ROUND 11 FEATURE MATCH

Posted in GRAND PRIX MADRID 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on November 16, 2014

By Oliver Gehrmann

Fabrizio Anteri has a pretty impressive résumé with 4 appearances in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix and 2 wins. He's now going up against Nuno Costa from Portugal, who is a longtime regular at the Grand Prix, but who can't quite keep up with Anteri's record.

In fact, when I asked him about his accomplishments, Anteri instead replied for him: "He beat me once! At Grand Prix Lisbon." Costa smiled and admitted that he hasn't managed to advance to the Top 8 yet, but that he's been coming close a number of times.

Both players knew each other and there was a lot of friendly banter leading into the match. Here's a taste of Anteri's musings: "Many of the good players know how to play the decks and they know how to draft. They just pick the wrong decks. Just like me..."

Speaking of deck choices, Anteri decided to rely on a Scapeshift deck while Costa went with a Blue-White Delver. To put it a different way: the question "who's the aggro?" could easily be answered with "Costa".

Nuno Costa had a lot of action going on in the first game!

Game 1

Costa was wasting no time in the first game and with two copies of Sleight of Hand, he was able to find some aggressors in Delver of Secrets and a Geist of Saint Traft.

Anteri on the other gave away that he was most likely playing Scapeshift when he added a Sakura-Tribe Elder to stem the bleeding. "This deck beat me once already this weekend," Costa complained and Anteri replied: "Thank you for giving me some hope!"

Thanks to Lightning Bolt and an Izzet Charm that found Anteri an Electrolyze, the Italian was able to hold his opponent's aggressors at bay. Costa wasn't out of fuel just now, with a third Delver of Secrets putting his opponent on a big clock again. At the same time, he failed to find a fourth land, so he couldn't make the most of the remaining cards in his hand.

A Pyroclasm was a huge deal for Anteri since it dealt with both of Costa's remaining creatures and for a short while, the tables were turned; Anteri now found himself to be the aggressor and Costa had to react; a Search for Tomorrow was met with Remand.

Costa knew that his only way of winning this game was applying pressure again, so he added Geist of Saint Traft again. This provided Anteri with the opening he needed; Scapeshift followed Search for Tomorrow and Anteri only had to reveal 7 Mountains in his deck to wrap things up.

Game 2

The second game, Costa decided to try his luck with the cards introduced from his sideboard. Kor Firewalker applied pressure while Anteri again tried to buy himself some time with Sakura-Tribe Elder.

Nuno Costa tried to up the ante in the second game!

The following turns, Costa started a fruitless effort, looking for more aggressors, while Anteri decided to go down a slightly different path this time around; he tried to Electrolyze his opponent rather than his protected creature so he could wrap things up with Scapeshift even earlier. That worked on the second time he tried it after Remand delayed the seemingly inevitable for a turn.

The second Sakura-Tribe Elder provided Anteri with the sixth land and Costa was now on 15 life. A Search for Tomorrow was met with Snapcaster Mage that brought back Remand, so Costa now had a little more pressure on the field, but Anteri was still sitting on a double digit amount of life.

Both players emptied their hands after Scapeshift got cast!

Tarmogoyf resolved and with 5 more mana, Costa certainly seemed like he was able to protect it. Anteri didn't even attempt to negate the creature. Instead, he was waiting for yet more lands. He felt like the time was right on his following turn, casting Scapeshift. A "counter war" followed with both players emptying their hands and Costa coming out on top. Anteri's Scapeshift returned to his hand, however.

Costa added a second Kor Firewalker but Anteri found the all-important 8th land (he would be able to cast Scapeshift twice this turn). "Come on!", Costa complained, before casting Snapcaster Mage with the words: "This is the best I can do!"

He drew a card for Remand, but he was now out of blue mana and when Anteri attempted to Scapeshift for the second time, Costa extended the hand.

"He didn't have enough pressure with just a Kor," Anteri explained after the match. "I felt really confident after around five turns; like I really got this." Costa could only agree that he wasn't able to apply enough pressure, but at the same time, both players were happy with the way the games played out with everybody having enough options to choose from.

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