Grand Prix Lincoln 2012 - Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on February 19, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast


  • by Dane Young
    Round 15: Feature Match
    James Zornes vs. Samuel Friedman
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Undefeated Decks
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Round 14: Feature Match
    Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Austin Scarborough
  • by Dane Young
    Round 13: Feature Match
    Andrew Cuneo vs. Andrew Ohlschwager
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Quick Hits: Modern Diversity
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Round 12: Feature Match
    Rafael Coqueiro vs. Scott Lewis
  • by Dane Young
    Deck Tech:
    Martyr Hate Bears with Andrew Ohlschwager
  • by Dane Young
    Round 11: Feature Match
    Luis Scott Vargas vs. Martin Juza
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Sunday, 11:15 a.m.:
    Top tables, Round 11 edition
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Deck Tech:
    45 Percent Zoo with Owen Turtenwald
  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Round 10: Feature Match
    Owen Turtenwald vs. Andrew Ohlschwager

Round 10: Feature Match - Owen Turtenwald vs. Andrew Ohlschwager

by Blake Rasmussen

Prior to this matchup of two of the final remaining undefeated players, Owen Turtenwald pointed out Andrew Ohlschwager's innovative BW Martyr of Sands deck as exactly the deck he didn't want to see sitting across from him in Round 10.

Turtenwald had been on a tear all weekend with a deck he calls "45 Percent Zoo," for what he thinks his win percentage is in every matchup. But he was 100 percent so far, so it was clear he was on his game this weekend. Check back soon for a deck tech on an archetype many abandoned in the wake of Wild Nacatl's passing.

Meanwhile, Ohlschwager's deck had been the talk of the tournament. Filled with life gain, removal, Lingering Souls, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and even Necrotic Sliver plus Emeria, the Sky Ruin for a deadly late-game loop, the deck had tons of cool interactions that had so far served him well.

Game 1

Turtenwald's fast Zoo deck was first on the board with a Loam Lion and a Tarmogoyf, while Ohlschwager used Marsh Flats to search up a techy Mistveil Plains followed by a Squadron Hawk for one copy of the flying 1/1.

Lightning Helix cleared out the Hawk and pumped Tarmogoyf to a 3/4 before Ohlschwager put up a brick wall with a Jotun Grunt (look it up if you must). Turtenwald wasted no time dispatching it with a Path to Exile and attacking Ohlschwager to 7, all while holding two Lightning Bolts.

Ohlschwager tapped out for a Ranger of Eos and searched up Serra Ascendant and Martyr of Sands, threatening to jump out of range in the blink of an eye. Turtenwald used one Bolt to kill the Ranger of Eos and make it safe to attack. Attacks left Ohlschwager at 6, but Turtenwald was now down a Bolt. He added to his force with a Tarmogoyf and passed back.

Squadron Hawk found two more friends and Martyr of Sands threatened to put the game out of reach. Two Hawks, Sorin and a Necrotic Sliver were revealed, gaining Ohlschwager 12 life and jumping him to 13 life. Ohlschwager attempted Sword of Light and Shadow on the Hawk, but Turtenwald had the Bolt to stave it off for a turn.

He lost a Tarmogoyf to Path to Exile the next turn, but dropped Ohlschwager to 8 in the process. But he had drawn blanks in the meantime and looked to be falling behind. Could he deal the final 8 damage before Ohlschwager stabilized?

Owen Turtenwald was crushing the field this weekend with Zoo, but faced down roughly 87 life gain spells in round 10.

Necrotic Sliver with enough mana to activate it seemed like the chanches were looking slim, especially if Sword of Light and Shadow got online. Ohlschwager used the sliver to blank Turtenwald's next attack, destroying Tarmogoyf, but lost another Hawk to Lightning Bolt when he tried to equip the sword. Instead he played yet another Martyr of Sands and equipped it.

Turtenwald made another Tarmogoyf, but he was already very far behind. Things only got worse when Sorin, Lord of Innistrad made his debut the following turn.

By this point, Ohlschwager had Emeria, the Sky Ruin active, and when he made the move to return Necrotic Sliver, Turtenwald made the move to his sideboard.

Ohlschwager 1 – Turtenwald 0

Game 2

No one drop for Turtenwald this time, but he did have a Tarmogoyf on turn two that quickly grew to 2/3 as Ohlschwager searched up Sword of Light and Shadow with Steelshaper's Gift.

