Grand Prix Madrid
Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on February 26, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast

Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Juan Carlos Adebo Diaz – 9-0

Joel Calafell – 9-0

Marco Frantuma – 9-0

David Garcia Copete – 8-0-1

Pierre Dagen 8-0-1

Oliver Bungard 8-0-1

Andrej Rutar 8-0-1

Sunday, 10:56 a.m. – Drafting with Joel Calafell

by Tobi Henke

Joel Calafell is one of the best Spanish players of all time, with one Pro Tour Top 8 as well as three Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, including a win in Barcelona in 2009. Yesterday, he went 9-0 in the Sealed portion, now it was time for Booster Draft.

Reap the Seagraf

Before the players picked up their first booster, everyone got to take a look at the double-faced cards. Calafell revealed Elbrus, the Binding Blade, to his right there was a Loyal Cathar, to his left a Scorned Villager, overall nothing noteworthy in the double-faced department at this table. And off to pack one! Calafell's held Gather the Townsfolk, Nephalia Seakite, and Wild Hunger among less stellar cards. He flipped back and forth between the Seakite and the Townsfolk for a while, then went with the flyer.

Up next was a booster with Reap the Seagraf and a Silverclaw Griffin, both of which could combine well with the blue first pick, either for blue-black Zombies or blue-white air force. Also included were Evolving Wilds, Grim Backwoods, a host of less impressive creatures, and some filler-level spells. Clearly, these boosters were not exactly what Calafell had hoped for. He took Silverclaw Griffin.

The next pack had Lambholt Elder and Kessig Recluse in green, Markov Warlord in red, continued black with Wakedancer, but held no white or blue at all. Not to worry, though, as Calafell appeared to be more than happy to pick up Markov Warlord third.

With one blue, one white, and one red card so far, pick four proved to be particularly interesting as it offered the choice of either Silverclaw Griffin, Faithless Looting , or Headless Skaab. Calafell picked up his second Griffin.

Wolfhunter's QuiverHunger of the Howlpack

Staying the course seemed to pay off, as Calafell got Burden of Guilt from a booster that was mostly green with Hunger of the Howlpack and Dawntreader Elk. Next, he picked Midnight Guard over Reap the Seagraf and Wolfhunter's Quiver. And again, white alternately ebbed and flowed: his seventh pick was Niblis of the Urn over Forge Devil and Faithless Looting, while there was no white for pick eight, though he did get a Jar of Eyeballs.

Ninth, he took Skillful Lunge over Wolfhunter's Quiver (despite the latter's combo potential with his Midnight Guard), and then he got Grim Backwoods for nothing better than lack of options. The rest of Dark Ascension gave him Bar the Door, Scorch the Fields , Shriekgeist, and Break of Day, though a couple of late Hunger of the Howlpack might have suggested green to be open as well. At this point, Calafell was set on white, but had only dabbled in red and blue. Off to Innistrad, to see what it would be.

First, however, the ceremonial revelation of everyone's double-faced card: Calafell had Gatstaf Shepherd, while one seat to his left there was Grizzled Outcasts, two seats to his left Ulvenwald Mystics. His actual booster then contained Avacynian Priest and Manor Gargoyle, and he was clearly torn between the two for quite a while. When time for the pick was almost up, he instead grabbed the Gatstaf Shepherd, signaling his intent to move into green.

The next booster had Doomed Traveler, Galvanic Juggernaut, and Avacyn's Pilgrim. He stuck with his new plan of green-white and picked the Pilgrim. Directly on his left, though, the player was unfazed by Calafell's earlier Werewolf pick and took Ulvenwald Mystics. So it was time for Calafell to re-evaluate his colors. Luckily, he got passed a booster that was nearly all blue, with Evil Twin, Moon Heron, Stitched Drake, Stitcher's Apprentice, and Murder of Crows, which he took.

