Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011

It's three consecutive Grand Prix now. Coming into Pittsburgh, Yuuya Watanabe had finished second at Grand Prix Kansas City and then rectified his poor performance by just outright winning Grand Prix Shanghai last weekend! After his performance this weekend, he's made it 2nd, 1st, 1st. About the only thing he can do to improve that is win a Pro Tour, and he's got a chance next week, just across the state! Thanks to his performances over the last month, he has gone from an afterthought for Player of the Year to a severe threat to take the title for the second time, especially if he continues to play as well as he has been. This truly has been the summer of the Yuuya.

Coming into the event, it was clear to everyone that Squadron HawkSword of Feast and Famine was the deck to beat. No matter whom we asked we didn't get any answer other than that. However, if we learned anything from the first day of play, it was that maybe players should have been paying more attention to Splinter Twin decks. They comprised a much larger portion of the winning decks than Squadron HawkSword of Feast and Famine did, especially if you add up all of the varieties. With each event, the preferred method of assembling the combo seems to change. Early on, it was definitely the RUG Pod version of the deck that had the most traction, but for this event it appeared that the UR version had the most believers. Ultimately, only the UR variety made the Top 8, eventually losing to Yuuya Watanabe on his eventual path to victory. While it's true he is playing Squadron Hawk, there is a big difference between losing to Squadron Hawk and losing to Yuuya Watanabe, especially right now.

Congratulations to Yuuya Watanabe, your Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011 champion!

top 8 bracket


(1) Patrick Chapin

(8) Harry Corvese

(4) Matthew Nass

(5) Yuuya Watanabe

(2) Joel Larsson

(7) Lukasz Musial

(3) Max Tietze

(6) Florian Pils


Patrick Chapin 2-1

Yuuya Watanabe 2-0

Lucasz Musial 2-0

Max Tietze 2-1


Yuuya Watanabe 2-1

Lukasz Musial 2-0


Yuuya Watanabe 2-0



Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Pittsburgh at with Rashad Miller, Ray Punzalan, and Ben Swartz.



  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 5 Cards of the Event
  • by Nate Price
    Lukasz Musial vs. Yuuya Watanabe
  • by Nate Price
    Patrick Chapin vs. Yuuya Watanabe
  • by Steve Sadin
    Max Tietze vs. Lukasz Musial
  • by Ben Swartz
    Patrick Chapin vs. Harry Corvese
  • by Steve Sadin
    Florian Pils vs. Max Tietze
  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinal Round-Up
    Joel Larsson vs. Lukasz Musial
    Matt Nass vs. Yuuya Watanabe
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Player Profiles
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Decklists
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


1. Yuuya Watanabe $3,500
2. Lukasz Musial $2,300
3. Patrick Chapin $1,500
4. Max Tietze $1,500
5. Joel Larsson $1,000
6. Matthew Nass $1,000
7. Florian Pils $1,000
8. Harry Corvese $1,000

pairings, results, standings


16 15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


16 15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


16 15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 - Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Patrick Chapin - Top 8

Florian Pils - Top 8

Joel Larsson - Top 8

Harry Corvese - Top 8

Matt Nass - Top 8

Creature (7)
4 Deceiver Exarch 3 Grim Lavamancer
Sorcery (10)
4 Preordain 4 Ponder 2 Gitaxian Probe
Artifact (4)
4 Shrine of Piercing Vision
Enchantment (4)
4 Splinter Twin
60 Cards

Max Tietze - Top 8

Yuuya Watanabe - Top 8

Lukasz Musial - Top 8

Top 8 Player profiles

Name: Lukasz Musial

Age: 27

Hometown: Gdansk

Occupation: Stock Admin

Previous Magic Accomplishments: Some GP money finishes

What deck did you play and why:Tempered Steel

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
With friends from Poland
Are you playing in the Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend?

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
Nothing—did not see

Name: Harry Corvese

Age: 23

Pittsburgh PA

Soccer Coach

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Won GP Toronto PTQ, Day 2 GP Nashville, PT Paris

What deck did you play and why:
Red deck because searing blaze, while good at killing your opponent is also good at making the as miserable as possible... so I played 12 copies

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
Prepared by Goof Drafting with CMU goons. Also by counting to 20

Are you playing in the Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend?
No sir.

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
Yes. I used this insight to continue casting Goblin Guide

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
My hero. Then I died.

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
Jace – on Martell.

Name: Patrick Chapin

Age: 31

Milwaukee, WI

Professional Magic Player

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Four Pro Tour Top 8's, only player to top 8 PT in three different Decades, Type One Champ, most premier event 11th's lifetime.

