Round 10 Feature Match: (23) Patrick Chapin (Abzan Control) vs. Mario Lillard (White-Red Aggro)

Posted in GRAND PRIX MEMPHIS 2015 on February 22, 2015

By Peter Rawlings

Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin and his Abzan Control deck squeaked their way into Day 2 with a 7-2 record. Coming off a strong last year that saw the No. 23-ranked player take home the trophy at Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx and make the finals of the 2014 World Championship, he was looking to rattle off a string of wins here on Sunday to add another Top 8 to his resume.

Mario Lillard had brought a White-Red Aggro deck to battle. After emerging victorious his win-and-in match last night to earn a return ticket to Day 2, he was hoping his sleek mana base would enable him to sneak under the heavy hitters such as Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon featured in Chapin's controlling build.

Game 1

Lillard was out of the gates quickly with a turn-two Seeker of the Way. Chapin, who had kept a hand with Thoughtseize, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, was quickly on his back foot. He had powerful spells, but would need to find the time—and the sources of white mana—to cast them.

Patrick Chapin, in search of white mana, attempts to repel his opponent's aggressive start.

After stripping an Outpost Siege from Lillard's hand, he drew his first white source of the game, but by this point was facing down 5 damage a turn from Lillard's 2-drop Monk and a trio of 1/1 Goblins, courtesy of Hordeling Outburst.

Chapin, still searching for a Plains to enable him to cast the End Hostilities and Elspeth in his hand, summoned Sorin, Solemn Visitor and a Vampire traveling companion, hoping to present enough of a roadblock to allow him to stabilize.

That was not to be, however, as an end-of-turn Stoke the Flames from Lillard went after Chapin's life total rather than the Planeswalker—a sure sign of trouble. With Chapin at 6, Lillard cast Chained to the Rocks, sending Chapin's lone blocker for a hike in the mountains and growing his Seeker to a 3/3. That combined with his Goblin horde was enough to deal Chapin exactly lethal.

Lillard 1 – Chapin 0

Chapin thumbed through his deck, shipping some of his more expensive 5-drops such as Tasigur and Liliana Vess, to the sideboard. “That was a brutal Game 1,” he said.

“That was definitely the best draw I could get,” agreed Lillard, with a grin. The plays shuffled up, and after Chapin mulliganed to six cards, they were on their way.

Game 2

Chapin got off to a stronger start in Game 2, with a hand featuring all three of his colors, along with Courser of Kruphix and Siege Rhino. On his fourth turn, with the Centaur holding off a Hordeling Outburst from Lillard, Chapin was forced to choose between cracking a Windswepth Heath—which would shuffle away the sideboard Glare of Heresy from atop his library—or laying a tapped land, delaying his Siege Rhino for another turn.

Mario Lillard goes into the tank, trying to decide how to play around the Ugin, the Spirit Dragon he knows is soon incoming.

He opted for the Rhino, and after a shuffle his Glare of Heresy had been replaced by an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. A more powerful card than the Glare, but would he have time to cast it?

A Valorous Stance from Lillard smote the Rhino, while the Courser was incinerated by a convoked Stoke the Flames, leaving Chapin with an empty board against Lillard's three Goblin tokens. Chapin drew Ugin, but with no other spells in hands his shields were down until he reached the eight lands needed to cast it.

A Rhino off the top of his library helped to stablize the board for Chapin, and it soon went to work on a freshly cast Elspeth from Lillard. As Elspeth continued to spit out out Soldier tokens, Chapin finally reached the eight lands he needed to cast his colorless Planeswalker. He began the turn by sending his Siege Rhino charging into Elspeth. Lillard had three Soldiers back, and—knowing about the Ugin that had been revealed to Courser—went into the tank, trying to decide whether or not to block.

“Sorry, I'm just thinking,” Lillard said after a minute.

“No problem at all,” said Chapin. “After what you did to me in Game 1, we have plenty of time.”

Lillard finally decided to block with all three, leaving Elspeth at 1 loyalty. Chapin cracked a Heath and summoned Ugin, using the Spirit Dragon's minus ability for zero to wipe away Lillard's many Goblins and Soldiers.

Lillard still had more gas in the tank however, as a Stormbreath Dragon quickly knocked Ugin to 3 loyalty, a Glare of Heresy dispatched Chapin's Rhino, and Elspeth continued to churn out Soldiers. A Bile Blight and Ugin teamed up to kill Lillard's Stormbreath, but Lillard's follow-up Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker won the dragon-on-dragon battle, sending Chapin's Ugin to the graveyard.

Chapin was out of cards. A top-decked End Hostilities cleared away Lillard's tokens, but there was still the thorny issue of the Sarkhan and Elspeth, which were immune to such mass removals spells. Sarkhan's loyalty continued to rise as he swung in for 4 damage. At two life, facing two Planeswalkers, Chapin drew for the turn. He peeked at the card, a Temple of Silence, and extended his hand.

Lillard 2 – Chapin 0

As the players discussed their decks, Lillard said he had used to play Jeskai before making the recent switch to White-Red, two archetypes that are both out in full-force this weekend.

“It's an interesting decision, where you have to weight the blue gold cards and Treasure Cruise agains the value of having untapped lands,” Chapin said.

“Exactly. You have to have untapped lands,” Lillard said. “Mantis Rider is awesome but that type of deck needs to have untapped lands.” He said a frequent issue with Jeskai builds was that their tapped lands would often prevent them from casting a third-turn threat, such as a Goblin Rabblemaster, throwing an unacceptable wrench in the deck's tempo strategy.

Patrick Chapin – Abzan Control

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Mario Lillard – White-Red Aggro

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