QUARTERFINALS: CHRISTIAN CALCANO VS. MARK EVALDI

Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Justin Vizaro

First-seed Christian Calcano is a well-known veteran of the Grand Prix and Pro Tour class of 21st Century Magic, and already has a win under his belt as well from Grand Prix Minneapolis (2012). Mark Evaldi has been a giant-killer today, and has already played Calcano twice, winning one and losing the other. This third match will end the best of nine, and leave one man en route to a date with the trophy.

Evaldi's red-white deck has a relatively aggressive curve, so Calcano's option to play first is particularly helpful, as he will need the extra turn to mount his defense against Evaldi's downhill blitz.

As expected, both players opened in the manner that is characteristic of their decks, with Evaldi building a nice board position with a pair of low-curve creatures. Calcano countered with a Hundred-handed One that was immediately Chained to the Rocks. A Setessan Battle Priest carrying 3 auras has quickly pulled Calcano back into the game, and helped him stabilize as Evaldi failed to add more to the board.

 

In an attempt to get the most out of two creatures, Evaldi pushes a dummy attack into Calcano's board, allowing him to cast Rage of Purphoros to kill the Battle Priest. After Rise to the Challenge helped Evaldi take down Horizon Scholar and Hopeful Eidolon on a team block, Evaldi added another creature to the table and passed. Calcano managed to hold off for another turn as he locked down Evaldi's attacks with Sudden Storm, and drew into the seventh land he needed for a very timely Fated Retribution during Evaldi's next combat phase. Following the Retribution, Calcano added Wingsteed Rider, Griffin Dreamfinder, and Horizon Scholar to the table while Evaldi looked for something to help his Spearpoint Oriad.

 

Heliod's Emissary gave Evaldi the break he needed to push more damage through Calcano's board, but Hopeful Eidolon on Horizon Scholar gave Calcano a Baneslayer Angel to pad his life total. Stormbreath Dragon (who was a surprisingly late pick in the draft) arrived just in time for Evaldi in this game, giving Calcano cause for concern, but Mnemonic Wall brought Sudden Storm back from the graveyard and gave Calcano some help.

Late dragons are good, I hear.

 

Betrayed by his own team in the next combat phase, Calcano saw his own Horizon Scolar coming across the table thanks to Portent of Betrayal, which not only pushed his life total dangerously low, but also gave Evaldi a little bit of extra padding as well, making the swing-back option less viable.

 

"That was a fun game, though, I'm not gonna lie," Calcano said, as both players packed up and moved to the video coverage table.

Calcano mulliganed to 6 cards on the play in game 2, and pushed a Guardians of Meletis onto the table before Evaldi could truly get moving. Evaldi challenged him early, though, sending Akroan Hoplite into the red zone after a main phase Titan's Strength. Calcano bit, calling Evaldi's bluff, which wasn't actually a bluff at all; Rise to the Challenge send the Guardians to the graveyard. Evaldi kept the pressure on with Minotaur Skullcleaver, followed shortly after by Stormbreath Dragon, dropping Calcano to 5. Calcano's Hundred-handed One can't reach high enough to block the Dragon, regardless of the number of hands he has. Evaldi quickly closed out the game with a monstrous Stormbreath Dragon, and ended the 3-match series against Christian Calcano with a 2 – 0 win.

Sometimes you get a powerful guy like Stormbreath Dragon 4th or 5th pick and move on to face Reid Duke for the 3rd time in the top 4 of a Grand Prix.