gppro13

Old Friends, New Champions in Providence!

  • Print

The letter A!fter an incredibly long day, consisting of five different drafts, the Finals went by in a relative blur. Andrew Longo, Eric Phillipps, and Eric Berger defeated Matt McCullough, Ari Lax, and Alex John in a quick two-set match fraught with punishing draws, aggressive openings, and stifling defense.

This trio of friends from the New York area used many of the same tricks they had used to make it to Day 2 to help them become the Grand Prix Providence champions. One of Phillipps's all-stars from his Finals deck was Blood Baron of Vizkopa of Vizkopa, the same card he used to run roughshod over the Finals. Longo's Finals deck made great use of Unflinching Courage, which Berger had used to destroy two different drafts earlier in the day. But the biggest card in the Finals was certainly Phillipps's Blind Obedience, which managed to slow down the stupidly aggressive decks Lax and McCullough drafted just enough for him to take over.

This weekend was a veritable who's who of the past and present of East Coast Magic, and it was fitting that an East Coast team would be the ones to take home the trophy. They drafted well, they played well, and they also displayed their fair share of, well, providence on their way to becoming the newest team to take home a Grand Prix title here at Grand Prix Providence.



Semifinals Finals Champion
1 McCullough/Lax/John McCullough/Lax/John,
2-0, 2-1
3 Cowley/Manning/Bohlmann Longo/Phillipps/Berger,
2-1, 2-0
2 Longo/Phillipps/Berger Longo/Phillipps/Berger,
2-0, 2-0
4 Juza/Nakamura/Stark




  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Providence provided by ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Marshall Sutcliffe, Jacob van Lunen, and Rusty Kubis. See full video archives at ggslive's YouTube channel.





What's being said about us...
Join the Conversation

EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Longo/Phillipps/Berger $6,000
 2.  McCullough/Lax/John $4,500
 3.  Cowley/Manning/Bohlmann $3,000
 4.  Juza/Nakamura/Stark $3,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

16
15
14
13
12
11
10
16
15
14
13
12
11
10
16
15
14
13
12
11
10

9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

 

  • Top 4 Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Eric Berger

    Age: 34
    Hometown: New York, NY
    Occupation: Patent Lawyer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Started PT San Diego 2007 4-0. Convinced an amazing woman to marry me despite playing too much Magic.

    Guild Affiliation:
    Boros

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Eric Phillipps and Andy Longo, who we picked up instead of Josh Ravitz, who chose to play with Chris Pikula and Igor Frayman.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    RGB. Armed & Dangerous.

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – GUW – Unflinching Courage
    2nd – GUW – Unflinching Courage
    3rd – WB – Boros Reckoner, Pontiff of Blight, 2x Grisly Spectacle

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    I have no idea.




    Eric Phillipps

    Age: 33
    Hometown: New York, NY
    Occupation: Finance


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:

    PT:
    Rye Juniors Top 8, 1997

    Guild Affiliation:
    none

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Eric Berger and Andrew Longo, we're old friends.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    WBU. Blood Baron of Vizkopa.

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    Some combination of U, W, G.

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    I have no idea.




    Andrew Longo

    Age: 32
    Hometown: New York, NY
    Occupation: Engineer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Pro Tour Dallas Competitor

    Guild Affiliation:
    Boros

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Eric Berger and Eric Phillipps (PPPs). We're old friends!

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    BW, Skymark Roc

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – WBU – Tithe Drinker
    2nd – GR – Punish the Enemy
    3rd – WR – Viashino Firstblade

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    No idea.




    Bruce Cowley

    Age: 42
    Hometown: Stafford, VA
    Occupation: Computer Programmer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Pro Tour LA 2000 T8, Grand Prix Toronto 1996 T8 (I'm old.)

    Guild Affiliation:
    All of them.

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Chris Manning and his friend Kevin. Manning has been a friend and teammate forever.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    GWBu. Golgari Decoy (had 2)

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – UW – New Prahv Guildmage
    2nd – UGr – Jace, Architect of Thought
    3rd – RWg – Bronzebeak Moa

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Tibalt. I like to challenge myself.




