Round 9 begins with a look at our lone undefeated team in the tournament: Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, and Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez. You can see the Sealed Deck pool they used to build their winning decks here.
Both Berthoud and Cortez are relatively local to this GP, coming from Taubaté, which lies about 120 km outside of São Paulo. They, like their teammate Perez, are older Magic players that are returning to the game after a bit of an absence. Both Berthoud and Cortez were qualified for the season of Pro Tours and Worlds back in 2009, but university commitments and anew job hampered their ability to compete. Returning to the game in April, they have joined forces with Perez, whom they are familiar with through years of Brazilian National Championships, and have stormed this tournament to open on a perfect record. It couldn't come at a better time, either. Due to inactivity, Berthoud doesn't have the Planeswalker Points needed to qualify for the World Magic Cup qualifiers that begin next month. With 24 Planeswalker Points for each victory here at the Grand Prix, he has already more than halfway closed the gap!
Standing in their way are the trio of Rodrigo Santos, Edson Junior, and Vinícius Marcelo. Santos, Junior, and Marcelo had an incredibly strong Day 1, picking up their only loss in Round 6, ending the day in third place.
Yesterday, Berthoud took an aggressive Black/Red deck to battle, but his deck today is the polar opposite: grinding Black/Blue control. Complete with tons of deathtouch, regeneration, and large toughness, his deck is a terror for Green decks, and it has Oracle's Insight and other good control cards to win the long mirrors. He will be facing off against Santos's Green/White constellation deck. An unusual archetype, his deck has multiple copies of Harvestguard Alseids, Oakheart Dryads, and plenty of enchantments to trigger them. To top things off, he has Nessian Wilds Ravager to dominate the board come the late game. His deck is very powerful but faces an uphill battle against Berthoud's deck which seems tailor-made to defeat it.
Near to far: the undefeated Perez, Cortez, and Berthoud on the left; Marcelo, Junior, and Santos on the right.
In the middle, Cortez stayed true to his Red/White heroic roots, today playing a deck that tops out at Forgestoker Dragon. He will be facing down Junior and his Blue/Black control deck that looks vaguely like Berthoud's, but with more fliers.
Last, Perez has stuck by what got him through Day 1: Blue/Green. His deck is heavy on the three-powered creatures, hitting as early as Swordwise Centaur and as late as Prognostic Sphinx. He will have his work cut out for him against Marcelo's very aggressive Red/Black Minotaur deck featuring Kragma Warcaller, Felhide Spiritbinder, and a plethora of burn.
Lucas Esper Berthoud (Black/Blue) vs. Rodrigo Santos (Green/White)
As expected, Santos's Green beaters were very poorly matched against Berthoud's deathtouch (Baleful Eidolon) and regeneration (Servant of Tymaret). Santos had an out in his hand, but he couldn't find a second White source for his Supply-Line Cranes. With neither player having any good opportunities to attack, the game eventually stalled, stretching things to the point that Berthoud was able to cast Tromokratis. Acting as a virtual Plague Wind, Tromokratis traded for almost all of Santos's board. While Berthoud's big clock was now dead, an Oracle's Insight on a Servant of Tymaret became an even more noxious one, slowly draining Santos's life away, while keeping Berthoud flush with cards. When Santos finally drew a second Plains for his Cranes and gave it an Ordeal of Heliod, Berthoud sealed the deal with a Griptide to send the flier back to the top of the deck, giving his small platoon of one-powered creatures the space they needed to finish the game.
Santos desperately waits for a second Plains to get into the game.
Just like in the first game, neither player could really get an offensive foothold in the second game. Archetype of Courage made combat a living nightmare for Berthoud, but the large toughnesses and regenerators on his side made favorable attacks an impossibility for the time being. Both players simply continued to build their boards while Berthoud chipped away with Grim Guardian and Servant of Tymaret.
