A former Grand Prix champion and US national champion with a Pro Tour Top 8 to his name as well, Antonino De Rosa certainly is one of the players to watch this weekend. And that is exactly what we did: watch him build his sealed deck.
He was joined in the feature match area by Ben Seck (whose deck-building feature you can catch on the stream later), and while De Rosa was already sorting through his cards, his old friend ambushed him and took a peek over his shoulder. "A little snooping," he joked, to which De Rosa replied: "You can help me!"
Alas, as it turned out, no one could help De Rosa. He first sorted away what he considered definite unplayables, sadly quite a large stack of cards, and growing larger by the minute. Further investigation moved Lagonna-Band Trailblazer to this pile too, for lack of targeted effects, and it was soon joined by Sphinx's Disciple, Kruphix's Insight, and finally all of the red.
Black had a few good cards, though it wasn't entirely clear whether the stress here should be on the "good" or rather on the "few." Green as a potential partner offered enough cards and creatures but dubious quality overall. Next, De Rosa agonized over black-white, muttering, "This is too hard." With a creature base consisting mostly of Leonin Snarecasters, one Ornitharch, and a Sightless Brawler, it didn't take long for white to be relegated to the sidelines.
For a while, De Rosa abandoned black and instead concentrated on green as a basis for his deck. However, that approach didn't bear fruit either and, despairing, De Rosa was quickly back to black-green. He briefly considered splashing blue for, among others, Griptide and Fleetfeather Cockatrice. "These blue cards are good, but probably not worth adding a third color for," he explained.
Green-black was basically the only chance he had, and he took it. "The white's not good, red isn't a color at all, and blue has no creatures," he complained. He cast a sad glance at Extinguish All Hope: "I probably want more enchantment creatures with this ..." To be fair, he did have Humbler of Mortals, Nylea's Disciple, Nylea, God of the Hunt itself, Grim Guardian, and Fate Unraveler along with two more bestow guys for a total of seven. "Still, I think the card is a little sketchy."
Deciding on a twenty-third card was the final hurdle to pass, and De Rosa had good arguments for both Market Festival and Fade into Antiquity. In the end, he realized he really only had 21 cards so far, and needed to play both anyway. "The only other options were Shredding Winds and Cutthroat Maneuver, but I don't want another situational card and I don't have enough early drops for the Maneuver. Though I'll likely sideboard those often. Especially on the draw I'll often cut Market Festival."
After the deck building was done, I was just about to ask the question when De Rosa turned around and put it to me: "Like my deck?"
"Well ... no."
"It's pretty bad, isn't it?" De Rosa said with a sigh. However, he was determined to defy all adversity. "I'm still going to win with it. I've had worse."