Quarterfinals - Judah Alt vs. Ian Robertsonby Josh Bennett
Judah Alt wound up in the powerful Red-White combination, but his deck splits its focus between the early and late games. Ian Robertson has a ponderous Green-Black deck with plenty of combat tricks and some powerful cards.
Game one was an arduous affair. After some early trades, including a two-for-one off Lightning Volley, Alt was moving ahead with a Hopeful Eidolon enchanted with Observant Alseid and Dragon Mantle. Robertson was stuck on four land with just Forlorn Pseudamma and Baleful Eidolon. He took another hit from the big Hopeful Eidolon, trying to peel his fifth land. Alt summoned Evangel of Heliod and got four tokens. Robertson missed on land and tapped out for Pheres-Band Tromper.
Alt was getting eager. He saw weakness and turned all his creatures sideways. Robertson no longer had the luxury of playing around shenanigans. He put the Baleful Eidolon in front of the Hopeful, and ate a token with his Tromper, falling to eight. Alt added Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass.
Finally the dam broke, and Robertson hit his land. Alt was running out of cards and Robertson had a grip of answers. Soon the board was tipping the other way with Robertson swinging and Alt on dwindling token resources. He was empty-handed and would soon be taking big damage. His deck took pity on him and served up a nice one: Heliod, God of the Sun.
Now he had time. His eight land meant two 2/1 blockers per turn. Robertson was sent back to the drawing board to amass an army big enough to break through. He started to do it, too, with Keepsake Hydra enchanted with Nighthowler, Nessian Demolok, Servant of Tymaret and Pharika's Mender.
However, Alt had played it cagey. As soon as the board was juicy enough he turned over the one card he'd kept while Heliod did his work: Fated Retribution. Robertson all but slumped in his chair. Now he had no way to bust through and Alt was about to hit twelve land. Also he had fewer than ten cards left in his library. Rather than draw out the inevitable, he packed and shuffled up for game two.
Alt 1 - Robertson 0
Fans at the rail who took a break after the marathon first game (during which fully two of the other quarterfinals finished) wound up missing the second entirely. Alt wound up playing a one-land hand and didn't find a second before Robertson had out Nyxborn Wolf and Pheres-Band Tromper.
He made a go of it, cycling a Dragon Mantle on the Wolf and hit three land before a lethal attack could be made. He tried Bolt of Keranos on the tapped Tromper but Robertson showed him Feral Invocation and they were on to game three.
Alt 1 - Robertson 1
Alt's anticlimax continued into the decisive third game. Stuck with a clunky draw and only three lands, he was under pressure from Pheres-Band Tromper and soon it would grow out of reach. He gamely double-blocked, and Robertson showed him Savage Surge. Without mana to make any big plays, he couldn't match up against Robertson's larger creatures, and soon was extending the hand in defeat.
Ian Robertson defeats Judah Alt 2-1
Quarterfinals - Gerard Fabiano vs. Benjamin Gomesby Adam Styborski
Gerard Fabiano most recently graced the Grand Prix Top 8 stage last year at Charlotte. The then-record breaking event demonstrated that skill is not something always lost to time, as Fabiano's history stretches over a decade into the past. What sets Fabiano apart from most high-caliber players is his "unorthodox" table manner. Talkative, friendly, and gregarious to the crowd and camera means you rarely forget his presence at an event.
Never heard of Benjamin Gomes? You might want to remember his name. While he may not carry the history and renown of his opponent, Gomes has found great success in his short career. "My first Grand Prix was Oakland last year," Gomes said. "I finished twenty-third after going 0-2 in the last two rounds, then finished seventeenth at Grand Prix Sacramento. For this weekend, I had byes from Planeswalker Points from the previous GPs."
Of course, proof is in the pudding and Gomes would have his work cut out for him against the affable Fabiano.
Fabiano came out swinging with Labyrinth Champion, which he quickly put a Chosen by Heliod onto in an attempt to clear away Gomes's Agent of Horizons. Fabiano used Fall of the Hammer to ensure the job was done when Gomes tried Crypsis to save it.
Nylea's Disciple and Bident of Thassa let Gomes draw a couple cards, but he was down to 8 life on Fabiano's next next attack. Heliod's Emissary tried to clear the way for Fabiano, but Gomes had a second Crypsis to finally block the Champion away.
But it that became the last of Gomes concerns. Fabiano played two Celestial Archons, only one of which met a Fade into Antiquity. Nimbus Naaid was Gomes's last line of defense, but Fabiano used Excoriate to remove it and push through the last 5 damage needed.
"Where are you from?" Fabiano asked.
"California," Gomes said.
