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Day 1 Coverage

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EVENT COVERAGE



 
  • Saturday 11.25am – The Brazil You Don't Yet Know

    by Rich Hagon
  • If you're French, it's hard to make a name for yourself when you already have Hall of Famers like Antoine and Olivier Ruel, Raphael Levy, and Gabriel Nassif to contend with. In Brazil, there's a similar situation. While almost everyone has heard of the Big Three – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Carlos Romao, and Willy Edel – there are a stack of talented players waiting to get their chance in the spotlight.

    While we won't know which of them will seize the opportunity over the next two days until sometime late Sunday, we can do a spot of crystal ball-gazing, and offer you a few players who might be in the shake-up down the stretch:

    Allison Abe, Aristides Camara, Rafael Coqueiro

    Allison Abe has been riding high in the global rankings table for several years, but hasn't taken advantage of his Pro Tour invite until Worlds in Rome last year. His breakout performance came just a few weeks ago, when he reached the semi final of Grand Prix Gothenburg.

    Aristides Camara was the 'third man' alongside Carlos Romao and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in the National Team that so narrowly missed out on Sunday action at Worlds in Rome 2009.

    Vagner Casatti has four Pro Tours to his name, with his most notable achievement being part of the National Team that so nearly won the whole thing on US soil in Memphis 2008, before eventually finishing third overall.

    Rafael Coqueiro made his Pro Tour debut in Atlanta 2004, a team event, and has made half a dozen appearances on Tour. His standout to date was when finishing inside the top 32 at Worlds in Rome last year.

    Luis Guilherme de Michielli, Vagner Casatti, Jonathan Melamed

    Like Vagner Casatti, Luis Guilherme de Michielli was part of the 2008 squad in Memphis. He paced the team at that event, finishing a hugely creditable 16th. With six Pro Tours in the last two years, he's someone to watch this weekend.

    Jonathan Melamed opened his Pro Tour accound at Worlds 2006 in Paris, and came perilously close to the Top 8 at Pro Tour Austin last year, eventually finishing in 13th place, with a penultimate round loss to Hunter Burton eliminating him from contention.

    Guilherme Medeiros Merjan, Pedro Motta, Celso Zampere Junior

    Guilherme Medeiros Merjan began the last round of Pro Tour San Juan inside the top 8, needing a win in the final round to crack Sunday action. His final round opponent? Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. It was an epic encounter, with Paulo fought right to the wire. In the end, of course, it was the eventual winner who advanced, while Merjan had to content himself with a heartbreaking 14th place.

    Pedro Motta has played at five Pro Tours, and four of those were World Championships. Those events took him to Sydney in 2002, Berlin in 2003, San Francisco in 2004, and New York in 2007.

    Celso Zampere Junior has double digit appearances on the Pro Tour. Undoubtedly his crowning moment to date came when teaming up with fellow standouts Willy Edel and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa to finish just one match short of the title at Pro Tour Charleston in 2006.

    Eduardo Vieira, Carlos Alexandre dos Santos

    Also looking to make a run at the Nationals Team are Magic Online standouts Eduardo Vieira and Carlos Alexandre dos Santos. These two currently head the Magic Online Player of the Year Race. While Vieira was already qualified for Nationals, dos Santos – or Batutinha as he is known online – had to try to get through Grinders to reach the start line. You can read about his Nationals Friday on this very website. It's quite a tale...

    And finally, we know that there are stars just waiting to be discovered. Here's every single player that's made it to round one of Brazilian Nationals 2010. Good luck to them all!



     
  • Saturday, 11.58am – Quite A Grind

    by Rich Hagon
  • You can call them Last Chance Qualifiers. You can call them Grinders. You can call them 'Oh-my-God-I-have-to-win-the-next-five-games-straight', though that isn't as catchy as the first two. Whatever you call them, the facts are these: Winning five straight ain't easy, even when you're battling for the number one ranking on Planet Earth. Who am I referring to? This guy:

    This is Carlos Alexandre dos Santos. That's in real life. On Magic Online you can call him Batutinha (if you can pronounce it, that is.) On Magic Online, Batutinha is currently in second place in the Online Player of the Year Race. In real life, Carlos Alexandre is at Brazilian Nationals. And he isn't qualified. And that means Grinders...

    Yes, that's a Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and a Mythic Conscription, and yes, Batutinha won that one. But he didn't win the match. In round two, he was finished. Still, there's a reason they call them Grinders...

    As you can see, fourteen Grinders took place during Friday action. Five of them were ready to go as soon as the doors opened at 9am. That's 160 players, competing for five slots in Nationals in five rounds of single elimination. Having lost in round two, Batutinha slotted into Grinder Number Nine (a bit like Mambo Number Five, only different.)

