We started things in style here in São Paulo, with the powerhouse team of Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, 23rd ranked Willy Edel, and Edel's 2013 World Magic Cup teammate Allison Abe as our Kings of the Hill. Easily the most experienced team in the field, they represent three of the first names that pop into your head when you think of Brazilian Magic. Facing them down and looking to be the first trio to dethrone the Kings of the Hill are Daniel Pareto Gomes, Felipe Costa Rocha, and Helquer Sales de Miranda.
Da Rosa, Edel, and Abe were not particularly pleased with their decks.
"They're just not that good," Edel said after their build.
Da Rosa chimed in with, "Mine is pretty good," which got a laugh from the rest of his team.
"He always gets the best deck," Edel laughed. "Abe gets the slow deck, and I get the scraps."
In the end, they ended up with da Rosa on green/white, Edel on virtually monored with a small green splash, and Abe playing blue/white. For more on their build, check out Josh Bennett's breakdown of it here.
On the other side of the table, Gomes ended up with an aggressive black/blue deck loaded with removal, Rocha had a green/white heroic deck with a number of heroes and ways to enhance them, and de Miranda was playing a base green deck filled with the mana acceleration and mana fixing required to power out his massive late-game threats.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Green/White) vs. Daniel Pareto Gomes (Blue/Black)
Da Rosa started the game off with a fairly aggressive opening. Swordwise Centaur and Nessian Courser often provide some great early aggression, but Asphyxiate and Nightmarish End kept them from getting in even a single attack. This allowed him to get in some early damage with a Fellhide Brawler before upgrading to a Cloaked Siren. Things never really panned out for da Rosa, unfortunately, as each threat met a new answer, and he was left relatively neutered as Gomes's fliers finished off what his Felhide Brawler would have likely been able to.
The second game was a different story, however. No early removal from Gomes let da Rosa's green army build unhindered. Nessian Courser, Nylea's Disciple, and Raised by Wolves gave him an impressive number of troops. In the end, Gomes's removal began to appear a bit too late. Though he managed to buy a couple of turns with Asphyxiate and Triton Tactics, Gomes was soon overrun by da Rosa's overwhelming number of creatures.
Gomes stalled on three lands in the early stages of Game 3, but he still had an enormous amount of action. Battlefield Thaumaturge helped with the mana screw, and he rounded his team out with Vaporkin and War Wing Siren, giving him a great aggressive start. Da Rosa was a bit behind but catching up quickly thanks to the card advantage offered by Eidolon of Blossoms and Chronicler of Heroes. Down to 7, he was in desperate need of reach to deal with Gomes's fliers, and his deck did not disappoint. If fliers are an issue, there are few answers better than Arbor Colossus, and he quickly slammed it (more like calmly placed it) into play. With the colossal roadblock in the way, da Rosa's larger creatures were able to overwhelm Gomes's smaller ones to secure the first match win for his team.
(23) Willy Edel (Red/Green) vs. Felipe Costa Rocha (Green/White)
Game one did not go well for Willy Edel. Rocha's highly aggressive green/white heroic deck did exactly what it was supposed to, putting a bunch of enchantments on a Favored Hoplite and going to work. Nyxborn Shieldmate, Hopeful Eidolon, and Mortal Obstinacy gave him a massive 7/9 lifelinking creature that utterly dominated Edel's mostly red deck. Edel managed to get a Xenagos, God of Revels, into play late into the game, but it was more for show than anything. He conceded just a couple of brutal turns later.
Unable to deal with large heroic creatures, especially lifelinking ones, Edel opted to sideboard out his small green splash to bring in a few black cards, including Asphyxiate and King Macar, the Gold Cursed.
"I just can't beat big lifelinkers like that with the red cards in my deck," Edel explained. "I am not splashing many green cards, so I could trade them out for some black removal spells. It makes my deck slower, but more powerful, and it gives me ways to deal with the creatures even after they've gotten big."
