by by Rich HagonSunday, 1:24 p.m.: Around the World with five...Things
by Rich HagonRound 11: Feature MatchCarlos Romão vs. Leonardo Labruna
by Rich HagonSunday, 11:45 a.m.: Inside the Metagame with PVDDR
by Rich HagonSunday, 11:15 a.m.: 20 Reasons To Like Modern
by Rich HagonSunday, 11:15 a.m.: Making Top 8, Part 2
by Rich HagonRound 9: Feature MatchEduardo Borges vs. Marcus Camargo
by Event Coverage StaffBreaking News:Brazil Nationals Country Breakdown
by Rich HagonRound 7: Feature MatchAdrien Degaspare vs. Reinaldo da Silva
by Rich HagonDeck Tech:Drafting with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
by Event Coverage StaffDay 1 Blog
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Deck Tech - Drafting with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
Having turned 2-2 into 4-2 by the end of the first draft, the perennial Player of the Year contender da Rosa knew that a really good draft would see him in decent shape to make the top 8 in pursuit of a third National title.
He opened with Throne of Empires, the kind of card that makes casual players everywhere think 'get all three, get all three' and players like PV think 'I can get a 1/1 every turn with this'. Gorehorn Minotaurs was next, followed by Æther Adept and Belltower Sphinx. In truth there's not much more to report from the first booster, which finished with a distinct feeling that all had not gone well. All the cards that had rounded out the pack were likely useless to Paulo, barring a radical switch (Vastwood Gorger into green, or Drifting Shade wanting a huge push to black).
Fear not, Paulo fans around the world. Things started to come together very nicely in pack two. Obviously you expect to find some decent picks early, so - although good - Incinerate, Shock, and Ponder weren't anything to get excited about. You're meant to be getting solid playables there, or even better, big fat juicy bombs. What made things get good in a hurry were the mid- and late picks. Incinerate at five. Phantasmal Bear six. Fling seven. Suddenly a blue-red aggro deck was coming together. Lightning Elemental next, then another Phantasmal Bear.
Now we're at pick ten, and you're really not expecting much. Act of Treason in an aggro deck? That'll do nicely. Now we're at pick eleven, and you're really not expecting much. Act of Treason in an aggro deck? That'll do nicely too.
On we went to pack three, and for what seemed like the umpteenth time in the draft Paulo found a Merfolk Looter that he just couldn't justify taking. He thought about Phantasmal Dragon, made a mental note about the Sengir Vampire in the pack, and then took Incinerate. Goblin Fireslinger was next, and then another Merfolk Looter went begging when he took Azure Mage. Bonebreaker Giant, Phantasmal Dragon, and Belltower Sphinx were all going to make his deck, and it wasn't until he was forced to take an Armored Warhorse that he 'missed' on a pick, but that was already pick eight. There was still time to steal away a Peregrine Griffin, and then happily take - finally - a Merfolk Looter that had come all the way back round to him pick nine.
When you think about great players, you naturally assume that they're going to be playing all kinds of cards that you wouldn't think of. Pros don't burn people's faces off. Pros don't cast Lightning Elemental and then Fling them in your face. Pros don't go Incinerate you, Incinerate you, Shock you, good game.
This one does. This one will, because this one wants a third National title, Pro Points, and a Player of the Year Title.
Time to burninate...
Round 7: Feature Match - Adrien Degaspare vs. Reinaldo da Silva
You'll be reading this on Sunday, but this is actually from the last round of day one. In order to protect card information from potential opponents, we've kept it back from prying eyes until the rest of the draft rounds are safely out of the way. The match sees Reinaldo da Silva, playing in his second Nationals following a top 32 berth last year, taking on Adrien Degaspare, whose finest Magic achievement to date came when he made the semi finals of Grand Prix Buenos Aires. The winner here will take a gigantic stride toward the top 8, potentially only needing to go 2-3 in the morning to claim a spot in the knockout rounds.
