gppor10

Day 1 Coverage

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EVENT COVERAGE



 
  • Saturday, 10:17 a.m. – Grinder Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • A dozen last chance grinders awarded a host of lucky players three byes for the first rounds of Grand Prix-Portland? Their identities? Read on below, where you'll find not only who but what their decks contained to pull the feat off!

    Joseph Grove
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder



    Hunter Coale
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    Brandon Baker
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    David Horning
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    Christian Ruth
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    Dylan McDonald
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    David Tayler
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder


    Jon Loucks
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder




    Josh Marusek
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Grinder



     
  • Saturday, 11:21 a.m. – Build Along With Coverage
    by Josh Bennett
  • While the competitors struggle to figure out the optimal build of their various sealed pools, we offer you the opportunity to share their pain, albeit with nothing on the line. Feel free to share your take in the forums. Later in the day, we'll post our own versions for you to mock freely.

    Also, conspiracy theorists take note: The packs contained tokens for two different Oozes and a Beast.

    Here's what you have to work with:

    Dragon's Claw
    Gargoyle Sentinel
    Terramorphic Expanse
    Whispersilk Cloak
    Wurm's Tooth

    Assault Griffin
    Blinding Mage
    Celestial Purge
    Elite Vanguard
    2 Excommunicate
    Holy Strength
    Honor of the Pure
    Infantry Veteran
    Inspired Charge
    Knight Exemplar
    Mighty Leap
    Pacifism
    Palace Guard
    2 Safe Passage
    Siege Mastodon
    2 Stormfront Pegasus
    Tireless Missionaries
    White Knight

    Barony Vampire
    Black Knight
    Bog Raiders
    Child of Night
    Dark Tutelage
    Diabolic Tutor
    Haunting Echoes
    Liliana's Caress
    2 Liliana's Specter
    Mind Rot
    Nether Horror
    Quag Sickness
    Reassembling Skeleton
    Sign in Blood
    2 Viscera Seer

    Awakener Druid
    Brindle Boar
    2 Fog
    Garruk Wildspeaker
    Giant Growth
    Mitotic Slime
    Nature's Spiral
    Plummet
    Primal Cocoon
    Sacred Wolf
    Spined Wurm

    Aether Adept
    Alluring Siren
    2 Augury Owl
    Call to Mind
    Conundrum Sphinx
    Diminish
    Flashfreeze
    Foresee
    Harbor Serpent
    Ice Cage
    Jace's erasure
    Merfolk Spy
    Negate
    Preordain
    Sleep
    Tome Scour

    Arc Runner
    Canyon Minotaur
    Ember Hauler
    Goblin Balloon Brigade
    Goblin Tunneler
    Incite
    Lava Axe
    Manic Vandal
    Pyretic Ritual
    Shiv's Embrace
    Thunder Strike
    Vulshok Berserker



     
  • Feature Match: Round 1 – Martin Kearns vs Daniel Duterte
    by Zaiem Beg
  • Daniel Duterte was coming off winning a Mox Opal and $1,000 at the Assault on Mirrodin party at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. After a challenge from a friend, he had opted to bring his Mox trophy to Grand Prix-Portland, held near his hometown of Seattle. Martin Kearns, his opponent for the first round of the day, didn't have a cool trophy but he did have a desire to beat his opponent, trophy or not.

    Game 1

    Martin won the die roll and elected to play, both players liking their opening seven. Martin started off aggressively with Child of Night followed by Silvercoat Lion, and Daniel's turn three Cloud Elemental did nothing to keep him from falling behind on life totals. When Daniel's Azure Drake and Assault Griffin were both ended by Doom Blade on consecutive turns, he thought long and hard before casting Foresee with six lands on the battlefield.

    "I'll leave four on top," Daniel said, indicating what nobody wants to hear when the opponent scrys four.

    "Oh wow," replied Martin.

    Daniel decided that he wasn't done scrying, and cast an Augury Owl. Martin cast a Barony Vampire to add to his board, but it was outclassed by a Vengeful Archon.

    Martin sent everything into the red zone. Daniel grimaced, expecting a trick, but had to walk into it or he would die. Archon ate the Barony Vampire and the Owl and Child of Night traded, but there was no combat trick and Martin could only drop a second Barony Vampire.

    A Mystifying Maze was added to Daniel's board, making Martin's attacks even less effective. Daniel generated more card advantage by casting Foresee and Jace's Ingenuity, digging for a counterspell to ensure that his opponent was locked out of winning the game. When Martin attacked Daniel down to 1 life and cast a post-combat Corrupt, Daniel had indeed found the counterspell he needed, and Cancel ended Martin's hopes of taking game one.

    Daniel Duterte 1, Martin Kearns 0

    "You throw in a Jitte, right?" Martin asked, referring to the promo Umezawa's Jitte that every player received for registering in the event.

    "Yeah, I should have started it. I just didn't really read the card so I didn't think it was that good," Daniel deadpanned.

    Game two

    Martin started out with six cards on the play, while Daniel liked his seven. Martin led off with another two drop creature on turn two, but this time it was the more defensive Blinding Mage in contrast to the first game's Silvercoat Lion. But Daniel answered with his own Blinding Mage, as well as an air assault in Cloud Elemental and Azure Drake. When Martin's Barony Vampire attacked into Daniel's Azure Drake, Martin's board was left somewhat barren and Daniel took the opportunity to draw cards by casting Jace's Ingenuity and Foresee, digging for ways to slam the game shut.

    Daniel found exactly what he needed when he cast Ajani Goldmane, eliciting a "wow" from Martin.

    "That's a pretty good pool there," said Martin.

    "I got a little lucky," Daniel replied.

    The planeswalker boosted all of Daniel's creatures, and two turns later Martin's Child of Night and Barony Vampire were badly outclassed, resulting in the concession.

    Daniel Duterte defeats Martin Kearns 2-0.



     
  • Saturday, 12:18 p.m. – Build Along With Coverage 2 - Josh Bennett's Build
    by Josh Bennett
  • I tried White-Green at first and didn't like the way things were looking. My first build of blue-white didn't wow me either. I wound up skewing towards taking advantage of my fast fliers. This might wind up leaving me with a lot of clunky draws. I didn't add the Terramorphic Expanse because it seems like a land that comes into play tapped will always cost me.

    There are also some cards I worry I ought to be playing: Negate, Flashfreeze, Whispersilk Cloak.

    Hopefully this isn't a complete embarrassment.

    Josh Bennett's Build
    Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Build Along With Coverage



     
  • Feature Match: Round 2 – Terry Tsang vs Phil Freneau
    by Josh Bennett
  • It was a clash of the graybeards here in Round 2. Phil Freneau (Top 8 at Pro Tour Tokyo 2000) sat down against Canadian Terry Tsang (Top 8 at Pro Tour New York 1999), their time away from the game having reduced them to just a single bye apiece. With the GP so nearby (Tsang is from Vancouver, and Freneau is local) they couldn't resist coming out for some gaming.


    Freneau got on the board quickly with Infantry Veteran (locked in an Ice Cage by Tsang), and then Blinding Mage, ready to free his one-drop. Tsang played his third land and tapped out for Crystal Ball. Freneau played Augury Owl, leaving mana open to bust the Cage. Tsang stopped the beatdown cold with Azure Drake.