No one made another move until Oblivion Ring removed the offending Goyf, and Turtenwald passed without another play.

The reason was evident the following turn when a Lingering Souls was effectively negated by a flashed in Sulfur Elemental. Ohlschwager played a Jotun Grunt – now 5/3 thanks to Sulfur Elemental – and promptly lost it to a Lightning Bolt on Turtenwald's next attack.

Ohlschwager found an answer to the Sulfur Elemental in Path to Exile, and Turtenwald restocked his board with two Loam Lions and a Kird Ape while a second Lingering Souls and a flashback of the first upped the ante for the BW player. He ended his sequence with a Martyr of Sands that virtually negated Turtenwald's next attack.

An Oblivion Ring of his own freed Turtenwald's Tarmogoyf, and it looked like he might have assembled enough damage to cut through Ohlschwager's defenses, even after he reloaded his hand with a number of Squadron Hawks. After another flashback of Lingering Souls, Ohlschwager had a Squadron Hawk and five tokens, four of which he sacrificed to effectively fog on the next attack.

Andrew Ohlschwager and his Martyr of Sands are playing immovable object to Owen Turtenwald's unstoppable force this round.

A Martyr of Sands suddenly jumped Ohlschwager to 21, but his board presence was dwindling as Turtenwald crashed in turn after turn. Necrotic Sliver attempted to stem the bleeding, but Mana Leak tapped Ohlschwager out and let Turtenwald send the sliver on a Path to Exile.

The next attack dropped Ohlschwager to five with only two Lingering Souls on board.

Ranger of Eos resolved through a Mana Leak the next turn, but tapped Ohlschwager out in the process, opening the door for Turtenwald to burn him out and force game three.

Ohlschwager 1 – Turtenwald 1

Game 3

Turtenwald found himself immediately behind with a mulligan to five and a missed second land drop. He managed a Loam Lion, but the 2/3 kitty wasn't going to get the job done on its own.

Ohlschwager, meanwhile, was busy making Squadron Hawks and a Dark Confidant to flood the board.

Eventually Turtenwald found a second land, but not the red mana he needed to unload his Lightning Bolts, and he quickly succumbed to a fleet of Squadron Hawks.

Ohlschwager 2 – Turtenwald 1

Deck Tech: 45 Percent Zoo with Owen Turtenwald

by Blake Rasmussen

After Wild Nacatl was ceremoniously ushered to the Modern banned list, Zoo went from being the most popular strategy in the format to nearly nonexistent. There were few souls brave enough to bring the former format boogeyman to Lincoln, but one of them has rattled off a 9-0 start with a deck he says have no good matchups.

Owen Turtenwald is sitting atop the standings with a deck he calls "45 Percent Zoo," because he says it has no good matchups, only 45 percent ones. It's a testament to his talent that he's batting 100 percent with the list.

But why would he come all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska, with a deck he thought put him at a disadvantage right off the bat?

"My options were play a bad list of a good deck or a good list of a bad deck," Turtenwald explained. Since playing Zoo at Worlds, Turtenwald kept jamming with the deck on Magic Online even though he said he wasn't winning.

But, he said, his experience with the deck made him comfortable enough with the archetype that he knew it far better, and the list was far more tuned, than anything else he could choose.

No Wild Nacatl? No problem.

His experience with the deck and the format shows in his tuning. His list sports three Grim Lavamancers that were absent from his Worlds list that he said have been "ridiculous" because of the number of creature matchups he has played. Meanwhile he also dropped Knight of the Reliquary for the hexproof Geist of Saint Traft, which is a quicker clock versus combo decks and, he says, just as strong in creature matchups because it won't eat removal.

The Nacatls have been replaced by going up to the full amount of Kird Apes, Loam Lions and Steppe Lynxes, where at worlds he maxed out on Steppe Lynxes.

And while he's still playing Tribal Flames, he hasn't been impressed with it and has even completely discarded the Snapcaster Mages that let the deck hit for 10 damage out of nowhere. Turtenwald said the Taigo Chan's invitational card was only good in matchups where you needed extra Path to Exiles, and he already had Grim Lavamancer to help those matchups.

The newest wrinkle to the deck was the addition of Dark Ascension's Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which helps out in the weak Storm matchup and also led him to his trickiest play of Day One.

