Even though the Grand Prix here in Moscow has been a smoothly organized tournament, you could tell that the players were starting to get exhausted after two long days of Magic Some had more at stakes than others, whereas Lee Shi Tian had already achieved his goal for the weekend. He locked up Platinum Pro Level by making Top 8 and that way already secured his flight ticket to Grand Prix Magic 2015. For everyone else, a slot there was on stake, as well as the infinite glory of taking home a Grand Prix title on home turf.
Igor Gorbunov (Red/White Burn) vs Dimitriy Butakov (Bant Control)
There was no doubt about which match had the most viewers when the games began. Players were tightly packed on the sideline to watch Siberian Magic Online pro Dimitriy Butakov and his Green White and Blue control deck with Planeswalkers from here and beyond. He might however have run into his one bad match-up in Igor Gorbunov and his Red/White Burn deck.
Game one was a quick affair, and not even an Elspeth, Sun's Champion, accelerated out with a Kiora, the Crashing wave could stop Gorbunov's haste creatures and burn spells. A Young Pyromancer was handled with Detention Sphere, but Chandra's Phoenix along with a fistful of red instants gave Gorbunov Game One.
In the second game it was clear that Butakov wouldn't give in without a struggle when a turn five Brimaz, King of Oreskos took over the battlefield. When Butakov had Negate for Gorbunov's Banishing Light, and could follow up with a Sphinx's Revelation Gorbunov saved them some time and packed up his cards.
In game three Butakov had a turn three Brimaz, King of Oreskos. But Gorbunov wasted no time, exiling it with Glare of Heresy, getting an Elemental Token in the process from the Young Pyromancer he started off with.
Butakov had a Supreme Verdict to clear the board, but had to damage to play a Breeding Pool untapped and was suddenly low in life and in a precarious position.
It didn't get any better when Eidolon of Great Revel came to Gorbunov's Aid, and two burn spells later, after Butakov partly tapped out for Jace, Architect of Thought and the game was over. Using Negate on one of the burn spells only meant that Butakov took two damage rather than three, and his bad match-up did become his nemesis.
Igor Gorbunov beats Dimitriy Butakov 2 - 1
Sergiy Sushalskyy (Jund Monsters) vs. Lee Shi Tian (Black Devotion, splashing Blue)
In the classic battle of Pack Rat against Polukranos, World Eater and his friend Stormbreath Dragon it was the Red/Green soul mates that ran away with the match. In the first game they came on turn three and four to race Lee's attempts of Ratlings. When the first Polukranos, World Eater met Hero's Downfall he was soon joined by his identical twin – Polukranos, World Eater.
Game two was a swift affair, as Lee found himself with a Pack Rat in play, but stuck on three lands, unable to cast the Desecration Demon in his hand, and unable to interact with the giant Green monster, who once again hit the board early for Sushalskyy.
Sergiy Sushalskyy defeats Lee Shi Tian 2-0
Keraan Chetty (Black Devotion, splashing Red) vs. Alexey Rugov (Jund Monsters)
The third quarterfinal saw South African Keraan Chetty, with the quite unusual splash of red for four Dreadbore. His opponent, Russian Alexey Rugov was with Polukranos and friends.
The match was a fine display of how Red, Green and Black deck is built to overcome Black Devotion. In game one a Scavenging Ooze was the first play, which backed up by removal, all while making it bigger serves as a potent threat against the Black deck. It has to be dealt with, and if it is, Polukranos, World Eater doesn't need to come until he can be cast naturally on turn four and threaten lethal damage fast. Chetty did have a Nightveil Spectre going and kept knocking on his opponents deck for Dreadbore, but none was to be found.
Game two was Mono Black by the books. Duress your Domri Rade, Thoughtseize your Courser of Kruphix. Cast Underworld Connections on my Swamp. Draw two cards every turn and use my removal spells on all your creatures. Finally winning by casting either Pack Rat or multiple Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Or like in this game – both!
The last game once again was about Scavenging Ooze and removal. And the lack thereof from Keraan Chetty. He had Lifebane Zombie, but seeing no targets in Rugov's hand he could only display a fine example of good sportsmanship when falling to a Stormbreath Dragon, that joined the Ooze for once, rather than Polukranos, World Eater.
"Good games. Well done," the South African congratulated his opponent and shook his hand in defeat.
Alexey Rugov defeats Keraan Chetty 2-1
Efim Kashapov (Four Color Midrange) vs Sergey Zheleznov (Mono Black Devotion)
The last quarterfinal to finish was a grindy one. Pack Rats took down the first two games, but for different players. Zheleznov didn't even activate his in the first game, but rather cast a second copy while stuck on two lands, one of them being a Mutavault. Extra style points however goes to Efim Kashapov for curving turn two Pack Rats into turn four Kiora, the Crashing Wave.
The third game took some time. Even though Zheleznov had all the cards and threats he could hope for Kashapov was doing his best to live for as many turns as possible. The most interesting choice being Zheleznov's choice with a turn two Thoughtseize. When he saw Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Erebos, God of the Dead, Underworld Connections and Ultimate Price he knew the game would take a while. He grinded through with Duress, Lifebane Zombie, Lifebane Zombie, Erebos, God of the Dead, and after a pretty lopsided game that took surprisingly long Zheleznov secured a spot in the semi-finals.