Grand-Prix Sao Paulo: Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on June 13, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast


  • by Bill Stark
    Round 15 Feature Match:
    Ivan Taroshi Versus Eduardo Sella
  • by Nate Price
    Round 14 Feature Match:
    Sergio Sanabio (Faeries) vs. Jonathan Melamed (Black/Green Elves)
  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: 2:50 p.m.
    Quick Hits: What Do You Think About M10?
  • by Bill Stark
    Round 13 Feature Match:
    Daniel Almeida Alves (Black-White Tokens) Versus Pedro Henrique De Melo (Kithkin)
  • by Nate Price
    Deck Tech – Elementals with Manuel Bucher
  • by Bill Stark
    Round 11 Feature Match
    Andres Monsalve (Doran) versus Cristian Andres Cespedes (Cascade Swans)
  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: 10:06 a.m.
    Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
  • by Nate Price
    Round 10 Feature Match:
    Juan Pablo Alcade (Kithkin) vs. Wiliam Silva de Carvalho (Blue/White Reveillark)
  • by Bill Stark
    Metagame Breakdown
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog:
    See the most amazing matches from day one!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

Sunday, 10:03 a.m. - Feature: Metagame Breakdown

by Bill Stark

Black-Green Elves: 12
Faeries: 10
Black-White Tokens: 10
Cascade Control: 6
Doran: 6
Sygg Jund: 5
Red-Black Aggro: 4
Kithkin: 4
Blue-White Lark: 4
Black-White Kithkin: 3
Green-White Aggro: 3
Bant Aggro: 2
Boat Brew: 2
Cascade Swans: 2
Jund Aggro: 2
Cruel Control: 1
Elementals: 1
Green-White Tokens: 1
Turbo Grind: 1

With nearly 700 competitors on Day 1, Grand Prix-Sao Paolo has been whittled down to just 79 names in attendance for Saturday play. After Grand Prix-Barcelona, in which Cascade Swans was the deck of the weekend, Yann Massicard stormed the Grand Prix-Seattle venue with his Doran deck. The breakout hit of that tournament was arguably the Cascade Control lists favored by Josh Wludyka and Michael Jacob. So with those data sets in mind, how did the Brazilians respond to the perceived metagame?

Leading the field with 12 entries was Black-Green Elves, a deck that has seen a significant amount of play in tournaments like Japan Regionals. That was followed, somewhat unsurprisingly, by Standard staples Faeries and Black-White Tokens, both with 10 representatives on Sunday play. Amongst the Faeries players are sharks Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa, who has already Top 8ed at least two Pro Tours with the deck, and the sole American in attendance at the Grand Prix, Gaudenis Vidugiris.

Rounding out the top ten were Cascade Control, Doran, Sygg Jund, and Red-Black aggro with 4-6 players running each deck. There were also some surprising outliers. Manuel Bucher came to town sporting an innovative Five Color Elementals build that abuses both Smokebraider and Bloom Tender. Diego Ostrovich, the biggest gun from Argentina, was the only representative sporting Green-White Tokens and his Overruns had served him well so far on the weekend.

So, what was the right choice? We’ll find out which archetype will reign supreme, and who will be playing said deck, by the end of day Sunday!

Round 10 Feature Match – Juan Pablo Alcade (Kithkin) vs. Wiliam Silva de Carvalho (Blue/White Reveillark)

by Nate Price

After a long nine rounds yesterday, only two players have escaped undefeated. Juan Pablo Alcade is a member of the fairly large Argentinean contingent that has made the trek north to try and exact revenge for the Brazilian victory in Buenos Aires last year. He’s no stranger to Magic success. He played in Pro tour-Kobe and was a member of the Argentinean national team at Worlds in 2007. He is exactly the kind of player that Argentinean hopefuls of a victory here in Brazil want to rest their hopes on. Across the table from him, Wiliam Silva de Carvalho is a relative newcomer to the higher level Magic scene. He is a member of the ever-growing Brazilian Magic community, and he managed his perfect 9-0 record yesterday with virtue of only having one bye, so we know the kid can play. We call that “doing it the hard way.”

Alcade started in quick fashion, as the white-based creature decks are wan to do. His Figure of Destiny quickly leveled up and attacked Carvalho to eighteen before being joined by a Burrenton Forge-Tender that wasn’t going to do much other than attack against Carvalho’s blue/white concoction. Alcade thought for a moment before adding a Wizened Cenn to his team on the following turn.

