by Tobi HenkeSunday, 3:09 p.m.:The Champion of Grand Prix Barcelona ... 2009
by Rich HagonPodcast:Win and In?
by Tim WilloughbyDeck Tech: Blue/Black Infectwith Brian Kibler
by Tim WilloughbyFeature Match: Round 14Matthieu Flipo vs. Simon Bertiou
by Tim WilloughbyDeck Tech: Mono-White Controlwith Antoinio Martos Donaire
by Rich HagonFeature :"Beard"
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 12:20 p.m.:Metagame Breakdown
by Rich HagonSunday, 11:45 a.m.:The Other J. Avon
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 11:45 a.m.:Dredgevine in Action
by Tim WilloughbyDeck TechDredge-uh-vine Redux
by Rich HagonPodcast:Two on Day Two
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 9:50 a.m.:20/20 Vision (Part Four)
by Tim WilloughbyFeature Match: Round 10Carlos Oliveros vs. Lucas Blohon
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 9:18 a.m.A Brief History of Time
by Event Coverage StaffDay 1: Complete Coverage
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Sunday, 9:15 a.m. – A Brief History of Time
Okay, we're going to keep it really brief here. Last night, all the clocks had to be set one hour ahead due to Daylight Savings Time. With everyone's sleep cut by one hour, there were different estimates as to how many players would miss the start of Day Two. Rich Hagon's guess was "plenty", I figured it would be at least "a few", but guess what—not a single player of all 138 who managed to achieve a record of 7-2 (or better) yesterday missed the start of round ten!A little reminder that worked wonders here in Barcelona.
Despite a long tradition of chaotic road trip stories and suchlike within the community, apparently Magic players aren't that disorganized anymore after all. Times are a-changing.
Feature Match: Round 10 – Carlos Oliveros vs. Lucas Blohon
Finishing on a perfect record for day one of a Grand Prix is a pretty incredible performance. Only 3 of the 1201 players here in Barcelona managed it, earning themselves the blurry eyed Sunday morning feature match. This particular match would be slightly more blurry eyed than most thanks to the clock change overnight that meant that while the clock read slightly after 8am, for all involved it felt like shortly after 7. An undefeated record left these players in the best possible place for top 8 contention, but there were still a lot of rounds to go, so each of Carlos Oliveros of Spain and Lucas Blohon was keen to carry on where they had left off overnight.
Both players kept, and a first turn Terramorphic Expanse from Oliveros didn't give Blohon much information on what his opponent was playing. The Czech had a turn one Creeping Tar Pit, so there would be no Inquisition of Kozilek to provide help in that regard. On turn two though, things started to become clear. Oliveros cast a Stoneforge Mystic to fetch Sword of Feast and Famine. Following this, the expected Inquisition came, revealing Caw-Blade splashing red, evidenced by a Cunning Sparkmage in Oliveros' hand. It was not this that went though, but the blade that had just been fetched, though there was also the juicy target of Gideon Jura for later.
Oliveros started to get his Hawk engine online, casting the first to find more, and watched as his planeswalker fell to a Duress. Blohon had hawks of his own, but had to use a Go For the Throat on Cunning Sparkmage before he could profitably cast them. Soon each side of the board was clogged up with birds and little else.
Each player had live draws to pull ahead of the stalemate. For Oliveros, his draw was a Sword of Body and Mind, which remained conspicuously un-equipped. For Blohon, a Creeping Tar Pit was a source of damage that would not be blocked. Blohon strengthened his position by drawing into a Stoneforge Mystic of his own, meaning he too could have Sword of Body and Mind online.
A Lightning Bolt meant that Blohon's first attempt to get an equipped swing in did not go according to plan, with a hawk dying in short order. The following turn he did a little better, with a Creeping Tar Pit equipped. At this stage both players were swinging haymakers with their Sword of Body and Mind equipped creatures. In a straight race, it seemed that Oliveros would finish ahead, thanks to a Basilisk Collar that afforded him some life. Blohon had other ideas though, casting Gideon Jura, and immediately using his +2 ability to force some attacks.Lucas Blohon
Oliveros cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, using the +0 ability to Brainstorm for answers. His team could only attack Gideon to 3, meaning that Blohon would have the opportunity to swing back. The Czech thought for a little while before attacking Jace, clearing space for a Jace of his own. An Inquisition of Kozilek revealed that the only action Oliveros had was yet another Jace. Blohon was not done yet though, casting Stoneforge Mystic, finding another sword, and equipping across the one he had in play to his fresh recruit.
