Posted in Event Coverage on November 7, 2013

By Marc Calderaro

Argentine Matias Soler spoke emphatically while looking over Luis Navas’s decklist; he was impressed. Quite frankly, most people were. Though the Chilean’s Black-Red abomination certainly had its roots in Ari Lax’s Pro Tour Theros deck, it was its own animal. And it had been behaving like one all weekend. It devoured any deck that even considered stumbling, and spit out reach-gaining spells like Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch to close out games that seemed already in the opponent’s grasp.

But his final challenge was to get through Matias Soler. An imposing man already—complete with a beard, shaved head, and a sleeveless Sons of Anarchy tank top revealing his ornate tattoos—Soler was playing a deck to match his style. The Gruul Monsters deck was chockfull of giant dudes that kept coming turn after turn, while using Domri Rade as a refill engine as well as a game-ender. Nicolas De Nicola learned that second part in the semifinals when a Domri emblem made his world turn upside down.

Navas’s deck was faster, but Soler’s deck was bigger.

A large crowd had gathered around them, both players and both decks were impressive to behold. And after each large play and turn, the crowd cheered. Latin American Grand Prixes always get intense near the end, and this was no exception. It was further intensified by the stoic expression on Navas’s face. Soler kept trying to get him to crack, but Navas was in show-mode. It might have been his first time in the spotlights, but he was going to do it right.

Luis Navas

Navas’s game started with a turn-one­­­–turn-two Rakdos Cackler-Spike Jester combo. This maximum overdrive aggression was compounded on the third turn with a Madcap Skills on the 2/2. At the end of the third turn, after adding a Tormented Hero, Navas had Matias Soler at 7. The Chilean represented more than seven damage on the board. This deck was blazing.

Soler used the Blood side of Flesh // Blood to take out the 5/2 Cackler with his Witchstalker. Then he traded the 3/3 with the Spike Jester. Technically Soler had stopped all the initial threats, but he was still way behind on the board and in life. His battlefield was empty and the totals were 18-7 in his opponent’s favor. When Navas followed with another Cackler and a Xathrid Necromancer, Soler opened his eyes wide, as if to say, “How am I supposed to deal with all this?!”

Soler added another Witchstalker, sending it in front of the Xathrid Necromancer next turn while sinking to three. Though the Hexproof Wolf killed the Necromancer, the black creature turned itself into a Zombie and there was still the same board imbalance when Soler got the turn back.

Matias Soler

He drew his card, and saw there was nothing he could do. He smirked at Navas, now more impressed by how well his opponent’s deck worked, and scooped up his cards.

That match-up was fierce, and the crowd roared.

Luis Navas 1 – 0 Matias M. Soler

Sadly, that utter thrashing display was all the eager crowd would get. They cheered so much after the first game, and some even cheered after Soler took a mulligan and when to six cards. But nobody cheered the mulligans after that. Yes, that’s right—with an “s”.

Soler maintained as jovially as he could after keeping a four-card hand. He shrugged; there were worse four cards to keep. But if Navas had anything close to the aggression he maintained in the first game, and had maintained throughout the rest of the weekend, it would be lights out right quick for the Argentine.

Navas did have something close to the same aggression; in fact, he had the same aggression. Turn one Rakdos Cackler, turn two Spike Jester, and he was barely able to get to turn three. After Soler missed his second land drop for the second turn in a row, he knew there was no way he would stop the black-red onslaught. He congratulated Luis Navas and picked up his cards.

Luis Navas 2 – 0 Matias M. Soler

Luis Navas has won Grand Prix Santiago—Defending Chile’s home turf and hoisting the trophy for Chileans everywhere! His friends accosted him while yelling loudly, “Lucho!” Navas piloted his deck with great ease all weekend, and though this was his first Grand Prix, by the looks of it, it will not be his last.

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