like a long wait. I lost in the quarterfinals of that event, and I was eager to go one better this year. I couldn't attend last year because of school, which was quite disappointing.
My standard preparation for the event was largely with my friend Andreas (nordahl). We built a number of different decks on Magic Online, first black-white Tokens right before it became really popular, but then it became popular, and we threw it away. We then built a Reveillark deck, but we weren't happy with that one either. Faeries, Five-color Blood and Elementals were also tried, before we agreed that the only right answer to the metagame had to be a well-tuned five-color Control deck. So we started to build a deck, based on Riccardo Neri's runner-up list from GP Barcelona. We liked Obelisk of Alara, and Ajani Vengeant was an interesting card which often got 2-for-1s against aggro decks or Lightning Helix then blunt their attacks, and is a good threat against control. We weren't really satisfied with the list though, so we made a huge number of changes and tweaks to the list, over the course of weeks of testing (not intense, but a couple of 2-man queues a day and some discussion about the results afterwards), and here are some conclusions we made:
The format is full of creatures, so planeswalkers weren't good enough. Jace and Ajani were removed.
Cruel Ultimatum is absolutely insane, we couldn't not play it.
Our most controversial choice was to cut the Esper Charms. But we felt the manabase wasn't good enough to consistently play Volcanic Fallout and Esper Charm on turn 3, and of those two, Fallout was definitely the most important one.
Runed Halo is very good in the format, as it stops some of the deck's main problem cards, like Mistbind Clique, Anathemancer, manlands, Reveillark, Identity Crisis or Head Games, and Cruel Ultimatum in the mirror. We knew we wanted four. Another reason to remove the planeswalkers, as Halo don't interact very well with those.
With a format full of Dauntless Escorts, Kitchen Finks and Reveillark decks, Hallowed Burial seemed better than Wrath of God.
Vexing Shusher is nuts in the control mirror and against Faeries and Lark, so three copies made it to the sideboard, along with a couple of Identity Crisis.
We wanted Nicol Bolas as a win condition against green-white. Cruel Ultimatum isn't that good against them, as they could just "discard" a couple of Wilt-Leaf Lieges, and the game would be over.
Two Celestial Purges were put in the sideboard to be used against Faeries (answer to Bitterblossom. If Bitterblossom is dealt with, you win, if not, you lose. Simple as that) and different red and black-based decks, and Swans.
We played the deck in a PTQ, and Andreas won it. We were set on playing it in Nationals too (three weeks later, and a lot of the conclusions we made above were made in that period, meaning that the deck we played in the PTQ was less optimal than the 75 we sleeved up for Nationals).
So we were very confident in the Standard portion, which felt pretty strange. Until now, it was Andreas' brother Espen (lostcucumber), who is now semi-retired from the game, who had built most of our decks, and we just got handed a list before the tournament. This time, we had tuned and tested our own list, and that was something new.
The other strange thing was that we weren't confident in the limited portion at all. Normally, I do very well in limited but not so well in constructed, and I generally enjoy limited more. But this time, in this format, I had no idea what I should do. One week before the tournament started, my plan was to be lucky and go 4-2, and 5-0-1 or 6-0 the standard portion of the event. I cannot win consistently on Magic Online playing Shards limited, and my rating occasionally falls below 1800, which is a little embarassing. It just felt so random to me, as most games were decided on mana or 3/2 fliers for two. My problem with the format was this: The format clearly emphasizes multicolored decks, telling players to go three colors, maybe splash the fourth, or maybe even go for all five. The manafixing, while clearly good and abundant, is slow and not enough to reliably support three or more colors. Players with many colors had to be lucky to draw their mana in time. Now, two-colored decks are very much competitive, especially blue-white aggro, and the more experienced drafters would tend to aim for these decks. The two-colored decks are clearly more stable than the multicolored decks, but sometimes there just aren't enough cards available, and decks with bad manabases can get rewarded for simply having more powerful cards, and they can rawdog their mana and play their bomb, and randomly win despite the consistency of the decks with fewer colors. And consistency isn't well rewarded when the sample size is so small, so the inconsistent deck with better cards will not be punished like they maybe should.
