”Can you scoop him in?” former Player of the Year Gabriel Nassif asked Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa from the crowd as the Brazilian sat down to his match against American Jamie Parke.
“No, I need a draw,” Damo da Rosa replied, before turning to Parke and asking, “Can you draw?”
When Parke shook his head no, the two shuffled up and got down to battling.
Damo da Rosa was forced to start on a mulligan, but having won the die roll he'd be able to make up the card draw immediately. His opponent, who would be playing first, had kept his opening hand but had considered things for quite a while before declaring that intention. Jamie opened on an Island, a time-honored first-turn play in Extended, while Paulo cracked a Bloodstained Mire for Blood Crypt and played a Kird Ape. Damo da Rosa had played a nearly identical Zoo deck at Pro Tour–Berlin and has even written about the power of efficient weenies backed by large burn spells on popular Magic sites. No one was surprised to see him playing the deck this weekend.
Parke took a long time to make his second land drop before putting Breeding Pool into play tapped. When Paulo made a Tidehollow Sculler, Jamie grimaced and revealed a hand of Vendilion Clique,Engineered Explosives, Umezawa's Jitte, Riptide Laboratory, Island, and Chrome Mox. Vitor snagged the Explosives, then attacked to put the totals at 18-14 in Jamie's favor.
Paulo's next attack tied things up at 14, and when he played a post-combat Tidehollow Sculler, Jamie revealed he had drawn a Spellstutter Sprite. This time the Esperian 2/2 snagged the American's Jitte, and at the end of Paulo's turn Parke decided to pull the trigger on Vendilion Clique, choosing himself to draw an extra card in exchange for the Chrome Mox in his hand.
Things started to slow down as Jamie's life total got lower, with Paulo being careful not to make a mistake that could cost him a possible win, and Jamie maneuvering to stay in the game. Damo da Rosa attacked with a lone Kird Ape into Parke's Mutavault and Spellstutter Sprite. After doing so, he revealed a mistake by picking up Jamie's Riptide Laboratory and grimacing. The land would allow Jamie to activate Mutavault, block with the 2/2 and his Sprite, then bounce whichever of the Wizards Paulo assigned lethal damage to. When Jamie made exactly that play, Paulo revealed the entire thing had been a ruse: because Mutavault had been played on Jamie's previous turn, it was still summoning sick and couldn't be tapped for mana. That meant Jamie was one short of the play, and Paulo got to trade Kird Ape for Vault. Parke was clearly disappointed in his mistake. Still, he soldiered on, ripping an Engineered Explosives from the top of his library to wipe out both of Paulo's Tidehollow Scullers, then using the returned Explosives from one of the Scullers to deal with a newly played Tarmogoyf.
Looking to keep momentum in his favor, Damo da Rosa played a Dark Confidant and attacked his opponent to 6. Park had found a second Umezawa's Jitte, and the pointy stick would spell trouble for Damo da Rosa if Parke could find a creature to wield it. Meanwhile Damo da Rosa had managed to find his third land and was slowly accumulating cards in hand, presumably of the burn variety. When Parke made an end-of-turn Spellstutter Sprite, Damo da Rosa revealed that to be exactly the case, using Lightning Helix to kill the 1/1 and prevent his opponent from getting Jitte active.
Unfazed, Jamie ripped a Vedalken Shackles and immediately used it to steal Paulo's Confidant. That left him tapped out, however, and Paulo used a Lightning Helix and Tribal Flames to finish his opponent off.
Damo da Rosa 1, Parke 0
“Do you want to draw now?” Paulo asked Jamie, up a game. Parke demurred, clearly thinking about it. Not a stranger to the Top 8 stage, he was well versed in the nuances of the final rounds before a Top 8. Benefitting significantly from the draw, Paulo tried to reinforce the idea. “If I beat you, I'm not extending the draw.”
Jamie nodded. “I know, but if I draw I can't really make Top 8, so it's just not in my best interest.”
The American kicked off the second game of the match with a Breeding Pool while his Brazilian counterpart opened on Blood Cryptand Figure of Destiny. When the 1/1 became a 2/2 during the game's first combat step, the score fell to 18-15 in Jamie's favor. Paulo's postcombat Mogg Fanatic was countered by Spellstutter Sprite.