Carvalho’s dire situation became quite apparent when he was forced to discard on the following turn without playing a third land. He was stuck on two lone Islands. When Alcade added a Glorious Anthem to enhance his team, Carvalho dropped to three. His next card provided him no help, and he conceded, having never so much as seen a third land to play.

I know! I’m as surprised as you are, Juan Pablo!

Juan Pablo Alcade 1 – Wiliam Silva de Carvalho

Both players took a while to sideboard. Alcade had seen nothing from Carvalho to assist him in figuring out what he was up against. Even his discard last game was innocuous. Carvalho, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was dealing with, and he was going to need a draw with a little more gusto (read: lands) in order to stop Alcade’s rampaging kithkin.

Carvalho’s draw for the second game was far more up to the task of stopping Alcade. He had a Windborn Muse in his opener, as well as the lands required to play it. And he was going to need it, too. Alcade opened with a Goldmeadow Stalwart revealing a second Stalwart in his hand. He didn’t have a third Kithkin, though, and the second 2/2 was going to have to wait a moment before getting into the fray.

The moment of respite was all Carvalho needed to start building his defenses. He evoked a Mulldrifter, drawing himself into a Sower of Temptation to try and steal Alcade’s only Stalwart. Alcade had a Path to Exile to stop it, although getting the land into play helped him as well.

Alcade stumbled a turn on mana, but when he hit his third land, he wasted no time in dropping a Stillmoon Cavalier into play. Carvalho drew his card and thought for a minute or two on his turn before evoking a Mulldrifter and playing a Kitchen Finks. HE had a few options there, as his hand contained not only the aforementioned Windborn Muse (good when your opponent is stumbling on mana), it also contained a Wrath of God! By building in this way, Carvalho ensured that his opponent would have to overextend into his Wrath, and he we escape it with a creature thanks to the Finks’ persist. When Alcade played a second Stalwart and a Wizened Cenn on the following turn, Carvalho got the payoff for which he had invested. His Wrath of God cleared the board leaving his Finks as the sole survivor of the massacre.

Alcade did have cards in hand thanks to his mana troubles, and he plopped a Stillmoon Cavalier into play to start to rebuild. Unfortunately for him, Carvalho was well ahead on both mana and cards at this point, and it seemed like it was an eventuality that he would win. He played a Reveillark and the Windborn Muse that had been waiting forever to hit play. Alcade used an Oblivion Ring to push the Windborn Muise out of the way, but Carvalho had a second at the ready. When Alcade tried for a Spectral Procession, Carvalho all but locked things up by countering it and returning his Reveillark to his hand with a Cryptic Command. This got him two Mulldrifters and four new cards, and the massive leap in advantage was too much for Alcade to overcome. He conceded shortly thereafter.

This is a much more modest smile than I would have if I’d just drawn four cards

Juan Pablo Alcade 1 – Wiliam Silva de Carvalho 1

Alcade’s draw that game was just too slow and clunky to deal with Carvalho’s excellent control draw. He had multiple ways to deal with a mass amount of threats, as well as methods of forcing his opponent to overextend. Coupled with his need to catch up due to his early stumbles, Alcade was forced to play right into Carvalho’s plan. In order to win this match, Alcade has to come out of the gates blazing. If he stumbles, it gives Carvalho a few extra turns of breathing room to set up his defenses, which are pretty formidable. Eventually, if they reach the late game, Carvalho’s Mulldrfiters and Reveillarks swing the game decidedly in his favor.

Knowing this, Alcade though for a while about his opening hand. He had a Caves of Koilos and a Mutavault as his sources of mana to fuel a double Goldmeadow Stalwart and figure of Destiny. It wasn’t perfect, but it would allow him to make two 2/2s in the first two turns, and perhaps more if he were to draw a second source of white. Carvalho had to go back to the well for a second hand and seemed decidedly resigned to his second hand.

Alcade did draw the Plains on his first draw and managed to drop both Goldmeadow Stalwarts into play as well as a Figure of Destiny. Carvalho had an Adarkar Wastes. And that was it. A Glorious Anthem joined soon after on Alcade’s side. After failing to draw a second land once more on a turn when it would be too late anyway, Carvalho dropped a hand containing two Mind Stones and a Wrath of God on the table as he conceded.

