Gaudenis Vidugiris has seen a fair number of headlines directed his way recently, winning Grand Prix Denver last year, as well as Grand Prix Atlanta this year. For both of those events, Vidugiris did so under the US flag. For this event, however, Vidugiris chose to represent Lithuania, the country where he was born and raised. His opponent this round, Toni Portolan, is on his third tour of duty as a member of the Croatian national team. In fact, he managed an incredibly impressive 17th-place performance at Worlds 2010 in Chiba.
Portolan began with a first-turn Duty-Bound Dead, attacking for 2 into an empty board on the following turn thanks to a Knight of Infamy. The Knight's protection looked like it wouldn't be relevant this game, as Vidugiris tapped a Forest and Island to play a Deadly Recluse. With only three lands in play on the next turn, thus unable to regenerate, Portolan was forced to respect the Spider's deathtouch, keeping both of his creatures home. Instead, he used a Sign in Blood to find his fourth land for the next turn.
Vidugiris took advantage of Portolan's trepidation to marshal some more troops, adding a Centaur Courser and an Arbor Elf over the next couple of turns. Vidugiris matched this on the other side with a Rummaging Goblin and a Zombie Goliath. In the midst of this arms race, the players exchanged blows, Vidugiris eventually coming out on top, 12–16. After his attack, Vidugiris dealt with the main advantage Portolan had—a Rummaging Goblin—with an Encrust before adding a Ring of Kalonia to his board and giving it to a soon-to-be-larger Centaur.
Portolan found a wonderful way to nullify the Encrust when he added an Arms Dealer to his team, using it to throw his crusty Goblin at Vidugiris's Recluse. That allowed him a free pass to attack Vidugiris with a doubly exalted Zombie Goliath, which Vidugiris declined to block, dropping to 9. Vidugiris untapped and added a counter to his Centaur, attacking Portolan to 8 to maintain a slight lead. Vidugiris found an answer to the large attacker in the form of an even larger blocker: Silklash Spider. Unfortunately, Portolan had arachnocide in store for the big bug, removing it with a well-timed Murder. With the path still clear, Portolan pressed his advantage. Vidugiris didn't have anything to really answer the Zombie other than to play out the occasional chump blocker, and he quickly fell to the inexorable Zombie as it picked up a Kitesail and flew over his last remaining blocker.
Toni Portolan 1, Vidugiris 0
Vidugiris was forced to mulligan his first hand, nodding his head to the second after a slight pause. As if Vidugiris being down a card on the play wasn't bad enough, Portolan put his foot down quickly. His blazing start included a trio of Duty-Bound Dead and a Servant of Nefarox, demonstrating how well exalted can take a bunch of statistically unimpressive creatures and merge them into some sort of Devastator-esque amalgam. Their powers combined, they were Captain Planet.
Vidugiris was in dire straits, having only drawn two lands and seemingly being unable to find a third. It took him two turns to finally find that third land, unable to play anything save a Ring of Kalonia. By this point, he was already down to 9. Things looked even more dire when Portolan added a Bladetusk Boar to his team, intimidating enough by itself without four exalted triggers. Vidugiris had no answer and Portolan's little piggy went wee, wee, wee, all the way to a 2–0 victory.
"Not particularly close," Vidugiris sighed as he leaned back in his chair.
Portolan 2, Vidugiris 0