Both players kept their opening hands, da Silva showing Red-white and Degaspare mono-Black in the early stages. Griffin Sentinel was the first play on turn three from da Silva, while Bloodrage Vampire without Blood Moonthirst came down for Degaspare. Blood Ogre did get Blood Moonthirst for da Silva, since the Griffin Sentinel couldn't be stopped by the Vampire of Degaspare. The Bloodrage Vampire and Griffin Sentinel then traded, with Duskhunter Bat up next for Degaspare. Blood Ogre dropped Degaspare to 16, Peregrine Griffin being an upgrade over the Griffin Sentinel for da Silva.
A Mountain arrived for Degaspare, Dispeling the mono-black possibility, and making future Consume Spirits less worrisome. What was worrisome was sending the Duskhunter Bat blindly into the first-striking Peregrine Griffin, which Degaspare hadn't realized. He dropped Drifting Shade into play, still shaking his head over his error. More pressure came from da Silva, who attacked for five, then added four more power to the table in the form of Bonebreaker Giant. Degaspare had Brink of Disaster ready, and was happy to send his Drifting Shade in for one damage. As the saying goes, if it isn't blocking, it's got no business not attacking.
In came da Silva again, adding Griffin Sentinel, his Bonebreaker Giant stuck because of the Brink of Disaster. Still, Degaspare was down to six. Goblin Fireslinger was likely to be little more than cannon fodder. When da Silva looked to equip his Blood Ogre with Spirit Mantle, Degaspare had Doom Blade to foil the plan. Nonetheless, a Goblin Fireslinger was going to prove deeply awkward, since he was now at four and still falling.
With mana open across the table for Drifting Shade, da Silva was happy to pass the turn, knowing that his Goblin Fireslinger could reach out to finish Degaspare, given enough time. Vampire Outcasts arrived with Blood Moonthirst when Degaspare used his Goblin Fireslinger to shoot da Silva. When da Silva attacked again, the Drifting Shade was lost, and so it seemed was Degaspare. Still shaking his head, he swept up his permanents.
Degaspare 0 - 1 da Silva
Into game two, and Degaspare opened with the perfect Goblin Fireslinger. Perfect, that is, for enabling Blood Moonthirst, which he did immediately on turn two, shooting da Silva then casting Duskhunter Bat. Da Silva also had turn one Goblin Fireslinger, but he used his turn two to cast Crown of Empires. The Duskhunter Bat attacked for two before Degaspare added Goblin Tunneler. Da Silva's Crown of Empires tapped down the Duskhunter Bat the following turn, but da Silva was stuck without white mana, hiding behind the Crown. If he didn't find white mana soon, he was going to get overrun.
Still, the Crown saved him another two life the following turn as it again tapped down the Duskhunter Bat, and Degaspare couldn't shorten the clock significantly. Mountain number five led to Bonebreaker Giant for da Silva, and now he looked to be gaining the time he needed to find his white mana. Duskhunter Bat attacked him to 11, his own Goblin Fireslinger pinging Degaspare at end of turn, who in turn was down to 16.
Bonebreaker Giant went to work for da Silva, dealing four to Degaspare. Da Silva had more land, but it was yet another Mountain. Not great. Off we went once again, with Duskhunter Bat being tapped down, and Goblin Tunneler attacking for one. Lava Axe fired straight at da Silva, who then delightedly drew his Plains, and cast Timely Reinforcements. That, by the way, is on the all-time list for great marriage between flavor and gameplay. Timely? Oh yes. From four life to ten in a heartbeat. Oh, and three soldiers too...
Degaspare still had five cards in hand, but didn't seem to be getting anywhere fast. His Duskhunter Bat was still being kept out of action by the Crown of Empires, and he was behind in the damage rage. Tormented Soul was next, and Brink of Disaster landed on the Bonebreaker Giant. In came the three Soldiers from da Silva. Two damage got through, leaving Degaspare at four. Since Bonebreaker Giant was a 4/4, and da Silva had Fling, that was enough.
