Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2009

Over 630 players showed up to battle on Saturday, over 75 to continue struggling Sunday, and just eight for the final single elimination rounds. Through it all, their fate was secure: only one would raise the crown of Grand Prix-Sao Paulo champion. Of course, there were many stories to be told along the way. Could visiting pros from Europe and the United States steal a Grand Prix title from the continent of South America? What new archetypes would the tournament spawn, or would an old favorite reign supreme? And could Brazil defend its Grand Prix title at home, or would a member of a neighboring South American country make a move to assert their own competitive dominance?

It was this final narrative that set the stage for the finals. Daniel Almeida calmly mowed down first the Swiss, then the Top 8 to find himself in the hot seat defending the host nation’s pride in the final round of the tournament. His opponent? Andres Monsalve, recently returned from Pro Tour-Honolulu and looking to grab the title for his own and his native Argentina. It was a hard fought battle for both, but when the final life total was notated, Brazil had defended its turf. Daniel Almeida is your 2009 Grand Prix-Sao Paulo champion!

top 8 bracket


(1) Andres Monsalve [ARG]

(8) Daniel Frias [BRA]

(5) Guilherme Vieira [BRA]

(4) Juan Veliz [CHL]

(7) Wendell Santini [BRA]

(2) Allison Abe [BRA]

(3) Diego Crusius [BRA]

(6) Daniel Almeida Alves [BRA]


Andres Monsalve [ARG], 2-1

Guilherme Vieira [BRA], 2-0

Wendell Santini [BRA], 2-1

Daniel Almeida Alves [BRA], 2-0


Andres Monsalve [ARG], 2-0

Daniel Almeida Alves [BRA], 2-0


Daniel Almeida Alves [BRA], 2-0


  • by Bill Stark
    Andres Monsalve (Doran) Versus Daniel Almeida (Kithkin)
  • by Nate Price
    Daniel Almeida vs. Wendell Santini
  • by Bill Stark
    Andres Monsalve (Doran) Versus Guilherme Vieira (Black-White Tokens)
  • by Nate Price
    Allison Abe (Green/White) vs. Wendell Santini (Blue/White Lark)
  • by Bill Stark
    Andres Monsalve (Doran) VS Daniel Frias (Black-White Tokens)
  • by Nate Price
    Guilherme Vieira (Black/White Tokens) vs. Juan Veliz (Kithkin
  • by Bill Stark
    Daniel Alameida (Kithkin) VS Diego Crucius (Cascade Control)
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Player Profiles
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Decklists
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog:
    Featured Matches, Deck Tech and more from day two!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog:
    See the most amazing matches from day one!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


1. Daniel Almeida Alves $3,500
2. Andres F Monsalve $2,300
3. Guilherme B Vieira $1,500
4. Wendell Santini $1,500
5. Allison N Abe $1,000
6. Diego K Crusius $1,000
7. Juan Veliz $1,000
8. Daniel R Frias $1,000

pairings, results, standings


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8: Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Wendell Santini

Download Arena Decklist

Daniel de Almeida Alves

Download Arena Decklist

Juan Véliz

Download Arena Decklist

Allison Abe

Download Arena Decklist

Andres Monsalve

Download Arena Decklist

Guilherme Vieira

Download Arena Decklist

Diego Crucius

Download Arena Decklist

Daniel Frias

Download Arena Decklist

Top 8 Player profiles

Name: Juan Veliz
Age: 28
Occupation: Software Engineer
Home Country: Chile

Record in the Swiss: 12-2-1

What deck did you play, and why?

White-Black Kithkin, because it’s very good for me and I like it so much. Finally, I think that the metagame was so open that a deck like White-Black Kithkin could make it.

Who did you test with?

With my team in a Magic store in Chile called Rivendel. My teammate La Loss told me that my deck is very bad; that was enough for me to choose it just to tease him.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):

2nd place in Chilean Nats 2008, and Worlds 2008.

Name: Allison Nakazora Abe
Age: 23
Occupation: Student
Home Country: Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 13-2-0

What deck did you play, and why?

Green-White Tokens. I wanted a deck that beats Black-Green Elves and other token decks.

Who did you test with?

With my teammates and friends from my city.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):

Top 16 last Nationals (Brazil).

Name: Wendell Santini
Age: 27
Occupation: Manager of Nolan Battle Arena
Home Country: Campinas, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 11-1-3

What deck did you play, and why?
U/W Lark Ruaz Vale-Tudo by me. This list was going to beat the field, it’s consistent, as long as I avoid Faeries.

Who did you test with?
In Nolan Battle Arena with Pudin, Luis Henrique “Bicha,” William, Oswaldo, and various friends.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):
Not in the last 10 years.

Name: Guilherme B. Vieira
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Home Country: Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 12-2-1

What deck did you play, and why?
BW Tokens. I was going to play B/G Elves, but my friend Pedro Mota didn’t lend me Maelstrom Pulses.

Who did you test with?
My friend Adilson Gouvea gave me a deck 20 minutes before the start of the tournament. I modified the sideboard with the help of my other friend, Bruno Camara.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):
My brother made the 2003 National team, I got 9th in the last Nationals.

