Posted in NEWS on December 9, 2013

It felt a little early for these two pros to get paired, just seven rounds into the tournament. Pedro Carvalho is a consummate pro and Magic Online player with a Pro Tour Top 8 under his belt and was already picked by Jose Francisco D Silva as the favorite to win on the weekend. No. 7 ranked Willy Edel, on the other side of the table, has had an incredible year and has consistently put up results since rededicating himself to the game.

In fact, Edel has been so strong, I’ve consistently looked for him as a barometer of the metagame. When Willy does well, it usually means the metagame is pretty set and predictable. Edel is excellent at exploiting known metagames for an edge, and his rise to No. 7 in the Top 25 rankings is evidence of that.

However, he certainly lacked an edge in this matchup. Carvalho’s Mono Blue Devotion deck was one of the few archetypes Edel felt his super-fast Mono Red was disadvantaged against. A combination of both Tidebinder Mage and Master of Waves, not to mention Jace, Architect of Thought, let Carvalho slam the brakes on Edel’s pedal-to-the-metal aggression.

Even more problematic was the fact that both players were fresh off losses and another loss here would put their back against the wall for the final two rounds. Heading into Round 8 at X-1 meant you had a loss to spare and still make Day 2. Going in at X-2, however, left almost no room for error.

Game 1

Carvalho got to work early on Edel, with a perfect 1-2-Thassa curve and the Tidebinder Mage to pause Edel’s early aggression. It was, short possibly a Frostburn Weird, pretty close to Carvalho’s ideal start against Mono Red.

But Edel’s deck was fast and unforgiving, and a Chandra’s Phoenix forced Carvalho to trade his Tidebinder Mage for a Firefist Striker lest he fall behind. Carvalho lost several more creatures over the next few turns to try and stem the tide.

It wasn’t a creature that turned the game to Carvhalho’s favor, however. Instead, he had to call on some assistance from a certain ubiquitous Planeswalker to turn the game around.

Caption: Considered one of the most talented Brazilians playing today, Pedro Carvalho would have to go through Brazil’s top pro Willy Edel to stay on track this weekend.

Jace, Architect of Thought virtually cut Edel’s attack in half and helped turn on devotion. The game suddenly had become something of a stalemate, as Edel was out of gas, and his army of 2/2s became incredibly ineffective in the face of Jace and blockers.

Stalled as he was, there was little Edel could do to stop Thassa from unblockably attacking for several turns. Edel was able to turn off Devotion for about two seconds with a shock on Nightveil Specter after blocks, but enough mana symbols off the top of Carvalho’s deck (it happened to be a Bident of Thassa, but it might as well have been blank) let him swing in for the win.

Game 2

This one was brutal.

On his second turn, Edel threw most of his hand on the table, curving Rackdos Cackler into two Burning Tree Emissaries and a Gore-House Chainwalker, following up with Chandra’s Phoenix for the full-on whammies.

Carvalho, eyes bulging slightly at the sight across the table, tried to stem the tide with a pair of Frostburn Weirds and a Master of Waves for five tokens, some of his best cards in the mirror.

It was almost enough. Almost.

Lightning Strike you to three, throw down a second Chandra’s Phoenix to fly over for the win. Move on to game three and thanks for playing.

Game 3

Carvalho, importantly on the play for the final game of the match, took the first mulligan of the round. Despite the presence of both Tidebinder Mage and Master of Waves in hand, Carvalho knew the single land in his grip would likely spell doom against Edel’s ultra-fast deck, super consistent deck.

His second hand wasn’t much better, with just a Cloudfin Raptor and Jace for non-land spells, but it was better than going to five. Drawing a Tidebinder Mage immediately improved his hand, and a second a few turns later once again kept the battlefield under control.

Edel’s start, however, wasn’t nearly as fast this time around and he struggeled to get Carvalho’s life total dropping fast enough to really pressure him. Despite two lightning fast game ones, the two players had reached something of a standstill by what counted as the midgame—turn four.

That, fortunately for Carvalho, favored the player with the Jace. Or, at least it normally does. Carvalho, not worried about blocking for the moment, chose to minus Jace rather than protecting himself in order to find some action. All he got, however, was a Cloudfin Raptor that could do little more than chump block.

Caption: This is what Willy Edel looks like when he’s winning. Or when he’s losing. I imagine he probably looks like this on a rollercoaster too.

That gave Edel an opening. Attacking with the three creatures eligible to do so, Edel forced Carvalho to pause, consider, and then reconsider his blocks. Rubblebelt Maaka kept Firefist Striker alive through the attack and helped unlock one of the creatures under Tidebinder Mage. Suddenly, Edel was very much in the driver’s seat.

With only lands coming to the top of his deck, Carvalho was unable to keep control of the board, and a pair of Firefist Strikers kept Carvalho’s best blockers on the sideline where they couldn’t do anything to stop the onslaught of small red creatures.

“I definitely don’t think the matchup is in my favor,” Edel said. “But if I have creatures on turns one, two and three, I can win.”

He went on to say that, while Master of Waves and Tidebinder Mage were certainly bad for him, his low curve and aggressive starts could often outclass non-Tidebinder and non-Frostburn Weird starts for the Blue devotion deck.

With a slightly unfavorable matchup against one of the most popular deck, I had to wonder why Edel was playing the deck.

“I was trying to play some kind of Mono Black Devotion, I tried splashing Green, and it was good. But I kept losing to Mono Blue and Mono Black. I didn’t want to play mirror all weekend. Red is well positioned: it beats midrange without lifegain, Mono Black, and the Mihara deck [GR Devotion].”

Edel said he was also an underdog against the Green White aggressive decks, but said no one plays that deck.

“I think the deck has to be fast,” Edel said. “My curve stops at Chandra’s Phoenix. I have no Fanatic of Mogis, no devotion. I play a lot more creatures and Burning-Tree Emissary. It’s got to be fast.”

Edel 2 –Carvalho 1