Grand Prix–Madrid: Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on February 28, 2010

By Wizards of the Coast


Sunday, 10:19 a.m. – Notes from the Battlefield: A Round of Blow-Outs

by Tobias Henke

Round 10 saw 10 undefeated players (four of them with one draw each) sit down on the first five tables, ready to battle.

On table one, David Do Anh of the Czech Republic quickly dispatched Dutch Bart Boudewijn 2-0, with about half the time left on the clock. Next one to cross the finish line was table three. Here Denmark's Kristoffer Nielsen defeated Rubén Gonzáles of Spain, likewise 2-0.

Table two: The English Richard Bland was still on his streak. In a Zoo mirror match he had to fight through multiple Wing Shards out of Luis Quintana's sideboard, but in the end his Knight of the Reliquary prevailed, ate a couple of chump-blockers, and then the Spaniard himself. Again, 2-0.

Wing Shards
Knight of the Reliquary

That leaves us with two all-Spanish duels. Jorge Rodriguez beat Sergio Perez, while Carlos Fernandez Baillo defeated Ivan Lopez García. Both matches went 2-0 as well, so we had ourselves a round of straight wins. David Do Anh, Kristoffer Nielsen, and Richard Bland now at 10-0, Jorge Rodriguez and Carlos Fernandez Baillo both at 9-0-1.

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Tim Willoughby

Here in day two of Grand Prix Madrid, we have a whopping 237 players, and a whole host of decks. At the top of the pile is Naya Zoo, which represents nearly 20% of the day 2 field. Following that are various shades of blue/green/white control. These include variations on Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top , Natural Order for Progenitus , Stoneforger Mystic and equipment, Survival of the Fittest , and even a Life from the Loam lands engine with Cenn's Enlistment . The most popular combo deck in the field is Ad Nauseam Tendrils, with 22 players, while Merfolk have beaten out Goblins and Elves to be the most popular tribal deck, with 17 players.

Here's the full breakdown.

Naya Zoo 42 17.70%
Ad Nauseam Tendrils 22 9.30%
Merfolk 17 7.20%
Dredge 13 5.50%
Countertop Progenitus 12 5.10%
Countertop 12 5.10%
Canadian Threshold 11 4.60%
Goblins 11 4.60%
Survival Bant 9 3.80%
Reanimator 9 3.80%
Junk 6 2.50%
Aggro Loam 6 2.50%
Urb Faeries 5 2.10%
Burn 5 2.10%
Lands 4 1.70%
Landstill 4 1.70%
Enchantress 4 1.70%
Eva Green 3 1.30%
Bant Equipment 3 1.30%
Elves 3 1.30%
Painter/Grindstone 3 1.30%
Bant with Planeswalkers 2 0.80%
Bant Lands 2 0.80%
Progenitus Rock 2 0.80%
UR Faeries 2 0.80%
White Stax 2 0.80%
Dreadstill 2 0.80%
Thopter Foundry 2 0.80%
Belcher 1 0.40%
Dream Halls 1 0.40%
Imperial Painter 1 0.40%
Jace/Elspeth four colour control 1 0.40%
UW Control Grindstone 1 0.40%
Dragon Stompy 1 0.40%
Sea Stompy 1 0.40%
Lightning Angel Control 1 0.40%
Painters Dreadnought 1 0.40%
B/G Dark Depths 1 0.40%
Rock 1 0.40%
Affinity 1 0.40%
Mono Black Hymns & Hippies 1 0.40%
UR Goblins 1 0.40%
Energy Field Control 1 0.40%
Other 4 1.70

Podcast - Heaven in Eleven

by Rich Hagon

Somebody is going to wind up very, very happy, when they win the largest event in Magic history. Whoever that is will have to grind their way through a massive eleven rounds here on Day Two, as eight more rounds of Swiss will give us our Top 8. Four great feature matches kick off our podcast coverage, with battles among the undefeateds being joined by the likes of Tomoharu Saito of Japan, Jan Ruess of Germany, and Evangelos Papatsarouchas of Greece.

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Feature Match: Round 12 – Jan Rueß vs. Evangelos Papatsarouchas

by Tobias Henke

These players have three Pro Tour top eights to their names combined, Jan Rueß of Germany two (Hollywood 2008, Kyoto 2009), Greece's Evangelos Paptsarouchas one (Austin 2009). Both were currently at 10-2.

Jan Rueß

Rueß won the die-roll and led with Tropical Island off a Misty Rainforest with Brainstorm on Papatsarouchas's end of turn, while the Greek player had Tundra and Ponder to closely mirror his opponent's turn. Next up, both players put down their one-mana artifact of choice: Sensei's Divining Top for Rueß, Æther Vial for Papatsarouchas.

