GRAND PRIX VANCOUVER 2008
Cheon Conquers Canada!
February 23-24, 2008
What a weekend! History has been made AND repeated, and a number of new decks have moved to the top of the Extended heap. Grand Prix-Krakow and former U.S. National Champion Paul Cheon took home the big trophy at the end of play Sunday with his innovative Previous Level Blue deck. His opponent? None other than Ben Lundquist, the same player he had to beat to become U.S. Nationals Champion!
Ben's deck was truly the breakout deck of the tournament as both he and Zack Hall managed to find themselves in the Top 8 with identical 75 card blue-green Tron lists. They weren't the only duo who worked on and played similar lists in the final elimination rounds, however. Canadians Marc Bonnefoy and Aaron Paquette both earned spots in the Top 8 on the backs of strong performances with their TEPS lists that they worked on with each other before riding in the same car to the tournament! The results of the weekend are sure to shake up the Extended environment for weeks to come.
Congratulations to Paul Cheon, 2008 Grand Prix-Vancouver champion!
top 8 bracket
Ben Lundquist 2-0
Zack Hall 2-0
Paul Cheon 2-0
Marc Bonnefoy 2-1
Ben Lundquist 2-0
Paul Cheon 2-0
Paul Cheon 2-0
- Finals: Paul Cheon vs. Benjamin Lundquist
by Tom LaPille
- Semifinals: Paul Cheon vs. Marc Bonnefoy
by Riki Hayashi
- Semifinals: Benjamin Lundquist vs. Zack Hall
by Tom LaPille
- Quarterfinals: Paul Cheon vs. Michael Gurney
by Riki Hayashi
- Quarterfinals: Zack Hall vs. Jason Fleurant
by Tom LaPille
- Quarterfinals: Ben Lundquist vs. Hunter Coale
by Bill Stark
- Quarterfinals: Aaron Paquette vs. Marc Bonnefoy
by Zaiem Beg
- Feature: Top 8 Decks
by Event Coverage Staff
- Feature: Top 8 Profiles
by Event Coverage Staff
- Feature: Top 64 Decks
by Event Coverage Staff
- Information: Day 2 Player List
by Event Coverage Staff
- Blog: Read all the Day 2 coverage here! 5 minutes with Shuhei, Revisiting Blue-Green Tron, a message from Ask the Pro and all of the Day 2 Feature Match coverage!
by Bill Stark
|1. Paul Cheon||$3,500|
|2. Ben Lundquist||$2,300|
|3. Marc Bonnefoy||$1,500|
|4. Zack Hall||$1,500|
|5. Jason Fleurant||$1,000|
|6. Michael Gurney||$1,000|
|7. Aaron Paquette||$1,000|
|8. Hunter Coale||$1,000|
pairings, results, standings
Quarterfinals: Aaron Paquette vs Marc Bonnefoy
This was the TEPS (The Extended Perfect Storm) mirror match between two friends who had not only traveled to the event together but tested together as well. "It's like the semifinals of an FNM all over again," a spectator commented.
Marc replied, "I never make it that far."
As is the custom for Grand Prix, the judge handed each player their decklists and said, "If these look like your decklists, let me know." With the lists so similar, Aaron looked at the judge, thought about saying something, and then looked at his friend's decklist which he already knew so well.
Aaron Paquette tries to make the best of a tricky mirror match Marc won the all-important die roll. He looked at his opening hand and didn't hesitate before keeping. Aaron didn't like his hand of seven and mulliganed to six. Marc suspended a Lotus Bloom on turn one before passing. Aaron felt the pressure of the Lotus Bloom breathing down his neck, as TEPS often combos off the turn the Bloom enters play. "I have to Desire before Bonnefoy Desires. Can I do it? Unfortunately, I don't think I can." He thought some more, and decided to go for it anyway.
Aaron went through the motions of the deck and tried to build his storm count as high as possible, but he was only able to play Tendrils of Agony to take away 18 life, putting Aaron at 38 and Marc at 2. "Oh no!" Aaron lamented. "I'm going to be short!" and passed the turn.
Marc's Bloom came into play and Marc looked at his hand. "I can fizzle and still do it," Marc said.
"You'll have to Tendrils for a little more this time," replied Aaron.
Marc thought a bit and said, "I can't do it," and passed the turn back.
"You should have told me that last turn!" complained Aaron. "Maybe I'll get Burning Wish off the top." Aaron drew his card and looked at it. "You're not a Burning Wish!" he yelled at the Rite of Flame he had drawn. When Aaron survived a turn without Marc going off and drew a Mind's Desire he proclaimed "I can do this!" He attempted to go off for two, but didn't get the Sins of the Past that would have allowed him to win.
