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Rookie Maynard Ravages Modern in Columbus

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Jacob Maynard is the Grand Prix Columbus champion!

In a field of Restoration Angels, Emrakuls, and Delvers, it was Jacob Maynard and the machines that were left standing here in Columbus. Armed with the latest version of Affinity, a deck capable of exploding onto the table with an army of artifacts as early as turn one, Maynard blasted through his competition in Day One to earn his first Day Two appearance at a Grand Prix.

And what a Day Two appearance it was! Maynard's Etched Champions, Shrapnel Blasts, and other hard-hitting artifacts earned him a spot in the Top 8, where he took down opponent after opponent with a series of explosive plays. It all built up to the last game against finalist Lucas Siow, when a powered up Etched Champion crashed through a nasty Volcanic Fallout and Tarmogoyf to deal the last points of damage, securing the rookie the trophy.

The success of Jacob Maynard and Affinity shows that the Modern format is still wide open, and that no matter how good one deck is, there will always be something else out there that can take down the tournament.

Congratulations to Jacob Maynard and all of the GP Columbus Top 8 players!




  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Columbus provided by ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Marshall Sutcliffe, Sheldon Menery, and Ben Swartz. See full video archives at ggslive's YouTube channel.



Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Shenhar, Shahar   Estrin, Aaron D 2-0        
8 Estrin, Aaron D   Maynard, Jacob B 2-1
       
4 Maynard, Jacob B   Maynard, Jacob B 2-1   Maynard, Jacob B 2-1
5 Beasley, Orrin A    
       
2 Siow, Lucas E   Siow, Lucas E 2-0
7 Estrada, Caleb T   Siow, Lucas E 2-0
       
3 Piland, Chris   Tietze, Max B 2-1
6 Tietze, Max B    








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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Maynard, Jacob B $3,500
 2.  Siow, Lucas E $2,300
 3.  Tietze, Max B $1,500
 4.  Estrin, Aaron D $1,500
 5.  Shenhar, Shahar $1,000
 6.  Piland, Chris $1,000
 7.  Beasley, Orrin A $1,000
 8.  Estrada, Caleb T $1,000
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Top 8 Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff


Jacob Maynard
Grand Prix Columbus 2012 - Top 8

Caleb Estrada
Grand Prix Columbus 2012 - Top 8




 

Top 8 Profiles

by Event Coverage Staff


Shahar Shenhar

Age: 18
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Occupation: Just graduated, so nothing yet.


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Grand Prix win Salt Lake City and San Diego
Top 15 numerous Grand Prixes
Top 25 Pro Tour Avacyn Restored

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
WUR Delver. Best deck in my opinion. It's the one I'm most familiar with. Played almost the same deck at PTQs last season.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Cut the Faithless Looting.

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
NOT FIREBLAST! (Played around it this Grand Prix. FYI - Not legal in Modern)



Lucas Siow

Age: 26
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Financial Analyst


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Canadian Team for World Magic Cup

I have never missed a Blood Seeker trigger [Editor's note: This is not true.]

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
RUG Delver - Free wins.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Cut Sowing Salts. More turn-one Delver of Secrets.

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Unban Jace, the Mind Sculptor



Max Tietze

Age: 23
Hometown: Mamaroneck, New York
Occupation: Guitar Teacher


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 Grand Prix Top 8s

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
WUR Delver. I had played it during the PTQ Season and liked it and it is good vs. Pod.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Maybe add another Smash to Smithereens to the sideboard.

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Daze.



Orrin Beasley

Age: 26
Hometown: Kill Devil Hills, NC
Occupation: Analytical Chemist


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Finalist Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Jund. I've played it a lot in old standard and have been practicing on Magic Online. I'm Soh good at cascading. My friend Pat Cox also helped tune the deck, Soh I was Confidant in the choice.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Change the mana base; fewer green lands.

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Tranquil Garden



Jacob Maynard

Age: 21
Hometown: Independence, Kentucky
Occupation: Retail


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
None

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Affinity because Rock'em Sock'em Robots are awesome!

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Maybe some graveyard hate in the sideboard

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Mox Diamond



Caleb Estrada

Age: 24
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Occupation: Cell phone repair tech


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Qualified for Pro Tour San Diego

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
RG Tron. It's very powerful and does degenerate things if opponents are not prepared. My team GrandLan Games were vital in testing.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
None.

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Eternal Witness.



