Meeting here were Marcio Carvalho of Portugal and the current No. 2, Frenchman Jérémy Dezani. The former's mostly known for a pair of Pro Tour Top 8s from the second half of the previous decade, whereas Dezani only really broke through in the 2010s with, in total now, eight Grand Prix Top 8s and one Pro Tour win. Who would advance to the final of this Grand Prix?
Even looking at their decks didn't provide a clear answer as to the favorite here. Both had drafted white decks, but where Dezani added some blue for fliers and some control elements, Carvalho was mostly red and clearly more aggressive. Would he be able to topple Dezani's defenses or would Dezani continue his streak of recent top finishes?
Carvalho started strong with Deathbellow Raider, Dragon Mantle, and Magma Spray for Dezani's first creature. He continued to pressure his opponent with Fanatic of Mogis. Dezani fought back with God-Favored General and bestowed Hopeful Eidolon upon it to recoup some life and to generate some blockers as well, but in the end Carvalho pushed through lethal damage via Rouse the Mob.
Marcio Carvalho 1-0 Jérémy Dezani
This time, Dezani led the charge with a pair of Oreskos Sun Guides. Carvalho stabilized by bestowing Nyxborn Shieldmate upon Satyr Hoplite. However, Dezani took to the air with Coastline Chimera and Hopeful Eidolon. Meanwhile, Carvalho got his own offense going with Fearsome Temper on Elite Skirmisher, but Dezani had gained way too much life to be in any serious danger. More creatures accumulated on each side of the board, until Dezani finally got the upper hand with a massive Evangel of Heliod.
Marcio Carvalho 1-1 Jérémy Dezani
The all-deciding third duel mirrored the first game, with Carvalho again putting up early pressure with Deathbellow Raider, Akroan Skyguard, and Fanatic of Mogis. By turn four, he already had Dezani down to 13.
Dezani, meanwhile, deployed Stonewise Fortifier and Eagle of the Watch, bestowing Nyxborn Shieldmate upon the latter. When Carvalho attacked with all three of his creatures, Dezani thought long and hard about his possible blocks. If Carvalho had Rouse the Mob that would be terrible for Dezani; and if he had Ajani's Presence that'd be even worse. Dezani decided to just block Deathbellow Raider with the 3/3 Eagle of the Watch, losing it when Carvalho creature did Rise to the Challenge.
Dezani had another blocker, though, in Harvestguard Alseids, and when Carvalho attacked again chose to block Fanatic of Mogis with Stonewise Fortifier and to double-block Deathbellow Raider with Nyxborn Shieldmate and Harvestguard Alseids. Carvalho had to admit that he didn't actually have a pump spell and lost both his creatures, killing Dezani's Shieldmate and Fortifier in the process.
Now Dezani's deck was working on overdrive. Hopeful Eidolon turned Harvestguard Alseids into a veritable 3/4 attacker and, similarly, turned the damage race right around. A couple of turns later, Dezani's Evangel of Heliod once again sealed the deal.
Marcio Carvalho 1-2 Jérémy Dezani