Punishment: Second-Round Bye, Last Round Win – Finnish Nationals Report *Champion*

I remember watching the finals of Nationals in 1995. The guy who beat me with the netdeck is playing it out versus some godawful Shivan Dragon special. He is losing anyway, as a sideboard with loads of Glooms and Flashfires is quite good against white weenie. I look at the winner’s expression, and wonder what he feels like. Would it be like the best thing ever, or more like a nice warm feeling in the stomach? I would like to be a National Champion myself. Maybe someday I will.

“It is so easy for you.”

Gabriel Nassif, 2003

Damn right it is. But howdy ho, fellas; chill around while I recap you about the Finnish Nationals 2003.

But before that, I will bore you for a while with my life. The months following Venice were spent mostly doing non-Magic stuff. I could go on about how I do not understand females or how they are indecisive, but I am quite weird as well so it all balances out. I had a few weeks’ vacation after the Pro Tour, during which I was supposed to start doing my senior thesis about the differences between Finnish and Japanese business culture. However, I figured that the time would be better spent by mainly sitting on my ass and partying. This led to a situation where I had a thesis deadline of a month, while I had to attend class every day. I somehow managed to compile a valiant effort, and returned the damn thing on the first Friday of May.

This meant that I had something like four days to learn two formats. Luckily, Tuomo Nieminen and Seppo Toikka were convinced that they had great Extended tech for me, and soon I had a decklist for Pattern. It seems that they were pretty much out of it, but it was nice of them to share their incompetence with me anyway. I played some test games with it on the flight to Yokohama, and changed random cards. The only real innovation that actually made me proud was the Kamahl, Fist of Krosa in the sideboard. It kills fast, stops Oath cold, and makes it hard for them (well, I consider Justin Gary as several people) to use Pernicious Deed.

Well, anyway, Yokohama turns out to be quite the typical tournament. I do well in Constructed, suck hard in Limited, and Amiel is being a troubled young man. I find it hard to read signals, as my testing for this tournament consists of two Rochester drafts. Hence, I go 0-4 with GB and then 1-1 with U/R before finally getting a bye. I actually conceded at 0-3 to a Swede, who then bought me dinner. Savage collusion? I swear that the dinner came as a complete surprise.

The Pattern deck felt okay and took me to the semis. It is still too unstable, though. If there is some way to sensibly splash Brainstorms, it could be a Tier One deck. I worked with Randy doing commentary for the quarters and semis of the Pro Tour, and it was a good learning experience. At first, I was too scared about saying something stupid, and didn’t speak enough. Then I realized that people actually wanted to hear me say something dumb. Deep down inside, people like it when they get to laugh at others. With this new-found realization, I think I did okay covering the semis.

When it comes to doing the commentary, I have a confession to make: I care too much about what others think about me. This is basically a totally useless aspect, and leads to nothing but harm. For example, when Misetings started making captions about the Invitational, I felt hurt by the jokes about me. They were mostly related with being gay, or fat, or sometimes even both. Now, this should make pretty much no sense, since by being offended when someone calls me gay I am subconsciously thinking of that particular group as somehow inferior to others. And having been overweight most of my life, I should already be comfortable with it. Well, anyway, I am in the process of trying to toughen up, so if you feel like bashing me in some way in some kind of a forum, go ahead. I can use the practice.

There were a number of interesting things going on at the Pro Tour, though. Mattias Jorstedt happened to win the whole thing with his Cadaver special. MattJ, as we so affectionately call him, has been having something of a poor season, so everyone was happy to see him playing on Sunday. While celebrating the win on Sunday night with the team, I had to go check my mail in the hotel lobby in order to print some homework. I know, I’m pathetic. Then I ran into John Larkin and his Irish friend Cormac Smythe, who forced me to play multiplayer with them and Sam Gomersall. Due to this, I missed on a boys’ night out; apparently, the Swedes went out clubbing, and Mikael Polgary (the Swede who won some Asian Grand Prix) got a memorable quote from a black bouncer:”I wish I was female so I could do you.”

