gppor10

Juza Reigns in Northwest

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It was the largest Grand Prix ever held in the Pacific Northwest with just under 1,400 competitors, and Grand Prix-Portland was one for the record books! Many of the game's best players made the trek from the previous weekend's Pro Tour-Amsterdam to attend. The champion of that tournament, Paul Rietzl, managed to make the second day of competition, but fell short of the Top 8 settling for a Top 64 instead.

The Top 8 was filled with big names, featuring international stars like Brazilian Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Czech Martin Juza, American stars like David Ochoa, and heroes from the Pacific Northwest like Josh Layne and Jon Loucks. But it was the unknown Thomas Kiene squaring off against Marin Juza in the Finals of the event.

And what a Finals it was! The first game ended, astonishingly, in a draw as Howling Banshee from Juza dropped both players to dead at the same instant. From there it was all Juza, however, whose blue-black deck ripped off a 2-0 finish to seal the title.

Martin Juza is the 2010 Grand Prix-Portland champion!


Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix–Portland at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Ray Punzalan, and Zac Hill.


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Jonathon Loucks   Josh Layne, 2-1        
8 Josh Layne   Martin Juza, 2-0
       
4 Martin Juza   Martin Juza, 2-1   Martin Juza, 2-0-1
5 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa    
       
2 Nicholas Lynn   Thomas Kiene, 2-1
7 Thomas Kiene   Thomas Kiene, 2-0
       
3 David Ochoa   Philip Bau, 2-1
6 Philip Bau    

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Zaiem Beg
    Finals
    Martin Juza vs Thomas Kiene

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals
    Josh Layne vs Martin Juza

  • by Josh Bennett
    Semifinals
    Thomas Kiene vs Philip Bau

  • by Zaiem Beg
    Quarterfinals
    Josh Layne vs Jonathon Loucks

  • by Josh Bennett
    Quarterfinals
    David Ochoa vs Philip Bau

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals
    Nicholas Lynn vs Thomas Kiene

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
    Decklists


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 2 Coverage

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Coverage

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Playerlist

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Juza, Martin $3,500
 2.  Kiene, Thomas J $2,300
 3.  Layne, Josh $1,500
 4.  Bau, Philip E $1,500
 5.  Loucks, Jonathon R $1,000
 6.  Lynn, Nicholas G $1,000
 7.  Ochoa, David A $1,000
 8.  da Rosa, Paulo Vitor D $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 - Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff











  •  
  • Top 8 - Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Name: Thomas Kiene
    Profession: Network Engineer
    Age: 27

    Record in Sealed: X-1-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: White-blue, 3-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: White-blue, 2-0-1

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.): Won multiple PTQs, no Top 8 at PTs or GPs

    What colors did you draft and why?
    I started red-blue then got pass cut so I switched to white. My end deck is white-blue plus 2 Lightning Bolt.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?

    Stormfront Pegasus or Pacifism

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?

    Recently only 2+.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?

    Magic: The Gathering Online Sealed and Draft.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?

    White-blue is the strongest because the tempo draws can let you win without bombs and both colors are deep enough to share in a draft.


    Name: Philip Bau
    Profession: Data fixer
    Age: 28

    Record in Sealed: 8-1-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: Red-black, 2-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Blue-black, 3-0

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    None.

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Red-black. I opened Chandra and got passed burn and black removal and Liliana.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Foresee or Doom Blade.

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    Less than 10.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    Paper Hero's Comics in Valencia, CA.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    Blue-black. They are the best card advantage colors and contain the best solutions.


    Name: Josh Layne
    Profession: Classical musician
    Age: 33

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: Red-green, 2-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Blue-green, 2-1-1

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    Long time MTGO ringer, Day 2 Pro Tour-Berlin, 21st Grand Prix-Seattle 2009.

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Green-white. I tried to find what was open and didn't want to fight over blue pick 1, pack 1 with four blue playables.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    No clue; I wanted to draft Mirrodin/Darksteel/Fifth Dawn!

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    Six.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    The crew at Yellowjacket Comics in Victoria, plus some random MD5 drafts on MTGO.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    Crystal Shard plus Chittering Rats!


