Posted in GRAND PRIX DENVER 2015 - WELCOME on January 5, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

"Oh you play counters? I don't like counters." Austrian Valentin Mackl was jovially talkative as he always is. He treats the Grand Prix Semifinals the same way he treats any other game of Magic. This is now his fifth Grand Prix Top 8, so perhaps it's getting to be old hat to him.

"Hard counters are my favorite." Andrew Brown said. He smiled. Brown had fought long and hard all weekend to get here. Even when Blue-Black Control wins, it's not particularly fast, so each of the fifteen rounds were fairly long. But if he was tired, he didn't show it.

He knew this match-up was in his favor—Abzan Aggro can have a tough time with all the permission of Blue-Black Control—so maybe he was just confident.

"This your first Top 8? Congratulations." Mackl said.

Brown thanked him, but he wanted more. Brown is roommates with Eugene Hwang, Grand Prix Orlando champion. Brown didn't want him to be the only one with a Grand Prix title.

The two shuffled up and ready to battle.

The Games

The first game started exactly as you think it would: Valentin Mackl asking questions with Andrew Brown providing answers. First, it was Sorin, Solemn Visitor, then Siege Rhino, then Wingmate Roc. Asked & Answered; Asked & Answered; Asked & Answered.

Soon, the endless dead threats included another Wingmate Roc, an Anafenza, the Foremost, and a Fleecemane Lion. It was clear that Mackl was getting frustrated and a bit dejected. He rested his cheek on his fist, with his elbow on the table. This game was not looking good for him. Brown just seemed to have everything.

Valentin Mackl

Mackl used Monstrosity on a Fleecemane Lion one turn, then watched it fall away with a Perilous Vault. Remember kids, Perilous Vault exiles everything. When Mackl realized he said, "Oh my God, I'm so bad." He sunk further in his chair. "Judge can I go to the toilet for a minute, so I can cry?"

Brown was unstoppable. And once it looked like he could be stopped, he had a Dig Through Time. Then came the Pearl Lake Ancient. As with many games against Blue-Black Control, when the pilot feels comfortable casting a Pearl Lake Ancient, it might just be over.

And it was.

Andrew Brown 1 – 0 Valentin Mackl

Jace's Ingenuity, Hero's Downfall, Dig Through Time, and land was the hand that Brown splayed for Mackl when the Austrian cast a Thoughtseize. Mackl was trying to go blow for blow with Brown, so he took the Dig Through Time.

But after his Rakshasa Deathdealer was hit by a Bile Blight on turn two, he didn't have many low-costed permanents to get his party started. Additionally, he was lacking his fourth land. And he kept lacking his fourth land. He drew Siege Rhino after Siege Rhino that just went rotten in his hands. Soon Brown had a Perilous Vault resolved against an empty board. When Mackl finally found the land, he had a handful of four- and five-drops and was basically just choosing what to sacrifice first.

Andrew Brown

And things were even worse than that. Mackl would try to resolve things he knew were going to die anyway to the Vault, but Brown had answers in his hand, and just kept the vault locked. Mackl found three Siege Rhinos in the yard, and Brown was still at 18—that's not how that's supposed to work.

"How many cards?" Mackl asked. "Infinite?" The answer was actually four. "Well, that's not too many, but they're all good, that's the problem." Mackl chuckled defeatedly. I think we all understood how Mackl was feeling. Brown had a board full of land, and a hand full of gas. What do you expect him to do?

For Brown, the answer's the same as the aliens told President Bill Pullman in Independence Day. He expects him to "DIIIIIIEEEEEEE!"

Mackl lasted for many turns more, but he couldn't muster a counter-offensive like Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith injecting a virus into that mothership. All that happened here was Andrew Brown's Pearl Lake Ancient slowly digging out chunks of Valentin Mackl's skull.

It was pretty savage.

Andrew Brown 2 – 0 Valentin Mackl

In this star-studded Top 8, first-timer Andrew Brown advances to the Finals!