Coverage of Grand Prix–Atlanta 2008

Posted in Event Coverage on November 15, 2008


  • 4:48 PM: Krispy Kreme
    by Nate Price
  • 4:08 pm: Round 15 Feature Match - Bubble Boys
    by Nate Price
  • 2:53 pm: Round 14 Feature Match
    by Nate Price
  • 2:35 pm: Disqualification
    by Nate Price
  • 1:11 pm: Drafting With Tomoharu Saitou
    by Nate Price
  • 12:06 am: Round 12 Feature Match - Bookends
    by Nate Price
  • 11:05 am: Round 11 Feature Match – Registered as a Loss
    by Nate Price
  • 10:08 am: Round 10 Feature Match – Devoured
    by Nate Price
  • 9:15 am: Drafting With Paul Cheon
    by Nate Price
  • Day One: Undefeated Decklists
    by Nate Price
  • Miss Something? Get all the event coverage from Day 1 here!
    by Event Coverage Staff

Day One Undefeated Decklists

by Nate Price

Marcio Carvalho

Download Arena Decklist

Yoel Izsak

Download Arena Decklist

Eric Whitted

Download Arena Decklist

9:15 am – Drafting With Paul Cheon

by Nate Price

Saturday morning has arrived much to the chagrin of many players here. Long days and late nights make for grumpy mornings, although the fact that every player that made Day two made some money should do a lot to wipe the sleep out of their eyes. Today is the Draft portion of the tournament, and they’ll need to be awake and alert to keep track of the all the extra variables Draft have.

I got to sit behind Paul Cheon and watch him as he drafted his first deck of this six round race for Top 8. Cheon came into today with a 7-2 record, and would need a 5-1 record today to have a chance to make it.

He wasn’t given an easy road, though, and his first pack started his hardships, and not in the usual way. The very first thing he saw in his first pack was a Cruel Ultimatum. Normally players would be jumping for joy as they windmilled the bomb into their piles. Cheon kept looking through the pack, though, and just shook his head at what he saw. Hiding behind the Ultimatum was an Oblivion Ring, followed by Branching Bolt, Jund Battlemage, and Courier’s Capsule. Admittedly, most of the cards in the pack aren’t even playing the same sport as Cruel Ultimatum. However, Cheon kept shuffling through the Oblivion Ring and the Cruel Ultimatum before he finally sighed and slid the Oblivion Ring into his pile. Willy Edel was probably going to request a new glasses prescription when he saw what was waiting for him, though he would probably be able to figure out what Cheon had taken. After all, only one common can really be said to be good enough to even warrant consideration over the rare, and it happens to be the one Cheon snack-caked into his pile. Cruel Ultimatum indeed.

As the next packs unfurled, Cheon showed his Naya plan by picking Magma Spray and Rakeclaw Gargantuan. The packs were kind of leading him in that direction due to the lack of any really good cards for Esper, though he could have gone Bant since it shares many of the same cards as Naya. Ultimately, though, the draw of red removal was too great and he decided to run with the beasts. He picked up a few more solid Naya cards as the pack progressed, including a Resounding Roar, Manaplasm, Sigil Blessing, and Druid of the Anima.

By the time the first pack was done, Cheon had an assortment of solid bodies, good removal, some good combat tricks, and a little bit of mana ramp. This was a solid foundation for a Naya deck. The one thing he was missing was a “stand up and shout” bomb like the Ultimatum he passed. However, as solid as his deck was shaping up to be, it looked poised to punish any missteps and opponent’s deck might make, including failing to draw their bomb.

The second pack gave Cheon a crack at a second Ultimatum, although this one was the almost unplayable in Limited Clarion Ultimatum. I’m assuming his decision between that and the Jund Battlemage he took was considerably easier than the other. The second pack he saw was almost as deep as his very first pack. Branching Bolt, Jund Charm, Jund Battlemage, Agony Warp, and Executoner’s Capsule are all incredibly solid cards. Cheon took the full amount of time on the pack before deciding on the Branching Bolt.

During the course of the second pack, he managed to pick up two tri-lands, which are absolutely amazing in Limited. They are seriously good enough that they should be considered on par with all but the best cards in the set. Decks in this format tend to be at least three colors, with a touch for a fourth not entirely unreasonable, if you have the mana base, which these lands allow. In addition, due to the depth of the second pack, he managed to get a second Jund Battlemage on the lap. His eyes lit up a little when he saw it, though there were enough cards in the pack that it returning wasn’t entirely unreasonable.

