gpdal11

Grand Prix Dallas Day 2 Coverage

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EVENT COVERAGE
  • by Frank Lepore
    Sunday, 3:45 p.m.
    Metagame Breakdown

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 15
    Matt Nass vs. Gaurav Gaitonde

  • by Bill Stark
    Deck Tech:
    Aggro Valakut with Justin Corbett

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Feature Match: Round 14
    Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Michael Jacob

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Deck Tech:
    Grixis Planeswalkers

  • by Frank Lepore
    Feature Match: Round 13
    "The Veteran and the Newcomer"
    Billy Postlethwait vs. Alex Bertoncini

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Sunday, 1:00 p.m.:
    Top Tables, Round 13

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 12
    Gavin Verhey vs. Willy Edel

  • by Frank Lepore
    Sunday, 11:49 a.m.:
    What To Do, What To Do?

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Deck Tech:
    Texas (Deck) Tech

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Feature Match: Round 11
    "18 Grand Prix Top 8s"
    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Yuuya Watanabe

  • by Bill Stark
    Sunday, 10:30 a.m.:
    X-Owen

  • by Frank Lepore
    Feature Match: Round 10
    "Of Birds and Snakes"
    Owen Turtenwald vs. Korey McDuffie

  • by Frank Lepore
    Day 2:
    Metagame Breakdown

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Deck Lists:
    Day 1 Undefeated Decks

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Coverage: Feature Matches, Decks, and Blogs from day 1!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

 

  • Deck Lists – Day 1 Undefeated Decks

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Korey McDuffie - Day 1 Undefeated Deck
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed

    Timothy Thomason - Day 1 Undefeated Deck
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed

    Owen Turtenwald - Day 1 Undefeated Deck
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed

    Alex Bertoncini - Day 1 Undefeated Deck
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed

    Matt Nass - Day 1 Undefeated Deck
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed


     

  • Day 2 – Metagame Breakdown

    by Frank Lepore
  • 43 Cawblade
    23 RUG
    14 Valakut
    12 UB Control
    9 Boros
    8 Darkblade
    7 Monored
    4 Eldrazi Green
    3 GW Vengevine
    3 Naya
    2 UW Venser
    1 UW Control
    1 Elves
    1 Chapin’s Grixis Tezzeret Control
    1 Monoblue Architect
    1 Sparkblade
    1 Tezzeret Control
    (Smi77y's "Tezzeret, the Mind Hammer" list)
    1 Vampires
    1 Bant Shaman
    1 Big Red
    1 BUG

    The metagame here in Dallas is quite diverse if not a little top heavy. At that top we have the obvious inclusions of Cawblade and RUG. These are the top dogs right now and they were expected to be represented in full force.

    Following close behind however is our old favorite Valakut. A deck which is still very strong and capable of some monster finishes. After that we have a good showing of UB Control proving that our friend Grave Titan, and good old fashioned removal is still a powerful combination. On par with UB Control in terms of numbers is Monored, proving that simply running out goblins and burning your opponent's face is still perfectly viable.

    The bottom tier highlights a good amount of diversity in the format and teaches us that while Cawblade and RUG are top dog, a near equal number of diverse decks were also successful on Day Two. Everything from Naya, to GW Vengevine, to an innovating Big Red style deck all had successful runs into Day Two.

    While there are still clearly dominant decks in the format, if you're taking these decks into consideration during the deck building process, the format should still allow you to innovate freely!


     

  • Feature Match Round 10: "Of Birds and Snakes" – Owen Turtenwald vs. Korey McDuffie

    by Frank Lepore
  • As the players shuffled up Owen mentioned that he wasn't feeling too hot due to a sore throat this morning. When Korey inquired as to whether he was sick, Owen responded, "My own fault. I was out late last night."

    A simple, "ah," was Korey's response.

    The friendly banter continued as they jokingly discussed how young a lot of the players who were competing these days were.

    Game 1

    Owen won the die roll and was on the play. A first turn Preordain shipped both cards to the bottom as Korey laid a Colonnade. Owen had the dreaded second turn Lotus Cobra though and shipped it back. The Cobra met an Into the Roil before Owen Replayed it, then a land, then an Explore, floated a blue mana, and cast a second Preordain.

    Korey cast his own Preordain, putting both on top then followed with a Stoneforge Mystic. Owen had the Mana Leak and it hit the bin all too quickly. Owen resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, brainstormed, and then cast a second Cobra. Korey was then forced to cast his own Jace, killing both, but Owen had a second! One more brainstorm dug him three cards deeper. The life totals were now 13 Korey to 19 Owen.


    Korey McDuffie

    With four untapped lands, Korey went into the tank. He cast another Stoneforge Mystic and searched up a Sword of Feast and Famine. He then cast a Squadron Hawk, which got three friends, and finally laid his land for the turn. Owen untapped with six lands, two Cobras and a Jace in play. Korey was behind, but had a decent defense for the two snakes, which left Owen deep in the tank. He swung in with both Cobras anyway, and Korey chose to block sending all four creatures to the bin. The board was clear and Owen proceeded to brainstorm again before playing a Precursor Golem.

    Korey played his second and third Hawk and passed back while Owen sent his golem tokens into the red zone in an attempt to avoid Condemn. Korey blocked with one Hawk, and Owen then bounced his own Golem, only to replay it post combat. He now had four tokens and an original golem. Korey played and equipped the Sword of Feast and Famine then attacked with his Hawk. It met a Lightning Bolt but Korey had the Spell Pierce. He untapped his lands and played a Gideon Jura which Owen now had to attack. He did so and Gideon met his untimely demise at the hands of Owen's mechanical minions. The Golem was then bounced and played a third time, leaving Owen with a sizeable seven 3/3s.

