Reinaldo da Silva vs. Guilherme Medeiros Merjan
Luiz Henrique Miguel vs. Marcus Camargo
Allison Abe vs. Igor Sousa
Marcus Pacheco vs. Jonathan Melamed
So here's how this here 'one of me, four matches' thing is going to work. First of all, it's only three matches, since Reinaldo da Silva, having got to 9-0 and paced the field all weekend, can't go to Worlds, and has conceded to Guilherme Medeiros Merjan, making him a very happy man. That leaves three matches to look at. Our good friend Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is keeping an eye on Miguel v Camargo and Abe v Sousa, leaving me to concentrate on the match between Jonathan Melamed and Marcus Pacheco. Oh, and don't forget that this is Nationals, so it's best three-out-of five.
Pacheco opened with Drowned Catacombs, while Melamed was straight into action with Halimar Depths. Gitaxian Probe found Jace Beleren, Solemn Simulacrum, Into the Roil, Black Sun's Zenith, Tectonic Edge, and Go for the Throat in Pacheco's hand. Spell Pierce dealt with Jace Beleren the following turn.
Luiz Miguel 1 - 0 Marcus Camargo
Melamed spent his fourth turn casting Shrine of Piercing Vision, and didn't take long to crack it in search of more goodness for his Splinter Twin combo. He added Spellskite to the board, the only non-land between the two players. At end of turn he aimed for Deceiver Exarch. Go for the Throat from Pacheco was met with Dispel. Now Pacheco went for a second Go for the Throat, and that resolved, killing the Exarch threat.
Melamed cast Sea Gate Oracle, now holding six cards in hand. Pacheco too had a grip full of cards. Next up was Grim Lavamancer from Melamed, which persuaded Pacheco to try Black Sun's Zenith to wipe the board. Mana Leak was a teaser. Pacheco could pay, but then leave only two mana open. He elected to let his board sweeper hit the graveyard instead. Melamed cast Splinter Twin, not on an Exarch as normally happens, but on Sea Gate Oracle. That was a hideous engine to have to overcome, and virtually forced Pacheco to do something about it. Into the Roil was that something, which Melamed redirected to his Spellskite. Mana Leak from Pacheco met Spell Pierce, and the Splinter Twin resolved. Advantage Melamed. Spellskite reappeared too.
Elsewhere, Igor Sousa had taken his opener against Allison Abe. Although Abe had played a cagey game, having used Gitaxian Probe to see early on that Sousa had a lot of removal, in the end Sousa always had one more removal available than Abe could avoid, and Sousa led 1-0.
Igor Sousa 1 - 0 Allison Abe
Back at Melamed v Pacheco, and Pacheco had landed his first Grave Titan of the match. Melamed cast Sea Gate Oracle once more, a second Spellskite, and a second Grim Lavamancer. He didn't have an answer to Grave Titan, however. Pacheco attacked Melamed down to five before casting Solemn Simulacrum. For Melamed, at least Grim Lavamancer was shooting down Zombies, but Melamed would need something more. Splinter Twin attached itself to Sea Gate Oracle, and it was back to the Titan Pacheco.
This time he had Consume the Meek. Melamed responded by activating his Splinter Twin to see deeper into his deck, but there were no answers. The board was swept away, leaving Grave Titan to waltz in unopposed to claim the opener.
Jonathan Melamed 0 - 1 Marcus Pacheco
In Miguel v Camargo, Luiz Miguel had gone for his Splinter Twin combo on turn four, but Marcus Camargo was ready with Nature's Claim. Camargo followed up with Linvala, Keeper of Silence, which stops the combo, and Miguel couldn't find a way back. All square once more.
Luiz Miguel 1 - 1 Marcus Camargo
Melamed opened game two with Gitaxian Probe. Pacheco didn't want him to see, so cast Mental Misstep. Melamed really wanted to look, so cast Mental Misstep too! He found Inquisition of Kozilek, Spellskite, and four land. When Pacheco cast the Inquisition of Kozilek, he found Spell Pierce in the way, so couldn't get the same level of information that Melamed had. Pacheco cast Spellskite, leaving the way clear for Melamed to begin the Planeswalker battle with Jace Beleren, who promptly drew Melamed a card.
Despise finally got Pacheco a look at Melamed's hand: Ponder, Mana Leak, Dispel, and Misty Rainforest. Little changed over the next few turns, with Spellskite for Pacheco and Grim Lavamancer for Melamed, who was nevertheless advantaged by the status quo thanks to his Jace Beleren, which he had restocked to 3 loyalty. Pacheco tried for a Jace of his own, but Mana Leak resolved. At end of turn, Melamed went for Deceiver Exarch. Was the Jace a mana-sapping fatal mistake from Pacheco?
He was down to three mana, and let the Exarch resolve. Melamed untapped. He drew an extra card with Jace Beleren. Then he attacked with his Exarch and Grim Lavamancer. Pacheco fell to 16, and then Melamed passed the turn. Jace Beleren continued to draw him extra cards, pulling further ahead of Pacheco. Even so, the presence of Spellskite on the board was stopping Melamed from pulling the trigger on his Splinter Twin.
