Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth 2013

Variation is the spice of life, and we were treated to a veritable spice rack all weekend long. Esper Control transitioned into Azorius Control. Monowhite Aggro featuring Boros Charm became Monowhite Aggro featuring Orzhov Charm. And most notably, Monoblack Devotion took a back seat in the Top 8 for Orzhov Control. Orzhov Control was seen cracking the Top 16 at Vienna last week, and it managed to not only crack the Top 8, but take down the whole shebang here in frosty Fort Worth.

Hailing from Mexico City, Marlon Gutierrez did not have an easy road to becoming the champion here at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. In addition to a twelve hour trek through the ice and freezing rain, Gutierrez found himself facing three of the toughest opponents in Magic in his Top 8 matches. He began by dispatching Seth Manfield's Azorius Control deck in the quarterfinals. He followed that up with back-to-back matches against Hall of Famers, first top-ranked Ben Stark and his Monowhite Aggro deck, then William Jensen and his Azorius Control deck. The finals were a very tight affair, but Gutierrez's Thoughtseizes came at the right times and hit the right targets to swing things in his favor.

This weekend was a coming out party in many senses of the phrase. From Last Breath enabling Azorius Control's rise, to the strong performances of the Orzhov variant of Monowhite Aggro, it was fitting that one of the two Mexican players in the Top 8 broke through to take the title. The timing couldn't have been better, either, with Grand Prix Mexico City, Gutierrez's hometown, on the horizon. Here in February, Gutierrez will have a chance to repeat his title in his hometown, and, if he plays like he did this weekend, he will stand a great chance of doing just that.

Congratulations to Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez, Champion of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth!

Top 8 Bracket

Quaterfinals

(1) Haibing Hu

(8) Carlos Reyes

(4) Darin Minard

(5) William Jensen

(2) Eric Centauri

(7) Ben Stark

(3) Seth Manfield

(6) Marlon Gutierrez

Semi-finals

Carlos Reyes, 2-1

William Jensen, 2-0

(1) Ben Stark, 2-0

Marlon Gutierrez, 2-1

Finals

William Jensen, 2-0

Marlon Gutierrez, 2-0

Champion

Marlon Gutierrez, 2-1



 

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EVENT COVERAGE

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth
     
  • by Nate Price
    Final
    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. William “Huey” Jensen (Azorius Control)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    Marlon Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Quarterfinals
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Darin Minard (Mostly Red Boros Burn)
  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinals Round-up
    Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion) vs. Haibing Hu (Monoblack Devotion)

    Seth Manfield (Azorius Control) vs. Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Quarterfinals
    Eric Centauri (Azorius Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)
  • by Nate Price
    Top 8 Profiles
     
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 8 Decklists
     
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 16 Decklists
     
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION

1. Marlon Gutierrez $4,000
2. William Jensen $2,700
3. Carlos Reyes $1,500
4. Ben Stark $1,500
5. Haibing Hu $1,000
6. Eric Centauri $1,000
7. Seth Manfield $1,000
8. Darin Minard $1,000

pairings, results, standings

Pairings

15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Results

15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Standings

15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 16 Decklists

by Mike Rosenberg
 

Amir Salamat's Mono-Black Devotion

Josh Utter-Leyton's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro

Charles Lancaster's Azorius Devotion

Artur Villela's Mono-Blue Devotion

Orrin Beasley's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro

Jonathan Slaughter's Mono-Blue Devotion

David Gomez's Mono-Blue Devotion

Top 8 Decklists

by Mike Rosenberg
 

Haibing Hu's Mono-Black Devotion

Eric Centauri's Azorius Control

Seth Manfield's Azorius Control

Darin Minard's Mostly Red Boros Burn

William Jensen – Azorius Control

Marlon Gutierrez's Orzhov Control

Ben Stark's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro

Carlos Becerrea Reyes – Mostly Red Gruul Devotion

Top 8 Player profiles

 
 

William Jensen

Age: 31
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: Gamer

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Hall of Fame 2013

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Blue/White Control because Andrew Cuneo built it, and I like to play control decks.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
Being elected to the Hall of Fame.

