Grand Prix Turin
Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on April 1, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast

Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Tim Willoughby

David Progin (9-0)

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Alessandro Portaro (9-0)

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Stefan Steiner (9-0)

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Daniel Fior (9-0)

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Giorgos Mitropoulos (9-0)

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Jose Luis Velazquez (9-0)

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Feature Match - Round 10 – Jose Luis Velazquez vs. Giorgos Mitropoulos

by Tim Willoughby

Day two of Grand Prix typically begins with us covering undefeated players, and for our first match of the day we have something of a doozy. Having watched Jose Luis Velazquez of Spain despatch Lukas Blohon at the end of day 1 to protect his perfect record, he was now up against Giorgos Mitropoulos of Greece. Velazquez is piloting red/blue Storm, capable of going from zero to hero in short order with a flurry of fast mana and Past in Flames, while Mitropoulos is playing the role of combo breaker with a deck that I would describe as being akin to a Modern version of the Legacy Maverick deck – green white disruption creatures.

Velazquez started on snake eyes with his die roll, meaning that he would not be going first. Mitropoulos, starting on a mulligan, was also slow to get things going, and for the first few turns, all that happened was the pair staring each other down and hitting land drops. This had to be good news for the combo deck.

A Gitaxian Probe revealed that Velazquez had a hand of Horizon Canopy, Tectonic Edge, Path to Exile, Knight of the Reliquary and Vengevine. The coast was clear for Velazquez, but he chose not to start storming out yet, safe in the knowledge that he had time to spare.

Mitropoulos cast a Strangleroot Geist for his turn, and swung in. Velazquez, meanwhile, had something a little spicier. At end of turn a Desperate Ritual powered out Gifts Ungiven for Past in Flames, Desperate Ritual, Manamorphose and Seething Song. This signalled a big turn for Velazquez. Past in Flames and Seething Song hit the grumper, and Velazquez untapped into a veritable flurry of spells.

Gitaxian Probe, Seething Song, Desperate Ritual (splicing two more), Desperate Ritual (splicing one more), Desperate Ritual, Manamorphose for two blue mana, Serum Visions, Past in Flames, Desperate Ritual... that was enough to get Mitropoulos to concede – with such a devastating amount of mana and storm built up, it seemed impossible that the kill was not there, and Mitropoulos was quick to look to a sideboard chock full of disruption for a combo kill.

Jose Luis Velazquez 1 – 0 Giorgos Mitropoulos


Jose Luis Velazquez

For the second game in a row, Mitropoulos suffered a mulligan on the play, though this time it seemed likely that mulligans would play a different role to the first game – with better knowledge of what his opponent was doing, the Greek player would be looking to find some early disruption for Velazquez' plans.

Turn one saw Treetop Village from Mitropoulos and Serum Visions from Velazquez. A turn two fetchland for Temple Garden may have cost Mitropoulos 3 life, but seemed worth it when it allowed Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. On its own Thalia would slow Velazquez down a lick, with most of his rituals suddenly ineffective, and his draw spells expensive. However, Grapeshot and whatever other answers Velazquez had would likely be able to off the fragile 2/1. Mitropoulos advanced his clock some with a Knight of the Reliquary, hoping to pile on pressure before Velazquez could escape his trap.

A second Knight of the Reliquary was delayed by a Remand from Velazquez, who got digging on his own turn with Serum Visions. Velazquez was on 16, and with Treetop Village plus Thalia and the Knight, Mitropoulos was presenting a clock that would take just 2 turns to end the game. Meanwhile Velazquez was in rocky shape. He'd missed his fourth land drop, and could only look on as that Knight did make it down on the second attempt, along with a Qasali Pridemage.

Velazquez had reached the point of discarding at end of turn, while Mitropoulos was using the end step to power up knights by fetching more and more land. That Velazquez discarded Empty the Warrens was a big signal to Mitropoulos as to what the game plan was that the Spaniard might be working with. Ulitmately the knights cleaned things up for game 2 – had Velazquez been trying to get Mitropoulos swerving around on sideboarding by revealing one of his kill conditions in game 2?

Jose Luis Velazquez 1 – 1 Giorgos Mitropoulos

Georgos Mitropoulos

Game 3 saw the first spell of the game, a Strangleroot Geist from Mitropoulos, get hit by Remand. The following turn, Velazquez commenced digging with Serum Visions, again leaving mana up for the counter. He did have a second copy, and used it to stop Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

Knowing that Thalia was coming the following turn, Velazquez had a few decisions to make about how to play. He cast another Serum Visions and passed. This time there was nothing stopping Thalia, but there was an end of turn Pestermite. The Spaniard did have a different game plan! It seemed that Mitropoulos was prepared for a Pestermite/Splinter Twin plan as well, having a Path to Exile ready at end of turn for the Faerie.
Mitropoulos was now the aggressor, casting Knight of the Reliquary. Realistically, he would be unlikely to have as much disruption for a Splinter Twin plan as for storm. The Knight was not going to be able to cut it though, as at end of turn, there was a Deciever Exarch from Velazquez, and a Lightning Bolt on Thalia. From there a Splinter Twin ended the game.