    Freneau shifted gears and cast Foresee. Two went to the bottom, and the others into his hand. Tsang went looking with his Ball on upkeep but simply played a land and passed. Freneau added Cloud Elemental, still unable to bust through. Chandra's Outrage sent it to the bin at end of turn, and the reason for leaving the Blinding Mage alive was made clear after he untapped.

    "Inferno Titan."

    Freneau flipped it around to read the text. "Seems good."

    The Titan smashed the Veteran and Tapper, leaving Freneau with just an Owl in play. He gamely made a Gargoyle Sentinel. Tsang swung in with the Titan and killed it, asking it Freneau had the Diminish. He did. Tsang replaced it with Harbor Serpent, leaving himself empty-handed. Augury Owl for Freneau sent three cards to the bottom.

    Tsang rigged his deck with Crystal Ball before untapping and played yet another backbreaker: Conundrum Sphinx. Tsang smiled, saying "my card pool's a little powerful."

    In a couple attacks they were on to Game 2.

    Tsang 1 - Freneau 0

    Phil Freneau

    A judge wandered by with the results slip and had to ask if this was the match he was looking for. Tsang laughed.

    "Not even the judges know us. If this was 2000, everyone would know our names. Now it's 2010. We're washed up."

    "We're has-beens," agreed Freneau

    "Yep. Still, better to be a has-been than a never-was."

    Freneau's early Blinding Mage fell to Lightning Bolt, and he followed up with Gargoyle Sentinel. Tsang played Cloud Elemental. Freneau spent his fourth turn swinging for three. Tsang returned fire and made no play. Freneau hit again, his fifth land letting him add Stormfront Pegasus to the mix.

    Tsang paused on his fifth turn, then drew three with Jace's Ingenuity. He held his Cloud Elemental back to block. The Sentinel knocked him to eleven. Freneau dug with Augury Owl and left two on top. Would Tsang wreck house with Titan in consecutive games?

    Mercifully for Freneau, he didn't. He put the Sentinel on Ice and passed the turn. Freneau made no play. With a full grip and under no pressure, Tsang elected to play the waiting game. They drew and played lands for a pair of turns. Eventually Tsang played Harbor Serpent with three mana open.

    Freneau played out Infantry Veteran and Wall of Frost. Tsang mopped up a bit with Pyroclasm then attacked for seven. He added an insult of getting back Jace's Ingenuity with Call to Mind. Not even Stormtide Leviathan from Freneau could blunt his assault.

    Still, there was no reason to leave it on the other side of the table. Tsang tapped five for Mind Control Freneau nodded. After all, why wouldn't it be?

    Freneau bought some time with Sleep but the writing was on the wall.

    Terry Tsang defeats Phil Freneau 2-0



     
  • Feature Match: Round 3 – Jeff Cunningham vs Cassius Weathersby
    by Bill Stark
  • A former pro player, Canadian Jeff Cunningham entered the third round of competition at Grand Prix-Portland undefeated. Unlike his glory days, however, he had to play the third round rather than rely on three byes from his Pro Points as in years past. His opponent was Cassius Weathersby who was no stranger to the feature match area having been featured at Grand Prix-Los Angeles in 2009.

    Game 1

    Cunningham lost the die roll but came out of the gates considerably faster than his opponent. He opened on Infantry Veteran, then followed up with Stormfront Pegasus. His opponent used an early Doom Blade to tame the Pegasus, but then found a Gargoyle Sentinel staring down at him from Jeff's side of the battlefield. Weathersby managed to reach five mana, but still hadn't cast anything beyond the Doom Blade for the Pegasus.

    His opponent didn't seem to mind, simply spending his mana each turn to activate his Gargoyle in order to munch 4-point chunks out of his opponent's life total with help from the Infantry Vet. "You've got to have something in there," Jeff muttered, nodding at his opponent's hand. Finally Cassius pulled the trigger, casting a Serra Angel. His opponent, however, was ready, casting a Doom Blade of his own to take out the 4/4 and attacking to drop Cassius to just 6. In the background, newly minted Pro Tour champion Paul Rietzl leaned in to whisper "This is quite a feature match for the third round!"

    The Serra Angel from Weathersby proved to be a test spell as he untapped and reloaded with Baneslayer Angel. The powerful 5/5 mythic helped explain why Cassius was undefeated on the day, and it drew a long pause from Jeff who tried to figure out what his solution for the Angel was. He opted to cast Quag Sickness targeting the flyer, and promptly cut it down to just a 2/2. That allowed him to continue attacking with his Gargoyle, pumped by Infantry Veteran.

    Attacking with his 2/2, Cassius built up some of his missing life total and cast a third white flyer by tapping 3WW for a repeat copy of Serra Angel. Fearlessly Cunningham sent his team of creatures to the red zone, unafraid of losing them to the Angel. Cassius had no choice but to block, facing lethal damage at 4 life, and opted to put his Serra in front of the Gargoyle. That drew a Mighty Leap from his opponent which saved the artifact creature and took out the 4/4, while Cassius fell to 3 from the Infantry Veteran.

    With the turn back Cassius worked on digging himself out, attacking with Baneslayer Angel to move back to 5. That gave him enough cushion to cast Sign in Blood on himself, and the two cards he drew allowed him to deal with both of his opponent's creatures: Excommunicate for the Gargoyle Sentinel and Stabbing Pain for the Infantry Veteran. He passed with little mana up, and his opponent showed him a Corrupt in his hand, enough for lethal. Cassius hesitated, but after doing the math realized he was dead and conceded.

    Jeff Cunningham 1, Cassius Weathersby 0

    Jeff Cunningham

    Game 2

    The second game started off quickly for Jeff Cunningham, matching his pace in the first as he cast Ajani's Pridemate followed by Child of Night. But in contrast to his own first game, Cassius Weathersby had a Gargoyle Sentinel on his third turn. Not only was that the creature that did the most damage to him in the previous game, but it was the first time in the match he had cast a creature that cost less than five mana!

    Jeff began attacking, but lost his 2/1 Child to a Stabbing Pain, then his Pridemate to Assassinate. On five mana Cassius hit the twilight hour and plopped a Serra Angel to the battlefield. A turn later, however, the 4/4 flyer was dead to Condemn from Cunningham. Weathersby reloaded with a Stone Golem, and Cunningham replied with Assault Griffin. The Griffin was soon joined by Squadron Hawk, and the Canadian Cunningham even had Deathmark for his opponent's Baneslayer Angel as it reappeared in the match.

    Rise from the Grave brought the Baneslayer back, but comically the rarely relevant portion of the spell that turned the 5/5 into a black Zombie on top of being an Angel proved to matter! Celestial Purge, which Jeff had likely boarded in to tame his opponent's black creatures, had a Baneslayer-sized legal target. Quag Sickness then helped Jeff minimize the hurt coming from his opponent's Stone Golem and it looked like Jeff was quickly running away with things.

    Cassius worked to buy himself some time, casting Excommunicate to put his opponent's Assault Griffin back on top of his library. He then cast Crystal Ball which promised to dig him into the goods left in his deck provided he could survive the continued aerial assault from his opponent. Pacifism helped to that end, turning off the Griffin, and Jeff looked to the top of his deck for some help.

    The two players slowly worked on racing one another, Cassius using his Crystal Ball to find the goods, Cunningham forced to simply draw one card each turn. The 2/2 Stone Golem from Cassius dug into Jeff for 2 turn after turn while double Squadron Hawk from Cunningham backed by an Infantry Veteran allowed Jeff to fight back. A second Serra Angel from Weathersby was Pacified but with the scores 8-2 in Cassius's favor, Cunningham still had his work cut out for him.