Blue-white it was, then, or so it seemed. The rest of pack two only gave him (in order) Village Bell-Ringer, Selfless Cathar, Silent Departure, Abbey Griffin, Somberwald Spider, Dissipate, Sensory Deprivation, Stitcher's Apprentice, Skeletal Grimace, Make a Wish, and Wooden Stake.

Hanweir Watchkeep

Interestingly, the two players to his right both revealed Hanweir Watchkeeps as their double-faced card for pack three. Calafell himself showed Thraben Militia from a booster that also included Midnight Haunting and Angel of Flight Alabaster, which ended up being his first pick.

Next he took Voicless Spirit, passing Olivia Voldaren and Hanweir Watchkeep, then he picked up the second Hanweir Watchkeep that came along. It wasn't clear, however, if he did that simply for lack of alternatives or to actually look into red as a possible third color. As his fourth pick of pack three he chose Civilized Scholar over Geistflame, but when he was passed Heretic's Punishment fifth he went with it. Next was Spare from Evil, then Harvest Pyre, then Deranged Assistant, and Village Bell-Ringer. Night Revelers and a Kessig Wolf rounded up pack three.

In the end, Calafell built a straight blue-white deck without any splashes. He had to include some situational cards, but then again, red cards would have been situational too, namely dependent on the presence of Mountains.

Round 10 Feature Match - Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz vs David Garcia Copete Humano a Humano

by Tim Willoughby

With a Grand Prix in Spain, it was sure that there would be a large amount of local talent making their way to Madrid to protect their own territory. Both Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz and David Garcia Copete had escaped the sealed deck day with perfect records, and now they faced one another in order to retain an unblemished record.

Game 1

Adebo Diaz won the coin flip to go first, and looked confident as he declared that he would keep. He started on a Plains and Wolfhunter's Quiver, while Garcia Copete was mono-black to start. Lambholt Elder came from Adebo Diaz, which warranted Garcia Copete playing a Village Bell-Ringer in his main phase, wary of any werewolf flips.

Another Lambholt Elder came, but granny was not going to be able to get through Galvanic Juggernaut. Adebo Diaz passed on his next turn, meaning that he had a pair of copies of Silverpelt Werewolf to work with. He took 5 on attacks, but had Midnight Haunting at the end of turn to keep up pressure, and did not seem too concerned that Garcia Copete had managed to find a Thraben Sentry to play.

Adebo Diaz swung with his team, killing off Village Bell-Ringer, which both untapped Galvanic Juggernaut and flipping Thraben Sentry. He played a Kessig Recluse to block, and passed. When Galvanic Juggernaut got fitted with a Sharpened Pitchfork, it became a devastating attacker, knocking Adebo Diaz to 10.

It was a crazy race, and Adebo Diaz was not about to go out without a fight. He got stuck in with the squad again, but before blocks there was a Corpse Lunge on a Spirit token, which untapped Galvanic Juggernaut. This meant Garcia Copete could do some devastating blocks on Silverpelt Werewolf. A Ranger's Guile kept one of the werewolves around, but Galvanic Juggernaut was taking 5 point lumps out of Adebo Diaz, and he was soon at Fateful Hour.

Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz means business

Increasing Devotion was exactly what Adebo Diaz needed to stall for long enough to stay in the game. His Wolfhunter's Quiver was now active, and he had a Spirit token to attack with, so he had reliable damage sources. While it was a slow race, it was still a race. Garcia Copete fell to single digits, and had to use a Dead Weight to take out a Spirit Token. Adebo Diaz was one mana short of being able to flash back Increasing Devotion, but in the meantime was putting his mana to good use in re-equipping Wolfhunter's Quiver to different creatures to get additional points of damage in.

Garcia Copete was on the back foot. His Galvanic Juggernaut was doing a good impression of The Abyss with vigilance, but it seemed unlikely to break through at any point.

Finally Adebo Diaz hit nine mana, and flashed back Increasing Devotion. David Garcia Copete drew, and with a smile revealed a hand choked with land.

Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz 1 - 0 David Garcia Copete

Game 2

Game 2 saw the first creature of the game coming from Adebo Diaz, in the form of Hamlet Captain. This was soon trumped by a Thraben Doomsayer by Garcia Copete – it seemed likely that those Human tokens would be getting some use again this match. An Orchard Spirit from Adebo Diaz seemed likely to be able to get stuck in, but the ground was likely to stall fast.

Sharpen your pitchforks - its a pitched battle

Travel Preparations from Adebo Diaz pumped both Orchard Spirit and Hamlet Captain, but with Garcia Copete having a Mausoleum Guard to block there was limited potential for serious damage to come in from Adebo Diaz. Death's Caress on Orchard Spirit diminished that potential greatly.

While a Midnight Haunting meant that Adebo Diaz' side of the board wasn't totally devoid of tokens, he would have a hard job matching the Thraben Doomsayer , who was cranking out Human tokens at an impressive rate. Should fateful hour ever come, Garcia Copete's force would be formidable. Gavony Ironwright only served to increase the danger in taking Garcia Copete to 5.

Increasing Devotion meant that there were humans galore on the board, and the life totals were tight – at 12 to 11 in Adebo Diaz' favour. This wasn't to last long though, as an attack for 5 went through, before Garcia Copete played out a Disciple of Griselbrand, which could potentially gain a large amount of life for the Spaniard.

When Adebo Diaz attacked with two Spirit tokens, Garcia Copete used the Disciple to sacrifice Mausoleum Guard, giving him two tokens with which to block. Adebo Diaz shrugged, playing two copies of Avacynian Priest that, in the face of an all human team, would be doing little.

Unburial Rites from Garcia Copete brought back Mausoleum Guard, and Adebo Diaz knocked loudly on his deck. He needed an answer, and Garcia Copete joked that the knock on the deck might have pushed all the cards he needed to the bottom. Adebo Diaz was now in chump blocking mode when faced with attacks, while Garcia Copete was patient in building up a force.

Finally, Adebo Diaz found something decisive. Rage Thrower had the potential to make the combat step absolute carnage. Garcia Copete had a plan though. He sacrificed Mausoleum Guard to Disciple of Griselbrand to make some tokens, then used Corpse Lunge on Rage Thrower. Without the Rage Thrower, he could block such that he went down to 5 life, at which point his alpha strike, aided by much Fateful Hour, would end the game.

Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz 1 - 1 David Garcia Copete

Game 3

There were just 8 minutes left on the round as it came to the deciding game, and the players were quick to get it going, neither wanting to lose their lead on the field.

Adebo Diaz started with Silver-Inlaid Dagger, and soon had an Orchard Spirit to equip it to. Meanwhile, a Falkenrath Torturer came from Garcia Copete, meaning that in principle he might be able to block, albeit at the expense of having to sacrifice a creature.

Adebo Diaz played out a Selfless Cathar and got in for four, before casting Selfless Cathar. For Garcia Copete it was Doomed Traveler and Gavony Ironwright. The Traveler was exactly the sort of creature that Falkenrath Torturer would want to eat, meaning that Orchard Spirit was potentially not safe. Initially though, it got in for another 4.

Galvanic Juggernaut was the next play from Garcia Copete, and this time it met a 3/2 Falkenrath Torturer, thanks to a Doomed Traveler sacrifice. The trade went through, and Adebo Diaz followed up with Villagers of Estwald, who picked up the dagger from their fallen comrade.

A Kessig Recluse from Adebo Diaz traded with Galvanic Juggernaut, thanks to deathtouch. Adebo Diaz was still on 20 life, compared to just 12 for his opponent. He looked on as another Doomed Traveler came down on the other side of the board, alongside Rotting Fensnake. Travelers kept dying for Garcia Copete, and when the Rotting Fensnake got given some Cobbled Wings, it seemed that a sudden air force had been assembled. Soon the life totals were at 6 to 10 in Garcia Copete's favour, due in no small part to a timely Death's Caress on an Avacynian Priest who might otherwise have served as an answer to Rotting Fensnake.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat David Garcia Copete - we started at 8am here in Madrid

It seemed that there were other answers from Adebo Diaz. A Wolfhunter's Quiver equipped to let the Rotting Fensnake get killed off, and threatened to gun down Spirit tokens galore. Time was very tight on the match though, so even this didn't seem sure to seal things.