Playing against Storm, Turtenwald was four damage short of killing his opponent who, at three mana, had a number of options that could work through Thalia if he had the time. So after first strike damage resolved – a piece of text that may seem extraneous at first on the white legend – Turtenwald cast Path to Exile on his own Thalia to get two more landfall triggers for his Steppe Lynx, dealing exactly lethal.

His sideboard is mostly standard, though the Sulfur Elementals probably are not common. He says they're good against not only Martyr of Sands, which can otherwise be a headache, but also against decks with Squadron Hawks, Lingering Souls and similar small creatures.

The Sulfur Elemental came in handy in round 10 against Andrew Ohlschwager's Martyr of Sands deck, but ultimately Turtenwald succumbed to a combination of rampant life gain, bad draws and a mull to five. Still, at 9-1 and playing lights out with a deck he knows intimately, don't be surprised to see Turtenwald putting his menagerie to test in the Top 8.

45 Percent Zoo by Owen Turtenwald

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Sunday, 11:15 a.m.: Top tables, Round 11 edition

by Blake Rasmussen

Things are getting tight now as we move into the heart of Day Two. Only the best 96 players and decks have come back today, meaning we're starting to really get a sense of what the best decks are

Checking out the top 10 tables every so often gives us a snapshot of how the best decks emerge as the weekend goes on, and round 11 has a ton of information packed into 20 decks.

For one, Jund is still top dog. It has been strongly represented all weekend and continues to be the most played deck on the higher tables. Players have lauded the deck's power, flexibility and overall game plan in a field as wide-open as this one.

For another, Melira and Affinity have survived to make a mini-resurgence after each deck's numbers were weaned on Day 1. Both decks have "oops, I won" hands, but also a surprising amount of play when obvious lines to victory aren't apparent, meaning some of the more skillful pilots likely survived to carry the torch on Day 2.

But, as has been the theme all weekend, the diversity is the big story. There are 14 different decks among the top 20 lists this round. There are "only" 13 if you group UR Tron and UW Tron together, but the decks play so differently – highlighted by Through the Breach in UR Tron – that they really do feel like very different decks.

The Confidant Aggro Loam was a blast from the past that looked like Jund at first blush, but was given away by Seismic Assault and Coutryside Crusher. The deck was a beast back in the day, using Life from the Loam to turbocharge Seismic Assault, and its pilot seems to be faring well with the old favorite.

Seismic Assault
Life from the Loam

Soul Blade is just a successor to Caw Blade that abandons Squadron Hawk in favor of a black splash for Lingering Souls. The deck was fairly popular on Day 1, but has fallen a bit as its pilots were picked off in the later rounds.

Archetype Count
Jund 4
Melira 3
Affinity 2
BW Martyr 1
Storm 1
Zoo 1
URW Scepter 1
UW Tron 1
UR Tron 1
Mono Blue Faeries 1
Confidant Aggro Loam 1
UB Faeries 1
Soul Blade 1
BR Aggro 1

Round 11: Feature Match - Luis Scott Vargas vs. Martin Juza

by Dane Young

ChannelFireball teammates Luis Scott-Vargas and Martin Juza have cruised to the top tables after day one, but now they have to play against each other. Martin is one of the players having success with Melira Pod, while Luis is piloting a suddenly popular U/W Tron deck.

Game 1

Martin led with Noble Hierarch and Melira, Sylvok Outcast as Luis developed his colored mana with some dual lands. His attempt at a quick Birthing Pod was stopped by Remand, but the exalted Melira kept the pressure on. A third dual land from Luis enabled Thirst for Knowledge, discarding Iona, Shield of Emeria, but that meant he had to let Kitchen Finks land.

It was turn four before Luis played his first Urza's land in Urza's Mine, but he was taking a beating from Kitchen Finks and Melira, Sylvok Outcast, quickly falling to 8. He didn't seem the least bit worried when Martin replayed Birthing Pod, despite having two more Remands in hand. He revealed why he was able to remain so calm after Martin cashed in a Kitchen Finks for Murderous Redcap, dropping Luis to 6.

Tapping out on Martin's end step, Luis fired up Gifts Ungiven for just Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites, binning both of them. He quickly untapped and reanimated the massive praetor, wiping Juza's board and any hopes of a win after two attack steps.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1, Martin Juza 0

Luis Scott-Vargas

Game 2

A mulligan quickly led to two more and Martin fell far very far behind before any plays were made. He came out firing with Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise, but Luis kept up with a pair of Urza's Mine and Azorius Signet plus Expedition Map.

