Posted in GRAND PRIX SANTIAGO 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on November 2, 2014

By Josh Bennett

It all comes down to this. On one side, Rodrigo Soto, the hometown pride of Santiago. On the other, Eduardo dos Santos Vieira of Brazil, Magic Online End Boss. While Soto's deck echoes Mike Sigrist's Top 4 deck from Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, Vieira is not playing your standard-issue, Ari-Lax-Certified build of Abzan Midrange. He dips into a graveyard theme and his creature suite includes Hornet Queen and Soul of Theros. Flanked by a wall of spectators, the two competitors shuffled in silence. They kept their opening sevens and were off.

Vieira was first on the board with a Satyr Wayfinder that stocked his graveyard with Siege Rhino and Hornet Queen while giving him a forest. Soto Thoughtseized him. He saw a hand of Hornet Queen, Commune with the Gods, Banishing Light, Soul of Theros and two lands. He took the Commune, trying to keep Vieira from finding the mighty Whip of Erebos. Vieira had no play on three land and passed.

Soto dropped a scryland and finally got on the board with Heir of the Wilds. Vieira declined to spend his Banishing Light on it. He simply played out his fourth land and passed. Soto summoned Anafenza, the Foremost, and that certainly warranted a Banishing. Soto replaced her with a Fleecemane Lion, and supercharged his Heir with counters from Abzan Charm.

Soto (left) and Vieira (right)

Vieira was obliged to spend a second Banishing Light to stop the Fleecemane before it could go monstrous, and summoned an Elvish Mystic before passing. Next turn he would have enough mana for the Queen of all Hornets. Soto attacked with his heir. Vieira chumped with his Satyr. Hero's Downfall killed the Elf, hoping to keep him off Hornet Mana. Vieira summoned Soul of Theros instead, but that fell when it blocked Heir of the Wilds. Soto even had the Bile Blight to keep the Heir. He brought out another copy of Anafenza before ending his turn. Vieira found a land and slammed Hornet Queen. Soto was stuck keeping his creatures home. He brought out Sorin, Solemn Visitor and made a token.

Here, Vieira paused to consider his next move. He decided to keep all his troops at home and summon a second Soul of Theros. After playing a land he was empty-handed. Soto gave up his Sorin to make a second token, hit for two, and then exiled the Soul with Abzan Charm. The time had come for Vieira, and he turned all his fliers sideways, then tapped out to activate the Soul of Theros in his graveyard. Soto paused to read the card, then accepted the fifteen damage. He drew his card, and conceded.

Vieira 1 - Soto 0

Vieira was first on the board with a Fleecemane Lion, and even got to hit with it thanks to Glare of Heresy on Soto's Anafenza. It soon fell to Abzan Charm however, as did the Siege Rhino that stepped into its place. Meanwhile Soto was getting in for two a turn with Courser of Kruphix. Vieira's draw wasn't developing. He made a Fleecemane Lion but could only spend a turn making it monstrous after Soto summoned a Siege Lion.

Eduardo dos Santos Vieira

Soto was willing to wait and build up his army. Anafenza signed on to the team, a double dagger thanks to her exiling creatures bound for Vieira's graveyard. Vieira's next play of Satyr Wayfinder was a little sad. He added a second Fleecemane Lion. Soto brought out Rakshasa Deathdealer. Finally, Vieira found something to let him break the standoff - Hornet Queen. Unfortunately for him Soto had Drown in Sorrow in hand, and it swept the bees away. Vieira made his second Lion monstrous, but Soto was too far ahead. He soon succumbed.

Vieira 1 - Soto 1

The crowd was standing three-deep at this point, craning their necks to watch the deciding game. vieira had a turn-two Sylvan Caryatid. Soto made a Fleecemane Lion. Next came Courser of Kruphix for Vieira, and when Soto swung with his Lion, he risked a block. Soto showed him Abzan Charm to make the Lion a 5/5. Vieira had Glare of Heresy to send it packing the following turn.

Soto upgraded to Siege Rhino. Vieira did the same. Hero's Downfall from Soto cleared a path for four damage. With Soto tapped low, Vieira took the opportunity to play and immediately monstrous his Fleecemane Lion. Soto however had been drawing nothing but gas. Four lands were all he needed. He summoned a second Rhino. Vieira made another monstrous Lion, hoping that they would provide a bulwark to his drawing the cards he needed.

Unfortunately for him, Soto's next play was Anafenza, who would need answering before Vieira could start loading his graveyard with creatures. Vieira brought out another Rhino and passed. Soto was content to play it slow, bringing out Courser of Kruphix and passing.

Vieira untapped and played his last cards, a land and Whip of Erebos. He reanimated his Siege Rhino, dropping Soto to eight. He swung all-out. Four four-power creatures meant that Soto had limited options. He doubled up on the living Rhino with Courser and Anafenza to clear it out. His Rhinos stopped the Lions, and he took four from the unblocked Rhino, down to just four life. Vieira's lifetotal skyrocketed. He chose to kill off the Courser.

The Final

Soto still hadn't found a fifth land. Worse, the mana he did have included two painlands, so he was very tight on what he could do. He brought out a fresh Courser but had only a useless Hero's Downfall on top. He Erased the Whip and passed. Vieira drew his next card slowly, then peeked at it. Utter End. He tapped four and exiled one of the Rhinos. That meant that when he sent his two monstrous Lions, Soto would have to lose one of his creatures to stay alive. He chose to chump with Anafenza.

Still no help on top of his deck. He took some pain to bring out Fleecemane Lion as a chump-blocker. Adding insult to his situation was the fact that Vieira next drew a Courser of his own and was immediately rewarded with a free land. Soto called out for a land but his deck spurned him. The door was closing. The Lions kept coming. Another turn and it had shut completely. Soto extended his hand in defeat.

Eduardo dos Santos Vieira defeats Rodrigo Soto 2-1