Attacks put the life totals at 6 each. With Gavony Ironwright on Garcia Copete's side of the board, just one more point of damage would mean problems in the form of Fateful Hour. Adebo Diaz took one from attacks, and looked on as Garcia Copete got stuck in for one. He shot down the untapped Spirit, and re-equipped to kill off another.

Attacks put Garcia Copete to just 2, but the only creature he had to work with was Gavony Ironwright. He drew for the turn and extended his hand with a smile. At least there was still an undefeated player representing for Spain.

Juan Carlo Adebo Diaz wins 2-1, advancing to 10-0!

Sunday, 11:46 a.m. - Implements of Sacrifice

by Tim Willoughby

We've had blocks that focus on the graveyard before. The whole of Odyssey block did an awful lot with the zone which we in the coverage world gleefully refer to as 'the grumper'. With Innistrad block though, while the graveyard is certainly very important, there is also a very strong sense that death itself has never been more important.

With the addition of Dark Ascension to the mix, there are more incentives to build around a plan of creatures hitting the bin than ever before, and that doesn't just mean your opponent's. One of the draft archetypes that has gained in momentum since the release of Dark Ascension is black/white sacrifice. In past limited formats, greedy mana requirements and a lack of obvious synergy has left black white an unlikely archetype, but that cannot be said of the current limited environment.

The fuel

If you are about to start consigning your creatures to the graveyard, you don't want to do so cheaply. Fortunately enough, there are a whole host of creatures who really don't mind overly much. While Innistrad had the likes of Mausoleum Guard and Doomed Traveler, they have been joined by all sorts of lemming-like companions. From Loyal Cathar to creatures with undying and Elgaud Inquisitor we have creatures who don't really 'die' in the traditional sense. Then we have the tokens – oh the tokens. It doesn't hurt nearly so much to sacrifice a creature here and there for fun and profit when they haven't cost you a full card. Whether you Gather the Townsfolk (for the ensuing slaughter) or harvest a few Lingering Souls, white is well positioned to make plenty of tokens, before you even start looking at powerful rares like Increasing Devotion or Thraben Doomsayer. Adding Avacyn's Collar to the mix means that your humans produce even more tokens (with a flying upgrade) and Requiem Angel can further that cause too. If you want to get really fancy, Gravecrawler is one of those creatures who simply won't stay down.

Thraben DoomsayerAvacyn's Collar

The fire

Once you have appropriate sacrificial lambs, you need a reason to want them to die. Unruly Mob and Village Cannibals from Innistrad are a great start. They either get angrier or fatter (depending on how you look at it) from whatever incidental deaths happen on your team. Thraben Sentry is another one who hulks out and starts trying to get revenge when one of his buddies snuffs it. With Innistrad though, we have a few new tools for this plan. Wakedancer is very happy to dance on a few graves to give you more tokens, and Falkenrath Torturer just loves some food, wherever it may come from. Ravenous Demon is certainly happy of something to eat, and don't get me started on Skirsdag Flayer.

Falkenrath TorturerThraben Sentry

While a straightforward black/white creature deck is certainly an option, this deck gets a lot spicier once you start thinking about building incremental advantage with each and every creature that your opponent deals with. Death – it ain't what it used to be.

Round 12 Feature Match – Florian Koch vs. Pau Pons Herrera

by Tobi Henke

Both players began this round—their draft pod's final—with scores of 10-1. Florian Koch of Germany already has one Grand Prix win under his belt, while Spaniard Pau Pons Herrera was still looking for his big break, possibly today.

