Battle of the Sets VII - Round of 32 Division III and IV
By Legend on November 7th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
(8) Mirage d. (1) Tempest, 3-1]
Don't have a clue what this is? Then read this. Already well-versed in the ways of the BOTS? Then read on and I'll get right to the action!
DIVISION 3 - Round of 32 Match Reports
HUGE UPSET ALERT!!! HUGE UPSET ALERT!!!
Already lower seeds have fared better than they ever have in this tournament. Now an eighth seed has made some noise of its own.
In only the second ever eight-versus-one upset (the first was Nemesis over Apocalypse back in BOTS IV), Mirage stunned former champion Tempest - but there was nothing fluky about this one. This match came down to Tempest’s inability to deal with Mirage’s ample direct damage capabilities. In particular, Hammer of Bogardan was the thorn in Tempest’s side. Tempest’s past success has been predicated on its ability to shut down creature decks. Unfortunately for Tempest, Mirage is a burn deck first, creature deck second.
Mirage was well-situated to bounce Tempest because of the ability to rapidly ramp up it mana and thus outrun any possibility of a Capsize lock. The mana acceleration of Wall of Roots, Rampant Growth, and Fire Diamond also created another problem for Tempest - it led to early Wildfire Emissaries and Volcanic Dragons, meaning Tempest was forced several times to waste precious Counterspells or Dismisses on a creature before the Prayer/Humility lock was in place. In a matchup where its countermagic is Tempest’s only answer to burn (barring a late-game Capsize lock), this unfortunate but necessary waste of resources proved disastrous.
As for the possibility of a Capsize lock, this just never materialized except in game four (in which Tempest sustained nineteen points of damage) because Tempest was not given enough time to get the large quantity of mana, coupled with multiple Sapphire Medallions, that it needs to return two permanents per turn to Mirage’s hand. Mirage kept winning with burn, particularly recurred Hammers of Bogardan, before Tempest could gain control.
Mirage pulls the monumental upset and advances to face ….
(5) Ravnica d. (4) Arabian Nights, 3-0
This was supposed to be one of the closer matches of round one. Due to the shocking brutality and aggression of newcomer Ravnica, the anticipated showdown never materialized. Instead, Arabian Nights was left a shattered wreck sucking its thumb in a corner, quietly mumbling to itself. The best chance for Arabian to make it a match came in the second game when Ravnica fell to 1 from an early onslaught but stabilized and turned the game around from there. The other two games saw Arabian constantly off balance and playing from behind. Arabian, swept out of the last tournament by Judgment, has suffered two consecutive non-competitive first round exits.
Ravnica comes flying out of the gates and makes an immediate impression!
(2) Apocalypse d. (7) Planeshift, 3-0
Apocalypse peeled hapless Planeshift apart like a fresh orange. Apocalypse continues on in the quest for its first championship since it won the inaugural BOTS tournament.
(3) Odyssey d. (6) Legions, 3-2
Make it three consecutive five-game victories in three consecutive tournaments for Odyssey over Legions! Odyssey did it the last two times with a Psychatog deck, and gets the job done once again with a new Blue/Green aggro deck.
Legions must be sick of Odyssey, sick enough to vomit all over grandpa's new golf shirt - with this match, the two have now met a record-tying four times. The only matchup that has been waged as frequently is Tempest/Mercadian Masqes. At least in that matchup, the two have split the four encounters. On the other hand, Legions is 0 for 4 against Odyssey. Maddeningly, in the last three meetings, Legions has fallen one game short each time (the first time they met, in BOTS III, Odyssey won 3-1, the only time the series did not go the full five games). Somehow Odyssey finds a way to win a close match each time, and each time Legions goes home to barf in disgust after its latest near-miss.
This time, after a see-saw battle in which Odyssey trailed 0-1, then led 2-1, Wild Mongrel and company finally shook off a game Legions squad with a commanding game five performance. Odyssey started off with a Nimble Mongoose and Wild Mongrel on the first two turns, while Legions opened with Warbreak Trumpeter and Skirk Drill Sergeant. Odyssey Careful Studied Roar of the Wurm and Aether Burst into the graveyard then added another Nimble Mongoose. Surprisingly, Legions had no turn three play, and when Odyssey played a turn four Roar of the Wurm, Legions was on the defensive. Clickslither came down for Legions, but the Wurm token was allowed through for the first damage of the game. Legions played a Goblin Goon, but it couldn’t block due to the creature parity on the board, and the Wurm token hit once more when Clickslither declined the block.