A Repeal sent the Figure of Destiny back to its owner's hand, and it looked as though Jamie Parke had managed to stabilize. Paulo hadn't managed to play a second creature, and with three lands had only a Seal of Fire to show for it. When Paulo replayed his Figure, Jamie let it resolve and let a follow-up Wild Nacatl hit as well. He revealed why at end of turn as he used Venser, Shaper Savant to bounce his opponent's Seal of Fire. Paulo sacced the Seal instead, killing Spellstutter Sprite, and Jamie was free to use Threads of Disloyalty to steal his opponent's 3/3 Wild Nacatl—though it left him without the requisite blue mana to try to counter any of Paulo's spells the following turn. Venser got in and by the time the turn was over, the score was 16-10 in Jamie's favor.
A surprise Duergar Hedge-Mage hit play for Paulo, blowing up his opponent's Threads and netting him his Nacatl back. The response from his opponent was to play an Umezawa's Jitte and use a Vendilion Clique after Damo da Rosa had drawn for the turn to protect the equipment. He saw Lightning Helix, double Tribal Flames, Oblivion Ring, and a Dark Confidant. A tough choice, but Parke opted to send Oblivion Ring back. It would be a while until he got his Jitte active.
Paulo sent his entire team in, and Jamie traded his Venser and Vendilion Clique for Vitor's Nacatl and Hedge-Mage. The Brazilian followed up with a Dark Confidant and a Mogg Fanatic, but Jamie used Threads to steal “Bob.” That forced Paulo's hand and he used a Tribal Flames to kill the 2/1. Jamie considered the play for a moment, then called a judge. “Is Dark Confidant a Wizard?” He asked. The judge responded in the affirmative, and Jamie nodded, then played a Spellstutter Sprite.
“Okay,” Paulo said, waiting awkwardly for the Tribal Flames to resolve. When Jamie appeared to think it was countered, Paulo had to point out Spellstutter Sprite only counts Faeries, not Faeries and Wizards. This was the second mistake in the match for Parke, but he shook it off and played on. At 16 life, Parke was still in good shape and managed to clear his opponent's board by attacking with a Mutavault, which traded for Mogg Fanatic. A Thirst for Knowledge put Jamie ahead in the card count, and it looked like his opponent was running into a glut of lands.
Parke found a Spellstutter Sprite to wear Umezawa's Jitte, and the second game of the match looked to be in the end stage. A Lightning Helix bought Paulo some time, but the 1/1 carrying Jitte proved to be too much to handle.
Damo da Rosa 1, Parke 1
Kicking the final game of the match off was a Mogg Fanaticfrom Damo da Rosa, followed by a Seal of Fire. As usual, Paulo's fetch lands and duals left him at an early life disadvantage. Trying to keep his opening army strong, used his third turn to play a Duergar Hedge-Mage, despite there being no legal targets in play to destroy.
Not wanting to fall behind, Jamie played an Engineered Explosives for one, using it to kill Paulo's Seal of Fire and Fanatic, but falling to 12 in the process. Parke used a Spellstutter Sprite to counter a Damo da Rosa Kird Ape, then a Spell Snare to nail Tidehollow Sculler the same turn. With three cards in his hand to Jamie's five, it didn't look good for Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.
With the turn back, Parke tapped out for Glen Elendra Archmage. When Damo da Rosa made anOblivion Ring, Parke used his last remaining blue mana to counter it with the Archmage, which then returned to play thanks to persist. At 8 life, Jamie wasn't out of the woods, but it was looking like he had stabilized. The American attacked for 2, then played a postcombat Umezawa's Jitte, clearly indicating he was holding counters to protect his equipment.
That protection involved saccing his Glen Elendra Archmage to counter a Seal of Fire, then playing a second Spellstutter Sprite to counter Lightning Helix. That allowed his original Sprite to get in wearing the equipment, but Paulo's Oblivion Ring managed to hit the Jitte. Jamie responded by blowing up the Hedge-Mage and continuing to attack with his 1/1s.
Paulo's next attempt at victory was Tribal Flames for lethal against his opponent, but Jamie had Mana Leak. When Paulo revealed a second Flames, Jamie slumped in his seat. He surveyed his hand, found no help, and nodded his head in defeat.
Damo da Rosa 2, Parke 1