As all the tables and chairs get packed away and the ardent local crowd finally dissipates into the city night, we're finally able to catch our breath from the long, hectic second day of Grand Prix Mexico City. It looked like Josh Utter-Leyton, who was undefeated until Round 11 was going to clean house. But as the final rounds came to close, it was another American, Paul Rietzl, who was able to take home the trophy. In the finals, Rietzl met up with the only person who beat him in the Draft portion of the event, Venezuela's Humberto Patarca and took him down.

Rietzl's MVP for the final match was a card he had listed as the worst card in his Sealed deck – the deceptive yet blunt, Bump in the Night. Locals David Hernandez, Mario Flores, and Gustavo Nuñez rounded out a Top 8 with Craig Wescoe, Gottlieb Yeh and Pascal Maynard who all grabbed a couple more Pro Points going into the ever-approaching World Magic Cup. However, it's Rietzl who to be the happiest. His performance today got him up to 32 point, inching him closer towards the coveted Pro Player Club's ultimate level – Platinum.

It was a great weekend and from all of us here in Mexico City, have a fabulous night!

top 8 bracket


(7) Daniel Hernandez

(6) Gottlieb Yeh

(8) Gustavo Nuñez Moreno

(4) Paul Rietzl

(1) Humberto Patarca

(5) Mario Flores

(2) Pascal Maynard

(3) Craig Wescoe


Daniel Hernandez 2-1

Paul Rietzl 2-0

Humberto Patarca 2-1

Craig Wescoe 2-0


Paul Rietzl 2-1

Humberto Patarca 2-1


Paul Rietzl 2-1



  • by Marc Calderaro and Steve Sadin
    Top 5 Cards
  • by Steve Sadin
    Paul Rietzl vs. Humberto Patarca
  • by Marc Calderaro
    Craig Wescoe vs. Humberto Patarca
  • by Steve Sadin
    Paul Rietzl vs. Daniel Hernandez
  • by Marc Calderaro
    Quarterfinal Round-Up:
    Mario Flores vs. Humberto Patarca
    Daniel Hernandez vs. Gottlieb Yeh
  • by Marc Calderaro
    Craig Wescoe vs. Pascal Maynard
  • by Steve Sadin
    Quarterfinal: Paul Rietzl vs. Gustavo Nuñez Moreno
  • by Ben Stark
    Top 8 Drafting with Paul Rietzl
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Player Profiles
  • by Nicholas Fang
    Top 8: Decklists
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


1. Paul Rietzl $3,500
2. Humberto Patarca $2,300
3. Craig Wescoe $1,500
4. Daniel Hernandez $1,500
5. Pascal Maynard $1,000
6. Mario Flores $1,000
7. Gottlieb Yeh $1,000
8. Gustavo Nuñez Moreno $1,000

pairings, results, standings


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 - Decklists

by Nicholas Fang

Pascal Maynard - Top 8

Mario Flores - Top 8

Daniel Hernandez - Top 8

Humberto Patarca - Top 8

Gottlieb Yeh - Top 8

Gustavo Nunez Moreno - Top 8

Craig Wescoe - Top 8

Paul Rietzl - Top 8

Top 8 Player profiles

Name: Paul Rietzl

Age: 26

Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Headhunter

Previous Magic Accomplishments:

3 Pro Tour Top 8s

5 Grand Prix Top 8s

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
Red-Green Werewolves!

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
Red-Black (7-1)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
Green black splash white (3-0)

Green red splash black (1-1-1)

Where do you normally play Magic?
Magic Online!

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
Bump in the Night

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?
The Flying Rietzl

Name: Gustavo Nuñez M.

Age: 30

Hometown: Los Mochis Sinaloa

Occupation: Programador

Previous Magic Accomplishments:

5 PTQ Top 8s

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
Blue-White – Best evasion in the block

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
White-Blue (6-2)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
White-Blue (3 – 0)

White-Red (2 - ½)

Where do you normally play Magic?
In Pachucas local store

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
I don't remember

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?
Donkey Kong

Name: Craig Wescoe

Age: 29

Hometown: Thraben

Occupation: 1/1 White Human

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
On one fateful hour, I gathered together with 4 other townsfolk…

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
White-Black (7-1)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
White-Green 3-0

White-Blue 1-0-2

Where do you normally play Magic?
Over the Plains

Sanctuary Cat

The Sheriff

Name: Gottlieb Yeh

Hometown: Buxethude, Germany

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
5th place Grand Prix Copenhagen 1999

11th place German Nationals

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
White-Red, it can be really fast and aggressive, which favors my play style.

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
Green-White splash blue 7-2

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
Mono White splashing red for Devil’s Play 3-0

White-Blue 2-0-1

Where do you normally play Magic?
Spieland Hamburg

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
Geist of Saint Traft: didn’t deserve the blue splash in my Sealed Deck.

