Grand Prix Salt Lake City
Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on April 1, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast


Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Jesse Hampton 9-0

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Marcel Angelo Zafra 9-0

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Henry Wright 9-0

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Bryan Olvera 9-0

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Tyler Hickox 9-0

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Round 10 Feature Match - Iain Bartolomei vs. Bryan Eleyet

by Jake Van Lunen

Iain Bartolomei grew up playing magic with LSV and Paul Cheon. Just a few months ago, in Seattle, Iain made it to the finals of a Grand Prix. Currently sitting in the X-1 bracket here in Salt Lake City, he's hoping to top that performance with a win.

Bryan Eleyet got some attention last year when he made it to the finals of Grand Prix Providence, a legacy event. Bryan is prepared to use his level 3 invite to go to Barcelona, but he'd much prefer to top 4 this event and keep the ball rolling.

Game 1

Bartolomei, playing Naya Ramp, won the roll and chose to play first. Eleyet, playing Naya Pod, had the first play of the game with Birds of Paradise . Bartolomei developed his mana with Sphere of the Suns .

Eleyet needed to get aggressive. He cast Strangleroot Geist and sent it into the red zone.

Bartolomei had Solemn Simulacrum to continue ramping his mana and put a speed bump in front of Eleyets creature onslaught.

Eleyet cast Hellrider and sent it into the red zone alone. Bartolomei took four, calmly untapped, and dropped a land and Primeval Titan on the table.

Eleyet leaned forward as Bartolomei searched his library for a pair of Inkmoth Nexus . Bartolomei finished searching his library and passed the turn back to Eleyet.

Eleyet had Birthing Pod to make his Strangleroot Geist into a Fiend Hunter . He used the Innistrad uncommon to exile Bartolomei's Primeval Titan . He sent his team into the red zone and Bartolomei was put on the back foot.


Bartolomei had a big turn, though. He cast Timely Reinforcements for three guys and six life, then resolved a Gideon Jura , Gideon gained two loyalty counters and demanded that all Eleyet's creatures attack.

Eleyet used his Birthing Pod to exchange a Birds of Paradise for a Strangleroot Geist . He sent his team at Gideon and used Hellrider's trigger to deal three damage to Gideon before Bartolomei even had a chance to block.

Bartolomei chose to chump block everything and Gideon still had five loyalty counters. Another Timely Reinforcements from Bartolomei put him back at twenty life and gave him another three tokens. He used Gideon to kill Eleyet's Fiend Hunter and his Primeval Titan returned to find some more lands.

Eleyet wasn't ready to give up yet. He used his Birthing Pod to search up an Acidic Slime to destroy the Kessig Wolf Run that Bartolomei had searched for.

Bartolomei didn't seem to mind, he ticked up his gideon, sent a quartet of Inkmoth Nexus into the red zone, and passed the turn.

Eleyet continued podding up toward Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite , he found a Wurmcoil Engine and passed the turn.

Bartolomei put Eleyet at 8 poison, but he was forced to pass and let Eleyet search up Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite . Suddenly, things were looking pretty good for Eleyet.

Bartolomei shrugged and revealed Oblivion Ring . With no Elesh Norn to shrink the Inkmoth Nexus , Eleyet lost to Poison.

Bartolomei 1 - 0 Eleyet

Iain Bartolomei looks strong at X-1.

Game 2

Eleyet got to be on the play, which can be pretty important against a Primeval Titan deck.

Eleyet led things off with Birds of Paradise . He had a Blade Splicer for the second turn and things were looking good.

Strangleroot Geist joined the team and Eleyet attacked for six on his third turn.

Bartolomei put the breaks on with a TImely Reinforcements , but there's only so much time you can buy when your opponent has such a strong start.

Another Blade Splicer for Eleyet helped keep the onslaught going, but Bartolomei had another Timely Reinforcements to further gum up the ground.

Eleyet had a Gavony Township to make his team a lot more impressive. He sent everything into the red zone and activated his land after Bartolomei had declared blocks. Bartolomei took eight damage and things were looking grim even with his double Timely Reinforcements . All Bartolomei had was an Inkmoth attack.

Eleyet cast Hellrider and sent his team into the red zone. Bartolomei had an Ancient Grudge for both Eleyet's golems, but still took a ton of damage from the attack.

