Round 8: Thien Nguyen (Black-Green Constrictor) vs. César Segovia (Black-Red Aggro)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 3, 2017

By Tobi Henke

At the end of a long day of Magic, with three rounds of Booster Draft and four rounds of the new Standard format already behind them, two undefeated players sat down in the feature match area with high hopes of clinching that elusive 8-0 record, a spot atop the standings, and a good starting point for a successful run at the Top 8 on Saturday.

The match here saw two lesser known players trying to make more of a name for themselves. Team Fire Squad's Thien Nguyen already had two Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, while César Segovia qualified for this event with a Top 8 finish at last year's World Magic Cup with Team Panama. Still this was only Nguyen third time playing on the Pro Tour and the very first time for Segovia.

Nguyen was playing Black-Green Constrictor, one of the most popular decks at this Pro Tour, while César Segovia had brought Black-Red Aggro. Would the latter's smaller threats and burn spells get their damage in before Nguyen's +1/+1 counter machinery took over?

Team Fire Squad's Thien Nguyen and Panama player César Segovia face off to see who would be having a very memorable Day One at the Pro Tour.

The Games

Things began with a series of trades of Nguyen's creatures versus Segovia's removal spells. Multiple times Nguyen untapped with Winding Constrictor on the battlefield and Rishkar, Peema Renegade in hand. Unfortunately for Nguyen, he never had a third land to cast the legendary Elf.

One Constrictor fell victim to Hungry Flames, another to Unlicensed Disintegration. Eventually, Nguyen found a third Constrictor and even a third land. However, by that point, Segovia already had a pair of Scrapheap Scroungers and a Heart of Kiran to put pressure on Nguyen. He also added Weldfast Engineer to his team, announced combat, waited for Nguyen's response, then tapped Weldfast Engineer to crew Heart of Kiran.

Nguyen continued on despite an early stumble.

This proved a problem which needed assistance by the judge staff. See, by current rules, announcing combat is considered to be proposing a shortcut to skip to attacker declaration. Meaning, no more crewing of Vehicles. Meaning, since Segovia never acknowledged the trigger, Weldfast Engineer's ability had been missed as well.

So instead of attacking with a 5/2 Scrapheap Scrounger and a 4/4 Heart of Kiran, Segovia just had two 3/2 attackers available which, in the face of an opposing 4/4 Rishkar, didn't even bother.

One Grasp of Darkness on Weldfast Engineer and one Fatal Push on Heart of Kiran later, and Nguyen had taken the lead.

Now sideboards became involved, and both players apparently tried to go one bigger than the other. As such, the first interesting situation, after initial trades, developed on Nguyen's turn five. Nguyen attacked with his Sylvan Advocate into Segovia's Aethersphere Harvester. Segovia couldn't crew the Vehicle currently, but he very well could after returning Scrapheap Scrounger from the graveyard. Had Nguyen missed this? In any case, he lost his only creature with no objections.

However, after combat he cast Skysovereign, Consul's Flagship to take down Aethersphere Harvester after all. Skysovereign proceeded to kill one more of Segovia's creatures, but Segovia kept drawing new creatures to replace them and Scrapheap Scrounger replaced itself anyway, and the game was looking to slip away from Nguyen.

Fatal Pushes took care of Nguyen's next creatures, and it certainly didn't help that Nguyen added another crewless, useless Vehicle in Aethersphere Harvester to his side of the board.

Segovia aimed one removal spell after another at the creatures facing him down.

The match ended on something of an anti-climax when Nguyen was unable to find a source of black mana, or at least a fourth land, until the very end. Otherwise, Rishkar, Peema Renegade might have combined with Verdurous Gearhulk for some serious defense and, likely, offense.

As it was, Nguyen, staring down Inventor's Apprentice, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Weldfast Engineer, and Heart of Kiran, could only shake his head in frustration and extend his hand in concession.

Nguyen - 1 Segovia - 2

Afterward, the atmosphere at the table was rather gloomy. This obviously changed when Segovia rejoined his friends from Panama and received the congratulations he deserved. It's no small feat going 8-0 at your first Pro Tour.

Thien Nguyen - Black-Green Constrictor

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César Segovia - Black-Red Aggro

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