Rueß had Tarmogoyf , Papatsarouchas had Umezawa's Jitte , which he forced past Rueß's Spell Snare with the help of Daze . An uneventful turn went past, with the Tarmogoyf coming over for three damage, Rueß using his Top, Papatsarouchas accumulating counters on Æther Vial .

Rueß turned to action first with Rhox War Monk , then he attacked with the Goyf which ran into his opponent's surprise-Goyf, thanks to Æther Vial . Papatsarouchas tried Threads of Disloyalty , Rueß tried to stop it by sheer Force of Will . Two Daze s from Papatsarouchas, however, meant the score was now two Tarmogoyf s plus Umezawa's Jitte on the Greek side of the battlefield, a lonely Rhox War Monk on the German side.

Rueß was not going to be defeated that easily though. Qasali Pridemage destroyed Threads of Disloyalty , Swords to Plowshares exiled Papatsarouchas's Tarmogoyf . His own Tarmogoyf received Swords to Plowshares as well, and now the board was one Rhox War Monk (Rueß) to just Mutavault plus Umezawa's Jitte (Papatsarouchas). Rueß dug for even more answers with his Top, and chose to simply block the attacking Jitte'd-up Mutavault with the Qasali Pridemage he found.

Meanwhile Rhox War Monk started the beatdown, tentatively at first, always running the risk of encountering something even bigger because of Papatsarouchas's Æther Vial . The War Monk was joined by another one, but before those could do any harm, Papatsarouchas found Spellstutter Sprite to go along with his Jitte and outright kill one of the 3/4s.

Rueß had Qasali Pridemage to stop further Jitte shenanigans, but Papatsarouchas had Stoneforge Mystic searching up Sword of Fire and Ice . Rueß elected to destroy the Sword when a double-equipped Spellstutter Sprite went into the red zone.

A second Stoneforge Mystic came down for Papatsarouchas, searching up a replacement Umezawa's Jitte just in case. This Mystic had to chump-block, but Rueß was falling more and more behind on the battlefield, even if he did lead in life totals, at about 35 to four life. Spellstutter Sprite again brought Jitte up to four counters, which moved from Sprite to Stoneforge Mystic , now a potential 9/10 blocker, thus big enough even to take down Rueß's freshly summoned Tarmogoyf .

Rueß found Swords to Plowshares on top of his deck to kill the Mystic, though. This left Papatsarouchas only the option of removing two counters / gaining four life. The attack nevertheless brought him to one. On Rueß's next attack Papatsarouchas Æther Vial ed a second Spellstutter Sprite onto the battlefield, which chump-blocked Tarmogoyf , with the first Sprite growing to 5/5 thanks to the two remaining Jitte counters and taking down Rhox War Monk .

Tarmogoyf attacked again, the equipped Sprite chump-blocked. Tarmogoyf attacked again and Jitte counters were used up to gain life. Tarmogoyf attacked again; and that was it.

Jan Rueß 1 – 0 Evangelos Papatsarouchas

Evangelos Papatsarouchas

The second game started with ten minutes left on the clock, and in appropriately quick fashion: Papatsarouchas ran out two Tarmogoyf s on turns one and two of the game, both 0/1 at this point, along with an apparently pointless Æther Vial . Meanwhile Rueß had to develop his mana by means of Brainstorm and Flooded Strand , giving his opponent four points worth of power.

The German only had a meager Qasali Pridemage on his turn three. Papatsarouchas tried to steal it with Threads of Disloyalty ... or rather, he was fully aware this was not going to happen: instead Qasali Pridemage , Threads of Disloyalty as well as Papatsarouchas's Æther Vial went to the bin, to turn his Tarmogoyf s into veritable 5/6 monsters. The ensuing attack brought Rueß down to eight.

Still, he was hanging in there, with Tarmogoyf and then Swords to Plowshares . Papatsarouchas had the Daze , Rueß had the Force of Will , Papatsarouchas had the Spellstutter Sprite ... and Rueß nodded in concession.

Jan Rueß 1 – 1 Evangelos Papatsarouchas

When the players were done shuffling one minute remained in the round. When Papatsarouchas was done taking mulligans about ten seconds remained. The players agreed to leave it at that, none of their decks able to win within the scope of three turns.

Feature Match: Round 13 – A Tale of Two Matchups

by Tim Willoughby

Round 13: Pablo Diaz vs Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Diaz was on the play, and led with a Bloodstained Mire into Mountain . His follow up was a Goblin Guide , which got stuck in and revealed that there was a Force of Will on the top of PV's deck. Paulo was quick to play a Swords to Plowshares on it in his turn, and looked on as it as replaced by a Grim Lavamancer .