A topdecked Birthing Pod gave Juza a way to get back into the game, and the tapped-out Luis had no answer for it but a shrug. Martin's life total fell quickly as he cashed in Birds of Paradise for Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. That struck a nerve with LSV, who was forced to play an untapped Hallowed Fountain and say go on 14 life.

Thalia attacked and transformed into Aven Mindcensor, shutting down Luis' Expedition Map, and Luis could only play land-go, waiting to find Urza's Tower after finding Urza's Power Plant. The Aven Mindcensor struck in and Noble Hierarch became Qasali Pridemage, leaving Luis with a quickly closing window to put away Juza's triple mulligan.

The pair crashed in again, dropping Luis to 6, then 2 as Thoughtseize ripped Ulamog out of Luis' hand, leaving him with just a censored Gifts Ungiven that Luis was forced to play. He revealed the top four cards of his deck, but netted only land and conceded.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1, Martin Juza 1

Martin Juza

Game 3

Luis' Urza's Power Plant and Urza's Tower into Azorius Signet was a dangerous start, but Juza was ramping up with his own concoction of mana sources in three Birds of Paradise. Luis had to Thirst for Knowledge into a fourth land, but he found it and added Grafdigger's Cage to the mix, shutting out any Birthing Pod shenanigans, but also shutting off his own Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite options.

Murderous Redcap shocked Luis and gave Martin his first source of pressure, scoring a couple of hits with it as Luis went for Gifts Ungiven. Martin had the Aven Mindcensor to answer it, but Luis, who had assembled the UrzaTron, seemed happy when he revealed his top four cards of Path to Exile, Celestial Colonnade, Thirst for Knowledge and Azorius Signet. Martin gave him the mana sources and Luis played them on his turn, falling to 12 on attacks, but picking off the Aven Mindcensor on end step.

That gave Luis an opening to wind up a second Gifts Ungiven for a devastating combination of Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Thirst for Knowledge. Martin gave him the sorceries and quickly lost his board to Day of Judgment, untapping with just Overgrown Tomb and Temple Garden. When Luis cracked and Expedition Map for Eye of Ugin Juza packed it up.

Luis Scott-Vargas wins 2-0.

Deck Tech: Martyr Hate Bears with Andrew Ohlschwager

by Dane Young

Deck Tech: Martyr Hate Bears with Andrew Ohlschwager

Making the trip with a large crew from Fort Collins, Colorado, Andrew Olschwager piloted an unexpected deck to an undefeated record without the help of even a single bye.

"I played White-Black Martyr a lot two years ago when Dark Depths was the best deck. I thought it matched up well against the field, and Bitterblossom was great against Dark Depths. Now, with Bitterblossom banned in Modern, it's turned into a kind of Hate Bears deck with Jotun Grunt and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben that's well-positioned with Punishing Fire banned."

Even in a very diverse format, Andrew likes most of his matchups aside from decks with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Those decks force him to take the aggro role, which he isn't as well-equipped for as one would think, though a Figure of Destiny or Serra Ascendant on turn one can definitely get him there. He's also packing Necrotic Slivers to break up UrzaTron pieces, and he got fancy in a feature match against Gerry Thompson yesterday, blowing up Urza's Mine and using Surgical Extraction to strip Gerry of the crucial piece. Suddenly Gerry was left with a clunky tap-out deck that Andrew was able to pounce on.

Many hours of testing with his Fort Collins crew sculpted the deck's numbers to perfection, including potential Squadron Hawk engines with Jotun Grunt and Mistveil Plains that allow Andrew to draw two or three Squadron Hawks a turn if the situation comes up. Showing the deck's flexibility, Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Sword of Light and Shadow help him grind out opponents, sometimes to the tune of Necrotic Sliver leaving opponents without any permanents or Martyr of Sands catapulting Andrew's life total to nearly untouchable life totals.

Dark Ascension bomb Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Ranger of Eos top the curve at four mana, with both offering unique and powerful effects. Andrew says he almost always makes an emblem as soon as Sorin hits play, allowing his Squadron Hawks and other otherwise tiny creatures to start doing real damage. Ranger of Eos gives him a chance to capitalize on multiple angles with Figure of Destiny and Serra Ascendant combining with Martyr of Sands to win any race. That's the real backbone of the deck, according to Andrew, with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Jotun Grunts acting more as answers to the format than threats. Thalia gives Storm decks fits, while Jotun Grunt protects him from Tarmogoyfs, Grim Lavamancers and other graveyard decks, but they don't stick around extremely long.

