Event coverage

The weekend has drawn to a close, and what a weekend it's been! Just under 800 players showed up to battle for the title of Grand Prix-Kansas City champion. Sealed decks have been unsealed, boosters have been drafted, and only one name remains. But before we tell his story, we turn to the stories of the players who almost made it.

Big names from all around the world battled through the first day with Gabriel Nassif and a contingent of Brazilians representing the rest of the globe, while the usual American suspects showed up for a shot at the prizes and glory. Mark Herberholz, Paul Cheon, Gerry Thompson, and Brandon Scheel are just some of the many who made the trip. They battled their hardest, but by the end of Sunday the Top 8 was filled with just a few of them.

It was two Brazilians in both Carlos Romao and Willy Edel who would try to steal the title from American soil. Defending their turf were relative newcomers Chris Paith, Sammy Batarseh, Tim Landale, and Justin "Googs" Meyer. Alongside them were more seasoned pros like Brandon Scheel and Jon Sonne, looking to keep the title at home and add to their collection of pro points for the season.

By the time the quarterfinal and semifinal dust had settled, only Romao and Landale remained. The plucky youngster from Medford, Massachusetts managed to fend off the efforts of Romao to exalt his way into the title. Your 2008 Grand Prix-Kansas City champion is Tim Landale!

Top 8 bracket


(1) Batarseh, Sammy N

(8) Edel, Willy

(4) Meyer, Justin R

(5) Landale, Tim D

(2) Sonne, Jonathan E

(7) Pait, Chris R

(3) Romão, Carlos E

(6) Scheel, Brandon M


Sonne, Jonathan E 2-1

Landale, Tim D

Batarseh, Sammy N 2-1

Romão, Carlos E 2-0


Landale, Tim D 2-0

Romão, Carlos E 2-0


Landale, Tim D 2-1


  • Finals: Tim Landale vs. Carlos Romao
    by Bill Stark
  • Semifinals: Jon Sonne vs. Tim Landale
    by Kyle Mechler
  • Top 8 Draft Watch: Brandon Scheel
    by Kyle Mechler
  • Semifinals: Sammy Batarseh vs. Carlos Romao
    by Bill Stark
  • Quarterfinals: Brandon Scheel vs. Carlos Romao
    by Kyle Mechler
  • Quarterfinals: Jon Sonne vs. Chris Pait
    by Bill Stark
  • Quarterfinals: Willy Edel vs. Sammy Batarseh
    by Bill Stark
  • Top 8 Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: Sunday, 6:13 p.m.: The Beta Draft
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 15 - Feature Match Nick Wise vs. Sammy Batarseh
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: Sunday, 4:10 p.m.: Photo Essay 2
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 14 - Sam Stein vs. Dewitt Kane
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: Sunday, 2:07 p.m.: Rough Beat
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: Sunday, 1:24 p.m.: The Return of States
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 12 - Paul Cheon vs. Mark Herberholz
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: Sunday, 11:36 a.m.: Drafting with Willy Edel
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 10 - Kelvin Young vs. Jon Sonne
    by Bill Stark
  • Info: Day 2 Playerlist
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Coverage: Miss yesterday's features? Find them here!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Landale, Tim D $3,500
2. Romão, Carlos E $2,300
3. Sonne, Jonathan E $1,500
4. Batarseh, Sammy N $1,500
5. Scheel, Brandon M $1,000
6. Meyer, Justin R $1,000
7. Pait, Chris R $1,000
8. Edel, Willy $1,000

pairings, results, standings


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Sunday, 10:37 a.m.: Round 10 Feature Match Kelvin Young vs. Jon Sonne

by Bill Stark

There were three undefeated players entering Round 10, and two of them squared off in the feature match area. Jon Sonne is a former U.S. National team member and a well respected pro. He notched seven match wins yesterday after being the benefactor of three byes. His opponent, Kelvin Young, is less well known and benefited from only a single bye Saturday. That meant he went on an 8-0 run in order to find himself in the enviable position of undefeated for Sunday. Young won the coin flip, but opened on a mulligan.

Kelvin Young went 8-0 on Day 1. Both players revealed themselves to be aggressive decks, with Kelvin opening on Wild Nacatl and a third-turn Goblin Deathraiders while Sonne had a Cylian Elf and Hissing Iguanar. When Kelvin managed to find an Algae Gharial, he seemed to be getting out ahead of Sonne. A combat step from Young saw Cylian Elf and Goblin Deathraiders die, the Gharial grow to 3/3, and the life totals fall to 19-18 in Sonne’s favor thanks to the Hissing Iguanar.

Blister Beetle managed to take care of the threatening 3/1 for Kelvin Young, and he used a Naya Panorama to super-charge his Wild Nacatl to a full 3/3. His Gharial had also grown to 4/4, and it threatened to cause a world of hurt for Sonne, whose Jund deck likely lacked the type of untargeted removal he’d need in order to kill the Crocodile. At 4 life, Jon turned to the top of his deck for some help.

It wasn’t there, and the players moved to the second game.

Kelvin Young: 1, Jon Sonne: 0

Sonne wasted no time coming out of the gates for the second game, opening on Cylian Elf and following it up just as he had in the first with a Hissing Iguanar. Kelvin’s only early play was cycling an Angelsong, which Sonne leaned in to read. Finally Young managed a creature in the form of Exuberant Firestoker, threatening a turn-four five-drop or a possible trade with Hissing Iguanar.

That put Jon Sonne in an interesting position. Waste a removal spell on such a “weak” creature to keep getting in, or hold it for the first “actual” threat from his opponent? After some thinking he decided to move into the red zone with only his Cylian Elf, and Kelvin Young was quick to declare no blocks. With three mana up, Sonne simply passed the turn.

With five mana up, Kelvin Young made a surprising play: nothing. Jon Sonne was stuck on a Forest, Mountain, and Swamp, but Kelvin didn’t have any permanents to add to the board. Jon was content to make a Blood Cultist, but when Kelvin opted to use a Magma Spray on Sonne’s Hissing Iguanar at the end of Jon’s turn, leaving the 1/1 Tim untouched, you could smell something was up.

Indeed, Kelvin did have a plan. Finally at six mana, he tapped out for Broodmate Dragon. That would make it a race, and though he was behind 20-12, he could quickly even things up and pull back ahead. Still, things would be tight. When Kelvin did decide to even the score by attacking with his team, Sonne simply cracked back to put Young at 8. He then made a post-combat Corpse Connoisseur which tutored up Scourge Devil, and the game had shifted back to favoring Sonne. It was on Kelvin Young to come up with a solution for his opponent’s cluttered board and graveyard.

The play Young came up with was a Bone Splinters targeting his opponent’s Corpse Connoisseur and an Executioner's Capsule as backup. He also attacked with both of his Dragons to drop Sonne to 4. That turned out to be a miscalculation as Sonne’s Scourge Devil came back from the graveyard was more than lethal through the Executioner’s capsule. When Kelvin realized that, he conceded with an exasperated sigh.

Kelvin Young: 1, Jon Sonne: 1

Back on the play, Kelvin Young used a Blister Beetle to take out his opponent’s Druid of the Anima, but quickly found himself stuck on three lands without any green mana. Sonne, looking to stay on par with his opponent, used a Blister Beetle of his own to kill Young’s, but Young fired right back with a third Beetle to kill Jon’s.

