Grand Prix San Diego 2011

Lurking back in the pack of the Rookie of the Year crowd with just 8 points the California native Shahar Shenhar catapulted himself into the thick of the race with a thrilling victory over 1044 other competitors here at Grand Prix San Diego. Not only did he get himself to 18 points but he gets another crack at padding that total since he can now play at Worlds next weekend. Shahar lurked quietly throughout the first Swiss rounds of the tournament after getting off to a 7-2 start. He went 9-0 in drafts on Day Two -- including the Top 8 -- pairing white with green, blue and black through his three drafts. He beat Aaron Cheng in the quarters, his good friend Ricky Sidher in the semis, and three-time Top 8 competitor Richard Bland in the finals in a back and forth game three set that saw a complicated board and plenty of combat tricks.

Coming into the Top 8 the story was Owen Turtenwald who made his record seventh Top 8 this season and pulled out further ahead in the Player of the Year race but when the dust settled and Owen. Elias Watsfeldt, Lokiman Chen, and Alex West had fallen by the wayside it was the rookie Shahar Shenhar who was hoisting the trophy.

top 8 bracket


(1) Ricky Sidher

(5) Owen Turtenwald

(4) Shahar Shenhar

(6) Aaron Cheng

(7) Alexander West

(8) Richard Bland

(3) Elias Watsfeldt

(2) Lokman Chen


Ricky Sidher (2-0)

Shahar Shenhar (2-1)

Richard Bland (2-1)

Lokman Chen (2-0)


Shahar Shenhar (2-0)

Richard Bland (2-0)


Shahar Shenhar (2-1)



Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix San Diego at with Rashad Miller and Ray Punzalan.




1 Shahar Shenhar $3,500
2. Richard Bland $2,300
3. Ricky Sidher $1,500
4. Lokman Chen $1,500
5. Elias Watsfeldt $1,000
6. Owen Turtenwald $1,000
7. Aaron Cheng $1,000
8. Alexander West $1,000

pairings, results, standings


15 14 13 12 11 10


15 14 13 12 11 10


15 14 13 12 11 10

Yellow Bracket


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

White Bracket


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 Player profiles

Name: Richard Bland
Age: 23
Hometown: Coventry, UK
Occupation: Writer
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Gavony Township, 7-2
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
U/B Self-mill/Zombies
R/B Terrible aggro
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Testing with team GB & Norway, hopefully getting enough points for Level 6.
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
Human Centipede II

Name: Aaron Cheng
Age: 24
Hometown: Castro Valley
Occupation: Tyler Tucker’s Punching Bag
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Angelic Overseer, 7-1-1
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
5-0-1 Burning Vengeance/Mill. Both times.
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Was to grind PTQs ... now, no idea. Watch Iain Bartolomei win something.
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
Star Wars – Episode 6

Name: Lokman Chen
Age: 36
Hometown: San Francisco
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Invisible Stalker, 8-1
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
5-1, Vampires and humans
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Play more events
What is the best movie you have seen this year?

Name: Shahar Shenhar
Age: 18
Hometown: Sacramento
Occupation: Matt Kartin’s Employer (
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Brimstone Volley, 7-2
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
6-0, GW and UW
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Going not Q’d
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
Anery Moore and Vick Sidher YouTube movie.

Name: Ricky Sidher
Age: 18
Hometown: Yuba City
Occupation: Michael Hetrick’s babysitter
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Geist-Honored Monk, 8-0-1
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
UW Tempo/Flyers
GW Humans
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Play 29 rounds between MOCS and Worlds
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
The Unicone

Name: Owen Turtenwald
Age: 22
Hometown: West Allis, WI
Occupation: Magician
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Geist-Honored Monk, 9-0
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
3-1-2, BR, BR
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
Winning obviously
What is the best movie you have seen this year?

