"YES!" shouted an exultant Gerard Fabiano as Adam Yurchick extended his hand in the face of a lethal attack in the finals of Grand Prix-Philadelphia. "I have never actually won anything before!"

Throughout this Extended season players constantly sought new and exciting tech to earn a trip to Hollywood for the upcoming Pro Tour, but when Adam Yurchick and Gerard Fabiano clashed it was with two decks that had barely been seen since the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Valencia. Where everyone else had jumped on the blue-green Tron bandwagon, Adam went back to the blue-white build that put two players into the Top 8 in Spain. Gerard looked to Guilio Barra's Rock list for inspiration and walked away from the tournament with the first trophy of his storied career.

There were actually eight different decks archetypes in the Top 8 in all the deck categories from control to beatdown to combo but in the end...nothing beat Rock!

Congratulations to Gerard Fabiano the 2008 Grand Prix-Philadelphia champion!


top 8 bracket


Paul Mathews

Tyler Mantey

Gerard Fabiano

Matt Hansen

Adam Yurchick

Jonathan Sonne

Ben Wienburg

Luis Scott-Vargas


Tyler Mantey, 2-1

Gerard Fabiano, 2-0

Adam Yurchick, 2-0

Luis Scott-Vargas, 2-1


Gerard Fabiano, 2-1

Adam Yurchick, 2-0


Gerard Fabiano, 2-1


  • Finals: Rock Around the Clock
    Gerard Fabiano vs. Adam Yurchick
    By Tom Fowler
  • Semifinals: Discard/Dat Card
    Gerard Fabiano vs. Tyler Mantey
    By Brian David-Marshall
  • Semifinals: Going to the Next Level
    Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Adam Yurchick
    By Riki Hayashi
  • Quarterfinals: Jon Sonne vs. Adam Yurchick
    By Tom LaPille
  • Quarterfinals: Tyler Mantey vs. Paul Mathews
    By Zaiem Beg
  • Quarterfinals: Ben Wienburg vs. Luis Scott-Vargas
    By Eli Kaplan
  • Quarterfinals: Rocking the Wisp
    Gerard Fabiano vs. Matt Hansen
    By Tom Fowler
  • Video Deck Tech: Patrick Chapin's Vendilion Counterbalance
    By Evan Erwin
  • Video Deck Tech: Tom LaPille and Zoo
    By Evan Erwin
  • Blog: Top 8 Questionnaire
    By Brian David-Marshall
  • Info: Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Featured Match coverage, Deck Tech, the Shadowmoor Preview Pack, and more!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day One Decklists at 8-1 or Better
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Featured Match coverage, a closer look at the trials, quick takes and more!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Trial Winners Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Gerard Fabiano $3,500
2. Adam Yurchick $2,300
3. Luis Scott-Vargas $1,500
4. TylerMantey $1,500
5. Paul Mathews $1,000
6. Ben Wienburg $1,000
7. Matt Hansen $1,000
8. Jonathan Sonne $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

March 16th: Top 8 Questionnaire

By Brian David-Marshall

Name: Tyler Mantey
Age: 23
Occupation: FedEx
Hometown: Toledo, OH

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): Top 8 in the last Standard States.

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
It is the deck I'm the most familiar with.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Profane Command

Is there anything about the deck you would change?
Not really. It performed better than expected.

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
A little bit. Loses some disruption and control but the core is still there.

Any really good stories from this weekend?
I lost to a turn one Blood Moon, which kind of destroyed my hopes. I recovered just in time though.

Name: Gerard Fabiano
Age: 24
Occupation: Professional Bigtymer
Hometown: Belleville, NJ

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): Top 4 Pro Tour Boston 2002 and BFF with Antonino DeRosa and Alex Lieberman.

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
Antonino DeRosa mentioned to me that Gulio Barra's deck from the PT was goof. I took out some cards, threw in some Verdicts, and made Top 8.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Thoughtsieze. You take their goodies.

Is there anything about the deck you would change?
The Extractions in the sideboard could be Haunting Echoes.

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
Extended doesn't change too much...Discard is still good.

Any really good stories from this weekend?
Some nice Werewolf games with Noel, Jennie and Danielle that ended up in 6 hours of sleep all weekend.

Name: Matt Hansen
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Hometown: Iowa

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): 12th at Charleston and 10th at GP St. Louis.

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
I won a PTQ with it the previous weekend.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Intrepid Hero

Is there anything about the deck you would change?

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
I don't think the deck will be very good after the rotation since Armadillo Cloak rotates.

Name: Ben Wienberg
Age: 24
Occupation: Student
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): Won two PTQs and Top 32 one GP

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
Copied Tom LaPille's 75 after I couldn't win a game with any other deck.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Burrenton Forge-Tender

Is there anything about the deck you would change?

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
Nope. But more people will be playing Burrenton Forge-Tender.