Paul Cheon tried to figure out what cards he needs before he opens his second pack.

He had filled many of his holes at various casting costs, though he was still a little light at the two and four slots. He also was a little light on removal. He has an Oblivion Ring, Magma Spray, and Branching Bolt thus far, but it would be nice to pick up an extra two spells or so considering how aggressive his deck is going to have to be to put people away before bombs come online.

His third pack started out strong. He took a Rhox Charger out of a pack containing Godsire, Magma Spray, and Qasali Ambusher. When I asked him about this pick later, he said “I knew I wasn’t taking the Godsire. It was either the Charger or Magma Spray. We talked about this lsat night, about which on was better, and we decided that Rhox Charger is just a beating.” Having seen the Charger in action many times yesterday, I had to agree that the guy just wrecks house.

He picked an Oblivion Ring out of the second pack, giving him a second copy of the “best common inf the format.” Unfortunately for him, his decisions got much easier in the following packs. For about the rest of the draft, his packs contained either one or no cards he could play in his deck. Some of them were solid, like a pair of Court Archers and a second Rip-Clan Crashers, and some were no, such as the Sighted-Caster Sorcerer and Sunseed Nurturer. By the end of the pack, he had to feel a little disappointed about how his final pack had gone.

After the draft, while he was building his deck, we talked a little about the choices he had to make during the draft. The one thing he kept repeating was that there were a lot of “rough packs.” We discussed his opening pack and the Rhox Charger pick as prime examples. There were rough packs of both varieties, those that were too deep, and those that were shallow enough that there wasn’t really a playable.

Oh the agony…

As players started wandering in for the PTQ, a couple wandered nearby, including Tim Aten. As Cheon saw him, he spoke up. “I don’t know where, but I heard somewhere to draft red and green, so I did.” Aten laughed as much as he was capable of (which isn’t much), and said, “That was long ago.” As Cheon was trying to figure out the final cards to add to his deck, Aten joked that I should use the word ‘agonized’ in the coverage. *ahem* Paul Cheon agonized over the last few cards to add to his deck. Ultimately he decided on a single copy of Angelic Benediction and an Angelsong over a potential second Benediction.

“My mana is terrible, but I have two tri-lands. Well, they only produce two colors I need. I guess I have a Shivan Oasis and an Elfhame Palace. This deck looks like a 2-1 deck, though I may be able to get lucky and go 3-0. I like drafting control decks usually, but this deck seems solid enough. There’s enough synergy and it can really punish opponents’ bad draws.”

10:08 am - Round 10 Feature Match – Devoured

by Nate Price

Magic is such a global game; it's always fun to see big name players that have made a long trip to a Grand Prix. Manuel Bucher from Switzerland and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa from Brazil have covered the long distance and are here today and battling for the right to add this title to their already impressive resumes.

The pairings for the PTQ were announced right as the players sat down and started shuffling, and within seconds, there were only a handful of players left surrounding the feature match area.

"Aw man! No more crowd," Bucher sighed as they players filed away.

Da Rosa laughed at the sentiment. Both of these players have played so many feature matches that the ambiance of the feature match is like a second home to them.

Bucher won the die roll and chose to go first. Da Rosa took one look at his opening hand and immediately threw it back. His next six had, well, lands and spells, so he kept it and they started the game. Both players got on the board early, with Bucher's Dregscape Zombie being matched on Da Rosa's side by a Rip-Clan Crasher.

Hey! Where'd my audience go?

The players traded early hits, but Bucher was on the play and soon started making creatures that forced Da Rosa to hold his attacker back. Bucher had a Puppet Conjurer and a Fire-Field Ogre, which were able to play both defense and offense for Bucher respectively. Da Rosa had an answer for the little wizard, though, and his Algae Gharial turned the Conjurer into more of a liability than anything else. He even managed to get the Ogre out of the way by using a Resounding Roar to block with his Crasher. Bucher just put the first striker into the graveyard and used a Blister Beetle to finish the Crasher off.

Da Rosa's Gharial was growing, but Bucher's army was as well. A Scavenger Drake and Shore Snapper bolstered Bucher's every growing army, while Da Rosa simply couldn't find any more creatures. Bucher had four creatures to Da Rosa's lone Gharial, and he had Da Rosa down to eight.