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?
El Gringo Dios Amor

Name: Pascal Maynard

Age: 19

Hometown: Quebec City

Occupation: Magic: the Gathering Manager at Boutique Donjon in Quebec City

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Success on the Canadian Magic Tour Circuit.

Back to back Grand Prix Top 8s at Grand Prix Indianapolis, and here (I couldn’t attend Nashville…)

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
Green-White, and Green-Red Aggro because I think the format is really fast, and I don’t want to draft slow, durdly decks.

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
Green-Red, Green-White splash red, Green-Blue splash red, Green-Black splash red, and Black-Red splash green. I literally sideboarded into five different deck on Day One. My pool was awful, but I went 7-1 with it.

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
Green-Red splash two Travel Preparations (3-0)

Green-White splash Vault of the Archangels (1-0-2)

Where do you normally play Magic?
Boutique Donjon

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
Woodland Sleuth

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?

Name: Humberto Patarca

Age: 22

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela

Occupation: Student

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Day 2 at GP London

Top 8 Venezuelan Nationals 2007

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
White-Blue Aggro and Blue-Black

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
Green-White splashing Red (8-0)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
White-Blue (2-1)

Blue-Black (2-0-1)

Where do you normally play Magic?
In Karlsruhe, Germany (Spiele Pyramid) since I'm studying there and in Magicsur, Caracas.

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
Thraben Purebloods (2 of them in a draft)

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?
La furia criolla

Name: Mario Flores

Age: 19

Hometown: Mexico

Occupation: Student

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
7th in Worlds 2010 (teams)

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
Red-Green Werewolves is awesome!

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
Red-White-green (6-1-1)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
RG Werewolves (3-0)

RG Werewolves (2-1)

Where do you normally play Magic?
Magic Online

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
2/3 Riot Devils. Red.

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?

Name: Daniel Hernandez M.

Age: 40

Hometown: Mexico

Occupation: Architect

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
4 Pro Tours

Nationals Team

What is your favorite Dark Ascension/Innistrad archetype and why?
I don't have a favorite one. Sometimes Blue-Black Zombies because I like control decks.

What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
I play Red-White splash Black for Olivia (7-1)

What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
Red-Green Aggro (2-1)

Red-Green (2 – ½)

Where do you normally play Magic?
Online and with friends – Team Del Norte

What was the worst card that you played this weekend?
I can't remember. I think a Human, Woodland something. [Woodland Sleuth]

If you were a Luchador, what would your name be?
The Gambler.

Top 8 Drafting with Paul Rietzl

by Ben Stark
Pyreheart Wolf

Paul Rietzl's draft started off with a tough choice between Pyreheart Wolf and Farbog Boneflinger. I consider Farbog Boneflinger to be the better card, but Pyreheart Wolf has grown on me in recent weeks. During one of our first practice drafts for Pro Tour Dark Ascension, Conley Woods second-picked the Wolf. At the time, it seemed way too early, but now I think it was genius. Pyreheart Wolf is a rock star in Green-Red Werewolves (one of the premier archetypes in Dark Ascension/Innistrad draft), and is consequently well-worth an early pick. Paul, however, went with the Farbog Boneflinger because it "seemed safer," though he wasn't sure about it.

Next, Paul took a Fires of Undeath over Scorned Villager. This pick was much clearer, as I consider Fires the best common in this draft format – and it is way better than the Villager. Obviously following up a Boneflinger made the pick that much easier.


Third Pick brought Gravecrawler, which is a little early, but about right. The Zombie is definitely not a first pick. In this case, the 2/1 fit perfectly with Fires and Boneflinger and he only came at the cost of some mediocre green commons.

Sadly, That's is pretty much the story of green in D-I-I draft. In Dark Ascension, the green commons are fairly unexciting. So if you fall into green, it's usually because the color is open late in the pack, not because the cards pull you in early.

From here, Paul just kept taking black and red cards for the rest of the pack. It was very obvious Craig Wescoe (seated to his right) wasn't heavy in either color and there was a good chance Humberto Patarca (seated to his left) was going to play white, as he took Loyal Cathar second out of Paul's opening pack.

Brimstone Volley

Going into Pack 2, Paul wanted to keep drafting more of the same, but prioritize removal and fleshing out his creature curve. He first-picked Brimstone Volley, a card I consider to be the best overall common in Innistrad. Second, he took Markov Patrician over a Village Ironsmith and Scourge of Geier Reach. The pack had a lot of playables – specifically a lot of red playables. By taking the only black card over of one of the many red ones, Paul had a better chance to wheel a good red card. He third-picked Altar's Reap for its synergy with Gravecrawler and potentially with some Traitorous Bloods to come in the future.