Game One

Koch won the die-roll and came out of the gate fast with Bloodcrazed Neonate followed by Torch Fiend. Herrera took one hit from the Neonate, then traded away his Riot Devils to get rid of it. Both players went without plays for a turn, before Koch summoned a Nearheath Stalker to go along with his Torch Fiend. Herrera still had no play ...

Pau Pons Herrera

A quick glance at his hand showed Vorapede, stuck in hand as he was lacking a third green. Koch smashed in again and again, then, with Herrera at 4, cast Morkrut Banshee . Meanwhile, Herrera had found a third Forest via Traveler's Amulet and topdecked another, which now allowed him to cast Vorapede and Prey Upon, squaring off his 5/4 against Koch's 4/4. Koch responded with Victim of Night which didn't kill the undying Vorapede but did stop the Prey Upon. The next attack wrapped up game one.

Florian Koch 1 – Pau Pons Herrera 0

Game Two

Herrera had to take a mulligan, then thought long and hard about his six, while Koch kept instantly. Not to wonder, since the German started with Diregraf Ghoul, Bloodcrazed Neonate, and Torch Fiend. Herrera, however had Geistflame to take out both of Koch's 2/1s.

Without missing a beat, Koch summoned Screeching Bat, then killed Herrera's own Bloodcrazed Neonate with a Geistflame of his own. Herrera cast Ulvenwald Mystics, hoping to finally halt at least his opponent's ground offense. Diregraf Ghoul attacked regardless. The 3/3 blocked, and was then targeted by Koch's flashbacked Geistflame. Herrera, however, had Moonmist to save it. He then attacked with the resulting 5/5 before making a Village Ironsmith.

Florian Koch

But the Diregraf Ghoul had done quite a lot of damage, the Screeching Bat continued to do so, and Herrera quickly found himself at 6 life. To make matters worse, Koch added yet more pressure with Falkenrath Noble. All changed, though, when Herrera played his seventh land: a Kessig Wolf Run! His attack with Ulvenwald Primordials took Koch from 15 to 6, and his Ironsmith turned into Ironfang.

Koch attacked with just the Falkenrath Noble to put Herrera at 4, then summoned Pitchburn Devils. If this were to die, its own triggered ability along with the Noble's would be enough to kill Herrera, provided Koch himself didn't die to trample damage in the process. What made the situation even more complicated was Ironfang's first strike ability. This proved to be quite the liability when it was blocked by Pitchburn Devils. The Devils—and in turn Herrera—died before Ulvenwald Mystics could ever deal their combat damage, an interaction Herrera had apparently overlooked.

Florian Koch 2 – Pau Pons Herrera 0

Sunday, 12:57 p.m. – A Couple of Quick Questions to Martin Jůza

by Tobi Henke
Veteran Pro Martin Juza

What's your favorite archetype in the new draft format?
"Still green-white. You don't need any rares or anything special to come your way. Just a bunch of 2/2s and aggressive cards, and you're set."

What's your favorite first pick in Dark Ascension?
"I don't need Huntmaster of the Fells or some other mythic. Just give me Lingering Souls. This card is so amazing, I'll take it every time. Maybe Beguiler of Wills is better, but my favorite definitely is Lingering Souls. Black-white is a sweet archetype, and I'm also willing to splash for it."

What's the biggest change to the draft format brought about by Dark Ascension?
"This format is now all about aggressive decks. You can't be messing around. All the slow strategies like Burning Vengeance or the Spider Spawning deck don't really work anymore. You have to be aggressive, have to have a solid curve and good creatures"

What cards from Dark Ascension do you think are underrated so far?

"Definitely Forge Devil. I mean, the card is not insanely good, but the more aggressive your opponent's deck the better. Against green-white for example Forge Devil always gets great value. I had two in my first draft deck. Also Fling. The card isn't great or anything but doesn't see as much play as it should."

What cards from Dark Ascension do you think are overrated so far?
"Definitely Wrack with Madness! There are just sooo many 3/4s, 1/4s, 2/3s, and other creatures it cannot kill."

