It was a battle of two of the five undefeated Day 1 players in Round 12, the final round of the day's first draft. By the time Conley Woods and Christian Calcano sat down in the feature match area both had been knocked from their perch by taking a loss, but both were still very much in Top 8 contention.
For two pros familiar with each other, the pregame banter was somewhat muted, perhaps giving away the tension of a Grand Prix fraught with ramifications given how few opportunities remain to pick up Pro Points before the end of the season.
Not that they stayed silent for long. As soon as Calcano played a turn-one Triton Shorestalker Conley let out a chuckle.
"And they made fun of me for liking that card," he laughed as it turned sideways to begin the assault.
Things didn't stay funny for long. Calcano soon revealed exactly why he was he was jamming the 1/1 Merfolk, as the all-out aggression continued with a Vaporkin and then a Magma Spray for Woods' two-drop along with an Impetuous Sunchaser to continue the beatdown.
Conley tried to fight back with a Crystalline Nautilus and a Sphinx's Disciple, but Calcano simply played more creatures, emptying his hand on turn five and using the Hubris he drew the next turn to wrap up a lightning-fast Game 1.
Calcano 1, Woods 0
Calcano's aggressive game plan laid bare, Woods turned the screws a little bit in between matches, flashing him a handful of Nyxborn Rollickers in between games.
"I know, I'd trade you!" Calcano responded back as he held up a Shipwreck Singer that Woods' blue-black deck would have desperately liked.
With that, the pair began the game, Woods taking a mulligan to six while Calcano kept his opener. Being down a card didn't slow Woods down much, as his double Meletis Astronomer was more than enough to curb Calcano's early aggression in the form of a Satyr Hoplite. That allowed Woods to draw first blood, but the board quickly developed into a stall when Calcano found back-to-back Stormchaser Chimera.
A second Stormchaser had Calcano momentarily flying high but he was quickly was brought low by Pin to the Ground and the board stall resumed when Bladetusk Boar tasted a Sip of Hemlock. That left Calcano with just a lowly Triton Shorestalker to apply pressure while Woods took control of the skies with a Horizon Scholar.
As Woods began to crash in for 4 damage a turn with the Scholar it looked like the match would be headed to a third game, but a Fearsome Temper off the top changed everything. It allowed Calcano to use the ability to systematically pick off first the Meletis Astronomer that was enchanted by a Crystalline Nautilus, and then the Nautilus itself as he untapped and crashed in for lethal to earn the handshake and move to 11-1 on the tournament.
Calcano 2, Woods 0