Name: Elias Watsfeldt
Age: 18
Hometown: Gothenburg
Occupation: Chef
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Forbidden Alchemy, makes you win games when you flood or fizzle. 7-2
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
3-0 – Falkenrath Noble deck. I had three of them!
3-0 – Mill featuring 4 blue curses, and Mindshrieker
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
I was planning to sleeve up 4 Blazing Shoals and kill people on turn two in Modern. Or maybe kill myself with Spoils of the Vault. But since Blazing Shoal got to taste the ban-hammer maybe I’ll settle with Mountain, Shard Volley target you, now it’s your turn!
What is the best movie you have seen this year?

Name: Alexander West
Age: 32
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Occupation: Perpetual Tourist
What was your Most Valuable Card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
Olivia Voldaren, 8-1
What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
3-0 in draft 1 with U/B Zombies, Endless Ranks of the Dead fulfilled all my dreams with a dozen zombie cards. 1-1 ID with W/R control.
What are your plans for Worlds this week?
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing. Just like a creepy, gross big screen game of Mafia/Werewolf.

Top 8 - Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Elias Watsfeldt - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Owen Turtenwald - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Ricky Sidher - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Shahar Shenhar - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Richard Bland - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Aaron Cheng - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Alexander West - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Lokman Chen - Top 8

Download Arena Decklist

Quarterfinal - Owen Turtenwald vs. Ricky Sidher

by Brian David-Marshall

Ricky Sidher -- on the brink of playing In excess of 20 rounds of Magic next weekend -- had better hope he has not used up all his wins before he gets to San Francisco on Monday. Other than an unintentional draw with Aaron Cheng in round four and an intentional one in with the same player in Round 15 Sidher has done nothing but win this weekend. Sidher was playing a a blue-black zombie deck had recursion, milling, and Endless Ranks of the Dead as ways to win -- oh yeah he also opened Bloodline Keeper.

Both he and the keeper of bloodlines had their work cut out for them in the form of Owen Turtnewald who would further pad his Player of the Year lead with every win in this Top 8. Unfortunately for Owen, he did not like the deck he had drafted and was bemoaning it during deck construction. While Owen was making his record setting seventh Grand Prix Top 8 appearance this season he has yet to win at this level andthat seemed to wearing thin for him.

Game One

Both players kept and Owen was on the draw. He led off with Cloistered Youth while Sidher played an unfulfilled Ghoulraiser. Owen crashed in for three and passed the turn only to have Sidher play Undead Alchmist and attack for two with a Ghoulraiser which suddenly found its meaning in unlife. Owen rolled one creature into his graveyard and Sidher netted a zombie token.

Owen Turtenwald

A turn later the Undead Alcemist took the air courtesy of Spectral Flight and attacked for six. He hit two creatures and added Vampire Interloper. Owen tapped out for Manor Gargoyle. Sidher attacked with everyone. Owen blocked the three tokens -- he had also played Ashmouth Hound two turns earlier -- and took 8. That was three more zombies for Sidher.

Geist Catcher's Rig took out the Alchemist and, despite not taking any damage from the previous zombie attacks, Owen was very much back on his heels. Sidher flew over for two with Interloper and deployed the Bloodline Keeper. Owen flashed back Desperate Ravings and only 8 cards left in his library -- he played Reckless Waif and Avacynian Priest.

Sidher attacked with one zombie and Owen reluctantly ate it with Manor Gargoyle. Morkrut Banshee from Sidher was enough to go to game two

Game Two

Desperate Ravings from Owen at the end of Ricky's second turn was the first play of the game. He uuntapped to play Mentor of the Meek. Tribute to Hunger when Owen played Rakish Heir took out the Mentor and Sidher hoped to hide behind a One-Eued Scarecrow.

Owen pushed ahead and removed three cards from his yard to cast Harvest Pyre to kill the creature and get in for two. When Sidher played Stiched Drake it looked like he was ready to concede in the face of Owen's Geist Catcher Rig, which allowed the Heir to get even bigger.