It had been a very long day, but with this win Reinaldo da Silva now stood at 7-0, with high hopes for a great day still to come.
Adrien Degaspare 0 - 2 Reinaldo da Silva
Breaking News - Brazil Nationals Country Breakdown by Event Coverage Staff
We know how important it is to you to know where everyone has come from for major tournaments. So, we stayed up half the night to crunch all the numbers, check all the facts, and produce the full detailed information in as coherent and aesthetically pleasing way as possible.
Without further ado, the Country Breakdown for Brazil Nationals 2011:
Round 9: Feature Match - Eduardo Borges vs. Marcus Camargo
Playing for almost a decade, Marcus Camargo is here in his first Nationals, and doing rather well at 7-1 with one round of draft to play. Having gone 2-1 with Bant Pod, he's playing now for the perfect draft record. So too is his 25 year old opponent Eduardo Borges. The Porto Allegre resident has played in half a dozen Nationals, and came closest to glory when finishing a heartbreaking 9th last year. Perhaps his mono-red deck can get him across the line this year. But first, that small matter of the 6-0 draft bragging rights...
Camargo began with an Island into Ponder, leaving the cards on top. Island was also Borges' first play, with Alluring Siren on turn two. Three Islands from Camargo, and pass. Three Islands from Borges, attack for one, and pass.
Now we headed towards a second color. Forest from Camargo led to a blue creature, Aven Fleetwing. Borges had Phantasmal Dragon, but Arachnus Web punctured that illusion. The Aven Fleetwing attacked for two, with Stampeding Rhino next for Camargo. Borges, still with just Islands in a deck that also wanted to use Mountains, cast Mind Unbound, but Camargo was ready with Acidic Slime to take it out.
The game continued to evolve, with Borges adding Æther Adept, Phantasmal Bear, and Lord of the Unreal to the board. Another Phantasmal Bear followed. Meanwhile Camargo was replaying his Stampeding Rhino, bounced earlier by the Æther Adept, and trading Acidic Slime for Æther Adept.
Then the game changed rather radically, with the arrival for Camargo of Primeval Titan. Not quite as much of a powerhouse as in Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks, the 6/6 Trampler was still more than a little good. Thin two lands out of your deck, attack as a 6/6 Trampler, get two more lands out of your deck...
Æther Adept from Camargo bounced the Lord of the Unreal back to hand, and his Aven piled in. Borges looked at the Stampeding Rhino, Aven Fleetwing, and Primeval Titan across the table, and packed it in.
Camargo 1 - 0 Borges
It was a very different opening hand for Borges, who this time had Mountains at his disposal. Island was first, however, allowing a turn one Phantasmal Bear. Goblin Piker joined the rush on turn two, with Camargo casting Garruk's Companion off his two Forests. In came Borges for four, and he continued to curve out with a Blood Moonthirsty Blood Ogre. What a start!
Camargo kept just one creature on the board, his Garruk's Companion, choosing to equip it with Trollhide. Borges elected not to attack, adding Alluring Siren to the board. His Blood Ogre met Arachnus Web from Camargo, who passed back, neither side willing to take the initiative. With Borges apparently stalled, Camargo sent his Garruk's Companion into battle, following up with Belltower Sphinx. A second Phantasmal Bear from Borges wasn't going to get past an increasingly-impressive defense.
In came the Camargo team, with Æther Adept bouncing, and therefore killing, a Phantasmal Bear. Camargo still wasn't done, with a second Garruk's Companion arriving on the scene. Borges drew for the turn, and extended the hand. He had begun the game with three good turns, but that was it. Still at 7-2, he was in with a shout of the top 8, but it was Camargo who managed a perfect 6-0 record in draft, taking him to 8-1, and possibly within one Standard win of the top 8.