    Name: Nick Lynn
    Profession: Software Engineer
    Age: 25

    Record in Sealed: 10-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: White-red, 2-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Green-red, 1-0-2

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.): 16th Pro Tour-Kyoto

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Red-black because I opened Magma Phoenix and got a Reassembling Skeleton.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Pacifism.

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    1-2

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    Magic Online

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    White aggro when it comes together is basically unstoppable since it is just too fast.


    Name: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
    Profession:Magic player
    Age: 22

    Record in Sealed: 10-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: 2-1
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: 1-2

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    6 GP Top 8
    6 PT Top 8

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Blue-white. I opened Sleep, got passed Blinding Mage and never saw a reason to move.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Foresee

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    Depends. When there are no tournaments in sight, I preey much don't play, though I read articles and talk to people. Before tournaments, around 20-25 hours/week.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    ChannelFireball.com crew.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    I think blue-white is the strongest overall, both colors are deep and you don't need many strong cards to make a blue-white deck work. Black-red Act of Treason is also good, but a "bad" blue-white deck is better than a "bad" black-red deck.


    Name: Martin Juza
    Profession: *censored* (Tourist!)
    Age: 23

    Record in Sealed: 8-2
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: Red-black, 3-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Green-black, 2-0-1

    Previous top finished (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    3 GP Top 8
    2 PT Top 8
    Won Nationals twice!

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Red-back, green-black, just happened to be those colors, o preferences.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Doom Blade.

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    Around 10. If there is a GP/PT to prepare for, it's obviously WAY more.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    Drafted a lot on MTGO, discussed with Ben Stark and Lukas Blohon.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    Monowhite because Infantry Veteran is way better than you think.


    Name: Jon Loucks
    Profession: Game Designer
    Age: 22

    Record in Sealed: 9-1 (three byes from a grinder)
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: Green-white, 3-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Blue-black, 1-0-2

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    This is my first money finish! I've made a deck that 2x GP Top 8'ed before. (P.S. Kik-Jiki!)

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Blue-black. First pick Doom Blade, late Water Seravnt. I like blue a lot in this format. Pack three made me think I read pack one signals wrong.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Doom Blade is the default answer, but Aether Adept is the fun answer.

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    6-15, maybe 20 on really busy weeks.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    Brian Wong! And the rest of the Seattle crew: Gavin Verhey, Kellen Abel, Peter Beckfield, etc.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    Blue-white if it is open is awesome. It just has the best Scroll Thieves.


    Name: David Ochoa
    Profession: Writer, ChannelFireball.com
    Age: 29

    Record in Sealed: 8-2
    Record and color(s) in Draft 1: White-blue, 3-0
    Record and color(s) in Draft 2: Green-red, 2-0-1

    Previous top finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, SCG Open, etc.):
    1 GP Top 8
    1 Nationals Top 8
    Several GP/PT Top 16s

    What colors did you draft and why?
    Black-red-blue because black was open.

    What common do you most hope to open during Magic 2011 drafts?
    Doom Blade.

    How many hours a week do you spend playing Magic?
    20-40.

    Who did you prepare for Grand Prix-Portland with?
    The ChannelFireball.com team.

    What archetype do you feel is strongest in Magic 2011 Draft and why do you feel that way?
    White/x Aggro, black-red Act of Treason/sac outlet. Infantry Veteran and Act of Treason are powerful cards.




     
  • Quarterfinals - Nicholas Lynn vs Thomas Kiene
    by Bill Stark
  • Thomas Kiene and Nick Lynn were two of the players battling in the single elimination rounds of Grand Prix-Portland whose resumes paled in comparison to some of their big name competitors like Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Martin Juza, and David Ochoa. Thomas exhibited excitement at his first Top 8, saying "Can I give a shout out to my friend Jacob Danger, the Park Ranger?" while Nick remained stoic and focused.


    Game 1

    Though he lost the die roll, Thomas's deck gave him an aggressive start with Stormfront Pegasus backed by Honor of the Pure. His opponent was not far behind with Black Knight and Bog Raiders, but when Thomas cast Scroll Thief he found his 1/3 outgunned by a Shiv's Embraced Black Knight. In an effort to catch back up, Kiene continued building his board with a Cloud Elemental.