"Oh dude, awesome," Fabiano's head bobbed.
"How about you?"
"Jersey." Fabiano's charm pulled Gomes in to a conversation that wandered from places they know to stores they play in. Fabiano was impressed Gomes played so much at his local store. The veteran player was giving encouragement to his opponent before trying to finish defeating him.
The second game was just as fast. Arena Athlete with Ordeal of Heliod, then Chosen of Heliod, let Gerard come screaming out of the gates and kept Gomes's early Nessian Centaur from blocking. Even worse, a potent Fated Intervention was stranded in hand. As soon as Gomes hit his sixth mana, Vulpine Goliath came in to block.
"What's your life?" Fabiano asked
Divine Verdict dealt with the Fox from Gomes who was still facing a lethal attack. However, on the next turn Gomes made a mistake and played Island before casting Stratus Walk. The Forest he needed to cast Fated Intervention was the drawn card. He played the Forest and passed the turn before it was realized he played two lands. After a quick review, the game was backed up and Gomes, seeing he writing on the wall, conceded.
"If you ever want to chat about decks or stuff just send me message on Facebook," Fabiano offered, quick to move right back to the friendly banter he's known for. Gomes smiled, happy to oblige.
Gerard Fabiano defeats Benjamin Gomes, 2-0
Quarterfinals – Dave Shiels vs. Brock Parkerby Adam Styborski
Brock Parker's return to the Magic spotlight was something the vocal crowd of pro players at home approved. With his team Pro Tour-winning teammate
For the first game Shiels used his aggressive, evasive creatures to try and overwhelm the defenses Parker could set. But Parker's ability to drain and remove kept him in the game that continued longer than the entire Fabiano-Gomes quarterfinal match for Shiels finally won.
"That was a sweet game of Magic!" Shiels exclaimed. "I've never had a game where I kept a hand with double Gods Willing take that long."
Dave Shiels defeated Brock Parker, 2-0
Quarterfinals - Daniel Fournier vs. Morgan Changby Josh Bennett
Morgan Chang is playing a Green-Blue deck packed with mana-ramp and haymakers. Daniel Fournier has a textbook Blue-Black control built around amassing card advantage and grinding the opponent out.
Despite the stakes, both players were relaxed and in good spirits. Fournier had to mulligan to six, and then to five, but still refused to be perturbed. Spectators could be forgiven for assuming that this one was over before it began, but if they did, they were mistaken. Even when Chang dropped Kiora, the Crashing Wave against Fournier's board of four lands, the game was far from over.
"So we're just playing mono-rares, right?"
An Oracle's Insight for the Omenspeaker looked like it would help Fournier's cause, but Chang had Eternity Snare. Fournier needed another rip but missed. Finally it seemed like that hammer would come down, and in spectacular fashion: Chang tapped all his lands and summoned the mighty Colossus of Akros. He was visibly shocked when Fournier tapped four and put Gild on the table.
"I thoguht we agreed we were playing mono-rares."
Unfortunately that was the last of Fournier's fireworks. Chang played out some more pedestrian threats in Vulpine Goliath and Snake of the Golden Grove and they were up to the task of bringing Fournier to zero.
Chang 1 - Fournier 0
Chang's deck hit the ground running in the second game, with a crucial turn-two Voyaging Satyr powering out Pheres-Band Tromper. Fournier was trying to hold the ground with Returned Phalanx and Aerie Worshippers, but Voyage's End let the Tromper attack safely, meaning it would grow to an unwieldy 4/4. The bad news kept coming for Fournier. Chang Nullified his attempt at an Omenspeaker, and after Returned Phalanx came back, suited up his Tromper with Thassa's Emissary, swinging in for seven damage and a card.
Fournier was tenacious. He brought out Wavecrash Triton and threw his Phalanx in the way of the big Tromper. Chang could only add Sedge Scorpion, giving Fournier a window to gain some ground. He did exactly that, with Oracle's Insight on the Wavecrash, giving him a steady stream of cards and locking the deadly attacker for a turn.
Chang's deck gave him Fated Infatuation off the top to make a second Tromper. Still only the Scorpion and the big Tromper could get in, and the Insight was letting Fournier churn through his deck and making his chump blocks less of an issue. He also had his splashed Scholar of Athreos, meaning his excess mana could help buoy his life total. Thassa's Bounty gave Chang a burst of cards and milled Fournier's Gild, causing him to excitedly shout "Colossus is live!"