Nevertheless, Legions appeared to turn the momentum when it added a second Goblin Goon and used Gempalm Incinerator to fry the Wild Mongrel. But Odyssey was ready with an Aether Burst to foil Legions’s four creature attack, returning the Goblin Goon and Clickslither to Legions’s hand. That was enough for Odyssey to earn the concession, although Odyssey also could have closed the deal with Upheaval + Nimble Mongoose the following turn anyway.
Odyssey advances on to the second round for a showdown with Apocalypse!
DIVISION 4 - Round of 32 Match Reports
(1) Torment d. (8) Prophecy, 3-0
A rematch of the first round last time ends in the exact same way: a bone-crunching sweep.
(5) Judgment d. (4) Mercadian Masques, 3-2
Masques was able to take the second and fourth games thanks to Rishadan Port, but when Judgment had the mana it needed, the games were not particularly close, due in large part to Battle Screech, which completely negated Masques’s normally effective Thermal and Nightwind Gliders. Glory also contributed in a major way, powering unblockable alpha strikes, while Ray of Revelation kept Story Circle and Cho-Manno’s Blessing from factoring into the final outcome. Masques was also plagued by random annoying problems, such as the fact that Reverent Mantra naming White (all of Judgment’s creatures are White) is not particularly effective defensive tactic due to all of Masques’s creatures being white. Masques’s only hope was to shut Judgment down with Rishadan Port long enough for a few Rebels to capitalize on the mana-screw. This in fact happened - but only twice, obviously not enough to win the match.
The deciding game turned into a disaster for Masques after a promising start. Judgment opened with Spurnmage Advocate and Phantom Nomad, while Masques countered with Ramosian Sergeant, Ramosian Lieutenant, and Steadfast Guard. Masques did have a Rishadan Port, and for a few turns, it seemed that Judgment would be stymied once more by the irritating land. With two Plains and two Forests in play, Judgment was kept from casting Battle Screech for a turn due to the Plains being tapped down. However, before Masques could really build an advantage, Judgment topdecked a third Plains and unleashed four Battle Screech Bird tokens. Masques drew a second Rishadan Port one turn later, but the horse was already out of the barn. Judgment soon pulled ahead in the damage race, obliging Judgment to stop the Porting to play a Story Circle. Judgment had a Ray of Revelation for the Circle, though, and took advantage of the opening to uncork another Battle Screech, bringing the Bird count to eight.
In a finale that Alfred Hitchcock certainly could have appreciated, Masques conceded in the face of the overwhelming Bird swarm.
(2) Onslaught d. (7) Ice Age, 3-0
This same battle was waged in the first round of the previous BOTS tournament, with Onslaught emerging victorious in five games. This time, however, Onslaught didn’t even break a sweat in bouncing Ice Age. Incredibly, Ice Age remains winless in seven tournaments, having lost in the first round every single time. This match came down to Ice Age’s inability to deal with Lightning Rift and Astral Slide. So long as Onslaught held back enough mana to recover after Jokulhaups, Ice Age had no chance.
(3) Fifth Dawn d. (6) Saviors of Kamigawa, 3-1
Saviors made a decent showing in its debut, but never had a chance due to the board-sweeping power of Engineered Explosives. If that wasn’t bad enough, the sheer absurdity of turn three Bringers of the Blue Dawn and Bringers of the Green Dawn compounded the problems for an effective, but nonetheless fairly ordinary white weenie deck. The only extraordinary feature of Saviors is Charge Across the Araba, which can kill an opponent who seems safe at a high life total. Sadly for Saviors, the appropriate situation for a Charge Across the Araba kill arose only in game four. The sweep was averted, but Fifth Dawn advanced with little trouble nonetheless thanks to a fine game four performance.