The week before the tournament, I went to Oslo and stayed in Andreas' house along with some other players, who happened to become very good friends, Mats and Steinar (Stones). We played standard, MtGO drafts and cubed, and had fun all week long.
Then, the time for preparation was over, it was time to play! Day 1 of Nationals '09 was Saturday, July 4th, and we went to Blindern, the University of Oslo, which is where the Nationals are held every year. This is the standard deck we ended up with:
We had two issues with the deck, one was that it had too few draw spells, but we didn't know any we really wanted. The second issue was the lands. We kind of wanted 27, but that was a little too much, so we could have played 27 lands and 61 cards, but that decreases the power level, so we stuck with 60 and 26 lands. Not sure what was correct.
Round 1: David Kristensen (Kithkin)
David (Winnetou) is a good friend of mine, but it's Norwegian Nationals so what can you do. You simply have to play against friends and knock eachother out. Anyway, David played Kithkin as usual, as he has been doing all the time since he won a block PTQ with it last year. Kithkin is a very good matchup, and it got even better when he mulled to six and kept a one-lander, and didn't see the second before it was too late. In game two it was my turn to manascrew, but I might have won hadn't it been for his two Wizened Cenns, as I had Fallout in hand. But I got stuck on three mana, and when I got the fourth I was already practically dead. In the third and deciding game he opened with turn 1 and 2 Figure of Destiny, but I had Runed Halo to trump them both, and his Elspeth is stopped by Pithing Needle. His attempt on Cloudgoat Ranger is thwarted by Broken Ambitions, and Obelisk of Alara takes it home. 2-1 and 1-0 total.
Round 2: Ruben Jørgensen (Faeries)
A very close matchup. In game 1, he had Bitterblossom turn 2, but I had Runed Halo to prevent Mistbind Clique from wrecking me. He got some tokens and some manlands attacking, but I had a Plumeveil which traded with his Faerie Conclave and Agony Warp, and Fallout cleared the board a couple of times. Soon enough I played the doom-bringing Cruel Ultimatum, and he revealed a hand of three Mistbind Cliques. In game two he got turn 2 Bitterblossom again, and I didn't have anything to stop him. Scion of Oona made them all bigger, and although I almost managed to take the game and the match through mindgaming (he attacks with token and Faerie Conclave, and I have Vexing Shusher in play and Plumeveil in hand, and six mana. I play Plumeveil, which he allows, and he flashes Cryptic Command, to which I say: "bounce Plumeveil and what else?" and he was very close to saying "..and draw a card", but he suddenly realized what he was about to do and said "oh, no, wait! Tap your creatures and draw a card!" Had he bounced my Plumeveil, like I tried to trick him into doing, I could just have played it again and blocked), we are soon on to game 3. In that deciding game, he doesn't get the Bitterblossom, and Runed Halo on Mistbind Clique wrecks all his plans. At one point in the game, he has six mana and 4 cards in hand. I have seven mana (tapped) and Celestial Purge, Celestial Purge and Cruel Ultimatum in hand, and I'm just waiting for the opportunity. He plays Scepter of Fugue and forces me to discard right away, which is okay with me. I discard Purge, and he says go. Now, I can play Ultimatum for the game unless he has Broken Ambitions with his remaining two mana. He had three cards in hand, but I guessed that at least two were cliques and that he didn't have countermagic, because then he would probably have refused to activate his scepter. After all, Broken Ambitions for 1 wouldn't do much if I just dropped another land, so I went for it, and it worked, That was game, as expected. 2-1 and 2-0 total.