Rietzl almost went to time on his next pick. He had to decide between Morkrut Banshee and Heretic's Punishment. Paul and I both agree that neither card is fantastic and Paul thought that since his deck was a little slow already, the Morkrut Banshee was correct. Unlike Heretic's Punishment, the 4/4 impacts the board the turn you play it. Normally, the Punishment is right because Black-Red has a pretty low curve and needs finishers. But in this case, Paul already had Boneflinger and Fires, so his deck needed some type of speed. I think this pick was absolutely correct.

Traitorous Blood

Paul rounded out the rest of the pack by taking two Traitorous Bloods and a second Altar's Reap. These picks set him up nicely to abuse the sacrifice synergy he had going on.

Pack 3 started with Screeching Bat over Blazing Torch. This was a pretty clear pick. Paul's deck already had plenty of removal and could definitely use a good creature. Next came a second Brimstone Volley over Victim of Night. Victim is good, but Volley is simply better. Third-pick Geistflame over Rolling Temblor and Typhoid Rat was also a fairly clear. Into the Maw of Hell came fourth. Paul said he's a huge fan of the card, and he thought it was better than the Kessig Wolf in the pack. I agree completely. This pick also shows why it's important to balance your drafts.

By taking cards to fill out his curve and cheaper, less powerful cards earlier, Paul was able to take the more powerful card here. If he had taken Heretic's Punishment over the Morkrut Banshee, and Scourge over Patrician, he would have had to have taken the Wolf. And his deck would have been worse for it.

Night Revelers

Night Revelers over Tormented Pariah, and Typhoid Rats over Village Cannibals came next. These were the only picks in the draft where we disagreed. I think the picks are close, but I prefer the Pariah over the Revelers. Rietzl's deck has a lot of removal, so he has the opportunity to flip the werewolf on his turn, then kill a creature on his opponent's.

Also, the Cannibals seems better than Rats. I think Paul could have afforded to have taken the three-drop, especially since its stock has risen so much with Dark Ascension. As the format has gotten faster, more and more small creatures die, giving more chances for the Cannibals to grow. Also, with the larger number of aggressive decks you now face, a 3/4 or 4/4 for three mana means a lot. However, Paul wanted to make sure his deck wasn't too slow; this draft format is extremely fast, so Paul was definitely in the right frame of mind when he took the Typhoid Rats, but would've drafted these two picks differently.

All in all, I feel like Paul drafted the best deck possible in his seat. But his seat was average and as a result, so was his deck. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination though. The curve and removal is balanced, and the two Altar's Reap + three Traitorous Blood synergy should work out well for him. If this were a three-round draft I would predict he would go 2-1. However, being one of the best players in the Top 8, he definitely has the skills to take the whole thing down.

Quarterfinal: Paul Rietzl vs. Gustavo Nuñez Moreno

by Steve Sadin

Pro Tour Amsterdam Champion Paul Rietzl is the only player (so far) to Top 8 two Dark Ascension/Innistrad limited Grand Prix. While many of the world's best players have been unable to master this format, Rietzl has racked up the wins by aggressively signaling which colors he wants to go into by picking (even marginal) Double-Faced Cards during the early stages of his drafts.

Rietzl's Top 8 at Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma ended with a quarterfinals exit. In order to improve on that finish this weekend, Rietzl is going to have to defeat Gustavo Nuñez Moreno – a local player who needs to win this match in order to secure an invitation for Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona.

Gustavo Nuñez Moreno

Game 1

After trading creatures, and removal spells for the first few turns – Rietzl looked to pull ahead with a Vengeful Vampire. Hoping to find an answer for Rietzl's flier, Moreno cast a Desperate Ravings, but randomly discarded the Geistcatcher's Rig that would have gotten him right back into the game.

Moreno was eventually able to deal with Rietzl's Vengeful Vampire with a Blazing Torch and a Harvest Pyre, but at that point Rietzl had developed a dominating board position thanks to Farbog Boneflinger, and Morkrut Banshee.

Before Moreno could put together any sort of a relevant defense, Rietzl used a Brimstone Volley to finish off the job that his creatures had started.

Paul Rietzl 1 – Gustavo Nuñez Moreno 0

Paul Rietzl

Game 2

Rietzl curved out nicely in game two with a Hinterland Hermit, a Markov Patrician, an Afflicted Deserter (which he used to kill Moreno's Runechanter's Pike), and a Highborn Ghoul. But despite his strong start, Rietzl was unable to attack past Moreno's board of Armored Skaab plus Creepy Doll.

After Rietzl took a turn off from casting spells because he didn't want to walk into a Lost in the Mist – he drew a Night Terrors which revealed that Moreno had a hand of all lands. This opened up an opportunity for Rietzl to pull ahead by stealing Moreno's Creepy Doll, and sacrificing it to Altar's Reap.

Tower Geist helped Moreno draw into some more threats, but without a way to deal with Rietzl's Highborn Ghoul he had to watch as his life total rapidly dwindled.