Da Rosa tried to get back into the game with a Sarkahn Vol, but Bucher had a Hell's Thunder to fly over and make sure that he got the extra four damage through along with his ground creatures to take the first game before the planeswalker could work his crazy dragon voodoo.

Manuel Bucher 1 – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0

Please, no more mulligans!

Da Rosa started the second game off with anther mulligan, and his draw this game was a bit slower than the first. Bucher had the same Dregscape Zombie as the first game and even managed to find a Grixis Battlemage to back it up this game. He kept the curve chugging with a Scavenger drake on the following turn, applying even more pressure on Da Rosa.

Da Rosa had managed to stem the bleeding a little bit with a Blister Beetle to kill Bucher's Zombie, but the Drake made Da Rosa's fragile creatures a bit unsafe. Da Rosa tried to get his Sarkahn Vol to do something again this game, but Bucher just unearthed his Dregscape Zombie and put the Planeswalker away. He also a had a Blister Beetle to kill Da Rosa's copy. That pumped his Drake up just a touch, but the real boost came on the following turn. Predator Dragon ate all of Bucher's team but the Drake, and the two massive fliers swung in to finish the game in short order. This match was lightning fast, and Da Rosa was never really in the games thanks to his two mulligans.

Manuel Bucher 2 – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0

11:05 am – Round 11 Feature Match – Registered as a Loss

by Nate Price

Marcio Carvalho has not lost. Ten rounds in and he sits atop the standings a perfect 10-0. He started the day with two other who could claim to be unbeaten, but they had fallen in their first rounds of draft. Being undefeated only matters for so long since, after a while, you make Top 8 win or lose. At this point, it would take a catastrophic meltdown for Carvalho to fail to Top 8. Nonetheless, it can still be a point of honor to crush a tournament thoroughly enough to go undefeated. However, as the New England Patriots can attest to, going undefeated through the meat of the tournament means nothing if you lose at the end. The man looking to be the first to knock Carvalho off this round is Brett Piazza, who has made Day two in every GP he’s played in this year, including a Top 16 in Kansas City. He’s done well for himself here so far, and is looking to make it two straight Grand Prix (in the same format no less) with at least a Top 16 finish.

Brett Piazza wants to add a 1 to Carvalho’s loss column.

Marcio was going to have a long road to travel to maintain his undefeated record. As he sat to begin the match, judges came over to deckcheck the players and revealed that Marcio had forgotten to register a couple of cards, like a Ridge Rannet, which seems like a bad small mistake to make. Don’t forget, kids, even at this level, mistakes can be made. They’re just more costly here. Marcio’s mistake, which amounted to no more than forgetting two lines on a sheet of paper, resulted in a game loss for him in a situation when he really would prefer not to have one. He had the advantage of being undefeated at this point. If he had been one loss away from elimination, imagine how stinging the penalty would have been.

Both players kept their opening hands, and both got started early. Marcio had a Druid of the Anima where Brett had a Akrasan Squire. Marcio failed to draw a third land on his turn, and he used his Druid to put a Vithian Stinger into play. Brett kept the pressure on and used an Excommunicate to send the Stinger to the top of Marcio’s library, buying his Squire another turn, and keeping Marcio without land for another turn. Eventually, the Stinger got to stay, and soon he shot off the Squire.

Marcio Carvalho wants to remind you to always double check your deck registration sheets!

In the meantime, Brett had made himself a Rhox War Monk, which he soon equipped a Sigil of Distinction to. The 7/8 War Monk trounced Marcio down to nine. Sigil of Distinction is absolutely amazing, as anyone who has been on either side of it can tell you. Marcio kept his cool and built a Knight of the Skyward Eye and a Court Archers to help fend off the rampaging Monk. With the help of a Sigil Blessing, they took down the War Monk that was blessed by a Sigil. Brett just killed the Knight and replaced his War Monk with another.

He had a handful of cards, where Marcio only had two. He only had one creature, but it was so big, thanks to the Sigil, that Marcio had to spend multiple cards to deal with it. When the War Monk came in for a second time, Marcio stuck a Court Archers and a Sigiled Paladin in the way. Brett played a Knight of the Skyward Eye and passed the turn. Marcio took advantage of this to use a Branching Bolt and his Vithian Stinger to finish the Monk off.

