Day 1 Grand Prix São Paulo Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on May 31, 2014

By Wizards of the Coast

By the end of Saturday the roar of the crowd had quieted to a sustained rumbling. What had once been three hundred teams united by hopes of greatness were now divided into the happy 40 who made the cut to Day 2 and the remainder who would have to console themselves with their bad beat stories. Standing head and shoulders above the others is the team of Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez and Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez, the only team to put up a perfect 8-0 record. They have seven teams hot on their heels with 7-1, however, so they can't afford to rest easy.

Tomorrow, they will return to five more rounds of combat with fresh sealed pools. The four teams who stand atop the standings at the end of the swiss won't have any time to rest before they're thrown into team draft elimination rounds. Only one team can claim the title! Will it be the old guard or fresh faces? Will the title stay in Brazil or will a foreign team reign supreme? Tune in tomorrow to find out!


Saturday, 1:25 p.m. – Team Sealed with Brazil's Best

by Josh Bennett

When your team has the two best players in your country on it, one of them a Hall of Famer and the other currently #23 in the Top 25 Player rankings, you start the tournament with a target on your back. Their third, Allison Abe, is no slouch. He's a Pro Tour semi-regular, Top 8'd the 2009 Grand Prix São Paulo, and joined Edel on Brazil's 2013 World Magic Cup team. They got their product and waited for the signal to begin.

The first order of business for our trio was cutting the unplayables from their pool while giving it a once-over. Edel flashed his teammates some good news - a Prognostic Sphinx next to a Bident of Thassa. Soon they were laying out the individual colors, trying to get a sense of the strenghts and weaknesses of each. Black had a standout King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but overall seemed to lack focus. Blue had a host of powerful cards but an uneven curve. Green was deep with plenty of aggressive creatures. Red had an aggressive bent but its casting costs would demand a heavy commitment to mountains. White had a thin heroic skeleton but was short on tricks.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Allison Abe, and Willy Edel

They settled on working from bases of Green, Blue, and Red, and tried out a Blue-Black control build. Unfortunately, Black couldn't provide the defensive early-turn plays the deck needed, so it was quickly swapped out for White. The Black offered nothing to the Green deck, so they sent it over to the Red. It gave that deck a few more early aggressive plays, and some powerful tricks, but at the cost of an unstable mana base.

They shoved the Black aside. It looked like there wouldn't be a home for it. It couldn't stand on its own because its best cards didn't play well together. Gnarled Scarhide and Bloodcrazed Hoplite wanted nothing to do with Read the Bones and Drown in Sorrow. Even worse, its bomb rare King Macar could not be splashed.

They shuffled cards between the three bases, trying build after build. Soon they had hit the halfway mark and were no closer to a solution. They tried some radical alternatives. What if the depth of Green could support two decks? This led to a Green-White heroic deck and a Blue-Green tempo deck, but still no real complement to the Red cards. Well, they had Xenagos, God of Revels sitting to the side. They moved a few single-Green cards over to the Red base to fill out its curve. It was functional, but hardly compelling.

Hopeful Eidolon

They returned to a Blue-White pairing. It still refused to be an aggressive deck, meaning that it wasn't making the best use of a pair of Sudden Storms. Maybe those could go over to the Green deck with some other tempo tools? Was that better than the current plan of just splashing a handful of White cards including a pair of Hopeful Eidolons? It would also mean fewer tools for the four Green heroic creatuers, and pulling those left the deck looking mediocre.

As the clock wound down they confirmed their three decks: Edel with the Red deck splashing a few Green cards including Xenagos, PV with Green aggro splashing White, and Abe with Blue-White control. They divided the sideboard cards quickly, giving Edel the Black cards so he could transform into a removal-heavy deck if needed, and finalized the registration sheets.

Once they were done I managed to ask how they felt about their chances. "I was just saying that I think we'll be happy to just Day 2," said Edel. "These decks are just not very good. They're worse than the decks we played in a practice event yesterday, and worse than the decks our opponents had. I think a lot of it will come down to what decks we face in each seat. For example, the Green deck can't lose to an aggro deck with its big creatures and Hopeful Eidolons. The Red deck is too fast for a control deck. So, we'll see."

Round 1 Feature Match – da Rosa/(23) Edel/Abe vs. Gomes/Rocha/de Miranda

by Nate Price

We started things in style here in São Paulo, with the powerhouse team of Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, 23rd ranked Willy Edel, and Edel's 2013 World Magic Cup teammate Allison Abe as our Kings of the Hill. Easily the most experienced team in the field, they represent three of the first names that pop into your head when you think of Brazilian Magic. Facing them down and looking to be the first trio to dethrone the Kings of the Hill are Daniel Pareto Gomes, Felipe Costa Rocha, and Helquer Sales de Miranda.

Gomes, Rocha, and de Miranda have their work cut out for them against da Rosa, Edel, and Abe.

The Decks

Da Rosa, Edel, and Abe were not particularly pleased with their decks.

"They're just not that good," Edel said after their build.

Da Rosa chimed in with, "Mine is pretty good," which got a laugh from the rest of his team.

"He always gets the best deck," Edel laughed. "Abe gets the slow deck, and I get the scraps."

In the end, they ended up with da Rosa on Green/White, Edel on virtually monored with a small Green splash, and Abe playing Blue/White. For more on their build, check out Josh Bennett's breakdown of it here.

On the other side of the table, Gomes ended up with an aggressive Black/Blue deck loaded with removal, Rocha had a Green/White heroic deck with a number of heroes and ways to enhance them, and de Miranda was playing a base Green deck filled with the mana acceleration and mana fixing required to power out his massive late-game threats.

