Grand Prix Minneapolis: Day 2 Coverage

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Day 2 is underway! Yuuya Watanabe continued his red hot streak by ending atop the field on Day 1, but can he keep the momentum going? The Japanese pro and former Rookie of the Year is in the hunt for his first Player of the Year title in Rome next weekend. His nearest competitor, Martin Juza, missed the cut to Day 2 and is nursing his wounds by sleeping in. That means Luis Scott-Vargas, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, and Shuhei Nakamura are amongst Yuuya’s closest competitors.

Luckily enough, all three of those big names also made the cut to Day 2, and all at 8-1. Will they be able to make up some precious ground today before leaving for Worlds? Of course you can’t ignore the stories of some of the hometown heroes. Midwesterner Owen Turtenwald, who lives only a few short hours from Minneapolis, was tied by record with the top of the field exiting the first day of competition undefeated. Can he hold his ground and keep the title of Grand Prix-Minneapolis champion in the Midwest? Or is someone else’s story waiting to be told? Find out all day long here on magicthegathering.com!



Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix–Minneapolis at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller and Ray Punzalan.
EVENT COVERAGE

 

  • Sunday, 9:35 a.m. – Drafting with Yuuya Watanabe
    by by Bill Stark
  • Yuuya Watanabe has had a blistering second half of the 2009 Pro Tour season. As Grand Prix-Minneapolis sat down to draft on Day 2, he found himself back in the driver’s seat with a commanding 9-0 Day 1 performance, putting him at the top of the standings. What would his draft strategy to start the day be? Many would argue the default “best” strategy is black-red aggro, but the problem with drafting the “best” deck is that everyone else wants to draft it too. Yuuya slid the wrapper from his first pack and fanned the cards.

    Staring back at him were World Queller, Hideous End, Welkin Tern, River Boa, and Inferno Trap. Yuuya flipped through the cards excitedly, but ultimately took the black card. With no other relevant black in the pack, he could cut the color early and send a strong signal to his opponent on the left. The second pack had another solid black card in the form of Surrakar Marauder, but Watanabe also considered Nimana Sell-Sword briefly. The third pack provided a tough decision: Plated Geopede, Heartstabber Mosquito, Welkin Tern, or Grazing Gladehart? Yuuya agonized before taking the Geopede, looking to possibly force an aggressive red-black deck.

    It was hard to miss, however, the Welkin Tern he passed which indicated blue was potentially open. When his fourth pack contained a second Tern and Reckless Scholar, Watanabe took the signal and picked up the flying 2/1, abandoning a Geyser Glider. After that it was Crypt Ripper, Explorer’s Scope, Mindless Null, and Jwar Isle Refuge. A late Steppe Lynx could be seen in the boosters, a bit of a surprise considering how aggressive many consider the format to be, and at the end of the first pack Yuuya flipped through the contents of his deck to reveal a very probable black-blue build, with an outside possibility of black-red.

    Switching directions, Watanabe moved to the second pack and found a relatively weak first choice. His options were Adventuring Gear, Nimana Sell-Sword, or Blood Seeker. He opted to take the Sell-Sword, and found the second pack offering in quality what the first pack lacked: Windrider Eel, Vampire Lacerator, and Gatekeeper of Malakir. After agonizing over the Gatekeeper, Watanabe opted to take the Eel. The third pick saw a Torch Slinger available, but Yuuya stuck with his guns and took Vampire Lacerator instead. He then took Guul Draz Vampire in a pack with Feast of Blood, hoping the powerful removal spell would table.

    The black started to thin out from that point in the second pack, though Yuuya did pick up a Heartstabber Mosquito. It looked like the players around him may have started dipping into his black, which could potentially put a damper on his Day 2 hopes. As a swansong to the second round of packs, however, the Feast of Blood came all the way back, though it was unclear Yuuya had enough Zombies to make playing the removal spell worth it.

    It was all down to the third pack, and Yuuya wasn’t out of the woods. He needed a little bit of help to put the finishing touches on his deck, searching for the final playables to hold it all together. His opening pick featured a choice between Marsh Casualties and Bloodchief Ascension, and Watanabe quickly took the powerful removal spell. Then it was Crypt Ripper over Whiplash Trap, but just like that the black dried out of the pack. He took a Jwar Isle Refuge third over zero black cards, then a Sky Ruin Drake in a second pack with no black. The first Drake was followed by a second copy, again with no black in the pack, and Paralyzing Grasp after that. Finally Yuuya got a peek at another black card in the form of Blood Seeker, but the 1/1 had the misfortune of being in the same pack as a Windrider Eel. Watanabe couldn’t pass up the powerful flyer and added it to his stack. He rounded out the picks with some late-game chaff.

    Overall Yuuya’s deck was a tad shy of being truly remarkable. He had sections of the black deck most players want to draft, but at a table apparently filled with other black drafters, he had been shorted the cards he needed to truly push things over the top. It wasn’t an 0-3 deck, but Yuuya had a bit of an uphill climb to escape the first draft with a winning record.

     

  • Sunday, 10:36 a.m. – Draft 1 Pod 2 Feature: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
    by Dane Young
  • We featured Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa as he built his sealed deck yesterday. His strong Green-Black deck had a hint of blue for Sphinx of Jwar Isle – admittedly the best card in his pool – and he managed to pilot it to an 8-1 record.

