Team Sealed may lend itself to fewer matchups between the game’s biggest names, given that many of them team with each other for the event. But when those players do collide, they do so in a big way.
That was the case in Round 5 of Grand Prix Detroit, with the power team of Tomoharu Saito, David Williams and Chris Benafel clashing against a few players you may have heard of: Pro Tour Fate Reforged Top 8 competitor Jesse Hampton, newly-crowned Player of the Year Mike Sigrist and hall of famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.
Things started off on a poor note for Benafel, who faced two borderline hands and ultimately chose to mulligan each after a long deliberation with his team. Still, he put up a noble fight against Hampton, staying even on the board and threatening to claw his way out the hole.
That is, until Soulblade Djinn landed and survived long enough for Hampton to untap. Another spell to pump the team and he crashed in to take the first game of the round.
On the other side of the table, Damo da Rosa was locked in a long fight against Saito, who was working to survive the onslaught the hall of famer served up with a curve of Anointer of Champions into Topan Freeblade into Stalwart Aven. It was a fearsome opening, and it allowed Damo da Rosa to jump ahead 17-12 in life totals.
Forced to play defense, Fetid Imp gained Deathtouch and traded with Freeblade, which went a long way to alleviating the pressure for Saito. Or, it would have if not for the play Damo da Rosa had waiting after the attack. Playing a fifth land, he cast the rare post-combat Knightly Valor, leaving Saito unable to respond with the Unholy Hunger in his hand after using mana to grant deathtouch to the Imp.
The calculated play put Damo da Rosa firmly in the driver’s seat, and a Somberwald Alpha arrived on the next turn to clean things up and send the pair into the second game.
While Hampton and Damo da Rosa endured long games to win, Sigrist wasted no time. He dispatched a land-heavy Williams in two quick games and put his team a game away from victory as his teammates shuffled for their next game.
It was Hampton’s decision that came first. Soulblade Djinn arrived on time but was met with a Skysnare Spider from Benafel, blocking the way for Hampton’s army to engage. But a Claustrophobia did more than pin the overgrown to the ground; it also triggered the Djinn and made the ensuing attack drop Benafel perilously low.
With his back against the wall, Benafel simply kept his team back and passed the turn with Titanic Growth at the ready, a play that would leave him low on life but stable on board. But Hampton had the perfect answer, and when Chief of the Foundry arrived to pump a thopter it was exactly enough to send his team to the victory.