That does it for the round of 32! Let's take a look at how things might play out in the round of 16:
ROUND OF 16 PREVIEW
The Round of 32 featured victories by six lower seeds - an 8 seed, a 7 seed, a 6 seed, and three 5 seeds. Among the victims of this lower seed success was Tempest, which suffered its first ever first-round exit at the hands of Mirage. Elsewhere, though, other members of the BOTS elite went about their business and chopped opponents into firewood. The two finalists from last time, champion Antiquities and runner-up Torment, posted easy 3-1 and 3-0 victories, respectively. Heavyweights Mirrodin, Darksteel, Apocalypse, and Onslaught also advanced, with Darksteel the only one among them that encountered difficulty (sliding by Alliances 3-2). However, as we turn our attention to the Round of 16, three dangerous contenders lurk in the shadows: Champions of Kamigawa, Odyssey, and newcomer Ravnica.
Let’s take a look at the matchups for the Round of 16:
(1) Mirrodin vs. (4) Urza’s Saga
Urza’s Saga has no defense of note with which to stop Mirrodin’s blazing attack and would do well to steal a game. Even Smokestack will probably be too slow to accomplish that feat against a Mirrodin assault that routinely wins in five turns. Indication that Saga is overmatched: Time Spiral probably helps Mirrodin more than Saga.
(2) Darksteel vs. (6) Invasion
An infant would have a better chance of winning a national spelling bee than Invasion does of beating Darksteel. The only surprise this match can possibly offer is if Darksteel doesn’t sweep. Invasion has no threat that Darksteel needs to worry about, and the modular machine will face no obstacles in building up its death industry in just a few short turns.
D-1 SUMMARY: Start looking forward to the highly anticipated showdown for the D-1 crown - Mirrodin vs. Darksteel.
(1) Antiquities vs. (5) Scourge
Here’s a match with a bit more intrigue than one might expect. Yes, Antiquities is the defending champion. And yes, including the present BOTS tournament, Antiquities has lost only one match over the course of the past four tournaments, winning two championships in the process. But there is some history here - and the revenge angle. Back in BOTS IV, Scourge held a 2-0 lead over Antiquities in their quarterfinal match. Then, like a dormant volcano, the artifact death machine erupted for three straight wins and the stunning comeback. Scourge was left shaken and awed, and could only wonder what might have been. Having narrowly escaped the cold clutches of elimination, Antiquities went on to capture its first championship with wins over Darksteel and Onslaught. Now, armed with the knowledge that it came within a game of bouncing Antiquities last time the two met, Scourge is out for revenge.
(3) Champions of Kamigawa vs. (7) Urza’s Legacy
Champions would like nothing more than the opportunity to dethrone Antiquities. It’s up to the artifact deck to make one half of that matchup possible, but Champions should be able to handle its business against an overmatched Legacy deck. Legacy has just four Miscalculations with which to combat the Hana Kami/Ethereal Haze lock (and the assortment of other tricks Champions can pull off), and those Miscalculations will be rendered mostly meaningless by Champions’s ability to build up its mana quickly. Legacy’s only hope is a fast creature rush; but Legacy is not capable of very early kills and thus will most likely fail in this strategy as well.
D-2 SUMMARY: All signs point to an Antiquities/Champions rumble for the division title unless Scourge can throw an unlikely monkey wrench into those plans. If Scourge can stun Antiquities, then the division title will belong to Champions, because Antiquities is the only opponent in this division that can handle Champions.
(5) Ravnica vs. (8) Mirage
We’ve got a broken half of the D-3 bracket here, folks! This meeting of two victorious lower seeds pits Ravnica, seeded a conservative 5th in its BOTS debut, against Mirage, which shocked Tempest in only the second ever eight versus one upset. Ravnica looked better than even its most ardent supporters could have hoped for in its 3-0 dismantling of Arabian Nights. Ravnica features an extremely efficient plan of attack which includes several fabulous, undercosted creatures, including Watchwolf, Loxodon Hierarch, and the awesome Hunted Dragon. The newcomer also has the burn to finish off a staggering opponent. Mirage will be no pushover though. The red/green deck has a load of burn plus the global creature sweeping power of Savage Twister. On top of that, Mirage can finish with solid creatures of its own. What does this all add up to? A fun match that should go the distance.