Marc didn't give Aaron another chance opting to finally go for it. He Mind's Desired for six and when the fifth card revealed was another Mind's Desire, Aaron scooped.
"One more spell was all I needed," Aaron rued.
Marc Bonnefoy: 1, Aaron Paquette: 0
Both players liked their hands, and both started off with a turn one Lotus Bloom. "Mine's better because it's foil," Aaron bragged. Neither player did anything except play lands, but when Aaron's Lotus Bloom came into play, he looked at his hand, counted mana, and declared, "Yes, it's time." This time there was no whiff, and when Aaron went off for nine copies of Mind's Desire and revealed the Tendrils of Agony sitting in his hand, Marc scooped.
Marc Bonnefoy: 1, Aaron Paquette: 1
Friend or no, Marc Bonnefoy aims to beat his opponent "Whoever gets the turn one Lotus Bloom wins," Aaron said. Marc concurred, and got the turn one Lotus Bloom they were just discussing. Aaron didn't have a Lotus Bloom of his own but he managed to draw one a turn later. He looked at it in his hand, shook his fist and said, "There you are!" before suspending it.
Marc's Bloom resolved and he tried to go off. Sacrificing all of his lands and his Bloom, he Mind's Desired for six, but it didn't look good. He revealed land, Chromatic Star, land, Channel the Suns, land, and...land, eliciting hope from Aaron that he had just badly whiffed. But Marc had a contingency plan and had a Burning Wish in his hand to get the lethal Tendrils of Agony for the win.
Marc Bonnefoy defeats Aaron Paquette 2-1 to advance to the semifinals.
Quarterfinals: Ben Lundquist Versus Hunter Coale
Ben Lundquist's innovative take on UG Tron pays off "Congratulations on making Top 8." Ben Lundquist offered to his young opponent before drawing his opening hand. So far on the weekend Lundquist had been very successful with his UG Tron deck, in part because of how good his matchup was against Next Level Blue. That didn't bode well for Hunter Coale who just happened to be playing that deck in his first Grand Prix Top 8.
Recognizing he needed to win quickly before his opponent could overwhelm him with big-mana cards, Coale made a first turn Tarmogoyf powered by a Chrome Mox. Lundquist, who had won the die roll, didn't seem to mind accelerating himself with a Simic Signet before using Repeal to bounce his opponent's Mox. A second Tarmogoyf was kept from play for a turn by a Lundquist Remand, but he could only watch as it resolved when Coale next had the opportunity to play it.
Under pressure Ben managed to finish his Urzatron which enabled him to play a Mindslaver. That merited a Counterspell from his opponent, and Ben simply passed the turn. Both Tarmogoyfs crashed in to put the life totals at 17-5 in Hunter Coale's favor. A second Mindslaver entered play for Lundquist who had already played an Academy Ruins and was close to locking his opponent out through a loop in which he used Academy Ruins to return the Mindslaver, play, and activate it each turn. Not willing to give up just yet, Coale used a Polluted Delta to find a land, then waited to see how Lundquist would mess with his turn.
Ben made it a good one using his opponent's Trinket Mage to find an Engineered Explosives which he played for two, threatening to use Hunter's own spells to destroy his Tarmogoyfs. A Gifts Ungiven for more goodness on Ben's own turn merited the concession from Coale as the lock became guaranteed.
Ben Lundquist: 1, Hunter Coale: 0
Both players kept their openers and Hunter dropped a somewhat peculiar turn two play in the form of Counterbalance. The enchantment, a marquee element of Next Level Blue, isn't as good against Tron decks due to their plethora of high casting cost cards. What it could do, however, was handle Lundquist's Signets, Moment's Peaces, and counters. In any case, the play seemed almost irrelevant when Coale missed his third land drop, an epic stuttered step against his opponent who took advantage with a Thirst for Knowledge.
Hunter Coale plays with demeanor well beyond his years Lundquist continued taking advantage by building his manabase but he couldn't find the missing Tron piece he needed to go big. Coale quickly caught back up after a Thirst for Knowledge of his own and got on the board with a Tarmogoyf. When he tried for a second, however, Ben was ready with a Remand. The eponymous Lhurgoyf managed to resolve the second time around and it became apparent why when Ben opted to play Gifts Ungiven during Hunter's end step; he was saving a counter to make sure his instant resolved. Coale didn't put up a fight, however, and Lundquist found the cards he needed to complete his Tron in the form of the missing piece, a Tolaria West, and a Life from the Loam. Coale, stoic as he had been throughout the weekend, seemed resigned to his fate though he hadn't completely given up.
