Round 11 Feature Match – Marc Lalague vs. Gilbert Leon

Posted in Event Coverage on February 15, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Earlier, I had a chance to sit down and watch my first draft of the season with Marc Lalague. His deck ended up being nearly monogreen, and he was incredibly pleased with it. "This deck doesn't really have any weaknesses," he told me after building. Despite this statement, he did realize that a difficult to kill creature could potentially get out of hand.

"Fabled Hero is one hell of a Magic card. I lost my first round to that," he reported to me as he sat down for this final match of the first draft. Without a Time to Feed or Nemesis of Mortals early, the Hero was simply able to get too large too fast for Lalague to overcome it. This time around, he was able to dodge the powerful Hero, but he would have a different cast of problematic characters to deal with from Gilbert Leon's aggressive blue/black deck.

This match would prove to be an age-old battle of ground pounders against fliers. Leon's deck was completely full of evasive threats, while Lalague's deck had a number of monstrous, earthbound attackers. In matches like this, the roll of the die often has a large impact on the outcome of the game, as the first to gain an advantage usually keeps it. Leon was fortunate enough to win the die roll, and he found himself even more fortunate when Lalague threw back an unimpressive first hand for a better six.

Marc Lalague

Leon started out very strongly, with a veritable air force at his disposal. Herald of Torment, Blood-Toll Harpy, and Nimbus Naiad made for an impressive opening to the game, and Lalague quickly found himself on the back foot. He managed to pare the board down to just the Nimbus Naiad thanks to some good attacks and removal, but he had fallen to a mere 9 life. Lalague built his ground troops quickly, conceding dominance of the skies to Leon. Two copies of Nemesis of Mortals were an impressive threat, but Leon calmly found a way around them. Archetype of Imagination lifted his other creatures in the sky to join the Naiad, and he crashed over, dropping Lalague to 2. He had left one blocker behind beside his Archetype, ready to block the pair of Nemeses. Lalague didn't have anything to force through his damage, nor a removal spell for the Naiad, and the first game of the match went to Leon and his never-ending fliers.

Lalague felt that his deck had the appropriate tools to deal with fliers, he just needed to draw them. Between Leafcrown Dryad, Nessian Asp, Graverobber Spider, and a handful of removal spells, the tools were certainly there. In the second game, Lalague was able to come out of the gates as the aggressor, using a Voyaging Satyr to power out a third-turn Nylea's Emissary. This was the perfect spot for him to drop his Leafcrown Dryad, giving him both a 5/5 attacker, as well as a potentially powerful blocker against Leon's fliers should things turn rough.

Leon did manage to get a Nimbus Naiad into play, but the 5/5 trampling Emissary, and the 5/5 Nemesis of Mortals that soon joined it, proved far too strong for Leon to handle.

Gilbert Leon

The final game of the match started out much slower than the previous ones. Leon's opening salvo was surprisingly a bunch of small ground creatures, including a Baleful Eidolon, Omenspeaker, and Servant of Tymaret. These cards were actually quite good against Lalague's larger green deck. However Lalague's start was fairly non-standard as well, opening with a couple of smaller green creatures and a Karametra's Acolyte.

After a bunch of uninteresting turns of building, things finally started cooking. Lalague used his Karametra's Acolyte top power out both a Nemesis of Mortals and a Nessian Asp in the same turn. Leon followed this with a Siren of the Fanged Coast, which Lalague opted to turn into a 4/4 flier. Thanks to the large flier and the Baleful Eidolon on Leon's side, the game had escalated to a slightly larger standoff, one that Lalague was eager to break.

On his turn, he began going through the motions to count his damage before sending his creatures sideways. A bestowed Leafcrown Dryad had turned his Setessan Oathsworn into a 7/7, and it crashed in alongside Nemesis of Mortals. The Eidolon did its job, taking out the Oathsworn. To replace it, Leon made a second copy of the potent deathtouch blocker. This forced Lalague to once again trade off one of his massive creatures with Leon's measly two-drop. Nemesis, Nessian Asp, and a Graverobber Spider all hit the red zone.

With four creatures in the graveyard, even the Spider represented at least six points of potential damage. Leon blocked the Spider and the Asp, allowing Nemesis of Mortals through. Lalague tapped five mana, bestowing a Boon Satyr onto the Nemesis, giving him just enough devotion to make it monstrous as well. All of a sudden, Lalague's attack was lethal. Leon was tapped out, so there was nothing he could do but check out his life total, hoping he might have misread it. Sadly, it wasn't the case, and Lalague's explosive display of power proved good enough to give him the match.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the way the deck performed," Lalague told me after the match. "I went at least 2-1, like I thought I should. I only had a couple of ways I could have won the match that I lost, but it's too tough to tell how it would have gone had I played differently. I did end up making a few changes, however. I ended up siding out a land for the Satyr Wayfinder every game, and I brought in the Prized Quarry most of the games, too, though I never got to cast it."

Here's the list Lalague ultimately went with:

Grand Prix Mexico City 2014 - Marc Lalague Draft #1

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