Quarterfinals: Marco Cammilluzzi (Abzan Control) vs. Martin Dang (Red Aggro)

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 12, 2015

By Josh Bennett

Sunday morning at the Pro Tour is electric. The players' excitement at reaching the Top 8 blends with the pressure of their upcoming matches. Eager spectators fill the viewing area. Everything has been leading up to this.

The quarterfinal match between Italy's Marco Cammilluzzi and Denmark's Martin Dang would be one of the four.

Cammilluzzi was playing Abzan Control, and on paper he looked heavily disadvantaged against Dang's Red Aggro. How did the players see it?

I found Dang breakfasting with teammates Lars Dam, the 2013 Magic Online Champion, and Martin Müller, captain of the triumphant 2014 World Magic Cup Danish team. That's not a bad pair to have in your corner. I asked Dang if they did any overnight testing of the quarterfinal matchup. "We play-tested some last night," he replied. "I think Game 1 I'm a big favorite, especially on the play. After that, it's less clear."

Cammilluzzi was also fueling a few tables away. He had come to the same conclusions. "I only tested a little last night. I played against Red three times during the Swiss, and I won all three. The big problem here is that I'm on the draw." I asked him if Game 1 was as bad as it looks on paper. "Mostly," he replied. "Abzan has cards for every matchup, so if I draw the right cards, I can win. During sideboarding, I bring in ten cards, so it gets a lot better. Still, if I lose Game 1 and win Game 2, then I'm on the draw Game 3 against a deck with thirteen 1-drops. That's tough."

I asked him if he was excited or nervous at all. He certainly didn't seem it. He smiled and said, "Not really. I mean, I want to win, obviously. Even if I lose though, I have enough [Pro Points] for Gold. That is the most important."

The Games

Cammilluzzi had to send back his opening seven, an ill omen in a game so far out of his favor. He stayed on six but was hardly overjoyed at the prospect.

Marco Cammilluzzi needed a solid opener to be prepared for what was expected to be a rocky first game.

Dang kicked things off with Foundry Street Denizen, and after a scry-land from Cammilluzzi, spilled out a pair of Monastery Swiftspears to hit for 5. Cammiluzzi scryed again, and then Thoughtseized away Dang's Dragon Fodder, falling to 13. The bad news was that Dang got to keep Wild Slash and Stoke the Flames.

Dang untapped and swung in, boosting his Swiftspears with a Wild Slash to the face. It was turn three and Cammilluzi was at 6.

This bears repeating: Cammilluzzi began his third turn at just 6 life.

He had no choice but to Thoughtseize away Dang's Stoke the Flames, leaving him empty-handed but falling to 4 against 3 power worth of attackers. Dang drew a blank and knocked Cammilluzzi to 1. Cammilluzzi untapped and summoned Siege Rhino, climbing back up to four and getting a glimmer of hope. It was immediately snuffed out by Dang's next draw: Lightning Strike.

"Pretty good start," said Cammilluzzi appreciatively.

They sideboarded quickly according to their pre-game plans. Again, Cammilluzzi had to send back his opening hand. As he shuffled, he decided it was time to take things over the top and reversed his baseball cap. He kept his six.

Dang and his teammates felt fairly confident about the matchup, and with Game 1 on his scoreboard, he was ready for the rest.

Dang led with Zurgo Bellstriker. Cammilluzzi Duressed, and saw a hand of two lands, Lightning Strike, Stoke the Flames, Monastery Swiftspear, and Dragon Fodder. He sent the Stoke to the graveyard, played a Windswept Heath, and passed. Dang hit for two and played his Fodder. Cammilluzzi fetched a Forest at end of turn, then untapped. He passed back immediately, having no third land.

Dang's deck wasn't going to give him much time to find one. Down came Monastery Swiftspear and the whole team charged in. Cammilluzzi had Ultimate Price to take down Zurgo, so he only took 3, but on his turn he again missed on land. This time, Dang's attack came with a Lightning Strike to the face, getting an extra point out of the Swiftspear.

Cammilluzzi desperately needed that third land. He untapped, and there it was. Drown in Sorrow cleared out Dang's whole board. He rebuilt with Goblin Rabblemaster. Cammilluzi found land number four and brought out Siege Rhino. The life gain put him up to 7. Would it be enough to stabilize?

Dang attacked with all his creatures the following turn. Cammilluzzi blocked and readied himself for the inevitable bad news, as Dang turned over a lethal Become Immense.

The two shook hands and Cammilluzzi went off to commiserate with his teammates. As Dang was packing up, Ondrej Strasky came to the table in preparation for his own quarterfinal match.

"I hope to not meet you in the finals," said Dang. "I think you're my worst matchup."

Strasky laughed. "Well, Shota's going to win the whole thing."

Martin Dang defeats Marco Cammilluzzi 2-0 and advances to the Semifinals!

Marco Cammilluzzi's Abzan Control Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir

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Martin Dang's Red Aggro Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir

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