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Grand Prix Columbus
Day 2 Coverage

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Round 10 Feature Match - David Ochoa vs. Max Tietze

by Marc Calderaro


This is the first Battle of the Undefeateds today. ChannelFireball strong-arm (and strong-mustachioed) David Ochoa is currently 9-0 and three-time Grand Prix Top 8-er Max Tietze sits at 8-0-1.

Ochoa brought the patented 4c Pod deck that catapulted all three players piloting the deck to Day Two. Then again, I think Ochoa, Josh Utter-Leyton and Luis Scott-Vargas could bring toothpicks to a pike fight and someone end up victorious.

David Ochoa and Max Tietze

Tietze is playing the aggressive WUR Delver deck. It has some explosive draws and a bevy of removal to keep his opponents off their game. If Ochoa can get his Birthing Pod active, it'll be hard for Tietze to pull out a win, but getting to that point will be Ochoa's problem. And even with a Pod in play, it's possible that Tietze's removal will just out-muscle the green-based creature deck.

Game One

Both players kept their first grips and Max Tietze took himself down to 17 to play a Scalding Tarn, Sacred Foundry and a Steppe Lynx. David Ochoa stuck a Birds of Paradise. Tietze burned it out and used another fetch land to make Steppe Lynx a 4/5. After attacks it was 14-14.

Over the next two turns, Ochoa just made more mana birds (one of which was a Noble Hierarch) and a Linvala, Keeper of Silence. Tietze was undeterred and kept up the pressure. He used a Path to Exile to remove the white flyer and continued to pound in with a cast and flipped Delver of Secrets. It was 9-14 in Tietze's favor when Ochoa cast a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

David Ochoa

Still stalwart, Tietze burned the goblin with a Lightning Helix and pressed on. He had another fetch land in Misty Rainforest and swung in with his two dudes. The free Birds of Paradise token (made courtesy of the dying legendary goblin) jumped in front of the Insectile Aberration, but the Steppe Lynx sunk Ochoa to 4. The scores were 4-16.

Ochoa only had green mana accelerators to his name and two cards in his hand. One was an Eternal Witness. It returned the Kiki-Jiki and Ochoa, after playing Grove of the Burnwillows, the last card in his hand, he had just the right amount of mana to cast it. But, like a removal-drawing machine – that would be a machine designed to draw removal (though I'm not sure why someone would design such a device) – Tietze showed that the remaining two cards in his grip were Path to Exile #3 and #4. He removed the Kiki-Jiki and the flying blocker. We were on to the second game.

Max Tietze 1 – 0 David Ochoa

Tietze is never one for too many words while playing. And his hair stays fixed hiding his eyes, which is no matter because his eyes rarely leave the cards. Ochoa is rather stoic himself, but his mustache speaks volumes, let me tell you. If you've yet to see it in person, come down to a Grand Prix. It's worth the price of admission.

Game Two

Sacred Foundry and Steppe Lynx was again the name of the game for Tietze. But a Wall of Roots from Ochoa and a missed second land drop from Tietze distinguished the tenor of the second game from the first. This feeling continued as Tietze missed his third and fourth land drops as well.

Ochoa used Tietze's discard phase in two consecutive turns to cast a Deceiver Exarch and a Restoration Angel. Ochoa had the Kiki-Jiki in his hand, but Tietze burned out Wall of Roots to keep the 4c Pod-er off the mana for the auto-win. Ochoa settled for a Kitchen Finks, making the totals 18-13 in his favor.

David Ochoa

On turn five, Tietze found his second land and used a Pillar of Flame to exile the Kitchen Finks. Tietze now had two land, which was quite enough for his deck to function adequately, and Ochoa was only on three. This amount of mana was not adequate to stick a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. However, Ochoa still had both the board state and the life total in his favor, and his next turn found him his fourth land.

Perhaps Ochoa wouldn't even need to get to five mana. He cast a Phantasmal Image copying his Angel and Qasali Pridemage (thanks to blinking Exarch hijinks) and represented lethal damage when he shipped the turn back to Tietze.

But Tietze had found land three thanks to his Serum Visions last turn. He used a Path to Exile and a Lightning Helix to take out the Image and the Pridemage and went to 4 on the next turn. 10-4. A second Restoration Angel restored the Deceiver Exarch (see the valued in adding Blue to Birthing Pod?) and Ochoa took Tietze to 1.

It's hard to tell intensity from confidence on Max Tietze's face, but since I'd been looking at his mug for the last twenty minutes, I noticed the shift. Ochoa hit his fifth land and stuck a Kiki-Jiki, however Tietze had five cards in his hand and two mana untapped. Ochoa copied the Deceiver Exarch, but instead of trying to infinite, he knew it was much more important to just remove the blocker. So the 1/4 came back into play and tapped down Tietze's Steppe Lynx, rather than untapping the Mirror Breaker. When that happened, Tietze conceded.

Max Tietze 1 – David Ochoa 1

Game Three

Ochoa snap-kept a dicey six-card hand. It was four land, a Kiki-Jiki and a Chord of Calling. This deck was extensively tested and Ochoa knew it inside and out and the veteran knew this hand was likely better than any five cards would provide him.

Tietze did not capitalize on Ochoa's slow hand as his first four turns were a Hallowed Fountain, Moorland Haunt, Steam Vents and Misty Rainforest. Yet somehow the scores were 19-16. This is an odd format indeed.

The first play was a turn-four Birthing Pod from Ochoa which ran into a Remand. Tietze followed his counterspell by sticking a Geist of Saint Traft, which allowed Ochoa the Pod his following turn. After Geist attacks, Tietze took the lead at 13-15. Tietze sat on his Smash to Smithereens as Ochoa had no creature to Pod away. When Ochoa tried to stick a Birds of Paradise the Pod was smashed, bringing Ochoa to 10.