Name: Luis Scott-Vargas
Age: 25
Occupation: Magician
Hometown: Oakland

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): Two GP Top 8, played on U.S. National team twice – 1st and 3rd.

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
Counterbalance and Top is broken.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Sensei's Divining Top

Is there anything about the deck you would change?
Add Sensei's Divining Top #5 - 8

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
It won't be affected much.

Name: Paul Mathews
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Hometown: Lebanon

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): I have been playing for a lot of years...only one PTQ win and this GP.

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
My friend Brett was going to play it and it seemed good.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Both Pacts.

Is there anything about the deck you would change?
Not sure about Thoughtsieze in board.

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
Not really, one format at a time.

Name: Jon Sonne
Age: 30
Occupation: Lab analyst
Hometown: Columbia, NJ

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): 5 GP T8/1 x PT T4

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
None of the decks seemed that good and I wanted to play more powerful cards.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Two card combos like Death Cloud/Garruck. No single card was the best.

Name: Adam Yurchick
Age: 21
Occupation: Student/MTGO
Hometown: Mentor, Ohio

Magic Experience (PTs/GPs/Nats/Champs etc): T8 GP Minneapolis, 2007 Ohio State Champ

Why did you choose to play your deck this weekend?
Been testing it my entire life and it is more resilient than blue-green Tron.

What was your Most Valuable Card this weekend?
Thirst for Knowledge

Is there anything about the deck you would change?
Maybe retool the sideboard.

Have you given any thought to how your deck archetype will be impacted by the impending Extended Rotation?
Favorably...almost nothing rotates.

Any really good stories from this weekend?
Homebrewed the list Friday night and stayed at Brett Blackman's house.

March 15th – Video Deck Tech: Tom LaPille and Zoo

By Evan Erwin

March 15th – Patrick Chapin's Vendilion Counterbalance

By Evan Erwin

Quarterfinals: Rocking the Wisp

By Tom Fowler

Matt Hansen sat down for his first Grand Prix Top 8 against a player who is no stranger to the spotlight, Gerard Fabiano. Gerard took Giulio Barra's Top 4 deck from PT Valencia, made a few changes, and played his way into the Top 8. Matt piloted the Tallowisp deck that has seen much success these last few weeks. Could the newcomer with the new deck take out the seasoned veteran?

Before the match, the players looked over each other's decklists. Gerard focused on Matt's sideboard, telling him he had "nothing" for the matchup. Antonino De Rosa joined in on the fun, and a few comments about card choices later, we were ready for the first game.

Game 1:

Matt HansenBoth players kept their opening hands. Matt kicked things off with a Windswept Heath. Gerard spent his first turn going from 19 to 17 to 15, using a Heath to get Overgrown Tomb, then playing Thoughtseize. Matt's showed Plains, Forest, Griffin Guide, Kami of Ancient Law, Intrepid Hero, and Troll Ascetic, from which Gerard picked the Troll. Kami of Ancient Law made it onto the table, then Gerard made Matt discard some more; Gerrard's Verdict binned Chrome Mox and Intrepid Hero. Matt suited up the Kami with Griffin Guide and swung for 4, knocking Gerard to 11. Gerard fell to 9 for an untapped Overgrown Tomb, then showed a Vindicate, He pondered what to target before choosing the Griffin Guide; Matt responded by sacrificing the Kami to destroy the guide, netting himself a 2/2 Griffin token.

A swing from the token took Gerard to 7. Matt added a Tallowisp to his board. Gerard went to 6 for a fetchland, then went back to 10 when Loxodon Hierarch came into play. The token dinged Gerard for 2 again. Matt played Gaddock Teeg and passed. Gerard sent his Hierarch into the red zone, taking Matt to 15, then played his second Hierarch, going up to 12. Gerard's next attack was with both elephants; Teeg and Treetop Village combined to take one down (with the Village dying in the exchange), and Matt was at 11. Gerard used Eternal Witness to get a Windswept Heath back and played Tarmogoyf. The persistent Griffin token knocked Gerard to 7, and Matt had a Tarmogoyf of his own.

Gerard had the Vindicate, though, and sent his Goyf and Hierarch into combat. Teeg jumped in the way of the Goyf, leaving Matt at 7. Gerard played another Eternal Witness, getting Vindicate this time. Tallowisp got to do something on Matt's next turn, as Phantom Centaur allowed Matt to search for Armadillo Cloak. Gerard Vindicated Tallowisp and swung with his team. Phantom Centaur blocked Loxodon Hierarch, the Griffin token blocked Tarmogoyf, and Matt fell to 3. To keep his opponent's life total nice and manageable, Gerard took Armadillo Cloak with Cabal Therapy. Another attack with the team was enough.

Fabiano 1, Hansen 0

The easy banter that preceded the first game was gone now, replaced by quiet thought as the players considered their sideboard options.