But this is a Nationals report. I did a little bit of testing with Mikko Punakallio and Jussi Salovaara. We messed around with B/G Buried Alive and FinkelTog with Future Sight, but in the end I figured that I’ll just play monob. I did a lot of testing with the deck during Christmastime, something like a hundred matches on MODO. I have no clue why many people treat it mainly as a creature kill deck, and find it a good idea to not run four Gladiators. I have always seen MBC as a regular control deck, and feel that it should have a shot in any matchup.

Here’s the list:

4 Undead Gladiator

1 Visara the Dreadful

4 Skeletal Scrying

4 Diabolic Tutor

4 Duress

4 Smother

4 Diabolic Edict (Yes, I did indeed mess up the decklist)

3 Mutilate

3 Corrupt

1 Haunting Echoes

1 Mind Sludge

1 Cabal Therapy

4 Cabal Coffers

22 Swamp


4 Nantuko Shade

3 Mesmeric Fiend

2 Engineered Plague

1 Corrupt

1 Laquatus’s Champion

1 Visara the Dreadful

1 Mutilate

1 Haunting Echoes

1 Mind Sludge

This version is not very techy in the sense that it is pretty much what I suggested earlier. The new thing here is the maindeck Therapy and the sideboard Champion. Fiends are semitech, since I already mentioned them in the article but no one seems to use them. Therapy’s function is to act as a double Duress when trying to set up the Sludge-Echoes turn versus slow decks; it is also nice when trying to get rid of Caller of the Claw, after Smothering their Herald. Champion is usually the best card to go get versus G/R when they have Compost out, and a decent clock versus control decks. The Fiends are simply sick, and I should have had a fourth one in the board. You should, too.

And don’t go giving me any crap about not playing this deck; I know you want to. If you fight it you will only become bitter. You know, one of those U/G players who walk around saying,”I had the best sideboard, Composts and all! But then he goes Visara on me and I don’t draw a Stupefying Touch!”

Drop that zero and get yourself a hero.

I arrive on the site on Friday to watch the kids play in the last-chance qualifier. They seem happy. I have no clue why, as I would be sad and silent were I unqualified for Nationals. Is it because I have become a bitter old man, or because they just do not realize their bad situation? This question still troubles me to this day – and relief is not exactly lurking in the horizon, either. If Magic is supposed to be fun, then why are there situations where one loses thousands of dollars to a stupid misfortune? I find double-mulligans to hardly be the equivalent of a good movie. But hey, if it works for you, why not?

I do a draft and manage to win with U/R. No Lavamancer’s Skills, but good four-drops. It feels like this is the deck where turn 4 is the most important; that is when you either claim tempo or pack it up and whine. I could be wrong though, but that is the gut feeling. Talking of gut feelings, I find it a good idea to freshen up for tomorrow by going to a bar with homies such as Mike Wall and Perttu Lehtinen. Good times are had anyway, considering the crowd. At some point, I manage to stumble home and sleep for two hours.

One would think that only sleeping for two hours would be bad for me when it comes to playing. It might actually be the opposite, as I do better when grumpy. If I don’t get the anger on, I am not interested enough in winning. That is actually why I do better versus tomguevins than nice people.

No hard feelings, Tom. I still vote you in for the Invitational every year.

Round one vs. Jussi Perälä with Reanimator

Jussi is kinda like a homie. He was on the Nationals team with me in 2001, and we finished third. Those were the good times. He tested with Punisher for Houston and tried to tell me to play Aluren, but I kept my manly stand and went with Awakening. Good thing I didn’t hesitate to run what was most likely the single best deck in the format.

Jussi is playing Reanimator – and quite badly, I might add. He decided to run the deck as it did well in the last-chance qualifier. It becomes quite clear that he is clueless already in the first game, although he does not manage to do something that would downright throw the game away. He beats me fair. The second game is quite close, and I think he has it in the bag when the reanimation starts. But Jussi does not return a Symbiotic Wurm, going for the Visara instead. What is going on? I win after a while with Echoes, and Jussi tells me that maybe he should he brought Wurm instead. Maybe indeed.