    Now it was all business. Knowing that this really was the last chance of the last chances, Batutinha beat Dread vine, and Naya, and Bant, to stand at 3-0. Round four – the semi-final – saw him in deep trouble. He mulliganed to five in the opener, and got run over by Vampires in short order. His comeback was measured and assured, and even a large Tendrils of Corruption couldn't stop him reaching the final. Now just one man stood between him and a seat in the main event. One man, and a frog...

    In the final, Batutinha faced Matheus Akio Yamagiura, and this time it was the dreaded Mythic Conscription mirror match. To tip the scales in his favor, Yamagiura called on the curse of the frog. Each round, he had written the name of his opponent, and then 'fed' the name to his frog, thus cursing his opponent to certain death. Whilst scientific studies into the veracity of this plan remain at the planning stage, anecdotal evidence through four rounds was that it was working just fine, thanks for asking.

    The curse seemed to work, as Batutinha began with just five cards in the opener, and was promptly swallowed by a turn three Baneslayer Angel and follow-up Sovereigns of Lost Alara plus Eldrazi Conscription. Batutinha came roaring back. There were no real life misclicks, as he powered out Linvala, Keeper of Silence, then Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and then the obligatory Sovereigns combo.

    So now it was just one game to go, for all the proverbial marbles. At the last, the frog turned on its master (possibly), with Yamagiura forced to begin with a chronic five card hand of four land and Eldrazi Conscription. Would one of the best players in the world on Magic Online let him off the hook? He would not. Lotus Cobra.... Jace, the Mind Sculptor.... Linvala, Keeper of Silence....bounce, attack....bounce, attack....

    Carlos says Good Game. Or, as Batutinha would put it...gg.



     
  • Saturday, 12.13pm – Last Chance Qualifiers

    by Rich Hagon
  • We have one particular story to tell of the Last Chance Qualifiers, featuring one of the world's finest Magic Online talents. More of that later. For now, here's your chance to pore over all the decks that managed to go 5-0 and claim a spot at Nationals itself. While Mythic Conscription is certainly in evidence, there were many routes into the main event, including a super-fun Kiln Fiend deck.

    Lenon F Cesarino Da Rosa
    Valakut Ramp - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Filipe Ferreira Martins
    Titan Ramp - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Renato Araujo
    Mythic Conscription - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers



    Adrien Degaspare
    Jund - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Washington I Ilario Medeiros
    Polymorph - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Alessandro Inacio
    Jund - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Marcos Paulo de Jesus Freitas
    Valakut Ramp - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Carlos Alexandre dos Santos
    Mythic Conscription - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Thiago de Silva Morais
    White Weenie - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Eder Araujo de Carvalho
    UW Control - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers



    Weder Pereira
    Pyromancer's Ascension - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers

    Main Deck

    61 cards

    Island
    Khalni Garden
    Mountain
    Scalding Tarn

    22 lands

    Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

    2 creatures

    Burst Lightning
    Call to Mind
    Into the Roil
    Lightning Bolt
    Polymorph
    Preordain
    Preordain
    Pyromancer Ascension
    See Beyond
    Spawning Breath
    Time Warp

    37 other spells

    Sideboard
    Dispel
    Flashfreeze
    Into the Roil
    Mana Leak
    Naturalize
    Negate

    15 sideboard cards




    Jose Carlos de Sousa Santos
    Kiln Fiend - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers


    Vinicius Pupo
    White Weenie - 2010 Brazil Nationals Last Chance Qualifiers




     
  • Feature Match: Round Two - Celso Zampere Junior versus Vagner Casatti

    by Rich Hagon
  • Over twelve rounds, you can't afford many losses. When tiebreaks could be crucial, you really don't want those losses to come early. Which is why this round two match has so much riding on it, since both Zampere and Casatti lost their opener. One will – barring an unlikely draw – fall to 0-2, and it's a long walk back from there.

    Casatti finished third with his teammates at Worlds in Memphis 2008, while Zampere came even closer, falling just one match short of the title alongside storied teammates Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Willy Edel.

    Casatti and Zampere prepare to battle.

    Savage Lands was a pretty iconic opening for Zampere, who followed with Verdant Catacombs fetching a Swamp. That powered Rampant Growth, setting up all the mana Zampere would need. Casatti did something about that on turn two, with Spreading Seas turning the tri-color Savage Lands into an Island. Bloodbraid Elf Cascaded into Lightning Bolt, but Casatti was happy enough, with a second Spreading Seas turing off Zampere's Forest, leaving him no access to Green mana.

    A second Savage Lands looked to rectify the situation, but the early game seemed to belong to Casatti, who brought Elspeth, Knight-Errant to the battlefield, complete with a seriously large (deckbox size) 1/1 Soldier token, which sent the nearby judge scurrying for alternatives.