Chris Piland

Age: 21
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
Occupation: Student


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Nothing of note

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
WUR Delver. I watched Michael Jacob streaming with it and I was impressed by it.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Play Gifts Ungiven in the sideboard

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?
Cruel Ultimatum



Aaron Estrin

Age: 31
Hometown: Mudelein, Illinois
Occupation: IT


Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Finals Team Limited Grand Prix Saint Louis

11th place Grand Prix Kansas City 2003 (or '04?))
Won PTQ

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
I didn't play my deck prior to Round 2 in the Grand Prix, but I chose to play Naya Pod.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Add more artifact hate; 1 Phantasmal Image

What card would you like to see reprinted so that it is legal in Modern?




 

Quarterfinal - Aaron Estrin vs. Shahar Shenhar

by Mike Rosenberg


Grand Prix San Diego winner Shahar Shenhar is facing down Aaron Estrin, one of the undefeated players from Day 1, and one of the pilots in the Top 8 of the powerful Birthing Pod combo deck. Would Shenhar's W/U/R Delver deck conquer Estrin with the help of his sideboard conversion, or would Estrin's Kiki-Jiki continue to get freaky?"

Game 1

Shenhar led off with Delver of Secrets, while Estrin began with Noble Hierarch. The Delver transformed as Shenhar revealed Remand, allowing him to put his opponent on a dangerous and early clock. Remand hit Wall of Roots, and the Delver continued to crack in. Geist of Saint Traft gave Shenhar some serious muscle, and Estrin would need to set up his combo fast if he wanted to survive.

Wall of Roots followed by Kitchen Finks would be a start, but Shenhar was lying in wait with two Lightning Helixes on top of his deck (which he left there via Serum Visions). Path to Exile disposed of Kitchen Finks and suddenly Estrin was in threat of dying in a matter of one more turn as Shenhar's team was sent in.

A second Delver spelled extra trouble, as Estrin sat at 9 life, and it was going to transform on the next turn.

Estrin tried to mount a defense with two Restoration Angels, but the revealed Lightning Helix and the Path to Exile waiting in his hand posed problems. In fact, Estrin would have been dead at that point, if Shenhar had the mana in play to cast both.

Estrin passed on his next turn, and Snapcaster Mage for Path to Exile forced Estrin's hand. Chord of Calling for 5 called on Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. The legendary Goblin got to work in making a billion Restoration Angels, and the Path to Exile resolved.

Aaron Estrin

And just like that, roles reversed, Estrin had a billion blockers, and Kiki-Jiki remained untapped, as the Restoration Angel could be copied to save itself in the fact of a single removal spell.

Shenhar untapped and tried for Path to Exile on Kiki-Jiki, with no way to play the follow-up Helix, but Estrin responded by making another Restoration Angel token. Shenhar nodded that he couldn't stop Kiki-Jiki, and conceded the first game.

Estrin 1 – Shenhar 0

Game 2

Shenhar's second game wasn't looking like a good start, as a mulligan to six left him with a one-lander. However, that one land powered out a turn one Delver of Secrets, which flipped off of Serum Visions on the second turn.

That Serum Visions found him a second land, and suddenly, things weren't looking so bad! Estrin fired back with Birds of Paradise and Wall of Roots in the next two turns, as he built his mana up before the Delver killed him.

Restoration Angel on turn three met Remand from Shenhar, who pressed on with two lands and his Insectile Aberration. However, Estrin replayed the Restoration Angel while Shenhar was tapped out, after playing Village Bell-Ringer. His untap and flicker creatures let him cheat on some mana, and he built up a board that would prove to be troublesome.

Shahar Shenhar

Shenhar dug with Faithless Looting, but found no Path to Exile. He did, however, find Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites, which hit the bin. Scalding Tarn ensured he could Lightning BoltKiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker if Estrin attempted to go off. Estrin drew, shook his head, and passed the turn back to Shenhar.

Shenhar drew into his fourth land, and popped each of his fetch-lands one at a time. After he built his mana-base, which came into play untapped, he was left at 13 life to Estrin's 11. A flashback Unburial Rites elicited a Chord of Calling from Estrin, who got Fiend Hunter to get rid of the legend. Estrin revealed Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and Shenhar offered the handshake.

Aaron Estrin defeats Shahar Shenhar 2-0 and advances to the Semi-Finals!




 

Quarterfinal - Chris Piland vs. Max Tietze

by Mike Rosenberg


Mac Tietze has three Grand Prix Top 8s. The location for one of those? This town. He managed a solid finish at the Legacy event from Grand Prix Columbus back in 2007. His opponent, Chris Piland, earned himself his first major event Top 8 this weekend, and was hoping to make it count. Both players are bringing three color Delver decks to the table. In a battle between Geists and Insectile Aberrations and very large landfalling kitty cats, who would come out on top?

Game 1

Piland led with Delver of Secrets, while Tietze had a first-turn Steppe Lynx. The Delver did not flip on turn two, but Serum Visions helped set up his next turn, and a Steppe Lynx joined Piland's team.