Round 13 Feature Match - Raphael Levy vs. Aldo Giuliani - Ailurophobia

by Tim Willoughby

"Is your deck better than your last one?" asked a smiling Aldo Giuliani of Hall of Famer Raphael Levy.

"Nothing could be worse than my last one... I don't want to ask you about yours. The last time we played you said your deck was terrible, and you still gave me a kicking."

Game 1

Raph Levy knew coming into this draft that he had to come out guns blazing and win the draft if he was to make top eight of Grand Prix Madrid. He did just that with first a Champion of the Parish on turn one, then a Gather the Townsfolk for the second turn. On the draw, the first play he saw from his opponent was a turn three Markov Patrician. The Patrician fell to Champion of the Parish in a fight when Levy flashed in Village Bell-Ringer, and soon Levy's Champion grew still further thanks to a Doomed Traveler. That Makeshift Mauler was not the biggest creature on the battlefield was a little unusual, but that certainly wasn't something to bother Raph. It was soon joined by Highborn Ghoul and Ghoulraiser.

Giuliani glum in the face of the Raph attack

Levy was all about the aggression. He used Spare from Evil to stop any blocking, and knocked Giuliani to 2 life. The following turn ended things with Voiceless Spirit in the air.

Raphael Levy 1 – 0 Aldo Giuliani

On the play in the second game Giuliani had a turn one Typhoid Rats, while Levy started on a Blazing Torch. Highborn Ghoul from the Italian met a pair of Human tokens thanks to Gather the Townsfolk. There wasn't a third turn play from Giuliani, while Raph had an equip and a Hamlet Captain.

Giuliani's 4th turn saw a Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Raph, unable to do much about the powerful flyer, instead chose to kill off Highborn Ghoul with his Blazing Torch, protecting his life total where he could. Attacks from Raph made the life totals 13 each, and the Frenchman followed up with a Villagers of Estwald , hoping to race.

Bump in the Night rather changed the face of that race though, and with a Typhoid Rats to slow down any ground assault, it seemed unlikely that Levy would be able to push through enough damage. Giuliani was one land short of being able to flash back Bump in the Night, so the game looked mighty close.

Levy was not out of it yet though. A Gavony Township allowed him to attack Giuliani to 3. The Italian didn't even need that Bump in the Night though. At the end of turn he had a Brimstone Volley to knock Levy down to 1 life, and his vampire was able to end things.

Raphael Levy 1 – 1 Aldo Giuliani

Game 3

Both players kept for game three, and in spite of being on the draw, it was Giuliani who had the first creature of the game, in Typhoid Rats. He had a Forge Devil to off Niblis of the Mist, and seemed unafraid to attack with his Rats through the Villagers of Estwald which was Levy's next play.

Raph Levy is ready for revenge on Giuliani

Giuliani was very much on the offensive, and cast a Vampire Interloper, who can do little but get into the red zone. Levy had a Voiceless Spirit to make that a bad idea, but could only look on as not one but two copies of Black Cat came out to prowl for Giuliani.

Levy may have had the biggest creatures on the board, but Giuliani certainly had a lot of creatures, meaning that for a while a stalemate looked imminent. Levy was willing to break it though, attacking with Voiceless Spirit and casting Thraben Heretic.

One downside of playing out a hand quickly is that it leaves little left to control werewolves, meaning that Raph got to flip his Villagers of Estwald when Giuliani had no play. With Typhoid Rats to block it did not seem a huge problem, but it seemed likely that Levy didn't mind having a 4/6 around, just in case.

Levy looked at his hand, and shook his head.

"I don't like those Black Cats" he smiled, suggesting that he had a few big threats in his hand. After a little thought he attacked with his team, and played both Spare from Evil and Hunger of the Howlpack, to mean that Giuliani would go to six. Giuliani wasn't about to go down without a fight though, casting Falkenrath Aristocrat and attacking with both it and Vampire Interloper to make the race look very tight.

