Posted in NEWS on March 16, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Considering the way Brazilian Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa has been running lately, this Top 8 had to mean a lot to him. He has had quite a rough streak as of late, something which has certainly been affecting his confidence. Still, making a Top 8 here at Buenos Aires, in front of a legion of Brazilian players, has to have perked him up some. His opponent, Uruguays's Sebastian Martinez, has been on the opposite run recently. After finding his deck on a random Magic Twitch.tv stream, he picked it up, won a PTQ with the deck, and has managed to make it all the way to the Top 8 here, just across la Rio de la Plata. One more win would mean a qualification for Pro Tour Magic 2015 in Portland, but he was going to have to fight through one of the strongest players in the history of the game to get it. Fortunately for him, he had done just that in Round 14, defeating Damo da Rosa to eventually earn his place in the Top 8.

The Decks

Damo da Rosa has chosen to go with Esper Control for Grand Prix Buenos Aires, no big surprise given his history with the deck. Still, he has been disillusioned with it in recent weeks, as he has said that it feels like he can never seem to win with the deck, but can't ever seem to beat it when he plays against it. If his Top 8 appearance is any indication, it appears that he and the deck have hashed out their differences, as he stands ready to try for his second Grand Prix title.

Martinez, meanwhile, found his deck in an unlikely place: winning a random US local tournament on Twitch.tv. After falling enamored with this powerful BR Control deck, he used it to win a PTQ, ensuring himself a spot at Pro Tour Journey to Nyx, and has managed to fight through a very difficult field to make his first Grand Prix Top 8!

The Games

Martinez jumped out to an early lead against his neighbor to the north. The combined efforts of a Mutavault and Lifebane Zombie dropped Damo da Rosa all the way down to 7, all the while keeping more or less perfect information on the contents of Damo da Rosa's hand. Before the death blow could come, Damo da Rosa managed to piece together a Detention Sphere, Last Breath, and his own Mutavault to completely neuter Martinez's attack. The most thrilling moment of the game came just two turns later, after Damo da Rosa had scryed a card to the top of his deck with Temple of Deceit. Martinez made an attempt to cast Rakdos's Return, tapping out to try and clear Damo da Rosa's hand. The Brazilian Hall of Famer calmly tapped all but two of his mana to cast Sphinx's Revelation for three, drawing into the Syncopate that he had placed on top of his deck, which he promptly cast with his remaining two mana.

It was the turning point of the game. A series of Detention Spheres locked up any additional attempts at threats, and a Sphinx's Revelation for six completely filled up Damo da Rosa's hand. When Jace, Architect of Thought, came down and snagged him an Ætherling, Martinez conceded.

After a very good, back-and-forth, first game, the second game was quite a letdown. It had a spark of excitement after Damo da Rosa's fourth-turn Jace revealed an Ætherling, which Martinez promptly stripped with Slaughter Games. From that point, however, Martinez's deck was significantly less than cooperating. Jace kept netting Damo da Rosa more cards of value, while Martinez's deck appeared to have a fixation with Blood Crypt. Eventually, Elspeth, Sun's Herald, hit the table, and Martinez still had yet to find a spell. Saddened that he couldn't qualify for his second consecutive Pro Tour, Martinez can still take away the fact that he is the current leader for his home Uruguay, making him the east frontrunner for captain of the Uruguayan national team. As for Damo da Rosa, he didn't need the qualification he gets for making the Semifinals, but the confidence boost would certainly go a long way, as he appeared to play his cards perfectly, making his win look easy.