    That solid first day put him in the second pod for the first draft, easily within striking distance of the Top 8. The pod was not going to be an easy one, as Brian Kibler, Tomoharu Saito and Luis Scott-Vargas were sharing the card pool with him.

    Paulo cracked his first pack and found Marsh Casualties waiting for him near the back. Inferno Trap was the only other card to be considered, and Paulo happily tabled the one-sided Infest. Up next was a tougher pick, as the pack contained Kor Skyfisher, Mold Shambler and Torch Slinger. Paulo waffled a little, but settled on Torch Slinger.

    Umara Raptor made it three colors in three picks despite Vampire Lacerator and Highland Berserker being in the pack. Lotus Cobra was the only card in the next pack, so Paulo shrugged and continued the theme.

    River Boa came next as Paulo looked to lock up Green. Vampire Lacerator and Guul Draz Vampire were shipped down-stream, but Turntimber Basilisk was a sixth pick. Another Vampire Lacerator was available seventh, but Greenweaver Druid kept Paulo on course. Vastwood Gorger provided a solid body to accelerate to as pick number eight.

    Khalni Heart Expedition was an unexciting wheel, but Territorial Baloth and Cobra Trap came after it. Paulo’s last three picks were Shoal Serpent, Narrow Escape and Desecrated Earth.

    Pack two contained a couple of Green cards and a Plated Geopede. Oracle of Mul Daya was too strong to pass, so it joined the team. Paulo took Disfigure out of the next pack, passing Timbermaw Larva. Baloth Woodcrasher was another big body, but it came at the cost of passing Harrow. Paulo took another “gold” card next pack, adding Misty Rainforest to his pile and passing Surrakar Marauder, perhaps planning on splashing blue somewhere down the line. The land would also power-up his Landfall triggers.

    Nissa’s Chosen gave Paulo a solid early body and Into the Roil gave him a nice trick. Soaring Seacliff was the best card for Paulo’s seventh pick, allowing him to jump one of his giants across the red zone. Zendikar Farguide over Cancel was a little underwhelming, but Paulo didn’t envision holding mana open in his deck.

    Sky Ruin Drake was a decent wheel for Paulo, giving him a solid body in the air. Summoner’s Bane was another card Paulo probably wouldn’t play, but it was good against him, so he took it 10th. Trapmaker’s Snare was taken over Khalni Heart Expedition and Zendikar Farguide as Paulo thought about getting someone with his Cobra Trap. The second pack rounded out with Vampire’s Bite, Soaring Seacliff and Expedition Map.

    Paulo was certainly Green, but it was unclear if he was going to join it with Black, Blue or both. Hopefully pack three would make things a little clearer.

    A second Disfigure was taken first over Mold Shambler. Another Mold Shambler was in the next pack, but Baloth Cage Trap was taken for more removal. Oran-Rief Recluse gave Paulo an answer to flying nuisances like Vampire Nighthawk and Shepherd of the Lost, but Paulo had to pass a third consecutive Mold Shambler. He had to be hoping a couple of them would make their way back to him, but Harrow would have to suffice as a fourth pick. Halo Hunter was in that pack, but there was no realistic way for him to cast it, so he passed it along. Aether Figment was an unexciting fifth pick, but Vines of Vastwood was a solid sixth pick trick. Paulo added to his collection of rares by scooping up another Misty Rainforest over Into the Roil.

    Paulo cut a Magma Rift that could be problematic for his monsters. Hagra Crocodile was a potential big threat on the splash, so he took it. Not a single Mold Shambler lapped, which meant Whiplash Trap, Mindless Null, Tempest Owl and Desecrated Earth finished off the draft for Paulo.

    It will be interested to see if Paulo feels like Blue or Red are worth splashing for. He is a couple of spells short with just his Green and Black spells, but Magma Rift and Torch Slinger could fit better than Into the Roil and Umara Raptor. Stay tuned to find out how it goes.

     

  • Feature Match: Round 10 – Matt Sperling vs. Olivier Ruel
    by Bill Stark
  • While waiting for his opponent to show up to their Round 10 feature match, Hall of Famer Olivier Ruel inadvertently flipped one of his cards over, revealing a trick for all the world to see. His opponent, Californian Matt Sperling, was too busy arranging his bag and coat on the Feature Match chair to notice. Confident he’d just gotten a freebie, Ruel flashed a sly smile to the crowd, and the two got underway with Sperling on the play.

    Neither player had a one-drop, and on his second turn Olivier considered his options. He decided to cast Blazing Torch, but seemed uncertain about the decision to do so. When Sperling cast Baloth Cage Trap for a significant discount as a result, Ruel seemed horrified.

    “That’s a bit embarrassing.”

    “Yeah, I’ve never been able to do that before.” Sperling replied.

    Matt Sperling attempts to maintain his flawless record.
    Kor Hookmaster from Ruel locked the 4/4 Beast down for a turn while Matt developed his creature base with a Timbermaw Larva. Olivier followed up with Umara Raptor, but Sperling had Savage Silhouette for his Beast and bashed Olivier to 12. It was a tight back-and-forth affair and, in an attempt to get further ahead, Ruel cast Living Tsunami. Sperling cast Punishing Fire to pick off the Umara Raptor, and attacked to drop Olivier to 6.