Levy looked at his options. He was up 10 life to 6, but that wasn't likely to last. He used Ranger's Guile and Skillful Lunge to pump up his Voiceless Spirit, and attacked for exactly enough with a sigh of relief.

As Giuliani signed the slip, Levy pointed out why he was so afraid of those cats.

"You could have sacrificed both copies of Black Cat to your Aristocrat and cleaned out my hand."

Turns out that Raph was afraid of cats with good reason, but this time around Black Cat was lucky for him.

Raphael Levy wins 2-1, still in the race to make top eight here at GP Madrid!

Sunday, 4:10 p.m. - Hey, Look at My Deck!

by Tobi Henke

If you ever have drafted you probably understand the impulse many players feel to show off their deck. And pro players are no different in this respect from the rest of us. Walking around the tables during deck construction after the second draft I was greeted with the eponymous call and was, of course, happy to oblige.

Kock's Deck

Florian Koch drafted this green-red monstrosity featuring not only a solid amount of removal spell-wise but also the combo of Wolfhunter's Quiver and deathtouch! Two Ambush Vipers and one Kessig Recluse made sure that the equipment was useful to hunt down more than just Werewolves.

Levy's Deck

Raphaël Lévy put together this deck: Two Champion of the Parish to go along with three Gather the Townsfolk? And Increasing Devotion? And Gavony Township?! About the only thing that could save Lévy from running out of tokens and counters seemed to be the fact that his opponents would probably concede when this deck starts rolling.

Dictus' Deck

Apparently, Mark Dictus has heard that a three-color Delver deck with lots of Spirits and Drogskol Captain was pretty successful at a recent Pro Tour, so he decided to try it out—in draft! He got three Stormbound Geists, the aforementioned Captain, a Battleground Geist, as well as a Moorland Haunt for yet more Spirits. He even got two Delver of Secrets to combine with his ten instants/sorceries, and the one-card draw engine that is Mentor of the Meek!

Bohny's Deck

Meanwhile, Nico Bohny drafted a rather unusual color combination, combining white with ... well, mostly more white. Admittedly, he ended up a few cards short and had to add some black. But you can just imagine that his Spectral Rider wasn't blocked by a lot of people at this draft table, considering all the white he got.

Lemoine's deck

Word on the street is that the blue-green selfmill archetype was almost killed by the introduction of Dark Ascension into the draft mix. Vincent Lemoine drafted it anyway, for old time's sake. And a fine specimen he got here, featuring Spider Spawning and even Laboratory Maniac, with some great additions from Dark Ascension in Ulvenwald Bear, Chill of Foreboding, and especially Screeching Skaab.

Juza's Deck

Martin Jůza still likes the old triple- Innistrad favorite green-white. Ask and you shall receive. He asked for it, and he certainly did receive ...

Round 15 Feature Match - Martin Scheinin vs. Ivo Grossholz

by Tim Willoughby

With one round left to play here at Grand Prix Madrid, there were still plenty of slots available in the top eight, and few of them secure. While the likes of Martin Juza was able to draw in, Ivo Grossholz of Switzerland would have to play against Martin Scheinin of Spain for the honour of a top 8 position. That's Scheinin with the home field advantage, who has already won a Spanish GP before... no small challenge.

Grossholz was not phased by challenges though. He'd beaten his countryman Nico Bohny the round before, and with a solid blue/white deck he was ready to battle.

Game 1

Scheinin led off with a Typhoid Rats, which bought him a lot of time in the face of Cloistered Youth, who remained a little girl rather than getting taken out by any kind of plague for no value. Eventually when the girl did swing into the rats it was with a Butcher's Cleaver, and Faith's Shield to protect her. Scheinin was off to a slow start, but with Divination to keep his hand stocked, and a Moon Heron to start attacking, he seemed in fine shape, though there was little he could do about Grossholz' every growing life total thanks to the Cleaver.

