Two powerhouse teams and two squeakers into Day 2 of Grand Prix Portland. On one side sat a hall of famer in Jelger Wiegersma alongside Matt Costa and Jamie Parke, and on the other was the dangerous trio of Alex Majlaton, Joe Demestrio and Ben Friedman.
Both teams had to sweat out their entry into Day 2. For Majlaton's team, which took its second loss later in the day on Saturday, it took a narrow win in the final round of Day 1 to sneak into the second day of competition. For Weigersma's it was even closer.
"We were 2-2 at one point and one of our wins was a no-show," Costa told Demestrio during their match. "We were kind of demoralized, but things worked out."
That they did, and with just two undefeated teams after Day 1 both of these groups entered the day with Top 4 hopes alive.
Jelger Wiegersma vs. Alex Majlaton
Weigersma curiously decided against blocking when Majlaton served in with his flier, but his reasons for trading damage became clear when he followed up with a Goblin Rabblemaster and then a Krenko's Enforcer. The sudden goblin army forced Majlaton into some difficult blocks, and though a Devouring Light removed the intimidating goblin and a Pillar of Light took care of the follow-up Siege Wurm the steady stream of attackers provided by the Rabblemaster proved too much for Majlaton.
That sent the pair into Game 2, where a pair of creatures into Ajani Steadfast looked to be a great start for Majlaton. But even that couldn't match Wiegersma's lightning-fast opening that featured the Rabblemaster and Living Totem on Turn 4. The Ajani took one attack for the team but Majlaton couldn't answer the ever-growing army on Wiegersma's side, and the hall of famer took the match.
Matt Costa vs. Joe Demestrio
Game 1 quickly turned into a stall, with Costa's Necrogen Scudder holding Demestrio's army of red creatures at bay. Of course, that changed quickly when a Cone of Flame wiped Costa's board and cleared the way for Demestrio's to decisively end Game 1.
Game 2 went much more how Costa's controlling blue-black deck preferred, and his curve early was impressive. A first-turn Typhoid Rats into a Turn 2 Child of Night and an on-time Chasm Skulker set the tone early.
But Demestrio fought back. A steady stream of goblins powered by the Obelisk of Urd gave him a chance to take an unlikely victory even as Costa continued to draw cards with Divination and Jace's Ingenuity while growing the Skulker. An end-of-turn Stoke the Flames brought Costa down to 5 life and gave Demestrio an opportunity to find a winning card on top of his deck, but Costa revealed his greatest trick last: Using Flesh to Dust on his own Chasm Skullker to create 15 1/1 squids and take down the game.
Game 3 showcased the power of the mono-red deck in Team Sealed. Demestrio played Altac Blood Seeker into Krenko's Enforcer, then played both Lightning Generator and Stoke the Flames on Costa's Gargoyle Sentinel to start attacking. A Gravedigger seemed like the perfect answer for Costa but it couldn't match up the Hoarding Dragon that picked up an Inferno Fist to deal the last points of damage.
Jamie Parke vs. Ben Friedman
That left things to Parke and Friedman to decide the match. They shuffled up for a sure-to-be-tense Game 3 after trading games between Friedman's black-green deck and Parke's white-blue deck of evasive threats.
Parke took control of the board early on, and by the fourth turn Friedman was staring down six power of creatures and unwilling to cast the Necrogen Scudder in his hand since his life was already at 13 thanks to the unblockable Amphin Pathmage.
A Rotfeaster Maggot slowed the bleeding, and Friedman continued to populate his side of the board, unaware of the trap he was walking into.
That trap revealed itself a few turns later, when Parke found his seventh land and revealed the devastating card he was holding: Mass Calcify.
The sweeper left Parke with three 1/1s against Friedman's empty board and neither player with cards in hand. It would be a war between the tops of both players' decks, but a war where Parke had the upper hand.
That is, until Friedman slammed a Hornet Queen freshly drawn from the top of his deck with a scream of "Dealer!" as he did so. The hornets were too much for Parke, and he was stung to death on the next turn to give the match to Friedman's side and move the team to 8-2.
Alex Majlaton/Joe Demestrio/Ben Friedman defeat Jelger Wiegersma/Matt Costa/Jamie Parke 2-1.