The last game is a sad affair. Even though Shades go for mad beats in the beginning, at some point Jussi finds it appropriate to draw several Smothers. I stare at an endless amount of lands, waiting for Corrupt or Tutor. Jussi has the cards in play to kill me, but does not realize that the Insects one gets after sacking Wurm have haste when Anger is in the graveyard. Hence, I get an another window to topdeck… But find a Swamp.

After all this bashing, I have to admit that I liked his version of the deck. He had more than four fetchlands to get threshold sooner, and also to abuse Tainted Pacts. I have seen quite a few Animators but none of them ran Pacts. They seemed to be pretty good, at least against me, to balance the otherwise-unstable combo draws. If you are testing this deck, I suggest you at least consider the card.

Matches, 1-2 games

Aggh…Losing round one usually spells doom for me. Maybe there is some kind of a mental block or something, stopping me from getting back into the game. Whatever it is, the only right way to deal with it is….

A round two bye! I get a strange feeling while looking at the pairings; as you might imagine, I don’t get too many byes. As a matter of fact, I got the last one as far back as the round seven of Pro Tour: Yokohama – so out of my last three sanctioned matches, a total of one has included a live opponent. I spent the time going around and smiling stupid.

(Tomi also gave me this picture, which he wanted for the front page – but alas, it turns out the full pic was ridiculously teeny at 75 pixels. But here it is, as an extra-special Rizzo-style bonus – The Ferrett)

Everyone does what they are good at, and I look stupid like it’s nothing. I check what people are playing, and it seems like none of the good players have actual tech. The weirdest thing is that several of them chose to run Elves. Wake is not as popular as I figured. It was quite the stylish deck to play here a while ago, as a Finn named Artturi Björk used the deck to win English Nationals.

1-1, 1-2

Round three vs. Juho Sahiluoto with Reanimator

Juho is also with Reanimator. I know this for the fact that he ground in with it yesterday. When shuffling his deck, I manage to flip out a Swamp. Last time this happened to me was in Chicago 2000 versus Sigurd Eskeland, and as it was a sideboard card (he boarded Armageddon in Rebels vs. CounterRebels), I was duly awarded with a game loss. Juho is cool about it, though, and I proceed to tell him that I am with MBC. It just felt fair to reward him for being nice.

The will to win is really burning inside me as I want to prove to everyone, not the least myself, that this deck can indeed beat Reanimator. The deck seems to realize this as I go triple-Duress in game one and Duress, two Fiends in game two. The disruption combined with Echoes and Shade beatings gives me enough time to win. Had his draws been as ridiculous as mine, I would have lost, though; so much for the proving.

2-1, 3-2

It sure felt good to beat a live opponent. Juho was a pretty amiable guy and seemed to have made the right metagame call, so I sincerely wish him luck.

Round four vs. Miika Puumalainen with U/G

In 2001, I drafted in the same table with Miika and played him, and 2002 we just drafted together. And now this. He is pretty much your average Finn, which means friendly in a quiet way. We are indeed a quiet nation, and I blame my distant Swedish family roots for my need to speak out my mind. Miika is running U/G with Elephant Guides. This seems like an interesting idea, and one that I never thought of. I haven’t seen them anywhere in the net, either. Then again, I haven’t seen anyone use Fiends in MBC, even though they work very well in the tougher matchups.

He doesn’t get too many creatures in game one, but sneaks up lots of extra damage with a Guide when I tap out. I kill the guy and the token and even have some time to Tutor up a Visara while he plays new troops. It gets bounced once, I think, but the slow start means I have enough life to get control with her. Game two is rather uneventful as Miika’s draw is even slower and I just set things up. He doesn’t even have an Upheaval to go with all them lands.

3-1, 5-2

Round five vs. Mikko Hakanpää with Opposition

The last time I played Mikko, it was in the finals of some totally random Type 1 tournament in the middle of nowhere. I had a three-color beatdown deck and he had Hurkyl’s combo. For about three hours (no jokes here, kids; gotta love unsanctioned) I kept Blasting some spells and using Gorilla Shaman to kill his mana artifacts, and he kept using Timetwister to start again. At some point, he finally found Abeyance to go off without being interrupted. It was the most boring match I have ever played. This was in 1998, when Finkel had green hair and was considering dyeing it red.

