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.

With two losses, Mauro Capello and Sebastian Martinez found themselves in a tight spot heading into this Round 11 Feature Match. While a third loss is not a guarantee that they will fall out of Top 8 contention, it is likely that only one or two players at 12-3 will sneak in. In addition, a Top 64 performance will likely cement Sebastian Martinez's spot as the top Uruguayan player, something he will be able to defend at Pro Tour Journey to Nyx in a couple of months.

The Decks

Capello's deck is one of the most common sights around the room and easily the most-played deck in the tournament: Esper Control. Still, there are a few interesting wrinkles in his build that provide him a bit of an advantage over the other Esper decks in the field. First, he has access to Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, which provides a great threat against the mass of Hallowed Fountain decks in the field. Second, he has taken a cue from the WU Control decks that have been popular as of late, adding an Elixir of Immortality to his deck, giving his spells a little more life. He also has access to Fated Retribution, perfect for destroying opposing Planeswalkers.

Mauro Capello

As for Martinez, he is playing one of the more unique decks in the room: BR Control. Between Dreadbore, Thoughtseize, Rakdos's Return, and Chandra, Pyromaster, Martinez's deck seems like a nightmare for all of the Hallowed Fountain decks in the field, Capello's included. Unlike the Br Devotion decks, this deck opts out of playing the Gray Merchant of Asphodels and Underworld Connections of the Black Devotion decks, opting for a stronger red presence with Anger of the Gods, Stormbreath Dragon, and Chandra, Pyromaster. Martinez found this deck while surfing Twitch, watching it crush a US store event. He then used it to demolish a PTQ and knew that it was going to be perfect for this weekend.

The Games

Martinez appeared to be in control from the outset of the first game, stripping a Jace, Architect of Thought, from Capello's hand and keeping Ashiok at bay with Dreadbore. The first real haymaker came when he found a window to resolve a Chandra, Pyromaster. Thanks to Chandra's +0 effect, Martinez was able to build up a fairly large advantage, hitting cards like Lifebane Zombie and Rakdos Keyrune. Capello tried to equalize things with Jace, Architect of Thought, but a massive Rakdos's Return killed Jace and left Capello without a hand. It is rare to see Esper Control behind on cards, but Martinez's card advantage simply manhandled Capello. Eventually, Stormbreath Dragon finished off the defenseless Capello.

Sebastian Martinez

Martinez set the tone once again for the second game, but this time it was Capello who wrested control. Syncopate and Supreme Verdict took care of Martinez's early Desecration Demons, keeping the board clear for Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Capello had a Supreme Verdict to once again clear out Martinez's attempts to mount an offense, keeping Elspeth nice and safe. Capello had the clear board advantage, but took complete control of the game when h cast Sphinx's Revelation for five with an empty hand. At that point, Martinez was gassed, allowing Capello's Soldier tokens and Mutavault to easily attack for the win.

The final game opened with a flurry of disruption from Martinez, setting the tone early. He tipped his plan by taking Syncopate and Blood Baron of Vizkopa, leaving a pair of Jaces in Capella's hand. Right after the first one came down, Martinez locked them up with a Pithing Needle. Still, Capella looked to be in good position with a pair of Sphinx's Revelation in his hand. At least until Martinez dropped a sideboarded Sire of Insanity onto the table. Capello had nothing to stop it, watching as his pair of Revelations hit the graveyard. It didn't take much more than that for Martinez to attack and end the match, moving to a sturdy 9-2.