Hailing from Maracanaú, which is a 2,000 mile flight away from Sao Paulo, Samuel Emidio finds himself doing very nicely thank you at his first Nationals. The 21 year old won his Nationals Qualifier, so didn't have to rely on the LCQs yesterday. Across the table sits Jonathan Melamed, a man with top 16s at both Grand Prix Tampa, and at Pro Tour Austin 2009, the event won famously by Brian Kibler. Now 25, the man from Brasilia drafted a solid green-white deck, including a potential bomb in Day of Judgment. As Limited Information columnist would say, no Fancy Play Syndrome for him...
Emidio opened with Swamp, opposite Melamed's Forest. It was Melamed who had the first play, a turn two Griffin Rider. Emidio had Benalish Veteran, which looked to tangle with the Griffin, but Melamed was ready with Mighty Leap. He then added Runeclaw Bear. Cemetery Reaper was next for Emidio, and against green-white that was going to be powerful indeed. Melamed added Griffin Sentinel to the battlefield, turning his Griffin Rider into a powerful flyer. Emidio considered it a sufficient threat to cast Brink of Disaster on the Griffin before passing the turn. Then we saw why Melamed valued Stave Off so highly - he gave the Grififn Protection from Black, destroying the Brink of Disaster, before flying across the red zone with his 4/4. A backup Griffin Sentinel was next. With Cemetery Reaper now active, Emidio exiled his Benalish Veteran to generate a 3/3 at end of turn.
Emidio, known as one of those proverbial 'Good Players' in the local community, slowed the pace. He attacked with his 3/3 token from Cemetery Reaper, then cast Bloodrage Vampire with Bloodthirst as a 4/2.
Melamed attacked, trading the Runeclaw Bear for the 4/2 Vampire. Arachnus Web then dealt with Cemetery Reaper. At that point all Emidio's threats had been adequately dealt with, leaving Melamed's army of flyers to take the opener.
Melamed 1 - 0 Emidio
Game two began in similar fashion, Melamed, on the draw, having the first creature into play, a Runeclaw Bear. Timely Reinforcements brought Emidio some soldiers but no life. He attacked into Melamed's freshly-laid Griffin Sentinel, using Mighty Leap to destroy the flyer. Melamed replied with Dungrove Elder, a powerful creature to put it mildly, with the potential to get out of hand in the long game.
Rare met Rare when Emidio had Cemetery Reaper, but Melamed was ready with Arachnus Web, as in game one. After Emidio's soldiers attacked, he was able to land double Bloodrage Vampire, both with Bloodthirst. Melamed bolstered his defences with Arbalest Elite. One Bloodrage Vampire got traded for Runeclaw Bear, but with Emidio replacing his lost creature with Benalish Veteran, Melamed was on the back foot, although that Arbalest Elite could make things awkward for Emidio.
Stampeding Rhino helped Melamed's position further, before Emidio cast Drifting Shade. Now we were into attrition mode. Melamed had two cards, Emidio just one. When Stampeding Rhino attacked, Emidio blocked with Bloodrage Vampire, allowing Melamed to shoot it with Arbalest Elite. Pacifism for the Drifting Shade, and Griffin Rider, currently just a 1/1, completed the turn for Melamed.
Emidio had nothing going on. Melamed piled in with Dungrove Elder and Stampeding Rhino, dropping Emidio to six, who had Alabaster Mage to bolster his position when Benalish Veteran attacked with the Alabaster bonus ability to gain life.
Now the scores were six life apiece. Emidio passed, still holding the same one card he'd been toying with for multiple turns. Melamed sent his Dungrove Elder and Stampeding Rhino into battle once more. Benalish Veteran got in the way of the Elder, while the Rhino dropped Emidio still deeper into trouble. Arbalest Elite was active once more for Melamed, complicating things still further.
Melamed had Plummet...
Jonathan Melamed 2 - 0 Samuel Emidio