Tietze swung in with his Hexproof 2/2 and a flying 4/4 token. Ochoa had a Combust and two Chord of Calling sitting in his grip. He just blocked the Angel and took two. This grinding plan could have worked if Tietze wasn't sitting on a hand full of burn. He cast a Lightning Helix at Ochoa's face and when Ochoa tried to Chord into a Deceiver Exarch, Tietze responded by burning the remaining points away with two Lightning Bolts.

"That deck beats well," Ochoa remarked.

Max Tietze 2 -1 David Ochoa




 

Sunday, 10:53 a.m. - Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Mike Rosenberg


Day 2 of Grand Prix Columbus has begun, and we've got a metagame breakdown of what the field looks like here today. What made it into Day 2? Take a look!

Out of 152 decks that made it into Day 2, the field's most played deck is Naya-Pod, which is sitting at roughly 18.4% of the field. The next most popular deck was the W/U/R color combination of Delver, although aggressive blue archetypes based around the powerful Innistrad creature sit at 26 total for the day (counting the W/U/B Wizards deck that Christian Calcano brought with him this weekend; remember, Delver is a Wizard!).

Perhaps one of the more unexpected decks to see success this weekend is Fish. The Merfolk tribe has done very well this weekend, as they helped a dozen pilots coast their way through a field of Hallowed Fountains, Watery Graves, Breeding Pools, and Steam Vents into Day 2. Islandwalk is awesome, right?

Archetype #
Naya Pod 28
W/U/R Delver 13
Fish 12
U/R/G Delver 11
W/U Control 10
Jund 10
Burn 8
Affinity 7
Splinter Twin 5
UginTron 5
W/B Tokens 5
Storm 4
Living End 3
5-Color Pod 3
Gifts Ungiven 3
Mystical Teachings 2
Mono-Blue Faeries 2
Soul Sisters 2
Bant 1
W/U/B Wizards 1
U/R/G Control 1
Reanimator 1
W/U/B Control 1
Hive Mind 1
Doran 1
Goblins 1
Polymorph 1
Summoning Trap 1
U/R Faeries 1
U/R Delver 1
Krark-Clan Ironworks 1
Ad Nauseum 1
Zoo 1
W/U Tron 1
U/R Tron 1
Second Sunrise 1

It should be noted that 5-Color Pod is going the way of the dinosaur. While combinations of the Restoration Angel/Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Melira, Sylvok Outcast/Viscera Seer/Murderous Recap combo were popular at the last Modern Grand Prix, the innovations made to the Naya version of the deck (which has become more 4-Color than anything thanks to the inclusion of Phantasmal Image and Deceiver Exarch) has pushed the older version of this popular deck out of the format. Why run extra pieces of another combo when you can just kill opponents with one Birthing Pod, a Birds of Paradise, and a Wall of Roots?

Burn also came out in force this weekend. Goblin Guides, Searing Blazes, and more. Rain of Gore out of the board, anyone?

Control decks were also popular here this weekend. Some were all-in on the Faerie tribe, while others chose only to include Spellstutter Sprite and Vendilion Clique.

Some notable decks that made it into Day 2 unexpectedly include traditional Tron decks, Summoning Trap, Second Sunrise with Disciple of the Vault as the kill card, and a Krark-Clan Ironworks combo.

Will Pod fill out the Top 8 by the end of the day, or will one of the lone wolves running one of the unique brews make a surprise Top 8 showing instead? Check back regularly throughout the day to find out!




 

Round 11 Feature Match - Justin Bova vs. Jarvis Yu

by Mike Rosenberg


Jarvis Yu was one of two players who made it into Day 2 with a blue-based version of the UrzaTron deck. While the green Tron decks, which we've nicknamed UginTron, have been the more popular choice for players at this event, Yu has had success with his blue Tron, which combines the ability to hard-cast Eldrazis with the ability to just cheat them into play with Through the Breach.

His opponent, Justin Bova, was playing a traditional Naya-Pod deck. Who would get their combo-engines running first?

Game 1

Both players kept, and Yu led off with Urza's Mine, while Bova started off with Razorverge Thicket. Island and Izzet Signet fro Yu was met with Bova's Wall of Roots, as both players ramped their mana.

Justin Bova matches mana with more mana.

Yu started off Turn 3 with Compulsive Research, discarding Stomping Ground. Urza's Power Plant and Expedition Map after ensured that Yu would have the Tron online next turn. Bova, however, stumbled on a mana drop, but had Qasali Pridemage.

Yu untapped and cracked the Expedition Map to find Urza's Tower. This let him ramp into Through the Breach, which brought Emrakul, the Aeons Torn out.

Turn 4 Emrakul is pretty sweet, or so I heard.

Bova scooped up his permanents...and then scooped up his cards with a laugh, knowing he wasn't coming back from that with no lands in hand.

Bova 0 – Yu 1

Game 2

Bova led off with Birds of Paradise, while Yu started with Grafdigger's Cage off of an Urza's Tower. Bova continued his acceleration with Wall of Roots, which Yu matched with Izzet Signet (off of a second Urza's Tower).

Bova added a second Prids of Paradise to his field, which madeYu's Pyroclasm all the sweeter on turn three, though he only had an Expedition Map and no third land.

This changed when Yu drew an Urza's Power Plant. The Expedition Map found Urza's Mine at the end of Bova's turn. Bova continued to play lands, showing that he was suffering from some serious flood, while Yu popped another Expedition Map for a Steam Vents, providing him a backup if he lost his Izzet Signet.

Jarvis Yu begins to assemble the powerful Urza-Tron engine.

Bova finally offered up action with Birthing Pod and Noble Hierarch, but had no action to Pod into.

Yu dug with Thirst for Knowledge, then Compulsive Research. Another Thirst for Knowledge dug deeper for Yu, as Bova sat back, looking on and unable to do anything.

Yu untapped and cast Through the breach. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn followed, and most of Bova's lands were annihilated. Expedition Map found Eye of Ugin before Emrakul went to the graveyard, and on the next turn, Bova offered up the handshake, unable to do anything before Yu set up another Emrakul turn.

