The equality of Magic - one global powerhouse, one yet to make his mark outside Brazil. Both at 2-0, and both deserving their place at the feature match table for the last of three Standard rounds here on day one. While Joao Souza may go on to be known in every corner of the Magic world, he'll have a hard time competing with the stellar career of da Rosa, capped by his Pro Tour title in 2010.
The Pro Tour Champion began the match with Halimar Depths opposite a turn one Goblin Guide attacking for two from Souza. Misty Rainforest turned into an Island for da Rosa, who used one of his two blue mana to cast Preordain before passing the turn. The Goblin Guide hit once more, followed by Stormblood Berserker as a 3/3 from Souza. Da Rosa cast Twisted Image to cycle deeper into his deck.
Following a Ponder, da Rosa found himself with lots of cards, but under pressure. He laid a second Halimar Depths, sitting at 15 life and facing five damage already on the table. In came the Stormblood Berserker and Goblin Guide, with Souza adding to the board with Grim Lavamancer, still with two mana open. Da Rosa dropped to nine when he cracked Scalding Tarn for a Mountain, and he was back into digging mode, using Preordain to search further. He was rapidly running out of time, casting Grim Lavamancer as presumably little more than a chump blocker (although he had plenty of ammunition in his graveyard.)
Souza untapped, now with five cards in hand. He cast Chandra's Phoenix, which da Rosa acknowledged with a thumbs up, and sent his team piling into the red zone, including his Grim Lavamancer. Da Rosa was facing eight damage if he didn't block, which would leave him at just one, with Souza still having cards in hand. That was still his decision, taking all eight, leaving his own Grim Lavamancer ready to go live. With only one red source, however, he was going to have to do something positively heroic to pull out of this particular nosedive.
He laid a second Mountain, and passed the turn. That didn't feel like something positively heroic.
Souza announced his intention to attack. Da Rosa cast Deceiver Exarch, tapping down the Stormblood Berserker. Now he had two blockers for three possible attackers, and the means to shoot one with his Lavamancer. It still wasn't enough. From the get-go, he had been playing catchup, and the mono-red player hadn't given him time to breathe.
da Rosa 0 - 1 Souza
While many of us know all about da Rosa, Souza has also played on the Pro Tour. Playing since 1995, this is his third Nationals, and he's looking to improve on his best of top 32. For Paulo, his sights are set on things like 'Player of the Year'...
Da Rosa opened on Preordain, but it was Souza's opening turn that was going to be more relevant. Goblin Guide? No, Teetering Peaks, which is about as poor an opening as da Rosa could have hoped to see from his opponent. Da Rosa followed up his Preordain with a turn two Ponder, while Souza had Torpor Orb out of his sideboard.
Already, this was a vastly different type of game to the opener. It was cagey, wary, controlling on both sides. Souza went for Goblin Guide, and found Mental Misstep waiting from da Rosa. Stormblood Berserker was next, but with the Goblin Guide countered and therefore not attacking, the Berserker arrived as a humble 1/1. 1/1s still deal damage, though, and Souza began the long climb towards 20 by hitting da Rosa for one, adding a bloodthirsty Stormblood Berserker as a 3/3. At end of turn, da Rosa flashed out Deceiver Exarch, before beginning his own turn with Halimar Depths. That Torpor Orb was still an issue, however. In came the Souza Stormblood Berserkers, dropping da Rosa to 14. Down came Stormblood Berserker number three, and Torpor Orb number two. Now da Rosa's combo really wouldn't work. He contented himself with Spellskite, and passed back to Souza.
Chandra's Phoenix entered the scene, and once again da Rosa was under the gun. Chandra's Phoenix, two 3/3 Stormblood Berserkers, and a 1/1 Berserker turned sideways. Spellskite and Deceiver Exarch double blocked a 3/3, with Mutagenic Growth turning the tide in da Rosa's favor. He was still up against it, needing to first stabilize, then dispose of multiple Torpor Orbs, all before Souza could clinch the match with a flurry of damage. Splinter Twin completed the combo for da Rosa, but to no immediate avail.
Souza cast Goblin Guide, and attacked with everything. Not even close.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0 - 2 Joao Souza