Gideon bought Bartolomei a turn, but it wasn't enough and he was forced to move onto game three when the top of his deck didn't offer anything else for the next turn.

Bartolomei 1 - 1 Eleyet

Bryan Eleyet is getting aggressive in Utah.

Game 3:

Bartolomei made the first play of the game with Sphere of the Suns .

Eleyet didn't have a play for his first or second turn and Bartolomei happily used this time to develop his mana with another Sphere of the Suns .

Eleyet made his first move on turn three when he cast Blade Splicer , but at this point Bartolomei already had access to a lot of mana. Eleyet made an attack with his Blade Splicer , cast Huntmaster of the Fells , and passed the turn with a formidable force on the table.

Bartolomei had a plan, though, he tapped out and cast Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite , wiping Eleyet's board of everything except a Golem token, which was now a 1/1.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Bryan Eleyet had Oblivion Ring for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and he got in for another three damage. Meanwhile, Bartolomei was sneaking in a point per turn with his Inkmoth Nexus .

Eleyet continued applying pressure with his Golem token, but couldn't find another threat to further his board position.

The random Inkmoth attacks were beginning to add up and Eleyet found himself at six poison. He attacked Bartolomei down to 6, but he needed a removal spell to survive if Bartolomei chose to move all in on his Kessig Wolf Run .

Bartolomei had a Timely Reinforcements , but his lethal attack from Inkmoth (and Kessig Wolf Run ) was met with Act of Aggression .

Eleyet tried to stabilize with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite , but Bartolomei had Day of Judgment . Bartolomei continued applying pressure with his Inkmoth and Eleyet only had one turn left.

Eleyet tapped all his mana, cast Hellrider, cast Phyrexian Metamorph , and sent them into the red zone for exactly lethal damage.

Iain Bartolomei lamented playing around an instant on his last turn, he shook his head, "yep, you got it."

They shook hands and wished each other luck.

Bryan Eleyet wins 2-1!

Round 11 Feature Match - Andrew Cuneo vs. Jimmy Stauder

by Steve Sadin

Old school pro Andrew Cuneo has a lot of competitive Magic experience under his belt. Cuneo made his first Pro Tour Top 8 over a decade ago at Pro Tour New York in 2000, and has recently begun a resurgence that has seen him finish in the Top 16 at Worlds, and 2nd place at Grand Prix Lincoln.

Jimmy Stauder, on the other hand, is playing in his very first Grand Prix. Stauder's lack of high-level tournament experience doesn't seem to have hindered him so far, as he's already off to a 9-1 start without a single bye to help him along the way.

Game One

Before they began playing, the two players were given a deck check. Unfortunately Jimmy Stauder had forgotten to completely de-sideboard, and received a game loss for the error.

Andrew Cuneo 1 – Jimmy Stauder 0

Game Two

Jimmy Stauder (left) vs. Andrew Cuneo (right)

Stauder got off to a quick start with Diregraf Ghoul , and Gravecrawler -- but a Ratchet Bomb , and a Day of Judgment allowed Cuneo to play a Gideon Jura at a healthy 14 life. At this point, Stauder was out of threats – but despite the fact that he had a clear path in front of him, Cuneo decided not to attack with his Gideon Jura because he didn't want his Planeswalker to die to a removal spell.

It's not every day you see a Gideon Jura with 31 loyalty counters on it

From this point on, Cuneo was able to deal with every one of Stauder's threats, while calmly ticking up his Gideon Jura . A Druidic Satchel helped Cuneo dig through his deck until he eventually found a Karn Liberated .

Cuneo slowly picked apart Stauder's hand, and when Cuneo had finally knocked out the last of Stauder's cards, he was finally ready to begin attacking with Gideon Jura . A few hits later, and Andrew Cuneo was 10-1.

Andrew Cuneo 2 – Jimmy Stauder 0

Round 12 Feature Match - Shahar Shenhar vs. Bronson Magnan

by Jacob Van Lunen

Shahar Shenhar, a California Native, won Grand Prix San Diego in November. He decided to make the trip out to Salt Lake City to see if he could continue his success on the Grand Prix circuit. Now, deep in the tournament, the top 8 is within arms reach.

Bronson Magnan recently won Grand Prix Lincoln with his innovative Aggro Loam deck for the Modern format. Since then, Aggro Loam had become a staple of the Modern format. Magnan is already qualified for Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, but he decided to travel from his homeland of Florida to begin racking up pro points in an effort to get onto the train.

