Coming into the last round, there were five players at 8-0 and a few players at 7-0-1. That left us with two matchups of 8-0 vs. 8-0, so we covered them both. Because we want you to be happy.
Felipe Tapia Becerra v. Miguel Angel Romero Caro
The last time Santiago hosted a Grand Prix, a Brazilian hoisted the trophy. To this day, they remain quite proud of stealing that championship while defending their own turf for subsequent Grand Prix.
But if anyone was going to defend their home turf, Chilean Felipe Tapia Becerra had as good a chance as anyone. He was their National Champion the previous year and was 8-0 on the day with Mono Black Devotion splashing Green. He was playing well and, nearly as important, was playing in his home country.
Standing in his way was fellow undefeated player Miguel Angel Romero Caro. Caro had cut his way through the competition with Mono Red and was looking to punish Becerra’s greedier mana base and end the match quickly before Gray Merchant or Whip of Erebos could get online.
Becerra opened on Thoughtseize, seeing a plethora of virtually interchangeable burn, including two Shocks, Lightning Strike and Magma Jet, plus a Fanatic of Mogis Caro was a long way off playing. Still, Caro immediatlely started throwing the burn at Becerra’s face.
“It’s ok, it’s ok,” Becerra said as the first damage came his way. His Black Green devotion deck was well-equipped to kill permanents, but less well equipped to deal with too much damage coming straight from the hand.
Caption: Felipe Tapia Becerra might be Chile’s best hope of keeping the trophy on home soil.
It was even less well equipped to operate at three mana, which is where Becerra was stuck for several turns, using Hero’s Downfall to stay alive long enough to land a Desecration Demon and start attacking.
Unfortunately, Caro, for all of his promising start, ran out of gas before Becerra could drop a second Desecration Demon. He only got Becerra as low as 9 before a Gray Merchant pushed him high enough to withstand anything Caro could possibly draw.
A pair of Ash Zealots and a Mizzium Mortars were good enough for Caro, even if his hand was slightly land heavy. Becerra, meanwhile, sent his first hand back immediately. He hesitated on his second hand, and a grip full of Shock and Scry lands revealed his plight. His development would be severely stunted by his mana base.
Caro made him pay for it too, with Ash Zealot into Boros Reckoner into a second Ash Zealot. Hero’s Downfall killed the Reckoner, but only at the cost of two life. Becerra tried to stop the bleeding with Nightveil Specter, but Mortars was more than ready to clear out any blockers. After that a Skullcrack and Lightning Strike dealt the final six damage.
Caro leaned forward in his seat, ready to get the first game started, practically bouncing as he looked at his opening seven. A first turn Thoughtseize revealed why.
Caro’s hand was virtually perfect. Two lands, a pair of Burning-Tree Emissaries, Firefist Striker and an Ash Zealot. Absent Thoughtseize to break it up, Becerra might have been dead before his fourth turn.
Even with it he was still under the gun. Thoughtseize took out one of the Emissaries, but the second one brought with it a Firefist Striker, and the pair were later joined by Ash Zealot. Still, Becerra started methodically taking out Caro’s creatures bit-by-bit, removal spell by removal spell.
It was a race to see who ran out first: Caro out of creatures or Becerra out of answers.
In the end, Caro’s threat-dense deck outlasted the removal spewing forth from Becerra’s deck. Without a large creature to stem the bleeding, Becerra eventually ran out of answers and Caro simply ran him over to finish Day 1 at 9-0.
Caro 2 – Becerra 1
Caption: Miguel Angel Romero Caro ended Day 1 as the lone 9-0 player.
Cristian Valdivia and Michael Parraga
Sitting just to the side of Caro and Becerra were Cristian Valdivia and Michael Parraga. Valdivia was playing one of the tournament’s most popular decks with Mono Blue Devotion, while Parraga was on the far less prevalent Naya Control deck pioneered by Brad Nelson in recent weeks.
Caption: One of these players would end the day undefeated (Cristian Valdivia on the right, Michael Parraga on the left). The other one…well, read on.
Assemble the Legion and Elspeth came too late in the first game, as Michael Parraga, already under the gun from some fast creatures, including a pair of Cloudfin Raptors that would eventually grow to 3/4, couldn’t muster enough tokens to block Christian Valdivia’s horde of Elemental tokens. Even with four tokens blocking his path, Valdiva was easily able to overrun Parraga’s defenses to take an early lead in the match.
The next game wouldn’t be so fast.
Luck wasn’t with Valdivia in the second game, however, as a mulligan to five left him starting slowly.
Let me rephrase that. Luck wasn’t with Valdivia initially. However, she smiled sweetly on him as the game progressed.
Valdivia actually started building a respectable board position with Thassa and Master of Waves, but Anger of the Gods and Xenagos let Parraga retain some semblance of control over the board. The two parried and poked at one another, but even Valdivia’s mulligan didn’t push him out of the game.
At one point Valdivia and Parraga both appeared to forget Valdivia’s Mutavault was a 3/3 thanks to Master of Waves, and Valdivia turned his Mutavault into a 3/3 Frog Lizard with Rapid Hybridization in order to block an incoming 2/2 Satyr token. After casting a second Master of Waves the next turn, Valdivia realized his mistake, laughing it off even as he attacked with his Frog Lizard.
He was, however, punished for the mistake when Anger of the Gods once against cleared out the tokens—including the funny Frog Lizard.
Tidebinder Mage turned on Thassa the next turn, but Selesnya Charm quickly dispatched the sea God to wherever it is Sea Gods go when they’re bedeviled by the charms of the Selesnya conclave.
Valdivia was in topdeck mode, but was making a fight of it, even after his mulligan. He continuously drew gas, even pulling what would have been a backbreaking Anger of the Gods off the top of Parraga’s library with Nightveil Specter.
That’s the third Anger of the Gods, if you’re playing along at home.
Chanting for Master of Waves before his draw step, Valdivia was rewarded with the Mythic Merfolk just as Parraga was threatening lethal with Stormbreath Dragon. Nightveil Specter could block the Dragon long enough to allow Valdivia to swing for the win and a 9-0 record, but if you’ve already scrolled down to see how much text is left, you know that isn’t how it ended.
Instead, Parraga showed that wasn’t without his own powers. Down to his last turn, facing lethal and needed to get his Stormbreath Dragon through for the final points, Parraga reached for his library, slipped the card up just enough to look at, and surveyed the table stoically.
His “Team Peru” teammates behind him weren’t nearly so stoic as the fourth Anger of the Gods was looking back at Parraga. Game three it was.
With time winding down, Valdivia get aggressive early with a Mutavault and a Frog Lizard he created when Frostburn Weird was hit with a removal spell. Far from getting Devotion with Thassa, Valdivia started fighting through removal spells when time was called. He looked completely unable to deal enough damage to close out the match.
Parraga, however, found himself close to dealing 20 with a Xenagos and Mistcutter Hydra leading the way. He got Valdivia as low as five, but was unable to close the deal before time ran out.
After all of that, after an epic second game and a fascinatingly fast first game, both players ended the day undefeated…at 8-0-1.
Valdivia 1 – Parraga 1