Jose Luis Velazquez wins 2-1

As he de-sideboarded, Velazquez remarked that he'd switched combos away from Past in Flames when he'd seen Knight of the Reliquary, due to concerns of Bojuka Bog spoiling his day. The Splinter Twin combo, being resistant to graveyard hate, seemed a stronger plan of attack for games 2 and 3. While he'd been stymied by Thalia once, it seemed his reasoning had paid off in the decider, and clever sideboarding meant that the unbeaten streak of Velazquez would move to 10.

Jose Luis Velazquez (9-0)

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Giorgos Mitropoulos (9-0)

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Sunday 10:47 a.m. - Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Tim Willoughby

Well, we told you that Modern is a diverse format, and the variety of decklists making day two here in Turin supports that entirely. With 176 lists gone through, there are some trends toward aggro and aggro/control, but certainly no one deck dominating at this stage. The full breakdown is below, but before we get to it, a few notes;

Storm has been classified as the red/blue decks casting a large amount of ritual effects to build a big enough storm count to cast a big Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens. Some use Pyromancer Ascension, others use Past in Flames. Many use both. None of them like Trickbind on their storm card though, so Storm is what they've been called.

Splinter Twin is almost exclusively red/blue, though we have seen one spicy version with another colour, which might well see a bit of deck tech love later today.

The Bant decks vary a little bit in their plan of attack. My personal favourite is the one that has shroud creatures, Angelic Destiny and Spectral Flight. Yes, I was one of those kids giving Scryb Sprites an Unstable Mutation back in the day.

Deck Count Percentage
Jund 33 19%
Affinity 19 11%
Red/Green Tron 17 10%
RUG Delver 10 6%
Storm 9 5%
Melira 8 5%
Splinter Twin 8 5%
Mono Blue Faeries 7 4%
Burn 6 3%
Aggro Loam 4 2%
Zoo 4 2%
Esper Gifts 4 2%
Caw Blade 4 2%
Naya Zoo 3 2%
Doran 3 2%
Martyr of Sands 3 2%
RWU Delver 3 2%
Bant 3 2%
Red/Blue Faeries 3 2%
Through the Breach 2 1%
Esper Control 2 1%
Blue/Green Control 2 1%
Naya Maverick 2 1%
4/5 color Gifts Ungiven 2 1%
UW Tron 2 1%
Noxious Revival Pyromancer Ascension 1 1%
Boros 1 1%
Next Level Blue 1 1%
Ad Nauseam 1 1%
Gifts Rock 1 1%
Poison 1 1%
Red Deck Wins 1 1%
Black/White Tokens 1 1%
Esper Stoneblade 1 1%
Summoning Trap 1 1%
Hive Mind 1 1%
Living End 1 1%
GW Maverick 1 1%

Feature Match - Round 12 – Antonino De Rosa vs. . David Progin

by Tobi Henke

Antonino De Rosa

Both players entered this round with scores of 10-1. David Progin brought Jund to the table, while Antonino De Rosa was playing a blue, red, and green Delver of Secrets deck.

De Rosa opened on Serum Visions, Progin on Thoughtseize. De Rosa revealed two Mana Leaks, a Burst Lightning, Garruk Relentless, and more Serum Visions, which Progin took.

The next couple of turns saw a flurry of spells and creatures trading off. Progin's Tarmogoyf met Mana Leak, his Bloodbraid Elf another, and the cascaded Dark Confidant died to Burst Lightning. De Rosa tried for an offense of his own, casting Delver of Secrets. Liliana of the Veil killed it, before dying to Lightning Bolt herself. De Rosa replaced it with Tarmogoyf which, in turn, was killed by the combined efforts of Kitchen Finks and Lightning Bolt.

Now De Rosa's side of the board was completely empty except for lands, whereas Progin was left with 2/1 Kitchen Finks as well as two each of Raging Ravine and Treetop Village. De Rosa's Vedalken Shackles arrived just in time to slow the beatdown, but he was getting dangerously low on life. His Phyrexian Metamorph made a copy of the Shackles and he finally took full control of the board. At this point, however, he was left with a measly 2 life. "Just kill me already," De Rosa pleaded.