    Bloodbraid Elf killed the Soldier, while Maelstrom Pulse dealt with Elspeth. Now Casatti was in trouble, down to just seven life, as Zampere added Sprouting Thrinax. On defense, Casatti had a pair of Creeping Tar Pit s, and he improved his position with an end of turn Doom Blade. That position stabilized still further – and how! - with the mighty M11 mythic Grave Titan, plus chums. Blightning saw him down to four with one card in hand, pitching a Swamp and Day of Judgment.

    A second Sprouting Thrinax completed the turn for Zampere, who was looking for burn off the top to finish things. The Thrinaxes were complicating things for Casatti. Grave Titan could make more men, but Zampere could get six tokens, whilst killing the Grave Titan. Not a good deal, and Casatti passed.

    Casatti feels good about life.

    Putrid Leech didn't alter much, and neither did a third Spreading Seas, although it did remove the threat of Raging Ravine. This time, Casatti sent the Grave Titan, raising his Zombie collection to four. Following the expected double block from Zampere, Casatti showed Path to Exile, ensuring that his Titan would live, and granting Zampere only three Saprolings. Three 1/1 Saprolings, and four 2/2 Zombies are not the same, in case you were wondering...

    When Casatti ripped another Blightning, Casatti was forced to use a Doom Blade on a Saproling, and fell to just one life. He activated a Creeping Tar Pit, knowing that he needed to make the game short if he was to avoid a faceful of fiery death. In came the unblockable 3/2, together with one Zombie and the Grave Titan, promptly adding to Casatti's undead army. Now it was 12-1 in favor of Zampere, but Casatti was heading towards lethal. Titan, Tar Pit, five Zombies all piled into the red zone.

    One life point each.

    Zampere drew. And swept them up.

    Celso Zampere Junior 0 – 1 Vagner Casatti

    Celso Zampere Junior

    This time it was Zampere forced to begin the game a card down. With a double Blightning, double Maelstrom Pulse hand, he had a good chance to negate that card disadvantage. Mana Leak countered the first Blightning, but casatti couldn't stop the second. He could, however, reload with Esper Charm, allowing him to discard two apparently unimportant Island s. Baneslayer Angel was next for Casatti, with Zampere having a timely Maelstrom Pulse. Baneslayer Angel was next for Casatti, with Zampere having a timely Maelstrom Pulse.

    Yes, I know that's the same sentence twice. That's because it happened twice.

    Grave Titan was the third Casatti piledriver, but Zampere Cascaded down from Bloodbraid Elf into a third Maelstrom Pulse ! Somehow, Zampere had survived three massive blows from his opponent, and now stood with Bloodbraid Elf facing off against a pair of 2/2 Zombies.

    Things still weren't great for Zampere, who found Casatti using Esper Charm to force a double discard during his upkeep. Jace, the Mind Sculptor quickly went into Fateseal mode, and Casatti ran out his third Baneslayer Angel of the game. That was enough. Even three Maelstrom Pulse couldn't deal with the onslaught, and Casatti could breathe a sigh of relief, while Zampere would begin the marathon task of turning an 0-2 start into a Top 8 appearance.

    Celso Zampere Junior 0 – 2 Vagner Casatti



     
  • Saturday, 1.32pm – Metagame Breakdown

    by Rich Hagon
  • Well, all the signs were there yesterday – Mythic Conscription is out in force here at Brazilian Nationals. 26 of the 134 players have elected to give +10+10 to one of their creatures on a regular basis, making up round about 20% of the field. There's a rival for top spot however, with Jund equalling the Mythic deck in popularity.

    Two other decks have broken double figures. UW Control continues to put up good numbers, with Sixteen players putting their faith in Planeswalkers Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Relying on Fauna Shaman are thirteen players.

    Next up come three streamlined strategies. Nine players have opted for Mono-Red, which might turn out to be a fine metagame choice this weekend. Lots of players are quietly fearing the turn one Goblin Guide. Also using Mountain s, but paired with some Green, come the nine players running Valakut Ramp. Just behind these two comes White Weenie, in the form of the Soul Sisters deck made famous by Conley Woods. It doesn't necessarily look like much, but it really has legs.

    Rounding out the field are a motley collection, including UG Tokens, UG Polymorph, Turbo Fog, Turbo Land, and Dredvine, all with a lone pilot each.

