After six rounds of Vintage, only eight players remained in the running for the fame and the fortune. In this quarterfinal, a truly international affair, Arjen Ruiterkamp from the Netherlands faced off against Jaroslava Stefankova from the Czech Republic.
Stefankova had brought a blue-red tempo deck with Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer as well as a small splash of white. Ruiterkamp was playing a white Eldrazi deck, harnessing the power of Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin, and Ancient Tomb. It wasn't clear who would need to be the aggressor in this matchup. Funnily enough, the correct answer may be: both.
The match began with mulligans on both sides. Ruiterkamp's six cards didn't include a land and he went to five: Eldrazi Temple, Cavern of Souls, Eldrazi Displacer, Chalice of the Void, and Thorn of Amethyst. Meanwhile, Stefankova's six-card hand was almost perfect, with Volcanic Island, Ancestral Recall, Gitaxian Probe, and Force of Will.
Chalice of the Void met Force of Will, Eldrazi Displacer fell victim to Path to Exile, lots of cards were drawn, and Stefankova's Jace, Vryn's Prodigy turned into Jace, Telepath Unbound. Things really didn't go well for Ruiterkamp.
But when he was able to first summon Eldrazi Mimic, then Reality Smasher, the tide seemed to turn, even more so when Stefankova cast Force of Will. Ruiterkamp had announced tapping Cavern of Souls for white mana. Stefankova hung her head. “That's just …” she said. “That's just me being too tired.”
The Eldrazi took down Stefankova's planeswalker. She managed to kill Reality Smasher with Lightning Bolt plus Sudden Shock, but lost most of the cards in her hand in the process. She was eventually able to deploy Delver of Secrets as well as Young Pyromancer. Unfortuantely, the stream of card draw spells she had enjoyed earlier broke off before long, whereas Ruiterkamp found a number of threats which simply outclassed Stefankova's smaller creatures. The Eldrazi took the game.
In the second game, both players had an early threat: Stefankova's Delver of Secrets was already attacking for 3 on turn two when Ruiterkamp cast Eldrazi Mimic. The Mimic was joined by Reality Smasher on turn three and Thought-Knot Seer on turn four.
When he declared his attack, Stefankova paused for a moment, then extended her hand in concession. Her friends made a joke about the unfair powerlevel of the Eldrazi deck. “I agree,” she laughed, but wished Ruiterkamp good luck anyway.
Then she adressed me. “Will you write down how I messed up?” she asked and made a face. Well I already did and said so, but offered the consolation that the misplay might not have changed the outcome of the game at all. “It might have,” she insisted, then added on second thoughts, “Well, at least if he had only drawn blanks for the rest of the game. But still.”