    Korey played out his hand of a Mortarpod and his last Hawk, before attacking. He then untapped his lands and cast his second Gideon. Jace was finally killed with the germ token from Mortarpod and the turn was passed. Korey had no cards in hand and was now left at the mercy of his top deck to Owen's golem army. He got in for seven with a Colonnade and his Hawk before inevitably scooping them up.

    Turtenwald – 1, McDuffie – 0

    Game 2

    Korey chose to play first and led off with a tapped Glacial Fortress. Owen led off with a Preordain and kept both on top. But Korey had a Preordain of his own and sent both to the bottom followed by a second Fortress. Owen Explored and took advantage by dropping a Halimar Depths as his second land for the turn. Korey went into the tank before deciding to blow up the Halimar Depths with his Tectonic Edge at the end of Owen's turn. He then cast a Kor Firewalker and passed back. Owen was now without a second blue so he played a Forest and passed back.

    Owen Turtenwald

    Unfortunately Korey missed his fourth land drop and Owen played a Tumble Magnet. A Stoneforge Mystic successfully hit the field for Korey and he found a Mortarpod. Owen cast a Precursor Golem and an army of 3/3s had returned. Korey, still with three lands, sat and thought for a minute seeing he was once again under the gun, er, golem. The Mortarpod hit the board and the turn was passed back. Owen Explored, then Preordained. He sent the two tokens into the red zone, and one was chumped by the germ token which died as it dealt one damage to Owen. It was Korey at 17 and Owen at 15.

    Korey was still light on land, so he was forced to send the golems Into the Roil, unkicked, and clear Owen's side of the field. He got in for three and Owen fell to 12. Owen cast a Cobra on his turn, cracked a fetch land, floated a red mana, then cast Inferno Titan. The Titan killed the Stoneforge, and the third damage to Korey was cancelled by the life gain from the Kor Firewalker. Korey finally found a Preordain and after shipping two to the bottom a land was soon to follow. With an active magnet and an Inferno Titan, it might have been too late…

    Korey cast a second Stoneforge netting a Sword of Feast and Famine then passed it back. Owen Cast a Jace to accompany his other mythics and Brainstormed. Owen played and cracked a fetch land and floated infinite (or two) red mana to pump the Titan twice before attacking. He killed the Mystic and Korey fell to 6. Korey attacked Jace with his Firewalker dropping him to 1 counter before Korey attempted to cast Day of Judgment. The Day was met with a Mana Leak and the Mana Leak was met with a handshake from Korey.

    Turtenwald – 2, McDuffie - 0


     

  • Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – X-Owen

    by Bill Stark
  • Owen Turtenwald

    Four players entered the second day of competition at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth in the enviable position of not having picked up a single loss on Saturday. Their names? Timothy Thomason, Korey McDuffie, Alex Bertoncini, and Owen Turtenwald. Each had a story about their success, but only one had been there before, an astonishing FOUR times before this weekend! That man was Owen Turtenwald.

    Turtenwald, who previously earned a finals appearance at Grand Prix Columbus in 2007 and has a number of additional Top 8s on the Grand Prix circuit, has been playing professionally for years. Cutting his teeth on the same Midwest circuit that has produced names like Bob Maher, Adrian Sullivan, and Brad Nelson, Owen has managed to ace the first day of competition at the following events:

    Grand Prix Columbus

    Grand Prix Minneapolis

    Grand Prix Atlanta

    Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth (this weekend)

    Grand Prix Washington D.C.

    The feat is a truly impressive one, and considering he is presently in third place for the Player of the year race bodes well for him in light of the remainder of the season. But Owen's success yesterday is no guarantee of success today; he has failed to Top 8 after starting out undefeated before. Lucky for the ChannelFireball.com writer, however: he has made the Top 8 with that record far more often!


     

  • Feature Match Round 11: "18 Grand Prix Top 8s" – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Yuuya Watanabe

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Yuuya Watanabe are two of the game's greats and barely need any introduction, but let's give them one anyway. "PV" as Vitor Damo da Rosa is known, is one of the most accomplished pros ever to play the game. He's looking to make his eighth Grand Prix Top 8 to add to what could be a Hall of Fame resume.

    Watanabe, believe it or not, actually has more Grand Prix Top 8s than even PV. With 10 under his belt Watanabe is part of the star-studded Japanese contingent that has routinely dominated formats in the past.

    To add to the intrigue, both players had found success in Texas before, as each of them made Top 8 at Pro Tour Austin, and PV had a Grand Prix Top 8 in Houston.

    Today, Watanabe was sporting a UB Control list full of disruption and card advantage while PV had taken the opposite tact and, like several of his ChannelFireball teammates, had chosen to go aggressive with Boros. Both players were 8-1, and a loss would put them in a precarious position from here on out to secure what would be the 19th Grand Prix Top 8 between the two stars.

    Game 1

    Watanabe won the die roll and started the match as so many others had today, using and Inquisition of Kozilek to take a Goblin Guide from PV. It looked like the Brazilian was leaning heavily on the one drop, as the rest of his hand contained 4 fetchlands, Bonehoard and Koth.

    Watanabe cycled a Spreading Seas on his own Island, since targeting PV's fetchland wouldn't get him very far, and PV found the board on turn two with a Steppe Lynx, finding the early pressure he needed to stay in this game.

    A Preordain showing a land and a Mana Leak gave Watanabe pause before he eventually put both on top. When PV attacked for six with the Lynx the next turn, Watanabe took the damage before using Go for the Throat at the end of the turn, representing Mana Leak to do so.

    Duress took the Koth that had been revealed by Inquisition and showed that PV hadn't drawn much gas, just a Mark of Mutiny to go with his Bonehoard. The Bonehoard met a Mana Leak and Watanabe appeared in complete control of the game as he cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor and left a card on top of PV's library.