    Complete Metagame Breakdown:

    Mythic Conscription 26
    Jund 26
    UW Control 16
    Naya Shaman 13
    Valakut Ramp 9
    Mono Red 9
    White Weenie 8
    Fauna Bant 5
    GWB 4
    Esper Control 4
    Pyromancer's Ascension 3
    UGR Destructive Force 2
    Eldrazi 2
    Grixis 2
    UG Turboland 1
    Dredvine 1
    Turbo Fog 1
    UG Polymorph 1
    UG Tokens  


     
  • Feature Match: Round Three - Francisco Braga versus Elton Fior

    by Rich Hagon
  • Looking to make it 3-0 in the opening Standard salvos were a pair of legitimate contenders. Francisco Braga came to prominence when winning the Grand Prix Buenos Aires in the nearby country of Argentina. Elton Fior, meanwhile, has a Pro Tour best of 19th, achieved on debut at Worlds 2004 in San Francisco.

    Braga opened with Smoldering Spires, not without reluctance, and Teetering Peaks turn two with similar lack of excitement. Fior had a turn one play in the shape of Basilisk Collar, but there was no sign of anything for it to equip in the early game. Braga's Goblin Guide was the first creature of the match, but it had arrived on turn four, incredibly. And then it didn't even have the good manners to attack!

    Elton Fior

    Fior reached four mana, and converted that into Vengevine, attacking for four, like well-behaved Haste monsters should. Braga attacked with his Goblin Guide, then laid a second copy after combat. Reader, I was confused....

    A second Vengevine joined the battlefield, and both wasted no time in turning sideways. At end of turn, Braga let off a volley of Lightning Bolts, dealing six, before attempting a Forked Bolt, something that's definitely not allowed. He untapped, cast Ball Lightning, and then used the correct Sorcery window for the Forked Bolt. By either:

    (a) misplaying horribly at almost every conceivable opportunity,

    (b) playing like the Grand Prix Champion that he is, and I am not,

    Francisco Braga had taken the opening game.

    Francisco Braga 1 – 0 Elton Fior.

    Once again, we reached turn three with minimal action, Braga again forced to use Teetering Peaks to no discernable benefit. Fior offered up Fauna Shaman as the first burn target of the game, and Lightning Bolt duly obliged. Hell's Thunder looked to power in, Celestial Purge blunting that threat. Now Fior sent Knight of the Reliquary onto The Field of Battle (because that's what a Knight of the Reliquary would call it, let's face it), presumably expecting that too to fall victim to a bolt of lightning that was ready and waiting from Braga.

    Francisco Braga

    How about Fauna Shaman number two? It took an Earthquake, but that didn't survive either. Still, Fior was gradually running Braga out of answers. Bloodbraid Elf brought Fior a free Noble Hierarch. Goblin Guide had Haste this time, which Fior declined to block. He was gearing up to go on offence, with Vengevine hitting play. Searing Blaze dealt with it for the time being. The time being being about three seconds, before Lotus Cobra brought it back.

    Hell's Thunder dropped Fior to eight, with the threat of four more through the air still to come. With Braga at fourteen, he needed to get the job done fast. In came Vengevine and the Bloodbraid Elf, with Goblin Guide trading for the 3/2. Fauna Shaman completed the turn for Fior, who must have feared enough burn to finish him in the four cards across the table.

    Braga sent Ball Lightning, putting Fior into a tough blocking spot. He put Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobra in the way, taking four of the six trample damage himself, leaving him at four. And remember, that Hell's Thunder was still in the graveyard....

    Fior activated the Fauna Shaman he had elected to save the previous turn, discarding Knight of the Reliquary for Obstinate Baloth, which of course sent him back to a marginally less perilous eight life. Braga had just one more, at nine, as he untapped, with Scalding Tarn quickly equalizing the scores. Searing Blaze took out the Vengevine thanks to landfall, and then Braga administered the fatal blow – Mark of Mutiny. That stole the Obstinate Baloth, and Fior had no answer.

    I asked Braga about those curiously sluggish Goblin Guide s. Just mistakes. Braga hasn't played for a while, but it turns out that Red Deck Wins can be pretty forgiving. With or without attacking for two on turn one, he's still 3-0. Now, what is there in M11 that has Haste?....

    Francisco Braga 2 – 0 Elton Fior



     
  • Saturday, 2.28pm – A Moment with the Sponsors

    by Rich Hagon
  • If you look at pictures of major Magic events, it won't have escaped your notice that the best players all seem to be wearing branded attire, designed to showcase the wares of their assorted sponsors. The shirts of starcitygames.com, channelfireball.com, and tcgplayer.com amongst others are a fixture on the tournament scene.

    Here in Brazil, a new website has recently launched, and the intrepid intrepidiers (which is presumably what intrepid people are) have sponsored virtually everything and everyone that moves. Letscollect.com.br is a new venture designed to increase the flow of magical cards around the country, and indeed the world. But what to do when one of the biggest names in the game already has a sponsorship deal with a rival?