Game 2:

Gerard FabianoThis time, both players shipped their first seven back for better sixes. Fetchlands came and went, but the first relevant play was Matt's third-turn Troll Ascetic. The Troll soon put on an Armadillo Cloak, and the attack left life totals at 23-14 for Matt. To make sure Gerard didn't have an answer, Matt played Orim's Chant during his upkeep. Gerard could only play a land and attack with the Eternal Witness he summoned the previous turn. Matt put a second Armadillo Cloak on his Troll and bashed with the 7/6. Gerard fell to 7, while Matt gained 14 life to go to 35. Gerard fetched an Overgrown Tomb at the end of Matt's turn, and found Damnation atop his deck when he drew. After swinging with the Witness, Gerard cleared the board of creatures and played Sensei's Divining Top.

Matt restocked his board with Kami of Ancient Law and Intrepid Hero. Gerard Smothered the Hero and played Ravenous Baloth. He Vindicated the Kami before attacking Matt to 29 with the Baloth. Matt played Tarmogoyf, but it was not long for the game; Gerard retrieved Vindicate with his fresh Eternal Witness and killed everyone's favorite Lhurgoyf. Matt fell to 23 from the attack, and to 12 next turn, as the Baloth and two Witnesses were joined by Gerard's animated Treetop Village.

Needing an answer, Matt ripped Eladamri's Call, finding and playing Phantom Centaur. Gerard swung with the team again. The Centaur took out Baloth, and after combat damage and the Baloth's ability resolved, Gerard had come all the way back to lead the race 8-5. He made it 12-5 with Loxodon Hierarch. Matt played Chameleon Colossus and held one card in his hand. In case it were a useful card, Gerard played Thoughtseize; Matt pitched Chrome Mox. Gerard swung with his Hierarch and two Witnesses. Phantom Centaur blocked the Hierarch and Chameleon Colossus squashed Eternal Witness, but Matt fell to 3. Gerard dropped Pernicious Deed and passed the turn. Matt attacked with his two creatures and activated Chameleon Colossus for lethal damage. Gerard activated his Deed, clearing the board of anything costing 4 or less—including his own Sensei's Divining Top, which he forgot to use in response to the Deed. It didn't matter, as he still had Treetop Village, which took down a Tallowisp, then finished off a defenseless Matt next turn.

Final result: Gerard Fabiano defeated Matt Hansen 2-0.

Quarterfinals: Ben Wienburg vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

By Eli Kaplan

Before starting the match off, the two pored over the other's decklist and traded a few amicable anecdotes of tournaments past and the travel that comes with it. Both players had traveled for many hours to reach the City of Brotherly Love but only one would advance to the next stage.

This matchup hinged upon Luis Scott-Vargas's ability to thwart Wienburg's cutthroat early beats. Wienburg's build of Gaea's Might Get There used vicious early one and two mana beaters such as Grim Lavamancer, Dark Confidant, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, and Tarmagoyf to get there firstest with the mostest. Lightning Helix and Gaea's Might helped his army punch through the Swiss with insanely quick wins. Scott-Vargas' Next Level Blue had a variety of wrenches to throw into Wienburg's works. A full four of Threads of Disloyalty, Tarmagoyf, and the infamous Counterbalance / Sensei's Divining Top suite sought to shut down Wienburg's attack lane.

Game 1

Ben WienburgWienburg won the die roll, choosing to play first, and sent his first hand back to the kitchen. He beamed at his second hand, breaking a Bloodstained Mire for an untapped Sacred Foundry. Kird Ape hit the table. Luis's first turn was also brimming with action. A Chrome Mox imprinting Thirst for Knowledge set up Counterbalance.

Wienburg kept up the pace with a second turn Dark Confidant, which slipped through the Counterbalance. He kept attacking and playing untapped shocklands and Gaea's Might, throwing everything he could at Scott-Vargas. The American champion was down to 6. Two Threads of Disloyalty whittled down the attacks, and a Scott-Vargas Tarmagoyf shored up his defenses.

Turn after turn, Wienburg's attempts to play spells bore no fruit. Gaddock Teeg, Lightning Helix, and Mogg Fanatic all got quashed by the relentless Counterbalance combo. Scott-Vargas stabilized and started to attack with a 4/5 Tarmagoyf. With sixteen points of damage self-inflicted by a combination of Odyssey fetchlands and Ravnica Shocklands, Wienburg had to change gears to defense. Luis had deflected the tide and cut through for the win.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1-0 Ben Wienburg

Game 2

Ben chose to lead off and kept his initial hand. His first two turns looked great, leading off with a 2/3 Kird Ape, then an Isamaru, Hound of Konda and Mogg Fanatic eager to lay into Luis's life total. Scott-Vargas's first turn Breeding Pool and a Chrome Mox imprinting Counterspell allowed Luis to steal the tapped 2/3 Kird Ape for full value with Threads of Disloyalty.

