In the early morning hours on Saturday, it finally came to the battle to end all battles. After six rounds plus quarter- and semifinals, the original field of 34 players had been whittled down to just two players fighting for the trophy and the title, for the prizes and the increasingly important leaderboard points.

Specifically, Julian Knab had entered the tournament tied for third place in the ranking and was looking to improve on that. With a total of 14 points awarded to the winner here, Knab could even leapfrog the current frontrunner Johannes Gutbrod by two points exactly, although Gutbrod was sure to add some points to his total this weekend as well.

Knab's opponent Tom De Decker, meanwhile, was looking to add a second trophy to his collection, after winning the Vintage main event at the last stop of the MKM Series in Prague seven weeks ago. Back then he had played Paradoxical Outcome/Monastery Mentor. Monastery Mentor was restricted in the meantime, but he had no problem to adapt, of course: De Decker was the master of decks after all. In fact, De Decker had put two of his decks into the final of this tournament. In addition to the Paradoxical Storm he was using, Knab's Mishra's Workshop deck was a loan from De Decker as well.

Julian Knab and Tom De Decker

“It's funny,” said Knab. “We're sharing a hotel room too, and last night Tom coached me on how to sideboard against Paradoxical Storm. The last time I played Vintage was about two years ago, so I wasn't really up-to-date. For example, I didn't know that Grafdigger's Cage was a good idea to bring in to fight Tinker/Snapcaster Mage/Yawgmoth's Will.”

Game 1

Knab, on the play, opened on a pair of Moxen, Sphere of Resistance, Tolarian Academy, and Arcbound Ravager. The Sphere was met with heavy resistance in the form of Force of Will, but that cost De Decker another blue card …

“Well, I have to keep a hand with fast mana against you,” De Decker announced before playing a land, a Mox, another Mox, and a third one …

“Oh god, Paradoxical Outcome?” Knab pleaded for De Decker not to have it. And indeed, De Decker didn't. In fact, he had a lot of mana but no business spells at all. He never drew any either, and Knab quickly took the lead.

Game 2

Now De Decker got to play first. He had Mountain, Mox Jet, Sensei's Divining Top, and Voltaic Key on turn one, and used the latter two to generate a little card advantage on his next. He also, again, had a Force of Will for Knab's Sphere of Resistance, although that wasn't all Knab cast on his first turn.

In fact, Knab began his second turn with Mishra's Workshop, Foundry Inspector, and Mox Pearl already on the battlefield, and ended it with 12 power on the board thanks to Precursor Golem.

De Decker fought back with Abrade, but Knab just redoupled with Mishra's Factory, Lodestone Golem, Steel Overseer, and Arcbound Ravager. After that, he sat there empty-handed but poised to take the game and match on his very next attack. “I was basically just worried that Tom might draw Time Vault to go along with his Voltaic Key at this point,” Knab told me later. “He was in no position to go off.”

This time, Tom De Decker failed as a topdedecker. No Time Vault. No action. Just a sigh, then a smile and a hand extended in concession.

Congratulations to Julian Knab, Vintage champion of MKMS Hamburg 2017![/caption