Of course, he still needed to draw it, and the Bounty had only given him a second Scorpion as an attacker. Hero's Downfall took care of the mighty Tromper and suddenly Chang was only doing two a turn, while Fournier could Scholar for three. Chang's life total was still in the teens, however, and now his deck was serving up nothing but blanks while Fournier sat behind his wall of blockers. Fournier almost couldn't believe it when he successfully drained the last of Chang's life.
Chang 1 - Fournier 1
Chang scored a big victory early in the deciding game, when Fournier tried to summon his Scholar of Athreos early and ran smack dab into Nullify. Chang's draw was a little clunky, however, and couldn't muster pressure. Fournier hid behind Gray Merchant of Asphodel and then gave it Oracle's Insight, beginning the process of finding what he called the few of his cards that did things.
Chang played his seventh land and showed that he wasn't entirely without offense. He summoned Kraken of the Straits. With Hero's Downfall already in the grave it looked like it could go all the way. Fournier would need to get lucky with his draws. Chang ripped Time to Feed, and inexplicably chose to kill the Returned Phalanx. That gave Fournier extra draws, and combined with Bident of Thassa he quickly worked all the way through his deck to get the Gild that was his only remaining solution to the mighty Kraken. Bident also meant that Chang couldn't amass small threats, they were constantly forced to run into Fournier's barricade of blockers.
Fournier's library had dwindled considerably, but thankfully for him Bident's draw is entirely optional. Chang politely asked him to reconsider drawing four of the last six or seven cards in his library, but Fournier insisted on standing pat. Victory followed shortly after.
Daniel Fournier defeats Morgan Chang 2-1
Semifinals – Gerard Fabiano vs. Ian Robertsonby Adam Styborski
Without missing a beat, Gerard Fabiano continued his friendly banter from the previous Top 8 match.
"Want some?" he asked, waving his cologne about toward Ian Robertson.
Robertson was a regular around his local Pro Tour Qualifier circuit, and he seemed in good spirits for his for grand Prix Top 8 appearance. "No, no. I don't need a disinfectant," Robertson joked back with a smile.
If nothing else, Fabiano can always take the edge off a match and make Magic feel fun.
As in the quarterfinal games before Arena Athlete and Elite Skirmisher led another quick start for Fabiano, who had removal for the first creature Robertson played on turn four. Robertson's lack of early blockers was a serious problem: Blink and you would have missed the Game 1 win from the New Jersey native.
The second game was similar to the first: Fabiano playing out his hand of creatures – Cavalry Pegasus, Elite Skirmisher, Heliod's Emissary, and Areno Athlete – aggressively, Robertson missing crucial blockers. And again, Fabiano drove home to victory with removal when Robertson's creatures appeared too late.
Born of the Gods Draft is much faster than its Sealed counterpart.
"Good game," Robertson offered with a handshake before he quickly moved on. Fabiano didn't have time to chat with his opponent afterwards for this match.
Gerard Fabiano defeated Ian Robertson, 2-0
Semifinals - Dave Shiels vs. Daniel Fournierby Adam Styborski
When both decks have tricks in Born of the Gods Draft, who wins? It's a question Dave Shiels and Daniel Fournier looked to settle. Fournier was still undefeated on the day, double drawing into the Top 8 and winning his quarterfinal match, but Shiels was hungry for more. He had wanted to start the match earlier but the other quarterfinal matches were still catching up.
In the first game, Shiels moved to be the speedy attack deck again, but Vortex Elemental from Fournier slowed him to a halt. Two copies of Ordeal of Heliod with a Battlewise Hoplite is challenging for all but exactly the right cards, and Fournier looked to be keeping the aggressive deck in check. Eventually, the battlefield was dominated by Shiels's oversized Coastline Chimera that punched through with Gods Willing.
Building the biggest creature is a way many Born of the Gods Limited games end.
Shiels didn't miss a beat. "That's what I did to Brock," he said, referring to his quarterfinal opponent. "Fourteen lands and six spells beats fourteen lands and five. I mean, I'm playing twenty-five lands."
There was a chuckle all around the table.
The second game looked slower for Shiels, and it was Fournier that had an evasive attacker to start in Siren of the Silent Song. Ordeal of Heliod changed the race in Shiels favor, but he was discarding cards to Fournier's inspired trigger. Akroan Skyguard was deflected with Triton Tactics – causing another of Shiels's cards to fall from hand – but Gods Willing saved the Lagonna-Band Elder from Hero's Downfall. Going back up to 22 life from Ordeal of Heliod meant Shiels could take significantly more damage than Fournier, even after the letter stole some with Gray Merchant of Asphodel.
