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.

After fending off a fast assault in his semifinal match, Gerard Fabiano was ready to face down another face from his past. Reminiscing about times at Nationals and their early careers, Fabiano was one to wander and converse his way through matches.

His opponent, twenty-second-ranked and Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Ben Stark, was one to oblige in conversing. Echoing their time before they "were big-time" Stark shuffled his deck without missing a beat. Stark had already dispatched his teammate and twentieth-ranked Josh Utter-Leyton in their quarterfinal match with "one of the best decks [he] ever had in the format."

Fabiano was never much for convention, and headed in undeterred.

The Games

Stark was off to a slow start against Fabiano in the first game, losing an early morphed Ponyback Brigade as Sultai Flayer and a morph built up across from him. Debilitating Injury killed Fabiano's morph, and Raiders Spoils let Stark go to town with a few card-drawing triggers.

A surprise Sultai Charm ended Stark's ambitions during the next attack, giving Fabiano breathing room again. Two morphs joined his cause and Fabiano had a commanding lead on the battlefield. Unmoprhing Abomination of Gudul in a later attack, Fabiano put Stark to 6 life.

Without a way to stop all of Fabiano's creatures, Stark fell shortly thereafter.

Like the first, their second game was fast as well. Disowned Ancestor and Kheru Bloodsucker was Stark's opening, again slightly slower than during his quarterfinal, with Fabiano fending behind Archer's Parapet and a morph. Raiders' Spoils made its appearance – and stuck – for Stark, but Disdainful Stroke was waiting in Fabiano's hands for the Sorin, Solemn Visitor that followed.

Dig Through Time dug Fabiano ot his next move as he began to take over the game. Dead Drop wasn't far behind as the creature count shifted four-to-one in Fabiano's favor. Stark chose to block one of the attacking morphs, and Fabiano revealed his beefy Sagu Mauler. Putting Stark to 5 life, Fabiano's army swiftly rolled through despite losing the Mauler in trade.

"Good luck in the finals," Stark said, as he extended his hand.

"Thanks," Fabiano said as he shook.

Gerard Fabiano defeated Ben Stark, 2-0, and advanced to the finals!