    Chris Manning

    Age: 35
    Hometown: Boston, MA (I now live in NYC)
    Occupation: Finance


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 8 US Nationals, New England Regional Champion 1998, money finishes in a few PTs.

    Guild Affiliation:
    Dimir

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Kevin Bohlmann and Bruce Cowley. They're friends who play Magic well and we get along.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    UBr – Desecration Demon

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – UGB – Species Gorger. So many combos.
    2nd – UGW – Fused Beck & Call
    3rd – BGrw – Ogre Slumlord

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Jace. He's the best.




    Kevin Bohlmann

    Age: 35
    Hometown: NYC
    Occupation: Software Engineer/Gaming (gourmetgaming)


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    T32 in Legacy SCG Baltimore Open. Day 2 in a Time Spiral Grand Prix.

    Guild Affiliation:
    none

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Chris Manning is a friend from NYC and a very formidable player. Bruce Cowley is an old friend of his and came with highest recommendation from Lan D. Ho.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    Boros. Foundry Champion or Boros Charm.

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – BG – Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
    2nd – RW – Rootborn Defenses
    3rd – BR – Rix Maadi Guildmage

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Vraska. She's unique.




    Martin Juza

    Age: I turned 26 yesterday.
    Hometown: Plzen, Czech Republic
    Occupation: Professional Tourist


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    This is my 16th GP Top 8, 2 PT Top 8s

    Guild Affiliation:
    Simic

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Ben Stark and Shuhei Nakamura, the two Limited masters. I consider myself lucky that they wanted me as their third.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    Boros. Firemane Avenger

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – UWB
    2nd – BRW
    3rd – BRW

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Jace, duh.




    Ben Stark

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Tamarac, FL
    Occupation: none


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Won PT Paris, 4 PT Top 8s, Won GP Indy, 9 GP Top 8s

    Guild Affiliation:
    none

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Martin Juza and Shuhei Nakamura, two of the best players in the world and good at Limited.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    GBW – Crypt Ghast

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    Four-color not-white – Varolz, the Scar-Striped
    Orzhov – Gift of Orzhova

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Liliana.




    Shuhei Nakamura

    Age: 29 plus 30... ok. 31.
    Hometown: Japan?
    Occupation: Pro Magic player and traveler (will be done, maybe)


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I was GP Top 16 collector.

    Guild Affiliation:
    Orzhov

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Martin Juza and Ben Stark. Subway strategy.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    UGr, Progenitor Mimic

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – BWU – , Ogre Slumlord
    2nd – BWU – One-Thousand Lashes
    3rd – UGb – Dinrova Horror

    If you could team up with a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Nicol Bolas, not close.




    Ari Lax

    Age: 22
    Hometown: Boston
    Occupation: Systems Engineer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2 Pro Tour Top 16s4 Grand Prix Top 8s

    Guild Affiliation:
    Dimir

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Alex (John) is responsible for both my Limited GP Top 8s, and Matt (McCullough) is about 70% in PT drafts lifetime. Secret team captain was DJ Kastner.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    Gruul with Domri Rade

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – Ubr – Pack Rat (1-1)
    2nd – WR – Warleader's Helix (2-0)
    3rd – GRB – Explosive Impact (2-0)

    If you could team up for a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Bo Levar. He seems like the nut.




    Matt McCullough

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Big rapids, MI
    Occupation: Engineer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 32 Pro Tour Philadelphia 20113-1'd a Momir Basic Daily Event

    Guild Affiliation:
    Glint-Eye Nephilim

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?

    Alex John:
    Best Limited player in Michigan

    Ari Lax:
    Two free byes

    Secret team captain:
    DJ Kastner

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    BWr. Best card was Pack Rat. Every time my opponent would immediately kill it and I would win anyway. Every time I activated it 2+ times, I lost.