    The Jace Brainstorm the next turn was fairly strong, giving the control player access to a Go for the Throat, Stoic Rebuttal and two Mana Leaks. Nothing that allowed him to go on the offensive, but it all but assured PV wouldn't be able to crack his defenses any time soon.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa was left searching for answers after flooding out game one.

    PV played land go for a few turns while Watanabe Brainstormed his way to an insurmountable advantage. Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk were both countered as Watanabe found a Grave Titan. That was all it took to convince PV to scoop up all nine of his lands in play and move on to the next game.

    Watanabe 1 - Vitor Damo da Rosa 0

    Game 2

    On the play this time, PV would get to play any one drops before Watanabe had a chance to rip them from his hand, and that's exactly what he did, dropping Steppe Lynx on the first turn.

    Meanwhile, Watanabe spent several moments considering a one-land hand with a number of spicy one-mana spells in it, including Preordain, Disfigure and Duress, plus Go for the Throat, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Grave Titan. Eventually, he elected to keep on the draw.

    The Lynx was Disfigured before it could receive any landfall bonus, and PV was only able to follow up with a lonely Teetering Peaks before passing the turn.

    Preordain fortunately found Watanabe one of the lands he needed, and PV simply played Geopede, go.

    Another land off the top kept Watanabe flowing, and PV could only attack for one with the Geopede and cast a Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. A weak board, but it likely meant his hand was full of gas.

    Watanabe had some gas of his own, drawing his fourth land off the top and playing a Phyrexian Crusader, a dangerous card for PV's red and white deck.

    Yuuya Watanabe was in complete control against PV.

    Duress revealed Gideon Jura, Koth, Squadron Hawk and two Lightning Bolts. Watanabe strained over the decision despite appearing to be in complete control of the game. He eventually took the Gideon Jura, who could at least divert the Crusader should it ever land.

    Make that Crusaders, as PV was now staring doing a second poison knight with protection from his entire deck, as well as a fifth land off the top for Watanabe. Watanabe attacked for two poison and threatened a two-turn clock with the infect 2/2s.

    PV wasn't done yet, though. He equipped the Plated Geopede with Sword of Feast and Famine and used it to to attack past the knights thanks to the sword granting protection from black, costing Watanabe his Grave Titan. PV used the extra mana to throw both Lightning Bolts at Watanabe's face.

    Jace came down and bounced the equipped Geopede. Without an active sword but it wasn't enough, as the pair of knights simply swung twice and poisoned PV to death.

    Watanabe 2 - Vitor Damo da Rosa 0


     

  • Deck Tech – Texas (Deck) Tech

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • When Texas native Jonathan Job set out to crack the format for Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth, he found the perfect 59 cards to attack an expected Caw-heavy metagame. Then he flipped a coin for the last two slots.

    Yes, two. Job is running 61 cards in his 23-land mono red deck. And he's crushing people left and right. His reason for 61?

    "Well, Gerry T did it," he said, referring to Gerry Thompson, the pro who has had some success as of late with a 61-card Caw Blade deck.

    Even more interesting, those two cards that landed in the deck based on lady luck? Two Destructive Forces that Job has put to good use today.

    The rest of his list reads like a list of cards that have failed to live up to their initial hype. Kargan Dragonlord and Molten-Tail Masticore have seen sporadic play but never really lived up to their billing. Pilgrim's Eye gives some land searching to colors other than green, but has never been adapted outside the occasional Open the Vaults deck in seasons past. Brittle Effigy has been a sideboard also-ran to help red decks deal with Kor Firewalker or as a Trinket Mage target, but hasn't gotten much press since its printing.

    Speaking of Kor Firewalker, Job has managed to put together the odd red deck that actually just doesn't care about the walking Dragon's Claw. Between Effigy, Masticore, Wurmcoil Engine and sideboarded Ratchet Bombs, Job's deck isn't lacking for colorless ways to handle protection from red.

    The real revelation has been Kuldotha Phoenix. A draft bomb, the Phoenix has been relegated to bulk rare status for some time, but the combination of haste, flying and recursion makes it a difficult card for Caw Blade and control decks to beat.

    And Caw Blade was what Job was aiming for. He said Dragonlord, Masticore and Phoenix were all difficult for Caw Blade to deal with, and the fact that he was mono red meant there wasn't a sword around that would have protection from his deck.

    Then there's the light land count. It looks odd, but Job says it works thanks to Chalice and Pilgrim's Eye, which, he said, people don't counter ever despite it being integral to his deck hitting all its drops up through Inferno Titan and Destructive Force.

    Job said the deck matches up well against Caw Blade but has a rough match against Valakut, which he said he simply hoped to dodge till he got to Day 2. The strategy worked as he found himself at 8-3 after 11 rounds. Likely out of contention for Top 8, but certainly in contention for one of the most interesting decks on the weekend.

    Jonathan Job
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011


     

  • Sunday, 11:49 a.m. – What To Do, What To Do?

    by Frank Lepore
  • So you've been thinking about attending a Grand Prix but you're no sure what to do with yourself if you don't make the cut for day two.

    But what else can I do?

    Well I'm glad you asked, Rashad Miller of GGSLive! Make no mistake: at first glance these can seem like deep waters to traverse as you dive into the competitive Magic circuit.

    …but it doesn't have to be so! A little known fact is that in addition to being held in exotic and entertaining locales, every large Magic event - be it a Pro Tour or a Grand Prix - is like a miniature Magic convention and Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth is no exception!

    As we showcased yesterday, we have two artists on hand, John Avon and Steve Argyle for all your card signing and sketching desires. In addition to this we have no less than six major vendors that are both selling and buying Magic cards all weekend. If you're looking for that foil, promo Glory in Hebrew for your Commander deck, odds are you can find one here!

