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Grand Prix Dallas Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 10:45 a.m. – The (Magic) History of the Lone Star State

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • The Lone Star State is one that values its history. The Texas Revolution. Davy Crocket and the Alamo. The Republic of Texas. The entire run of the TV show Dallas. Brian Kibler 3-0ing Tsuyoshi Ikeda on the back of Punishing Fire.

    Brian Kibler has been a star on the southern circuit. Can he add another Texas Top 8 in Dallas after already mastering Houston and Austin in years past?

    The history of major Magic events in Texas goes back nearly as far as the game itself, which is a treat for history junkies. Dallas, hosting its third Grand Prix this weekend, was the site of one of the first Pro Tours way back in 1996 when Paul McCabe took down a field of 242 players, including a murderer's row in a Top 8 that sported Brian Hacker, Chris Pikula, George Baxter and Hall of Famer Olle Rade.

    Flash forward a few years to 2000 when 312 players met to battle over Invasion Sealed. Invasion marked Phyrexia's last (unsuccessful) attempt to take over another world. Now, more than 10 years later Dallas is hosting one of the last major tournaments before Phyrexia finally gets that long-elusive new home it has been searching for since its Invasion failed.

    And while Dallas didn't see another Grand Prix until 2007, it was certainly worth the wait. Reigning U.S Champion Paul Cheon squared off against newly-minted Hall of Famer Raphael Levy in the finals of a 747-man Extended free-for-all, more than twice what Dallas had at its last Grand Prix. In the end, Levy showed why he was in the Hall with a win.

    Raphael Levy put an exclamation point on his Hall of Fame Resume with a win at the last Grand Prix held in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2007.

    Texas hospitality has also served a few pros well in Houston and Austin as well, as a number of pros either cemented their legacy or broke out in the Lone Star State. Kibler's win at Pro Tour Austin was part of his triumphant return to the tour after taking several years off. But that wasn't Kibler's first trip to the rodeo (yee-haw), as he also finished second at Grand Prix Houston in 2002. Kibler even recently said the decks he played at these Texas tournaments were among the best he's ever played.

    Pro Tour Houston, all the way back in 2002, was one of the most dominant performances by a group of playtest partners ever, as Your Move Games dominated a Top 8 filled with some of the best to play the game, including Justin Gary, Jeroen Remie and a whopping three future Hall of Famers in Rob Doughtrey, Darwin Kastle and Bob Maher.

    Texas has also ushered in some of today's brightest stars. Grand Prix Austin in 2004 marked some of the first big finishes for several of today's mainstays, including Gerry Thompson's second Grand Prix Top 8 and Michael Jacob's first.

    So will the stars come out in Texas or will a new name make a big splash in the Standard format? Who will make their mark on Magic history and battle through the field of 1,189? Tune in here all weekend to find out.

     

  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – Friday Recap: Grinder Winners

    by Bill Stark
  • Don't forget, Grand Prix tournaments are filled with TONS of things to do besides, of course, playing in an awesome Grand Prix. Here are the TEN Last Chance Grand Prix Trial winners from Friday. They managed to pick up the last few byes available for the event and get to sleep in this morning firm in the knowledge they're already undefeated through the first three rounds of competition.

    Stephan Hink
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011 - Grinder #1

    Jacob Schacht
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011 - Grinder #3

    Shawn Richard
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011 - Grinder #4

    Melissa DeTora
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011 - Grinder #5

    Michael Simon
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011 - Grinder #6

     

  • Saturday, 12:10 p.m. – Dealer talk

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Every tournament dealers have their finger on the pulse of the metagame, often tipping off the hot tech by selling out of certain cards or scrambling to find copies of the next unexpected gem. The dealers on the floor in Dallas have seen demand spike on a number of key cards that are sure to define the weekend.

    At the top of everyone's list is Inquisition of Kozilek, a sort of Thoughtseize-light that has been quietly picking up steam as players realize the restriction on Inquisition of taking a spell with converted mana cost three or less doesn't make the spell any less useful. Sales have been so brisk the uncommon is fetching a premium usually reserved for Bloodbraid Elf and Path to Exile. One dealer even said his goal was to buy as many Inquisitions as he could, and that selling them was a bonus.

    A number of other commons and uncommons have also been in high demand. Oust, Tumble Magnet, Mark of Mutiny and Mortarpod have been finding their ways from dealer tables to decks, and Magic 2011 common Squadron Hawk has been moving quickly, likely sold in groups of four. With the exception of Mark of Mutiny, all of those are key components in the many variations of CawBlade decks, which is likely to be a popular choice this weekend.

    Meanwhile, both flavors of Crusader, Phyrexian Crusader and Mirran Crusader, have also seen a spike in demand. Phyrexian Crusader has received a bump as of late thanks to Brian Kibler promoting his Black/Blue infect list which features the creature prominently. Mirran Crusader has been popping up in Boros lists, especially in concert with equipment, which makes its doublestrike ability even deadlier.

    But the big mover – in every sense of the word – has been Inferno Titan, which has been adapted as a three- or four-of in anything from Lotus Cobra-based RUG decks to Boros sideboards. While each of the Titans has taken a turn laying claim to being the best Titan in standard, Inferno has long been a strong second or third on that list. With its ability to slay three-fourths of a Squadron or to outright kill a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, this could be the weekend the angriest of Titans takes its place at the top.

     

  • Saturday, 12:20 p.m. – Metagame Expectations in Dallas

    by Frank Lepore
  • The metagame here in Dallas is incredibly diverse this weekend. You're likely to see any number of decks among the some one-thousand plus players in attendance. The format seems to have room for anything right now, from control, to aggro, to even combo decks, so no matter what your spell-slinging preference is, the current format has something for you! Here are a few of our top contenders:


    If you were surveying the room last night you would have more than likely seen this deck tearing up a few tables, not only in the super FNM but also at the testing tables. This is bar none the number one deck in the format presently that debuted at Pro Tour Paris. The plan is simple: stick an evasive 1/1 creature in the form of a Squadron Hawk and equip one sword or another to it (more often than not a Sword of Feast and Famine). This simple yet elegant plan allows the Squadron Hawk's owner to spend his mana before combat, attack, and then untap, only to spend his mana again post combat. Often times this plan includes a number of Planeswalkers greater than zero which can often be enough to win the game on their own.


    Clearly the second most popular deck in the room and considered a combo deck by some, Valakut has held it's own in Standard for quite some time. Thought by many to be the bogeyman for a time, it's certainly taken a back seat to the avian threat of Caw-Blade. Make no mistake though, the deck still definitely has teeth and if you're unprepared for it, it can have a significant advantage in the unique angle it attacks from: its very lands fetched up by the combination of Primeval Titan and Green Sun's Zenith!