What deck did you play and why:
Value RUG-Pod. Michael Jacob and I built it to prey on caw-blade, which is still popular, worked for me at Nationals, so running back.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
Michael Jacob and I got together in Milwaukee, then Detroit to test for Nationals, then ran that deck back. Gerry Thompson, Matt Sperling, Paul Rietzel, Gabriel Nassif, Brian Demars, and Drew Levin all helped me prepare

Are you playing in the Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend?

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
Yeah, the format went from one of the most broken formats ever to a rich diverse and healthy metagame with lots of different cool decks.

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
My opponent's Ember Hauler (though copying Inferno Titan always feels great)

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Name: Matthew Nass

Age: 19

Hometown: Stanford, CA

Occupation: student

Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Oakland champion

What deck did you play and why?
Splinter Twin with Lavamancer because it's good against Caw and Valakut.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
Wrapter (Josh Utter-Leyton) built the deck with some help from me. Tested with Team ChannelFireball.

Are you playing in Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend? yes

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
Yes. Saw Valakut getting more popular, which is a good matchup.

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
Celestial Colonnade. I then Exarched, which killed it even though it wasn't animated.

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
Jace Beleren

Name: Florian Pils

Age: 24

Hometown: Munich

Occupation: student

Previous Magic accomplishments: Top 8 Worlds 2009, Top 8 GP Strasbourg, Top 8 GP Rimini

What deck did you play and why?
Mono-Red. I wanted to play something simple. Raul Porojan gave me his list and told me it is good.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
No special preparations; had to test for Nationals anyway.

Are you playing in Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend? yes

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
It seems like you can play a lot of decks, whatever fits your play style the most.

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
AEther Adept

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
(no answer)

Name: Joel Larsson

Age: 19

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Occupation: model and receptionist for a clinic in Stockholm

Previous Magic accomplishments: 13th in GP Paris, Top 8 GP Prague, 10th in PT Nagoya, 3rd in 2011 Swedish Nationals

What deck did you play and why?
Caw-Blade, because I nearly tested anything and it keeps the most hands and mulligans the best of all the decks.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
I prepared for a couple of hours with "Team Memnite."

Are you playing in Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend? yep

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
No, since I really haven't cared that much, but in that way I at least saw which decks I could meet.

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
Sun Titan, I guess. Copying Oracle of Mul Daya is quite fun as well.

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
Jace, Memory Adept; Jace, the Mind Scuptor; Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Name: Max Tietze

Age: 22

Hometown: Mamaroneck, NY

Occupation: conspiracy theorist

Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Columbus Top 8, PT Kyoto Top 32

What deck did you play and why?
Turk-Caw. My friend David Kaliski, el capitan de Chile, gave me an awesome list.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?
I'm not one to prepare for events.

Are you playing in Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend? yes

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
The format has gotten more diverse.

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
Hero of Bladehold

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
This is an odd question.

Name: Yuuya Watanabe

Age: 22

Hometown: Kanagawa

Occupation: Pro Player

Previous Magic accomplishments: Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, 1 PT Top 8, 12 GP Top 8

What deck did you play and why?
Caw-Blade. I like Caw.

How and with whom did you prepare for this event?

Are you playing in Pro Tour Philadelphia next weekend? Yes!!

Have the results from the various National tournaments provided any insight into the shape of the format since the Stoneforge/Jace bannings?
(no answer)

What is the coolest thing you've seen copied with a Phantasmal Image this weekend?
many many Sun Titan

Which planeswalker do you pick third in your fantasy planeswalker draft?
Jace Beleren; Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Jace, Memory Adept. The Jace Draft

Quarterfinal Round-Up

by Nate Price


Matt Nass vs. Yuuya Watanabe

This game started as all Squadron Hawk Sword of Feast and Famine vs. Splinter Twin matches do. Watanabe started searching out his creatures with an early Squadron Hawk while Nass searched and dg through his deck, attempting to find the cards he needed to assemble the combo. Watanabe never let up, recruiting more Squadron Hawks and an Emeria Angel and her Birds over the next turns. Nass had nothing. He eventually had to use an Into the Roil to return the Emeria Angel, but it didn't buy him enough time. He got to get a Deceiver Exarch down to stop an attack from the Angel on the following turn, but Watanabe just activate his Celestial Colonnade and attacked for the win.

The Nass-ty One himself.

Matt Nass 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 1

The next game saw things start a little better for Nass, mostly because they didn't start as well for Watanabe. He only had a Squadron Hawk for early aggression, and, while that grew to more Squadron Hawks soon, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Emeria Angel. Nass was able to get a Grim Lavamancer into play for a method of killing Squadron Hawks and things looked ok.