Facing down burn, all that PV had was a Sensei's Divining Top . He took 3 from a Chain Lightning , and played out a Tarmogoyf to get back in the fight with. While Diaz suspended a Rift Bolt , PV got stuck in, and then played Engineered Explosives for one.

The Rift Bolt got stopped by Force of Will , meaning that Paulo's Tarmogoyf was safe, and could continue attacking. Engineered Explosives cleared out blockers and meant that the powerful 2 drop could take life totals to 12 – 11 in Diaz' favour. A Magma Jet pressed that advantage, but Paulo seemed unconcerned.

A Price of Progress met a Daze , purely to lower the number of lands Paulo would have in play. Ball Lightning was unstoppable though, and dropped Paulo to four. Paulo's Tarmogoyf was whittling Diaz down, but he did find a blocker in Figure of Destiny , and there was a much better chance that he would draw action to end things than Paulo would, even with Paulo controlling Sensei's Divining Top .

Paulo was not about to let this game slip away. He pointed a Swords to Plowshares at Figure of Destiny , and attacked in unimpeded. That was the game.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – 0 Pablo Diaz

Pablo Diaz

For Game 2, Pablo Diaz was again on the play, and led with Figure of Destiny , while Paulo had Noble Hierarch off a Tropical Island . PV's one drop was short lived as Chain Lightning killed it off to allow Diaz to swing with a newly pumped Figure.

PV played Brainstorm , and after a little thought followed up with Sensei's Divining Top . As is so frequently the case against burn, he was starting the game down in life, looking to pull things back with more powerful spells. Tarmogoyf from PV was immediatelya 4/5 thanks to Chain Lightning having killed off Noble Hierarch . This made it a pretty good blocer for Figure of Destiny . Counterbalance was the next play from PV, which met a Red Elemental Blast . There would be no easy lock for Paulo, who played a Tsabo's Web , which Diaz had to read. It would shut down Barbarian Ring in this matchup, and drew Paulo a card as well.

Engineered Explosives afforded PV an avenue for attack, which he duly did, though he was still taking burn in the form of Magma Jet from his opponent. Lightning Bolt was next, putting PV to 9. That Tarmogoyf was still trucking in though, making the game exciting

Ball Lightning threatened to make game 2 a quick one. Paulo had the Force of Will though, keeping himself at a healthy 8, and a second one to stop Red Elemental Blast . All PV was worried about was another burn spell that would combine with Ball Lightning to make it lethal, as his Tarmogoyf would get there on the swing back. As last fatty standing, it got to attack in and finish both the game and the match.

Pablo Diaz 0 – 2 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

PV is all smiles.

Super secret bonus match – Tomoharu Saito vs Nicola Landoni

While covering that match, as a little challenge to myself, I thought I'd cover the match next door, where Tomoharu Saito found himself playing his Ad Nauseam Tendrils deck against the innovative Bant Survival of the Fittest deck that has proven a good choice for some players her on day two.

Saito led with a Ponder against Nicola Landoni. Landoni had a Noble Hierarch for his turn. This would be little concern to Saito, who was looking to combo out fast with Ad Nauseam . Saito's next card search was Brainstorm , which he thought about carefully. Saito wasn't in a hurry, and played out a Sensei's Divining Top and Lotus Petal before passing.

Landoni had Survival of the Fittest , and passed with one Tropical Island untapped. Saito stopped and thought. He played Thoughtseize , which snagged a Force of Will , and then pulled the trigger with an Ad Nauseam . The very first spell he hit was another Ad Nauseam . Lion's Eye Diamond, Duress , Chrome Mox , Polluted Delta , Infernal Tutor , Sensei's Divining Top and Dark Ritual followed.

Saito was on 6 at this point. He went to two to get one more card – Tendrils of Agony . Saito went to work on the math to see if he had the kill yet. His storm was 3 thanks to a Dark Ritual and a Lotus Petal that had powered out the Ad Nauseam . It seemed that he had the power.

Chrome Mox came down first, followed by Lion's Eye Diamond , and another Chrome Mox that had been sat in Saito's hand all along. A Dark Ritual came next, then Sensei's Divining Top . Infernal Tutor was responded to by sacrificing that Lion's Eye Diamond, and found a new copy of Tendrils of Agony , which was enough to finish things.

Tomoharu Saito 1 – 0 Nicola Landoni

Landoni led off in Game 2 with a fetchland for a Tropical Island , which allowed Ponder .