    The Black Knight attacked unimpeded and pumped up to deal a colossal 7 damage. That halved Thomas's life total to 7, but he continued building up an army of flying creatures by casting Assault Griffin. His Stormfront Pegasus attacked to knock Nick down to 8, but he opted to keep Scroll Thief, Cloud Elemental, and the Griffin back for potential blocking.


    After considering his options, Nick attacked with his aura'ed Black Knight and a Bloodthrone Vampire he had cast, holding back a Bog Raiders. Thomas chumped both, putting Scroll Thief in front of Bloodthrone and Cloud Elemental in front of Black Knight and post-combat Lynn cast Nightwing Shade. The 2/2 black creature was soon chumping Stormfront Pegasus but when Thomas cast a post-combat Baneslayer Angel he had no non-white flyers to block his opponent's Black Knight and took lethal damage from the 2/2 wearing the Shiv's Embrace.

    Nick Lynn 1, Thomas Kiene 0

    Game 2

    Goblin Piker was the first creature to the battlefield in the second game, joining the side of Nick Lynn's black-red deck. The aggressive start from Lynn was tempered by the fact he missed a third land drop, providing time for his opponent to cast Cloud Elemental, then Azure Drake. Combust took out the Drake but a Stormfront Pegasus and Roc Egg soon reloaded for Kiene who was quickly overpowering Lynn with his growing army.

    Honor of the Pure pumped Kiene's team considerably while across the table from him Nick was still stuck on just Goblin Piker. The 2/1 picked up Shiv's Embrace but Nick wasn't afraid to swing. He sent his 4/3 sideways only to find his opponent returning fire with a 5-point attack followed by Baneslayer Angel. Did Nick possibly have any outs for a game that had taken approximately five minutes of time off the clock?


    He untapped and, with five Mountains, passed giving no hint what he was up to. He waited patiently while Thomas figured out the correct attacks, but when Stormfront Pegasus and the Baneslayer turned sideways Lynn conceded.

    Nick Lynn 1, Thomas Kiene 1

    "I'll try not to draw mono Mountain," Lynn joked as he prepared for the final game of the match, referring to his color screw from the second duel.

    "Yeah," his opponent replied, "black cards are overrated."

    Game 3

    It was all down to one final game for Nick Lynn and Thomas Kiene, and it didn't start off well for Nick. After being color screwed in the second battle he was forced to start on the play with a mulligan. Thomas cheerfully kept his opening hand, watching as Lynn sent six back for five. The five card set was good enough, and play got underway with Nick opening on Bloodthrone Vampire followed by Prodigal Pyromancer. Thomas's first creature was Scroll Thief, but he opted not to block an incoming Bloodthrone Vampire in an effort to trade for a sacrifice of Prodigal Pyromancer.

    On a return-fire attack with Scroll Thief Kiene was able to successfully connect and draw a free card. He then tapped out to cast Assault Griffin, but took a point from his opponent's pinger at the end of his turn. Nick, meanwhile, drew for his turn but passed without casting any spells, clearly struggling after his double mulligan. He took 4 from his opponent's next attack, giving up another free card as Thomas's Scroll Thief was able to connect, but his draw step yet again failed to provide him with any goodness and he passed once more without casting any spells.

    Kiene cast Honor of the Pure and sent his team sideways, with Assault Griffin and Scroll Thief joined by Silvercoat Lion. Nick put his Bloodthrone in front of his opponent's Thief, then sacrificed his Prodigal Pyromancer to keep his Bloodthrone alive. Curiously he hadn't opted to chump the Lion with the Pyromancer, taking an extra 3 damage, but he finally got some help from his library as he ripped a second Mountain to allow him to cast Magma Phoenix. With help from the Bloodthrone the 3/3 was able to wipe the table clean of creatures, but Thomas reloaded with Cloud Elemental and Stormfront Pegasus.

    The two creatures proved too much for Nick's card-short hand, and a draw step later he was out of the Grand Prix.