And then Watanabe drew Emeria Angel. It was just big enough that Nass didn't have a clear way to kill it at hand. He dealt with it for a few turns with Into the Roils and Deceiver Exarchs, but Watanabe's air force started to swell, little by little. Nass had multiple Deceiver Exarchs in play to equip, but he never found a clear window to land a Splinter Twin, and Watanabe's Birds pecked him to death fairly rapidly.

Watanabe could never have done it with a little help from LSV...tokens.

Matt Nass 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 2


Joel Larsson vs. Lukasz Musial

Musial started with a blistering draw, getting a Memnite, Ornithopter and Steel Overseer into play all on the first turn thanks to a Mox Opal. He spent the first two turns after that using his Overseer to charge up his troops, but after it hit two counters, he started attacking. A Vault Skirge joined in time to get one counter, and his force started slamming into Larsson. Larsson stopped the bleeding some with an Into the Roil on the Overseer and a Mana Leak for a Porcelain Legionnaire, but the damage had been done. He got one more turn of reprieve thanks to a Gideon Jura, but the turn after that, he succumbed to Musial's metallic army.

Larsson couldn't rust Musial's Steel Squad.

Joel Larsson 0 – Lucasz Musial 1

Larsson got to slow things down a ton the second game when he used Dismember to kill Musial's Ornithopter in response to a Glint Hawk. However, Musial sped them right back up with a Tempered Steel, Vault Skirge, and a Glint Hawk Idol. A Day of Judgment traded for the Vault Skirge, but Musial just replaced it with a Steel Overseer and a second Tempered Steel. Gideon Jura once again made a token attempt to stop Musial's team, but it only took a turn for them to finish the planeswalker off. After that, Musial had already gotten Larsson low enough that a single swing finished him off.

Lukasz Musial puts the Steel in Steel City.

Joel Larsson 0 – Lucasz Musial 2

Quarterfinal - Florian Pils vs. Max Tietze

by Steve Sadin

German pro Florian Pils is one of many international players who decided to take a pit-stop to compete in Grand Prix Pittsburgh on their way to Pro Tour Philadelphia. The detour has proved fruitful for Pils who piloted a RDW list featuring 4 maindeck copies of Hero of Oxid Ridge to his third Grand Prix Top 8 this weekend.

Across the table from Pils is Max Tietze – a long time New York area player with a number of Pro Tours under his belt, playing in his second Grand Prix Top 8.

Game one

Pils got off to a fast start with a turn one Goblin Guide, while Tietze tried to set up some defense with a Spellskite. A Searing Blaze took out Spellskite after it blocked Goblin Guide, and knocked Tietze down to 15 in the process.

Tietze cast a Squadron Hawk, which chump-blocked a Teetering Peaked Goblin Guide, before Pils further developed his board with an Ember Hauler

Tietze's Hero of Bladehold traded in combat with a Hero of Oxid Ridge, but Tietze replaced it with another Hero of Bladehold a turn later.

Florian Pils

Pils attacked into the Hero of Bladehold with his Goblin Guide, and his Teetering Peaks enhanced Ember Hauler. Tietze thought for a bit, but ultimately took the six damage – falling to 9.

Pils cast a post-combat Shrine of Burning Rage before passing the turn to Tietze who attacked in with his Hero of Bladehold, generating two tokens and knocking Pils down to 11, before adding two copies of Squadron Hawk to his suddenly fearsome board.

Pils again attacked with his Ember Hauler, and his Goblin Guide, prompting Tietze to carefully considered his options before ultimately deciding to double block the incoming Ember Hauler with his two hawks.

Lightning Bolt targeting Tietze resolved to knock the American down to 6 and tick up Pils's Shrine of Burning Rage to two counters.

Pils sacrificed his Ember Hauler before combat damage to put Tietze on 4 – but Tietze had the Into the Roil (bouncing the unblocked Goblin Guide) that he needed to stay alive and set up a lethal attack the next turn.

Max Tietze 1 – Florian Pils 0


Game Two


Turn one Grim Lavamancer, followed by Goblin Guide and Teetering Peaks left Tietze on 15 before he had even played his second land.

Spellskite got shattered by a Manic Vandal, clearing the way for an attack that left Tietze on 12.

Into the Roil bounced a Teetering Peaked Manic Vandal, but Tietze's life total was still dropping fast as he found himself on 9.

Timely Reinforcements looked like it might give Tietze a way back into the game, but without an answer to Pils's Hero of Oxid Ridge Tietze found himself dead only two attack steps later.

Max Tietze 1 – Florian Pils 1

Max Tietze


Game Three

Tietze opened game three with a couple of Squadron Hawks, while Pils started things off with an Ember Hauler followed by a Forked Bolt to take out his the two birds.