Andrew's run his unique deck to 10-0 with no byes, so the deck is clearly very powerful. Check it out below.

Andrew Ohlschwager

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Round 12: Feature Match - Rafael Coqueiro vs. Scott Lewis

by Blake Rasmussen

Rafael Coqueiro and Scott Lewis may not be names that mean much to many players, but at 9-2 and sitting near the top of the standings, they very well might soon.

Lewis is an Iowa native and old school Pro Tour veteran who last attended Pro Tour Paris. When I asked him what his last Pro Tour was before Paris, his response was typical of the long time player.

"Mesolithic, I believe?"

In reality, he last stepped on the big stage during the era of Necropotence in Chicago, which for anyone playing now who wasn't alive a million years ago, that was around 1997. Among the Iowa City Magic community, he is considered something of a godfather and soft spoken mentor for the FNM crowd.

Lewis was packing UR Tron featuring a powerful Eldrazi endgame with Through the Breach and Urza lands – the Tron – to sneak them into play early.

His opponent was also at Pro Tour Paris, but has more recently been seen attending Worlds and occasionally traveling with fellow Brazilian Carlos Romao. Coqueiro was playing Jund, which had proven to be a powerful and popular choice on the weekend.

Game 1

Coqueiro found himself at a quick disadvantage when a lack of lands forced him to throw back two bad hands. He finally settled on five cards that let him cast Inquisition of Kozilek turn one and a Tarmogoyf on turn two, but left him gasping for follow-up action.

Rafael Coqueiro wasn't left with many options after taking 15 from an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, the Aeon's Torn on turn four.

Lewis, meanwhile, used a Remand to help dig a bit early on, leading to a natural turn four Tron and, then, Through the Breach for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. That merited a Lightning Bolt at Lewis to drop him to 10, but the flying spaghetti monster destroyed all of Coqueiro's board and put him to just five life.

After that it was fairly easy for Lewis to use Tolaria West to find Eye of Ugin and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, ending things in a hurry.

Lewis 1 – Coqueiro 0

Game 2

Coqueiro looked crestfallen as he was once again forced to throw back a seven card hand with just Treetop Village for mana. After some thought, he kept his six, but didn't look happy about it. Four land and two Bloodbraid Elves was especially slow by Jund standards.

Lewis, meanwhile, had a quick keep that looked like the fix when he led with two different Tron pieces and an Izzet Signet.

Coqueiro did manage a Blightning on turn three, removing Urza's Mine and Through the Breach, but that didn't stop a natural turn 3 Tron into a Wurmcoil Engine.

Terminate tried to keep the Wurm at bay for a turn, but Lewis' Remand helped swing life totals wildly.

Scott Lewis, old school spaghetti monster master.

That gave Coqueiro a difficult decision. He could either Terminate with Lewis tapped out, or get on the board with Bloodbraid Elf and roll the die with cascade. He opted to gamble – finding a Dark Confidant – but chose to let it hang back to chump block the giant robot and gain some precious time.

The Dark Confidant fed Coqueiro a Maelstrom Pulse at the cost of three life, but the Brazilian was stuck on four lands and unable to make more than one play a turn. Reluctantly he passed the turn, hoping to use Terminate to once again stave off the Wurm. Before he could do that, Lewis fired off an Electrolyze to stop the Confidant from doing any more damage to either player.

When the Wurmcoil Engine went to attack, Coqueiro tried for Terminate one more time, but a Remand and a Burst Lightning from Lewis ended the game before the Jund player could recover. It turns out Wurmcoil Engine can be tough to beat on turn three.

Scott Lewis defeats Rafael Coqueiro 2-0

Quick Hits: Modern Diversity

by Blake Rasmussen

How many archetypes do you think will be in the Top 8, and which deck will be most represented?

Gerry Thompson: "Seven, with two Jund decks."
Luis Scott-Vargas: "Six and Melira."
Conley Woods: "Six and Jund."
Matthias Hunt: "Five, and anything with Delver of Secrets. They may be different decks, but they will have Delvers."
Adrian Sullivan: "I think Caw Blade will be most represented with two, but I think it’ll be tied with two storm for total of six archetypes."
Caleb Durward: "At least six archetypes. A lot of the top players are playing Tron, so I expect at least two Tron in the Top 8."