    Simple. You talk to the other party, and negotiate a plan whereby a hybrid shirt can be created. From the front, it looks like this:

    From the back, the joint sponsorship is plain for all to see.

    And just who is it that gets this special one-of-a-kind treatment? No surprises, it's Pro Tour San Juan champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa!



     
  • Saturday, 3.15pm – But I Don't...Oh wait. Yes I do.

    by Rich Hagon
  • I'm rarely lost for words. Given what I do for a living, that's probably a good thing. Yesterday, I was lost for words. Standing outside the main hall, waiting to watch some more quality LCQ action, one Andre Pijamar came up to me. Here's Andre, clutching a bag of goodies.

    Andre Pijamar with something very strange.

    My eyesight isn't that great at the best of times. While it was clear that there were mana symbols involved, it was tough to tell exactly what was lurking in that little plastic bag. Time for a closer look.

    Hmm. Still not entirely sure what I was dealing with, I asked Andre to explain. It turns out that his Mum, Fatima, is a big fan of sewing. Andre, meanwhile, is a big fan of the work we do on Coverage around the world. Looking for a new project, Fatima went to work, sewing these five mana symbols, before Andre presented them to me as a gift.

    Sewing and Magic. Seriously.

    Like I said, I was lost for words. The thing is, they're clearly awesome, and unique, which makes them super-awesome. Nonetheless, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them. They didn't seem to have any immediate practical use. As a set of screwdrivers? No. Alternative light source? Clearly not. Midnight snack? Dubious at best. And besides, then they'd be gone. No, I needed to find something worthwhile and permanent to do with them.

    As my mind raced, Andre provided one small caveat to his gift. 'We didn't actually get permission to use the mana symbols. We won't get into trouble, will we?' he smiled.

    And then, inspiration struck. From this event forward, the five Magic mana symbol Sewy Things (suggestions welcome) will be travelling with me all over the world, and then they will take up residence on the most exclusive personalised laptop in the Coverage room.

    Ta da!

    Andre, Fatima, many thanks!



     
  • Saturday, 4.35pm – Photo Essay

    by Rich Hagon
  • This is what day one of Brazilian Nationals looks like. Actually, scrap that. This is what the day BEFORE day one of Brazilian Nationals looks like.

    Over 160 players were ready and waiting at 9am to start the Last Chance Qualifiers, and they were pretty happy to be here.

    Of course, if you've been thoughtful enough to qualify in advance, that means you get to reap the rewards, like sitting in the shade on a blisteringly hot day, meeting your friends from around the country.

    Then it's time to work out the final cards for your deck. I don't speak Portugese, but Mago de Centelhas Astuto spells 'Combo' in any language.

    The players spilled out of the venue to take over almost the entire street, creating an astonishing Magic Street Party vibe that could only happen right here in the nation of Carnival.

    Bulging trade folders were much in evidence. Here in Brazil, Magic is very much about Trading, with players stocking their folders with useful Commons and Uncommons to help ensure that everyone who wants to play four Bloodbraid Elf (and who doesn't?) will have the chance to do so.



    Much excitement was caused as one of two things happened. Either, the world's first all-male topless Magic Cheerleading squad arrived, or the army ran by on exercise. One of these is more likely than the other.

    Next door to the Hall of Games, a phrase that is infinitely more alluring in Portugese than in English ('Salon de Jogos'), is the main store for Sao Paulo. It's a pretty impressive building in its own right, and has facilities that many stores around the world would envy. In addition to significant gameplay space, you can read the Magic novels....

    ...buy all sorts of Magic-related goodness....

    ...and afford yourself the luxury of one of the most important things in any Magic player's life – Snacks!



    Back at the Salon, there was still time to make a few final amendments before embarking on the last of the Last Chance Qualifiers.



    While dealer tables may be a common sight at Grand Prix and Pro Tours, that isn't the way here in Brazil. As a result, you see groups of people clustered around the back of cars, cars which seem to contain a mysteriously large quantity of Magic sleeves...

    The evening winding down, you might think players would be getting ready to tuck themselves up in bed ahead of the main event. Not a bit of it. The crowd just got bigger. And noisier. Much, much noisier. Make no mistake, this was a serious Magic party, and it was just getting started...


     

  • Saturday, 5:53 p.m. – Drafting with Allison Abe

    by Rich Hagon
  • The semi finalist from Grand Prix Gothenburg navigated his way to a reasonable 2-1 opening in Standard, but now finds himself seated two downstream from multiple Pro Tour finalist Willy Edel, and the talented Lucas Berthoud. Still, as Gothenburg showed, Abe knows his M11, so this should be interesting.

