gpden11

Vidugiris Victorious in Denver

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Grand Prix Denver 2011 is in the books! The largest Magic event ever held in Colorado, 841 players showed up to battle this weekend. Many of the game's biggest names were here, fresh from Magic Weekend Paris just one week prior. In the hunt for the trophy? Colorado's own Conley Woods, Japanese superstars Shuhei Nakamura and Yuuya Watanabe, and big American names like Luis Scott-Vargas, Ben Stark, and Brad Nelson. One name that surprised many, however, was Paul Cheon.

The American had taken something of a sabbatical from professional Magic due to career constraints, but with some vacation time he found himself freed up to compete in Denver. And compete he did! He ripped off an undefeated record on the first day of competition, then continued dominating Day 2. By the time the smoke cleared he found himself competing in the Top 8 at his very first competitive event back!

But it was not to be for Paul, who was felled in the Quarterfinals in two short games by Owen Turtenwald. Owen in turn was felled by Martin Juza and that set up a Finals between the European star and American (and pseudo-Lithuanian) Gaudenis Vidugiris. With a dozen Grand Prix Top 8s between the two, it was certainly a seasoned Finals, and the pair made a show of things for the crowd. Ultimately, however, Vidugiris emerged victorious.

Congratulations to Gaudenis Vidugiris, your 2011 Grand Prix Denver champion!



Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Eduardo Dos
Santos Vieira
  Eduardo Dos
Santos Vieira, 2-0
       
8 James Zornes   Gaudenis Vidugiris, 2-1
       
4 Thomas Pannell   Gaudenis Vidugiris, 2-0   Gaudenis Vidugiris, 2-1
5 Gaudenis Vidugiris    
       
2 Martin Juza   Martin Juza, 2-1
7 Brian Kibler   Martin Juza, 2-1
       
3 Paul Cheon   Owen Turtenwald, 2-0
6 Owen Turtenwald    


Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Denver at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller and Robert Martin.
EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match:
    Martin Juza vs. Gaudenis Vidugiris

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals:
    Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Eduardo dos Santos Vieira

  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinals:
    Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Thomas Pannell

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    James Zornes vs. Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Paul Cheon vs. Owen Turtenwald

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature:
    The Cards That Made the Day


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Coverage
    Feature Matches, Deck Techs, Blogs from day 2!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Coverage
    Feature Matches, Deck Techs, Blogs from day 1!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Gaudenis Vidugiris $3,500
 2.  Martin Juza $2,300
 3.  Owen Turtenwald $1,500
 4.  Eduardo Dos Sa Vieira $1,500
 5.  Thomas Pannell $1,000
 6.  Paul Cheon $1,000
 7.  James Zornes $1,000
 8.  Brian Kibler $1,000
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  • Feature – The Cards That Made the Day

    by Bill Stark
  • Grand Prix Denver 2011 is in the books, but the cards that defined it will live forever. With the release of Mirrodin Besieged relatively fresh in the eyes of the Magic world there was plenty of room for finding new strategies at the event. These are some of the key cards that helped shape up the tournament here in Denver.


    Though it may simply be a common, Fangren Marauder has caught fire as the top "dinosaur" for the popular draft archetype of the same name. Its beefy 5/5 body and the fact it is not an artifact means most of the removal spells in the format don't affect it. It is almost impossible to effectively chump as well netting its owner 5 life each time a lowly Myr steps in front of it to save its owner a 5 point swing. The most enterprising players have even found ways to blow up their own artifacts profitably (see the next card in this list) to gain life from the Marauder and pump their Molder Beasts from Scars of Mirrodin. No less a player than Luis Scott-Vargas called the Dinosaurs archetype one of his favorite to draft.



    While it may seem innocuous at first, Ichor Wellspring has been a key factor in Denver due to the number of archetypes it has spawned. Many a player has been seen greedily hording every copy they can get to blow up with Kuldotha Rebirth or sacrifice to Barrage Ogre. In fact, the card was a key component of Top 8 competitor Eduardo dos Santos Vieira's deck. By blowing it up with Creeping Corrosion in his Quarterfinals match against James Zornes he was able to swing for lethal with his Molder Beast. When asked what archetype he preferred to draft at the event, Pro Tour star Pat Chapin immediately replied, "Ichor Wellspring, the deck."