Ricky Sidher

Sidher decided to play on and he cast Abattoir Ghoul and Vampire Interloper and began chumping the Ghoul. He played Civilized Scholar and Ghoulcaller's Chanted back two zombies. Aa turn later he played out his hand and passed.

Owen shrugged and attacked into Civilized Scholar, Rotting Fensnake, and Stitched Drake with his two 5-toughness creatures, Sidher activated his Scholar and drew and pitched a Typhoid Rats -- he untapped his 5/1 and was able to take down both of Owen's creatures in combat. Sidher started going to work with his two fliers and hoped that he could finish Owen off before the PoY leader drew a burn spell.

Final result: Owen laid down a hand full of Mountains and congratulated Sidher on advancing to the semifinals. Ricky Sidher had still not lost any matches on the weekend.

Ricky Sidher

Quarterfinals Round-Up

by Marc Calderaro

It's pretty safe to say this draft was trying for a few players. Aaron Cheng abandoned his Burning Vengeance plan because he thought everyone was playing Blue so he went Red. However, everyone was actually playing Red. Alex West, Owen Turtenwald and Aaron Cheng, all next to each other, all really wanted Red. This helped the other end of the table quite a bit. Lokman Chen was able to concoct a svelte Green-White deck sporting Gavony Township, and Shahar Shenhar got a powerful Black-White deck with two Falkenrath Nobles.

Shahar Shenhar (B/W) vs. Aaron Cheng (U/B)


Game One

Shenhar was able to overtake Cheng's Forbidden Alchemy/Armored Skaab shenanigans, but not with out a fight. Though Shenhar enjoyed a commanding lead early on, Cheng miraculously stabilized with the help of Grimgrin, Corpse Born.

I guess that's not too miraculous – the creature is very, very good. But the crushing blow from Shenhar was an Unburial Rites to get his second Falkenrath Noble back, with Cheng on a very, very low life total. Two of those in play can spell trouble, even for the likes of Grimgrin, Born of Ash.

Aaron Cheng


Game Two

This time Grimgrin, Born Again hit fast and early. This worked out well, because when I talked earlier to Cheng about his deck, he said, "It's not that good, but with some luck, I can just take them out with Grimgrin." Shenhar claimed mana-screw, but it was surely just pure unadulterated fear of Grimgrin, Baby Born.


Game Three

Shenhar started off looking like a Mono-White deck, with a Doomed Traveler or two, Selfless Cathar, Slayer of the Wicked and Silverchase Fox. He quickly got Cheng down to 12 before Cheng stabilized with Makeshift Mauler, Sturmgeist and Armored Skaab. The Skaab was a great early blocker, even though it made Cheng mill away his Grimmy-Grim-Grin.

By the time Cheng cast all this stuff, Shenhar had added some Black power to his side with a Stalking Vampire and an Abattoir Ghoul. When he sent all his creatures in for an alpha strike, he lost some guys, but he Cheng sunk to 5 in the process. Each player then used just about every card in their hands to gain advantage on the board. And then the big turn happened:

Cheng, completely behind and almost out, used a Ghoulcaller's Chant to return a Ghoulraiser and his previously milled Grimgrin.

"That's insane," Shenhar quipped.

"I know." Cheng was fair behind, but he tried his best to crawl back. He started re-casting them, however Shenhar's hand was just too good, and he was able to advance to the Semi-finals.

Alexander West (U/R) vs. Richard Bland (G/W/r)


Game One

Bland started strong and West tried his best to keep up. Darkthicket Wolf and Doomed Traveler mixed together with Travel Preparations is pretty good cocktail, so I've heard. In fact, the Sorcery is so good, that Rolling Temblor could only get a 1-for-1. Ew. In fact, West's big Murder of Crows was Prey Upon'ed and nothing of Bland's died. That's how good Travel Preparations is. And though West tried his darnedest to get out of things, casting one of his Hanweir Watchkeep and a Makeshift Mauler he watched his life total go from 9, to 4, to 0.


