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.

Brazil takes on Argentina in the semifinals here at Grand Prix Santiago. Dos Santos Vieira, as L1X0, is famous on Magic Online, and has a couple of real-life GP Top 8s to his name. Twelve months ago, his Argentinian opponent, Nicolas de Nicola, reached exactly this stage, before being eliminated. To have returned to the semifinals in two successive years is a great achievement, but he certainly wants more. Vieira is running a typical Abzan Midrange deck, featuring both Doomwake Giant and Eidolon of Blossoms, while de Nicola will battle with the Abzan clan too. Grindfest ahoy!

Game 1

De Nicola (left) and Vieira (right)

For much of the early game, Vieira was ahead. He was ahead one Courser of Kruphix to none, and ahead two Siege Rhino to one. He was also working towards a Whip of Erebos. De Nicola was dominant in less exciting categories, like his 2-0 lead on Hero's Downfall. Viera built up a 26-8 lead, finding a third Siege Rhino to make it 29-5. De Nicola effectively negated that play with a second Rhino of his own, while Vieira continued to probe for ways to turn his Whip into a win.

Soul of Theros was the difference maker. De Nicola made sure he understood what the powerful Mythic could do for Vieira, and in this case, it won Vieira the game.

Vieira 1 – 0 De Nicola

Game 2

De Nicola made the early running with a Fleecemane Lion. It wasn't long, though, before Vieira was drawing multiple cards from Eidolon of Blossoms. Unfortunately, there are several unusual interactions in the deck – cards from the Eidolon, cards on the top from Courser of Kruphix – and the simple truth is that sometimes people forget. As de Nicola sat patiently, Vieira was taken aside by the Head Judge. He had received multiple warnings through the day, and had now fallen foul of the rules a third time. That upgraded the warning to a game loss, meaning that, in the most unfortunate of circumstances, it was time for game three.

Vieira 1 – 1 De Nicola

Game 3

Eduardo dos Santos Vieira

De Nicola had Courser of Kruphix early in the decider, but a Thoughtseize from Vieira showed him distinctly land-heavy. Once Drown in Sorrow had been discarded, de Nicola was left with four land and just a single spell in hand. Of course, the Courser could expect to dig towards plenty of goodness – like the Siege Rhino he found on top of his deck. For Vieira, it was back to the Whip plan, and he also got Soul of Theros into play. Interactions with Whip of Erebos are many and awesome, including getting back Hornet Queen. Sure, the Queen dies, but the workers sure hang around to make things awkward for your opponent.

It seemed odd to suggest that a board of Fleecemane Lion, Courser of Kruphix, and Siege Rhino was being outclassed, but that was the position de Nicola seemed to be in. Vieira activated Soul of Theros, taking huge chunks out of de Nicola's life total, leaving him at 6. Another Fleecemane Lion off the top wasn't the answer de Nicola needed, and that game loss wasn't fatal for Vieira after all. For the second year running, de Nicola fell in the semifinals, and Vieira had one more match to play – the last match of the weekend.

Vieira 2 – 1 De Nicola