Successive attacks on Gideon finally killed the planeswalker, and brought Oliveros life up to 19. It was beginning to look as though life would not decide the battle if Blohon was going to win. The Spaniard chuckled as more Jace action came from Blohon, cutting off the ability of Oliveros to leverage the planeswalker in his hand.
With Gideon out of the way, Oliveros went back to the serious business of attacking Blohon, whose life total had not received the same sort of padding that had been available for the Spaniard. Those hawks kept on trucking, and Blohon soon found himself down a game.
Carlos Oliveros 1, Lucas Blohon 0
Oliveros was on the draw in
Game 2, and had the first play of the game in Preordain to draw one more. He also had turn two Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. In this time, Blohon had not played a spell, with his first being Jace Beleren to draw a card. Oliveros wasn't about to attack the planeswalker, preferring to be able to put Sword of Feast and Famine into play at instant speed.
This Oliveros did in response to a Duress from Blohon. He also had a Lightning Bolt to off Jace. Oliveros' plan soon became clear. He revealed a hand with two copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Gideon Jura, Cunning Sparkmage and Scalding Tarn. Unpeturbed, Blohon took first one Jace, then Duressed away the other, before casting Stoneforge Mystic for his own Sword of Feast and Famine.Carlos Oliveros
Blohon's Mystic never got to pick up a sword, having to block Oliveros' one. This did give Blohon time to cast Gideon though, whose -2 ability was enough to clear Oliveros' board. The Spaniard had a plan though. He cast Cunning Sparkmage, equipped it and attacked. Then with his freshly untapped lands, he cast his Gideon to get rid of his opponent's copy. Was Oliveros starting to edge in front?
The Cunning Sparkmage lived in the red zone again, ignoring Jace and going straight for Blohon. The response from the Czech was to shut down the red zone for a bit, playing Gideon Jura and using his +2, while using Jace to bounce Cunning Sparkmage. While the mage soon came back, it was not able to help with Gideon-slaying, buying Blohon a lot of time.
Day of Judgment from Blohon further bought him time. When Oliveros cast his last Squadron Hawk, it met Mana Leak. The Czech then cast a Baneslayer Angel, to which Oliveros could not scoop fast enough. There would be a game three to determine who would walk out of the match with a perfect record.
Carlos Oliveros 1, Lucas Blohon 1
For this climactic decider, both players had to take a mulligan to six. Oliveros' first play was a Squadron Hawk, while Blohon had a turn two Preordain off a Creeping Tar Pit to start. Oliveros seemed content to gradually play out more hawks, while Blohon was having a slow start. The Spaniard eventually cast Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. The Mystic was killed by Go For the Throat, and Blohon followed up with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which met a Mana Leak.
Oliveros had a Jace of his own, and used his +2 ability to fateseal Blohon, hoping to leave him drawing dead. A Jace from the Czech stopped that plan, but still left him cold to a swing from a Squadron Hawk equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine.
The Czech was not done though. He cast a Baneslayer Angel that would serve as a brick wall against attacks from Oliveros, who could still only cast a string of copies of Squadron Hawk. When Gideon followed from Blohon, it seemed good to force an attack into the angel. Oliveros cast a Jace to stop that plan though, bouncing the angel and getting stuck in.
Blohon used Creeping Tar Pit to kill off Jace, and kept attacks of his back briefly with Gideon. The planeswalker did not last long though, leaving Blohon to rely on his angel. That angel was protected by a Mana Leak to stop Basilisk Collar, which was fetched by Stoneforge Mystic, and cast just after a Cunning Sparkmage.
Would Blohon be able to hold off? Oliveros now had enough mana to activate and equip Celestial Colonnade, meaning that Baneslayer Angel was no longer sufficient defence. Even if Blohon drew a Day of Judgment, he would be in rough shape to that Colonnade. He dug with Preordain as best he could, but was soon extending his hand.