Jarvis Yu defeats Justin Bova 2-0!




 

Round 12 Feature Match - Shahar Shenhar vs. Gerard Fabiano

by Marc Calderaro


Grand Prix winner Gerard Fabiano is still undefeated. He's the last one standing. Two-time Grand Prix winner Shahar Shenhar started asking who he's beaten so far in the tournament. Fabiano, ever the showman, just nodded his head repeatedly at any name Shenhar could throw at him. However, Shenhar's deck was going to be a tough beat for Fabiano. The sheer amount of removal and pressure the WUR Delver deck packs can end a gave quite quickly, especially if Fabiano and his RUG Delver doesn't see his Bonfire of the Damned on the top of the library.

Fabiano mulliganed twice and after looking at his second card of his third hand, he emphatically announced he was keeping. This was going to make it a bit harder.

Game One

Shahar Shenhar started as this three-color Delver deck is wont to do – with a land into a Steppe Lynx. Fabiano took four damage but was still tied at 16-16 thanks to fetch- and shock-lands. Fabiano went with two Islands to start and watched his Delver of Secrets get burned out of the sky by a Lightning Helix. The amount of removal that comes from Shenhar's deck is often astounding.

Shenhar and Fabiano

As Shenhar was shuffling after cracking a fetch land, Fabiano offered, "You definitely win this game."

"Well, you did mulligan to five, but you can still Bonfire me out." Shenhar was right, a Bonfire of the Damned was always a great possibility. It was the best response to that silly Geist of Saint Traft when it rears its spirited head.

Fabiano peeled cards from the top of his library, looking for the miracle. The cards would bend ever so slightly off the table as they would slowly enter his hand. Each time he would peer at his opponent. Steppe Lynx continued to beat. It was 14-9 in Shenhar's favor.

Fabiano cast a Mana Leak on Shenhar's Delver of Secrets to get his opponent to tap out. Shenhar didn't bite. On Shenhar's next upkeep, Fabiano's Lightning Bolt on the Steppe Lynx was Vapor Snag-ed back into Shenhar's hand. The Steppe Lynx was replayed.

Fabiano responded with a Snapcaster Mage targeting his Mana leak. Though the counterspell was flashed back, Shenhar had the Remand waiting.

"It goes back to my hand?" Fabiano smiled. Shenhar shook his head. But now Shenhar was tapped down. This was what Fabiano was waiting for. He tapped all five mana to cast and activate Vedalken Shackles to take Shenhar's only creature, the Steppe Lynx. Fabiano beat with the Snapcaster Mage and the score became 10-9.

Shenhar had in his hand a Lightning Bolt, a Snapcaster Mage and multiple Path to Exile, but his on-board representation was zilch. A Serum Visions located a Geist of Saint Traft which stayed as close to the top as possible. A Snapcaster Mage gave Lighting Helix a second breath of life and the score looked quickly lopsided at 11-6. Shenhar's Gitaxian Probe saw a Vendilion Clique and a Spell Snare in Fabiano's hand, and Shenhar followed up with a Geist of Saint Traft.

Clique drew a Lighting Bolt from Shenhar in response to its enter-the-battlefield trigger and Fabiano left the Path to Exiles in Shenhar's hand alone.

Shenhar takes game 1

Fabiano's face grinned largely as he slowly peeled his card from the library and peeked at it while eying Shenhar the whole time. Sadly, it was not a Bonfire of the Damned. Exiling blockers cleared the path for Shenhar's flyers to end game one.

Shahar Shenhar 1 – 0 Gerard Fabiano

Game Two

Fetch lands and Shock lands cluttered the opening turns. Shenhar started with a Gifts Ungiven and saw an early Isochron Scepter near his library's top. This game was not going to start with an early Steppe Lynx – or an early anything for that matter. Fabiano stuck a turn-three Blood Moon and all Shenhar's land became Mountains. Oddly enough, the only land left in his hand was his basic Mountain.

However, the Scepter solved that whole mana problem is a jiffy. Two colorless mana made a Scepter and two colorless would activate it. Seemed good enough. Fabiano made a Huntmaster of the Fells, evening the totals at 19-19. Shenhar drew and tanked. His hand had the Gifts, Snapcaster Mage, Path to Exile, Geist of Saint Traft and Lightning Helix, all of which were uncastable. So the young player just made a Lightning Bolt copy and took out the Huntmaster. The same fate befell Fabiano's Wolf the next turn. The game stalled soon after.

Fabiano

By "stalled" I mean of course Shenhar shooting everything out of the sky, and when there was nothing to shoot, he shot Gerard. The three-mana enchantment that had won Gerard many games this weekend was seemingly unhelpful. So the Jersey-ian raced. He cast a Lightning Bolt then flashed it back with a Snapcaster Mage. The score was 11-16 in his favor. Still with only Mountains, Shenhar was limited to three damage a turn. And that was only if Gerard didn't present a creature to shoot. And he had creatures.

Tarmogoyf reached just out of Bolt range as a 3/4. Shenhar tried to double Bolt it, but the second one hit a Mana Leak and Shenhar was one short of paying for it. It was 7-16 when Shenhar finally peeled the basic Plains necessary to use Path to Exile. He still had no way to produce Blue mana, but the Lightning Helix and two more Swords to Plowshares imitators were online. These would likely delay long enough for the Scepter to do its duty. Fabiano cast Spell Snare on the Lightning Helix, but let the Scepter-Bolt resolve. 7-10.

Bonfire of the Damned came off the top and Fabiano hit it for four, leaving a single Blue mana untapped. Shenhar was in a bit of a conundrum. He used Faithless Looting twice and finally found the Island he needed to, you know, actually cast his spells. After he laid it down, there were four land untapped and Shenhar finally represented all the colors of his deck. 3-7. This is a game, folks.

At the end of Shenhar's turn, Fabiano cast Burst Lightning with kicker. Shenhar cast a Snapcaster Mage in response, but Fabiano wasn't just bluffing with that Island early. He had the Spell Snare ready, and Shenhar shuffled 'em up for the rubber game. He had gotten his lands a turn or two too late.

