A little over two weeks ago, Tulio Jaudy was set and ready to attend Pro Tour Journey to Nyx, marking a hard-fought return to the Pro Tour. When he found out that his visa application to the US had been rejected, those plans came crashing down. While he was trying hard to find a way to get his qualification transferred to Pro Tour Magic 2014 in hopes that his next visa application would be successful, he had never really counted on trying to get qualified for Portland the old-fashioned way.
"I suppose this will do, too," he joked on his way to his Top 4 draft table. Here alongside his teammates Carlos dos Santos Esteves, better known as _batutinha, the Magic Online end-boss, and Guilherme Merjan, Jaudy has a chance to just flat-out win an invite to Portland. Still, there is one more team to defeat if he and his teammates are going to grab their invitations, and they are also quite skilled players. Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, and Walter Perez are three old-school Brazilian Magic players with Pro Tour experience, and we've seen just how good some of the old guard can be in team events. Think Hron/Hayne/Hoaen and Longo/Phillipps/Berger. It's going to be a tough road, and it all begins with a successful three-on-three draft.
Jaudy took his place between Perez and Cortez and cracked his first pack. After a quick thumb through the pack, it was clear that there was only one option for Jaudy: Setessan Tactics. The insanely unfair rare can almost single-handedly win games, making it an easy selection. To follow that up, Jaudy had a more complex decision, and one that would set the pace for the rest of the draft: Riddle of Lightning or Sigiled Skink? Jaudy answered the riddle with a Riddle of his own, adding the powerful, yet expensive, burn spell to his pile. From there, his draft took a decidedly aggressive turn. Satyr Hoplite and a pair of Sigiled Skinks gave him an unusually low curve for a prospective Green/Red deck, and he recognized and embraced this.
"Most of the Green/Red decks you see are the bigger ramp decks," he told me while constructing his deck. "The way the cards were coming for me, though, I was in a much better spot to draft an aggressive deck. I committed to it and made a few picks in the draft with that specifically in mind."
After a reasonable first pack, his second pack offered a good amount of support to a burgeoning aggressive Red/Green deck. He opened and took a Pheres-Band Tromper, a little less than pleased to have to pass Kiora, the Crashing Wave. But he was rewarded for his efforts in the first pack with two copies of Bolt of Keranos and three copies of Fearsome Temper, an ideal card in this low-cost, aggressive take on Red/Green.
One thing that he was noticeably missing, however, were enough bodies to support his creature enhancers. As great as Fearsome Temper is, it's pretty terrible if it's rotting in hand because of a lack of creatures. While Jaudy looked to remedy this hole in his deck in the third pack, the gods of Theros apparently had other ideas. His open in the final pack was one of the most abysmal packs I've ever seen for a Red/Green drafter. That said, it was an incredible pack for a Black/Blue drafter. Lash of the Whip, Omenspeaker, Shipwreck Singer, Erebos's Emissary, and the powerful Prognostic Sphinx all make fantastic additions to a good Black/Blue control deck. Unfortunately for Jaudy, the options for Green/Red were hilariously limited. He ended up with a Portent of Betrayal out of the pack, which isn't that bad in his aggressive deck, but it's still nowhere near as good as the other cards in his pack.
The next pack marked one of the most interesting sets of decisions of the draft. After the soul-crushing previous pack, his hopes were lifted by a pack containing Nessian Asp, Titan's Strength, and Feral Invocation. On raw power level, the Asp is leagues ahead of the Invocation, but Jaudy chose to go with the three-drop aura.
"I went with the Invocation because of the two-drops I had drafted at that point," he told me after the draft. "I was committed to the aggressive build, and I wasn't as pleased with the Asp in that deck as I would have been if this were a ramp deck. I also thought I could get the Titan's Strength back. It turns out that I was right."
Not only did the Strength come back, but, curiously enough, the Asp did, as well. Given the choice between the two, Jaudy stuck to his guns and took the Strength.
After the draft, with his deck laid out, it was clear that Jaudy was still a bit light on creatures, with only twelve to pick up his numerous auras. That left him lamenting one pick in particular.
After looking over his team's deck, though, he felt a little better about their chances in the Semifinals.
"They can carry me," he laughed.
Guilherme Merjan's Black/Blue deck was a beautiful creation. In addition to a Pain Seer/Disciple of Deceit/Springleaf Drum engine a la Team Revolution's Block Constructed deck from Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, Merjan had a massive suite of removal including a Dictate of Erebos. At the back end of everything was the potentially game-breaking Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. While Ashiok can occasionally be difficult to get value out of, a deck with that much removal seemed like a perfect home for the Planeswalker.
Carlos dos Santos Esteves had an equally interesting Blue/Green deck. Already having professed to be a fan of Kiora's Follower, it was no surprise to see a pair of the powerful uncommon resting in his deck. What was strange was that they weren't surrounded by a mountain of fat to accelerate into. Instead, Esteves had what looked like two dozen two drops to go along with a few pump and bounce spells. He was looking to hit hard and early with Swordwise Centaurs and Bassara Tower Archers, keeping the path clear with Voyage's End and Sea God's Revenge.