    Wild Griffin made an appearance for Cassius, but was quickly killed by a second Quag Sickness. Jeff traded off a Liliana's Specter and a second Mighty Leap for his opponent's Stone Golem and Nether Horror, putting him back into the lead as he beat down with a Squadron Hawk pumped by Infantry Veteran each turn. But, as it had multiple times throughout the game, tempo swung once again. An innocuous Roc Egg, which had sat on the battlefield for turns doing nothing against an aerial assault, died to a Doom Blade from Cassius himself. That gave him a 3/3 flying Bird token which allowed him to block one of his opponent's Hawks, then when Jeff had no removal for the creature they were on to the third game, tied.

    Jeff Cunningham 1, Cassius Weathersby 1

    Cassius Weathersby

    Game 3

    For the third time in the match, Jeff Cunningham had an aggressive start out of the gates, casting a Squadron Hawk on his second turn. When he didn't search up a second copy of the 1/1, as he had in the second game, it became apparent he had drawn the other Bird on one of his early draws. Cassius had no creatures, again, opting to sculpt his draws with a Crystal Ball instead of casting attackers or blockers. A Roc Egg soon guarded the ground for him, but did little against his opponent's actual creatures which all had flying.

    Weathersby used a Duress to see his opponent's hand and found a Doom Blade for the taking. Serra Angel found its way to the battlefield for Cassius, but died almost immediately to a Quag Sickness. Stormfront Pegasus for Jeff allowed him to double the size of his attacking force on power, but he was clearly concerned about losing out to his opponent's card selection via Crystal Ball. Pacifism from Cassius took out Stormfront Pegasus, and a Stabbing Pain took out a Squadron Hawk. Jeff tried to reload with a Child of Night but was at risk of falling too far behind from his opponent's scheduled draw steps.

    Stone Golem from Cassius provided him with a threat that stayed on the battlefield and began crunching his opponent's life total. Confident in his status in the game, the Golem owner cast a Sign in Blood targeting himself, falling to 7 in the process. Between the sorcery and the Ball, Cassius managed to find himself his Baneslayer Angel but slow-rolled it to force his opponent to use up his removal on other creatures first. The plan worked as an Assassinate took out Stone Golem, and Weathersby tried a Nightwing Shade as a final test spell before pulling the trigger on the Baneslayer.

    Across the battlefield, Cunningham had managed to drop his opponent to just 3 by way of a Howling Banshee. He didn't look pleased by the Baneslayer, however. In the background, time in the round was called and judge Mike MacPhee, monitoring the match, reminded the players they had a three minute extension after the match had been forced to switch tables in the feature match area. Cunningham appealed the ruling, concerned that it was more time than was used for the move. Head judge Jeff Morrow came to the table and upheld MacPhee's ruling, which Cunningham accepted with a shoulder shrug.

    The Nightwing Shade snuck across the red zone, but surprisingly the Baneslayer stayed home. Post-combat Weathersby used an Excommunicate on his opponent's Squadron Hawk and cast Nether Horror. Cunningham was in bad shape and he knew it, chumping the Horror a turn later with his Howling Banshee. Because the Baneslayer was staying home, the chump put Cunningham into a position in which he could win if he drew a Gravedigger to bring the Banshee back for re-casting. Before he could, Cassius cast an Ajani's Pridemate and finally felt safe enough to attack with the Baneslayer. The 5/5 pumped the Pridemate up to 3/3 and knocked Cunningham to 8 while giving its owner a 5 point swing in life. The time extension ended and the players were down to the actual five extra turns, but his opponent's Crystal Ball proved too much and Jeff's deck didn't offer up what was needed to finish Weathersby; Cassius held on for the dubya.

    Cassius Weathersby defeats Jeff Cunningham 2-1.



     
  • Saturday, 8:21 p.m. – Meeting Dr. Garfield
    by Zaiem Beg

  • Creator of Magic Richard Garfield took some time to meet fans of the game, signing cards, shirts, playmats, and more. We caught up with a few people and asked about their experience with meeting him.


    Name: Nathan Wobbe
    Home town: Corvallis, Oregon
    How long have you been playing Magic? Since around Legends.
    What did he sign? My friend Jason and his wife are celebrating their fifth anniversary and I had him make a fifth anniversary card. He also signed my Ornithopters and gave them bowties.
    Why did you want to meet him? He's the creator of the game I love!
    What was he like? I was humbled by his presence, but it's not overwhelming. He doesn't come off as unapproachable and had a pleasantness about him that makes a person comfortable when speaking with him.


    Name: Cody Jacobson
    Home town: Seattle, Washington
    How long have you been playing Magic? For about ten years.
    What did he sign? My DCI card and some assorted cards I had.
    Why did you want to meet him? He created the game that is such a big part of my life. It's taught me things in life like how to be more forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes in life, as in Magic.
    What was he like? He was really nice and he seemed happy.


    Name: Elaine Capella, Adam Grund-Klampit, and Amanda Houck
    Home town: Monmouth, Oregon
    How long have you been playing Magic? About two and a half years.
    What did he sign? The first time through the line (about 30 minutes), I had him sign the box for our cube. Then we realized we wanted to have him sign some other things, so we went through the line again and had him sign a playmat, an Armadillo Cloak, and a driver's test.
    Why did you want to meet him? Because he made Magic!
    What was he like? He was friendly and seemed very nice.



     
  • Feature Match: Round 4 – Michael Jacob vs Ben Seck
    by Zaiem Beg
  • Michael "MJ" Jacob was fresh off a Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour-Amsterdam as he entered the fourth round of Grand Prix-Portland undefeated. "The" Ben Seck is a native Australian living in California and had his own Pro Tour Top 8 on his resume at Pro Tour-Yokohama in 2003.

    "You haven't played any games yet, right?" asked Michael.

    "I have played one. But my last opponent was 2-0, so I can beat a 2-0 deck," replied his opponent.

    "My deck is mediocre," Jacob, a former National champion, replied.

    Game 1

    MJ mulliganed his seven, but looked at the top card of his library. "Aww, that would have been such a good keep. Seven lands, Crystal Ball is the nuts!"

    "You'll never draw a land again!" Seck replied.

    "Hopefully five lands, Crystal Ball," Jacob said as he was shuffling his deck. "Hold on to your Manic Vandals for my Crystal Ball."

    Jacob liked his six, but neither player had much action early on. Michael cast a turn-two Child of Night, while "The" Ben Seck missed several land drops after casting a Gargoyle Sentinel.

    "You know what sucks?" Seck's opponent asked, continuing, "when I mis-build my deck by one card, and then I draw that card." He cast the Ice Cage on Ben's Gargoyle Sentinel saying, "This is supposed to be an Island, but it's an Ice Cage this game. The sick thing is you probably have no way to get rid of the Ice Cage."


    "I've got ways to deal with it."

    The game stalled out with the Australian casting another Gargoyle Sentinel, but Jacob was able to profitably attack with his Child of Night after bouncing the 3/3 with an Aether Adept. The second Gargoyle Sentinel was Doom Bladed by Jacob.

    MJ cast a Bog Raiders saying, "Gray Ogres never stop," then looked at Ben's board and said, "you don't have any Swamps, that sucks."