Progin did nothing of the likes. Apparently, he only had lands he didn't need, creatures he didn't want to cast in the face of two opposing Vedalken Shackles, and discard he couldn't use on an empty-handed De Rosa. So the game dragged on. And De Rosa managed to turn things around, first with one Tarmogoyf, then another. Progin's Treetop Villages attempted a counter attack and were stolen by Vedalken Shackles. Then the Raging Ravines got to do some actual blocking, but between the Tarmogoyfs and the Vedalken Shackles only burn to De Rosa's face could save Progin. He didn't draw any in time.

Antonino De Rosa 1 – 0 David Progin

David Progin

"Can I give a quick shoutout to all the Pinnacle boys?" De Rosa asked between games. Done.

A turn-one Inquisition of Kozilek revealed Stomping Ground, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, Vendilion Clique, Tarmogoyf, and two Islands in De Rosa's hand. Progin took Spell Pierce, to make sure that a second Inquisition of Kozilek, which made De Rosa discard Tarmogoyf, would get through unimpeded.

But Progin had trouble with his mana. By turn four he had three Treetop Villages and a Swamp, but no red and no second black. De Rosa took a peek at his opponent's hand via Vendilion Clique, saw two copies of Liliana of the Veil and some red cards, and chose to let them be.

Vendilion Clique raced against Treetop Village. Progin summoned Kitchen Finks, De Rosa summoned Huntmaster of the Fells. The Werewolf was looking pretty impressive, with Progin still unable to cast his spells. Progin did topdeck a source of red mana, though unfortunately it was Raging Ravine. The Huntmaster turned into Ravager of the Fells and alongside the Wolf token and Vendilion Clique put a lot of pressure on Progin.

Progin's Raging Ravine was returned to his hand by Cryptic Command and the game was all but over. Lightning Bolt, Snapcaster Mage, Lightning Bolt flashback ... and the game was actually over.

Antonino De Rosa 2 – 0 David Progin

David Progin

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Antonino De Rosa

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Decktech - Jund with Florian Koch

by Tobi Henke

So far it's been a pretty good year for Florian Koch. The German player who first made his mark on the GP circuit with a win in Lyon two years ago is fresh off a Top 8 at Grand Prix Madrid in February, but it started even before that.

"On the first weekend of January there was this big three-day event in Hanau, Germany, with a Vintage and a Legacy tournament, and a Modern PTQ. I made the Top 4 of the Vintage, did well in the Legacy, and won the PTQ," Florian recounted. "This was one of the very first PTQs of the Modern season and back then I was playing Affinity."

"Next up was GP Madrid, the first European GP of the year. There, I lost my fourth round, but won all of the rest, except for two intentional draws. I then lost in the quarterfinals which would have been much worse if it hadn't been for my PTQ win. At GP Lille I was playing for Top 8 in round 14, lost, lost again, and ended up in 29th place," Florian continued, "and now here in Turin I started 8-0, but lost the next three."

So what deck did he chose to play this weekend?

"Jund. I got a sweet decklist from Simon Görtzen who made three PTQ Top 8s with it this season," said Florian. Of course, Simon Görtzen may be known, more than for his PTQ performances, for the fact that he won PT San Diego 2010 with Jund. "There is no incredibly new tech about the deck," Florian admitted. "Jund's still Jund, and Bloodbraid Elf is still very, very good. Possibly the most interesting card in the deck is Jund Charm."

"Against most of the creature decks it works like a one-sided Wrath of God, and in nearly all of the other match-ups the ability to exile the graveyard is very useful, whether it's to combat Snapcaster Mage, Pyromancer Ascension, Unburial Rites, Past in Flames, or Academy Ruins," Florian explained. "Having Jund Charm in the maindeck also means one can save some slots in the sideboard which would otherwise be needed for graveyard removal."

"The maindeck is great, I'm very happy with it," said Florian. "The sideboard is a different matter, though. There should have been Darkblast in my sideboard which is really good against Delver, Faeries, Caw-Blade and its ilk. Also, I maybe should have included Sowing Salt. I dodged Tron decks yesterday, but lost against two today. Though it was close both times. Another thing to think about is Deglamer instead of Ancient Grudge because Affinity is not such a big force in the metagame anymore, while Wurmcoil Engine is seeing more and more play it seems."

