by Luis Neiman
In this, the Quarter-Finals of the first ever Magic: the Gathering Latin America Championship, two of the quarter-finalists were very nervous. Not only was the temperature inside Santiago's Centro Cultural Mapocho, the tournament site, very cold, but these two players had already faced each other during the Swiss portion of the tournament, and both knew that the matchup could go either way.
Chile's Rafael Le Saux is playing a Mono-Blue deck called "Accelerated Blue", which features lots of counterspells, Grim Monoliths for mana acceleration, Masticore for creature control and Morphlings to finish off opponents.
Brazil's Eduardo Texeira is playing the surprise deck of the tournament, "Covetous Red", a deck that revolves around having lots of artifact mana and casting Wildfire, a spell from the Urza's Saga set which requires each player to sacrifice 4 lands and deals 4 damage to each creature, destroying most of the opponent's permanents. Nobody expected this deck, and many Brazilians played this deck because of the surprise factor, even though it loses to Replenish decks, which made up one third of all Standard decks on the second day of the competition.
Both players shook hands, exchanged a few words and promptly began to shuffle their own and each other's decks. They then rolled a die and began the match. Texeira would begin, a big advantage for him, because if he has an explosive start, Le Saux won't be able to stop him.
After drawing the initial hand of 7 cards, Texeira decides to mulligan down to 6 cards, which he then keeps. He played a Mountain and passed the turn to Le Saux, which also has a slow start, since he kept a hand consisting of 4 Islands, Thwart, Rewind and Masticore and drew another Masticore. Meanwhile, Texeira played a Grim Monolith on turn 2 and a Thran Dynamo on turn 3, while Le Saux merely laid Islands. On his fourth turn, Texeira took a big risk and played Wildfire. Le Saux had 3 blue mana open and probably had a counterspell, but Le Saux cycled a Miscalculation in response to the Wildfire (since Texeira had more than 2 extra mana to pay the Miscalculation) and drew a Daze, another useless card, so he decided to Thwart the Wildfire by returning 3 Islands to his hand instead of paying the casting cost of 2UU. So now Le Saux has no permanents in play, while Texeira has many lands, a Dynamo and a Monolith, which allow him to play a Mishra's Helix next turn and lock down all of Le Saux's mana during his upkeep. Texeira followed the Helix up with a Covetous Dragon, the deck's other signature card, and after successfully casting a Tectonic Break for 3 on his next turn, Le Saux concedes.
TEXEIRA 1 - LE SAUX 0
During Sideboarding, Le Saux chooses to bring in 3 Annul from his sideboard, and 1 Scrying Glass, which allows him to draw a card if he pays 3 mana and correctly guesses how many cards of a single color his opponent has in his hand. Texeira, on the other hand, sideboards in his Impending Disasters, another Tectonic Break and 4 Boils, probably bringing out useless cards like Masticore, which is next to useless against a Morphling, otherwise known as "Jesus". After shuffling, both players decide to keep their initial hands, Le Saux beginning. The first few turns are very slow, with each player only laying a land every turn, and Texeira playing a Voltaic Key on his first turn. On his fourth turn Le Saux plays a Rishadan Port and a Grim Monolith, and during his next turn he plays a Morphling using his Monolith, saving mana for the Counterspell he had in his hand. At the end of Le Saux's turn, Texeira tries to cast a Boil, which would destroy 4 of Le Saux's 5 lands. Le Saux obviously used his Counterspell, which allowed Texeira to cast a Temporal Aperture during his turn. Le Saux now begins the beatdown, hitting Texeira for 4 damage every turn, while Texeira has the mana and Voltaic Key to use his Aperture twice every turn. However, Le Saux has the counterspells in his hand to stop any troublesome spell that Texeira would try to cast with his Aperture, like a Wildfire, which is promptly Rewound. Le Saux, at one point, almost received a game loss, because cutting Texeira's deck when he activated his Temporal Aperture and flipping over the top card, he accidentally flipped over the top 3 cards of the deck, but only revealed the third one, so Head Judge Juan del Compare simply told Texeira to shuffle his deck again. After a few turns of being unable to play any threat spells, and after another Wildfire was countered, Texeira concedes before the Morphling finished him off.