A few hits from the Highborn Ghoul later, and Rietzl was able to seal the match with a Bump in the Night.

Paul Rietzl 2 – Gustavo Nuñez Moreno 0

Quarterfinal: Craig Wescoe vs. Pascal Maynard

by Marc Calderaro

"All I have to do is beat Craig Wescoe. That's all I have to do." Pascal Maynard is desperately hoping to qualify for Pro Tour Avacyn Restored. And after the heartbreaking loss in the Grand Prix Indianapolis Top 8, if he can make it to the Semis, he can make it to Barcelona. "I think Craig's playing something with Blue, or Green. I really hope he's playing Green." Maynard flashed me two main-deck Somberwald Dryads.

Poor, poor Maynard. He doesn't know Craig Wescoe's style at all. The World Championship Top 8er, and Pro-Tour and Grand-Prix Top 8 veteran is well known for his love of Plains in this format. In fact, he's playing twelve of them in his main right now. "That's how you know I'm how happy I am with my draft. Count the Plains," Wescoe had told me.

Wescoe's Lots-of-White-with-a-Little-bit-of-Black looked solid and exactly the type of thing Craig Wescoe is all about. He has a Skirsdag Flayer, a Sever the Bloodline and a Falkenrath Torturer to complement the multiple Mausoleum Guards and other white Humans for the Flayer and Torturer to munch on.

Pascal Maynard

Game 1

Wescoe's opening hand had a lot of Plains in it, and he used them effectively. A Doomed Traveler followed by a Chapel Geist and a Thraben Sentry. Maynard's start was less imposing. He had a fourth-turn Russet Wolves. However he was sitting on a Wild Hunger, a Grizzled Outcasts and some other big bruisers for later.

The 4/4 hit the ground with a thud. Wescoe simply shrugged and sent in his team. The Doomed Traveler did what it was fated to do – create a 1/1 Spirit and flip the Thraben into a Militia.

Wescoe took Maynard quickly down to 8. On the attack-back it became 13-8. Maynard then took his fastest turn of the game and cast three creatures, loading up his defenses with ground-pounders. Again, Wescoe simply shrugged. He cast the Butcher's Cleaver that was sitting in his hand, equipped it to the flying Spirit, and then pointed to his other flyers. Maynard was tapped out and Wescoe had exactly the eight damage he needed to float right over the Red-Green wall Maynard had constructed.

Craig Wescoe 1 – 0 Pascal Maynard

Craig Wescoe

Game 2

Mausoleum Guard, Silverclaw Griffin, Thraben Sentry and Butcher's Cleaver for Wescoe. It was a bit slower than his previous game, but it could sure pack a wallop.

The early game was spent trading Maynard's Somberwald Dryad for a Silverchase Fox. The Canadian followed with a Dawntreader Elk and a Cobbled Wings. Wescoe's reply was a fair amount more impressive: a Falkenrath Torturer and Mausoleum Guard. On the black creature's first attack step, the Guard hit the bin and the Torturer got in for 3 damage.

Maynard had infinite wolves in his hand, including Immerwolf, but he was stuck on two land. He suited up the Elk with some wings and chumped the black creature the next turn. He took the two from Wescoe's flying Spirits but was able to start loading up the board the next turn. He played an Avacyn's Pilgrim and a Darkthicket Wolf. The next turn would have more to come.

Wescoe played some more Torturer food with a Gather the Townsfolk (and non-incidentally flipped a Thraben Militia in the process). That attack step was brutal for Maynard as he saw his hopes running off. He was at 5 much quicker than he would have liked.

He looked at the top card, hoping for miracle. It wasn't there.

As Pascal Maynard extended his hand, he said, "Win this whole tournament."

Wescoe smiled. "I think I can do it; I have enough White creatures."

Craig Wescoe 2 – 0 Pascal Maynard

Quarterfinal Round-Up

by Marc Calderaro


Daniel Hernandez vs. Gottlieb Yeh

Games 1-2

Game 1 was a flurry of damage from Gottlieb Yeh's Red-Black beats. He simply never took a damage. However Game 2 was a lot closer. Yeh had a few decent creatures in Pitchburn Devils and a 5/2 Nearheath Stalker, but his Charmbreaker Devils was copied and killed by an Evil Twin before it had a chance to return anything. David Hernandez had an Abattoir Ghoul and Highborn Ghoul to accompany that dastardly Blue-Black doppelganger. It was 11-13 right after Yeh smashed in for five damage.

The Evil Twin was getting value for Hernandez however, returning either Dissipate or Reap the Seagraf over and over. Yeh had the beats, but Hernandez had the time. A big attack brought Yeh to 3. He slow-rolled the top card of his library to himself, looking for an out. He had pulled Victim of Night and considered all the possible lines of play.