Round 3: Øyvind Harding (Lark)
I sat next to Øyvind in round 1, so I knew what I was up against. Lark isn't the best matchup, but it is quite decent after some changes we made (especially the Shushers). In game 1, I have Runed Halo to stop his Kitchen Finks offense, and the game goes long after this. At a crucial point in the game, he names Cruel Ultimatum with Meddling Mage. I untap and play Nicol Bolas. I have complete control in game 2, except that I don't have any offense. I had resolved a Cruel Ultimatum to stop him entirely, but I had to use counterspells on his threats from the top, while I drew mostly blanks. Luckily, a Mulldrifter showed up, and it drew me into another Mulldrifter and a Vexing Shusher, and the beats started. I looked to win with my two drifters going beatdown, so I used my last counterspell to stop his Sower of Temptation. He has a couple of Meddling Mages in play, one set on Volcanic Fallout. On one turn, before he was about to die, he plays a Mulldrifter of his own, which I have to allow. He's on three life, and I have Path to Exile and Volcanic Fallout in hand, but I fear that he has several counterspells. I beat with Drifters, two trade and he goes to one life. At end of turn, he attempts to Path the other Mulldrifter, but I Path his Meddling Mage and play Fallout, and he reveals his hand of three counterspells (all Negates). Nice Shusher. 2-0 and 3-0 total.
I had pulled the semi-expected 3-0 in standard, but Andreas had lost a match (against a random Grixis Control deck with sideboarded Memory Plunders, which he used to play Andreas' previously discarded Cruel Ultimatum at the end of Andreas' turn) and was 2-1. Steinar was also 2-1 after winning a close match against Kithkin in the third round (he was playing Faeries). 2-1 was also Mats' record, who played Lark. Time for drafting, which we assumed would be the deciding factor of this Nationals. Pod 1 had some names you would expect, like Christian Flaaten (your safest bet for a top 8 competitor, he made the top 8 the three previous nats and held the #1 worldwide constructed rating for almost a year), Thomas Refsdal and Øystein Hasnes, and my friend Simen Rasmussen (jl).
I kick off the draft with a decision between Deft Duelist and Crumbling Necropolis. I was not hellbent on forcing U/W Aggro like Andreas, but it was the archetype I wanted. However, I did not want to pass up the much better manafixer for a Duelist, as it would keep me more open in case the U/W-plan went wrong. I then picked Rhox War Monk, Savage Lands, Kederekt Leviathan and Tidehollow Strix, and a late Courier's Capsule. Then a seventh pick Akrasan Squire showed up, which was just sick. I had looked for U/W-cards all the time, but I didn't see any except for a Sigil-Caste Sorcerer, so I just assumed it was being picked up on my right, but now I realized it was just the packs that were empty. I picked the Squire, but I didn't want to go into U/W now. It is an archetype which requires early commitment. I wheeled the Deft Duelist though, which says a lot about the level of Norwegian drafters these days. The pack was rounded out with Kederekt Creeper.
Now, this certainly isn't the strongest of decks, but the packs vere extremely shallow. I didn't think the other players had good decks either. I hoped for a 2-1, with the possibility of 1-2, but it wasn't easy to guess. The deck had solid early drops and removals, but not enough bombs. Filigree Angel would be very difficult to cast in this deck, but I figured I had to play it.
Round 4: Christian Flaaten (R/G/W)
I swore when I saw the pairings for the fourth round. I had expected it to be cross-pairings, and I didn't want to face CF. He told me he wasn't very satisfied with his deck, although he believed it was a 2-1-deck. He won the dice roll and opted to play first, and shipped his hand right back. And then the next. "Now that is how I win this," I said. And I did win quickly enough, despite his turn 1 B/R Borderpost, Jund Hackblade start. I soon regain control, and when I Brainbite him he scoops rather than showing me his hand. In game 2, he keeps his seven but struggles to find all his mana. Meanwhile, I have played a Lorescale Coatl turn 3, which thanks to a turn 4 Capsule+pop is really starting to work on his life total. He manages to put a Woolly Thoctar on the table as he finds his missing mana (I don't remember which), but Coatl is much bigger than Thoctar at this point. I Brainbite him pre-combat to make the snake even larger (7/7), and see a hand of the following: Rhox Brute, Valeron Outlander, Rhox Meditant, Maniacal Rage and Dark Temper. I opt to take the Rage, as I am more afraid that he might churn out enough chumpblockers and actually win with a 7/6 Thoctar than him spitting out one creature at a time (which he had to do now, I believe he only had a single green and a single white mana). A topdecked B/R Borderpost or Jund Hackblade would make Dark Temper problematic, so maybe that was the one I should have taken, I'm not sure. Anyway, Coatl beats for seven, and in his turn he plays Rhox Meditant and Qasali Pride-Mage, and attacks. In my turn, I use Drag Down and Dark Temper (with B/R Borderpost in play) to remove his blockers, and take the game and match. 2-0 and 4-0 total.