"I'll shuffle" declared Landoni, which met a smile from the Japanese Pro.

"Good for me!"

Saito had a land and Brainstorm to begin, again working on his one big turn, as had proved so effective in Game 1. He also had a Lotus Petal , an carefully crafted his hand. Could he go off on turn one?

It seemed that Saito felt not, and he passed. Landoni took the opportunity to land a Gaddock Teeg , which would mean that Saito would have a much harder time comboing out. Saito had a Thoughtseize to send Brainstorm to the grumper for Landoni, but little more action than that. Saito performed his trademark slaps to his face to focus him as he watched Landoni peel and play a Ponder from the top of his deck. A Noble Hierarch followed, which allowed Gaddock Teeg to swing in for 3.

Saito had to get Gaddock Teeg off the board, and wasted no time in using Mystical Tutor to find Slaughter PactMystical Tutor is one of those cards that stands out for being restricted in Vintage while freely playable in Legacy. Between that, Lion's Eye Diamond and Brainstorm , Saito had plenty of ‘power' to work with in his deck.

Saito felt under little pressure to win the game quickly, and passed things back to his opponent. A Brainstorm did give him pause though. He had to think about whether it was worth using his Slaughter Pact before Landoni could draw a counterspell of some sort. In the end he allowed it, watching passively as Landoli slowly crafted a stronger hand.

Landoni had both the spells and the beatdown, swinging in with Gaddock Teeg again to take Saito to 12. He followed up with Survival of the fittest, and swiftly used it to exchange Noble Hierarch for Ethersworn Canonist , which he played.

Now Slaughter Pact alone would not be enough. Saito had two creatures to deal with, and used a second Mystical Tutor . This time he found a Brainstorm . He led with Slaughter Pact to kill off the Canonist, and played the Brainstorm to dig for a way to get past that Gaddock Teeg , making the most of the fact that his opponent was tapped out.

The answer was not on top of Saito's deck, and he passed without further play, dropping to 9 on swings back. Nicola then used Survival of the Fittest twice – first to fetch Iona, Shield of Emeria , then to discard her and fetch Loyal Retainers, who would be able to reanimate Iona. He had actually missed doing so the turn before, having attacked a little too soon. When Iona joined the party things rapidly went south for Saito, who went to his sideboard looking for answers for Game 3.

Tomoharu Saito 1 – 1 Nicola Landoni

High Roller Saito.

More slaps came at the start of game 3. Saito had just 6 minutes in which to secure the victory, and had faced a barrage of hate cards in the second game to which he had to react.

Both players took a mulligan, further shortening the clock on the match. This would likely favour Saito, whose deck only needed one big turn to win, but would be tricky for both players.

Saito's opener on six cards was a Brainstorm that went some way towards offsetting his mulligan. Landoni had to settle for a slightly less powerful Ponder for his turn. Resolving those mulligans and card drawing spells had taken its time. Now there were more like two and a half minutes to go. It didn't seem that either player had a made hand, but Saito really wanted to get there with his. He tried for another Brainstorm , with a fetchland ready to sacrifice after putting few cards back. Spell Pierce spoiled this plan. Saito sacrificed his land nonetheless, shuffling up just as time was called.

Saito drew for turn one of five with a flourish. He knew that he had to get lucky to win now, or very unlucky to lose. There were two draw steps in his future to help him get there, and Saito was happy to use them, playing a land and passing.

Nicola, meanwhile, was still on just one land, but doing ok with it, casting a Brainstorm . The game went to the third turn of extra turns. Saito drew and passed.

Again Landoni found himself without a land, and moved to his discard step. With one Tundra in play, he could still threaten to end things, as there were various counterspells available to him.

Nonetheless, Saito had only one turn to go for it.

Saito's turn five saw a City of Traitors , Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual , and then Infernal Tutor , sacrificing Lion's Eye Diamond in response. A Force of Will stopped the tutor, and Saito extended his hand. He would have to settle for a draw.

Sunday, 1:33 p.m. – Deck Tech: Enchantress

by Tobias Henke

Four Enchantress players made it to day two here at Grand Prix Madrid, certainly not one of the most played decks but quite succesful nevertheless. In fact the appeal of Enchantress might actually be that there is not one established "best" version of the deck. There are a lot of wacky ideas floating around and everyone can truly make Enchantress his own.

Here is one example from Italian player Matteo Opatti, who is doing well, at 8-4 possibly just outside of top-eight contention:

Matteo Opatti

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Admittedly, most of it is the usual stuff: mana acceleration in the form of Wild Growth , Utopia Sprawl , and Serra's Sanctum as well as card draw in Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence coupled with protection ( Elephant Grass , Sterlin Grove) and tutors ( Sterling Grove again). However, let's pay some attention to the finer details.