The Ape's loyalty bounced back and forth. Wienburg Vindicated the Threads but Scott-Vargas had a second Threads to steal the Ape right back. Wienburg insisted on reclaiming his 2/3, throwing yet another Vindicate at the fresh Threads. A timely Spell Snare thwarted Wienburg's attempts to summon a Tarmagoyf. In the meantime, the Hound and Fanatic pounded away at Scott-Vargas's life.

The end game was very bloody and very messy. Luis kept throwing the Tarmagoyf in the way of Wienburg's attacking men, blocking Isamaru, Hound of Konda, then Mogg Fanatic, then another Mogg Fanatic. But Wienburg kept topdecking beaters and sending them into harm's way and eventually the persistent little critters dragged Vargas down.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1-1 Ben Wienburg

Game 3

Luis Scott-VargasBoth players liked their initial hands in Game 3. Scott-Vargas had the tempo advantage and was able to keep the early beats to a minimum with Threads of Disloyalty. Wienburg's Lightning Helix burned away Scott-Vargas's second turn Tarmagoyf before the Future Sight MVC could get out of hand. Scott-Vargas made another 2/3 Tarmagoyf and let Wienburg's Isamaru, Hound of Konda come through. Wienburg jumped at the window of opportunity to hammer his opponent down to 10.

The two players kept throwing spells at each other at breakneck speed, trading back and forth. Wienburg tried a Kami of Ancient Law and Tarmagoyf, but they kept getting batted away by Luis's countermagic. Stuck on two life, three lands and a Chrome Mox, Scott-Vargas was in trouble. He let Wienburg make a Bob, saving his countermagic for Wienburg's own Tarmagoyfs. Gaddock Teeg shut down Vargas's stashed Cryptic Command. With one creature to Ben's two, Luis's hopes rested on a timely topdeck.

Trinket Mage came to the rescue, with Engineered Explosives up his sleeve. Now it was Wienburg's turn to topdeck. He had two chances. A Vindicate or Lightning Helix the first time would get the job done. The second draw required a Craig Jones-like performance. Only Lightning Helix would suffice. But the well had run dry. Scott-Vargas's Tarmagoyf came in for the win.

Final result: Luis Scott-Vargas defeated Ben Wienburg 2-1 to advance to the semifinals.

Quarterfinals: Tyler Mantey vs. Paul Mathews

By Zaiem Beg

Tyler and Paul played each other earlier in the day, with Paul's TEPS deck defeating Tyler's Doran deck 2-0, so the players were already familiar with each other – and their decks.

Game 1

After winning the die roll, Tyler looked at his opening hand but didn't like it, so he went to six cards and found them acceptable. Paul did not return the mulligan favor, as he kept his hand of seven.

Tyler ManteyTyler played a Treetop Village, but Paul made TEPS's best turn one play by suspending Lotus Bloom. Paul answered with a turn two Tarmogoyf, who was no bigger than a lowly Squire. But when Paul's land was Vindicated the following turn, Tarmogoyf got upgraded to Kird Ape size and started the pressure.

Paul was content to do nothing as he looked at the Lotus Bloom counters ticking down and passed the turn back to Tyler, who activated Treetop Village and Tarmogoyf to put Paul to 13.

Lotus Bloom came into play and Paul looked at the Bloom and thought for a while, then tried to combo off. He played Rite of Flame, Chromatic Star, Channel the Suns, Cabal Ritual, and Mind's Desire for five copies with two black mana remaining in his mana pool.

When Mind's Desire revealed Cabal Ritual, Rite of Flame, Lotus Bloom, and Rite of Flame, Tyler was hopeful that Paul was going to whiff on his combo but not flipping a win condition. Paul then said, "If I show you the Tendrils of Agony in my hand, will you scoop?" Tyler said he would, Paul revealed the Tendrils of Agony in his hand, and they started shuffling up for Game 2.

"I liked the mana accelerants as long as you didn't have a Mind's Desire in your hand," Tyler said.

"I could have not floated two black and cast another spell, but it was only for five, so it was risky," Paul replied.

Game 2

Tyler declared he would play first. "Shocking," Paul said good-naturedly. Both liked their opening hands. Tyler played a turn one Birds of Paradise, and Paul played the turn one Lotus Bloom again. But Tyler made a flashy play with a turn two Doran, putting Paul on a fast clock. With one counter left on Lotus Bloom, Tyler played Duress on Tyler, taking away Paul's all-important Burning Wish and followed it up with a Gaddock Teeg, severely limiting Paul's options.

Staring at Doran and Gaddock Teeg, now equipped with Umezawa's Jitte, Paul realized he had to try to win. He played Slaughter Pact on Gaddock Teeg and tried to go off, but when he played a Peer Through Depths and looked at the top five cards of his library, he leaned back in exasperation. "Oh my gosh. Really? Really?" Paul sighed and said, "You got me. That's all I've got," and conceded the game.