    Why here's ChannelFireball's own Tristan Shaun Gregson wheeling and dealing with the players at Grand Prix Dallas while the other members of Team ChannelFireball battle in the main event! In addition to the artists, and the vendors, and the main event (because why stop there?) there are also tons of side events going on throughout the day! In fact, while the main event came to a close at around 10pm on Day One, the event hall remained open until midnight simply running side events!

    Now you might not be able to read it from here, but this board (and others like it) can be found conveniently placed around the convention hall. Each sheet has a number of events on it along with the times they start and what you'll need to enter. Some examples would be Drafts, Two-Headed Giant tournaments, Commander tournaments (!), and even Standard and Extended Win-A-Box tournaments to name a few. This weekend - as many with Grand Prix often do - also played host to…wait for it…

    A PTQ!

    That's right. If you happened to come shy of the cut off for Day Two in the main event, you're welcome to try and qualify for the Pro Tour one more time during the Pro Tour Qualifier on Sunday.

    If you've been thinking about attending a major tournament in the near future, yet were unsure of how you would occupy your time during your stay, worry no more! You can rest assured that you will not want for entertainment while in attendance at a Grand Prix.


     

  • Feature Match Round 12 – Gavin Verhey vs. Willy Edel

    by Bill Stark
  • One of Brazil's top players, Willy Edel has been a stalwart of the Pro Tour for years. His opponent for the 12th round of competition at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth was up and coming American player Gavin Verhey. Gavin is known as much for his few appearances on the Pro Tour as he is for his community efforts, starting a team to work with fellow up and coming American players that has included names like Ari Lax. The American won the die roll, and the two got underway.

    Game 1

    Both players spent the early turns setting up their late game plans, Gavin's Caw-Blade deck building up its mana with cantrips like Preordain and Willy's Valakut deck building up its mana with Overgrown Battlement. Explore helped the Brazilian further out-mana his opponent, but Gavin cast Stoneforge Mystic to fetch up a Sword of Feast and Famine and gave himself the beginnings of a clock.

    It was enough of the early game, and with access to seven mana Willy Edel began pulling the trigger on his deck's "real" spells. Primeval Titan was countered by a Mana Leak from his opponent, and Verhey fired back by beginning to attack with a Inkmoth Nexus carrying Sword of Feast and Famine. He also used a Tectonic Edge to blow up a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle Willy had played early before finally ending his turn with a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, fatesealing a card to the bottom of Edel's library.

    Gavin Verhey

    Willy fired back with a second Primeval Titan, this one resolving, and called up two more copies of Valakut. He took a second hit from the Nexus with Sword, but cast a third Titan for the game, this time of the Inferno variety. He also had a Khalni Heart Expedition, and an attack with his Primeval Titan that allowed him to finish off his opponent's Jace.

    For a moment, the game looked like it had shifted back into Willy's favor, but Gavin wasn't out of tricks yet. He attacked for a third time with his Inkmoth Nexus, again paying to equip it, then used a Gideon Jura to take out his opponent's Primeval Titan. On nine poison counters, Willy needed a means of killing his opponent's Nexus or he would die to its next attack. Fortunately for him, he still had his Inferno Titan. He used it to attack Gavin, dinging him for 3 with its combat ability. Verhey chumped with Stoneforge Mystic, but post-combat Willy was able to use two copies of Terramorphic Expanse to charge his Khalni Heart Expedition, and his Khalni Heart to fetch up the final Mountains he needed to finish Gavin off.

    The Gideon Jura wasn't enough to save the blue-white player.

    Willy Edel 1, Gavin Verhey 0

    Game 2

    Both players had two-drops for the first plays of the second game, Gavin Verhey in the form of Stoneforge Mystic and Willy Edel in the form of Explore. Each were lynchpin plays for their respective owners, but Edel was better able to take advantage sneaking a Tumble Magnet through his opponent's counters a turn later.

    Gavin used his 1/2's ability to sneak Sword of Feast and Famine to the battlefield as an instant, then began attacking with his Mystic before sticking a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. A second Tumble Magnet joined Willy's side of the battlefield, and he played his first "creature" of the game in the form of a Raging Ravine. Verhey continued using his Jace to make sure his opponent's draw steps were subpar, meanwhile equipping his Stoneforge Mystic with his Sword and putting some real pressure on his opponent's life total.

    With time running out as his opponent's planeswalker inched closer and closer to going ultimate, Willy Edel found himself needing to do SOMETHING. He cast a Primeval Titan in an attempt to do exactly that, but Gavin was ready with Flashfreeze. Having had a card countered, Willy was able to cast Summoning Trap for free, but could only come up with a Lotus Cobra to sneak into play. Still needing a more imposing threat, Willy cast a Green Sun's Zenith a turn later to fetch up Primeval Titan, then used the Titan to get a Valakut and Mountain to knock the Jace down some loyalty.

    Finding himself in the position of needing to push through before momentum slipped from his grasp, Gavin built up an army with Squadron Hawks. The 1/1s weren't enough, however, as his opponent's early Tumble Magnets kept any creature with a Sword attached to it tapped down, and in turn Willy's life total high. That meant the Brazilian had an active Primeval Titan and Valakut and would soon be attacking.

    Willy Edel

    Concerned with that, Gavin cast Day of Judgment to wipe the board. The sorcery dealt with the Titan problem, but cost Gavin all of his own creatures and still left his planeswalker taking hits from his opponent's Raging Ravine. A Celestial Colonnade chumped the opposing creature-land while Gavin worked his Jace to find some help. He landed a Squadron Hawk which picked up Sword of Feast and Famine, then a Stoneforge Mystic to hunt up a second copy of the powerful equipment.

    The second Sword was enough. With twice as many creatures with protection from much of his opponent's deck, Gavin was able to stall the ground, then wear his opponent's Tumble Magnets out before finally beginning to attack with his weenies and creature-lands. That assault quickly dropped the Brazilian's life total in large chunks and after a few turns he was packing it in for the third game.

