The elimination rounds proceeded at blistering speed, largely due to the fact that there were 16 copies of Wild Nacatl in the Top 8. In under an hour and a half, Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas and Vagner William Casatti had secured their seats the finals, where they will compete in the final match of Grand Prix Porto Alegre.
This matchup isn't unfamiliar to De Jesus Freitas at all. In fact, he only just experienced it ten minutes ago, when he dispatched Alejandro Cesa, who was also piloting Naya Burn just like Casatti was.
To boil it down, the onus was on De Jesus Freitas to fend off Casatti's early threats. He had the stronger late game anyway, and will have no problems dominating the board as long as he preserved his life totals. Exchanging blows was the worst idea for De Jesus Freitas, a notion that Casatti would have loved.
Fat creatures like Tarmogoyf, Loxodon Smiter and Knight of the Reliquary will stymie Casatti's attempts to cross the red zone, but with so much burn in his deck all he really needs is to sneak in for 3 or 5 damage with Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear and land Eidolon of the Great Revel to force a couple more. Lava Spike, Boros Charm and Atarka's Command were all part of that grand plan.
In addition, De Jesus Freitas' mana base will also play a part in accelerating his doom, owing to the high number of fetchlands and shocklands that fuel Casatti's cause.
However, Casatti had a confession.
Could these cards be his downfall?
Regardless, both friends wished each other good luck, as they compete for the coveted honor of being a Grand Prix Champion.
Laying Kessig Wolf Run, De Jesus Freitas added Knight of the Reliquary to the board, now a 4/4. Casatti untapped and laid Sacred Foundry to kill Wild Nacatl with Lightning Bolt, and attacked with both his creatures. Knight of the Reliquary blocked, and Atarka's Command forced the trade, but he had a replacement copy.
After this crucial turn, De Jesus Freitas was at 9, Casatti at 15.
When Scavenging Ooze joined the board, it was clear as day that victory was out of reach for Casatti. He watched as Scavenging Ooze chomped away on both graveyards, restoring De Jesus Freitas' life total in the process. Knight of the Reliquary grew to 5/5 and Monastery Swiftspear was sent on a Path to Exile.
“I can't win from this point on. Let's move on,” Casatti lamented as he revealed the 2 Mountains and Lava Spike from his hand, lightly flooded.
Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas 1 - Vagner William Casatti 0
Stuck on 1 land, De Jesus Freitas was forced to use Path to Exiles on the Goblin Guide, as well as a freshly-summoned Wild Nacatl. After baiting out the removal, Casatti finally felt safe to drop Grim Lavamancer, which he had been sandbagging for a few turns.
Vagner William Casatti evens the score!
When De Jesus Freitas drew Noble Hierarch, Casatti killed it with Rift Bolt to keep him stuck on one mana. Eidolon of the Great Revel was the final nail in the coffin and De Jesus Freitas acknowledged that it was over.
Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas 1 - Vagner William Casatti 1
The tournament was in its final throes and both players were visibly nervous. After all, this was a pretty cutthroat matchup where every turn, every mana and every single point of damage mattered.
De Jesus Freitas prayed for a good hand, but was cursed with a mulligan. It was the final game of the day, and after claiming Game 1, he really didn't want to go down just like that.
Laying Stomping Ground untapped and passing the turn was unorthodox, but it was something De Jesus Freitas opted to do, fearing hasty creatures in Casatti's deck. Unfortunately for him, Casatti's creatureless draw was laden with burn spells.
De Jesus Freitas goes down to 12.
When Voice of Resurgence hit play, Casatti thought hard about whether to cast Searing Blaze. If he did, that would knock De Jesus Freitas down to 9. Accompanied with the Lightning Bolt and two suspended Rift Bolts, that was lethal and even granting De Jesus Freitas two Elemental tokens didn't matter!
Unflinching Courage for the win!
Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas 2 - Vagner William Casatti 1
Congratulations to Marco Paulo De Jesus Freitas!