Round 5: Thomas Refsdal (W/U/B)
Refs is usually not the player you want to face in any given tournament, but these days he's a little rusty, and he didn't know the Shards format very well. I had already seen Thomas' deck, as he actually showed it to me between the rounds. He was kind of U/W aggro, with a black splash of among others Extractor Demon to get enough playables. He also had Constricting Tendrils, which he said didn't find so bad in his deck, and I didn't actively try to discourage him, to put it that way. Anyway, in game 1, I mull to six on the play, and decide to keep a one-lander with two landcyclers and an Obelisk. I missed the second land drop two turns in a row, and I was too far behind to catch up. In game 2, Lorescale Coatl said hello again, and Courier's Capsule made it very large very quickly, and it single-handedly raced him. He did miss his second land drop this game (but didn't miss any after that), so that helped. In game 3, I have a quick Putrid Leech going, and Tidehollow Strix joined the beats. We traded damage, but I was winning the race thanks to removal. He eventually killed my Strix, but couldn't deal with the Leech, and the game was mine when I played Soul Manipulation on his Wall of Denial, bringing back the Strix. 2-1 and 5-0 total.
Round 6: Robert Wennerstrøm (B/R/G/w)
I had never played against him before, but I recognized his name. Robert told me he had no idea how he had won the first two matches in this draft, and was already happy with the result. I was also happy with winning two, but I wouldn't mind making it three! I knew he had Wall of Reverence in his deck, but I didn't know anything else. I guessed his deck might be a slow one, so I chose to play last when I won the dice roll. But he charged all out with turn 2 blade, turn 3 Kathari Bomber, turn 4 Scavenger Drake. I almost managed to stabilize, but lost because despite getting heavily flooded, I still missed the second white for Filigree Angel, which would have made the game interesting. Game 2 was strange. I play first this time, and get some early dudes, and then I Brainbite him on turn four, and his only creature in play is Kathari Bomber. His hand had the following: Single-Mind Ogre, plains, Glory of Warfare, Rhox Brute, Gorger Wurm. At first I wanted to take Glory, because it would make his goblin tokens very good both on defense and offense, but then I realized that he would probably not be able to cast it if I just took the plains. I assumed he was just splashing white, and he had already used a Naya Panorama to get a forest. In addition, if he didn't draw another land right away, I could soft-lock him with the Architects of Will I had in my hand. He didn't, and I played Architects. I put Manaforce Mace on top, then Bone Splinters, then swamp, and started attacking. His Bone Splinters showed up the turn after he had chumped with his last goblin ("how rude!"), and that was the game. Game three, and he cannot find his swamp. His Wall of Reverence buys him a lot of time, but soon enough my Lorescale Coatl is terribly large and I destroy the wall. He finally gets his swamp and attempts a Pestilent Kathari, but I have Soul Manipulation ready. 2-1 and 6-0 total.
It wasn't entirely unexpected, as I felt that the other players didn't really grasp the format very well. That said, I had my fair share of luck to take me to 3-0 in this pod, especially against CF (or more correctly, he was unlucky), but I didn't think it was totally undeserved. I played quite well, and made the most of all the cards available to me. I was very happy to sitting on 6-0 again!
By now, Andreas was 4-2, Mats was 3-2-1, and Steinar was 4-1. Yes, that's right, he had only played five matches. He became ill, probably because of the Tacos we had the previous day, and had to drop and call a taxi to get to the hospital. Extremely unfortunate, and we felt very bad for him.