    RUG, a simple name representing the red, blue, and green cards the deck plays is also a solid contender here today. The deck is considering by some to be the most powerful deck in Standard that very few are playing. Its goal is to play a Lotus Cobra or an Explore on turn two, and ramp into Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Inferno Titan, or the oft neglected Precursor Golem – a card which shines in a field full of Go for the Throat.


    Ah, the younger cousin to RG Valakut, in that it's also ramping and also casting Primeval Titans to cheat degenerate lands into play, this time in the form of Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin, and Tectonic Edge. The reason for this? To cast massive monsters in the form of Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth, and of course their big brother, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Needless to say, once in play these titans (so to speak…) are very difficult to deal with efficiently.


    This deck simply won't go away and for good reason: it's one of the defining aggro decks in Standard! The reason it's so efficient is the low mana curve that starts at one and ends at…well, two. You could argue that some of the cards cost three if you're kicking a Gatekeeper of Malakir or including Captivating Vampire in your list. Usually you're simply emptying your hand of Bloodghasts, Vampire Lacerators, and most notably Kalastria Highborn which can quickly threaten to completely drain your opponent's life total.


    This deck, which takes its name from the Ravnica guild, is ironically intent on playing as many lands as it can. It ends up playing out the efficient creature package of Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede, Goblin Guide, Stoneforge Mystic, and Squadron Hawk (whew!), before often finishing the curve with a few Hero of Oxid Ridge. Their creatures are all very cheap and very efficient, and with even a few in play, every draw step can be threatening. You want them to avoid drawing spells, but with all the landfall creatures, you're not safe when they draw lands either!


    This is an oldie but a goodie. The deck relies on playing a Quest for the Holy Relic on turn one, followed by a horde of cheap artifact and white creatures such as Ornithopter and Memnite or the newly minted Signal Pest. A vital cog in the deck is found in the form of Glint Hawk. Not the defining bird in the format, Glint Hawk is able to return a zero casting cost artifact only to replay it again in the same turn in order to trigger the Quest multiple times. Ultimately when you sacrifice the quest, you'll be searching up an Argentum Armor, which can be done as early as turn two!

    Monored
    Grand Prix Dallas 2011


    What format wouldn't be complete without some form of Monored? A tournament just wouldn't be the same without the looming threat of getting your face burnt off at some point. The current iteration of the deck involves creatures like Goblin Guide, Spikeshot Elder and Ember Hauler with efficient burn spells such as Searing Blaze (which happens to be an All-Star against Caw-Blade as it kills Jace and a bird). The deck often tops out with several copies of Koth of the Hammer, giving a degree of reach that hasn't frequently been present in previous versions.

    No matter what type of deck or play style you fancy, there's something for you. Whether you're fond of 1/1 fliers, artifacts, enchantments, or simply pointing a Lightning Bolt at your opponent's dome, you should be able to find something you'll feel comfortable piloting through this diverse field. It's anyone's guess who, or rather which archetype, will come out on top tomorrow, but as they say, it's anybody's game!

     

  • Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – Quick hits: How do you feel about Phyrexia winning the war?

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Victor Kovach: "I was kind of expecting it. I'm not happy about it, but someone has to win."
    Will Blankenship: "It brings back something that I'm more familiar with."
    Mason King: "I think they can do some fun things with the cards. I think it'll make limited really interesting."
    Merced Salinas: "That means infect might be a little bit better. I think it's exciting."
    Bret Robinson: "I thought it was predictable, honestly. The Phyrexian cards seemed more powerful. It's always fun to see a bad guy win."
    Andres Cantu: "They haven't won one yet. If they lost again it would be like these guys never win. It'd be like the 90s [Dallas] Mavericks."
    Scott Hills: "I'm kind of excited. I started playing during Mirrodin and I had heard stories about them, how they're the big bad."
    Matthew Langford: I wanted the Mirrans to win, personally. Everyone thought the Phyrexians would win, so I thought it would have been a surprise.
     

  • Saturday, 1:48 p.m. – A Fragdoll Among Us

    by Frank Lepore
  • Michelle Roberson, who goes by the handle of PMS Sunie in other gaming circles, has been making a name for herself in the gaming community for quite a few years now. Most of her background is covered here by our own Monty Ashley, so I won't go too deeply into that, but I noticed she had been Tweeting pretty heavily all week about our very own Magic: The Gathering. More specifically she had mentioned that she had been testing Valakut extensively in preparation for the Grand Prix, at some points in eight hour intervals! With that kind of commitment to not only the game, but her own success within it, we decided it would be a great opportunity to sit down with her today and get some of her opinions on the tournament scene.

    So, Michelle, how did you get into Magic?

    I actually started playing with my cousin during Ice Age block when I was about eight years old. After that I took a break, but then I started playing again during Ravnica block which is actually still my favorite set right now. So I went into college and a lot of my friends were like, "you have to play this game!" So I learned, but a lot of my friends are really competitive and they just smashed me over and over again. The thing is that I'm really competitive as well, and I really like to win, so it kind of pushed me to wanting to beat the crap out of them!

    How does Magic compare to the other games you've played in your experience?

    Compared to other games it's a lot more technical, which makes it fun, because there are so many more variations and things that can happen that you really have to be on your toes. You have to be really careful of what your opponent is doing as well, since they can tap the wrong mana, or keep Mana Leak mana open, and you have to keep an eye out for that sort of thing.

    How does it feel to be surrounded by so many gamers? Is it intimidating as a newer player when you think you're all competing for the same prize?

    I think any tournament is going to be a little intimidating, but on a scale like this when there's over a thousand people competing it's definitely a little daunting. As far as Magic tournaments go, I'm just used to my local tournament, my FNMs, like thirty, forty people, and then here you're surrounded by a thousand people who all want to win, and will do whatever they can to do so.

    So what made you decide to play Valakut today? You were clearly sold on it from very early on.

    So my friend Scott, he has this Valakut deck, we call it Vala-Cute, but basically it runs Viridian Emissary and that's like his "tech." So when I was playtesting, I was playing with a Big Red deck, and I was getting annoyed that I kept losing. He would just ramp up and beat me, and this happened for like three FNMs! After that I said, "that's it, I'm building Valakut!" So I just decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and that I'm going to build Valakut and win!

    That's a great outlook to have. You're clearly hooked. Was the Grand Prix everything you thought it would be?

    Yes. It's a little bit more intense than I thought it would be, being surrounded by so many players. I always heard that at larger events you would see more female players. But I've seen them around and I ask if they're playing, and a lot just say, "No, I'm just here to support my boyfriend." That's frustrating, because I want them to be competing!

    What's your goal in Magic, long term?

