Grand Prix Providence Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on May 29, 2011

By Wizards of the Coast

  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Feature Match: Round 15
    Brian Eleyet vs. Ross Merriam
  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Deck Tech:
    Hive Five for Hive Mind with Bryan Eleyet
  • by Nate Price
    Deck Techs:
    NO RUG with Reid Duke and
    Aggro Bant with Jon Barber
  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match: Round 14
    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Drew Levin
  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Deck Tech:
    Hulk Rebirth with Jeremie Ross-Latour
  • by Nate Price
    Sunday, 10:48 a.m.:
    Day 2 Archetype Breakdown
  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match: Round 10
    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Owen Turtenwald
  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Sunday, 10:24 a.m.:
    Top Tables Round-Up
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Coverage:
    Blogs, Feature Matches, and More

Sunday, 10:24 a.m. – Top Tables Round-Up

by Brian David-Marshall

With Day Two of the Grand Prix rumbling to life this morning we decided to take a wander down by the top tables and see who was squaring off and get an idea of what Legacy decks emerged on top of the Day One heap.

Table one was playing on camera between Michael Patnode playing Goblins against Jesse Hatfield playing Zoo. Both players piloted their format staples in the face of the conventional wisdom that Mental Misstep made their decks relics of a bygone era. Patnode advanced to a perfect 10-0 record in two games.

Table One: Michael Patnode vs. Jesse Hatfield

Table two was covered in detail by Nate Price and was a match between two teammates and Player of the Year contenders Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa with his BUG Landstill deck against the suddenly surging Owen Turtenwald Blue-White Standstill with the ubiquitous Stoneforge Mystic. This match also went only two games with Turtenwald showing why his teammates have started calling him X and "Oh-wen".

Table Two: Owen Turtenwald vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Table three was the last undefeated showdown with Wilson Hunter playing Painter Stone -- so-called for its Painter's Servant combo with Grindstone -- against MOCS competitor Reid Duke playing Natural Order RUG. It took three games for Duke to emerge victorious.

Painter's Servant
Grindstone: "The effect repeats as many times as it takes to meet the end condition."
Table Three: Wilson Hunter vs. Reid Duke

If you ever wanted to cascade into Ancestral Vision from Bloodbraid Elf you need look no further than William Fisher's RUG deck that won in three games at table four. He was playing against Paul Ewenstein's Aggro Bant deck that took him to three games.

Bloodbraid Elf
Ancestral Vision
Table Four: William Fisher vs. Paul Ewenstein

Table five saw a Bant mirror of sorts with David Houghton playing the same Aggro Bant deck as Ewenstein and he also lost in three games. His opponent was Scott Abromowski playing NO (Natural Order) Bant.

Table Five: David Houghton vs. Scott Abromowski

There was a Merfolk mirror at table six between Dennis Cummings and Alex Majlaton with Alex coming out on top.

Table Six: Dennis Cummings vs. Alex Majlaton

Bant was the victor at table seven with James Rynkiewicz defeating format-staple Affinity as played by George Baboussis in three games.

Table Seven: James Rynkiewicz vs. George Baboussis

Feature Match Round 10 – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Owen Turtenwald

by Nate Price

Knowing that both of these players were coming into the day undefeated, it seemed likely that they would meet at some point. Both of these players just simply seem to win. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa has got seven Grand Prix Top 8s, two Worlds Top 8s, and four Pro Tour Top 8s to his name, finally breaking through with a win last year in San Juan. But that shouldn't leave you believe that Owen Turtenwald is a slouch. He is on quite the tear. He's already made Top 8 at two other Grand Prix this year, putting himself into the thick of the Player of the Year race. On top of that, he has gone undefeated on Day 1 of four of the last five Grand Prix he's played in.

Except when he's slouching.

Unfortunately, his deck seemed determined to make an already difficult match even more difficult. He mulliganned to five on the draw. He did crack first, landing a Vendilion Clique on PV's third end step. P was holding gas. Force of Will, Standstill, Innocent Blood, Diabolic Edict, Mental Misstep, and a Pair of Jaces. After studying for a moment, Turtenwald put the Standstill on the bottom. Before allowing Turtenwald to untap, PV aimed a Diabolic Edict at him, once again clearing the board. With PV mostly tapped out, Turtenwald stuck a Stoneforge Mystic on his next turn, fetching himself a Batterskull.