Pacheco cast Inquisition of Kozilek, and again the Mana Leak trap was set. If Pacheco paid, he would be back down to two mana. He declined to pay, laid a Creeping Tar Pit, and passed back to Melamed. Sea Gate Oracle resolved, as Melamed hit the ten mana mark. Jace drew him another card, and the same dance occurred again, Spellskite blocking Deceiver Exarch, and Pacheco taking one from Grim Lavamancer.
Igor Sousa 2 - 0 Allison Abe
Meanwhile Luiz Miguel was able to find his Splinter Twin combo to take a 2-1 lead over Marcus Camargo.
Luiz Miguel 2 - 1 Marcus Camargo
Pacheco once again wanted Inquisition of Kozilek to resolve, and this time it did, Pacheco taking Dispel and finding all four copies of Splinter Twin in Melamed's hand. With SpellskiteShattered by Melamed, he was in great shape. He cast Splinter Twin on his Sea Gate Oracle, rather than his Exarch, ready to bait Pacheco into a counterspell war. Pacheco responded with Doom Blade, and the Sea Gate Oracle was no more. Now Pacheco had three cards. Melamed couldn't cast Splinter Twin and pay for a Mana Leak. If Pacheco didn't have Mana Leak, or a way to kill the Exarch in response, the win was sitting there right before Melamed's eyes.
Intriguingly, Melamed reset Jace to three loyalty, getting both players a card, allowing Pacheco one extra card to have an answer. He cast Shrine of Piercing Vision, and passed, having avoided putting the possible win to the test. Deceiver Exarch turned sideways for one damage, putting Pacheco to 14, and Melamed was done.
Finally Pacheco had a way to deal with Jace, casting one of his own. Melamed, now free of the constraints of a Spellskite across the table, used Grim Lavamancer to drop Pacheco to 12 at end of turn. This time he went for the Splinter Twin onto Exarch combo. Pacheco had Deprive to stop the combo. The Exarch attacked, and Pacheco was at 11. That said, Melamed was down to 12 himself...
Pacheco cast Grave Titan, Melamed responding with two damage to the face, Pacheco at 9. Then he cast Deceiver Exarch, tapping down a possibly-critical mana. Splinter Twin for Exarch met Mana Leak, but the final Splinter Twin on the second Exarch resolved, and we were heading for game three all tied up. With just over an hour gone, it was down to a best of three.
Melamed 1 - 1 Pacheco
Igor Sousa meanwhile had booked his place for San Francisco, defeating Allison Abe by a convincing 3-0. Abe had tried to get his combo together in game three, but once again found a combination of Doom Blade, Flashfreeze, and other inconvenient spells ready to stop him in his tracks. Sousa advanced to the semi finals.
Igor Sousa 3 - 0 Allison Abe
In the early going in game three, there was all the usual fencing, before Pacheco cast a turn four Inquisition of Kozilek, taking out a Deceiver Exarch. Melamed went for another in response to another Inquisition of Kozilek, starting a Mana Leak war, which he ultimately lost when Pacheco paid. Shatter, Spell Pierce, and Mana Leak were left in Melamed's hand, while Pacheco had Jace Beleren, and Liliana Vess, something Melamed discovered with Gitaxian Probe.
Pacheco was attacking each turn with Creeping Tar Pit, and had Melamed down to 10. He cast Spellskite, then attacked with his Creeping Tar Pit. Twisted Image from Melamed turned Spellskite into a 4/0, killing it, but still took three from the Tar Pit, falling to 7. Pacheco cast Jace Beleren, and here we were again, Melamed casting Mana Leak which successfully countered the Planeswalker.
Melamed 1 - 2 Pacheco
In the other remaining match, Miguel found his combo far too late, and Camargo was able to nibble away at his life total, eventually edging it to send them into a deciding game five, something Melamed would very much like to do here.
Miguel 2 - 2 Camargo
Melamed had early counterspels in game four, Spell Pierce for Inquisition of Kozilek, and Mana Leak for Jace Beleren. Gitaxian Probe from Melamed met Mental Misstep, before Ponder resolved. It was all very cagey stuff, as Malemed cast Deceiver Exarch and untapped a land. Memoricide form Pacheco met Spell Pierce, Melamed bouncing Spellskite with Into the Roil before Pacheco replayed it.
Down came Jace Beleren, drawing Pacheco an extra card. Melamed took Shatter off Preordain, giving him a route to killing the Spellskite. He wasted no time in aiming the red instant at Spellskite, which duly bit the dust. Still Pacheco had Jace Beleren, ticking down to one loyalty as he presented Pacheco with another bonus card. Doom Blade took out Deceiver Exarch, and Melamed was faced with a ton of trouble.
He topdecked Jace Beleren to at least stop the drawing engine, but Pacheco was into Creeping Tar Pit territory, and couldn't be stopped. Almost two hours, and Pacheco had triumphed, taking the match by 3-1, and guaranteeing himself a slot for Worlds.
Jonathan Melamed 1 - 3 Marcus Pacheco
By this time, Luiz Miguel and Marcus Camargo were deep into their game five. Miguel was very tentative, deciding to wait until he had Dispel to protect it, but Camargo had Birthing Pod, and started fetching Spellskite, then Linvala, Keeper of Silence. The window had passed for Miguel, and it was Camargo who had made it to the semi finals, with a place at San Francisco for Worlds.
Luiz Miguel 2 - 3 Marcus Camargo