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – BRg -Clan Defiance and Master of Cruelties
    2nd – BUG – Simic Fluxmage
    3rd – RG, Rakdos Cackler

    If you could team up for a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Sarkhan the Mad. He seems fun to hang out with.




    Alexander John

    Age: 24
    Hometown: East Lansing, MI
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 32 Grand Prix NashvillePlayed at Pro Tour Kobe in 2006

    Guild Affiliation:
    Witch-Maw Nephelim

    Who are your teammates and why did you play with them?
    Matt McCullough – He's got a good head on his shoulders.Ari Lax – He had two byes.

    Secret team captain:
    DJ Kastner

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your best card?
    Bant – Armored Wolf-Rider. I won every game I played him.

    What color combinations did you draft, and what were your best cards in each?
    1st – Bant – Species Gorger
    2nd – Bant – Thrashing Mossdog
    3rd – Grixis – Stolen Identity

    If you could team up for a Planeswalker for the next Team Limited Grand Prix, which Planeswalker would you choose and why?
    Jace, duh.




     

  • Semifinals Draft Lists

    by Nate Price







  • Bruce Cowley
    Semifinals Team Draft– Grand Prix Providence









     

  • Team Draft Chart: All the Players, All the Picks!

    by Nate Price & Tobi Henke

  • Take a look at the following table. The vertical columns have all picks by the player listed at the very top, one after the other. The same shade of grey here denotes cards taken from the same booster pack. That's to help you see what choices the player faced when he made a particular pick. By going along the diagonal line of same-colored boxes downwards, you can see what cards were left in the booster at any point in the draft.

    Draft: Booster Pack 1

    Eric Phillipps Matt McCullough Eric Berger Ari Lax Andrew Longo Alex John
    Blood Baron of Vizkopa Armed // Dangerous Varolz, the Scar-Striped Pyrewild Shaman Unflinching Courage Krasis Incubation
    Haaza Snare Squad Viashino Firstblade Putrefy Rubblebelt Maaka Trostani's Summoner Kraul Warrior
    Rakdos Drake Viashino Firstblade Give // Take Viashino Firstblade Bronzebeak Moa Vorel of the Hull Clade
    Rakdos Drake Viashino Firstblade Rakdos Drake Viashino Firstblade Thrashing Mossdog Simic Guildgate
    Boros Mastiff Selesnya Guildgate Rakdos Drake Battering Krasis Steeple Roc Haunter of Nightveil
    Obzedat's Aid Steeple Roc Golgari Guildgate Profit // Loss Jelenn Sphinx Beck // Call
    Toil // Trouble Armored Wolf-Rider Fatal Fumes Rakdos Guildgate Simic Guildgate Maze Glider
    Maze Abomination Riot Piker Mutant's Prey Lyev Decree Saruli Gatekeepers Overgrown Tomb
    Wind Drake Sunspire Gatekeepers Maze Abomination Riot Piker Runner's Bane Azorius Cluestone
    Wind Drake Selesnya Cluestone Runner's Bane Riot Piker Nivix Cyclops Blast of Genius
    Opal Lake Gatekeepers Awe for the Guilds Rot Farm Skeleton Ubul Sar Gatekeepers Runner's Bane Runner's Bane
    Boros Cluestone Opal Lake Gatekeepers Rakdos Cluestone Clear a Path Deputy of Acquittals Maze Behemoth
    Boros Cluestone Goblin Test Pilot Showstopper Riot Control Feral Animist Mindstatic
    Restore the Peace Boros Cluestone Morgue Burst Hidden Strings Rakdos Cluestone Wake of Reflections
    Wake the Reflections Mindstatic Undiscovered Clues Showstopper Crypt Invasion Hidden Strings