PV cast a Life from the Loam on his turn, the card he had cycled into off of the Clique. This returned the Wasteland in his graveyard to his hand. He immediately played it before trying to use Innocent Blood to kill Turtenwald's inactive Mystic. In response, Turtenwald activated his Mishra's Factory, but PV Wastelanded it. A little counter war featuring a pair of Mental Missteps and a Daze ensued, and the Mystic stuck around. This allowed Turtenwald to get his Batterskull into play around Paulo's countermagic.

PV tried to find some answers by playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but he didn't find what he was looking for in the one turn he had before the Batterskull ate him. After a shuffle, he managed to find a Smother to deal with the Mystic, but the Batterskull was still beating him down. Eventually, he tried a second Jace, but it was stopped by a Force of Will, accidentally flashing a Jace of his own. With the clear advantage, Turtenwald tried to lock it up with a Standstill, but PV had a Spell Snare. Knowing that a Jace lie around the corner should Turtenwald find a fourth land, PV dredged back his Life from the Loam, which he used to Wasteland one of Turtenwald's Tundras. After taking one more hit down to two, he was able to recur his Mishra's Factory for an infinite blocker as well. It looked like he'd set up a great defense to buy himself a little time, but Turtenwald managed to find a Mishra's Factory. Unable to play both the Wasteland and Mishra's Factory in the same turn, PV tried a last-ditch Brainstorm to find some prayer. Instead, he found nothing.

"I can't help but feel I got lucky that game," Turtenwald said after a quick sigh of relief.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0 – Owen Turtenwald 1

Paulo made the decision to crack his Flooded Strand for a Tropical Island on the second turn. He had a Life from the Loam in his hand, but only one other land, so he had to act in order to keep playing the lands that are so important in this matchup. Turtenwald made sure that was his only time, though, shutting Life from the Loam off with Meddling Mage. He found a fourth land naturally on his next draw, allowing him to avoid cracking his new old Flooded Strand. He made good use of the fetch land with a Brainstorm to follow it. He found a Wasteland, which he promptly played and used on Turtenwald's lone Tundra. In response, Turtenwald fired off a Vendilion Clique.

Mental Misstep, Dismember, Maelstrom Pulse, Go for the Throat, Force of Will, and Tropical Island were the contents of PV's hand. Turtenwald thought for a moment before taking the Maelstrom Pulse. The Pulse turned into a Pernicious Deed, which was actually much better in the situation. PV fetched up a second Underground Sea and promptly put the powerful enchantment into play.

Again, Turtenwald denied him the chance to use his card. His Pithing Needle drew out a Mental Misstp, but he had a Force of Will to force it through. Immediately after that, with a clear advantage and PV tapped out, he dropped the Standstill. An attack dropped PV to nine. PV tried to clean up the mess, cracking the Standstill with a Go for the Throat and a Dismember, removing Turtenwald's attackers, but dropping himself to five in the process. Turtenwald kep swinging, using a Mishra's Factory to do his dirty work. Now free to begin dredging Life from the Loam, Paulo did just that, trying to mill off a Wasteland to Loam back, which was his best way of stopping the Factory before it killed him. Unfortunately, two unsuccessful dredges left him with a large, useless graveyard, which Turtenwald put him into.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0 – Owen Turtenwald 2

Sunday, 10:48 a.m. - Day Two Archetype Breakdown

by Nate Price

It’s time for the big reveal. After a full day of play, only 157 players were left to play today. Looking at the decks they played, it was a pretty fair representation of what Legacy is. There are many viable decks, but most of the standards are represented by a significantly larger part of the community. Here’s the breakdown:

Merfolk 33   Goblins 3   Elves 1
Zoo 16   Hive Mind 2   Enchantress 1
UW Landstill 13   Metalworker 2   Food Chain Elves 1
Bant 8   RWB Control 2   GW Aggro 1
Team America 8   RUG Control 2   Grixis Control 1
Dredge 7   Show and Tell 2   High Tide 1
Junk 6   UWR Control 2   Hulk Combo 1
Affinity 5   12 Post 1   Hypergenesis 1
Natural Order Bant 5   Four-Color Landstill 1   Land 1
Caw-Blade 4   Aluren 1   Monoblue 1
Painted Stone 4   Assault Loam 1   Natural Order RUG 1
Reanimator 4   BG Loam 1   RUG Aggro 1
Ad Nauseum 3   Burn 1   Sparkblade 1
BW Weenie 3   UWR Countertop 1   UW Control 1
BUG Landstill 3   Darkblade 1      

Deck Tech - Hulk Rebirth with Jeremie Ross-Latour

by Brian David-Marshall
Pattern of Rebirth

I got the chance to watch Protean Hulk-Pattern of Rebirthcreator Felix Lapan play in the Feature Match area yesterday and could not help but root for a deck featuring some of my favorite cards from the era of Urza block -- Pattern of Rebirth, Academy Rector, and Phyrexian Tower.

