Siege Rhino is still one of the best cards in Standard. Sixteen copies made it to the Top 8, and now we have a Siege Rhino mirror match on our hands. Antonio Del Moral León put the rhinoceros in a control shell with Crux of Fate and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, whereas Amand Dosimont included it in a more aggressive build with Rakshasa Deathdealer and Warden of the First Tree.
Antonio Del Moral León led the Top 8 in previous accomplishments, being champion of Pro Tour Fate Reforged and all. He is still a relative newcomer to high-level Magic, and this tournament marks his first Grand Prix Top 8. So far, he is still undefeated in Grand Prix or Pro Tour Top 8s, and many onlookers were curious to see if the young master could keep up that streak.
Amand Dosimont is in his first Grand Prix Top 8. Hailing from Belgium, he is wearing a lucky hat with the yellow, black, and red colors of the flag of his home country Belgium. His compatriots who were watching the match described him as one of the central players in his local Magic community and praised his accomplishments in the Modern format, but he's shown this weekend that he can win in Standard as well.
As mentioned, this is an Abzan mirror. Generally speaking, the control deck is favored because it can keep up with the aggro deck's curve, but it can take over the late game with powerful planeswalkers like Elspeth, Sun's Champion. In other words, Abzan control is slower, but not much slower. Arguably the best card in Dosimont's deck for this matchup is Wingmate Roc, which provides card advantage and gives him a way to beat Elspeth, Sun's Champion. If he doesn't draw it, then Del Moral León will have the advantage, though by no means an overwhelming one.
After a mulligan for Del Moral León, the game got underway with a second-turn Thoughtseize from Dosimont, which revealed Courser of Kruphix, Abzan Charm, Den Protector, Siege Rhino, and enough mana to cast them all. He chose to discard Den Protector, and followed it up with a second Thoughtseize to discard Abzan Charm. So, Dosimont chose to deny Del Moral León any and all card advantage opportunities, and it looked like we were in for a grindy game.
Several turns and removal spells later, Del Moral León had found a new Den Protector, which first returned the old one, which in turn got back Abzan Charm, annulling the initial Thoughtseizes altogether.
However, this sequence of plays was mana-intensive, and in the meantime Dosimont had managed to summon a monstrous Fleecemane Lion and a Rakshasa Deathdealer with regeneration mana up. They were putting on the pressure. Del Moral León's Den Protectors were not the blockers he needed against those creatures, and he never found Elspeth, Sun's Champion as an out. A few attacks later, Dosimont's resilient 2-drops attacked for lethal damage.
Antonio Del Moral León
Antonio Del Moral León 1 - Amand Dosimont 0
Dosimont was the first on board with Rakshasa Deathdealer, while Del Moral León got some life swings with not just one, but two copies of Siege Rhino. However, the rhinos were not long for this world. The first fell to Glare of Heresy, the second to Hero's Downfall, and all the while Rakshasa Deathdealer was attacking for 2.
However, Dosimont was stuck on three lands, and that lack of mana would come back to hurt him. On turn five, Del Moral León cast Fleecemane Lion and quickly made the block when Rakshasa Deathdealer came in. Dosimont had no choice but to turn his 2/2 into a 4/4, and he was blown out as Del Moral León played Abzan Charm to pump his Fleecemane Lion into a 5/5.
Elspeth, Sun's Champion came down on the next turn, and Dosimont, still stuck on three lands, saw no way out. Without a good answer to the planeswalker or the Lion, he scooped up his cards and prepared for the last game.
Antonio Del Moral León 1 - Amand Dosimont 1
Dosimont, on the play this time around, had a great curve with turn two Fleecemane Lion and turn three Anafenza, the Foremost. Del Moral León, on the other side of the table, geared up for the long game by sending Den Protector to the graveyard with Thoughtseize. But would he have enough time to get there?
As it turned out, he did not. Del Moral León was playing removal spells and blockers every turn, but Dosimont was replacing his creatures just as quickly with new ones from the top of his deck. First a Siege Rhino came down. Then a slain Anafenza, the Foremost was replaced by a new copy. And then Anafenza plus a 6/7 Siege Rhino came in, with Del Moral León at 6 life and only having Siege Rhino and Fleecemane Lion as a blocker.
The Spanish Pro Tour champion could chumpblock both to play around another Siege Rhino, but that would only prolong the inevitable and would never lead to victory. Instead, he had to hope that Dosimont hadn't drawn another Siege Rhino: he double-blocked the 6/7 Rhino and fell to 2 life. Afterward, Dosimont revealed his draw for the turn: Siege Rhino. It was very effective.
Antonio Del Moral León 1 - Amand Dosimont 2
Amand Dosimont broke Antonio Del Moral León's Top 8 streak and advanced to the finals!