    The Tsunami cracked in to Sperling’s skull, dropping him to 10 but still leaving him up by 4. That amount started to seem a lot smaller as Ruel cast a second copy of Tsunami, but Matt built his own army by end-of-turning a Cobra Trap. He untapped, cast Goblin Ruinblaster without kicker, and bashed. That left Olivier at 2; the game would be decided by the slimmest of margins. Ruel bounced two lands on his upkeep, one of which was Kabira Crossroads. He cast Steppe Lynx and Kraken Hatchling to block after attacking Sperling to 5, leaving the American dead on the following turn.

    Matt had no choice but to attack with the team, which he did, but Ruel was ready. He blocked the largest threats with his powerless creatures, then cast Lethargy Trap as a pseudo-fog. Sperling had no tricks and accepted his defeat, just a few points from winning the race himself.

    Olivier Ruel 1, Matt Sperling 0

    Kraken Hatchling was the first creature on the battlefield in the second game, with the 0/4 shoring up Ruel’s ground forces to stop any aggressive start from Sperling. When Matt cast River Boa, however, Ruel just gave a smile; the Island he used to cast his Hatchling might be his undoing! Matt followed the Boa up a turn later with Teetering Peaks to bash for 4 and an Oran-Rief Survivalist. Ruel cast Cliff Threader then Living Tsunami and it looked like the second game would be as much of a race as the first one.

    The Cliff Threader traded in combat with an Greenweaver Druid Sperling had cast, then Living Tsunami met the wrong end of a Burst Lightning with kicker from Matt. Ruel simply pulled the trigger on his second copy of the 4/4, but all the while River Boa was slowly eating away at his life total. Stonework Puma pumped Matt’s Survivalist, and an Adventuring Gear plus land-drop allowed him to get into the red zone through Kraken Hatchling. Ruel considered his options carefully then opted to take the damage falling to 7.

    He looked to rebuild from that deficit by bouncing Kabira Crossroads to pay the upkeep cost on Living Tsunami, but rather than re-play the enters-the-battlefield-tapped land he dropped Island instead. The French player revealed why on his opponent’s next combat step, using all four of his mana to cast Into the Roil with kicker, resetting the equipped Survivalist. Matt simply re-cast his two-drop, connecting with River Boa to drop his opponent to 5. That was quickly undone on Ruel’s next turn as he finally replayed his Kabira Crossroads, then attacked with Living Tsunami to put Matt at 11 before casting Steppe Lynx and Blazing Torch, which was equipped to Kraken Hatchling.

    In order to win the race, Sperling was going to need to get through for more with his unblockable Boa. He attempted to do exactly that by casting Savage Silhouette on the 2/1, but Ruel had him pause. Though the Frenchman was tapped out, he could theoretically use Torch on the Snake in response, but would it save him more damage in the long term? He did some calculations out loud, then opted to let the enchantment resolve, falling to 3. His Kabira Crossroads put him back to 5 on his next turn, and Ruel attacked with both Living Tsunami and a 2/3 Steppe Lynx. Sperling chumped the Lynx, and was given the turn back.

    A second Savage Silhouette came down for Matt, making the River Boa a 6/5. Ruel had Shieldmate’s Blessing to survive the turn at just 2 life, and all of a sudden he needed a solution pronto. On his upkeep he bid farewell to his Living Tsunami, opting not to return a land. “Goodbye old friend!” That built him up to five mana, which he used to Whiplash Trap the Boa and his own Kraken Hatchling. Matt seemed nonplussed, recasting the Snake and adding a Plated Geopede to go with it. Olivier drew his card for the turn but didn’t find an answer to the Islandwalker and the match moved to its final game.

    Olivier Ruel 1, Matt Sperling 1

    The third game started as a battle of landwalkers, with Olivier Ruel’s Cliff Threader squaring off against Matt Sperling’s River Boa. Unfortunately for Ruel, his opponent hadn’t been so gracious as to play a Mountain. A Kor Hookmaster locked the Boa down for a turn, and Sperling cast Oran-Rief Survivalist, passing the turn. There was an awkward pause as both players recognized he had failed to put a +1/+1 counter on the Ally. Olivier magnanimously allowed Sperling to add the counter, then untapped.

    Olivier Ruel looks to add yet another Grand Prix Top 8 to his resume.
    Living Tsunami hit the board for Ruel, and it was followed by a Windrider Eel. Sperling, meanwhile, cast a Stonework Puma to pump his Survivalist, cracking with his team. Punishing Fire aced the Eel, and the Puma eventually traded with Kor Hookmaster. Ruel, meanwhile, kept attacking with Living Tsunami, casting Makindi Shieldmate to stabilize the ground. Burst Lightning with kicker from Matt put an end to the Tsunami, and Ruel passed without casting anything for his turn. When Sperling added Timbermaw Larva to his side of the battlefield, things started to look very bad for Olivier Ruel.