 

Benjamin Stark

Age: 30
Hometown: Tamarc, FL
Occupation: None

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
13 GP Top 8s, Hall of Fame, 4 PT Top 8s, Won PT Paris and GP Indy

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
White Weenie. It's favored against Monoblue and Monoblack Devotion.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
The Hall of Fame ceremony in Dublin. I got inducted with two good friends, Huey and LSV, and my girlfriend Michelle, sister, mom, and dad were there.

 

Darin Minard

Age: 24
Hometown: Oklahoma City
Occupation: IT Tech

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 8 Grand Prix Houston

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Burn. I've been doing well with it. People don't usually know how to play against it.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
Spending 10 hours in a car stuck in snowy weather.

 

Seth Manfield

Age: 22
Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD
Occupation: Job Hunting/Magic Player

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Winner GP Daytona Beach and GP Kansas City, Top 8 GP Daytona, Top 16 Worlds 09

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
UW Control. I felt like it was the deck that gave me the most room to maximize play skill. Plus Last Breath makes the deck a lot better.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
My GP win at Kansas City.

 

Haibing Hu

Age: 32
Hometown: Houston
Occupation: Engineer this year, hopefully traveling magician next year

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 3 US Nationals

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Monoblack Devotion. I have no idea why, but it seemed good.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
Hopefully not the drive home.

 

Carlos Becerra Reyes

Age: 23
Hometown: Queretaro, Mexico
Occupation: Physiotherapist

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
My 2nd Grand Prix, finished 61st in the first, made Top 8 here in the second.

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Monored Devotion splashing Domri Rade. Domri beat a lot of decks, and it does the same things as the Chained to the Rocks version.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
Coming to Dallas with my friends, driving 16 hours from Mexico, and having the best weekend of my life!

 

Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

Age: 30
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation: Masters Student/Professor

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 64 GP Guadalajara, Top 100 PT Barcelona, Top 8 Nationals 2008

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Orzhov Control. I chose it because I'm in love with Vizkopa and Pack Rat. 14 removal spells and 6 discard spells are a perfect mix for this Grand Prix.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
This Top 8. I know that in Mexico, all of the people are raising their hands for the Big Genkidama.

 

Eric Orion Centauri

Age: 31
Hometown: Mountain Home, Idaho
Occupation: Professor of Astrophysics at University of Tulsa

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Utah State Champion 2005, Oklahoma State Champion 2013, 7th in the world in the old Arena rankings from 1998, Top 32 GP Dallas 2012

What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Azorius Control. These cards are all insane, and it's what I had in foil.

What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
Waking up every morning next to my wife.

Quarterfinals: Eric Centauri (Azorius Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

 

Eric Centauri has had a great run this weekend with Azorius Control, the powerful Sphinx's Revelation control deck that trades the power of Esper's cards for consistency in its mana.

His opponent, however was No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark, a newly minted Hall of Fame member. He is playing the White Weenie variant that touches into black that he and his Team ChannelFireball compatriots brought to combat the field this weekend.

The Games

The match began with a plethora of mulligans, with Stark going to six and Centauri going for a devastating four cards. Stark had a speedy start with Soldier of the Pantheon and Daring Skyjek, while Centauri's first play was Last Breath, which exiled Stark's Mutavault when it was animated on the third turn.

However, recovering from a mulligan to four for a mana-hungry control deck is difficult, and for Centauri, it proved to be insurmountable when he had no Supreme Verdict when Stark flooded the battlefield after his attacks on the third and fourth turn.

In the second game, Stark led with Dryad Militant, which was hit with Azorius Charm on the next turn. Stark replaced the temporarily disposed one mana creature with Daring Skyjek, and then the Hall of Famer pulled the trigger on Thoughtseize the next turn, revealing three lands (including a Mutavault), Azorius Charm, and Jace, Architect of Thought on the next turn. He discarded the Azorius Charm, then attacked for 3 before casting Soldier of the Pantheon.