Juan Pablo Alcade 2 – Wiliam Silva de Carvalho 1

Blog: 10:06 a.m. – Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Bill Stark

After nine rounds, only three players finished the Swiss on Saturday with no losses. Of the three, only two of them made it through completely unblemished with no draws either. Here are the three players and what they decided to play.

William Silva

Download Arena Decklist

Juan Alcalde

Download Arena Decklist

Wendell Santini

Download Arena Decklist

Feature Match Round 11: Andres Monsalve (Doran) versus Cristian Andres Cespedes (Cascade Swans)

by Bill Stark

The Feature Match area was silent as Andres Monsalve and Cristian Andres Cespedes shuffled for their Round 11 match. The peanut gallery offered up the occasional word of encouragement to whichever of their countryman they were supporting. Andres, an Argentinean, was wearing a floral shirt he had picked up just one weekend prior at Pro Tour-Honolulu. Cristian, a Chileno, was playing in his first Grand Prix Day 2.

Andres kicked things off with a Noble Hierarch and Knotvine Paladin. He used a Treefolk Harbinger to search up Doran, the Siege Tower, and when the 0/5 hit Monsalve attacked Cristian to 13. Cristian slowly built up his defenses with Ghitu Encampment going online, but he needed a little bit more than that to survive long enough to assemble his Seismic Assault, Swans of Bryn Argoll combo.

Cristian Andres Cespedes tries to outmaneuver his Treefolk opponent. His Argentinean opponent wasn’t letting up the pressure. Qasali Pridemage hit the board, spelling trouble for an attempted combo with Seismic Assault, and Andres attacked Cristian to just 1 life. Cespedes went for it. He tapped out for Bloodbraid Elf, which inevitably hit Seismic Assault. When Andres used Pridemage to blow the enchantment up at the end of his opponent’s turn, Cristian pitched three lands to kill the Argentinean player’s Knotvine Paladin and Treefolk Harbinger. With his Elf as a blocker, he could survive the turn by chumping Doran and hoping his opponent didn’t realize his Noble Hierarch was lethal.

Instead, Andres revealed a Path to Exile for the 3/2 would-be blocker, clearing the way for his attack, and the two were on to the second game.

Andres Monsalve 1, Cristian Andres Cespedes 0

It was Cristian Andres Cespedes’ chance to start the game, and he did so in big fashion dropping a Seismic Assault onto the table on his third turn. Meanwhile his opponent, Andres Monsalve, got busy building up an army of attackers with Treefolk Harbinger searching up a Doran, the Siege Tower, and Knotvine Paladin going on the war path. When Cristian discarded a land to his Seismic Assault to deal with the Paladin, Andres was ready with Maelstrom Pulse to blow up the dangerous enchantment.

Unfazed, Cristian simply played Bloodbraid Elf and found himself a second copy of the enchantment. Andres fired right back with a second Maelstrom Pulse, but began taking damage from his opponent’s Bloodbraid Elf. A third copy of Seismic Assault, hard cast rather than cascaded into play, was answered with a third copy of Maelstrom Pulse from Monsalve. The game was turning into a battle between two cards!

Monsalve played a Gaddock Teeg but found it answered by a Maelstrom Pulse from Cristian. The Argentinean was also forced to use Nameless Inversion to kill his opponent’s Treetop Village in combat, while chumping Bloodbraid Elf with Treefolk Harbinger. At 6 life, the Doran player didn’t have a lot of leeway to stay alive, but he finally landed Doran, the Siege Tower to serve as an imposing blocker. It didn’t last long as Cristian had Wrath of God to deal with the troublesome 0/5, then bashed with a Ghitu Encampment just enough times to send the match to a third game.

Andres Monsalve 1, Cristian Andres Cespedes 1

Monsalve kept his opening hand, despite the fact it was a bit light on lands, and quickly went to town fixing that problem. He played Treefolk Harbinger searching up a Murmuring Bosk, then played a second-turn Qasali Pridemage. He even remembered to attack for 1 with his 0/3 Harbinger thanks to the Pridemage’s exalted ability.

Cespedes, meanwhile, built up his manabase after a mulligan. He gave no indication of surprise as his opponent tapped out to play a second Qasali Pridemage on his third-turn, leaving open the possibility Cespedes had a third land, Seismic Assault, and could blow up both of the 2/2s before Andres could untap to have the mana he needed to Disenchant an Assault. Instead, Cespedes played a Ghitu Encampment and passed the turn, under the gun from his opponent’s assault.

