“So are you like, a pro player?” asked Tomas Weibel as he sat down against Jose Francisco D Silva in their round four feature match. Weibel was in his first Grand Prix, so he knew he wasn’t the main attraction in the feature match area.
Caption: Jose Francisco D Silva has made the Top 8 of the last two South American Grand Prix.
Silva laughed. “Not exactly. But I’ve done well in some Grand Prix.”
“Some” Grand Prix being a pair of Top 8 finishes at the previous two South American Grand Prix, “just” running the back-to-backs in his home country of Brazil. He even won Grand Prix Rio de Janiero last spring. That Grand Prix, like Santiago this weekend, was also Standard.
So why the humility?
Silva, despite his repeat successes at Rio and Sao Paolo, crashed and burned at the Pro Tour after starting 6-2. Playing Red agro splashing white, Silva started strong before dropping five straight matches.
“The deck was terrible. I knew it was terrible, but it was all I had.”
But Silva knew he had a Standard Grand Prix in South America to prepare for, and a title to defend. He started playing with all of the expected Tier 1 decks, primarily Mono Blue, Mono Black and Esper Control. He found each of them had weaknesses that soured him on the decks.
It was his friend and World Magic Cup participant Juliano Souza who found the deck they were looking for.
Bending and modifying Shota Yasooka’s Black-Blue deck from Pro Tour Theros [link to: http://archive.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/event..., Souza started winning with the hybrid Devotion/Control deck almost immediately. Gone were expensive spells like Opportunity, in were new Standard-defining spells like Pack Rat. Placing Pack Rat next to Master of Waves has certainly turned a few heads.
[insert card images Pack Rat and Master of Waves; Caption: Together at last.]
“They’re not exactly sure what I’m playing,” Silva said.
However, he cautions, the deck isn’t set to be a defining trump to everything in the metagame. He said it has a positive, though not dominating, match against pretty much everything.
“Mono Blue is ok, Esper is ok, Black depends on their Underworld Connections. If they have it, it can be not so good. If they don’t, it’s ok.”
Silva also felt the need to change up his sideboard in anticipation of a metagame shift in the days leading up to the tournament. When word got out that a number of top players were choosing to play Esper—and some of the best have brought the controlling deck—a number of other top players switched to Mono Red. That, in turn, led Silva to look to pad his aggressive red matchup with Sensory Deprivations—Sensory Deprivations that he barely was able to find on time.
[insert card image Sensory Deprivation]
When asked if Silva felt any pressure to defend his South American Grand Prix streak, he was equally as humble as his first interaction with Weibel.
“I don’t really feel pressure,” he said. “Even if I fail here, I already did great at the other ones. I just hope a Brazilian wins, since the last Santiago GP was won by a Brazilian.”
Silva said, if not himself, he thinks Pedro Carvalho had the best shot at winning, though he believed Juliano Sauza also had the chops to take it down.
In other words, he believes in Master of Waves and Pack Rat, living side-by-side, taking down opponents five tokens (or more) at a time.