A Threads of Disloyalty netted Lundquist one of Hunter's Tarmogoyfs and gave him the blocker he needed to nullify the other. Still on just five lands Hunter made a Sensei's Divining Top before using a Krosan Grip on the Threads and attacking his opponent. That left the totals at 19-4 in his favor and Ben needed to find an answer to not one but two Tarmogoyfs to get out of the game. He attempted to do exactly that using Academy Ruins to put a Mindslaver back on top of his library before playing and activating it. Reading the writing on the wall Hunter calmly said "Yeah, you got it," before extending his hand and wishing his opponent good luck.
Ben Lundquist defeats Hunter Coale 2-0 to move on to the semifinals.
Quarterfinals: Zack Hall v Jason Fleurant
Zack Hall is an up-and-coming player from Massachusetts; he is playing a blue-green Urzatron deck of Benjamin Lundquist's design. Jason Fleurant is a Vancouver native who lives literally four blocks from the tournament site. He is playing black-green Death Cloud.
Before Top 8 matches at Grand Prixs players are given access to their opponent's decklist. While reviewing Jason's Zack remarked "I thought you had Haunting Echoes in the board....Nice!" Fleurant responded with nothing more than a blank stare.
The American won the die roll and chose to play (neither player mulliganed). Jason brought the first action of the game with a turn two Tarmogoyf, but Hall Condescended and a second Tarmogoyf on Jason's third turn met an identical fate. Zac's fourth land was an untapped Breeding Pool, signaling Gifts Ungiven. Fleurant had a third Tarmogoyf and a fourth land in the form of his third Mutavault. He attacked with one of the lands and then passed the turn.
Jason Fleurant plays his hardest to defend his home turf from an American Zack had telegraphed Gifts Ungiven with the untapped Breeding Pool as a fourth land, and he did not disappoint. The instant found Urza's Power Plant, Mindslaver, Life From the Loam, and Tolaria West; Jason gave him the Mindslaver and Power Plant. Hall seemed short on action and spent his next turn dredging the Loam and then tapping out for Thirst for Knoweldge and a Simic Signet. Fleurant wanted to see what the new cards were, and his Thoughtseize found Life from the Loam, Moment's Peace, Urza's Power Plant, Mindslaver, and Condescend. After some prodding from a judge, Jason took the Life From the Loam and then attacked for seven with Tarmogoyf and a Mutavault, taking Hall to a mere 9 life.
With the turn back Zack just dredged the Loam again returning the Tolaria West. This allowed him to search for an Urza's Mine to complete his Tron, and he passed the turn with Moment's Peace mana up. Jason played Garruk and attacked but was fogged. He then used Garruk to untap a Rot Farm and Overgrown Tomb and played Liliana Vess, which he used to make himself discard Garruk to protect against the Mindslaver that he knew was in his opponent's hand. Zack untapped and used his now ridiculous mass of mana to dredge Life From the Loam, transmute Tolaria West again for Academy Ruins, and play and activate Mindslaver.
The only card in Jason's hand at this point was an uncastable Death Cloud, but he unfortunately drew a Ravenous Baloth. Zack forced Jason to throw away his Garruk and then used the Baloth to sacrifice two Mutavaults and the 4/4 itself. He untapped, played the Academy Ruins, and cast Moment's Peace on Jason's upkeep to protect himself from Jason's creatures. The Academy Ruins and Mindslaver meant that Jason would never control another one of his own turns, so he conceded.
Zack Hall: 1, Jason Fleurant: 0
Zack Hall moves one step closer to becoming a Grand Prix champion Jason chose to play in Game 2; both players kept. He led off with a Thoughtseize that took Triskelion and left "...one of each Urza land? How lucky...." along with a Chrome Mox, Simic Signet, and Condescend. A Duress on Fleurant's next turn took the Condescend, and a Tarmogoyf joined the board for the Death Cloud player. Zack completed his Tron on turn three and thanks to two Simic Signets was able to cast Gifts Ungiven on Jason's fourth turn for Academy Ruins, Life From the Loam, Mindslaver, and Urza's Tower. Jason gave Zack the Urza's Tower and Life From the Loam.
It seemed like Fleurant had a little bit of time to live, but that was just an illusion: Zack untapped, cast Life From the Loam to return the Academy Ruins, and put the Mindslaver on top of his deck. Unless Jason had some serious action, he was going to be immediately Mindslaver locked. Jason had nothing, and fell once again to Zack Hall's mind control machine.
Zack Hall 2-0 Jason Fleurant
Zack moves on to the semifinals, where he will play a second seventy-five card mirror match against friend and deck designer Benjamin Lundquist.
