Round 13: Marco Cammilluzzi (Abzan Control) vs. (13) Seth Manfield (Atarka Abzan)

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 11, 2015

By Craig Jones

It's Round 13, and players are starting to run out of lives. No. 13 Seth Manfield and Marco Cammilluzzi are on 9-2-1 records, and will need to win out from here to make Top 8.

Seth Manfield has racked up a very solid record over the past few years. He has a three Grand Prix wins and made the Top 8 at Pro Tour Fate Reforged. A winning streak here would ensure back-to-back Sunday appearances.

His opponent, Marco Cammilluzzi, has posted some solid Day Two finishes over the last year, but he is still waiting for a breakout performance.

Both are playing Abzan Control. Cammilluzzi is running the traditional version of the list that remained largely unchanged with Dragons of Tarkir. Manfield is running an updated version that splashes red for Dragonlord Atarka. In the Abzan Control mirrors, Atarka is good for eating Planeswalkers and Siege Rhinos while leaving a massive monster that will end the game quickly.

Both Marco Cammilluzzi and No. 13 Seth Manfield would need to win out in order to keep Top 8 hopes alive. Unfortunately for the two, only one would emerge from this round with that chance.

The Games

The Abzan Control mirror tends to be one of attrition, with both decks answering each other's haymakers until something sticks. This was very much apparent in the first game as Hero's Downfall and Abzan Charms answered a steady stream of Siege Rhinos and Courser of Kruphixs, with neither player gaining the upper hand.

Cammilluzzi knew Manfield had Dragonlord Atarka in his opening hand, as he'd seen it there on turn two after taking a Siege Rhino with Thoughtseize. When Manfield reached six mana, Cammilluzzi decided that was a good time to pull the trigger with a second Thoughtseize. After Atarka hit the bin, the remaining two cards were Siege Rhino and Hero's Downfall.

Cammilluzzi dealt with that Rhino, and the key moment occurred in the Italian's next turn. He summoned Lilliana Vess to his side. Using the plus one loyalty ability to force Manfield to discard his last card wouldn't work, as he had 3 mana open and would just use that to Hero's Downfall Lilliana. Instead, he used her tutoring ability to find Elspeth, Sun's Champion, knowing that the Downfall would have to be used on Liliana.

There wasn't an opportunity to drop Elspeth right away, as Cammilluzzi first had to take care of the Whip of Erebos (with Utter End) and Courser of Kruphix (with Ultimate Price) Manfield drew off the top. Then, Elspeth came out and started mustering an army.

Cammillulzzi's ol' faithful choice of Abzan served him well, but he still needed a few more wins to keep the dream of a breakout finish afloat.

At 8 mana, Manfield was able to sacrifice his Haven of the Spirit Dragon and fetch back Atarka. Unfortunately for him, Elspeth was at six loyalty and able to survive, and Cammilluzzi had Abzan Charm to ensure the massive dragonlord wouldn't take a second bite out of her.

Manfield had his own Elspeth, but he was too far behind in the soldier stakes. Cammilluzzi went over the top of his opponent, and then Ugin, the Spirit Dragon administered the coup de grace.

Game 2 saw more trading of blows. Manfield's Thoughtseize revealed Cammilluzzi was sitting on a reactive hand of two Hero's Downfall and End Hostilities. After all threats were wiped off the board, there was a brief period of cat and mouse while the players waited for a threat.

Manfield found a Whip of Erebos, and the ability to fetch back the previously slain rhinos was enough to level the match.

The decider saw both players taking a more aggressive line, but ultimately cancelled each other out as Fleecemane Lions mauled each other to death. A Thoughtseize from Manfield took Cammilluzzi's Tasigur, the Golden Fang and left the Italian with nothing but land. He was still able to find threats, as he found a second Fleecemane and even managed to make it monstrous. Manfield was able to hold it at bay, however, with Sidisi, Undead Vizier.

With time bought, Manfield started to gain the edge. He made Whip of Erebos, and then Elspeth to start churning out soldiers.

Cammilluzzi come back over the top with an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which wiped the board while staying around at one loyalty. It didn't stay around for long, as Manfield took it down with Hero's Downfall.

Manfield is aiming for back-to-back Sunday appearances.

The game swayed back and forth. Cammilluzzi rebuilt first with Courser of Kruphix and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, only for Manfield to come back with Dragonlord Atarka. The Elder Dragon didn't stay around for long, but the pendulum started to swing back to Manfield. He had a Siege Rhino and Elspeth of his own shortly after.

Cammilluzzi wasn't out yet. On the turn before Elspeth was about to go ultimate, Cammilluzzi cleared her off the board with Utter End. More rhinos were slaughtered, and it was Manfield's declining soldier tokens versus a lone Courser of Kruphix.

Now it was Cammilluzzi nudging back in front, as Nissa, Worldwaker arrived to make his lands into 4/4 monsters.

As so often happens, it's not Elspeth herself that wins these battles of attrition, but the residual soldier tokens she leaves behind. Manfield had whittled Cammilluzzi down low enough, and with 8 mana, Ugin came out to once again be the world's most expensive Lava Spike.

Marco Cammilluzzi — Abzan Control

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Seth Manfield — Atarka Abzan

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