Bill Chronpoulos was no stranger to high-level play even before this weekend, even though this was his first Grand Prix Top 8. He had been part of the Greek team at last year's World Magic Cup, who had succesfully ousted the USA in the semifinals before falling to Denmark in the finals. Now, he again found himself in the semifinals, again facing a more accomplished opponent. Would he again advance to the finals?
Said opponent was none other than Fabrizio Anteri, the English team captain for the second year running, and in fact the only English player who had made it to the playoffs at this English Grand Prix. For Anteri, this was his sixth Top 8 as well as an opportunity to claim a third winner's trophy.
Fabrizio had brought Hangarback Abzan, one of the breakout decks of this tournament, while Chronopoulos was playing Jeskai.
Things started out with a number of trades. Chronopoulos's Soulfire Grand Master died to Ultimate Price, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy died to Dromoka's Command adding a second counter to Anteri's Hangarback Walker, Anafenza, the Foremost and Flecemane Lion died to a pair of Stoke the Flames .
Both players managed to keep one creature around though: Anteri's Hangarback Walker grew to 3/3 and got in a couple of hits, Chronopoulos's second Jace filtered some cards and eventually turned into Jace, Telepath Unbound.
The Telepath allowed Chronopoulos to re-use one of his Stoke the Flames to take out another Fleecemane Lion, and Chronopoulos also managed to get some aggression going himself with Goblin Rabblemaster.
However, Anteri wasn't looking to run out of threats anytime soon. A third Fleecemane Lion stuck around and a second Hangarback Walker came down, this one as a 2/2. Goblin Rabblemaster and its retinue tangled with Hangarback Walkers. After a Wild Slash and Valorous Stance, all of Chronopoulos's Goblins survived, but Anteri got six Thopters out of the deal.
This gave Anteri a massive offense, while Den Protector gave him yet more staying power. The Thopters soon took the lead.
Fabrizio Anteri 1-0 Bill Chronopoulos
In the second game, it was Chronopoulos who deployed the first creature, though his Soulfire Grand Master soon had to pay the Ultimate Price. Following that, Chronopoulos missed two land drops, and was already staring down a pair of Siege Rhinos when he got back into the race with Mantis Rider.
That race really wasn't much of a contest, though, and Siege Rhinos backed by further removal spells quickly sealed the deal.
Fabrizio Anteri 2-0 Bill Chronopoulos