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

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Two tables, and many combinations of possibilities. The pairings:

Cristobal Rosas Antipa (36 points) v Eduardo dos Santos Vieira (34 points)

Pavel Matousek (33 points) v Daniel Gaete Quezada (33 points)

For Cristobal, this was a bitter pill to swallow. The pair-down meant that he had to play this last round, rather than guaranteeing a Top 8 spot with an Intentional Draw. His opponent was the awesome Magic Online Brazilian powerhouse Eduardo dos Santos Vieira, known as L1ch0 online. It was possible that Antipa could reach the Top 8 even with a loss. On the other table, things were at least slightly more clear cut. 33 points would not be enough for either the Czech Matousek, nor the Chilean Quezada. A win would take them into the 36 point tiebreak puzzle.

Quezada would be likely to make the early running, since he was on Boss Sligh, while Matusek was cast in the control role with Mardu Midrange. Dos Santos Vieira was on Green-Black Enchantress, while Antipa was the second Mardu Midrange player in the feature match area.

Quezada was indeed fast out of the blocks. His early plays were dealt with by Chained to the Rocks and Lightning Strike, but his midgame quickly got out of hand. Matousek offered little resistance beyond turn three, and it was Quezada one step closer to a possible Top 8.

Matousek 0 – 1 Quezada

Vieira (left) and Antipa (right)

On table two, Vieira had plenty of powerful cards visible to the watching crowd, but most of them were in his graveyard, including two Whip of Erebos, and Ediolon of Blossoms. He did at least have a Siege Rhino, until Crackling Doom added it to his graveyard. Antipa didn't have a full graveyard. His permanents were where he wanted, in play, and featured Sorin, Solemn Visitor, which he rode all the way up to Ultimate territory before sacrificing. The key for Vieira was a seventh land, or the lack of one, since he had Hornet Queen stuck in hand. He Whipped out Satyr Wayfinder to, er, 'find the way', setting himself up for the Queen on the following turn. The rest of the game took a while, but Soul of Theros coming out of the graveyard via Whip of Erebos gave the Brazilian the lead.

Antipa 0 – 1 Vieira

Matousek (left) and Quezada (right)

Back in Matousek v Quezada, Matousek had found a better early defense for game two. Magma Spray and Crackling Doom had kept his life total high, and a Hordeling Outburst gave him plenty of fodder for blocking. After Quezada had got both Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, and Butcher of the Horde off the battlefield, he was left with a lone Frenzied Goblin. Any reasonable draw from here should see Matousek force a game 3. Butcher of the Horde? Yep, that's a reasonable draw.

Matousek 1 – 1 Quezada

Now the focus was firmly back on Quezada. The mono-Red player would get to be on the play for the crucial third game, and the outcome could well be more or less set by the end of turn three. Would Matousek find the necessary early defense to let 'midrange' live up to its name? Well, six land and a Hordeling Outburst doesn't sound like the right answer to me, and it didn't to Matousek either. Four land, a Goblin Rabblemaster, and a Lightning Strike? Keep.

Akroan Crusader turn one, Monastery Swiftspear and Titan Strength turn two, attack for seven! I said it might be almost over on turn three, but this felt over after turn two! Lightning Strike triggered Prowess, and Matousek was at five life on turn three! Turn four – that's game boys! Daniel Gaete Quezada reaches 36 points, and now has to hope his tiebreaks hold up. For the excellent Matousek, it's on to the next tournament.

Matousek 1 – 2 Quezada

We were still early in game two in Antipa v Vieira, with the Chilean Antipa looking to even the score. Vieira got Whip of Erebos going, and then a key moment came when he Thoughtseized Antipa, to see a truly stocked hand of Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeker, End Hostilities, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, and Lightning Strike. Crucially, Antipa had only four land. Vieira took End Hostilities, and piled in. Now there was Soul of Theros and a Hornet Queen (plus followers) to go with that Whip of Erebos. Antipa didn't find a fifth land, but he did find Anger of the Gods to deal with the Hornet squad.

These were desperate times for Antipa, now at 4 life. It was to be his last turn of the Swiss rounds, but not necessarily of the tournament. Vieira reached 37 points with his victory, and a certain spot in the Top 8. For Antipa, he was into the scrum of 36 points, waiting to see just when the music would stop, and all the chairs would be filled for the quarterfinals.

Antipa 0 – 2 Vieira