Name: Daniel R. Frias
Age: 22
Occupation: Marketing
Home Country: Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 12-3

What deck did you play, and why?
BW Persist. My sideboard was good against decks that I thought would be reigning here. And because I like it, too.

Who did you test with?
Teammates: André Franco, Guilherme Mersan, and some other local store friends.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):
PT Altanta ‘05, Nationals Top 8 once, and I BEAT PV TODAY!!

Name: Daniel Almeida
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Home Country: Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 12-2-1

What deck did you play, and why?
Mono-white “8 Knights.” Because I practiced and used to play the deck. The deck has fair matchups against the field, definitely against Faeries and Blightning B/R. It also wins against Kithkin Aggro. It also doesn’t too bad in the “bad matchups” thanks to Aura of Silence against Cascade Swans.

Who did you test with?
Read articles, used the Internet, practiced with William Carvalho, Wendell Santini, and team “Mana Vai.”

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):

Name: Andres Monsalve
Age: 25
Occupation: Student
Home Country: Argentina

Record in the Swiss: 13-2-0

What deck did you play, and why?
Dovan G/W/B because I didn’t leave too much time to test and the deck was solid, until Friday when I got here from Hawaii Matias Rodriguez told me to play it and here I am.

Who did you test with?
I played in Hawaii last weekend so I didn’t test it too much.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):
I played a lot of Nationals, was top 8 in many PTQs. But I got to Hawaii qualifying in a PTQ. Also I played in GP Porto Alegre in 2004 and GP Buenos Aires in 2008.

Name: Diego Keretzky Crusius
Age: 28
Occupation: I own my own business
Home Country: Brazil

Record in the Swiss: 12-2-1

What deck did you play, and why?
Cascade Desire. I spent like 2 weeks testing a terrible Cascade LD, but Eduardo Borges gave me this, putting the LD package in the sideboard.

Who did you test with?
I didn’t test at all. Just asked Eduardo about the games.

Previous Magic experiences (Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds, Grand Prixs):

Quarterfinals: Daniel Alameida (Kithkin) VS Diego Crucius (Cascade Control)

by Bill Stark

Cruising at the top of the standings for much of the weekend, Diego Crucius finally managed to enjoy the fruits of his labor as he sat down to play his first Feature Match of the day in the Quarterfinals. His opponent, Daniel Alameida, was undefeated in Feature Matches on the weekend, having survived one during the Swiss.

Daniel Alameida had a roaring start from his Kithkin deck leading on twin copies of Knight of the Meadowgrain and a protective Burrenton Forge-Tender. He applied the beats while his opponent, Diego Crucius, worked on building up enough mana to do something interesting. When he hit three lands, he made his move playing a Volcanic Fallout. Daniel was quick to pop his Forge-Tender to save the rest of his team.

Top 8 competitor Diego Crucius playing Cascade Control.Glorious Anthem after the Volcanic Fallout wasn’t enough to save Alameida’s Knights from a Caldera Hellion, and when he played Spectral Procession Diego was ready with a second Volcanic Fallout. Daniel kept re-arming himself, playing a Ranger of Eos to fetch up Burrenton Forge-Tender and Figure of Destiny.

Continuing in his effort to control the game, Diego Crucius played a Kitchen Finks to pad his life total and muck up the ground. Unimpressed, Alameida played a Knight of the White Orchid for a free land and crashed with his Ranger of Eos after using Unmake to RFG the 3/2. Crucius was willing to activate a Treetop Village and trade the 3/3 for his opponent’s attacker, then made a Bloodbraid Elf on his own turn which fetched up a second Finks. The Cascade Control player was doing what Cascade Control does best: grinding out the game long enough for him to overwhelm the Kithkin player with card advantage.

Wrath of God added to the card advantage tally for Crucius, wiping his opponent’s board and leaving him with a 2/1 Kitchen Finks. Alameida simply reloaded for the umpteenth time in the match, playing Ranger of Eos to find twin copies of Figure of Destiny. The twins hit play, but Diego quickly upped the ante playing a Primal Command to search for Enlisted Wurm and put a land on top of his opponent’s library.

The crowd leaned in to see what card Enlisted Wurm would cascade its owner into, but instead of the cantripping 5/5, Diego played a second Wrath of God, clearing Alameida’s board of both Figures of Destiny and his Ranger of Eos. Daniel continued rebuilding, playing a Figure of Destiny then immediately morphing it up twice to a 4/4. He passed the turn back to his opponent, who obliged the crowd by finally playing Enlisted Wurm. That fetched up a Primal Command, which Diego used to find another Wurm.

The second Enlisted Wurm picked up a Kitchen Finks for Crucius. The creature, normally a standout in the Cascade Control deck, wasn’t exactly what Crucius wanted at that particular moment. Alameida played Spectral Procession and a second copy of Glorious Anthem, then was able to super size his Figure of Destiny. That allowed Daniel to attack for 19 in the air; Crucius had no chump blockers and couldn’t play any removal and the two players were on to the second game.

