This was it. After two days, after fifteen rounds plus two elimination rounds, after Sealed Decks had been built and dismantled, and after three Booster Drafts, it had come to this. Of the original 2,005 players only two remained, locked in one final battle to decide it all. The winner would walk away with the title and trophy as well as the grand prize of 10,000 Dollars, while the loser would have to console himself with half of that.
On one side of the table sat none other than Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, a veteran of ten Pro Tour Top 8s with a title from Pro Tour San Juan 2010 and a member of the Hall of Fame since 2011, currently on the Platinum level in the Pro Players Club and ranked No. 8 in the world. The Brazilian had already been the most accomplished player in the room at the beginning of the weekend and this, his nineteenth, Grand Prix Top 8 almost didn't register as a change in his career stats, although a third GP win might.
Standing in his way was Yusuf Kemal Vefa. Apart from an undefeated run on Day 1 of Grand Prix Rimini last year, Vefa hadn't really made big waves on the GP level up to now. But he could look back on a ton of Pro Tour and World Magic Cup experience, having been part of the Turkish national team "for something like the last twenty years," sometimes as the captain, sometimes by winning a Qualifier. When told that he'd likely be captain again due to the Pro Points awarded this weekend, he chuckled. "You're right, that's what it's all about!"
The Top 8 draft Vefa had left with what he freely admitted was "a mediocre deck." His green-white build featured two Sram, Senior Edificer, three Auras, as well as two Restoration Specialist to retrieve them, and he probably was understating the deck's quality. But it was no match for Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's black-red deck, chock-full of removal, highlighted by three Daring Demolition and Quicksmith Rebel.
The early game was all Damo da Rosa's, leading with Dhund Operative, Prakhata Pillar-Bug, and Weldfast Monitor. Vefa kept up well enough for a while, with Sram, Senior Edificer followed by Decomission for the first artifact creature and Revoke Privileges for the second.
However, now Damo da Rosa summoned Quicksmith Rebel and granted Weldfast Monitor some new and quite shocking privileges. Vefa tried to stabilize with Reservoir Walker, but Damo da Rosa's Snare Thopter only increased the pressure further.
Then Vefa summoned Multiform Wonder. As a flying blocker this allowed him to survive Damo da Rosa's following attack on 6 life. The turn afterward, Vefa finally made his comeback—and made Multiform Wonder even more wondrous by enchanting it with Aerial Modification!
Over the next couple of turns, the flying, at times life linked, 5/5 brought Vefa back to 20 and also played its part when Quicksmith Rebel found itself being Preyed Upon. Yet Vefa's survival and offense hinged singularly on this one enchanted creature ... and Damo da Rosa's deck still included three copies of Daring Demolition.
Indeed, this was why everyone considered Damo da Rosa's deck to be superior—in the abstract. In this concrete instance, the Brazilian was unable to find a removal spell in time, and lost a game which had seemed to be all but won not that long ago.
(8) Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0-1 Yusuf Kemal Vefa
In the second game, Damo da Rosa didn't get off to a great start, as his first four lands were all Mountains. Nevertheless, he managed to get some serious damage in, when he summoned Scrapper Champion and had Quicksmith Rebel on his following turn to go along with his Implement of Malice. This way his double striker was even able to attack into Vefa's 4/4 Peema Outrider.
Unfortunately for Damo da Rosa, Vefa had Revoke Privileges to stop Scrapper Champion and the green-white deck was surprsingly full of creatures which just didn't die to the Quicksmith Rebel-given ability. Peema Outrider didn't and neither did Multiform Wonder or Aegis Automaton, although the latter was taken out by Fatal Push eventually.
More creatures were played on each side and the ground battle ground to a halt. Multiform Wonder, with the investment of two of Vefa's three energy counters, got in for 3 damage and 3 life to leave Damo da Rosa at 9.
On the other hand, the direct damage from Quicksmith Rebel added up and when Welder Automaton joined in the fun Vefa was on the clock. He got rid of the Rebel with Universal Solvent, but his life was draining away still. In fact, Welder Automaton, now powered by eight lands on Damo da Rosa's side, was exactly one turn away from taking the game, when Vefa found an answer ...
The best answer is another question, they say, and it certainly was so in this case. Vefa put Aerial Modification on his 4/4 Peema Outrider, gave Multiform Wonder flying, and attacked for exactly 9 points of damage to take the game.
(8) Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0-2 Yusuf Kemal Vefa