Carlos Oliveros wins 2-1!
Sunday, 9:50 a.m. – 20/20 Vision (Part Four)
Yesterday, we looked at the "metagame" of the top ten tables, in the first round, again in the fourth, and one more time in round seven. Over those three rounds, we saw quite a lot of changes, generally towards less diversity, but at the beginning of the second day, while Caw-Blade and Valakut were still the top two archetypes, an exciting amount of different deck types once again made their way to the top.
These decks were played at tables 1 through 10 in the tenth round:6 Caw-Blade (two with red, one with black)
1 Mono White Control
1 Mono Red Aggro
1 U/B Control
1 U/G Genesis Wave
Podcast – Two on Day Two
While the latter Rounds on Saturday night are all about reaching Sunday play, the early jockeying for position on Sunday morning is all about getting yourself in a place where you can get a couple of lucky bounces, a favorable pairing, and display some skill to push you towards the Top 8. Here in the second Round of the day, we focus on four key matchups. Team World Champion Robert Jurkovic takes on Italy's Samuele Estratti. Joel Calafell, the best-known of the remaining home team, faces near-neighbor Portugal's Pedro Dores. Then there's the fascinating tale of two Russians - Yuriy Danishevskiy, in his first ever GP, has to oppose Martin Juza, while Alexei Golovin has the chance to pace the field, if he can best the undefeated Carlos Oliveros. All the action, as it happens.
Deck Tech – Dredge-uh-vine Redux
One of my goals for this weekend was to find the last colour combination to complete the set for Caw-Blade. We've had blue white Caw-Blade. We've had a version splashing red, and a version with black cards.
In round 5 I found the version with green, and it is just awesome. You might be wondering why you're only just reading about it, given that I saw it fairly early on day one. Well, as cold and heartless as us coverage guys undoubtedly are, we don't particularly like punishing people's innovation by giving out their decklists after the first day of a two day event. We don't do enough good things to be able to afford to burn off our karma points that cheaply.
It is Andrés Labat and a small cadre of players from Team Gremio in Spain that devised this deck, and at the time of writing they are doing just fine. Labat finished day one at 8-1, surprising many with his interesting take on how to attack the format. Here's the list.
Strictly speaking, this deck owes more to the Dredge-uh-vine lists from 2010 than it does to Caw-Blade, but there have been some impressive updates to the list that really push it over the top. This build has more search effects than just about any deck, opening up some very cool lines of play.
With Fauna Shaman, the deck is well equipped to go on the Vengevine plan, and Squadron Hawk is great both at being fuel for Fauna Shaman, and at being a creature to cast to trigger Vengevine's ability. The Vengevine plan, of getting a copy or two of the 4/3 into the graveyard, then getting them back is also helped by Enclave Chronologist, Hedron Crab and Sphinx of Lost Truths. Trinket Mage is a great way to trigger Vengevine, which can fetch Ornithopter to hit that 'two creatures in one turn' goal. That Ornithopter can block Squadron Hawk all day long is none too shabby either. Can you start to see the pieces coming together?
Ornithopter, much like the Squadron Hawks in the deck, is well suited to holding a piece of equipment, and with Fauna Shaman, it is easy enough to find a Stoneforge Mystic to find whatever weapon seems appropriate to the task. Sword of Body and Mind is an obvious choice, but this deck manages to do a little better with its second and third equipment slots. Seeing as the graveyard is being filled fast anyway (helped in part by the sword), Bonehoard is a game changer when fetched up most of the time. Oh, and just in case we didn't have enough synergy already, there's good old Sun Titan in the mix, to fetch back creatures that have either been milled by Hedron Crab, killed or discarded to Fauna Shaman.
Ridiculously synergistic, and generally powerful, this update on the Dredge-uh-vine list seems to have a good set of tools to attack the format. With Unified Will in the sideboard, it can solidify what already seems a fair matchup against control, forcing through the threats it needs to.
There are many colours in the Caw-Blade rainbow. It's nice to see another one shining.
