The first playoff round is upon us, where another two teams will be going home, while the other two will make it to the live finals in Texas, where the Team Archon house is located. And with The Grand Tournament being legal for use, would a Patron counter finally come to the table?
Despite Druid picking up quite a few great cards in the new expansion, an opening match of Druid from Xixo and Patron Warrior from Hyped ended up looking like every pre-TGT, down to the part where Patron won. Hyped, however, would redeem himself after getting the first ATLC win post-expansion with Enemy Number One, and finish his day early by snagging a win with a few Grand Tournament cards in Tempo Storm’s variant of Druid. Zalae picked up the first win for Team Archon following that with, you guessed it, Patron Warrior. Which means, after three games, we get to hopefully see a bunch of new cards and no more Patron. For this match, at least.
Perhaps one of the most TGT influenced decks surfaced in the hands of Eloise, whose hyper aggressive Zoo deck running Wrathguard and Lance Carrier unfortunately fell prey to Firebat’s vanilla oil Rogue deck. A rematch came following immediately, with Eloise putting forth a losing effort with Paladin, while Firebat’s freeze Mage, becoming the gold standard for him, secured the win and the lead for Archon. Next it was Gaara’s turn to show us something new, with the internet-popularized Dragon Priest deck coming to battle against Zalae’s handlock. Sadly for Gaara, the matchup proved to be wholly unwinnable, despite possibly the most powerful draw his deck could muster, but his revenge would be swift and a solid win on midrange Hunter, including the new Bear Trap, over Xixo’s Druid would unbench Eloise and give Tempo Storm some breathing room.
Fresh off the aforementioned unbenching, Eloise’s aggro Zoo deck came up next against easily the most creative deck from TGT, Xixo’s Secret Paladin. Using Mysterious Challenger and an entire suite of the previously unplayable 1-mana Paladin secrets, the deck aims to drop the Challenger on turn 6 and flood the board with secrets that you’re unable to play around. But Xixo’s draws proved to be incredibly awkward, and seeing five secrets over the course of the game that were not a direct result of playing Mysterious Challenger was enough to allow Eloise the easy win. Xixo avoided benching, though, as a strong combo win from Team Archon’s Druid deck gave Gaara’s Dragon Priest its second loss of the tournament, and put Archon on match point.
But Xixo’s day was not about to get better, and the secret Paladin deck, despite doing so well on ladder, floundered repeatedly under the pressure. Gaara’s Dragon Priest secured its first win, which doesn’t exactly vindicate the list but had to relieve some pressure from Gaara’s shoulders, while Eloise brought a pseudo mirror in the Paladin matchup, but relying on cards like Murloc Knight and Justicar Trueheart for the midrange win. It proved to be the more successful strategy, and Murloc Knight perhaps proved its power level, as Eloise picked up the win and sent Team Archon to the loser’s bracket.
Tempo Storm wins 6-5
Forsenboys vs Nihilum
The winner of the second match of the day would play Tempo Storm in a finals match to advance, and Ostkaka kicked things off impressively with a few lucky RNG rolls with his Shaman list, ending the game in quick fashion to get Forsenboys on the board. RDU decided to jump on the Shaman bandwagon next, pushing a turn 5 win through against Forsen, evening the series. And in a standard psychological profiling, Chakki’s aggro Paladin deck was able to come up with the win against Lifecoach’s more controlling Paladin deck to give Forsenboys the lead again.
Thijs regained parity for the match against Forsen next, beating freeze Mage with the newish post-TGT Druid deck, which would be the theme for the entire match. Forsen took a game over fellow captain Lifecoach next, while Lifecoach again retained balance getting a well fought victory against Chakki. A tense Warrior mirror, though one Patron and one Control, resulted in Lifecoach’s control Warrior making Nihilum the first team to win two games in a row this match, but an early defensive wall from Ostkaka’s Patron prevented RDU’s aggressive Hunter deck from giving Nihilum a third consecutive victory, but RDU got style points with me for the 3 minute Unleash the Hounds/Knife Juggler/Grim Patron trigger sequence at the end.
