Round 13: Plasms and Plans Captured

Posted in NEWS on May 18, 2013

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

Patrick Chapin
(Bant Control)

Gabriel Nassif
(Bant Control)

Dueling Ætherlings helped split the first two games in the Patrick Chapin and Gabriel Nassif Bant Control mirror match, but it was a spot of bad luck and a particularly potent pachyderm that gave the French Hall of famer his tenth win on the weekend.

And yet Nassif downplayed the role of Ætherling in a match that was far more complex than it appeared on the surface.

"Ætherling is very good, but sometimes you can beat it if you get ahead on the board with Voices and Smiters and stuff," he said. "I think you want to be the aggressor, and sometimes it's too slow."

While the third and final game came down to Chapin missing his third land for several turns while a Loxodon Smiter beat down, the first two games were all about Ætherling.

Patrick Chapin and Gabriel Nassif clashed in a Bant Control mirror match, with Nassif coming out on top when Chapin's deck fumbled on lands in the third game.


Sure. Other things happened. Voice of Resurgences supplied early pressure and made countermagic worse late, Loxodon Smiters slew Jace, Architect of Thoughts, Sphinx's Revelation drew cards and Gatecreeper Vines found lands. But each and every move was an attempt to set up Ætherling to seal the deal.

Chapin set himself up in the first game partially on the strength of early mana troubles from Nassif, the man known as Yellow Hat. A pair of Voice of Resurgence pressured Nassif into making some early moves to stay alive, and Chapin used the opportunity to land several Jace, Architects of Thought before Ætherling was able to steal the deal.

Chapin keeps up the pressure, giving himself the time to resolve both Jace and Ætherling for the win in the first game.


Ever mindful of the clock, Nassif was almost disappointed he nearly pulled out of his early mana screw.

"It kind of sucks. I started drawing well in the first game and dragged it on," Nassif said.

"Drawing just good enough to keep it interesting, to keep it close? It's alright. Now you get to go first and win," Chapin offered back.

Turns out, he was correct.

The second game revolved around Ætherling when a sequence started by Chapin's attempt at Sphinx's Revelation ended in Nassif Capturing more than enough Plasm (courtesy of Plasm Capture) to easily resolve Ætherling. Chapin went for a Sphinx's Revelation with Dispel backup, but Nassif was flush with both Plasm Capture and multiple counterspells. Chapin simply scooped to the resolved Ætherling.

What was most interesting, however, was Nassif's sideboard strategy. He sided out his Jace, Architect of Thoughts in order to keep the full amount of Detention Spheres in the deck. While he said it was a mistake to side them all out on the play—a turn four Jace is still a solid play in his mind—he realized they didn't do all that much against Loxodon Smiters and Voices if things went long.

"It's not like Jace, the Mind Sculptor," he said. "You can actually activate it twice and still lose."

Instead, Nassif relied on Smiters and Voices to provide early pressure and open his window to Ætherling.

Nassif's Bant Control deck is capable of switching to an aggressively minded strategy that is less reliant on Jace, Architect of Thought.


"You need them," he said in regards the cheap beaters. "It's so huge to put on pressure and deal with Jace and to be the one to sit on the counters."

Chapin had a different strategy, it appeared, as his Jaces stayed in. But the Plasm Capture sequence and missing his third land for several turns in a row were what really sunk Chapin.

In fact, the first two games were so interesting, Chapin lamented the finish to the final game of an otherwise intriguing matchup.

"Not like this," he said, smiling but sinking in his chair a bit. "Not like this."

Match notes:

  • Nassif still has a shot at coming out of this Pro Tour as the top French Pro for the season. He needs to beat Raphael Levy by 9 points and Jeremy Dezani by just 1 point. He said that, as a Hall of Famer who doesn't travel to Grand Prix, he had no idea he was even in the running until today.
  • Before the match, the pair did something I haven't seen anyone do at this level outside a Top 8: they shared their decks with each other. It turned out that, having tested and shared ideas together, they had decided before the tournament they would do so to keep things fair.
  • Nassif and Chapin played in the semifinals of the World Championship in New York in 2007 in the famous Dragonstorm mirror match, one that people certainly pointed to when Chapin was inducted into the Hall of Fame this past year. Oddly enough, the winner of that tournament, Uri Peleg, returned to the Pro Tour this weekend in San Diego.

Gabriel Nassif's Bant Control

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Patrick Chapin's Bant Control

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