Daniel Alameida 1, Diego Crucius 0

Figure of Destiny was the first creature on the board for Daniel Alameida’s Kithkin deck, and he rode it for two turns straight making it into a 2/2, then a 4/4 rather than develop his board with other creatures. His opponent, Diego Crucius, didn’t have a play until the fourth turn when he dropped a Bloodbraid Elf that fetched up a Kitchen Finks. Alameida simply parried back with a Ranger of Eos finding two copies of Figure of Destiny.

An Enlisted Wurm from Crucius flipped Incendiary Command, but the play was countered by a Burrenton Forge-Tender and Path to Exile, one for each of the cards Crucius had played. A second Enlisted Wurm from Crucius was met with more creatures from Alameida, who played another Burrenton Forge-Tender to protect his still 4/4 Figure of Destiny.

Top 8 competitor Daniel Alameida playing Kithkin.Both players maneuvered back and forth with creatures that could “draw” cards. Diego’s came in the form of Enlisted Wurm and Bloodbraid Elf while his opponent had Ranger of Eos and Knight of the White Orchid. When Crucius tapped out to play two Captured Sunlights in one turn, however, he left himself open for a big attack. Alameida obliged, playing a sixth Plains, growing his Figure all the way up to 8/8, and bashing Diego to 9. Now Crucius needed a solution to the Figure or he was going to be dead in a few turns.

Incendiary Command was the play for the Brazilian, wiping his opponent’s board of all creatures save for the 8/8 Figure. That allowed Diego to attack back, putting Daniel at 9, but Alameida wasn’t done fighting. He attacked right back with his Figure, then played a Burrenton Forge-Tender and Reveillark. The blocking duo spelled big trouble for Diego, who needed to either find a way through for lethal or, at 3 life, come up with a solution for both the Figure and the Reveillark.

The plan Diego hatched? He turned his team, including a 2/1 Kitchen Finks, Enlisted Wurm, and activated Treetop Village, sideways. Was it a ploy to get his opponent to block incorrectly, perhaps to steal a win? Or was it a desperation effort, belying the reality Diego just didn’t have a solution to the situation? The crowd seemed to hold its breath in anticipation of the answer. Daniel Alameida, not sure what to think and knowing his future in the Grand Prix Top 8 could depend on his decision, checked his opponent’s graveyard for some type of help solving the puzzle. At long last, Daniel blocked the Enlisted Wurm with his Reveillark in addition to putting his Burrenton Forge-Tender in front of his opponent’s 2/1 Finks. Following combat, Crucius tipped his hand, figuratively and literally, as he played Wrath of God to clear the board.

The play was a good one, but Daniel was ready. He had a second Reveillark and Crucius was left living off the top. When he didn’t find the miracle he was looking for, he was forced to extend the hand, sending Daniel Alameida on to the Semifinals.

Daniel Alameida 2, Diego Crucius 0

Quarterfinals - Guilherme Vieira (Black/White Tokens) vs. Juan Veliz (Kithkin)

byNate Price

Vieira won the die roll and chose to go first. I can’t even remember the last time I saw someone draw first in a Constructed format. Vieira’s first play, Bitterblossom, would set the pace for this entire game. Veliz, despite going second, came out of the gates just as quickly, looking to put as much pressure on Vieira as possible. Goldmeadow Stalwart and a pair of Wizened Cenn spearheaded the charge, but they ran right into a Kitchen Finks and a growing armada of Faerie tokens backed up by a Glorious Anthem.

Both players had a way to pump their creatures, but Veliz had the slight advantage. This slight advantage opened even wider when he attacked with his two Cenn and the Stalwart on the next turn. Before Vieira could block, Veliz used a Path to Exile to remove the Finks from the game. After Vieira’s tokens ganged up on one of the Cenn, Veliz used his Windbrisk Heights to throw a third Wizened Cenn into the mix. Vieira took a ton of damage, but he managed to get rid of one of Veliz’s Cenn. Only two to go. A 3/3 Murderous Redcap took care of another, and all of a sudden, Veliz was looking a bit down despite being well ahead on life.

A pair of Goldmeadow Stalwarts replenished his team, but he was building slower than Vieira was. The Bitterblossom was just churning out creatures each turn, though it drove him closer to death as well, and, thanks to the big turn from Veliz, it was on the close horizon. Fortunately for him, Vieira had an Ajani Goldmane which he could use to gain some life in a pinch, but it was much more beneficial for him to just pump his troops and send them in.

Veliz needs to find the...exact...right...cut....

Veliz had to think for a while before deciding on his blocks. He was down to 14 with Vieira down to six. He had a lot of creatures, but Vieira had more, and they were just getting larger and more numerous. Ultimately, he chose to stick one of his three Stalwarts in front of the 4/4 Redcap and Path to Exile it for his fourth land before damage. His fourth land got him his own Ajani Goldmane to kill Vieira’s, getting things back under some modicum of control. He was still dropping faster than Vieira, and had slightly worse guys, but he was also positively posturing in case he drew something of value.

