This is it. The 11th hour. One match. The winner makes Top 8. The loser goes home.
In the role of David: Jesus Enriquez Mayoral, battling for his first Grand Prix Top 8.
As Goliath: Eduardo dos Santos Vieira of Brazil. Already a Grand Prix Champion.
The players had missed their call to the Feature Match area, and by the time I’d found them Vieira had already mulliganed to six. He joking accused me of cursing him, saying “TWO losing Feature Matches?!” Things got worse for him as he had to go down to five.
Enriquez was slow to develop, with just a face-up Kin-Tree Warden before Salt Road Patrol on turn four. That gave Vieira time to hit his third land and get a morph in. Enriquez hit for two and added Lotus-Eye Mystics to the board. Vieira brought out Mardu Scout, and when Enriquez sent only his Salt-Road Patrol, decided to risk the double block. It succeeded, and he lost his face-down Icefeather Aven.
Enriquez continued to pile on with a face-up Sagu Archer. Vieira found a fourth land and got out Summit Prowler, but Enriquez was ready with Rite of the Serpent. Things continued to go downhill when Necropolis Fiend showed up. Vieira tried to race with Sagu Mauler, but he was behind. Enriquez put a seal on things with Kheru Bloodsucker.
Enriquez 1 – Vieira 0
Game two started off slowly, with tapped lands on both sides, and no play until Vieira’s Gore Swine on turn three. Enriquez passed with three mana open including white. Vieira considered whether or not to play around Kill Shot. He decided to hold back and played Frontier Bivouac. Enriquez passed again on four mana, and still Vieira held back. He summoned Goblin Heelcutter. Enriquez dispatched it with Abzan Charm.
Finally Enriquez was ready to commit to the board, tapping three for a morph. Vieira had Master the Way on his turn and finally got in for four with the Swine. Enriquez tried again, this time with a face-up Pine Walker. Vieira calmly untapped and played a face-up morph of his own: Sagu Mauler. The onlookers could only sigh. Enriquez played a sixth land and another morph.
Vieira crashed in with his Mauler. Enriquez checked his cards in hand and refused to risk a double-block. He went down to eleven. Vieira brought out Burning Efreet and passed. Enriquez continued to complicate things by summoning Anafenza, the Foremost and passing with four mana open. Vieira swung out with all his creatures.
Enriquez blew up Gore Swine with Kill Shot, then took a moment to consider his options. After some calculations and double-checks, he pushed all three of his creatures in front of the Mauler.
It did not go well.
Vieira ordered them Anafenza, Pine Walker, and morph. He tapped two for Temur Battle Rage, then four more for Bring Low on Ananfenza. The Mauler’s first strike left only the morph behind, and normal damage finished the job. Enriquez drew his next card, and conceded.
Enriquez 1 – Vieira 1
Enriquez led off with a morph. Vieira played Gore Swine. Enriquez added a second morph, and after Goblin Heelcutter came down, flipped up one to reveal Kin-Tree Warden. He untapped, then swung in with the other. Vieira declined to block. Enriquez tapped out to flip up Pinewalker, dealing five.
Vieira’s rejoinder was painful. Master the Way took out the Pine Walker and allowed him to get in for seven. Enriquez passed his turn and got rid of the Heelcutter before combat with Abzan Charm. Vieira held back to protect his Swine from the Warden, and played out Summit Prowler. Enriquez had Rite of the Serpent for that, but his defenses were down.
Vieira made the most of it. Four mana gave him Savage Knuckleblade with haste. His turned both creatures sideways. The Kin-Tree Warden stepped in front of the Swine, but it was not prepared for Temur Battle Rage. Truly, the Swine had earned its name.
Eduardo dos Santos Vieira defeats Jesus Enriquez Mayoral 2-1
It was a tough loss for Enriquez, but he showed class in defeat, wishing Vieira good luck in the Top 8. Vieira thanked him sincerely and exited the feature match to be mobbed by his cheering section.