Quarterfinal Roundup

Posted in Event Coverage on October 12, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

With all eight players done constructing their final draft deck of the day, the Top 8 took off with a bang, as each vied to complete the first step toward the championship title and the trophy.

Sam Pardee vs. Raphaël Lévy

Pardee arrived with the Black-Red devoid deck, taking advantage of the colorless synergies in the set to try and grind his opponent to zero. Lévy was on the opposite end of the spectrum, playing a three-color deck heavy with awaken spells and powerful landfall creatures.

This time around, the Eldrazi stood no chance, and Lévy quickly stampeded over Pardee's army to close out the first match of the quarterfinals and send the hall of famer into the Top 4.

Paul Rietzl vs. Magnus Lantto

A pair of veteran players and a metric ton of Grand Prix Top 8 appearances between them (16, to be exact), this was one of the most anticipated matches of the day. Lantto drafted one of Battle for Zendikar's most popular combinations — a blue-red deck filled with Eldrazi. While his deck was a near-perfect specimen of the archetype, Rietzl had more trouble. The hall of famer attempted to draft the black-red deck he found success with earlier on Sunday, but the cards didn't cooperate and he instead ended up with a four-color converge deck that hadn't turned out quite as planned.

Nor did his quarterfinal match, and Lantto's efficient curve and early ingest creatures quickly outpaced Rietzl's to send Lantto to an early berth in the final four.

Jon Graham vs. Jérémy Dezani

Jon Graham is a man who knows what he likes. He took White-Blue Fliers to a 3-0 victory twice in the Swiss rounds on Sunday, and he stayed the course in the Top 8, again showing up with an army of flying creatures backed up by blue tempo spells. On the other side was the 2014 Player of the Year Jérémy Dezani, who was battling with a token-based black-green strategy.

The first game was a quick flurry of wings, and in a short few minutes Graham took control of the match. The second game was a more competitive affair, but when Dezani's Oran-Rief Invoker was met with Gideon's Reproach as he tried to pump it. With the flying army pecking away his life total, Dezani was in the danger zone. Adverse Conditions pushed past the danger zone, and one attack later Graham finished off the match.

Joe Lavrenz vs. Andrew Maine

Lavrenz was happy to stretch his mana base and play all the lands, and had a four-color draft deck that also included Blighted Fen, which he used to great effect in his first game against Andrew Maine. While his counterspells kept Maine's Eldrazi at bay, Skyrider Elf did its work in the sky, sending Lavrenz to a win in the first game.

The second game was a slow affair, especially compared to the lightning-fast matches that completed around them. As both players sat behind counterspells and removal, neither player did much to impact the board for several turns. Ugin's Insight eventually resolved for Maine, pulling him ahead on cards and ready to start throwing haymakers.

And he did. Breaker of Armies and Scour from Existence were both countered, but that meant that Bane of Bala Ged resolved for the Michigan native.

It was, however, met with an even bigger Eldrazi when Ulamog's Despoiler arrived with four +1/+1 counters to take over the ground. Maine sacrificed his Hedron Archive to draw two cards to try and find an answer. He did in Murk Strider, and when the Despoiler was replayed it was as only a 5/5. Still, that was enough to win combat when Dampening Pulse followed for Lavrenz, and a turn later he punched his ticket to the semifinals.

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