Game 3

Paul Mathews"Did I really lose that? I feel like I won that game. I feel like I should be getting up and getting a soda," Paul said.

Both players kept their hands of seven and Paul started off with yet another turn one Lotus Bloom. "How about that," Tyler said.

But Tyler played the one-of Duress on Paul. "You and your one Duress!" Paul complained, as he saw his Seething Song hit the graveyard. Tyler followed his turn one discard with two Cabal Therapies, ripping apart Paul's hand and putting him into topdeck mode. When Tyler's Birds of Paradise was sacrificed to flash back Cabal Therapy, leaving Paul with a lonely Chromatic Star in his hand, Paul knew he was in serious trouble.

"If I win this game, how epic would it be?" Paul asked.
"I would probably cry," Tyler said.
"It's worth it just for that, then," Paul replied.
"Well, that's not very nice!" Tyler said with a smile.

Facing the beatdown with a Dark Confidant with an Umezawa's Jitte and a Gaddock Teeg, Paul knew he was dead next turn and tried to go off a measly Chromatic Sphere and two land, but after drawing his card off Chromatic Sphere, he revealed his hand of three land and extended his hand.

Final result: Tyler Mantey defeated Paul Mathews 2-1 to move on to the semifinals.

Quarterfinals: Jon Sonne vs. Adam Yurchick

By Tom LaPille

Jon Sonne is a longtime Magic Pro who happens to have won the last Grand Prix held here in Philadelphia. Adam Yurchick may carry less name recognition than Jon, but made the top four of Grand Prix Minneapolis in 2005 and was the eleventh highest rated constructed player in the world after this past season's World Championships in New York.

This weekend, Jon eschewed the goblins that served him here so well last time for a green-black Death Cloud deck, while Adam played a blue-white based Urzatron control deck. Both decks are built to win the long game, but other than Death Cloud all of Jon's long game cards pale in comparison to Adam's Sundering Titans, Mindslavers, and Decrees of Justice. Jon's goal in the matchup is to leverage his Tarmogoyfs, Ravenous Baloths, and Garruk Wildspeakers to kill Adam as quickly as possible before Adam's superior long-game bombs overwhelm him. Adam, on the other hand, is just looking to buy time whenever he can until he can use his expensive spells to take Jon out of the game

Game 1

Jon SonneAdam mulliganed to five, while Jon kept his seven. The first action of the game was a Sakura-Tribe Elder from Jon that was Condescended, which found Adam his third land. He still didn't have a fourth, but a Decree of Justice cycled for no tokens found it. Jon kept swinging with a second Sakura-Tribe Elder and a Ravenous Baloth that was Remanded, finding Yurchick yet another land. That Baloth met a Condescend on its second attempt to enter play; a second Baloth resolved, but Adam's Wrath of God took Jon back to having nothing but lands in play.

Jon had drawn all three of his Treetop Villages, but they had been dormant in the early turns. Now he had no other action, so they got to attack twice along with a new Sakura-Tribe Elder. Yurchick, however, drew a Tolaria West that allowed him to complete his Urzatron and play an imposing Sundering Titan. Adam was only at seven life, however, so Jon's three Treetop Villages and Sakura-Tribe Elder would be lethal through the Titan if Jon could activate all of the Treetops at once.

Sonne had a different plan: he simply cast a Death Cloud for five after fetching a land with the Elder. Adam Remanded to buy a turn, finding him another Urzatron land. Jon replayed the Death Cloud, but Adam had drawn a crushing Decree of Justice that gave him twelve 1/1 Soldier tokens thanks to all of his Urzatron lands. After all was said and done with the Death Cloud, Adam untapped with a Sundering Titan, seven soldiers, and two life to Jon's Overgrown Tomb, Swamp, Treetop Village, and eighteen life. Adam attacked with the Titan and three Soldiers, taking Sonne to eight. Jon drew his card, then conceded to Yurchick's army.

Jon Sonne 0-1 Adam Yurchick

Game 2

Jon surprised everyone by choosing to draw first. Adam mulliganed to six; Jon kept seven again. Jon started faster this time with a Duress that took a Remand and revealed that Adam had no sources of blue mana, but a Skycloud Expanse on turn three solved that problem. Jon accelerated with two Sakura-Tribe Elders and cast another Duress that took Adam's Mindslaver and left Adam with only three mana sources in hand. Jon attempted to capitalize on his opponent's weakened state with an Indrik Stomphowler.

Adam YurchickAn Eternal Witness from Sonne was Remanded, but he followed with a Thoughtseize. Adam's Thirst for Knowledge in response let him discard a Mox and found him an Oblivion Ring and a Condescend, but Sonne's Thoughtseize relieved Adam of the Condescend. Yurchick wanted Sonne's Stomphowler to go away, so in an odd twist of fate it found itself under an Oblivion Ring after Adam transmuted a Tolaria West for Academy Ruins. The Ruins combined with the Mindslaver in Adam's graveyard would produce a Mindslaver lock as soon as Adam found an Urza's Tower to complete his urzatron, so Jon needed to act quickly.