Chris Piland

Tietze sent a 4/5 Lynx in (courtesy of Arid Mesa), and Path to Exile took out the Steppe Lynx Piland had. Piland chose not to get a land, as he wanted to ensure that his Delver transformed. A second Steppe Lynx gave Tietze enough muscle to scare even a one mana 3/2 flying creature, and he shipped action back.

Lightning Helix from Piland got rid of a Steppe Lynx and made racing a possibility, but Shenhar pressed on with his kitty cat. However, a flurry of removal (with special thanks to Snapcaster Mages on both sides) left the boards equalized, one Tiago Chan staring down the other.

Eventually, the Snap traded blow, and it was Tietze left with Steppe Lynx. Two Remands held back Piland's Geist of Saint Traft for a turn, as Tietze found and played his fourth Steppe Lynx of the game.

Piland finally got Geist of Saint Traft to stick around, but his follow-up Steppe Lynx ate Lightning Helix. Tietze drew, and without any additional lands, couldn't press through. Snapcaster Mage for Serum Visions started to Piland ahead on cards. Tietze was falling behind on plays, and he trailed 11 to 14 in life as well. Lightning Bolt dispensed of Snapcaster Mage, but Tietze still had no land as the two players were in a stalemate.

Piland drew and played Lightning Bolt on one of Tietze's two Lynxes, and a third Snapcaster Mage let him dispense of of the remaining cat courtesy of the flashback Lightning Bolt. Geist of Saint Traft started to put the pressure on Tietze, and when he found no action waiting on top, except for an Arid Mesa that was too many turns late, Tietze was packing it up for the first game shortly after.

Piland 1 – Tietze 0

Game 2

The second game was a tad lop-sided. While Tietze lost Delver of Secrets to Piland's Grim Lavamancer, Geist of Saint Traft and Kor Firewalker gave him ample offense that Piland would have trouble getting rid of.

On top of that, Piland was struggling with mana, stuck on two lands to Tietze's four for a few turns. However, Piland's lands started coming, as he dropped land #4 alongside Delver of Secrets, while Tietze stumbled. However, the Geist was still a problem, and Piland was low on life. Lightning Helix was aimed at Tietze's head from Piland, and the Grim Lavamancer chump-blocked Geist of Saint Traft. Tietze followed up with another Kor Firewalker.

Piland deployed another Delver of Secrets, but when Tietze went on the offensive on the next turn, Piland picked it up for the final game.

Piland 1 – Tietze 1

Game 3

Piland kicked things off with Steppe Lynx, while Tietze played Pillar of Flame to exile the cat. Piland played an untapped Steam Vents, going to 17 after his Arid Mesa damage, for Delver of Secrets, while Tietze started running numbers. He fetched up Hallowed Fountain for his own Delver, but frowned when Piland transformed his Delver courtesy of Lightning Bolt. Tietze's creature at the Bolt and he went to 11 via the Insectile Aberration's attacks.

Tietze untapped and pointed Lightning Helix at the Insectile Aberration, going back up to 14. Piland played another fetch-land, passing with four lands untapped. Tietze attempted Geist of Saint Traft, which resolved. Its attack brought Piland down to 10, and Tietze followed it up with a new Delver of Secrets.

Delver of Secrets ate Piland's Lightning Helix after crackin a Scalding Tarn, and he played a new Delver after that. Tietze untapped and sent the Geist in, with the Angel token being sent on a Path to Exile.

Piland, who was down to one card in hand, looked at the top card of his deck via Delver of Secrets. Unhappy with what he saw, he cracked Arid Mesa to shuffle up for a new card. The fetch-land that he drew wasn't going to help him, as Tietze untapped and played Sword of War and Peace. He equipped it to the Geist, and sent it in.

Piland chump-blocked, but had no answer to the sword-wielding Spirit on the next turn. He played a Lightning Bolt, targeting...himself, and offered the handshake.

Max Tietze

Max Tietze defeated Chris Piland 2-1 and advances




 

Quarterfinal - Orrin Beasley vs. Jacob Maynard

by Marc Calderaro


Game One

Both players kept their hands quickly. Jacob Maynard was seeded higher and chose to play first – generally a good choice when playing with Affinity. Additionally, Orrin Beasley's Jund deck would certainly love to use a half-turn advantage, so there was a bit of additional incentive.

Maynard went with a Memnite that was hit by a Lightning Bolt, but before dying the little 1/1 was able to use a Springleaf Drum to cast an Etched Champion which came rumbling into the red zone the next turn.

