Posted in NEWS on May 10, 2014

By Tobi Henke

With both a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour Top 8 to his name, Alessandro Portaro is no stranger to being watched closely. This time he was being watched while drafting. Going into the second draft of the day the Italian found himself in ninth place with a record of 10-2. He likely needed at least two more wins to turn this performance into yet another Top 8 appearance, however, and the first step on that journey was to ace his draft.

It all began with a Journey into Nyx pack in which the top five cards likely were: Riddle of Lightning, Spawn of Thraxes, Sigiled Skink, Starfall, and Sigiled Starfish. Portaro decided to let others fight over the red and picked the Starfish. The next booster brought a few options to venture into another color with Quarry Colossus and Forgeborn Oreads, but Portaro was happy to pick up another Sigiled Starfish.

Alessandro Portaro

Next came Daring Thief and it looked as if Portaro could feel quite comfortable in blue. Unfortunately, there was no blue for his next two picks. First, he chose Ravenous Leucrocota rather than Nyx Infusion, then Spirespine over Stormchaser Chimera and Humbler of Mortals.

Hubris and Satyr Grovedancer followed, and then came a late Pharika's Chosen which Portaro passed further along in favor of Nature's Panoply. Green-blue had been fine so far and one black card could not deter him. The rest of Journey into Nyx gave him Colossal Heroics (over Aspect of Gorgon), Font of Fertility, Humbler of Mortals (over Squelching Leeches), Thoughtrender Lamia, another Humbler of Mortals, and a last-pick Reviving Melody.

Born of the Gods started strong for him, with Sudden Storm, Fated Intervention, another Sudden Storm, and Nyxborn Triton among his first five picks (with one Stratus Walk in between). Then came a little lull where the best card in either green or blue was Snake of the Golden Grove, though the two colors recovered well afterward, giving Portaro Chorus of the Tides, Swordwise Centaur, Mortal's Resolve, Deepwater Hypnotist, and Aspect of Hydra.

His first pick in Theros was Voyaging Satyr over Nessian Courser and Triton Fortune Hunter, followed by Nessian Asp over Griptide. However, then green and blue just stopped. His third pick was Baleful Eidolon, his fourth Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Artisan's Sorrow was taken over Returned Phalanx sixth, Sedge Scorpion over both Sip of Hemlock and Read the Bones seventh. Blue-green had seemed to be the correct choice at the time, but now Portaro probably wished he had gone into black instead of green.

It wasn't all bad, though. The rest of the third round of boosters gave him Horizon Chimera, Traveler's Amulet, Feral Invocation, and Opaline Unicorn, amongst rejects like Guardians of Meletis and Defend the Hearth.

Portaro ended up not splashing black and had a solid if somewhat unspectacular blue-green deck. Would it be enough to make it to the Top 8 ...?