Shahar Shenhar 1 – 1 Gerard Fabiano

Game Three

With about ten minutes left, both players quickly shuffled and curtly said, "Keep."

Shenhar went for blood. He had a 3/2 Insectile Aberration attacking on his second turn and took Fabiano to 16. Fabiano stuck a 2/3 Tarmogoyf, but sunk to 13. His green meanie ate a Path to Exile on his next upkeep. Fabiano followed with a second one.

Shenhar had a Gifts Ungiven, Path to Exile, Faithless Looting and a Snapcaster Mage in his hand after he dropped his fourth land. He repeated his last-turn Path plan on Fabiano's next upkeep. There was four minutes left on the clock. Neither of these players wanted a draw. It would be bad for both of them. It was 19-9 in Shenhar's favor and that big insect was still happy to cleave away at the undefeated's life total.

Fabiano stuck a Blood Moon and hit the insect with a Lightning Bolt with two minutes left. Shenhar sacrificed fetch lands to find basics and then cast the fastest Gifts Ungiven on record when he found just an Unburial Rites and a Sphinx of the Steel Wind. Fabiano checked and double-checked that he had to pick two cards to go into the graveyard.

"That doesn't really seem fair, does it?" Paul Rietzl opined from the spectators gallery, which had grown considerably during this utterly tense match-up. Time was called.

On turn one of extra turns, Shenhar reanimated the Sphinx. Fabiano responded with a Huntmaster of the Fells to bring to life totals to 17-11. In spite of any huntsman around, Mr. Steely Wind performed his duty. He made the totals 23-5, then aided by a Geist of Saint Traft. Fabiano looked for the miracle Bonfire of the Damned that could prevent a loss. He didn't find it.

Shahar Shenhar 2 – 1 Gerard Fabiano

Fabiano is still at the top of the standings, but there will be an ominous "1" in his loss column.




 

Round 13 Feature Match - Michael Jacob vs. Josh Utter-Leyton

by Mike Rosenberg


"I thought you were undefeated yesterday," Michael Jacob asked, as his opponent Josh Utter-Leyton sat down.

"I was 7-2," Utter-Leyon responded, before he gave Jacob a look. "Are Webster and I that interchangeable?"

Game 1

Jacob won the die roll and chose to play, but grimaced at his first hand and immediately shipped it back. Utter-Leyon, on the other hand, was satisfied with his initial hand.

Michael Jacob keeps on the hope of living a twisted dream.

Both players started off slow, playing draw-go and building up their mana. Utter-Leyton cast the first spell with a second-turn Wall of Roots, followed by Birds of Paradise. Jacob cracked his Misty Rainforest at the end of Utter-Leyton's turn with Twisted Image, taking out Wall of Roots, a chuckle from Utter-Leyton. Jacob drew and used Lightning Helix on Birds of Paradise, passing without a land.

"Kill count for Twisted Image: 4!" Jacob said.

Utter-Leyton played Kitchen Finks, and it attacked for 3 on the next turn, while Jacob was still unable to find a land. Jacob played Delver of Secrets, and then used Path to Exile on Kitchen Fink in response to Utter-Leyton's end-of-turn Restoration Angel.

Utter-Leyton pressed on with his creature, attacking Jacob to 15 before deploying another Restoration Angel. Jacob drew, having no instant or sorcery to reveal, and he went into thought. Watery Grave came into play untapped, as Jacob dropped to 13. Snapcaster Mage for Path to Exile disposed of a Restoration Angel, and Utter-Leyton chose not to get a land.

Utter-Leyton drew, and then played Chord of Calling for 5 for Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. "Okay, that kills me," Jacob said, as he picked up his cards.

Jacob 0 – Utter-Leyton 1

"That was so depressing," Jacob said. "If I drew a land I could have Snapcastered my Twisted Image and lived the dream! You should definitely board out all your 0/1s and 0/5s."

"I'm working on it," Utter-Leyton joked.

Game 2

Jacob led off with Delver of Secrets off of Watery Grave, while Utter-Leyton started with Noble Hierarch off of Grove of the Burnwillows. Jacob untapped and promptly used Twisted Image on the Noble Hierarch, while Serum Visions left one on top after that.

Utter-Leyton fired back with another Noble Hierarch, as Jacob revealed Lightning Bolt to transform his Delver. He followed up with Snapcaster Mage and the flashbacked Twisted Image, along with a cheer for finally living the dream.

Utter-Leyton drew and passed, without anymore lands and his mana producers all dead. Jacob put the pressure on and attacked with his two creatures, and in two turns, the game was over.

Jacob 1 – Utter-Leyton 1

"Just image Isochron Scepter with a Twisted Image. Could he ever win?" Jacob joked.

Josh Utter-Leyton debates the merits of 0 power creatures.

With the video feature match completed, Jacob and Utter-Leyton moved over to the spotlight. After a shift from the text feature match area to under the camera, the third game got started.

Game 3

Utter-Leyton tossed his first hand back, while Jacob was fine with his initial seven. Utter-Leyton's second hand was also unacceptable, and he went to five.

Utter-Leyton led with Aris Mesa, while Jacob kicked things off with Delver of Secrets. Utter-Leyton cracked his Arid Mesa for Stomping Ground, but had no second land. Jacob went to 15 after cracking a newly played Scalding Tarn for Steam Vent. He attacked for 1 with his Delver, and then followed up with Serum Vision and a new Delver of Secrets.


Utter-Leyton found Birds of Paradise, and a revealed Gifts Ungiven transformed the dual Delvers into dual Insectile Aberrations. Faithless Looting deposited Gifts Ungiven and a land into the graveyard, and the Insectile Aberrations beat down for 6. Combust took out one of the Aberrations, but the other attacked for 3 on the next turn, as Jacob passed with four mana open.

