Semifinals: (8) Márcio Carvalho (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Donald Smith (Mardu Vehicles)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 5, 2017

By Tobi Henke

Stages 1 and 2 of the quarterfinals were behind us, as the tournament moved to the regular old-fashioned semifinal match. The United States' Donald Smith, Silver-turned-Gold level pro and member of Team Lingering Souls had earned his right to sit here by defeating the great Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in the second stage of the quarterfinals, whereas Portugal's Márcio Carvalho of Team DEX Army had advanced directly to the semifinals thanks to his first-place finish in the Swiss rounds.

For Carvalho, this was his third trip to the Sunday playoffs, the first time since Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur in 2008. Other notable results on his résumé included winning back-to-back Grand Prix events this season as well as coming in second at the 2016 World Championship. He really wasn't mucking about, and even a loss now would leave him with 60 Pro Points on the season so far, eight more than even needed for Platinum, poised to take over the lead in the Player of the Year race.

Carvalho was all smiles. "Running hot," he commented. "I think Shota [Yasooka, the previous number one] should be at 52 now. I have 60 already, and if I win more, I'll, well, have more," he finished with a shrug.

Donald Smith couldn't look back on quite as big of a career. As for notable results, he had but one Grand Prix Top 8 to his name, compared to Carvalho's thirteen. His Pro Tour debut had only been at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, although it was, admittedly, rather a good one, ending with him in 23rd place. Then, at Pro Tour Kaladesh, Smith did slightly better, finishing in 21st place. And now he was playing in his first Top 8, determining to make it count.

Márcio Carvalho and Donald Smith started their engines for the first of two semifinals mirror matches featuring dueling Mardu Vehicle decks.

The Games

The first game was partly marred by mulligans, although, with Carvalho going first and taking one mulligan, he was on the same level regarding number of cards as Smith with his two mulligans. Smith even got to cast the first spell, a turn-one Thraben Inspector.

However, a useless Heart of Kiran and a Shock remained his only further contributions to this game, and Carvalho quickly wrapped things up with Scrapheap Scrounger, Pia Nalaar, Inventor's Apprentice, and two each of both Veteran Motorist and Shock.

Going first in the second game, Smith wasted no time to fight for tempo, killing Carvalho's Toolcraft Exemplar with an end-of-turn Fatal Push and leading the charge with Scrapheap Scrounger.

Over the next couple of turns, Carvalho cast Veteran Motorist and Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Smith had Aethersphere Harvester and Toolcraft Exemplar. Still, the untapped Thalia didn't allow Smith to make much progress. Instead, Carvalho got in there with both of his creatures. Smith crewed Aethersphere Harvester and blocked Veteran Motorist. After combat, Carvalho killed the Vehicle with Shock and summoned a pair of Thraben Inspectors.

Carvalho has cruised to the top of the leaderboard this season with multiple Grand Prix wins, and he's now in position to take home a Pro Tour title.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar had a cameo on Smith's side, dropping off an emblem which allowed Scrapheap Scrounger and Toolcraft Exemplar to attack for 8, leaving Carvalho at 9. Carvalho simply cast Pia Nalaar and held back with Thalia again, denying Smith options for profitable attacks.

Smith, now with five lands on the battlefield, passed without play. Carvalho went for the kill, destroyed Smith's sole blocker via Unlicensed Disintegration, and sent in his team.

The players had been asked to wear headsets specifically to combat undue influence from the spectators watching the action on big screens inside the hall. The cheers and chanting of Carvalho's supporters could be heard nevertheless. While it probably didn't count as undue influence, it did put a little smile on Carvalho's face.

While sideboarding Smith asked whether he could take a look at Carvalho's decklist, and a judge brought over the players' lists and handed them to Smith.

Smith has quickly propelled himself to the top, locking up invitations to Pro Tours for the rest of the season.

"Do you want mine?" he offered.

"No, I'm good," said a confident Carvalho.

The same couldn't be said for Carvalho's draw in this next game. After his Veteran Motorist fell to Fatal Push, he quickly found himself under pressure from Heart of Kiran and Thalia, Heretic Cathar, and lacking black mana to boot.

His Selfless Spirits weren't really themselves either, comparing unfavorably with basically all of Smith's creatures. When Skywhaler's Shot took down Heart of Kiran, Carvalho already went to 8, and got to see Smith immediately replace the stricken Heart with a new one. Soon the score changed to Smith 1, Carvalho 2.

The fourth game began with Thraben Inspector for Smith and Veteran Motorist for Carvalho. Smith didn't have a play on turn two, and didn't have a land on turn three, even after cashing in his Clue. He cast a Scrapheap Scrounger and passed back to Carvalho, who used Shock and Release the Gremlins to take a decisive early lead.

Still no land came for Smith. He fought back valiantly, with Toolcraft Exemplar and Fatal Push, but Carvalho didn't even let him get one of his creatures. Archangel Avacyn swooped in to save it and to present yet another lethal threat.

There was a little problem figuring out just how low on life Smith was exactly at this point. He laughed at the absurdity of the attempts to work it out. "To be honest, I'm dead anyway."

He extended his hand in concession and sounded like he meant it when he said, "Great games."

Márcio Carvalho defeats Donald Smith 3-1 to advance to the finals!

Carvalho, Marcio - Mardu Vehicles

Download Arena Decklist

Smith, Donald - Mardu Vehicles

Download Arena Decklist

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