Marcus Camargo 2 - 0 Eduardo Borges
Sunday, 11:15 a.m. - Making Top 8, Part 2
Yesterday we looked at the likelihood of the 'Big Three' of Carlos Romão, Willy Edel, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa making the top 8 of Brazil Nationals this weekend, and discovered that it's extraordinarily tough for any one of them, much less two or three. The anecdotal evidence confirms that, with only Romão still going at 6-3, needing three wins and some good news in the tiebreaks to make the top 8.
The thing is, despite nine rounds having gone by, and three quarters of the field eliminated from contention, it's still amazingly hard to make the top 8.
In 42nd place, Tarciso Costa is the last of the 6-3s on 18 points. He can get to 27 points with a 9-3 record, but he comes back into Standard with a truly abysmal tiebreak of 39.3%. To put that in context, Samuel Emidio, the top of the 6-3s, has a tiebreak of 65%. Speaking of which...
Samuel Emidio. He's in 18th place right now. He needs to clamber past ten people over the next three rounds, initially by winning all three. What are the chances of that? If he was 50/50 in every matchup, he'd do that one time in eight (the odds of winning an eight man draft pod if it was decided at random). If he has a 60% chance in every matchup, he still has only a 21% chance of winning those three matches. Assume he's an overwhelming favorite for every match, at 80/20. He's then roughly 50/50 to win all three matches. And even then, those around him who also win their three matches may overtake him on tiebreaks.
Jonathan Melamed is in 3rd place heading back into Standard. He opened 3-0 in Standard, then went 2-1, and 2-1 in his two draft pods. He has the highest tiebreaks of anyone in the entire building. Top 8 should be easy, right? Wrong. First, he has to play against a formidable opponent in Guilherme Medeiros Merjan. If he loses that one he then has to win his last two, against other players who have at least seven wins already this weekend. They're good players, they're prepared players. If he beats Merjan, then he becomes favored to make the top 8. If that happens, it will have taken ten rounds of Magic before he's more likely than not to make the top 8.
Marcus Camargo is in second place, the only player on 8-1 at 24 points. He does, however, have very poor tiebreaks. If he wins his first round back in Standard, he'll reach the 27 point mark, and should be able to find an ID somewhere in the last two rounds. Trouble is, he's facing Reinaldo da Silva, _joseph_ on Magic Online, and that gentleman has a perfect record. Lose that one, and then he too has to win round 11. As things stand, he's favored to reach the top 8. He's one of two out of one hundred and sixty four players for whom that's true. After nine rounds of trying.
Reinaldo da Silva. OK, if you're Reinaldo da Silva, and you've gone 9-0, then it turns out you're going to make the top 8. You are the exception that proves the rule. How hard is it to make the top 8?
Still, even now, very.
Sunday, 11:15 a.m. - 20 Reasons To Like Modern
Earlier this month, Samuele Estratti brought the first ever Modern format Pro Tour to a close, defeating Josh Utter-Leyton after three days of Modern awesomeness. It's possible that Modern may come into focus sooner rather than later, as the response to the format has been very positive. Maybe Worlds, maybe a PTQ season next year, who knows? In any case, there were plenty of players here at Brazil Nats wanting to talk about Philadelphia and the new format.
We asked the entire field what they'd play if, instead of Standard, the constructed rounds had been Modern. There's obviously some overlap between how different people define archetypes, and we didn't ask for decklists (!), but there were still twenty different answers, which went something like this:
|Mono Green Infect||1|
|Next Level Blue||1|
|BG Death Cloud||1|
It's no surprise to see Counter-Cat and Splinter Twin up at the top, and equally not to see the Sam Black mono-blue Poison deck being given plenty of support. Twelve post is interesting, because it was clearly the default deck coming into Pro Tour Philadelphia, but like many frontrunners before it, it fell victim to the fact that everyone knew about it. It was largely passed by, although Vincent Lemoine came very close to making the top 8, only a paired down loss in the final round preventing him from showcasing twelve post in the top 8.