Martic Scheinin

In due course Sheinin used Blazing Torch to get rid of Cloistered Youth, but when he tried for a Vampire Interloper, he saw it stopped by Bone to Ash. The Mausoleum Guard with which Grossholz replaced it seemed to ensure that the Swiss player would have a string of attackers for some time.

Scheinin played Relentless Skaabs, and was quick to block an attacking Mausoleum Guard with them. Here Grossholz made a small error though. He cast Snapcaster Mage to get back his Faith's Shield, and in haste cast it on his Snapcaster Mage, rather than the Mausoleum Guard that needed the help.

Regardless of this slip, Grossholz was far from in bad shape. He ended up with a pair of tokens, and his Snapcaster Mage was able to swing in and gain him yet more life. A Chant of the Skifsang held off Relentless Skaabs, and even with Moon Heron attacking him each turn, he was far from low on life.

Scheinin used a few copies of Reap the Seagraf to start making Zombie tokens, and took his beats as Grossholz played a Battleground Geist to increase his power in the air. Needing to do just 10 more points of damage, Grossholz was close to closing out the game. On 17 life himself, Grossholz had some breathing room yet. A Dead Weight came from Scheinin to stop him from simply being dead on the board.

Grossholz attacked Scheinin down to 5, holding back a Doomed Traveler with Butcher's Cleaver. He cast Runechanter's Pike and passed. While Scheinin had some attacks and a Sensory Deprivation on Battleground Geist, he didn't have enough to stop Grossholz from coming in for lethal the following turn, thanks to a Moment of Heroism.

Ivo Grossholz 1 – 0 Martin Scheinin

Game 2

A Swiss judge walked by and, seeing the score in the match, pumped the fist just a little bit. I thought those guys were meant to be neutral?

Both players went down to 6 cards for game two, and starts were not particularly aggressive. Think Twice as the first play for Scheinin was matched by Runechanter's Pike from Grossholz. A Stormbound Geist was soon staring down a Niblis of the Breath, but when Schenin found a Dead Weight for Grossholz' creature, he was able to get in unimpeded with his Stormbound Geist.

Typhoid Rats was the next one up for Scheinin, while Grossholz was flooding a little on lands. He didn't even get to make full use of them, casting a Doomed Traveler , and equipping it just for the first strike.

Scheinin's draw was shaping up to be quite a good one. Fiend of the Shadows posed a sizeable threat to Grossholz, and while the Swiss player had a Battleground Geist to block with, by the time it got a chance to, Scheinin had one of his own.

A Butcher's Cleaver from Grossholz joined the Runechanter's Pike and made Doomed Traveler into quite the attacker. 4/1 first strike lifelink meant for some much needed lifegain to make up for an otherwise bleak position.

Grossholz Advances to the Top 8

After a little thought, Scheinin got stuck in with his team, meeting a quick block on the Fiend of the Shadows from Battleground Geist. The Geist hung around thanks to a Faith's Shield, and the Fiend of the Shadows was replaced by Relentless Skaabs. The life totals were 13 to 11 in Grossholz' favour, and gradually moving up and down thanks to big attacks from Scheinin's whole team, and Grossholz' super Doomed Traveler.

A Think Twice from Grossholz now meant that Doomed Traveler was a 6/1 thanks to the Pike and Cleaver. Soon it was a 5/1 again though, as Grossholz used Snapcaster Mage to get back Faith's Shield to protect his Battleground Geist from Victim of Night.

Grossholz continued swinging. He got the life totals down to 11 – 8 in his favour. Swings back from Schenin got more reserved, making it 8 life apiece. Another Think Twice allowed attacks from Doomed Traveler to kill off Relentless Skaabs and take things to 14 to 8.

Scheinin drew for his turn and with a smile showing no small amount of disgust threw his hand on the table. He had plenty of lands, but little more, and could do nothing about the well equipped Doomed Traveler.

Ivo Grossholz wins 2 – 0, advancing to the top 8 of Grand Prix Madrid!

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