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