Two giants of American Magic clashed this round. On one side, perennial favorite Luis Scott-Vargas, in the middle of his world tour that started at Grand Prix Singapore and will take him to Wizards HQ for the Community Cup, then on to GP Kansas City. On the other sits Gaudenis Vidugiris. While he's less of a household name, Vidugiris has been quietly building a reputation for himself. He's notched five GP Top 8s in the past three years, including two wins. His name comes up frequently in discussions about best pros without a Pro Tour Top 8. If he keeps up his pace this weekend, he'll excuse himself from contention in the best way possible.
Scott-Vargas won the roll and put Vidugiris on the play. Vidugiris started with Shrine of Piercing Vision, but had no third-turn play. Scott-Vargas made Death-Hood Cobra, then Alloy Myr, getting in for 2. Vidugiris drew for his fourth turn and activated his Shrine to get one of the top two. He played a Forest, but added nothing to the board.
Scott-Vargas hit for 4 and summoned Blightwidow, and Vidugiris finally got on the board with a Thundering Tanadon. Scott-Vargas snuck in for another 2 with the Death-Hood Cobra, but made no play. Vidugiris continued to go big, this time with Fangren Marauder. Scott-Vargas's Oxidda Scrapmelter was a turn too late to be backbreaking, giving Vidugiris 5 life for his dead Tanadon.
Vidugiris got his next fatty on layaway: A Cryptoplasm that wanted to be a Fangren Marauder when it grew up. Scott-Vargas tapped four on his turn for Cerebral Eruption. Vidugiris considered a response, but decided against it. His top card was Forest. His team was safe for a turn, at least.
Scott-Vargas furrowed his brow, then attacked with both Death-Hood Cobra and Oxidda Scrapmelter. Vidugiris stuck Fangren Marauder in front of the Scrapmelter. Scott-Vargas tapped his remaining four mana for Artillerize, sacrificing Blightwidow. Even if Vidugiris had a pump spell, he would lose his Marauder, forcing the Cryptoplasm to stay a manageable size. Unfortunately for Scott-Vargas, Vidugiris had Withstand Death, for a slick three-for-one.
Luis: "Thaaaaaaat's the one you had, eh?"
Vidugiris supersized his Cryptoplasm and charged in for 10, cutting Scott-Vargas's life in half. Scott-Vargas gamely tried the Cerebral Eruption again, but another land blanked it. He held back his creatures. Beast Within took care of the Cobra and the 5/5's charged again. The Beast token chumped, and Scott-Vargas was down to just 5 life.
Would his Eruption save him? Vidugiris flipped his top card: Island. Scott-Vargas put out Embersmith as another speed bump, but Vidugiris had Leeching Bite, denying him one last crack at the Eruption.
Vidugiris 1, Scott-Vargas 0
Again Scott-Vargas chose to draw. He quickly sent back his opening hand in hopes of a better six. He frowned at them, but kept.
Vidugiris was quick off the blocks this time. A Sphere of the Suns enabled a turn-three Thundering Tanadon. Scott-Vargas simply played a third Forest and passed. Vidugiris followed up with Plaguemaw Beast and took a big bite of Scott-Vargas's life.
Scott-Vargas was holding the Oxidda Scrapmelter that could turn the game around, but was short a Mountain to make it happen. He drew, and his frown deepened. He had nothing to do but play another Forest and take 9 on the chin. Vidugiris played a Shrine of Piercing Vision. Scott-Vargas peeked at his top card, and, seeing nothing, extended the hand.
Vidugiris 2, Scott-Vargas 0