Marlon Gutierrez has had an incredible run this weekend. Not only has the masters student and professor from Mexico City locked up an invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Journey into Nyx later next year, but he has also been crushing his competition all weekend with Orzhov Control, a deck that has access to four Blood Barons of Vizkopa. And the Blood Barons have been serving him well all weekend, with his deck of choice appearing to be very well positioned for this event.
Needless to say, the Blood Barons were going to make No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark's journey into the finals a very steep uphill battle. His White Weenie deck, which delves into black for Orzhov, has no way to interact with the five mana creature, and Gutierrez's combination of cheap discard spells and removal. Would the Hall of Famer be able to push through with a quick win before Gutierrez's deck was completely online?
Gutierrez led with a first-turn Thoughtseize, disposing Stark of Xathrid Necromancer and leaving him with Imposing Sovereign, Boros Elite, Godless Shrine, and three Plains. Stark led with his one mana creature, and then added the Sovereign to his board on the next turn, unable to attack with Boros Elite due to Gutierrez's untapped Mutavault.
Gutierrez had a creature for the board with Pack Rat on the third turn. It came in tapped, and Stark's creatures attacked in, another Boros Elite joined his team post combat. Gutierrez had no fourth land, but he passed with his Pack Rat untapped. Stark sent his team in, dropping Gutierrez to 9 but losing Imposing Sovereign in the process.
While Gutierrez couldn't find land but was content with the situation given that his Pack Rat was providing him with options, Stark was unable to find spells and was drowning in lands. Slowly, his board was whittled away, the Hall of Famer losing creatures to Gutierrez's removal spells, while Gutierrez made sure to keep at least one Pack Rat available to continue clogging the board. Eventually, Gutierrez added a real copy of Pack Rat to join his board of Pack Rat tokens.
Eventually, Gutierrez reached five mana, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa was more than enough to earn the concession from Stark.
Gutierrez again led with Thoughtseize in the second game, seeing a hand of Banisher Preist, Orzhov Charm, Precinct Captain, Dark Betrayal, and two Mutavaults. He chose to discard Stark's Dark Betrayal, leaving Stark to cast Daring Skyjek from off the top on the next turn. Devour Flesh immediately disposed of the 3/1 creature, and Stark replaced it with Precinct Captain on the next turn.
No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark
Stark had no proactive action on the third turn, and passed back to Gutierrez, who also had no plays. Stark beat down with Mutavault. He found Xathrid Necromancer on the next turn, and he added it to his board. Pharika's Cure quickly shot down the powerful human wizard, and Gutierrez followed up with Desecration Demon, which was promptly exiled by Stark's Banisher Priest. Attacks from the zombie and the Mutavault put Gutierrez down to 12. Stark did not hesitate to send in his team, and when Gutierrez had Doom Blade for the Banisher Priest, Orzhov Charm destroyed the Desecration Demon when it came back into play.
Before blocks, Gutierrez woke up his Mutavault, then blocked Stark's own copy of the land. Devour Flesh caused Stark to sacrifice his blocked Mutavault, and Gutierrez dropped to 8. However, the newcomer stabilized when Hero's Downfall and a blocking Mutavault left the Hall of Famer without creatures.
When Gutierrez had Pack Rat as his final follow-up, the writing was on the wall. The rats quickly multiplied, and Stark's draw steps did not yield and way out. He offered the handshake a few turns later.