Before I get to anything else, I have something to admit: Jamie Parke is a fantastic drafter. Every Pro Tour I’ve been to, I’ve seen him sitting around near the end of the day demolishing any comers in a draft. He’s just really good. Good enough, in fact, to have gone 6-0 in the Draft portion here at Worlds. I wrote up a piece at the end of Friday featuring the 6-0 drafters, and somehow Parke slipped through the cracks. Now that I’ve got the chance, and the audience I’m sure this Quarterfinal match is going to get, I want to make sure that he gets his due recognition. Way to go Jamie!
Jamie Parke, playing Five-Color Control with Cruel Ultimatum and Tidings, is the lone American in the Top 8. Against Parke’s Five-Color Control deck, Mutavault would be the name of the first game, and Damo da Rosa got started early, with a copy of the versatile land hitting play on the second turn. Parke got himself started on the following turn. His evoked Mulldrifter went to the bin, but not before drawing him a couple cards. Now that he had those cards in his hand, Damo da Rosa thought it was a good time for a Thoughtseize, knocking a second copy of Mulldrifter from his hand.
“Big Daddy Drifts, eh?” asked Parke.
With the Mulldrifter gone, Parke was left with two copies of Remove Soul, a Cruel Ultimatum, and a Jund Charm. The early Mutavault proved his value as a resilient attacker, dropping Parke down and reverting to his difficult to kill land form at end of turn. Both players were content to play draw go for a little bit, Parke sitting back on his two Remove Souls, and Damo da Rosa waiting for a good chance to draw them out. His Mutavault was held back to save it from Jund Charm, which left the game a big staring match. During Damo da Rosa’s end step one turn, Parke tried for an Esper Charm to draw two cards. In response, Damo da Rosa activated his two Mutavaults and played a Spellstutter Sprite to counter it. When Parke went for the Remove Soul, which caught another Sprite. Parke untapped and took his turn. He took advantage of the lull in the action, and Damo da Rosa’s smaller hand, to drop a Mulldrifter into play, this time permanently. Unfortunately, since he had only one land available, Parke had no answer for the Sower of Temptation that came down to take the Drifter. Now, the Faeries had control of the skies, and the pair of Sprites pricked Parke down to 16.
Parke, now with a full hand, went to clear the board with a Wrath of God. Damo da Rosa looked concerned for a second before simply passing the Mulldrifter back to Parke and sliding his own creatures into the graveyard. With the path clear, and a third Mutavault in play, Damo da Rosa sent his other two Mutavaults in to drop Parke to 12. He had three mana left available and four cards in hand as he passed the turn to Parke. The Mutavaults were so good in this situation, as they allowed him to accumulate cards while still maintaining pressure on Parke. In addition, the multiple copies he possessed gave him a good redundancy against the Jund Charm he knew was in Parke’s hand. Parke tried for a Rhox War Monk, but Damo da Rosa was ready to Remove its Soul.
“Remove Soul .... The miser’s Remove Soul,” said Parke, in reference to the fact that Damo da Rosa was only playing a singleton. Out of options, and needing to leave mana up for Jund Charm, Parke passed the turn. Damo da Rosa, knowing that the Charm was a possibility, scaled his attack back to a single Mutavault. It crashed over, dropping Parke to single digits for the first time in the match.
At this point, Damo da Rosa had a hand of six cards and a great deal of mana available, thanks to his multi-Mutavault draw. Parke was tried to even up the hand count with Mulldrifter, which would also provide him a blocker for one of the Mutavaults. Damo da Rosa thought for a few minutes before deciding to Cryptic Command the card-drawing Elemental, but Parke really wanted those cards and forced it through with a Negate. His hand back to six cards and his blocker in place, Parke passed the turn.
With the Mulldrifter now in place, Damo da Rosa chose to hold his Mutavaults back. He just drew his card, surveyed the board and life totals, and passed the turn. Parke was finally in a situation where he wasn’t forced to us his mana on his turn, but Damo da Rosa found a way to get him to consider it. At the end of Parke’s turn, he aimed a Terror at “Big Daddy Drifts.” Parke just let it die.
The path was once again clear for the Mutavaults, but Parke now had a handful of cards and eight mana available to him. Damo da Rosa thought for a good amount of time before activating a single Mutavault and attacking. The attack would have dropped Parke to 7, but he had other ideas. Parke thought for a good amount of time before making his move. He had played Damo da Rosa yesterday and lost due to an unfortunate series of mental Errors. On this stage, there is no room for those errors, and he wasted to be absolutely sure he was going to do the right thing. He eventually decided to take a point from his lands to play a Cloudthresher. That dropped him to 6 and Damo da Rosa to 12. The Thresher stood tall in front of the Mutavault and sent it packing. With his Mutavault count reduced to 2, Damo da Rosa decided to try for another avenue to victory. He played a Bitterblossom, his first of the game, and passed to Parke.