    River Boa and Larva turned sideways, and Ruel used Shieldmate to chump the Larva. He took 2, then cast Whiplash Trap to bounce his opponent’s Larva and Oran-Rief Survivalist at the end of Matt’s turn. That allowed Olivier to attack with his own Cliff Threader, still attempting to race, but Sperling trumped with Cobra Trap to block. Ruel was ready casting Cancel to stop the powerful instant, and Matt took 2. The American cast Savage Silhouette on his own turn and replayed his Timbermaw Larva before passing.

    The scores were tied up at 3-3, and Olivier Ruel desperately needed a solution to his problem of enhanced River Boa. He didn’t know Sperling was sandbagging Burst Lightning, waiting for the perfect opportunity to sneak it in against his opponent’s possible counter. Instead, Matt cast Goblin Ruinblaster and the extra attacker proved enough to be lethal. Ruel extended his hand in defeat, but Sperling couldn’t resist a good natured “Still had these!” revealing the Burst Lightning still in his hand.

    Matt Sperling 2, Olivier Ruel 1

     

  • Sunday, 11:45 p.m. - Quick Hits 4
    by Bill Stark
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  • Feature Match: Round 11 – Owen Turtenwald vs Zohar Bhagat
    by Dane Young
  • Madison’s Owen Turtenwald just took his first defeat of the tournament at the hands of Kyle Boggemes. Now he faces another undefeated player, Zohar Bhagat from Pittsburgh.

    Owen won the roll and chose to play first. He peeled open his first hand and tanked for a bit before sending it back. Zohar quickly kept his seven cards.

    Owen looks to rally

    Owen kept his next set of cards and led with a Forest and an Island. Two Mountains and Plated Geopede turned on the gas for Zohar, but Owen had Greenweaver Druid to get his hand going too.

    A third Mountain shot the insect into the red zone to crack for three and Molten Ravager provided another dangerous creature. Owen kicked a Mold Shambler on his fourth turn, thanks to the Greenweaver Druid. One of Zohar’s Mountains hit the bin, but Zohar replaced it and attacked for the full 6 the next turn.

    Owen fortified his defense with Stonework Puma, shipping the turn back with four mana up. He put the Puma in front of Molten Ravager after Zohar played a fourth Mountain. Zohar bit, pumping twice, and Owen picked him off with a kicked Into the Roil.

    After that simulated Time Walk, Owen loaded up with Sphinx of Lost Truths, filtering three Forests into the graveyard. With the Sphinx on defense, Owen was free to send his team in for 6 damge, putting Zohar on 11.

    Zohar Bhagat

    Hellfire Mongrel put Owen on 6, but Gigantiform on Greenweaver Druid gave Owen a lethal alpha strike.

    Turtenwald 1, Bhagat 0

    Both players kept their openers for Game 2 and Zohar’s pure red deck provided a second turn Geopede again. Owen’s three-color deck started with three Islands and Umara Raptor. The Geopede bashed a couple of times before Bladetusk Boar joined the party.

    Owen was a little behind, but he found a Forest on turn four and used it to Harrow, sacrificing an Island. He plucked a Forest and Plains out of his library to craft a Stonework Puma. Umara Raptor cracked for three before Zohar pointed Magma Rift at the Puma and sent for 6.

    Owen played Ondu Cleric and Stonework Puma, gaining 5 life and cracking with his now 5/5 Umara Raptor, knocking Zohar down to 12. Owen traded his extra allies for Bladetusk Boar and a fresh Goblin Ruinblaster on the next turn, and scooped when Owen showed him Gigantiform.

    Owen Turtenwald defeats Zohar Bhagat 2-0.

     

  • Decklists: Day 1 Undefeated Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Here are the undefeated decklists from day one:



    Matt Sperling
    Grand Prix Minneapolis 2009 - Day 1 Undefeated




     

  • Feature Match: Round 12 – Brad Nelson vs. Brendan Carlson
    by Bill Stark
  • “Where you from?” The jovial Brad Nelson asked his opponent as they sat down to battle at X-1 on Day 2.

    “From here,” Brendon Carlson replied. It was a battle between home turf and invading pro, though in Nelson’s defense hailing from North Dakota meant he was practically a Minnesotan himself.

    Brad, who is well known as “FFfreak” on Magic Online, has been heralded as a new face of American Magic. A virtual Top 8 in Honolulu earlier this year as well as a strong 2009 Pro Tour season has made him a fan favorite. He won the die roll to start the game, and received a free bonus as his opponent had to mulligan not once but twice. Brendan Carlson was calm and collected as he took a gander at his five card hand; he may have been new to the feature match arena, but he gave no indication that he hadn’t earned his near flawless record.

    North Dakota was not far to travel from for Brad Nelson.
    The first creature onto the battlefield was Vampire Nighthawk, and it entered on behalf of Brendan. Brad fired back with a Windrider Eel, but Nighthawk clearly was not the start he wanted to see from an opponent who had mulliganed twice. Nelson hit his land drop and attacked with a 4/4 Windrider Eel, but after absorbing an attack from the Vampire it simply evened the scores at 18-18 all. Carlson cast Highland Berserker but when he moved to attack the following turn, Brad cast Baloth Cage Trap for a surprise attacker. The 4/4 Beast traded for the Highland Berserker and a kicked Vampire’s Bite, and the totals were soon 23-16 in Brendan’s favor.