Another who narrowly missed out was Australia's Jeremy Neeman, playing Goblin Storm, using Goblin Bushwhacker (what else would an Australian deck use?) to turn Empty the Warrens into an 'instant' kill. There's almost certainly a lot more to come from Pyromancer Ascension/Goblin Storm/Swath Storm decks.
Of course, not all the decks on this list are necessarily going to get the job done in Modern. Vial Merfolk, Eggs, and Faeries all seem like choices that wouldn't get you all that far, although there's every chance that the initial banned list will be altered. Who knows? Maybe Bitterblossom will be available to Faeries players by the time Modern next rolls around.
To me, having watched it all unfold up close, what's so exciting about Modern is that the 'correct' answers almost certainly haven't been found yet. Maybe they never will be. In any case, there's a huge amount of territory to cover, and the real possibility that Modern is waiting to be 'beaten' by someone down the line. Counter-Cat was an awesome deck, but you can be sure that people are gearing up to be ready for it.
If you haven't tried the Modern world yet, check out the PT Philadelphia coverage, and get a deck together. I've been playing and watching Magic for fifteen years, and this is about as exciting, involved, and entertaining format as I've ever seen.
Sunday, 11:45 a.m. - Inside The Contender Metagame With Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
As someone once said, their loss is our gain, and although a certain Brazilian superstar of the global game isn't in the running any more, he is sitting beside me, ready to get us all up to speed on the contender metagame. Forty two players are still alive as we head back to Standard, and Paulo's been crunching the numbers. Here they are:
Splinter Twin 8
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 5
Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine 5
RUG Pod 2
Tempered Steel 1
RUG Splinter Twin 1
Bant Pod 1
Mono Green 1
Pyromancer Ascension 1
It's not by a big margin, but I think it's the best deck. It's certainly a very powerful deck, and can win games out of nowhere.
Of the big five, which is the hardest to play 'correctly' if there is such a thing, or at least 'well'?
The Splinter Twin deck is very hard to play perfectly, but it's also very forgiving. If you make a mistake with the order for Ponder, you're probably not going to get punished for it. Whereas something like Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine or Blue-Black, you can't afford to make mistakes with those.
Why can't you make mistakes with the Control decks?
You need everything you have to deal with what they have. If you start wasting your resources, everything's going to fall apart. With Splinter Twin it doesn't matter what's happened before, because you're going to deal infinite damage. But with the Control decks, there's no one card that gets you to win from nowhere. You don't have that kind of power, so you have to make the best use out of all your cards.
Also, Splinter Twin is very focused. You're doing the same thing over and over, game after game. Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is like that too, whereas you have to react differently all the time with a Control deck.
Looking at the shape of the field coming down the stretch, what deck would you now want to be playing?
Looking at the five decks specifically, what are some cards that are really likely to cause them headaches in the final rounds?
Splinter Twin: Memoricide and Torpor Orb. If you can't counter Memoricide, you just die. With Torpor Orb, some people play Shatter, or Into the Roil. You can play some kind of different win condition, like a Wurmcoil Engine for example.
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle: The whole Splinter Twin deck! It's very hard to beat, because they're both non-interactive, and they do their thing much faster. Even when you do what you want to do, which is make a Primeval Titan, you still don't necessarily win, they can still combo you out the next turn. Flashfreeze is a card that most people will have against you, it's like Timely Reinforcements against mono-red. It's not the end, it's just a good card that people have against you.
Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine: Hero of Oxid Ridge is very bad for you, because it stops your Squadron Hawks and Timely Reinforcements from blocking, and it's a threat by itself, as 4/2 Haste. That's probably the big one. I think the problem with Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine is that it's overall not that powerful a deck. It doesn't straight out lose to individual cards, but you can lose to just seeing more land than your opponents. One of the reason lots of the best players like Control decks is that they don't straight-up lose to anything, so you always have a chance.