    Edel, Berthoud, Abe

    Pack One saw a horribly weak collection of cards, with a choice between Assassinate and Wild Griffin. Truly, there was nothing better. Having passed the Assassinate, he avoided Doom Blade pick two, preferring the card advantage of Foresee. That led to Scroll Thief pick three, and Harbor Serpent pick four. To say that the first pack as a whole didn't go well is probably an understatement. It ended with Abe looking at a Fling and Goblin Piker in red, the Wild Griffin and a Roc Egg in white, a mid-pack pair of Sacred Wolf and Yavimaya Wurm in green, together with such M11 hits as Brindle Boar, Vulshok Berserker, and Armored Cancrix. Abe needed some help.

    He got it in pack two, opening everyone's favorite uncommon, Mind Control. After a second pick Juggernaut, blue seemed to flow freely from his left. Water Servant, a second Foresee, Call to Mind, Merfolk Sovereign (which works well with Scroll Thief, in case you hadn't spotted that one), and Diminish all added to his scanty pile of playables.

    That meant that Abe was still looking to cement a second color in the third and decisive pack. Thankfully, pack three delivered once again. Following an easy first pick Aether Adept, Abe found green coming from his right. Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise would help towards his Yavimaya Wurm or Harbor Serpents, while he added a second Yavimaya Wurm and then a Spined Wurm with his next two picks. Double Giant Spider, and suddenly things were really looking up. As the packs faded away, it looked as if he'd bought himself a fighting chance of at least a 2-1 draft.


    Abe tries to regroup after pack one

    Meanwhile, Willy Edel had settled into blue-black, with a typical mix of few creatures and many spells, including plenty of Gravedigger/Aether Adept/Call To Mind/Diabolic Tutor action, potentially leading to a Sword of Vengeance. Of the three big names at the table, however, Lucas Berthoud looked to have done the best. Opening up on Fireball and Steel Overseer, he had quickly cornered the RW market in that part of the table, and was looking super-aggressive with many efficient flyers and quality removal.

    He would be hard to stop.


     

  • Feature Match Round 4 – Allison Abe vs. Willy Edel

    by Rich Hagon
  • Sitting at 2-1, both these fine players would be looking to a strong draft showing. For twice Pro Tour finalist Edel, this was his first M11 draft. Abe had rather more practice, having reached the semi final of the hotly-contested Grand Prix Gothenburg just a few weeks ago.

    Both players opened with a way to improve their draws. Sylvan Ranger for Abe, showing UG, faced Sign in Blood for Edel, whose turn four Phantom Beast quickly went away via Diminish from Abe. Abe landed Juggernaut, before Liliana's Specter forced Abe to discard a Harbor Serpent, who added a Spined Wurm to the board.

    Doom Blade from Edel dispensed with the Juggernaut, and did double duty when Edel had Call to Mind to return the 1B Instant to kill off the Spined Wurm. When Abe tried for Yavimaya Wurm, Edel was ready with an Ice Cage, and Gravedigger returned the Phantom Beast. Abe meanwhile chose to restock via Foresee. He too had Call to Mind, returning the card advantage spell to hand.

    Edel returned the Phantom Beast to play and added Maritime Guard. He had a second Ice Cage when Abe tried to stabilize with Giant Spider. With Diabolic Tutor up next, Edel was steadily assuming control of the game. Aether Adept was able to target Edel's Phantom Beast to death, with the 3/1 Sacred Wolf joining Abe's team.

    We next saw exactly what Edel had searched up with his Diabolic Tutor, as Sword of Vengeance landed, and Equipped to Liliana's Specter. One turn later, it was over.

    Allison Abe 0 – 1 Willy Edel



    A turn three Liliana's Specter from Edel saw Birds of Paradise hitting the Abe graveyard, with Abe replying with the hefty Water Servant. Juggernaut from Edel wasn't that exciting at that point, while it was promptly matched by a carbon copy on Abe's side of the table. When the Juggernauts traded, Edel used Gravedigger to return his, with Abe also generating advantage through Foresee.

    Back came the 5/3 for Edel, who continued to fly in with his Liliana's Specter. Abe offered another Juggernaut-style roadblock with Spined Wurm, leaving Edel to contemplate his next move - in good shape, but without blue mana. He chose to Doom Blade the Spined Wurm, and then used Stabbing Pain to tap Abe's Water Servant, allowing his full team to swing in powerfully. Needing something good, Abe had Mind Control for the reborn Juggernaut.



    Edel attacked once more with the Specter, dropping Abe to just three life, before using Diabolic Tutor for any card in his library. 'Island?' asked Abe. Edel flipped over the blue mana producer.

    As it must, the Juggernaut powered in. Abe also had Giant Spider, but Edel was ready. Ice Cage for the Spider meant the Liliana's Specter could attack once again. Now at just one life, Abe faced the death of the unwanted card draw, namely Sign in Blood. Throughout the match, it seemed that Edel had all the answers.