Andres Monsalve tries to contain his opponent’s combo. In no time flat, Andres had grown his board to include a second Treefolk Harbinger (tutoring up an ominous Doran, the Siege Tower which plotted from the top of Andres’ deck) as well as a Dauntless Escort and Treetop Village. It was a lot of potential damage starting Cristian down, and he tried to get going himself. Captured Sunlight netted the Chileno a Seismic Assault, but he passed the turn without killing his opponent’s Pridemages.

Andres untapped, plopped Doran into play, then sent his entire team sideways. By the end of combat, Cristan was at 2 life, and Andres’ board was two Treefolk Harbingers and Dauntless Escort, with the Seismic Assault blown up. When Cespedes took his turn and played only a Swans of Bryn Argoll, Andres pointed at his Treetop Village indicating he still had lethal. Cristian accepted his fate with a solemn nod.

Andres Monsalve 2, Cristian Andres Cespedes 1

Feature - Deck Tech – Elementals with Manuel Bucher

by Nate Price

“I am having so much fun.”

As a writer and fellow Magic player, statements like this always make me smile. Watching Manuel Bucher play during the eleventh round was like watching a kid play tic-tac-toe against an adult that’s letting them win. He was never really in danger of losing, and it was clear to anyone that he was having a boatload of fun.

A few weeks ago, Bucher stopped taking a look at five color control and started looking for a new horse. He went off and proxied a 60-card elementals deck and sat down to play a few games against a friend’s Black/Green Elves deck. The games weren’t even close. The next time he got in front of a computer, he immediately built a version of it on Magic Online. “I’ve been winning a lot of my matches,” he revealed to me as we discussed his success with the deck. “I would have done better yesterday, but I was playing horribly. I was jet-lagged and tired. I should have gone to bed earlier the night before, but I was up playing on Magic Online and having so much fun I didn’t want to go to bed.” Apparently his fun was contagious. According to Bucher, Martin Juza was watching him slaughter opponents and recede into a fit of giggling, and Juza decided that that was the deck for him.

The Manuel Bucher says: Elementals are fun!

Bucher said he was actually a little surprised at how fun the deck is. “It’s actually quite complicated. There are a lot of options.” Between Flamekin Harbinger and Ranger of Eos, his deck can effectively search for a way to deal with almost any situation. This incredible versatility is one of the things that drew him to the deck. According to Bucher, one of the main problems with the five color control decks is that it’s really difficult to make the matchups against Black/White Tokens, Green/White, and Faeries all positive. They’re mutually exclusive. The Elemental deck, however, uses similar threats against all of the decks, and it is free to run them in considerably smaller quantities due to the large amount of search and recursion the deck runs. He likened it to the Relic deck from a few Standard seasons ago. The Mystical Teachings engine runs just like the Elemental search engine, and both decks ran a relatively small number of answers to threats, instead relying on the decks large amount of search to carry them through.

The deck is also quite powerful. It has the potential to just immediately win with a turn three Horde of Notions against almost any deck. More traditionally, it just runs search cards and chump blocks delaying the clock until it’s got enough resources at hand to start doing broken things. Like drawing fifty cards and reanimating Godzilla.

Horde of NotionsFOR THE HORDE!

I asked Manuel about his advice to anyone thinking of picking the deck up. “First, have fun playing the deck. If you aren’t having fun, you shouldn’t be playing it. Next, playtest. The deck is hard to play, and you’ll need the practice.”

The deck’s major weaknesses are decks that can frequently put together very aggressive draws with disruption to back them up. He cited Black/Red as an example, especially if they’re running Mogg Fanatic and other cheap removal for Smokebraider and Bloom Tender, but he added the caveat that it isn’t an auto loss. It isn’t the aggressive draw or the disruption that makes the matchup hard, it’s the combination of the two. Either one is beatable on its own. He also says that decks with Zealous Persecution can be a little difficult Game 1, but he gets to bring in Shields of Velis Vel to deal with it, and he can even search it up with his Harbinger to make sure he has the answer.

While this deck may lack the raw power of the Faerie or Green/White decks, the synergies and the sheer number of options make up for the disparity. If you are looking for a fun deck to play that you can also ride to success with a bit of hard work and practice, Elementals may be the deck for you. But remember the words of Manuel Bucher.

“First, have fun.”