    Though it is a rare, Massacre Wurm was the most sought after Sealed Deck inclusion on Saturday. Numerous pros cited it as the most powerful bomb in the format because of its ability to win games that no other card could. The fact that it is beefy (6/5) and black means it shrugs off nearly all removal in the format, and like Fangren Marauder it is difficult to effectively chump block. Unlock the Marauder, however, when you trade your creatures for the Massacre Wurm you take damage rather than giving your opponent life. Though the card is not perfect (black's reliance on infect creatures being at odds with the damage infliction ability of the bomb is one criticism) it definitely defined the weekend as the card the most players wanted to open in their Sealed pools.



    Germ

    The status of a Germ token as a card may be up for debate, but the impact of the living equipment here in Denver is not; throughout the weekend in both Sealed and Draft players clamored to play with the best these new cards had to offer. If you were lucky you managed to get yourself the bombtastic Bonehoard, dominating the red zone until your opponent could kill the Germ only to reequip to a different creature. But you didn't have to have a bomb living equipment to get value; Skinwing, Strandwalker, and Flayer Husk were very popular inclusions. The utility of a creature that effectively sticks around after death to continue supporting the rest of your team was not lost on players as they learn how to utilize all Mirrodin Besieged has to offer. It may be a 0/0, but in Denver the Germ token was a force to be reckoned with.



    A blast from Invasion's past, Phyrexian Rager is back in Mirrodin Besiged and players are giving it the respect it deserves. A Gray Ogre that replaces itself, even for a life, is no small thing and as it did during its first run in the Magic world, the 2/2 is back on top in Scars Limited. Being able to trade for an opponent's creature without costing its controller a card, the 2/2 deserves the respect it is getting. This is particularly true in a world where 1/1s with infect can whittle down a 2/2 in a way unseen the first time the Rager saw play.



    After an impressive weekend here at Grand Prix Denver, those are your top five cards from the event!


     

  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Name: James Zornes
    Age: 28
    Profession: Magic Online
    Hometown: Benton, AR
    PT Experience: Pro Tour Valencia, Pro Tour Honolulu 2009
    GP Experience: Grand Prix San Francisco 9th, lots of Top 64s
    Record in Sealed: 8-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 1-0-2
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Mortarpod! Solid card that can end well. Carnifex Demon; it's hard to kill. Most spells can't remove it.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? Infect was picked in one because there's not as much good stuff in the new set so pack two and three went well.
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged? There's nothing good. I hope to pass all the commons I open.


    Name: Martin Juza
    Age: 23
    Profession: Tourist
    Hometown: Plzen, Czech Republic
    PT Experience: 2 Top 8s
    GP Experience: 7 Grand Prix Top 8s in the last 19 Limited Grand Prixs
    Record in Sealed: 9-0
    Record in Draft 1: 1-2
    Record in Draft 2: 2-0-1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and Myr Battlesphere because 2 X 10 = 20.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? First I set aside all white poison cards and then just picked one at random from the rest.
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged? I honestly don't even know.


    Name: Owen Turtenwald
    Age: 21
    Profession: Writer for ChannelFireball.com
    Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
    PT Experience: 1 Top 16, multiple Top 32
    GP Experience: 5 Grand Prix Top 8
    Record in Sealed: 8-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 1-1-1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? Viridian Corrupter, Spine of Ish Sah
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? Got passed Treasure Mage...
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged?Hexplate Golem


    Name: Brian Kibler
    Age: 30
    Profession: Gamer/game designer
    Hometown: Oceanside, CA
    PT Experience: 4 Pro Tour Top 8s, 1 win
    GP Experience: 11 Grand Prix Top 8s, 3 wins
    Record in Sealed: 7-2
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 2-0-1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Volition Reins, Into the Core, Slagstorm; I played a very removal heavy controlling deck that could handle opposing bombs.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? I prefer control decks in this format. In the first draft I first-picked Spine of Ish Sah and built my deck around it. In the second I read that blue was open and jumped in and ended up with an excellent deck.
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged?Blightwidow, Burn the Impure, and Spread the Sickness.


    Name: Paul Cheon
    Age: 25
    Profession: Trader
    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
    PT Experience: five years?
    GP Experience: six years?
    Record in Sealed: 9-0
    Record in Draft 1: 2-0-1
    Record in Draft 2: 1-1-1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Red Sun's Zenith and Contagion Engine. I don't think I really need to explain why.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? Take the best cards and hope for the best. Open Massacre Wurm (didn't happen, but saving it for the Top 8!).
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged? I don't know the new set by name but Spread the Sickness and Burn the Impure are cool. I also really like the Fangren Marauder.