    I would love to be on the pro tour by the end of the year. That is my overall goal. Even being here and seeing all the pro players is a little surreal. It's like the Magic internet come to life! I've been debating going up and talking to some pro players, but haven't done it yet. Hopefully I'll see them in round four though!

    As of this interview Michelle is currently 2-0 and going strong in the main event. Good luck, Michelle!

     

  • Saturday, 2:48 p.m. – Top tables

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • 6 UW Caw Blade
    3 Valakut
    3 RUG
    2 Boros
    1 UWb Caw Blade
    1 Mono Red Aggro
    1 BU Tezzeret
    1 BUW Tezzeret
    1 BU Infect
    1 GW Aggr

    Periodically we'll be checking in on what's being played at the top 10 tables to get a snapshot of the metagame and what decks are performing well. Round four is when the pros and others with three byes join the tournament, so by this round the top spots start to represent the best lists in the room, either decks that have survived early tests or that were carefully selected by some of the best in the game. Either way, watch for decks to come and go from this list as the weekend wears on.

     

  • Feature Match – Round 4: Tom Ross versus Luis Scott-Vargas

    by Bill Stark
  • "I lost my deck," Tom Ross said as he sat down for his fourth round feature match against Luis Scott-Vargas. The Louisiana star rushed to finish up putting his deck together before the round began; it was an inauspicious start for Ross, but he was able to use his big name star power to get some help putting the deck together from a bystander.

    After scrapping to get the list put together, Ross kicked things off with an Island and used it to Preordain his ensuing draw steps. He found himself facing a Plated Geopede from his Boros-playing opponent, but used Oust to deal with the first striker. Scott-Vargas reloaded with a Squadron Hawk, a play Ross promptly copied.

    The battlefield cluttered with Hawks and Stoneforge Mystics until Luis' Boros deck coughed up a Koth of the Hammer, sending a 4/4 Mountain to the red zone and connecting for a significant portion of Ross' life total. Sword of Feast and Famine for Tom allowed him to successfully attack his opponent's Koth to one loyalty counter, but Luis cast more Squadron Hawks to ensure he could continue chumping his opponent's attackers should the need arise.

    Luis Scott-Vargas

    Luis attempted a Bonehoard but had it stopped by Spell Pierce from his opponent. He followed up with Steppe Lynx, but Tom's Sword of Feast and Famine and a pair of Squadron Hawks meant the tempo Scott-Vargas had gained from his Koth had been lost; Tom had stabilized successfully and if Luis couldn't come up with a means of pushing through the final damage, they would be headed to the second game with the Boros player in a hole.

    Tom began activating a Blinkmoth Nexus and cast Mortarpod to keep his opponent's weenie creatures in line. When Luis saw the powerful equipment, he conceded the game. Ross' stabilization was too much for the aggro deck to overcome.

    Tom Ross 1, Luis Scott-Vargas 0

    A Steppe Lynx led the way for Luis in the second, wasting no time and attacking as a 4-powered creature as an Arid Mesa was its owner's land drop for the second turn. It was joined by a Goblin Guide and before Tom Ross had even dropped a second land he found himself at 14 life. He did manage to snag a free land from the Guide, then used Mortarpod on his turn to take out the opposing Steppe Lynx. A Squadron Hawk allowed him to fetch up plenty of blockers and it looked, for the moment, like the control player was going to sweep the match.

    Luis continued sending in his Goblin Guide and Tom opted not to sacrifice a single Hawk to chump. Instead, he cast a second while Scott-Vargas stumbled on mana, stuck on three instead of the four he needed to cast the Koth of the Hammer in his hand. When he finally got the fourth land, he held off on casting the planeswalker in an effort to get his opponent to tap out. That would avoid Koth being countered, but when Tom cast his own planeswalker, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, he had a single mana left over and was still able to use Spell Pierce on the Koth.

    Tom Ross

    Disheartened by the turn of events, Luis struggled to stay in the game without any non-land permanents on the battlefield. A Gideon Jura made things look increasingly worse for the California player while Tom Ross' fortunes kept improving (minus the missing deck from the start of the round, of course). An Inferno Titan lumbered its way to the battlefield for Luis, but Tom used Oust to dispatch it promptly. With his opponent's Jace turning its attentions to his library, Luis soon found his draws not up to par as his best cards were shipped to the bottom of his deck, his (nonexistent) creatures were obligated to attack Gideon Jura, and his opponent's hand continued growing larger.

    A Stoneforge Mystic for Luis allowed him to fetch up an Adventuring Gear, but his board position was still underwhelming. He took 11 from a big attack featuring an activated Gideon Jura, an activated Celestial Colonnade, and a Squadron Hawk. When Jace fatesealed him one final time, Luis made a show of revealing his last "topdeck" (a land) and extended his hand in defeat.

    Tom Ross 2, Luis Scott-Vargas 0

     

  • Saturday, 3:20 p.m. – Top Ten Defining Cards in Standard

    by Frank Lepore
  • There are a lot of heavy hitters currently in Standard right now. While a good number of them are mythic rares, there are a ton of movers and shakers that are not as well. While the metagame is fairly well defined, there is a clear overlap is regards to what some of the more defining cards might be.

    10. Primeval Titan

    This card definitely deserves a spot on a list of defining cards in Standard. While Valakut has subsided in recent months due to the emergence of Caw-Blade, make no mistake that Primeval Titan is not only nothing to scoff at, but is pivotal in defining his own archetypes, such as the aforementioned Valakut as well as Eldrazi Green.



    9. Spell Pierce

    A recent inclusion into infamy, this card has been seeing more and more play. It's almost as much of a staple as Mana Leak as of recent since it has the unique ability to counter Planeswalkers, such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Gideon Jura, in addition to things like Sword of Feast and Famine and Day of Judgment. Against decks like Monored you're able to counter things like Searing Blaze and Staggershock since the deck usually won't have enough mana to pay for Spell Pierce as well.



    8. Preordain

    Are you playing blue cards? Well, then your list should have probably started with "4 Preordain." At least that seems like that's the case in this environment. Like Ponder before it, and Brainstorm before that, Preordain is the most efficient way to dig deeper into your deck to find the answers you need. The card is run consistently in Caw-Blade, RUG, and UB Control, along with any other fringe decks that happen to run blue.



    7. Inferno Titan

    Ah, Titans. Is there anything they can't do? Just like Primeval Titan, Inferno Titan is lynchpin in a number of decks as well. As the chosen finisher in the RUG archetype along with finding a home in both Valakut and the Big Red deck that's been popping up this weekend, Inferno Titan has not only earned his keep, but has made a name for himself as one of the best Titans available.