Can former National Team member Jon Sonne stay undefeated? As Sonne’s land count exploded, Kelvin Young could only watch despairingly while he was stuck on three lands, none of which could produce green. Jon played a Vithian Stinger to clear Young’s board, then a Jungle Weaver to go on the offensive. Still the lands stayed hidden from Young, who was clearly frustrated with the situation.

A Blightning added insult to injury, and Young took one last look to the top of his library for help. The deck, in a cruel jest, gave him a green-producing land, but not one he could use in Seaside Citadel, and Young finally lost a match for the first time on the weekend.

Jon Sonne defeats Kelvin Young 2 games to 1.

Sunday, 11:36 a.m.: Drafting with Willy Edel

by Bill Stark

Willy Edel is one of the top ranking pros from Brazil, and alongside countryman Carlos Romao and Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa, one of a handful of South Americans at the event this weekend looking to steal the title from the host country. Edel was in good position to do so after a full nine rounds of play Saturday, and found himself at table 2 for the first draft of Sunday. Coverage decided to check in with Edel to see what his take was on the Shards of Alara draft format.

Immediately upon stepping in to monitor his draft, Edel turned with a smile and said “I just want to warn you, this is only my second draft with Shards." Still, with a resume like Edel’s and years of experience with new draft formats, such a seasoned pro can still be counted on to come up with a manageable concoction, even if their first draft was the Friday before the Grand Prix.

The opening pack featured a tough choice between Oblivion Ring and Vein Drinker. Willy took the full amount of time before finally making his selection going with the 4/4. His second pick was a Fleshbag Marauder, and he was happy to move into black adding Skeletal Kathari, Bone Splinters (over Crumbling Necropolis), and Savage Lands to his pile. A mid-pack Necrogenesis joined the team and when asked about the card, Willy explained “Paulo [Vitor Dama da Rosa] told me this card is insane, but I haven’t tried it yet."

The first pack wound down with a Scourge Devil and Panoramas of the Jund and Naya varieties. With a solid core of black and some easy-to-splash green and red cards, it looked like Edel was setting himself up relatively solidly for a Jund deck.

Willy Edel watches a friend play during the first draft. The second pack started a bit weak for Edel as he had to choose between a Viscera Dragger or a Magma Spray before finally opting to take the removal spell. Things didn’t get much better from there as he was faced with a second pick void of any meat and opted to pick up Dregscape Zombie. That was followed with a second Fleshbag Marauder, Naya Panorama over Arcane Sanctum, Blister Beetle, Skeletal Kathari (though he gave a long glance at a Gift of the Gargantuan in the same pack), and Undead Leotau. The creature base for Willy’s deck looked pretty weak, and he was just not getting any help from the packs at all. He rounded up the pack with some marginal playables like Shore Snapper and Incurable Ogre, and another Jund Panorama.

In between packs, Willy shuffled his cards around trying to figure out what his deck was supposed to look like. The second pack had been unquestionably weak for him, but he was potentially saved with a shift to drafting in the other direction for the final pack. If he had been getting cut off, that would end when he switched passing directions.

However weak the packs during the second pass of drafting had been, Willy’s final first pack more than made up. He stared down a veritable who’s who of Jund draftables with Resounding Thunder, Kresh the Bloodbraided, Executioner's Capsule, Branching Bolt, and Infest. After shuffling the cards down for a considerable amount of time, he finally settled on the Branching Bolt. His second pick was a Dreg Reaver, and it looked like Willy’s luck had run out again after his first-pick fortunes. Viscera Dragger joined his team pick three, followed by Jund Charm. He added a few more creatures to his pool with Carrion Thrash, a third Fleshbag Marauder, an additional Incurable Ogre, and a tabled Kresh the Bloodbraided.

After some weak packs Willy seemed to have pulled a passable deck together. When asked his opinion on things he said “I don’t know. I think it’s okay. I wish I had drafted more." Did he have a prediction for his record with the deck? “I think I can 2-1 with it."

Willy Edel

Download Arena Decklist

Sunday, 12:21 p.m.: Round 12 Feature Match Paul Cheon vs. Mark Herberholz

by Bill Stark

“I should have drafted infinite pump spells when I saw you were in my draft,” Herberholz joked with his opponent for Round 12. “I’ll get Paul with every last one of these!” The two laughed at Cheon’s penchant for second-guessing himself on opponents’ combat tricks before getting down to business.

Lan D. Ho, in town to film a documentary about Magic, stopped by the feature match to set down a bag of cookies for the duelists. That seemed to be working in Mark Herberholz’s favor as Paul Cheon struggled to hold his hand while chowing down on the finest in Panera chocolate chip cookies. Apparently fully breakfasted, Herberholz simply went about playing Magic.

The players’ early turns were spent on small creatures. Heezy revealed himself to be an exalted deck with Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Guardians of Akrasa, and Outrider of Jhess. Cheon made a Bant Battlemage and Court Archers. Both players struggled to get an edge on the board, with Herberholz building even more creatures, and Cheon combining Resounding Roars with attackers to take out Mark’s blockers.

A second Akrasan Squire from Mark meant any creature he attacked with would automatically qualify for a +5/+5 bonus, and he did exactly that swinging in with his Sighted-Caste Sorcerer to put the totals at 14-9 in his favor. Trying to keep his head above water, Cheon came right back at his opponent using a Bant Charm and Excommunicate to rid himself of Mark’s Outriders, then going on the offensive with his Bant Battlemage backed by double Court Archers.

Herberholz rebuilt his forces playing a Sigiled Paladin and his Excommunicated Outrider of Jhess before using a Resounding Wave to bounce Cheon’s Fatestitcher. That meant Paul had a full turn of summoning sickness to deal with in order to get his tapper active again, and in the meanwhile Mark kept playing more exalted creatures. Cheon was quickly headed to a bad spot as he was forced to chump each turn, losing a creature per sequence while Herberholz gained ground in that department. When no savior presented itself for Paul, the players were on to the second game.

Mark Herberholz: 1, Paul Cheon: 0

It was a battle of two champions: Paul Cheon the former U.S. Nationals and Grand Prix-Krakow champ, and Mark Herberholz, Pro Tour-Honolulu winner. Resorting to whatever tactics he could to get ahead, Herberholz quietly pushed the bag of Lan D. Ho chocolate chip cookies towards his opponent. Cheon looked up from shuffling long enough to recognize the play. “Mmmm...temptation.” He said. When Mark wasn’t looking, Paul pushed it back towards the Michigan resident.

Back on the play, Cheon had a second-turn Steward of Valeron followed by Elvish Visionary. Herberholz was way ahead of him, however, opening on Akrasan Squire which led to Sighted-Caste Sorcerer and a second one turn later. The Squire was free to get in for an uninhibited 4 as Cheon couldn’t afford to chump or risk losing his team for no gain. Paul did have the advantage of not being stuck on two lands, though the same could not be said for Mark Herberholz, who could only watch in dismay as Cheon used Excommunicate on a Sighted-Cast Sorcerer to make sure Heezy missed land number three for at least one more turn.