    Thomas Kiene defeated Nick Lynn to advance to the Semifinals 2-1.




     
  • Quarterfinals - David Ochoa vs Philip Bau
    by Josh Bennett
  • David Ochoa, aka The Ocho, aka "8", aka Webster, aka Web, is the soft-spoken brainbox on Team ChannelFireball, known for conspicuous Top 8'ing and a draft series where he regularly vanquishes Evil. His opponent in the quarters is Philip Bau, who is as surprised as anyone that he managed to make it this far. Though his rating was good enough for two byes far in advance of the event, he joined friends in a number of disastrous GP Trials, resulting in a rating crash and zero byes the day of the event. He snuck into Day 2 at 7-1-1, and won his last match today to secure a seat at the final draft table. Bau has drafted a version of the red-black sacrifice deck, with all-stars Chandra Nalaar and Liliana Vess. Ochoa is a base-black control deck that touches on blue and red.


    Bau won the roll and elected to play. He led with mountain and swamp, then Bloodthrone Vampire. Ochoa had a pair of swamps. He took one from the Vampire. Bau added Fiery Hellhound to his board and passed. Ochoa answered with Bog Raiders. Bau played a mountain and swung in. Ochoa accepted the trade.

    Bau replaced his monster with Nether Horror. Ochoa played Quag Sickness to kill it, then ended his turn without playing a fourth land. Bau hit for one and played his fifth land. Ochoa pulled up a tardy swamp let him have a Nether Horror of his own. Bau stared it down with Manic Vandal.

    Ochoa played it cool, bringing back Bog Raiders with Gravedigger. Bau played Goblin Tunneler and passed. Ochoa frowned in concentration and considered his options. He confirmed that Bau had two cards in hand, then attacked with both Horror and Gravedigger. The Manic Vandal traded with the Horror, and Bau took two. Ochoa played an island and Nightwing Horror after combat.

    Bau gamely attacked with his Vampire, and Ochoa pushed his Shade in the way, willing to trade it for the lowly Tunneler. Bau replaced it with Fire Servant. Nether Horror shored up Ochoa's side of the board. Bau played a Viscera Seer and passed it back.

    Ochoa broke the monotony: Foresee, leaving three on top. That prompted him to swing with the Nether Horror. Bau let it through, falling to fourteen. Ochoa added Dragonskull Summit to the board and passed.

    Bau untapped and swung in with Fire Servant and Bloodthrone Vampire. Ochoa put the Gravedigger in front of the Vampire, and after Bau sacrificed his Seer, played Lightning Bolt to kill the Fire Servant. Bau played Fiery Hellhound and passed.


    The Horror hit again. Bau declined to trade it for his Hellhound, and went to ten. Rise from the Grave brought back the Gravedigger, who in turn brought back Nightwing Shade. The Vampire fell to Assassinate.

    Ochoa pressed his advantage. Bau played a Spitfire and finally gave up his Hellhound for the Nether Horror. Call to Mind got Ochoa his Lightning Bolt back and that took care of the flier. He played Bog Raiders and was threatening to run away with it.

    Bau plucked Pyroclasm and set him back, but down came the Nightwing Shade. Two attacks later Ochoa had won.

    Ochoa 1 - Bau 0

    Bau opened with Liliana's Specter, getting Ochoa to discard Armored Cancrix. Bau swung in with it, but Ochoa stopped that with Stabbing Pain. Bau upgraded to Nether Horror. Gravedigger from Ochoa undid the Specter and nullified the Horror. Bau cast Reassembling Skeleton, holding back.

    Ochoa was fine waiting. He played Sorcerer's Strongbox and passed the turn. Chandra's Outrage from Bau cleared off the Gravedigger, and the resulting attack put Ochoa to thirteen.

    Ochoa tried the box. It opened on the first try. He played Mind Rot, catching Bau with Doom Blade and swamp. The Horror swung in but Ochoa was ready with Lightning Bolt. He untapped and played Nightwing Shade. Bau plucked another Outrage and the Skeleton brought Ochoa to nine.