    Both players traded tempo swings by casting Aether Adepts, but Jacob chipped away at Seck's life total and when his American opponent cast a Howling Banshee, the Australian was precariously at 3 life.

    Neither player had any good attacks until Jacob felt safe to attack with his Banshee; Ben double blocked with Azure Drake and a freshly cast Cloud Elemental, killing the 3/3. Rise from the Grave brought the Banshee back onto the battlefield, dealing the final 3 points of damage for the win.

    Michael Jacob 1, Ben Seck 0

    "I'm boarding out Ice Cage for an Island, so don't think of bringing in things that destroy it," the Pro Tour-Amsterdam competitor teased his opponent.

    Ben thought about his play that lost him the game, "I probably wouldn't have won that game, but maybe I should have thought about it some more," referring to the double block. "You could have also had Gravedigger."

    "Or Disentomb."

    Game 2

    Jacob again opened on Child of Night with an exultant, "She's back!" but Seck quickly cast a turn-three Wall of Frost.

    "Don't think I won't attack. I'll gain two life! Ha ha!" said the American as he ran his Child of Night into the Wall, then followed that up with an Alluring Siren.


    Jacob cast Nightwing Shade, and although it was bounced by Aether Adept, Seck had no permanent answer to the Shade.

    "I read Inquest, so I know that this is a combo," Michael said, pointing to Nightwing Shade and Alluring Siren. Seck was slowly seeing his creatures picked off by that very duo, and within a few turns Ben's board was just a lonely Wall of Frost.

    Summing up the game Seck opined, "Alluring Siren has never been so good."

    "Where are your Ice Cages? You can Ice Cage that guy," MJ replied.

    Seck never did find an answer to the Nightwing Shade/Alluring Siren combo, and when he ran out of chump blockers for the Nightwing Shade was forced to extend the hand.

    Michael Jacob defeats Ben Seck 2-0.



     
  • Saturday, 9:06 p.m. – Elspeth vs. Tezzeret
    by Bill Stark
  • It is the hottest new product available for Magic: the Gathering, the latest Duel Deck. It pits Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Tezzeret the Seeker against one another, the artifact planeswalker wielding powerful blue spells with artifacts to support them while Elspeth calls forth a host of Soldiers to do her bidding. The sixty card decks, each of which comes in the boxed set, features some alternate art cards, special foil versions of the planeswalkers, and of course hours of game play. But are they fun? That was the question I set out to answer at Grand Prix-Portland, my shiny new copy recently purchased. But who to trouble with the playing of the games?

    Tom Martell vs. Pat Chapin

    First up were pros Patrick Chapin and Tom Martell. When presented with the decks, Chapin immediately attempted to shotgun Tezzeret, but Martell demanded a roll off. "You know Tezzeret is both our styles," Tom demanded, before losing the die roll anyway. Things started off well for Chapin initially, but soon his opponent's board was cluttered with creatures and a surprise Abolish meant Chapin was scooping.

    Post-game I asked each player which card(s) they felt was most powerful from the game. "Esperzoa. Faerie Mechanist was pretty sick too," Chapin replied. For Martell it was the removal spell that had allowed him to blow his opponent out. "Abolish!" He said, a huge grin spread across his face.

    How did they feel about the game play? "It's fun enough that I want to try getting him best two out of three," replied Chapin. "There's a variety of ways for players to interact. Both decks are interesting."


    Elspeth 1, Tezzeret 0

    Chris Crile vs. Ben Torgerson

    The second battle found Chris Crile and Ben Torgerson battling one another. Crile had traveled to the Grand Prix from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to meet up with his college friend and roommate (and former Magic teammate!) Ben, who lives up the road from Portland in Olympia, Washington. While it had been a few years since the two had played, the allure of a Grand Prix and the chance to rehash old times proved too strong to pass up, and they made the trip by car and by plane to battle in Oregon.

    After a brief explanation of how planeswalkers work for Chris, who hadn't played with the spell type yet, the two got underway. Torgerson battled for Tezzeret while Chris was using the monowhite deck. Tezzeret took an early lead using Contagion Clasp to great effect, but when Chris ripped his Elspeth, Knight-Errant, it was all over.

    Post-game the players felt their best cards were pretty obvious. "Contagion Clasp made all my other cards better," Torgerson pointed out, citing the interaction between the Scars of Mirrodin preview card (each deck has one) and cards like Serrated Biskelion, Everflowing Chalice, and of course planeswalkers themselves.

    And Chris's best card? "Elspeth! But I liked Swords to Plowshares. I've always been a big fan of that card."


    Elspeth 2, Tezzeret 0

    Brad Nelson vs. Paul Rietzl

    Recreating the Finals of last weekend's Pro Tour-Amsterdam, superstars Paul Rietzl and Brad Nelson sat down for the final Duel Decks battle. Rietzl immediately tried to shotgun the Tezzeret deck, as Tom Martell had done before him, but Nelson wisely forced a die roll to determine who would play which deck. Paul wound up with Tezzeret anyway, and Nelson had Elspeth.

    "I already played these decks at Pro Tour-Amsterdam," Nelson pointed out, having taken the time out of making the Finals of that event to get a few games in at the Champion's Challenge in the Netherlands. Having seen the contents of the decks gave him a decided edge over Rietzl, who had no idea what surprises he might find in Tezzeret's arsenal.

    "They made new cards?" Paul asked, indicating he had drawn Contagion Clasp in his opening hand. The two got underway with Rietzl bursting onto the table via the affinity on his Frogmite. But Nelson's powerful white creatures proved too much, and he managed to successfully fend off the artifact horde from Paul to ironically defeat Rietzl with the very strategy (White Weenie) Paul had used just one weekend prior to defeat Brad with in the Finals of the Pro Tour.

    "I love these decks," Nelson said after finishing his games. "They're s much fun. I've loved every Duel Deck so far."

    Paul echoed that sentiment, saying, "I think they're cool. It's an interesting balance that rewards you for learning what's in your deck. It's useful to have fun playing and learning."

    "It teaches you a lot of keyword abilities!" Nelson added.

    Final count? Elspeth swept, though each Tezzeret player acknowledged that was probably a result of their not knowing what was in their decks.


    Elspeth 3, Tezzeret 0

    The Duel Decks: Elseth vs. Tezzeret is available for sale now.



     
  • Feature Match: Round 5 – Tom Martell vs Alex West
    by Josh Bennett
  • ChannelFireball's Tom Martell was pumping himself up with some tunes through his headphones. This round he faced Alex West, writer for the rival website Star City Games. Would this match determine website supremacy? No. No it would not.

    Martell led off with Elite Vanguard. West countered with Squadron Hawk, who dug up a friend. Martell played out Blinding Mage and said
    "I'm gettin jiggy with it." He then broke into an impromptu chorus of the eponymous song, accompanied by subdued dance.

    "I thought you said you'd turn the music off during the match," said West

    "I did. This is all Martell."

    Quag Sickness took care of the tapper. Martell replaced it with Stormfront Pegasus, leaving a blue mana up. West drew two with Sign in Blood and played out his second Hawk.

    Martell played his fourth land and took a moment to consider his options. The one he went with was a good one: Ajani Goldmane, boosting his team and attacking for a vigilant six. West let it through. He untapped and Excommunicated the Pegasus. His fliers dinged Ajani down to a single loyalty.