Orrin Beasley's first order of business was to cast a Dark Confidant which was quickly dispatched with a Galvanic Blast. On his third turn he brought himself to 16 and cast a Liliana of the Veil, which gave a diabolic edict to the Etched Champion. Blinkmoth Nexus attacked the planeswalker the next turn, but she had done her duty. Maynard had an interesting board position of an Inkmoth Nexus, Blinkmoth Nexus, Glimmervoid, Springleaf Drum and a Cranial Plating. It looked busy, but didn't actually accomplish much. The removal Beasley had seemed to be just enough to keep the Affinity deck at bay.

Jacob Maynard

Beasley made a 6/7 Tarmogoyf (thanks, Planeswalker), and after using a Maelstrom Pulse to take out the Plating, Beasley dealt his first damage of the game. The totals became 16-14 in Beasley's favor. He added a Dark Confidant to his team and passed the turn.

From an Inquisition of Kozilek, Beasley knew the last remaining card in Maynard's hand was a Galvanic Blast. Maynard's draw for the turn was another Cranial Plating to equip to last turn's new Etched Champion and Beasley went to 8.

When Beasley got his turn back, his first order of business was to use his second Inquisition to force Maynard into casting the last Galvanic Blast at an inopportune time. It went to Beasley's dome and the Jund player sunk to 4. He left back two blockers and passed.

However, it wasn't enough for Beasley to remain alive. Maynard activated his Blinkmoth Nexus and swung in. With Cranial Plating's instant-speed equipping ability, there was nothing Beasley could do. He scooped up his cards and went to the second game.

Jacob Maynard 1 – 0 Orrin Beasley

The two silently shuffled for Game Two and both kept their seven-card hands.

Game Two

This time Beasley went first and he capitalized by getting in an early Dark Confidant. He earned a Terminate at the cost of two life for his efforts. Beasley had in his hand two Liliana of the Veil, Jund Charm and the new Terminate. He played Liliana into an empty field and ticked it to four counters, discarding a Treetop Village. Maynard discarded a Mox Opal. Afterwards Tarmogoyf came down ready to bring the beats.

Maynard had beats too, but they came out a little slower. He had a Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager and a Vault Skirge that was Terminated right before the Ravager hit the field. Beasley was behind 11-14 when he cast an Inquisition of Kozilek. Maynard revealed Signal Pest, Steelshaper's Gift, Galvanic Blast and Etched Champion. Beasley took the Etched Champion then used Liliana #2 to take out the artifact which plagued the Mirrodin block. Beasley took the lead back with a big swing. 11-6.

Maynard had to think about his next turn. He eventually cast a Signal Pest and took out the Dark Confidant with a Galvanic Blast. It was good, but just delayed the inevitable. The endless removal from Beasley, helped by the extra cards from Bob, remained just that – endless. Tarmogoyf swung in for the win.

Jacob Maynard 1 – 1 Orrin Beasley

Game Three

After having to mulligan to five cards, Maynard started the rubber game with a Blinkmoth Nexus and a Vault Skirge. Beasley, who kept all his seven cards, Bolted the Skirge away. It was already looking a bit grim for Jacob Maynard. He followed up with an Inkmoth Nexus and a Steel Overseer and was already down to two cards in his hand.

A new Vault Skirge and a Springleaf Drum allowed Steel Overseer to pump both the black flyer and an animated Blinkmoth Nexus. Beasley's new Dark Confidant just sat back and watched. Beasley had a bunch of land (many of which came into play tapped), a Tarmogoyf, Bloodbraid Elf, Liliana of the Veil and an all-but-useless Thoughtseize in his hand. Liliana edicted the Vault Skirge and Beasley passed the turn back.

Maynard made a Signal Pest, used it and the Drum to animate the Nexus again, pumped the land with Steel Overseer and assassinated Liliana. The Overseer and Nexus were now both 3/3 and the Signal Pest was a 1/2. For going down to five cards, Maynard was pressuring remarkably well. I guess this is why Affinity keeps showing up again and again. Beasley tanked after he got his turn back, counting damage out on the table.

Orrin Beasley

With Thoughtseize Beasley took a Galvanic Blast, the last card in Maynard's hand then cast his Tarmogoyf, which was, as usual, quite sizeable. However, Steel Overseer was giving it a run for its money. Nexus and Pest became larger and took Beasley to 7 (it was 12-7).

Then the turn that altered the game occurred. Beasley had two Bloodbraid Elf and endless land (four enters the battlefield tapped lands and a Twilight Mire. He cast the first one Bloodbraid Elf and cascaded into an Ancient Grudge. This is where Beasley realized the mistake that would likely cost him the match. The way he had tapped his mana didn't allow him to flashback the Grudge. If he'd played the Twilight Mire and used it, he could've had the correct open. After a barely perceivable visual stew, Beasley recovered his thoughts. However, this caused even more time to figure out what to kill – only one thing. Beasley settled on the Signal Pest. This was a smart choice as he was likely facing down a 5/5 Blinkmoth Nexus and a 3/3 Inkmoth Nexus the following turn. Could he overcome this potential match-ending mistake?