Rhox Charger hit for Paul, then a Vithian Stinger and before Heezy could do anything, Cheon had stabilized. Mark was definitely in some trouble, and he’d need to find himself some land quickly or risk losing. Call to Heel sent the Stinger back to Paul’s hand, and a second Plains showed up to put Mark on three lands total. He bashed with his Squire to put the score at 7-5 in his favor, before playing a Kathari Screecher.

Cheon bashed right back, dropping Herberholz to 4, but even on just three lands, two for most of the game, Mark’s Kathari Screecher was lethal on the return swing if he had just a single additional exlated creature. When he played an Akrasan Squire, Cheon shrugged. Unbelievably, Mark Herberholz had managed to win the game and match.

Mark Herberholz defeats Paul Cheon 2 games to 0.

Sunday, 1:24 p.m.: The Return of States

by Bill Stark

One of the most exciting announcements on the tournament front over the past few months has been the return of the State and Provincial champs to North America. Fortunately for readers at home, the man responsible for putting that event together was in the Overland Park Convention Center this weekend, and we were able to sit down and chat with him. His name is Glenn Godard, and he’s a Tournament Organizer for Sunmesa Events.

The first question at hand was why he had decided to take it upon himself to help organize the event for the community. “States is far and away my favorite tournament,” Glenn explained, “I’ve gotten as far as second at States, and I’ll play this year. Hopefully I can do well with a Dauntless Dourbark deck.”

Godard described the process by which he had come up with the idea to put the event together. “I was sitting at the GAMA Convention, bouncing a pen on the table and listening to a lot of other Tournament Organizers mention that they were going to continue running their own State Championship tournaments. So I thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we ran them together?’” From there Glenn contacted as many TOs as he could to offer them a proposition: if he were able to set up a skeleton for States to happen during the same weekend for everyone, would they be willing to schedule their events cohesively? “The overwhelming response was ‘Yes!’”

Still, there was a lot of work to do to get everything put together. Networking with some 45 TOs spread across 60 venues was no small feat, and Glenn had some help along the way. “Mike Guptil definitely deserves some credit for agreeing to handle the shipping for Canada. Also Pete Hoefling of Starcitygames.com agreed to do advertising for the events on his website, which was kind of him. But really, all of the TOs have contributed.”

For those who don’t know, the State Championships will be held November 8th and will feature the Standard format. There are more exciting announcements to come about States in the near future, so make sure to check back with the magicthegathering.com‘s front page, and for other information on where tournaments are being held in your region, visit the Official State Championships page.

As for Glenn, we concluded by asking him how player response has been so far. “Overwhelmingly good. Players are really excited!”

Sunday, 2:07 p.m.: Rough Beat

by Bill Stark

Mark Roman came to Grand Prix-Kansas City after some time off from Magic. The bank employee drove a good seven+ hours to get back into the swing of one of his favorite pastimes. A well respected PTQ regular from the Iowa/Illinois region, Mark was looking to shake off the cobwebs and get his hands on some of the brand new Shards of Alara he had been hearing so much about.

Of course, there were 740+ opponents standing in his way. After getting a solid-but-not-spectacular Sealed, Mark found himself narrowly missing the second day of play. Oh well, there's always the Sunday morning PTQ, right? Well yes, but this PTQ wasn't like most. After missing Day 2, Mark woke up early to get his PTQ on only to find...

Mark Roman (l) mugs it up with Gerard Fabiano (r).Some 301 other competitors had had the same idea. A PTQ with 302 players is practically a Grand Prix all on its own, but Mark soldiered on, convinced he could move on from a rough Day 1. His pool, like on Saturday, was solid but fair. He put together a reasonable Bant deck and quickly dispatched his first round opponent. Cheered up a bit by his win, he looked forward to his second round. Who did he find waiting for him as he sat down to play? Professional Magic player Gerard Fabiano.

Sigh. Maybe next time. Still, even though he was out of his second big event on the weekend, Mark was in good spirits overall, and glad to be battling once more. "It's been a fun weekend," he exclaimed, before mugging it up for the camera with the opponent that knocked him out. Proof positive that winning the Grand Prix isn't the only way to have a good time at the big events.

Sunday, 3:25 p.m.: Feature Match 14 Sam Stein vs. Dewitt Kane

by Bill Stark

"Who'd you play last round?" Asked Sam Stein to his opponent as they sat down for their do-or-die match, both needing to win and win again in the 15th to make Top 8.

"Um...Mark...Herberheitz? A guy with spiky hair and glasses?" Dewitt Kane responded, clearly a newcomer to the feature match area.

"You mean Mark Herberholz?" Stein responded, smiling.

"Yeah, that's it."

Sam Stein kicked the game off by winning the die roll, and watched as his opponent was forced to take a mulligan. Neither player did much over the first few turns with Dewitt watching his Manaplasm die to Sam's Magma Spray. Stein accelerated into a Flameblast Dragon but tapped out to do so, adding "Hope you don't have a Spell Snip." Dewitt could only watch the 5/5 hit the board.

Sam Stein, Pro Tour Top 8er.Still, Sam was apparently intimidated by a possible Resounding Silence from his opponent, opting not to attack with the Dragon when he had the turn back, instead developing his board with Incurable Ogre, Rhox Charger, and Cylian Elf. His smaller creatures got in to make an alpha strike potentially lethal, and when Stein moved all-in to kill his opponent, Flameblasting Dewitt for 7, Kane was forced to show his tricks. He used the previously indicated Resounding Silence to kill the Dragon, and a Qasali Ambusher to chump a blocker. He fell to 2, and though he had survived and dealt with the Dragon, he still had a board of creatures from Sam Stein to deal with.

After taking his turn with a new card, Dewitt shuffled nervously before coming to a conclusion. "Yep, can't do it. Glad I showed you those last two tricks though..."

Sam Stein: 1, Dewitt Kane: 0

After some confusion over who Dewitt had stated would play first, the second game commenced with Kane starting. The turns went relatively uneventfully for Dewitt, who managed only Bant colored lands over the first six turns. Sam Stein, on the other side of the table, exploded into Incurable Ogre, Court Archers, and Cylian Elf. They went on the offensive, but Dewitt negated the attack with a Kiss of the Amesha that put him to 21.

Sam gained some momentum back by attacking with his Archers and Incurable Ogre, leaving Cylian Elf at home to prevent being munched by a Qasali Ambusher, and then played Flameblast Dragon. Whatever two cards Dewitt Kane had drawn from his Kiss, he didn't seem happy to see the Dragon. His turn was spent with a Druid of the Anima, leaving him with five mana up on his opponent's turn. Accordingly, Stein attacked only with his Incurable Ogre, a 6/2 thanks to the Court Archers. He was clearly concerned about the Resounding Silence for the second game of the match.

Dewitt Kane makes his feature match debut."How does this game feel so close when you have no creatures on the board?" Stein asked, rhetorically, with a bead of sweat slowly growing on his forehead.

"I don't know," his opponent responded, "how does this game feel so bad when I've got so many good cards in my hand?"

In a repeat of the first game, Sam slowly chipped away at his opponent's life total, leaving his Dragon home to again protect from Resounding Silence. With Dewitt at 15, he finally determined the math worked out in his favor. He sacrificed a Bloodpyre Elemental to kill Dewitt's only blocker in Manaplasm, and attacked with everything using Flameblast Dragon to Fireball for 7. That left Dewitt at 8, and though he had the Resounding Silence for his opponent's Dragon, he was still dead to the rest of the attackers.

