This Quarterfinals match featured two Californians facing off in their first Grand Prix Top 8. Adam Mancuso hailed from Santa Monica, while Eric Pei was just a short drive away from San Francisco.
Eric Pei's blue-white heroic deck was capable of some very aggressive starts, thanks in part to some solid two-mana creatures like Battlewise Hoplite and Phalanx Leader. However, it also had access to some large blockers with multiple copies of Coastline Chimera, a solid flying blocker that could hold back creatures while his heroic creatures stayed on offense.
Mancuso's deck, on the other hand, was much more about big ground creatures. His green-red concoction was capable of some brutal starts thanks to Two-Headed Chimera and his bestow creatures, but the deck also had access to a nasty mythic in the form of Xenagos, the Reveler.
Pei was first onto the table with Battlewise Hoplite, which promptly ate a Lightning Strike from Mancuso, who followed up that turn with Agent of Horizons. However, Pei's next creatures were Phalanx Leader and Heliod's Emissary, which backed Mancuso against a wall early on. Traveling Philosopher and Chosen by Heliod soon came down, growing Pei's army.
Unable to stop the board, Mancuso did what he could, trading when available and deploying a very large Vulpine Goliath onto the table. However, the Heliod's Emissary made blocking effectively moot, and the Phalanx Leader duo powered through for a first game win.
Mancuso led off the second game with Leafcrown Dryad into Nessian Courser, the Dryad held back by Pei's second-turn Bronze Sable. The artifact creature was joined by Wingsteed Rider on the next turn. Mancuso sent in the Nessian Courser for 3, then aimed Lightning Strike at Wingsteed Rider. It was replaced with Battlewise Hoplite after an attack with the Sable on the next turn. Mancuso cast Nylea's Disciple pre-combat, then sent in his creatures, attacking for 5. Pei had Fate Foretold for his Battlewise Hoplite, growing it and drawing a card. Traveling Philosopher was the only follow-up after that.
The Hoplite traded with the Nylea's Disciple on the next attack from Mancuso, and it was replaced with heliod's Emissary on the next turn. Mancuso, however, had Fade into Antiquity lying in wait for the enchantment creature, and Destructive Revelry on the Sable put Pei in a bind.
Pei, however, was not done yet, as he cast Evangel of Heliod to buy himself some time. It worked, as Mancuso no longer had any good attacks with his opponent stuck at 2. Hopeful Eidolon gave him a glimmer of a chance when it was bestowed on the Evangel of Heliod, but Mancuso continued adding creatures to his board, with Satyr Rambler, Spearpoint Oread, and Centaur Battlemaster coming on subsequent turns.
However, Pei had a bestowed Thassa's Emissary on the already bestowed Evangel, giving him a 5/7 lifelink attacker that would draw him cards if Mancuso simply let the attacks go through. When Pei sent in his massive creature, Mancuso opted to triple block it with the Nessian Courser, Leafcrown Dryad, and Spearpoint Oread. Battlewise Valor punished Mancuso for that block, as he lost all three of his creatures, and Pei's life total jumped from 2 to 9.
Mancuso continued playing for a few turns, but the game appeared to be over. When a land awaited him on top after another attack from Pei's Evangel, he offered the handshake.
Mancuso 0 – Pei 2