Maynard had no cards, but Beasley careful considered the repercussions of his opponent drawing a Galvanic Blast. He said, "Eh, I die to Blast anyway," and swung in with the Elf and Goyf, sinking Maynard to 3. The Blinkmoth Nexus brought Beasley to 2.

Beasley revealed the top card and it was lights out. It was the seemingly insignificant land-drop that ended Orrin Beasley's Grand Prix dreams.

Jacob Maynard, with a five-card hand on the play, has earned himself a spot in the Semifinals!

Jacob Maynard 2 – 1 Orrin Beasley




 

Semifinal - Lucas Siow vs. Max Tietze

by Mike Rosenberg


Game 1

Tietze got off to a rocky start in the first game with a mulligan to five. Siow led off with Serum Visions, leaving one on top. Tietze went to 17 for an untapped and fetched Hallowed Fountain, followed by his own Serum Visions. He left both cards on top and passed back to Siow, who dropped a Tarmogoyf.

Max Tietze

Tietze used Scalding Tarn to search out an Island, and then played another Serum Visions, leaving one on top. Delver of Secrets followed. Siow attacked with Tarmogoyf, and before damage, he used Thought Scour on Tietze, binning a Geist of Saint Traft and Arid Mesa. He played another Tarmogoyf, while Delver transformed into Insectile Aberration on the next turn. He attacked and then passed back.

Siow sent the Tarmogoyfs in, dropping Tietze to 4. When Tietze cracked his Scalding Tarn, Siow responded with Lightning Bolt, and Tietze scooped up his cards for a second game.

Siow 1 – Tietze 0

Game 2

"Wow..." Siow responded, as Tietze went down to five cards. "These aren't exactly aggressive mulligans," Tietze noted, as he shuffled up for this fourth mulligan of the match.

Tietze led with a turn one Delver of Secrets, which transformed off of a revealed Spell Pierce on the second turn. Siow found a Breeding Pool with his Scalding Tarn, and on the next turn, aimed Combust at the Insectile Aberration. Tietze rebuilt with Steppe Lynxe, while Siow dropped a 3/4 Tarmogoyf into play.

Tietze drew, but had no land. He played another Steppe Lynx and passed to Siow, who had a grip of action with multiple Snapcaster Mages, Spell Snare, Lightning Bolt, and Cryptic Command.

Lucas Siow

This wasn't going to be an easy battle for Tietze, who chose not to block when Tarmogoyf crashed in. Lightning Bolt was aimed at Tietze at the end of his next turn, and Snapcaster Mage gave it a flashback. Tietze responded with Spell Pierce on the flashback Bolt, and used Path to Exile to dispose of Tarmogoyf while Siow was tapped out.

Siow untapped, Thought Scoured himself (binning Vapor Snag), and swung in with Snapcaster Mage, bringing Tietze to 9. Tietze played Delver of Secrets, but Snapcaster Mage for Vapor Snag got the Delver off of the board.

Attacks from Siow dropped Tietze to 4, and Huntermaster of the Fells sealed the deal. A turn later, and Tietze offered the handshake.

Lucas Siow defeats Mac Tietze 2-0 and advances to the Finals!




 

Semifinal - Aaron Estrin vs. Jacob Maynard

by Marc Calderaro


Both these players, Aaron Estrin and Jacob Maynard only had one bye coming into this 1,050-player tournament. And now here they sit, both qualified for the next Pro Tour competing for a spot in the Grand Prix Columbus finals. Estrin is playing the tried-and-true Naya Pod deck, while Maynard is slinging a strong Affinity build that just won a very tough five-cards-on-the-play game to be here right now. Maynard has made the odd choice of maindecking two Steelshaper's Gift, and he must be using them to pretty good effect because here he is, ready for the big show.

Game One

Both players kept their openers and Jacob Maynard led with a Blinkmoth Nexus, an Inkmoth Nexus, a Springleaf Drum and a Cranial Plating. The two fliers made Aaron Estrin's second-turn Wall of Roots look a bit silly. A Signal Pest jumped into play and beat the Springleaf Drum to animate the Inkmoth Nexus and rumble in for a poison counter.

Again to Estrin's chagrin, he had two Kitchen Finks in his hand and it looked like Maynard would be trying to go the Infect route. This was compounded when Maynard laid a second Inkmoth Nexus. However, a Cunning Sparkmage came into play and took out the Signal Pest, significantly slowing the land assault. And possible making Maynard regret his choice to go all-in on a 1/1 infector.