    Willy Edel 1, Gavin Verhey 1

    Game 3

    With barely any time remaining on the clock, Gavin and Willy got the final game of their match underway. Edel led off with Overgrown Battlement while his opponent had Squadron Hawk, but just three turns into the game head judge Sheldon Menery called time in the round. Gavin's slower blue-white control strategy would be hard pressed to win with only five extra turns, but Willy's Valakut list could potentially combo into the dubya.

    He worked towards exactly that, casting Harrow while his opponent was tapped out, but a Jace, the Mind Sculptor targeted at his library convinced him battling on would be futile.

    "Draw?" The Brazilian pro asked.

    "Sure," Gavin replied, agreeing it would be better than battling futilely.

    Willy Edel 1, Gavin Verhey 1


     

  • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – Top Tables, Round 13

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Now that we're a few rounds into Day 2, it's time once again to check on the top 10 tables see what's hot and what's not as we inch closer and closer to the Top 8. UW Caw Blade has come roaring back to take up nearly half the spots among the top 20 decks, but RUG, led by Own Turtenwald, is making a case for being a slayer of birds.

    Meanwhile, several green decks have made their way into contention. While Valakut is a known quantity, at least one of the Valakut lists is a hybridization of the typical ramp list with an aggro Beastmaster Ascension core that put a number of players onto Day 2. Elves is springing up as well, led by the trio of Fauna Shaman, Vengevine and Lead the Stampede to give control decks fits.

    U/B decks, both the poison and control versions, haven't faired as well today, as even a number of the best in the game have slowly fallen by the wayside. Boros, too, has been putting up some lackluster results, likely due to iffy matchups against RUG and Valakut.

    5 RUG
    9 UW Caw Blade
    1 Green Eldrazi
    2 Valakut
    1 Valakut /Beastmaster Ascension
    2 Elves
     



     

  • Feature Match Round 13: "The Veteran and the Newcomer" – Billy Postlethwait vs. Alex Bertoncini

    by Frank Lepore
  • Billy Postlethwait needs no introduction in the world of collectible card games. With multiple titles to his name and multiple high place finishes across multiple games, he's an experienced veteran in this arena. Alex Bertoncini is an up-and-comer who is currently blazing his own trail on the StarCityGames open series. Both players are looking to add another trophy to their mantle and a win here will get them one step closer to achieving that.

    Game 1

    Billy won the roll and started with a Celestial Colonnade. Alex dropped a Raging Ravine and passed right back. A land from Billy and an Explore from Alex followed. Alex dropped his second land for the turn then cast Preordain. On turn three Alex tried to stick a Lotus Cobra but it was met with a Mana Leak. He then used his remaining two mana to cast Explore and dropped his second land for that turn as well. Billy untapped, cast Preordain, then left both cards on top. He cast a Wall of Omens, laid his land for the turn, then passed.

    Alex tried again for another Cobra. This time it stuck. He cracked his Scalding Tarn, floated a mana, and cast a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Unfortunately for Billy, that also stuck and Alex brainstormed. He completed his turn by playing another Scalding Tarn.

    Alex Bertoncini

    Billy untapped and played his own Jace, killing both, then passed back to Alex, only so Alex could play a second Jace and brainstorm once more. He then played another Scalding Tarn, sacrificed both Tarns, floated some mana, and finally cast an Inferno Titan.

    Billy took his turn and cast Day of Judgment, leaving Alex with an empty board…save for his Jace. Alex brainstormed then activated his Raging Ravine and put it into the red zone dropping Billy to 13 life.

    Billy cast a Tumble Magnet then passed back. Alex brainstormed once more before casting a Precursor Golem and playing a Halimar Depths. Billy cracked an Arid Mesa on his turn, dropping to 12, before attacking Jace, the Mind Sculptor with his Colonnade. Unfortunately Alex had a duo of Lightning Bolts for the Colonnade and it just wasn't meant to be. At six life Billy attempted to cast a second Day of Judgment. Bertoncini had the Mana Leak and that was all she wrote.

    Bertoncini – 1, Postlethwait – 0

    Game 2

    Both players went to six and kept. Billy landed a turn two Wall of Omens, and Alex Explored. On turn three Alex landed an Oracle of Mul Daya, which revealed a Jace, the Mind Sculptor on the top of Alex's library. Billy cast Into the Roil on the Oracle at end of turn, and then cast a Jace on his turn. Unfortunately Billy actually put a Mana Leak into play instead of the Jace, unintentionally revealing it to Bertoncini! Billy fatesealed Alex's Jace to the bottom then Alex replayed the Oracle. Billy brainstormed, played a land, then passed. Alex drew, revealing a precursor Golem on the top which he shuffled away with a Misty Rainforest. He then played a second Misty Rainforest off the top, which now revealed a Preordain.

    Billy Postlethwait

    Alex Activated his Raging Ravine and attacked Jace with both it and his Oracle. Billy activated Tectonic Edge on the Ravine and blocked the Oracle with his Wall. Alex cast a Preordain, choosing to leave the other Preordain on top. Billy brainstormed, then Preordained, shipping both cards to the bottom. Alex then drew the Preordain which revealed an Avenger of Zendikar. He shuffled that away by sacrificing a fetch land only to now reveal an Inferno Titan. He played yet another Preordain, keeping the Inferno Titan. The top revealed a Forest which he played only to once more reveal an Avenger of Zendikar. Whew!