Quarterfinals: Paul Cheon versus Michael Gurney
Paul Cheon is tired of hearing about choking and monkeys on his back. After blazing starts and disappointing day 2s at Pro Tours Valencia and Kuala Lumpur, the former US National Champion is determined to put such talk behind him and add another trophy to his mantle. This is Paul's fifth GP Top 8. His opponent, Michael Gurney, is another one of the old guard pros from Canada that came out in force this weekend. His best finish was a Top 8 at Pro Tour LA in 2001; this is his first GP Top 8.
Paul Cheon tries to relive the success he found at Grand Prix-Krakow The judge explained that the loser of the die roll would have the choice of side of the table, much like a football game. Paul won the roll and Michael chose to switch sides, not wanting the crowd at his back. While reviewing each other's decklists Paul commented on Gurney's manabase, wondering if he should be playing an extra land.
"I've been mulliganing a lot. I won't lie," said Michael with a shrug.
Michael asked Paul about his deck name: "PLB?"
"Luis named the deck 'Previous Level Blue.' Luis and bad deck names go way back," said Paul. He followed that up with this gem while shuffling:
"You know how a lot of the pros have a lot of cool things they do when they shuffle? I can't do any of them." That got a chuckle out a few spectators.
Both players started with Polluted Deltas and joked about the possibility of Stifle, despite having just seen each other's lists. They continued to mirror each other with dueling Sensei's Divining Tops. Paul made a move that Michael could not copy, in his words "the tech," Ancestral Visions. Michael just wanted to beat with a Tarmogoyf, but Paul countered it with a Spell Snare.
Both players spun their Tops, Paul with the slight advantage as he had fetch lands. He cracked one when the top of his library stopped giving him what he wanted. Michael tried to change the balance of power with Counterbalance. That started a counter war the likes of which hadn't been seen since the days of Psychatog's dominance. Paul eventually came out on top thanks to two Force Spikes. "Three-for-two," he noted about the exchange. It was critical for him to keep Michael's Counterbalance off the table.
When Ancestral Visions came off of suspend, Michael tried to Dismiss it with Cryptic Command. Cheon calmly flipped over the last card in his hand, a Cryptic Command of his own to force the Visions through. Finding no lands off the extra cards Paul stayed stuck at four Islands and a Breeding Pool. Michael went for "his Visions," Thirst for Knowledge, and parlayed that into a Trinket Maged Engineered Explosives.
"That Rude Awakening's going to kill me," joked Michael.
"What's that card do?" deadpanned Paul.
"It kills me. Didn't I say it?" There were big smiles all around. While these two players had never met before, they clearly had no trouble getting along.
Paul played a Tarmogoyf, which threatened to kill Michael much sooner than Rude Awakening. Gurney asked for a size check on the Goyf. "Does interrupt count?" asked Paul, pointing to his Legends Force Spikes. They did not, meaning Goyf was "only" a 6/7. Gurney had nothing new, and chose not to block with Trinket Mage when Tarmogoyf attacked. Paul suspended another Visions.
Michael Gurney, old school Canadian favorite, tries to make good in his first Grand Prix Top With no other options, Michael played his Engineered Explosives for 2. Paul went for the Spell Snare, but Michael protected it with a Counterspell. The UG semi-mirror had a lot of action, but very little of it affected life totals much. Paul was at 15 and Michael at 11, most of the damage being done by their own lands.
Gurney asked about the entwine cost of Rude Awakening, clearly getting worried about the miser's one-of in Cheon's deck. Paul had six lands and worked his Top furiously with fetch lands. Explosives blew up Goyf during the combat phase, but Paul just replaced it with another 6/7 for two mana. Academy Ruins got Gurney back his Explosives and he counted Paul's lands again (now 7), but he had problems on the board to deal with when his Explosives was countered by a Cryptic Command from the American. After his Tarmogoyf took Michael to 3, Paul decided to start a fight over Trinket Mage, Repealing Michael's blocker.
Somewhere in the background, Ancestral Visions ticked down to one counter.
Goyf got in and Paul Cryptic Commanded to tap Venser, but Michael flipped his Top for a Cryptic of his own. Gurney looked at a bunch of cards on top of his library using Tops, fetches, and Trinket Mages in conjunction. Finally he found Threads of Disloyalty, but Paul just took back his Goyf with his own Threads. Michael tried to add a Dark Confidant to the board as a chump blocker, but it got Spell Snared, so Trinket Mage had to step in the way of Goyf.
Academy Ruins returned Engineered Explosives. "If you got it, you got it," said Michael, playing the EE for 2. Paul flipped Top for Spell Snare. "I knew I should have played around the 4th Snare," said Michael, knowing that he could have paid an extra mana of either color to make the spell cost 3.
After a lengthy battle, Paul's Tarmogoyf finally finished things off.
Paul Cheon: 1, Michael Gurney: 0
Michael opened the game with a mulligan to six while Paul noted Gurney's Korean Island.