    Draft: Booster Pack 2

    Eric Phillipps Matt McCullough Eric Berger Ari Lax Andrew Longo Alex John
    Holy Mantle Syndic of the Tithes Scab-Clan Charger Wojek Halberdiers Shambleshark Prophetic Prism
    Guardian of the Gateless Homing Lightning Croconura Wojek Halberdiers Wasteland Viper Dinrova Horror
    Hellkite Tyrant Daring Skyjek Biomass Mutation Warmind Infantry Simic Guildgate Killing Glare
    Blind Obedience Cartel Aristocrat Scab-Clan Charger Skinbrand Goblin Drakewing Krasis Burst of Strength
    High Priest of Penance Martial Glory Greenside Watcher Wojek Halberdiers Prophetic Prism Simic Fluxmage
    Pit Fight Boros Charm Adaptive Snapjaw Knight Watch Burst of Strength Orzhov Guildgate
    Assault Griffin Gruul Charm Basilica Guards Warmind Infantry Keymaster Rogue Stomping Ground
    Corpse Blockade Aerial Maneuver Shadow Alley Denizen Ordruun Veteran Dimir Guildgate Way of the Thief
    Horror of the Dim Towering Thunderfist Deathcult Rogue Furious Resistance Spell Rupture Last Thoughts
    Bomber Corps Riot Gear Duskmantle Guildmage Agoraphobia Clinging Anemones Bioshift
    Zarichi Tiger Midnight Recovery Mortus Strider Boros Guildgate Totally Lost Illusionist's Bracers
    Psychic Strike Bomber Corps Naturalize Forced Adaptation Paranoid Delusions Spire Tracer
    Shadow Slice Forced Adaptation Shadow Alley Denizen Alpha Authority Crackling Perimeter Serene Remembrance
    Skygames Beckon Apparition Dying Wish Murder Investigation Paranoid Delusions Contaminated Ground

    Draft: Booster Pack 3

    Eric Phillipps Matt McCullough Eric Berger Ari Lax Andrew Longo Alex John
    Stab Wound Augur Spree Pack Rat Volatile Rig Mercurial Chemister Mizzium Mortars
    Rakdos Guildgate Explosive Impact Sluiceway Scorpion Gore-House Chainwalker Korozda Monitor Runewing
    Tavern Swindler Rakdos Shred-Freak Golgari Charm Swift Justice Selesnya Charm Voidwielder
    Eyes in the Skies Keening Apparition Grim Roustabout Knightly Valor Inspiration Selesnya Keyrune
    Vassal Soul Vassal Soul Augur Spree Selesnya Sentry New Prahv Guildmage Izzet Charm
    Trostani's Judgment Civic Saber Zanikev Locust Vassal Soul Azorius Guildgate Izzet Guildgate
    Launch Party Ethereal Armor Stonefare Crocodile Dramatic Rescue Call of the Conclave Cancel
    Avenging Arrow Cobblebrute Grim Roustabout Trestle Troll Druid's Deliverance Pursuit of Flight
    Selesnya Sentry Catacomb Slug Stonefare Crocodile Tenement Crasher Dispel Skyline Predator
    Mizzium Skin Armory Guard Rogue's Passage Rakdos Ragemutt Ogre Jailbreaker Inspiration
    Inaction Injunction Electrickery Death's Approach Druid's Deliverance Crosstown Courier Gobbling Ooze
    Dark Revenant Trained Caracal Chemister's Trick Druid's Deliverance Essence Backlash Inspiration
    Chemister's Trick Epic Experiment Cremate Aquus Steed Minotaur Aggressor Spawn of Rix Maadi
    Blistercoil Weird Downsize Survey the Wreckage Urban Burgeoning Izzet Keyrune Horncaller's Chant



     

  • Top 4 - Semifinals:
    Bruce Cowley, Christopher Manning, and Kevin Bohlmann vs.
    Matt McCullough, Ari Lax, and Alexander John

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Three players sat down, but only two matches reached their natural conclusion. Matt McCullough and Ari Lax were able to defeat Bruce Cowley and Christopher Manning in their matches, leaving the second game of Alexander John's match against Kevin Bohlmann unnecessary and unresolved.