    Alex tried to stick his own Jace. Billy Negated, Alex Mana Leaked, and then Billy Mana Leaked back. Billy then bounced the Oracle with his own Jace, cast Gideon Jura and passed the turn. Alex replayed Oracle for the third time, then another Jace, which finally let to both Jaces biting the dust. Billy Activated the Colonnade along with Gideon and attacked for ten. Gideon got blocked by Oracle and Alex dropped to 12 life. Alex cast his Avenger of Zendikar, but Billy was ready with a Day of Judgment. He then swung with Gideon for another six damage, leaving Alex at a mere six life. A tiny Jace Beleren joined Gideon and drew Billy a card.

    Alex had a second Avenger which made eight baby plants. Billy drew with Jace Beleran, before attacking with Colonnade for four, dropping Alex to two life! Alex had a sizeable army, but they were being provoked by Gideon Jura. With no blockers and no answers for the Colonnade and Gideon it was on to game three.

    Bertoncini – 1, Postlethwait – 1

    Game 3

    Both players kept, and Alex led with a Preordain followed by a Lotus Cobra. Billy laid lands and Alex had a second preordain on turn three, but missed his third land drop! Alex attempted a second Cobra which met a Mana leak from Billy. Alex slow rolled his third land though and played a Misty Rainforest which he cracked to Explore. Billy cast Wall of Omens and passed back. Alex played a Scalding Tarn and tapped three lands to cast a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, still threatening Mana Leak mana thanks to the Lotus Cobra. Billy attempted to Mana Leak, but Alex had a Deprive of his own and the Jace resolved. Alex brainstormed and passed it back.

    Billy cast little Jace Beleren which killed both and passed back to Alex. He swung in with Cobra, which was blocked by the Wall of Omens. Alex then played his Island, floated a red mana, and killed off the wall with a Lightning Bolt. Billy then attempted back to back Jace, the Mind Sculptors, both of which met Mana Leaks. Alex managed to stick an Inferno Titan after that and passed back. Billy cast a Tumble Magnet, but Alex had reserve troops in the form of a Precursor Golem. Billy had a Gideon, but he was still sitting at a precarious six life.

    Billy played Jace Beleran and drew a card. It was not a Day of Judgment and the hand was extended.

    Bertoncini – 2, Postlethwait – 1


     

  • Deck Tech – Grixis Planeswalkers

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Not every great idea works the first time around. Grand Prix are littered with decks that made Day 2, only to falter as the competition got more intense. Sometimes those lists are clever rogue creations that surprised people on their way to a 7-2 record, and sometimes those decks are scrounged up by an enterprising innovator looking for ideas only to be resurrected at a later date.

    There's no telling exactly where Alex Muhich's list will fall on that spectrum, but it's certainly an exciting list to look at. Borne from a desire to play Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and the realization that Koth of the Hammer was, well, Koth, Muhich put together a Tezzeret/Koth deck that didn't attempt to max out on either artifacts or Mountains as the 'walkers might attest.

    On the surface, the list bears some resemblance to the deck Patrick Chapin used to Top 8 Pro Tour Paris, but in practice the addition of Koth and the lack of countermagic changes the deck's dynamics a great deal.

    "Very rarely does Tezzeret go up," Muhich said. "I'd much rather make 4/4s and 5/5s."

    In essence, he uses Koth and Tezzeret to go aggro with undercosted often hasty creatures while Inferno Titan, Slagstorm and Galvanic Blast all do double duty as creature control and direct damage.

    Speaking of which, Inferno Titan, Muhich said, has been the best card in the deck alongside Koth. Both, he said, are tough for Caw Blade to deal with and often spring out of nowhere to take down a Jace.

    Kuldotha Phoenix is a fairly random one-of, but was actually in the deck in greater numbers originally to complement Tezzeret's ability to find artifacts. As that role was scaled down, so was the Phoenix. One still remains as sort of a fourth Koth with flying, but Muhich said he would likely replace it with a Precursor Golem if he had to do it all over again.

    Muhich said he matched up well against Boros and alright against Caw Blade, though the three color versions were better. He said his Valakut and Eldrazi matches were close, and that the UB infect deck was likely bad, though he didn't have much experience against it.

    Muhich's only losses on day one were both to Caw Blade, but the wheels came off in Day 2 when he lost to Dark Blade, GW aggro and Big Mono Red before dropping at 7-5. Still, maybe there's something to be found by combining two of the most aggressive planeswalkers ever to see the battlefield, backed up by burn and Titans.


     

  • Feature Match Round 14 – Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Michael Jacob

    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Round 14, dueling records of 11-2, and a Top 8 on the line between two of the game's best. Grand Prix Denver champion Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. former U.S. National Team member Michael Jacob not only represented a likely opportunity to draw into the elimination rounds, but also offered up a clash between the two decks that had become the focus of the weekend's metagame.

    Jacob was sporting his signature RUG deck that had served him well across a number of major tournaments and was posting strong results for a number of players here in Dallas/Ft. Worth. Vidugiris was running the format-defining UW Caw Blade and took the initiative by winning the die roll and, naturally, electing to play first.

    Game 1

    Vidugiris kept his seven, buffered by two Preordains, while Jacob settled on a six card hand on the draw.

    Both players led with Preordains, but even digging didn't help Jacob find the turn two accelerator that made his deck run. Instead he was content to let Vidugiris dig again with Preordain. Squadron Hawk, however, was Mana Leaked.

    Both players played land, go for a few turns till Jacob confidently tapped out for a Precursor Golem, either not worried about Mana Leak or reading his opponent for lacking one. The Golem resoled and brought some friends. Vidugiris simply played land, go again, but with a Celestial Colonnade active to potentially block the horde of incoming 3/3s.

    Two Golems attacked and Vidugiris did indeed kill one with his Colonnade, giving Jacob the opening he needed to cast Jace and Brainstorm.

    Vidugiris was in a difficult position. Colonnade could kill Jace or shrink the team of Golems if Jacob attacked, but it couldn't do both. He had only two Gideon Juras and Spell Pierce for business, but the Pierce was nearly dead at this point.