Shenhar won the roll and chose to play first.

Game 1

Both players kept their opening hands. Shenhar led things off with a Ponder . He shuffled his library.

Magnan had a turn one Delver of Secrets to get aggressive.

Shenhar payed mana for Gitaxian Probe and jotted down the contents of Bronson's hand before passing back.

Magnan revealed Mana Leak to flip his Delver of Secrets into Insectile Aberration , but Shenhar sent it back to his hand with Vapor Snag during Bronson's upkeep.

Bronson Magnan

Magnan chose to leave open Mana Leak instead of replaying the Delver of Secrets and Shenhar just passed the turn back, knowing that Magnan had the Mana Leak .

Magnan replayed Delver of Secrets , but Shenhar had Mana Leak . Another Delver of Secrets stuck, but Shenhar was able to use his turn to stick a Geist of Saint Traft .

Magnan flipped Delver of Secrets into Insectile Aberration revealing another Mana Leak . He attacked for three and sent the turn back to Shenhar.

Shenhar attacked with Geist of Saint Traft and Magnan cast Snapcaster Mage . It resolved, but Shenhar had Dismember . Magnan tried to Mana Leak it, but Shenhar had a Mana Leak of his own.

Magnan attacked with Insectile Aberration , but was falling behind the Geist of Saint Traft quickly. Shenhar's next attack was supplemented by a Snapcaster Mage and a Vapor Snag when Magnan tried to make a spirit token with Moorland Haunt .

Magnan cast some Invisible Stalker s and held back his Insectile Aberration . Magnan traded boards with Shenhar and both players started making spirits with their Moorland Haunt s.

Shahar Shenhar

Spirit s traded and Magnan was able to sneak in a few points. Magnan broke the stalemate by drawing Geist of Saint Traft .

Shenhar took a big hit when Magnan sent his team in, he looked for an answer with Thoughtscour, but he was forced to concede when the top of his deck didn't offer any help.

Magnan 1 - 0 Shenhar

Game 2

Geist of Saint Traft

Magnan instantly sent back his opening hand and Shenhar seemed content to keep his seven. Bronson's six didn't look much better, he went down to five cards.

Magnan made the first play of the game with a turn one Delver of Secrets . He flipped it immediately, but Shenhar sent it back to his hand with Vapor Snag during his upkeep.

Magnan made an Invisible Stalker , but it was quickly trumped by Shenhar's Geist of Saint Traft .

Magnan had a Geist of his own to legend rule Shenhar's away. He attacked for one with Invisible Stalker and passed the turn. Shenhar copied the Invisible Stalker with Phantasmal Image .

Shehar tried Timely Reinforcements , but Magnan cast Gut Shot on his own Delver of Secrets to turn off both modes of Shenhar's sorcery.

Invisible Stalker

Shenhar was able to make Sword of War and Peace , but he was unable to equip his Phantasmal Image because of its trigger.

Magnan started making spirit tokens and was gaining a nice board advantage, but Shenhar drew a Snapcaster Mage which he used to flashback Timely Reinforcements . Shehar now had plenty of guys to equip his Sword with.

Magnan continued swinging with his Invisible Stalker and spirit tokens. He was able to stave off the Sword of War and Peace attacks with a Vapor Snag , but Shenhar's board presence was getting out of hand.

Shenhar finally started hitting with the Sword of War and Peace . Magnan was forced to concede and move on to game 3.

Game 3

Again, Magnan led things off with a turn one Delver of Secrets , a Ponder from Shehar met Bronson's Mental Misstep .

Magnan revealed a Vapor Snag to flip his Delver. He got in for three and cast Invisible Stalker . Shehar had Vapor Snag the next turn for Magnan's Insectile Aberration .

Magnan Ponder ed to set up Delver of Secrets , which he replayed before passing.

Shenhar cast Snapcaster Mage during his Mainphase to flashback Ponder . He found a Gut Shot for Bronson's Insectile Aberration , but Magnan used Vapor Snag to return it to his hand.

Magnan cast Geist of Saint Traft and looked to be in solid control of the game, Shenhar could only cast Invisible Stalker and pass the turn.

Shenhar's Snapcaster Mage traded with Geist of Saint Traft , but Magnan made another Geist of Saint Traft and Delver of Secrets .