He killed the Evil Twin and thought he was out of the woods. But he was still at 3; and Hernandez had a Harrowing Journey to point at Yeh's face.

Gottlieb Yeh

Game 3

In the third game, Walking Corpse and the Stitched Apprentice faced off. But Hernandez used the Homunculus maker to great effect by immediately sacrificing a Stormbound Geist and netting profit. Yeh's Rotting Fensnake was no slouch and the two combatants traded blows to make the score 14-14.

Fensnake and Corpse hit the bin, with the help of a Dead Weight and, well, blocking. Then Yeh, seeing the Dissipate in Hernandez's graveyard, thought it was safe to windmill slam a Charmbreaker Devils.

"Wait, Lost in the Mist? Really?" Yeh was surprised and disappointed. He slowly brought his Devils to the bin and a Swamp to his hand.

It seemed crazy, but a token and a Geist were going to close the deal. But Rolling Temblor and Victim of Night cleaned up, not only the two creatures in play, but a Highborn Ghoul that had soon followed.

It was 1-1.

David Hernandez

Yeh tried to make up the gap left by an empty board. He cast some dudes, but an extremely timely Claustrophobia allowed a few Reap the Seagraf tokens to get in when the shouldn't have. And just like that, Gottlieb Yeh was out of the tournament.

The large crowd erupted in applause when the first local, David Hernandez, advanced to the Semi-Finals.

Congratulations to David Hernandez!


Mario Flores vs. Humberto Patarca

Game 1-2

Mario Flores won the first game with a bevy of red beats. However, his second game started a bit slower and his first creature was a Night Revelers. He offed a Thraben Sentry from his opponent but had no immediate answer for the Thraben Doomsayer that soon followed.

Humberto Patarca

Skirsdag Cultist joined the 4/4 Vampire and brought the totals to 17-12 in Flores's favor. However Patarca used his Avacyn's Collar and a Battleground Geist to get some great value out of his Doomsayer, even as it hit the bin to a removal spell. He raced the totals to 11-8 and was closing the gap.

It was very soon 3-8. Patarca had gotten himself back into it. There was a question as to how he was going to push throw the last damage, but a Feeling of Dread came down and got the job done to make the game totals 1-1.

Game 3

In the last game, the board state looked quite similar for Flores. He had a Night Revelers with an Ashmouth Hound buddy. While Patarca had Wolfhunter's Quiver, Battleground Geist, Elder Cather giving some Spirits +1/+1.

Mario Flores

The two beat each other over the head until it was 8-8, but it was a Fiend Hunter that finally came down to stop the 4/4 that had dealt just about all the damage. And that was enough for Mario Flores; Humberto had taken it 2-1.

Congratulations to Humberto Patarca who advanced to the Semi-Finals!

Semifinal - Paul Rietzl vs. Daniel Hernandez

by Steve Sadin

When the Top 8 was announced, nobody got a bigger cheer than Daniel Hernandez. The former Mexican national team member, and hometown favorite, has already played in four Pro Tours -- and with his Top 4 finish here, Hernandez is now guaranteed an invitation to his fifth.

While Paul Rietzl already has an invitation to Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona, this finish still means a lot to him as he is now two matches away from winning his first Grand Prix, and putting himself within arm's reach of attaining Platinum Level in the Pro Player's Club.

Game One

Rietzl started strong with Gravecrawler, Screeching Bat, Geistflame, and Wakedancer – which ultimately gave Rietzl 8 power worth of creatures against Hernandez's board of Screeching Skaab and lands.

Morkrut Banshee gave Hernandez a big blocker – but it wasn't big enough to stop Rietzl's Stalking Vampire, and Hernandez fell to five on Rietzl's next attack.

Relentless Skaabs allowed Hernandez to lock down the ground, but this only prompted Rietzl to transform his vampire again, and fly in for two points of damage.

Stormbound Geist allowed Hernandez to finally deal with Rietzl's Screeching Bat – but his reprieve would be short lived as Rietzl used a Morkrut Banshee, and a Farbog Boneflinger to set up a lethal attack a turn later.

Paul Rietzl 1 – Daniel Hernandez 0

Paul Rietzl

Game 2

Rietzl again got off to another speedy start in game two with a Gravecrawler, and a Walking Corpse backed up by a Fires of Undeath, and a Brimstone Volley. By the time that Hernandez had played a creature that would survive through a full turn cycle, he was already down to 10 – and Rietzl wasted no time before knocking him down to 7 with Bump in the Night.

With Rietzl representing five points of damage in his graveyard – Hernandez knew that he had to tread carefully, and waited quite a few turns before he began attacking with his Stitched Drake.

As soon as Hernandez had moved on the offensive, Rietzl was able to put him back on defense by playing a Screeching Bat.