Marcio was in a hole, Brett had a Knight of the Skyward Eye that he could activate equipped with a Sigil of Distinction, and Marcio had almost nothing. He was at five, and Brett was at 38. Brett knocked him down to one with his next attack and played a Rockcaster Platoon to make doubly sure that he Finished Marcio off. Thanks to the game loss Marcio received, he didn’t get a second chance, and had to accept his fall from the only undefeated.

12:06 pm – Round 12 Feature Match - Bookends

by Nate Price

Saitou considered for a long time before even playing his first land. He had a Savage lands in his hand that he wanted to get down as early as possible, but he also wanted to get the Deft Duelist in his hand into play. Eventually he decided that the more important issue was o get his mana correctly set up and opted to play the Savage Lands. His Duelist came down on the third turn, and it was met by an Esper Battlemage from Izsak. When it was Excommunicated by Saitou, buying his Duelist another turn, Izsak just drew his card and played a Tower Drake. The Battlemage made another appearance the following turn, and the battle ensued; Izsak in the air, and Saitou on the ground.

Saitou made a Rockcaster Platoon on the following turn that might be able to off the Gargoyle in a few turns, but more importantly, provided him with a fat body to go alongside his duelist. Izsak found a slight bit of protection in the form of a Puppet Conjuror that could deal with the Platoon every turn. Saitou found a temporary solution to Izsak’s flier in the form of a Cloudheath Drake. Since he was at 12, he only had three turns before the Gargoyle did him in, so he might need to block at some point. Izsak found a Grixis Battlemage that could potentially deal with that, but he lacked the necessary red mana.

Saitou’s window of opportunity was running out. He had gotten Izsak down to nine, and he was going to be dead in short order. He decided to send his Drake in vigilantly, and passed the turn. He might be able to whittle him away with his Drake and Platoon over the next couple of turns and buy enough life with his Drake to, if nothing else, force a draw. Izsak had Resounding Wave, however, and used it to return the Drake to Saitou’s hand. That put him in the unfortunate position of being at four and potentially needing to block with his Drake. When Izsak used a Call to Heel to remove the drake one last time, Saitou conceded, immediately marking all the tricks he saw from Izsak on his score sheet.

Ok, so what did he play against me again. . ?

Tomoharu Saitou 0 – Yoel Izsak 1

Saitou and Izsak were both forced to mulligan in the second game of the match, so at least they both started on even footing.
Saitou started the game out lightning fast with two Jhessian Infiltrators. He didn’t have a third land, but he did have a courier’s capsule to go digging for one. Izsak started off with what could have been s decent start, but his double Puppet Conjurer didn’t do too much against the unblockable Infiltrators. He did find a Glaze fiend, though, that would let him start going off with the Conjurors, and maybe even race them.

Saitou’s deck finally found him a third and fourth land, and he used them to make a Stoic Angel, totally shutting down the Conjuring action. Izsak was in trouble and he knew it. The early beats from the Infiltrators had reduced him to a low six life, and he had only managed to put Saitou to twelve. Saitou kept unloading creatures, and in the next couple turns, he overwhelmed Izsak’s defenses.

This won’t help, this won’t help, this won’t help. . .

Tomoharu Saitou 1 – Yoel Izsak 1

Both players were mulligan-free in the deciding game of the match, and Saitou showed that his full hands can be just as devastatingly quick as his mulligan ones. A second-turn Jhessian infiltrator was given exalted status by a follow-up Guardians of Akrasa. Izsak looked to slow the Bleeding with an Esper Battlemage, but he would be at 14 before he would get the chance to really start. In addition, his Obelisk of Esper was the only source of white that he had, so he had to sit on it to activate his Battlemage. It also prevented him from playing the Kiss of the Amesha he was holding to negate virtually all that Saitou had done thus far in the match.

Saitou thought for a long time about his next play. He looked at all of Izsak’s open mana and had to consult his list of tricks to figure out what his play should be. Ultimately, he settled on Sharuum the Hegemon. When it hit play, he sighed and remarked “I thought no Cancel in draft.” Izsak sighed,” Yeah, I don’t have a Cancel for that.”