BatterskullRunechanter’s Pike

Shenhar tried to retake control of the game with Batterskull and it looked like Magnan didn't have an answer.

Magnan could only attack with Insectile Aberration and Invisible Stalker .

Shenhar's Runechanter's Pike met Mana Leak , which he chose not to pay for. It looked like Shenhar would be able to take this game if Magnan couldn't find a Vapor Snag .

Magnan found the Vapor Snag , but it wasn't quite enough to finish off Shenhar, who had a Moorland Haunt to make another blocker. Shenhar fell to one and had an Invisible Stalker to suit up batterskull.

He gained five and got in, the vigilance on Batterskull was enough to keep his head above water.

The game got to a point where both players were within two points of killing the other, but Shenhar's Batterskull ed Invisible Stalker was too much in the end.

Shahar Shenhar wins the match 2-1!

Round 13 Feature Match - Tom Martell vs. Jackie Lee

by Steve Sadin

Since her Top 4 finish at Grand Prix Baltimore, Jackie Lee has been putting up consistently strong finishes on the Grand Prix circuit. She was a match short of making the Top 8 at both Grand Prix Seattle, and Grand Prix Mexico City. Already off to an 11-1 start with her Red-Green Beatdown deck -- Jackie once again finds herself within arm's reach of her second Top 8.

Her opponent for this round, Grand Prix Indianapolis Champion Tom Martell, is currently "undefeated" with his Blue-White-Black Delver Spirit deck. However, not all undefeated records are created equal – as Tom is currently sitting on 10 wins, no losses, and 2 unintentional draws. Tom is hoping to win this round, and then intentionally draw twice into the Top 8.

Game One

Martell played a first turn Gitaxian Probe , and saw that Lee had kept a less than explosive draw with her Red-Green Beatdown deck. Martell used a Mana Leak to counter Hellrider, and then began building up his board with a Drogskol Captain.

Jackie Lee

Jackie used a Green Sun's Zenith to find Huntmaster of the Fells – but Tom's Dungeon Geists locked it down and gave him a clear route to victory. Jackie tried to get back into the game with her Huntmaster of the Fells – but a Vapor Snag allowed Tom to take the first game with time to spare.

Tom Martell 1 -- Jackie Lee 0

Game Two

Lee got off to a much better start in game two, opening with a Llanowar Elves , a Strangleroot Geist , and a Galvanic Blast (that she used to kill Martell's turn one Delver of Secrets ). Phantasmal Image copying Strangleroot Geist , and a Drogskol Captain gave Martell an offense of his own – but a Combust , and a Kessig Wolf Run again left Martell without a board.

Lingering Souls singlehandedly gave Martell a new army to work with – but a Green Sun's Zenith for Thrun, the Last Troll , plus Kessig Wolf Run meant that Martell didn't have much time.

Vapor Snag bounced Lee's Birds of Paradise and left her on 8 life – putting Martell in a position where he needed to draw one of his remaining Drogskol Captain s to win, the game (or a Phantasmal Image to take out the Thrun, the Last Troll and potentially buy himself another turn). Martell's deck didn't offer him any of his outs, and they were off to game three.

Tom Martell 1 – Jackie Lee 1

Game Three

Gitaxian Probe revealed a hand of Birds of Paradise , Strangleroot Geist , Green Sun's Zenith , Hellrider , and lands, but no removal spells. Strangleroot Geist got copied by Phantasmal Image , and Hellrider quickly died to Dismember , before Martell stuck his first relevant threat of the game – a Drogskol Captain .

Tom Martell

A Flashfreeze , and a Celestial Purge prevented Jackie from resolving anything of note, and a Vault of the Archangel s gave Tom a big life total cushion.

Huntmaster of the Fells looked threatening, but Martell had a Delver of Secrets , a Vapor Snag , and a Snapcaster Mage flashing back Celestial Purge to again leave Lee desperate to find a way back into the game.

Jackie used a Phyrexian Metamorph to copy Snapcaster Mage , and Green Sun's Zenith for a Huntmaster of the Fells – but even an unanswered Huntmaster, and a Combust weren't enough to stop Tom from flying to victory with Lingering Souls .

Tom Martell 2 – Jackie Lee 1

Round 14 Feature Match - Michael Svien vs. Michael Hetrick

by Jacob Van Lunen

Michael Svien, a Denver native, is playing in his first Grand Prix Day 2. Svien won Colorado States in 2010, but he'd love to make a splash at the premier event level.