Florian Koch

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Sunday 1:49 p.m. - Art Battling with Rob Alexander and Mark Tedin

by Tim Willoughby

And Mark has illustrated some real monsters when it comes to deck building

When it comes to Magic artists to have at an event, we have some really heavy hitters here at Grand Prix Turin. Between Rob Alexander and Mark Tedin, a whopping 336 cards have been illustrated over the years. That's more than any one large expansion. The tale of the tape is not too shabby in terms of the power level of those cards either. You want an amazing mana base? Rob Alexander is your man. He's been illustrating top notch lands since Alpha, with the likes of Underground Sea, Taiga and more recently Ravnica shock-duals being part of his portfolio. When it comes to powerful spells, Mark Tedin has illustrated many of the best. Timetwister, Mana Drain and Necropotence are among his hits.

Not many artists have work stretching so far through Magic's history, so there aren't loads that it is easy to do this for, but for GP Turin, I decided to work out potential decks one could build using only cards by each of Rob and Mark, to bash against one another.

The tale of the tape is kind of an interesting one. Mark has more cards in total, at 194 to Rob's 142. We're playing prison rules here, meaning that the land has to be by the right artist, not just the spells. We have to do something to balance things out, as Mark definitely has the early advantage on win conditions.

Looking through Mark's cards, he certainly has some good ones. Sol Ring, Mana Vault and Mana Crypt seem like a good idea regardless of colours. Given appropriate time, he also has Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to fairly conclusively end things with. There is also the dangerous card drawing power of Braingeyser, Timetwister and Necropotence to contend with.

While it would be tempting to give Mark a deck where he powers out threats like Juzam Djinn, and refill on cards with Necropotence, I think it's going to be a lot more fun to put him on a pretty cool to build a deck where Mark's win condition is Emrakul, powered out early with a lot of acceleration, which can be drawn into with good card drawing spells. A little something like this (using the Vintage restricted/banned list in an attempt to keep things vaguely fair);

1 Sol Ring
4 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
4 Mana Drain
4 Braingeyser
1 Ponder
1 Timetwister
4 Belbe's Portal
4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
4 Doubling Cube
4 Feldon's Cane
4 Planar Portal
24 Island

Now clearly Mark could go quite a few other directions, with Necropotence and Dark Heart of the Wood perhaps, or simply adding more countermagic (e.g. Memory Lapse and Draining Whelk), but I like the idea of the single minded Emrakul engine that is this deck's plan. With Timetwister and Feldon's Cane, it has a good chance of drawing into mana acceleration in order to get Belbe's Portal for Emrakul, or potentially even to cast the monster the old fashioned way.

Mark Tedin has a long reach

Is there much that Rob's deck can do about all this?

Well... Alexander is definitely in rough shape to an Emrakul (as are we all). He has to be sneaky to get some wins, and there are a few nice little tools to get there. Declaration of Naught can certainly stop some key combo pieces from Tedin's deck, meaning that getting to Emrakul Fast might prove more problematic. What Alexander needs to ensure, is that he can disrupt the Tedin plan as much as possible, because given time it is terrifyingly powerful.

Floral Spuzzem and Creeping Mold can attack artifact mana, and there are a whole host of ways that Alexander can attack Mark's blue mana sources. Plow Under is certainly a powerful option, which can be backed up by Reap and Sow.

For win conditions, we have to dig a little deeper. Rob has not currently been responsible for the creation of too many big gribbly monsters. To go along with the mana denial plan, we have a creeping death by inches. Between Welkin Hawk and Squadron Hawk, we can use Soulcatcher's Aerie to create an air force that may be able to block Emrakul for a while, and gradually grow. Mistveil Plains (and potentially Tedin's own Timetwister) can keep the birds coming back. Rob will need to get well ahead on permanents to get things going, but his birds could easily peck away Mark's life total if he slips up.

While Rob Alexander may give up a little in raw power, his deck is definitely a fighter

Here's my sample list

4 Squadron Hawk
4 Welkin Hawk
4 Floral Spuzzem
4 Reap and Sow
4 Plow Under
4 Hurricane
4 Creeping Mold
4 Thrumming Stone
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Declaration of Naught
4 Breeding Pool
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Irrigation Ditch
4 Mistveil Plains
4 Temple Garden

How would this matchup go? Well, I think it would be pretty interesting. Rob's deck is certainly the early aggressor, and may want to periodically play Hurricane to upgrade Welkin Hawks to further power its air attack. Keeping Tedin off mana, and especially Belbe's Portal will be key, and there are the tools to do it. If Tedin has an early Belbe's Portal and gets to activate it, then that could be all she wrote, but it is certainly a match with a bit of play in it.

One thing is for sure; even if these decks aren't the most competitive ones in the room, they are almost certainly the only ones in the room that could easily be 100% signed!

Sunday, 2:44 p.m. - Video Feature: Interview with Rob Alexander

by Tim Willoughby