Realizing how grim the situation was for him, Hernandez decided to take a chance that Rietzl would remain stuck on five lands for a while, and cast a Harrowing Journey on himself. This refilled Hernandez's hand, but it also left him on a precarious 4 life.

Lantern Spirit allowed Hernandez to begin attacking again, but as soon as it looked like Hernandez might be able to pull ahead – Rietzl drew the sixth land he needed to flashback his burn spells.

An end of turn Fires of Undeath knocked Hernandez down to two, but Hernandez had the Lost in the Mist that he needed to counter Bump in the Night, and bounce Rietzl's Screeching Bat. Hernandez's next attack left Rietzl at 7, and suddenly it was Rietzl who found himself running out of time.

Rietzl had a Traitorous Blood, but a Stitcher's Apprentice meant that he couldn't steal any of Hernandez's creatures to attack him with.

Rietzl ultimately decided to Traitorous Blood his own Screeching Bat to give it haste – however Hernandez had the Tragic Slip that he needed to stay alive, and force a deciding third game.

Paul Rietzl 1 – Daniel Hernandez 1

When Hernandez won the second game, the room again erupted with cheers.

"Who's rooting for me? Anybody?" asked Rietzl after listening to the deafening applause that his opponent had just received.

Dead silence filled the room.

"Well, at least I know my mom is at home rooting for me."

Daniel Hernandez

Game 3

Hernandez mulliganed to start game three, and again fell way behind against Rietzl's start of Hinterland Hermit, Markov Patrician, and Walking Corpse. Hernandez's first spell of the game, an Evil Twin copying Markov Patrician, immediately died to a Geistflame.

An attack, and a Bump in the Night later, and Rietzl had won the game before Hernandez had gotten a chance to play a second spell.

Paul Rietzl 2 – Daniel Hernandez 1

Semifinal - Craig Wescoe vs. Humberto Patarca

by Marc Calderaro

The Venezuelan, Humberto Patarca has battled valiantly this whole weekend. He finished with a stellar record, but successfully eluded much of the coverage spotlight. However, he's in the thick of it now. His strong White-based deck looks like a close mirror to Craig Wescoe's. Though Patarca uses some Blue and Wescoe using some Black, their decks have a similar game plan. This should be a great match. Patarca's Mentor of the Meek and Angelic Overseer could act as strong trumps to the 1/1 Weenie assault that was surely coming. But the repeatable removal in Sever the Bloodline and Skirsdag Flayer could tip things in Wescoe's direction.

Game 1

Wescoe started just how he likes to – with Plains. Two Gather the Townsfolk and a Doomed Traveler developed his board quickly. Humberto Patarca tried to keep up, and did so quite effectively with a Mentor of the Meek, an Unruly Mob and an Elder Cathar (drawing a couple replacement cards in the process thanks to the 2/2).

The Venezuelan was in a pretty good place, but he still had to play defense against the myriad tokens from Wescoe. The American had also added an Abbey Griffin and the black creature that had done him so well in the Quarterfinals – Falkenrath Torturer. Patarca blunted that as quickly has he could with a Fiend Hunter (still netting a card).

After a few turns, Patarca could finally go on the aggressive with that silly indestructible angel, Angelic Overseer – and Wescoe took his first damage of the game. The scores were tied 13-13. Wescoe brought Patarca to 9 on his next attack, but all his guys were starting to look paltry. In the early game the sheer number of 1/1s was intimidating, but now, Patarca's board looked like it completely dwarfed Wescoe's. An additional Spectral Rider just compounded the problem (Patarca drew a card in the process of casting it too).

Craig Wescoe

The scores were 7-9 in Patarca's favor and Wescoe had run out of gas. No gas loss was in sight for Patarca who used Wescoe's turn to cast a Midnight Haunting (and draw two more cards). All it took was a flashed Feeling of Dread and Wescoe – who had been dutifully writing down every important card he saw – made a note of it on his pad and scooped up his cards.

Humberto Patarca 1 – 0 Craig Wescoe

Game 2

Patarca again started this game with a Mentor of the Meek. If Wescoe again had no answer, it could do just what it had the last game and grind the American out. But this time Wescoe had a more direct plan – a big, attacking plan and really really fast-like. It was called a Demonmail Hauberk. After a Gather the Townsfolk, one Human was culled to make the other one 5/3. Along with a Midnight Guard, Wescoe had his opponent down to 4 by the fifth turn.

Geist-Honored Monk earned a "Not-Bad" face from Patarca as he tapped out for the Angelic Overseer again. Wescoe was unimpressed. He simply cast another Gather the Townsfolk and an Abbey Griffin and attacked with everything able. Patarca sank to 1 life. Though that didn't earn a second "Not-Bad" face, it probably should have. That was enough for Patarca to go on to the rubber game.