"I can read it, but I don't know what it means. Probably 'tap: add a blue mana.'" The former American National Champion dead panned.
Gurney's Dark Confidant went down to yet another Spell Snare. Both players got Tops and started spinning away, Paul with the added comfort of Ancestral Visions on the way. Michael dug with Thirst for Knowledge. Gurney Topped and shook his head. "Fetch time?" asked Paul. It was. The Canadian cracked his Delta to get a new set. It paid off when he played a Tarmogoyf, but Cheon flipped his Top into a Spell Snare. "God I hate that card," said Michael.
Trinket Mage couldn't be Snared, however, and Michael played a pair of them on successive turns, getting artifact lands. After a counter war over Ancestral Visions, which Paul won, Gurney Extirpated Counterspell and commented on the white borders. "That was also his [Luis's] fault."
The Trinket Mages took Cheon to 12, prompting an end-of-turn Repeal on one of the 2/2s and trying to dig one card deeper. He found a Breeding Pool and a Goyf, which resolved as a 5/6. Michael took it with Threads. Gurney counted Paul's lands which stood at nine, but only one could make green which was critical for Rude with entwine.
Visions came off and again they traded Cryptic Commands in Paul's favor. Threads took back the Goyf and Cheon played a Polluted Delta, which could get Breeding Pool. Facing a Rude, Michael replayed the Trinket Mage getting a Mox. Michael dug with Top but found nothing, playing a Goyf as another blocker.
Paul counted his lands, looked at his hand, and played Rude Awakening with a shrug.
"You're dead, right?" Even with perfect blocks, Goyf plus Rude would deal 16, which was what Paul had Michael's life at.
Michael thought he was at 17. They looked at each other's life pads. Michael checked his graveyard and found 4 fetch lands. He was at 16. He was dead.
Paul Cheon defeats Michael Gurney 2 to 0 to move on to the semifinals.
Semifinals: Benjamin Lundquist v. Zack Hall
Ben Lundquist is the mastermind behind the deck that both he and semifinals opponent Zack Hall played this weekend – they are the only two with the list, and they are both in the Top 4. That means that this is an exact 75 card mirror match. I covered their meeting in the swiss which Zack won, but he won largely because of mulligans and mana problems on Ben's part.
Zack: "Leaf or Face?" Referring to flipping a Canadian coin to see who goes first.
Ben: "I'll call it in the air....Face."
Zack: "I'll play!"
Zack Hall squares off against the same person who gave him his deck for the weekend Hall kept his hand but Ben met his opener with chagrin, and went to six. His opponent came out of the gates screaming with a first turn Simic Signet off a Mox. Zack went through two Thirst for Knowledges to find lands; Ben attempted to follow with a Thirst of his own, but Zack Remanded and then fired out a Triskelion. Ben's Thirst found him a land to continue his development, but he needed to find a way to stop Zack's many-armed menace. He transmuted Tolaria West to complete his Tron and then played a Simic Signet, but Zac responded with a Gifts Ungiven while the Signet was still on the stack and therefore unable to produce any blue mana. The Gifts found Tormod's Crypt, Mindslaver, Life From the Loam, and Tolaria West; Ben put the Mindslaver and Tormod's Crypt in the bin, but only after saying "I wish I hadn't taught you how to play this mirror match."
As an aside, at this point in the match the Top 8 of the side event PTQ was announced with Adam Yurchick making the cut playing the same seventy-five as both Ben and Zack adding yet another feather into the cap for an impressive performance this weekend by Ben's list.
Zack's Tolaria West completed his Tron by fetching an Urza's Tower and attacked with Triskelion again, taking Ben to 11. A Thirst for Knowledge off of Urza's Tower and a Signet cost him a point of mana burn, but Ben's next turn brought a Mindslaver that he powered through Zack's Condescend with a Remand, then activated. Hall used his Triskelion to do three to Lundquist's face, then entered the Mindslaver turn. Zack's hand presented a puzzle of monstrous proportions to Ben: not one but two copies of Gifts Ungiven were found there, as well as a Condescend and Tolaria West. Zack had access to eleven mana, so he had plenty of options. Ben chose to have Zack dredge the Life From the Loam, and then went deep into the tank.
His first move was to have Hall cast the first Gifts Ungiven for Academy Ruins, Sundering Titan, Chrome Mox, and Thirst for Knowledge, with the Titan and Ruins going to his graveyard. Lundquist then forced him to cast the newly found Chrome Mox and imprint Life From the Loam. Then, the second Gifts was cast, with Mindslaver and Platinum Angel ending up in the graveyard and Chrome Mox and Remand going to Zack's hand. The second Mox imprinted the Remand, and then Ben had Zack cast Thirst for Knowledge and discard the last two nonland cards from his hand.
