GRAND PRIX VANCOUVER 2014 - ROUND 9 ROUND-UP

Posted in NEWS on January 29, 2014

The last round of the day is always the heart-breaker. 7-2 will get you in, 6-3 usually will not. So everyone who's sitting on the bubble has a pounding in their chest. Going into Round there were tons of notable names at 6-2, on the cusp of coming back tomorrow morning. It would take some odd standings to allow many, if any 6-3s into the second day. William Jensen and Eric Hardman were battling, each at 19 points. At 18 were names like No. 2 Josh Utter-Leyton, No. 15 Eric Froehlich, Sam Pardee, Pascal Maynard, Jeff Cunningham and Thea Steele. While Ben Rasmussen and No. 17 David Ochoa were duking it out for the final three points. I jumped back and forth between all the matches to see how it would all shake out.

Josh Utter-Leyton was out in two short games (short considering he's playing a big, tricolor control deck). When I talked to him after the match, he said his opponent, Aaron Maclean, "savagely outplayed" him. It was quite the stellar play. Utter-Leyton played a turn-five Archangel of Thune going up against a Mistcutter Hydra. Maclean used the bloodrush of two Ghor-Clan Rampagers, which gave Utter-Leyton pause. He thought that Maclean must have another Ghor-Clan Rampager in his hand, or else he won't be able to attack into the Archangel again; also, he didn't play a Stormbreath Dragon on his turn five. That's usually a tell that they don't in fact have one, especially when the control player is tapped out.

 


Eric Froehlich and Josh Utter-Leyton 

So on his next turn, Utter-Leyton attacked and left his Mutavault back to trade. He was playing around his opponent having two more Rampagers. If Utter-Leyton blocked with the Mutavault, a double Rampager would bring him to one life. Perfect. Utter-Leyton passed back the turn with two Islands, a red-white land and the Mutavault untapped; with a Counterflux, Negate and Supreme Verdict in his grip. If Maclean played a Stormbreath Dragon, Utter-Leyton was ready with the Counterflux and would mostly likely win after that. If he didn't play the creature pre-combat, trading the Mutavault away still leaves up Negate to counter anything relevant. Perhaps you see what's coming here.

Maclean cast nothing pre-combat and attacked with the Mistcutter Hydra. The Mutavault trade happened, as planned. Then post-combat, with the Negate ready for the counter, Maclean cast Stormbreath Dragon – the only relevant card Negate couldn't counter. "If he had played it pre-combat, I would have won that game." It was true; Utter-Leyton got outplayed. Ironically enough, though we thought he was on the bubble, some 6-3s were able to make it and both Utter-Leyton and Maclean will be back here tomorrow.

 


Ben Rasmussen vs. David Ochoa 

David Ochoa was the second out. Ben Rasmussen beat him in two quick games. Rasmussen cast Xenagos, the Reveler turn three twice in a row. The planeswalker can give Ochoa's control deck fits. And in the second game, Ochoa cycled an Azorius Charm and cast a turn-three Divination and still could not find his fourth land. It was sad. Rasmussen took the second game handily. After the match Rasmussen shrugged. He said, "It feels better when you earn it," referring to the lack of land out of Ochoa. But again, like Utter-Leyton, Ochoa still made it in on 6-3. So it is hoped Rasmussen feels a little less guilty now.

 


Pascal Maynard 

Next up was Pascal Maynard's extremely aggressive red deck. I knew things were bad for Maynard when I visited the table six different times and he was still on the first game. That should not happen with his deck. His opponent, Blake Knezevich's deck powered out Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and Advent of the Wurm token and a Voice of Resurgence while Maynard had three Rakdos Cackler that couldn't even block. It was a sad scene. The second game went similarly and Pascal Maynard went down to 6-3. Unlike the other two, he did not make the Day 2 cut. "He only had one Unflinching Courage; and he drew it!" Maynard lamented after the game.

 


Thea Steel 

Thea Steel won her match-up in three games against Patrick Kimball's Esper Control deck. Her Big Boros deck used Hammer of Purphoros, Assemble the Legion and Chandra, Pyromaster to take down the first game. In the second game, she packed it in with the third Sphinx's Revelation on the stack. She said of the big instant, "You can beat two of 'em; you can't beat three." And in the third game, Kimball was stuck on three lands; his Blind Obedience was not enough to stop Stormbreath Dragon and Chandra. Steele moved to 7-2 and made the second day.

 


Huey Jensen 

Huey Jensen pulled it out at the wire. His Azorius Control has a tough match-up against Eric Hardman's Gruul Monsters. He lost the first game to a Domri Rade ultimate ability. But with help from Archangel of Thune he battled with his back against the wall and took the next two games to go to 22 points – ending in a slightly better position than his other win-and-in cohorts.

Rounding out the rest of the matches, Jeff "ffej" Cunningham won 2-0 against Ryan Wilson – his Pack Rat tokens plowed through the Red Devotion deck on the other side. Sam Pardee won his match against Micheal Schwarz. And Eric Froehlich won his match in three games. Notably, EFro cast a Domestication on one Desecration Demon then sacrificed it to a second. Although he didn't win that game, it was a pretty awesome play none the less.

 


Eric Froehlich and compnay 

So in totum, Jensen (7-1-1), Steele (7-2), Froehlich (7-2), Cunningham (7-2), Rasmussen (7-2), Pardee (7-2), Ochoa (6-3), and Utter-Leyton (6-3) all advanced. Pascal Maynard (6-3) did not advance as his breakers were too low.

It was an awesome, crazy round. And because there were so many 6-3s, many people were able to advance despite losing the bubble match-up. It's a Vancouver miracle, I tell you!