Draft 2 was now starting, and I was obviously sitting on pod 1 once again. This time, the pod was populated by CF and Refs, Robert Wennerstrøm, Tommy Hammer and Rickard Österberg, winner of Pro Tour New Orleans. I kick off the draft with Arcane Sanctum, then Akrasan Squire, setting myself up for U/W aggro. Unfortunately, the packs once again refused to cooperate, and no more cards came to me. I took a couple of late Resounding spells (Thunder and Silence), and took it as a sign that five-color was open. Whether it was, or whether the players to my right were messing it all up, I have no idea. But I got an 8th pick Deft Duelist, and I started to become quite frustrated. Conflux had two very good cards for me - Blood Tyrant and Maelstrom Archangel, but that was it. The rest were manafixing and filler cards, and things looked grim. It didn't get much better in Alara Reborn, with no removal and just a bunch of fixing, and no game-winners. It might just have been the worst Alara draft deck I'd ever had.
Yeah, it's very ugly, and my hopes weren't high. 1-2 and I'd be overjoyed, but I had absolutely no idea how I could ever win a game with this utter pile of awkwardness.
Round 7: Robert Wennerstrøm (B/R/G)
"So are you going to make it 7-0?" "The chances are nil. You're getting your revenge right now." This was unfortunately just too true. His deck had a curve starting on like four, but I couldn't exactly punish him for that, and from then on he would just start deploying giant monsters that I couldn't deal with, and even though I landed a Maelstrom Archangel, I had no sick spells I could play for free that would change how the game was going. And that Angel was definitely not winning any race facing hordes of green fat, so I was quickly one down. Game two wasn't much better, as he got himself a couple of gigantic monsters, and then Soul's Majesty for five. And as if that wasn't enough, he played Vengeful Rebirth targeting the draw spell and one of my blockers. The closest I was to winning this one was when we rolled the dice. 0-2 and 6-1 total.
And that was the end of day one. Despite being 6-1 and seemingly in fantastic shape, I wasn't happy at all, and didn't speak too much. I could just visualize the wheels falling off, losing three straight after 6-0 and then having to play elimination in Standard. Andreas, on the other hand, was in very good mood, after winning his first match of the second draft because his opponent missed an onboard trick (sort of, it was a binned Brackwater Elemental) and alpha'd Andreas to 1 and lost to the rebound when Andreas would have been left with a zero-outer if he had left a blocker or two. Mats finished the day 3-3-1 and wasn't terribly pleased with that, to put it mildly.
We played some test games with the decks from the second draft, and I lost 11-0 to Andreas in complete and utter blowouts. None of us could see how I would escape with a win, and before long I had resigned myself to not getting there, and miss out on the top 8.
Round 8: Rickard Österberg (B/R/G)
I started out day 2 by facing a former PT Champ and high-level pro, but fortunately for me, he was almost as displeased with his deck as I was. I must admit I don't remember too much from this match, but he did play quite a few bad cards, like double Scattershot Archers. In game 1, he stumbled while I managed a turn 5 Maelstrom Archangel, and it got all the way. In game 2 he had a Blood Cultist and some attackers going, and I read him for Bloodpyre Elemental, so I tried to bait it out with some creatures that I was much more willing to let go than the Maelstrom Archangel I had and could play. He did have the Bloodpyre, and I took some damage, but Archangel came down unopposed, and was soon followed by Blood Tyrant. I won 2-0, putting me on 7-1 total and I was jumping for joy!
I ran over to everyone I knew and boasted about winning with the 5-color trainwreck I had in my hands. Andreas didn't share my optimism after having lost to multiple topdeck-action in round eight, putting him at a bad 5-3 record and needing to win out to make the top 8. Mats won, but he was definitely in the last chance-saloon.