The Matches

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Green/White) vs. Daniel Pareto Gomes (Blue/Black)

Da Rosa started the game off with a fairly aggressive opening. Swordwise Centaur and Nessian Courser often provide some great early aggression, but Asphyxiate and Nightmarish End kept them from getting in even a single attack. This allowed him to get in some early damage with a Felhide Brawler before upgrading to a Cloaked Siren. Things never really panned out for da Rosa, unfortunately, as each threat met a new answer, and he was left relatively neutered as Gomes's fliers finished off what his Felhide Brawler would have likely been able to.

The second game was a different story, however. No early removal from Gomes let da Rosa's Green army build unhindered. Nessian Courser, Nylea's Disciple, and Raised by Wolves gave him an impressive number of troops. In the end, Gomes's removal began to appear a bit too late. Though he managed to buy a couple of turns with Asphyxiate and Triton Tactics, Gomes was soon overrun by da Rosa's overwhelming number of creatures.

Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa assumes control.

Gomes stalled on three lands in the early stages of Game 3, but he still had an enormous amount of action. Battlefield Thaumaturge helped with the mana screw, and he rounded his team out with Vaporkin and War-Wing Siren, giving him a great aggressive start. Da Rosa was a bit behind but catching up quickly thanks to the card advantage offered by Eidolon of Blossoms and Chronicler of Heroes. Down to 7, he was in desperate need of reach to deal with Gomes's fliers, and his deck did not disappoint. If fliers are an issue, there are few answers better than Arbor Colossus, and he quickly slammed it (more like calmly placed it) into play. With the colossal roadblock in the way, da Rosa's larger creatures were able to overwhelm Gomes's smaller ones to secure the first match win for his team.

(23) Willy Edel (Red/Green) vs. Felipe Costa Rocha (Green/White)

Game one did not go well for Willy Edel. Rocha's highly aggressive Green/White heroic deck did exactly what it was supposed to, putting a bunch of enchantments on a Favored Hoplite and going to work. Nyxborn Shieldmate, Hopeful Eidolon, and Mortal Obstinacy gave him a massive 7/9 lifelinking creature that utterly dominated Edel's mostly Red deck. Edel managed to get a Xenagos, God of Revels, into play late into the game, but it was more for show than anything. He conceded just a couple of brutal turns later.

Felipe Costa Rocha's massive lifelinker proved quite problematic for Willy Edel.

Unable to deal with large heroic creatures, especially lifelinking ones, Edel opted to sideboard out his small Green splash to bring in a few Black cards, including Asphyxiate and King Macar, the Gold-Cursed.

"I just can't beat big lifelinkers like that with the Red cards in my deck," Edel explained. "I am not splashing many Green cards, so I could trade them out for some Black removal spells. It makes my deck slower, but more powerful, and it gives me ways to deal with the creatures even after they've gotten big."

Rocha one again had a first-turn Favored Hoplite, but lacked the early enhancement he held in the first game. Complicating matters was Edel's very aggressive draw with his new Black/Red deck, adding Felhide Brawler, Sigiled Skink, and Akroan Line Breaker to his team. Asphyxiate and Bolt of Keranos kept the way more or less clear for Edel, and he soon found himself on the verge of setting the stage for an impressive comeback for his team. When Rocha went to use Mortal's Ardor on his Favored Hoplite during blocks to kill Edel's creature and stay alive, Edel used Fated Conflagration to finish it off, clearing the board and giving him the victory.

And just like that, the walls came crashing down. Hero of Leina Tower came down on the very first turn of the game, which has an incredible ability to take over games. Rocha used Mortal Obstinacy to trigger the heroic for two on the third turn, making his creature quite difficult to kill for Edel's deck, and presenting a very quick clock. Complicating matters, Edel was stuck on three lands. Down incredibly far hilariously fast, Edel just shrugged with a little laugh when Rocha cast Eidolon of Countless Battles, one of the best cards in the format. Staring at three lands and not enough to dig himself out of the hole, Edel conceded, dropping his team's first match of the round.

Allison Abe (Blue/White) vs. Helquer Sales de Miranda (Green/Red/Blue)

The final match between Abe and de Miranda was a tale of two different styles of Magic. On one hand was Abe's grinding Blue/White control deck, which looked to stall the ground up and win through the air with fliers and Hour of Need. On the other was de Miranda's Green ramp deck, which used cards like Burnished Hart and Font of Fertility to ramp into massive late-game monsters. In the first game, things were clearly in de Miranda's favor.Market Festival and Voyaging Satyr created a stupid early-game combination for de Miranda, allowing him to cast a laughably early Vulpine Goliath and even a Tromokratis with no Islands in play! Needless to say, Abe couldn't come close to dealing with this and was crushed under de Miranda's tide of fatties.

Islands? Islands?! Helquer Sales de Miranda don't need no stinking Islands!

The second game started off much better for Abe. Vaporkin, Eagle of the Watch, and Supply-Line Cranes gave Abe an early advantage, but Rollick of Abandon slowed him down immensely. Burnished Hart allowed de Miranda to jump start his own offense with Nemesis of Mortals and Ill-Tempered Cyclops to take over the game late. Still, Abe had a lead and kept the fliers coming, adding Wingsteed Riders to give him a chance at outracing de Miranda. In the end, it was a Retraction Helix on an Aerie Worshippers that sealed the game. Getting to bound the Cyclops in response to monstrous, as well as getting a safe inspired trigger, allowed him the blockers needed to let his fliers finish things off.

The final game of this match was a textbook example of how non-interactive this particular matchup can be, with Abe on the early offensive while de Miranda built his mana up for his impressive late-game threats. Abe owned the skies with a War-Wing Siren wearing a Nyxborn Triton, while de Miranda owned the ground with a monstrous Ravenous Leucrocota. Hour of Need gave Abe yet another large flying attacker, but he was behind in the race. Things tensed up as the two players jockeyed for position near the end of the game, both playing more-or-less noninteractive Magic. Then it broke. Abe left his Siren back to block while attacking with his Sphinx. De Miranda removed it and cracked back for nearly lethal. All Abe held was land, and he had nothing to stop Louis C. Rocata from ruining his day and giving the match and round to de Miranda and crew.

