Posted in GRAND PRIX BALTIMORE 2015 - WELCOME on December 14, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

From 1,235 players, a surprising total of eleven had hung on for the fight to undefeated in Round 9 at Grand Prix Baltimore. Earning the best tiebreakers available, and a seat in the first draft pod on Day 2, was a feat that put victors well on their way to a Top 8 appearance.

Table 1: David Foster vs. John Davis

The top table for the round was also one of the fastest. Foster used his powerful removal – Duneblast and Utter End – amid his suite of Abzan power to overrun Davis in three games, the first and third featuring blink-and-you'll-miss-it victories for the undefeated Foster.

Table 2: Chris Pikula vs. Greg Sokol

Chris Pikula (left) faced down Greg Sokol (right) in his run to 9-0 on Day 1.

While Pikula lost the first game against Sokol, playing two copies of Icefeather Aven and Abzan Ascendancy was good enough in the second game. The third and final game featured a timely Force Away to protect his own Mistfire Weaver, pulling him to victory there.

Table 3: Andrew Elenbogen vs. Craig Wescoe

Craig Wescoe (left) raced against Andrew Elenbogen (right) to clinch another undefeated slot.

After swapping victories back-and-forth in the first and second games, Elenbogen played back-to-back Seeker of the Ways to start. The commanding uncommon is considered one of the premier creatures in the format, but without spells and short mana to support them, Wescoe rallied with an army of Warriors – Mardu Hordechief, Chief of the Scale, Mardu Skullhunter, and more – to overrun Elenbogen.

Table 4: (5) Reid Duke vs. Dan Jordan

Fifth-ranked Reid Duke (left) got Villainous to defeat Dan Jordan (right) and remain perfect at Baltimore.

After taking down the first game, Jordan looked solid to tie it up in the second: Ashcloud Phoenix, tons of mana, and two copies of Feat of Resistance in hand. How could it go wrong? Duke, with a volley of removal, forced Jordan to tap out on his turn. Duke then untapped to cast Villainous Wealth for six, netting Bear's Companion, Thousand Winds, and Savage Punch off the top of Jordan's library. The punch knocked out the Phoenix for good, and Duke clawed to victory thanks to his Bear token.

Table 5: Andrew Cuneo vs. Nate Dierk

Andrew Cuneo (left) kicked it up in his victory over Nate Dierk (right).

In three back-and-forth games, Cuneo relied on his removal and evasion – packing two copies of Mystic of the Hidden Way – to edge out Dierk. The highlight of Cuneo's deck: Flying Crane Technique, a spell that had found him victories throughout the day.

Table 6: Michael Baraniecki vs. Frank Skarren

Michael Baraniecki (left) tried to Butcher Frank Skarren (right), but was Helmsmashed instead.

Dierk, the other undefeated players with one tie, lost his match and Baraniecki did as well, falling to the two-time Limited Grand Prix winner Skarren. Baraniecki had Butcher of the Horde in the second game, but the aggressive pressure of Zurgo Helmsmasher from Skarren was more than enough to overrun in reply.

In the end, just five players of perfection remained. Congratulations to Craig Wescoe, Reid Duke, Andrew Cuneo, Chris Pikula, and David Foster as the Day 1 undefeated players of Grand Prix Baltimore!