This would be the first round that Tulio Jaudy, Guilherme Merjan, and Carlos dos Santos Esteves were the reigning Kings of the Hill. They had just come off of dethroning Hervas, Gaston, and Piratelli just one round ago, and they looked sharp. Jaudy had a great breakout event at Grand Prix Buenos Aires 2008 with an 18th place finish, even going on to secure himself a spot at Worlds in 2010. He most recently won a PTQ for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx but was unable to attend the Pro Tour. His teammates are two other very good Brazilian players who were actually pointed out by Willy Edel as players that I should keep my eye on. Facing them down this round are Nicolau Maldonado, Leonardo de Castro, and Henrique Bejgel.
Esteves/Merjan/Jaudy on the left, Bejgel/de Castro/Maldonado on the right.
Jaudy came in playing the underappreciated combination of Red/White. The deck combines a number of early heroic creatures with the game-ending power of Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Stormbreath Dragon. Merjan had another very underappreciated archetype: Black/White. With most of the aggressive cards making their way into Jaudy's deck, Merjan was actually playing a Black/White control deck with Scholar of Athreos and Triad of Fates. Rounding the team out was Esteves's very standard Blue/Green deck.
Facing them down were Maldonado's aggressive Green/White heroic deck that tops out at the powerful Anthousa, Setessan Hero. Next to him was a different kind of Black/White deck. De Castro's Black/White heroic deck took most of the aggressive White cards that Maldonado's mostly-Green deck didn't need and backs them up with the powerful Athreos, God of Passage. Finally, Bejgel's deck was a powerful Blue/Red tempo deck filled with a load of bounce and direct damage, as well as a number of great evasive creatures.
Tulio Jaudy (Red/White) vs. Nicolau Maldonado (Green/White)
The first game of this match was almost over before it began. Jaudy's highly aggressive Red/White deck spat out an early Vanguard of Brimaz, which in turn spat out a few extra attackers thanks to a bestowed Nyxborn Shieldmate and Fall of the Hammer. Maldonado was never able to recover from the heary early assault and fell before his larger creatures could get online.
In the second game, Jaudy's Harvestguard Alseids and Ill-Tempered Cyclops played pretty good defense, biding him time until Stormbreath Dragon could show up. Still, Maldonado had a massive army, with two Golden Hinds, Courser of Kruphix, Oakenheart Dryads, and a massive Quarry Colossus, to name just a fraction of his troops. Somehow, despite facing overwhelming numbers, Jaudy managed to stay at a lofty 18 life.
That all came crashing down when Maldonado cast Anthousa, Setessan Hero. He had played the powerful Green rare in the first game, when it didn't matter, but, in this case, it most certainly did. A Savage Surge on Anthousa allowed Maldonado to attack with thirteen creatures, threatening to win the game in one fell swoop. Jaudy tried to line his blockers up as best as he could, but, after a few minutes of wracking his brain about it, realized it was futile and conceded.
"This certainly did lead to one Savage Surge..."
With the slow and bogged down game out of the way, the players returned to blisteringly fast draws. Maldonado's aggressive start included Swordwise Centaur and Nessian Courser, which would under most normal circumstances be very difficult to overcome. Jaudy, however, didn't even bother to try and defend himself. On the play, he consecutively cast Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Stormbreath Dragon. The duo evened up all of the damage done thus far. When Jaudy added two more creatures on the following turn, he not only had defenders to stop Maldonado's offensive, but put himself actually ahead in life due to the Purphoros triggers. It was all that he needed for a big, angry dragon to finish things off.
Carlos dos Santos Esteves (Blue/Green) vs. Henrique Bejgel (Blue/Red)
Bejgel's removal-filled deck was able to keep Esteves at bay for the early stages of the first game, using Hubris and Bolt of Keranos to keep the board clear. Despite this, Bejgel was never able to advance his own board while Esteves rebuilt. A Whitewater Naiads and a number of enchantments that kept returning to Esteves's hand ensured a steady stream of unblockable damage. The final nail in the coffin was when Esteves used a Retraction Helix to return Bejgel's lone creature, a Vaporkin, in response to his Retraction Helix.
Game 2 was one of two competing types of evasion, as Esteves built a flying army with Chorus of the Tides and Cloaked Siren, while Bejgel had a Whitewater Naiads to keep his army flying under the radar. All of that changed when Bejgel used Hour of Need to turn his two creatures into two 4/4 flying Sphinxes, crushing Esteves's team. It was all over from that point, as the Sphinxes finished Esteves two turns later.
The third game flew by just as rapidly as the previous two. Stuck on three lands against Thassa's Emissary, Esteves had to watch as h was slowly dismantled by Bejgel without much say in the matter. A Griptide to deny a land drop yet again was just the twisting of the dagger as Bejgel pulled inexorably ahead. He was mocked by the fact that Bejgel could use the same amount of mana he had to activate his Aerie Worshippers and still have four more available. Esteves just laughed and made a show of trying to block with a land before conceding the match to even the Round at one match apiece.
Guilherme Merjan (White/Black Control) vs. Leonardo de Castro (White/Black Heroic)
From the get go, Merjan was under assault. Harvestguard Alseids with an Ordeal of Heliod became a massive threat very quickly, threatening to take the game over until a timely Sip of Hemlock brought the monster crashing back down to earth. This gave Merjan all the breathing room he needed to assume control. Sitting on a mere 8 life, he built a board with Triad of Fates, Baleful Eidolon, and Scholar of Athreos. Things got dicey for a minute there when de Castrol resolved Athreos, God of Passage, and a Gray Merchant of Asphodel for four life, but the slow grind of the Scholar got there, activating three times a turn and playing fantastic defense until de Castro was dead.
The slow grind of the first game was replaced with blazing speed in the second. De Castro opened with a Bloodcrazed Hoplite and Elite Skirmishers, quickly assaulting Merjan who had kept a powerful, albeit slow, hand. Well behind by the time that he cast his Ornitharch, Merjan just sighed as the Skirmishers kept it out of the way long enough for de Castro's troops to finish what they had started.
Ornitharch, but the damage was done. Skirmishers kept it out of the picture as the early advantage snowballed into a win.
Merjan and de Castro' dueling Hoplites.
Both players mulliganned for the round-deciding game. They also both opened with Bloodcrazed Hoplite, prompting a long discussion between Merjan and his teammates about whether or not to play Ordeal of Erebos into the heroic-eating Hoplite. In the end, Erebos got his errand runner, and the Hoplite bashed in for four. This allowed de Castro to fight back with an Ordeal of Heliod, eating one of Merjan's counters. This counter trading continued for only one more turn until Merjan played a Baleful Eidolon for defense. Leonin Snarecaster allowed de Castro to get through and eat yet one more counter, though the Hoplite would fall to the Eidolon on the following attack. Cavalry Pegasus gave Merjan a way to attack with impunity, giving him the perfect way to finish things off. With an almost unnecessary Gray Merchant of Asphodel off of the top of his deck, Merjan was able to secure victory, giving his team a 2-1 win to retain the King of the Hill title.
Jaudy/Merjan/dos Santos Esteves defeated Maldonado/ de Castro/Bejgel 2-1