But now is now, and a boring match is exactly what I want. Gone is the innocent child who wanted to win fair. Mikko is oblivious to my wishes and puts up a good fight.

The first game is insanely close, and I manage to pull a comeback at very low life after getting beaten by Wild Mongrel and Roar of the Wurm. Squirrel Nest and Therapy are clearing my hand while the beats are going on. Coffers really helps here, as I get to Tutor for and cast Smother on Roar on five lands. Mikko makes one strange play, saving up four cards in hand instead of dumping a few of them to Mongrel when he knows that he will get Sludged next turn. There is no point throwing all of them away, since then I can do something else – but I would have thrown some. I drop Visara and he draws Phantom Centaur. I have to start hitting him, and a Corrupt means that I can kill him next turn. He beats me to like five and drops a freshly-drawn Bird. I untap, pray, and draw Smother. That was a close one, homies.

Second game sees us trade lots of cards in the beginning. It evolves into a situation where I am tapped out with only a Scrying in hand. He drops Centaur onto an empty board, looks at the Therapy in his graveyard (he knows about the Scrying), and says go, even though I have five cards in grave. I draw an Edict from the Scrying and win with the extra cards.

I am not sure if his decision was right. I did have a Gladiator in the grave, so he cannot just wait. Given his situation, I would have thought for quite a while.

4-1, 7-2

So I escaped from the first-round loss. Only thing standing between me and a good record is…Some kid from the local store.

Round six vs. Joni Ukkola with G/R

Joni has played for quite a while, but I still see him mainly as a local kid. I suppose when you hear someone screaming in an FNM, it takes a while to react seriously to them. I have spent the last few years away from the capital area studying in the small town of Mikkeli, so I have pretty much no clue about who is who in the Finnish semipro scene these days. All I know is that someone called Mr. Mushroom is dominating the scene in the north.

The match begins with a deck check, so we have some time to chat it up. Joni tells me that he was surprised to see me have such a good record. Then he tells me that people had practically been counting me to be out of the tournament after the first-round loss. Thanks for the vote of confidence, punks. There is nothing like talking to the little guys to keep one’s ego in check.

We get our decks back, and I get a caution for registering Diabolic Edicts. Getting rusty in my old age. I am told that some years ago a similar error could have warranted a match loss.

Then it begins, and game one is quite annoying. I have just the kind of draw that usually beats G/R, but Joni has the fix. It seems like he is playing the best card for the situation pretty much every turn. When I stabilize at seven life, he draws two Violent Eruptions in a row. Game two seems him get a considerably slower start. After killing all his guys, I drop Champion and Corrupt him out.

Game three sees me get slow the slow draw…Edict only hits his Basking Rootwalla, and he has lots of small guys to beat me with. On turn 4 I cast Diabolic Tutor, even though he will have enough cards in hand to kill me. I figured the chances of him making a misplay are better than mine drawing a Mutilate of the top. He counts vigorously during his turn, and then announces that he has just enough to kill me with a Reckless Charge. I inform him that I am at negative two. Then it turns out that he was thinking about mulliganing his opening hand, which was Mongrel, Mongrel, Rootwalla, Call, Eruption and two lands. I do my best to listen, but am eventually so disgusted that I just walk away.

4-2, 8-4

I go grab something to eat with Jussi Salovaara and Mike Wall. This causes us to almost miss the draft. Yes, we did indeed have six rounds of Standard and a draft during Saturday. Well anyway the table consists of me, Mike, David Farkas (Hungarian living in Finland who finished second at Nats last year), Jarno Härkönen (played some PTs), and d00ds. I am in seat four, which is typically good for U/R, so I just grab a blue card. I get what I think is a good deck, and looking at the other decks there seems to be no unpassable obstacle on my way to 3-0. I had some nice cards in my deck but as this format is kind of old now, nobody cares.

Round Seven versus Jarno Härkönen with Bu

Jarno has Ascending Aven and Choking Tethers as his splash. I win two rather close games by playing around his two Dirge of Dreads.