Game Two

This game went significantly better for West early on. He was able to flip a Reckless Waif and use Curse of the Pierced Heart to keep the pressure heavy and constant – just like a Slayer concert. Bland had a timely Moment of Heroism on a Festerhide Boar to stem the coming tide, but West's seemingly infinite amount of red werewolves eventually overtook him.


Game Three

Ambush Vipers abound! Bland used them early to take control of the board, and forced the issue with a Morbid Festerhide Boar and an Orchard Spirit. West had a Murder of Crows and a Curse of Stalked Prey to try and hold off until that precious mid-to-late game, when all of West's creatures suddenly become very good.

Alexander West

Bland soon cast a Thraben Sentry, eliciting from West, "Man, I'd really like you to stop casting big tramplers!" Bland did not. As a result, West quickly sunk to 8, then 3.

Then West seemed to have leveled things off, but he exclaimed, "I wish I had any real options at all." He continued to play bigger and bigger creatures that just weren't impressive enough. And when Bland was able to flash that Moment of Heroism again – again at a seemingly perfect time, West's semi-final hopes were over.

Richard Bland

Elias Watsfeldt (U/W/r) vs. Lokman Chen (G/w)


Game One

Lokman came out of the gates screaming with two Cathars – a Selfless and an Elder – followed closely by a Galvanic Juggernaut. Watsfeldt was stuck without Red, and as C. added creatures to the board, and Watsfeldt stood staring at his stranded Blasphemous Act. It was quite distressing. Though the Sweden-native tried to hold off the swarm without using the half of his hand that required Red, the Green-White assault, with the likes of Gavony Township, were just too much.



Game Two

This game went a little too much like the first for my comfort level. A first-turn Champion of the Parish was 3/3 by the third turn. Watsfeldt was able to put a quick end to it with a Claustrophobia, but the Humans kept on coming. After a flurry of removal on both sides, with the score even at 10, C. revealed his master plan.

Elias Watsfeldt

He cast not one, but two Spider Spawnings. And the next turn, he used Rally the Peasants to just come out of nowhere and explode the remainder of Watsfeldt's brain – just like a Slayer concert.

Semifinal - Shahar Shenhar vs. Ricky Sidher

by Brian David-Marshall

The two contestants in this half of the bracket could only laugh as they sat down to face each other -- just like they do pretty much three times a week in the finals of tournaments at Adventures in Comics and Games in the Sacramento area. The good friends had even jokingly talked about both of them making the Top 8 but neither of them really expected that to happen. Needless to say this was the first Top 8 appearance for each of them.

"We are even splitting the same pack of sleeves," marveled Shenhar who can move up in the Rookie of the Year race with this finish after kicking off his Pro career with a 38th place finish in Paris.

"He is more Constructed but I more in the middle," said Shahar when asked what formats they normally play at their local store.

"I have gotten the hang of this format," protested the still-undefeated Sidher.

"Apparently so have I," agreed Shahar.

Game One

Typhoid Rats on the draw from Ricky was the first play of the game. Shahar, who had mulliganed played Rebuke on the Rats and cast Victim of Night on Civilized Scholar a turn later. Shahar played Spectral Rider and when Ricky had his own Victim of the Night, Shahar drew two cards with Altar's Reap.

Falkenrath Noble landed for Shahar and Ricky played Vampire Interloper and took out the Noble with Tribute to Hunger. Shahar had Unburial Rites to bring back the Noble and flashed it back a turn later when Ricky played a second Tribute to Hunger. Ricky had played Stitched Drake and ran it and the Interloper into the Noble only to get blown out by Moment of Heroism.

One-Eyed Scarecrow slowed the beats from the Noble and when Shahar played Abattoir Ghoul Ricky had to make a decision about which creature to play Dead Weight on -- he decided to play it on the Ghoul which he could not profitably block and presented three times the clock. The players traded blows back and forth but Shahar's Victim of Night changed the race. A turn later he added a Screeching Bat which got in for five and then, after a Rotting Fensnake from Ricky, went back to the air for the final points of damage.

