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

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Round 5 featured a tough battle for Rob Kofsky, Michael Scovazzo, and Monique Garraud, as they aimed to improve upon their undefeated record against No. 18 Ranked Player Chris Fennell, Seth Manfield, and two-time Limited Grand Prix champion Frank Skarren.

How did these matches play out? Let's find out.

Left to right: Monique Garraud, Michael Scovazzo, and Rob Kofsky

Seth Manfield vs. Michael Scovazzo

The match-up between Manfield and Scovazzo went lightning fast, as the second game featured Manfield's best "make-a-monster"Theros impression thanks to Heliod's Pilgrim. A Dauntless River Marshal picked up two auras, including Spectra Ward, which left Scovazzo helpless as Manfield's marshall made quick work of his opponent.

Frank Skarren vs. Monique Garraud

Skarren's first game did not start off strong for him, as his double-Forest draw left him stalled on mana as well as the ability to cast any of his white spells. Garraud, in the meantime, built up a board to point where finding white mana wouldn't save Skarren, as an Inspired Charge from Garraud sealed the deal before Skarren would rebound.

Left to right: No. 18 Ranked Player Chris Fennell, Seth Manfield, Frank Skarren

The second game was a bit of a reverse in terms of one-sided games, as Skarren curved with Sunblade Elf, Runeclaw Bear, and Midnight Guard against a slower start from Garraud, whose primary offense in Geist of the Moors was dispatched by Plummet.

Raise the Alarm, and then Sunblade Elf's ability made sure Garraud could not come back into the game , even with Triplicate Spirits.

As for the third game...more on that in a minute.

Chris Fennell vs. Rob Kofsky

The first game was a brutal affair, as Kofsky unleashed a fourth-turn Siege Wurm into fifth-turn Hunt the Weak on Fennell's largest creature. Fennnell used Generator Servant to Lightning Strike the target in response but still had no way to deal with the 5/5 trampler, which ultimately sent him to his sideboard for the second game, where Fennell's Scrapyard Mongrel went the distance against Kofsky's slow draw.

Then, during sideboarding for the third and final game, Fennell flashed me a host of defenders, as he speculated what to change in his deck. Many cards came in, and many went out.

Fennell's draw was slow in the third game against a second-turn Borderland Marauder, and at 3 life, Fennell risked casting Nightfire Ghoul, stonewalling Kofsky's Marauder and two other creatures, forcing him to go over the top with Siege Wurm.

This walked into a Festergloom and then Necrobite on the next turn, allowing Fennell to leave Kofsky with a very lonely Marauder. When Kofsky had little follow-up, Covenant of Blood on the Marauder got Fennell out of burn range, as the game slowly began to reverse.

While Kofsky forced the Ghoul off the table with Inferno Fist on his Marauder, threatening a lethal attack if Fennell did not put his Ghoul in the way, he was out of gas. Two Wall of Fires stabilized the ground and Shadowcloak Vampire gave Fennell a way to fight back.

Over the course of a few turns, and thanks to another Covenant of Blood, the game was over.

Fennell/Manfield/Skarren wins over Kofsky/Scovazzo/Garraud

After the match, Fennell discussed the changes to his deck in that match."My deck just got so weird. It's now all removal and walls," he said, revealing the slew of cards that went in and out before the third game.

"I boarded out 11 cards," Fennell said, revealing a Mountain, Generator Servant, Altac Blood Seeker, two Bronze Sables, Krenko's Enforcers, and pretty much anything that dies to Forge Devil on its own. Replacing them was a large set of walls (mainly walls made of fire), removal, and creatures with high toughness.

When asked where they thought their overall Sealed pool ranked, Fennell expressed some optismism but remained grounded on their honest chances.

"It's a 6 out of 10 I think," he explained. "I think that we built correctly. These card pools are deep so it's really hard to build optimally. Also sideboarding is really important as you saw in this match."