    In the end he opted to kill the Jace and leave up two mana, bluffing Mana Leak.

    The two remaining Golems put Vidugiris to 11, and Jacob followed up with a Lotus Cobra, which resolved, allowing Jacob to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor without fear of Mana Leak thanks to a Scalding Tarn. Again, Jacob simply Brainstormed instead of ticking Jace up above Colonnade range, likely realizing Vidugiris could not get anywhere tapping five on each of his turns.

    Still had all these Spell Pierces. You're casting creatures? Oh.

    But Vidugiris did anyway, using Colonnade to kill Jace again before passing one more time, now with three mana at the ready, facing down eight points of attackers. From there, all it took was an Inferno Titan for Vidugiris to concede to lethal damage.

    "Must have had a hand full of Spell Pierces or something," Jacob said, clearly taken aback by Vidugiris' lack of resistance.

    Jacob 1 – Vidugiris 0

    Game 2

    "Four Jace, three land, would you keep that?" Jacob asked, likely a bit rhetorically. It's Jace, after all. Of course you keep it.

    Jacob, the pro that he is, somehow resisted the temptation and found a better six, though he didn't seem pleased.

    Both players led with their respective man lands, and Vidugiris had a Stoneforge Mystic to find Sword of Feast and Famine. Jacob simply Preordained and passed with Raging Ravine open.

    That allowed him to Lightning Bolt the Stoneforge Mystic when Vidugiris played Preordain before making a land drop. Still, Vidugiris used his mana anyway and cast a Squadron Hawk, finding another.

    Jacob Explored on his turn, played a fourth land and passed.

    Meanwhile, Vidugiris' hand was all gas, allowing him the freedom to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor into Jacob's untapped two mana. Jace resolved and Vidugiris began sculpting his hand. Jacob's follow-up was unimpressive, playing just a Lotus Cobra and missing his land drop.

    Oust made life even more miserable for Jacob, sending his only non-land card to the top of his deck. A second Hawk followed and searched up its last two bretheren. After using Jace to Brainstorm, Vidugiris had access to roughly 87 cards, give or take a few. With Jacob land screwed, he didn't need much prompting to move on to game three.

    Jacob 1 – Vidugiris 1

    Game 3

    "Your turn to mulligan, yayyyyy. And I'm on the play, sick," Jacob offered as he finally kept his seven while Vidugiris mulliganed to six. "But you've got Hawks, you'll be ok."

    Once again, Jacob led with Preordain, keeping one of the two. Vidugiris led with a tapped land and tried to Preordain on turn two, but Jacob had the read and Mana Leaked it. Vidugiris was forced to pass without a second land.

    Jacob, not light on lands, Preordained again and cast Lotus Cobra while Vidugiris was forced to sit there and do nothing. Cobra and a fetchland allowed Jacob to play Inferno Titan on turn four. If Vidugiris didn't find some help quickly, he wasn't likely to last long in the face of the angriest Titan.

    Michael Jacob's counting skills came in handy. How much mana does it take to kill someone with an Inferno Titan?

    He did find a land, which was step one, but nothing in his hand offered up any kind of resistance to the 6/6. He simply made Mortarpod and killed the Lotus Cobra.

    "Snake down," said Jacob, likely so far ahead it didn't matter.

    Another Cobra, another fetchland, and a bunch of red mana run through the Inferno Titan took 12 life from Vidugiris and ended the game in a hurry. With strong tiebreakers, Jacob's chances of drawing into the Top 8 with his pet RUG deck looked good. Vidugiris would likely be on the outside looking in after picking up a third loss.

    Jacob 2 – Vidugiris 1


     

  • Deck Tech – Aggro Valakut with Justin Corbett

    by Bill Stark
  • Native Texan Justin Corbett has been playing Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle since it first came off the presses. He has made the Top 8 of events like StarCityGames.com Standard Opens playing the card, and for a Grand Prix in his home state he knew he wanted to continue innovating with his pet land. After tinkering and tinkering, however, the deck he came up with wound up using the Valakut as a support card instead of the main act. The deck? Aggro Valakut.

    Justin Corbett - Aggro Valakut
    Grand Prix-Dallas 2011 Standard Constructed

    Justin worked on the deck mostly on his own prior to the event, but credited friend Casey Stewart with also helping him make card choices. He considers most of the format's aggro decks favorable (Goblins, Monored, Boros, Elves, and Vampires) as well as Caw-Blade, the format's number one archetype. The reason? Hero of Oxid Ridge. The powerful rare, which Justin feels is well positioned in the current world of Standard, works wonders against the deck's numerous 1/X creatures, relegating Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk alike to the sidelines when it comes to the red zone. Of course, the fact that the powerful creature combos well with Bestial Menace means Aggro Valakut can kill an opponent as quickly as the fourth turn.

    Speaking of Bestial Menace, how did that card come to be included in the list? As a means of easing sideboard space! Originally Justin and his co-conspirators were looking for a means of thinning the sideboard of Acidic Slime and Obstinate Baloth. By putting Bestial Menace in the maindeck they gave themselves a powerful spell against aggressive decks, freeing up their sideboard of the Baloths without shaving win percentage points against red decks. As a bonus, the sorcery works powerfully well with the Hero allowing them to put a serious hurt on their opponent thanks to battle cry.

    As for the bad matchups? In an ironic twist more traditional builds of Valakut, Justin's traditional deck choice for events, is a challenge. RUG Control decks are also troublesome, though the Texan conceded that his opponents' threats and removal made the difference. Lighting Bolt for Hero of Oxid Ridge was a particular problem while decks running Avenger of Zendikar or Frost Titan as their win condition were essentially immune to the deck's sideboard plan of Mark of Mutiny.