Michael Hetrick is well-known as ShipItHolla on Magic Online. Hetrick is tied for the most Magic Online PTQ wins, but a big finish has still eluded him on the Grand Prix or Pro Tour circuit.

Michael Svien won the roll and wished Michael Hetrick luck before dealing out his hand.

Game 1

Both players kept their opening hands, Svien made the first play of the game with a turn one Delver of Secrets .

Hetrick had Avacyn's Pilgrim for his first turn.

A Green Sun's Zenith for two found Strangleroot Geist for Hetrick, but a Vapor Snag sent it back to his hand.

Strangleroot Geist tried to make its way back onto the table, but Svien had a Mana Leak .

Svien used Thought Scour to fill his graveyard and cantrip, but he failed to flip his Delver during three upkeeps.

Hetrick cast another Strangleroot Geist and got into the red zone for two damage.

Svien tried Snapcaster Mage on Vapor Snag to bounce Hetrick's Avacyn's Pilgrim , Hetrick tapped it to cast Brimstone Volley which targeted Svien's Delver of Secrets .

Michael Svien

Both players traded blows for a bit, but that ended when Svien found Geist of Saint Traft to break the stalemate.

Hetrick used Phyrexian Metamorph to legend rule the Geist of Saint Traft , but Svien had a Vapor Snag to return his legend back to his hand with Phyrexian Metamorph on the stack. Hetrick copied his Strangleroot Geist and started to get aggressive.

Svien tapped out for a Runechanter's Pike and equipped it to his Snapcaster Mage , he chose to leave back the newy first striking wizard and passed the turn.

Hetrick used Acidic Slime to get rid of the equipment, cast another Phyrexian Metamorph (copying Strangleroot Geist ) and sent six points of power into the red zone.

Svien traded with the real Strangleroot Geist and took four damage, leaving Hetrick with lethal on board. Hetrick dealt lethal damage with another attack.

Michael Svien 0 - 1 Michael Hetrick

Game 2

Both players kept their opening hands. Svien made the first play of the game with a turn two Delver of Secrets .

Hetrick had a Strangleroot Geist for his second turn and the race was on. Svien flipped his Delver with Mana Leak , but failed to find a third land.

Hetrick cast Birds of Paradise , made his land drop, and passed, trying to get out of Mana Leak range.

Galvanic Blast targeted Delver of Secrets during Svien's upkeep, he used Mana Leak to save his 3/2 flyer. He attacked for three, but again failed to find a third land.

Hetrick used this opportunity to resolve Huntmaster of the Fells , perhaps the best creatures in this matchup.

Svien began to fall behind, he hit his third land drop, but only had another Delver to further his board position.

Arc Trail from Hetrick left Svien with a board of just three lands, a wolf token, and Strangleroot Geist headed into the red zone.

Michael Hetrick

Things were looking grim for Svien, but he found Timely Reinforcements to help get him back into the game.

Hetrick had a Sword of War and Peace , though, and he was able to sneak in 8 damage through the sea of tokens on Sviens side of the table.

Svien tried to get back into the game, but all he could muster was Invisible Stalker .

Hetrick attacked once more and a morbid Brimstone Volley was enough to finish off Svien.

Michael Hetrick wins 2-0!

Sunday, 2:23 p.m. - Honor in Salt Lake City

by Steve Sadin

The Standard Pro Tour Qualifier season begins this Saturday, April 7th– and while there's certainly room for players to win with entirely new strategies, most players are going to opt to play decks that they've grown comfortable with over the course of the previous few months.

Sometimes, they'll play these decks without making any substantial changes, but other times players will go out of their way to find that one special card that can put their deck over the top...

Honor of the Pure is a card that's seen a lot of play in recent months as a core component in White-Blue Humans, and in White-Black Token decks. So it should come as no surprise that some of the best players in the world chose to put Honor of the Pure in their decks this weekend. What should come as a surprise, are the decks that people have been playing Honor of the Pure in.

Three time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor, and current runner up in the race to become the United States team captain at the World Magic Cup, Josh Utter-Leyton fell just short of making Day Two with a Blue-White-Black Delver deck that sported three copies of Honor of the Pure .