Round 13 Feature Match: Daniel Almeida Alves (Black-White Tokens) Versus Pedro Henrique De Melo (Kithkin)

by Bill Stark

As the Grand Prix wound itself ever closer to the hallowed ground of the Top 8, Brazil’s native players began demonstrating more and more clearly that they had come to play. Two of Brazil’s own found themselves face-to-face with one another in the Round 13 Feature Match. Daniel Almeida Alves stared down Pedro Henrique, each hoping to lock up the likelihood of a Grand Prix Top 8 with a win.

Daniel Almeida competes against a fellow Brazilian. Daniel opened the game with a Figure of Destiny that quickly morphed to 2/2 and began putting the beatdown on Pedro. When Daniel tried to make the Figure 4/4, however, his opponent had other plans. Path to Exile hit the table, sending the Kithkin farming but ramping up Daniel’s manabase by one. Pedro wasted no time following up his defensive maneuver by making some Spirits with a Spectral Procession. The play was even better than usual as he had a Windbrisk Heights ready to net him a free card from an attack.

Mimicing the play, Daniel also dropped a Spectral Procession on the board alongside a Windbrisk Heights of his own. Then, when Pedro tried to make good on his free card from his hideaway land, Daniel revealed a Path to Exile to prevent his opponent’s forces from getting through. Henrique attacked anyway, using Zealous Persecution to wipe out Daniel’s team. Almeida simply reloaded with Cloudgoat Ranger, and the two players found themselves mired in a heavy duty white-on-white battle.

Pedro Henrique unleashed his hand. Glorious Anthem pumped his two Procession tokens, then Zealous Persecution and Path to Exile dealt with his opponent’s board of creatures from Cloudgoat. The move left Pedro ahead on threats, but behind in cards. Daniel took his turn to play Ranger of Eos, fetching two copies of Figure of Destiny, which he played. It looked like he was still going to be the first of the two players to get to use Windbrisk Heights as both had managed to prevent such shenanigans to that point thanks to some clever play with their removal. As expected, Daniel sent his team in to drop Pedro to 9, then used his Windbrisk Heights to pick up a free Cloudgoat Ranger post-combat.

Overwhelmed by the sudden surge in creatures, coupled with his own inability to draw action after spending all the cards in his hand, Pedro Henrique was soon left scrambling for a game plan. When Daniel revealed a critical Path to Exile to allow him to get in with a monstrous attack, Pedro conceded to move to his sideboard.

Daniel Almeida Alves 1, Pedro Henrique De Melo 0

After a Pedro Henrique mulligan, Daniel Almeida kicked the second game off with a Figure of Destiny. He pumped his Kithkin to 2/2 while playing Windbrisk Heights, and across the board his opponent failed to play anything over the first three turns, despite having been on the play. It looked like the mulligan had been a particularly harsh one for Pedro.

Pedro Henrique tries to keep his Top 8 hopes alive.The turns went on with Daniel continuing to build on his lead. Knight of the White Orchid netted him a free land, and he followed up his 2/2 with Glorious Anthem. Still Pedro had not played a spell, but the troublesome enchantment finally forced him to pull the trigger. He used a Path to Exile to kill his opponent’s Figure of Destiny, netting his countryman another land to get further ahead in the count. Finally Henrique got onto the board with a Kitchen Finks, but it seemed like too little too late for the match. When Daniel dropped Spectral Procession on the board, with two Windbrisk Heights in reserve, the situation looked dire for Pedro Henrique De Melo.

Almeida attempted to declare an all-in attack with his Knight of the White Orchid and triple Spectral Procession tokens. Pedro, down but not out, used two Zealous Persecutions to cut down on the number of creatures his opponent had in play. Daniel responded by using the reinforce on a Rustic Clachan to save one of his Procession tokens, then bashed his opponent anyway. Following combat he had Elspeth, Knight Errant to begin pumping out 1/1 Soldier tokens.

Pedro continued working to dig himself out of the hole he was in, playing a Cloudgoat Ranger to stay in the swing of things. It wasn’t to be, however, as Daniel kept right on attacking, finally getting three creatures into the red zone. Doing so allowed him to activate both of his Windbrisk Heights with the first netting him a Glorious Anthem and the second a Cloudgoat Ranger of his own. Henrique’s play back was to drop Ajani Goldmane, but Daniel just played a third copy of Glorious Anthem and charged his team into combat. Doing some math, Pedro was faced with the reality he couldn’t survive the turn, and conceded the match to his countryman.