Utter-Leyton attempted a Birthing Pod, which resolved, as Jacob was content to set up a Gifts Ungiven package for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites. With only two choices, they went to the graveyard, and the Rites was played out of the graveyard to bring the legendary Praetor back.

Utter-Leyton drew, played Spellskite, sacrificed it to Pod, and...offered a handshake.

Michael Jacob defeats Josh Utter-Leyton 2-1!




 

Round 14 Feature Match - Garett Young vs. Lucas Siow

by Mike Rosenberg


As I was sitting down to record this match-up, multiple judges independently came up to me and asked, "You know what you're in for, right?" I did. I certainly did. Garett Young was piloting Sunrise Eggs. If you're unfamiliar with this deck, there's no way I can discuss its entire ins and outs in a few opening paragraphs. However, the long and short is the deck aims to draw the entire deck simply by recurring cogs like Chromatic Star, Conjurer's Bauble and Pyrite Spellbomb. How does it do it? By using Second Sunrise and Faith's Reward to bring the sacrificed artifacts (and land thanks to Ghost Quarter and Edge of Autumn) to then set up a loop.

The loop is to have an empty library, then infinitely recur Second Sunrise via Conjurer's Bauble (with an empty library, just put a Sunrise from the graveyard on the "bottom" of the library, then draw it immediately). At that point, it can infinitely sacrifice Pyrite Spellbomb thanks to Lotus Bloom infinitely returning to the battlefield. So no matter the life total of your opponent, you can take them out. You can also do the same with Disciple of the Vault. This is called a "system deck". It's not really a combo deck because there is no "combo" so to speak. Everything in the deck works to operate the whole deck as a system. It's pretty gross. It also takes a good twenty minutes to complete the loop. That's grosser. Garett Young was eating it up too. A self-proclaimed Southern hick, Young soaked in the spotlight and the large crowds his matched inevitably drew.

This match, however, might see him lose in front of the largest crowd yet. Lucas Siow's deck is pretty much the nightmare match-up for Eggs. Siow's deck has tons of cheap counterspells. Tons. Believe or not, a deck that needs to manually draw out its entire deck to win and cast and re-cast many keys spells frequently is generally susceptible to counter-magic. Though Young has some hate in the sideboard, those cards just dilute the purity of the deck's system and can often be as big of a hindrance as it is a help.

Game One

Garett Young knew how deliberate his stages would have to be declared, so he announced everything. "I will draw. I play a Ghost Quarter and play a Chromatic Star. Does it resolve?" The first few turns were as you would expect from this deck – all set-up. This tricked Lucas Siow early as he put Young on a Tron deck.

A crowd of people gathered to watch this match between Young and Siow

After Siow announced a Vendilion Clique (which targeted himself), Young Ghost Quartered his own Island, netting a Plains and adding one blue mana to his pool, used a Chromatic Star to filter and make a white instead, cycled Edge of Autumn, then cast Second Sunrise to get the three lands and the Chromatic Star back. He counted his cards and land and passed. What Young had just done is an important part of playing Sunrise Eggs. Second Sunrise doesn't have to be a game winner. It can just gain incremental advantage. This is especially true if you have another Second Sunrise or a Noxious Revival in your hand.

Young's Reshape, sacrificing the Sunbeam Spellbomb as an additional cost, was countered by a Mana Leak. Young was hoping to resolve it and search for a Lotus Bloom because when X=0 you can find a card with a mana cost { }, in case you weren't sure. After Siow attacked with the Clique, it was 14-18 in Siow's favor. Young cast Noxious Revival and then replayed his Reshape. He sacrificed Chromatic Star (drawing a card), but Siow again countered the sorcery, this time with a Deprive. The Lotus Bloom Young had already suspended ticked down to two counters. After another faerie attack, it was 9-18.

Young's suspended Lotus Bloom resolved when Young was down to 6 and had four land in play, one of which was the Ghost Quarter. He quartered his own land, tapping it before it died. Siow waited patiently with six mana untapped. Edge of Autumn was cycled, netting another land in the graveyard and another Star was sacrificed. Young cast his Conjurer's Bauble. He sacrificed it and put the Sunbeam Spellbomb on the bottom. After he sacrificed his Lotus Bloom for three white, he had that and a blue mana in his mana pool. Faith's Reward was the big spell Young tried to resolve and Siow flashed in a Snapcaster Mage, targeting the Mana Leak in his graveyard to gain flashback. Young responded by casting Noxious Revival targeting the blue card.

"Does it resolve?" Young asked, almost rhetorically.

"Yes." Siow calmly answered. He was not happy

"SICK! How about the Faith's Reward?"

"Yes."

"SICKER!" The Bloom, Bauble and Star returned. Young was started to combo out – or perhaps more accurately, system out. The Star was Reshaped for a second Lotus Bloom, drawing another card. He cast Serum Visions and kept his Scry cards on the top of his library.

"That's not good." Siow had put down his hand, had his elbows on the table and was watching the show. After sacrificing Baubles repeatedly, he cast another Noxious Revival targeting the Second Sunrise. "You're at two life?" Siow asked.

"Two life," Young concurred. Siow looked as his hand, then put it back down again. He had only a Spell Pierce for counter magic and Young was likely to play around that. So it was back to watching the show and hoping. Siow's only hope was that Young would draw too many land and fail to find another Second Sunrise, Faith's Reward, or Noxious Revival (though Young couldn't pay the Phyrexian mana cost, he could use a Lotus Bloom to make the green mana necessary).

Young looked around. "Hey everybody, how ya'll doing?" He smiled. "Anybody got another die?"

Young continued to do the very definition of durdling, sacrificing and returning Spellbombs and moving his cards from one zone to another then back again. He had tried to go off earlier that he wanted to, because giving a deck with so many counterspells time was a big mistake. Young had started the turn at 6 life, an attack and a Lightning Bolt would have end it, so Young had no choice. He dug and dug, but the impossible happened. For the third time in the tournament, Garett Young's deck had failed him and fizzled out. After taking another look at his hand with about seven land stranded in it, Young said, "I concede," and scooped up his cards.