First, Opatti chose to run several different win conditions. In case the Angel tokens from Sigil of the Empty Throne do not get the job done, he can just as easily beat down with a herd of Pegasi courtesy of Sacred Mesa . And if that doesn't work, there's still Words of War which also doubles as creature kill for evil things like Meddling Mage .

Meanwhile Ground Seal is a card you don't see often but has a lot of different uses. For example, opponents won't ever Extirpate one of the centerpieces of the deck again, Dredge players can't use Dread Return , Survival of the Fittest might search up Iona, Shield of Emeria and Loyal Retainers, but the Retainers don't work. Apparently there are nine Reanimator decks in the field, who can't be happy to have their ground sealed, either. And Life from the Loam , well, this powerhouse of a card simply doesn't do anything at all anymore!

More answers: Lignify is obviously cool, but also really good against a whole range of critters which might otherwise cause trouble. 0/4 Treefolk with no abilities, however, are as harmless as they get. Aura of Silence completely owns the mirror match and comes in handy in other situations too. Finally, there's Oblivion Ring with its treasured ability to outright exile anything, even Planeswalkers. With lots of card drawing and Sterling Grove on top of that, you even get to find the one-ofs, whenever you need them.

The story continues in the sideboard: Here at the coverage desk we had just realized that actually none of us knows what In the Eye of Chaos does, when Luis Scott-Vargas walked past: " In the Eye of Chaos ? That's a pretty cool card!"

And indeed it is. If you have followed our feature match coverage throughout the weekend, you might have seen a few instants flying across the table. Doubling the mana cost of all of them? Yeah, that's nice, and all the sweeter once you see a player's face contort into a mask of terror when he realizes he's actually supposed to play five mana for his Force of Will !

Again, sweet.

Podcast - Touching Distance

by Rich Hagon

As the rounds go by, we start to see the shape of the event, and three players we feature here are within touching distance. Jan Ruess was within touching distance of a Pro Tour crown when losing the final of PT Hollywood to Charles Gindy. Evangelos Papatsarouchas was within touching distance in PT Austin, before Angel of Despair caused despair. And England's Richard Bland, coming into round 13 with just one loss, is within touching distance of a first Grand Prix Top 8. And you're within touching distance of all of them, just a click away.

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Sunday, 2:20 p.m. – Deck Tech: Lightning Angel Control

by Luis Scott-Vargas

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see someone getting attacked by a Lightning Angel, but there it was, bashing for three (and not even tapping to do so!). I investigated further, and saw that along with Angel, there were a number of sweet Blue, White, and Red cards in the deck, up to and including Ajani Vengeant, Jötun Grunt, and Fire//Ice. At that point, I was way too intrigued not to get the decklist, which is as follows:

Francisco Gonzalez, Lightning Angel Control

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While it seems to nominally be a control deck, Francisco's deck uses a wide complement of burn spells as its removal, which gives it the potential for a very fast kill if the situation warrants it. Even its namesake card, Lightning Angel , does a good job both on offense and defense, which shows how flexible most of the cards in this deck are. The light sprinkling of countermagic ( Force of Will , Spell Snare , Daze ) isn't there to fully lock out the opponent, but to keep them off balance long enough for Lightning Angel , Vendilion Clique , Jotun Grunt , and burn spells to finish the job. Of course, the title " Lightning Angel Control" isn't completely off, since against an aggressive deck like Zoo or Merfolk I expect this deck to fully embrace the control role and burn away all their guys, with Brainstorm s, bigger creatures, and Planeswalkers providing the necessary card advantage.

I like the way this deck is put together; all the spells stand very well on their own, and even though they definitely work well with each other, you don't need to draw any particular combination in order to make them useful. It may seem odd to say that what is essentially a "good stuff" deck is competitive in a format as powerful as Legacy, but when the answers are all both good and flexible, that might just be the case. I would recommend adding a Jace, the Mind Sculptor or two, since he has impressed me so far in Legacy (and I'm not just saying that because I lost to Jace's Ultimate twice during the Grand Prix). Past that, this looks like a sweet deck to take for a spin, and if you are looking for an unconventional choice, this certainly fits the bill.

Feature Match: Round 15 – Robert van Medevoort vs. Rafael Truchado

by Tobias Henke

Both players are in single-elimination mode already. A score of 11-3 puts them in serious need of more wins. Winning out would probably guarantee a top eight berth.