Parke was now in control of the red zone, though the Bitterblossom and threat of a flashed-in Faerie put him into a bit of a bind if he were to attack. He was sitting at a low life total and couldn’t run the risk of randomly getting beat on a counter attack from nowhere. Instead, he chose to use the ability on Esper Charm that sees the smallest amount of play, at least in Limited, and destroyed the Bitterblossom. That’s right, it kills enchantments. Parke also sent in his Cloudthresher, knowing he had an answer for just about any flashed creatures that Damo da Rosa could manage. Damo da Rosa was at a high enough life total, and not under a Bitterblossom clock, and he chose to take the damage, knocking him down to 5. On his turn, he simply drew his card and said go, which isn’t something you really want to necessarily find yourself doing if you’re behind on life and facing down a ‘Thresher.
Cloudthresher came over again on the next turn, and Damo da Rosa activated a Mutavault and went to stick it in the way. Before he could, though, Parke chose to use Jund Charm to 2 two damage to all creatures. Damo da Rosa hadn’t forgotten about this card. In fact, he’d been playing around it all game. He simply tapped his dying Mutavault to float the mana to power up another. Once it was fully animated, Parke tried to Jund Charm again, dropping himself to 5 in the process. Damo da Rosa had a Broken Ambitions for two, which Parke was able to pay. Once Parke had paid the required mana, Damo da Rosa nodded and scooped up his cards.
Jamie Parke 1, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0
“Now it gets worse,” Parke grinned at Damo da Rosa as they sideboarded for the second game. Damo da Rosa, having made another Pro Tour Top 8 earlier this year, was used to the pressure of playing under the lights and in full view of the Magic playing world. Parke, though an exceptionally skilled player, was visibly a little nervous. He had managed to calm himself down and coolly dismantle Damo da Rosa in the previous game and was now able to relax a little bit. He had the judges bring him a couple glasses of water, and as he drained them all “like a shot,” he laughed, and “Yes, please,” when the judges asked him if he wanted more. Until you’ve made it to the Top 8 stage and have played for the kind of money and notoriety that are on the line, you can’t fully appreciate what it’s like for a player. Even I get a bit nervous, and I’m just writing.
I was lucky enough to get a glance at both players’ sideboard plans.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa of Brazil has made a name for himself as a Faeries player this season. Parke started the second game with a mulligan to six. His position worsened severely when Damo da Rosa hit him with not one, but two Thoughtseizes on the first two turns of the game. He took a Pithing Needle one turn and a Thresher the next, revealing Parke’s only other card to be a Cruel Ultimatum. After doing a fine job of tearing apart Parke’s hand, Damo da Rosa made Jace Beleren to bolster his own. With control established, Damo da Rosa decided it was time for a Bitterblossom. Parke had an Esper Charm for the pesky enchantment, and Damo da Rosa shrugged as it died. He didn’t mind losing it too much, and, after an activation from Jace drawing both players a card, he just replaced it. Thanks to his extra card, though, Parke had drawn a second Esper Charm and immediately put an end to it.
Damo da Rosa was way ahead on cards now thanks to his Jace and Parke’s mulligan. He didn’t have any offense, but with a fully-stocked hand and a generous pool of mana, he could start to get into the offensive game whenever he chose. Parke tried to make a card drawer of his own, but a Broken Ambitions stopped his Mulldrifter before it even started. He lost the clash, with his Bitterblossom losing to Damo da Rosa’s Mistbind Clique. Both players chose to put their cards on the bottom.
Another Thoughtseize dropped Damo da Rosa to 14 (all Thoughtseize damage). Parke’s three card hand contained Cruel Ultimatum, which he could almost cast; Remove Soul; and a Vivid Meadow. Things didn’t look good for Parke as Damo da Rosa showed no fear of the Ultimatum and tossed the Remove Soul to the graveyard. The next turn brought his final Thoughtseize, revealing a freshly drawn Jund Charm. The time was now right for the Ultimatum to hit the graveyard, and all Parke could do was rejoice in the fact that “he” had dropped Damo da Rosa to 12. “Eight damage!” he cried.
He also made a Bitterblossom and championed it during Parke’s draw step with a Mistbind Clique, knowing Parke had nothing to stop it in his hand. Damo da Rosa untapped and attacked with his Clique. Parke tried to get something going for himself with a Mulldrifter, but Damo da Rosa had a Cryptic Command hiding in the mountain of cards he called a hand. The Clique hit for another 4. Parke’s next try at staving off defeat was a Rhox War Monk that might have been quite nice with a couple counters from the Jund Charm in his hand if it hadn’t met an instant death to a Terror. Another four from the Clique dropped Parke to 9. One look at his draw step and Parke decided his fight was in vain.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Jamie Parke 1
“Yeah, you never know. At least my other three Thoughtseizes would have been blanks,” Damo da Rosa said, getting a good laugh from both of them.