Forsen’s Warlock gave RDU’s Hunter a second loss in a row, putting RDU on the bench for match point. However, Thijs’s Mage came to the rescue, scoring a victory over Chakki’s Hunter with the help of 14 points of healing from Alexstrasza. Nihilum secured the series in a Hunter mirror between RDU and Chakki, with RDU’s aggression beating out Chakki’s midgame strategy.
Nihilum wins 6-5
Winner’s Finals – Tempo Storm vs Nihilum
The two winners from the previous day’s games face off first on the second day, with the winner booking their ticket to Texas. The important thing to note is that no team was allowed to change their deck for the entire phase. Eloise struck first, her midrange Paladin getting a win in a terrible matchup against freeze Mage due to Thijs’s run of horrible draws, and the flurry of blows from Tempo Storm, and the Random Number Generator, would be the source of Nihilum’s nightmares. Hyped’s Patron Warrior took an easy victory from RDU’s Hunter, and then another from Lifecoach’s Paladin, as he retired to the sidelines for the rest of the day.
Gaara’s Hunter put Tempo Storm up four games next, while Thijs was able to finally steal a win for Nihilum with a victory over Eloise. Gaara’s Dragon Priest was able to secure a win over Lifecoach’s control Warrior to draw things to match point, and Eloise’s Warlock deck gave Lifecoach another black eye, sending Tempo Storm to the LAN finals without much of a fight.
Tempo Storm wins 6-1
Loser’s Match – Team Archon vs Forsenboys
Archon and Forsenboys both come into the match with their entire tournament life on the line. A loss here sends you home, and both teams were well aware of this fact as they fought a tough match. Xixo’s Druid, with Darnassus Aspirant fueling the comeback of Chillwind Yeti, squeaked past Forsen’s freeze Mage, and Zalae’s Zoo Warlock deck allowed Archon to jump off to a strong two game lead. However, Chakki took things into his own hands, evening the series with two wins from Paladin and Hunter, before becoming a spectator for Forsenboys.
Forsen’s freeze Mage again took a loss, this time to Firebat’s Rogue, before managing to scrape together a win against Zalae’s Patron Warrior. Ostkaka’s Patron Warrior continued Xixo’s woes with his secret-based Paladin deck, while a quick run-back rematch gave Xixo’s Paladin its first win against Ostkaka’s Shaman. Determined for revenge, the Forsenboy’s Shaman deck took down Firebat’s freeze Mage, while Firebat bounced back on match point to even the series at five against Forsen’s Zoo Warlock. Zalae’s Patron was the only deck left for Archon, but a series of clunky draws against Forsen’s strong mid-game vaulted Forsenboys into the last match for the final spot in Texas.
Forsenboys wins 6-5
Loser’s Finals – Nihilum vs Forsenboys
Forsenboys were able to jump off to a strong start in the final match of the week, leading off with a win from Ostkaka’s Patron deck. Sadly for Forsenboys, the wheels would come entirely off for a solid five games straight, as Lifecoach’s Paladin, RDU’s Hunter, and Lifecoach’s Warrior took three quick wins for Nihilum. With Lifecoach benched, Thijs’s Mage was next up for Nihilum and despite a strong draw from Ostkaka, two Antique Healbots would be more than enough for Thijs to take the win.
Forsen’s Warlock would be the fifth loss for Forsenboys, with Thijs ending his day with the victory for his Druid deck. RDU’s Shaman provided the first stumble for Nihilum since the opening game, losing to Forsen’s freeze Mage. Another loss to Chakki’s Paladin added to RDU’s pressure, but a victory in the Shaman mirror against Ostakaka gave Nihilum the victory, and the second ticket to Texas.
Nihilum wins 6-3
We’re off next week, but the live finals start on the 11th of September at 5:00 GMT. With two more weeks to tinker with The Grand Tournament’s infusion of cards, no one would want to miss the almost assuredly exciting action that will take place in Texas.