    6. Tumble Magnet

    Despite the limited number of uses your given, this is a card with limitless application! It taps nearly everything in the format you want to tap, but is most often used to keep Titans locked down once they've resolved, to conserve precious life points in the aggro matchups, and to tap down any pesky creatures - be they aerial or otherwise - that have swords attached. Yes, like Icy Manipulator before it, Tumble Magnet is an efficient catch-all that can be played in any color.



    5. Inquisition of Kozilek

    Well if this hasn't been one of the most sought after cards of the weekend, I don't know what has. This card is simply defining the metagame. It's able to strip away precious pieces from decks like Valakut (literally any of their ramp spells, as well as Green Sun's Zenith), Caw-Blade (Stoneforge Mystic, Squadron Hawk, Sword of Feast and Famine), Boros, Vampires, RUG, and plenty more! The strength of the card lies in not only its versatility, but also its usefulness against such a wide range of decks.



    4. Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    What list wouldn't be complete without our mind sculpting friend? Like it or not, Jace is at the very center of the top deck in Standard right now, Caw-Go. He also has Summer homes in the RUG archetype and any fringe UB Control lists that pop up. As one of the strongest Planeswalkers ever printed, it's very likely that he'll remain on this list until he finally decides to leave the Standard environment altogether for greener pastures.



    3. Sword of Feast and Famine

    2. Squadron Hawk

    1. Stoneforge Mystic

    The last and final contender is actually a trio of contenders. I'm sure many if not all players are familiar with the combination of Squadron Hawk, Stoneforge Mystic, and Sword of Feast and Famine as the defining trio in the format. The combination of cards is present in a multitude of archetypes, from Boros, to Fauna Shaman decks, Monowhite decks, to Caw-Blade and all its variants. These cards are just too cheap and too efficient as forms of card advantage to ignore.

    If you're playing in any Standard tournaments in the near future, you'd be hard pressed to miss any of these cards across the table from you.


     

  • Feature Match Round 5: "What does this deck even beat?" – Martin Juza vs. Joshua Ravitz

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Martin Juza is one of the few Europeans who made the trek to Texas, but both he and Joshua Ravitz were 3-1 and facing a tough path if they lost this round. Ravitz had gone 1-1 after his two byes were used up, and Juza was looking to pick up his first match win on the day. He didn't sound too pleased with his weapon of choice, Boros.

    "What does this deck even beat?" Juza asked about his own deck.

    "The mirror match has to be pretty good," Ravitz offered, himself playing UW Caw Blade.

    Ravitz won the ever important die roll and opted to play first against Juza's potentially quick start.

    Game 1

    Juza played a turn one Goblin Guide revealing a Sword of Feast and Famine for Ravitz and got in for two with the Guide. Then, on turn two, the Guide again revealed a second Sword and was joined by a Plated Geopede. Ravitz meanwhile, simply tapped out on turn three to play one of the Swords.

    Martin Juza's Boros animals made short work of Joshua Ravitz

    Juza, meanwhile, had also landed a Plated Geopede, pumping it with an Arid Mesa finding a Plains, and took Ravitz for seven (revealing an Island), dropping him all the way to nine on only turn three. Juza followed up with a Squadron Hawk but lost his team to the turn four Day of Judgment.

    But Juza's assault was only barely stymied. He bolted Ravitz to six, then followed up with a Teetering Peaks on a Goblin Guide to drop Ravitz to a precarious two life. He followed up with one of the Hawks, and it was enough to convince Ravitz to move to game two.

    Juza 1 – Ravitz 0

    Game 2

    Both players kept again, even though Ravitz' opener looked eerily similar to the one that was run over in game one.

    Juza led with turn one steppe Lynx, but lost it to Ravitz' Mortarpod.

    For the next several turns, the pros jockeyed over some Goblin Guides for Juza and several Squadron Hawks for Ravitz, with a Divine Offering on Juza's Sword of Body and Mind mixing things up. Eventually, Day of Judgment cleared the board of goblins and birds alike.

    At least it temporarily did. Juza followed up the board clearer with some Squadron Hawks of his own.

    Ravitz started matching Hawks, playing out two and equipping one of them with the Mortarpod. Juza responded to the equipping by bolting the Hawk, but his follow-up attack only put Ravitz at 15. The Czech star then promised more pings with both a Cunning Sparkmage and a third Hawk.

    Ravitz made a Jace, the Mind Sculptor on his turn and Brainstormed in order to shuffle some lands away. Jace managed to dig up a Stoneforge Mystic, which in turn found Sword of Feast or Famine. Sparkmage took care of Ravitz's last Hawk on his ends step, and Juza's own fliers kill Jace the following turn. Juza followed up with a Spikeshot Elder and left Ravitz's Mystic looking pretty dead in the water. When Ravitz tried the Oust the next turn, the Mystic took one from the Elder and another from the Sparkmage, while Ravitz used it to flash in the Sword.

    Meanwhile, the hawks continued attacking while Juza nearly emptied his hand, dropping his last Hawk and a second Sparkmage.

    Even a steady stream of Squadron Hawks couldn't help Joshua Ravitz against Martin Juza's steady stream of 1/1s and 0/1s

    Finally finding some action, Ravitz played a Gideon, hoping to protect his Jace the following turn. The Sparkmages, however, didn't need to attack to get to Jace and, along with the Hawks, took Gideon to two loyalty. Juza continued playing out his hand, daring Ravitz to cast Day of Judgment, with a Steppe Lynx and the previously Ousted Spikeshot Elder.

    Yet another Jace followed for Ravitz, as well as a Gideon activation to attempt to protect Jace. Unfortunately, Juza had enough non-combat ways to hit planeswalkers that he was able to kill Gideon and drop Jace to two loyalty at the cost of one Hawk falling to a Celestial Colonnade. Juza ended his turn by tapping out for Stoneforge Mystic, leaving Adventuring Gear as the only card in his hand.

    Meanwhile, Jace got active on Ravitz' side of the table, digging for answers to Juza's substantial forces. He found a Kor Firewalker, but not much else. However, importantly, Ravitz missed his opportunity to animate and equip his Colonnade, which would have forced Juza to discard the Adventuring Gear and still left Ravitz enough mana to equip up his Firewalker with Sword, Mortarpod and a Sylvok Lifestaff. As a result, he left Juza with six more life and the Gear still in hand (cue foreshadowing).

    On his turn, Juza surveyed the table and played the Adventuring Gear on Spikeshot Elder, followed by the fetchland he had drawn off the top. This left Ravitz staring down a 5/5 Elder, 4/5 Steppe Lynx, a Squadron of Hawks and a Stoneforge Mystic. When the attack phase settled, Juza was at 4 and down a Firewalker after Juza attacked with everything and Ravitz sacrificed his Firewalker to bin a bird.