Round 13: Feature Match - Andrew Cuneo vs. Andrew Ohlschwager

by Dane Young

Though their decks are nothing alike, round 13 found us an Andrew mirror match as Andrew Cuneo took on Andrew Ohlschwager. Cuneo's Melira, Sylvok Outcast Pod deck was capable of comboing off against Ohlschwager's Martyr Hate Bears deck, but Ohlschwager had so far taken the tournament by storm and was ready for war.

Game 1

Ohlschwager won the roll and came out blazing with a pair of Dark Confidants. Wall of Roots bought some time for Cuneo, but Ohlschwager kept his foot on the gas with Necrotic Sliver as his Dark Confidants kept his hand full.

Andrew Cuneo

Murderous Redcap punished Ohlschwager, eating the Necrotic Sliver before it could do any harm, then trading for both Dark Confidants when Ohlschwager offered it, his life total hurting from the price his Bobs demanded. Ohlschwager followed up with Jötun Grunt, but it was clear Cuneo was in the driver's seat, and he showed why the next turn, playing Viscera Seer and Birthing Pod before cashing in the Wall of Roots for Kitchen Finks and tapping out to Chord of Calling for Melira, Sylvok Outcast, assembling his infinite life combo out of nowhere. Ohlschwager quickly looked for help from his sideboard.

Andrew Cuneo 1, Andrew Ohlschwager 0

Game 2

A turn one Thoughtseize plucked Orzhov Pontiff from Cuneo's grip and Squadron Hawk found three friends as Ohlschwager jumped out to a lead for the second straight game. Cuneo's hand was somewhat slow, but he bought a card of his own with Golgari Rot Farm on turn two.

Sword of Fire and Ice promised to wreak havoc on Cuneo's plans as Squadron Hawk got pantsed up and swooped in, killing the front half of Kitchen Finks. Mortarpod finished it off, but Cuneo reloaded with Viscera Seer and Eternal Witness, forcing Ohlschwager to use a Lingering Souls token to off the Viscera Seer to turn his sword back on.

Andrew Ohlschwager

Cuneo rebuilt again with Birthing Pod and Viscera Seer, snagging Qasali Pridemage to finally off the Sword of Fire and Ice. A hardcast Mikaeus , the Unhallowed swallowed an Oblivion Ring, but Harmonic Sliver freed it right up and Cuneo used it to fetch Murderous Redcap, returning Harmonic Sliver via Mikaeus, the Unhallowed's ability and shattering the Mortarpod. Ohlschwager's board was suddenly down to just a Squadron Hawk and going backward.

Inquisition of Kozilek revealed Cuneo's Forest, but Ohlschwager's only follow-up was another Squadron Hawk, and Cuneo's non-human crusade effect made a martyr out of the Martyr deck.

Andrew Cuneo wins the match 2-0

Round 14: Feature Match - Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Austin Scarborough

by Blake Rasmussen

With just two losses apiece, uber-star Luis Scott-Vargas and (nearby) hometown hero Austin Scarborough needed just one win to likely lock up a Top 8.

Scarborough, who is from nearby Omaha, knew he had his work cut out for him, facing a mirror match of UW Tron decks against one of the best players in the world.

"If I beat you, you really only have yourself to blame," the Nebraskan offered as they sat down in the feature match area.

"That's true, that's very true," Scott-Vargas said, a possible acknowledgement of his loss in the previous round to Affinity.

With similar decks and same records, this match would be a good test of hometown advantage versus the advantage of being, well, Luis Scott-Vargas.

Game 1

Both players mirrored each other's starts with turn one Tron piece and Expedition map, though Scott-Vargas' foil map gave him a leg up on the swag department.

It also gave him a leg up on the mana department when it enabled the full Tron on just turn three. That let him resolve and Azorius Signet and a Gifts Ungiven, even through a Remand.

The Gifts found Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Expedition Map, Gifts Ungiven and Eye of Ugin. The Nebraskan gave him Expedition Map and Gifts Ungiven, shuffling the Eldrazi and its legendary land back into Scott-Vargas' library.

Nebraskan Austin Scarborough has battled through 13 rounds to find himself on the precipice of a Top 8 in his home state.

Scarborough mirrored Scott-Vargas with the third Tron piece and a Gifts Ungiven. He took a different tact with his piles, searching up Mindslaver, Expedition Map, Azorius Signet and Urza's Tower. The pro gave Scarborough Expedition Map and the extra Tron piece after some thought.