    Cowley and McCullough's Match

    The first match to finish was between Cowley and McCullough, where McCullough slowly whittled Cowley's Gruul forces down through huge swings in resources thanks to Midnight Recovery and Sepulchral Primordial. The three creatures Midnight Recovery brought back and the Primordial left Cowley out of gas and racing an unwinnable clock.


    Bruce Cowley, Christopher Manning, and Kevin Bohlmann

    The second game left Cowley without red mana and stranded on three lands, as an enraged Grim Roustabout and Millennial Gargoyle beat down until Cowley had enough. The two players quickly joined their teammates to aid in any difficult decisions.

    Bohlmann and John's Match

    While their teammates were blowing through each game at a rapid pace, Bohlmann and John ended up in quick board stalls. Paralyzing Grasp and Runner's Bane locked down Kraul Warrior and Gyre Sage respectively, and all of John's other blue creatures looked very awkward in the face of Skylasher from Bohlmann.

    However, one of those blue creatures was also red, and had plenty of abilities for John to use. Nivix Guildmage helped John sculpt a hand that could actually...well, do something. As Bohlmann built up an offensive force with Hunter of Nightveil and Maze Glider, which let the Hunter swing into the air, John started evolving his Gyre Sage. Eventually, it hit 4/5, freeing it from the Runner's Bane. Once it was untapped, a timely Explosive Impact shot down the Maze Glider mid-combat, which dropped the formerly flying Hunter of Nightveil back down to earth where Gyre Sage could promptly smash it.

    After that, it was elementary. John continued to sculpt his hand, while Bohlmann attempted to mount some sort of pressure. Eventually, John found what he was looking for, as a bloodrushed Skarrg Goliath when John sent in his team pushed through the final points of damage once Bohlmann was tapped out.

    The second game looked to go just as long, if it were not for...

    Manning and Lax's Match

    It seemed like the team's match would be settled on the result of the games between Bohlmann and John after Lax had a not-so-stellar start against Manning in their match. Despite having a Martial Law active, a Purge the Profane deprived Lax of necessary tricks, and creatures like Precinct Captain were getting dwarfed by centaur tokens via Manning's Courser's Accord. The one major threat Lax was able to present, a Tenement Crasher, was given One Thousand Lashes.


    Matt McCullough, Ari Lax, and Alexander John

    While it took a few turns for the game to end, the winner was clear as Manning's board grew and Lax's board remained stagnant. Martial Law didn't buy Lax time; it simply slowed his demise.

    That could not be said for the second game, where Martial Law helped allow Viashino Firstblade and Warmind Infantry to push through for early damage. Courser's Accord gave him even more beef to attack with, and while Manning was able to take out the centaur tokens and Warmind Infantry over the course of a couple of turns, he could not stop dying to the Massive Raid that came after a couple more creatures entered play.

    The third and final game saw Maninng staring down a brutal curve consisting of Fencing Ace, Skyknight Legionnaire, and Viashino Firstblade. While Avenging Arrow shot down the Fencing Ace, Martial Law from Lax eventually causes some havoc, detaining Manning's best creature each turn.

    Eventually, it detained a centaur token while Manning was at 8 with a Daggerdrome Imp. When Lax attacked with a Steeple Roc, Manning declined to block, and lax was quick to slam a Scorchwalker onto the table for its bloodrush. Without any answers to the now 8 damage coming his way, Manning offered the concession.




     

  • Finals Decklists

    by Mike Rosenberg









  •  

  • Finals - Round 1 – McCullough/Lax/John vs. Longo/Phillipps/Berger

    by Nate Price

  • When is having five Viashino Firstblades not necessarily a good thing? When they come into play tapped, if even at all.

    While Alex John's intense match against Eric Berger was just heating up, his teammates were catching some real coolers. John and Berger only managed to finish one very interesting, grindy game before both Ari Lax and Matt McCullough had dropped their matches to Andrew Longo and Eric Phillipps without even winning a game.