After a long think, that action took the form of an Eternal Witness that brought a Sakura-Tribe Elder back into play and a fresh Treetop Village from Jon's hand. Adam found a miracle next turn in the form of Urza's Tower; using his newly supercharged mana, he burned through a Thirst for Knowledge and Fact or Fiction, but all of those new cards paled in comparison to the threat of Adam's Mindslaver lock going online next turn.

Jon untapped and drew; Adam's draw spells meant that he had no access to blue mana this turn, but would Sonne be able to capitalize before he lost control of his own turns for the rest of the game? An attack from the Eternal Witness took Adam to fourteen, but Jon's Pernicious Deed wasn't enough: Adam simply put the Mindslaver on top of his deck, drew it, played another Urza's Mine, and Mindslavered Sonne. Jon saw that the lock was complete, and conceded.

Final result: Adam Yurchick defeated Jon Sonne in two games to advance to the semifinals of Grand Prix Philadelphia!

Semifinals: Going to the Next Level

By Riki Hayashi

United States National Champion Luis Scott-Vargas continues his Clark Kent/ Superman routine with teammate Paul Cheon, alternating romps through Constructed Grand Prixes, rarely finishing well together. After going to the Previous Level for GP Vancouver, the Cheontourage is back to the Next Level with Counterbalance. Adam Yurchick doesn't have quite the trophy collection of his opponent, just a GP Top 8 in Minneapolis to his credit among major finishes, but he is favored here with his blue-white Tron deck, affectionately called "Next Level Tron."

Game 1

Adam Yurchick"My last round, I had two Threads of Disloyalty and a Chrome Mox in my opening hand [against Zoo]. I'm pretty sure I don't want that here," said Luis after reviewing Adam's decklist. Counterbalance was an ineffective answer to Tron's big mana spells like Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, and Decree of Justice.

After some quick shuffling, the two players started game 1 with the usual handshake and "good lucks"— "Although, I think I'll need more," said Luis, seeming somewhat resigned to his fate in this matchup.

Scott-Vargas opened with a quick Tarmogoyf into a Thirst for Knowledge, trying to fill up his graveyard quickly to steal the game. Meanwhile, Adam developed his mana base with two Tron pieces and a Signet.

On turn three, Adam dropped the hammer.


His third Tron piece allowed Yurchick to play Sundering Titan -- a 7/10 on the third turn. Oh, and it also happened to blow up two of Luis's lands, a Breeding Pool and an Island. A murmur of amazement spread through the large crowd gathered to watch.

Turn three.

Sundering Titan.

I can't say that enough because after that the game was over except for the formalities. Luis attempted to set up at least some defense, adding the Counter-top combo to his board of Tarmogoyf, but Adam crushed even those meager dreams.

"Engineered Explosives for two."

Luis scooped them up. "I knew it wasn't a good matchup, but I have to admit..." Luis trailed off, amazed at the blow out.

Adam Yurchick 1 – Luis Scott-Vargas 0

Game 2

Luis Scott-VargasLuis thought long and hard about his sideboarding. Adam changed his mind in the middle of shuffling, perhaps trying to outthink Luis's answers like Gaddock Teeg, which were certain to replace useless cards like Threads.

Luis had to mulligan to six and opened with a Hallowed Fountain. He Moxed to get a T2 Thirst for Knowledge during his mainphase, ducking Adam's countermagic.

After a hallowed Fountain of his own, Adam laid two Tron pieces, threatening another early Titan. Luckily for LSV, not only did Adam not have the third Tron piece, he didn't even have a fourth land.

The only offense that Luis could muster to take advantage was a lonely Trinket Mage getting Sensei's Divining Top.

Adam struggled to find good plays, dropping an Engineered Explosives for 0 to destroy Luis's Chrome Mox. Luis assembled two Tops, but no Counterbalance.

Adam Moxed an Oblivion Ring to get his fourth mana source to keep up.

After a few turns of Trinket Mage attacks, Luis played Gaddock Teeg. Adam said "Yeah," knowing how much trouble he could be in if that card stuck. Oblivion Ring, a very unusual card choice, helped Adam Yurchick solve the first Teeg, which Luis immediately followed up with his second.

Adam transmuted Tolaria West to get his final Tron piece and passed the turn ominously. With really no choice, LSV attacked with Trinket Mage and Teeg into the waiting clutches of a cycled Decree of Justice for 6.

With his second Kithkin Advisor dead, Luis resorted to Krosan Grip to free his first Gaddock Teeg from Oblivion. Yurchick calmly dropped another Oblivion Ring, and knowing he was on the ropes, Luis sarcastically asked for the target. Adam pointed to Teeg, dropped a Sundering Titan and the Cleveland native punched his ticket to the GP Philadelphia finals.