At one point, there were almost two dozen creatures on the table, including a 12/12 Nessian Wilds Ravager and a 5/5 Nessian Courser with Raised by Wolves on it, yet Santos didn't attack. The stall was eventually broken by Berthoud, who already had a 4/5 Gray Merchant of Asphodel with a Nyxborn Eidolon on it. He further enhanced it with a Herald of Torment, giving him a seven-powered attacker, quickly reducing Santos to 2. With two Grim Guardians in play, Berthoud was one enchantment away from winning the game outright. He bestowed a Leafcrown Dryad on his monstrous Ravenous Leucrocota before going for the attack, trying to hastily end the game. Berthoud still had one trick up his sleeve, though, as a Sudden Storm tapped down the Leucrocota and the largest of Santos's attackers, allowing him to easily survive the attack and have a free alley to attack for the win on the following turn.
There were more cards in play than were in either player's library at this point...
Paulo Ricardo Cortez (White/Red) vs. Edson Junior (Blue/Black)
As long and drawn out as the neighboring match was, this match was a fairly big disappointment. Cortez stalled on two lands, beating down with an Akroan Skyguard, but unable to cast anything else, not even a way to trigger heroic. Junior's Black/Blue control was somehow the aggressive deck with Keepsake Gorgon and Wavecrash Triton beating down. After spending far too long without a third land, Cortez was forced to concede only five minutes into the match.
Edson Junior just absolutely steamrolled a helpless Walter Cortez.
The second game was a problem in the opposite fashion. This time, Cortez had the lands but didn't have the threats, as his very slow draw failed to apply any pressure on Junior. The one big chance that Cortez had was a Forgestoker Dragon, but Nullify put a stop to any hopes of stealing a game and sending this match to three games. This loss evened the round at one match apiece.
Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez (Blue/Green) vs. ViníciusMarcelo (Black/Red)
In the deciding match of the round, things came down to the wire. Early aggression with Tormented Hero and Kragma Butcher with an Everflame Eidolon put Marcelo well ahead in the first game. Perez got some defense running with a bunch of three-toughness creatures, including Nessian Courser, Pheres-Band Tromper, and Nyxborn Triton, but he had already taken an immense amount of damage. With the ground now blocked, Marcelo took to the skies with Master of the Feast. Perez tried his best to deal with the massive flier, but he was forced to blow a Retraction Helix and chump with Prognostic Sphinx just to buy more turns. Eventually, he ran out of answers and fell to the giant Demon.
Marcelo's second draw was even more aggressive than his first: Tormented Hero into Sigiled Skink into Master of the Feast. Perez was able to skillfully trade away his creatures as the Master slowly feasted on his life total. Dropped to 5, Perez found a Fade into Antiquity to remove the Master the turn before it was lethal. Following that up with Prognostic Sphinx gave Perez the ability to start crafting his draws, something that highly favors the generally late game-oriented Blue/Green deck. He started shipping all of his lands and drawing nothing but his best spells. This allowed him to set up an impregnable defense, all while attacking for the win through the air. It was an impressive turnaround that was certainly bolstered by the extra cards he had drawn off of the Master.
The Prognostic Sphinx says... outlook good.
Game 3 started out much slower for Marcelo. This gave Perez time to begin casting his 3/3s to take over the board. Marcelo threw a wrench into the works with a Felhide Spiritbinder, but Perez used a Satyr Grovedancer to make his Pheres-Band Tromper big enough to attack safely, turning it into a potential snowballing threat. Time to Feed took out the Kragma Warcaller that Marcelo was hoping to use to combo with his Spiritbinder, essentially winning the game on the spot for Perez. Perez was able to attack with his team and drop Marcelo to 2. Marcelo needed to try and win the game on this turn, with Perez tapped out. He used the Spiritbinder to copy the Tromper, giving him six power of attackers. He also had Rouse the Mob, which could account for four more. With Perez at 14, Marcelo had neither the mana nor the method to deal the final points of damage, offering a vigorous shake of the hand to the victorious Perez.
Berthoud/Cortez/Perez defeat Santos/Junior/Marcelo 2-1 to remain undefeated.