So, where next for you?
GP Santiago, and then GP San Diego and Worlds.
Do you think your chances of Player of the Year have gone by not making top 8 this weekend?
It's going to be pretty hard I think. I'm not going to say my chances are gone, because the position was really bad last year too, and I came really, really close. If someone in front of me does really well over the next two months, I can't beat them. Last year, I only had Brad to catch. Still, I won't say it's over...
And what are you up to away from Magic at the moment?
Still at college, studying International Relations. I skip a lot of time at college travelling to tournaments, so when I'm back here in Brazil I have to focus on my studies. I also play bridge - I play the equivalent of bridge FNM!
Round 11: Feature Match - Carlos Romão vs. Leonardo Labruna
Two rounds to go, and for both these players it's the last chance. At 7-3, a draw is no use to either of them, while two wins would put them into the tiebreak mix for the top 8. Romão is known around the
Romão began with Halimar Depths in his Pyromancer Ascension deck, opposite Creeping Tar Pit for Labruna, playing blue-black control. Labruna was probably going to say 'go' a lot in this one. He was happy to let Romão cast Preordain, and a followup Ponder. Four turns, four lands, four 'go' from Labruna.
Don't worry, I'll let you know if anything exciting happens...
Romão cast Visions of Beyond unopposed. Both players laid some lands. Some more lands. At seven mana, Romão cast Call to Mind, which was met with Mana Leak. Romão could pay, but chose not to. Enthralling stuff, right? Wait, here's a highlight reel: Labruna not laying a land.
Romão cast Pyromancer Ascension, this time paying for the Mana Leak from Labruna. At that point the Ascension resolved, which was fine with Labruna, who was waiting to use Into the Roil with Kicker to send it away. That send Romão into the tank, but eventually he took the Pyromancer Ascension back to hand.
Labruna cast Inquistion of Kozilek, seeing two Mana Leak,Burst Lightning, Into the Roil, Pyromancer Ascenison, and Call to Mind in Romão's hand. The Pyromancer Ascension went away, and Labruna attacked with Creeping Tar Pit. That's the great thing about the blue-black deck, the lands get you unless you do something about it, there's no need for big tap-out spells to get the job done.
Romão cast Call to Mind, targeting Preordain. That resolved, as did the Preordain. Labruna cast Consecrated Sphinx, knowing that he would lose a counterspell war by two Mana Leaks to one. He didn't care, since he was trying to get Wurmcoil Engine the following turn. He also knew Romão had Into the Roil for that. Romão cast Pyromancer Ascension, but that too met Into the Roil going the other way. No wonder there were no non-land permanents on the table.
Labruna tried again, this time with Grave Titan, and this resolved. Even an Into the Roil wouldn't be the value now for Romão. He cast Burst Lightning with Kicker and then a Lightning Bolt to kill the Titan, but still faced two 2/2 Zombies. He recast his Pyromancer Ascension, and passed. Despise from Labruna showed Burst Lightning, Mana Leak, and Into the Roil. He cast Surgical Extraction, Romão responding with Into the Roil to bounce/destroy a Zombie token. His Into the Roils then went away forever.
On we went, in a game that was becoming really absorbing to a large crowd. Labruna tried again for his Wurmcoil Engine, this time with three mana available to pay for the Mana Leak which Romão cast anyway. With Labruna tapped out, Romão could pull the trigger. Burst Lightning with Kicker plus a Lightning Bolt, both fed through the Pyromancer Ascension machine, sent Labruna from twenty to zero in a single orgy of damage.
It had started out slowly, but it ended with fireworks.
Romão 1 - 0 Labruna
Let's try an experiment. I'll start with an update after five turns, how about that?
Hi, welcome back to turn five, where Labruna has just cast Jace Beleren successfully, and Inquisition of Kozilek. That Jace has now just died to Burst Lightning from Romão, but the first five turns were all about Ponders and Preordains and Gitaxian Probes. Honestly, you didn't miss much...