Sam Stein defeats Dewitt Kane 2 games to 0.

Sunday, 4:10 p.m.: Photo Essay 2

by Bill Stark

More photos from around Grand Prix-Kansas City!

Ian Farnung, winner of a free Beta booster draft, one of many door prizes handed out all weekend.

Magic videographer and celebrated personality Evan Erwin hard at work.

Cake draft. Losers have to buy the other team the cake and watch them eat it.

The judges head to their Judge breakfast.

This is what they were riding in.

The Brazilians (Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa, Willy Edel, Carlos Romao L-R).

The lucky group of Beta drafters.

Sunday, 5:03 p.m.: Round 15 Feature Match Nick Wise vs. Sammy Batarseh

by Bill Stark

Nick Wise hails from Omaha, Nebraska and is one of many Midwesterners looking to keep the title of "Grand Prix-Kansas City" on semi-home turf. At 33 match points, an 11-3 record, he would need a win in the final round and some fortunate tie breaks to even have a shot. His opponent, Sammy Batarseh, traveled a bit further to make the trip coming from Salt Lake City, Utah. At 34 points, he had a draw where Nick had an extra loss. If he won, he was almost assuredly in meaning Nick was likely playing dreamcrusher.

Sammy Batarseh tries to put SLC in the Top 8.After winning the die roll, Sammy opened on Necrogenesis and Hissing Iguanar before playing Rhox Charger to help the Iguanar get in. Nick was content to accelerate his mana with an Obelisk of Naya, though he appeared to be playing Bant based on his Forests, Islands, and Plains. Topan Ascetic and Elvish Visionary from Wise made the board a little bit better for him.

Nick fell to 12 on his opponent's next attack, unwilling to sacrifice his Topan Ascetic to trade with Sammy's Rhox Charger. Unflinching, Sammy played a Feral Hydra with three +1/+1 counters, but was stuck on four lands. Wise had a monster counter: he played a Mountain, seemingly out of nowhere, and used the mana to sacrifice his board to a Caldera Hellion. The tapped out Batarseh could only watch as his entire board was wiped out by the 5/5 (thanks to devour).

Waveskimmer Aven came down next for Nick, who went on the offensive with his Hellion, dropping Batarseh to 14. Sammy started making Saprolings, borrowing a few tokens from the audience over the pennies he had planned on using. Still stuck on four lands, he was reeling for solutions, but made small ground by comboing Rip-Clan Thrasher and Magma Spray to kill the Waveskimmer Aven after Nick opted to block.

Sammy finally started developing his manabase while holding off Nick's monsters thanks to Necrogenesis. Eventually he landed a Cavern Thoctar which traded straight up with the Caldera Hellion, though by that time Wise had added Jungle Weaver to the board meaning his attack dropped Sammy to just 4 life. When Wise added a Rhox War Monk, then a Yoked Plowbeast, things looked terrible for Batarseh. He managed to deal with the 3/4 lifelinking creature via a Saproling chump and a Branching Bolt, but had fallen to just 1 life. The attacks from the War Monk had taken Nick all the way up to 14, putting him in pretty safe territory.

Struggling to get something going, Sammy finally managed to make one last attempt. After using Necrogenesis chump blocks and a Hissing Iguanar to eat a few points of life from his opponent, Sammy unearthed his Viscera Dragger, then tapped out for Predator Dragon. The flying beasty devoured everything on the board, making it more than lethal as it turned sideways. Sammy was down to his final hope, but Nick played the spoiler revealing a Resounding Silence to RFG the Dragon and send the match to the second game.

Nick Wise: 1, Sammy Batarseh: 0

Sammy came out of the gates for the second with a 2/2 Wild Nacatl and a Rockslide Elemental. Nick had nothing until the third turn, when he made a Court Archers. Unfortunately for him, it was quickly killed by a Branching Bolt, pumping the Rockslide to 2/2. When he was finally able to Resounding Silence the Elemental, he had fallen to 10.

In no time Nick was trading his creatures for his opponents, with a Rhox Charger dying to the Wild Nacatl pumped by Scourge Devil, and a Mosstodon dying to the Devil on the following attack step. When Sammy played Necrogenesis, it looked like things were going to get lethal for Nick very quickly. With Scourge Devil in the graveyard along with plenty of creatures, Sammy would be able to generate an army, then unearth the Devil to bash in for the win. When Sammy couldn't find his Caldera Hellion or the second red to play it, that's exactly what happened and the players were on to the rubber game.

Nick Wise: 1, Sammy Batarseh: 1

A mulligan was how Nick opted to start the second game, though he had decided to draw first instead of playing. A second mulligan soon followed his first, and it seemed a fortuitous decision. Wise was still the first on the board, however, playing a Knight of the Skyward Eye followed by a Guardians of Akrasa to go on the offensive. Not far behind Sammy Batarseh played a Topan Ascetic and Rhox Charger to keep up, and after four turns the life totals stood 16-14 in Nick's favor.

Nick Wise was on a wing and a prayer for Top 8.Resounding Wave allowed Nick to bounce the Ascetic and gain a slight edge in the race, but Sammy simply replayed the 2/2 alongside a Hissing Iguanar. Stuck on three lands, it wasn't looking good for Nick Wise. He used a Resounding Silence to deal with Rhox Charger, but Sammy simply followed up with Cavern Thoctar. The 5-powered Beast triggered his Exuberant Firestoker as well, and Nick soon found himself at 7 life.

It wasn't meant to be for the Nebraskan. After three turns of not drawing miracles, Sammy outlasted his young opponent and took the match in three.

Sammy Batarseh defeats Nick Wise 2 games to 1.

Sunday, 6:13 p.m.: The Beta Draft

by Bill Stark

Beta. One of the first sets ever printed, hallowed home of some of the game's most powerful cards. Dual lands, Berserk, Sol Ring, the entirety of the Power 9. Many a player has been regaled by those lucky enough to have played in the early 90s when Beta was easy to come by and Magic was a game born fresh in the world. Opening packs with the possibility of cracking some of the most powerful cards ever known? It's the stuff legends are made of.

Saturday the Photo Essay featured a player who had brought a good amount of sealed product from Beta, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and other classic sets. Interested in providing his players with a unique gaming opportunity, TO Steve Ferrell purchased enough booster packs of Beta to offer a draft, complete with fabulous prizes, to eight lucky individuals. The cost to enter the event? A paltry $1,200. As an added bonus, Steve decided to donate one of the slots to a random door prize winner selected from amongst the many players who failed to make the second day of competition in the Grand Prix.

That lucky player turned out to be Ian Farnung who had traveled to Kansas City all the way from Chicago. The friends he had brought with him were forced to stay a bit longer than they had anticipated, but somehow it seems unlikely they were too upset about it. Other members of the Top 8 included famous pros like David Williams and Chris Benafel, who came out of retirement to battle this weekend, and some famous faces from around the local scene (like Steve Ferrell himself!).

Before the players could get started, a few questions needed to be answered. First, could the judges sanction the event? (No.) Second, were all the players willing to sleeve the cards as they drafted to prevent them from getting damaged? (Yes.) And most important...how does Chaos Orb actually work now? (Before an answer could be tracked down, the players had failed to open one.)