It was a brutal Mindslaver turn. At the end of it, Life From the Loam was gone forever thanks to Chrome Mox, and both Mindslavers, Platinum Angel, Sundering Titan, and the Academy Ruins were in the graveyard. The only way that Zack had left to win was the pathetic-looking 1/1 Triskelion that was in play. Ben cast a Platinum Angel and then a Gifts Ungiven that searched for Life From the Loam and Academy Ruins, threatening to set up infinite Mindslavers in two turns.
Hall eyed his 1/1 Triskelion hopefully. "You're at one, right?" "I'm at five." "Alright..." Zack attacked with the now 1/1 Triskelion. Ben blocked with Platinum angel, but with damage on the stack Zack repealed the Triskelion, then replayed it and used the three counters to destroy the Angel. This would not save him, however; Ben's Life From the Loam was safely in his graveyard, which he used to return the the Academy Ruins and put Hall in an infinite Mindslaver lock.
Ben Lundquist: 1, Zack Hall: 0
Between games, Zack asked Ben "Are you bringing in the threads?" There's an interesting sub-game going on in the sideboarding in this particular 75 card mirror. Both players have access to four Tarmogoyfs, but they also have three Threads of Disloyalty. Threads could be spectacular if the opponent brings in Tarmogoyf, but if they don't it's completely useless. Tarmogoyf could lead to some very fast kills, but are a massive liability if the opponent has the Threads. Ben boarded in neither Threads nor Tarmogoyf; Zack boarded in two of his own Tarmogoyfs.
In Game 2, both players kept their hands and led with Simic Signets. Zack had a Thirst for Knowledge on his third turn that appeared to be a desperate dig for lands, but he discarded two lands that revealed other problems. Ben sprung into action with a third land, a Signet, and an aggressive Repeal on his opponent's Signet that he followed with a Tormod's Crypt. Zack dared his opponent to Crypt him when he played Life From the Loam targeting the two discarded lands, but Ben didn't bite. He simply untapped and Thirsted into his Academy Ruins and a third Simic Signet. The players continued to build mana and draw cards with both one piece away from completing the Tron.
Ben Lundquist tries to avenge his loss to Hall in the swissBen got there first with an Urza's Tower. "How does it feel?" "It's only fair, I did it to you earlier." Lundquist had a Gifts Ungiven that he was hoping to force through with a Remand, but immediately after he played the Urza's Tower his opponent beat him to the punch with his own Gifts. Lundquist immediately let it resolve, betraying nothing. Hall's gifts found another Gifts, a Tolaria West, the missing Urza's Mine, and a Sundering Titan. He untapped and dredged Life From the Loam, but was unfortunate enough to dredge his Academy Ruins. Ben's Ruins was already in play and he had a Tormod's Crypt, so his Ruins would be near-invincible as Zack's would quickly find its way to the removed-from-game zone.
Hall forced the question immediately with the Loam, and was Crypted as expected. He cycled a Lonely Sandbar, dredged the Life From the Loam and cast it again targeting some dredged lands. He also had a Tormod's Crypt and moved to pass the turn, but then stopped himself: "Does that resolve?" "No," was the answer, thanks to a Condescend out of Lundquist. This cleared the way for a Mindslaver that Ben had been holding since his opening hand that combined with Academy Ruins to create an infinite lock that forced a concession from Zack.
Blue-green Tron mastermind Benjamin Lundquist wins 2-0 over Zack Hall and advances to the finals against Paul Cheon, a rematch of the finals of the 2006 United States National Championship.
Benjamin Lundquist 2-0 Zack Hall
Semifinals: Paul Cheon versus Marc Bonnefoy
"Oh no," said Paul when Marc came to the table. "I lost to him in the Swiss."
As noted in the quarterfinals coverage, TEPS was a miserable matchup for Paul's blue deck. "I just need to not draw my Shackles and Threads..." he trailed on, knowing that he needed a lot more than that.
Marc won the all important die roll and said "I keep."
Paul Cheon tries to find an edge in a terrible matchup "I lose," said Paul as he mulliganed to six.
Nothing much happened until Marc got his Lotus Bloom Counterspelled, but he kept a spell count on his note pad intent on going off with or without the three extra mana. Burning Wish got Counterspelled as well, but again that just added to the spell count. Sacrificing all his lands, Bonnefoy went with Seething Song, Burning Wish for Mind's Desire for 7.
Marc flipped over Gemstone Mine, Irrigation Ditch, Irrigation Ditch,Geothermal Crevice, Seething Song, Tinder Farm. In response to the final copy of Mind's Desire Paul fetched a Breeding Pool and Force Spiked it.
