Posted in GRAND PRIX BALTIMORE 2015 - WELCOME on December 15, 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.

It was a different format when Gerard Fabiano last won a Limited Grand Prix. In Montreal, Theros was the dominant set and a double helping of Celestial Archon that led him to rise as champion. Affable and friendly, Fabiano was a talkative type impossible to keep pace with if you let him run away with it.

Conversely, Pro Tour Dragon's Maze champion Craig Wescoe was a quieter player at least by Fabiano standards. Known for aggressive strategies and fast decks, his trademark choice of Plains was indeed in his deck for the match.

The question wasn't ever would he play it, but how many would he need.

The Games

Monastery Swiftspear was the tone Wescoe set with his first turn, following it up with Seeker of the Way on the next. Fabiano used Sultai Charm and Sultai Flayer to slow things down, but Hordeling Outburst and Valley Dasher let Wescoe drop Fabiano down to 11 life. Hooting Mandrills was the second big blocker Fabian laid out.

Wescoe nudged in with his troops a little more, but Fabiano calculated the different options of removal that might take down his defenders. Arc Lighting was the way Wescoe cleared out the blockers, adding a morph to his remaining Goblin token. Fabiano went on a Dig Through Time to find what he needed, but it left him open to an attack from Wescoe: The unmorphed Efreet Weaponmaster put Fabiano down to 8 life.

Removal was what Fabiano found, clearing away Wescoe's creatures and digging deeper with Sultai Soothsayer. Sitting at 21 life, Wescoe had a lot of time to find the last damage he still needed. The Sagu Mauler Fabiano milled to his own Rakshasa's Secret would have been a start, but an unmorphed Abomination of Gudul worked instead. From there, Fabiano played a volley of creatures and kept ahead of Wescoe's count that included a second Hordeling Outburst.

Fabiano had taken total control, and eventually fell to the dominant force.

Wescoe began the second game as the first, with Monastery Swiftspear followed by Hordeling Outburst, followed soon thereafter by Rush of Battle. Fabiabo, in just four turns, was left reeling without any blockers left and just a handful of life.

"I hope this is it," he said as he drew for his turn.

It wasn't, and Wescoe took the match to a tie at blistering speed.

The third game was a bit different as Fabiano led with Jeskai Elder, with several unopposed attacks, and Archer's Parapet. Though Arc Lightning finally killed the Elder, Sultai Flayer blocked a Valley Dasher and Fabiano had plenty of shields up afterwards. Playing around Kill Shot and other removal from Wescoe, Fabiano waited to attack with a morph two turns later and kept his Flayer back. The life gain it could produce was critical against a deck like Wescoe's.

Hordeling Outburst was Wescoe's start to cimb back in, but an army of face-down creatures kept crashing in. Without any big creatures of his own, Wescoe had no choice but to throw two Goblins in front of a morph. When Fabiano passed on unmorphing, Wescoe cracked a grin

"This is going to be the worst time this card was ever cast," he said. Flying Crane Technique resolved, but Fabiano had a response.

"Blinding Spray," Fabiano said, neatly negating Wescoe's powerful spell. From there, there was nothing left for Wescoe to do. In another round of turns, Wesnoe extended his hand.

"My draw was pretty bad there," Wescoe admitted.

"I had to change my deck a lot for you," Fabiano shared back. Despite the fastest deck in the Top 8, their match was the last to resolve. Fabiano's adjustments had worked.

Gerard Fabiano defeated Craig Wescoe, 2-1, and advanced to the semifinals!