Vieira drew a Windbrisk Heights for his turn and dropped it into play before attacking with one of his 3/3 tokens. Veliz took the hit and found a chance to swing back on his turn. He dropped another Cenn into play, Pathed the Redcap, and sent his Stalwarts in. Vieira chose to sacrifice a Mutavault to block one and chumped the other with a token. This dropped him to five. Vieira just passed the turn after making another Bitterblossom token.

Veliz took advantage of the lull from Vieira to send his team across. Vieira blocked everything with tokens and used a Zealous Persecution before damage to completely clear Veliz’s board. At this point, Veliz was almost too far behind to come back. A Cloudgoat Ranger gave him one more chance to try and punch through, but a Windbrisk Heights revealed a Kitchen Finks for Vieira to keep him safe from death. With Veliz’s only win condition (Vieira’s own Bitterblossom) now dealt with, Veliz conceded.

Guilhermo Vieira 1 – Juan Veliz 0

The next game saw Veliz start a little slow, but his first two land drops were Windbrisk Heights. When his first actual cast was a Spectral Procession, his slightly stuttered start seemed easily erased. He wasn’t playing solitaire, though. Vieira had a Bitterblossom and Kitchen Finks for the second game in a row, and they did just fine for him last game. When the tokens got their first attack in, one traded with a Faerie from Vieira, but it was replaced with a fresh three from one of the Heights. A Murderous Redcap tried to take one more out, but Veliz responded with a Zealous Persecution which kept his token safe.

Five tokens came across on the next turn and dropped Vieira to twelve. After combat, a Goldmeadow Stalwart brought the fight to the ground as well as the sky. After attacking with his team, Vieira played a Wrath of God to blow the world up. His Finks and Redcap were suddenly the only creatures on the table, and he was in the driver’s seat. Thanks to Veliz’s Caves of Koilos, he wasn’t even that far behind on life.

A Cloudgoat Ranger tried to even things back out again, but an Ajani Goldmane made sure that the advantage stayed firmly with Vieira. His “larger and in charger” Faerie tokens swung over and knocked Veliz down to four. A Knight of Meadowgrain came down as well. All Veliz could do was to swing back and try to kill Ajani. Vieira didn’t have anything, and the planeswalker faded away. The attack also activated the other Windbrisk Heights, putting three more Spirit tokens into play with Spectral Procession.

Vieira refuses to play fair.

The same trick as last time involving a Wrath of God cleared the table except for Vieira’s Murderous Redcap and Kitchen Finks. That left him clear to attack with Mutavault. All Veliz could do was play an Ajani Goldmane and gain two life, doubling his life total. When Vieira tried to go for the kill next turn with his two creatures and a Mutavault, Veliz again had a trick, this time Zealous Persecution, which left a 1/1 Mutavault as the only creature that could attack. He made sure to do it before Vieira declared attackers, leaving his Heights off. The attack dropped Veliz to three.

A Spectral Procession from Vieira more or less sealed things. Veliz gained two life and paid four for a Goldmeadow Stalwart. Vieira activated him Mutavault and sent the team. The fliers knocked Veliz to two while the ground pounders traded. The attack turned the Windbrisk Heights on, allowing Vieira to flip over a Murderous Redcap for the last two points of damage.

Guilhaume Vieira – 2 – Juan Veliz - 0

Quarterfinals: Andres Monsalve (Doran) VS Daniel Frias (Black-White Tokens)

by Bill Stark

One of two non-Brazilian players in the Top 8, Argentinean Andres Monsalve had his work cut out for him to steal the title from the home country. Daniel Frias, a proud resident of the host nation, wasn’t about to let that happen as the two kicked off their first Top 8 match.

A first-turn Treefolk Harbinger from Andres Monsalve fetched up a Doran, the Siege Tower, and Monsalve went to work building up an army. Gaddock Teeg joined Knotvine Paladin before the Seige Tower finally hit play. On the other side of the board, Daniel Frias had simply made a Bitterblossom yielding one token.

Frias worked on gaining some ground, playing a Kitchen Finks to gain some life and providing a solid blocker. Unfortunately for him, Andres had a trump in the form of Dauntless Escort, and even a second Finks wasn’t enough to keep Daniel in the game. Monsalve added a second Treefolk Harbinger to his board, then crashed with his team over and over forcing Daniel to trade down turn after turn until he ran out of chump blockers and the inter-country rivalry headed to Game 2.

Andres Monsalve 1, Daniel Frias 0

“Who goes first?” Andres Monsalve asked his opponent as they kicked off the second game. Unamused, Frias simply motioned to himself.

“Are you sure? You don’t wanna draw a card?” Andres teased, adding: “Card advantage is better!” His cajoling finally earned a smile from his opponent, who all the same still opted to go first.

Top 8 competitor Daniel Frias playing Black-White Tokens.Daniel Frias’ start in the first game of his Top 8 match had been pretty lackluster, but he made up for it in the second with a Bitterblossom followed by Kitchen Finks and Glorious Anthem. His opponent had had a bit slower start than the first game, opening on Noble Hierarch and accelerating into Wilt-Leaf Liege. It wasn’t going to be enough if the Argentinean wanted to keep up in the race.