When I asked him about it, Adam told me that his turn three Sundering Titan in game 1 was his earliest of the weekend, "Although I got one on turn four against Chapin."

"Figures. Figures," said Luis. "I would have had you if you hadn't done that."

Final result: Adam Yurchick defeated Luis Scott-Vargas 2-0

Semifinals: Discard/Dat Card

By Brian David-Marshall

"So what are you going to side in against me," asked Gerard as the two players looked over each other's lists prior to the start of the semifinals.

"I am sure you can figure it out..."

Game 1

Gerard FabianoTyler started off with a mulligan and Gerard compounded matters by nabbing a Bird of Paradise out his hand with Thoughtsieze before the Doran player could even lay a land. He followed up the next turn with Cabal Therapy on Vindicate. Gerard used his own Vindicate to take out one of Tyler's lands and went right up to Hierarch on turn four.

Tyler went to seventeen from a fetchland/shock land combo and made a 3/4 Tarmogoyf on his next turn. Gerard attacked past it and had another Thoughtsieze. He looked at a hand with Umezawa's Jitte, Hierarch, Thoughtsieze, and Profane Command and took the elephant before playing Pernicious Deed.

"You have no cards in your hand?" asked Tyler who realized that his Thoughtsieze was dead.

"No cards."

Gerard had another Hierearch waiting on top of his deck. Tyler played the Umezawa's Jitte but only had three mana total. He had to chump one of the Hierarchs and fell to five. He played a Doran and Gerard pointed at his looming Deed as if to say, 'do we need to go through the motions?'.

Tyler shrugged, "I'll make you do it..."

Gerard tapped three mana and they moved onto Game 2.

Game 2

Tyler Mantey"I was hoping you would not have the Thoughtsieze on turn one," sighed Tyler.

"Yeah it would have been a different game if you had played that Bird on turn one."

"I was just hoping you did not have it."

Tyler went to seventeen and tried to cold call a Cabal Therapy on Smother but nobody was home. He played Dark Confidant on turn two and Vindicated Gerard's Overgrown Tomb a turn later. All of Gerard's cards cost three or more. Tyler played another Bob and flashed back Cabal Therapy naming Eternal Witness and saw three Loxodon Hierarch and Damnation in hand for Gerard – no lands though. Another Cabal Therapy stripped away the elephants and was promptly flashed back for a freshly drawn Deed. Gerard drew a land and was able to Vindicate the Dark Confidant but was getting beat down by a fat 'Goyf.

He was at five when he drew a fourth land to go one-for-one with the Damanation on the Goyf. Tyler played Hierarch. Gerard looked like he might be able to climb back in with Eternal Withess for Hierarch but Tyler also had Doran and Gerard did not have enough time, mana, or cards to wiggle out from under the two fatties.

Game 3

Tyler took three to try for a first turn Smother with Cabal Therapy again but missed. Gerard went to sixteen from his lands and deployed Sakura-Tribe Elder while Tyler played 'Goyf. Gerard's Gerrard's Verdict nabbed Indrik Stomphowler and Putrefy and he went to 12 on Tyler's next attack.

A timely Eternal Witness got back the Verdict although Gerard tucked it away for later preferring to play Tarmogoyf. Tyler played Doran and swung in with the Goyf. Gerard tried to puzzle out the virtual stats and Tyler made things simple. "They will trade if you block." Gerard traded. His next Verdict nabbed Mortify and Chrome Mox, leaving Tyler with one card. Gerard provided Doran fodder in the form of a Tribe Elder. He went to eight when he had to let a Treetop rumble through.

Tyler flashed back his long-ago Therapy at the cost of his Doran to nab the Hierarch in Gerard's hand. Gerard Vindicated one Treetop Village and traded his own for Tyler's second. Both players went into top deck mode as Tyler Vindicated Gerard's Witness and a Pernicious Deed.

Gerard found Sensei's Divining Top but the top of his deck offered no threats – only land and Smothers. That was good enough to take out Tyler's Dark Confidant though. He eventually found Treetop Village which started to bang away at Tyler's life total until eventually Tyler laid down a hand of three lands.

Tyler declared the Sensei's Divining Top to be the difference in the match as both players were empty-handed when it hit the table and basically allowed Gerard to "draw" three cards.

Final result: Gerard Fabiano won the semifinals in three games and advanced to the finals to face the winner of the LSV/Yurchick pairing.

Finals: Rock Around the Clock

By Tom Fowler

After two days of play and 15 rounds of Swiss, it all came down to one final match. In one corner sat Gerard Fabiano, no stranger to the lights of the Sunday stage, with his Rock deck. Across from him was Adam Yurchick, playing in his first Grand Prix finals, and hoping his U/W Tron deck would make his first final a winning one.