    Finally Ochoa stuck a defender: The humble Armored Cancrix. Bau had no play. Ochoa added a second Cancrix. Bau brought out a Fiery Hellhound, but Quag Sickness took care of it, and both Cancrices swung in, one blocked by the Skeleton.

    Bau played Child of Night and passed. Ochoa got through for another two damage, and played Mystifying Maze. It looked good for him.

    That is, until Chandra Nalaar showed up. She immediately shot down one of the Cancrices and then started to ding Ochoa. Ochoa unwisely chose this time to draw a number of lands. Soon he had thirteen in play and Chandra was up to four loyalty. Bau played Ember Hauler.

    Ochoa was down to six. Bau decided to err on the side of unfairness by playing Liliana Vess. Ochoa finally drew action: Sign in Blood. That gave Foresee, but that gave nothing useful. He conceded.

    Ochoa 1 - Bau 1

    "You have some nice spells in your deck."

    Bau laughed. "The creatures aren't so hot, though."

    Bau kicked off the final game with Viscera Seer. He hit for one and added Reassembling Skeleton. Ochoa summoned Child of Night. Bau failed to draw his third land, and passed.

    Ochoa frowned. He was stuck on two land as well. Unfortunately, Bau had Seer/Skeleton to help him dig out of it. Mountain waited on top of his deck, and then he spilled out Liliana's Specter, Chandra's Spitfire, and Bloodthrone Vampire. A few turns later Ochoa was extending the hand, never having found a third land. The two shook hands and Ochoa offered his congratulations.

    Philip Bau defeats David Ochoa 2-1




     
  • Quarterfinals - Josh Layne vs Jonathon Loucks
    by Zaiem Beg
  • As the Quarterfinals sat down to play out the final rounds of Grand Prix-Portland, two were locals to the Pacific Northwest. Jonathon Loucks, a writer for ChannelFireball.com, was better known for his Constructed deckbuilding skills than his Limited skills while Josh Layne hailed from British Columbia, Canada. It was not the first meeting between the two, who recapped a round one PTQ in Seattle during Time Spiral Two-Headed Giant season.

    "My computer won't run Starcraft 2, otherwise I probably wouldn't be here right now. So instead I've been drafting Magic 2011 to pass the time," Jon confessed.

    "All I've done recently is play Starcraft 2," Josh said.

    "Are you trying to run the psychology on me by using blue sleeves?" Loucks asked.

    "I had limited options and I decided to go with the blue sleeves because blue is the best color in Magic."

    "I think it's a tell."


    Game 1

    Jon won the die roll and liked his opening seven; Layne sent his back, but kept a six card hand after some thought. Neither player came out of the gates quickly, with the first spell of the game being a turn three Mind Rot by Jon, forcing Josh to discard two lands. Josh continued to have no action, giving Loucks time to cast a Sorcerer's Strongbox.

    "I never thought I'd be flipping coins in the Top 8 of a GP," Jon said.

    "Little did you know," replied his opponent.

    The Canadian finally started casting spells when he dropped an Assault Griffin followed by Spined Wurm, but when Jon won the coin flip on Sorcerer's Strongbox he had plenty of action. The Spined Wurm met a quick end via Doom Blade, and Jon's Water Servant and Rotting Legion put some pressure on Layne. Josh's only real threat was the Assault Griffin, which was quickly outclassed by Jon's bigger creatures.

    Layne had a glimmer of hope when he cast Sylvan Ranger and Garruk's Companion, but the Ajani Goldmane that would help him turn the game around got Negated, and when Jon added a Juggernaut to the board, Layne conceded.

    Jon Loucks 1, Josh Layne 0


    "You even had an on-color dual!" Layne said, referring to Loucks's turn-two Drowned Catacomb, "how lucky!"

    "What can I say. I'm blessed. You had an on-color planewalker!"

    "That's what happened to me in the first draft. I was green-white, then I opened Ajani. Then I opened Baneslayer Angel."

    "I heard you had a Baneslayer in the second draft too."

    "No, just the one."

    "You know how these stories grow."

    "Yeah, but all the other good things you ever hear about me are true."