Shenhar Sidher

Game Two

They talked about whether or not Ricky should have killed the Noble or the Ghoul and Shahar agreed with killing the Ghoul.

"I had killed that Noble a few times already," joked Ricky while mulliganing to six for game two. Shahar quickly kept. Interloper led off Sidher while Shahar played Silverchase Fox. One-Eyed Scarecrow meant that Chapel Geist from Shahar could not do much but the Geist was keeping the Interloper away. It was an Innistrad standoff.

Shahar played Screeching Bat while Ricky brought out the Rotting Fensnake. The Bat swung in for one and when Ricky attacked his Fensnake in it traded with the Fox.

Ghoulraiser brought back the Snake and Shahar made his bat get fat and swung in for five. Ricky was commited to putting the 5/1 in the way and he thought about more but chose not to give him two creatures -- sure enough, Shahar had Moment or Heroism

"You knew it but you still did it"'

Ricky played Spectral Flight on the Ghoulraiser but chose not to attack. He played Dead Weight on the Vampire. "Do you want to transform it back?" joked Ricky.

Shahar played Selfless Cathar and swung with with the 3/3 and Abattoir Ghoul he had played last turn. The Ghoulraiser with the enchantment blocked the Vampire and Abattoir Ghouls collided. Shahar popped his Cathar to make sure everything traded. Shahar kept whittling down Ricky's life total and forcing him to eventually block with his One-Eyed Scarecrows. The Chapel Geist that had been lurking in the wings all game finally got a chance to get in there and do the last two points of damage.

Final result: Shahar Shenhar won two games to zero and not only advanced to the finals of the Grand Prix but also earned enough Pro Points that he suddenly found himself qualified for Worlds.

Semifinal - Richard Bland vs. Lokman Chen

by Marc Calderaro

Game One

Bland played the aggressor early. An end-of-turn Ambush Viper into a Daybreak Ranger, then a single-cast Travel Preparations took C. to 12. He followed the attack with a Doomed Traveler and an Amulet for said Traveler.

C.'s opener was not as impressive. His Selfless Cathar, Thraben Sentry and Trepanation Blade looked paltry in comparison to the Green-White beating on the other side of the table. C. went to 7, then successfully got himself back into the game with the Blade, as it decided to mill eight non-land cards in a row. He smiled quite obviously when he pen-marked Bland down from 19 to 8 in one felt swoop.

Richard Bland

Bland was able to flip the Daybreak Ranger, and on C.'s upkeep, he fought the Thraben Sentry. I would say that things were looking bleak for C., with only a 1/1 Champion of the Parish to his name, but Trepanation Blade could turn things around in an instant – well, in a combat actually.

The Champion came in on the next attack and Bland flipped over the cards one at a time. He got to four. Bland faked as if he were considering killing the creature – he had only land in his hand – then took the damage and hoped C. had no follow-up.

C. was on 5, Bland on 4.

C. had no follow-up.

Richard Bland 1 – 0 Lokman Chen

Game Two

Both players kept their openers and C., played the Champion of the Parish like in the quarterfinals, but this time, he had no turn-two or turn-three play to make it very threatening, though a Galvanic Juggernaut incoming next was threatening enough.

Bland, on the other hand, used a Avacyn's Pilgrim to power out Darkthicket Wolf and his own Juggernaut. Then, during combat, he used that pesky Moment of Heroism to save his Wolf from the throes of death at the hands of C.'s Juggernaut. Bland had the numbers in his favor 25-12.

The next turn, Prey Upon on C.'s Thraben Sentry pushed the issue further, and C. when to 5 before a post-combat 5/5 Festerhide Boar hit the table for Bland. This made C. cast a desperation Spider Spawning to get three more blockers. He was hoping that he could draw some magic to stop the monsters feasting on his flesh.

On the next attack, all those blockers went away. And on the draw C. extended his hand.

