Semifinals: (16) Márcio Carvalho vs. Gonçalo Pinto

Posted in Event Coverage on June 3, 2018

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor and sixteenth-ranked Márcio Carvalho and returning-to-the-Pro Tour Gonçalo Pinto had already met once in this tournament at the start of the first round of Day One with Draft.

"He won," Carvalho said, pointing to his Portuguese countryman, "but if I had to lose again, I'd like it to be to him."

Pinto and Carvalho posed for another selfie, like they did on Friday, before their semifinal showdown.

Pinto's dream run would require him to defeat one of his homeland's best. Carvalho, dedicated to bringing the greatest trophy in Magic back home, would do no less than make it a battle the entire way.

Gonçalo Pinto and Márcio Carvalho met once before in this event, with Pinto coming out ahead. They met again in the semifinals, as the two players battle it out to see who will represent Portugal in the finals.

The Decks

Both players, like many others in the tournament and Top 8, had found success with Red-Black Aggro decks. They were building on a sequence that looks like Soul-Scar Mage, Scrapheap Scrounger, Goblin Chainwhirler, and Rekindling Phoenix, with some Heart of Kiran and Bomat Courier thrown in for good measure. A dose of Abrade, Unlicensed Disintegration, and perhaps Shock or Doomfall from the Sideboard backed up the powerful creature package.

It was the threatens-you-with-lethal combination that led the way throughout Pro Tour Dominaria.

The Games

Pinto's early Heart of Kiran took an Abrade, as did his early Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. However, Pinto was also the first to assemble the Goblin Chainwhirler with a Soul-Scar Mage duo, and he took initiative to attack.

Carvalho tried to pick away in the air with Rekindling Phoenix, but Pinto used his own Abrade to stay ahead in the race. A second Chainwhirler from Pinto let him take Carvalho down to 10 life. Carvalho found a Chainwhirler of his own, but the racing didn't cease. Pinto had Scrapheap Scrounger and then a third Goblin Chainwhirler to take away Carvalho's ability to crew Heart of Kiran.

Pinto's next attack was enough to take the first game, but Carvalho was quick to start the second. Bomat Courier began to tick up cards to draw next to a Soul-Scar Mage, as Pinto just played a Zari Kev, Skyship Raider to block. Cut // Ribbons let Carvalho continue to march of cards under the Courier. Heart of Kiran without any creatures was all Pinto offered before Carvalho added Rekindling Phoenix to his side.

Pinto needed to catch up, and Scrapheap Scrounger was big enough to crew the 4/4 he had in waiting.

Carvalho upped the ante with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a Heart of Kiran of his own. Pinto's Abrade dealt with Carvalho's Vehicle, but Pinto didn't have a play on his own turn. Goblin Chainwhirler forced Pinto to active his Heart before the trigger resolved, and Chandra cleared the path for Carvalho to drop Pinto to 6 life.

Carvalho contemplates his next move in a battle between two red decks capable of blisteringly brutal starts.

Five cards sat ready to Carvalho under his Courier, and with an empty hand he cashed it in before Pinto's Goblin Chainwhirler arrived. Finding a fresh Abrade in his hand, Carvalho finished Pinto on the next swing to even the wins.

The chatter between players that had started the match fell away as each game progressed.

After going to sideboards, Pinto had a first turn Soul-Scar Mage into an Abrade to destroy Carvalho's Heart of Kiran, followed on the third turn by Aethersphere Harvester. Carvalho had an Abrade of his own but was stuck on two lands.

Pinto pounced, continuing his attacks with Pia Nalaar. Another Abrade from Carvalho stemmed some of the damage, but Goblin Chainwhirler added to Pinto's inertia. Finally finding a third land, Carvalho cast his own Pia Nalaar, which earned an Abrade from Pinto.

Carvalho fell to 8 life after another attack, but he was able to hit four lands for Rekindling Phoenix. Pinto used Chandra, Torch of Defiance to clear away the Phoenix forever—after Carvalho blocked with it—but the Goblin Chainwhirler he had after finished Chandra anyway.

Chainwhirler traded with Chainwhirler before it was Phoenix facing down Phoenix, both Pinto and Carvalho dueling it out in a mirror match made manifest. Another Pia Nalaar let Pinto attack Carvalho down to 1 life. After a Doomfall to clear away one blocker, Pinto made a lethal-apparent attack. Chandra's Defeat and trading Phoenixes let Carvalho buy another turn, but at 1 life it was too little too late. Pinto took the third game.

The fourth game featured Carvalho's early Soul-Scar Mage attacking as he and Pinto swapped removal for threats. It settled when Pinto had his own Soul-Scar Mage for Carvalho's Scrapheap Scrounger.

Doomfall from Pinto revealed two Siege-Gang Commanders and a Glorybringer in Carvalho's hand. At four lands, one would find its way down, but a top-decked Rekindling Phoenix presented new problems for Pinto.

After securing his first Grand Prix Top 8 in Birmingham in May, Pinto's performance at the Pro Tour followed up an already solid few weeks of Magic.

Pinto hit his own Commander, flooding the battlefield with Goblins, but still faced the problem to falling to 8 life. Heart of Kiran completed an army of fliers for Carvalho, threatening lethal over the next turns.

Pinto put his head in his hands and weighed his options. First, he attacked Carvalho down to 11 life. Then Abrade plus Goblin Chainwhirler dealt with the Phoenix. Suddenly, the tables had turned on Carvalho.

A second Scrapheap Scrounger wasn't the fifth land Carvalho was looking for.

A second Goblin Chainwhirler from Pinto forced a pre-combat Heart of Kiran activation by Carvalho, and Pinto was firmly in the driver's seat. Attacking Carvalho to 3 life, the Portuguese pro put his fate into the top of his deck.


Glorybringer descended, and suddenly the 6 life Pinto had mattered. Carvalho, however, miscalculated how much damage he could really do. With a clever twist of dealing two damage to Heart of Kiran—thereby reducing its power too thanks to Soul-Scar Mage—Pinto was left with 1 life.

Carvalho recognized the next attack he faced would be the last Pinto needed. They shook hands, and Carvalho wished Pinto good luck with a high five, a figurative passing of the baton Pinto alone took on the responsibility of bringing the Pro Tour trophy back to Portugal.

Gonçalo Pinto defeated Márcio Carvalho 3-1 to advance to the finals!


Gonçalo Pinto—Red-Black Aggro

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Márcio Carvalho—Red-Black Aggro

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