    And even though Ravitz didn't miss the Colonnade option on his next turn, though the damage from the Gear was already done. And though Ravitz found a blocker/sacrificial lamb on his next turn, all it took was a Teetering Peaks for Juza to answer the question "What does this deck even beat?"

    Juza 2 – Ravitz 0


     

  • Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – To Err is Human...

    by Bill Stark
  • Having to wade through 1,000+ decklists for the scoops on hot new tech means occasionally the coverage team comes across a deck registration error. At a professional level event like a Grand Prix, such errors can lead to serious game or match loss penalties. But one error from this weekend stood out for its uniqueness (and in a half decade of coverage, this reporter had never seen it): one poor player in a rush to finish his or her decklist had simply written down "20 basic lands" under the land slot.
    Considering the fact that the deck was monocolored, the judge staff agreed to give the poor soul a break and issue a stern warning instead of a harsher penalty. Remember kids, check your list before you turn it in and use FULL card names! (Thanks to judge Ute Kronenberg for help on this story.)
     

  • Saturday, 5:00 p.m. – Avon in America

    by Frank Lepore
  • As with many premier Magic events, the tournament is only one of a handful of things that takes place over the weekend. This weekend our event hall plays host to fantasy artists Steve Argyle and John Avon. You might know John Avon as the illustrator of such recently popular cards as Explore, Murmuring Bosk, Prismatic Omen, Prophetic Prism among countless others.

    Maelstrom Pulse - Grand Prix promo art

    One of John's strongest attributes is his uncanny ability to render realistic yet fantastical landscapes, which can be seen in a cycle of Ravnica basic lands as well as the entire cycle of "Karoo" lands from the same block.

    As usual, anytime an artist makes an appearance at a Magic event, anyone in attendance is welcome to get their cards altered or signed as well as purchase proofs or original works from the artist. This is actually quite an opportunity as John is based in England and doesn't make the trip over the pond all that frequently.

    Conveniently Avon is also the illustrator of the foil promo given away to attendants this weekend: Maelstrom Pulse!

    So if you happen to make it down to Grand Prix Dallas, or if you're already here, make sure you take the time to stop by and see John Avon and Steve Argyle, and make sure you bring some cards!


     

  • Feature Match Round 6: Clash of the Titans – Michael Jacob vs. Matthias Hunt

    by Frank Lepore
  • Round six saw two prominent StarCityGames personalities pitted against one another. Michael Jacob representing RIW Hobbies in Livonia Michigan is no newcomer to the spotlight, and Matthias Hunt is an up-and-comer ready to further cement his name.

    Game 1

    Hunt won the die roll and chose to play first. Both players decided to keep their hands and Hunt lead off with a tapped Raging Ravine and passed the turn. Jacob drew his card and played an untapped Copperline Gorge. Hunt took his turn and landed an early Fauna Shaman while Jacob was content simply to Explore instead. This of course netted him his third land which he used for a Lightning Bolt on the Shaman.

    Hunt thought about his third turn before deciding on a Cunning Sparkmage. Jacob was content to drop and Island and Preordain. He dreadfully left both cards on top of his library before Hunt used the Sparkmage to shoot Jacob. Hunt then cast a Vengevine and attacked for four.

    When Jacob's turn came around he cast a Precursor Golem and passed right back at fourteen life. Hunt attacked with the 'Vine and Jacob was all too eager to toss the original Golem in front, protecting his two tokens from "Precursor Syndrome" due to a stray Lightning Bolt. Hunt then cast a Squadron Hawk and fetched out its three brothers before playing a Bird of Paradise (no relation) to get back his Vengevine.

    Jacob played his sixth land and slammed an Inferno Titan, killing two birds and the Sparkmage, leaving Hunt with a lone Vengevine and a grip full of Hawks, to Jacob's Inferno Titan and two 3/3 Golem tokens.

    Hunt played an Acidic Slime targeting a Golem token and passed back. Inferno Titan number two made quick work of the Vengevine, and the first Titan killed the Slime upon attacking while also dealing seven points to Hunt in the process. After Matthias took ten total and no board, it was on to game two.

    Jacob – 1, Hunt – 0

    Preordain
    Inferno Titan

    "Yeah, when I Preordained and saw two Inferno Titans on top, I figured I would keep them both," Jacob mused between games.

    "Yeah, not a bad choice," Hunt responded. "I've had two features matches so far and each one I managed to lose in about fifteen minutes. Maybe I should stop getting feature matches!"

    Game 2

    Hunt chose to play once more leading off with a Copperline Gorge of his own while Jacob had a Raging Ravine. Hunt followed with another Fauna Shaman and Jacob followed with another Lightning Bolt for the Shaman who was clearly not long for this world. He then Preordained and passed. Hunt played out a Lotus Cobra to replace the fallen Elf, while Jacob was content to Explore. He played his first land for the turn, followed by a second explore, then finished with a second Raging Ravine.

    Raging Ravine
    Tectonic Edge

    Hunt snuck two damage in with the Cobra before using a Tectonic Edge to neutralize one of Jacob's Ravines. Jacob played an Oracle of Mul Daya, which netted him two free Forests off the top, followed by a revealed Inferno Titan. Hunt and Jacob both laughed slightly at the irony of Inferno Titan almost taunting Hunt from the top of Jacob's Library. As such, Hunt chose to Lightning Bolt the Oracle at the end of the turn

    Hunt played and cracked an Arid Mesa. He floated two mana courtesy of his slithery friend which allowed him activate his Raging Ravine and attack Jacob down to 11 life.

    Jacob played a Scalding Tarn and searched out a mountain in order to cast the dreaded Inferno Titan which Hunt had feared. The Titan took out the Cobra and dealt two damage to Hunt before Jacob passed back. Hunt had to double Bolt the Titan just to deal with him, only to face yet another Titan from Jacob as was par for the course. Hunt played a Sword of Body and Mind, but clearly lamented his situation as he lacked other options. Hunt went to five life after the Titan attack and Jacob followed post combat with a third Titan! Hunt saw the writing on the wall and scooped them up.

    "Well, at least the match took about sixteen minutes this time!" Hunt observed.

    Jacob – 2, Hunt - 0


     

  • Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – Lone Star Legends

    by Bill Stark
  • In the story of Magic's history, Texas has always had a role to play. You can read the great article my fellow coverage reporter Blake Rasmussen wrote on the actual state's role in the game here. But the state has also produced a number of players and community members who have contributed to the game either through their tournament prowess or their efforts building the players around them. Here is a rundown of a few of the biggest names.