As I don’t remember much about the games, I’ll talk about something that me and Jarno like to do. It is called snowwrestling. This includes getting quite drunk and going outside, preferably when it is unearthly cold, and wrestling with nothing but boxers on. Now, this might sound stupid to some of you, but trust me: Snowwrestling is the real thing. Unfortunately I am currently something like 0-3 versus Jarno in this fine sport, but hey, he was the national champion of karate in 97 or something so he’s no slouch.

5-2, 10-4

Round Eight vs. Mike Wall with R/W

Mike beat me at Nationals 2000, and I got my revenge in 2002. In 2001, we were both in the National team, so it is fair to say that we are even. This match will decide who is the mightier mage. Mike is playing R/W goblins with Reckless One and pals. I figure that if I can deal with his two Smiths I am fine. First game is kinda nice, except for the fact that I stall at two lands on turn 5 while he uses two Sparksmiths to kill all my guys. Next game, I use Gempalm Incinerator to kill Sledder (kinda hard to kill Smith with it anyway), so he drops the damn guy. Mike is stalling on three lands, but I play like six Islands and a Mountain and look at my Pinpoint Avalanche while Smith goes to work.

I have honestly never ever been this disgusted, aside from round six. For the rest of this day and tomorrow, Mike keeps reminding me about this loss. That’s what friends are for I suppose.

5-3, 10-6

I realize that if I lose the next match, my record today in played matches will be 4-4. This motivates me to no end.

Round Nine vs. Mikko Kirjokangas with MonoG ( :[ )

This is the guy who took my Rorix in the draft! I understood it at the time, since in pack two it is a relatively good idea to choose a second color, but he just insisted on going all green. Needless to say, the man has basically no deck. Monogreen might also have a few problems with several Riptide Biologists and a Smith.

I naturally win the die roll, get a relatively good draw, and then topdeck the Smith for turn 2. The test of the game feels like poetic justice. Sparkie fails to show up in the next game, but I lock up the ground with Mistform Walls. At one point, he attacks with a Krosan Cloudscraper; I try to look really troubled, checking my morphs and looking at the life totals. After some deliberation, I block with a morph. He is pretty satisfied and says that there will be no effects. I am almost ready to put the morph into graveyard, but then turn the Biologist up.

I am not the nicest.

Some fliers do him in afterwards. Maybe the Cloudscraper would have been more effective if Mikko hadn’t used Vitality Charm on turn 1 to make an insect.

6-3, 12-6

This was quite the long day, and it even seems longer when one has frustrating losses. I don’t live in Helsinki, the town where this tournament is held, so I head out to Jussi Salovaara’s place to sleep. Tuomo Nieminen and Pekka Martikainen come along. Tuomo is 7-1-1 at this point, Jussi 6-3 and Pekka 7-2. I inform Tuomo that I will most likely be making it to the top 8 after 3-0 or 2-0-1 in the draft, and he just laughs at me. We check some coverage of the event from the Finnish Magic site. People in the forums are asking who is doing well, who has a shot, and so on. Failing to find my name anywhere, I go to sleep angry.

I wake up full of determination. I am not going to be losing any matches today. Saying something like this in hindsight seems kind of lame – but hey, it’s my report.

The second draft table has misters Salovaara and Punakallio, so the whole playtest team is present. Mike is also there, as he lost the finals to David. I am once again in seat four and pick a blue card. The rest of the draft goes rather well. Me and Jussi get very strong U/R decks in seats four and six. Mikko is in seat five, so there is lots of cooperation. Jussi does take a few cards from me, though; he twice takes Weaver of Lies over Skirk Marauder, meaning that I have to settle for something normal. Had he taken Marauder, I would have probably gotten the Weaver quite late with no other blue drafters at the table. The pack had good picks for everyone. I am not sure which card is more powerful, but I think that a playtest team should try to maximize the collective power level in their decks.

I talked to Jussi about this afterwards and we concluded that he made a mistake. It seems like I keep pointing out Jussi’s shortcomings in my Nationals reports.