After the match, Edel and da Rosa mused about what things would have been like if they had been paired differently.

"I think Paulo would have been able to beat my opponent much easier, and I would have been better matched up against Abe's," Edel told me.

"Our decks are not particularly good," admitted da Rosa, "but we didn't have the best matchups this round, either."

With that, Gomes, Rocha, and de Miranda took over the King of the Hill spot, while da Rosa, Edel, and Abe limped into the 0-1 bracket, still looking for their first win of the event.

Gomes/Rocha/de Miranda defeated da Rosa/Edel/Abe 2-1

Round 2 Feature Match – Guimaraes/Weiss/Fraga vs. Pozzo/Luna/de Nicola

by Josh Bennett

The Players

It's your classic Pros-vs-Joes matchup here. Both teams are off to a 1-0 start, but Guimaraes, Weiss and Fraga are the big underdogs here. They're up against an Argentine powerhouse. You last saw Javier Luna in the Top 8 of the Sunday Super Series held at the Wizards of the Coast HQ. Sebastian Pozzo notched a GP Top 8 on home soil at GP Buenos Aires 2008. Nicolas de Nicola earned his GP Top 4 just last year at GP Santiago.

The deck breakdown is as follows:

A) Pozzo, White-Blue aggro
B) Luna, Black-Red midrange
C) de Nicola, Green-Blue tempo

A) Guimaraes, White-Red aggro
B) Weiss, Green-Red midrange
C) Fraga, Blue-Black control

Left side, bottom to top: Guimaraes, Weiss, Fraga
Right side, bottom to top: Pozzo, Luna, de Nicola

The Matches

B Seat - Weiss vs. Luna

Leafcrown Dryad

While their teammates were still shuffling up these two were already in the thick of things. Unfortunately for Luna, he was stuck on three mountains with no play, and could only watch as Weiss rolled over him with Leafcrown Dryad, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix and Pharagax Giant.

Luna quickly returned the favor with a beatdown start of Pharika's Chosen, Minotaur Skullcleaver and Mogis, God of Slaughter. Weiss was forced to hide behind a Setessan Oathsworn with Fearsome Temper on it. Mogis continued to work on his lifetotal and was soon manifest thanks to Luna's wealth of permanents. The game ended in his favor shortly thereafter.

The deciding game was slow to develop, and that played directly into Luna's draw. He got ahead on cards thanks to Read the Bones and Disciple of Phenax, and was able to match each of Weiss's threats with removal. Soon Weiss was out of cards and Luna was summoning Spawn of Thraxes.

Pozzo/Luna/de Nicola 1 - Guimaraes/Weiss/Fraga 0

A Seat - Pozzo vs. Guimaraes

Loyal Pegasus

Pozzo won the die roll and hit the ground running. His curve of Loyal Pegasus into Vanguard of Brimaz into Leonin Snarecaster had Guimaraes on the back foot early. Guimares managed to trade away the ground creatures, but Pozzo found Cavalry Pegasus to keep up pressure in the air. He added Ordeal of Heliod to speed up the clock and Guimaraes was unable to stop them in time.

Guimaraes flipped the script in game two. He led out with Oreskos Swifclaw and Elite Skirmisher, getting through some damage and forcing trades from Pozzo. He replaced them with the mighty Fabled Hero and an Akroan Skyguard, but was stuck on just three plains. Pozzo found Akroan Mastiff to answer the Hero, then put Eidolon of Countless Battles on his Stonewise Fortifier and started attacking. Guimares found his fourth land and summoned Dawnbringer Charioteers, and on his next turn entered into a conference with his teammate Weiss, who had just finished his match, over what his plan should be.


C Seat - Kevin Fraga vs Nicolas de Nicola

Golden Hind

Their first game had been a drawn-out affair. Despite a turn-two Golden Hind, de Nicola hadn't been able to get a jump on Fraga, who slowed him down with Brain Maggot and Pin to the Earth. Still, de Nicola had Sigiled Starfish, so as the game drew out he had the advantage. The turning point came when he summoned Nessian Wilds Ravager, which hit play as a 12/12. Fraga had been banking on his Pharika's Chosen and a handful of tricks to keep the giant monster at bay. A Sudden Storm from de Nicola caught him tapped out, and he took a big hit down to eight. From there, de Nicola was able to keep enough pressure on Fraga that he was forced to spend Hubris for little gain, and then finish him off with a pump spell two turns later.

In the second game, Fraga took some damage from Boon Satyr wearing Leafcrown Dryad. He bought himself some time with Sudden Storm, then drew into the Pin to the Earth he needed. Shortly thereafter he was swinging overhead with a flier, but that only played into de Nicola's plans. Hour of Need traded the worthless Satyr for a 4/4 flier that blocked without incident. Fraga couldn't find a bounce spell and was soon dead to the flying beatdown.

Pozzo/Luna/de Nicola 2 - Guimaraes/Weiss/Fraga

Now that their match result was moot, Pozzo and Guimaraes shook hands and wished each other good luck in the coming rounds.

Saturday, 5:45 p.m. – Top Table Trends in São Paulo

by Nate Price

Here in Round 4, things are beginning to stratify a bit. With the lack of byes at Team Grand Prix, there isn't a massive influx of new players with perfect records to really mess around with a midday glimpse around the top tables.

Sebastian Pozzo, Javier Luna, and Nicolas De Nicola of Argentina are leading the way here in São Paulo.

