“I don't mind either way. I'm just happy to be here,” said Lukas Bühlbecker, who was playing in his first big tournament this weekend and had already secured several hundred Euros in MKM credit with his Top 4 finish.

What got Bühlbecker so far was a red-green Primeval Titan/Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deck with Through the Breach instead of the more common Scapeshift. To get any farther, he now needed to overcome Affinity player Jonas Nieke.

Jonas Nieke versus Lukas Bühlbecker

Nieke was quite a bit more experienced, had for instance finished 13-2 at Grand Prix Barcelona last year. Also, he was playing Affinity, the deck which had won three of the last four Modern events at the MKM Series …

Game 1

Nieke had earned the right to play first and made good use of it too. Turn one he cast Springleaf Drum, Ornithopter, and Vault Skirge, turn two he followed it up with Master of Etherium, and turn three came another Vault Skirge plus Cranial Plating.

Jonas Nieke

Bühlbecker meanwhile had only suspended a Search for Tomorrow and summoned a valuable but short-lived blocker in Sakura-Tribe Elder. Still he went to 2 life on Nieke's third turn. On his own, he had five mana available; he looked at his hand, did some calculations, then picked up his cards. “Too bad. That's not enough.”

While sideboarding he muttered, “That Plating thwarted all of my plans.”

“It is a good card,” Nieke acknowledged.

Game 2

This time Bühlbecker went first. Technically, that is. First to the fray was once again Nieke, who summoned a pair of Memnites and, thanks to Mox Opal, Steel Overseer, all on the very first turn.

Things still looked fine for Bühlbecker. His Ancient Grudge took care of the Overseer and also dealt with Nieke's second main threat of Arcbound Ravager. Over the next couple of turns Bühlbecker just took a little damage from Memnites and was poisoned a little by an Inkmoth Nexus duo.

Lukas Bühlbecker

The first game had ended before Bühlbecker was able to cast any of his business spells; now he lost Primeval Titan to Thoughtseize and already had no business spells left! He searched up and played a bunch of lands, and a couple more lands, and so on.

It was Nieke who drew the next high-impact card in Master of Etherium. “Good topdeck,” said an empty-handed Bühlbecker. Nieke did the math and concluded, “Only Scapeshift can save you now.”

“If only I played that card …” Bühlbecker replied. He drew another nothing and conceded, then showed Nieke what he actually had in his deck. Nieke really hadn't seen a lot of it during these games …