    Name: Eduardo dos Santos Vieira
    Age: 21
    Profession: Magic player and country dancer
    Hometown: Landrina, Brazil
    PT Experience: 3 PTs played (Austin, Chiba, and Paris), Magic Online Player of the Year as L1XO
    GP Experience: Some, and 3rd at Brazilian Nationals in 2010
    Record in Sealed: 7-1-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 2-1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Myr Battlesphere. The card won every single match for me.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? Pick one, pass thirteen. Then pick another and it goes like this until the last card.
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged?Burn the Impure. It cleans the infected ones.


    Name: Thomas Pannell
    Age: 30
    Profession: PlusEVGames.com
    Hometown: Atlanta, GA
    PT Experience: None
    GP Experience: Some Day 2s
    Record in Sealed: 8-1
    Record in Draft 1: 2-1
    Record in Draft 2: 3-0
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Elspeth, Wurmcoil Engine, Phyrexian Rebirth, Turn to Slag.
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? Stay open to what is coming.
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged? Have never first picked a common in this format, so I would to keep that going...


    Name: Gaudenis Vidugiris
    Age: 26
    Profession: Lawyer
    Hometown: Madison/New York
    PT Experience: Since Yokohama, minus Los Angeles
    GP Experience: 1 win (GP Tampa), 3 other Top 8s in Nagoya, Indy, and Hannover
    Record in Sealed: 9-0
    Record in Draft 1: 2-0-1
    Record in Draft 2: 1-0-2
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Contagion Engine, it killed all of their guys, and then killed them. Once, used it to win a game with zero cards in my library!
    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? "Take the best card," –Mike Hron
    What commons are you most hoping to open from Mirrodin Besieged?Spread the Sickness.


     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  •  

  • Quarterfinal – Quarterfinals Paul Cheon vs. Owen Turtenwald

    by Bill Stark
  • After a brief retirement from the game, former Pro Tour standout Paul Cheon returned to the Grand Prix circuit in Denver for the first time in years. How had the weekend treated him? Well, he found himself in the Top 8 of the event squaring off against Owen Turtenwald with the Semifinals on the line. Turtenwald had been having quite a weekend himself. He continued his undefeated streak in professional Scars of Mirrodin/Mirrodin Besieged draft, "losing" only for conceding to Cheon to get him into the Top 8.

    Game 1

    Both players started the game with two-drops, Owen on Plague Stinger and Paul on Phyrexian Revoker. "This is the worst card to play for me," Paul whined, having to name a card for his Pithing Needle with wheels and suffering from some unfamiliarity with the format. He settled on Darksteel Axe.

    "That's ambitious, naming an uncommon," his opponent teased, earning laughs from the bystanders watching their match.

    Owen Turtenwald

    A Rot Wolf from Turtenwald traded for the Revoker only to be replaced by a second copy. Cheon had Vulshok Replica, then Sphere of the Suns but was taking a beating from the Plague Stinger. In an effort to stem additional bleeding, he blocked the second Rot Wolf with his Replica.

    The Phyrexian horde kept coming for Owen, who happily traded his threats for his opponent's while reloading with Carrion Call, Phyrexian Digester, and Blight Mamba. Paul cast Flameborn Hellion but had to begin attacking with it after a turn and couldn't block effectively. It was too much for the returning pro, who succumbed to the infectious menace of Turtenwald's poison deck.

    Owen Turtenwald 1, Paul Cheon 0

    Game 2

    The first creature of the second game was an infect monster, but surprisingly it was on Paul Cheon's side of the battlefield, not his opponent's. The card in question? Necropede, a powerful blocker that could potentially two-for-one Owen's small forces. Turtenwald paid no mind, however, running out Ichorclaw Myr and Blight Mamba despite the 1/1 infecter, then trading the Mamba for a Vulshok Replica from Paul.

    With the game paced much more favorably for Cheon this time, he had room to cast Trigon of Corruption. The artifact's -1/-1 counters were powerful against his opponent's tiny forces, and Owen couldn't have been happy with the turn of events. He tried to work around the counters by overloading the table, casting Carrion Call and Contagious Nim, then using a Skinrender to take out an opposing Saberclaw Golem.

    Paul Cheon

    Still, the Trigon went to town, slowly mowing Owen's creatures down one by one. A Copper Carapace allowed Turtenwald to be aggressive with his Contagious Nim, and he managed to grind Paul down to no blockers with the Nim on two -1/-1 counters from Necropede and a Skinrender. Paul was a bit flooded, but seemed to have stabilized.

    Emphasis on "seemed."

    Owen had different plans. He cast Putrefax and sent his team to the red zone. Cheon checked the numbers and came to a shocking conclusion: the 5/3 haster was actually lethal alongside the Carapace wielding Nim and the poison counters he had already accrued! Did he have an answer in his grip? He did not, revealing a land. Somehow Owen had outlasted the Trigon and dispatched Paul entirely by surprise!

    Owen Turtenwald 2, Paul Cheon 0


     

  • Quarterfinal – James Zornes vs. Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira

    by Bill Stark
  • There were very few non-American players on the second day of competition at Grand Prix Denver, but their rate of success in making the Top 8 was very high. In addition to the Czech Republic's Martin Juza, Brazil's Eduardo dos Santos Vieira also made the cut to the single elimination rounds. The former Brazilian national team member was to square off against America's James "JWay" Zornes, perhaps best known for his Magic Online prowess and challenging the conventional wisdom of 60 card decks (though he was quick to admit his draft deck had the minimum 40 and no extras).

    Game 1

    Neurok Invisimancer was the first creature to the battlefield in the match, hitting play on the third turn for James. Eduardo was close behind with Viridian Emissary, while Zornes had Riddlesmith. A Clone Shell for the Brazilian allowed him to slow his opponent's assault, but he couldn't block the Invisimancer and continued losing life in 2-point chunks.

    Using Riddlesmith, James was able to get ahead in the card count with some additional support from a Moriok Replica. His creatures, while big on utility, were lacking in heft. That meant a Flameborn Hellion from his opponent was a beefy threat, and demanded immediate attention. Myr Propagator and Perilous Myr were his solutions, allowing him to continue beating down with his Invisimancer, slowly building a life advantage.

    Eduardo Dos Santos Vieira

    Eduardo regained advantage with an Alpha Tyrranax, threatening his opponent with not one but two fatties. James couldn't sit back doing nothing, so he traded his team for one of his opponent's fatties and used a Spread the Sickness on the other. When all was said and done James was left with a single Myr Propagator token while his opponent had a Perilous Myr left from his Clone Shell.

    Molder Beast hit for Eduardo, who looked to rebuild after losing most of his threats. James started Propagating as quickly as he could before casting Spire Serpent. The 5/5 was perfect for blocking his opponent's fatty, but Eduardo had a trick: Creeping Corrosion. The powerful sorcery was set to pump his Beast to gigantic proportions. On the table were two Myr Propagator tokens, his own Perilous Myr, and an Ichor Wellspring he had cast much earlier in the game.

    The play drew a pause from James who considered his options. He responded by tapping some mana and making some calculations, but after moving back and forth between the cards in his hand and the three mana he had untapped he decided to concede to the lethal Beast.

    Eduard dos Santos Vieira 1, James Zornes 0

    Game 2

    The second game started with a Mirran Spy for James Zornes while his opponent fooled around with an Iron Myr and Ichor Wellspring. The two artifacts would have been very powerful had they been cast across the battlefield as James had managed to find his Riddlesmith for the second game in a row, but lacked the artifacts with which to abuse it. Instead, he had to watch disappointedly as his opponent cast Tangle Angler, threatening to Lure the 2/1 to an early demise.

    The 1/5 moved to the red zone with exactly that plan in mind, but James was ready. He cast Quicksilver Geyser to bounce the infect creature as well as his opponent's Iron Myr, protecting his 'Smith for the moment. Eduardo recast his Angler and managed to deal with the Riddlesmith on his second try. He then cast Ogre Resister and developed a big lead on the battlefield. Trying to keep up Zornes cast Viridian Claw and continued attacking with his Mirran Spy.

    James Zornes

    Unfortunately for the American, his (now) 2/4 flyer wasn't as fast as his opponent's clock. He needed an answer and finally managed to come up with one in the form of Bonds of Quicksilver. The enchantment wasn't good enough, however, as his opponent parried with Sylvok Replica to destroy it, going back on the assault with his 4/3 Resister. When a Flameborn Hellion joined the team, it looked like James' run at the Grand Prix was over.

    It took two attacks, but with Tangle Angler preventing Zornes from blocking the combination of the 5/4 and the 4/3 were indeed too much for him to handle and Eduardo dos Santos Vieira moved on to the Semifinals.

    Eduardo dos Santos Vieira 2, James Zornes 0


     

  • Quarterfinals – Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Thomas Pannell

    by Nate Price
  • Game 1

    Both players shuffled in relative silence as they prepared for the first elimination match of the Top 8. Pannell won the die roll and chose to defer to Vidugiris. The pace of the early game was decidedly slow. A second-turn Riddlesmith from Pannell was immediately dealt with by a Galvanic Bolt. After that, Vidugiris's Vulshok Heartstoker sat staring down Pannell's Neurok Replica while Vidugiris searched for a fourth land. Pannell showed the core of his deck when he added a Furnace Celebration to his side of the board, followed by a Rust Tick. Vidugiris played a Phyrexian Revoker and named Furnace Celebration, attempting to stop the party before it started, but Pannell informed him that the fun police couldn't shut that party down.

    Still stuck on three lands, Vidugiris was struggling to get anything going. Fortunately, Pannell wasn't doing a whole lot either. That all changed when he aimed a Volition Reins at Vidugiris's lone Swamp. Vidugiris replaced it and passed the turn. Pannell dealt with this replacement with a Spine of Ish Sah. Vidugiris found yet another. A Phyrexian Rager on his next turn allowed him to draw into another Mountain, bringing him up to four lands.

    Before Vidugiris could have a celebration of his own, Pannell returned his Spine of Ish Sah to his hand with Disperse. It came down on the following turn to once again deny Vidugiris of his black mana. Once again, Vidugiris's deck provided him with a replacement. With his brand new access to four mana, Vidugiris added a Dross Ripper to his team. Pannell made sure to keep it locked down every turn with his Rust Tick, denying Vidugiris the chance to attack.

    With his defense set up, Pannell made a Sky-Eel School to bring the party to Vidugiris. Vidugiris's deck once again helped him out, providing the fifth land needed to kill the Eels with Turn to Slag. Pannell had a fairly large army of fairly tiny men after using a Trinket Mage to fetch a Memnite. He had yet to find a sacrifice outlet to get his Spine and Celebration cycling, so he spent a lot of time drawing his card and saying go. His inability to attack with his miniscule men gave Vidugiris a chance, turn by turn, to crawl back into the game.


    Despite being denied his Swamps, Vidugiris didn't lie down.

    To match Pannell's Spine of Ish Sah, Vidugiris had a Vindicate of his own—Argentum Armor. The incredibly expensive to use equipment was picked up by the Phyrexian Rager. In response to Vidugiris attempting to equip it, Pannell used his Replica to return the Dross Ripper to Vidugiris's hand, killing the Rager with Furnace Celebration in the process. Vidugiris just untapped and equipped it to his Heartstoker, the only other creature he had that couldn't be controlled by Rust Tick. With those creatures out of the way, Pannell could tap down the Revoker at the end of Vidugiris's turn, clearing the way for him to attack for three.

    Vidugiris's next play provided him an interesting way to keep the Rust Tick's attention. Prototype Portal came down, imprinting itself with a Perilous Myr. Pannell immediately tapped it with his Tick, forcing Vidugiris to make a token right away. Pannell chose to keep it tapped with his Tick, leaving himself vulnerable to the Armor. Vidugiris equipped his Revoker on the following turn and attacked, with no opposition from Pannell. Vidugiris smartly destroyed the Rust Tick that was locking down his Prototype Portal. Pannell absorbed the damage with a Darksteel Myr, but the damage to his board was unavoidable.

    Pannell was on the ropes now. He put a Bladed Pinions on his Trinket Mage and attaked, dropping Vidugiris to fourteen. Vidugiris was in complete control now, using his Argentum Armor to ground the Mage. The Dross Ripper reappeared after combat, giving him yet one more creature to attack with. All Pannell could do was draw his card and pass the turn.

    Piece by piece, Argentum Armor dismantled Pannell's board. His early game strategy of attacking Vidugiris's lands hadn't panned out as well as he'd hoped. He had the disruption to pull it off, but not the aggression to back it up. Now, despite starting in a terrible hole, Vidugiris was on the verge of coming back to take the first game. For every permanent that went to Pannell's graveyard, another couple points of damage brought him that much closer to sweet surrender. Far too late, Pannell's deck finally provided him with the Rusted Slasher he needed to get his engine rolling. Despite being unable to stop the Furnace Celebration, the fun police brought back the riot shield and put an end to it permanently.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 1 – Thomas Pannell 0

    Game 2

    "I really thought I was going to win when I stole your third land and then killed the next," Pannell grieved with a shake of the head.

    The players set up their boards in the early game. Vidugiris made a Phyrexian Rager, while Pannell had a card-drawing engine of his own with a Riddlesmith. His Rust Tick upgraded the Furnace Celebration in his hand. Clearly he was going with a different plan this game. Vidugiris sent his Rager into attack, and Pannell blocked it with his Rust Tick, allowing Vidugiris to clear his board with an Arc Trail. Pannell played a Serum Raker to get something going, but Vidugiris denied him the chance with a Galvanic Blast.

    The Rager crashed through unabated. Following in his wake was a Peace Strider, which Pannell immediately stole with a Corrupted Conscience. If Vidugiris wasn't going to let him have nice things, then it was only fair that he deny him the same luxury. Vidugiris replaced his traitorous man with a Phyrexian Revoker, this time choosing a card it can actually stop —Neurok Replica. The Peace Strider Pannell had stolen crashed over for three poison, which Vidugiris gladly took, unafraid of dying to poison against Pannell's blue/red deck. It only hit that once, though, as Vidugiris put an end to it with Turn to Slag.

    Vidugiris had put Pannell to 12 while managing to stay at 22 himself. Pannell stopped Vidugiris's attacks, as well as giving himself a monstrous way to even the life totals, with a Scrapdiver Serpent. When Vidugiris made an Argentum Armor, it looked like this game might end the same way as the last. This time around, Pannell had saved his Volition Reins for this moment, using it to take the Shield for his own. He wasn't the only one with an answer to the Shield. Smash took it out, returning it to its rightful owner, albeit in little pieces.

    Pannell continues his strategy of playing only with his opponent's cards.

    "Enough with Control Magics," Vidugiris said as he put the Armor in his graveyard. "Let's hope you're out."

    With those words, he tapped out to make a Carnifex Demon, which I'm sure Pannell would have loved to take. Instead of simply stealing it, he was forced to use a Blisterstick Shaman and a Burn the Impure to get rid of the Demon before Vidugiris untapped. The resulting attack traded the Shaman for Vidugiris's Rager, leaving just a Revoker in play.

    Both players built and lost guys over the next couple of turns, ending with Vidugiris having a lone Perilous Myr to Pannell's Trinket Mage. The attacks had taken their toll, though, reducing Pannell to one health. Unable to block and kill the Perilous Myr or let it through, Pannell conceded.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 2 – Thomas Pannell 0


     

  • Semifinals – Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Eduardo dos Santos Vieira

    by Bill Stark
  • Game 1

    "I can't talk right now, I have at least one more round to play," a slightly frustrated Gaudenis Vidugiris said into the phone as he prepared for his Grand Prix Denver Semifinals match against Brazil's Eduardo dos Santos Vieira. The American pro had played in numerous Pro Tours and was a former Grand Prix champion, but that didn't stop his loved ones from calling to wish him well when he was in the Top 8. Eduardo smiled at the increasingly frustrated Vidugiris' conversation, which he was struggling to end. Finally the phone was put down and the two got things underway, with Eduardo opting to force his opponent to play first.

    A mulligan to five for Vidiguiris made Eduardo's decision to draw seem prophetic. The mulligans were rough, forcing Gaudenis to miss two land drops to start the game. Santos Vieira didn't pressure him at all passing the first three turns without casting any spells. The first spell he did cast, in fact, was a Shatter after Gaudenis finally found a second land and dropped Perilous Myr. The 1/1 was sent to the grave to clear the way for a Sylvok Replica from the Brazilian.

    Eduardo dos Santos Vieira

    Finding his third land and his second color, black, Gaudenis cast Moriok Reaver. A turn later the 3/2 traded for a Skinwing Germ. Eduardo paused to reference his notes, but Gaudenis intervened. "I don't think you can look at those notes," he said. Table judge Jacob Faturechi paused the game to consult head judge Jeff Morrow, who informed the players they could consult their notes within the match after having been given each other's decklists before starting.

    Note or no notes, Vidugiris was in a tight spot as his opponent cast a Molder Beast with a healthy lead on cards. The 5/3 put on the Skinwing and crashed to the red zone to drop the American to 13. A second attack a turn later brought him to 5. Trying to stay alive Gaudenis used a Spread the Sickness to take out his opponent's Molder Beast, then a Fume Spitter to shrink Sylvok Replica. It wasn't enough, however, as Eduardo was able to re-equip his Skinwing, cast a third artifact for metalcraft, and finish his opponent off with a fully powered Galvanic Blast.

    Eduardo dos Santos Vieira 1, Gaudenis Vidugiris 0

    Game 2

    For the second game in a row Gaudenis Vidugiris was forced to open on a mulligan. Unlike the first, however, he only had to do it once. He got to keep his six cards and opened on Moriok Ravager. His opponent worked on accelerating his mana with Horizon Spellbomb and Iron Myr before casting a Sylvok Replica. He then dispatched the 3/2 Ravager with a Galvanic Blast, but lost his team to a Slagstorm from his opponent.

    Rebuilding his attack force Eduardo cast a Spin Engine before dropping Ichor Wellspring to net himself a free card. His opponent fired back with Peace Strider, trading the 3/3 for the Engine at the first chance he got. The hits kept coming for Eduardo who took advantage of the fact his opponent was stuck on four lands. He cast Alpha Tyrranax and begin hitting for 6 points at a time. A Carapace Forger and Skinwing made his army even bigger and the lonely Dross Ripper his opponent had managed was definitely not going to be enough to cut it.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris

    His tournament life on the line, Vidugiris worked to figure out a plan that could save him. He spent a Panic Spellbomb on his turn to draw an extra card, and found both a land drop and a Wall of Tanglecord. It helped, and he even managed to take out his opponent's Carapace Forger when Eduardo equipped Skinwing to it and attacked; using Crush Gaudenis knocked the 2/2 back to earth and took it out for free with his Ripper.

    That brought the game to about even, and the players began racing. Vidugiris managed to get over his mana stumble and got to six, enough to cast Carnifex Demon. The powerful flyer soon shrunk the rest of the creatures on the battlefield and begin attacking in the air; Eduardo's early lead was beginning to look like it wasn't going to be enough.

    Still, the plucky Brazilian pressed on. Using Shatter and Galvanic Blast he managed to destroy his opponent's Dross Ripper and a Phyrexian Rager, allowing him to get in an attack. That forced his opponent to go back on the defensive, keeping the Demon home despite the fact Vidugiris had a Lumengrid Gargoyle to add to his team.

    The additional flyer, however, was enough to finish Eduardo off. When he couldn't kill either of his opponent's threats with the turn back, the 6/6 Demon and 4/4 Gargoyle evened the match to 1-1.

    Eduardo dos Santos Vieira 1, Gaudenis Vidugiris 1

    Game 3

    Gaudenis led the second game with a Fume Spitter that began getting in on the second turn. When his opponent cast an Iron Myr, however, the two traded. The American followed up with Dross Ripper, then a Painful Quandary. The powerful enchantment drew a pause from Eduardo who leaned in to read it; whether he liked it or not he'd be discarding or losing life for each spell he cast for the rest of the game. In response to the enchantment he used a Shatter to take out Dross Ripper.

    His deck not struggling on mana for the first time in the match, Gaudenis got the chance to show the crowd what his list was made of. His Carnifex Demon returned to the battlefield, followed by Precursor Golem, and his opponent's decidedly mediocre hand of SIX lands and a Galvanic Blast did not look like it was going to do it.

    It wasn't, in fact. After drawing another land Eduardo extended his hand in defeat setting up a Juza/Vidugiris Finals.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 2, Eduardo dos Santos Vieira 1


     

  • Finals – Martin Juza vs. Gaudenis Vidugiris

    by Nate Price
  • Before this final match, both players took the time to scan through each other's decks and sideboards, taking careful notes.

    "So you don't have a single card to sideboard. That's good," Juza said as he thumbed through Vidugiris's deck.

    "Yes. That's unfortunate."

    This match was one of differing deck types. Juza's deck was a beastly blue/white deck featuring more flying creatures than a Hitchcock film. Vidugiris's deck is a slower red/black deck chock full of removal and bombs, part of your complete, balanced breakfast.

    Vidugiris won the roll and chose to go first. Vidugiris chose to throw his initial hand back, but kept his next six cards. Juza had kept his two land hand on the strength of drawing first and having an Origin Spellbomb to cycle. Unfortunately, he was still unable to find a third land, having to settle for a Myrsmith on his third turn. Vidugiris mad a Wall of Tanglecord, which would be unable to stop andy of Juza's fliers, and a Phyrexian Revoker set to Darksteel Axe.

    Juza found a third land on his turn and thought long and hard about his play before making a Kemba's Skyguard. Vidugiris gained his own life with a Peace Strider, taking ground superiority while conceding the air. With a fourth land, Juza was able to get a Myr token from the Necrogen Censer he played on his turn. A Glint Hawk on the following turn replaced the Censer after Juza had used it to melt away Vidugiris's life total.

    Vidugiris was in serious trouble. He was down to fourteen, facing a full Necrogen Censer, two fliers, and an trio of Myr Tokens. He dealt with the Skyguard with a Spread the Sickness, declining to proliferate the Necrogen Censer despite Juza's best efforts to convince him. A second Censer joined the first on the following turn alongside a Leonin Skyhunter. That represented lethal damage on the board. Vidugiris bought himself another turn with a Bleak Coven Vampires, gaining a precious four life.


    Martin Juza: Lord of the Fliers.

    It was all down to this next draw. Vidugiris was at six, facing one Necrogen Censer counter and three fliers. Vidugiris drew his card and then paused for a minute before conceding. Slagstorm had not come to his rescue.

    Martin Juza 1 – Gaudenis Vidugiris 0

    Game 2

    Juza's aerie of fliers posed an incredibly difficult hurdle for Vidugiris's deck to deal with. He had an Arc Trail and Slagstorm to stave off the initial assault, but beyond them, he needed a Carnifex Demon to be able to pull things out should Juza rebuild. He had no way to deal with fliers in his red/black deck besides his removal spells, and Juza had more fliers than Vidugiris had removal spells.

    Vidugiris once again chose to play, respecting the blazing speed of which Juza's deck was capable. Juza had a difficult decision about his opening hand, but eventually chose to keep. Vidugiris got off to a quick start himself this game, going Fume Spitter into Phyrexian Revoker, again choosing to shut off the Axe instead of the Necrogen Censers that killed him in the last game. On his second Juza began playing his fliers, first a Leonin Skyhunter, then a Kemba's Skyguard. Vidugiris killed the Skyhunter with a Galvanic Blast, but he held no answer for the Skyguard.

    While Juza was building his air force, Vidugiris worked on his army. Phyrexian Rager and Moriok Reaver joined his first two creatures and continued the assault, dropping Juza to twelve. A Crush took care of a Glint Hawk Idol while Juza was tapped out, and the bulk of the two armies traded during the next combat.

    Juza's board was clear, and Vidugiris still controlled a Fume Spitter and Revoker. He made a Dross Ripper to add to the pressure, but Juza had a Divine Offering to kill it, nullifying Vidugiris's next attack. Juza tried to get something going with a Gust-Skimmer, but the Fume Spitter that had been beating him in since the second turn took care of it, clearing the way for Vidugiris's Revoker and Peace Strider to knock Juza to six. The next attack took him to one. When Vidugiris dropped a Carnifex Demon into play after combat, Juza sheepishly peeked at his next card before conceding.

    Martin Juza 1 – Gaudenis Vidugiris 1

    Game 3

    That game, Vidugiris's speed, backed with decently timed removal, got the best of Juza.

    "So, Gau, better than skiing," Sam Black called from the crowd amassed around the Feature Match area.

    "Yeah, I guess you could say that. Tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll go skiing. Want to come, Martin," Vidugiris asked? "Wait, you have a flight, don't you."

    "Fortunately, we just made the finals of a Grand Prix. I think I can take care of that."

    Juza's draw was a little slower than his deck was capable of, not playing a creature until his Kemba's Skyguard on turn three. Vidugiris made things a little better for him, though, shaking his head as he dropped a third Mountain into play, followed by a fourth on the next turn. He was clearly hurting for a Swamp. All he had was a Flayer Husk to match Juza's Skyguard, Glint Hawk Idol, and Lumengrid Drake. Juza had thought for a long time before playing the Drake, possibly fearing overcommitting into a Slagstorm. Vidugiris proved him correct in fearing it, clearing the board on the following turn. Juza's Idol was the only "creature" to survive.

    Oops! I found a Slagstorm!

    Juza played a Necrogen Censer on the following turn, turning on his Idol and attacking Vidugiris down to twelve. Things were looking good for Juza until Vidugiris untapped and played a Carnifex Demon.

    "Ugh. That is a good card," Juza sighed, slumping into his chair.

    On the next turn, he activated his Glint Hawk Idol and attacked into the Demon. Confused, Vidugiris checked his notes and blocked. Juza just put the Idol into the graveyard. On his turn, Vidugiris swung another haymaker, playing a Precursor Golem and filling the board. When he swung his team in, Juza had the Divine Offering to kill fifteen power worth of creatures. Even with one bomb gone, Juza was still unable to deal with the Carnifex Demon that was eating him alive. Just a couple more swings and Juza was done, beaten through the very skies he thought he owned.

    "Apparently bombs and removal works when you just draw them," Kibler said from the sidelines.

    With friends gathered around him, one of them said, "How great is this, Gau. First the Packers win the Super Bowl, then you win the Grand Prix."

    "I know," Vidugiris said with an ear-to-ear grin. "This is awesome."

    Gaudenis Vidugiris defeats Martin Juza 2-1 to become to Grand Prix Denver 2011 champion!

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