At Team Grand Prix, the card pools are so much larger than in individual Sealed Deck Grand Prix that the decks can begin to look wildly different. The good decks are good, and the bad decks are, well, still good, but not good. While each individual card pool is obviously going to be different, there are still some fairly apparent general strategies to Team Sealed Deck work with the full Theros block.

First off, to no one's surprise I'm sure, Red and Black appear to be the most restrictive colors in the format. It's hard to say that they're "the least played colors" since every team has a Red deck and a Black deck, but they certainly appear the least frequently and always with the same basic pairings. Red/Blue and Red/White seem to be significantly underrepresented in the field. Red/Green, however, has a fairly decent following, which I'll come back to in a minute. Black, on the other hand, is laughably in favor of Blue/Black. There are a smattering of Black/Red decks filling out the tables, but those decks are almost entirely from the limited number of pools that had a great Minotaur deck in their pool. Interestingly, there are a not-insignificant number of monocolored decks at the top tables, and they happen to be primarily Black or Red.

As for the other colors, there seems to be a fairly clear split between Blue, White, and Green as for the most populous color, and they appear to be a bit more promiscuous in their pairings. White is split primarily into White/Green and White/Blue decks. Blue is most heavily split between Blue/Green and Black/Blue. Meanwhile Green is found in the most color combinations, with only Black/Green underrepresented.

One of the reasons for this is the nature of the beasts. Moreso than any other color, Green has two faces. First is the heroic, "build your own monster" Green cards like Setessan Oathsworn, Staunch-Hearted Warriors, and the plethora of great Green tricks to enhance them. Next comes the actual monsters, the beefy Green beaters that can be so hard to deal with in this format. Finally, there are all of the mana producers and ramp cards that Green has to offer, such as Font of Fertility, Voyaging Satyr, and Golden Hind. The heroic deck and the mana deck tend to represent opposing strategies, while the beasts are ideal complements to the initial heroic aggro as well as end-game threats for the ramp decks.

That brings up another good point: because of the size of the card pools in Team tournaments, decks are incredibly focused. You don't often see a Black/Red deck with a Minotaur subtheme the way you would in solo Sealed Deck or Booster Draft. You see a Black/Red Minotaur deck. When you see heroic decks, they are the most streamlined, linear versions of the deck you can imagine. The ramp decks are consistently throwing down fatties on turn four. These decks are legit. Because of this fact, decks need to be as streamlined as possible. Cards that don't help the deck's theme, like mana ramp cards in a heroic deck, need to find another home.

Getting back to Green, it is by far the most split up color within individual card pools. This multifaceted nature of the color lends itself quite well to being split up. White and Blue are also being split up a reasonable amount themselves. White's cards, just like Green's, can find their way into multiple decks. In addition to the large number of Green/White heroic decks and the smattering of Blue/White heroic decks, there are a number of Blue/White control decks that are using White's great fliers and reasonable defensive creatures to fill the void when Blue/Black is unavailable. Blue, meanwhile, can really fit its way into any other shell, with the tempo cards and fliers teaming up well with Green's fat ground guys, anything White wants to do, and Black's great defensive cards.

In total, it looks, unsurprisingly, like the common conceptions about Team Limited in this format are roughly the same as what is seen in individual Limited, but with a bit of a sharper edge. The decks that are doing the best are the ones that have been focused, with no cards out of place. Obviously a few bombs never hurt anyone, but it is the proper allocation of cards and division of colors that appears to be winning the day here in São Paulo.

Round 5 Feature Match – Romao/Martins/Chaud vs. Dias/da Costa/Cabral

by Josh Bennett

The Teams

MOCS Competitor Bruno Dias tagged two of his fellow Magic Online mavens to join him for this weekend's event: Hugo da Costa, a workhorse with peerless focus, and Paulo Cabral, a grinder who worked his way up from pauper.

Sitting at 2-2, you could forgive Dias for expecting to face some soft competition. Unfortunately for him, he found himself sitting across from none other than former World Champion Carlos Romao. Magic has been a low priority for the big man for some time now, but he couldn't resist the call of this tournament. He teamed up with a couple of other greybeards, Sergio Martins and Matheus Chaud, both of whom could be found at the top of the National Championship leaderboard back in the day. "These guys are like me," said Romao with a laugh, "good players from awhile ago who had to stop playing so much Magic and get on with life."

The decks were as follows:

A) Romao - Green-Blue
B) Martins - Black-White Aggro
C) Chaud - Red-Blue Control

A) Dias - Green-Blue
B) da Costa - Black-Blue Control
C) Cabral - White-Red Aggro

Left side, bottom to top: Romao, Martins, Chaud
Right side, bottom to top: Dias, da Costa, Cabral

The Match

A-Seat: Carlos Romao vs. Bruno Dias

Nessian Courser

Despite both players being stuck on only three lands, this match opened with a buildup of small creatures. Dias had a Nessian Courser and tried to best Romao's Nyxborn Wolf in combat with Feral Invocation. Savage Surge from Romao made it an even trade. Dias was first to hit a fourth land and immediately summoned Eidolon of Blossoms. Romao found his fourth behind him, but made no play. Dias fifth land was on time and he added Nessian Asp to his side of the board, outclassing Romao's flashed-in Cloaked Siren.

Things went quickly downhill for Romao as Dias summoned Prophet of Kruphix, and proceeded to make very good use of his extra mana, bestowing Nyxborn Triton as an instant-speed cantrip. Archetype of Imagination followed, and that was more than enough to convince Romao to head to the next game.