Robert van Medevoort

Van Medevoort won the die-roll and started the proceedings with three fetchlands: Flooded Strand , Misty Rainforest , and Scalding Tarn , while Truchado had turn-two Counterbalance off of two basic Island s, then Misty Rainforest for Forest and Tarmogoyf . At end of turn van Medevoort cracked all of his lands, getting two Tundra s, one Underground Sea , then tried to bounce Counterbalance with Chain of Vapor . Truchado flipped the top card of his deck: Spell Snare .

One land drop later, van Medevoort passed the turn back and, after his opponent had drawn the Spell Snare , tried for Orim's Chant (kicked). Again, Truchado reached for his magic library to reveal Swords to Plowshares . He put down another Tarmogoyf . Van Medevoort passed once more.

Now Truchado called Jace, the Mind Sculptor to his aid, and the Planeswalker dutifully provided him with Sensei's Divining Top . In response to the artifact, van Medevoort cast Dark Ritual , then Ad Nauseam , but Truchado had Force of Will ; this time not on top of his deck, though, but in his hand. Sensei's Divining Top resolved.

Van Medevoort looked at his next three cards with the help of Ponder and then, facing two Tarmogoyf s, Jace as well as Counterbalance plus Top, conceded the game.

Robert van Medevoort 0 – 1 Rafael Truchado

Rafael Truchado

Four Brainstorm s and two Ponder s, evenly split between the two was all that happened on the first turns. The real action started when Truchado ran out Sensei's Divining Top , then Meddling Mage , set to Ad Nauseam . Van Medevoort's Duress on the following turn revealed a hand of Trinket Mage , Brainstorm , and double Force of Will . Seeing as the Force was strong with this one anyway, van Medevoort took the Brainstorm . He tried Dark Ritual and Truchado allowed it; he tried Infernal Tutor and Truchado allowed it (revealing Lotus Petal to get another one); he tried Lotus Petal #1 and Truchado allowed it; he tried Lotus Petal #2 and Truchado allowed it; he cast Empty the Warrens and Truchado... was now facing twelve Goblin tokens.

Not for long, though, as Trinket Mage quickly searched up Engineered Explosives . That killed all Goblins plus van Medevoort's remaining Lotus Petal .

The two Mages beat down and, to make matters worse, Truchado now also topdecked Counterbalance to go along with his Sensei's Divining Top . Another Meddling Mage , this time set to Tendrils of Agony , was not even necessary, as Medevoort was thoroughly out of gas, out of options, and soon out of life points.

Robert van Medevoort 0 – 2 Rafael Truchado

Sunday, 3:20 p.m. – Deck Tech: Painters' Control

by Tim Willoughby

There are a few Painters Servant / Grindstone combo decks here on day two of GP Madrid. When going through making the metagame breakdown though, there was one that rather stood out to me, as it takes a much more general control angle, and uses the powerful combo that decks an opponent in one go as an incidental win condition once the game has been brought under control.

Check out the list

Circle's Power by Jose Manuel Diez

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There is a lot to like about this deck. It has the counterspell package that most counter/top decks do, but rather than going aggressive with Tarmogoyf s or even Progenitus via Natural Order , it chooses to run a good selection of additional control cards, and a win condition that is robust without taking up much space. Main deck this deck runs more answers to Progenitus than just about any other in the format. Story Circle , Moat and Wrath of God are quite the trifecta of solutions to the legendary monster, and out of the sideboard, Energy Flux and Circle of Protection: Red aren't too shabby either. The Enlightened Tutor s make that sideboard a toolbox of answers to all sorts of decks. Rule of Law is very solid against Ad Nauseam Tendrils, and Back to Basics punishes a great many decks, not least the Lands deck. Aura of Silence is another card with a variety of applications. Sometimes it will just come in for value, like in the ANT matchup, where creatures are not an issue, and make Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal unexciting. On other occasions it will slow Enchantress to a crawl.

If you are looking for a control deck to play in the format, this one seems a nice brew to play with, as it has tools to answer much of what is going on in the format.

Sunday, 4:10 p.m. – Deck Tech: Blue Fields

by Tobias Henke

One aspect of Legacy is the ability to take basically any strategy to the extreme. With many of the most efficient Magic cards of all time legal, lots of decks can profit from the huge amount of similar spells. Like Burn, for example, which consists of the earliest pieces of cardboard ( Lightning Bolt , Chain Lightning ) as well as the newest ( Goblin Guide has made an appearance today).