In the blink of an eye, the situation worsened for Monsalve as Daniel played a Cloudgoat Ranger, cluttering the field with 2/2 tokens thanks to the Glorious Anthem. Andres attempted to fight back with a Kitchen Finks, but Daniel’s deck almost seemed to laugh off the effort. Ajani Goldmane jumped to the offense, and upon seeing the planeswalker on his opponent’s side of the board, Andres conceded rather than drag the affair out.

Andres Monsalve 1, Daniel Frias 1

A series of mulligans kicked off the final game between Andres Monsalve and Daniel Frias, but while Monsalve got to stay at six cards, his opponent had to mulligan all the way to four; an inauspicious start if there ever was one. Making matters worse for Frias, Andres opened on Noble Hierarch into Doran, the Siege Tower, then followed up with a Dauntless Escort. Daniel Frias was going to need a miracle to overcome an advantage like that!

Top 8 competitor Andres Monsalve playing Doran.And yet the trophy-hungry Monsalve didn’t relent in the least. He played a Behemoth Sledge, but was unable to equip the hammer after his opponent used Murderous Redcap to blow up his third mana in the form of the Noble Hierarch. The Redcap then traded in combat for the Dauntless Escort before a Wrath of God cleared the rest of the board. As Andres missed two straight land drops, stuck on just two, it started to look like Daniel Frias was going to get his miracle!

Frias started to get his beat on using a Mutavault, trying to take advantage of his opponent’s misfortunes. When Andres finally found a third land, he quickly put it in play, then followed up with a Kitchen Finks. Frias played Ajani Goldmane to gain some life, but was forced to hold off attacking with his Mutavault in the short term; he needed to block Andres’ Kitchen Finks or risk losing to a lethal attack at just 3 life.

Instead, Monsalve had the foil to the plan. He moved to attack with his Finks, but when Daniel tried to activate his Mutavault to block, Andres revealed Path to Exile. At 3 life, even after Ajani, Frias’ tournament had come to an end.

“I’ve got a lot of lands. Just lands...” Daniel Frias said, bemoaning his fate and revealing a grip of blanks.

Andres Monsalve 2, Daniel Frias 1

Quarterfinals – Allison Abe (Green/White) vs. Wendell Santini (Blue/White Lark)

by Nate Price

Abe had a Treetop Village for his first turn, which led to a second-turn Noble Heirarch. Santini used a Mind Stone to power into a third-turn Wall of Reverence to match it. The Wall didn’t get to stick around long, though, and a Path to Exile pushed it right out of the way. With the way clear, Abe dropped a Kitchen finks into play. Santini dropped a Meddling Mage on his next turn, and Abe tried to offer “Bitterblossom.’ When Santini responded with Wilt-Leaf Liege, Abe simply responded, “Nah, don’t like it.”

Over the next few turns, Santini started whittling away his own troops as he blocked successive attacks from Abe’s Treetop Village. Each attack dropped him lower and lower. He also kept adding little men to his forces through cards like Cloudgoat Ranger. Eventually, he resorted to stopping an attack with a Cryptic Command, but Abe could just activate his Treetop Village afterwards and attack. A Wrath of God finally showed up to finish the non-Treetop Villages off. A Cryptic Command bounced the Village back after Abe activated it to attack, but at that point it was just window dressing. Santini played a Reveillark which looked like it might turn things around for him, however he was too low and a swarm of Spectral Procession tokens took him down shortly thereafter.

Allison Abe 1 – Wendell Santini 0

Both players started out adding little white guys to their teams. A Knight of Meadowgrain and Kitchen Finks from Santini met a Qasali Pridemage and matching Finks for Abe. The following turn brought a Wall of Reverence for Santini. Nothing Abe had could break through the wall, and the lifegain was really going to add up. Abe built for a few more turns, trying to build an army to get over, around, or through the wall in any way he could. He found some sapping help in Ajani Goldmane. The massive number of creatures in play was soon going to get outrageously large tahnks to the big kitty’s powers, and that could spell trouble from Santini despite being at an ever-escalating high life total.

He did find some help for his wall with a Windborn Muse. With Abe stuck on three lands and two Noble Hierarchs, it would help funnel the attacks into a far more manageably-sized force. That is, until Abe drew Wrath of God. Before casting it, he sacrificed his Dauntless Escort to keep his side of the table safe before blowing up all of Santini’s creatures and smashing over for an obscene number. Luckily, Santini was at an even more obscene life total thanks to his Wall of Reverence. He survived the attack and ended the turn at eleven life.

That was just what the doctor ordered for Santini. With the Escort gone, it freed him up to cast his own Wrath of God, clearing awayeverythnig but he Kitchen Finks. Abe filled his board back up afterward with a Spectral Procession, but now Santini had a Reveillark and another Wall of Reverence to restabilize. A Mulldrifter joined soon after and Santini was in business. In all fairness to Abe, he was sitting on two lands and really needed an answer to the Windborn Muse on the other side of the table.
Abe is not amused.