Aaron Estrin

But "significantly slowed" meant that the Cranial Plating only dealt four more Poison counters – leaving Estrin at 5 Poison. The next turn Estrin littered the battlefield with creatures using a few Wall of Roots tricks. He ended his turn with three Walls, a Kitchen Finks, a Birds of Paradise and the Cunning Sparkmage.

Maynard took out the Sparkmage with a Galvanic Blast and he took Estrin up to 6 Poison before passing the turn, himself at 18 life. Another Galvanic Blast the following turn was pointed at the Birds of Paradise to remove any flying blockers, but Estrin had a big surprise, flashing into play a Restoration Angel, flickering the Birds. Maynard expected to go to his attack step with no guys in the sky to block his Infectors, but instead he found two. He declined to attack; this seemed reasonable. It was then that the tide shifted.

Estrin cast a Birthing Pod on his next turn and sacrificed a Kitchen Finks to search out another Restoration Angel which flickered one of the Kitchen Finks and gained some more life. Did that make sense? The score after a Finks attack was 23 [6 poison] – 12. Maynard started trading his flying lands for Restoration Angels, still attempting to own the skies. Perhaps that strategy would eventually work out, but Estrin was ready to turn up the heat and not even give his opponent the change to grind the sky. He cast and quickly sacrificed a Murderous Redcap to find a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. And although Maynard use a Shrapnel Blast to take out the Restoration Angel before Estrin could go infinite, the Naya Pod player was still able to swung for 6 and take his opponent to four.

With an active Kiki-Jiki, a Murderous Redcap on the table and an opponent on life support. The game was elementary after that.

Aaron Estrin 1 – 0 Jacob Maynard

Game Two

Again, Maynard went first and this game had a stronger start than last with two Blinkmoth Nexus, an Ornithopter, a Springleaf Drum and a Metalcraft-y Etched Champion in the first two turns. Again, Estrin's second-turn Wall of Roots seemed ill-equipped.

Maynard dropped a Memnite and a Torpor Orb and took Estrin to 17 with the Etched Champion. Estrin had some fun plans for his hand. His Chord of Calling could find an artifact smasher that his Restoration Angel could then flicker back. He also had a Birthing Pod so he could likely do it all again. However, this scenario would only come to fruition if he could kill that Orb, and if Affinity didn't decide to explode before that. But without a Signal Pest, Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager or the like, such explosion was a bit unlikely. Estrin cast a non-flickering Restoration Angel and passed the turn back.

But what do you know? The next turn Maynard cast both an Arcbound Ravager and a Signal Pest. Remember that thing I said about exploding? Estrin used a Chord of Calling, tapping both his Wall of Roots and his Restoration Angel to find a Qasali Pridemage. But would it be enough to overcome the large amounts of artifacts for the other side? Certainly his next-turn Cunning Sparkmage could help.

But, oh hey, don't forget about "exploding". Maynard cast and equipped a Cranial Plating, which earned a "Woah, that's real," from Estrin. He hemmed and hawed and then had to scoop up his cards once and Etched Champion picked up the helm and red-zoned.

Aaron Estrin 1 – 1 Jacob Maynard

Game Three

After a mulligan, Aaron Estrin was ready to cast a turn-one Noble Hierarch. Maynard didn't think twice to Blast it off the field, but Estrin had a Wall of Roots and a second Hierarch to recreate the fallen creature's mana acceleration well. Qasali Pridemage readied himself for sacrifice the next turn.

Jacob Maynard

Maynard's start wasn't the most aggressive, and was a bit land-light, but it was still able to push out a Torpor Orb thanks to Springleaf Drum (played by a Vault Skirge) and a Mox Opal. Estrin swung for the fences when he played Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and started to copy the Qasali Pridemage. If that went unanswered, even for a turn, it would totally own the game. But Maynard's Whipflare changed the field dramatically. Estrin took the Mox Opal and the Orb with his creatures as then went but he could only hope that Maynard lacked the goods to refuel his board.

Then, much to the behest of Estrin, Maynard did that whole "explosion" thing again. He cast two Vault Skirge, another Springleaf Drum and an Ornithopter. Next turn he followed with a Cranial Plating and an Arcbound Ravager.

"I thought you might be on that Whipflare, but I had to try to kill all of your permanents," Estrin smiled, though it was likely the artifacts were going to overrun him quite soon.

He drew he card for the turn, looked at his opponent, smiled again and said, "Congratulations." Aaron Estrin saw the writing on the wall and Affinity was about to advance to the finals.