Josh put Honor of the Pure in his deck because he wanted a non-fragile way to pump his Geist of Saint Traft s, and the tokens that he makes with Lingering Souls , and Moorland Haunt .

Is Honor of the Pure a better choice than Drogskol Captain , Runechanter's Pike , or additional Swords?

That remains to be seen – but it's clear that Honor of the Pure is at least worth considering in your Delver decks.

Josh Utter-Leyton - 188th place (U/W/B Delver)

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Sunday, 2:31 p.m. - Deck Tech with Conley Woods

by Jacob Van Lunen

Conley Woods is well-known for his exciting and innovative decks. Time and time again, Woods has finished at the top of the standings with offbeat decks that no one expected. Woods brought his latest standard creation to Salt Lake City this weekend. I got a chance to sit down with Conley and ask him some questions about his latest brew.

Conley Woods

So tell me about the deck you decided to play this weekend?

"It's a Black/White/Green Lingering Souls Ramp deck. On the one end you have a traditional ramp deck, but the deck has entirely different side: Lingering Souls , Sorin, Lord of Innistrad , Garruk Relentless , and Gavony Township . Both sides of the deck help it either set up Day of Judgment or recovery from Day of Judgment . Sorin is really good pre-wrath, and Lingering Souls makes opponents overextend into Day of Judgment . After Day of Judgment , a titan can come down and dominate the board. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is really good in this format, that and Day of Judgment are why I'm playing white. Originally I had four Day of Judgment but I moved one to the board because it's often a dead card against control decks."

What are your best matchups?

"Any creature decks. If my opponent plays Forest or Champion of the Parish on turn one, it's very unlikely they're going to win. Wolf Run decks are also very good matchups. They don't have effective ways to kill my titans, while I have effective ways to deal with theirs. They're also playing Viridian Emissary now, which slows them down a lot when we're racing our ramp up to titans."

Your worst matchups?

"Equipment delver can be rough, while Drogskol Captain versions of the deck aren't that bad. Blue/Black Control is definitely the worst matchup; they have a lot of countermagic and it's hard to stick a big threat when they're drawing so many extra cards."

Conley Woods - Junk Titans

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Sunday, 3:00 p.m.: Deck Tech - Blue-White Control with Andrew Cuneo

by Steve Sadin

Grand Prix Lincoln finalist Andrew Cuneo posted a Top 16 finish at Worlds with a Blue-White Control deck of his own design. Fourteen matches into Grand Prix Salt Lake City, Cuneo is 12-2 and a mere match win away from posting his second Grand Prix Top 8 of the season with a deck that's only a few cards off from what he played at Worlds.

"This is the first time that I've played the deck since Worlds. I don't like any of the other decks in the format, and I knew that I would have fun if I played it, so I figured why not."

Andrew Cuneo

In addition to the fact that he felt comfortable with the deck, Cuneo gained a distinct advantage against opponents who either didn't know how to sideboard against him, or didn't have the right tools to bring in.

"I played against multiple people who kept Gut Shot in against me after sideboarding this weekend -- and I even played against someone who had Tumble Magnet in his deck after sideboarding because he just didn't have enough cards to board in."

Andrew Cuneo Blue-White Control

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Cuneo uses his many counterspells, and his removal to stall the game out to a point where he can win with his Planeswalkers.

"I generally win by attacking with Gideon Jura . If I'm playing against a deck with a lot of removal, then I want to wait until I get Karn Liberated to empty their hand before I start attacking. You can also restart the game with Karn Liberated , and win that way -- but that's not a very good strategy against decks with really low curves like Zombies. Against Green decks, however, you win a lot by restarting the game with Karn Liberated "

Cuneo's deck has more than a few interesting cards in its maindeck, and in its sideboard. But one card that really stuck out to me was his Elixir of Immortality

"To beat Blue-Black Control decks with Nephalia Drownyard , you absolutely need Elixir of Immortality . The Nephalia Drownyard matchups almost always come down to decking. And even though I don't have any cards in my deck that actively mill my opponents -- I still usually win by decking thanks to Elixir of Immortality , Buried Ruin , and Blue Sun's Zenith."

"If you really want to win the Blue-Black control matchup, you should have more than one Elixir of Immortality – but in a tournament like this, you won't be able to finish a lot of three game matches in fifty minutes. If I were playing online, where I have more control over the clock, I would probably have two."