In response to Tietze's Timely Reinforcements, Pils sacrificed his Ember Hauler to prevent his opponent from getting three 1/1 soldiers.

A Hero of Oxid Ridge gave Pils a good source of damage, while a second Timely Reinforcements gave Tietze some soldiers, and left him with enough mana to Flashfreeze Pils's second Hero of Oxid Ridge.

When Tietze cast Hero of Bladehold, he was suddenly threatening a ton of damage.

Pils was able to trade his Hero of Oxid Ridge for his opponent's Hero of Bladehold, but without any good follow up plays, Pils soon found himself facing lethal damage from an army of soldiers.

Max Tietze defeats Florian Pils two games to one to advance to the Semifinals of Grand Prix Pittsburgh!

Quarterfinal - Patrick Chapin vs. Harry Corvese

by Ben Swartz

The Top Eight of Grand Prix Pittsburgh pitted Pro Tour Paris Top Eight Competitor Patrick Chapin, against Pittsburgh local, Harry Corvese. Chapin brought his Red-Blue-Green Birthing Pod deck to the Grand Prix, while Corvese was playing Red Deck Wins.


Game One


Corvese won the roll and started off game one with a turn one Goblin Guide while Chapin played a Llanowar Elves on his turn.

Harry Corvese

Corvese quickly Searing Blazed the Llanowar Elves and attacked again with his Goblin Guide, dropping Chapin to thirteen.

Chapin continued to try to gain a mana advantage with Birds of Paradise, but Corvese used Forked Bolt to get rid of it before attacking with Goblin Guide and casting a Grim Lavamancer.

Chapin ran out a Cunning Sparkmage, and immediately used it to kill Corvese's Grim Lavamancer -- while Corvese simply untapped, cast a Chandra's Phoenix, and attacked Chapin down to six life.

Chapin tried to claw back into the game by casting a Phyrexian Metamorph copying Cunning Sparkmage. Chapin was forced to pay Phyrexian Mana for the Metamorph, dropping him to four life.

The pair of Sparkmages were able to hold off Corvese's offense for a turn by blocking the Goblin Guide and killing the Chandra's Phoenix. However, the only thing that Chapin could muster up on his next turn was a Vengevine – allowing Corvese to set up a lethal attack thanks to Searing Blaze.

Harry Corvese 1 – 0 Patrick Chapin


Game Two

Both players kept their opening seven for game two and after land-go from Chapin, Corvese played a turn one Goblin Guide. Afraid of the quick damage that the Goblin Guide represented, Chapin cast a turn two Pyroclasm. Corvese's second turn brought an Ember Hauler, while Chapin cast a Lotus Cobra and a Flame Slash, destroying Corvese's goblin.

Patrick Chapin

The back and forth continued with Corvese casting Grim Lavamancer and Forked Bolt--destroying Chapin's Lotus Cobra and dealing him one.

Chapin, however, had the perfect card against his opponent's red deck: Obstinate Baloth, gaining him four life and returning him to twenty.

With a 4/4 staring him down, all Corvese could muster up was an Ember Hauler before passing the turn back to Chapin.

Still at a healthy life total, Chapin decided to attack in with his Baloth and cast a post-combat Sea-Gate Oracle which drew him into a fifth land.

Chapin thought for a bit, and then cast Pyroclasm. Before Pyroclasm resolved, Corvese sacrificed his Ember Hauler to deal two damage to the Obstinate Baloth and used Grim Lavamancer's ability to deal two damage to the Sea-Gate Oracle, leaving the board clear for Corvese's turn. Corvese, with no play, passed it back to Chapin who cast an Urabrask, the Hidden and attacked Corvese down to eleven.

Corvese did not want to let the Praetor live and used Lightning Bolt and Forked Bolt to take care of it. Chapin cast Preordain, drawing him a Sylvok Replica. On the following turn, Chapin drew and used a Birthing Pod--turning his Sylvok Replica into an Obstinate Baloth.

With no creatures from Corvese, the threat of Chapin's Obstinate Baloth and Birthing Pod were enough to send the match to a third game.

Harry Corvese 1 – 1 Patrick Chapin


Game Three

For the final game of the match, Corvese started off with a mulligan and a turn one Grim Lavamancer. Chapin cast a Birds of Paradise for his first turn, allowing Corvese to cast a turn two Torpor Orb. With the help of Birds of Paradise, Chapin cast a turn two Birthing Pod, paying two life and falling to sixteen. Corvese drew and cast a Searing Blaze, destroying Chapin's Birds of Paradise.

Chapin had another trick up his sleeve: he cast a Lotus Cobra, gained mana off its landfall triggers, used Birthing Pod to turn the Cobra into a Cunning Sparkmage, and used the Cunning Sparkmage to deal with Corvese's Grim Lavamancer.