Lucas Siow 1 – 0 Garett Young

A newcomer in the crowd asked, "Lucas, is that match?"

"No, that was game one," Siow responded.

While the two shuffled for the next game, Young idly chattered. "Man I was on life support! Do you know how much I had to go through? Did you see those counterspells?"

Silence, a Defense Grid and Dark Confidants came in from the sideboard for Young and Edge of Autumn, Disciple of the Vault, and a Sunbeam Spellbomb came out.

Siow didn't have a great sideboard, but he had purely dead cards like Vedalken Shackles, so he replaced them with anything that did something.

At this point the two switched to GGsLive on camera. This ought to be good. A judge added five minutes to the game time for switching over. Greeeeaatttt.

Game 2

"Umm, I'm gunna go first. That seems good." Young had two Lotus Blooms, a Second Sunrise, a Noxious Revival and a cog. That's a great good keep, especially on the play. Siow had to mulligan and kept a two-lander with Ancient Grudge; he had a Krosan Grip on the top of his library.

Garett Young

Young's first two turns were Lotus Blooms and Chromatic Stars. He looked over at the judge, smirked and laughed. Siow attacked in with a Delver of Secrets.

"You got me!" Young exclaimed, he ticked his total down to 19.

"Something like that." The Lotus Bloom ticked down to one. Siow did not draw his third land. This was a problem. "Woah, this deck's aggressive," Young said as Tarmogoyf #2 came out on turn three. Siow had no choice but to go aggressive and hope. "Whiff twice, please."

"Don't plan to." Young started his cycle. A Reshape immediately brought his Bloom count to three. He then Reshaped for his fourth Lotus Bloom. Unsurprisingly, the first Second Sunrise followed, getting all that mana back. Generally, if you have unlimited mana, you will win. But Young has already missed once this match.

He had four Lotus Blooms, two Chromatic Stars, Pyrite Spellbomb, Chromatic Sphere an Island a Ghost Quarter and a Plains were his board. He was only drawing four cards and one land per cycle ... so far.

"Is all this foil?" Siow was trying to pass his time.

"I'm trying to foil it out. This is a very inexpensive deck and I feel guilty." Young continued his twenty-minute turn. He cast a Reshape for 1 and found a Locket of Yesterdays. Go ahead; click the hyperlink.

"So your Lotus Blooms cost negative three now?" Siow just sat back and watched. Young continued his loops, netting more cogs and more land. After about seven more minutes Siow said, "Just tell me your win condition. We need to get to a game three."

Young told him he was going to infinitely recur Pyrite Spellbomb. Siow didn't believe him. So Young told him about his alternate condition, Disciple of the Vault.

"Is that even legal?!"

"That's what all my opponents ask."

"Fine. Let's just get to the next game."

Lucas Siow 1 – 1 Garett Young

The two shuffled up for game three.

Game Three

Young kept his hand, but he was going second which would give Siow a distinct advantage. Siow would hit four mana before Young could plan to go off. However, Young had a Silence in his opening grip which could make all the difference.

There was eight minutes left in the round, but this benefits Young because he can win on any turn you offer him. It might take a lifetime, but it'll only be one turn.

The first-turn Lotus Bloom sunk to one time counter. Siow cast Spell Pierce on Serum Visions. It earned a "Nice," from Young. It's rare that players use their counterspells on turns other than the turn Young plans to combo out. The next turn, under pressure from a single, rather large Tarmogoyf, Young cast a Silence before he cast the Lotus Bloom from exile, but the white instant hit a Negate. Then Young's Lotus Bloom was stopped by a Mana Leak. Siow was not messing around. No wonder he cast the Spell Pierce last turn, he wasn't going to have the mana to cast it anyway.

Lucas Siow

"How big of a 'Goyf is that? 4/5?" Young asked as he passed the turn back. It was. Young sunk to 10. He had only a Chromatic Star and two Islands to his name. He cast Serum Visions and despondently looked at the top two cards.

Siow seemed quite confident. In fact, he was still holding a Deprive after already casting three counterspells. Young used his whole turn just to try and draw a couple cards off some cogs and get them back, but the Deprive stepped in an blunted again. And then Siow drew a Krosan Grip. The part of the crowd that could see his hand started laughing. It was pretty funny. Four counterspells and a Split-second artifact killer? That's just about impossible to beat. Even with a well-time Silence. Young went to 5. Then to 1. Then he died.

Lucas Siow 2 – 1 Garett Young




 

Sunday 2:24 p.m. - Deck Tech: Clear Blue Waters

by Mike Rosenberg


One of the most surprising numbers to me from the Day 2 Grand Prix Columbus metagame was the number of Merfolk decks that made their way into the second day of competition. By the start of Day 2, "Fish" was the third most popular deck of the event, securing a dozen players the right to play on Sunday.

But what changed to make Fish a force to be reckoned with in Modern? It was considered a fringe deck before in the format, so what had to shift in the format for it to be this good? What did they have to gain?

Well, a new lord helps.

[Master of the Pearl Trident], the new card from M13, gave Merfolks access to yet another lord to power up its team of fish-people. To see what this can do for a tribal deck like Merfolk, take a look at Eric Rill's list, as Rill was 10-2 at the time I talked to him.

That's a whopping sixteen Merfolk lords. When two thirds of your creatures are a Glorious Anthem for all of your other creatures, it is easy to see how this deck can get out of hand if left untouched. Fish is also one of the decks that takes advantage of Æther Vial the most in Modern. A turn one Æther Vial lets them double up on their creatures each turn, and against the more dangerous combo decks out there, it lets them have countermagic mana open while still dropping threats onto the table.

Rill's list also sports four Lightning Bolts as cheap removal for that pesky Delver of Secrets, and it also serves to disrupt the Birthing Pod combos in the room. Post-board, the Mountains serve a greater purpose, giving Fish access to Combust and Blood Moon effects, disrupting the appropriate decks when necessary.

