In the feature match are two top Brazilian players facing off. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa has been an ambassador of Brazilian Magic for years. With five Pro Tour Top 8s, and four World Championship Top 8s to boot, Damo da Rosa dominated Brazilian Magic and showed the world just what the South American powerhouse country could do. Lately, however, other Brazilian players have been taking his lead and are trying to make names for themselves on the international stage. Enzo Real is one of those players.
Real debuted in 2010 with a Top 8 finish at the Brazilian National Championship, and was on the Brazilian World Magic Cup team in 2013. He was hoping he could go over the top with his Azorius Master deck, a hybridized control deck playing all the blue and white hits—with the added devotion superstars of Master of Waves and Thassa, God of the Sea. However, he was about to run headlong into the Esper truck that was Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa’s deck. Real admitted that Esper is his worst matchup, and both his losses yesterday came from the white-blue-black deck. For the most part, Esper’s best matchups are other control decks that don’t play Thoughtseize, and Azorius Master fits that bill perfectly.
The first game played out with Real trying to apply pressure as fast as his deck could, which is too say, not that fast. Damo da Rosa had two immediate Detention Sphere’s for two Thassa, God of the Sea, and used a Thoughtseize to strip one of two Nightveil Specters from Real. Damo da Rosa left Real with a Sphere of his own, knowing that if Real used it to removing one of his own enchantments, it would remove the other. This would return both Thassas, causing a legend’s-rule fiasco. Two Thassa in play was not really better than one Thassa—and neither would have enough devotion to be creatures anyway.
Caption: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
After this early interplay, Real became stuck on four land. He went on the aggressive again with a Master of Waves and one horse Elemental buddy, but Damo da Rosa’s first Sphinx’s revelation resolved, so he kept his life total high. It was 17-18 in Damo da Rosa’s favor when he resolved a Jace, Architect of Thought.
Real pressed what little attack he could, but as usual with Esper, the first Sphinx’s Revelation begat the second, larger revelation, undoing all the damage Real was doing. Real tried to play catch-up, but everything he did just seemed a worse version of what Damo da Rosa did. Instead of casting two Sphinx’s Revelations for three cards, then five cards, he cast them for one card, then two. Instead of using a Jace to find an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Real used his Jace to find more land.
In control-on-control matches, a good indicator of the person in the lead is the amount of lands. Damo da Rosa had yet to miss a land drop and was sitting pretty with eleven. Real had just laid his seventh. Damo da Rosa—now with a big, fat, white Planeswalker—knew it was time to strike.
The Elspeth, Sun’s Champion came down and the Soldiers began to flow. Though Real was able to wipe the board once or twice, stemming the tide, it wasn’t going to work forever. Real eventually removed the Planeswalker with great difficulty, and by the time he finally did, Damo da Rosa had already resolved an AEtherling. And plenty of mana to use it. Real drew for a few more turns, then resigned.
The first game was all about land. Real needed them; Damo da Rosa had them. The second game showcased the another important resource in control-on-control: cards.
Again Real went on the offensive, trying to resolve early spells, stopping Esper’s stellar late-game from ever appearing. But unlike truly fast decks like Mono-Red, or Selesnya Aggro, Azorius Master just can’t bring the beats fast enough. Casting a turn-three Nightveil Specter into a turn-four Thassa is quite easy for Esper to stop. Damo da Rosa let loose a Hero’s Downfall, a Detention Sphere, and Thoughtseize to take away a Gainsay from Real’s hand. After that, Real’s offensive was blunted to a nub.
Caption: Enzo Real
His last gambit was tapping down to one land to resolve an AEtherling. If Damo da Rosa had only one way to remove the Shapeshifter on his next turn, Real would untap a gripful of mana and go for the gold. He had Negate and Gainsay in his hand, and would be able to protect the blue win condition; he just hoped he could untap with the AEtherling in lpay.
But even though both Negate and Gainsay were good, they were the only two cards Real had. Though both powerful cards, Damo da Rosa had seven powerful cards. Spending his turn drawing cards with Sphinx’s Revelation and Jace, Architect of Thought offered Damo da Rosa answer after answer. Not only did he have two ways to deal with Real’s AEtherling that turn, he had at least four.
Damo da Rosa saved his Hero’s Downfall and Detention Sphere for Planeswalker threats to come later, using a Supreme Verdict and a Devour Flesh to remove to nigh-unkillable monster. After that, the game was all-but locked up. Damo da Rosa had so many options, Real had no choice but to throw out the winner then and just hope his opponent had drawn poorly. But it’s very hard for Esper to draw that poorly.
After an Elspeth from Real was answered by a Hero’s Downfall, Real was out of cards. He was playing from the top of his deck. Damo da Rosa’s kill of choice this game was two Nightveil Specter. Removing important cards like Gainsay and Thassa, Damo da Rosa used Real’s own deck against him. Real tried to abuse the scry mechanic from his lands and Omenspeaker to give Damo da Rosa worse cards, but cards were still cards. And eventually, Damo da Rosa was able to take a Thassa to increase the speed of his clock, and even nab Gainsay to back that clock up.
Afterwards, Damo da Rosa said how good this matchup is for him. “He has to kill me with creatures,” which is a big disadvantage in these control-ish mirrors. He continue that for these two decks in particular, “We are basically the same deck, but he’s playing with twenty ‘bad’ cards.” Real shook his head and agreed. If you can avoid playing against Esper, Azorius Master is a great deck to play. But as Real has found out, if you run into Esper three times, you will likely have at least three losses.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa beat the upstart Enzo Real in two convincing games. Damo da Rosa goes to 8-2, while Real sinks to 7-3.