Marc played Gemstone Mine and Seething Song off of the Desires and used them to Peer Through Depths. It found a Cabal Ritual and Marc took 4 mana burn. Paul had survived and, not needing to hold counter mana up anymore, he went on the offensive with a 4/5 Tarmogoyf.
Marc tried to rebuild his mana base, playing Sulfur Vent and suspending Lotus Bloom but his life was going down in 4-point chunks from the Goyf. As it stood he would get his Lotus Bloom before the Goyf could do him in but Paul put a stop to that plan using Cryptic Commanding to counter the Bloom and bounce a Sulfur Vent. Marc asked the judge about the interaction of targets but was told sacrificing the land would still result in the Bloom being countered.
Bonnefoy sacrificed the land anyway and Peered through the Depths taking a Seething Song. Facing a lethal Goyf he went for it, making BRW, but Cheon had Counterspell for Cabal Ritual, stopping the storm deck short.
Paul Cheon: 1, Marc Bonnefoy: 0
Marc mused that he should have played Seething Song when Paul cracked his fetch. That would have given him mana to play around Force Spike.
Both players kept rather odd hands for the second. Marc had no land to go with his Lotus Bloom while Paul suspended his own spell, Ancestral Visions, and didn't play a second land. "I figured I had to get lucky in this matchup," he said about his risky keep, playing a Sensei's Divining Top on turn two. Marc suspended a second Bloom and waited for his first one to enter play.
Still with no lands, the first Bloom fell easy prey to Force spike. Marc made a black Chrome Mox by imprinting Plunge into Darkness and passed the turn.
Paul flipped his Top blind, looking for a land. Missing, he discarded Visions to keep a counter up.
Bloom #2 resolved, making red mana for Rite of Flame, Seething Song, Cabal Ritual (no threshold)... but the last one got Spell Snared (M-V-P). Paul did some wishful thinking, marking Marc's life down to 15 from potential mana burn.
Marc Bonnefoy tries to defend his native land against a level 8 mage No such luck. Burning Wish got Empty the Warrens, but with only 3 mana left, Marc did burn to 17. Ancestral Visions came off suspend for Paul who finally found a second land in a Flooded Strand that fetched a Breeding Pool into Top. Paul had 8 cards and discarded...Ancient Grudge, killing the Mox during Marc's upkeep. That left Bonnefoy with no permanents and he could only play a lonely Gemstone Mine. His opponent made a 4/5 Tarmogoyf which attacked the following turn only to be joined by a compatriot.
"That was such an odd game," said Paul, recalling their awkward openers.
"The Spell Snare won you the game," said Marc.
Paul Cheon defeats Marc Bonnefoy 2-0 for the chance to earn the title of Grand Prix-Vancouver champion.
Finals: Paul Cheon versus Benjamin Lundquist
This is a rematch of the finals of the 2006 United States National Championships, which Cheon won. Lundquist was outwardly quiet, but expressed earlier in the day that he wanted another shot at Paul. Unfortunately for him, Paul had already won their previous match during the swiss rounds of the tournament, but he attributed that win to some bad luck on Ben's part.
Ben: "Looks like I need to get Game 1."
Paul: "Why, because that's when I have all those crappy cards?"
Paul's anti-creature measures like Vedalken Shackles and Threads of Disloyalty are both close to dead in this matchup, so Ben really wanted to win the first game. Paul's six on two dice was easily bested by Ben's boxcars and Ben chose to play.
Both players played lands and passed until Paul's third turn, when he attempted a Tarmogoyf. Ben's Remand was stopped by a Spell Snare, and the Tarmogoyf resolved. Lundquist Repealed the Tarmogoyf on his next main phase, but failed to find a fourth land; Paul merely replayed the 'Goyf. It was only a 2/3 at this point, however, so it did not pose an immediate threat.
Ben found a fourth mana source in the form of a Tolaria West that he transmuted for an Urza's Tower, his first Urza land of the game. His next draw was an Urza's Power Plant, prompting Paul to remark that the Mine was probably coming the following turn. Cheon scheduled an Ancestral Vision for four turns in the future and attacked again, choosing not to contest a Thirst for Knowledge from his opponent.
Paul Cheon tries to add more hardware to his trophy shelf Paul continued to be aggressive, using a second Repeal on a freshly cast Simic Signet, which gave Ben a window to resolve yet another Thirst for Knowledge; this one discarded two Moment's Peaces, but the Repeal still put him to eight cards and forced him to discard a card in his end step. All of these shenanigans grew the Tarmogoyf to a 4/5. Paul continued the attack, taking Ben to a mere eight life. Lundquist needed to deal with the Tarmogoyf as soon as possible, and tried to buy two turns by Repealing it on Cheon's end step. Paul fought back with a Cryptic Command and stopped Lundquist's Remand with a Counterspell to keep his Tarmogoyf on the board.