Eric Rill mentioned that this also wasn't his deck. The list originated from Caleb Durward in one of his articles online, and it was something that Rill thought would be a good choice for the format. And, given the number of creatures in the deck that can provide Islandwalk (a very relevant keyword in a format filled with non-basic Islands from Ravnica block), he has a point.

Will the Fish swim their way through a sea of Delvers and Pods and claim the title here at Grand Prix Columbus? Stay tuned and find out!




 

Sunday 2:47 p.m. - Quick Hits 2: Can or does a true Control deck exist in Modern?

by Marc Calderaro


Owen Turtenwald - No. Nope. I don't think so.

Luis Scott-Vargas – Yes, but they require a lot of tuning. They can be built to beat any couple of decks and they'll lose to a couple of other decks. There's so much going on with at least 15 different archetypes. You kind of a need to play Delver of Secrets so you can't get killed by something like Second Sunrise or something. Which is here. And doing pretty well, too.

Josh Utter-Leyton – They are possible but very difficult. And things like Mental Misstep wouldn't help. Misstep would do more to invalidate control strategies rather than open up more. It's not control that would benefit from Mental Misstep; it's Aggro-Control – and we already have enough of them.

David Ochoa – What Josh just said, but a lot more eloquently. There's probably a reasonable control deck somewhere. I mean, talk to Matt Nass.

Matt Nass – Uh, yeah. I'm playing Teachings. I mean, it's not easy, but removal is good and you can play 1,000 removal spells and generally be OK. My friend Jacob Wilson is still in contention for Top 8 and he's doing really well. But there is a lack of early-game things to do for a Control deck. Casting Path to Exile on a turn-two Dark Confidant is pretty bad.

Joshua Cho – I don't think so. The format needs more card-draw or more filtering. But I don't think the format really needs a true control deck. Modern is great right now; I love it.

Mysterious Planeswalker roaming the convention hall – Control decks? Amateur. Nearsighted. A waste of my time and everyone else's. I prefer "Supremacy" decks. Though I'm sure you've never heard of them.

[He also said something about checking out @WalkingthePlanes and subscribing to Wizards of the Coast on YouTube. But that sounded like wizard babble to me.]




 

Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Marc Calderaro


James Zornes (9-0)
Grand Prix Columbus - Modern

Gerard Fabiano (9-0)
Grand Prix Columbus - Modern




 

Sunday, 3:09 pm - ChannelFireball 4c Pod

by Marc Calderaro


While watching Josh Utter-Leyton's last match-up, I was joined by another ChannelFireball member Luis Scott-Vargas. After Utter-Leyton dismantled his opponent with a Deceiver Exarch and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, the defeated player turned to the two pros and asked, "Do you guys always play the same deck?" The two chuckled and Scott-Vargas answered, "Well, if it's good." And let me tell you, this 4c Pod deck is good.

It was tweaked by Utter-Leyton. Though he insists that it's just a slight variation from the Naya Pod list from Japan, the addition of a fourth color is a very important change. Utter-Leyton said though Naya Pod was already very powerful, he added "focus" to it. There were a couple card slots that could have been doing more work. The biggest offender?

Josh Utter-Leyton

"Kitchen Finks. It does nothing you don't already do. It's just not good enough." Utter-Leyton and his team with David Ochoa and LSV replaced the cards with some stone-cold, blue stunners. The Finks became a Phantasmal Image, Deceiver Exarch and Glen Elendra Archmage. Those cards perform a couple different functions.

Firstly, the Archmage allows you to interact with the decks you need to – the ones that want to remain non-interactive. The Archmage, Utter-Leyton says, is a much better four-drop than Murderous Redcap. The decks Redcap helps against are already positive match-ups. "I have all the walls I need to give durdling time. But the Archmage gives combo and Tron some trouble."

Secondly, the Phantasmal Image and Exarch fill an important role that shifts the relevant mana cost for creatures from three to two. Scott-Vargas said, "You can now win with a one- and two-mana creature on the board and one Birthing Pod. It surprises a lot of people." In case you don't know the sequence, you sacrifice the two-drop for a Deceiver Exarch and untap the Pod. Then sacrifice the one-drop and get Phantasmal Image copying the Exarch, again untapping the Pod. Next, sac the Image (with a converted mana cost of three) and get a Restoration Angel; flash out the real Exarch and untap the Pod. Then lose the Angel and get your Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and go to town. Ochoa used that to win out of nowhere in a feature match yesterday.

David Ochoa added that the Phantasmal Image is also crucial for the mirror match to take out the Linvala, Keeper of Silence. "Without it, you're pretty much dead." All three players stressed this point.

Utter-Leyton explains the proper flow

The pack also attested to the all-important Zealous Conscripts. "A couple rounds ago I used a Conscripts to steal their four-drop and turn it into a Kiki-Jiki. That won," Scott-Vargas regaled.

Utter-Leyton summed it up by saying, "The deck works better when it's more focused on the combo. Sure you can attack for enough damage, but that's not normally what you want to be doing. The more consistently you can get the combo out, the more you're going to win. The addition of Blue allows you to do just that."

Scott-Vargas, however, made sure to send out a warning to potentially interested players. "This is a very complex deck. You have to know the cards inside and out. I had played Melira Pod for a while so I had a head start, but it's very hard to make sure you know all your options and you're making the best possible play. I'm sure I've made a few mistakes today I don't even know about."

As the Pod decks continue to proliferate and evolve, this deck certainly looks like it adds worthwhile diversity. Though Utter-Leyton tries to downplay how innovative it is, if you're familiar with how the Pod decks play, you can tell how differently a deck can function with just a few choice card changes, especially once you add a color. If you want the list, make sure to look in the Undefeated Decklists section for Day One. You'll find David Ochoa right there.