    Justin was happy to have played the deck on the weekend and would do it again if he had the chance. You can't argue with the deck's numbers, after all: of the six players playing the deck, FIVE of them made Day 2! Unfortunately for Justin, the player who had created the deck, the person who hadn't made the cut was, naturally, the deck's builder. "I don't regret playing it. I'd play it again!"


     

  • Feature Match Round 15 - Matt Nass vs. Gaurav Gaitonde

    by Bill Stark
  • It was the final round of the afternoon, and the tie break math was helping to determine who would be playing for the hopes of competing in the Top 8. After Orrin Beasley and Jesse Hampton took a potentially ill-advised draw, 34-pointers Matt Nass and Gaurav Gaitonde opted to play in the feature match area. The two had three points fewer than the field leaders, but a win would allow them to potentially overtake the 36-pointers who were taking ill-advised draws. It was all business for Gaitonde and Nass as they quietly shuffled for the match.

    Game 1

    It was a Caw-Blade mirror, and both players had white weenie creatures for their second turn: Nass in the form of Stoneforge Mystic and Gaitonde in the form of Squadron Hawk. The Hawks gave Gaurav plenty of blocker ammunition, but his opponent's Sword of Feast and Famine gave Nass the early lead. A Squadron Hawk of his own meant Matt was able to push further ahead in the game, out to an early lead overall in the match.

    Matt Nass

    Carrying the Sword, the Mystic crashed in turn after turn with Squadron Hawks helping. The team slowly ground Gaurav out of chump blockers, and under the gun he attempted a desperation Sun Titan. His opponent was ready with a Mana Leak and continued pressuring, turning what would normally be a drawn out mirror match into a rout. When Gaitonde attempted a final desperate play, a Gideon Jura, Nass was ready with Spell Pierce to send the match to the second game.

    Matt Nass 1, Gaurav Gaitonde 0

    Game 2

    The second game started out exactly as the first had with Gaurav casting a second-turn Squadron Hawk while his opponent cast Stoneforge Mystic to hunt up Sword of Feast and Famine. Worried about falling under the pressure of his opponent's equipment for the second time in the match, Gaitonde cast as many Hawks as he could to race. When his opponent finally suited up his Mystic and turned it sideways, Gaurav even had a surprise waiting: Condemn to take his opponent's sole creature out.

    That tilted things in favor of Gaitonde's version of the Caw-Blade deck, and when he followed up the removal spell with a Sword of Feast and Famine of his own it looked like he might be evening up the score. Nass wasn't going down without putting up a fight, however, and he battled back by using an Inkmoth Nexus to pick his Sword up, connecting first and forcing his opponent to discard a card. He also got to untap his lands and used the extra mana to cast Preordain and Jace Beleren. In exchange he had to absorb a return hit from his opponent's copy of the equipment, but his game state was looking better than it had during the rest of the game.

    Gaurav Gaitonde

    More Squadron Hawks hit the battlefield for Gaitonde, but Matt quickly found his own copy of the 1/1 and used it to flood the field with even more of the flyers. It became a battle as the two players worked to sneak any creature through the red zone that was wearing Sword of Feast and Famine. An attempt at Gideon Jura by Matt Nass was countered by his opponent, who then successfully resolved his own planeswalker: Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

    A second attempt at Gideon Jura resolved for Californian Matt Nass, but it was quickly destroyed as Gaurav cast his own copy of the planeswalker. That meant his opponent's Jace was able to run wild, but Matt carefully crafted a lead on creatures. A second Sword of Feast and Famine further helped his cause and Gaitonde began brainstorming with Jace and using Preordain to try to dig for some answers. When that didn't work, he lost the Jace to a hit from a Inkmoth Nexus carrying Sword. That cleared the way for Matt Nass to cast his own copy of the powerful blue card, and all of a sudden he was leading on the card count as well as the creature count.

    With his library under assault from his opponent's Jace, Gaurav managed to rip a Jace Beleren to blow both up; a lucky draw indeed considering Matt had forced him to put the previous top card on the bottom of his library. It was the last real action Gaitonde would have, however, as the game from that point slipped from his grasp. His opponent's double Sword proved too much for his creatures to handle and the powerful equipments overwhelmed his resources handing Matt Nass the win and a shot at possibly playing in the Top 8.

    Matt Nass 2, Gaurav Gaitonde 0

     

  • Sunday, 3:45 p.m. – Metagame Breakdown

    by Frank Lepore
  • 43 Cawblade
    23 RUG
    14 Valakut
    12 UB Control
    9 Boros
    8 Darkblade
    7 Monored
    4 Eldrazi Green
    3 GW Vengevine
    3 Naya
    2 UW Venser
    1 UW Control
    1 Elves
    1 Chapin’s Grixis Tezzeret Control
    1 Monoblue Architect
    1 Sparkblade
    1 Tezzeret Control (Smi77y’s “Tezzeret, the Mind Hammer” list)
    1 Vampires
    1 Bant Shaman
    1 Big Red
    1 BU

    The metagame here in Dallas is quite diverse if not a little top heavy. At that top we have the obvious inclusions of Cawblade and RUG. These are the top dogs right now and they were expected to be represented in full force.

    Following close behind however is our old favorite Valakut. A deck which is still very strong and capable of some monster finishes. After that we have a good showing of UB Control proving that our friend Grave Titan, and good old fashioned removal is still a powerful combination. On par with UB Control in terms of numbers is Monored, proving that simply running out goblins and burning your opponent's face is still perfectly viable.

    The bottom tier highlights a good amount of diversity in the format and teaches us that while Cawblade and RUG are top dog, a near equal number of diverse decks were also successful on Day Two. Everything from Naya, to GW Vengevine, to an innovating Big Red style deck all had successful runs into Day Two.

    While there are still clearly dominant decks in the format, if you're taking these decks into consideration during the deck building process, the format should still allow you to innovate freely!

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