Wary of a Spear of Heliod (which Stark had waiting in hand), Centauri passed the turn with four open rather than playing Jace, only to see Xathrid Necromancer resolve from Stark on the next turn. "That was pretty good there," Centauri said, taking 3 from Stark's creatures after Celestial Flare bought Centauri some life. The sacrificed Soldier of the Pantheon, which was sacrificed to Celestial Flare, was replaced with a zombie token, and Stark passed back. Centauri again passed with five open, and was helpless to Stark's Spear of Heliod on the next turn.

A misstep of allowing the Spear of Heliod to resolve before having responses left Centauri unable to deal with the Xathrid Necromancer while he had a chance to before it became three power. The Last Breath that Centauri drew now no longer had a god target. The mistake cost Centauri the chance to come back, as Stark's creatures pummeled in and left him without options during his next turn.

Centauri 0 – Stark 2

Quarterfinals Roundup

by Nate Price
 

Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion) vs. Haibing Hu (Monoblack Devotion)

Early plays from both players, with Reyes filling his board with Ash Zealot, Boros Reckoner, and Burning-Tree Emissary alongside Domri Rade. Hu, meanwhile, filled his board with an infestation of Rats, adding two Pack Rats and a load of tokens to the table. Reyes managed to slowly drive them away thanks to his first-strike creatures and some timely fights from Domri. Eventually, after whittling away Hu's hand, Reyes cleared the remainders away with an overloaded Mizzium Mortars. They had dealt a massive blow, however, halving Reyes's life total.

From here, Hu went big with his threats, taking to the skies with a pair of Desecration Demons. These Demons were kept at bay initially through some timely sacrifices, but they soon broke through. A Gray Merchant of Asphodel dropped Reyes to four life, clearing the way for one attack from a lone Demon to finish things off.


Haibing Hu

Game 2 opened as a game of point-counterpoint, as Reyes played creatures only to have them destroyed by Hu. This trend ended abruptly when Reyes resolved a Xenagos, the Reveler, on his fourth turn, spewing out the first in a string of hasty Satyrs. This stream of creatures proved to be quite a problem for Hu, who was lacking a Hero's Downfall to deal with the Planeswalker. He tried to set up the beginnings of a token army of his own with a Pack Rat, but it didn't even get to activate once before Hu conceded to the hole he was in. Xenagos, three Satyrs, two Boros Reckoners, and an Ash Zealot were a significant upgrade over the lone Rat.


Carlos Becerra Reyes

A first-turn Thoughtseize remedied the problem of the third game, stripping a Xenagos, the Reveler, from Reyes's hand. This was an easy way to get rid of Xenagos before he became a problem, and the Planeswalker met his demise while he was nothing more than a glimmer in Reyes's eye. Hu was also able to slow Reyes down with some early removal, including a Doom Blade and Devour Flesh for his first two creatures. Unfortunately for Hu, an early stumble on mana prevented him from taking care of the next two, and Reyes's Boros Reckoner and Stormbreath Dragon did work, dropping Hu to 11. A Hero's Downfall managed to stem the tide slightly, removing the Dragon, but a second Boros Reckoner threatened to end the game in short order. Even a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, though it padded Hu's life total a bit, couldn't play successful defense against the pair of Reckoners. A Purphoros, God of the Forge, on the following turn sealed the deal for Reyes, giving him the match.

Seth Manfield (Azorius Control) vs. Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control)

Gutierrez mentioned in his player profile how good he thought his massive number of discard spells were in this event, and the first game of this match was the perfect indicator of why. A Duress and a pair of Thoughtseizes ravaged Manfield's hand, leaving him with just an Essence Scatter and two Revelations in his hand. Still, when a flurry of discard still leaves a Revelation in hand, the cards lost become moot. Manfield simply used his remaining copies of Revelation to dig through his deck. This eventually found him a Supreme Verdict to clear away the Baron, though it had dealt him quite a bit of damage, dropping him all the way to nine life. A follow-up Desecration Demon was also locked in a Detention Sphere, providing yet a bit more protection for the imperiled Manfield.


Seth Manfield

A Sin Collector revealed a three-card hand of two Dissolves and Last Breath, effectively stripping two cards from Manfield in exchange for its life. Gutierrez pressed his advantage, running Manfield out of cards, but a massive Sphinx's Revelation from the top of his deck completely swung the game in his favor. The Jace, Architect of Thought, continued the trend, netting him yet another Revelation. By this point, Gutierrez was drawing off the top of his deck, and Manfield was chock full of cards. One Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and Ætherling later, and Gutierrez conceded.