    Martell replayed his Pegasus and added Silvercoat Lion. He buffed his team, sending Ajani to the graveyard, and attacked for four more. West was down to eight. Martell had two cards left in hand.

    West tried to stem the bleeding with Serra Angel. Martell's army swung in. The Angel took on the 3/3 Silvercoat Lion and two Hawks teamed up on the 3/2 Pegasus. Martell was ready with Mighty Leap to kill the Angel and West was down to four. West played out Barony Vamprie. Martell untapped and played Foresee, and showed Unsummon for the win.

    Martell 1 - West 0

    West boarded in a pair of Duresses for the second game and played one on his first turn. Martell shrugged, saying "I kept a loose one." He shipped Unsummon to the bin and showed five land and Gargoyle Sentinel. West followed up with Squadron Hawk, fetching the second.

    Martel played land and passed. West played his second Hawk but had no third land. Martell played out his Sentinel. West flew in for two but still hadn't found land. Martel played his fourth land and passed the turn.

    Finally West found a third land, but it was Terramorphic Expanse, delaying him a turn. Martell hit for three and played Stormfront Pegasus. West fired back for one and Duressed again, seeing only lands and a second Sentinel. He added Wild Griffin to the table.

    Martell roused his Sentinel again for three in the air and played a second. West was at fourteen. West, now with five land, cast Sign in Blood and a Sentinel of his own. "Probably the most Sentinels that have ever been in play at once," said Martell. He tapped six and swung in with both Sentinels and dropped West to six.

    West gave one of the Sentinels Quag Sickness for -2/-2 and played a Silvercoat Lion. He snuck in for another point with one of his Hawks. Martell sent with his Sentinels again, losing the smaller one to a Hawk. West was down to three. Liliana's Specter stole a land from Martell. Another swing from the Sentinel, and this time the remaining Hawk and the Specter teamed up to kill it. Martell replaced it with a Cloud Crusader.

    Unfortunately for him, West was starting to bring out the big guns. First was Liliana Vess, stealing a card from his hand. Martell attacked to put West to one. He played a Pegasus. West's follow-up was the backbreaking Platinum Angel. It was even foil.

    Martell swung in gamely and West blocked the Pegasus with his Angel, falling to negative one from the unblocked Crusader. Martell had no way to remove the Angel and was forced to pass the turn. West's attack left him just a turn to live. Martell check his top card, then scooped.

    Martell 1 - West 1

    Martell was shaking his head as he shuffled up. "I should've attacked turn four. Wasn't thinking. You're manascrewed, I'll gladly trade three for two."

    West led with Duress again and this time caught Martell holding Ajani Goldmane. The rest of his hand was a Stormfront Pegasus, Celestial Purge and lands. They performed a familiar dance of Pegasus held off by Squadron Hawk (West glum becuase he already held the second), and then Blinding Mage dispatched by Quag Sickness

    Martell had no play on his four land. West hit for one in the air and played a second Hawk. Martell found a Gargoyle Sentinel, which went unanswered by West, and then Preordained himself a second one. West played his sixth land and still had nothing to contribute to the board. Martel hit for three and passed.

    West attacked for two, then plunked down land number seven. Naturally, that meant it was Platinum Angel time. Martel swung back at him with Sentinel and Pegasus. West though for a moment, then put his Angel in front of the Pegasus. Martell showed him Mighty Leap for the trade.


    West played out a Sentinel of his own, trading it when Martell crashed in with both of his. West fired back for two, leaving them both at eleven. He added Child of Night to the board. Martell drew and passed back. Quag Sickness took care of the second Sentinel and West charged in with his team. The Celestial Purge from earlier took care of the Child. West tried a Cloud Crusader, but Martell stopped it with Mana Leak.

    Martell untapped and drew. He had a few cards in hand, but no action. West, free of the threat of Celestial Purge, playing Liliana Vess and forcing a discard from Martell: Solemn Offering. His forces brought Martell to seven. Martel added a Pegasus to his board. West forced another discard and played Cloud Crusader.

    Before Vess could get completely out of hand, Martell cast Sleep, allowing him to untap and hit Vess down to five Loyalty. West docked her to three to tutor up a card. Martell took her to one and played his big trump: Vengeful Archon.

    The minutes were counting down and the players picked up their pace of play. West incremented Vess and played out his tutored-up Serra Angel, leaving him enough power to prevent the Archon from attacking. They started playing draw-go, with Vess ticking up. Once, West tutored, thinking he had another removal spell in his deck, but found only Excommunicate, taking it over Royal Assassin in his haste.

    Excommunicate only made Martell throw up a shield, then replay his Archon on his turn. Now West was committed to incrementing Vess to her Ultimate. Along the way he drew his Royal Assassin. The ultimate yielded a ton of monsters, including Blinding Mage. On the first extra turn he was able to tap down the Archon, Assassinate it, and then attack for enough to break through the redirection shield for twelve, with Platinum Angel keeping him alive despite going into the negatives.

    Alex West defeats Tom Martell 2-1



     
  • Saturday, 9:50 p.m. – Build Along With Coverage - Bill Stark
    by Josh Bennett
  • "I initially tried white-blue and blue-green, but I settled on white-green because it is simultaneously very aggressive, but also lets me play the green bombs."

    Here is Bill's take on things.




     
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Tim Aten vs Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
    by Bill Stark
  • Brazilian superstar Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa managed to put an exclamation point onto his Pro Tour career earlier this year by becoming crowned the champion of Pro Tour-San Juan. The event marked a milestone in PVDDR's time on Tour as he finally took home a crown after averaging a Pro Tour Top 8 per season he has played professionally. Those numbers were incredible in light of the industry average, but one player who wasn't impressed was the curmudgeonly Tim Aten. The writer, begrudgingly loved by many for his prose, was a stalwart Pro Tour competitor though of late he had been far more likely to watch a Grand Prix than compete in one. That didn't take away the fact he had multiple Top 8s to his name, including at the Pro Tour level.

    Game 1

    The first game began with Paulo on the play, but things weren't exactly exciting early. Both had utility two-drops, Aten in the form of Sylvan Ranger and his opponent in the form of Reassembling Skeleton. The 1/1 was a lynchpin for comboing with Viscera Seer and Bloodthrone Vampire, but also made a nigh unkillable blocker. Tim tried to get on the board with a Garruk's Companion but found it bounced by his opponent's Aether Adept. A Nightwing Shade from Paulo was killed with Lightning Bolt out of Tim.

    The re-cast Companion was taken out for good by a block from the Adept, and post-combat a Cudgel Troll hit for Aten. The 4/3 could dominate the ground but Tim was tapped out and had no green mana with which to regenerate his creature. That gave Damo da Rosa just the shot he needed to use Doom Blade to kill it; Aten reloaded with a Crystal Ball. Preordain for Paulo Vitor left him convinced it was safe to attack, and he sent his Skeleton to the red zone.

    An Awakener Druid for Aten put him in charge, awakening a Forest and allowing him to crack back for 5 along with his Sylvan Ranger. Azure Drake hit for Paulo who was trying to come up with an edge on the battlefield before he lost to his opponent's Crystal Ball. An Earth Servant from Aten made that look increasingly less likely, but Quag Sickness from his Brazilian opponent took out Awakener Druid and turned off the activated Forest, then a Skeleton block on Sylvan Ranger and a Doom Blade for Earth Servant cleared Tim's board of creatures entirely.


