LANDS. AND SPELLS.

Posted in GRAND PRIX ORLANDO 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 5, 2014

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Round 8 saw the feature match area crammed with quality. Brian Braun-Duin, Pat Cox, Conley Woods, Ben Stark, and Willy Edel were all in attendance, but our focus was on the 7-0 encounter between Jason Ascalon and Ari Lax. That's actually a little bit of a white lie, because our focus was on Lax, and the extraordinary deck he was piloting. You see, sometimes you open a pool that lets you really go the distance, and Lax got one of those pools this morning. Let's walk you through his first five turns of game one to give you a sense of what we're dealing with:

Turn 1Scoured Barrens. That gave him access on turn two to both Black and White mana. (BW)
Turn 2Dismal Backwater. That made blue available from turn three. (BBWU)
Turn 3 – Swamp, and a face-down morph. (BBBWU)
Turn 4Jungle Hollow, adding Green. (BBBBWUG)
Turn 5 – Forest. Armament Corps, putting 2 counters on itself. (BBBBGGWU)

You might have imagined by now that Lax is playing five colors, and you'd be right. Plenty happened before Lax got there – a Duneblast from Ascalon, Lax digging for answers with Treasure Cruise, and Ascalon powering ahead again with Woolly Loxodon. That's when Lax found color number five, and used the red mana from Bloodfell Caves to fire off Crackling Doom, which offed the Woolly Loxodon. It wasn't enough. Ascalon kept on pounding away with his Abzan Guide, creating a lopsided final score that thankfully for Lax still only made the game score 1-0.

Game Two

On the play, Lax opened on Forest, Jungle Hollow, and Plains. He remained at his three core colors on turn four, tapping out for Longshot Squad. He didn't add blue until turn seven via Dismal Backwater, but by then he'd already sent Butcher of the Horde to an early grave with Smite the Monstrous, and was piling on the pressure. He also had removal for Woolly Loxodon, and didn't let Ascalon back into the game. It was classic foot-to-the-throat-stuff, forcing game three.

 

Game Three

 

Off we go with the land carousel of awesome:

Turn 1 - Dismal Backwater (UB)
Turn 2 - Forest (UBG)
Turn 3 - Plains (UBGW) Abzan Charm for Ascalon's Anafenza, the Foremost
Turn 4 - Rugged Highlands (UBGGWR)
Turn 5 - Forest (UBGGGWR)

Here's the thing: when you play all the colors in the world, you can cast all the spells in the world. Take a look at what Lax was actually running:

Ari Lax – 5 Color

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In all honesty, Ascalon wasn't far behind when it comes to incredible power:

Jason Ascalon – 4 Color

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The deciding game was about as anarchic as you might expect. Highlights include Lax wiping the board entirely with Duneblast (he had no creatures, and was forced to blow up the world to get back into the game), with Ascalon ripping his fourth color Mountain to power out Butcher of the Horde. That stayed on the battlefield for less time than ice cream in a sauna, and Lax was able to take control with a simply vast Hooded Hydra.

 

The moral, boys and girls: sometimes it just all comes together, and when it does, Khans of Tarkir Limited is going to give you some incredible power.

 

Ari Lax 2 – 1 Jason Ascalon

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