A massive crowd of onlookers pressed in to watch the festivities. With people standing on chairs and numerous members of the press recording the event on video, film, and paper, the packs were cracked. A Mox Jet was opened immediately, to the delight of the crowd, but players were forced to quickly notice how far the game has come since its early days. While some grumble about receiving a single basic land in their booster packs today, the Beta drafters found themselves looking at packs with as many as nine. And creatures? They came at a premium, with cards like Ironclaw Orcs, Personal Incarnation, and Pestilence Rats having to tide players over in lieu of the modern sets designed with Draft in mind.

The pricy cards posed problems for the drafters and made picks interesting. A participant, who was also a card dealer, agonized over taking a Scrubland for its value or a Sengir Vampire for its bombiness. Ultimately he opted to take the money. Across the table David Williams asked the audience what an Illusionary Mask was worth. When informed of the value of the card, he put it in his stack, passing the rest of the pack's contents. Sol Ring and Bayou were also opened to the delight of all.

You could hear a pin drop as the players cracked their finals packs, the entire audience desperately hoping they'd get to see a Black Lotus opened right in front of their eyes. It wasn't to be, however, and as the very rare event came to a close, it seemed everyone would be walking away from the draft with something cool. For seven players, a return on their $1,200 investment and a chance to win more Beta packs. For Ian Farnung a story that will be tough to match, and a great reason for having come to the Grand Prix. For the audience and everyone involved? Well...it looks like that list of Beta legends just got a little bit longer.

TO Steve Ferrell hands out the Beta packs.

Evan Erwin of The Magic Show hams it up during the Beta Draft.

The crowd of spectators grows around the Beta draft.

David Williams considers his options

The eight lucky drafters.

Quarterfinals Willy Edel vs. Sammy Batarseh

by Bill Stark

Willy Edel was first out of the gates with Tidehollow Strix while Chris Batarseh opted to accelerate his mana on turn three, playing an Obelisk of Jund instead of a Hissing Iguanar. Missing a land drop, Edel simply played a Grixis Battlemage. Despite the Brazilian's famous pedigree and three Pro Tour Top 8s, Kansas City was just his first set of single-elimination rounds at the Grand Prix level.

The acceleration proved fortuitous for Batarseh who quickly made a Rakeclaw Gargantuan and a Bull Cerodon. Willy worked his Battlemage in an effort to catch up on lands, while a Fatestitcher joined the Tidehollow Strix to play defense. A Grixis Charm from Edel preemptively dealt with the Rakeclaw, giving the 5/3 -4/-4, enough to make it thoroughly dead.

Trying to keep up, Willy comboed a Fatestitcher tap to Coma Veil Batarseh's Cerodon, but Sammy simply sacrificed the useless 5/5 to a Thorn-Thrash Viashino. The Jund player would need to find a solution to his opponent's Fire-Field Ogre, which was threatening to put a clock on while Fatestitcher kept Sammy's creatures tied up. A Naya Charm came to the front to answer the tappy 1/1.


Flameblast Dragon
Welkin Guide allowed the Viashino to get in for a hefty chunk, setting the totals to 10-6 in Willy's favor, and a Dragon Fodder appeared to help buy Sammy time on the ground. Skeletonize let Edel blow up the Guide, netting a 1/1 Skeleton in the process, but Sammy had a huge bomb in the form of Flameblast Dragon. His opponent was dead to a single attack with the 5/5, and Willy needed to find a blocker, removal spell, or other trick quickly.

The Brazilian moved to his draw step to try to find some help, then went into the tank. Had he found the miracle he was looking for? Batarseh twisted nervously in his seat, but when Willy began scooping up his lands, the jury was in: Sammy Batarseh was the victor of the first game.

Sammy Batarseh: 1, Willy Edel: 0

An early Tidehollow Strix from Edel was met with a Magma Spray from Sammy Batarseh, who then played Jund Battlemage and Obelisk of Esper on back-to-back turns. Willy didn't seem to mind, playing a second Strix and a Dregscape Zombie before finding a heavy hitter in the form of Fire-Field Ogre. Sammy's four-drop was a Thorn-Thrash Viashino, though with no devour it was a measly 2/2. It was quickly becoming relevant that Sammy Batarseh was missing green mana.

Skeletal Kathari came down for Edel, and the game was turning into a blowout. Sammy was struggling to find the sources of green he needed to get online, and Edel was starting to overrun him. Worse still was the fact many of Edel's creatures had unearth meaning even if Sammy was able to find a solution, he'd have to absorb at least one more hit from most of them before being able to stabilize.

His deck didn't seem to notice, yielding landless draw after landless draw. The Kathari ate his life in 3-point chunks, and after blanking, Sammy and Willy found the match evened up.

Sammy Batarseh: 1, Willy Edel: 1

Sammy opted to draw for the final game, a surprising play considering how aggressive Willy's deck appeared to be. Looking to punish Batarseh, Willy opened on Dregscape Zombie, though he missed a creature on the third turn. Instead, he watched as Sammy dropped a third-turn Necrogenesis. That card, which has seen a surprising amount of play this weekend, would serve double duty in the matchup: removing Willy's dead unearth creatures while clogging up the ground for the ones in play.

Sammy Batarseh exits the quarters unscathed.Unconcerned, Willy played Fire-Field Ogre and then a Scourge Devil, but Batarseh was ready. He used Jund Charm to wipe his opponent's board, adding a Magma Spray to take out the 3/3 Devil. A Cylian Elf joined Batarseh's team after he cleared Willy's graveyard, and the Brazilian looked behind. He played a Fatestitcher that would help, and a Skeletonize dealt with a Hissing Iguanar from Batarseh, but Willy still wasn't out of the woods. Sammy made Jund Battlemage and passed the turn.

Willy landed a Viscera Dragger, but wasn't prepared for Sammy's big play: Realm Razor, sandbagging a Forest so he could start making Saprolings with his Battlemage. Forced into a corner, Edel tried to trade his Dragger with Realm Razor, but Sammy had played a second land which enabled Resounding Roar. That put him over the top, and after having been Armageddoned, Willy was down to no outs. He peeked at the top card of his deck, and conceded the game.

Sammy Batarseh defeats Willy Edel 2 games to 1.

Quarterfinals Jon Sonne vs. Chris Pait

by Bill Stark

Jon Sonne won the die roll but was quickly forced to mulligan to kick off his quarterfinals match against Chris Pait. He agonized over keeping his two-land hand before finally opting to risk it. A second-turn Druid of the Anima meant he'd have a third turn "land," but Chris Pait wasted no time in going on the offensive with a Rip-Clan Crasher that put Jon to 17. Wanting to stay on the offensive, Pait used an Oblivion Ring on Druid of the Anima to stunt Jon's mana development, as well as a Guardians of Akrasa to make his Crasher a bit bigger. By the time Algae Gharial hit the table for him, Pait seemed decidedly in control with Sonne still at three lands.

