Two young players with some strong finishes to their names, Valentin Mackl and Tamás Glied are both winners already this weekend. Valentin's performance has him locked up for Gold in the Pro Players Club, while Tamás has picked up Silver. That means that while neither player came into this event with an invitation to the next Pro Tour, both will leave with one. Both were piloting white-green-red decks, Mackl with Fleecemane Lion and Brimaz, King of Oreskos, while Glied was running more of a midrange build with additional acceleration and burn.
Mackl won the die roll, but was inconvenienced by a mulligan. Soon a pair of Sylvan Caryatids were facing off, but Mackl's attempt to really jump ahead with Xenagos, the Reveler was thwarted by a Lightning Strike from Glied. Glied then dropped the hammer – Stormbreath Dragon took a chunk out of Mackl, and a couple of turns of struggling later, he succumbed to the (now 7/7) flying beast.
"Not good!" Mackl was, for some reason, not entirely happy about the draconic beating he'd just received, and studied Glied's decklist as he flicked through his sideboard. "You know, you have to lose, you have to catch your flight!" Such possible inconveniences weren't enough to deter Glied, who was in the process of adding some serious spice to his deck – Revel of the Fallen God, Fated Conflagration, Glare of Heresy and Banishing Light would bring a mix of late-game power and powerful removal to the remaining games.
"If you beat me now, you become the official Austrian-crusher!" Mackl explained that in a past Pro Tour Qualifier in the Czech Republic, Glied had defeated three different Austrian players in the Top 8 to earn his invitation. Could he make it a fourth here in the Grand Prix Manchester Top 8?
Tamás Glied 1-0 Valentin Mackl
It was Glied's turn to mulligan this time; then again, Mackl had agonized over his own decision. Would he be able to build up some momentum in this second game, or would Glied be able to thwart him once more and advance to the final?
Two cards down, Glied could only answer the first of Mackl's copies of Brimaz, King of Oreskos, although a Courser helped him recover at least one card, a Temple of Plenty hitting play from the top of his library. Glied could answer the first of Mackl's five-casting cost threats as well, but after Mackl's Stormbreath Dragon fell, the Ajani, Mentor of Heroes that replaced it drew a grimace. Elspeth, Sun's Champion joined Ajani, and Glied's lands were no help. Revel of the Fallen God and his own Elspeth let Glied keep up in terms of numbers, but Mackl was threatening to ultimate Elspeth first and finish the game in a single attack. Glied sent his team into Elspeth, trying to bait Mackl into blocking, but the Austrian let everything through, then pumped his own tokens once more with Ajani, getting through for lethal damage.
Tamás Glied 1-1 Valentin Mackl
Mackl, after spending a few seconds with his head in his hands, decided to keep for the final game. Both of his early Temple scrys sent cards to the bottom, while Glied developed his manabase with a pair of Caryatids. Elspeth from Glied, Banishing Light from Mackl, then a backbreaking turn of Xenagos into Banishing Light right back from Glied, and the game was already threatening to spiral out of control for Mackl. "Threatening" only lasted a turn, as Revel of the Fallen God drove four hasty nails into Mackl's coffin ...
"Wait a second, let me cheat first!" Valentin attempted a Jedi mind trick, his last-ditch attempt to stay in the game. He reached into his sideboard for an Anger of the Gods, producing it with a flourish. Sadly, in his sideboard it would have to stay, and Tamás Glied advanced to the final!
Tamás Glied 2-1 Valentin Mackl