Romão landed Pyromancer Ascension, then Labruna cast Ratchet Bomb, quickly getting it to two counters. He cast yet another Jace Beleren, his fourth of the game! With Ratchet Bomb sitting at two, that was an issue for Romão. Surgical Extraction from Labruna named Mana Leak, which unsurprisingly Romão aimed Mana Leak at. Then Labruna, having chosen not to pay, cast Memoricide, with Romão responding by casting Deceiver Exarch. Mana Leak from Labruna prevented that, leaving Labruna to name Deceiver Exarch for his Memoricide. Ratchet Bomb blew up Pyromancer Ascension, and Labruna was now in complete control. Six mana meant Grave Titan, and this time Romão wasn't ready to deal with it. Call to Mind brought back Preordain, but it achieved nothing. Game three was just around the corner.
Romão 1 - 1 Labruna
Labruna had to mulligan to six, keeping two Doom Blade, Flashfreeze, and Ratchet Bomb, plus two land, knowledge that Romão also had thanks to Gitaxian Probe. He cast Pyromancer Ascension, with Labruna replying as expected with Ratchet Bomb. Duress met Negate from Romão, Labruna blowing up Ratchet Bomb.
Then the phone rang.
To the sounds of the Imperial Death March from 'Star Wars', Romão nonchalantly pulled the phone from his pocket, pointed at it to indicate the music, and then pointed at himself. Leonardo Labruna, I am your own personal Death Star...
The deck-sifting went on for Romão, Call to Mind getting back Negate. Labruna was stuck on four lands, not helped by that opening mulligan. Pyromancer Ascension met Flashfreeze. Romão of course had the Negate he'd just got back, but Labruna had a second Flashfreeze. Pyromancer Ascension failed to resolve. Labruna made another Ratchet Bomb, and he was still fighting hard. For all the cards Romão had seen, he just couldn't get a Pyromancer Ascension to stick.
Inquisition of Kozilek from Labruna saw Romão respond with Visions of Beyond, before revealing Lightning Bolt, Bust Lightning, Splinter Twin, Mana Leak, and Island. Mana Leak went away. Now we were back into draw-go mode, both players laying lands. Labruna found Jace Beleren, cast it, and drew a card, knowing it would die to Burst Lightning. Preordain found another Jace for Labruna, and this time it was left alone by Romão.
At end of the following turn, Romão attempted Deceiver Exarch, which resolved, and then cleared out both Jace Beleren and Ratchet Bomb. Labruna cast Surgical Extraction, which Romão was ready for with Dispel. Inquisition of Kozilek met Mana Leak, which Labruna was happy to pay, still with six mana open. Romão cast Lightning Bolt, then Visions of Beyond, into another Visions of Beyond, which resolved again. Finally Labruna got to resolve his Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing Splinter Twin, Splinter Twin, Mana Leak, Negate, Call to Mind, two land. Romão lost his Mana Leak, and Labruna, with the way clear, cast Grave Titan.
Could Romão craft an epic turn before Titan action got out of hand? Call to Mind got Visions of Beyond. Visions of Beyond left him five mana to play with. Island was used on Preordain, the cards going to the bottom. He played a fresh Island, taking him back to five mana. Island - Ponder. Pyromancer Ascension...
Back to Labruna, who now had all his mana available, and it was a lot of mana. A lot. Grave Titan plus two Zombies attacked, two more arriving on the scene. Romão was down to three as time was called on the round. This was the end right here. Eight blue mana, three red mana, a Pyromancer Ascension with no counters, a handful of cards, an opponent with tons of mana open, and a dual World Champion one turn from elimination.
Preordain. One counter on the Ascension. Cards sent to the bottom.
Ponder. Second counter on the Ascension. Cards sent to the bottom.
Nine mana left, six blue, three red.
Three blue - Call to Mind...