Still, only having three mana doesn't mean you can't play spells, and Jon played a surprise Qasali Ambusher to ambush Pait. Chris had attacked with his Gharial, Crasher, and a Steward of Valeron, and Jon was able to kill the mana-"elf" and the Gharial with a combination of the 2/3 Ambusher and an Elvish Visionary. On top of that, he got to keep the Qasali while Chris Pait meekly said "Now I show you why I'm not a good player," following up his combat step with a second Gharial, which would have grown to 3/3 in combat had he thought his attack step through more clearly.


Algae Gharial
A Rakeclaw Gargantuan from Pait was dealt with by Resounding Thunder from Sonne, and Chris followed up by sending his second Gharial, which had grown to a 4/4 after some chump blocking from Jon, in to Sonne's Mosstodon. Jon was happy to block, and when Chris tried to Sigil Blessing, was quick to remind Pait of the fact the Crocodile had shroud. Visibly frustrated with his play, Pait acknowledged the mistake and the critters traded.

All of a sudden a game that had looked very bad for Jon Sonne had swung dramatically around. He had finally managed to come up with some mana, and a pair of Cavern Thoctars poured forth from his hand. Meanwhile Pait drew land after land, unable to capitalize on his early momentum. The 5/5s chewed through Pait's blockers, and a pair of big attacks from the Thoctars sent the first game to Sonne.

Jon Sonne: 1, Chris Pait: 0

"Let's not do that again..." Pait grumbled as he looked through his sideboard for the second game of the match.

A Druid of the Anima was the first play, but unlike the last match it came from Chris Pait, not Jon Sonne. Sonne wasn't afraid to get on the board, however, using a Dragon Fodder to clog up the ground. Not light on lands this time, Jon used the stalling to try to accumulate a board of fatties. His Mosstodon was killed with Resounding Thunder, and an Oblivion Ring took out Woolly Thoctar. A Jungle Weaver finally stuck.

Of course, Chris Pait wasn't exactly doing nothing. He had managed a Rockslide Elemental with two counters and a Rakeclaw Gargantuan. The matchup was turning into be a battle of the fatties. Sonne tried to make sure he would come out on top by playing a 7/7 Feral Hydra while Pait simply used a second Oblivion Ring to deal with the monstrosity. That seemed easy enough, but he was still staring down a Jungle Weaver from Jon.


Rakeclaw Gargantuan
Pait managed to deal with that as well after playing a Lightning Talons on his Rakeclaw Gargantuan. The aura had made the 5/3 into an 8/3 and allowed Soul's Fire to wipe out the Weaver. With no cards in hand, Sonne was left with Godtoucher, Cylian Elf, and his two Goblin tokens. Sait wasn't quite able to get in, but played Hissing Iguanar and a second Rakeclaw Gargantuan to try to punch through.

A pair of Resounding cycles, both Thunder and Silence, for Sonne cleared the board of his opponent's Gargantuans. That freed him up to start attacking with his weenie creatures, facing only a Druid of the Anima for opposition. The totals stood 7-2 in Sonne's favor, and the match didn't look good for Pait. When he drew a land off the top, Pait accepted his fate.

"Good game."

Jon Sonne defeats Chris Pait 2 games to 1.

Quarterfinals Brandon Scheel vs. Carlos Romao

by Bill Stark

Brandon won the die roll but quickly mulliganed while Carlos scanned the seven his deck immediately served up. Both players kept after Scheel's quick move to six, and the game began.

Carlos had a Savage Lands early, and though Brandon didn't have any creatures to play at that point, he kept Carlos off Cylian Elf with Excommunicate on turn three. Court Archers replaced the pseudo-Grizzly Bear on the third turn, and Brandon came back with Outrider of Jhess. Carlos played Angelic Benediction, still holding the Cylian Elf, hoping to fit it into his curve later in the game. Scheel had to take 3 from Carlos' Court Archers, but began to develop further as Waveskimmer Aven joined the team.


Gift of the Gargantuan
The Brazilian cast Gift of the Gargantuan and dug for more options while Brandon made an Obelisk, a second Outrider of Jhess, and an attack with a 2/2 which immediately became a 5/5 from all of the exalted effects. Mr. Romao was not to be outdone in the way of the Bant, however, and created a third exalted effect of his own in Guardians of Akrasa. His attack for 5 left the life totals at 11-10 in favor of the Brazilian, and a post-combat Branching Bolt sent one of Brandon's Outriders to the graveyard. Content to race, Brandon didn't have any spells on his turn as he attacked with Waveskimmer Aven for 4. Carlos' Welkin Guide evened up the score at 7 a piece, granting +2/+2 as he attacked with Court Archers through a tapped team. He rounded out his turn with a 3/3 Wild Nacatl.

Brandon couldn't do much as the Angelic Benediction was keeping him out of any defensive combat, and was forced to pick up his cards on the following turn. The game ended very quickly while the other quarterfinals matches were still in their first games. Neither player looked any further than their sideboards, however, as they quickly focused on improving their decks for a second contest.

Carlos Romao: 1, Brandon Scheel: 0

Scheel again found himself on the play, but had to go fish for a second starting hand in back-to-back games. Carlos calmly set his beginning seven to the side and re-shuffled his opponent's deck. Both players abruptly muttered "keep" - virtually the only words spoken throughout the match - and another brisk game began.


Waveskimmer Aven
They colored-up quickly with tap lands from different shards, but Brandon's third land drop evaded him through turns three, four, and five while Carlos had a Cylian Elf and a 2/2 Wild Nacatl backed by a Gift of the Gargantuan that found no land, but a Waveskimmer Aven, which joined Carlos' other creatures on the following turn.

Brandon's third permanent, and consequently his third land drop, was a Plains, and Bant Charm moved the flyer to the bottom of Romao's deck as the bleeding had to be slowed. The damage was likely already done, however, as one player's untouched life total was a far cry from the 10 on the other side of the paper. Brandon made a blocker as he tried to re-enter the game, but Carlos had a second Waveskimmer Aven and a Branching Bolt to deal the final 6.

Carlos Romao defeats Brandon Scheel 2 games to 0.

Semifinals Sammy Batarseh vs. Carlos Romao

by Bill Stark

Quickly out of the gates came Carlos Romao as he battled Salt Lake City resident Sammy Batarseh for a shot at the Finals. A Wild Nacatl was joined by Druid of the Anima and Court Archers as the Brazilian went to town on the red zone. Sammy Batarseh soon found himself at 8 life, unable to put up a fight because, despite cycling a Ridge Rannet, he had been stuck on two lands all game.

With five GP Top 8s already, could Carlos Romao become a champion again?Looking to get ahead even further, Carlos played Gift of the Gargantuan nabbing a land and a Guardians of Akrasa from the top of his deck. He didn't play the 0/4 on his following turn, however, opting to drop a Waveskimmer Aven instead. Sammy finally hit a third land, then a fourth, and made a Thorn-Thrash Viashino, but Romao was already too far ahead. A cavalcade of creatures with the exalted ability hit for Romao, and Batarseh's meager life total just had no chance.

Carlos Romao: 1, Sammy Batarseh: 0

Back-to-back Cylian Elves kicked the game off for Carlos Romao while Sammy Batarseh repeated his play from the first game: getting stuck on two mana. Visibly frustrated his eyes darted up to the ceiling in frustration as Romao made short work of his life total with the mini-horde of Grizzly Bears.