    Game 2

    Josh liked his opening hand. "Seems fine!" he said.

    But it was Jon's turn to mulligan this time. "That hand was not for me," but he did keep his six card hand. Unlike the first game, Layne had a quick start when he cast Llanowar Elves on both turns one and two.

    "Maelstrom Pulse!" Jon joked.

    Loucks was stuck on two Swamps and did not play lands or cast spells, giving Josh time to develop his board. Josh cast Cudgel Troll and Assault Griffin, and when Jon finally drew a third land to Quag Sickness the Cudgel Troll, he was unable to stop the bleeding. Jon tried a desperation Scroll Thief to help block, but when it was Excommunicated, Jon knew he was not drawing a third land or a way to prevent himself from losing.

    Jon Loucks 1, Josh Layne 1


    Game 3

    Jon did not like his seven card hand, and thought a while before keeping his six card hand. He had a turn-three Cloud Elemental, but Josh's War Priest of Thune and Cloud Crusader made it difficult for Jon to race. Josh added a White Knight to the board, and Jon did nothing but play lands and pass the turn.

    When Layne cast Assault Griffin and Awakener Druid, Jon had still only cast one spell the entire game, and was dead to Layne's lethal attack.

    Josh Layne wins 2-1 and advances to the Semifinals!




     
  • Semifinals - Thomas Kiene vs Philip Bau
    by Josh Bennett
  • Two relative unknowns battled for the chance to stare down Martin Juza in the finals. They were friendly and animated, excited at their success so far. After shuffling up, however, they were all business.


    They got out of the gates quickly. Ember Hauler traded with Silvercoat Lion, but Kiene was assembling quite the airforce: Cloud Elemental, Cloud Crusader, and Squadron Hawk, then Blinding Mage to back them up. Bau had the Goblin Tunneler / Hellhound combo, but only four land to power it up.

    Tireless Missionaries brought Kiene up to twelve. Doom Blade took care of the Blinding Mage. Bau swung all out. The Missionaries blocked the Tunneler, and after firebreathing Kiene was left at seven. Bau dropped Pyroclasm, leaving Kiene with just his 2/3 fliers.


    Kiene returned fire, bringing Bau to five, then played Garygoyle Sentinel. Bau had Chandra Nalaar, killing the Sentinel and offering a chance for stabilizaiton, but Kiene flipped over Inspired Charge for the kill.

    Kiene 1 - Bau 0

    The two engaged in some friendly banter, Kiene sharing some embarrassing stories from his early days in the PTQs.

    "You realise the coverage is writing all this down..." said Bau

    "Oh..." Kiene turned. "Could you edit out all the things that sound stupid?"

    Bau got on the board quickly with Viscera Seer and Chandra's Spitfire, but was short on spells. He swung for one past Kiene's Cloud Elemental, but had no plays on four OR five.


    Meanwhile Kiene dropped Assault Griffin and Tireless Missionaries. Bau suited up his Spitfire with Volcanic Strength to stop the onslaught. Kiene added Gargoyle Sentinel and Stormfront Pegasus. All Bau had to contribute was a Bloodthrone Vampire.

    Kiene swung with everything but his Sentinel. Bau put the Spitfire in front of the Pegasus and had his Seer chump the Missionaries. He scryed and saw Chandra Nalaar waiting on top of his deck. He took care of the Assault Griffin with Combust. Kiene reloaded with Foresee. All four went on top. He cast another Pegasus and passed.

    Chandra showed up and killed the Sentinel, but Kiene was prepared. Pacifism stopped the Spitfire, and Armored Ascension supercharged the Missionaries. Chandra fell to the other two fliers, and Bau went to eight.

    Act of Treason seemed to give Bau a ray of hope. He stole the Missionaries and bashed, sacrificing the Spitfire for damage and the Missionaries after combat. Kiene was suddenly at ten. He untapped, then tapped four and showed Inspired Charge again. Bau offered him the handshake.