“At least the score sheet makes it look like it was a close game,” Parke said peering down at his score pad.
Bitterblossom came down on turn two in the third game, just not for the player you’d necessarily expect. Parke’s early Bitterblossom gave him a great defense against Damo da Rosa’s deck, as well as some offense should he get the game under his control. Damo da Rosa returned to his roots from the first game and got in on the second turn with a Mutavault. Parke tried to make a Rhox War Monk to offset his life loss from the Bitterblossom, but Damo da Rosa was willing to put attacking on hold to Terror it.
Parke untapped and sought a way to capitalize on the fact that Damo da Rosa had tapped down to one land on his turn. Unfortunately, Parke only had three lands in play, so he was relegated to evoking a Mulldrifter. He played a Vivid Meadow after drawing his cards, though he may have been already holding it and just searching for a better option with his Drifter. His Faerie started in and dropped Damo da Rosa to 18.
Paulo found a Bitterblossom of his own and played it on his turn and played it after stealing a Cloudthresher with a Thoughtseize. Parke also held a Negate, Jund Charm, and two lands. Parke’s Bitterblossom dropped him to fifteen on his turn, but it was well worth it to continue to grow his troops. He sent his two active tokens into Damo da Rosa’s life total, reducing it to 13.
Faeries and Five-Color face off. Damo da Rosa was fighting back, though, and a second copy of Bitterblossom slid down next to his first. He was going to be dropping life fast, but there was a good chance that Parke was going to be dropping faster thanks to eventual token advantage. After making his second Blossom, Damo da Rosa sent his Mutavault at Parke. Parke used his only untapped Faerie token to block and enhanced it with a couple of counters from a Jund Charm. That was bad news for Damo da Rosa, though he would be able to chump-block it every turn with his tokens until he had built enough to just trade for it. Both players were at three cards and Parke had the advantage in life and creatures on the table, but Damo da Rosa had more growth potential with his pair of Bitterblossoms. With Parke continually sneaking through a point or two of damage, though, Damo da Rosa might die before his extra creatures become a factor.
Over the next couple of turns, both players went through the same motions. Damo da Rosa drew, made two tokens, inched ever closer to death and passed the turn. Parke drew, made his one token, and tried to speed up Damo da Rosa’s Bitterblossom clock. After a couple turns of this, with no other changes, the math sided with Parke.
Jamie Parke 2, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1
As Damo da Rosa and Parke shuffled up for Game 4, the Karsten / Ikeda match right next door drew to a close.
“Looks like the winner of this plays black-red.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, he seems pretty happy,” Parke observed, nodding at Tsuyoshi Ikeda.
Damo da Rosa started off with a strong indicator of things to come. His opening Secluded Glen revealed a Bitterblossom in Parke’s future. After giving up some info about his own hand, it was only fair that he should gain some about Parke’s. A Thoughtseize revealed a Cryptic Command, Rhox War Monk, Tidings, and a Mulldrifter, which ended up biting the dust. The foreshadowed Bitterblossom came down on the second turn, capping a near perfect start from the Brazilian.
Damo da Rosa has become nearly synonymous with the Faerie deck, and his love for it has been repaid with its love for him. Parke’s Rhox War Monk never got to see an end step, as a Terror from Damo da Rosa hit it almost before it left Parke’s hand. After untapping, Damo da Rosa continued his decimation of Parke’s draw with a second Thoughtseize hitting a second copy of Mulldrifter out of the same hand as earlier plus a Negate.
“Big Daddy Drifts doesn’t get any play,” Parke said sadly as he placed his second copy into the graveyard.
Damo da Rosa had a growing army of three tokens at this point, and they had knocked Parke down to sixteen. At the end of Damo da Rosa’s turn, Parke went digging for something. He effectively cycled his Cryptic Command, bouncing Damo da Rosa’s Secluded Glen and drawing a card. He apparently didn’t find anything noteworthy, and simply passed the turn without so much as a land drop. Damo da Rosa’s tokens went back to work, dropping Parke to 13. Parke went to the same trick he’d tried at the end of last turn to dig into more lands, but he was stymied by a Broken Ambitions for one.