Sammy Batarseh worked with back-to-back two-landers.Batarseh had a chance in the fact his opponent wasn't adding much additional pressure to the board, though Romao did make a Druid of the Anima. Sammy finally hit his third land, completing his Jund trifecta with a Swamp, Mountain, and Forest, and played Jund Battlemage. Carlos had Skeletonize to continue getting through, dropping Sammy to 5. When Sammy followed up with Hissing Iguanar, Carlos had the second removal spell in Branching Bolt and Sammy Baterseh's run in the Top 8 was over.

Carlos Romao defeats Sammy Baterseh 2 games to 0.

Top 8 Draft Watch: Brandon Scheel

by Kyle Mechler

Brandon Scheel brought to the Top 8 a love for Bant. His affinity for the exalted mechanic has led him to call Akrasan Squire, "the cheapest Glorious Anthem Wizards has ever printed!" The remark might not be exactly true, but he clearly came into the draft leaning towards green, white, and blue.

The first pack offered little in the way of value at the back, but the commons and uncommons left Brandon with no shortage of cards to consider. Bant Charm and Sigil Blessing were the first cards to be promoted to the shorter list, but Agony Warp and Magma Spray eventually made their way forward and sought to keep Brandon considering other options. Bant Charm won him over eventually, despite the early commitment to a single shard. That commitment wouldn't falter, either, as the second pick yielded a Wakeskimmer Aven. The 2/4 flyer made the cut relatively quickly, beating out other hits such as Tower Gargoyle, Resounding Roar, and Jungle Shrine.


Bant Charm
For the rest of the first pack, Brandon was a bit dejected as the powerful exalted mechanic seemed to dry up very quickly. Welkin Guide joined the team as a third pick while mana-fixing from the next few picks were nabbed to ease the common problem of a frantic grab for non-basic lands through the final pack. The only other card to show up that strongly favored Brandon's favorite mechanic was Court Archers, though it nearly lost out to Sigil Blessing.

Pack two began and left Mr. Scheel staring into 14 cards with little to offer. The only cards up for consideration seemed to be Druid of the Anima, Arcane Sanctum, and Sigil Blessing. The pump-spell became the first-pick and Brandon picked up his 13-card pack to see Resounding Thunder and Drumhunter, two cards that he spent the entire time deciding between. The power of the card-drawing creature was enough to merit the selection, but Brandon didn't have the big creatures or enough exalted action to trigger the Drummer just yet.

A few Cloudheath Drakes and another Sigil Blessing were all easy picks for Brandon going forward, but he seemed to agonize over the choice of Knight of the Skyward Eye versus Sedraxis, the Traitor, a card clearly worthy of a possible cut. Bant Battlemage and an Akrasan Squire set him more solidly in his archetype as the second pack wound down.

The third pack began with a bang as Brandon opened the popular Flameblast Dragon and immediately felt compelled to keep it from moving to another player's pile. Knight of the Skyward Eye came forward to contest that selection, though, and the need to round out the lower end of the curve got Brandon's approval and commitment to the 2/2, instead. Resounding Roar and another Bant Charm showed up in the next few packs, though Brandon clearly wanted to take other cards. The lack of anything like Oblivion Ring pulled him toward these support spells, and Brandon rounded out his draft with a few Outrider of Jhess. He was clearly the champion of the Bant standard in this final 8.

Semifinals Jon Sonne vs. Tim Landale

by Kyle Mechler

The two players took their seats and began discussing the end of the Swiss portion of the tournament and how they had found themselves in the third draft of the day. The head judge, Jason Ness, provided a die to determine how the game would begin, and Landale's higher number earned him the right to draw. Both players stuck with their seven-card hands, and the game began.

Tim started the game with an Executioner's Capsule, content to let it sit for a few turns while Jon simply cycled a Ridge Rannet on the second turn. Esper Panorama further cemented a clean start for Tim, fetching an Island to join his Mountain and Swamp and allowing him to play Sedraxis Specter on the third turn. Jon had only a fourth land.

The attacking Specter wanted to get a card from Sonne's hand, but was killed with a Resounding Thunder before the damage could be done. Landale's fourth turn didn't show him land, but an Obelisk of Jund provided one more mana to cast a maindeck Goblin Mountaineer. Jon Sonne looked down at his two Mountains then up at Tim and let out a smile. "Is that a good metagame call?" The crowd had to laugh. He simply untapped and started his team with a fresh Mosstodon.

Tim attacked on the next turn with his mountainwalker, but Jon thought long and hard despite having no apparent choices during the combat step. "It has mountainwalk," Tim reminded, but Jon had a pair of Qasali Ambushers waiting to be played for free. "That was the worst combat step ever!" Tim lamented.

The newcomer Tim Landale tries to take down the veteran pro.The Executioner's Capsule hit Mosstodon and Landale summoned a Vithian Stinger. Jon seemed to have every answer on Tim's next attack, however, as he had Branching Bolt for the unearthed Sedraxis Specter and Vithian Stinger. Blister Beetle came down and combined with the on-the-way-out Vithian Stinger's activation to take care of Sonne's 2/2 Steward of Valeron. Tim was also able to cast Goblin Deathraiders, though he had only one card left in hand. The life totals were at 14 to 18 in Jon Sonne's favor.

Jon had only an Obelisk of Naya on his next turn, and continued to press his advantage by attacking with a Qasali Ambusher. A second Executioner's Capsule came out for Tim, and he removed the one large creature left back to block, attacking for 5. Jon didn't have much left to offer, though, and could only make an Elvish Visionary and pass the turn with the remainder of his mana open. Tim added eight-power to his team with Broodmate Dragon, and that pressure was enough to go ahead in the match.

Tim Landale: 1, Jon Sonne: 0

Jon wanted to draw for the second game, and found his opening seven cards good enough to keep, as did Tim.

A Dregscape Zombie from Landale started the early pressure, and was joined on the third turn by a Rockslide Elemental. Jon could only muster an Obelisk of Naya with his three Plains, and saw the game begin with a 5 life deficit. Tim's attack was followed by a Vithian Stinger, but Jon finally got on the board with a Mosstodon on his fourth turn, and that seemed to give Tim much to think about for the ensuing combat.

Dregscape Zombie never missed an attack, however, and combined with Vithian Stinger, threatened to kill Mosstodon if Jon were to block. The pressure didn't end there as Goblin Deathraiders joined Tim's side. Sonne came back on the following turn with a Cavern Thoctar, but his life kept disappearing courtesy of Vithian Stinger.

Tim's position never stopped growing as he added Hissing Iguanar on the next turn. Jon's attack with Cavern Thoctar gave Tim much to think about, eventually deciding to block with his Dregscape Zombie and Goblin Deathraiders. The Thoctar gained trample and dealt Tim three damage, but Jon took 3 damage from the Iguanar's effect and Rockslide Elemental gained a few levels. A second Cavern Thoctar replaced the one that was recently dispatched, and Jon passed the turn.

The synergy in Tim's deck continued to shine as he removed Mosstodon by way of Bloodpyre Elemental's ability, and Jon was left facing down a large first-striking Elemental and a pinger with only 5 life remaining. His Branching Bolt took care of the Vithian Stinger on his own turn, and Dragon Fodder joined Jon's Druid of the Anima and Cavern Thoctar to help stabilize.