Eventually, he found his own muse in a second Ajani Goldmane. He followed it with a Cloudgoat Ranger, and all of a sudden, he was chock full of nasties again. Santini had a full board, as well, including a tempted Spirit token from Abe’s force and a pair of Walls of Reverence.

Thanks to the second pair of Walls, Santini’s life rapidly escalated into obscene territory again, and despite drawing a million more creatures, Abe was never able to deal with them. Eventually, after going through some setting up and posturing involving killing Ajani Goldmane with a gigantic, unblockable Stillmoon Cavalier, Santini went for the kill with a Cryptic Command to tap all of Abe’s men. He ended the game at over 80 life, though with the number of men on Abe’s side, that would have disappeared in only a couple of swings.
Allison Abe – 1 – Wendell Santini – 1

The final game of the match started just as rapidly as the first had. Qasali Pridemage and Dauntless Escort were tripped up slightly by a Sower of Temptation from Santini. He tried to take the Escort, but Abe sacrificed it in response. A Spectral Procession filled the skies, but they didn’t have it to themselves. A Mulldrifter from Santini prevented the Spirits from having dominion over the skies, and full access to his life total. A Wilt-Leaf Liege spelled trouble, though, and the newly enhanced team attacked. Santini chose to trade his Mulldrifter and Sower of Temptation for two tokens, while at the same time filling up his graveyard with goodies for the Reveillark he played on his next turn.

With the Lark now firmly in play, things were destined to get interesting. Abe played a second Liege and attacked yet again. This time, Santini traded his Lark for the Pridemage and then played Path to Exile on the attacking Liege to reduce the damage he was taking and force some trades. His dying Lark brought back a Mulldrifter and a Sower of Temptation, which stole the other Liege from Abe. A Wall of Reverence from Santini came down to slow the now Liege-less Abe down even more. Santini also managed to get the beats in since most of Abe’s creatures were tapped last turn. Santini ended up the turn at nine having knocked Abe down to twelve.

Thanks to his shirt, Santini gets +1/+1 from his stolen Liege.

At this point, Santini had killed or stolen almost all of Abe’s creatures, and he was starting to gain a large chunk of life each turn. Despite trying desperately, Abe was never quite able to break through the Wall. He put on a good show while trying, though. He went to Path to Exile Santini’s Sower, but it met a Cryptic Command. With Santini tapped out, Abe was able to get a second Path to resolve, returning his Wilt-Leaf Liege to his massive board. He had a massive force, but Santini ahd spent enough time with a Wilt-Leaf Liege and a Wall of Reverence in play for Abe to get around for enough. Things were made worse when Santini tapped his last untapped land to Path to Exile the Liege before damage. At this point, he realized the futility of his situation and a final Reveillark closed the book on this quarterfinals match.

Allison Abe 1 – Wendell Santini 2

Semifinals: Andres Monsalve (Doran) Versus Guilherme Vieira (Black-White Tokens)

by Bill Stark

Andres Monsalve, the only non-Brazilian player left alive in the Grand Prix-Sao Paulo Top 8, had narrowly escaped his quarterfinals matchup. Meanwhile Guilherme Vieira had numbers handily behind him; his fellow countryman made up 75% of the Top 8, and he had made it through the quarterfinals with a bit more breathing room than his opponent.

Andres Monsalve is the only non-Brazilian left in the Top 8After losing the die roll, Monsalve managed to still be first on the board with a creature, opening on Treefolk Harbinger. The 0/3 fetched up a Doran, the Siege Tower for a few turns down the road, but Guilherme was ready to fight back playing a second-turn Tidehollow Sculler. The 2/2 nabbed a Knotvine Paladin from his opponent’s hand, leaving a Behemoth Sledge, Maelstrom Pulse, and second Treefolk Harbinger waiting in the wings for Andres.

A second Sculler stole Maelstrom Pulse for Guilherme, but Monsalve had played his second Treefolk Harbinger. That meant when his Doran hit, he instantly had an army of 3/3 Treefolk to attack his opponent with, a fact he took advantage of merrily. Vieira tried to find a way out of a situation that was growing increasingly sticky for him, but instead could only watch as Monsalve ripped a second Maelstrom Pulse and used it on his opponent’s twin Tidehollow Scullers. That meant he got his other Maelstrom Pulse and Knotvine Paladin back, all while bashing his opponent for 11 damage. Vieira went to the top of the deck but, finding nothing and knowing he was facing a removal spell in his opponent’s hand, scooped up his cards instead.

Andres Monsalve 1, Guilherme Vieira 0

Noble Hierarch for Andres Monsalve opened up the very real possibility of a second-turn Doran, the Siege Tower for Guilherme Vieira to deal with, but despite having the play open to him Monsalve followed a different path on his second turn. He opted to attack with his Hierarch for one, then played Gaddock Teeg. It was a heads up play from the Argentinean, preventing his opponent from playing Spectral Procession.

Could Guilherme Vieira overcome a tough semifinals match?That didn’t stop Guilherme from making some tokens from a Bitterblossom. He even had time to play Murderous Redcap to blow up his opponent’s Noble Hierarch. Andres didn’t seem to care as he played a Wilt-Leaf Liege, then followed it up with a second. Thanks to the creature’s bonuses on his green and white threats, Andres had a board full of 6/6 beat sticks. Could Guilherme Vieira come up with an answer for the intimidating board state?