Then, for the third consecutive turn a player cast Gifts Ungiven, with Scott-Vargas resolving the copy of the spell he picked up on his last turn. He picked out Remand, Azorius Signet, Talisman of Progress, and an Eldrazi, getting the two artifacts for his trouble.

Scott-Vargas ended his turn by searching up Eye of Ugin with an Expedition Map, but Scarborough opted to fire back with his an Expedition of his own for Ghost Quarter. The Quarter broke up the Tron, but only until Scott-Vargas played a replacement piece in order to search up Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre.

The Eldrazi made his presence felt the following turn, destroying a Tron piece to keep the Nebraskan quite a ways away from recurring his Mindslaver. And when Scott-Vargas had a timely Remand for a slightly less so Timely Reinforcements that would have let Scarborough live through the annihilate trigger, it was on to game two.

Scott-Vargas 1 – Scarborough 0

Game 2

Scarborough got off to a pretty hot start in the second leg of the match with a natural turn three Tron yielding an early Mindslaver.

Fortunately for Scott-Vargas, he was ready with an Oblivion Ring to stay in the game, and Scarborough couldn't do much more with all of his mana than activate and attack with a Celestial Colonnade for three straight turns.

Luis Scott-Vargas put his money where his videos are, playing a UW Tron deck that substantially resembled the deck he's been posting videos of lately.

Scott-Vargas assembled his trio of lands on turn five, and then used his excess mana to Tolaria West for a Pact of Negation before searching up Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with an Eye of Ugin. Meanwhile, Scarborough just kept plugging away with Colonnade, taking Scott-Vargas to 8 life.

That was when Emrakul, the Aeons Torn resolved. One swing of the biggest of Eldrazi earned Scott-Vargas a handshake and a likely trip to another Grand Prix Top 8.

Scott-Vargas 2 – Scarborough 0

Day 1 Undefeated Decks

by Event Coverage Staff

Owen Turtenwald - Day 1 Undefeated Deck

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Chad Meyer - Day 1 Undefeated Deck

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Andrew Ohlschwager - Day 1 Undefeated Deck

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James Zornes - Day 1 Undefeated Deck

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Round 15: Feature Match - James Zornes vs. Samuel Friedman

by Dane Young

James Zornes' Storm combo deck has treated him well this weekend, leaving him with a win and in shot in the last round. Samuel Friedman's Affinity deck hasn't been much of a slouch either, sitting just a point behind James and a small but not impossible chance to reach the Top 8 with a win of his own.

Game 1

Halimar Depths started it off for James, letting him sift the two he didn't want to the bottom with a Serum Visions. Samuel had "the usual" Affinity opening, exploding onto the board with Darksteel Citadel, Memnite, Mox Opal and Steel Overseer. He followed up with Blinkmoth Nexus, Arcbound Ravager and Signal Pest, attacking with Memnite and pumping his team with the Steel Overseer.

James Zornes

Way behind, James went for four token blockers with a Desperate Ritual fueled Empty the Warrens. Samuel somehow wasn't quite done, fetching Cranial Plating with Steelshaper's Gift and strapping it onto his unblockable Signal Pest. Steel Overseer supervised as Memnite, Arcbound Ravager and Signal Pest got in there, taking down two goblin tokens and connecting for seven damage with the unblockable Signal Pest. When James couldn't find a way to go off on the next turn, Samuel smashed in for lethal.

Samuel Friedman 1, James Zornes 0

Game 2

Serum Visions was met by Inkmoth Nexus and Springleaf Drum, and this game looked to be much slower. Remand shut down Cranial Plating, but Ornithopter and Mox Opal got it right back in under the now tapped-out Zornes. A pair of Serum Visions helped James find an answer to the dangerous equipment, and he found it in Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite, signaling that he had sided in the Splinter Twin half of his combo.

Samuel Friedman

A second Cranial Plating threw off James' math as Ornithopter wore both hats into combat, knocking James down to 6. Pestermite held the fort for a turn, tapping the Ornithopter, but Samuel used his Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum to move a Cranial Plating over to Blinkmoth Nexus, forcing James to block instead of being able to go off with the Splinter Twin in his hand. Deceiver Exarch tapped the Ornithopter again on the next turn, but an Inkmoth Nexus picked up the torch and flew over for a lethal poison kill.

Samuel Friedman wins the match 2-0

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