    Terra Stomper hit for Nelson, and the powerful 8/8 promised to pose problems for Carlson, who might have to trade his Nighthawk for the behemoth. Brendan opted to attack instead, but was dismayed to see his Nighthawk perish at the hands of a kicked Oran-Rief Recluse a turn later before it could block the 8/8 Stomper. A turn later when Nelson cast Glazing Gladehart and bashed with his team, Brendan opted to pack it in, having failed to find any more creatures with which to mount a defense.

    Brad Nelson 1, Brendan Carlson 0

    “I’ve played my share of Limited in this block. I’ve played a lot, but I have never, never gotten to play a Nighthawk.” Brad Nelson lamented as the two players shuffled up for the second game.

    Brendan’s black-red deck came out to play in the second with an aggressive early start that included Vampire Lacerator, Highland Berserker, and Plated Geopede. Unfortunately for him, Brad’s start was primed to stymie the aggro horde with back-to-back Nissa’s Chosen followed by Windrider Eel. Two Teetering Peaks allowed Brendan to push through for small chunks, but he began taking significant damage from the Eel and found himself behind in a game that was 8-6 by the sixth turn.

    Brendan Carlson enjoys home field advantage in Minneapolis.
    Nelson cast Welkin Tern and Oran-Rief Survivalist in the same turn, but spent too much time considering his options and forget to put his +1/+1 counter on his Ally. He used the 1/1 to block his opponent’s Highland Berserker when it attacked and they traded, but Plated Geopede picked up a Vampire’s Bite with kicker, a massive and pivotal life swing that could potentially be enough cushion for Brendan to claw himself back into the match.

    No sooner had the thought been considered than Carlson’s deck promptly crapped out on him, starving him of the last spell or two he needed to survive against Nelson’s air force. A few short land draws later, and the Minnesotan was extending his hand in defeat.

    Brad Nelson 2, Brendan Carlson 0

    After the match Brad realized he had forgotten to put a Nissa’s Chosen on the bottom of his library upon its death. “My motto in Limited is ‘punt and still get there,’“ he opined, embarrassedly after two glaring errors in one game.

     

  • Sunday, 2:16 p.m. – Drafting with Matt Sperling
    by Bill Stark
  • Matt Sperling looks for his time to shine.

    Matt Sperling is a California Magic player who games with some of the world’s best. While he is a consistent fixture on the Pro Tour he’s been waiting for his time to shine. Grand Prix-Minneapolis may very well be that opportunity as Matt entered the second pod tied for first place with only a single loss. We leaned in to watch as he attempted to put a deck together that could carry him into the Top 8.

    The first pack offered up two powerful commons in the form of Windrider Eel and Harrow, but when Matt flipped to the uncommon he found his pick: Trusty Machete. The second pack saw him taking World Queller in a pack with plentiful amounts of white and black cards. From there Matt moved all-in on a white plan picking up Armament Master third, then Kor Hookmaster over Cliff Threader and Torch Slinger. His first non-white colored card was an Into the Roil over Bold Defense, but he was back on white a pick later taking Windborne Charge over Sky Ruin Drake. The powerful sorcery is Overrun-esque for white players, sending two creatures to the air for an additional 4 damage and forcing through the last points for the win. Sperling rounded out the pack with late-pick white like Kor Cartographer and Pillarfield Ox though he did pick up a very late Steppe Lynx, which is quite powerful in aggressive white decks. As he shuffled through his cards in between packs, he was healthily white with a possible blue splash for Into the Roil or going green for Cobra Trap.

    If he was trying to decide between white or blue, Matt seemed to favor the light side as he picked Kor Sanctifiers over Windrider Eel to kick off the second pack. He echoed that sentiment with Steppe Lynx over Umara Raptor second, then a Kor Duelist. Alongside Armament Master the 1/1 provided a mini-equipment theme that Sperling would have to keep his eye on to maximize value out of his draft. He finally took a blue card with Welkin Tern in pick four and was surprised to see Surrakar Marauder and Halo Hunter still in the pack; considering black is one of the more popular colors in Zendikar draft, it was surprising to see two powerful black cards going so late. After that he picked up an equipment in Explorer’s Scope, a second Kor Sanctifiers, a late Adventuring Gear to help his equipment theme, and a Beastmaster Ascension. While he wasn’t necessarily green, splashing for the enchantment in an aggressive white deck could potentially be a bold move.

    As he shuffled through his cards at the end of the pack, however, it seemed clear he was headed down the blue-white path. The Ascension slid to the back of the stack, indicating it may have been a hate draft, and a host of white cards made up the majority of his deck. Luckily for Matt, the third pack stayed on theme giving him the choice between a Shepherd of Lost, Windrider Eel, or Welkin Tern right off the bat. Sperling seemed all too happy to take the 3/3 flyer, and added it to his team.

    Choices remained strong as he fanned through his options for the second pick: Windborne Charge #2, Kor Sanctifiers, and Brave the Elements. With so many white creatures in his deck, he couldn’t help but take the Elements. Kor Skyfisher was up next, then a Marsh Flats over Cliff Threader and Sky Ruin Drake. The fetch land was certainly a valuable rare, but because of the amount of Steppe Lynxes he had in his stack it would be doubly valuable in being better than a basic land for Matt.