He worked to do so, playing Glorious Anthem to give his creatures a bigger chance against his opponent’s minions. It just wasn’t enough, however. He needed a token generator that wasn’t Bitterblossom or he was going to fall to the gigantic green-white creatures sitting across the table from him. Andres attacked, dropping Guilherme to 4, then played Kitchen Finks post-combat. Vieira drew a card, then nodded his head in defeat. He had not come up with a dramatic solution to the situation at hand, and just like that Andres Monsalve was on to the finals!

Andres Monsalve 2, Guilherme Vieira 0

Semifinals: Daniel Almeida vs. Wendell Santini

by Nate Price

Almeida came out of the gates with a Burrenton Forge-Tender, which was effectively only a 1/1 Kithkin since Santini’s deck featured nothing red. A Meddling Mage set to Spectral Procession ensured that each player’s creature production would be slightly fairer, though Cloudgoat Ranger could still break the rules. A Knight of Meadowgrain stared down a Paladin en-Vec from Santini, and a second Mage came down to shut off Unmake.

Almeida, who was behind on lands, dropped a Knight of the White Orchid into plat and searched up a Plains before playing a Mutavault for his turn. The ensuing attack left Santini at 14. When Almeida sent his Knight of Meadowgrain into attack the next turn, Santini shoved the Paladin en-Vec and the Meddling Mage stopping Unmake in front of it. Almeida reinforced the Knights with a Rustic Clachan, killing the Meddling Mage and living to tell the tale.

Santini tries to win this one for Weird Al.

A Reveillark came down to replace the fallen Mage, but it looked farless impressive without anything but a Meddling Mage to return. Almeida added a Ranger of Eos to his side fetching a pair of Figures of Destiny. Next turn, Almeida sent his team in to attack, and made sure to use his now freed Unmake to turn the Reveillark into a Meddling Mage set on Path to Exile. The Mages jumped in front of creatures and the Paladin took out the Ranger of Eos. The result dropped Santini to seven, and it also reduced each player to only two creatures.

Santini knocked on his deck, hoping to will some goodies to the top. Unfortunately, a Reflecting Pool was not what he needed at this stage in the game. He just passed the turn back to Almeida in a very sad state. Almeida exacerbated that by sending his two creatures and a reinforced Mutavault to attack Santini. Before blockers, he also used a Path to Exile to remove the Paladin en-Vec from the game. That left the Meddling Mage having to block, and Santini at two. The top card of his deck was nothing useful, and he showed his teammate the lands that had mysteriously taken the place of answers over his last few draw steps.

Daniel Almeida 1 – Wendell Santini 0

Almeida started with a Figure of Destiny that quickly became a 2/2, but he didn’t commit any more to the board just yet. When a Mind Stone powered out a Wall of Reverence, more commitment was going to be necessary. Last match proved how bad a Wall of Reverence can be if left unmolested. Unfortunately, all Almeida had was a Knight of the White Orchid to get a fourth land. A Kitchen Finks from Santini shot his life total that much higher, as well as giving him a 3-power creature to go with his Wall. Ranger of Eos tracked down another pair of Figures of Destiny for Almeida, though it would be some time before they got big enough to really do anything.

I’ve seen this face before. You drive all this way with your friend only to have to play each other in the Semifinals. I hate when that happens.

Santini hid behind his wall for a couple of turns before Almeida really declared war. He attacked with a Figure of Destiny, Ranger of Eos, and a Knight of the White Orchid and then used his Windbrisk Heights to try and Unmake the Wall of Resistance. Fortunately for Santini, he had a great view from his castle and saw that coming a mile away. He was ready with the Cryptic Command to keep the Wall standing. Almeida was going to have to work hard to breach that castle. A second Figure hit play later that turn. At this point, Santini was ready to reign down the Wrath of God, clearing the board.

Almeida, playing white, was more than ready to recover, and a Figure of Destiny and Spectral Procession dumped some men onto his empty board. Path to Exile got rid of the Figure before it could get crazy, and a Stillmoon Cavalier came down to defend the skies...for a cost. A second Glorious Anthem made the Spirits even larger, and a Ranger of Eos fetched up the last Figure of Destiny, which came right into play. All Santini had for him was a Kitchen Finks to play defense for a little while. Almeida swung hard with his team next turn, and, after dropping Santini to 16, played a Spectral Procession for three flying 3/3s.

Santini drew his card and knew he was dead, and soon. He sadly extended his hand to his friend and teammate, wishing him luck in the finals.

Daniel Almeida 2 – Wendell Santini 0

Finals: Andres Monsalve (Doran) Versus Daniel Almeida (Kithkin)

by Bill Stark

It was all down to one final match. In one corner, representing Brazil, was Daniel Almeida. In the other, playing for Argentina, was Andres Monsalve. Everything was on the line; two years ago, the Argentineans had come to Brazil and stolen the Grand Prix title. Last year in Buenos Aires? The Brazilians had returned the favor. Sao Paulo represented the tiebreaker match in which one of the countries would take the lead. The weight of two nations sat heavy on the shoulders of the two players (but fantastic prizes and fame were nice consolations).