Round 9: Tommy Hammer (R/G/W)
In this match, I was more cheery and talkative than I'd ever been in a high-level Magic match. I had squeeked out my win, I was happy, I didn't care at all if I lost this match. Tommy, on the other hand, had a bomb-tastic deck he was very excited about (well, Tommy doesn't really get excitied, but this was as close as you get, I suppose), and he told me he couldn't wait for day 2: "I've had the 3-0 deck in my pocket since yesterday". He rolled over me with efficient guys in game 1, and I couldn't do anything at all to stop him, as he played multiple rares to destroy me, including but not limited to: Knight of New Alara, Cliffrunner Behemoth, Apocalypse Hydra, Obelisk of Alara. I did, however, spot a weakness. He didn't play a single manafixer, so if I elected to play last, I would perhaps be able to manascrew him. It did go precisely according to plan, as he played plains and mountain then Ceredon Hatchling, but followed up with more plains and mountains and not much pressure. I took the game home with one of my two bombs, I don't remember which. For game 3, he decided that the only way he would lose was to be colorscrewed, so he elected to draw first. He had a pretty slow start, and I played Brainbite, revealing the following hand: Bant Sureblade, Crystallization, Leonin Armorguard, Wild Leotau, Kraniceros, Apocalypse Hydra. I had some ground defense, having Pale Recluse in hand and Sacellum Archers in play, as well as both my resounding spells in hand, in addition to a Soul Manipulation. I decided I had to take Crystallization. I could block all the creatures relatively favorably, and he didn't have enough mana to take advantage of the fat men. I also had a Soul Manipulation ready, which after a few turns (when he reached seven mana) denied the would-be 10/10 Hydra entry. I played a couple of Resounding spells and looked to be firmly in control of things, but then he topdecked his Obelisk of Alara one of the last possible turns and rode it to victory. Too bad, but mission still accomplished! 1-2 and 7-2 total.
Andreas pulled out a win in the back end of the draft portion, so he sat in decent shape at 6-3, while Mats sported a 5-3-1 record. Time to pull out the standard deck again, and I surely wasn't regretting that!
Round 10: Simen Rasmussen (Lark)
Simen had aced the second draft with a weird Esper deck which had bombs but no stability, so we were paired on table 2. Simen is a good friend of mine from the local playgroup, and it's pretty remarkable that two players from such a scarcely populated area, as opposed to "big" cities like Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim, were that high up in the standings. Simen is easily the best of the other players in my area. He might be quite unconventional at times (especially when drafting), so the better players often get surprised when playing him - such as Hasnes, who got milled to death by a couple of Mind Funerals in the first draft. He was playing his trusted Lark deck, although he thought about audibling into our 5CC-list right before the event, but I talked him into sticking with Lark, partly because he's been playing with it a great deal, partly because I would have had to search elsewhere for the Hallowed Burials I needed if he decided to play our list... Anyway. In the first game, I managed to Hallowed Burial away all his threats, meaning that the three Reveillarks he was holding was of little use, and he scooped up his cards maybe before he had to, as to make sure that we had enough for games two and three. In game 2, he mulliganed to five on the play, while I kept my seven including double Mulldrifter, lots of gas but only a Vivid and a Pool as mana sources. He accelerated into turn 3 and turn 4 Glen Elendra Archmages while I was stuck on two lands all game long, and it was soon time for game 3. Simen asked if we maybe should draw, but after considering it for a moment, I told him that we would be better off with either of us cashing in three points, so we played. He got a couple of early Meddling Mages, but named Path to Exile and Hallowed Burial, both of which I had sideboarded out all except one each. I played Volcanic Blowout, and Shusher entered the fray, trumping his Glen Elendra Archmage and company. It was advantage me all game through, thanks to Shusher, and it forced one of the bombs through and took the game and the match. 2-1 and 8-2 total.
Wow, I did it! I was now a lock into the top 8, and the first player at that. It was a shame that I had to beat Simen to do it, of course, but he could still make the top 8. Andreas won against a mono-red player, while Mats drew and looked like he was well out of contention.
Round 11: Andreas Nordahl
High fives all around! Andreas got the lucky pairing, as he was paired up against me. I scooped him in, and we were both in the top 8! We checked the pairings through and through, and there was no way we weren't top 8. There would be four 8-3 players after this round, and we could safely draw in then. We spent the round talking and being cheery, and scouting the top tables. Among those still in contention, there were two PT champions, Eivind Nitter and Österberg, and CF was still up there, playing Faeries. CF is quite the constructed player, and we believed our top 8 chances were reduced with him in there, too. We went to eat, and then came back for round 12.
