Artur Villela has a strong claim to Magic fame: At Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro last year, he conceded to his longtime friend Jose Francisco de Silva in the Finals. It was a gracious act of generosity that put Francisco de Silva into Gold status for the season. Now, over a year and a half later, Villela has climbed back into a Grand Prix Top 8 chair and extended his qualification to the Pro Tour.
If karmic justice is a thing this is assuredly an anecdote in its favor. Of course, pulling a 6-0 record through the drafts today played its (large) part too.
Frank Lepore, writer and personality in the Magic Community, was coming off his team's victory at the Magic Online Community Cup. Testing and playing alongside the skilled likes of Melissa DeTora and more, Lepore has moved a step beyond being a personality and into the world of professional Magic competitor. His 5-0-1 draft result – drawing with teammate and fellow Top 8 contender DeTora – put an exclamation on his rise this weekend.
Villela's plan was a simple one: Play just two colors. Pairing white with green meant Villela wasn't playing any multicolor cards. Instead, he settled for the consistency of multiple copies of cards like Alpine Grizzly, Sagu Archer, Kin-Tree Warden, Dragonscale Boon, and Kill Shot. Without a rare to be seen, Villela had traded raw power for absolute consistency.
Lepore, however, took the colorful road to the draft. With Abzan Ascendancy and two copies of Abzan Guide, Lepore spread his deck across white-black-green. With just three nonbasic lands to support his choices he skewed heavier on white and black cards to compensate. There were plenty of creatures to cast in both colors, along with removal to support them. Even without the thin line of green, Lepore would have plenty to do.
Abzan Ascendancy to beef up a Mardu Hateblade was Lepore's early line, but Alpine Grizzly, Tuskguard Captain, and two morphs from Villela threatened to overrun in reply. After blocking the second big attack, Villela's Dragonscale Boon put a quick end to Lepore's battle.
It was a quick and ruthless victory.
Ruthless Ripper from Lepore negated life gain from Highland Game on Villela's side early in the second game. As Lepore used Tuskguard Captain's outlast to present a beefier wall to block with, Villela continued to develop his battlefield wider. Eventually, both players stalemated on the ground as Villela's Watcher of the Roost pecked away in the air.
With life totals at 10 to 19, Hunted Lammasu joined the air force threatening to finish Lepore off. Abzan Guide bought Lepore some time, but unmorphing it was a one-trick pony: Villela was prepared and piled the blockers up to stop the flow of life gain.
Lepore cast Take Up Arms at Villela's next end step and piled in with the team, trying to overwhelm the 9 life Villela had remaining. After blocking and unmorphing War Behemoth to shunt the brunt of the bloodshed, Lepore was left just a few life short.
Artur Villela defeated Frank Lepore, 2-0.