Round ten vs. Mika Nyfors with B/W

Mika has an okay cleric deck. He does not seem very happy about the matchup, and in my experience U/R is the best deck to fight B/W. I lose the first game after stalling some on land and him topdecking a Cabal Archon. The next two games are a lot nicer. At some point, I Clone a Butcher Orgg. In game two or something he attacks with the black Invoker that has Improvised Armor on it, with no lands untapped. He has Battlefield Medic with a cleric, so the guy basically has eight toughness. I start reading my active Magma Sliver and Mistform Wall. What follows is a nice trade and a rather disturbed Mika. It did not affect the outcome, but I had fun nevertheless.

I was going to bash Mika more but he loans me cards on MODO, so I can’t really.

7-3, 14-7

Mike, Jussi and Mikko all won. I hope to get paired vs. Mike since it seems stupid to beat someone in the playtest team. But nope!

Round Eleven vs. Mikko Punakallio with B/W

If B/W soldiers is not an easy matchup with U/R, then I do not know what is. I almost beat him down in the first game with three cards and nine lands. But then the flood just does me in. I draw a Chromeshell Crab, but he gets Aven Warhawk after that. Game two is ridiculous as I get the perfect draw with Skirk Outrider, Snapping Thragg, and removal. The third game involves us continually trading cards before I drop a Butcher Orgg.

8-3, 16-8

Jussi won as well. I figure that I have to play him, but for some reason my tiebreakers just became really good. If I take a draw with Jussi, we will be 8th and 9th unless one match goes in our favor. In that case we will both make it. We figure that there is no reason not to try to mise two people in so a draw is in order.

Round twelve vs. Jussi Salovaara with U/R


8-3-1, 16-8

Tuomas Kotiranta, of Worlds top 8 fame, loses to Jussi Perälä, so only one of us makes it in. Perälä made up for his Constructed blunders by going 6-0 in draft. As they read the top 8 out loud, I am quite excited.

“…And in eighth place, we have…Jussi Salovaara!”


Here are the Standings after the Swiss:

Paavo Sissala, Elves

Tuomo Nieminen, Wake

Jussi Perälä, Reanimator

Arho Toikka, Elves

Seppo Toikka, Tog

Joni Ukkola, GR

David Farkas, BG Braids

Tomi Walamies, MBC

Looks like there is a shot that I’ll be playing two elves in a row. I haven’t tested the matchup at all, but figure that Cabal Therapy will be pretty good: Smother Wirewood Herald end of turn, Tutor for Therapy and name Caller, cast Mutilate. That is a bit slow, but if they keep holding three mana untapped I might have enough time to pull it. As I wonder what to sideboard for the match, I hear that Paavo has been going around telling people that he has a really good matchup. It seems that he has played it on MODO and beaten MBC. Is he just trying to psych me out, or what is going on?

Quarterfinals vs. Paavo Sissala with Elves

Paavo goes first, and that basically means that I cannot Mutilate turn 4. He gets a decent draw with the Herald. I use Corrupt to stay alive a little longer and drop Visara on turn 6. He hits me down to one. I use Visara on the Herald, Therapy for the Caller, and cast Mutilate with only four swamps out. That’s game, boys. He could have dealt exactly enough damage to me by attacking with his Bloodline Shaman the turn before I played Visara.

Game two is rather anticlimactic as I just kill bunch of Elves, attack with Shade, and drop Plague. He doesn’t draw sideboard cards.

9-3-1, 18-8

Arho won against Seppo, so more elves it will be. Tuomo beat David and Jussi beat Joni.

Semifinals vs. Arho Toikka with Elves

Me and Arho go way back…. But is that really interesting? Here I am, playing the semifinals of Nationals, for the third year in a row. What is happening here? Did I suddenly get really good, or have others just stopped testing at all? Let me tell you something about the earlier Nationals, when I didn’t always do so well.

My first Nationals was in 1995. It was also my first tournament. I had started playing Magic in the fall of 1994, and liked the game a lot. Much more than I do now, I might add. Hearing about something called tournaments got me very excited, so I packed up my Royal Assassins, Sorceress Queens, and Nightmares (Yes, I am the rich kid who always had a better computer and skateboard than you did) and went there. I might not have realized that more than eight Swamps were needed in monoblack that ran three Nightmares, but the Mind Twist was still good enough to get me to the top 16 of this fine single-elimination event. My eventual loss was to something called a netdeck, and the person playing it was very proud of his unoriginality and connections. Thus began the long war of me versus the conventional way of living.