    Thomas Kiene defeats Philip Bau 2-0




     
  • Semifinals - Josh Layne vs Martin Juza
    by Bill Stark
  • One of Europe's top players, Martin Juza entered the Semifinals of Grand Prix-Portland having already taken down superstar Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa of Brazil in the Quarterfinals. His opponent, Josh Layne, had a slimmer resume than Juza but his quiet and professional demeanor hinted at a skill set stronger than his resume would led one to believe.


    Game 1

    A War Priest of Thune hit the battlefield for Josh Layne on the second turn, though it didn't have any enchantments to blow up. Before he could attack with the 2/2, however, Martin shut him down with a Scroll Thief. The following turn Alluring Siren hit for Juza, potentially threatening to clear the way for his 1/3 card drawing engine. Layne fired back with an Assault Griffin, but the 3/2 was matched by Azure Drake from his opponent.

    Josh took his turn and was required to attack with his Assault Griffin by his opponent's Alluring Siren. When Martin blocked the 3/2 flyer with his 2/4 flyer, Layne saved his creature with Giant Growth. He cast Cloud Crusader, but Juza had a second Azure Drake to make attacking difficult yet again for Josh. The second 2/4 finally got the job done against the Assault Griffin with help from the Siren, but Josh was ready to start deploying his big guns, casting Yavimaya Wurm post-combat.

    The 6/4 Wurm was the least of Juza's worries, however, as his opponent cast a pre-combat Ajani Goldmane and promptly gave each of his creatures +1/+1. A Rotting Legion gave Juza a fatty, but with his opponent's team super sized and given vigilance it wasn't looking very good for the Czech pro. He used Sign in Blood on himself to dig for more options and came up with Cloud Elemental. The 2/3 wasn't much help against the Ajani, but Martin was technically still in things.

    Awakener Druid for Josh changed that abruptly giving him a gigantic surprise attacker as it animated one of his Forests, then Ajani pumped his team a second time and sent a horde of attackers to the red zone. When the combat step ended, Juza had an Azure Drake and Scroll Thief while Josh had a 4/5 Cloud Crusader, a 4/4 War Priest of Thune, a 5/6 Forest, and a 2/2 Awakener Druid (not to mention an Ajani Goldmane with two loyalty counters!). Did Martin have anything he could draw in his deck to get him out of the sticky situation?


    Doom Blade was a start, taking out the Cloud Crusader and allowing him to attack Ajani to death with Azure Drake. He also cast Maritime Guard and Child of Night, but was still facing down the War Priest and Forest. The Priest died to a double-block, but Josh reloaded with Cudgel Troll and passed the turn with Martin on just 4 life. Juza drew for the turn, finding a land on top of his library, and considered his options. He cast Call to Mind to get back Doom Blade, then used the removal spell on Cudgel Troll.

    Josh continued pressing in, earning a chump block on his Forest from Maritime Guard before casting Wild Griffin and then two Llanowar Elves. Martin used Aether Adept to bounce his opponent's Forest, his Azure Drake holding the fort against his opponent's Griffin. When he cast Foresee a turn later, it looked like the European player had stabilized!

    Armored Cancrix and Augury Owl further developed Martin's side of the battlefield and the game began turning to his favor as he freed up enough space to swing with his 2/4 Drake. When he cast a Conundrum Sphinx while Layne drew land after land, it seemed over! A few attacks later, and it was with Martin's Conundrum Sphinx allowing him to overwhelm his opponent despite Layne's far more aggressive start; Josh's deck just couldn't hold on until the end to seal the deal and Juza had managed an amazing comeback!

    Martin Juza 1, Josh Layne 0

    Game 2

    The second game started poorly for Josh who had to take a mulligan, but he was able to aggressively pressure Martin very quickly. He opened on Llanowar Elves before casting an Awakener Druid to animate his lone Forest. Juza cast an Alluring Siren and Child of Night, but had little going for him beyond the fact Layne was a touch mana screwed, sitting on two lands and his Elf. The Alluring Siren attempted to run Awakener Druid into Child of Night but Josh had Giant Growth to protect it, keeping his 4/5 Forest alive.