    Giant Spider allowed the American, Aten, to begin rebuilding all the while peering into his Crystal Ball for clues as to what was coming up in his draw step. Doom Blade allowed him to take out a Stone Golem from his opponent, but he was still unable to attack, instead forced to stare down his opponent's 2/4 Azure Drake with his own 2/4 Giant Spider. Paulo Vitor threw a haymaker in the form of Sword of Vengeance, but using a series of Lightning Bolts Tim was able to keep the equipment contained by clearing his opponent's board of creatures.

    A Spined Wurm for Aten was quickly stolen by Mind Control from Damo da Rosa, then soon found itself wielding a Sword of Vengeance. Tim didn't seem pleased by that and used a Chandra's Outrage to kill his own creature. Still, he was slowly pecking away at Paulo's life total with the Giant Spider, and still had the Crystal Ball filtering his draws. A Juggernaut off the top for his opponent quickly shifted things, picking up the Sword and punching Tim to just 2 life.

    That gave Aten exactly one turn to find yet another removal spell, and he activated his Crystal Ball in an effort to do so. Sensing the game was near its end, Paulo Vitor perused his opponent's graveyard making a mental note of what was there while Tim figured out what to do with the cards on top of his library. When Aten put them on the bottom then drew a blank he promptly conceded and headed to the second game behind.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Tim Aten 0

    "He's not thinking about mulliganing, he's plotting out his first five turns," Tim Aten said as Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa opened on seven cards and considered them deeply before declaring whether he'd keep.

    "He did that to spite me!" Aten cried as Paulo did mulligan before keeping six.

    Game 2

    Trying to accelerate his opening draw, Aten cast a Llanowar Elves to start the second game. His opponent was ready, however, using Quag Sickness to take the 1/1 out before casting Azure Drake, Stone Golem, and then an Aether Adept, all allowing the Brazilian to come out to a faster start. Giant Spider and Sylvan Ranger hit for Aten, but when he attempted an Earth Servant it was killed by Mana Leak.

    Paulo's bomby equipment, Sword of Vengeance, agreeably hopped from the top of his library to the table and allowed him to begin putting a serious hurt on his opponent after being equipped to Aether Adept. When Tim replied with a Mitotic Ooze, Paulo Vitor switched the equipment to his Azure Drake and continued attacking. Chandra's Outrage answered the Drake, and a Greater Basilisk from Tim left him feeling confident enough to begin attacking with his Ooze.


    Soon, however, he had a Sword-wielding Stone Golem to deal with. That merited a chump-block from the Basilisk, but a Brittle Effigy from the American gave him a hope of containing the Sword for at least one more attack. The artifact was quickly used to deal with an Air Servant, but Paulo Vitor simply reloaded with a Nightwing Shade.

    At 3 life, Tim Aten was spinning his wheels trying to stay alive in the match. He cast a Fire Servant, but needed blocks to survive against his opponent's Sword of Vengeance. However, a bit of mana flood gave Aten an out: if he had a Fireball either in his hand or his deck, the Fire Servant would make the card lethal by allowing it to deal 14, doubling up on the seven lands Aten could pump into the X portion of the spell's casting cost. That was exactly Paulo's life total, but the Brazilian was able to keep the pressure on, dropping his opponent to just 1 with an attack with his flyer. Did Tim have the Fireball? The world would never know as he scooped up his cards after drawing a non-Fireball spell. . .

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2, Tim Aten 0



     
  • Saturday, 10:53 p.m. – A Bounty on His Head
    by Bill Stark
  • Grand Prix events are famous for offering tons of things to do for Magic players and fans of all stripes. Here in Portland, for example, none other than Richard Garfield (the inventor of Magic) was here signing for fans as were a dozen artists, a half dozen dealers, a full stable of the game's biggest pros, a healthy contingent of judges, and even a well-staffed public events table. But for the just-shy-of-a-dozen players who found themselves paired against one Scott Elliott, a special extra was tossed their way. So who exactly is Scott Elliott?

    The Seattle resident is the Senior Director of Sales for Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the world. He's also an avid Magic player, which he has been enjoying since 1994, and decided to combine his job with his love of Magic. How? By putting a bounty on his own head, offering to give away badges for entry into Gen Con 2011 to all players who managed to beat him!

    "I like playing Magic and wanted to play this event," Scott said, explaining why he had decided to run the special promotion for Gen Con. "I wanted to give something away to people who beat me, and anything that adds one additional iota of fun is worth doing." Unfortunately for players, Scott's Sealed pool was a hot one and at the time we chatted he was an impressive 4-2-1. But Scott is a generous fellow.

    "I gave away a pass earlier to a woman who was a fan of ours on Facebook and Twitter, and recognized me here," Scott said, bending the rules of the bounty hunt to make sure he distributed as many of the free Gen Con badges as he could. "And I gave one to the player I drew with for being such a good sport," he added.

    So what does a badge for Gen Con 2011 get you, exactly? Entrance to the event, held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, and this past year was home to 8,000+ events over the course of the weekend, many of which were Magic tournaments. "We had a record breaking crowd this year," Scott said, "over 30,000 people. Gen Con 2011 is going to get bigger and better." The badges Scott was handing out over the weekend guarantee free admittance to anyone who has one.

    With only a few rounds left to play, Scott clearly wasn't willing to leave with so many badges still under his care. He had spoken with tournament organizer Tim Shields about means by which he could give away additional passes, including rewarding a lucky judge for his or her hard work on the weekend. As a level 3 judge and a contributor to Magic organized play efforts, Scott certainly knows a thing or two about the significant effort both judges and tournament organizers go through to bring players and fans fantastic events like Grand Prix-Portland.

    And if you haven't had a chance to play against Scott yet this weekend? There may still be opportunities on Sunday!



     
  • Feature Match: Round 7 – Arthur Halavais vs Luis Scott-Vargas
    by Josh Bennett
  • In six words, Luis Scott-Vargas is a giggling punster and a master mage. Who else could Top 16 a Pro Tour and post a picture of himself pouting in a gigantic clog? This round he faced off against blogger and grinder Arthur Halavais.

    The first game was quick and brutal. Halavais mulliganed, and after they traded Children of Night, LSV was happy to make things worse him with Liliana's Specter. Halavais had gotten out a sluggish Gargoyle Sentinel, but was stuck on three lands. LSV Cultivated into Acidic Slime. Some rapid beats later they were shuffling up for Game 2.

    Scott-Vargas 1 - Halavais 0

    Halavais put LSV on the play for the second game, and it looked like it might backfire when LSV led with Birds of Paradise and Liliana's Specter (catching an island). Halavais played his second land and took two in the air, and LSV Cultivated. Halavais set him back with Pyroclasm.

    Gravedigger brought the Specter back for another round. Halavais made no play. LSV hit for two and played Child of Night. Still no move from Halavais. LSV hit him again and decided to play the Specter, catching a mountain. Halavais cleared out the 2/1s with a Fireball.

    LSV gamely hit for two more, but with six land in play and three cards in hand he passed the turn. Halavais played his land and passed. Another two from LSV. At end of turn, Halavais cast Jace's Ingenuity. He untapped and cast Mind Rot, stealing swamp and Quag Sickness. LSV played a land and hit him to eight.