I’ll tell about the other Nationals when I run out of topics again, but game one of the semis is actually quite interesting. Arho has Herald, so he tries to keep three mana up all the time with his land-light draw. I am counting how much to cast the Scrying for, what to Corrupt and so on. Both of us take long time during their turns, as neither of us wants to screw up the math. In the end, Arho takes a calculated risk that I don’t have a Smother for Birchlore Rangers and a Mutilate, and I don’t. I think Arho made the right call, as he cannot keep waiting versus MBC.

The next two games show my ability to drop a turn 3 Plague while having only two in the board. I suppose when you do something for a living, you get pretty good at it.

10-3-1, 20-9

Twenty wins and nine losses might be one of the worst game records that will get one to the finals. I suppose when you get a bye, don’t sweep much, and finish eighth after the Swiss, you don’t end up with the mightiest record. Tuomo beat a bad matchup in the semis against Jussi’s animator, so I will be playing Wake now. Now you might think that Wake is a bad matchup… But according to common knowledge, MBC only has one good matchup, U/G. And even that is bad after sideboarding. So I suppose it doesn’t matter what I get paired against.

Finals vs. Tuomo Nieminen with Wake

He goes”Krosan Verge, Compulsion” but my draw is also pretty good with two Gladiators. One attacks while I cycle the other one. At one point, Tuomo Cunning Wishes for Reclamation and stops the Gladiator recursion. I hit him low while he has Mirari-Wish recursion, but am never really in the game. Blah.

At this point, Arho has already won the match versus Jussi, so the Nationals team is three old-school guys. When I started to get better in the game, I practiced with Arho. At some point, we noticed that the newcomer Tuomo was quite good so we recruited him. Kind of like a class meeting after all those years. I am quite happy about this, and am not terribly interested in the outcome of my own match.

As an aside, isn’t it incredibly idiotic that the finals match is irrelevant (shut up, you people who actually have prizes at Nationals) while the 3rd/4th playoff is quite important? It just seems dumb.

Someone in the background is explaining to his girlfriend the mechanics of this matchup. He comes to the conclusion that I can only win with Shade. Just to spite him, I get a double-Fiend draw in the next game. I resolve an okay Echoes and cast Scrying for four. I Duress away some cards, too, and when I cast Tutor with infinite mana on the table Tuomo scoops it up.

I keep Swamp, Coffers in the last game and mise more Swamps. I fail to get the fifth one, but operate quite nicely anyway. Shade and multiple Fiends go at it while Tuomo has trouble finding any kind of defense with his Compulsion. He counters an Echoes and I have the Champion in hand. On his turn, he draws into a Wrath of God and passes with Forest and Island untapped. I drop the Champion…and that’s it!

11-3-1, 22-10

Third time in a row. The victory does not feel as good as the last two ones, but still I enjoy shaking quite a few hands. The situation feels a bit surreal, and suddenly I get a flashback: I remember watching the finals of Nationals in 1995. The guy who beat me with the netdeck is playing it out versus some godawful Shivan Dragon special. He is losing anyway, as a sideboard with loads of Glooms and Flashfires is quite good against white weenie. I look at the winner’s expression, and wonder what he feels like. Would it be like the best thing ever, or more like a nice warm feeling in the stomach? I would like to be a National champion myself. Maybe someday I will.

Back to the reality. It is time to go celebrate the victory and buy a round for the less fortunate. After some intoxication, I go home and finally sleep well.

Not much to add anymore. You might have noticed that I did some practice for the team draft portion of Worlds with Jens and Anton in Amsterdam… But this report is already too long for me to add a third tournament to it. Hope you liked the feature match I wrote after drinking a few beers and being forcibly recruited. I was surprised that it didn’t get edited. I don’t feel like props and slops either, so I’ll just tell you to keep fighting for the everlasting peace.

See you guys in London.

Tomi Walamies