B-Seat: Sergio Martins vs Hugo da Costa

Pharika's Chosen

The B's were mired in aerial conflict. Da Costa had Pharika's Chosen to hold the ground and was going overhead with War-Wing Siren enchanted with Spiteful Returned. Martins was returning fire with Eagle of the Watch, but was losing the race. Nyx Infusion slowed da Costa's clock, and then Supply Line Cranes hit play for Martins. Now da Costa had to hold back, only to see Martins remove the Siren entirely. At just three life, da Costa ripped the swamp he needed to Sip of Hemlock the Cranes, leaving only the Eagle on offense. Martins pounded his deck but found only land. He gamely knocked da Costa to 1 life and passed. Da Costa aimed Asphyxiate at it, and it resolved. Soon da Costa was bestowing Erebos's Emissary and attacking for the win.

The second game was much less of a nailbiter. Martins had no immediate answer for a midgame War-Wing Siren suited up with Nighthowler, and that didn't afford him many turns to find it. Da Costa had given his team the first win.

C-Seat: Matheus Chaud vs Paulo Cabral

Minotaur Skullcleaver

Chaud was slow off the blocks in the first game and that was just how Cabral had drawn it up in practice. He was quickly down to the single digits against an army of Red and White creatures. Chaud was finally able to summon his bigger creatures, but unfortunately for him, Cabral had tricks in reserve. Worse, Cabral couldn't manage to field two creatures on a given turn. He was overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

The second game was more of the same. When you have to play a defensive Minotaur Skullcleaver, you know you're in trouble. Cabral rolled out a curve of Satyr Hoplite, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and then Harvestguard Alseids. Chaud summoned Chorus of the Tides, but Fall of the Hammer took them out and grew the Hoplite, and Ajani's Presence traded for the Skullcleaver. From there, Cabral was able to press the advantage to victory. Chaud's last desperate move was playing Hour of Need on Cabral's two creatures to Fog an attack. He checked his next card then extended the hand in defeat.

Dias/da Costa/Cabral 2 - Romao/Martins/Chaud 0

While all this had been going on, Romao had been doing his best to dance around Dias. He'd managed to steal Bow of Nylea with Daring Thief, and then copied Dias's Prophet of Kruphix with Artisan of Forms. Dias seemed to have an advantage on board, but the Bow was making things complicated. When the news came that the match had already been decided, both players seemed relieved that they wouldn't have to wrack their brains trying to figure the game out.

Saturday, 9:30 p.m. – Building a Community: Interview with Willy Edel

by Nate Price

When you think of Brazilian Magic, the first name that leaps to mind in most cases is the Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. It's easy to understand why. His numbers have been astronomical and his rise meteoric. He absolutely dominated the Pro Tour and Grand Prix circuit like few players before him had. He is, in every sense of the phrase, a Hall of Famer.

Past PV, I'm hoping that the next name that popped into your head was Willy Edel's. Edel is a bit of an enigma on the Pro Tour. He has been around seemingly forever, but he unfortunately often goes recognized as the Brazilian player who isn't PV. This belies his incredibly strong and steady performances, including six Grand Prix and four Pro Tour Top 8s and a number of other very near misses. It also fails to fully grasp just how important Edel has been to Brazilian Magic, and how different things would be if he had taken a different path.

Willy Edel: A pillar of Brazilian Magic.

"I used to play RPGs when I was like fifteen or sixteen," Edel told me, "but I always disliked that you didn't have a winner. You play for fun and everything, and I've always been a very competitive guy. One day at my RPG store, I saw some guys playing this new competitive card game, so I asked them to learn, they taught me, and here we are. It was like 19 years ago."

Like many of the professional Magic players I've spoken to over the years, Edel's competitive streak is what really pulled him to the game, and it took him a bit of time to get up to speed.

"My Pro debut was Pro Tour New York in 2000, the team event," he told me. "I went to the PTQ, which at the time didn't offer flights. At the time there was no help, like sponsorship or anything, so PTQs in Brazil were more like just a big event. Instead of a local event with like 30 people, they were little more than a bigger event with close to 100 people. But I ended up qualifying and deciding to go with two friends. Neither of the guys I teamed with had ever been to the US before, so their fathers helped them to come up with the money for them to take the trip. We have so much fun! If I'm not mistaken we went 3-3 and lost playing for Day 2 in the last round, but it was still an amazing experience. My second Pro Tour wasn't until 2005. I tried for five years to qualify again (I was so bad at the time), but I kept improving and kept improving. The Internet was starting to become a great tool for Magic at that time. We had The Dojo and several other websites, so I was able to improve, and, in 2005, I made the Brazilian National team and played at Worlds. Then in 2006, I qualified for Charleston and have managed to keep it up since then."

Edel's first Brazilian national team in 2005. It would not be his last.

Edel knows firsthand how difficult it can be to make it to the Pro Tour, especially from Latin America, and he knows how difficult it can be to stay there. Perhaps the biggest contribution he has made to the Latin American Magic community has been to offer himself as a resource for all of the players that manage to win their qualification, but have no idea how to make what was once nothing but a dream a reality. Many of the things that go into a Pro Tour or Grand Prix trip are things we take for granted, like knowing how to book a flight or hotel. With a limited number of Latin American Grand Prix and such a small number of PTQs, many of the Latin American players simply don't know how to Pro Tour.

"I know pretty much every single Brazilian player that wants to win a PTQ, and most of them are my friends," Edel smiled. "I've been on the Tour since pretty much 2005 with very few interruptions, and any time someone has won a PTQ, they come straight for me. 'How can I book my flight?' 'What about a hotel or renting a car?' They aren't sure what to do because they've never had to do this before. So I started teaching them. Magic in Brazil has really grown. We used to just have one PTQ a season, now we get five. If Magic had more post-player careers, I think I would like to be a coach. I really enjoy teaching. Not just teaching how to play Magic, but how to properly behave yourself, how to carry yourself at the next level. I just love teaching things like this to my friends."