...meeting Mana Leak.
Carlos Romão 1 - 2 Leonardo Labruna
Sunday, 1:24 p.m. - Around the World with five...Things
Last year I got a most unexpected and lovely gift here at Brazil Nationals. Here's Andre Pijamar holding up the five...Things that his mother had sewn for me, five lovingly-crafted little mana symbols.
I was touched, but didn't really know what to do with them. You couldn't eat them, couldn't use them as a lethal weapon (at least, I couldn't think of a way to do it), they were too big to use as tokens on a card...I was really struggling.
Then a brainwave hit, and a thoroughly boring piece of real estate became an official Thing Shelf:
Ever since, my trusty Things have been travelling with me. Here's what they've seen since leaving Brazil last year:
Toronto, Canada: At the Grand Prix in Toronto, Jon Smithers may have won the event, but the Things were most excited that I managed to finish on 12-4 in 33rd place out of more than 1400. Go me!
Bochum, Germany: In Germany, the Things saw Martin Juza draft poison all day long on day two to lift the title.
Florence, Italy: The Things stayed in Europe for the next Grand Prix in Florence, and it was a home-team Italian, Pierluigi Aceto, who claimed victory to huge cheers.
Chiba, Japan: Then it was off to the World Championship, and the dramatic top 8 featuring the two Guillaumes, Matignon and Wafo-Tapa, and Brazil's own Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Then, the highlight of the year for the Things - Carlos Romão winning the Magic Online title. Awesome!
Paris, France: Into 2011, and it was off to Paris for the Things, to see Ben Stark take the first Pro Tour of the year, defeating the unbelievable Paul Rietzl, who almost managed to reach the top 8 in both the Pro Tour and the concurrent Grand Prix. Unreal.
Barcelona, Spain: March, and in Standard, the Blue-Black Control deck of Martin Scheinin held sway.
London, England: The theme of home-team triumphant continued, with Daniel Royde taking down the Grand Prix in London. It was going to be a very big year for Royde. The Things were very excited to see Andre Franco, who'd come from Brazil to play in the two Euro GPs in London and...
Prague, Caech Republic: Prague, in the Czech Republic. Would it be a Czech winner? It would, veteran Ondrej Baudys claiming victory. Most solid Czech players reckon he might be the best ever from that country. Big praise.
Nagoya, Japan: Back to the Pro Tour. On the way to the venue, the Things heard David Sharfman tell me before round one that he was here to win the whole thing. He did, although how Luis Scott-Vargas' top 8 draft deck didn't win is a mystery. Well, not that much of a mystery I suppose - it was an awesome deck, and it lost anyway. That's Magic.
Osaka, Japan: One month later, and the Things were back in Japan, this time for the National Champs. Shouta Yasooka came up just short, making the top 8, but not making the team in the top 4, although 2006 World Champion Makihito Mihara will be there.
Indianapolis, USA: To the States, and the U.S. National Championships held at Gen Con, Indianapolis. Ali Aintrazi used Blue-Black control to dominate the top 8, with Luis Scott-Vargas and Owen Turtenwald both Player of the Year contenders who reached the top 8, but not the top 4, just like Yasooka.
Sheffield, England: After all that travel, what could be more exciting than a trip less than an hour away to glorious Sheffield in the UK? Daniel Royde was the hero once again, after a three and a half hour final during which several wars were fought, new international boundaries declared, and cures for numerous diseases were found. Seriously, it was that long.
Philadelphia, USA: Back to the U.S. for the penultimate Pro Tour of the year, and the first look at the amazing format that was Modern. Unbelievable excitement in the semi final between Sam Black and Josh Utter-Leyton, before Samuele Estratti claimed the title for Italy amidst joyous scenes. No weeping from the Italian contingent. Disappointing, really.
Sao Paulo, Brazil: And now here we are, me and the Things, still happily sitting on their Thing Shelf on my laptop. Type the game, see the world...