Posted in NEWS on March 16, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Brazil has always been the dominant force in South American Magic, and it has always had a particular stranglehold on events in Buenos Aires. This Semifinal match between Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, from Porto Allegre, and Phillipe Monlevade. from Rio de Janeiro, ensures that, once again, there will be a Brazilian player vying for the title of Grand Prix Buenos Aires Champion.

The Decks

Damo da Rosa opted to play his trusty standby, Esper Control, and has had a very impressive run with the deck. He had praised the strength of Detention Sphere prior to beginning this Semifinal match, and it was very likely that it would come into play in a major way.

One reason for this is the power of Monlevade's Planeswalkers. His Jund Monsters deck is running more than the standard number of prime targets for Detention Sphere, with Vraska the Unseen joining Domri Rade and both versions of Xenagos. In addition to these permanent threats, Monlevade also has access to the very powerful Stormbreath Dragon, providing a hasty threat that can be difficult for the Esper Control deck to deal with.

The Games

Damo da Rosa held the first game in a vice grip from the word go. He had answers to the first three threats that Monlevade tried to play, keeping the way more or less clear for a sixth-turn Elspeth, Sun's Champion. The one threat that Monlevade was able to keep in play actually did more harm than good. His Courser of Kruphix revealed five non-land cards in a row, providing himself no benefit, and giving Damo da Rosa more free information.

Elspeth did her job, protecting herself with tokens and even dispatching of a Reaper of the Wilds before Damo da Rosa cleared the board with Supreme Verdict. Now denied any threats at all, Monlevade watched helplessly as Damo da Rosa filled his hand up with Sphinx's Revelation and took over the game with Elspeth. It only took a few turns for the number of tokens to exceed Monlevade's patience, and he picked up his cards.

The second game provided an example of the power of haste creatures in this matchup. Damo da Rosa locked things up nicely in the early stages of the game, using Pithing Needle to shut down Domri Rade and Supreme Verdict to keep the board clear. Onto an empty board, Monlevade managed to throw two Stormbreath Dragons and two copies of Xenagos, the Reveler. Each of the first three met an untimely death in turn, but not before doing their damage. With Damo da Rosa at 4 life and his own board clear, Monlevade made a Satyr token with his Xenagos before playing Vraska the Unseen, using her ability to destroy the Detention Sphere locking down the other Xenagos. It came into play, giving him another attacker, and making a very elegant lethal board position. Damo da Rosa shrugged and packed things up for the final game.

In that final game, it looked like Damo da Rosa had the huge lead early. His second-turn Blind Obedience would have done wonders in the previous game, preventing the massive amount of hasty damage he took. It managed to do that in this game, preventing Xenagos, Stormbreath Dragon, Mistcutter Hydra, and the like from ever reaching his life total. Damo da Rosa even had all four copies of his important Detention Sphere to destroy the threats before they could hurt him. Unfortunately for Damo da Rosa, he also drew only four of his lands, keeping him from being able to do anything but react. He took a massive hit to Supreme Verdict away a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, and Monlevade was able to capitalize. He got another Stormbreath Dragon into play, this time surviving the torrent of removal. When it went monstrous on the next turn, it did a massive amount of damage to the mana-screwed Damo da Rosa. That, plus the increase in power, was enough to make the Dragon lethal, sending Phillipe Monlevade to the Finals!