Not liking the threat that the Cunning Sparkmage provided, Corvese destroyed it with a Forked Bolt. Chapin cast an Obstinate Baloth and a Sylvok Replica, immediately sacrificing it to take care of Corvese's Torpor Orb.

With no creature from Corvese, Chapin drew and cast another Obstinate Baloth, this time gaining him four life. Again, with nothing from Corvese, Chapin tried to attack with his pair of Obstinate Baloths, but Corvese cast an Act of Aggresion, taking one of Chapin's Baloths and blocking the other with it, resulting in both Baloths dyeing.

Still, Corvese did not produce anything, which allowed Chapin to cast an Acidic Slime and use Birthing Pod to turn it into a Wurmcoil Engine. As a last ditch effort, Corvese killed the Engine with a Searing Blaze and a Lightning Bolt. Chapin simply untapped, cast another Obstinate Baloth, turned it into an Urabrask the Hidden and attacked Corvese for the win.

Harry Corvese 1 – 2 Patrick Chapin

Semifinal - Max Tietze vs. Lukasz Musial

by Steve Sadin


Game One

Tietze won the roll, but had to watch in horror as Musial got off to a blisteringly fast start with Mox Opal, Memnite, Ornithopter and Steel Overseer all coming down on turn one.

Max Tietze

Tietze had a Dismember to deal with the Steel Overseer, and a Mana Leak to counter the Signal Pest which Musial cast on his next turn – but this let Musial resolve his backup Steel Overseer.

Tietze didn't want to see things get out of control too quickly, so he bounced Musial's Steel Overseer on his own turn with an Into the Roil.

Musial recast his Steel Overseer, and Tietze deployed the one-card army -- Hero of Bladehold.

With Tietze tapped out Musial was free to resolve a Tempered Steel that made his otherwise wimpy creatures positively huge – and a couple of attack steps (and a Dispatch) later he had locked up the first game.

Lukasz Musial 1 – Max Tietze 0


Game Two


Musial again had an explosive turn one to start the second game, playing out a Inkmoth Nexus, a Vault Skirge, a Ornithopter, a Mox Opal, and a Signal Pest.

Shrine of Loyal Legions got countered by Mana Leak -- and after a few hits from Musial's army of little creatures, Tietze decided to wipe the board clean with a Day of Judgment.

Lukasz Musial

Musial went to rebuild with a Steel Overseer, and a Memnite – while Tietze tried to mount an offense of his own with Hero of Bladehold.

Unfortunately for Tietze, Musial had a Dispatch to deal with his Hero of Bladehold, and by the time that the mana-flooded Tietze drew another spell that could have any impact on the board, he was too far behind for it to matter

Final Result

Lukasz Musial defeats Max Tietze in two games to advance to the Finals of Grand Prix Pittsburgh!

Semifinal - Patrick Chapin vs. Yuuya Watanabe

by Nate Price

It was a homecoming of sorts as Patrick Chapin and Yuuya Watanabe sat down to their semifinals match. For Chapin, it was his first time back in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix since, as he put it, "Clinton was president," an absence long overdue. For Yuuya Watanabe, the semifinals are more of the doormat to his home. Considering the last two Grand Prix, where he finished second and first respectively, the finals table is home sweet home for the Japanese all-star.

Welcome home, guys.

Chapin started off with a Birds of Paradise on the first turn, but Watanabe used a Dismember to crush it before it could even see an untap step. Yuuya made sure we filled our avian quota with a Squadron Hawk, filling his hand back up. Chapin was able to stick and use a mana accelerator with his second-turn Lotus Cobra. The Cobra powered out a Hero of Oxid Ridge, which swung past the Squadron Hawk to smash into Watanabe.

Watanabe got big on his turn, equipping a Sword of Feast and Famine to his Squadron Hawk and attacking. Chapin thought for a minute before tossing an Obstinate Baloth into his graveyard. After a second, the judge stepped over and pointed at the Baloth in Chapin's graveyard.

Um...Baloth, eh...sigh.

"Oh yeah! I totally knew that, by the way," he joked with a smile while Watanabe shook his head and laughed.

Watanabe was undeterred, though. Other than laughing every so often about the previous turn's events, he was business as usual, adding a Blade Splicer and its little metallic friend to the board.

Patrick Chapin 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 0

Both payers got a good laugh about Chapin's discarding the Baloth.

"I thought it was the best card in my hand to go to my graveyard," Chapin said in his defense between games. His old teammate and current Director of R&D Aaron Forsythe had been ribbing him about the discard since the turn it happened. Such a troll.