Daniel Almeida Alves 2, Pedro Henrique De Melo 0

Blog: 14:50 (2:50) p.m. – Quick Hits: What Do You Think About M10?

by Bill Stark

In a recent article on, Magic R&D head Aaron Forsythe laid out some upcoming changes to the game with the release of the next basic set, Magic 2010 (you can read Aaron’s article here). So what do the pros at Grand Prix-Sao Paolo have to say about the changes?

Manuel Bucher: I think “battlefield” and “exile” are good. I think the mulligan rule is good to save time too. I’m not sure about combat. I think I have to get used to it. I haven’t figure out how it impacts the game yet!

Carlos Romao: I really like the change to lifelink. I think it fits what players think lifelink should do. The mulligan rule is amazing too.

Raphael Levy: I think the mulligan rule is fine. To me, it doesn’t change anything [keywords like battlefield and exile]. I’m not sure about the mana burn rule, but I’m guessing it’s fine. The combat change is going to change how pros play.

Paulo Vitor Dama Da Rosa: I think the token ownership and mulligan changes are good. I’m not convinced about combat damage.

Gaudenis Vidugiris: It won’t be that big a change. I’m really glad about the mulligan thing. It makes sense [the M10 changes], it all works, but I think we lost a little bit of maneuvering [in combat].

Round 14 Feature Match – Sergio Sanabio (Faeries) vs. Jonathan Melamed (Black/Green Elves)

by Nate Price

Jonathan Melamed is no stranger to high level Magic. He placed in the Top 32 at Pro Tour-San Diego a couple of years ago, played in Pro Tour-Hollywood last year, and is a veteran of two Worlds tournaments. His opponent is another strong South American player, Sergio Sanabio from Peru.

Sanabio started the game off with a Thoughseize, stealing a Cloudthresher from a hand that also held a Thoughseize, two Putrid Leeches, a Treetop Village and two Twilight Mires. MElamed got to drop his first Putrid Leech into play after Sanabio played a Bitterblossom, but before he could get a chance to play the second one, Sanabio used a Vendilion Clique to wash it away from a hand that had gained a Wren’s Run Vanquisher and a Terror. The Leech was replaced with a second Vanquisher, which was good because it would allow him to drop the first one that was trapped in his hand. A fair trade, I’d say. He attacked with his Leech and pumped and then followed that up with a Thoughtseize to strip Sanabio of a Cryptic Command over a second Bitterblossom and a Scion of Oona. The Scion hit play the next turn, and Sanabio’s air force swung over for five.

Melamed thought for some time during his next turn before deciding to attack with his two creatures. Sanabio forced him to a decision by blocking his Putrid Leech with his 2/2 Faerie token and letting the Vanquisher through. After some thought and a warning for taking too long (play quickly, kids!), Melamed decided to pump his Leech. After combat, he played his second Leech and used a Terror to kill the Scion. I wasn’t sure why he chose to do that after pumping his Leech rather than save himself the life and do that before damage. Sanabio only had one land untapped, so there wasn’t much he could have done about it. When Sanabio played a Mistbind Clique during Melamed’s next upkeep, all he could do was mutter, “Obviously,” and scoop up his cards. Sanabio’s air force had just completed the perfect draw, and Melamed was not happy about it.

To the sky, my minions!

Sergio Sanabio 1 – Jonathan Melamed 0

Sanabio started the second game the same way he had the first. He revealed a Mistbind Vlique for his Secluded Glen and tapped it to play a Thoughtseize. Two Thoughtseizes, Profane Command, Maelstrom Pulse, and Wren’s Run Vanquisher stared back at him. After some thought, the Pulse bit the dust. Melamed threw two back at Sanabio on his next turn, taking the revealed Mistbind Clique and Sower of Temptation, leaving Sanabio with just a Cryptic Command. His draw for his turn was a Thoughtseize, though, and he used it to strip Melamed of his Profane Command.

Melamed didn’t have the complementary Elf for his Vanquisher, so he just fired up the Treetop and swung. Sanabio fired back with his Mutavault. Melamed’s next draw step gave him a Llanowar Elf, allowing him to empty his hand of the elves. The following turn saw him fire up the Treetop and send in the team. Sanabio had two Mutavaults back, and chose to fire one up and block the Llanowar. The attack knocked him to seven, and Melamed added another Treetop Village to his team. Next turn, two Mutavaults ganged up on the first of Melamed’s Treetops, and Sanabio dropped to four. His deck wasn’t providing him anything of use and the opposing 3/3s finally did their job a couple of turns later.