Humberto Patarca 1 – 1 Craig Wescoe

Game 3

Unsurprisingly, Wescoe started with a Gather the Townsfolk, while Patarca had a Spectral Rider and a Loyal Cathar, then two Unruly Mobs on turn four.

Wescoe made another sacrifice of a Human to a Demonmail Hauberk, and a 6/5 Chapel Geist started hitting Patarca. Both players became bloodied. Since Wescoe attacked first, he was ahead in the damage race 8-13, but as the Angelic Overseer came down for a third straight game, and Wescoe had only the Geist and a Silverclaw Griffin, Patarca just might have gotten what he needed to stabilize and turn the tides in his favor.

Humberto Patarca

Wescoe tried to make his board look beefy, but to me, a Midnight Guard and a Doomed Traveler weren't going to stand up to the 5/3 Indestructible flyer and all its little Human supplicants.

Wescoe attacked with everything: Silverclaw Griffin, the engorged Chapel Geist, the Midnight Guard and the Doomed Traveler. After a very lengthy judge query about Indestructibility and combat damage, across multiple languages, Patarca was ready for the blocker's step.

A Loyal Cathar blocked the Traveler; a Spectral Rider with a Wolfhunter's Quiver jumped in front of the Guard; and the Overseer took on the Chapel Geist. Because Patarca chose to keep his Unruly Mob back, it was insurance that the Overseer wouldn't lose its followers and its Indestructible quality, even if Wescoe took out the other human, Loyal Cathar.

The American did not, but chose to Sever the Bloodline of the then 5/5 Unruly Mob. It was 5-13. The black spell was flashbacked when a Fateful Hour-enhanced Thraben Doomsayer hit the board, but Patarca replaced it with a Stitched Apprentice and kept on pressing.

On Wescoe's next attack step, a Feeling of Dread tapped the two remaining flyers (Griffin and a Spirit token with the Hauberk) and the Quiver took out Wescoe's only other creature, a diminutive Human token. Patarca was fighting back. And the Dread's flashback ability ensured he had at least another turn of tapping.

The Quiver moved around Patarca's board and took out the 3/2 first-striking Griffin, and Patarca followed up with a swing to take the lead for the first time in the game 5-2. Craig had been drawing land after land the last few turns. And though that's what allowed him the large amount of mana to flashback the Sever the Bloodline, now he had a board of land and nothing to do with it. Wescoe was about to die with a lot of real estate.

Craig had one last draw step, but it yielded nothing that could save him.

Humberto Patarca 2 – 1 Craig Wescoe

Humberto Patarca advances to the finals!

Final - Paul Rietzl vs. Humberto Patarca

by Steve Sadin

Pro Tour Amsterdam Champion Paul Rietzl made his first Grand Prix Top 8 nearly 10 years ago, when he made it to the Quarterfinals of Grand Prix Anaheim. In the years since, Rietzl has put together an incredible career featuring three Pro Tour Top 8s, and (now) five Grand Prix Top 8s. But despite his many accomplishments, Rietzl is yet to win a Grand Prix.

At least not yet.

After going 7-1 on Day One with a Sealed Deck that Rietzl could only describe as "awful," Rietzl 3-0ed his first draft pod before taking a tough loss at the hands of none other than Humberto Patarca. Rietzl bounced back, defeating Josh Utter-Leyton to lock up his slot in the Top 8 – before blazing past Gustavo Nuñez Moreno, and Daniel Hernandez to advance to the finals.

Humberto Patarca

Venezuelan standout Humberto Patarca went 8-0 on Day One, and continued dominating on draft day – entering the Top 8 as the first seed. Once he was in the Top 8, Patarca drafted an incredibly strong White-Blue deck that had enough oomph to get him past Mario Flores, and Craig Wescoe, putting himself a mere two games away from becoming the Grand Prix Mexico City Champion.

Game 1

Paul Rietzl looked to put some early pressure on Humberto Patarca with a Walking Corpse, and a Wakedancer – but that lead wouldn't last for long as Patarca put himself into a dominating position with a Thraben Doomsayer, and an Angelic Overseer.

Rietzl again tried to move on the offensive with a Highborn Ghoul, and a Screeching Bat. However, a Feeling of Dread was enough to ensure that Patarca could kill Rietzl a turn before he would have died to the Bump in the Night in Paul's hand.

Humberto Patarca 1 – Paul Rietzl 0

Paul Rietzl

Game 2

Rietzl started the second game by playing a Highborn Ghoul, and a Screeching Bat while Patarca looked to keep up by playing a Spectral Rider, and a Mentor of the Meek.

Brimstone Volley took out Patarca's Mentor of the Meek, and Night Terrors allowed Rietzl to deal with the nigh-invulnerable Angelic Overseer. But even after answering two of Patarca's best rares – Rietzl still wasn't in a great position as he saw that Patarca, who was slowly chipping away at his life total with Spectral Rider, had both a Rebuke, and a Feeling of Dread in his hand.