Beyond simply preparing players for the logistics of the Pro Tour, Edel has worked hard to ensure that not just Brazilians, but every Latin American player has access to all of the resources and the highest level of play the region has to offer. Much like Team MTG Mint Card has consolidated the top-level talent of Southeast Asia under one banner, Edel has visions of getting the best players Latin America has to offer to compete with each other to raise their game to the next level.

"I think my biggest goal right now is to get as many Brazilian players and other Latin American players to work together as I can," Edel explained. "In two years, I'd love to see like five or six Latin American players making Gold or Platinum, because right now, it's really only me. Opening my store has made things much easier for everyone, as well. For example, for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, nobody had any Journey into Nyx cards. Nobody had packs to draft. So I went to my store and grabbed eight playsets of everything and plenty of product for people to draft with."

Players from North America and Europe, with much larger player bases, often don't quite grasp how difficult it can be to consistently make it to the Pro Tour for players from the Latin American region. Since the number of tournaments a region gets is determined by the active player base, Latin America's smaller player base means that there are a smaller number of chances to hit the big time here. As Grand Prix are a major method of players making it to the lowest rungs of the Pro Player club, thereby earning Pro Tour invites, it can be very difficult to make it to enough tournaments to accrue the points required to make it to even Silver. As such, it's often much more about taking that one big swing, about making it big at a Pro Tour and earning an invite to the next one.

"It's very hard to be prepared for these events down here, it really is," Edel said with a sad shake of his head. "It's just hard to make it to the next level in general in Latin America. For Argentinean players, for example, they only have one PTQ, and even if you win the PTQ and Top 50 the Pro Tour, most of the time they aren't qualified for the next one. There aren't many Grand Prix down here, and they can be difficult to get to. People may think it's easy for a Mexican player, for example, to come down here for a Grand Prix, but it's not. It's easier to go to an event in the United States. For smaller countries, like Bolivia or Peru, there aren't many flights to get to the Grand Prix. I don't see any Bolivians here today, for example, and I've only seen a couple of Argentineans and Chileans.

Still, I think that things are moving in the right direction. They're getting better. As the community down here grows, we get more Grand Prix and more PTQs, which makes it possible for more people to qualify and try to make headlines. Still, getting to Gold or Silver is very difficult for Latin American players unless they do very well at a Pro Tour, and I'm not sure how to remedy that except to get as many people together as possible to try to raise everyone up to the next level. We're working with three Mexicans for the next Pro Tour, for example. We haven't seen a Mexican win a prize at the Pro Tour in like five years, but we're starting to all band together, and I'm really proud of everyone."

And those big finishes really do help. Players that have big finishes at major events are highly celebrated in the Latin American community, much as Edel is in Brazil. Brazil has been fortunate to have a number of very celebrated professional players over the years, from Edel and da Rosa to former World Champion Carlos Romão. This has done wonders for their community down here, and is one of the major reasons that they are leaders in the region. But Edel wants that influence and celebration to spread outside the borders of Brazil. By incorporating players from other Latin American countries, Edel hopes to create beacons for all of the other countries in the region, to see their communities grow the way his own has.

Willy Edel: Kiblering before it was cool...

"I really want to have a Mexican player or an Argentinean make it to at least Silver, maybe Gold," he told me. "Then, they can go back and inspire their communities to play more and harder. I think it's important that when a player has achieved a certain level of success, they come back and give back to their local community. I've gotten a lot from Magic. A lot of friends say that I am sacrificing myself working with the Latin Americans instead of a big team. I get several invites every Pro Tour to work with one of the big teams, and I always decline them. Maybe that's dumb. Maybe I could have better personal results if I would work with them, but I really enjoy what I am doing. For Pro Tour Born of the Gods, we only had about three Brazilians qualified, so I worked with some of the Europeans and only one of the Brazilians. I felt a little bad that I couldn't share my deck with the other two. I'm not sure what I'm doing for Portland yet, but if enough people qualify for it from Latin America, of course I will test with them. I have been told that I should focus on myself more, but I just can't.

And it's going to be even harder for him to focus on himself here in a couple of months.

"I have a child coming along (my first one) in July," he said with a big smile on his face. "I'm not sure that I can afford to keep playing as a full-time player if I'm just Gold, so making it to Platinum is more important than ever. If I am fortunate enough to make Hall of Fame this year, it would be amazing for me. I would be able to take the first year off to take care of my child, only travel for the Pro Tours, and have no pressure of maintaining my Pro Player level. Either way, though, I need to keep doing well, both to try and hit Platinum and to give myself the best shot at making into the Hall of Fame. I have to focus on what's right in front of me for the time being, because in two months, my life will change a lot."

Keep doing well was the appropriate thing to say, as Edel has had a very good year thus far. He's sitting on 38 points coming into this weekend, making him effectively just shy of getting Platinum for next year. Still, it's more than good enough for him to be both the leader for the top Latin American representative for the World Championships and the frontrunner for Brazilian National captain for the World Magic Cup.

"The World Championship last year was amazing," Edel gushed. "I played in the last Invitational in 2007, and it was the best tournament ever. The World Championship feels really close to that. They make you feel so important. They do a lot of advertising and publicity. And the other fifteen players were all really good! If I play here and leave 6-6, I would be really disappointed. You can't be disappointed with a 6-6 performance against the actual top players in the world. I really want to go back, this time prepare a little bit better. This year, there are two Latin American spots, so I would love for the two delegates to be myself and Paulo. He always works so hard and he's such a good player, I know that if we went and prepared together that we could do well."

Edel played against da Rosa at the 2008 World Championships. This year, he hopes that they're on the same side.

