BREAKING THROUGH THE BUBBLE

Posted in GRAND PRIX PORTLAND 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 10, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

The end of Saturday is always a stressful time for players trying to sneak into Day 2, and Grand Prix Portland upped the stakes for the pros playing with each other. With Portland being the first event of the new Premier Play season, any Pro Points earned are magnified as they try to build an strong start early in the marathon race to reach the Silver, Gold or Platinum thresholds.

The first step was being able to play again on Sunday, and that left several notable teams needing a victory in the final round.

Here's how some of those matches shook out.

No. 11 Yuuya Watanabe/Kenji Tsumura/Tomoharu Saito vs. Justin Aubertin/Bryan Eleyet/Jeremy Lochridge

As Watanabe began his third game with a Sungrace Pegasus into Ajani's Pridemate, things looked up for the world's 11th-ranked player. But a Razorfoot Griffin that was soon Marked by Honor with the Pridemate sitting at a critical four power instead of five. That meant the Griffin could play both offense and defense with impunity, and a land-light Watanabe couldn't dig out of the hole.

A Saito win meant that three tight matches would all come down to the final game between hall of famer Kenji Tsumura taking on Jeremy Lochridge. In the end Tsumura's green fatties were just fat enough to break through to give him the win and his team a ticket into Day 2.

The powerhouse team from Japan squeaked out a close victory to advance to Day 2.

Christian Calcano/Daniel Gardner/Miguel Gatica vs. No. 15 Jacob Wilson/No. 23 Shahar Shenhar/Matt Nass

The critical match in the round was the one between Matt Nass and Christian Calcano, as Nass' white-red beatdown deck ran into Calcano's bomby green-based deck.

Nass made some inroads on Calcano's life total and he even managed to take out the Soul of Zendikar. Of course, that wasn't enough to actually stop it from taking over the game, and the final Beast token was enough to force Nass to concede the match and drop the trio out of Day 2 contention.

Two strong teams. Only one would advance to Sunday's competition.

Chris Fennell/Seth Manfield/Frank Skarren vs. Hutch Brock/Joel Gilmer/Peter Maginnis

Frank Skarren dispatched his opponent fairly quickly, leaving Manfield and Fennell to battle for one more win to send the group into Day 2.

As Fennell battled against Hutch Brock, Manfield navigated an extremely tricky third game against Joel Gilmer. Despite a Spectra Ward attached to a Jalira, Master Polymorphist, he was in trouble of dying to a Nightfire Giant. But a timely Jace, the Living Guildpact allowed him to delay the seemingly-inevitable. A follow-up Peel from Reality to save his Welkin Tern from a Festergloom gave him a window to attack for damage, and when the replayed Nightfire Giant was one damage short of dealing lethal damage the Jalira crashed through to send the team into Day 2.

Seth Manfield worked his way out of a tricky situation to send his team into Day 2.

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