On the other hand of the spectrum even blue control decks can choose from a variety of counterspells and those few answers to permanents, blue did get across the ages. In Legacy everything accumulates, builds up, until finally a deck like the following comes out of it:

Fernando Romero, Blue Fields

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A true permission-based control deck: 12 counterspells, loads of card drawing, and only four creatures. The one card which keeps all of this together, however, is Energy Field . Fending off Wild Nacatl s as well as Progenitus , this enchantment certrainly was not on many a player's mind when he sat down to play this weekend.

But Fernando Romero found just the right configuration to take advantage of it. With 20 basic Island s his opponents were not able to kill the Field with Wasteland , and also a lot of his options to take full control of the game are permanent-based and don't trouble the Field either. Energy Field to buy time, Oblivion Stone to finalize his advantage. And of course, Jace, the Mind Sculptor can't be left out, when assembling the most powerful blue cards of all time.

Feature Match: Round 16 – Evangelos "Van" Papatsarouchas vs Andrzej Lysek

by Tim Willoughby

I have known Van Papatsarouchas for about as long as I've been playing competitive Magic, but I only found out how to pronounce his surname today. Following on from his top 8 finish at Pro Tour Austin, Van is back again with an innovative deck, in blue/green/white control with Stoneforger Mystic. His opponent, Andrzej Lysek is rocking Merfolk for the weekend. Both needed a win in this round to keep their hopes of a GP top 8 alive.

Lysek won the roll and led with a Cursecatcher, which was quickly hit by a Swords to Plowshares from Papatsarouchas. Lysek had a Wasteland for Van's sole land, but could only look on as a Mutavault powered out an Æther Vial. Another Wasteland took out that Mutavault, and Van was forced to Force of Will a Stifle that threatened to stop his fetchland from working. Another Æther Vial came along.

Andrzej Lysek

Yet another Stifle came for Van's next fetchland, but Van had Spellstutter Sprite to play with his Æther Vial, and was able to get his lands going.

Merrow Reejery came out for Lysek, and he used a Force of Will to protect it from Swords to Plowshares. Lysek had a Cursecatcher to follow, but could only shrug and accept it when another Swords took out his lord.

Van was down to 1 card in hand when Lysek played an Æther Vial of his own. The next turn though he drew a hot one – Sword of Fire and Ice.

"This is how I win against merfolk" declared Van with a smile. Lysek was smiling too, but it was clear that he wasn't necessarily as happy about his position.

The next turn Papatsarouchas got to attack with a 3/3 Spellstutter Sprite, that killed off Cursecatcher and drew a card in addition to beating down. Quite a beating it was. From here, Van built up his hand with Brainstorm and Ponder. He found a Tarmogoyf to do more work in the red zone.

One more attack was enough for Lysek, and he packed things up for game 2.

Evangelos Papatsarouchas 1 – 0 Andrzej Lysek

Sleepy Man Van

Both players led with the same full art Zendikar Island on turn one, but each had a different plan from then on. A Wasteland from Lysek allowed for a Silvergill Adept. Van had the Savannah to allow for Swords to Plowshares.

"Did anyone ever tell you you are boring?" joked Lysek, who was getting a little tired of all his creatures taking up farming.

Lysek played a Lord of Atlantis, and used Wasteland on Savannah. Van had a Brainstorm at the end of turn, then played a fetchland to find Tundra, and used yet another Swords on the Lord.

"You are boring..."

Lysek was ahead in the race thanks to all that life he'd gained. He cast a Merrow Reejery and passed. Stoneforge Mystic was the play from Van. This threatened to fetch Sword of Fire and Ice, and drop it into play in uncounterable fashion. Lysek had to play Force of Will, pitching a Merfolk Sovereign.

A second Merrow Reejery came from Lysek, allowing the first to bash in for 3. Van just played Umezawa's Jitte for his turn. Van had a lone Mutavault to equip, but when you have powerful equipment like Jitte, just about any creature is god enough.

Merfolk Sovereign was countered by Force of Will, pitching Threads of Disloyalty. Van still got beaten up to the tune of 6 damage though, and passed without a play on his turn.

Lysek tried for a Lord of Atlantis, but Mutavault got animated to allow Spellstutter Sprite to counter it. Van then blocked and went to 6, losing his sprite. Van was a little short on mana, and couldn't get his Jitte going. What he did have was Stoneforge Mystic to find his Sword of Fire and Ice. When Lysek had a merfolk to trigger his Reejery's and tap Van's lone blocker, I was on to Game 3.

Evangelos Papatsarouchas 1 – 1 Andrzej Lysek

Van led with a Flooded Strand in the decider, and elected to crack it early, in fear of Stifle. He found an Island, to play around Wasteland, and passed. Lysek had an Island and a pass too.

