After nine rounds of Sealed Deck and three Booster Drafts, two players remained to vie for the trophy at the first professional European event in Shadows over Innistrad Limited.
On one side of the table, we had professional Magic player Fabrizio Anteri, currently ranked 10th in the Magic pro rankings. He had already laid claim to four Grand Prix trophies in the last few years, and in this match he would be going for his fifth. He had drafted an aggressive red-white deck with a low curve and plenty of combat tricks.
On the other side of the table, we had Mehdi Saadi, a 24-year-old pharmacy student from Paris in his first Grand Prix Top 8. He had assembled a slower Abzan deck with strong cards in all three colors, a powerful late-game engine of Call the Bloodline plus Sanitarium Skeleton, and green mana fixers to hold it all together.
Meanwhile, Saadi had cast Cathar's Companion, Dead Weight, and Dauntless Cathar. He then tried to go for a damage race, attacking with Cathar's Companion. This attack allowed him to leverage the indestructible ability on his 3/1 creature, and he still had Dauntless Cathar as a profitable blocker for one of Anteri's creatures.
While there was some strategic merit to this aggressive line of play, it backfired immensely when Anteri played Voldaren Duelist and attacked unopposed.
Saadi, now down to 4 life, had to switch gears and had to keep his creatures back, but it was already too late. On the next turn, the combo of Rush of Adrenaline plus Uncaged Fury allowed Anteri to trample over for more than enough damage.
Fabrizio Anteri 1 – Mehdi Saadi 0
The second game lasted much longer, but for most of the game it seemed like Anteri didn't stand a chance. Saadi seemed to have it all: He gummed up the board with creatures like Moldgraf Scavenger and Stallion of Ashmouth. He generated value with Tooth Collector and Macabre Waltz. And he started to make tokens with Call the Bloodline.
Essentially, Anteri was behind the entire game, getting utterly crushed.
And then he attacked with Flameblade Angel.
Saadi, still at 17 life, felt no need to block with his 1/1 Spirit token. Not that it would have mattered.
"It's 18 damage."
Fabrizio Anteri 2 – Mehdi Saadi 0
By winning completely out of nowhere in one hit, Anteri took his fifth Grand Prix trophy, locked Platinum for Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, and obtained the lead in the Grand Prix Master race for this year's World Championship.
Congratulations to Fabrizio Anteri, your Grand Prix Barcelona 2016 champion!