Lapan described himself yesterday as a casual player who has been working on this deck on the Montreal Legacy scene for the past year.

He debuted the deck many months ago and won a 29 person event with it right out of the gate. He has continued to tinker with the deck as new sets were released and Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor fit perfectly into the deck's game plan.

Felix won a Grand Prix Trial on Friday Night but could not capitalize on his three byes when he picked up three quick losses on Day One and dropped from the event. Fighting on in his stead was his friend Jeremie Ross-Latour who had only picked up two losses coming into Day Two and navigated round 10 successfully.

Academy Rector

For the second round of Day Two action he was squaring off against Dredge-wielding Justin Russell and was looking at a hand of Natural Order, Pattern of Rebirth, Cabal Therapy, Green Sun's Zenith, and three lands.

"I am going to keep this one," announced Ross-Latour and I figured if we were going to see just how this deck works that was about as good a hand as you could ask for.

Russell led off with City of Brass and announced: "Cabal Therapy, targeting myself."

"Are you playing Dredge?"

"I might be. I am naming Stinkweed Imp," said Russell who also showed off Bridge from Below and Cephalid Coliseum. He had mulliganed to five on the play.

Stinkweed Imp

Ross-Latour played Green Sun's Zenith for zero and fetched Dryad Arbor to accelerate his mana development. Russell put his opponent on a Natural Order deck.

"There might be 10/10s in my future," he sighed as he dredged back Stinkweed Imp and netted a Narcomoeba for his efforts. "I wonder how awkward this is going to be for me."

"Cabal Therapy you naming Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII," laughed Roos-Latour, who needed to get the Cabal Therapy into his graveyard as a sac outlet. he saw the Imp, Bridge from Below, and Cephalid Coliseum.

Natural Order

Russell was able to start dredging Golgari Grave-Trolls. He played and cracked the Coliseum and flashed back Cabal Therapy naming Natural Order.

"Bingo!" said Ross Latour who also showed off the Pattern of Rebirth as his only other live card.

"Let me read this," frowned Russell as he parsed the Pattern and suddenly understood why Ross-Latour had thrown away his discard spell.

"Good thing you have that Cabal Therapy."

The Canadian played his fourth land -- this was just turn three mind you -- and put Pattern on the Dryad Arbor.

Dryad Arbor

"If there are any other spicy cards you want to name, now is the time to do it," laughed Russell.

Ross-Latour surveyed the graveyard and saw multiple Careful Study and Breakthroughs. He flashed back Cabal Therapy -- the Pattern of Rebirth triggered immediately and he searched out Protean Hulk -- and shrugged, naming Breakthrough. He was out of mana though and needed to live a turn and be able to untap his Phyrexian Tower that he had needed to use in a more traditional mana to generate mana that turn.

Russell was able to mount a small attack but his deck was not firing on all cylinders -- and he had to exile a Bridge from Below when his opponent sacrificed the Arbor. Ross Latour did not even wait to go to his main phase -- he did not want to draw one of his combo pieces. As soon as he untapped he sacrificed the Hulk with Phyrexian Tower and got Carrion Feeder and Body Double. He sacrificed the Body Double, which was copying the Protean Hulk, to Carrion Feeder and demonstrated an infinite loop by fetching Reveillark and Mogg Fanatic

Here is how it works:

Body Double
Mogg Fanatic
Carrion Feeder

The Reveillark comes into play with the Mogg Fanatic and the Mogg Fanatic is sacrificed to deal one damage to the opponent.

The Reveillark then gets sacrificed to the Carrion Feeder and Mogg Fanatic and Body Double get returned to play.

The Body Double copies the Reveillark and gets sacrificed to the Carrion Feeder and then returns itself -- now a 0/0 in the graveyard

-- to play along with the Mogg Fanatic. From there he can demonstrate that he can keep doing that over and over again for nigh infinite damage.