    Two picks later and Matt was left shocked at finding a second Shepherd of the Lost staring back at him. He had clearly positioned himself correctly for the draft! Matt’s good fortunes didn’t end there with a Kor Sanctifiers making its way back around the table, then a Cliff Threader. With only a few picks left, Matt was even more surprised to find the Windborne Charge he had considered taking the first time around come all the way back! By the end of the draft, Matt Sperling had clearly demonstrated he knew how to position himself to succeed. Would this finally be the time for him to shine? He still had three rounds to play, but the answer seemed like a resounding yes!

     

  • Feature Match: Round 13 – Brian Kibler vs. Kyle Boggemes
    by Dane Young
  • Brian and Kyle enter this round with one loss apiece and a win here would put them in great shape to make the Top 8. Kyle won the roll and had to deliberate. He decided to draw first and we were off.

    Kibler opened with three Swamps and Mindless Null, while Kyle started on Swamp and Soul Stair Expedition. A Kabira Crossroads charged it up and gained Kyle two life. Kor Sanctifiers made a nice wall for Kibler’s Zombie.

    Giant Scorpion was answered by a Kor Cartographer that filled up Kyle’s Expedition, but Kibler revealed he was also Red, as he played a Mountain and Nimana Sell-Sword. Kyle just played his sixth land while Kibler got a Surrakar Marauder online.

    Heartstabber Mosquito bit the Marauder and gave Kyle a way to get damage through. Seeing this, Kibler decided to start sending in his Giant Scorpion, content to trade for anything on Kyle’s board. Kyle had a bit of padding from his Kabira Crossroads, so he declined blockers.

    Heartstabber Mosquito flew over with Nimana Sell-Sword, but Kibler’s Slaughter Cry allowed his Sell-Sword to escape unharmed. Kibler’s Giant Scorpion continued its march, but the Mosquito was definitely out in front.

    Kyle mashed again with the Mosquito but had nothing else to do. Kibler decided that he had to turn on the jets and sent with his Nimana Sell-Sword after playing Soul Stair Expedition. Kyle put both of his Kor in front of it, but Kibler had Disfigure for the Cartographer. Narrow Escape saved it, but Kor Sanctifiers was binned.

    Mosquitomaster?

    Soul Stair Expedition raised both of Kyle’s dead and Kor Sanctifiers blew up Kibler’s Soul Stair Expedition. Nimana Sell-Sword was a solid body to end Kyle’s turn. Kibler found a second Mountain for his sixth land, allowing him to play Murasa Pyromancer to deal with the Mosquito.

    Kyle was stuck without a way to punch damage through, but he filtered more land out of his deck with Kor Cartographer. Kibler found a seventh land but decided to pass the turn. Kyle found another threat in Cliff Threader, but Kibler had an eighth land and a Heartstabber Mosquito for the Mountainwalker. Narrow Escape tried to save the 2/1, but Burst Lightning made sure that it went to the yard.

    Both players were out of gas, so Journey to Nowhere killed the new Mosquito. Halo Hunter off the top was the perfect card for Kibler, as he was unblockable on the current board. Kyle peeled a black bomb of his own in Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. He powered it up with a land, draining Kibler for 3, but Kibler ripped another Heartstabber Mosquito to kill the Mythic.

    Kyle couldn’t find an answer to the black threats, and Kibler was able to finish it off.

    Kibler 1, Boggemes 0

    The game started off slowly again, as Kyle chose to draw and made the first play with Soul Stair Expedition. Kabira Crossroads repeated his opening from the first game, and both players had Giant Scorpion on turn three. The insects traded when Kibler attacked, and Kibler said go after playing a fourth land. Kyle was content to grind it out with a Makindi Shieldmate.

    Kyle Boggemes

    Kibler played draw-go, and Kyle advanced with Nimana Sell-Sword. Kibler’s Kazuul Warlord finally gave him a threat, but Hideous end binned it and let the Sell-Sword attack. Kibler rebought it with Grim Discovery and passed the turn back a mana short of replaying it.

    Kyle brought it in for 3 again and passed, but he tapped out for kicker on Heartstabber Mosquito when the Kazuul Warlord hit the board again.

    Kibler paid five for Marsh Casualties with kicker and used a Disfigure to finish off the Sell-Sword. Kyle cracked his Soul Stair Expedition for Nimana Sell-Sword and Heartstabber Mosquito, tapping out for the ally and Kor Cartographer. Kibler’s reply was a soon-to-be-dead Nimana Sell-Sword of his own, and Kyle obliged with his Mosquito.

    A Stonework Puma met Journey to Nowhere and it was off to Game 3.

    Kibler 1, Boggemes 1

    Kibler chose to draw first this time but had to mulligan after Kyle kept. The game started very slowly again, as Kyle made the first play with a fourth turn Kor Cartographer. Kibler had nothing to do and Kyle played a second Kor Cartographer. Kibler drew his card for the turn and slumped in his chair. He glumly tapped out for Marsh Casualties with kicker, unhappy about having to cast it in that spot, but also he was in danger of falling way behind.

    Kyle had nothing to follow up with, which might have signaled a Heartstabber Mosquito in hand. Kibler refused to present anything really juicy and offered just a Stonework Puma. Kyle tapped four on his turn but had Nimana Sell-Sword and not the Kor Sanctifiers Kibler was worried about.

