SEMIFINALS ROUNDUP

Posted in GRAND PRIX STOCKHOLM 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 26, 2014

By Frank Karsten

With only four players remaining in the tournament, the action is heating up.

Semifinal 1: Thiago Rodrigues (Abzan Midrange) - Matej Zatlkaj (Jeskai)

Before this event, Zatlkaj had more Pro Tour Top 8s to his name than Grand Prix Top 8s, but he has now evened it up at two apiece. Rodrigues, in his first Grand Prix Top 8, is not as experienced as Zatlkaj, but he is playing the deck that is widely considered to be favored in this matchup.

Thiago Rodrigues

In Game 1, Rodrigues was able to contain Zatlkaj's first couple of threats with Thoughtseize, Hero's Downfall, and Abzan Charm, but two Goblin Rabblemaster stuck around. Rodrigues tried to race them with Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc, but at that point he was already too low on life and facing too many tokens. Zatlkaj attacked and had a burn spell for lethal.

Matej Zatlkaj

In Game 2, Zatlkaj had to mulligan down to five, but his hand offered double Goblin Rabblemaster once again. Bile Blight from Rodrigues threatened to be a massive blowout, destroying both Rabblemasters in one swoop, but Zatlkaj had the perfect card for the situation: Gods Willing. He gave the Rabblemaster that was targeted by Bile Blight protection from black, thereby countering the removal spell, and proceeded to smash in with his Goblin team for massive amounts of damage.

Matej Zatlkaj defeats Thiago Rodrigues 2-0!

Semifinal 2: Einar Baldvinsson (Temur Aggro) - Lukas Blohon (G/B Enchantress)

Like the other semifinal, this match pitted together a veteran with a Pro Tour Top 8 to his name (Lukas Blohon) and a newcomer to the Grand Prix Top 8 tables (Einar Balvinsson). Unlike the other semifinal, however, the matchup was between two relatively new Standard decks, and there was no clear consensus on who would be favored.

Lukas Blohon

In Game 1, Blohon kept an opening hand with Elvish Mystic, 3 Sylvan Caryatid, Eidolon of Blossoms, Commune with the Gods, and Windswept Heath. He was able to get some of his mana creatures on the table, but it took him too long to find a second land. Baldvinsson took advantage of Blohon's stumble and promptly won the first game by attacking with Savage Knuckleblade and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker.

In Game 2, Blohon once again had a bunch of Elvish Mystics and Sylvan Caryatids, but this time he had more than one land, so his ramp creatures actually sped up his game plan. Hornet Queen came down quickly, and it had a devastating impact on the game: the tokens attacked Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, then traded for several of Baldvinsson's monsters, and finally went for the throat. The only thing that Blohon had to watch out for was double Crater's Claws, but he made sure to play aggressively and didn't give Baldvinsson much time to draw a lethal burn spell.

Einar Balvinsson

In Game 3, the key play was that Baldvinsson targeted his own Boon Satyr and his opponent's Courser of Kruphix with Hunt the Hunter for a huge tempo and damage boost. Blohon didn't have a good way to come back from that and succumbed to the assaults from the red and green monsters.

Einar Balvinsson triumphs over Lukas Blohon 2-1!