For the second game Russell led off with Putrid Imp and Ross-Latour had a Tinder Wall. Russell had a slow start and could only watch helplessly as the Canadian played a pair of Birds of Paradise on turn two. Ancient Tomb on turn 3 meant Ross-Latour had access to 8 mana.

He used two to play Green Sun's Zenith for 1 fetching Starved Rusalka.

"This is only there for Green Sun's Zenith and it is the first time it has ever been good. So it is never leaving my deck," laughed Ross-Latour about the only green sacrifice outlet he could find for his deck.

"I play Dredge. You don't have to tell me," laughed Russell.

Ross-Latour used four more mana to play Pattern of Rebirth on one of his Birds that he tapped for mana. He had two green mana floating and he was able to Rusalka the Bird into Protean Hulk and then the Hulk into infinite combo death.

Hulk Rebirth Jeremie Ross-Latour -- Day Two

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Feature Match Round 14 – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Drew Levin

by Nate Price

Nate Price

Both of these players have been jockeying for position down the stretch, looking to lock things up so they can draw into Top 8. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and his BUG Landstill deck have been making a mockery of this field this field so far, deftly maneuvering amidst the decks and picking up win after win. Drew Levin was a player we had been keeping an eye on all weekend, waiting for him and his UW deck to make a break for Top 8. It appeared that this was the home stretch of that break.

Game 1

Levin hit first, suspending an Ancestral Vision on the third turn. PV had to dig for lands with a Brainstorm to cast his Jace, the Mind Sculptor. After a brief counter war, Levin cast Fact or fiction, still in response to the Jace. Paulo put Jace and Swords to Plowshares in one pile, Spell Snare, Fact or Fiction, and Mishra's Factory in the other. Levin took the smaller pile before letting Jace resolve. He used the Jace he had just received to kill the one in play before PV could use it more than once. The second copy that PV had in his hand came down to replace it immediately. After the Vision came out of suspension, both players sat with full hands.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Levin tried for a Crucible of Worlds, prompting a decent counter fight. Ultimately, PV won the war and the Crucible went to the graveyard. For turns the players played land and said go. Each turn, PV's advantage grew as he activated Jace. Eventually, PV drew a trio of counterspells out of Levin's hand with a trio of Brainstorms. Levin was eager to reduce the number of cards in his hand before his Ancestral Visions resolved. When it came off on the next turn, PV simply let it resolve.

Things continued in this manner for a few more turns, with both players just drawing cards and keeping their hands full. When PV found his Life from the Loam, things changed. He cast it, returning a pair of Wastelands to his hand from his graveyard. He also began to attack with his Mishra's Factories. Levin tried to stop one with a Swords to Plowshares, but PV used Diabolic Edict to kill his own Factory, enabling him to get it back with a Loam. Levin did manage to kill one with a Swords, leaving PV with one less avenue to victory. Running somewhat low on cards, PV started using Jace to fateseal himself, inching himself closer to an ultimate victory. He tried for pair of Standstills to cement his advantage, but Levin countered them both.

With PV's Jace on 11 counters, Levin tried to kill it with a copy of his own. A massive counter war ensued, involving three spells from each player. Eventually, the Jaces collided, ending that path to victory. Just as before, PV simply played another.

Drew Levin

Both players were getting low on libraries now, with around a dozen cards left apiece. If the game kept up at its current pace, PV would win by a single card. Things got interesting a few turns later when PV fatesealed Levin and allowed him to keep an Ancestral Vision. PV was running low on counterMagic, and it seemed at the time like the Vision was one of Levin's outs to win, aiming it at PV to take the lead. Levin kept PV off of Jace ultimate once again with a Repeal at 9 loyalty. He suspended the Vision PV left him and passed the turn. PV replayed Jace and started his loyalty climbing again. Again, at 9 loyalty, Levin killed it with his own Jace. Again, PV replayed another. This time, Levin countered it, and PV didn't fight back.

On the following turn, the Vision came off suspend, and Levin aimed it at PV.

"I don't know why you gave me this," Levin commented. "It was my win condition."

"I have no idea either."