(2) Apocalypse vs. (3) Odyssey
The other side of the D-3 bracket offers another tight match between two powerhouses that have never met before. Three cards will be key for Apocalypse: Pernicious Deed, Phyrexian Arena, and Spectral Lynx. Deed provides Apocalypse with an answer to Odyssey’s horde of efficient creatures, Arena can ensure that Apocalypse keep its advantage after stopping the initial rush, and Lynx offers generally excellent defense against an all-green opposing attack (although Wild Mongrel can change colors, which is an issue if Apocalypse does not have regeneration mana up). On the other side, the key cards for Odyssey are Standstill and Upheaval. If Odyssey can back up its early creatures with Standstill, then Odyssey has a strong chance of keeping up or even pulling head of Apocalypse in the card battle. Standstill dropped onto a board favoring Odyssey means that Apocalypse will at least have to pay a price for using Deed or other removal - a price that Odyssey needs to make Apocalypse pay. Upheaval is the second key card because it can steal victory for Odyssey even after Apocalypse has turned the game in its favor. So long as Odyssey has an Upheaval and a creature to drop after floating mana, imminent defeat can be turned into almost certain victory. Look for a close match that comes right down to the wire.
D-3 SUMMARY: Division Three is the only division in which all four remaining decks all have a legitimate chance of advancing. Any combination of matchups involving these four competitors is a possibility for the division finals because both Round of 16 matches could very well end up as five gamers. If one had to pick favorites, Ravnica and Apocalypse would be slight favorites to advance, but not by much. Mirage and Odyssey will present tough challenges and should not be taken lightly.
(1) Torment vs. (5) Judgment
After advancing all the way to the quarterfinals last time out, Judgment has established itself as a force to be reckoned with. However, Torment measures success on a different scale and won’t be impressed. The mono-Black menace hungers for a return to the finals, where it thirsts for its second championship as well as possible revenge against Antiquities. It would take a stunning collapse for Torment to fall short against Judgment with so much on the line. Judgment’s best chance will be to survive the early game and get to a position in which it can ride Glory to victory. Torment stands an excellent chance of preventing that from happening, though, thanks to its stifling arsenal of creature control.
(2) Onslaught vs. (3) Fifth Dawn
This match is a toss-up and looks like a five-gamer. Fifth Dawn is well-equipped to battle Onslaught. The five-color deck has the ability to power out turn three Bringers then back that up with Engineered Explosives to take care of annoying Astral Slides. Lightning Rift is far less of a problem for Fifth Dawn than most other decks due to the size of its main threats. Rift serves two purposes for Onslaught: creature control and victory condition. Against Fifth Dawn, only the latter purpose will be served by Rift. Astral Slide is the more important of the two powerful Onslaught enchantments, because it can fend off Fifth Dawn’s big boys and also allow Onslaught to sneak a fourth turn face-up Exalted Angel into play with Slide plus a one-mana cycler. Fortunately for Fifth Dawn, it can handle Slide using Explosives. But there is one major problem that Fifth Dawn cannot handle which could ultimately decide the match: Exalted Angel. As there are only five colors in the game, Fifth Dawn is not able to remove six casting cost permanents using Explosives; hence Fifth Dawn will not be able to remove Exalted Angel so long as Onslaught plays its Angels face-up (either hardcast for the full six mana or using Astral Slide to turn a face-down Angel into a face-up Angel). Exalted Angel will be the key to the match - if Onslaught can deploy an Angel before Fifth Dawn can mount an overwhelming assault, Fifth Dawn will be toast. Rounding out Onslaught’s bag of tricks are its two mid to late-game mass removal spells - Akroma’s Vengeance and Starstorm, which will provide much needed panic buttons should the Fifth Dawn creature situation get out of hand.
D-4 SUMMARY: Torment should advance fairly easily over Judgment, but who its opponent will be is harder to tell. Either way, though, Torment is a strong bet to win another division title because it already has wins against both Onslaught and Fifth Dawn under its belt.
Come back on Friday to find out how the Round of 16 went!
By Legend on November 7th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now