Round 12: ID
As expected, I was paired against another on X-3, Patrick Monsen from Bergen. After making sure me and Andreas couldn't face eachother in the quarterfinals by ID'ing (like we did in '07), we drew. We went to see the other deciding matches. Simen was playing on table 3 against Tommy Hammer, who unfortunately was playing Faeries. CF was up against Robert Wennerstrøm, playing G/W aggro. Both these tables could actually have drawn in, but they didn't know it, and we didn't know it until after the match, making the matches at tables 5 and 6 relevant: Christian Bakkehaug with G/W aggro against Øystein Rydningen with W/B tokens, and... Mats (!) on table six. As soon as we realized that he too had a slight chance at making the top 8, we called at him: "Mats, win!" He looked confused, but said "Um, okay". When the results on the other tables (Simen lost, CF lost) came in, it was clear to us that he was in if he won, and when he did so, we came over and high fived him. He though we were just making fun of him, but when we showed him the standings and did the math, you could say his expression changed slightly. Because of Steinar's drop at 4-1, and another player's drop at 5-2, as well as some matches that could have drawn in, Mats snook in at 7-3-2. Pretty sick.
Top 8 pairings:
Robert Wennerstrøm (G/W aggro) vs Mats Ellingsen (Lark)
Sveinung Bjørnerud (5CC) vs Christian Bakkehaug (G/W aggro)
Andreas Nordahl (5CC) vs Tommy Hammer (Faeries)
Patrick Monsen (B/W tokens) vs Aksel Nes (G/B Elves)
Quarterfinal: Christian Bakkehaug (G/W aggro)
Christian was a player I didn't know very well, but I recognized him as he had made the top 8 of Nats '07, and he, like me, lost to a friend in the quarterfinal. In game 1, I'm quickly on the back foot and my draws are pretty boring. I was on pretty low life to Kitchen Finks beats, and I played Cruel Ultimatum and hoped. He "discarded" two Wilt-Leaf Lieges. Ouch. In game 2, I mulligan a couple of times, and he plays turn 2 Gaddock Teeg, with my hand full of Cryptic Commands and Hallowed Burials, and no Paths or Fallouts. He gets the beats going in game 3 as well, and it looks like it could be the sweep, but I get Nicol Bolas down, and I blow up Treetop Village. He still has a considerable force, and more than lethal. He attacks me with the team, and I play not one, not two but three Path to Exile to stay alive, and Bolas' ultimatum finishes him off next turn. Bullet dodged. In the next game he once again had a start full of angry creatures, and I have to use all my resources to blunt the attacks, and with just one, irrelevant card in hand and seven land in play, I pray for Cruel Ultimatum. Please, be there... just this once... draw - THERE IT IS! My spirits rise, and I look at my mana to see how to add UUBBBRR. I have Island, Island, Mystic Gate, Vivid Crag, Vivid Meadow, Reflecting Pool, Reflecting Pool. Dreams shattered, and hand extended. 1-3 and out, out, out.
It was a considerable let down, that's for sure. I felt that this time I should have gotten there. Andreas was a tad more happy, dispatching Tommy Hammer, and Mats had won his quarter in no time at all. The semifinal between Andreas and Christian wasn't a blow out, but that was only because Christian played suboptimally and gave andreas the win in game 3 when he was up 2-0. He ended up winning 3-2 anyway, if I recall correctly. Mats versus Patrick Monsen, on the hand, was quite the match, and Mats took it in an extremely close fifth game where he had to topdeck for consecutive turns and his opponent had to make multiple errors for him to have a shot, but Mats is Mats.
Andreas won against Patrick in the match for 3rd place, after having kept a 6-land, Volcanic Fallout hand on the draw. His opponent played turn 2 Tidehollow Sculler and left Andreas with all lands, but Andreas is, despite his efforts trying to prove the opposite, quite good and topdecked another Fallout to clear the board, and after then he drew all gas. [vi kan vel la Andreas selv forklare den keepen :)]
The match for the title was ironically between Christian and Mats, the two players that SHOULD not have made the top 8 at all. Mats was quickly up 2-0, but kept some risky hands that didn't work out in the other 3 games, so he unfortunately lost. So congratulations to Christian Bakkehaug, 2009 Norwegian champion!