    Kibler played a Soul Stair Expedition and passed the turn. Kyle swung with the Sell-Sword and Kibler blocked with his own ally. Disfigure took down the bigger dude and Kyle replaced it with Giant Scorpion. Kibler attacked on his turnand Kyle bit, allowing Murasa Pyromancer to finish it off.

    Kyle was ready with Journey to Nowhere, bouncing it with Narrow Escape while the enchantment’s trigger was on the stack. Kibler had no choice but to offer up Shatterskull Giant, which was immediately sent on a Journey to Nowhere. With the path clear, Kibler slammed down Halo Hunter in an attempt to end the game in a hurry. Kyle had a second Journey to neutralize the threat, and had found a Cliff Threader to start getting damage going again.

    Kibler had a Heartstabber Mosquito for the two-drop and now also had a full Soul Stair. Kyle drew his card for the turn and said go, so Kibler added a Blood Seeker and attacked. Kyle passed again the next turn, so both of Kibler’s creatures got in. Kyle drew a Bog Tatters, but it was picked off by another Heartstabber Mosquito. Kyle summoned his own Mosquito, destroying one of Kibler’s, but Grim Discovery brought it right back and killed Kyle’s. Kyle could not find an answer for the flying pests, so he had to pack it up.

    Brian Kibler defats Kyle Boggemes two games to one and needs two draws to lock up a spot in the Top 8.

     

  • Feature Match: Round 14 – Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. David Ochoa
    by Bill Stark
  • A few short weeks ago Gaudenis Vidugiris was raising his trophy as victor of Grand Prix-Tampa. Now in Grand Prix-Minneapolis he finds himself within striking distance of another Grand Prix Top 8, which would be his third of the season. Standing in his way was California standout and a member of the Cheontourage (or more recently perhaps the LSVontourage) David Ochoa. The two players were all business as they sat down to battle in Round 14.

    Could Gaudenis make his third Top 8 of the Grand Prix season?
    Kazandu Blademaster was first to the battlefield for David Ochoa, but Gaudenis was right behind with a Plated Geopede. When David cast Stonework Puma on his third turn to pump Blademaster, he was able to attack for 3 with his plus-sized vigilant first striker. Soon after he used Kor Skyfisher to return a land and cast Cliff Threader while across the field Vidugiris had missed a play for turn three. His fourth turn rolled around with the same lack of action, a surprise to those watching as he had two Mountains and two Swamps. Surely with four lands he could muster something?

    Ochoa gave no ground, using Kor Hookmaster to tap his opponent’s creature, then crashing with his team. The massive attack left Gaudenis at 3 life as he didn’t have any tricks for the combat step. One draw step later Vidugiris, apparently still devoid of action, shipped it to get to the second game, improbably dead after little interaction with his opponent.

    David Ochoa 1, Gaudenis Vidugiris 0

    A second-turn Plated Geopede from Gaudenis Vidugiris was promptly exiled with Journey to Nowhere from David Ochoa. Vidugiris reloaded with a Surrakar Marauder and Hagra Crocodile while Ochoa built his army using Kazandu Blademaster and Kor Aeronaut. Both players also brandished equipment for their forces, Gaudenis in the form of Blazing Torch and Ochoa with Spidersilk Net.

    David Ochoa tries to stave off a former champion.
    A second Surrakar Marauder for Gaudenis meant he could begin breaking through evasively if he could find himself some land, but mana was not forthcoming. Instead, he used his Blazing Torch to make short work of his opponent’s Kor Aeronaut, or at least he tried to. Ochoa opted to trade his Bold Defense instead, getting in for 3 while he was at it and keeping his evasive bear on the board. With Spidersilk Net equipped to Kazandu Blademaster, the Californian was able to start attacking with his Ally as well.

    A Kor Hookmaster from Ochoa caused further problems for Gaudenis Vidugiris, who was left with one fewer blocker and had no spells to cast on his own turn. At 8 life he was floundering despite his strong start to the game. He flicked through the cards in his hand before passing back, hoping for a miracle. Ochoa picked up his card for the turn, and put his opponent out of his misery. Windborne Charge picked up his two non-flyers, and with his entire team airborne David sent the crew in for lethal to take a very quick match.

    David Ochoa 2, Gaudenis Vidugiris 0

     

  • Sunday, 4:38 p.m. – Play Magic for Fun and Profit
    by Dane Young
  • Grand Prix weekends are about more than just the main event. Public Events has your back regardless of how you do in a 1,000-plus player tournament. There are countless tournaments over all types of formats, from Legacy to Booster Draft. Vintage players can even dust off their Moxes in the Vintage championships.

    The other big event that a lot of players look forward to is the Pro Tour Qualifier that is held on Sunday. Just ask the 240 players that are in the one running right now.

    The absolute best part about Public Events, however, is the relatively new Public Events Championship. Every time a player enters a Public Event, their name is entered into a drawing. In the middle of Sunday, 16 players are randomly picked from the entries and are tossed into two eight player pods of a Zendikar Booster Draft.

    The top four players from each pod then draft against each other for some insane prizes. First place gets both a Black Lotus and Timetwister! Second place gets an Ancestral Recall, and the rest of the power goes down in order of Time Walk, Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, Mox Pearl, Mox Emerald. How awesome is that?!

