Though many competitors here chatted amicably as they were shuffling up and comparing card pools, sixth-ranked Jacob Wilson and top Brazilian Pro Point earner Thiago Saporito were silent. Both players are naturally quieter and more reserved, and this World Championship pressure must have been adding to it.
Both Wilson and Saporito are on the younger end of the spectrum at this event (Jacob Wilson is still 20 years old), and though Wilson has competed here before, they are also less experienced on this kind of stage. Despite this lack of experience, both have been making strong marks on the game. Saporito had burst out of the digital world of Magic Online with a Top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, and not only did Wilson see some of his Pro Tour Top 8 exploits recorded in a VICE documentary, but just a week ago his team won Grand Prix Detroit. (This finish notwithstanding, Jacob Wilson won only one round that weekend in the team event.)
Wilson was playing the tried-and-true 5-Color archetype. It's the easiest archetype to fall into in Modern Masters 2015 Edition, as drafters can take the best cards in each pack, then enough mana fixing to tie it all together. With powerful removal spells and a couple haymakers, like Wilson's Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, 5-Color can often be the best deck at the table as long as the hyper-aggressive decks like Affinity or Black-Red aren't optimized.
Saporito was on Black-Green Sacrifice, an archetype less loved in the beginning of the Modern Masters 2015 Edition format, but has gained traction since. It's a bit more difficult to draft well than 5-Color, but unlike that "catch all" archetype, Sacrifice plays many abstractly weaker cards—like Bone Splinters or Culling Dais—so the cards can be picked up later than windmills like Arrest, Tribal Flames, and Savage Twister, which make up the meat and potatoes of 5-Color.
The matchup looked in Wilson's favor. Though Saporito has lots of creatures, there are only a few key ones that do all that much, like Scion of the Wild. Because Wilson has tons of removal, he can almost always make sure the bigger threats die off, leaving only Saproling and Spawn to sit around. To win, Saporito needs an endless stream of threats to disrupt Wilson's early defense grids, and he needs to avoid Elesh Norn at all costs.
After looking through Jacob Wilson's decklist, Thiago Saporito knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him.
"I don't think my deck can beat that card," Saporito said. "Maybe if I can get some of my token producers and an [Overwhelming Stampede]. Maybe."
The two shuffled up and readied for the battlefield.
Thiago Saporito was on the play, and started with Nest Invader into a Scion of the Wild (already a 3/3). However, it died to a turn three Wrecking Ball, as sixth-ranked Jacob Wilson had a Wayfarer's Bauble and three different basic lands. He almost had domain on turn four.
Next, Wilson used a Tribal Flames to kill the Nest Invader, and Saporito's offense was squelched completely. Wilson was able to progress his land count and hand count unthreatened. Once Saporito tried to get something going with a Selesnya Guildmage, Wilson played out the Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite he'd been holding in his hand since turn one.
Saporito was not about to back down from a challenge.
At this point, the hands were Tribal Flames, Fiery Fall, Fiery Fall; and Bone Splinters, Bone Splinters, Wrecking Ball. After killing the Cenobite with Wrecking Ball, Saporito fueled his Splinters with Scatter the Seeds as he tried to recover, rebound, and overcome. But Wilson one-upped him with Bestial Menace. This was the last card Saporito wanted to see with two Bone Splinters in his grip.
Over the next few turns, the removal spells leapt from each players' hands, and creatures leapt in front of other creatures to their doom. Each time, Wilson seemed to be getting the better of the deals. Like the Scatter the Seeds versus Bestial Menace, each of Wilson's plays were better than Saporito's. By the time Wilson cast a 5/5 Matca Rioters, Saporito's only response was a Swamp. That was when the game ended. The Rioters crunched in over and over, and Saporito didn't have a creature left for his Splinters.
In the second battle, Saporito had to take a mulligan (a fancy Vancouver mulligan), and was on the play. This combination put him multiple cards behind to start—and this was terrible for the Brazilian. Wilson had so much one-for-one removal that being up two cards meant he could use his kill spells with impunity and still stay above card equality.
One by one, Wilson toppled each of Saporito's threats.
Saporito couldn't keep a threat on the board for more than a turn, as Wilson's land count marched ever upward. Wilson used multiple Tribal Flames and Fiery Fall, and was in control the whole game. Once the land count got to seven, Wilson slammed his Elesh Norn on the table, wiping any remaining creatures aside. Saporito hung tough for a turn, but when the North American cast a 4/4 Mulldrifter next turn, the South American scooped up his cards.
The two vigorously shook hands but maintained their stoic silence. If either player will overcome the youthful odds against them and rise to be World Champion, they would have to keep their game faces on.
Saporito 0 – Wilson 2