    David Williams

    In addition to a World Championship Top 8 and a Pro Tour Top 8, David Williams also has made the final stage at the Grand Prix level EIGHT times! Originally from Arlington, Texas, David went to college for a time at Southern Methodist University. Throughout his pro career he played alongside some of the game's biggest names before leaving to pursue a life as a professional gaming personality.

    David isn't in attendance this weekend, but his contributions to the name of Texas Magic can't be ignored. He is the state's most successful tournament player, and is even a member of the Texas Guildmages (we'll get to them in a moment). In addition, though Williams took a few seasons off from competing on the Pro Tour, he has since returned to become a regular presence there.


    Hunter Burton

    The new face of competitive success on the Pro Tour for Texas, bad boy Hunter Burton was the sole hometown hero in the Top 8 of the last Pro Tour held in the Lone Star State: Pro Tour Austin. Ultimately he couldn't hold on to keep the title on home soil, but the entire Texan community was behind him throughout his Sunday performance.

    Jeff Zandi

    One of the Texas community's biggest supporters is long time Magic player Jeff Zandi. Jeff has been a part of the game almost since its beginning, and while he might not have a Pro Tour Top 8 on his resume (yet!), it's difficult to deny the important role he has played in the development of the Texas gaming community. After Wizards of the Coast introduced the Pro Tour in 1996, Jeff and a group of friends organized a team they named "The Texas Guildmages." The group's meetings have become legendary and include roll call that allows them to track their history and members (including the aforementioned David Williams). Jeff is battling at the Grand Prix this weekend, hoping to pick up a big individual performance.


    Billy Moreno

    Though at times a prominent member of other communities, including the East Coast/New York scene, Billy Moreno has always been at heart a Texas boy. He burst onto the Pro Tour scene with an epic Finals appearance at Pro Tour Los Angeles 2005, and has established himself as a premier deckbuilder in the game.


    Kyle Sanchez

    A Grand Prix and Pro Tour veteran with a Top 8 at Grand Prix Toronto, Kyle Sanchez is a Texan in mind and spirit. In typical Lone Star renegade fashion, he refuses to play by a format's rules and has made a reputation for himself by brewing his own creations he can play on his own terms. More often than not that has served him well. Kyle is also a writer and, again refusing to play by the rules of others, has been known to include "custom" MSPaint illustrations in his articles to help tell tales. We'll see if his tournament report from Dallas includes a rogue list serving him well with illustrations to boot!

    Justin Corbett

    A modern day Jeff Zandi of sorts, Justin Corbett contributes to the Texas Magic community by running the website Texas Magic Zone, a large public forum for players to network in the state. Considering how large Texas is (the biggest continental member of the Union!), that ability is a key part of the Texan community's success on the competitive stage. When Justin isn't busy helping everyone around him running his site, he can be found at the Pro Tour, or competing at other events like Grand Prixs and the StarCityGames.com Open Series.

    Neil Reeves

    Last but most certainly not least is Neil Reeves. Yet another Texan with a Pro Tour Top 8 on his resume, Neil was at one point believed to be the best Limited player in the world (often splitting the title with Richard Hoaen). Before leaving the game to raise a family, Neil was a regular on the Pro Tour playing alongside Hall of Famer Bob Maher and David Williams, both friends. He also has the honor of having represented the United States as a member of the U.S. national team at the World Championships in 2005.

    How will the home state heroes who are in attendance at Grand Prix Dallas do this weekend? Stay tuned to find out!


     

  • Saturday, 6:45 p.m. – Top Tables, Round 7 edition

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • With three rounds under our belt since we last looked at the top 10 tables, it’s time to check in on the decks putting their pilots in the position to make day two. A lot has changed since round four, as RUG has taken over a quarter of the top 20 spots with three rounds of play remaining. UW Caw Blade has lost a few pilots, but UB Control, the breakout deck of Barcelona, has deposited four players near the top of the standings, including a mirror match on table five. Rounding out the top decks of round seven are Valakut, UWB Caw Blade, and single representatives holding down the fort for UB Poison, Mono Green Eldrazi and UW Venser Control.

    5
    4Caw Blade
    4Control
    2Valakut
    2 Caw Blade
    1Eldrazi
    1Poison
    1Venser Control

     

  • Quick hits – What do you think are the two best decks in Standard?

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Michael Jacob: The top three are pretty close between Caw Blade, RUG and some sort of blue-black deck.

    Luis Scott-Vargas: Blue white, and then a five way tie between everything else

    Brian Kibler: Caw Blade is certainly format defining. However, I think Blue/Black Infect gives me the best chance to win.

    Josh Utter-Leyton: UW Caw Blade and Valakut

    Patrick Chapin: Caw Blade and Darkblade

    Charles Gindy: Caw Blade and Boros

    Matthias Hunt: Caw Blade’s gotta be first, then Valakut because it beats everything else

    Carlos Romao: The deck I’m playing, UWB Caw Blade, and also the blue-black deck that won Barcelona.


     

  • Feature Match Round 7 – Lewis Laskin vs. Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

    by Bill Stark
  • "Congratulations on your recent finish!" Lewis Laskin said to his opponent as they sat down with only three rounds left to play on the first day of Grand Prix Dallas. France's Guillaume Wafo-Tapa smiled quietly, as was his nature, and nodded at the compliment. It referred to his Finals appearance at the 2010 World Championships where he had played Blue-Black Control only to lose to the mirror in the hands of his countryman Guillaume Matignon.

    A Darkslick Shores to start the first game hinted at the possibility Guillaume was playing the same deck that had served him well at that tournament, and he used it to cast Inquisition of Kozilek, forcing a Preordain from his opponent's hand. Lewis didn't seem happy about losing the draw spell but promptly ripped Stoneforge Mystic and cast it to fetch up a powerful Sword of Feast and Famine. A Go For the Throat took out the Mystic, the Sword resolved, and the players settled into a game of draw, go.

    Lewis Laskin

    The minutes ticked by as the two players worked on resolving relevant spells. Lewis managed to stick one in the form of a second Sword of Feast and Famine, but couldn't find a creature to carry it. Both had copies of the planeswalker Jace countered, but after 20% of the time in the round had burned off, Guillaume's one-mana discard spells (Duress and Inquisition of Kozilek) finally allowed him to force a Grave Titan to the battlefield. The 6/6 proved too much for his hand-less opponent who soon succumbed to the mythic and they headed to the second game.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 1, Lewis Laskin 0

    The second game started off much more smoothly for Lewis Laskin's blue-white Caw-Blade deck. He opened on Stoneforge Mystic to fetch up a Sword of Feast and Famine, then followed it up with Squadron Hawk to begin putting the squeeze on his opponent's life total. The Sword was nabbed from his hand by a Duress, however, and Laskin had to count on his 1-powered creatures to get the job done with no help from the armory.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

    A second Stoneforge Mystic allowed Lewis to fetch a second copy of Sword of Feast and Famine, but he lost his team to a Black Sun's Zenith from his opponent. A second Duress allowed Guillaume to take out his opponent's second Sword before Laskin could cast it, and the game shifted momentum dramatically. Attempting to rebuild with just a Squadron Hawk, Lewis slowly began poking away at his opponent's life total. Wafo-Tapa was having none of it, however, casting a Liliana Vess and using it to slowly grind Lewis' hand to nothing while using Tectonic Edge to keep his opponent light on lands.