    Halavais untapped and played a second Mind Rot for LSV's last card: Fireball. Scroll Thief put a stop to the Gravedigger beats. LSV drew and passed. Now Halavais was moving fast. He played Gargoyle Sentinel. LSV played Nature's Spiral for Liliana's Specter and cast it immediately, with three up. Halavais discarded Mana Leak. He had no play on his turn.

    LSV swung in with his Specter and Halavais turned on his Sentinel. LSV was ready with Plummet. Halavais fell to six. He played out the last of his hand, a Child of Night and an Aether Adept for the Specter. LSV replayed it, along with a Child of Night of his own.

    Halavais drew and played Foresee. LSV's face fell a little. He brought out Whispersilk Cloak and gave it to his Thief, attacking for a card. LSV had a Cloak of his own, suiting up his Child and bringing Halavais down to just two life.

    Halavais wasn't done yet. Down came Sword of Vengeance. His Child picked it up and he swung in with Thief and Child, back up to six. He added a Black Knight to the table. LSV's attack brought him back down to two, and his deck served up another winner: Garruk's Packleader. Now, between Specter and Packleader, he could swing for six.

    Unfortunately for him, Halavais was rolling. He swung in for more life. The totals were sixteen to six against. Down came Air Servant. Again LSV was locked out of swinging for the win. He put Halavais back to two with the cloaked Packleader and Cultivated some swamps.

    Air Servant and Child of Night hit for eight. LSV put Halavais back to two but his back was against the wall. Halavais activated his Sentinel and attacked with it, the Servant and the Child. LSV tapped two... Doom Blade! Down went the Air Servant, leaving LSV at one life, suddenly free to swing with his Specter on his turn. The win was within his grasp.


    And then Halavais played Gravedigger, replaying his Air Servant.

    LSV plucked his top card and hid it, very slowly peeking at it. After the corner came into view, he scooped up his cards for Game 3.

    Scott-Vargas 1 - Halavais 1

    LSV got to be on the draw for the deciding game, and met Halavais's Steel Overseer with Child of Night. A Mind Rot from Halavais gave LSV pause. He eventually pitched Whispersilk Cloak and Nature's Spiral. He untapped, hit for two, then passed the turn, stuck on a pair of swamps.

    Halavais sent the Child back with Aether Adept. LSV found a forest and Cultivated for swamps. Halavais added a Rotting Legion to his team. LSV stopped the Overseer with Quag Sickness, and replayed his Child. Halavais swung in and LSV traded for the Adept. Next up from Halavais was Air Servant.

    LSV summoned a Spined Wurm and hoped for the best. The best was not forthcoming. Instead, it was a Sword of Vengeance for the Rotting Legion and an attack for ten. LSV drew his next card and shook his head, then conceded.

    Arthur Halavais defeats Luis Scott-Vargas 2-1



     
  • Saturday, 11:35 p.m. – Build Along With Coverage - Brian Kibler
    by Josh Bennett
  • I stole a few minutes of Brian Kibler's time way back in round three while he enjoyed his third bye. Now that you've seen the amateurs handle this pool, it's time for a pro to tackle it.

    He spread the pool out quickly, shelving red immediately and reducing the green to a handful of cards. For the other three colors he split off the creatures by casting cost and looked at how they measured up.

    He started blue-white, moving cards in and out quickly and frowning. Then he stripped off all the blue and tried marrying it to the black.

    "I think probably blue-white. This deck just doesn't have enough cards. I mean, Liliana's Spectre is great. Maybe if it had a Doom Blade and something else. As is, it just doesn't do anything."

    He piled up the blue-white again.

    "I'm not sure about this Honor of the Pure. I think it's close. You probably want it. It won't always work, but it makes your best draws awesome."

    Palace Guard came in as a late addition, booting an Augury Owl. The last spells to be cut were Inspired Charge and Whispersilk Cloak.

    "Charge is pretty good in a deck like this, but I'd cut it. Whispersilk Cloak is just too bad, your guys are so small. You already have better ways to push them through. You'll bring in the Diminish against green, but your guys are too small to use it effectively otherwise."

    Asked about the format generally, he had this to say:

    "I think the most common color is blue, that's why you always want Harbor Serpent. You don't want Celestial Purge because most black and red creatures are terrible. I'll always maindeck Deathmark, since green is excellent and they always have something to kill, but a card like Flashfreeze, you have to hold mana up, which is too much of a cost."




     
  • Sunday, 12:35 a.m. – Photo Essay
    by Josh Bennett

  • There is an actual Artists' Alley here this weekend. Chuck Lucacks shows off his work.


    And that's Corey Macourek!


    Franz Vohwinkel poses while Tuk-Tuk the Returned looks on.


    Holy Moses it's Heather Hudson! She did Basking Rootwalla, Wall of Blossoms, Hermit Druid, and a hundred and eighty other cards, not all of them green and brutal.


    Jaime Jones, the man behind the incredible Progenitus.


    Kekai Kotaki brought Lorthos, the Tidemaker to life.


    Mike Dringenberg helped haunt Shadowmoor with Painter's Servant.


    Mark Tedin's been bringing the game to life since Alpha, and is not slowing down.


    You might think that rk post can't reach into your head and harvest your nightmares, but you'd be wrong.


    Pete Venters. TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FOUR CARDS.


    Rob Alexander's another veteran. The man behind some of the most forbidding locales in the game.


    Seriously. That's Anson Maddocks. The actual Anson Maddocks, not one of the many Anson Maddocks impersonators.

    I can't stress this enough: If you love Magic art, and you can come down to Portland, you're going to regret it if you don't come on Sunday.


    I think that's a Land Tax, but where's the moustache?


    More sweet "artist-enhanced" cards.


    The Father of Magic, his bowtie rakishly askew.


    Look at the joy on that face.


    While the rest of the world stands in line, David Ochoa asserts his mastery by bringing a chair.



     
  • Feature Match: Round 8 – Yuuya Watanabe vs Shuhei Nakamura
    by Bill Stark
  • As Grand Prix-Portland wound its way down to the end of the first day of competition, the feature match for the eighth round found reigning Player of the Year Yuuya Watanabe squaring off against fellow Japanese countryman and former Player of the Year Shuhei Nakamura. The two players had traveled halfway across the world, only to find themselves battling against each other late in the day.

    Game 1

    Yuuya won the die roll but it was Shuhei who came out of the gates fastest. His opening turns were a flurry of spells, beginning with Infantry Veteran and including Stormfront Pegasus, Blinding Mage, and Brittle Effigy. Across the table Watanabe had managed a lone Cloud Elemental, but as the PoY reached four mana he considered a number of options in his hand. Tapping out Watanabe plopped a Juggernaut to the battlefield before passing the turn.

    The Stormfront Pegasus headed to the red zone for Shuhei, trading for the Cloud Elemental after a timely assist from Nakamura's Infantry Veteran. Yuuya fired back with an attack via his Juggernaut before casting a post-combat Air Servant. Looking for some help from his library, Shuhei sacrificed his Infantry Veteran to scry with Viscera Seer. The play found him an Assassinate, which he was able to use on his opponent's Air Servant.


    Combust from Yuuya took out Blinding Mage from Nakamura and allowed the Juggernaut free reign on the battlefield. A Crystal Ball for Yuuya threatened to allow him to run away with things, and his opponent was forced to use Brittle Effigy in an attempt to kill the Juggernaut. A timely Unsummon from Watanabe saved the creature, and the two were back where they had started as the 5/3 returned to the battlefield.

