It was an all-foreign showdown in the Feature Match area this round. On one side, from Chicago, the team of Ian Farnung, Stephen Berrios and Armando Bulnes. It turns out that Farnung, code name "White Devil," is a frequent traveller and a regular in Brazil. Having missed the domestic team Grand Prix in Providence, Farnung saw this as an opportunity, and managed to corral Berrios and Bulnes into a week's vacation punctuated by a run at a team limited title.
It's a similar story on the other side, except with even farther to travel. Despite hailing from the Czech Republic, Pavel Matousek has been making the rounds of Grand Prix in exotic places. "I'm not good," he hastens to add with a laugh, "I'm just a Magic tourist." This time he brought his friends Tom Ristovsky and Martin Melichar along for the ride.
They broke down the colors as follows:
Martin Melichar: Green-Blue
Pavel Matousek: Blue-Red
Tom Ristovsky: Mono-Black
Armando Bulnes: Blue-Red
Stephen Berrios: Green-Black
Ian Farnung: White-Blue
Left side, bottom to top: Melichar, Matousek, Ristovsky
Right side, bottom to top: Bulnes, Berrios, Farnung
A-Seat: Melichar vs. Bulnes
It looked like Bulnes would carry his team to an early lead when Melichar had to send back his first two opening hands. His five were good, however, and he rolled out a sequence of Turn 2 Golden Hind, Turn 3 Karametra's Acolyte, Turn 4 Staunch-Hearted Warrior and a 5/5 Reverent Hunter. Bulnes summoned a Bladetusk Boar to go with his Archetype of Aggression and wasted no time pushing them both in front of the Hunter. Melichar had no trick, but he did have a Snake of the Golden Grove to replace his monster.
When Bulnes spent his fifth turn summoning Keranos, God of Storms, it suddenly seemed like the mulligan to five was going to get there. Melichar's squad dropped him to just seven life. Here, however, things started to break Bulnes's way. Keranos started to hand out free lightning bolts, and he had Sudden Storm to buy time. Melichar finally began to draw lands, and spent most of his board on attacks that brought Bulnes down to just one life. He was way up on cards and that included enough cheap creatures to mire the board, and Prescient Chimera with Everflame Eidolon closed the game out quickly.
Bulnes 1 - Melichar 0
Game two began in a similar, though less explosive fashion. Melichar played out an early beatdown force and had an edge. Bulnes again had the early Keranos, but this time Melichar was ready with Fade Into Antiquity. when Prescient Chimera threatened to put an end to the beatdown party, he locked it up with Sudden Storm.
Bulnes did his best to claw and scrape to keep himself in it, and when Melichar went for the killing blow he was ready with Griptide to foil it. He again managed to stabilize at just one life. Anthousa, Setessan Hero offered a Glimmer of Hope, but Bulnes took no chances, sending it home with Voyage's End a turn before swinging for lethal.
Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung 1 - Melichar/Matousek/Ristovsky 0
B-Seat: Berrios vs. Matousek
Meanwhile it was a knock-down-drag-out fight in the middle seat. Matousek had managed to take the first game that featured Berrios's double-bestowed Nessian Courser racing against an Ember Swallower and its entourage. With Melichar already eliminated Matousek wanted to end this match quickly. His Vortex Elemental took care of one of Berrios's fatties then came back for an encore shortly thereafter, shuffling away Nessian Asp. However, Berrios had saved the best for last: Nessian Wilds Ravager. It hit play as a 12/12. Matousek's plan was to keep it at bay with Wavecrash Triton while flying overhead for damage, but after his second bestow he was out of ways to trigger heroic. Soon their match was tied. While shuffling up, they turned their attention to the C-Seat.
C-seat: Farnung vs. Ristovsky
Farnung was the aggressor early with Oreskos Sun Guide into Sightless Brawler. Ristovsky fought back with Tormented Hero suited up with Ordeal of Erebos but the race wasn't in his favor. Farnung was able to bust through Servant of Tymaret with Ajani's Presence. Ristovsky summoned Baleful Eidolon to stop ground attacks and bestowed Nyxborn Eidolon to his Hero. For a moment he was in the driver's seat, but that all changed when Farnung untapped and gave his Sun Guide the power of Nimbus Naiad and flew overhead. He was out of cards but soon had Ristovsky down to two. Ristovsky drew Feast of Dreams to buy another turn's attack, but his next draw was a blank and Farnung took game one.
Game two started with both players trading off tricks and creatures. Farnung emerged with the stronger board, a 2/4 War-Wing Siren and a Vaporkin against just Servant of Tymaret. However, he was down to just six life and had a ways to go to kill Ristovsky. Ristovsky bestowed Cavern Lampad, which forced Farnung's Sudden Storm. He then drew in to Akroan Mastiff, not ideal against the Servant but it would probably be fast enough. That is, until Ristovsky showed him Gray Merchant of Asphodel, draining enough life to force a third game.
The third game seemed to start well for Ristovsky. He stopped Farnung's early offense and caught a Sea God's Revenge with Disciple of Phenax. The only concern on the other side of the board was an Akroan Mastiff. However Farnung's deck was kind, and just a few turns later he had assembled an attack force capped by War-Wing Siren wearing Sightless Brawler. Ristovsky had his trusty Servant of Tymaret and some tricks in hand, but no way to counterattack, and was falling farther and farther behind. Farnung played it extra cautiously because of Ristovsky's stacked grip, but inevitability was on his side, and soon he was relaying the good news to his teammates.
Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung 2 - Melichar/Matousek/Ristovsky 0