Rocha one again had a first-turn Favored Hoplite, but lacked the early enhancement he held in the first game. Complicating matters was Edel's very aggressive draw with his new black/red deck, adding Felhide Brawler, Sigiled Skink, and Akroan Line Breaker to his team. Asphyxiate and Bolt of Keranos kept the way more or less clear for Edel, and he soon found himself on the verge of setting the stage for an impressive comeback for his team. When Rocha went to use Mortal's Ardor on his Favored Hoplite during blocks to kill Edel's creature and stay alive, Edel used Fated Conflagration to finish it off, clearing the board and giving him the victory.
And just like that, the walls came crashing down. Hero of Leina Tower came down on the very first turn of the game, which has an incredible ability to take over games. Rocha used Mortal Obstinacy to trigger the heroic for two on the third turn, making his creature quite difficult to kill for Edel's deck, and presenting a very quick clock. Complicating matters, Edel was stuck on three lands. Down incredibly far hilariously fast, Edel just shrugged with a little laugh when Rocha cast Eidolon of Countless Battles, one of the best cards in the format. Staring at three lands and not enough to dig himself out of the hole, Edel conceded, dropping his team's first match of the round.
Allison Abe (Blue/White) vs. Helquer Sales de Miranda (Green/Red/Blue)
The final match between Abe and de Miranda was a tale of two different styles of Magic. On one hand was Abe's grinding blue/white control deck, which looked to stall the ground up and win through the air with fliers and Hour of Need. On the other was de Miranda's green ramp deck, which used cards like Burinshed Hart and Font of Fertility to ramp into massive late-game monsters. In the first game, things were clearly in de Miranda's favor.Market Festival and Voyaging Satyr created a stupid early-game combination for de Miranda, allowing him to cast a laughably early Vulpine Goliath and even a Tromokratis with no Islands in play! Needless to say, Abe couldn't come close to dealing with this and was crushed under de Miranda's tide of fatties.
The second game started off much better for Abe. Vaporkin, Eagle of the Watch, and Supply-Line Cranes gave Abe an early advantage, but Rollick of Abandon slowed him down immensely. Burnished Hart allowed de Miranda to jump start his own offense with Nemesis of Mortals and Ill-Tempered Cyclops to take over the game late. Still, Abe had a lead and kept the fliers coming, adding Wingsteed Riders to give him a chance at outracing de Miranda. In the end, it was a Retraction Helix on an Aerie Worshippers that sealed the game. Getting to bound the Cyclops in response to monstrous, as well as getting a safe inspired trigger, allowed him the blockers needed to let his fliers finish things off.
The final game of this match was a textbook example of how non-interactive this particular matchup can be, with Abe on the early offensive while de Miranda built his mana up for his impressive late-game threats. Abe owned the skies with a War Wing Siren wearing a Nyxborn Triton, while de Miranda owned the ground with a monstrous Ravenous Leucrocota. Hour of Need gave Abe yet another large flying attacker, but he was behind in the race. Things tensed up as the two players jockeyed for position near the end of the game, both playing more-or-less noninteractive Magic. Then it broke. Abe left his Siren back to block while attacking with his Sphinx. De Miranda removed it and cracked back for nearly lethal. All Abe held was land, and he had nothing to stop Louis C. Rocata from ruining his day and giving the match and round to de Miranda and crew.
After the match, Edel and da Rosa mused about what things would have been like if they had been paired differently.
"I think Paulo would have been able to beat my opponent much easier, and I would have been better matched up against Abe's," Edel told me.
"Our decks are not particularly good," admitted da Rosa, "but we didn't have the best matchups this round, either."
With that, Gomes, Rocha, and de Miranda took over the King of the Hill spot, while da Rosa, Edel, and Abe limped into the 0-1 bracket, still looking for their first win of the event.
Gomes/Rocha/de Miranda defeated da Rosa/Edel/Abe 2-1