Jon Sonne works to repel his younger opponent's attacks.Tim had Skeletal Kathari on his turn, and on his next turn's attack it was blocked by a surprise Qasali Ambusher. He could have sacrificed his eight-power first striker to keep the flyer alive, but Jon was at 4 and Tim's flyer would only deal three damage on the following turn. Tim was clearly upset with his own play since he could have brought back a Vithian Stinger to provide fodder for the regeneration ability. The sacrifice that he was left to ponder was deemed too large a cost and Tim was frustrated to have to move his flyer to the graveyard.

Both players continued to draw and pass the turn for a while, stopping only to activate their Panorama lands and shuffle. Tim sat with three cards in hand, and Jon began the action once again, adding a Jungle Weaver and Cylian Elf to his position over the next few turns. Creatures remained at a standstill, but the situation threatened to change as Goblin Mountaineer made another appearance for Tim. Jon fell to 3 life while Tim remained at a comfortable 15.

A Hissing Iguanar was summoned by Tim, but it was quickly removed by a Resounding Thunder, and Jon attacked with his whole team, bringing the score to 3-4 in favor of Mr. Landale. Tim wasn't out of tricks yet, though. He had a Vithian Stinger and Dregscape Zombie to unearth. The attack was just enough to earn Tim a slot in the finals against Carlos Romao.

Tim Landale defeats Jon Sonne 2 games to 0.

Finals Tim Landale vs. Carlos Romao

by Bill Stark

"Is there a trophy for second?" Young Tim Landale asked head judge Jason Ness as he walked over to inform the players they could begin the final match of the day.

"Um...I don't think so. I guess you'll have to win it all." Ness replied.

Landale then proceeded to lose the die roll. Romao's aggressive deck was no doubt happy to see that, and Carlos kept his opening seven. Tim, who hails from Bedford, Massachusetts, mulled his over for quite some time before finally opting to keep it. Romao opened on Wild Nacatl which quickly became a 2/2 as he used Bant Panorama to find a Plains on his second turn, sending Tim to 18.

Gift of the Gargantuan netted Carlos a basic land and a Cylian Elf while Tim made his first play of the game on turn three in the form of a Blood Cultist. The 1/1 would be pretty solid against some of Carlos' weaker exalted bodies, but Romao didn't play into that plan, opting to drop his Cylian Elf instead. Both players were fully representing a shard, with Tim on Grixis and Carlos on Bant.

Carlos Romao strikes a pose.Blister Beetle came down for Landale targeting Wild Nacatl, and the Blood Cultist piled on to deal with the Cat. Tim piled on himself with a Goblin Deathraiders, finally starting to crawl his way into the game. Carlos took a long time considering his options when he was given the turn back, finally opting to play Waveskimmer Aven and bash with Cylian Elf as a 3/3 to make the totals 20-11 in his favor. It was still turning into an uphill battle for the Sao Paulo native as Tim managed a Sedraxis Specter and Executioner's Capsule after attacking into Waveskimmer with his Deathraiders. Carlos was going to need to do something interesting to keep tempo on his side or risk letting the game slip away.

His effort was a second Gift of the Gargantuan, netting him a second Waveskimmer Aven and a Plains. Still, he only had two mana left and simply attacked with his Waveskimmer, dropping Tim to 8. Post-combat Romao tried a Magma Spray on his opponent's Blood Cultist, but Tim simply used it to shoot his own Blister Beetle, making it a 3/3 and saving the Wizard. Judging by the grimace on Carlos' face, it was not a play he had considered.

The board quickly devolved into Tim's favor, as Carlos failed to find additional threats and was stuck with his second copy of Waveskimmer Aven and Cylian Elf after Landale's Executioner's Capsule had munched the first Waveskimmer. A big red zone step for Tim left Carlos with no creatures while he had a 5/5 Blood Cultist, Goblin Mountaineer, and Hissing Iguanar. At just 3 life, Romao had one turn to find a solution. He couldn't and the players were on to the second game.

Tim Landale: 1, Carlos Romao: 0

Carlos was on the play for the second of the set, but the players were delayed to begin with as Landale opened on a mulligan. When his second grip of six weren't up to par either, Tim found himself down to five cards against a very aggressive Brazilian deck. Somehow it was the very mulliganed Landale who was first on the board, however, with a second-turn Goblin Deathraiders.

Carlos Romao simply played a Guardians of Akrasa, then a Gift of the Gargantuan finding him a Wild Nacatl but whiffing on the extra land. Tim Landale continued to turn his Deathraiders sideways, brazenly attacking into his opponent's 0/4, even though Carlos had demonstrated he wasn't scared of blocking the turn prior. Young Tim Landale wasn't going to back down, and wasn't going down in this game without a fight.

He played a Topan Ascetic and Dregscape Zombie to help in that regard, but Carlos had played his Wild Nacatl, a 3/3 thanks to his manabase, and a second Gift of the Gargantuan. This time, however, he hit on the land (an Island) and whiffed on the creature, playing a Druid of the Anima and passing the turn with a smile. Landale still couldn't afford to get in, and only watched as Carlos played a Waveskimmer Aven. Worried about things getting too far out of hand, Tim sent his Ascetic in, able to pump it to a 4/4. When he did exactly that, Carlos responded with a Branching Bolt, a dramatic blowout for the Medford resident. Tim ate his own board with a Thunder-Thrash Elder to make a 7/7 post-combat, then passed the turn.

Carlos started bashing in with his massive attacking force while Tim tried to get in with his 7/7 Viashino. Unfortunately for him, Carlos had found a Jund Battlemage and his second Waveskimmer Aven to hold off the team indefinitely. Hissing Iguanar for Landale allowed him to sneak some pings in through the chump blockers, but he was definitely being outmatched on the board. With the turn back, Romao checked the life totals, then sent nearly his entire team in. The attack left the score 11-5 in the Brazilian's favor, and after looking at another draw, Landale packed the second game in.

Tim Landale: 1, Carlos Romao: 1

Quick to keep his hand for the rubber game, Landale was no doubt excited when his opponent announced a mulligan. Still, he didn't show it belying a solid play exterior for such a young player. When the two finally got underway, Landale came out roaring with Dregscape Zombie and a perfect Grixis trifecta of basic lands to allow him a third-turn Sedraxis Specter. Romao, meanwhile, had no action despite having four lands spread across three colors.

Young Tim Landale squares off against a World Champion.A Hissing Iguanar from Tim let the beats continue, and he dropped his opponent to a fast 8, though it cost him his Specter by way of Carlos' Resounding Silence. Romao continued to have little action, playing no creatures and watching helplessly as Tim continued expanding his forces, making a Vithian Stinger. Finally the Brazilian found a Court Archers to stem the bleeding.

Landale had a second Hissing Iguanar, however, and the pseudo-Disciple of the Vault was a nightmare in tandem for Romao. No matter how he tried to trade, things weren't going to end well for him. Landale sent his Dregscape and the first Iguanar into combat, losing the 3/1 to the Archers and opting to ping his own Dregscape Zombie to send Carlos to 1. Dead to the Stinger if he didn't find an answer, Carlos went to the top of his deck. When that card was no help, he extended his hand to his opponent.

Tim Landale defeats Carlos Romao 2 games to 1 to become Grand Prix-Kansas City champion!