    Sun Titan for Shuhei pulled him right back into things, returning Blinding Mage to the battlefield and forcing Yuuya to dig for help with his Crystal Ball. Ice Cage helped the pro contain the 6/6 mythic from Nakamura, and the Juggernaut continued to attack. Roc Egg for Shuhei hoped to chump for a turn, but when his opponent revealed a Fireball in his hand for the final points of damage straight to Shuhei's head, the former Player of the Year conceded to the reigning one.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1, Shuhei Nakamura 0

    Game 2

    Shuhei Nakamura attempted to start aggressively in the second game as he had in the first. The problem? His second-turn Stormfront Pegasus was immediately stopped by an Ice Cage from his opponent. The enchantment didn't last long, however, as a Blinding Mage from Shuhei allowed him to target his own creature, shattering the Cage made of Ice.


    The battlefield soon was a mirror image for the two players, each having a Wild Griffin and a Stormfront Pegasus. The foursome of creatures traded in combat, and Shuhei followed up with Chandra's Spitfire. Soon after, however, Yuuya burst onto the table with a Serra Angel followed by Frost Titan. The duo of creatures was a powerful force to be reckoned with, and Shuhei was going to find himself in deep trouble if he was unable to come up with a solution quickly.

    His own Titan was a start, as his copy of Sun Titan hit the battlefield and returned a Wild Griffin from the graveyard. Yuuya pressed on, casting Siege Mastodon and using an Aether Adept to bounce his opponent's Chandra's Spitfire. He was then able to use Unsummon when the 1/3 was re-cast and had exactly enough damage to attack for lethal thanks to his Titan and Serra Angel. Despite drawing his mythic, Shuhei was done in out of seemingly nowhere.

    Yuuya Watanabe 2, Shuhei Nakamura 0



     
  • Feature Match: Round 9 – Andrew Veen vs Gerry Thompson
    by Bill Stark
  • Andrew Veen and Gerry Thompson sat down in good position at Grand Prix-Portland for the final match of the day. Veen, who hailed from the Pacific Northwest, originally came from the Midwest where Gerry was also from. The two knew each other well from days spent PTQing, but with Top 8 hopes up for risk they were good natured but down to business.

    Game 1

    Black Knight led the charge for Andrew Veen, but the 2/2 was quickly matched by Royal Assassin from Thompson. Ice Cage turned the Assassin off, but Thompson just fired back with Gargoyle Sentinel. The 3/3 artifact creature was bounced back to his hand as Andrew cast Aether Adept to return it, but Gerry just reloaded by re-casting his card and adding a Stormfront Pegasus for good measure.

    With the 3/3 back on the battlefield Andrew didn't have a profitable block and was forced to stay home, increasing his team by a Scroll Thief. His opponent got busy with a planeswalker, Liliana Vess, forcing Andrew to discard a card. That prompted a return-fire attack which saw Veen send his entire team at the opposing planeswalker, including a Bloodthrone Vampire. Gerry placed his Gargoyle Sentinel in front of the Bloodthrone and his Pegasus in front of Aether Adept. Veen thought long and hard before sacrificing all of his creatures save the blocked Adept to keep his Bloodthrone alive.


    Thompson, pleased with his trade of two creatures for his opponent's three, untapped and incremented Liliana before casting a Howling Banshee. The 3/3 soon traded for Veen's team as he topdecked a creature to feed to his Bloodthrone and crashed it into the Banshee. Thompson cast a Rotting Legion, but had it bounced momentarily by Unsummon. With Liliana on enough loyalty to use her ultimate, Andrew Veen did not have long to live. He double checked that the planeswalker was indeed ready to blow up, and opted to concede.

    Gerry Thompson 1, Andrew Veen 0

    "You're three colors, I don't imagine your mana is very good," Gerry teased his opponent before the second game.

    "You take that back!" Andrew mockingly shouted back.

    Game 2

    A Preordain was the first spell of the second game, coming on the first turn for Andrew Veen. Both players remained void of action after that until the third turn when Gerry Thompson finally cast a spell: Cloud Elemental. The 2/3 was dead almost as soon as it hit the battlefield, though Veen was down a Doom Blade to kill it. Liliana's Specter from Veen forced his opponent to discard Assassinate, and a Gerry T Howling Banshee was exiled with Celestial Purge.

    Steel Overseer finally stuck for Gerry, though he was behind in the race to his opponent's Specter. The Overseer slowly began accumulating +1/+1 counters, but a Phantom Beast from Veen put an even bigger clock to Gerry's head. He dug for some help by casting Jace's Ingenuity, finding Gargoyle Sentinel. With help from Steel Overseer, Gerry managed to take out the Phantom Beast and had a Cancel when Veen attempted a Howling Banshee of his own.

    The Liliana's Specter continued working its magic on Gerry's life total, and a Royal Assassin for Thompson turned on him as Andrew stole it with Mind Control. Still digging for solutions to the Specter, Thompson cast Sign in Blood targeting himself. That found him Assassinate to take out the 2/1, but still left him facing off against his own stolen Assassin. When he tried to Quag Sickness the creature, however, Veen revealed a trick: Stabbing Pain to target the Steel Overseer, Gerry's last blocker, which he could then kill by activating the Assassin. About to take lethal damage, Gerry conceded the game evening things at one a piece.

    Gerry Thompson 1, Andrew Veen 1

    Game 3

    The third game spelled mulligans for both players, each sending their opening seven cards back for six. Both kept those hands and promptly got underway. Thompson led with a Child of Night, but his Bog Raiders was felled by Mana Leak. Phantom Beast from Veen soon shut down attacks out of the 2/1 Child, but Gerry continued accruing creatures to his side of the battlefield by casting a Scroll Thief.

    Reaching across the table to ask judge Niko Skartvedt a question, Andrew Veen verified his Clone wouldn't blow up his own Phantom Beast if it was set to copy the 4/5. When Niko confirmed it would not, Andrew doubled up on his Phantoms before passing the turn. His opponent had only Steel Overseer, beginning to fall behind to the two 4/5s. The Beasts crashed in to make the score 18-10 in Veen's favor and post-combat Andrew attempted Liliana's Specter, which was countered by a second Mana Leak from Thompson. Pacifism shut down the Scroll Thief and Andrew passed the turn.


    Assassinate from Gerry took out the real Phantom Beast but his opponent just re-upped by casting Air Servant. Did Thompson have answers to his opponent's chubby beaters? Gargoyle Sentinel appeared for him, preparing to take out the Air Servant if given the chance, but Thompson was still behind on the battlefield. With the turn back, Andrew thought for a second before sending his team sideways. Gerry took out the Phantom Beast with a block from both his Gargoyle and Child of Night, gaining 2 but falling to 6 overall.

    Liliana's Specter gave Gerry a blocker momentarily for the Air Servant, but Veen used his mana to tap the 2/1 with the 4/3's ability before untapping, attacking Gerry to 4, and casting Phantom Beast. Thompson had a single draw step to come up with an out.

    He drew, then began counting damage out loud. An Aether Adept allowed him to blow up the Phantom Beast, and he attacked to put Veen to 4 while upping his own life to 6 with Child of Night. Now it was Gerry's turn to go on the offensive, and Veen had only a single draw step to come up with a solution. He drew and passed, but when Thompson correctly attacked with his entire team, Andrew was dead.

    Gerry Thompson defeats Andrew Veen 2-1.

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