This tapped Paul out, however, which gave Ben a window to resolve whatever he wanted. He took the opportunity to cast Gifts Ungiven, a huge blow in Game 1 when Cheon has no way to disrupt Lundquist's graveyard. Paul muttered "It's all slipping away," while Ben pulled Urza's Mine, Life From the Loam, Mindslaver, and Sundering Titan out of his deck for Paul to consider. The Urza's Mine was the last piece of the Urzatron that he needed, so Paul put the Loam and Mine into the bin to force Ben to spend as much time as possible to activate his engine. Whether this would buy Cheon enough time was still an open question.
At only eight life Lundquist tapped out to flash back one of the two previously discarded Moment's Peaces on Paul's attack with Tarmogoyf, after which Paul quietly passed the turn. Ben dredged the Life From the Loam and attempted to return the Urza's Mine to complete his Tron. Paul dug for an answer with Sensei's Divining Top and a Polluted Delta and came up with Spell Snare. Ben needed to make a stand soon; he could only survive two more Tarmogoyf hits and he only had one Moment's Peace left, but he had nothing more and passed the turn back. Cheon's Ancestral Visions finally hit, refilling his hand, and his attack with Tarmogoyf was uncontested. Ben fell to a mere three life.
After a dissatisfied sigh, Ben dredged Life From the Loam again and cast it targeting two Urza's Mines and a Lonely Sandbar; Paul had another uncontested Spell Snare. Cheon also had a Cryptic Command that he used to bounce one of Lundquist's only two sources of green mana, and a third Command countered the Moment's Peace that Ben was then forced to tap out for on Cheon's upkeep. Lundquist fell to the Tarmogoyf.
Paul Cheon: 1, Benjamin Lundquist: 0
Ben's sideboarded Tarmogoyfs once again present an interesting exercise in game theory. This time, unlike his semifinals match against Zack Hall, Ben appeared to have the upper hand in that game as he boarded in all of his Tarmogoyfs and Threads, while Paul boarded out all of his Shackles and Threads. Paul's only way to deal with possible opposing Tarmogoyfs was Sower of Temptation.
Ben chose to play first and both players kept their seven. Lundquist opened with lands, while Paul had lands and a Tormod's Crypt. Ben went for a Repeal on the Crypt, daring his opponent to use it on nothing to deny Ben a card, but Cheon allowed the Repeal to resolve and replayed the Crypt the following turn. The players continued to go back and forth with lands until Lundquist resolved a Gifts Ungiven. Gifts is always much worse when your graveyard is under attack, and Cheon's Tormod's Crypt complicated his opponent's decision. To the surprise of many, Ben eventually settled on offering Paul all three Urza's lands and a Ghost Quarter; he was given the two Urza lands that he already had copies of.
Ben Lundquist tries for some revenge in a re-match of the 2006 U.S. Nationals tournament Ben untapped and played a land and an Engineered Explosives for zero that threatened to remove the Tormod's Crypt at any time. He used it on Paul's end step, then untapped and played one of the previously-mentioned Tarmogoyfs. Paul's deck had no answers to the Tarmogoyf other than his own copies of the card, and attempted to fight with a Cryptic Command that looked feeble given that it only left him one land, but somehow it resolved. Ben tapped four mana, but then thought better of it and passed instead. Was he bluffing a Gifts? Paul just played a land and passed, and Ben revealed his four mana card to be the singleton Venser, Shaper Savant which started to work on Paul's life total. Just like that, Paul was at only eleven life and falling.
Paul's next upkeep brought the Ancestral Visions; in response, Ben made an attempt at the Gifts Ungiven that he had possibly telegraphed earlier. Cheon went for a Counterspell, but Ben responded with a Remand on the Gifts. The former U.S. Nationals champ didn't want any of that, and Spell Snared the Remand. That resolved, but Ben had another Remand for the Gifts, and Cheon had yet another Counterspell! Ben was now empty-handed, and Cheon's Ancestral Visions refilled his hand. Lundquist had a turn to draw something and his ten lands meant that any number of things could spell trouble for Paul, but his top card was only a Tarmogoyf. That seemed fortunate until Paul slammed down a Sower of Temptation. One turn later, Paul found a Sower for the Venser as well, and he put Ben to only seven life on his next attack with only one turn left to live. Ben drew an Indrik Stomphowler, but that wasn't enough to stop Cheon's suddenly massive army from killing him.
Congratulations to Paul Cheon, Grand Prix Vancouver 2008 champion as he defeats Ben Lundquist 2-0!