    "There was nothing I could do," McCullough said in shock as he turned to watch the final turns of Lax's game against Phillipps. McCullough had mulliganned in the first game into a hand that failed to see a third land, resulting in the first game loss of the match. The second game saw Longo play out an incredibly aggressive draw from his Bant deck, pushing McCullough's creatures out of the way with Runner's Bane and securing his team the first win of the first round.

    Phillipps, meanwhile, took his first game on the back of Blind Obedience, perhaps the perfect card against Lax's turbo-charged Boros deck.


    Ari Lax, Matt McCullough, Alex John

    "That card's pretty good against this guy," Lax said as he put an unimpressive Viashino Firstblade into play tapped. The Blind Obedience did work, keeping Lax slowed down enough that Phillipps was able to get himself an offense going. Assault Griffin Took to the skies, while a stream of chump blockers both impeded Lax and gave Phillipps the triggers he needed to keep afloat. Eventually, Phillipps was able to finish things off with a Toil and Extort. Lax's lone Plains contributed to his defeat, but the all-star of that game was certainly the Obedience.

    The second game was a bit better for Lax initially, as his creatures didn't have to slow down through the toll lane. Phillipps managed to keep afloat by nearly matching Lax creature-for-creature, but cards like Rubblebelt Maaka ensured that Lax's creatures came out ahead. In a bit of trouble, Phillipps managed to get himself back on his feet thanks to another powerful Orzhov rare.

    "Well, they have a Blood Baron of Vizkopa," Lax said as the powerful mythic hit the table.


    Eric Berger, Andrew Longo, Eric Phillipps

    "As in Blood Baron of VizkopaBlood Baron of Vizkopa," John asked.

    Lax confirmed, and the lifelinker began to do work, keeping his life total more or less static while taking chunks out of Lax's. It swing in for a few turns before running into a Skinbrand Goblin and Riot Piker that Lax had just cast, his only non-white creatures.

    "Yep, that'll do it," Phillipps said, putting the Baron into his graveyard.

    "Really?! Did this just happen?!" Lax was stunned. "We've got a game, boys!"

    He was even more stunned when the Blood Baron of Vizkopa came back via Obzedat's Aid a turn later. From that point, the match was effectively over. A couple of swings and the match had ended, ending the round before John and Berger could even draw their hands for the second game. That was unfortunate, as both decks were very powerful and impressive, and their first game was so interesting.

    While Berger started with a quick assault of two-powered creatures, John was able to significantly slow the clock with Haunter of Nightveil. Berger's offense consisted of creatures that were still able to profitably attack, but the bleeding had slowed to half. Eventually, a Voidwielder provided another effective blocker, slowing things down even more. Berger then found himself a backdoor to get at John's life total with a Rogue's Passage. Sitting at a low 4 life, John found a Dinrova Horror to effectively destroy a Rogues Passage that was slowly making work of his final life points. A Maze Flier a couple of turns later made the largest of his creatures fliers, and he suddenly found himself with an offense. Two attacks later, Berger was reaching for his sideboard.

    It was an incredible switch in fortunes, and it required some very careful management of both life total and creatures on the board by John. Unfortunately, there would be no repeat performance. Right as John was asking for an assessment of his sideboarding plan, the Blood Baron of Vizkopa hit home for the final time.

    "Oh. So we're done," he said, slumping in his chair.




     

  • Finals Round 2
    Andrew Longo, Eric Philipps, and Eric Berger vs.
    Matt McCullough, Ari Lax, and Alexander

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Despite Ari Lax's protests in his second game, where he was fighting on near equal footing against a second-turn Pack Rat for a long time, his teammates Matt McCullough and Alexander John were just unable to hold on. Andrew Longo, Eric Philipps, and Eric Berger took down their second and final match against the Michigan team to become the champions of Grand Prix Providence.

    Lax's match against Berger went undecided, as the two matches from his teammates did not let him finish the second game, despite his protests in hoping to beat Berger's rare-packed (and Pack Rat driven) Golgari deck.

