Round 6 Feature Match: Mario Flores vs. Jon Stern

Posted in Event Coverage on February 1, 2015

By Josh Bennett

These two have crossed the halfway mark with perfect records intact. Two more wins and they’ll clear the first hurdle, locking up Day 2.

The Players

A year ago Mario Flores notched his second GP Top 8 in two attempts at the previous Grand Prix Mexico City – a hometown hero making good. Now he’s back, ready to make the jump to the next level, and he’ll settle for nothing less than gold. Today he’s representing the Abzan with a deck featuring a wealth of powerful creatures.

Across from him Canada’s Jon Stern has long been a resident of the next level. Last year he claimed his second Grand Prix title in Atlanta in spectacular fashion, defeating Shaun McLaren in the quarterfinals, then William Jensen in the semis, and lastly Tomoharu Saito to hoist the trophy. Today he has a four-color deck propped up on a generous helping of dual lands, and which boasts an impressive suite of spells.

The Games

Things started out poorly for Stern who chose to draw then mulliganed twice before finding a keepable hand. He outclassed Flores’s morph with Sandsteppe Outcast and its friendly spirit. Flores played a land and held back. Stern hit for three and then played Write Into Being.

Flores kicked it up a notch by summoning Dromoka, the Eternal. Usually 5/5 fliers for five don’t come with so much extra spice. Stern swung in, and after Flores refused to risk his creatures, summoned Jeskai Sage and a morph. Dromoka hit, turning the morph into a 4/4, and then Flores locked up the ground with Typhoid Rats and a Mardu Skullhunter, stealing Stern’s last card.

However, Stern wasn’t out of it just yet. He paid four and turned over his manifested creature – Highspire Mantis! He hit for four in the air and now the race was on. Flores didn’t like the sound of that and so held back his dragon, hitting for four with his morph and bringing out Salt Road Patrol. For a turn they stared at each other, and then Stern refuelled with an end-of-turn Enhanced Awareness. He untapped and went deep in thought. He only had six mana to work with. He decided to bring out Abzan Skycaptain and pass with two open. Flores held back entirely and made a morph. Stern did the same, and passed.

Flores was stuck on five mana and had a grip full of gas. He played Soul Summons and passed. Stern risked an attack with his fliers. Dromoka stepped in front of Highspire Mantis. Stern mentally crossed his fingers and played Saltblast. It resolved! Now the air was clear and Flores was one attack away from death. He tried to bar the door with Noxious Dragon, but Stern was ready with Disdainful Stroke, and the game was his.

Stern 1 – Flores 0

Flores put Stern on the play. He got on board with Sandsteppe Outcast, and then Jeskai Sage. Flores built up with Dragon Bell Monk and Abzan Skycaptain. Stern was short on action, with only another Sage on his fifth turn. Flores sailed overhead for two and brought down the mighty Bellowing Saddlebrute. Stern swung in and Flores risked a block with it, losing it to Stern’s Sandblast.

Flores untapped and dropped a bomb: Death Frenzy. Stern lost his whole board while Prowess saved the Dragon Bell Monk and it was bolstered by the dying Skycaptain. Stern’s Sages paid off, however, giving him the Whisk Away he’d need to knock the Monk down a peg. More creatures came off the top of Stern’s deck, and Write Into Being earned itself an MVP award by serving up Sagu Mauler. Flores had no answer after losing a creature to it in combat, and simply extended the hand.

Jon Stern defeats Mario Flores 2-0

The Aftermath

I asked Stern if his deck was exceeding expectations. “Well, I wasn’t sure when I built it. It does have a lot of power, though. The thing about Fate Reforged is, the rares are so powerful, and so many of the commons are underwhelming. You really need to build with the rares in mind. I think Disdainful Stroke has gone way up in value for sealed.”

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