    Allison Abe 0 – 2 Willy Edel.


     

  • Saturday, 7:05 p.m. – Paulo in Peril!

    by Rich Hagon
  • Coming into the event as one of the leading contenders, not only for this National Championship, but for Player of the Year as well, it's been a frustrating day for Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. With six Pro Tour top 8s to his name, including the memorable victory earlier this year in San Juan, PV is no stranger to the mtg spotlight, but now, in round five, he is under the closest scrutiny, right on the verge of elimination. What's been going wrong?

    Big problems for PV

    'I know this sounds like a typical complaint, but I've been having mana problems' lamented the Level 8 Pro. 'My three Standard matches were all broadly favorable – two Mythic, and a Naya. But, I'd keep three land hands, and then just stay there. It's been like that all day.'

    For most normal players, that's where we'd leave it – bemoaning our mana problems. Paulo, always ready to look to himself for answers first, pondered ruefully, 'Maybe I should have played an extra land. I'm at 26, maybe that wasn't enough.'

    Complex, but not for Paulo

    At 1-2, his attention turned to draft, and he put together a tasty-looking blue-white affair with lots of efficient flyers, an Honor of the Pure, quick white weenie ground beaters, and capped off by a Frost Titan. Did it feel like a 3-0 deck?

    'Yeah, pretty much. It felt really good, but I played another good red-black deck in round four. Mana issues again, though. Very frustrating.'

    Luiz Ricardo De Lima

    Now in round five, Paulo found himself facing elimination at the hands of one Luiz Ricardo De Lima, who can't have imagined the feature match area would be coming his way at 1-3. An incredibly complicated battlefield featured Luiz with double Angel's Feather, double Ajani's Mantra, and a Serra Ascendant, which was perilously close to the Magic thirty life mark. Still, PV took care of business, and dodged the final bullet for at least one more round.


     

  • Feature Match Round 6 – Marcio Almeida vs. Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira

    by Rich Hagon
  • I'm pretty excited about this sixth round matchup. While Marcio Almeida is having his best run at Nationals, having a Grand Prix day two appearance to his name, his opponent is cutting a swathe through the virtual world. Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira currently heads the Online Player of the Year standings, with the nickname 'L1XO'. Now the two face off in real life to head for the second draft at a very healthy 5-1.


    Marcio Almeida up against an Online powerhouse

    Almeida led out with Squadron Hawk, finding one more recruit for the cause. Assault Griffin was the first offering from Vieira, who had two Islands, a Plains, and a potentially useful Mystifying Maze. Almeida found his second color with a Mountain. A classic 'you can't really block' moment followed, as two Squadron Hawk, with mana untapped, ran into a theoretically stronger Assault Griffin, with no mana untapped. Vieira was never going to risk a trick, so two damage came through.

    Vieira bolstered his board position with Water Servant, making Almeida's Goblin Piker from the previous turn look rather flimsy. Arc Runner was rather more powerful, and again Vieira elected to take the damage, now down to twelve.

    After Vieira had launched a decent attack, Almeida sent his Goblin Piker to work. Pointlessly, as it turned out, since Mystifying Maze was ready. When Almeida looked to send his new Ajani Pridemate to the air with Mighty Leap, in order to block Vieira's Assault Griffin, the Magic Online pacesetter was ready again, this time with Unsummon. So far, almost everything Almeida had played had just one toughness, and he was down to six, facing mounting pressure, despite a glut of cards in hand.


    L1X0

    That one toughness theme continued with Prodigal Pyromancer, which did nothing to prevent Vieira sending his team the following turn, comprising Water Servant, Assault Griffin, and a War Priest of Thune. Ajani's Pridemate and Goblin Piker looked to keep Almeida alive, but a second Unsummon was more than enough for Vieira to take the opener.

    Almeida 0 – 1 Vieira

    Having won the opener off a mulligan to six, Vieira watched as Almeida began the second with just five cards. Still, he had turn two Squadron Hawk to pull back one of those two cards. We had seen from game one that early beats would be the key for Almeida's low-toughness deck, so a turn two Blinding Mage for Vieira was bad news, as was the no third land that followed. About the only positive Almeida could take was that his deck was set up to function nicely off little mana, with Silvercoat Lion and Ajani's Pridemate on successive turns, still with no third mana.

    Unfortunately, by this time Vieira was off to the races, first with Assault Griffin, and then with Juggernaut. Tireless Missionaries didn't seem powerful, but they further reduced Almeida's chances of getting anywhere good anytime before Christmas o'clock. Equipping Squadron Hawk with Whispersilk Cloak seemed irrelevant.