Sunday, 11:45 a.m. – Dredgevine in Action
You may have read already about Andrés Labat's Dredgevine deck in the coverage. (And if you haven't, go check it out!) I had heard tales of gigantic Bonehoards and Vengevines going positively crazy, but now I wanted to see the mysterious construct in action. So I sat down at Labat's round 12 match against little-known Mats Törnros from Sweden, playing Mono Red. Unfortunately, best-laid plans sometimes go awry.
Things started with a mulligan for Labat and a turn-one Hedron Crab, which Törnros immediately killed via Burst Lightning. Labat's Fauna Shaman received another Lightning, and now Labat seemed out of creatures. Meanwhile, Törnros made the first of his own, an Ember Hauler. Another Fauna Shaman was dealt with by Lightning Bolt, and another Ember Hauler joined the Swedish team. Labat frowned and passed his turn without play once again. Teetering Peaks and Koth of the Hammer increased the damage output considrably and threatened lethal damage on the very next turn.Mats Törnros
Labat summoned Hedron Crab, played a land, and slowly turned over the top three cards of his library, clearly hoping for Vengevine. Sadly, none were to be found. He cast Ornithopter and Memnite anyway, but the three chump-blockers couldn't even delay his fiery demise one more turn.
Down one game, Labat appeared frustrated when his opening hand once again forced him to mulligan, and he shook his head when his six cards forced yet another mulligan. Three mulligans in two games, in a match-up which might not exactly be his best? The odds certainly were tilted against him.
Törnros had Goblin Guide, which Labat sent on a Journey to Nowhere. But Törnros kept up the beatdown with Plated Geopede, but when he tried to kill Labat's Birds of Paradise with Arc Trail, Labat responded with Refraction Trap to save the Bird and kill the Geopede. He was stuck on two lands, however, and passed the turn without any action.Andrés Labat
Törnros summoned Ember Hauler and a second Goblin Guide, attacked and attacked and soon ended the game with additional burn. A little frustrated, Labat revealed his hand, including multiple Vengevines. Last time he could have used them, now he would have needed land. Tough luck.
Still, his DredgeVengevine is a remarkably interesting deck, and until this round, Labat even was on his way to the Top 8. If you like rogue deck ideas, you should definitely take this one for a spin.
Sunday, 11:45 a.m. - The J. Avon
John Avon is here this weekend. When it comes to Magic art, he's a rock star. He's also very, very busy. All weekend long, huge queues of devotees patiently wait in line to get their cards signed, and with more than 170 cards to choose from, there's a lot of real estate for him to add his moniker to. Thankfully, help is at hand, as we got to sit and talk with his assistant for the weekend, the Other J.Avon, John's twelve year old son, James.
Before the mayhem began, they got a chance to do a little sightseeing.
Unsurprisingly, John took James to the ultimate Barcelona landmark, the Sagrada Familia, conceived by the genius Antonio Gaudi.
"It's just an amazing building. On the outside you've got all these incredible curves. And then inside, there are these pillars with built-in lights, it looks incredibly futuristic."
At home, Dad John works in a converted garage as his studio, and James knows the rules.
"When Dad's working on a new piece, there's a 'keep out' sign on the door. It doesn't work!"
What does he say when people ask him about what his Dad does?The many prints of John Avon
"I start by telling them that he's an artist, which is simple to explain, but then I start telling them about Magic. Then it gets a bit more complicated, especially when I tell them that he's famous because players use cards that have his artwork on, and want him to sign them."
GP Barcelona is his first event, and it's pretty mind-blowing.
"I've never seen anything like it" he says. "Seeing so many people playing a game all at once, with all those tables stretching away into the far distance. It's very strange."
At the hub of things, James has been acting as a combination of waiter, secretary, and personal assistant to John.
"I helped put up the display, so that people can choose their favorite prints to take away. I get us food and drink during the day, and anything else Dad needs."John and James Avon
Most crucially, with so many cards waiting to be signed, James helps to avoid the genuine risk of injury to John's shoulder by moving the cards one at a time under the waiting hand. What does he make of the lines of fans waiting to meet John?
"It feels really great. I'm happy that Dad's famous!"
And what about James? Is there a chance that the artistic genes have been passed on, and could we see another generation of J. Avon artwork?