"For me, though, the best tournament in the world is the World Magic Cup. If it were between that and the World Championship, I would take the chance to represent my country in a heartbeat. I always wanted to be a soccer player, but I am so bad...there's just no way. I just love the thought of being on my national team, people cheering and singing the national anthem... I really like the thought of this. There's just such pride at the World Magic Cup, not just for the individual player, but for the country as a whole. I have never gotten as much support as I got when I was on the World Magic Cup team. And I can do exactly what I have been practicing for all of these years for the Pro Tour. I get to take my teammates, get everyone together, and work together with the other Brazilians. The last World Magic Cup was such a good experience! We had a very good team. We came just short, losing a very close match to miss out the Top 8. And I've never felt so sad for being unable to qualify my friends for the Pro Tour. I was really sad. I really want to go and really want to try again."

Willy Edel and the 2013 Brazilian World Magic Cup team.

Regardless of what it may mean to him, Edel always seems to be putting the thoughts and successes of his friends and the rest of the Latin American community over his own. He has been through the lean times, has succeeded only to fail time and again before finding his feet and making it to the top. He knows what it takes to succeed and has spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to help convey that to his fellow players so that they don't have to go through the same trials and tribulations that he did.

"Players around here always ask me what they can do to get better, to make it to the Pro Tour, and my answer is always the same: Play more."

It really is as simple as that. All he asks is that players play more and continue to work and help Magic grow. With time and hard work, the successes will come. The hard work will pay off. And when it does, Edel will be there to help get prepared for the challenges to come.

Saturday, 10:00 p.m. – Five Minutes with Bruno Dias

by Josh Bennett

I managed to snag 2013 MOCS competitor Bruno Dias between rounds for a quick interview. Here's how it went down.

You've been pretty busy lately. Tell me about the last few weeks.

Yes! Well, the Pro Tour, of course. I flew out to Atlanta the week before to practice. Then, after that, I stayed in Atlanta for the Grand Prix. Then I flew home and here we are at the team GP.

You competed in the MOCS, but Atlanta was your first PT. What were your thoughts as you prepared for that?

It's a whole other level! My goal was only to make Day 2. Of course I wanted to win, everyone wants to win. Nobody says 'Oh, I hope I lose!' But I thought that I could make Day 2, that was my first goal. After that we would see.

And you did it!

Yes just barely. Round 6 at 2-3 I played a match against the great William Jensen. It went three games but I won, that was a big victory for me. After that I thought 'Okay, I can do this'.

Bruno Diaz, left, with teammates Paulo Cabral and Hugo da Costa

You ended the tournament 117th with a 9-7 record. What were your thoughts then?

It was a mix of feelings. You know, anger at my bad draws, but at the same time... something like "Mission Accomplished". My last match it came down to a topdeck. I was going to kill him with my dragon, he had no cards in hand, and I was at four so I wasn't going to die to Lightning Strike so I thought I was fine. Then he untaps and plays Harness by Force. Bam. That's a thousand dollars and two pro points right there.

That's awful!

That's Magic! You know I went 4-1 in Constructed on Day 2 so I can't complain. Although I did ask him if I could see his deck, he had two of them in 34 cards so you can do the math.

Tell me about the week after the Pro Tour in Atlanta.

Oh that was great. I finally got to be a tourist, see all the sights. The first week, I was very focused, I would only play Magic.

How did the Grand Prix go?

I got 69th, not bad. I was 10-1 going into the 2nd draft and my pod had all kinds of pros in it, Saito, Wafo-Tapa, that awesome guy from Team MTGMint with three names [Tzu Ching Kuo], I actually beat him 2-0 in the first pod. The worst of it was that I thought my 2nd draft was even better than my first one but my draws just weren't there.

After all that, this event has to be like a vacation.

Yeah you know it's always great to play a big event with your friends. My teammates Hugo da Silva and Paulo Cabral are also big Magic Online guys.

So what's next for you?

Well I'm going to be trying to get back to the Pro Tour. It's hard here, though. There are not many PTQs, maybe three a season. I'll be going to them, though, and the Grand Prix in Santiago. Also trying to Top 4 this event of course!

Anything you'd like to add?

Well I just want to say, for me the best thing about Magic is the people involved. You know, people are so welcoming, at the MOCS, at the Pro Tour. I also want to say that I'm so grateful to Willy Edel for his help before the Pro Tour. He really took care of me.

Round 7 Feature Match – Jaudy/Merjan/dos Santos Esteves vs. Maldonado/ de Castro/Bejgel

by Nate Price

This would be the first round that Tulio Jaudy, Guilherme Merjan, and Carlos dos Santos Esteves were the reigning Kings of the Hill. They had just come off of dethroning Hervas, Gaston, and Piratelli just one round ago, and they looked sharp. Jaudy had a great breakout event at Grand Prix Buenos Aires 2008 with an 18th place finish, even going on to secure himself a spot at Worlds in 2010. He most recently won a PTQ for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx but was unable to attend the Pro Tour. His teammates are two other very good Brazilian players who were actually pointed out by Willy Edel as players that I should keep my eye on. Facing them down this round are Nicolau Maldonado, Leonardo de Castro, and Henrique Bejgel.

Esteves/Merjan/Jaudy on the left, Bejgel/de Castro/Maldonado on the right.

The Decks

Jaudy came in playing the underappreciated combination of Red/White. The deck combines a number of early heroic creatures with the game-ending power of Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Stormbreath Dragon. Merjan had another very underappreciated archetype: Black/White. With most of the aggressive cards making their way into Jaudy's deck, Merjan was actually playing a Black/White control deck with Scholar of Athreos and Triad of Fates. Rounding the team out was Esteves's very standard Blue/Green deck.

Facing them down were Maldonado's aggressive Green/White heroic deck that tops out at the powerful Anthousa, Setessan Hero. Next to him was a different kind of Black/White deck. De Castro's Black/White heroic deck took most of the aggressive White cards that Maldonado's mostly-Green deck didn't need and backs them up with the powerful Athreos, God of Passage. Finally, Bejgel's deck was a powerful Blue/Red tempo deck filled with a load of bounce and direct damage, as well as a number of great evasive creatures.

