GRAND PRIX DALLAS-FORT WORTH 2013 - QUARTERFINALS ROUND-UP

Posted in NEWS on December 12, 2013

Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion) vs. Haibing Hu (Monoblack Devotion)

Early plays from both players, with Reyes filling his board with Ash Zealot, Boros Reckoner, and Burning-Tree Emissary alongside Domri Rade. Hu, meanwhile, filled his board with an infestation of Rats, adding two Pack Rats and a load of tokens to the table. Reyes managed to slowly drive them away thanks to his first-strike creatures and some timely fights from Domri. Eventually, after whittling away Hu's hand, Reyes cleared the remainders away with an overloaded Mizzium Mortars. They had dealt a massive blow, however, halving Reyes's life total.

From here, Hu went big with his threats, taking to the skies with a pair of Desecration Demons. These Demons were kept at bay initially through some timely sacrifices, but they soon broke through. A Gray Merchant of Asphodel dropped Reyes to four life, clearing the way for one attack from a lone Demon to finish things off.


Haibing Hu

 

Game 2 opened as a game of point-counterpoint, as Reyes played creatures only to have them destroyed by Hu. This trend ended abruptly when Reyes resolved a Xenagos, the Reveler, on his fourth turn, spewing out the first in a string of hasty Satyrs. This stream of creatures proved to be quite a problem for Hu, who was lacking a Hero's Downfall to deal with the Planeswalker. He tried to set up the beginnings of a token army of his own with a Pack Rat, but it didn't even get to activate once before Hu conceded to the hole he was in. Xenagos, three Satyrs, two Boros Reckoners, and an Ash Zealot were a significant upgrade over the lone Rat.


Carlos Becerra Reyes

 

A first-turn Thoughtseize remedied the problem of the third game, stripping a Xenagos, the Reveler, from Reyes's hand. This was an easy way to get rid of Xenagos before he became a problem, and the Planeswalker met his demise while he was nothing more than a glimmer in Reyes's eye. Hu was also able to slow Reyes down with some early removal, including a Doom Blade and Devour Flesh for his first two creatures. Unfortunately for Hu, an early stumble on mana prevented him from taking care of the next two, and Reyes's Boros Reckoner and Stormbreath Dragon did work, dropping Hu to 11. A Hero's Downfall managed to stem the tide slightly, removing the Dragon, but a second Boros Reckoner threatened to end the game in short order. Even a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, though it padded Hu's life total a bit, couldn't play successful defense against the pair of Reckoners. A Purphoros, God of the Forge, on the following turn sealed the deal for Reyes, giving him the match.

Seth Manfield (Azorius Control) vs. Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control)

Gutierrez mentioned in his player profile how good he thought his massive number of discard spells were in this event, and the first game of this match was the perfect indicator of why. A Duress and a pair of Thoughtseizes ravaged Manfield's hand, leaving him with just an Essence Scatter and two Revelations in his hand. Still, when a flurry of discard still leaves a Revelation in hand, the cards lost become moot. Manfield simply used his remaining copies of Revelation to dig through his deck. This eventually found him a Supreme Verdict to clear away the Baron, though it had dealt him quite a bit of damage, dropping him all the way to nine life. A follow-up Desecration Demon was also locked in a Detention Sphere, providing yet a bit more protection for the imperiled Manfield.


Seth Manfield

 

A Sin Collector revealed a three-card hand of two Dissolves and Last Breath, effectively stripping two cards from Manfield in exchange for its life. Gutierrez pressed his advantage, running Manfield out of cards, but a massive Sphinx's Revelation from the top of his deck completely swung the game in his favor. The Jace, Architect of Thought, continued the trend, netting him yet another Revelation. By this point, Gutierrez was drawing off the top of his deck, and Manfield was chock full of cards. One Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and Ætherling later, and Gutierrez conceded.

Though his draw contained less hand destruction than the previous one, Gutierrez was still able to mess with Manfield's hand early in the second game, aiming a Thoughtseize at a hand containing Last breath, Dissolve, Jace, Revelation, and three lands. The permission spell went to the graveyard, signaling that Gutierrez had something important that he wanted to resolve. That something looked to be a Desecration Demon, incredibly powerful against this creatureless Azorius Control deck. The Demon began his work, first removing Jace from play, then starting in at Manfield's life. A second Thoughtseize stripped Manfield of his Sphinx's Revelation, leaving him with a hand filled with lands.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking bad, Manfield ripped a Celestial Flare from the top of his deck, giving him a great answer to the rampaging Demon. Before passing the turn to Gutierrez, Manfield resolved a Jace, Architect of Thought, and drew himself a couple of cards. Unfortunately for him, he revealed another Celestial Flare on the Jace activation, meaning that, whether he took the pile containing it or not, the jig was up. After a minute of thought, Gutierrez gave him a split that offered Celestial Flare and Ætherling, which he gladly took. This was even better for him when Gutierrez aimed a Thoughtseize his way, revealing to the Mexican player that Manfield had a backup copy of the Flare. This prompted Gutierrez to part ways with his Demon, taking the Ætherling and allowing Manfield to Flare the Demon away. In its place, Gutierrez summoned a Pack Rat, which Manfield had no immediate answer to.

Fortunately for him, his deck was kind, providing a Detention Sphere. Interestingly, Manfield chose to instead sequester the Underworld Connections on Gutierrez's Swamp, valuing the denial of cards over the immediate threat of the Pack Rat. Between the Flare in hand and the Jace in play, he was temporarily safe from the Rat, knowing that he would be able to find time to dig for a Supreme Verdict. This is exactly what happened, as Gutierrez opted against the attack, in favor of recruiting a Blood Baron of Vizkopa to his team. When Jace revealed a Supreme Verdict on the following turn, it was very quickly put in its own pile, and just as quickly snapped up by Manfield. With a freshly cleared board, Manfield looked to be taking control.

That illusion of control was quickly shattered. Gutierrez put Manfield to some difficult decisions. A Pack Rat forced Manfield to eventually throw his Jace away looking for cards. Later, he was forced to make a difficult decision on Pithing Needle opting to lock out Mutavault, as opposed to the Pack Rat. When a Desecration Demon came down soon thereafter (off of the top of the deck), Manfield was bitten by his own Needle, unable to activate his own Mutavault to defend for a turn. This rapid shift in fortunes sent Manfield reaching for his sideboard for the final game.


Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

 

The final game came down to a few interesting turns. Gutierrez opened with a fairly aggressive draw, leading with Pack Rat, Sin Collector, and Lifebane Zombie. The Sin Collector was countered with Dissolve, but the other cards began to make work of Manfield, who was sitting on a pair of Elspeth, Sun's Champions, in his hand. He was also sitting on a Sphinx's Revelation, but the turn before he would likely cast it, it was stripped by a Duress. Since Manfield was going to be looking for a Supreme Verdict anyway, he chose not to cast the Revelation, allowing it to be stripped from his hand. Elspeth came down to provide a frontline of defense, but the Lifebane Zombie's intimidate meant that a constant stream of damage was still going to be headed at Manfield. Even with three Soldier tokens preventing the bulk of Gutierrez's damage, the Lifebane Zombies did their job, skirting past Manfield's defenses, eventually dealing the killing blow.