    Ouch!

    On Magic Online, Almeida could hope for an epic series of misclicks. Or the doorbell to ring. Or the internet to collapse. None of these things would happen here. A super-unfortunate Unsummon left him looking at an almost empty board. Foresee from Vieira merely rubbed salt into the wounds. Moments later, Almeida extended the hand.

    Marcio Almeida 0 – 2 Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira


     

  • Saturday, 9:39 p.m. – At The Halfway Mark

    by Rich Hagon
  • Six rounds of Brazilian Nationals have gone. Six remain, before we embark upon a Top 8 that will showcase Standard. Earlier in the day, we highlighted a group of players who might be in the thick of things come tomorrow evening. Let's check in with that group, and see how they've fared to date:

    Starting at the bottom, it's a big shock to say that the 2002 World Champion, Carlos Romao, is gone from the event. He endured a 1-4 pounding, but took it with his customary grace and good humor.

    At six points, with a 2-4 record, neither 2009 Worlds Team menber Aristides Camara nor Pro Tour finalist Celso Zampere Jnr can realistically make Top 8.

    Allison Abe, Aristides Camara, Rafael Coqueiro

    That brings us to the 3-3 brigade. In part, their chances may depend on tiebreaks, since it's possible that 9-3 may make it in for some, but not others. Vagner Casatti sits on this mark, alongside Jonathan Melamed, Guilherme Medeiros Merjan, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, battling back from a 1-3 hole. To show you what we mean about the tiebreaks, however, Melamed is in 50th place (63.8%), while da Rosa is way back in 78th place (44.4%), which may well be too much ground to make up, even with a 6-0 run.

    Grand Prix Gothenburg semi finalist Allison Abe is at 4-2, as is longtime player Pedro Motta, and double Pro Tour runner-up Willy Edel. Edel did a fine job of his first ever M11 draft, but will need to step up to the plate again if he's to mount a challenge before returning to Standard.

    Pacing our group of putative contenders are Rafael Coqueiro and Luiz Guilherme de Michielli, both at 5-1. Michielli made the top 16 of Worlds in 2008, while Coqueiro has a top 32 finish from Worlds in Rome last year.

    Guilherme Medeiros Merjan, Pedro Motta, Celso Zampere Junior

    However, two players remain undefeated, and you can read about their round seven clash to maintain a perfect record tomorrow. Rafael Mendonca has quite a story to tell, and we'll be telling it to you very shortly, while Eduardo Lopes is hitting the heights for the first time.

    And beware...L1X0, the Magic Online sensation, is closing fast at 5-1.

    Still, plenty can change over the next six rounds. Three draft, three Standard...Let's do it all again!


     

  • Saturday, 10:15 p.m. – The Power of Prediction

    by Rich Hagon
  • So yesterday, as you do, I'm walking around the venue, looking for some red hot story action. I sit down between two people I don't know, and the first gestures to his friend and says,' This guy is gonna make top 8.'

    Now, I hear this line a lot. Generally, there are two possibilities. First, their friend is super-good, and does indeed have a chance of top 8. That said, they're saying it almost to defy Fate, knowing full well that you can be amazing, but still fall well short of the line. Just ask any Pro. The second possibility is that their friend is super-bad, and has less chance of making the top 8 than Iran has of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Or maybe less than that.

    In this case, my source was most insistent. 'No, seriously, do you want to take his picture now to save some time later?' At this point, I roll up my proverbial sleeves, grab the notebook, and start piecing together what's going on here. The thing is, I can't lose. If his friend turns out to be super-good, I have a heads-up. If he's hideous, well, then I can mock them savagely. Here are the two gentlemen in question:



    On the right is Nicolas Damian, he of the 'my friend' comments. On the left is Rafael Mendonca, the beneficiary of said pressure. Time to find out whether they're for real or not.

    'Oh no, I really mean it' says Damian, grinning ever more widely. It turns out that Mendonca has form, as they say. Top 8 in 2003. Top 8 in 2005. Top 8 in 2006. Top 8 in 2009. In 2007, he missed the top 8 by one round, being defeated in the final round of Swiss by – clearly – Nicolas Damian. Now comes the kicker.

    You may be wondering why I don't know anything about Mendonca. After all, I have all the Brazilian teams in my database going back to the dawn of time. He hasn't made the team, ever. Four times he's reached the quarter final, and four times that's as far as he's gone. Three players in the team, four players in the team, it doesn't matter, he loses anyway.

    So, here we are at the halfway mark in the 2010 running of Nationals. How do the two friends stand?

    Nicolas Damian. 7th place. 5-1.

    Rafael Mendonca. 1st place. 6-0.

    Turns out they probably weren't kidding after all.

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