Round 7: Ben Stark vs. Daniel Flood|
In one corner, you have Dan Flood, who last finished 19th at Grand Prix: Minneapolis back in 1840, when the only thing most people tapped was moonshine. This was his first big Constructed event in a while, and he's definitely sitting pretty at five and one. In the other corner, you have the man who told me, "I want you to cover my match - you're my favorite Feature Match writer!": The incomparable Ben Stark. I couldn't tell if he was serious or not, given that the last time I covered him back in New Orleans, he got his butt handed to him on a silver platter. Regardless, with such praise, how could I turn him down?
His B/R Form of the Dragon deck had been doing well throughout the first six rounds of Swiss. Ben's blue-sleeved red deck faced off against Dan's white sleeved white/red deck, in a not-quite-classic struggle between"don't burn me now" versus"I'll try to burn you later."
Meanwhile, Dan struggled mightily to get an over twenty-one wristband off his arm, popping it free with an audible snap as the game began.
"We're both having fun," droned Stark.
"We sure are," deadpanned Dan. "It doesn't get any better than this."
Finally, Dan got down a Lightning Rift, and chipped away at Stark's life total with Starstorm. Meanwhile, Ben's hand contained Form of the Dragon, triple-Cruel Revival, Gempalm Incinerator. When Flood tapped out to cycle several soldiers into play with Decree of Justice, Stark simply tapped five mana and Revivaled one of the small dudes, netting him back his Abomination.
Then Dan tapped all his lands and sent Akroma, Angel of Wrath screaming into the red zone. With Ben's B/R deck unable to deal with the 6/6 protection from red-and-black flyer, he quickly conceded, hoping for a better game two.
Daniel Flood 1 - Ben Stark 0
Between games, Ben took out nearly a quarter of his deck, trading all his cheap cycling cards for other, more gameworthy, cards. Meanwhile, Dan made a three-card swap to the sideboard, carefully counting his cards to fifteen before shuffling up for the next game. One more card made the trade from outsville to maindeck, and then the two players were off to the races.
"That's probably a good plan," Flood replied, smirking. "But maybe you're trying to trick me."
Ben's hand once again contained many expensive spells and cyclers, while Dan played an early Silver Knight to start the beatdown. A sacrificed Bloodstained Mire plus the Knight quickly reduced Stark to fifteen, but a fifth-turn Cruel Revival stopped the bleeding and paved the way for the return of the Abomination. The zombie hit play the following turn, but Flood calmly cycled away Decree of Justice for three, thanks to the mana acceleration he received from a newly played Temple of the False God.
Dan thought he was hot stuff by dropping a single Serra Angel with a six-mana Decree... But Ben showed him who was the true Dante by amplifying Kilnmouth Dragon with Rorix Bladewing the following turn. His 8/8 flyer and 5/3 regenerator ate up an angel and soldier token on the attack, and a second Kilnmouth came on board yet again as an 8/8. Akroma's Vengeance sent all the dragons home to the graveyard, but the Abomination was wisely regenerated. Rorix and the Zombie entered the red zone, but Akroma once again came out the following turn and swung the game back into Dan's favor.
With only one turn left to live, Ben Stark knocked on his deck, yelled "Come on, deck! Give it to me!" and drew...
With the life totals at eleven to six in Flood's favor, Ben entered the red zone, did his last five damage, and then extended his hand.
"That's a completely bizarre deck," quipped Dan. "No wonder you got a Feature Match."
"I died; he had Akroma," Stark explained to a passing friend, as he scooped up his cards.
Daniel Flood 2 - Ben Stark 0
Given how badly Ben Stark loses whenever I cover his matches, I have to wonder how much longer I'll be his favorite writer.
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on Jul 14, 2003: