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Wolfman Darras Breaks the Belgian Curse!

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The full moon shone brightly on Alexandre Darras of Belgium here at Grand Prix Manchester, where 1031 players - a number smashing all previous records - descended on Great Britain to try Innistrad-Dark Ascension Sealed and Draft one last time before the baton is past to the much-anticipated Avacyn Restored.

After crushing all opposition in the Swiss, where he was the last undefeated player in the tournament, Darras drafted a Top 8 special that was packed with cards that really didn't like daylight, and got their freak on when the lunar went loony. In the semifinal in particular, there was a real horror show for his opponent Lasse Norgaard, who simply couldn't contend with so many ferocious throat-rippers, hamstring-tearers, and ankle-biters.

Mario Pascoli, having navigated his way past compatriot Ciro Bonaventura, and then Swedish Pro Joel Larsson in the semifinals, stood in the path of destiny for Darras.

And the curse? From Ben Possemiers at Grand Prix London 1997, through to Marijn Lybaert this weekend, 31 other Belgians had reached the Top 8 of a Grand Prix. None had emerged with the trophy. It would take something truly special to break the curse, and Darras had the something special in his hands. Perhaps this was the harbinger of what Avacyn has in store for the poor afflicted werewolves of Innistrad?

Elsewhere, other dreams were being fulfilled. Adam Katz became the first South African to make a GP Top 8 outside his own country, roared on by avid fans back at home, thousands of miles away. Also across the oceans were fans of Ben Stark, Craig Wescoe, and Jackie Lee, bold travelers from the United States. Lee guaranteed herself Gold Pro status for next season with yet another top 16 finish, while Wescoe will be Platinum next year, and Stark improved his chances of making it in Barcelona. Also making Platinum is Hall of Famer Raphael Levy, who ended a tense run of near-misses with a top 16 that locks his top level status, yet another great achievement in a storied career.

For all that, though, by the light of the moon both literal and figurative, the howling, snarling denizens of Darras would brook no argument in his quest to break the Belgian Top 8 curse. In three games it was shattered once and for all, and Belgium had a Grand Prix hero to stand proudly beside Pro Tour London champion Geoffrey Siron.

It may not have been Werewolves in London, but it was certainly Werewolves in Manchester.

Congratulations to Alexandre Darras, Grand Prix Manchester Champion 2012.




Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
7 Ciro Bonaventura Mario Pascoli 2-0
4 Mario Pascoli Mario Pascoli 2-0
3 Joel Larsson Joel Larsson 2-0 Alexandre Darras 2-1
8 Adam Katz
2 Alexandre Darras Alexandre Darras 2-0
6 Marijn Lybaert Alexandre Darras 2-0
1 Lasse Nørgaard Lasse Nørgaard 2-0
5 Andre Müller









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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Darras, Alexandre $3,500
 2.  Pascoli, Mario $2,300
 3.  Larsson, Joel $1,500
 4.  Nørgaard, Lasse $1,500
 5.  Mueller, Andre $1,000
 6.  Lybaert, Marijn $1,000
 7.  Bonaventura, Ciro $1,000
 8.  Katz, Adam $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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Blue Bracket
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  • Top 8 Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Ciro Bonaventura

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Pescara, Italy
    Occupation: Business man


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Second at GP Amsterdam.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Olivia Voldaren, R/B, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Invisible Stalker, W/U, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bloodgift Demon, U/B, 1-1-1.

    Did you check the spoilers for Avacyn Restored?
    If so, what's your favorite card so far?
    Yes, the new Time Walk with miracle!


    Adam Katz

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    National champion, National Top 4, National Top 8.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Garruk Relentless, W/b/g, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Brimstone Volley, R/G, 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Brimstone Volley, R/B, 2-0-1

    Did you check the spoilers for Avacyn Restored?
    If so, what's your favorite card so far?
    No.




    Lasse Aben Nørgaard

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Aarhus, Denmark
    Occupation: Student/gamer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Winning GP Madrid 2008.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Havengul Lich, B/W/u, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Endless Ranks of the Dead, U/B, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Lingering Souls, U/W/g, 2-0-1.




    Alexandre Darras

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Brussels, Belgium
    Occupation:


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Winning Rich Hagon's game show twice!

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Pyreheart Wolf, W/R, 9-0.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Evil Twin (but didn't get to play it even once), W/B/u, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    U/R, 0-0-3.

    Did you check the spoilers for Avacyn Restored?
    If so, what's your favorite card so far?
    Yes, Restoration Angel.



    Mario Pascoli

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Rome, Italy
    Occupation: Business man


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Second at PT Kuala Lumpur, six GP Top 8s, two-time Italian National champion.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Mayor of Avabruck, R/G/B, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Mayor of Avabruck, U/G, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Gavony Township, G/W, 2-1.

    Did you check the spoilers for Avacyn Restored?
    If so, what's your favorite card so far?
    I didn't.




    Andre Müller

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Bochum, Germany
    Occupation: Business Intelligence Analyst


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    National team 2005, GP Top 8s in Genova 2003 and Stockholm 2007, PT Top 8s in Philadelphia 2006 and Valencia 2007.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Increasing Devotion from the sideboard, U/R, 6-1 plus two byes.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Reaper from the Abyss, U/B, 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bloodgift Demon, U/B, 3-0.




    Joel Larsson

    Age: 20
    Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
    Occupation: Receptionist at a small clinic


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 8 at GP Pittsburgh, Top 8 at GP Prague, Top 16 at GP Paris, 10th at PT Nagoya, Swedish National team [all in 2011].

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Rotting Fensnake, Black Cat, or Ghoulraiser, B/W/r, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?

    Two Delver of Secrets with five ways to flip them?
    U/W fillers, 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Lingering Souls (second pick!), not close. G/W/b, 3-0.




    Marijn Lybaert

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Oilsjyt, Belgium
    Occupation: Engineer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Four PT Top 8s, three GP Top 8s.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, W/G/B, 9-0.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Charmbreaker Devils, G/R, 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Slayer of the Wicked, W/B, 1-0-2.

    Did you check the spoilers for Avacyn Restored?
    If so, what's your favorite card so far?
    Griselbrand.




     

  • Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff



  •  

  • Sunday, 6:54 p.m. - Top 8 Drafting with Marijn Lybaert
    by Frank Karsten

  • Marijn Lybaert is is one of the best Belgian players of all time. He has multiple Pro Tour Top 8 to his name and is no newcomer to the Top 8 of a Limited Grand Prix; for instance, he finished third at Grand Prix Gothenburg 2010. But this time, he's hoping to actually win the entire tournament.

    Pack 1

    Before the players picked up their first booster, everyone got to take a look at the double-faced cards. Marijn revealed Chalice of Life, to his right there was a Scorned Villager, and to his left a Hinterland Hermit. And off to pack one!

    Marijn's draft started off with a choice between Requiem Angel, Blood Feud, Niblis of the Breath, and Wrack with Madness. The 5/5 Angel quickly found its way into Marijn's pile. Next, Marijn took Scorned Villager over Stormbound Geist and Markov Warlord. After the draft, Marijn explained his choice: "Green-White is one of the best color combinations, and I like to signal with the double-faced cards."

    Up next was a booster with Predator Ooze, and this cemented Marijn heavily into green. The fourth booster held a choice between another Scorned Villager and a rather late Tragic Slip. Marijn stayed on course by taking the green card. "I want as much as green as possible in order to play Predator Ooze consistently. Even though Tragic Slip is good, I didn't want to switch into black all of a sudden," Marijn explained after the draft.

    Rounding out the first pack was Young Wolf, Kessig Recluse, Elgaud Inquisitor, Hollowhenge Beast, another Young Wolf, a thirdYoung Wolf, and Skillful Lunge. At this point, Marijn was fairly set on G/W. His neighbor to his left was currently on Blue-Black, while his right neighbor appeared to be going for Red-Black-Blue. Overall, Marijn's color combination appeared to be well-positioned. Off to Innistrad!

    Pack 2

    Marijn opened a booster containing Moldgraf Monstrosity, Murder of Crows, and Thraben Sentry. He took the 8/8 trampler, which he could accelerate into with Moonscarred Werewolf. Next up were a second-pick Prey Upon and a third-pick Mentor of the Meek. The white 2/2 would go very nice with Marijn's trio of Young Wolves. "Young Wolf is borderline playable, but gets much better if you have some synergy to go with it," Marijn clarified after the draft.

    Picks 4-6 gave Thraben Sentry, Spectral Rider, and Voiceless Spirit – decent, but nothing spectacular, and it was likely that the Spectral Rider wouldn't even finds its way into Marijn's maindeck due to the heavy mana requirements imposed by Predator Ooze. When the seventh pack came around, Marijn appeared to be more than happy to pick Travel Preparations; a real gift this late. Rounding out the second pack was Selfless Cathar, Unruly Mob, Doomed Travaler, and Naturalize.

    Pack 3

    During the ceremonial revelation of everyone's double-faced card, Marijn already knew which card he was going to pick: he opened Garruk Relentless! Up next was a Darkthicket Wolf. The next pack had Slayer of the Wicked, which quickly found its way into Marijn's draft pile. Marijn's 4th pack contained Avacyn's Pilgrim and Moment of Heroism. He flipped back and forth between the 1/1 and the pump spell for a while, then went with the combat trick.

    Packs 5-9 were absolutely horrible, exemplified by a 5th pick Spectral Flight. Marijn was not even in blue, but it truly was the best card in the pack. The Divine Reckoning, Grave Bramble, Mask of Avacyn, and Kindercatch that Marijn took in picks 6-9 weren't helping his deck much either. Fortunately, a relatively late 10th pick Ambush Viper and 12th pick Festerhide Boar made up for that.

    Deck construction

    When Marijn arrived at the deck constructed table, I asked him how he thought the draft went. "Ca va", the Belgian replied. "The draft went okay, but the third pack was very shallow. Then again, I still managed to get Garruk Relentless and Slayer of the Wicked out of it, so I shouldn't complain."



     

  • Quarterfinals - Joel Larsson vs. Adam Katz
    by Tobi Henke

  • It's the third Grand Prix Top 8 for Joel Larsson from Sweden. For his opponent from South Africa, Adam Katz, it's the first. As Gold level pro, Larsson is already qualified for all the upcoming Pro Tours, while Katz was now playing for an invite to Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle. Both had drafted blue-red decks, with Larsson's sporting a small splash for black.

    Katz started with two mulligans, Larsson started with Delver of Secrets. Katz had Sensory Deprivation for the Delver and Think Twice to replenish his mulligan-scarred hand. Larsson cast a One-Eyed Scarecrow which was largely irrelevant now, but would turn out to be very important later on.

    Joel Larsson

    Katz cast Havengul Runebinder, Larsson made a Nephalia Seakite at end of turn and bounced the Runebinder with Silent Departure. Katz summoned a Nephalia Seakite of his own, then a Murder of Crows. Larsson summoned Armored Skaab and Hellrider. On his next turn, he flashed back Silent Departure on Murder of Crows and swung with his team, dropping Katz to 9.

    Murder of Crows had its comeback, while Larsson had no follow-up, and had to discontinue his attacks. Katz cast Chant of the Skifsang on Hellrider and replayed his Havengul Runebinder, Larsson summoned a Makeshift Mauler, which Katz, in turn, tapped down with Claustrophobia.

    After Thought Scour into Desperate Ravings, Katz finally managed to get his first creature into his graveyard and promptly exiled it for a Stitched Drake. He also cast a Stormbound Geist and considered an attack, but the threat of a Hellrider-fueled attack still deterred him. Larsson cast his own Murder of Crows, Katz had yet another flier in Tower Geist.

    Larsson's Murder of Crows attacked, was blocked by four creatures, and saved by Undying Evil. Both players' Murders cycled a couple of cards. Katz found Blasphemous Act this way, but was reluctant to cast it. He counted the total number of Larsson's potential attackers (eight, including Hellrider), checked his life total (8), shrugged and went with it anyway. Both players put another thirteen instances of Murder of Crow's triggered ability on the stack. Halfway through resolving them, Katz realized he didn't have enough creatures left in his deck to kill Larsson before running out of cards.,

    Adam Katz 0 – 1 Joel Larsson

    Once again, Larsson started with Delver of Secrets, once again Katz had Sensory Deprivation to prevent it from doing any harm. Larsson summoned Laboratory Maniac and One-Eyed Scarecrow, Katz again had Havengul Runebinder, which again was bounced by Silent Departure.

    Adam Katz

    Next, Katz had a real threat in Beguiler of Wills, but Larsson had Forge Devil at the ready. Katz cast Relentless Skaab off the only creature in his graveyard, and again Larsson had the perfect answer in Grasp of Phantoms. Katz summoned Tower Geist, Larsson summoned Flayer of the Hatebound. The latter two traded and Larsson shot 5 to Katz's head. He picked up the top card of his library, looking for help. No help there.

    Adam Katz 0 – 2 Joel Larsson



     

  • Semifinals - Alexandre Darras vs. Lasse Nørgaard
    by Frank Karsten

  • Alexandre Darras from Belgium and Lasse Nørgaard from Belgium had already met in Round 15, when they took an ID into the Top 8. This time around, a winner had to emerge. They shuffled up their weapons and got down to business.

    Game 1

    Alexandre started with Avacyn's Pilgrim and Ulvenwald Mystics, while Lasse made Torch Fiend and Hanweir Watchkeep on his first couple of turns.

    Alexandre Darras presses on in the first game.

    When Alexandre declined played a spell on his turn, the Ulvenwald Mystics turned into Ulvenwald Primordials and Hanweir Watchkeep turned into Bane of Hanweir. So two 5/5s, both with an ability, but the ability of Alexandres's werewolf clearly trumped the one of Lasse, who had no choice but to suicide his Juggernaut-imitator into Alexandre's regenerator.

    After that, Ambush Viper and Markov Warlord from Alexandre upped the pressure. "I'm not winning this race at all," Lasse mentioned, sitting with a bunch of white cards in hand but no Plains in sight.

    Lasse Norgaard under pressure from werewolves

    When Alexandre added Rage Thrower to his board and immediately turned all of his creatures sideways, Lasse was in big trouble. He tried to remove the dominating 4/2 with Fires of Undeath, but Hunger of the Howlpack from Darras saved it. With Rage Thrower still alive, Lasse could not manage any good blocks, and Alexandre took the first game.

    Alexandre Darras 1 – Lasse Nørgaard 0

    Game 2

    Lasse got to play first, but had no creature to play on any of his first three turns. Alexandre had a more aggressive start with a turn 2 Gatstaf Shepherd. To avoid it from flipping, Lasse had to play a spell. "Geistflame...you! ", Lasse exclaimed, pumping his first in jest. Alexandre's werewolf eventually flipped regardless, as Alexandre did not play a spell on his third turn.

    While Gasthaf Howler was making short work of Lasse's life total, Elgaud Inquisitor and Kessig Recluse entered the battlefield for Lasse and Alexandre, respectively. The 2/3 quickly traded against the 2/2 and a Geistflame flashback.

    Next turn, Ulvenwald Mystics came down for Alexandre. "I don't have fond memories of that guy," Lasse mentioned. "I can see why," Alexandre replied. Nevertheless, Unburial Rites on Elgaud Inquisitor meant that Lasse would be able to stay alive for quite some time, while getting some tiny 1/1 flyers that could start nibbling away at Alexandre's life total.

    As the game progressed, both players continued to add creatures to the battlefield, which became cluttered quite quickly, as pictured.

    The complicated board state in game 2; Lasse on the left, Alexandre to the right

    When Alexandre declined to play a spell, mayhem broke loose. "In your upkeep, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger". All Werewolves flipped to the night side again, and the combat math was getting very complicated. Still, Lasse would be able to make good blocks, so although Alexandre could get in with Gasthaf Howler, he was not yet able to profitably swing all-out with his creatures yet.

    But Alexandre's deck contained cards such as Rage Thrower, Nightbird's Clutches, and Markov Warlord that could break the ground creature stall, and it was only a matter of time until he drew one of them. Alexandre's deck eventually presented Markov Warlord, which allowed the Belgian to attack for lethal damage.

    Markov Warlord allows Darras to break through to the finals

    Alexandre Darras 2 – Lasse Nørgaard 0

    When asked what went wrong during the games, Lasse replied "I didn't draw any of my cheap flashback spells; if I would have, I would've been able to flip his werewolves back". Lasse Nørgaard succumbs to Alexandre's werewolves.

    Alexandre Darras advances to the finals of Grand Prix Manchester!



     

  • Finals - Mario Pascoli vs. Alexandre Darras
    by Tobi Henke

  • The final match of the weekend: Belgian Alexandre Darras, playing in his first Grand Prix Top 8, up against Mario Pascoli from Italy who has been to six GP Top 8s already, to the finals of a Pro Tour, and been a National champion twice. Regarding decks, the match-up was red-green (Darras) versus G/W with a rather big blue splash (Pascoli).

    Darras started with Avacyn's Pilgrim on turn one, Pascoli had Caravan Vigil searching up Island. Darras attacked and had a two-drop in Darkthicket Wolf, Pascoli had his own in Invisible Stalker. When Darras attacked with both of his creatures, Pascoli happily accepted the trade. Post-combat, Darras cast Torch Fiend and boosted it up to 5/4 via Hunger of the Howlpack. Pascoli summoned Civilized Scholar and passed the turn back to Darras who attacked for 9 (pumping Darkthicket Wolf) to put Pascoli at 8.

    Now Pascoli dropped the bomb, or rather two bombs, in the form of Mayor Avabruck and Elder of Laurelas. His Ulvenwald Bear chumpblocked, and Darras cast Dawntreader Elk. Pascoli, whistling happily (or nervously?) simply passed the turn right back, transforming his Mayor of Avabruck.

    Darras cast Blood Feud on Pascoli's creatures. Howlpack Alpha got +2/+2 until end of turn, before taking down the Elder of Laurels and taking 2 damage itself. Darras's 2/2 creatures couldn't attack profitably and it was back to Pascoli.

    Pascoli cast Woodland Sleuth and got a Wolf token at end of turn. Darras cast Kessig Recluse and Reckless Waif, reforming Pascoli's Howlpack Alpha.

    Travel Preparations put counters on Pascoli's Wolf token and his Woodland Sleuth, and Silent Departure returned Kessig Recluse. Both players were out of gas by now, and after Kessig Recluse had been recast soon both players' Werewolves turned into their darker counterpart. However, for Darras that meant Merciless Predator, whereas Pascoli got back his Howlpack Alpha.


    Pascoli thinks about his next move.

    Darras attacked with all of his creatures, lost Merciless Predator to the 3/4 Woodland Sleuth, lost Dawntreader Elk to Howlpack Alpha, traded Darkthicket Wolf against the 4/4 Wolf token, and got through for 2 with Kessig Recluse to put Pascoli at 2.

    Over the next couple of turns, with the help of Chapel Geist and Howlpack Alpha, Pascoli built a line of defense Darras's creatures would never be able to get past again. But they didn't have to. "Sweet topdeck," Darras announced and revealed Blazing Torch.

    Mario Pascoli 0 – 1 Alexandre Darras

    Pascoli took a while to decide what to to with his opening seven, but kept in the end. Darras just took one quick peek and declared, "An easy mulligan." His six weren't better either, but his five were.

    Pascoli had Forest, Avacyn's Pilgrim, then Mayor of Avabruck, though no second land. Darras, meanwhile, opened on Darkthicket Wolf into Immerwolf. When his 3/3 Darkthicket Wolf attacked, Pascoli blocked with his Howlpack Alpha and cast Faith's Shield to save it. On his turn, he still didn't get a second land, but he did get his first Wolf token. At the other hand of the table, Darras appeared to a little heavy on land and passed without play. Pascoli cast Silverchase Fox, still with just one land and accumulated further Wolves.

    Darras's Pyreheart Wolf was soon busy (chump-) blocking, and then it was only a matter of time. Too much time for Pascoli apparently, who sped things up further wth Spectral Flight and Silent Departure as soon as he finally got an Island.

    Mario Pascoli 1 – 1 Alexandre Darras

    Darras ride's his pack of wolves to victory

    For the first time in the match, neither player cast anything on turn one. For the third time, Darras had Darkthicket Wolf on turn two. Pascoli played a land and said go. Darras followed it up with Torch Fiend. Pascoli drew his card, failed to find a third land, and passed without play. Darras attacked for 6, pumping his Wolf. Pascoli drew his card, failed to find a third land, and passed without play. Darras attacked for 6, pumping his Wolf. Pascoli drew his card, failed to find a third land, and ... conceded.

    Mario Pascoli 1 – 2 Alexandre Darras

    The crowd full of Belgians erupted into applause, celebrating the first-ever Belgian Grand Prix champion. Congratulations to Alexandre Darras, champion of Grand Prix Manchester 2012!



     

  • Top 5 Cards
    by Rich Hagon and Frank Karsten

  • Here are five cards that sum up some of the biggest stories of the weekend.



    5. Lingering Souls

    Lingering Souls is still the number one card to open in this draft format and perhaps the best uncommon ever printed for Limited. It's that good. Top 8 competitors Lasse Nørgaard and Joel Larsson made it through their second drafts with Lingering Souls as the best card in their decks. Without the white sorcery, it's likely they would have had a much harder time making their runs through the tournament.

    As from British PT regular Rob Wagner: "Every game I lost today, my opponents each cast precisely one more Lingering Souls than I did. Every other game, I won. Good card that."





    4. Faith's Shield

    It's such an innocuous card, but when the hour gets fateful, its impact is unparalleled. One of the coolest plays of this tournament was made by England's Neil Rigby. Playing against Joel Larsson of Sweden in Round 7 of Day 1, Neil Rigby had two Festerhide Boars locked down with Burden of Guilts. The game was not looking for Neil, as Joel had already put him down to less than 5 life.

    Still, an end of turn Faith's Shield from Rigby got him back in the game by targeting ... Forest! Wait; what? Yes: Forest! Faith's Shield says "target permanent", not "target creature", and by playing it on a land rather than a creature, Neil could sidestep any creature removal that could counter Faith's Shield in response otherwise. It didn't win the game in the end, but an extremely cool play is an extremely cool play.





    3. Loyal Cathar

    When asked "What card really exemplified the format for you", multiple pro players answered that Loyal Cathar would come to their mind when thinking back of Innistrad /Dark Ascension Limited in a few years from now.

    There are three important reasons for this. Firstly, Loyal Cathar is a great 2-drop in one of the fastest Limited formats in years, and casting creatures is really what you need to be doing on turn 2 in this format. Secondly, it's a double-faced card, and those double-faced cards have had a huge and unique impact on this draft format by allowing you to signal what colors you're drafting. It has made the drafting format much more cooperative than it usually is. Finally, Loyal Cathar fits very well with all the sacrifice cards, such as Falkenrath Torturer, that were abundant in this format. All in all, Loyal Cathar turned out to be a centerpiece of quite a few black-white decks over the course of the Grand Prix.





    2. Mayor of Avabruck

    There are nastier public servants than the Mayor of Avabruck, but just wait until you make him angry! The GP finalist Mario Pascoli found the standout in his Sealed pool, drafted it on Sunday morning, and found one getting re-elected for a third term into his starting 40 in the top 8. You want an Alpha male to be exactly that, and once the leader of the Howlpack gets going, it's so tough to stop - and it all gets so miserable for you so quickly! If you're playing a deck that doesn't have too many early plays, you can be on the slippery slope to the next game before you can get anything decent onto the board - a board, naturally, populated with some very nasty four-legged 'friends'. Yep, when it comes to freaky functionaries, Mayor of Avabruck gets our vote.





    1. Pyreheart Wolf

    See, this is a card I can get behind. Everyone knows that gigantic blue flyers are gigantic, and fly. And they're blue. Everyone knows that Huntmaster of the Fells can go a long way at a Constructed Pro Tour level. Fine. But Pyreheart Wolf isn't big, it isn't clever, and it doesn't demand the big bucks. Instead, this innocuous 1/1 for three mana - see, it sounds like it can't be up to much when you put it like that, right? - delivers left, right, and center, uncomplainingly providing offense, defense, and any other kind of fence you need, when you need it. As eventual champion Alexandre Darras, who used it to great effect all weekend, might have said, 'You could argue that the older the format gets, the more focused the decks get. So if you go for aggressive, take Pyreheart Wolf.' You'll be glad you did.





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