    Lewis cast a third copy of Stoneforge Mystic but with no equipment left to fetch up, the 1/2 was exactly that: a 1/2 creature. That doubled the size his number of creatures on the battlefield, but Guillaume cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor to double the number of planeswalkers HE had. The two planeswalkers locked Lewis out of the game by demolishing his hand and tying up his draw step. When Guillaume cast Precursor Golem, all that was left was the attacking. A few turns later, not even that was left and the French player emerged the victor.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 2, Lewis Laskin 0


     

  • Saturday, 8:00 p.m. – A Streak Comes to an End

    by Bill Stark
  • Ari Lax, Un-Undefeated

    Ari Lax is an up and coming American Magic pro with a number of Grand Prix Top 8s to his name. Headed into Grand Prix Dallas he was also the owner of a unique record: he hadn't lost a match on the first day of a Constructed Grand Prix in over a year! It's true, and it all started with Grand Prix Seattle.

    Ari lost the first non-bye round of that event, and promised himself he wouldn't lose again. He didn't on Day 1, and even managed to make the Top 8 of the event. At Grand Prix Washington D.C., he ripped off a 9-0 record on the first day. He repeated that effort at Grand Prix Columbus, then again this season at Grand Prix Atlanta, where he also made the Top 8. His streak started off strong here in Dallas as he began the day 6-0.

    Unfortunately for Lax's record, the wheels fell off in Round 7. He FINALLY picked up a Day 1 loss. The grand total number of match wins (not counting byes) he put together at Constructed Grand Prix over the course of the run? A monstrous 26-0. Wow!


     

  • Feature Match Round 8: "POY Showdown" – Shuhei Nakamura vs. Brad Nelson

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • "Taking pictures while we're shuffling?" Brad Nelson asked as he and Shuhei Nakamura pile shuffled before the first game. "We're used to it."

    They definitely were. A titanic matchup if there ever was one, round eight featured reigning Player of the Year Nelson against 2008 Player of the Year Nakamura. Between the pair, they had been photographed slinging spells roughly 87 million times (unofficial count), so it was safe to say the bright lights of the feature match area weren't going to fray anyone's nerves.

    These two POY powerhouses brought two of the decks vying for the best on the weekend so far. Nelson was playing UW Caw Blade while Nakamura was sporting Barcelona's breakout UB Control deck with his own touches on the list. It was Nelson who had the first small victory, as he won the right to play first.

    Game 1

    Both players kept with Nelson on the play, making a Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. Nakamura kicked off with a Preordain, sending both to the bottom, and then used Inquisition of Kozilek to take the Sword, revealing Preordain, Mana Leak, Squadron Hawk and two lands.

    Fortunately for Nelson, the top of his deck held another Stoneforge Mystic, allowing him to dig up a second Sword of Feast and Famine before casting Preordain. Unfortunately, Nakamura had another Inquisition for the second Sword as well.

    This is how a Player of the Year attacks with 1/1s and 1/2s

    Now without his equipment, Nelson was forced to switch gears, attacking with both Squires, er, Stoneforge Mystics and searching up the full complement of Squadron Hawks, casting two. Nakamura simply laid a land and passed.

    Nelson continued his aggression, attacking with the team. When Nakamura tried to animate a Creeping Tar Pit to block, Nelson moved it out of the way with Tectonic Edge. Nelson continued to beat down while the two pros traded Duress, Mana Leaks and a Hawk to keep the board at parity. Nelson did find another Mystic, which in turn let him search for his Mortarpod. With Nakamura at only five life, he Mana Leaked it to try to stay in the game, but with only five lands in play he couldn't cast the Grave Titan in hand, which he showed to Nelson before conceding to new kid on the POY block.

    Nelson 1 – Nakamura 0

    Game 2

    Both players kept for game two, and Nakamura had a turn one Inquisition of Kozilek, revealing a hand of Spell Pierce, Day of Judgment, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Hawk, taking Pierce.

    Nelson attempted Squadron Hawk turn two, but Nakamura had the Mana Leak. A second Hawk on turn three, however, resolved and found two more. Nakamura simply played a land, Preordained and passed the turn.

    Another Hawk was Leaked while Nelson tapped out to add a second Hawk to the field, but Nakamura was able to take advantage of Nelson tapping down to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Nelson answered with his own copy of the planeswalker, but Nakamura had a backup he used to Brainstorm and pass the turn.

    This Jace took an attack from the Hawks while Nelson played a Tumble Magnet and stuck on four lands for a bit. Doom Blade killed a Hawk to hopefully allow Jace to get ahead, but that only allowed Nelson to play Gideon Jura, something Nakamura had no immediate answer to.


    A flurry of Preordains and discard spells was 2008 Player of the Year Shuhei Nakamura's best line of defense against Nelson's squad.

    Duress took a second copy of the white 'walker, while also revealing two Day of Judgments as Nelson's only other cards. Then, to Nelson's surprised chuckle, Nakamura played a Phyrexian Crusader, a creature that, were it not for the opposing Tumble Magnet, could keep Gideon at bay. Nelson tapped down the Crusader and Nakamura's attempt to animate a Creeping Tar Pit, allowing him to kill Jace. His follow up Jace Beleren also assured there would be no return Jace from the Japanese pro.

    Instead, Nakamura used his two Tar Pits to kill Jace Beleren and take Gideon down a notch. But only a notch. Gideon survived and marched on as Nelson shifted to the aggressive tact, taking Nakamura down to just three life with the 'walker, a Celestial Colonnade and Squadron Hawk. He played a Tectonic Edge to limit Nakamura's mana and take out a blocker. Nakamura drew, smiled and pointed to the Tectonic Edge in Nelson's graveyard for the reason he couldn't stop the beats.

    Nelson 2 – Nakamura 0


     

  • Saturday, 9:25 p.m. – Day 1 Photo Essay

    by Bill Stark
  • Here are some of the sights from around the Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth tournament hall:

    John Avon is a Magic artist from the United Kingdom. His rare artist appearances stateside means the line to meet him for signings this weekend was LONG. At one point, pictured here, it stretched nearly throughout the entire tournament hall.