Izsak was in trouble. He passed his turn yet again without so much as playing a land. Saitou got to keep building and attacking. Izsak’s life total was going to drop exponentially quicker unless he did something. Izsak was put even further behind when Saitou managed a Naturalize on his Obelisk of Esper. His deck still refused him a fifth land, and now he was devoid of white mana. Things were about as grim as they could get. Izsak was backpedaling and had to use a Call to Heel on the attacking Sharuum to try and set Saitou back a little. Buying him a turn wasn’t going to be enough, though. Izsak tried to send his Battlemage in to draw a block that might allow him to make some unfair trades with an Agony Warp, but Saitou was at such a high life total that he could simply let the damage through.

This is the definition of an unfair board state.

Izsak was able to make a little turmoil with his Agony Warp by using it to kill Saitou’s two smaller attackers at the cost of his own Puppet Conjurer. Izsak was finally rewarded with a plains, and he used the turns he was given to drop a Tower Gargoyle in to play. However, Saitou had a Resounding Wave, and Izsak was done with the game.

Tomoharu Saitou 2 – Yoel Izsak 1

1:11 pm - Drafting With Tomoharu Saitou

by Nate Price

Getting to watch different players draft at every event is really quite enlightening. Every player has his or her own particular style and preferences, and they always breed slightly different results. However, as is typical of players at this level, they all seem to work within the play and game theory of each drafter. I got to hang out behind Tomoharu Saitou for the second draft of the day.

When Saitou started off with a unique first pick, I knew I had found the right spot. It wasn’t a surprising pick per se, but it took a little thinking (that Saitou obviously did way faster than me) to see that it was the right pick out of the pack. The pack contained few all-stars. A Sigil Blessing and a Fire-Field Ogre were the only really decent non-land cards. Saitou took a Crumbling Necropolis out of the pack. The tri-lands are so incredibly good in a format that sees decks playing three, sometimes four, colors. The advantage it has over the other cards in the pack is that it doesn’t lock you into any colors at all. Sure, it would be nice to play at least two of the colors the land can produce, but it isn’t necessary. The others lock you into at least two colors. This gives him a flexible option and doesn’t sacrifice too much since the other cards aren’t overwhelmingly powerful.

The next pack had a ton of good cards in it, and a flurry of them made their way to the front of the pack and back again. Eventually, Saitou chose a Topan Ascetic over a Wild Nacatl, Naya Battlemage, Fleshbag Marauder, and Bloodpyre Elemental. Notice that his second pick can’t be cast using the land he first picked. Remember: don’t get too tied down to your first pick if you think you can do better without it.

Saitou seems confident with his picks.

As the pack continued, Saitou picked up a few more solid bodies, including a Tower Gargoyle and Windwright Mage that might make the deck thanks to the second copy of Crumbling Necropolis he picked up. The flexibility in his first pick showed as he was able to stretch his options a little more. By the end of the first pack, Saitou had a solid GWU base that could splash black, or even a potential shift to an Esper deck that splashed for green depending on the second pack.

Saitou opened his second pack, snapped a card to the front, and placed it in his pile almost before I got to see what it was. Sigil of Distinction. And boom goes the dynamite. The rest of the pack was solid, containing a Tidehollow Strix, Wild Nacatl, Jund Charm, and Jund Battlemage. Let’s be honest though. If anyone even considered taking one of those cards over what is arguably the best card in the format, they’d be ridiculed so much their kids might not ever be able to play Magic in public!

Saitou signaled exactly what I predicted might happen at the end of the first pack when he second picked a Tidehollow Strix over a Resounding Silence and a Savage Lands. He had made his decision to slide into Esper, and it paid off for him. He picked up another Strix later in the pack, as well as a second Tower Gargoyle, two copies of Metallurgeon, and a third Crumbling Necropolis. By the end of the pack, Saitou had picked up plenty of two drops to fill the hole he had coming in, as well as completing the shift into Esper. He had managed to open a veritable bomb, and had enough card drawing and stall to make sure he drew it. The only thing his deck was really missing was some removal.

One thing I noticed as he was going through each pack was his propensity for pulling all the combat tricks a little higher up in the pack to make a mental note of them. During his last feature match, he put on his thinking cap to remember whether or not his opponent had a Cancel. By remembering the cards he had seen in the draft, he was able to figure that he probably didn’t and went for his bomb. His memory served him correctly, and he won the match. Just a little something players can do to help take their game to that next level.