Humberto Patarca

A Thraben Sentry, and an Unruly Mob gave Patarca some more offense, and a Feeling of Dread kept him at a relatively safe 10 life. However, Rietzl was able to quickly get himself back into the race by using a Geistflame to take out Unruly Mob, and a Wakedancer (plus its accompanying zombie token) for Patarca's Thraben Militia.

Rietzl's Screeching Bat got blocked by a Nephalia Seakite, and the American pro was forced to flashback his Geistflame to deal with the 2/3 flier – before playing an Afflicted Deserter a turn later.

When Patarca played an Elder Cathar, it looked like he was in good shape to win the race – however, a Traitorous Blood plus an Altar's Reap turned the tides firmly in Paul's favor.

Patarca was able to knock Rietzl down to one life with his Spectral Rider – but that wasn't quite good enough – and the players were off to a deciding third game.

Humberto Patarca 1 – Paul Rietzl 1

Paul Rietzl

Game 3

Rietzl used a series of removal spells, topped off by a Farbog Boneflinger, to leave Patarca without any creatures for much of the third game.

By the time that Patarca was able to keep a creature on the board for more than a turn, it was too late – as Rietzl had a Traitorous Blood, and a Bump in the Night to become the Grand Prix Mexico City Champion!

Paul Rietzl 2 – Humberto Patarca 1

Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Mexico 2012

by Marc Calderaro and Steve Sadin
Lambholt Elder

5) Lambholt Elder

Despite the fact that he doesn't even like the card that much, Paul Rietzl took Lambholt Elder early in his first and his second drafts just so he could signal to his neighbors that he was drafting green!

While many high-profile players have disagreed with Paul's strategy of aggressively signalling with underpowered Double-Faced Cards, it's clearly worked out well for him as he was able to follow up his Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma by winning it all here at Grand Prix Mexico City. And don't let her looks fool you, an unanswered Lambholt Elder will end a game mighty quickly.

Drogskol Captain

4) Drogskol Captain

White-Blue fliers is one of the best decks in the format, and if you're fortunate enough to get a Drogskol Captain (or two) -- then you could very well end up with an amazing deck on your hands. Timothy Thomason cruised to an 8-0 record on Day One with two copies of the blue-white lord in his Sealed Deck, and Craig Wescoe easily earned his way into the Top 8 with a draft deck that sported two Drogskol Captains.

With a single Captain in play, you'll make your Chapel Geists and your Moon Herons even more fearsome than usual -- and if you ever happen to have two copies in play, then there are few cards short of Blasphemous Act that will allow your opponent to recover.

3) Tie Between Evolving Wilds and Shimmering Grotto

Evolving Wilds
Shimmering Grotto

It's easy to overlook these cards, but it just can't be done any longer. Shimmering Grotto was a begrudging necessity before Dark Ascension, but with the new set and the addition of Evolving Wilds, splashing is a viable, oft-used strategy. In either Limited format these lands can get the job done. Craig Wescoe and Paul Rietzl used these to great effect throughout the tournament. Paul splashed a singular Undying Evil in a Red-Green Werewolf deck, and Craig sideboarded into a whole new color thanks in part to these lands. The Grotto even has the extra bonus of helping other colorless-producing lands (Haunted Fengraf, Moorland Haunt, etc.) act like they produce colored mana.

Feeling of Dread

2) Feeling of Dread

Good lord it's hard not to become more and more impressed with this card as the format wears on. Whether it's in Sealed or Draft, having a copy or two of this Instant can be the difference between a mediocre deck, and one that can take you to the top. It's the Michael Jordan of cards -- it can play great offense and defense. Having two copies of Feeling of Dread was the reason Humberto Patarca was able to get to the finals. And though it didn't get him the win, perhaps it was because he didn't have card #1 in his deck...

Bump in the Night

1) Bump in the Night

By his own admission, Paul Rietzl's Sealed Deck was not good. Paul had a low curve, and a couple of removal spells -- but if you compared the 40 cards that Paul maindecked side by side with almost anyone else's Sealed Deck, then it would have been clear that Paul was starting with a distinct disadvantage.

But despite the low overall quality of the cards in his Sealed Deck, Paul was able to scratch his way to a 7-1 record on Day One thanks to his two copies of Bump in the Night.

While Paul's creatures alone weren't able to reliably deal his opponents 20 damage, they were usually fast enough to get them down to six. At which point he could use a Bump in the Night to finish the job.

Once he was in the Top 8, Paul drafted an aggressive Red-Black deck that was significantly stronger than the deck that he played on Day One -- but it still had some trouble dealing those final points of damage with its creatures.

At times that seemed like it might be a problem for Paul, but three matches, and some well timed Bump in the Nights later, and Paul Rietzl was the Grand Prix Mexico City Champion!