With his second Gods Willing already in hand, Shiels put Fournier down to 6 life – the exact amount a Lagaonna-Band Elder with three +1/+1 counters on it could hit for. However, Aerie Worshipers left Fournier with two different colors of blocker. It took another turn, but Shiels's patience paid off when Fournier tapped down to just double black.
Fournier had run out of removal for the Elder, but pulled two extra life with Pharika's Cure. Hopeful Eidolon before combat meant the lifetotals shifted to Shiels, 22, and Fournier, 1. Afterwards, Fournier's battlefield was full of blockers and attackers thanks to Aerie Worshippers and inspired trigers.
Shipwreck Singer made Vortex Elemental and Lagonna-Band Elder finally meet, "messing up all those cards I scryed," as Fournier put it but Shiels seemed nonplussed: Setessan Griffin and Acolyte's Reward let Shiels redirect the last point of damage.
"I'm sure I misplayed that board," Fournier admitted, "but I'm not sure I could beat that hand anyway."
Fournier's hand extended, closing another Grand Prix Montreal semifinal match.
Dave Shiels defeated Daniel Fournier, 2-0
Finals - Gerard Fabiano vs. Dave Shielsby Adam Styborski
As two players with a long history in the game, Dave Shiels and Gerard Fabiano were well acquainted with one another. The banter started immediately. "We call the second place one 'three-dimensional plaques'," Shiels said, calling back to the older awards for Grand Prix finalist awards.
"Yeah, when I went to the finals at Charlotte," Fabiano said, looking back to his Top 8 about a year earlier, "I saw the silver one and said 'I want it!' I didn't know it was second place."
Laughter was on both sides, and mirth continued throughout the match.
Akroan Crusader with Chosen of Heliod was a typical quick start from Fabiano. "I know you got something. I fall for it all the time," Fabiano said as he attacked. Akroan Skyguard with Acolyte's Reward took out the tough token-making Crusader for Shiels.
"Okay, that wasn't so tough. I'm not even sure if I messed that turn up," Fabiano said as he passed back.
Coastline Chimera looked to be a solid blocker, but Fabiano's first Celestial Archon appeared. Shiels's Chorus of the Tides joined the aerial party, all the while he kept Gods Willing at the ready. Each player continued to play creatures into the stalemate until Fabiano moved in with Coordinated Assault and Chosen of Heliod, using Elite Skirmisher to clear the way.
But Shiels's Gods Willing was waiting and kept a protection from white, and now 4/4, Akroan Skyguard at the ready. After checking potential blockers, Fabiano was left with one card in hand and passed back without attacking.
Bestowing Hopeful Eidolon on Akroan Skyguard let Shiels begin his own attack rising o 18 life and putting Fabiano on the defense. Divine Verdict was Fabiano's answer. Afterwards, the battlefield continued two crowd with ever more creatures and tokens.
This was the first time in the Top 8 Fabiano's furious beat down was slowed to a crawl.
Fabiano attacked with his fliers, and used Battlewise Valor to win combat when Shiels blocked with his. Now Fabiano had the advantage with Cavalry Pegasus as even his Archetype of Aggression was a Human. With an all-in attack Shiels showed his hand full of basic lands.
"Want me to tell you something you did wrong?" Fabiano asked Shiels as they shuffled up between games.
"Well," Fabiano started before pausing and reconsidering, "actually you didn't make a mistake."
"There were a lot of judgment calls," Shiels offered. The two jumped into debating the nuance of how certain attacks or blocks earlier could have shifted the stalemated game, but they ultimately agreed the Ordeal of Heliod and lost life didn't really matter.
The second game flipped the usual early game state for Fabiano in this Top 8: Shiels came out quickly, putting the veteran down to 10 with Heliod's Emissary on defense. Shiels's Battlewise Hoplite created a rules conundrum as Mortal's Ardor was responded to by Fabiano's Fall of the Hammer, to which Shiels played Gods Willing.
It took a few minutes to confirm that protection from red would do what Shiels wanted it to do: Stop damage from Heliod's Emissary cutting down Battlewise Hoplite. Shiels built Battlewise Hoplite up to 5/5 with Ordeal of Heliod on the next turn, and Shiels used Oreskos Sun Guide to force Fabiano into using Divine Verdict. Playing it carefully left Shiels free to even the match up.
The third game returned to Fabiano's speedy delivery, using Akroan Crusader and Fall of the Hammer to knock Shiels's Deepwater Hypnotist away. Shiels fell to 15 and failed to find a third land as Fabiano played his first Celestial Archon. The second Archon that came down from Fabiano after attacking made Shiels's sixth turn Island for three mana seem even smaller.
Fabiano's twin Celestial Archons were tough in most positions. Two lands left Shields with hardly any options at all.