I promise I meant to do it, Aaron!

Chapin got a very quick start, building his mana up with a pair of Birds of Paradise, as well as a Sylvan Ranger to fetch a land. Those allowed him to get a third-turn Vengevine, which bashed past Watanabe's tapped Squadron Hawk. Rather than take four damage, Watanabe chose to pay four life, using a Dismember to temporarily kill the Vengevine. He then untapped and fished the rest of his Squadron Hawks out of his deck with a second copy, attacking and passing the turn with Mana Leak mana available. The Leak came out immediately as Chapin attempted a Sea Gate Oracle. Chapin was stuck on those three lands and two Birds, so Watanabe wanted to deny him the chance to draw out of it. He then untapped and added an Emeria Angel to his team, immediately playing a land and making a Bird.

Chapin found a second Oracle on the following turn, but no land to follow it. He did have a Lotus Cobra to join the team, too, returning the Vengevine and making sure that he could make the best of any lands he did draw. Watanabe sent his fliers over to even the life totals up at 11 apiece.

Now it was Chapin's turn to do some interesting things. He started by attacking with his Vengevine, which ate a random Bird token. He followed that up with a Phyrexian Metamorph to copy Watanabe's Emeria Angel. After that, he played a Misty Rainforest and sacrificed it. With the sacrifice on the stack, Watanabe used Into the Roil to return the Metamorph to Chapin's hand. With two mana from the Lotus Cobra in his pool, Chapin replayed the Metamorph, recopied the Angel, and passed the turn.

Counting the creatures on the board right now is just impossible.

Watanabe kept adding more fliers to his team. An Arid Mesa netted him two more Bird tokens to saddle up in the fight. He also added the far more impressive Gideon Jura to his side. At this point, Gideon Jura could effectively act as a Chaos, making sure that Watanabe's creatures got through unblocked, keeping his life total safe from Chapin as well.

Chapin was up against the wall. He drew his card and thought for quite some time. He eventually came to the decision to play a Birthing Pod. Afterwards, he sent his whole team at Gideon Jura, which he was obliged to do. Watanabe carefully chose his blocks. After the dust settled, Chapin had lost his Oracle, a token, and his Cobra. Watanabe's Gideon Jura survived with one counter, losing only two Bird tokens in the process. Chapin was fortunate enough to have a land to play, generating a blocker with his faux-meria Angel. He also used his Birthing Pod to turn the Vengevine into an Acidic Slime, killing Watanabe's Celestial Colonnade, preventing him from outright dying on Watanabe's turn.

Don't worry Gideon Jura, Watanabe will keep you safe!

Watanabe sent his whole team, Gideon Jura included. Chapin did what anyone would do in this spot and jumped off the deep end into the deepest part of the tank. Things didn't look good. He chose to chump the Gideon Jura with his Bird and take the rest, dropping to 1. For good measure, Watanabe used his Tetonic Edge to limit Chapin to four lands. Chapin drew his card and began to consider his options. With the path clear for an attack, Chapin sent his Metamorph and his Acidic Slime at Watanabe. He dropped to 4. After that, Chapin used his Birthing Pod to turn his Acidic Slime into an Inferno Titan, frying three of Watanabe's fliers so he could survive another turn. Unfortunately for Chapin, Watanabe held one of his Phantasmal Images, which he used to copy the Inferno Titan and immediately finish Chapin off.

Patrick Chapin 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 1

Chapin's draw was a little less ramp-tastic this time, having only a Sylvan Ranger to net more mana. To accommodate Chapin's slower draw, Watanabe was kind enough to only make a Blade Splicer in the first few turns, not a Squadron Hawk in sight. Chapin began climbing his chain on the third turn, using Phyrexian mana to pay for and activate a Birthing Pod, turning the Sylvan Ranger into a Sea Gate Oracle.

Chapin only associates with creatures that have abilities upon entering the battlefield. And Birds. Birds are cool, too.

He was going to need to climb fast, as Watanabe found a second Blade Splicer, which gave him quite an impressive board. He managed to cast a Vengevine and turn it into an Acidic Slime, killing one of the Golems, but Watanabe had a Phantasmal Image to make his own Slime, killing Chapin's Birthing Pod. Chapin struck back, using a Phantasmal Image of his own to recopy his Acidic Slime, killing Watanabe's lone Celestial Colonnade. He also made a Grim Lavamancer, which let him return his Vengevine to play. At this point, things were approaching parity, but it was a fragile balance. Chapin tried to swing the balance with a Cunning Sparkmage, but Watanabe maintained it with a Mana Leak.