Jacob Maynard 2 – 1 Aaron Estrin

In the quarter-finals, he won from a five-card hand; in the semi-finals, he comes back from 0-1. What will Jacob Maynard overcome in the finals?




 

Final – Jacob Maynard vs. Lucas Siow

by Mike Rosenberg


"Is this your first Top 8?" Lucas Siow asked Jacob Maynard.

"This is my first Day 2," Maynard replied. "Wow! You must be really happy!" Siow said.

Indeed, both players should be pretty happy. While Siow has managed to get his ticket back onto the Pro Tour, Maynard has managed to earn his first Day 2 and Top 8 appearance at a Grand Prix. On top of that, it was with Affinity, a deck not many players expected to make the showing that it has.

In a battle between the machines of the past and the new blue kids on the block, who would win?

Game 1

Siow led off with Serum Visions. Maynard had a couple more plays than that on his first turn.

Darksteel Citadel, Ornithopter, Ornithopter, Springleaf Drum, Springleaf DrumVault Skirge.

I think the word for that kind of start is "fast".

Siow dug some more with Serum Visions, and then passed back to Maynard. Spell Pierce shut down Cranial Plating, and the Vault Skirge cracked in for 1. Siow tapped out for Vedalken Shackles on turn three, looking to secure control of the board quickly.

Maynard's off to a quick lead in the finals

Maynard played another Vault Skirge after attacking for 1. When Siow attempted to take one of the flying lifelink artifact creatures, Maynard responded with Shrapnel Blast. After an attack, Siow sat at 8 life. Another Shrapnel Blast in response to the Shackles and its second activation left Siow at 3, and Steelshaper's Gift got him Cranium Plating.

Siow had no further lands and passed back. Maynard drew into Inkmoth Nexus, and played it before casting Cranial Plating. Mana Leak bought Siow a turn, but the Shackles wasn't going to get him away from a lethal Ornithopter attack on the next turn. When Springleaf Drum tapped his Shackles target on Maynard's next turn, Siow reached for his sideboard.

Maynard 1 – Siow 0

Game 2

Siow kept his seven, while Maynard was quick to ship his mana-starved hand back for six cards. Those six cards were about as impressive as the previous hand, and Maynard went down to five. Those five warranted a "Good enough," from Maynard, who retaliated to Siow's turn one Delver of Secrets with Ornithopter, Signal Pest, Mox Opal, Darksteel Citadel, and Vault Skirge. Not exactly in that order.

Siow flipped his Delver off of Serum Visions on the second turn. The Insectile Aberration went in for 3, and Lightning Bolt shut down the Vault Skirge when Maynard went to combat. A second Signet Pest posed problems for Siow, who went on the offensive with another Delver of Secrets. The transformed ally went into the red zone, bringing Maynard to 12.

Siow evens up the score

Siow debated using Lightning Bolt on Inkmoth Nexus when it woke up on Maynard's turn for combat, but he instead chose not to, taking 3 poison and 4 damage. The Bolt instead went at Maynard's face, and when the second Delver transformed, another Bolt finished things off.

Maynard 1 – Siow 1

Game 3

Maynard led with Springleaf Drum off of Darksteel Citadel. Mox Opal ate Spell Pierce, but a second Mox Opal and Blinkmoth Nexus gave Maynard the mana for a second-turn Etched Champion. It and an animated Blinkmoth Nexus went in for 3, and a post-combat Memnite into Steel Overseer (thanks to Springleaf Drum) added more power to his army of mechanical creatures.

Siow shows off his finalist plaque

Siow drew and played an untapped Stomping Ground, necessary for the Volcanic Fallout that he played in response to a Steel Overseer activation. The Fallout ceared away Maynard's creatures...well, except for the well protected and now 3/3 Etched Champion. Shrapnel Blast in response to the Fallout and the attacks left Siow at 6 life, and the fourth-turn Tarmogoyf wasn't going to be an acceptable answer to protection from all colors, as the Etched Champion was ready and waiting.

Another attack put Siow to 3. When Thought Scour didn't find an answer to the Etched Champion, Siow offered the handshake to Maynard.

Jacob Maynard is the 2012 Grand Prix Columbus champion!




 

Top 5 Cards

by Marc Calderaro




5. Steppe Lynx

This unassuming 0/1 is a pillar of the format. Steppe Lynx represents just how aggressive Modern can be. With the right draws, often seen out of the WUR Delver deck, Steppe Lynx can be a 4/5 attacker every turn until an opponent's death. Combined with fetch lands, the Lynx has also proven to be a significant force on defense as well. The three toughness is crucially relevant in a format full of two-powered hate bears, Merfolk, Geists of Saint Trafts and even opposing Lynxes. Just the threat of searching out a land at instant speed has been thwarting attacks all weekend. If you are planning to play a deck, make sure you have a good plan to stop a turn-one Steppe Lynx. Otherwise, you will just lose. Hard.








