Grand Prix-Rio Was Hot, Hot, Hot!

The competition at Grand Prix-Rio, held at the Museu Histórico Nacional, amply demonstrated the warmth and passion of the people of Brazil. February is the peak of summer in Brazil, and the heat was prevalent in the buildings as well as in the numerous red-burn decks that competitors brought to play. In fact, no color was more common among the 638 competitors than red. Despite the lack of air conditioning, people eagerly came from cities all around the country to watch and play a game they truly enjoy. Even between rounds, players were competing in side events to win more dual lands from the Revised Edition prize packs. In addition to the large number of Brazilian players, competitors came from other South American countries, as well as from North America, Europe, and Asia, to compete for $10,000 in prize money, plus travel and lodging expenses to Pro Tour-Los Angeles.

Walking through the museum was like taking a walk through the past. Some players brought decks containing nothing but dual lands, showing no fear of Blood Moon or Wasteland. Others who performed well at the event played the "Prison" deck, which uses Winter Orb and Icy Manipulators to completely lock down an opponent, and Necropotence to bring out the dreaded Drain Life. Other players who performed well used combinations like Gerrard's Wisdoms and Earthquakes or Counterspells and Ophidians. Many participants went away with a new appreciation for some cards they had never playing with before.

The top player from Brazil was Carlos Jeucken de Almeida from Rio de Janeiro, who finished fourth, taking home $600. De Almeida, who began playing Magic with Revised Edition, played a red Sligh deck with the addition of Death Spark for some recursion. After the event, de Almeida admitted that he was a bit nervous and had made a few mistakes. However, he was happy to have had the opportunity to play against top players, and felt the Grand Prix was a good lesson for future competition.

Unfortunately, passion for the game could not make up for lack of experience at this level of play. The finals were dominated by Americans, whose decks relied on cards that were perhaps less appreciated in this region. Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz (in his second consecutive Grand Prix weekend) and Jon Finkel met in the finals with two very similar decks; each player used a combination of Land Tax and Tithe to pull all of the land out of their decks to pump up their creatures enchanted with Empyrial Armor. They also used the white-weenie beatdown approach, forcing opponents to deal with them or watch from the sidelines. However, the Brazilians were very gracious hosts and showed good sportsmanship even though they couldn't match these tough decks.

Finkel eventually emerged as the victor, defeating O'Mahoney-Schwartz two games to one. Despite bringing a Prison deck, Finkel ended up borrowing a deck from Darwin Kastle, who was busy winning the Duelist Invitational. A veteran of the Antiquities era of Magic, Finkel has a reputation for leaving opponents wondering if their decks really work. Ironically, his toughest opponent of the weekend proved to be his cab driver, who brought him to the wrong museum on the first day. His tardiness incurred a first-round loss, which would be Finkel's only loss of the entire tournament.

At the awards ceremony, it was clear by the applause how much the players from Brazil appreciated both the local players who made the Final 8 as well as their guests from around the world. Each of the Top 8 players were rewarded by Devir (Wizards of the Coast's Brazilian partner) with paid trips to Pro Tour-Los Angeles in March, in addition to their cash prizes. Many participants and onlookers were emotionally moved by the success of the event and excited about the new level of enthusiasm for Magic in Brazil.

Rank Name Prize Money
1 Jon Finkel $1,700
2 Steven O'Mahoney Schwartz $1,200
3 Carlos Jeucken De Almeida $600
4 Adam Katz $600
5 Leandro Buck $375
6 Romario Tavora Britto $375
7 Rodrigo Cesar Barbosa $375
8 Julio Cesar Conceicao $375
9 Paulo Henrique Miranda $250
10 Jose Ricardo P. Castro $250
11 Celso M. Hino $250
12 Raphael Pinto Da Rocha $250
13 George Hirokawa $250
14 Thiago Machado $250
15 Felipe De Andrade Manuel $250
16 Gustavo Veiga Morale $250
17 Rafael Dei Svaldi $150
18 Rene Luis Crema $150
19 Sergio Soles Checa $150
20 Dennis Nichols $150
21 Marcelo Leone $150
22 Diego Forte Ingracio $150
23 Andres Werner $150
24 David De Aguiar $150
25 Edson Correa Tavares $150
26 Robert Nieves $150
27 Raul Abreu De Assis $150
28 Marcelo F. Cordiolli $150
29 Christiano Pereira $150
30 Rurik Galimberti $150
31 Marcelo Carvalho Porto $150
32 Fernando De S Fernandes $150
33 Arnaldo Camara Quagliato
34 Matheus Chaud Castro Quinta
35 Eduardo Valentim Belotto
36 Diogo Macedo Rollwagen
37 Marcelo De Moraes Antunes
38 Alexandre Aguena Arakaki
39 Douglas Rodrigues Ferreira
40 Rui Mariani
41 Felipe Vasquez
42 Daniel Ravon
43 Andre Leao Barreto
44 Sergio Longo Junior
45 Ronei Dos Santos Passos
46 Ralf Brilhante Alvim
47 Daniel Hiroshi Beppu
48 Phillip Adolf Do Nascimento Massi
49 Rafael Erberard
50 Guilherme Dei Svaldi
51 Thiago Montenegro
52 Alexander Correa Guimaraes
53 Victor Galimbertti
54 Eduardo Leme E Lima
55 Raphael Colombiano Garcia
56 Paulo Sergio Medeiros
57 Marco Aurelio De Almeida Filho
58 Leonardo Vieira Pretti
59 Bruno R. A. Juliani
60 Regis Fernandes De Farias
61 Pedro Ribeiro
62 Fabio Lemos Stahlschmidt
63 Alex Tavares De Souza
64 Joao Carlos Gouveia