Pro Tour Valencia finals

Given how well Andre Mueller did in prior matches with his Enduring Ideal deck, this could have been a lame final. Remi Fortier did very, very well however, winning the match despite the fact that Mueller was able to play his combo in all five games (!). Overall, the best match of the top eight.
You can expect to find downloadable video of all these matches on the Wizards site in the near future. More on the match in the extended.

Andre Mueller leads into game one with two suspended Lotus Blooms on turn one. He seems to be getting that draw an awful lot in this top eight. Fortier comes back with a teeny little Tarmogoyf. Mueller hits burning wish for Cranial Extraction (possibly to clear out either Venser or Counterspell). Fortier has a Top and no third land, which isn’t going to help when both Blooms go off. Instead of threatening a Counterspell, Fortier goes for a second Tarmogoyf. On Mueller’s turn, Fortier Stifles one of the two Blooms. Unfortunately for Fortier, one Bloom was enough, and Enduring Ideal resolves. I’m guessing Mueller went for Solitary Confinement first, and now his second enchantment is Form of the Dragon. Fortier has a Venser in hand, but that’s not enough at this point. Fortier wanted a takeback after bouncing Form, but it wouldn’t help him if he’d hit Confinement instead, as either one prevents the Goyfs from attacking. BDM thinks Fortier would have had to be a little more patient, and wait for two Vensers — before Mueller managed to get out yet another Form of the Dragon. Regardless, Fortier has yet to concede. He may be hoping Mueller goes for Dovescape. Instead, Mueller goes for a second Form of the Dragon, and Fortier concedes. One for Mueller.
Fortier opens game two with Dark Confidant, followed by Counterbalance.
BDM: “How many sevens is he playing in his deck?”
The answer is, of course, none, but he might be able to Counterbalance away a Seething Song or a Bloom. A Tarmogoyf joins Confidant on the board.
BDM: “A slow start for Andre.”
Randy: “He has two lands.”
BDM: “That looks a lot better with two suspended Lotus Blooms.”
Randy: “It really does.”
Goyf and Confidant push Mueller to 13; Fortier has already bled himself to 12 via Confidant and lands. Now Mueller has Counterbalance-Top and Confidant-Top ready to go. Mueller draws Boseiju — but, of course, that comes into play tapped. Remi hits with Tarmogoyf and Confidant, pulling Mueller down to 7, but now Mueller can potentially go for it. He sacrifices all his lands, uses Boseiju, and plays Enduring Ideal…which Fortier Vensers back, taking the game (Venser isn’t countering anything). One all.
Game three starts with a single Lotus Bloom suspended for Andre, and a Top. Trinket Mage brings in Top for Fortier.
Randy: “I don’t understand why he doesn’t have Chalice of the Void here. You just have one in your deck.”
BDM: “I think it’s mostly just there to get Top.”
Randy: “Which is fine.”
But it would be handy having Chalice for zero at this point. The Trinket Mage hits, and Fortier brings Counterbalance online, going down to one land with a Lotus Bloom about to resolve…but if Fortier can place a land on top of his deck, then he can counter the Bloom on the way in with Counterbalance. He doesn’t draw into spell-spell-spell, places a land on top, and counters the Lotus. Regardless, Mueller can sac his lands, play a Seething Song, and play Ideal. Fortier had a Counterspell in hand but tapped out for the Counterbalance instead to take out the Lotus. Instead, he’s stuck with a Form of the Dragon in play, countering that turn’s activation of Enduring Ideal. Mueller tops to keep from drawing his enchantments, which is handy (since he can no longer play them).
Randy: “Was Fortier supposed to play the Counterbalance there?”
BDM: “Andre did a good job of not blinking.”
Randy: “Remi can’t read him. Seems like only Sam Stein can read him.”
(Randy’s referring here to Sam Stein hitting Cabal Therapy for Solitary Confinement in the one game he won against Mueller.)
Fortier pays life for a land, lowering his clock by a turn. It’s unclear if he has a winning plan at this point.
