Quarterfinals Round-Up

Posted in Event Coverage on June 1, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

It's been a long hard road to the Top 8. There are a monumental amount of players, and the Grand Prix Vegas 1 had its fair share of ups and down. Even the eventual #1 seed Aaron Lewis went into the last round unsure if he would make the Top 8 at all.

Thousands upon thousands of Modern Masters 2015 packs were ripped open, and it's all been building to this. The eight-man draft to crown a champion.

Andrew Lozano vs. Pascal Maynard

Québécois Pascal Maynard was quite fine with his White-Red Double Strike deck. “It‘s really good—the deck was definitely open. Look at all these cards in the sideboard!”

Andrew Lozano felt torn about his own deck Blue-Black Control deck. It had four Stoic Rebuttal, and more counters to boot, but lacked early creatures. “I love control decks,” he said, but he didn't know if it was actually going to be good against the field. “It's really threat-light.” He wondered, “Is that even viable in this format?” We'll find out.

In the first game Pascal Maynard was flooded with land. This gave Lozano the necessary time to get this infinite counterspells online. Maynard fought as hard as he could, but it was only a matter of time before Andrew Lozano's Profane Command for a million, followed up with a Burst Lightning, took the game.

Pascal Maynard

The second game went a little more according to plan for Maynard. I mean, he had both lands and spells, so that was good. He had fairly unassuming board, but this time it was Lozano who was having land troubles, not enough of them. With a Cranial Plating and just a few artifacts, it only took a few attacks for Lozano had to admit defeat.

Maynard knew that against his threat-light opponent, any creatures could be threatening, so he sideboarded in some otherwise-lackluster creatures to help get the job done. And get it done he did. And a lackluster creature it was. A Runed Servitor, double-equipped for value, ended up taking the game, through many, many counterspells.

Pascal Maynard advanced to the Semifinals.

Marcel Dizon vs. Lucas Duchow

“Somebody took my pieces!” Marcel Dizon decried about his attempted Eldrazi deck. He didn't know it, but it was Ben Stark who had taken his pieces. He still has some solid hitters, but was missing some of the oomph to take the deck over the top.

Lucas Duchow had built a synergistic Red-Black Aggro deck. With some Smokebraider and tons of Elementals, it could control the board well—even if it looked like just a bunch of 2/1s and 2/2s. Backed up by some sweet removal, it could really hum.

In the first game, Lucas Duchow used some of his good red and black removal and those mediocre creatures to delay for him until he hit Marcel Dizon in the face with a giant Profane Command. That was the first game.

But Marcel Dizon struck back quickly. In the second game he ramped out an Etched Monstrosity and a Creakwood Liege, and Duchow just couldn't keep up. It was over in a flash.

Lucas Duchow

The rubber game came and Duchow's deck really flexed its muscles. His red and black creatures looked slightly paltry alone, but they were all Elementals with fun activations, and a Smokebraider to help with that. A timely Gut Shot messed up Marcel Dizon's plan, then the Elemental pump-fest happened. Smokebraider fueled Soulbright Flamekin to make trample, then eight mana, then more trample, run over every Eldrazi Spawn token in the house to take the final points away.

Lucas Duchow advanced to the Semifinals.

Ben Stark vs. Aaron Lewis

Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Ben Stark was happy overall with his picks, but he ended in a slightly weird Tokens-Eldrazi hybrid. “The cards were all there; they just didn't come in the right order.” He talked about the same issue that Marcel Dizon was made about—his Eldrazi cards being taken. “I mean, I'm not going to take an Eldrazi Temple fifth or something, but it didn't coming back.” This was, of course, Dizon taking them. The two had cannibalized each others' decks because they had both gone Eldrazi.

Aaron Lewis had an odd deck all his own. He was a White-Blue deck that had barely any artifacts at all. It looked like a Skies build, with strong, solid creatures and great removal—just no artifacts. “I don't even know if this archetype exists,” Lewis said. “I hope so.”

In their first game, Ben Stark kept presenting threats and adding little tokens to the board. Though Aaron Lewis had a steady stream of answers—two Arrest took out Selesnya Guildmage and Primeval Titan—it was the second Guildmage that got there. Tokens got super pumped to be there, and ran around all over Lewis's face.

Aaron Lewis

Ben Stark might have thought the second game looked like the first, when he cast a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. But of all the unlikely things to stop it, was a Remand from Aaron Lewis. Though it net the Hall of Famer four cards, Stark, never had time to recast the card. Lewis had been applying consistent pressure in the air, and he took down the second game in stride.

The last game was a bit of a let-down. Stark keep a two-lander on the play, and just didn't get there in time. Lewis had a fast-enough start, and the game was over before it even began.

Aaron Lewis advanced to the semifinals.

Peter Maginnis vs. David Jetha

David Jetha, in his first Top 8, was playing a Black-Green deck that had some big beats, but took a little time to get set up. He was worried about decks with fast starts. And fast starts is exactly what Pete Maginnis has got going with his Black-Red Aggro deck. Jetha had his work cut out for him.

Maginnis took the first game off Jetha with an all-out assault. Multiple Vampire Lacerator, joined by some Flamekin and a turn-five Precursor Golem. Though Jetha hit it with a Grim Affliction, the follow up of an Ashenmoor Gouger and an Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder—as nothing more than a 2/2—cleaned up the life total.

In the second game, Jetha set up his defense grid quicker, so Vampire Lacerator was more of a liability than a help. This was the second game that Precursor Golem was hit by a Grim Affliction. And this time, that crazy amount of proliferation was able to finish off the game in Jetha's favor.

David Jetha

The last game Maginnis came on really strong, with Gorehorn and friends abound, but Jetha was able to stabilize with a Karplusan Strider, and cleaned up with a Bestial Menace.

As he was packing up, Maginnis said to Jetha, “Good luck in the semifinals! Your deck has some pluck!”

David Jetha moved into the Semifinals.

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