4. Karn Liberated

A pillar at apposition with Steppe Lynx, not just for its mana cost, but also for its role in the field, is Karn Liberated. Alongside Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, this Planeswalker is the kill condition of choice in every Tron variant around. And this weekend was a big emergence of the Tron decks offline. Karn Liberated is the centerpiece of that deck; it makes the deck tick; and it's the card everyone fears. Perfectly cast at the price of UrzaTron, when you tell your friend about the bad beats you sustained from a Tron deck, the first question is always, "Did he get the turn-three Karn?" If you don't remove that beast immediately, you have just about no hope, because by the time you've expended your resources getting rid of it, Tron's ready to cast a Wurmcoil Engine, a giant Eldrazi, or hell, just another copy of Karn Liberated of which they obviously play four.

Though only Caleb Estrada made it to the Top 8 piloting the list, Karn showed up to droves and caused all the dealers to sell out of Molten Rain, Sowing Salt and Fulminator Mages. With that in mind, getting even four copies to the Top 8 shows the sheer power of the deck and the card. Beware the turn-three Karn!








3. Lightning Helix

What could possibly encapsulate all the different variants of Aggro-Control and Tempo decks that abounded this weekend? They are trying to win just the moment before their opponents do. I know that's a silly thing to say, but in those kind of decks, you want to win as safely as you can. That means not taking any unnecessary risks and not putting yourself in the position of being blown out, while also working towards your overall goal of winning. You know what does that perfectly? Lightning Helix. Though there are many cards you want to keep your Spell Snare for, I can't think of one that would be on the mind more while you're trying to race. A well-timed burnitating of an Insectile Aberration while putting your life total back into the safe zone – and all for two mana – has been winning games all weekend. The RUW Delver deck is certainly that uses this card to great effect. Generally, Snapcaster Mage flashing back a Lightning Helix really seals a game up quickly.

Both Chris Piland's and Max Tietze's deck played a full complement of the Ravnica instant, and my guess if you allowed them to play twelve, they would have.






2. Restoration Angel

Yes, yes, this card was already the number one card from Grand Prix Yokohama. Why is it in the Top 5 cards again here at Grand Prix Columbus? Because it's that good. This card does all sorts of silly things and what you have to assume when your opponent has out four mana, only one of which is require to produce white. Or if there's a three-drop and an active Birthing Pod. Or a two-drop and an active Pod if they are playing Deceiver Exarch.

Mid-combat this thing is bonkers. It can save a blocker, from either removal or from combat damage; and it creates a new blocker with both the Angel herself and/or untapping a big dude that had already swung in.

Let's not even get into what happens when you play an entire deck of enter-the-battlefield abilities like Pod. Nevermind, lets. Eternal Witness, Murderous Redcap, Village Bell-Ringer, Kitchen Finks, Wall of Roots, Glen Elendra Archmage, Fiend Hunter, Zealous Conscripts, Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, and Reveillark are just cards that I thought of off the top of my head right now. We will be seeing Restoration Angel making a mark in Modern for a long time to come.

The last interaction I'd like to talk about is Restoration Angel and Zealous Conscripts and Vedalken Shackles. Like Ghostly Flicker and Cloudshift, the Angel states that you return the card to the battlefield under your control. So if you've temporarily taken a creature with Shackles or Conscripts, blink it with the Angel and it'll be your for keeps. This card's good.








1. Etched Champion

Etched Champion is what secured Jason Maynard the Grand Prix win. The little 2/2 picks up a Cranial Plating and sails past defenders with ease. Even without the artifact lands to power up the Affinity deck, things like Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum all but guarantee the Etched Champion will have protection from all colors whenever you need it to.

In the last game of the finals, this little guy got a +1/+1 counter from Steel Overseer to survive Volcanic Fallout and keep pressure on Lucas Siow when it was most needed. And the card was helping Maynard before the finals. He used it to win his semi-final match against Aaron Estrin's Naya Pod deck. He had two attacking on the last turn and dealt the final points in an unstoppable fashion.

Though when Etched Champion's paired with the busted equipment, it adds to the explosive nature of Affinity, even when it's flying solo it adds inevitability. Though the grey ogre is not much on its own, with Affinity he rarely is without its best buddies.

Affinity is the top-tier deck that for years everyone is convinced its not top tier. It put Mary Jacobson in the Top 8 in Lincoln; it putHiroya Miyamoto in the Top 8 in Yokohama; it gave Jason Maynard the win in Columbus.




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