Two weeks before Grand Prix-Sao Paulo, Yann Massicard had slaughtered the Grand Prix-Seattle field with a Doran list. He credited Tony Martins, a countryman, for creating the deck and it was the same Raphael Levy had used to finish in the Top 24 in Brazil. Also playing the deck? Andres Monsalve, meaning Tony’s Doran deck was sitting in the finals of back-to-back Grand Prixs. Daniel Almeida, meanwhile, was playing a deck any Cedric Phillips would love: Kithkin. Throughout the weekend he had demonstrated the power of the little white tribe to overwhelm opponents, with multiple cards representing must-contain threats in and of themselves. Unlike traditional White Weenie decks, which needed to over-extend to stay alive, Daniel was happy to run out a single Spectral Procession for a mini-team, a Cloudgoat Ranger for a veritable army, a Ranger of Eos to fetch an army, or a Figure of Destiny which was a veritable Howitzer in and of itself. The two got underway, with Andres at a psychological advantage having won the first contest between the two during the Swiss.

The Kithkin deck fired off in high gear, letting Daniel open on a Figure of Destiny and Burrenton Forge-Tender. The Figure was a 2/2, then a 4/4 in no time and Andres Monsalve chumped the Kithkin with a Qasali Pridemage to avoid taking too much early damage. The Argentinean calmly played a second copy of the Disenchant bear, then used a Path to Exile to remove Daniel’s Figure of Destiny from the game.

Andres Monsalve works to steal the title for Argentina...Almeida played a Knight of the White Orchid, but wasn’t able to search up an extra land and could only watch as his opponent answered with Wilt-Leaf Liege. When Andres attacked with his Qasali Pridemage for 5, Almeida decided to pull the trigger on his own Path to Exile, hitting the Liege and saving himself 2 damage. He followed that up with a monstrous turn that saw him play a second Knight of the White Orchid, this time getting his free land, and a Ranger of Eos to search up two copies of Figure of Destiny. Almeida was the beatdown, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t work his hardest to draw tons of extra cards!

Monsalve fought back using a Maelstrom Pulse to blow up Daniel’s White Orchids, then played a Treefolk Harbinger to find Doran, the Siege Tower. He was no doubt disappointed, however, when Alameida spent his turn playing a Figure of Destiny and a Cloudgoat Ranger. It seemed like no matter what Andres did, his opponent’s board remained cluttered with creatures of one variety or another. Monsalve used his last Maelstrom Pulse to kill the 1/1 Kithkins the Ranger had put into play, but Daniel just replied with another, earning an eye roll from Andres. A turn later Almeida sent his team into the red zone for a lethal combat step, and the players were on to a second game.

Daniel Almeida 1, Andres Monsalve 0

Looking to try to get out of the gates faster than his Kithkin opponent, Andres Monsalve kicked the second game off with an accelerator in the form of Noble Hierarch. The 0/1 simply stared at Almeida’s return-fire Figure of Destiny before being used to accelerate into Kitchen Finks on Monsalve’s second turn. After that it was Treefolk Harbinger and Gaddock Teeg for the Argentinean.

Daniel Almeida worked on developing his board by using a Path to Exile on his opponent’s Kitchen Finks, then pumping his Figure of Destiny into a 4/4. It was quite a reversal from the last game that he had the smaller amount of creatures on the table by a wide margin compared to his opponent. When Andres played Ranger of Eos to fetch double copies of Treefolk Harbinger, that reality got even worse for Almeida. He tried for Knight of Meadowgrain in an effort to keep up.

...while Daniel Almeida works to defend the title for Brazil!Andres continued to press his advantage. He played a Doran prior to combat, then sent his entire team into the red zone. Gaddock Teeg, Treefolk Harbinger, and Ranger of Eos dropped Almeida to 2 after a Zealous Persecution from Monsalve and a Path to Exile targeting Doran from Daniel. The Brazilian was content to crack back, after playing a Glorious Anthem, and sent the score to 6-5 in Andres’ favor. It was a bold move attempting to race, but it worked. Andres backed off his attack, sending only a Ranger of Eos the following turn, lethal as it was. Daniel moved a Figure of Destiny in front of the lethal Invitational card, having played it after his last attack, and with damage on the stack made an interesting move: he cast Path to Exile targeting his own Figure of Destiny. It seemed a bit strange to not use the removal spell on one of his opponent’s creatures, but as Daniel searched up his sixth Plains, it quickly became apparent why: he could now grow his Figure to a full 8/8. Without any flying chump blockers, Andres would be dead unless he was sandbagging a removal spell.

Devoid of removal spell fear, Daniel pumped his Kithkin and turned it sideways. Shaking his head, Andres Monsalve could only grimace, revealing his hand. Daniel Almeida had done it! Brazil had defended its Grand Prix title!

Daniel Almeida 2, Andres Monsalve 0