    Young Brandon Chreptyk of Canada nervously awaits the final round of competition. He was one of a handful of players who managed to remain undefeated throughout the first eight round of competition. The question he was waiting to answer, however, was whether he could survive the ninth.



    Patrick Chapin, sporting a wild mohawk, visits the GGsLive booth for some commentating alongside fellow Midwesterner Brian Kowal.



    Head judges Sheldon Menery (L) and Riccardo Tessitori (R) led the way for the adjudicators this weekend. It may be the first time in history two level 5 judges ran the same event (there are only three in the world).



    Tournament organizer Alan Hochman of Pastimes.net addresses the record breaking field of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth participants. The event is the largest ever in Texas, over 400 players larger than the last such event.



    A gauntlet of judges monitors the crowd during the morning announcements. Some 60 black shirts are here this weekend to make sure the nearly 1,200 participants in the Grand Prix and Public Events have a smooth, efficient experience. Thanks for all your hard work judges!


     

  • Feature Match Round 9: "Magnetic Personalities" – Brian Kibler vs. Mike Liang

    by Frank Lepore
  • What needs to be said about Brian Kibler? He's 6-2 today piloting UB Infect against Mark Liang's UB Control. This is a win-and-in match for both players so the pressure is on. The winner will make it to day two, while the loser will get to sleep in.

    Before the match, Kibler takes the time to explain to Liang the intricacies of how Grand Prixs work. Liang mentions that this is his first large event but despite this has still gone an impressive 6-2 on the day only to face the Dragon Master himself.

    Game 1

    Both players kept with Kibler on the play and he lead off with an Island into a Preordain He put one on the top, shipped one to the bottom, then passed the turn. Liang lead off with a Creeping Tar Pit and passed back. Kibler ran out a Contagion Clasp on turn two with no target, while Liang played a second land and passed.

    Kibler tried out a turn three Jace Beleren, but Liang had the Mana Leak for it. He played another Tar Pit and passed back again. Kibler played a second Preordain, repeating the same choices as the first then followed with an Inquisition of Kozilek which found another Mana Leak.

    Liang laid a tectonic Edge and then cast a Preordain of his own. He kept both cards on top and it was back to Kibler. Another Inquisition targeted Liang and he revealed Grave Titan, Preordain, Go for the Throat, Swamp, and a Black Sun's Zenith. Kibler chose Preordain after taking note of Liang's hand and passed. Liang activated his man-land and bashed for three damage for a few turns while the players simply played lands and passed.

    Kibler landed a Tumble Magnet which allowed him to tap the Tar Pit for a few turns before finally sticking a Phyrexian Crusader. Liang played an Inquisition of Kozilek of his own, where Kibler revealed a Deprive, a Mana Leak, an Into the Roil and another Phyrexian Crusader. Liang removed the Deprive then also noted Kibler's hand. Liang then followed it up with a Tumble Magnet of his own as well. Liang finished his turn by activating two Tectonic Edges on two of Kibler's lands.

    Brian Kibler

    Kibler attempted to attack and his Crusader is met with a Magnet activation. Kibler then Preordain and kept both on top. On Liang's turn he activated his Tar Pit again and began bashing once more. Kibler took the damage going which dropped him to 11 life. Liang then tapped Kibler's Crusader, and Kibler then tapped Liang's Tar Pit. The Crusader finally met a Go for the Throat, but Kibler quickly followed it up with a second. Liang ended up playing a second Inquisition, and this time Kibler revealed Magnet, Into the Roil, and Mana Leak, which his choice being the Mana Leak. The Tar Pit struck again bringing Kibler to eight.

    At the end of turn, Kibler tapped Liang's Magnet and finally got in for two infect damage before playing his second Magnet. Liang played a Duress which nabbed Kibler's only non-spell left, Into the Roil, which Kibler revealed along with another Crusader. Liang then played another Go for the Throat on Kibler's on board Crusader and passed.

    Liang finally felt safe and played his Grave Titan, and Kibler taps Liang's Magnet at the end of Liang's turn. Kibler played out a Necropede and the third Crusade before passing back to Liang. Liang goes deep into the tank. Kibler tapped the Grave Titan before combat, and Liang swung with his two Zombies. Kibler blocked with his two creatures, and Liang played a Black Sun's Zenith after combat leaving Liang with a sole Grave Titan as the only creature on the field complete with three -1/-1 counters.

    Kibler finally landed a Skithiryx and gave it haste knocking Liang to seven poison counters. Liang attacks for six which dropped Kibler to two life. Kibler realized he was only able to deliver two more poison counters on the next turn and Liang takes game one.

    Liang – 1, Kibler – 0

    Game 2

    Kibler chose to keep on the play, and Liang had to go down to six. Liang kept six, and fell prey to an Inquisition of Kozilek with Liang revealing two Mana Leak and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor before discarding his own Inquisition. Kibler followed it up with Duress, and Liang revealed a newly drawn Duress of his own, which Kibler choose for the bin.

    Liang then played his own freshly drawn Duress, and Kibler revealed two lands and yet another Inquisition after Liang chose a Phyrexian Crusader. Kibler then played his second Inquisition and choose a Mana Leak with Liang revealing the other Leak and the Jace. Kibler played one more Inquisition and nabbed the third Leak. In the mean time both players managed to get their own Tumble Magnets out and active.

    Mike Liang

    Kibler played a turn five Necropede, then Preordained, leaving both on top. He drew one then played a Jace Beleren. Both players then drew cards and Jace went to five counters. Kibler Preordained one more time, shipped both cards to the bottom and attacked with the Necropede. Liang played the Jace of his own, which sent them both to the grumper. Necropede brought Liang to two counters, and Kibler followed up with a second 'Pede along with a Phyrexian Crusader.

    Liang played a Precursor Golem which forced Kibler to start getting damage in with his Tar Pit. Liang then tried to land a Liliana Vess, successfully mind you, and forced Kibler to discard his last card: a lone Island. Kibler drew for the turn, played a Contagion Clasp targeting a Golem token and passed the turn. Liang then tapped out for a Grave Titan after his original precursor Golem was blocked by Kibler's Crusader. It didn't look good for the Dragon Master, who was staring down four tokens from Liang, a Grave Titan, and a Liliana Vess, to Kibler's Magnet, Necropede, and Crusader. Kibler had to attack though and brought Liliana to one counter via Creeping Tar Pit; it was all in vain as the previous turn Liang had tutored for a Grave Titan. Kibler tapped the first Titan before combat, and Liang still managed to get in there for seven damage with his tokens. With two Titans finally on board the game was pretty much wrapped up and Kibler extended the hand.

    Mike Liang will proceed to day two!

    Liang – 2, Kibler - 0

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