For the 2015–2016 season, Márcio Carvalho has achieved a better Limited win rate than anyone else in the room. This is an astounding achievement, considering that the World Championship field was stacked with nothing but the game's very best players. Carvalho wasn't crowned the Limited Master for nothing; he earned the title by racking up a combined 20-3-1 record at the last four Pro Tours. Naturally we're homing in on him—especially since he was one of the few players playing for a 3-0 record. Opposite him was Samuel Pardee, who also navigated past his first two opponents to arrive at the feature match table.
One of these men would emerge from the Draft pod unscathed. The other would leave with...a single loss!
"I think Carvalho's deck is ahead by leaps and bounds," said Pardee. "I mean, my deck has Skeleton Key. I think [this] is the first time I'm ever playing with it. I have some nice cards, but Carvalho has a nice deck!"
Indeed, Carvalho's Black-Red Vampire deck was rather synergistic and offered a couple of quality madness enablers. Stromkirk Condemned, Ravenous Bloodseeker, and Olivia's Dragoon are exactly the type of creatures you need to support Alchemist's Greeting, Abandon Reason, and double Senseless Rage. In addition, Carvalho's deck had a pretty nice curve that was topped off by Assembled Alphas and Certain Death.
On the other hand, Pardee's deck wasn't as lackluster as he described it. To be fair, he did win his first two matches, so I encouraged him to give himself some credit. His red-white deck might be a little less action-packed, but Thalia, Heretic Cathar offered Pardee the potential of a tempo game, if backed up with early drops and timely tricks. Skeleton Key in conjunction with Vessel of Ephemera and double Spectral Reserves could break up a stalemate.
Really, this could be anyone's game. Either way, both players echoed the sentiment that even 2-1 was very commendable in a field as tough as this one.
Carvalho won the die roll and elected to play first. Pardee's first creatures were Moorland Drifter and Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Carvalho declined trades, preferring to exchange blows with Thraben Foulbloods after killing the annoying legendary Human with Boon of Emrakul.
On turn four Pardee tapped out for Lone Rider and Vessel of Ephemera, finding time to crack the Vessel next turn while dropping Nahiri's Machinations. This enchantment was a major game-changer, because it basically meant that blocking had become extremely difficult for Carvalho. He had no option except to race, and hoped that Gatstaf Arsonists would suffice. Pardee's Vildin-Pack Outcast threw a monkey wrench into those plans.
Sam Pardee, thrower of wrenches
After attacking with an indestructible Lone Rider, Pardee doubled his Spirit token count with Spectral Reserves. Most importantly, the accompanying life gain enabled him to transform a lowly 1/1 Human Knight into a 4/4 Eldrazi Horror! A topdecked Certain Death got rid of It That Rides as One, however, leaving Carvalho with nothing but a pair of lands in hand.
In Game 2, Carvalho's Olivia's Dragoon was matched up against Moorland Drifter. Despite both being 2/2 creatures with flying potential, Carvalho declined to attack, preferring to keep his madness outlet around for future shenanigans. He added a Brazen Wolves to the board, as did Pardee.
This put Carvalho in an excellent position to attack, flashing out Senseless Rage when Pardee pushed Moorland Drifter in front of Olivia's Dragoon. A hasty Markov Crusader was Carvalho's next play, which resulted in an overpowering board of three 4-power creatures by turn five!
"Yeah, I did draw pretty well this game. Such a bloodbath," consoled Carvalho.
Pardee nodded and agreed that it was indeed a very well-sequenced opening as he contemplated how to sideboard for the deciding game.
For the third game in a row, Pardee led with a first-turn Terrarion, prompting Carvalho to jokingly commend Pardee's good luck.
Carvalho put up Ravenous Bloodseeker and Insolent Neonate, both excellent madness enablers. Howlpack Wolf was Pardee's lone creature, until it was joined by Voldaren Duelist. Since Ravenous Bloodseeker couldn't block this turn, Carvalho could "only one-for-one" with Abandon Reason instead of the blowout he had envisioned.
Having no turn-four play, Carvalho attacked with both his creatures and made the decision to discard Stromkirk Condemned (he had only a single Swamp) to Ravenous Bloodseeker. Now that the Bloodseeker was a 3/1, he pointed Uncaged Fury at it. This proved a solid Mutagenic Growth/Temur Battle Rage impression, and it knocked Pardee down from 20 to 11 in one fell swoop. At this point, it was obvious that Carvalho had a second copy—but neither player was about to openly acknowledge this tell.
Márcio Carvalho is careful not to give anything away.
Heir of Falkenrath was threatening enough, so Pardee used Angelic Purge (sacrificing Terrarion) to answer it. Now that Pardee's only removal spell had been baited out, the way was open for Vildin-Pack Outcast.
Despite recruiting Eternal Scourge and Sin Prodder, Pardee could smell his impending death when Carvalho swung with his entire team. Facing Insolent Neonate, Ravenous Bloodseeker, and a pseudo-firebreathing, trampling Vildin-Pack Outcast, there was no way to survive a second copy of Uncaged Fury. Pardee shoved his entire team in front of the 4/4, which soon became a 7/3 double striking monstrosity. Carvalho ditching his last card in hand to make Ravenous Bloodseeker at 3/1 was more than enough to convince Pardee to extend his hand.
"It was pretty obvious that he had drawn both Uncaged Fury from the start, otherwise he wouldn't just 'burn' a copy right there. Nicely played."
"It was my only chance to win. I had no turn-four play and if I had simply passed, [Pardee] would have been out of reach. I might even have been grinded out by that Sin Prodder."
Márcio Carvalho defeats Samuel Pardee 2–1.
The Limited Master does it again and moves into the Standard portion with an unblemished record!