On Watanabe's attack, he sent his Acidic Slime and his 3/3 first-striking Golem to attack. Chapin traded his Slime for the Slime and double-blocked the Golem with his Vengevine and his fake Slime. Watanabe chose to kill the Vengevine, leaving the Phantasmal Image in play. He finished up his turn with a third Blade Splicer and passed the turn. Chapin tried to make another Acidic Slime, but again Watanabe had Mana Leak.

Watanabe swung in with his whole team, forcing Chapin to chump with his Grim Lavamancer and kill a Splicer with his Slime copy. After combat, Watanabe dropped the bombshell. Sun Titan came into play, returning a Phantasmal Image, which became another Sun Titan, which returned a Blade Splicer. What a chain! Chapin looked a little distressed, but still took his turn. He calmy tapped six mana and played an Inferno Titan. The Titan surveyed the field and chose to only kill one of the Golems. After that, he made a Birds of Paradise, returning his Vengevine to play.

Sun Titan, Phantasmal Image, and Blade Splicer make one hell of a good conga line.

Out of cards, Yuuya drew for his turn. Then, the great thinking began. He started moving his creatures around, dancing in and out of the red zone like some elaborate ballet. Eventually, he managed to ome to a conclusion (at the urging of a judge), and sent his copied Sun Titan and a Blade Splicer in. Chapin returned the thought in kind, determined to take just as much time as Watanabe had to determine his blocks. He had to be careful because he had no apparent way to kill the actual Sun Titan, so if he killed the Blade Splicer, it would probably come back. The copy had already returned the Celestial Colonnade he'd killed with a Slime earlier, and the recursion might be too much to handle. Thankfully, he still had an Acidic Slime in play, which might discourage Watanabe from attacking with his Titan.

Eventually, Chapin chose to allow the Blade Splicer to die, killing it with his Vengevine and chumping the Titan. On his next attack, Chapin's Inferno Titan ate the Image and two Blade Splicers, leaving Yuuya with a Titan and a Golem. Things looked like they were starting to turn slightly in Chapin's favor when disaster struck. With only a Phantasmal Image and a random dork as blockers, Chapin found himself a creature short. Watanabe activated his Colonnade and sent his team. He used the Sun Titan to return a Tectonic Edge to play, giving him enough mana to tap his Colonnade and the rest of his lands to use Into the Roil to kill Chapin's Image, leaving him with one blocker for Watanabe's three attackers. He had no answer and conceded, ending an incredibly tight final game.

Patrick Chapin 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 2

Final - Lukasz Musial vs. Yuuya Watanabe

by Nate Price

With Heinz Field just down the street and black and gold flying all around, could you have imagined a better scenario than a Tempered Steel deck making it into the finals of Grand Prix Pittsburgh? Watching Musial climb through the Top 8 without dropping a game made him seem more like a robot, mercilessly crushing all who stood in his way. On the other side of the field, Watanabe had to eke out an incredibly close and complex win to make it to this point. For him, though, that's all in a Grand Prix's work. This marked his third consecutive Grand Prix finals appearance. I'm not talking the last three he has played in (though that's true, too). I'm talking the last three Grand Prix held, which he attended and dominated. Could Musial steel himself against the blades of Watanabe?

Game One

The first game started out incredibly aggressively. Musial struck first, making a pair of Memnites and a Vault Skirge on his first turn. Watanabe had a Squadron Hawk to slow things down, but Musial had a Steel Overseer to make sure his team would be able to attack through on the next turn. Knowing this, Watanabe went searching for an answer finding a Dismember with a Preordain, which he used to kill the inactive Overseer. When Musial found a Contested War Zone on the following turn, he began a dangerous game. He sent his team, attacking Watanabe down to 12, losing his Vault Skirge in the process.

Lukasz Musial, better known as the Man of Steel.

Watanabe made a replacement for his bravely sacrificed Squadron Hawk and passed the turn. Musial untapped and began to think. Needing to keep Watanabe on the defensive, he sent his two Memnites. Watanabe traded his Squadron Hawk for a Memnite, dropping Musial to a lone Memnite. When Musial tried to make a Glint Hawk, Watanabe dropped to 6 to Dismember the last Memnite, killing the Squadron Hawk as well.

Things started to look bad for Musiel. He was in danger of losing his first game of the Top 8. He had no choice but to activate and attack with his pair of Inkmoth Nexuses, putting Watanabe to a meaningless two poison. Watanabe started attacking back, stealing the Contested War Zone from Musial. He then added a Sword of Feast and Famine to his side, giving him more artifacts in play than the Tempered Steel deck. Musial had no choice but to swing back again with his Nexuses, reclaiming his Contested War Zone. Unfortunately, Musial couldn't deal with an equipped Squadron Hawk. Watanabe attacked, untapping the re-stolen Contested War Zone, and used it to cast Gideon Jura. With no way to beat through the defenses Watanabe had assembled, Musial conceded and went for another try.