Sergio Sanabio 1 – Jonathan Melamed 1

Both players kept their hands for the deciding games. Melamed’s opening Thoughtseize revealed a hand of permission for Sanabio. Melamed allowed him to keep the two Cryptic Commands he was holding, but trashed his Flashfreeze. A Wren’s Run Vanquisher followed that up, and a Kitchen Finks followed that. Melamed was blowing out of the gates strong, and Sanabio wasn’t doing anything to slow him down. His first play was a Scion of Oona that flashed into play at the end of Melamed’s third turn, but he had no other Faeries in play to enhance, just a Faerie Conclave and a Mutavault. When Melamed attacked on the following turn, Sanabio thought about using Cryptic Command to tie them up, but instead chose to activate a Mutavault and try to get tricky with an Agony Warp, but Melamed had the Guttural Response.

Melamed may have a response. From his gut.

Melamed kept applying the pressure, and Sanabio kept falling behind. When Melamed played a Chameleon Colossus on his next turn, Sanabio sighed and shook his head. He delayed his imminent death for one more turn with a Cryptic Command, but Melamed just pooled a mana from his Llanowar Elf and used it to fuel his Mutavault after the Command resolved, so he still managed to get in for two. When Sanabio went for the Cryptic Command on the next turn, Melamed used a Guttural Response to seal the game.

Sergio Sanabio 1 – Jonathan Melamed 2

Round 15 Feature Match: Ivan Taroshi Versus Eduardo Sella

by Bill Stark

Nearly one year ago to the day, Ivan Taroshi found himself headed to a Grand Prix Top 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As we entered the last round of Swiss play for Grand Prix-Sao Paolo, he found himself in the same boat. With 33 Swiss points, a win put him within striking distance of the single elimination rounds. Unfortunately for Ivan, fellow Brazilian Eduardo Sella was in the same exact position, and he wasn’t interested in lying down.

Ivan Taroshi sets his target.The two set to work shuffling and preparing for their first game. As they handed each other their decks, judges swooped in to stop them. The two competitors had been selected for a random deck check! Ivan and Eduardo chatted amiably with one another and the crowd gathered to watch their match, and after ten minutes the judges returned. The judges took Ivan from the table to discuss something with him; never a good sign after a deck check.

More time ticked off the clock, then more. The crowd grew anxious at Taroshi’s absence. Finally, with just ten minutes left in the round, the judges returned with the Brazilian player. The verdict? A card had become warped in Ivan’s deck and, as a result, was considered a marked card. Upon investigation, however, it was determined no malicious intent had been behind the action. A game loss was awarded to Ivan Taroshi, and the players were instructed to continue the match with a considerable time extension.

Eduardo Sella 1, Ivan Taroshi 0

The two players kicked off their second game with Taroshi burning out of the gates on the back of double Mogg Fanatics. He used the Goblins, alongside a Ghitu Encampment, to put the hurt on Sella. Eduardo, playing an innovative mana-denial strategy, had a Grixis Charm to deal with his opponent’s Encampment, but fell to 17 from the attack.

From there, Sella took over. He used a Deny Reality to bounce one of Ivan’s lands, getting a Fulminator Mage out of doing so. That meant he could start blocking the Mogg Fanatics on the board while able to cash the 2/2 in for one of his opponent’s non-basics at a moment’s notice. Not long after, Eduardo plopped a 5/5 Enlisted Wurm into play, netting himself a free Cryptic Command. He used that to bounce another of his opponent’s lands, drawing a card in the process.

Mana denial? Eduardo Sella knows a thing or two about it...Taroshi battled on, struggling to get ahead with more Mogg Fanatics, but he couldn’t keep his lands in play. A Captured Sunlight cascaded into Grixis Charm, which Sella used to bounce another of his opponent’s lands. Ivan had just two left in play, unable to get any of them to stick. Relentlessly, Eduardo pressed on, playing not one but two Fulminator Mages in the same turn. A Cruel Ultimatum gave Eduardo a gigantic advantage, but left Ivan with a possible out: he had discarded double copies of Demigod of Revenge meaning if he could stick five lands somehow, he could potentially attack for lethal from nowhere with a third copy of the 5/4 and an intermittent burn spell somewhere.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Eduardo played a second copy of the Shards of Alara sorcery not long after, ending Ivan’s dream of back-to-back Grand Prix Top 8s in South America.

Eduardo Sella 2, Ivan Taroshi 0

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