 

Round 15 Feature Match - Brian Demars vs. David Ochoa

by Mike Rosenberg


Both Brian Demars and David Ochoa were sitting at 34 points going into the final round of the swiss rounds here at Grand Prix Columbus. A win could potentially get them in, but a loss or draw would guarantee that they they finish out of the Top 16. To make matters more tense, a win wasn't even a sure thing for either of these players, so even a win will leave them waiting for the nail-biting final pairings!

Who would stay alive, and who would go up in smoke? Let's find out!

Game 1

Ochoa led off with Noble Hierarch, while Demars went to 17 in order to fetch out an untapped Temple Garden. It was used to play a Noble Hierarch of his own. While Ochoa was just looking to ramp, Demars was using the Hierarch for its offensive and defensive capabilities in his Band deck.

Ochoa came out of the gates with Deceiver Exarch, untapped one of his lands, which was used to play Birds of Paradise. If he had another red source in hand, Ochoa could combo off with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as early as turn three. Demars played a (blue-green filter land) and passed.

Ochoa played his red source, thought for a moment, and attacked for 1 with the Deceiver Exarch. Demars added another land to his field and passed with four open. Ochoa attacked for 1 again and passed. Demars played Restoration Angel at the end of the turn. It attacked for 4 on the next turn, and Demars passed back, comfortable to sit on a hand of permission and removal.

Ochoa, however, chose to play a Restoration Angel of his own, which forced a Mana Leak from Demars. Ochoa untapped and went for Birthing Pod, but Demars responded to the Pod with Path to Exile on Deceiver Exarch. The Birthing Pod came down, and Ochoa cashed in Birds of Paradise for Wall of Omens. He passed back to Demars, as life totals were Ochoa at 14 and Demars at 11.

David Ochoa thinks about how to navigate past his opponent's tricks.

Demars attacked for 4 before playing Tarmogoyf, and passed back with four mana available and one card in hand. Ochoa untapped and cast Restoration Angel on his main phase, but with its effect on the stack, Demars aimed a Path to Exile at the angel. Ochoa let it happen, finding another basic land out of his deck, and the angel's effect resolved, flickering out Wall of Omens for another card.

Eternal Witness then came down for Ochoa, which returned a previously countered Restoration Angel. Demars attacked Ochoa down to 6, and Ochoa used the Pod to get a Glen Elendra Archmage into play by sacrificing Eternal Witness. It blocked the Restoration Angel when Demars attacked, and Restoration Angel from Ochoa came in to blink out the Archmage.

Demars passed, and Ochoa cast Chord of Calling for 5 with some Glen Elendra Archmage backup. The instant resolved, putting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker into play. With no way around the Glen Elendra Archmage, Demars started shuffling up for the second game.

Demars 0 – Ochoa 1

Game 2

Demars was fine with his opening seven, but Ochoa chose to mulligan. Demars led with Noble Hiarch, which Ochoa also played. Demars swung for 1 and passed with two open, while Ochoa continued to ramp with two copies of Wall of Roots.

Demars played a land and passed on his third turn, but played Vendilion Clique on Ochoa's draw step. Ochoa responded with Restoration Angel, followed by Chord of Calling thanks to some flickering and convoking shenanigans. It got Phantasmal Image, which copied and legend bombed against Vendilion Clique. This caused Demars to respond with Path to Exile on Restoration Angel. Then Ochoa drew a card for his draw phase, played a land and...

...the judge stopped the game. In the flurry of spells and draw step action, Ochoa had lost track of the fact that he had already drawn a card for his draw step. Head judge Chris Richter came by to confirm this by counting up cards Ochoa had drawn or gained during the game, and it was shown that he had accidentally drawn an additional card during the turn.

As the card was already added to his hand, there was no way to repair the game state, and a game loss was issued to Ochoa.

Demars 1 – Ochoa – 1

Game 3

Ochoa took a mulligan while Demars kept. Ochoa looked at his second hand, sighed, and toss it back, going to five cards. Ochoa kicked off action with a second-turn Wall of Roots, going to 17 when his Arid mesa found Temple Garden untapped.

Demars paid 2 life to play Temple Garden untapped, then passed with two open. Ochoa played Wall of Omens, played a land after drawing his card, and then passed. Ochoa played Noble Hierarch and passed, but Demars had an end-of-turn Vendilion Clique. The legendary Faerie revealed Glen Elendra Archmage and Birthing Pod, giving Demars a tough choice. He sent the Glen Elendra Archmage to the bottom, and Ochoa drew his replacement card.

Brian Demars pressures with permission and heavy-hitters.

Demars attacked with Vendilion Clique, putting Ochoa to 14. When Ochoa attempted to cast Birthing Pod, which resolved. He used the Birthing Pod to trade the Wall of Omens up for a Deceiver Exarch, which let Ochoa...put his Birthing Pod into the graveyard when Demars played Nature's Claim in response.

Demars attacked Ochoa down to 11 with Vendilion Clique, and he followed up with Tarmogoyf. Ochoa used Eternal Witness to get back his Birthing Pod before passing action back to Demars, who used two copies of Path to Exile to get rid of the Deceiver Exarch and Eternal Witness. Demars attacked Ochoa to 8.

Ochoa played and used his Birthing Pod, sacrificing the Noble Hierarch to get Phantasmal Image, copying and legend bombing Vendilion Clique. Ochoa's Clique effect targeted Demars, which he responded to with Snapcaster Mage for Nature's Claim on the Birthing Pod. He lost an in-hand copy of Vendilion Clique to the bottom from Ochoa's copied Clique.

Time was called in the round, and Demars untapped to bring his opponent to 7. Another turn later, and Ochoa chump blocked to stay alive. Demars drew, unable to take out Ochoa's life in time, asked if Ochoa would concede, since both players were going to miss out on Top 8 if they drew.

Ochoa, knowing he would have lost the match if they continued playing, offered up the handshake, giving Brian Demars the a chance to make it in.

Brian Demars defeated David Ochoa 2-1...

...but unfortunately, it was not to be. Only one of the three 37 point records made it through to the Top 8, leaving both players burned.




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