Lukasz Musial 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 1

Game Two

Taking a page from Tomoharu Saito, Watanabe gave himself a couple quick slaps after presenting his deck to Musial. Musial got a slap in the face of his own, but it was considerably less pleasant. His opening seven cards had no gas whatsoever, and he was forced to mulligan on the play while down a game in the finals of a Grand Prix. I can tell you from personal experience (editor's note: no he can't): that feels miserable. His next six were acceptable, and he started with a first-turn Signal Pest. Watanabe had a Mental Misstep for it, though, and Musial looked understandably displeased. He did manage to make a Shrine of Loyal Legions on the following turn, though, which was incredibly powerful against the slower control decks in the field.

Watanabe's deck wasn't as slow as the other control decks, though. He started to build a Squadron of Squadron Hawks, which could easily overrun Musial before his Shrine became relevant. Musial added a Signal Pest and a Vault Skirge to his board and passed the turn. Watanabe went ahead and added a second Squadron Hawk to his side, leaving a sole land untapped. Into this calm, Musial struck. He cast a Tempered Steel, making his little monsters slightly less little monsters. They swung in, dropping Watanabe to 12. The Steel also added a third counter to his Shrine, which looked more and more like it might decide the game, especially if Watanabe were forced to use an Into the Roil on the Tempered Steel instead of it. He added a Memnite to his board and passed the turn. On his turn, Watanabe added a third Squadron Hawk to his team and passed the turn back with two mana available.

Which I guess makes Yuuya Watanabe kryptonite.

Musial swung in with his team. Watanabe carefully lined each of his Squadron Hawks up with an attacker and returned the Tempered Steel to his hand with Into the Roil. All of the creatures died. Musial made a Glint Hawk Idol and passed the turn. On his turn, Watanabe dealt with the Shrine of Loyal Legions, too, hiding it under an Oblivion Ring. When Musial activated his Glint Hawk Idol and attacked, Watanabe threw his last two Squadron Hawks away, clearing the board. With everything else gone, Watanabe cemented his advantage with an Emeria Angel, making tokens and attacking the helpless Musial. One more turn and it was over.

Yuuya Watanabe defeats Lukasz Musial 2-0 to become the Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011 champion!

Top 5 Cards

Phantasmal Image

Phantasmal Image

There has been no card quite as versatile this weekend as Phantasmal Image. Just like Phyrexian Metamorph before it (or alongside it in some cases), it allows players who can cast it to have a cheap answer to most situations they come across. We've seen it turn into Titans, Acidic Slimes, Heros of both Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge, even Oracle of Mul Daya at one point. And all of that for a mere two mana. In Yuuya Watanabe's winning deck, it combined with Sun Titan to do filthy things, especially against opponents whose creatures had enters the battlefield effects. It was a cornerstone of his deck, a large reason why he won the Grand Prix, and incredibly deserving of the title "Top Card at Grand Prix Pittsburgh."

Tempered Steel

Tempered Steel

Players had almost completely written off Tempered Steel in the weeks leading up to Grand Prix Pittsburgh. But as players started shaving their Nature's Claims from their sideboards, and their Day of Judgments from their maindecks suddenly the hyper aggressive artifact deck became a potent choice. Lukasz Musial took advantage of the fact that he was facing a field full of unprepared opponents, taking his metal army all the way to a second place finish.

Splinter Twin

Splinter Twin

Throughout the weekend, Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin decks were seen tearing up the top tables at Grand Prix Pittsburgh. At the end of Day One, five of the seven undefeated decks sported the killer combo, and while their ranks thinned a bit by the end of the tournament – putting only Matt Nass into the Top 8 – it's clear that Splinter Twin is going to remain one of the defining decks of Standard until the release of Innistrad.

Blade Splicer

Blade Splicer

Blade Splicer played a key role in Yuuya Watanabe's Grand Prix winning Squadron HawkSword of Feast and Famine deck – giving his deck a source of early pressure against control decks, multiple blockers against aggressive decks, and two bodies capable of holding swords against decks that are chock full of removal. Expect to see Blade Splicer rise dramatically in popularity in the coming weeks.

Hero of Oxid Ridge

Hero of Oxid Ridge

Who says that red decks can't beat Timely Reinforcements? While the white sideboard card can be quite a pain for unprepared red decks -- it only takes a single Hero of Oxid Ridge for a player to go from being unable to break through an army of soldier tokens, and Squadron Hawks, to having 4, 10, or even 13 points of unblockable damage.

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