When asked what his best matchups were, Cuneo said that he had little problem beating Zombies, or "Any control deck that doesn't have Nephalia Drownyard ."

"I have real counterspells, and they don't generally have them. Also Esper Control decks tend to have some big creatures in them, so my Day of Judgment s are still relevant. Karn Liberated , and Blue Sun's Zenith are the best cards in control mirror matches – and I just have more of them than they do."

When asked what his toughest matchups are, Cuneo singled out two of the more popular decks in the format.

"Delver's not easy. I've actually beaten it three times so far this tournament when it was being played by good players – but I don't think their draws were very good. If you really wanted to improve the matchup -- you could add Divine Offering to your maindeck, but the four ratchet bombs, and the Phyrexian Metamorph are already there for Delver."

"The problem with the matchup is that you just can't beat the draws where they go turn one Delver with Mana Leak backup, or the games where they have Mana Leak plus Snapcaster Mage – but I think most decks lose to that anyway."

Cuneo's two losses so far this tournament have come at the hands of his other bad matchup, aggressive Red-Green decks.

"I don't think is a good matchup either. They have a lot of cards that Day of Judgment isn't good against. Like, they'll have boards where you Day of Judgment them, and you only increase their power. They can also play a turn two Sword of War and Peace , which this deck basically can't beat."

So if you're looking to play a dedicated control deck, and you don't mind having some tough matchups against Delver, and Aggressive Red-Green decks, then you should definitely give Cuneo's concoction a try. It's certainly been serving him well.

GP SLC - Round 15 Roundup

by Jacob Van Lunen

It's the last round of swiss here at Grand Prix Salt Lake City. Normally, most of the Top 8 would be set in stone by now, but something very strange is happening.

Everyone is playing. Yes, that's right, everyone is playing. Even the only player that's safe, Tom Martell, has decided to play out his match to secure the play in all his Top 8 matches thanks to the new play/draw rules. (The player with the highest standings at the end of the swiss gets to choose the play or draw in their top 8 matches.)

None of the X-2s feel safe enough to draw.

Tom Martell's spirits were too much for Tyler Hickox and he was able to secure the first game with ease. Tom squeaked out a close second game and secured the play for the entirety of the Top 8.

Shahar Shenhar and Marcel Angelo C Zafra battled with Batterskull s, but once it was clear that they could draw into Top 8 they decided to play it safe and intentionally draw.

Jesse Hampton lost a close game one to Bryan Olvera. In game two, Olvera was able to resolve a Hero of Bladehold and Jesse Hampton couldn't find an answer. Bryan Olvera wins 2-0.

Michael Peterson and Jimmy Stauder made it to the third game, but Stauder drew a lot of lands in the third game and Michael won the match.

Round 15: Feature Match - Andrew Cuneo vs. David Gleicher

by Steve Sadin

Resurgent pro Andrew Cuneo came into this event with 19 Pro Points, so even if he loses this match he should be in a good position to reach Gold Level in the Pro Player's Club (guaranteeing himself invitations to every Pro Tour during the 2012-2013 season) with the Pro Points that he receives at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona.

David Gleicher, on the other hand, has a little bit more of an uphill climb in order to reach Gold Level. With 14 Pro Points going into this event, Gleicher needs to pick up 11 more Pro Points between this tournament, and the Pro Tour to accomplish his goal.

Gleicher is already guaranteed a couple of Pro Points even if he falls to Cuneo – but a Top 8 berth here would do wonders for Gleicher's chances of reaching Gold.

David Gleicher

Game 1

Gleicher won the roll, and got off to a great start against Cuneo's Blue-White Control deck by playing a Delver of Secrets that he transformed on turn two.

Cuneo had a Pyschic Barrier to deal with Gleicher's first Geist of Saint Traft – but without a way to deal with Gleicher's backup Geist, it wasn't long before they were shuffling up for game two.

David Gleicher 1 – Andrew Cuneo 0

Andrew Cuneo

Game 2

Cuneo bought himself quite a bit of time with three copies of Ratchet Bomb – but without a fourth land, he found his Top 8 hopes rapidly slipping away.

A few turns later Cuneo was still stuck on three lands, and Gleicher was able to resolve, and protect, a Geist of Saint Traft that he rode to his very first Grand Prix Top 8.

David Gleicher 2 – Andrew Cuneo 0

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