    To replace his Child of Night Juza cast Azure Drake and combined with Alluring Siren he was able to take out the Awakener Druid and simultaneously deal with his opponent's Forest, though he took 4 in the process. Cloud Elemental joined Martin's team, but he lost his Azure Drake to Plummet and his Alluring Siren to a block on Llanowar Elves. The good news was he had a full grip after casting Foresee while his opponent was stuck on three mana. Of course, that was bad news for said opponent, and Josh worked to come up with a way out of the game that had seen him short on mana.


    Armored Cancrix for Martin followed by Sign in Blood gave him more cards and more pressure while Josh's deck continued to fail in finding him additional lands to use in casting the spells in his hand. A Diabolic Tutor for Martin almost assuredly spelled Josh's end, but he pressed on, hoping to draw a miracle.

    It wasn't to be, however, as a Midnight Banshee pushed Martin's lead too far and he managed to knock out his second player in the Top 8.

    Martin Juza 2, Josh Layne 0




     
  • Finals - Martin Juza vs Thomas Kiene
    by Zaiem Beg

  • Game 1

    Martin Juza won the die roll and chose to play first – both players kept their seven card hands, and Juza cast Augury Owl, leaving all three cards on top of his library. It was an ominous sign for any opposing mage.

    Kiene started his offense with Silvercoat Lion, then boosted it the next turn with an Honor of the Pure. When Juza tried to put a roadblock up by casting Azure Drake, Kiene Bolted it after blocking the 3/3 Lion.

    Martin dropped a Rotting Legion and the players tried racing, but Thomas's Lone Missionaries put him slightly ahead. When the American's Silvercoat Lion met its end via Deathmark and the Missionaries was Diminished in combat, Martin pulled even leaving Kiene with just a Gargoyle Sentinel.


    With both players at 3 life, Martin chose not to risk dying to Kiene topdecking one of two Lightning Bolts, and opted to draw the game by playing Howling Banshee.

    Martin Juza 0, Thomas Kiene 0

    Game 2

    Pretending like the first game never happened, Juza chose to play. Thomas looked pained while contemplating his hand. "You're going to keep," Juza said.

    "That's all I needed. It was just a nudge in the right direction." Kiene replied.

    Thomas's hand was light on early action as he cast an Honor of the Pure but had no creatures through turn three. His turn four Assault Griffin was Doom Bladed and his Blinding Mage was Deathmarked.

    Juza cast a Diabolic Tutor to fetch Call to Mind, which he used the next turn to re-buy the Doom Blade that killed Kiene's Azure Drake, leaving his opponent with only a Lone Missionaries and Phantom Beast to mount an offense. The Lone Missionaries became an immediate threat when it was enchanted with an Armored Ascension.


    Juza had the answer for the Ascension in Aether Adept, bouncing the Missionaries.

    "You hit the one-outer for my Armored Ascension. How nice," Thomas complained.

    "I had more than one. . ."

    "Oh. I guess you had two. But still. . ."

    Unfazed, Martin continued to mount an assault. Though his Conundrum Sphinx was Pacifismed, the Czech had enough of an offense to attack and put Thomas at 2 life.

    Usually Sign in Blood is used to draw cards, but when your opponent is at 2, it's also a lethal burn spell, and that's how Juza used it to win the second game.

    Martin Juza 1, Thomas Kiene 0

    Game 3

    Neither player liked their seven card opener, but six was good for both as they prepared for the final game of the tournament (barring another Banshee draw).

    Kiene started out strongly with a turn-two Stormfront Pegasus and turn-three Honor of the Pure, but Juza felt fine racing with his Child of Night since turn-four Azure Drake made for a good blocker against the Pegasus. Kiene got stuck on three land, and Juza used Alluring Siren to run Kiene's Stormfront Pegasus into Martin's Azure Drake.

    A Conundrum Sphinx came down for Juza and he followed that with an Augury Owl, ensuring that the Sphinx's ability would be successful for Juza when it attacked. Alluring Siren kept running Kiene's creatures into Juza's larger creatures, and with Kiene lacking any sort of offense, the Conundrum Sphinx was able to take the game, the match, and the tournament.

    Martin Juza defeats Thomas Kiene 2-0-1 to become Grand Prix-Portland champion!

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