Damo da Rosa just kept coming, this time knocking Parke to seven. During Parke’s upkeep, Damo da Rosa moved on a Mistbind Clique. Parke wasn’t having any of it, though, and used a Cryptic Command to counter it and return the Mutavault to Damo da Rosa’s hand. Unfortunately, he was also tapped almost completely out and facing near lethal damage. Returning the Mutavault had taken it from a lethal 8 damage down to a survivable 6, but he was still behind the 8-ball. As expected, Damo da Rosa sent the 6 and dropped Parke to 1. He replayed his Mutavault and passed the turn.
“Cards?” Jamie asked after drawing his card.
I could see from my seat that they were a land and a Cryptic Command, so Parke was going to need some backup for his Pyroclasm. Damo da Rosa just let it resolve, knowing he could just attack with his Mutavault and stop any shenanigans with his Command. Parke didn’t even have anything to make him use it, though, and the Mutavault trounced over for the final point.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2, Jamie Parke 2
At this point, The match had really come down to one card: Thoughtseize. The games in which Damo da Rosa resolved multiple Thoughtseizes, he won. The other games were losses. In this control-on-control matchup, Parke was going to get to go first, allowing him first access to Bitterblossom and a three-drop card drawer. It also gives him the ability to Negate a second-turn Bitterblossom from Damo da Rosa.
Things get serious. After deciding to play first, Parke quizzed Damo da Rosa, “What would you do if I said I wanted to draw first?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’d be happy?”
Parke thought for a long time about keeping his opening hand of this very important final game. He kept spreading it out in front of him and then condensing it and rolling his eyes to the ceiling, deep in thought. Eventually, he came to a decision, placed his hand face down on the table, and told Damo da Rosa he was going to keep. Damo da Rosa was not as fortunate. His opening draw was five lands and two Scions of Oona. No key Thoughtseizes, no Bitterblossoms, no Jace. No way was he keeping. His next six contained three lands, Jace, Spellstutter Sprite, and a Cryptic Command. Much better.
As he hoped he would be able to on the play, Parke started with a second-turn Bitterblossom. Meanwhile, Damo da Rosa’s draws had been kind to him and provided him a second-turn Thoughtseize that took a Remove Soul out of a hand that contained another Remove Soul, a Jund Charm, and two lands. Parke untapped, made his token, played a land, and passed the turn.
Damo da Rosa reached three mana and dropped Jace Beleren into play, immediately adding two counters to Prosperity for one, trying to pad Jace’s loyalty against the Faerie tokens. Parke wasn’t interested in Jace yet, and sent his tokens across right at Damo da Rosa, dropping him to 17. Damo da Rosa decided that he had enough counters on Jace and started to unload them to draw cards for himself. He played a Secluded Glen revealing a Spellstutter Sprite and passed the turn with four mana available.
Parke went up to two tokens and decided to start to deal with Jace. His two tokens dropped Jace to one counter. At the end of Parke’s turn, Damo da Rosa used his Cryptic Command to kill the fresh Faerie token and draw a card. That bought him one more activation with Jace than he otherwise would have had. After activating Jace to share a draw, the planeswalker had three counters to Parke’s two attackers.
Parke did as he had done the previous turn and sent his two fliers at Damo da Rosa’s ally. Jace dropped to one counter. With Parke now at three tokens, Da Rose decided Jace’s usefulness had come to an end and finished him off by drawing a card. During his run, Jace had prevented 5 damage, drawn Damo da Rosa four cards, and drawn Parke two. All that utility for only three mana. Damo da Rosa had managed to fill his hand and get a sizable amount of lands into play. When he ultimately decided to start some offense of his own, he was slightly behind in life, 14-15, and Parke had four tokens in play. He attempted a Bitterblossom to match the American’s, but it met a Cryptic Command. He tried to stop the Command with a Broken Ambitions, but Parke simply paid a green and cast Guttural Response. The response is always huge, trading a single mana for a usually much greater mana investment.
Then it hit. With Damo da Rosa tapped out thanks to the Broken Ambitions, Parke struck with a Cruel Ultimatum. Parke shot up to 18; Damo da Rosa dropped to 9. Parke drew three cards while Damo da Rosa discarded them. If Parke had looked to be ahead before, the Ultimatum appeared to have absolutely cemented it for him. A swing for 4 dropped Damo da Rosa to 5, which Parke could deal next turn if left unmolested. In a defensive effort, Damo da Rosa was forced to champion a Mutavault with a Mistbind Clique to provide a blocker. Damo da Rosa was depleted except for two cards, while Parke sat on a full hand. He decided to make sure he put the game away and used Esper Charm to finish the last of Damo da Rosa’s cards. A Spellstutter Sprite tried to step in the way, but a Remove Soul put an end to that—and the match.
“Did you just have bad draws?” Parke inquired as they packed up.
Parke completely agreed with him.
Jamie Parke defeats Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 3–2 and advances to the Semifinals!