"I like art at school, and I'm pretty good at it. Dad and I will sometimes draw together. He'll start something, and then I'll finish it off. But I'm also pretty good at writing, so maybe I'll do something with that when I'm older. "
Perhaps there's a future involving art and flavor text...
And of all the cards that John has painted over the years, which is James' favorite?
"I love the Zendikar full-art lands, but my favorite one of all is the Forest. I love all the details, like the houses in the trees. And then that incredible floating – I love it when he draws the stuff that couldn't really happen".
Sunday, 12:20 p.m. – Metagame Breakdown
|3||Mono White Control|
*24 of the Caw-Blade decks splash black, only five of them splash red.
**None of these are Kuldotha Red (none made Day 2).
***Seven different decks including U/B Infect, U/W Proliferate Control, G/W No-Quest, Mythic Bant, R/G Tokens, Forgemaster-Tezz, and Dredgevine.
Feature – "Beard"
Meet the man known by his Leeds team-mates simply as 'Beard', real name Andy Edwards. Playing mostly in England, he's 100% Welsh, a heritage he shares with 2006 Worlds 3rd place man Nick Lovett. With two rounds to go, Edwards finds himself at 10-3, and within touching distance of a top 16 finish, which would secure him a coveted berth at Pro Tour Nagoya.
Playing since the original Mirrodin, he was part of a playgroup run by Level 4 judge Nick Sephton, but his improving play-skill really took a leap forward once Rob Wagner arrived on the scene. Edwards qualified for Pro Tour San Diego, and it meant the world to him.
"It was amazing to be in America, and felt awesome when I won the first round in San Diego. That's when I felt I had the chance to do well. I won't say 'be good', because there are lots of players better than me, but I had the chance to win some matches at a high level."
Edwards began the weekend with a personal quest – to gain enough ranking points to automatically qualify for Great Britain Nationals.
It's safe to say that goal has comfortably been met. So does he start to think about Pro Tour Nagoya, which is now just two wins away?
"Absolutely not" he says firmly. "I'm from the Brad Nelson school of Magic. It's all about one game at a time."The eyes have it
Deck Tech – Mono White Control
The Internet is a wonderful thing. For some people it is a source of information. For others it is a communication tool or performance medium. On occasion for Magic players, it is a good way to be able to play Magic at home while never getting dressed.
For Antoinio Martos Donaire, the internet, and Magic Online in particular was the source of a sweet decklist, that is doing great things for him. The mono-white list he's playing, originally designed by CHOB1 and played with some success in daily events, has put Donaire in a great spot deep into day 2 where with a fair tail wind he could make top eight. Here's the list.
Squadron Hawks and Stoneforge Mystics are hardly tech, but some of the other cards in there deserve a little more attention. Between Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Sun Titan, this deck can get excellent value from its graveyard. Pilgrim's Eye ensures that land drops are hit each and every turn, while being fine blockers for any marauding attackers on the other side of the board.
Sun Titan can do a good job of getting back lands or copies of Pilgrim's Eye to ensure that mana is not an issue, such that Emeria can do its thing. One interesting piece of this deck is Mortarpod. Not only being good removal that can be found with Stoneforge Mystic, having a Mortarpod around means that Emeria will always be able to get some action going. Don't forget that it isn't legendary either, meaning that (at least in theory), one could have a few creatures coming back each turn, and indeed potentially being sacrificed to Mortarpod to come back again the following turn. With that sort of card advantage engine going, perhaps Caw-Blade doesn't need blue.
Feature Match: Round 14 - Matthieu Flipo vs. Simon Bertiou
For round 14, I finally managed to find the right time to get Simon Bertiou in the feature match area. Believe it or not, I had scoped out his deck before round one – I just wanted to keep a bit of dramatic tension among the Greek players as to when and if their interesting UBW deck would be shown off. The deck, designed with Pro Tour Austin top 8'er and all around good egg Evangelos Papatsarouchas, features some interesting choices, which would now hopefully be shown off to their fullest.