Levin still held two Force of Wills, and they were good enough to force around a Counterspell. The Vision resolved, and Levin felt confident in victory. Unfortunately, PV had a Standstill and an Innocent Blood to trigger it, forcing Levin to draw three cards, putting PV ahead once again. A mere two draw steps later and Levin had been decked, with PV sitting at two cards left in his library.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – Drew Levin 0

Game 2

The second game saw Levin get a good aggressive start for a time-crunched game, but his Stoneforge Mystic was stopped by Force of Will. Elspeth, Knight-Errant was next, and it hit the table, immediately making a Soldier. PV had a Vendilion Clique to make at end of turn, though, and it had dispatched Elspeth within two attacks. PV made a Jace, the Mind Sculptor for himself, bouncing the token. When he tried to Go for the Throat the second, Levin stopped it with Counterspell. Jaces once again collided, clearing planeswalkers from the board.

Turns flew by and seconds ticked away, but it became incredibly apparent that Levin wouldn't be able to win in time. The last turn drifted away, giving PV a ticket to Top 8.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – Drew Levin 0

Deck Techs – NO RUG with Reid Duke and Aggro Bant with Jon Barber

by Nate Price

This round, I was fortunate to have two of the decks I had been targeting for a deck tech playing each other, so I scheduled them for a feature match to kill two birds with one stone! The first was Reid Duke's NO RUG deck. For those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature, NO stands for Natural Order, the powerful green sorcery. Since the printing of Progenitus, green-based decks have been adding the combo to their decks as a plan B, or a way to kill seemingly out of nowhere. According to Duke, the combo shores up holes, making his deck better against decks that he normally wouldn't beat.

Reid Duke and Jon Barber

Duke:Take this matchup, for example. His deck is just better than mine across the board. His creatures are just better and bigger, and my removal doesn't kill them as well as it does the smaller creature decks. Natural Order gives me a way to win once his deck kicks in and starts taking the lead. One good thing about this deck, though, is that it doesn't need the combo to win. There were even some matchups I sided the combo out in.

At this point, I'd like to introduce you to Jon Barber's Bant deck. Bant has been a staple of Legacy for a very long time, reaching top tier status soon after the release of Knight of the Reliquary. The powerful creature gave the deck a second creature to go out of control alongside Tarmogoyf. With the inclusion of Stoneforge Mystic, the deck gets another good way to fight counterMagic, as well as a way to get the equipment it needs to fight the creature decks. The deck has delineated into three varieties. One, the most aggressive version, is the one Barber is playing. It features all of the best creatures and very little counterMagic. The midrange deck features more blue to support Force of Will. The last version features the same Natural Order as Duke's deck. When I asked Barber about the decision to run his version instead of NO Bant, he explained.

Barber:Honestly, the combo doesn't really help us win any match ups that we shouldn't win. With that in mind, we just wanted the deck to be as streamlined as possible. As it is, there are no dead draws in the deck. It's possible for both Natural Order and Force of Will to be dead draws in those decks. We like that we can start to apply pressure and literally not stop thanks to Green Sun's Zenith.

Considering how prevalent Green Sun's Zenith is this weekend, I asked both players about the card. It is in both of their decks and made things possible in their games that wouldn't have been without it.

Duke: It really makes the deck run. After all I get to use it on turn one to fetch Dryad Arbor, making it a ramp spell. I can use it to fetch Tarmogoyf. Since I'm not running white, Tarmogoyf is actually better than any three drop I could run, which makes Green Sun's Zenith the best three drop in my deck! Also important is the ability to fetch a creature that I can Natural Order away.

Barber: Yeah, the card is just amazing. It is the best creature in my deck at every slot. It's a land. It shuffles back in, so they never stop coming. You can cast three of them in a game and rather than thinning your deck, you never run out of gas.

One card that both players mentioned that I thought was worth bringing up was Dryad Arbor.

Duke: Well, I don't want to say that the deck would be unplayable without it, buuut...I kind of would be. It is a first-turn Zenith target. I can fetch it with a sac land. It's a free creature that I can search out of my deck in multiple ways to use for Natural Order. It can chump block if needed. It's just a very versatile card that gives this deck so many more options.

Barber: I completely agree. It's amazing how many times I've gotten to sacrifice a Windswept Heath to get one of these and block a Dark Confidant. On top of that, getting a free creature that can hold an equipment so I don't have to miss my curve is great.

In their match, each deck showed the power it's capable of.