Though his draw contained less hand destruction than the previous one, Gutierrez was still able to mess with Manfield's hand early in the second game, aiming a Thoughtseize at a hand containing Last breath, Dissolve, Jace, Revelation, and three lands. The permission spell went to the graveyard, signaling that Gutierrez had something important that he wanted to resolve. That something looked to be a Desecration Demon, incredibly powerful against this creatureless Azorius Control deck. The Demon began his work, first removing Jace from play, then starting in at Manfield's life. A second Thoughtseize stripped Manfield of his Sphinx's Revelation, leaving him with a hand filled with lands.

Jace, Architect of Thought
Sphinx's Revelation

Looking bad, Manfield ripped a Celestial Flare from the top of his deck, giving him a great answer to the rampaging Demon. Before passing the turn to Gutierrez, Manfield resolved a Jace, Architect of Thought, and drew himself a couple of cards. Unfortunately for him, he revealed another Celestial Flare on the Jace activation, meaning that, whether he took the pile containing it or not, the jig was up. After a minute of thought, Gutierrez gave him a split that offered Celestial Flare and Ætherling, which he gladly took. This was even better for him when Gutierrez aimed a Thoughtseize his way, revealing to the Mexican player that Manfield had a backup copy of the Flare. This prompted Gutierrez to part ways with his Demon, taking the Ætherling and allowing Manfield to Flare the Demon away. In its place, Gutierrez summoned a Pack Rat, which Manfield had no immediate answer to.

Fortunately for him, his deck was kind, providing a Detention Sphere. Interestingly, Manfield chose to instead sequester the Underworld Connections on Gutierrez's Swamp, valuing the denial of cards over the immediate threat of the Pack Rat. Between the Flare in hand and the Jace in play, he was temporarily safe from the Rat, knowing that he would be able to find time to dig for a Supreme Verdict. This is exactly what happened, as Gutierrez opted against the attack, in favor of recruiting a Blood Baron of Vizkopa to his team. When Jace revealed a Supreme Verdict on the following turn, it was very quickly put in its own pile, and just as quickly snapped up by Manfield. With a freshly cleared board, Manfield looked to be taking control.

That illusion of control was quickly shattered. Gutierrez put Manfield to some difficult decisions. A Pack Rat forced Manfield to eventually throw his Jace away looking for cards. Later, he was forced to make a difficult decision on Pithing Needle opting to lock out Mutavault, as opposed to the Pack Rat. When a Desecration Demon came down soon thereafter (off of the top of the deck), Manfield was bitten by his own Needle, unable to activate his own Mutavault to defend for a turn. This rapid shift in fortunes sent Manfield reaching for his sideboard for the final game.


Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

The final game came down to a few interesting turns. Gutierrez opened with a fairly aggressive draw, leading with Pack Rat, Sin Collector, and Lifebane Zombie. The Sin Collector was countered with Dissolve, but the other cards began to make work of Manfield, who was sitting on a pair of Elspeth, Sun's Champions, in his hand. He was also sitting on a Sphinx's Revelation, but the turn before he would likely cast it, it was stripped by a Duress. Since Manfield was going to be looking for a Supreme Verdict anyway, he chose not to cast the Revelation, allowing it to be stripped from his hand. Elspeth came down to provide a frontline of defense, but the Lifebane Zombie's intimidate meant that a constant stream of damage was still going to be headed at Manfield. Even with three Soldier tokens preventing the bulk of Gutierrez's damage, the Lifebane Zombies did their job, skirting past Manfield's defenses, eventually dealing the killing blow.

Quarterfinals: William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Darin Minard (Mostly Red Boros Burn)

by Mike Rosenberg
 

William Jensen has done it again. Just last week, he was able to secure another Grand Prix Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Toronto. This week, he finds himself in the same position, this time piloting Azorius Control against Darin Minard's Burn deck. Who will advance to the Semifinals? Find out below!