The third pack brought removal in the mass form thanks to a Scourglass. He was forced, however, to take some slightly weaker cards to fill his needs, including a Blister Beetle and Excommunication out of packs containing better cards. He needed the removal, though, no matter how limited or temporary it may be. Eventually, he filled it out, though, and ended up with a pretty solid deck.

2:35 pm – Disqualification

by Nate Price

Disqualification is never a fun topic to discuss at events like these, but they are as inevitable as a wave hitting the shore. And they’re just as important to learn from. Rules enforcement is always high at Grand Prix, just a step behind the severity of the Pro Tour. At these levels, it’s imperative for players to make sure they avoid making careless mistakes that may be construed as cheating. These events are worth a lot of money, which is part of their appeal. With that amount of money on the line, these rules are put in place and enforced quite strictly to protect all players from those who might try to gain an advantage through cheating.

Yesterday, two players were disqualified from the main event for situations that were very easy to construe as cheating. These are mistakes that, at this level, one can’t afford to make. The first player was involved in a situation in which, with his cards on the table, he kept placing his hands in his lap. His opponent warned him against doing that, and advised him to please keep his hands over the table. Eventually, his opponent was forced to call a judge over. The judge asked him to stand and a card was found underneath him that was a part of his card pool. After conferring with head judge Seamus Campbell, it was decided that enough evidence was present to warrant a disqualification.

This is a situation that, if innocuous, can be avoided with very little effort. Just be aware of your surroundings. In addition, certain things become bigger issues due to a high profile case of a player being caught cheating doing something quite similar. At Pro Tour-Berlin, a player was disqualified without prize for a similar incident involving drawing extra cards from his lap. It seems like even subconsciously emulating the types of behavior that led judges to be called on him. You have to be aware of how you look to your opponents. If you had read about the player caught cheating in Berlin and saw your opponent constantly putting his hands in his lap, wouldn’t you begin to get a little suspicious as well?

2:53 pm – Round 14 Feature Match

by Nate Price
I'm pretty sure this is how I’d look if I had a turn four Rafiq of the Many!

I’ve been fortunate enough to have both of these players sit before me in the feature match already this weekend. Steve Wolansky is proving the nice things that were said about him earlier as he makes a run at the Top 8. His opponent, Manual Bucher, is looking to stave him off and capture yet another GP trophy for his mantle.

Wolansky won the die roll and chose to draw first. Despite starting a turn behind, he got on the board first with a Deft Duelist. Bucher was right behind with a Naya Battlemage. Both creatures were enhanced with an exalted creature, though Wolansky was able to take care of Bucher’s Court Archers with an Oblivion Ring. When Bucher tried to attack in with his now-smaller Naya Battlemage, Wolansky made a free Qasali Ambusher to block. Bucher had a Cunning Lethemancer to replace it, but he packed his cards up in short order when Wolansky played a Rafiq of the Many.

This game was a lightning fast as the Ambushers and only took four turns for Wolansky to put away.

Manuel Bucher 0 – Steve Wolansky 1

And this is what I’d look like if I learned my opponent had two of them. . .

For Game 2, it was Bucher who got the early beats. Consecutive Rip-Clan Crashers got to do some decent damage to Wolansky before he could do anything about it. He eventually managed to force Bucher to stop attacking with a Steward of Valeron with mana up, which Bucher didn’t feel like attacking into. When he followed that up with another Rafiq of the Many, the Steward evened the life totals up with one swing from him. Exalted tricks and Vigilance are fun, and Wolansky used them on the next turn to continue to hack away at Bucher’s life total in six point chunks. A Sighted-Caste Sorcerer made that eight point chunks, and the chunks had become large enough that Bucher was had to start chumping. The chumps had to run out sometime, though, and Wolansky finished him in less turns for the whole match than most games I’d covered all weekend.

After the match, Wolansky showed his deck to Manuel, and explained why he seemed to always have the Rafiq of the Many. Apparently, he had been fortunate enough to open one in each of his first and second packs!

“Pack one, pack two. Nice, huh!”

Nice indeed.

Manuel Bucher 0 – Steve Wolansky 2

4:08 pm - Round 15 Feature Match - Bubble Boys

by Nate Price

It seems only fitting that since my trip through the Swiss portion of the tournament started with Jon Sonne, it should end with him. Both he and Marcio Carvalho come into this round with 33 points and decent tiebreakers. The winner gets to make Top 8; the loser has to go wander off to find a draft. It's a wracking spot to be in, but these guys have both been there before.

