Going into the ninth and final round with 18 points, a 6-2 record, is always a little nerve-wracking. Today, a win secures your place into Day Two, and keeps the dream of a Top 8 alive. A loss, however, ensures that your time in the main event is at an end.
A few notable 18 point matches are taking place in the final round of Day One. Who would be moving on, and who would be getting the sleep-in special that they did not sign up for?
Table 48: Marc Lalague (Black Devotion) vs. Ryan Leeper (Black Devotion)
The Black Devotion mirror match pitted two-time Grand Prix Champion Marc Lalague, coming off of a recent victory in Mexico City, against Ryan Leeper.
However, a third Grand Prix title was not in Lalague's future, as Leeper dispatched his opponent in the Black Devotion mirror match 2-1.
Table 60: Seth Manfield (Esper Control) vs. Joshua Piper (Junk)
Seth Manfield has had a hot year, with a Grand Prix victory in Kansas City last July, a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Toronto last year, and a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth a week after that, Manfield is in a good position to lock up gold and hopefully platinum for the following season. This is all on top of his 2013 Magic Online Championship appearance last week. However, his tournament life was on the line, as he faced off against Joshus Piper's Junk deck with his Standard mainstay, Esper Control.
However, Manfield's experience served him well with the archetype, and he was able to overcome his opponent with a 2-0 victory.
Table 62: Joey Keep (Naya Midrange) vs. David Ochoa (B/r Devotion)
Platinum pro David Ochoa is looking to make up for a relatively unexciting first half of the season, and each solid Grand Prix finish will aid him in his pursuit of platinum for yet another year. His opponent, Joey Keep, was looking to add another early exit to Ochoa's rough season.
However, Ochoa's Black/red-splash Devotion was able to defeat Keep and his Naya Midrange deck 2-1 in the final round, giving Ochoa another shot at adding a solid Grand Prix finish to his year.
Table 90: Chris Corrente (Mono-Red Aggro) vs. Josh Utter-Leyton (B/u Devotion)
No. 10 Ranked Player Josh Utter-Leyton has a unique take on Black Devotion this weekend, with Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver making an appearance over Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Like his friend and teammate David Ochoa, Utter-Leyton has also had a relatively uneventful first-half of the 2013-2014 season, and a solid Grand Prix finish here in Phoenix would be warmly welcomed.
Unfortunately for Utter-Leyton, that finish would elude him this weekend, as Corrente defeated Utter-Leyton 2-1 in their final round match.
Table 109: Marlon Avila Gutierrez (B/r Devotion) vs. Alexander Lapping (Esper Control)
Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013 Champion Marlon Avila Gutierrez was one of the few players who made the trek up to Phoenix from Mexico. As the first Mexican national to win a United States Grand Prix, Gutierrez sought to take another trophy back to Mexico City with him. However, he found himself needing a win in the final round with his Black Devotion deck (splashing a touch of red) against Alexander Lapping's Esper Control in the final round.
However, his deck did not disappoint, and Gutierrez was able to advance with a 2-0 victory.
Table 111: Vlad Parascheiv (Black Devotion) vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Esper Control)
Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa was looking for a third Grand Prix Top 8 to add to his season's big finishes. The Brazilian pro had a lot of work to do to reach platinum status for the year, or to catch up with current point leader Willy Edel for South America's spot in the World Championship.
Unfortunately for him, this weekend would not be one of those finishes he was looking for. His Esper Deck succumbed to Vlad Paracheiv's Black Devotion deck, who dispatched the Hall of Famer 2-1 in the final round.