It was an all-Mexico clash on this side of the bracket, ensuring that there would be a finalist battling for national pride.
With this GP Top 8, Mario Flores is officially the boss of Mexico City. It is his third, and all three happened here: in 2012, 2014, and today. However, this is the first time he’s escaped the quarterfinals. He’s playing an Abzan control deck stacked with power that dips into red for a pair of Ponyback Brigades.
Andreas Canavati is still enjoying the rush of making his first Top 8. He didn’t have it easy, either, having started 11-3 and needing a Round 15 win that kept his tiebreakers up. He had to sweat the Top 8 announcement all the way to eighth place, and his name brought down the house in the loudest applause for any of the competitors. Canavati is playing Sultai, heavier on the delve than you would guess was possible.
Flores sent back his opening seven, but his six were acceptable. Canavati led with Sultai Skullkeeper, stocking his graveyard. Flores played Alpine Grizzly. Canavati ramped with Map the Wastes and held his creature back, happy to trade when Flores swung in. Flores played a fourth land but simply passed his turn.
Canavati brought out Sultai Soothsayer, further filling his yard. Flores played a fifth land and a Sandsteppe Outcast as a 2/1. Canavati untapped and put all that fuel to devastating use with Dig Through Time. He added a morph and passed. Flores could only hit for one in the air and pass with six open. Canavati further stocked up with Bitter Revelation. He hit for two with his Soothsayer and delved out Sultai Scavenger. Flores offed it with Reach of Shadows at end of turn.
He untapped, hit for three, then played a face-up Ponyback Brigade. The size of his army was threatening, but Canavati was still at a comfortable thirteen life. Canavati unmorphed Abomination of Gudul and hit in the air, then played out Frontier Mastodon. Flores swung all-out, losing his Outcast and a token, but dropping Canvati to 8. When he tapped six and summoned another Ponyback Brigade Canavati showed concern. He did some quick math, then hit again in the air. He delved the maximum for Tasigur, the Golden Fang, leaving just Sultai Scavenger in the bin. He passed it back. Flores smashed in again. Canavati set up his blocks and even spent a Sultai Charm to kill a token. He dropped to four but Flores’s forces were back down to a manageable level.
Canavati had another problem, however: He was down to just nine cards in his library. He risked an activation of Tasigur and got Write into Being for his effort. The Abomination took Flores down to ten, and Canavati declined to loot. He did however play Write into Being. It was all according to plan, however, as a turn later he dropped Temur Charm to make his squad unblockable by Flores’s army of small creatures.
Canavati 1 – Flores 0
Canavati led out with Whisperer of the Wilds, then a morph. Flores took care of the morph with Debilitating Injury, but that played right into Canavati’s hands. Down came the turn-four Tasigur. Flores played Abzan Banner and got hit for four. Canavati refused to commit further to the board, happy to spend his mana on Tasigur. Flores couldn’t afford to wait on his Crux of Fate and wiped the board.
Canavati rebuilt with a delved-out Sultai Scavenger and used his extra mana when Flores summoned Destructor Dragon – Reach of Shadows sent it packing. Flores didn’t mind, replacing it with a face-up Abzan Guide. Canavati’s next play of face-up Abomination of Gudul was less exciting. He hit for three and passed.
Flores hit back, draining for four. He made it seven thanks to Siege Rhino, and tapped his last two for Sultai Emissary. Canavati dug for answers with Bitter Revelation, then hit for three with his Abomination to dig further. He passed with three open. Flores attacked all-out, and Canavati tried to destroy the Guide with Sultai Charm. Unfortunately, Siege Rhino is not a monocolored creature. A judge was called and he earned himself a warning. Worse was the fact that he had no defense against the incoming horde. They moved on to game three.
Canavati 1 – Flores 1
The fans gathered three-deep for the deciding game, with cheers for both players. Canavati got things started with Sultai Skullkeeper. Flores one-upped him with Sandsteppe Outcast and friend. Canavati manifested with Write into Being and kept the other card on top. The manifested 2/2 traded for half the Outcast. Flores played his fourth land and the big Rhino.
Canavati played his fourth land and passed with a heavy sigh. Flores busted in for five and added Longshot Squad to the mix. Canavati played Dig Through Time at end of turn, and seemed to face a tough decision. He fanned out the seven and flicked through them twice, before making up his mind. He untapped, dropped Sultai Charm on the Squad, and delved away the rest of his graveyard for Sultai Scavenger.
Again Flores hit with both creatures. Canavati called the bluff and put his Scavenger in front of the spirit token. No effects. Still he was down to six, and Flores was tapping out for Destructor Dragon. Canavati played a sixth land and a Frontier Mastodon. Flores played it cautiously, sending just the Dragon. Canavati chumped with the Scavenger. His way did not improve with a his next draw and soon he was extending the hand in defeat.
Mario Flores defeats Andreas Canavati 2-1