…and he doesn’t. Fortier concedes.
BDM: “Remi wanted to fight, but he’s shown that he’s not willing to fight past common sense.”
Randy thinks Fortier’s play was fine, even though it didn’t work out.
BDM: “He knows about the Lotus Bloom. He doesn’t know about the other cards.”
The head judge appears to be doing a quick deckcheck on Mueller’s deck.
Randy: “Andre Mueller looks very calm, comfortable, confident.”
BDM: “When he’s talking. That might be his tell.”
Randy: “Has Fortier even spoken in the top eight?”
BDM: “Not except to describe game state.”
Randy: “He’s probably thinking about homework he has due for school.”
Andre Mueller is 27, and Remi Fortier is 16.
Going into game three, Fortier’s hand is not very exciting. Once again, Mueller has a great draw, with a Seething Song and Ideal both in hand. Fortier leads with a Tarmogoyf. He pulls out a Counterbalance to follow Goyf, which gives him some options in stopping Seething Song. Tarmogoyf hits for one. Mueller goes for Burning Wish, and Counterbalance turns up Venser, which doesn’t stop it. The Wish grabs Cranial Extraction. Fortier plays Thirst for Knowledge, then hits with a mid-sized Goyf. Fortier now has both a Counterspell and a Venser in hand. Fortier lets an Orim’s Chant resolve, which opens up the turn for Mueller to try for the Ideal. He starts with Seething Song. Fortier cracks a fetchland just for the shuffle, then hopes to flip up something with the appropriate CMC (3).
It’s a land, and Seething Song resolves, letting Enduring Ideal go off. The first card is Solitary Confinement, shutting down the Tarmogoyf for now. Fortier Counters the next Epic spell copy. Fortier Vensers the Confinement at the end of Mueller’s turn, bouncing it into Mueller’s hand (from where it can’t be cast again). He equips Jitte to the Tarmogoyf, and then Goyf and Venser attack, hitting for 5, pulling Mueller down to 6 and gaining Jitte counters. On Mueller’s next turn, Fortier stifles the epic effect, Mueller is done for the turn, and Mueller wins in the face of overwhelming force on the next turn.
Fortier fought through the combo to get his attacks in. Nice. Two all.
You can hear lots of cheers from the audience area (near the booth) when Remi does something impressive like this. I think people just dislike combo decks.
I have to agree with Randy that Remi looks a little “frayed around the edges” at this point. As BDM says, Mueller doesn’t end up playing lots of turns in his games, but Fortier’s deck involves playing tons of things — there’s no “one big spell” or “one big turn.”
Game five sees no Lotus Bloom for Mueller, and first-turn Confidant for Fortier, leading to an audible cheer from the audience. Fortier takes 3, but picks up Trinket Mage, letting him grab Top (to set up those Confidant draws).
Randy: “Fortier has a little more pep in his step.”
BDM: “He seems more rested now.”
Mueller lays down Boseiju.
Fortier turns up a Chrome Mox, and has Counterspell in hand, although Boseiju can stop that. Tarmogoyf and Top both come down.
Mueller lays a land. Remi tops at the end of his turn, and Mueller takes the chance to crack a Fetchland. Fortier’s hand is actually shaking a little bit as he looks at some very good cards on top of his deck.
Fortier takes Mueller down to nine. Mueller goes for an Ideal, and Fortier Vensers it back, taking the match.
This is only the second match Mueller’s lost this entire weekend, and he even had the combo in all five games in this match — but Fortier was able to Venser Ideal twice and power through the combo in place once.
Randy: “So what do you think of this Extended? The dust has settled, and Counter-Top-Goyf-stuff is the best deck in the format? Maybe?”
Randy: “If you’re going to grab a deck off the shelf untested, grab Enduring Ideal.”
BDM: “I don’t know if I’d grab Ideal off the shelf…”
Randy: “I wouldn’t do that with Remi’s deck!”
The consensus is that the German build, as played by Mueller, was the best build. I was very impressed by Remi’s play in dealing with such a resilient Enduring Ideal build.