Flipo of Belgium had the play, and led with a Goblin Guide. He got one swing in before a Doom Blade killed the 2/2, and had to replace it with a Plated Geopede. When Arid Mesa fetched a Plains it became clear that Flipo was playing Boros, a fact hammered home by a Mirran Crusader the following turn. A Tumble Magnet from Bertiou held off some of Flipo's offence, while a Squadron Hawk was there to chump blocked the rest it needed. With a Duress taking the one spell (a Journey to Nowhere) from Flipo's hand, Bertiou had to feel that he was in reasonable shape for the game.
A Sword of Body and Mind from Flipo looked good to make something a huge threat, but while Tumble Magnet had counters, it would be of limited effectiveness. Bertiou played a couple of backup copies of Squadron Hawk, and passed with his shields up. A Squadron Hawk chump blocked Mirran Crusader, while Plated Geopede got in for 5. It seemed that Bertiou was hesitant to use the last counter on his Tumble Magnet just yet… perhaps waiting on a Contagion Clasp.
Flipo had a Stoneforge Mystic to fetch Bonehoard, which would practically be lethal on its own. After a little thought Bertiou played a Mystic of his own, fetching a Mortarpod, which he used immediately to kill off Plated Geopede, while there were no uncracked fetchlands to save it.
Flipo played attacked, forcing a chump block from Squadron Hawk, played a Plated Geopede, and passed with mana up to be able to put Bonehoard into play. Bertiou cast Venser the Sojourner, and used the +2 ability to flicker his Mortarpod, resetting it such that he could use the Germ token to kill off the new Geopede.
The Greek player used Venser to flicker his Tumble Magnet, recharging it fully, and putting the planeswalker up to seven counters, potentially two turns off the ultimate ability.
Tumble Magnet held off Bonehoard, and Bertiou risked it all by only blocking one of Flipo's attackers, dropping to one, but leaving himself with more options based on his draw. Flipo cast a Steppe Lynx after combat and passed. Bertiou did not draw the answer he needed, and it was on to
Matthieu Flipo 1, Simon Bertiou 0
Bertiou was on the play, but it was Flipo who had the first play of the game, in Steppe Lynx. This soon fell to a Contagion Clasp, and Flipo was without a follow-up. An Inquisition of Kozilek showed what was happening. Koth of the Hammer, Teetering Peaks, Arid Mesa, Mirran Crusader, Divine Offering and Arc Trail stared back at Bertiou. After a little thought he took the Divine Offering, and could only look on as Mirran Crusader came out to play the following turn.
Bertiou sighed a little as he missed a land drop. He cast a Tumble Magnet and passed, wary of an imminent Koth. Flipo only had a Teetering Peaks though, buying a short respite in which Tumble Magnet held of Mirran Crusader, and Stoneforge Mystic found Sword of Feast and Famine. The Mystic fell to Arc Trail, and Bertiou did not use his Tumble Magnet on the 2/2 crusader, falling to 15.
Another Stoneforge Mystic from Bertiou found Mortarpod. This one died to Lightning Bolt. A Hero of Oxid Ridge from Flipo fell to Doom Blade, while Tumble Magnet dealt with the Crusader for a while. Bertiou played a third Stoneforge Mystic, fetching Bonehoard. He then played Mortarpod, and could only look on as another Arc Trail hit his board hard. Mirran Crusader got in, and Flipo followed up with a Stoneforge Mystic for a Bonehoard to join Bertiou's.
The Greek player was not dead yet. A fresh Tumble Magnet would hold off Mirran Crusader, and made Contagion Clasp look a lot better. Flipo flinched. He cast a second crusader, looking to go big, and get around the magnets. Bertiou had other ideas. A third Tumble Magnet kept the board position close.Matthieu Flipo
Bertiou was on just 7 life, but now seemed to have his shields up, using Contagion Clasp to keep his three copies of Tumble Magnet active. A Squadron Hawk from Bertiou fetched some friends, to which Flipo responded by using Stoneforge Mystic to play Bonehoard. A Goblin Guide further upset board parity in Flipo's favour, though it did die to Go for the Throat in short order.
Bertiou was close to death, and cast and equipped Sword of Feast and Famine to Squadron Hawk. He got stuck in and force a discard of Koth. A Squadron Hawk followed, along with a Contagion Clasp to shrink one Mirran Crusader.