Game 1:

After no mulligans, Adam kicked off the finals with a Tolaria West. Gerard went on the 19-17-15 plan, fetching Overgrown Tomb and playing Thoughtseize. Adam showed a hand of two Oblivion Rings, Thirst for Knowledge, Fact or Fiction, and two lands, from which Gerard took Thirst. Urza's Tower came down for Adam, along with Azorius Signet. Gerard added Sakura-Tribe Elder and Loxodon Hierarch to his board over the next two turns, going back up to 18. Adam answered with Fact or Fiction, which Gerard split as Thirst for Knowledge and Azorius Signet in one pile, and three lands in the other. Adam took the pile with spells. Gerard knocked Adam to 12 with a swing from the Hierarch, then played a second 4/4 in the form of Ravenous Baloth.

Adam halted the hemorrhaging with Wrath of God; Gerard sacrificed his Baloth to go to 22 in response. Gerard then played Pernicious Deed and activated it for 2, taking out both of Adam's Signets. A pair of Sakura-Tribe Elders from Gerard was met with a cycled Decree of Justice from Adam, netting him two Soldier tokens. Gerard Smothered one of the tokens and attacked with both his Elders. One was blocked and one got through; Adam fell to 11 and Gerard searched out a Forest. Gerard added to his board with another Hierarch, going to 25. Adam got rid of the Hierarch with Oblivion Ring, but still fell to 10 from an Elder. Cabal Therapy from Gerard snagged two other Oblivion Rings from Adam's hand; he also saw Remand and Condescend. One Elder took Adam to 9, and the Condescend stopped another from coming into play.

Sakura-Tribe Elder got in there again, taking Adam down to 8. Gerard tried to follow that with Eternal Witness, but Adam had another Condescend. Gerard ditched his Elder to flashback Cabal Therapy, taking Remand. On his next turn, Gerard played Sensei's Divining Top and spun it into Thoughtseize, to which Adam responded by cycling Decree for four Soldier tokens. Adam completed the Urzatron as the tokens took Gerard to 19, then 15. Gerard spun his top into Vindicate, which took out Oblivion Ring. With his Hierarch back, Gerard was up to 19 life. The four Soldiers blocked Hierarch when it swung. Gerard played Eternal Witness, getting back another Witness. When Gerard tried to add Tarmogoyf to his creatures, Adam had another Condescend ready. The two Witnesses took Adam to 2, and when Gerard Thoughtseized for his only card, Adam packed it in.

Fabiano 1, Yurchick 0.

The players sideboarded quietly, each making a few changes. The only sound from either of them was Adam asking the table judge how much time they had to finish sideboarding and shuffling.

Game 2:

Both players kept their opening hands again. Adam again started with Tolaria West. Gerard had a tapped land of his own in Treetop Village. Two Urza lands allowed Adam to play a face-down creature. Gerard went to 17 for a Godless Shrine and Vindicated Adam's Tolaria West. Adam finished the Tron and played Chrome Mox, imprinting Exalted Angel. The morph got in there, taking Gerard to 15. Gerard played Cranial Extraction; Adam responded by cycling Decree of Justice, the Urzatron letting him make five soldiers. Gerard named Mindslaver for his Extraction, taking the two from Adam's deck. Skycloud Expanse allowed Adam to turn up Exalted Angel and attack for 9. With the life totals at 24-6 and no help on the way, Gerard called it a game.

Fabiano 1, Yurchick 1.

Before the third game, the players exchanged GP Top 8 stories, with Gerard needing help from Antonino De Rosa to get his exact count and locatons. For extra luck in the final game, Gerard pulled his own Pro Player card from his wallet and set it on the table. He put it away before the game began.

Game 3:

This game began just like the last, only in reverse order: Gerard played Treetop Village and Adam played Tolaria West. Gerard dropped a Forest and Tarmogoyf, while Adam started working on the Urzatron. Treetop Village got in there, taking Adam to 17. An untapped Hallowed Fountain left Adam at 15; he soon fell to 12 from Treetop Village. Gerard took 3 for Overgrown Tomb, but his Thoughtseize was stopped by Remand. Tarmogoyf now had a real power value, so Gerard attacked with it and the Village to send Adam to 7. Oblivion Ring took care of Tarmogoyf. Gerard got his Thoughtseize the second time, going to 15, and seeing a hand of Sundering Titan, Condescend, Remand, Fact or Fiction, Hallowed Fountain, and Tolaria West. He took the Condescend.

Loxodon Hierarch brought Gerard back up to 19. All Adam could do was ponder the board and drop another Tolaria West. Gerard drew his card and shuffled a Duress back and forth in his hand. He knew all of Adam's cards save for the one he had just drawn. Was it worth a Duress to see it? Gerard went into the tank for a minute to think it over, then decided against it. He animated Treetop Village and, staring down lethal damage, Adam extended the hand.

Congratulations to Gerard Fabiano, Grand Prix Philadelphia 2008 Champion!