Richard Bland 2 – 0 Lokman Chen

Congratulations to Richard Bland who advances to the finals!

Final - Richard Bland vs. Shahar Shenhar

by Marc Calderaro

So in this match-up Richard Bland is the vet. This is his third Grand Prix Top 8, and, like a classy Englishman, he's been acting pretty cool and collected about the whole thing. On the other side of the coin is Shahar Shenhar. It's his first trip to the Top 8, though he's had a few good finishes at a previous events in his rookie year. In fact, just making it to this finals has qualified him for Worlds next weekend. He's pretty excited about it. In fact, he was so excited, he said to me, "I'm sorry if I stink. I haven't used deodorant for three days." And no one without a ton of adrenaline pumping through their veins would ever admit something like that without being asked.

I graciously accepted his apology and we went into the final match.

Game One

Bland was able to start this game very similarly to his games in the semis and the quarters – a Darkthicket Wolf into a Daybreak Ranger. Shenhar responded with a Village Cannibals and a Doomed Traveler.

When the Wolf crashed in and pumped, it was met with a Victim of Night from Shenhar. And after making the totals 15-16 in his favor, he added a Spectral Rider to his team. Bland was all cool with that, and cast that almost-a-Cloudgoat-Ranger – Geist-Honored Monk. Bland was also able to flip the Ranger into Nightfall Predator and cast an Angel of Flight Alabaster. That was a lot of powerful cards all revealed in short order. Quite frankly, Bland's deck was stacked.

The Spirits and Monk came into the red zone and a Rebuke on the Monk grew Shenhar's Cannibals, while the American slipped to 14. Shenhar grew his board with Falkenrath Noble, Selfless Cathar and a Slayer of the Wicked taking out the big, scary werewolf. Man, Slayer of the Wicked sounds like the best metal album ever. And right then, that Slayer was acting pretty metal. After attacks and Noble triggers, it was 8-14; Shenhar was pulling ahead.

In fact, on the next attack, the triggers were so complicated, Selfless Cathar, Cannibal and Noble shenanigans were able to sweep the rest of Bland's life total right out from under him without either player actually realizing it. There were questions lobbied back and forth about whether he was at one or zero, but Bland eventually settled it, and Shenhar sighed with relief.

Shahar Shenhar 1 - 0 Richard Bland

"Wow, your deck is really good," Shenhar exhaled. It sounded as if he was holding that sentence inside his mouth the whole game. And with his first breath after the win, he had to let it out.

Bland shrugged. "It's ok." Like a classy Brit, I tell ya.

The two then shuffled silently for the next game.

Game Two

Bland went first and used that half-turn to his advantage. A Cloistered Youth that quickly became an Unholy Fiend was joined by a Darkthicket Wolf and Avacyn's Pilgrim. Shenhar also cast three creatures in three turns with a Doomed Traveler, Silverchase Fox and a Spectral Rider. But since Bland went first, he had the lead at 16-12 when he dropped a gigantic, I mean, Galvanic Juggernaut. To add insult to injury, Bland also had a Kessig Wolf Run and the mana to use it. As opposed to Shenhar, who was having some mana troubles. He was on three land and they were all Plains.

On the next attack, there were some complicated on-board tricks that muddled things up. First, the Darkthicket Wolf was pumped in the face of the Fox, and the Wolf Run was used to give Galvanic Juggernaut the ability to travel all over the Traveler whose fate was sealed long ago.

Shahar Shenhar

"Where's that Rebuke going to go?" Bland asked. He wisely split up the damage between two creatures. The removal spell ended up on the wolf. Shenhar took seven and went all the way down to 5 life. He had at least found his fourth land, but there was still no sign of Swamps.

More attack steps brought more shenanigans. The Unholy Fiend was trample-ified with the Wolf Run, and a gang block plus a Moment of Heroism took down the big ol' artifact. After Lifelink and damage, it was 14-3.