The first game looked like it was going to be all Duke. Barber mulliganed to five to start things off. Duke build Duke built himself an army of three Tarmogoyfs over the first few turns. It looked like he was going to run over Barber until a pair of consecutive Knights of the Reliquary appeared to hold off Duke's army. Eventually one picked up a Sword of Feast and Famine, giving it protection from all of Duke's creatures. Within two attacks, Barber had come back from a fairly terrible position to steal the first game. The game really seemed to come down to the turn after the first Knight was played. It was only a 3/3 at the time, and Duke dug for a Lightning Bolt with Ponder. He had the chance to Brainstorm for one more card, but chose not to, instead opting to play the third Tarmogoyf. That Knight was the beginning of Barber's comeback.

Neither player could stick a creature for the early turns of the second game. Noble Hierarchs were killed, a Grim Lavamancer and Knight of the Reliquary were countered... it was just pure attrition. Eventually, the game reached a spot where both players were attacking with 1/1s, a Dryad Arbor for Duke and a Sylvan Safekeeper for Barber. After a few attacks apiece, Duke found a Green sun's Zenith to snag a Tarmogoyf. Barber matched that with an Umezawa's Jitte, but Duke had an Ancient Grudge to kill it, but not before it got a couple of charge counters that Barber used to give a Birds of Paradise +4/+4. At that point, the Goyf started eating chump blockers. Fortunately for Barber, a Green's Sun Zenith got him a Knight of the Reliquary before things got too out of hand.

...And then they got out of hand anyway. Duke drew his card for the turn and cast Natural Order, getting a Progenitus from his deck. With his last card, Barber tried to find something to help him with Brainstorm, but Duke denied him with Pyroblast. Progenitus did its job and sent them to Game 3.

Game 3 was interesting. Duke was forced to Force of Will a Stoneforge Mystic on the second turn removing a second copy. This left him open to the Jace, the Mind Sculptor that followed it. He had a Pyroblast in hand, but no red mana to cast it. After getting fatesealed once, he managed to Brainstorm into a Misty Rainforest, allowing him to kill the planeswalker. After that threat was dealt with, Barber upped the ante again, playing Thrun, the Last Troll. Duke tried to get some defense going, but his Tarmogoyf was hit with Swords to Plowshares, and he lost his red mana and a Tropical Island to Wastelands. Just when things seemed lost, he sacrificed his Noble Hierarch to Natural Order and got a Progenitus.

Jon Barber

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Reid Duke

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Deck Tech: Hive Five for Hive Mind with Bryan Eleyet

by Brian David-Marshall

Bryan Eleyet came across the country to play his Hive Mind deck in the hopes of qualifying for Pro Tour Philadelphia with a Top 16 finish or better. His friend Kyle Jefferson originally found a version of the deck on an online forum and immediately began playing the deck in MTGO Legacy Daily events to crushing effect.

"We saw that Team America was getting better," said Eleyet of one of the most popular Legacy decks which features Hymn to Tourach. "So we added Misdirections to the list."

Kyle Jefferson, ironically ran afoul of one too many Team America builds on Saturday and was cheering his friend from along the rail. Eleyet had only two losses coming into round 13 -- both losses coming against Merfolk -- and he had a steep task ahead of him if he was going to avoid a third loss. His opponent for this round was none other than Player of the Year hopeful Martin Juza playing Blue-White Landstill.

In Game 1 Eleyet got a Ponder Misstepped and floundered on one land for the bulk of the game while Juza was able to set up with Mishra's Factory and Standstill. Eventually Eleyet conceded in the face of a Vendilion Clique when he did not want to give away too much intel on his deck.

In the second game a turn two Grim Monolith drew a raised eyebrow from Juza who Brainstormed in response but it ended up resolving. Despite having a couple of Standstills cracked by Eleyet and being at a eight cards to three advantage Juza did not have a Force of Will for Hive Mind. Martin shook his head as Eleyet played Summoner's Pact.

"I am going to die on my upkeep right?" confirmed Juza as he shuffled up for the third game.

Eleyet got his Ponder Misstepped and his Grim MonolithDazed on the first two turns but got a third turn Monolith to stick around. Juza played Meddling Mage and Eleyet had to use Pact of Negation to keep it from blanking the eponymous card in his deck. He paid for the Pact and had to tap his Monolith to do so -- ironically that would end up being Juza's undoing.

Juza transposed the card text from Grim Monolith and Mana Vault in his mind and was dead certain that the Monolith could onluy be untapped during its controller's upkeep. As such he saw no point in using the Oblivion Ring he was holding on the tapped Monolith on his own turn and instead attacked with a pair of Factories.