While Lysek tried to bluff the Stifle on the next turn, as Van played another fetchland, the Greek player was unafraid. He let an Æther Vial resolve, and cracked his fetchland without any concerns. On Van's turn he played Stoneforge Mystic, a pivotal card in the matchup. Lysek played Force of Will, pitching Force of Will. Van had a Force of Will of his own, pitching Daze. The Stoneforge Mystic resolved, finding Sword of Fire and Ice.

Standstill came from Lysek, who used Wasteland to keep Van off white mana. This lasted for all of a second as Van played a Tundra on his turn and passed. The Mystic put Sword of Fire and Ice into play, and then picked up the sword and swung. This seemed like the game. While Lysek had Æther Vial, with that Sword of Fire and Ice active, it seemed likely that Standstill was working more in Van's favour than Lysek's. Lysek had to block with Mutavault for one turn just to stop Van drawing cards. The Greek did not seem to mind.

All that Lysek could try to do was race. He had put a Lord of Atlantis into play one turn, and swung with it the next, using Æther Vial to drop a Merrow Reejery. Van broke the Standstill with Swords to Plowshares. A Force of Will came from Lysek, who got to beat Van down to 12. Another Lord of Atlantis came, along with Æther Vial.

Now that the Standstill was broken, the pace of the game had now shifted in Lysek's favour. He had 3 lords in play, none of whom could be blocked due to the Island on Van's side of the board. Van ran in to take Lysek to 12, but a Stifle stopped the card draw/damage. Without that extra card, Van didn't have any outs. He extended his hand.

Andrzej Lysek wins 2-1

Sunday, 4:50 p.m. – Deck Tech: Mystic Control

by Evangelos Papatsarouchas

Luis Scott-Vargas and I were checking out the trade stand, and we saw that there were a few players that were picking up copies of Stoneforge Mystic from Worldwake.

"I did that" remarked Luis with a grin. His finish at PT San Diego with Naya sporting Stoneforge Mystcs had made quite an impression on many deckbuilders. Van Papatsarouchas of Greece, he of PT Austin top 8 finish, had already got the memo on the powerful creature.

"As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to order four. It's like Trinket mage only it fetches much more powerful cards."

The powerful cards in Legacy are Sword of Fire and Ice, and Umezawa's Jitte – arguably the two most powerful pieces of equipment legal in the format.

Van's deck has something of a traditional Green/White/Blue control shell, with Brainstorm, Daze, Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares and Tarmogoyf, but chooses a different route to finishing things up. With Æther Vial, Spellstutter Sprite and Stoneforge Mystic, it can exert greater control, while still being able to legitimately beat down. Getting a Stoneforge Mystic into play uncounterably with Æther Vial begets an uncounterable piece of equipment, giving other control decks a really hard time.

It seems likely that Stoneforge Mystic is going to be a card that we will see plenty more of in a whole host of formats in the coming weeks and months. Believe LSV, and Van – this card is the real deal.

Mystic Control by Luis Scott-Vargas

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Podcast - Jace Goes Penultimate

by Rich Hagon

It takes 12 counters to get Jace to go Ultimate, but here in the second to last round of Swiss action, every activation is Pen-ultimate. It's extraordinary just how many players are still in contention, and we get to see eight of them battle it out to stay alive. The Top 8 is on the horizon, and it's coming up fast.

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Feature Match - Round 17: Win and In

by Tobias Henke
Sunday, 5:34 p.m. – Win and In by Tobias Henke

For the final round before the top eight we took a look at six players who needed a win to make it in. Conveniently, those six players were paired against one another in an all knock-out death match.

Tomoharu Saito (Left) and Andrzej Lysek (Right)

First, we got Tomoharu Saito's ANT deck up against Andrzej Lysek's Merfolk. Game 1 Saito had double Duress and went off without too much trouble, Game 2 Lysek mulliganed twice into the following hand: Spell Snare, Force of Will, three Islands. Saito once again had Duress, took the Force, and went off two turns later.

Lluis Restoy (Left) and Jason Noquez Aignasse (Right)

Meanwhile Lluís Restoy and his Bant deck defeated Jason Noguez Aignasse and his Merfolk / Spellstutter Sprite deck 2-0 as well. Apparently, Rhox War Monk and Sylvan Library is quite the combo.

Federico Bonade (Left) and Ruben Gonzales (Right)

And the third match saw Federico Bonade up against Rubén Gonzáles, ANT versus Bant. Gonzáles quickly assembled his Sensei's Divining Top / Counterbalance engine and locked Bonade out of the game, out of the match, and out of the top eight.

Congratulations to Tomoharu Saito, Lluís Restoy, and Rubén Gonzáles!

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