Flipo played a Sword of Body and Mind at the end of turn, and then drew into a Goblin Guide on his. Attacks dropped Bertiou's Tumble Magnets to zero counters, and put him to 4 life. He cast Sun Titan to get back a Stoneforge Mystic, attacked with his Sword equipped Squadron Hawk, and after his untap, cast Bonehoard and Squadron Hawk.
Flipo was now swinging the fences. He came in with everyone, knowing that Bonehoard on Squadron Hawk would mean a lethal swing back. Bertiou blocked correctly though, and Flipo couldn't finish things. It was on to game three.
Matthieu Flipo 1, Simon Bertiou 1
There were barely three minutes on the clock for the third game, which had to favour the Belgian Boros player, who was not just on the play, but also had by far the more aggressive deck.
After a mulligan, Flipo led with a Steppe Lynx, and soon lost a Stoneforge Mystic to Inquisition of Kozilek. Bertiou had a Stoneforge Mystic of his own, for Sword of Feast and Famine, exactly the sort of equipment that could give him the tempo boost he needed to win.
Time was called, just as Flipo cast a Mirran Crusader and suddenly for each player it was a puzzle as to how to either win, or not lose. Bertiou had a Tumble Magnet that seemed a fine way to not lose. Bertiou had no way to win, but had plenty of defence. The match went to an unintentional draw.
Deck Tech – Blue/Black Infect
Of the decks in Standard right now, one of the ones that is fast gaining momentum is blue/black infect. Brian Kibler has been tweaking various versions of this deck for a little while (and at the time of writing is in the top 4 of an event with it), and with a fair performance from Lewis Laskin at a recent Star City Games event, the validity of the deck is ever increasing.
The card that brings the deck together is Phyrexian Crusader. With his protection from red and white, he is not vulnerable to much of the removal in the format, and presents a five turn clock that can be hard to stop. When backed up by counterspells, discard, and the omnipresent Jace, the Mind Sculptor it can be quite the package.
I encountered Marc Garcia Freixa playing this build on table 15 in round 12, to some success.
Marc Garcia Freixa
If you are looking for a deck that doesn't have a lot of worries with searching up equipment, and does contain a bit of beatdown and control, then this is a good option. Sometimes it gets free wins off its crusaders, and even in those where it doesn't, it has sufficient control elements to give most decks a hard time.
Podcast – Win and In?
The penultimate Round is upon us here at Grand Prix Barcelona, and even the eight contenders in the Feature Match arena don't know whether a win will be enough to secure them a slot in the Top 8. Included in this show is an epic tale of a GP Trial winner who has used his Byes this weekend to great effect, and a Valakut turn three that beggars belief.
Sunday, 3:09 p.m. – The Champion of Grand Prix Barcelona ... 2009
A little less than two years ago was the last time the Grand Prix circuit came to Barcelona. Back then it was hometown hero Joel Calafell who took the title. Of course, he's back this weekend and winning once again. His record of 11-3 probably wouldn't be enough for a repeat Top 8 here, but is definitely impressive.
His deck at Grand Prix–Barcelona '09, which had been Standard as well, was based on the combo of Seismic Assault and Swans of Bryn Argoll, with a number of Cascade spells to find its pieces, and possibly the largest number of lands ever seen in a GP-winning decklist: a whopping 41!
For Grand Prix–Barcelona '11, on the other hand, he chose Valakut, a well-known deck with little room for innovation. Or is it? "It's not always possible to come up with a crazy new deck. Especially Magic Online is a big factor," Calafell explained. "I believe two years ago Alara Reborn even might not have been released on Magic Online. In any case, no one knew about the deck."
"And in more established formats you can still come up with cool sideboard cards, for example," Calafell said. "I run Gaea's Revenge which apparently most people have completely forgotten about, although it's really, really good—even more so with all the Tumble Magnets nowadays. The other unusual card in my sideboard is one Precursor Golem, which is kind of my third Revenge. It's also good against all the blue, white, and/or black control decks. They bring in Flashfreeze which can't counter the Golem and if you play it on eight mana, even Mana Leak can't stop it. And it's good against Tumble Magnet and Journey to Nowhere, too."
The lesson to be learned here: Details do matter, and since deviation from expected deck lists is an end in itself, there is always going to be something new at every tournament.