The Games

Tulio Jaudy (Red/White) vs. Nicolau Maldonado (Green/White)

The first game of this match was almost over before it began. Jaudy's highly aggressive Red/White deck spat out an early Vanguard of Brimaz, which in turn spat out a few extra attackers thanks to a bestowed Nyxborn Shieldmate and Fall of the Hammer. Maldonado was never able to recover from the heary early assault and fell before his larger creatures could get online.

In the second game, Jaudy's Harvestguard Alseids and Ill-Tempered Cyclops played pretty good defense, biding him time until Stormbreath Dragon could show up. Still, Maldonado had a massive army, with two Golden Hinds, Courser of Kruphix, Oakenheart Dryads, and a massive Quarry Colossus, to name just a fraction of his troops. Somehow, despite facing overwhelming numbers, Jaudy managed to stay at a lofty 18 life.

That all came crashing down when Maldonado cast Anthousa, Setessan Hero. He had played the powerful Green rare in the first game, when it didn't matter, but, in this case, it most certainly did. A Savage Surge on Anthousa allowed Maldonado to attack with thirteen creatures, threatening to win the game in one fell swoop. Jaudy tried to line his blockers up as best as he could, but, after a few minutes of wracking his brain about it, realized it was futile and conceded.

"This certainly did lead to one Savage Surge..."

With the slow and bogged down game out of the way, the players returned to blisteringly fast draws. Maldonado's aggressive start included Swordwise Centaur and Nessian Courser, which would under most normal circumstances be very difficult to overcome. Jaudy, however, didn't even bother to try and defend himself. On the play, he consecutively cast Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Stormbreath Dragon. The duo evened up all of the damage done thus far. When Jaudy added two more creatures on the following turn, he not only had defenders to stop Maldonado's offensive, but put himself actually ahead in life due to the Purphoros triggers. It was all that he needed for a big, angry dragon to finish things off.

Carlos dos Santos Esteves (Blue/Green) vs. Henrique Bejgel (Blue/Red)

Bejgel's removal-filled deck was able to keep Esteves at bay for the early stages of the first game, using Hubris and Bolt of Keranos to keep the board clear. Despite this, Bejgel was never able to advance his own board while Esteves rebuilt. A Whitewater Naiads and a number of enchantments that kept returning to Esteves's hand ensured a steady stream of unblockable damage. The final nail in the coffin was when Esteves used a Retraction Helix to return Bejgel's lone creature, a Vaporkin, in response to his Retraction Helix.

Game 2 was one of two competing types of evasion, as Esteves built a flying army with Chorus of the Tides and Cloaked Siren, while Bejgel had a Whitewater Naiads to keep his army flying under the radar. All of that changed when Bejgel used Hour of Need to turn his two creatures into two 4/4 flying Sphinxes, crushing Esteves's team. It was all over from that point, as the Sphinxes finished Esteves two turns later.

The third game flew by just as rapidly as the previous two. Stuck on three lands against Thassa's Emissary, Esteves had to watch as h was slowly dismantled by Bejgel without much say in the matter. A Griptide to deny a land drop yet again was just the twisting of the dagger as Bejgel pulled inexorably ahead. He was mocked by the fact that Bejgel could use the same amount of mana he had to activate his Aerie Worshippers and still have four more available. Esteves just laughed and made a show of trying to block with a land before conceding the match to even the Round at one match apiece.

Guilherme Merjan (White/Black Control) vs. Leonardo de Castro (White/Black Heroic)

From the get go, Merjan was under assault. Harvestguard Alseids with an Ordeal of Heliod became a massive threat very quickly, threatening to take the game over until a timely Sip of Hemlock brought the monster crashing back down to earth. This gave Merjan all the breathing room he needed to assume control. Sitting on a mere 8 life, he built a board with Triad of Fates, Baleful Eidolon, and Scholar of Athreos. Things got dicey for a minute there when de Castrol resolved Athreos, God of Passage, and a Gray Merchant of Asphodel for four life, but the slow grind of the Scholar got there, activating three times a turn and playing fantastic defense until de Castro was dead.

The slow grind of the first game was replaced with blazing speed in the second. De Castro opened with a Bloodcrazed Hoplite and Elite Skirmishers, quickly assaulting Merjan who had kept a powerful, albeit slow, hand. Well behind by the time that he cast his Ornitharch, Merjan just sighed as the Skirmishers kept it out of the way long enough for de Castro's troops to finish what they had started.

Ornitharch, but the damage was done. Skirmishers kept it out of the picture as the early advantage snowballed into a win.

Merjan and de Castro' dueling Hoplites.

Both players mulliganned for the round-deciding game. They also both opened with Bloodcrazed Hoplite, prompting a long discussion between Merjan and his teammates about whether or not to play Ordeal of Erebos into the heroic-eating Hoplite. In the end, Erebos got his errand runner, and the Hoplite bashed in for four. This allowed de Castro to fight back with an Ordeal of Heliod, eating one of Merjan's counters. This counter trading continued for only one more turn until Merjan played a Baleful Eidolon for defense. Leonin Snarecaster allowed de Castro to get through and eat yet one more counter, though the Hoplite would fall to the Eidolon on the following attack. Cavalry Pegasus gave Merjan a way to attack with impunity, giving him the perfect way to finish things off. With an almost unnecessary Gray Merchant of Asphodel off of the top of his deck, Merjan was able to secure victory, giving his team a 2-1 win to retain the King of the Hill title.

Jaudy/Merjan/dos Santos Esteves defeated Maldonado/ de Castro/Bejgel 2-1

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