He only had two many back to play Counterspell when Eleyet untapped his Monolith at the end of Juza's turn and then played Hive Mind on his turn. Eleyet really wanted to qualify for Philadelphia and there was a deep audible sigh as he played Pact of Negation to counter the Counterspell.

Juza did not have the Force of Will and could only Daze -- which Eleyet readily paid. He then played Pact of the Titan and showed him two more Pacts.

"I think I messed up," said Juza. "For some reason I thought that you could only untap that during your upkeep. I just thought that was how it worked."

He revealed the Oblivion Ring he was holding and talked some about the matchup which they both felt was slightly in their own favor.

"Any aggro deck and the Landstill decks -- not so much this version -- are pretty good match ups," said Eleyet, acknowledging that Martin Juza's deck might just be a notch or two better than what you usually find in the Swiss rounds. "Pretty much anything that isn't Merfolk or Team America is a pretty good match up. Both of my losses are to Fish -- I also beat it twice though."

Bryan Eleyet -- Hive Mind

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Feature Match Round 15 – Brian Eleyet (Hive Five) vs. Ross Merriam (Elves)

by Brian David-Marshall

Both players were sitting down to a win and in situation with 12 wins and two losses. There were just a hair too many players with that records for everyone to intentionally draw into the Top 8. These two Pro Tour aspirants were on the wrong side of the tiebreakers to be able to do so.

Despite the pressure of the situation they were both friendly and talked easily before the match. Bryan Eleyet was spending his third straight round in the Feature Match arena and they joked that he was becoming fast friends with the coverage crew and the two compared Grand Prix experiences.

"Is this your first GP?" asked Eleyet, who had come all the way from Spokane, Washington for this event.

"Nah," said the Connecticut native. "I think this is my sixth."

"This your best finish?"

"Definitely!" laughed Merriam. "I usually do very well in the PTQ on Sunday though."

Brian Eleyet


Game 1

Both players kept and Merriam cracked a fetch to play Llanowar Elves while Eleyet just passed the turn with Scalding Tarn in play. Merriam played Dryad Arbor and also played Wirewood Symbiote. Eleyet Brainstormed at the end of his turn and played a City of Traitors on turn two.

Quirion Ranger and Wirewood Symbiote allowed Merriam to do all sorts of mana shenanigans with untapping creatures and bouncing Forests. His Green Sun's Zenith for two yielded Elvish Visionary.

"There is so much to be said for play testing," clucked Eleyet who clearly did not have a wealth of experience playing against Elves.

"So many of my opponents have said that today," laughed Merriam who had gotten at least one win yesterday to an opponent not using Swords to Plowshares on the correct piece of the Elves engine. He bounced Visionary with Symbiote and replayed it but Eleyet played Force of Will on the Visionary. Merriam discarded Elvish Spirit Guide to play Nettle Sentinel and passed. Eleyet played Intuition for three Hive Minds.

The Washington natiove floated mana from City of Traitors into Grim Monolith, played another City of Traitors, and cast Hive Mind. Pact of the Titan was not something Merriam was prepared to pay for when his copy went on the stack and he reached for his sideboard.

"You got it."

Ross Merriam


Game 2

Merriam led off with Nettle Sentinel and Eleyet resisted any urge he might have felt to counter it with Mental Misstep. Instead he Pondered on his turn kept the three cards on top -- drawing Brainstorm with a Grim Monolity in the wings. Merriam attacked with his Seninel and untapped with Visionary.

Eleyet Brainstormed on his turn and tapped City of Traitors for Grim Monolith but could not win this turn. Merriam attempted Glimpse of Nature and that was a spell worthy of Eleyet's Misstep. Heritage Druid still managed to look scary as he paid three green mana for a Visionary that he was able to pick up and replay with a Wirewood Symbiote. He was digging for a siodeboarded Cabal Therapy but it did not float to the top in time.

Eleyet untapped into Hive Mind and played Summoner's Pact -- something Merriam most certainly could pay for. Merriam went and got Spirit Guide with his copy but then the Spokane player played Pact of Negation on the original Summoner's Pact.

"I will copy Pact of Negation targeting..." mused Merriam before accepting the inevitable. "...You win. I could not find a Cabal Therapy."

"When you cracked that fetch land I was saying 'Please don't get a Bayou'"

Final result: Bryan Eleyet wins 2-0 to secure a berth in the Top 8 of Grand Providence and earned the invitation to Pro Tour Philadelphia that he had flown across the country in search of.

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