TEXEIRA 1 - LE SAUX 1
Texeira chose to begin this game, and chose to keep a hand consisting of 2 Mountains, 2 Boils, Temporal Aperture, Thran Dynamo and Impending Disaster. Le Saux, on the other hand, mulliganed down to 6 cards and kept a hand consisting of Island, Dust Bowl, and 4 counterspells. The first two turns were uneventful, with Texeira laying a Temporal Aperture on his second turn. But Le Saux failed to draw more land, and didn't do anything for two more turns, allowing Texeira to play a Voltaic Key, Impending Disaster, Thran Dynamo and a Covetous Dragon, after which Le Saux concedes. The dreaded mana-screw did Le Saux in.
TEXEIRA 2 - LE SAUX 1
Here Le Saux keeps a beautiful hand, consisting of 2 Islands, Rishadan Port, Daze, Counterspell, Grim Monolith and Morphling. Le Saux makes the most of Texeira's slow start and plays a third turn Morphling (after playing a Grim Monolith on his second turn) and goes into beatdown mode. Texeira only has 3 Mountains and 2 Voltaic Keys in play, and Le Saux is playing Suicide Morphling, hitting for 5 damage each turn, à la Phyrexian Negator, while countering Texeira's spells like Grim Monolith. Texeira, unable to cast anything to save him from the 5/1 Morphling, concedes.
TEXEIRA 2 - LE SAUX 2
In this, the deciding game, Texeira chooses to start. Until now, the player that started has won each of the preceding games. Le Saux is set back a turn by Dazing Texeira'' second turn Grim Monolith. Meanwhile, Texeira uses his Rishadan Port to tap Le Saux's Islands in an attempt to force through some of his spells like Grim Monolith, Fire Diamond and Thran Dynamo, which are Dazed, Counterspelled and Miscalculated, respectively. Texeira tried to cast his Mishra's Helix on his 7th turn, but he's met with yet another Counterspell by Le Saux. Le Saux goes on to play a Grim Monolith and a Morphling during his own turn. Texeira responds with his Crater Hellion during his next turn, which kills Le Saux's Morphling with its "comes into play" effect, which dealt 4 damage to each other creature. Le Saux plays a Scrying Glass during his turn, in an attempt to see what cards Texeira has left in his hand, and to draw an answer to the Hellion. He is hit for 6 damage by Texeira, but during his turn he uses a Treachery to take Texeira's Hellion from him, but Le Saux doesn't keep it for long, since it is buried when he can't pay it's Echo cost (4RR, an impossibility for a Mono-Blue deck). Texeira lays a Mishra's Helix during his turn, but this allows Le Saux to play another Morphling during his turn. Texeira answers with a Mountain and a Covetous Dragon. During Le Saux's turn, he taps two of Rafael's Islands with his Helix, which Le Saux uses to pump his Morphling to 5/1 with in response. Le Saux attacks, and Texeira doesn't block, because he doesn't want to lose his Dragon. Le Saux has an untapped Grim Monolith and two Islands, which allow him to untap his Morphling and give it -4/+4 in order to block the Covetous Dragon and survive. Le Saux uses 4 of the Islands that Texeira taps with his helix to untap his Monolith, and serves for 5 damage with his Morphling again. Texeira does nothing during his turn, and during Le Saux's upkeep, he uses his Helix to tap all 8 of Le Saux's lands, which Rafael uses to untap his Grim Monolith, use his Scrying Glass and pump his Morphling. Le Saux draws into a Stroke of Genius, which will allow him to draw a massive amount of cards with 8 lands and 2 Monoliths. Le Saux lays another land and attacks for 5 more damage, leaving Texeira at 5 life. Texeira doesn't want to block because Le Saux can deal 5 damage to his Dragon and pump his Morphling to increase its Toughness to 7 after assigning damage, allowing it to kill the Dragon and survive at the same time. Texeira, meanwhile, uses his Aperture twice during his turn to play a Monolith and a Voltaic Key. During Le Saux's upkeep Texeira taps 6 Islands with his Helix, which Le Saux uses to get 6 mana, and taps one of his Grim Monoliths, generating 9 mana in total, and uses his Stroke of Genius, drawing 6 cards. This leaves Rafael with an untapped Island, Rishadan Port and Grim Monolith. Rafael's 6 cards are amazing, containing 2 Counterspells, an Island and a Treachery, amongst other things. Rafael proceeds to lay an Island, cast a Treachery on the Covetous Dragon using two Islands and his Monolith, and attacks for 9 damage, finishing off Texeira and winning his Quarterfinal match by 3 games to 2, thus proceeding to the semi-final round.
LE SAUX 3 - TEXEIRA 2