    Power.

    Between the main event, amazing Public Events, artist signings and making friends with hundreds of people who love Magic as much as you do, missing a Grand Prix weekend should be considered a crime. Don’t miss out!

     

  • Sunday, 4:41 p.m. - Quick Hits 5
    by Bill Stark
  •  

  • Feature Match: Round 15 – Tomoharu Saito vs. David Ochoa
    by Dane Young
  • Everything was on the line here. Both players needed a win in this round to make the Top 8 and the pairing presented an exciting matchup between Ochoa’s aggressive mono-White deck and Saito’s mid-ranged Green-Black deck.

    Ochoa led off with a Kazandu Blademaster which Tomoharu answered with River Boa. Kabira Evangel pumped up the Blademaster and David attacked for 3. Saito drew his card and jumped into the tank, spreading out his lands and striking a pensive pose. He played a Swamp and pointed Hideous End at Kazandu Blademaster before saying go. David sent his 2/3 across and played Armament Master, passing the turn with two Plains untapped.

    Tomoharu made a Greenweaver Druid and passed with the River Boa ready to block and regenerate, but Journey to Nowhere canceled that plan. Ochoa served up 4 more damage and reset a land with Kor Skyfisher. Tomoharu was taking his time with his decisions. Baloth Woodcrasher slowed down David’s team, but it didn’t stop the Kor Skyfisher from beating down for 2 more points, putting Saito on 9.

    Thinking cap on.
    Saito untapped and went into the tank again. David asked him to speed it up, so Grazing Gladehart and Swamp entered play before the Baloth smashed in. River Boa put another wall in the way of David’s team, but the Skyfisher got in there again, keeping Saito on 9.

    Saito didn’t have a land for the turn, so he had to content himself with Territorial Baloth. The Skyfisher struck again, but David couldn’t keep up with the monsters pouring out of Saito’s hand.

    Saito did have a land the next turn, gaining 2 life and making his 4/4s bigger. He sent both of his Baloths into the red zone where the Woodcrasher was met by Kabira Evangel and Armament Master. David let Saito assign blocking order before casting Bold Defense with kicker. It was good enough to take down the 8/8 with first strike, but David fell to 4 in the process.

    A post-combat Oran-Rief Recluse Walloped the Kor Skyfisher, and David packed it up after drawing for his turn.

    Saito 1, Ochoa 0

    Ochoa was on the play, but was forced to ship a one-lander back. Saito kept his immediately and David’s second hand was playable.

    He started things off with Kor Outfitter from his monowhite deck and Saito had no play on two. Kabira Evangel showed up on turn three and Greenweaver Druid from Saito was locked down by Kor Hookmaster before the White army marched in.

    Ochoa nonplussed.
    Grazing Gladehart gained 2 life back for Saito and David sent his team in for 6 more, putting Saito on 10. After combat he picked up his Kor Hookmaster with a Kor Skyfisher. Saito drew for the turn and did some math on his life pad. He laid a Swamp and Territorial Baloth, gaining 2 life and passing the turn back with Greenweaver Druid, Grazing Gladehart and Territorial Baloth on defense.

    Ochoa found a fourth Plains, but he used just three of them to play Stonework Puma. He gave his Evangel protection from Green and attacked for 4. Saito was ready with a big turn, playing a second Grazing Gladehart, a land and a kicked Marsh Casualties. He gained 4, attacked for 8 and passed the turn back to Ochoa’s now cleaner board. Ochoa laid out a second Kor Skyfisher and untapped a land with it before using Kor Hookmaster’s ability to lock down the Territorial Baloth.

    Saito ran out a couple of creatures, but Windborn Charge from the American managed to put it away.

    Saito 1, Ochoa 1

    Saito started with a land of each of his colors, but Kazandu Blademaster threatened to put the boots to him. Ochoa fired away with Teetering Peaks and Explorer’s Scope after Saito missed his third land drop. A Plains was sitting on top and Saito fell to 16. Saito missed again the next turn, discarding Timbermaw Larva and Pillarfield Ox joined the team.

    Saito was down to 12, but tried to get back in it with Greenweaver Druid after he found a third land. Kor Hookmaster locked it down and let David get more damage through before Saito’s fatties could gum up the board, and Nimbus Wings on the Blademaster took Saito to 9.

    Saito drew a second Swamp and pointed Hideous End at the flying Blademaster, but was still in a lot of trouble as he fell to just 5 life after David’s attack step. David added Stonework Puma and Spidersilk Net to take his Hookmaster out of Marsh Casualties reach. Saito squeezed out his draw for the turn before adding Grazing Gladehart and River Boa to the board. He passed the turn with a Forest untapped to regenerate his snake.

    David turned his team sideways and Saito blocked with Boa on Hookmaster and Gladehart on Stonework Puma while the River Boa regenerated. Bold Defense ate the Gladehart and put Saito on a precarious 2 life. Kor Skyfisher allowed Kor Hookmaster to lock down the Greenweaver Druid again and Saito found no help on the top of his deck.

    David Ochoa defeats Tomoharu Sait 2-1 and locks up a seat in the Top 8.

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