The first game started fairly uneventfully. Sonne cycled through a Relic of Progenitus early, and managed to find himself a Goblin Deathraiders that he wished had come into play a turn earlier. Carvalho had a Blister Beetle to kill it, as well as a Sprouting Thrinax to fill the void. Sonne made a pair of Viscera Draggers, and the board stood at a temporary stalemate.

Sonne tries to find a way to break through.

A Vithian Stinger from Carvalho gave him a source of damage that didn't need to fight through Sonne's creatures, and one by one, the life points shaved off. They traded removal for creatures over the next couple of turns while the tenuous parity stayed their creatures.

Soon, however, Carvalho dropped a bomb on the table, a Vein Drinker threatened to start tearing Sonne and his board apart. The vampire ate one of Sonne's Viscera Draggers, and he chose to unearth it and send with both of them on the following turn. Carvalho just chumped the live one and let the other hit home. Sonne used an Infest to kill Carvalho's Stinger at the cost of his living Dragger.

Carvalho unearthed a dead Leotau to send in a massive twelve points of damage at Sonne. He didn't really have anything that could bring him back from such a low total and rid himself of his opponent's creatures, so he just conceded.

Marcio Carvalho 1 - Jonathan Sonne 0

Sonne allowed Carvalho to go first, and set his seven cards aside. Both players enjoyed their opening draws, so what may have been Sonne's last match got underway. Carvalho started strong with a Cylian Elf and a Wild Nacatl that came down off an Obelisk of Jund. It was only a 1/1, but one of his lands was a Grixis Panorama, so it was likely to become a 2/2 at anytime. Sonne kept the creatures somewhat at bay with a Resounding Thunder to kill the Nacatl, but Carvalho just upgraded it to a Sprouting Thrinax. Sonne matched it for size with a Viscera Dragger, but the after effects of the Thrinax would be huge considering Sonne only had one creature right now, and it would have to trade with the Thrinax to get it off the table. Sonne chose to take the hit, and Carvalho added to what he hoped would sometime soon be able to overrun Sonne with a Dragon Fodder. Sonne did have a token generator of his own, though, and his Necrogenesis began churning out tokens. He also had a Vithian Stinger to make sure that Carvalho's tokens died soon.

Carvalho used to have many men. Now he just has two. But they're *big*!

Carvalho had other plans for them, though. He played a Thorn-Thrash Viashino and sacrificed three of them to turn him into an 8/8. Sonne was a little displeased that his Scavenging Drake came down a turn later than ideal. He was even more disheartened to get hit by a Tar Fiend devouring the two of Carvalho's small creatures that didn't get pinged off in response to make it another 8/8. Sonne thought for a long time about which of his three cards to keep. He was a little low, but his Necrogenesis could hold the Tar Fiend off for a little while as his Drake potentially got large enough to finish Carvalho. His life was low enough, though, that he figured he couldn't race the trampling Viashino and packed it in.

Marcio Carvalho 2 - Jon Sonne 0

4:48 PM - Krispy Kreme

by Nate Price

Bill Stead is self-admittedly a little insane.

*Warning* This guy is a little crazy!

"I didn't play Predator Dragon in my Sealed deck. You could say I'm a little insane. I mean, you'd have to be play this."

This happens to be an Esper deck unlike anything you've ever seen. It features six (yes you read that correctly) Glaze Fiends in the main deck. He even went so far with his strategy to keep a Salvage Titan in the board. "I can't think of an Esper deck that would leave this guy in the board. But my deck has no ground creatures. Literally all the aggressive creatures in the deck are fliers. If I played him, they could just block with their 2/2s."


The Titan did manage to make the maindeck at one point, along with a few other "all-stars. He managed to deal sixteen on one turn with two Glaze Fiends thanks to the Titan. All it took was an Obelisk of Esper, Onyx Goblet, and Sphinx's Herald. After those hit play in one turn, Stead could cast the Titan for free. That turned both his Glaze Fiends into 8/9 flying monstrosities, which, in turn, turned into a loss for his opponent.

Stead ran this unique deck to a 3-0 record and played himself into Top 16. Being crazy is a hell of a lot of fun when it works out.

"And it may have sent me to Kyoto, too."

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