Ripping off George Orwell, I'm going to point out that all the competitors in the room today are formidable opponents, but some are more formidable than others. As mentioned in the 2015 World Championship Coverage Roundtable, I singled out twenty-fourth-ranked Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa as my pick to win the entire tournament.
Of the 49 combined Pro Tour Top 8s in the field today, nine of them belong to Damo da Rosa. The truth is, nobody has more Pro Tour Top 8s than Damo da Rosa other than Kai Budde and Jon Finkel and certainly no one else in the room today even comes close to contesting that statistic.
Second-ranked Mike Sigrist achievements might not stack up against his opponent's, but then again, everything is relative. To a canary, a cat is a monster.
Sigrist seldom gets to be the canary, given his very impressive resume.
After an excellent season comprised of a win at Grand Prix Montreal and Top 8s at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir and Pro Tour Magic Origins, Sigrist found himself overtaking Eric Froehlich to be crowned Player of the Year. To sweeten the deal, the title of National Champion and a spot at the World Magic Cup was the accompanying bonus.
Both players have managed 2-1 records at the draft tables and are now paired against each other where they will compete in Modern. At this point, both players are still in the dark as to what the other is playing.
Mike Sigrist was coming off of an incredible season, but this tournament is filled with big names, including nine-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor and Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.
But of course, we know. And we're about to share that information with you!
Sigrist formed an alliance with Owen Turtenwald, Jacob Wilson and Alexander Hayne, and the four of them came to the unanimous decision that Affinity would be their weapon of choice. While there is nothing quite special about Robots, it is certainly one of the most powerful decks in Modern. If anyone wanted to cheat on sideboard cards by shaving Ancient Grudge, Shatterstorm, or Creeping Corrosion, they would be in for a hard time, since the dynamic duo of Paul Rietzl and Samuel Black also decided to play Affinity.
The situation was in stark contrast for Damo da Rosa's ensemble though. He had been preparing with Ondřej Stráský and Thiago Saporito, and each of them showed up with a different archetype. The reigning Brazilian National Champion's choice was Grixis Twin, the only one in the field of 24.
His game plan naturally involves sticking Splinter Twin on either Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite, but what is most interesting was the light splash of Black. Clearly, Damo da Rosa feels that it is worth it to complicate his mana base a little to include gems such as Kolaghan's Command, Thoughtseize, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang.
Damo da Rosa won the die roll and both players were forced mulligan, resulting in a brief riddle about the Vancouver mulligan.
"If I forget to scry and then you scry, reminding me that I forget to scry, do I get to scry?" Damo da Rosa inquired.
I double checked with the guys in red and the verdict is that if the player on the play had forgotten about it, he would be unable to scry once the player on the draw had begun to scry. Of course, neither forgot about it and quickly shipped both their top cards to the bottom for better options.
When Sigrist tried to resolve Mox Opal the next turn, Damo da Rosa decided to point Lightning Bolt at Memnite in response as a move to deny metalcraft. However, Sigrist was ready with a second Inkmoth Nexus to cast Cranial Plating, allowing him to also use Mox Opal to equip it on Signal Pest.
Sigrist unleashes the robo rally.
Or was he?
Deceiver Exarch jumped onto the board during Sigrist's upkeep, tapping down the Mox.
Sigrist had to go down to five in the second game, but still managed a rather explosive start.
He opened with Darksteel Citadel and Springleaf Drum on turn one and dropped Mox Opal on turn two. This enabled him to summon a pair of Signal Pests, while holding up Mox Opal for either blue or red mana to cast Spell Pierce or Galvanic Blast, the last two cards in his hand.
Things went downhill for Sigrist on the third turn though. After attacking, Sigrist tapped out to cast Arcbound Ravager. Damo da Rosa responded with Pestermite, untapping an Island to counter it with Spell Snare.
Now that he no longer had a creature to fuel Springleaf Drum, he was shut out of any options. Splinter Twin joined forces with Pestermite undisrupted, which prompted Sigrist to scoop up his cards and reach for the sideboard.
Now that the score was one apiece, things are becoming a little more intense. Sigrist once again led with Inkmoth Nexus and Springleaf Drum. For the third consecutive game, Damo da Rosa cracked Polluted Delta to cast Serum Visions.
Sigrist used his second turn to summon Signal Pest and Arcbound Ravager, so Damo da Rosa tried to set him back with Pyroclasm. This forced Sigrist to make the painful decision to sacrifice both Signal Pest and Springleaf Drum to Arcbound Ravager.
Damo da Rosa keeps melts away the metalcraft.
Damo da Rosa's move was effective in denying Sigrist of any color mana, which left Spell Pierce and a pair of Galvanic Blasts stranded in Sigrist's grip. He rebuilt with Signal Pest and Etched Champion, but Damo da Rosa managed to find a way out.
The backbreaking Kolaghan's Command reduced Sigrist's board to nothing but a trio of creature-lands and Darksteel Citadel, while returning Pestermite to his hand. Still failing to find any color mana, Sigrist eventually lost to the combination of Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2 - Mike Sigrist 1