On the next attack step, Shenhar tried to double-block the Fiend to stay alive, but it wasn't enough when Bland gave the possession girl +5/+0 and trample with the constructed-worthy land.

Bland had evened the score.

Shahar Shenhar 1 - 1 Richard Bland

Game Three

This was my favorite White opener. Doomed Travelers on both sides, both bounding off on another into the graveyard so the players can get the clearly superior 1/1 flyers. So then two 1/1 Spirits were in a showdown.

Shenhar struck with his Spirit and a new Screeching Bat. Bland tried to Moment of Heroism his own Spirit to kill the bat, but for the first time in this entire Top 8, his heroic moment was trumped by another removal spell. Shenhar just cast Victim of Night on the Spirit and when about his way.

Shenhar's Falkenrath Noble needed to use his Unburial Rites to stick through Bland's Prey Upon (targeting his Galvanic Juggernaut). But once it stuck, it threaten to drastically change the tenor of the game. It was 14-15, then 11-10, then 6-10; Bland was in single digits. He had to cast an unkicked Festerhide Boar to attempt to stabilize things, but you know what messes with board stability? Another Falkenrath Noble. Gross.

The scores became 2-8. There are very few combinations of things in this format that can overcome being at two life and facing down two Falkenrath Nobles. And though Bland had seen many Moments of Heroism throughout this Top 8, his moment had passed.

And now it was Shahar Shenhar's moment. Bland extended his hand and scooped up his cards.

An entire bevy of fans immediately assaulted the young Shahar Shenhar. His first time in a Top 8 and he just took the whole thing down. Amidst all the hugs and shouts you could barely make out Shenhar saying to Bland, "I'm sorry; they're being really rude. Good game." I hope this new-found fame won't change such gallant behavior.

Shahar Shenhar 2 - 1 Richard Bland

Congratulations to Shahar Shenhar and good luck at Worlds!

Top 5 Cards

Burning Vengeance

Aaron Cheng used this card to plow through Day Two of Grand Prix San Diego. It provided him with either board control or an "alternate" win condition to damage his opponent when decking was not going to get there. He abandoned the Red-Blue archetype in the Top 8 when he saw double-faced cards in Red and Blue get picked early on either side of him. It was soul crushing for him to watch a pair of the enchantments wander aimlessly about the Final Table in pack three. C'est la vie.

Falkenrath Noble

Grand Prix winner Shahar Shenhar had two copies of the card in his winning decklist and it proved to be an unending source of frustration for his opponents. Even when they did kill it, he could play another one, or even bring it back twice with Unburial Rites in his winning Black-White deck.

Charmbreaker Devils

Another build-around rare on this list, Charmbreaker Devils kept cropping up in the oddest of places. Whether it was simply returning a Think Twice every turn, or ostentatiously returning Divine Reckoning (an LSV special), the Devils were a great source of card advantage and a great source of beating power. +8/+0 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you use Silent Departure, bouncing a blocker or two to get it. Not to mention, casting a Traitorous Blood on your own guy makes an 8/4 Trampler without much effort at all.

Moment of Heroism

This little guy is yet to get all the glory he deserves. But he's getting there. +2/+2 has been done so many times before, and even in the same color, but just that small twist of Lifelink change completely change the pace of a game. Not only does it kill a creature you didn't expect, but now you're not even ahead on damage. Richard Bland used this card throughout the Top 8 to stay one creature and one life ahead of his opponents. Is it fate that the one game someone had the answer for his Moment of Heroism was the game that lost him the finals? Moment of Heroism indeed.


As we close out the Grand Prix 2011 season, it'd be unfair to exclude an oft-forgotten basic land that has proven to power the elite color in Innistrad limited. Whether it was being tapped to cast Mausoleum Guard, Moment of Heroism, Doomed Traveler, Fiend Hunter, Slayer of the Wicked, Village Bell-Ringer, Chapel Geist – I could keep going for a while – it was doing something powerful and exciting. It might not have been a coincidence that both decks in the finals sported copious amounts of this sunny land.