Semifinals: William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion)

by Mike Rosenberg
 

William Jensen has earned himself back-to-back Grand Prix Top 4 finishes this weekend, and the Hall of Famer stands poised to be in a great spot to win with Azorius Contro. His opponent, Carlos Becerra Reyes of Queretaro, Mexico, looked to stop that run and improve on what has already been an impeccable performance for his second ever Grand Prix.

Would rookie Reyes keep the dream alive of winning the second Grand Prix he's ever played at, or would Jensen secure himself a chance at winning his second Grand Prix trophy of the year? Find out below!

Semifinals: Marlon Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

by Mike Rosenberg
 

Marlon Gutierrez has had an incredible run this weekend. Not only has the masters student and professor from Mexico City locked up an invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Journey into Nyx later next year, but he has also been crushing his competition all weekend with Orzhov Control, a deck that has access to four Blood Barons of Vizkopa. And the Blood Barons have been serving him well all weekend, with his deck of choice appearing to be very well positioned for this event.

Needless to say, the Blood Barons were going to make No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark's journey into the finals a very steep uphill battle. His White Weenie deck, which delves into black for Orzhov, has no way to interact with the five mana creature, and Gutierrez's combination of cheap discard spells and removal. Would the Hall of Famer be able to push through with a quick win before Gutierrez's deck was completely online?

The Games

Gutierrez led with a first-turn Thoughtseize, disposing Stark of Xathrid Necromancer and leaving him with Imposing Sovereign, Boros Elite, Godless Shrine, and three Plains. Stark led with his one mana creature, and then added the Sovereign to his board on the next turn, unable to attack with Boros Elite due to Gutierrez's untapped Mutavault.


Marlon Gutierrez

Gutierrez had a creature for the board with Pack Rat on the third turn. It came in tapped, and Stark's creatures attacked in, another Boros Elite joined his team post combat. Gutierrez had no fourth land, but he passed with his Pack Rat untapped. Stark sent his team in, dropping Gutierrez to 9 but losing Imposing Sovereign in the process.

While Gutierrez couldn't find land but was content with the situation given that his Pack Rat was providing him with options, Stark was unable to find spells and was drowning in lands. Slowly, his board was whittled away, the Hall of Famer losing creatures to Gutierrez's removal spells, while Gutierrez made sure to keep at least one Pack Rat available to continue clogging the board. Eventually, Gutierrez added a real copy of Pack Rat to join his board of Pack Rat tokens.

Eventually, Gutierrez reached five mana, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa was more than enough to earn the concession from Stark.

Gutierrez again led with Thoughtseize in the second game, seeing a hand of Banisher Preist, Orzhov Charm, Precinct Captain, Dark Betrayal, and two Mutavaults. He chose to discard Stark's Dark Betrayal, leaving Stark to cast Daring Skyjek from off the top on the next turn. Devour Flesh immediately disposed of the 3/1 creature, and Stark replaced it with Precinct Captain on the next turn.


No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark
Mutavault

Stark had no proactive action on the third turn, and passed back to Gutierrez, who also had no plays. Stark beat down with Mutavault. He found Xathrid Necromancer on the next turn, and he added it to his board. Pharika's Cure quickly shot down the powerful human wizard, and Gutierrez followed up with Desecration Demon, which was promptly exiled by Stark's Banisher Priest. Attacks from the zombie and the Mutavault put Gutierrez down to 12. Stark did not hesitate to send in his team, and when Gutierrez had Doom Blade for the Banisher Priest, Orzhov Charm destroyed the Desecration Demon when it came back into play.

Before blocks, Gutierrez woke up his Mutavault, then blocked Stark's own copy of the land. Devour Flesh caused Stark to sacrifice his blocked Mutavault, and Gutierrez dropped to 8. However, the newcomer stabilized when Hero's Downfall and a blocking Mutavault left the Hall of Famer without creatures.

When Gutierrez had Pack Rat as his final follow-up, the writing was on the wall. The rats quickly multiplied, and Stark's draw steps did not yield and way out. He offered the handshake a few turns later.

Gutierrez 2 – Stark 0

Final: Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. William “Huey” Jensen (Azorius Control)

by Nate Price
 

Things prog