    Longo and John's Match

    John looked to have the upper hand in his match against Longo, who had a very aggressive Bant deck with early beaters like Call of the Conclave and solid cards all around. Simic Fluxmage, a card that McCullough and his team had been talking about with much praise, did some work in this game, growing a Haunter of Nightveil and keeping the pressure on.


    Eric Berger, Eric Philipps, and Andrew Longo

    Then, lands started coming. A lot of them. It seemed like Longo got a reprieve in the first game, until the fused Beck & Call gave John a lot of uses for his mana. Longo, having suffered some bleeding in the first few turns of the game, conceded to the overwhelmed draw effect and birds that he couldn't fend off.

    The second game, however, went the other way, as Longo's deck came out of the gates swinging. Within minutes, Long had moved to a third game...

    ...a game in which his deck didn't deliver a third land to turn on his hand, even despite digging with Prophetic Prism. Normally, an opponent playing a third creature could be bad news for a mana starved player, but it wasn't the immediate end of the game.

    In this case, however, it was. The Call of the Conclave token that Longo had made on the second turn gained Unflinching Courage, and suddenly the game was over. John had no answers to the 5/5 token in hand, and his Mizzium Mortars went from looking reasonable to looking really embarrassing.

    With a few short turns, John showed his hand of spells and offered the handshake.

    Philipps and McCullough's Match

    McCullough's Boros deck had some serious aggression. The key feature of his list was three Viashino Firstblades, which was 60% of the Firstblades opened in the draft. Philipps however had Blind Obedience, a card that stopped Firstblade's impact cold.


    Ari Lax, Matt McCullough, and Alexander John

    This ended up not even being a factor, with the Blind Obedience coming down a turn after MucCullough played and attacked with his first (and only) Viashino Firstblade in the second game. It was a stronger start than what McCullough saw in the first game, but much like the first game, McCullough's hand did not improve with more action. His Boros deck began to see land after land, while Philipps filled the board up with higher quality creatures, getting some extortion in thanks to his enchantment each time he played a play.

    When the writing was on the wall, McCullough fell deep into thought. At that point, Lax was fighting for honor, hoping to defeat Berger's Pack rat. "Don't scoop yet, Matt!" he shouted, as his teammate looked up. "Thanks for the encouragement," he replied.

    Lax didn't care, knowing that his team was at its end. "But I want to win this one!"

    Once Lax's fight against the Pack Rat came to an unfortunate end, McCullough went through his turn and offered the concession when nothing further was coming.

    And after two quick rounds of finals action, and after nearly 16 hours of Day Two play, that was it. Longo, Philipps, and Berger locked up the win and were crowned as the champions of Grand Prix Providence!




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Providence

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Gruul War Chant might make this list. I recall Round 8 feature match where seeing it caused Nakamura to go from a board state that was winnable to a board state where he's down to zero outs.




    5. Scab-Clan Giant

    "Time to spin the wheel!" Luis Scott-Vargas

    This card was absolutely all over the place in our video and text coverage throughout the weekend. Like some sort of magical hawkeye, it never seemed to miss the target, blowing up creature after creature, and leaving a massive 4/5 body in its wake. While the random element is certainly a drawback, as you don't have control over what you hit and you might hit a creature big enough to kill it, the random nature led to some of the more fun player interactions in the tournament. Luis Scott-Vargas managed to coax a smile out of the normally stoic Michael Jacob with some die rolling antics, as they decided which creature the Giant would hit. It wouldn't be the last time a player cracked a smile over the "big gamble" himself.

    For contributing to the fun of this already fun weekend, being ubiquitous on our cameras, and being a boss of a big basher, the Giant is the first entry into Grand Prix Providence's Top 5 cards of the weekend.





    4. Haunter of Nightveil

    There are few cards that are able to take control of a game like the Haunter of Nightveil is. Completely shutting down most of the fastest decks in the format, the Haunter is a nightmare for any deck that relies on swarms of creatures to win the game, which is effectively every deck except Simic and Gruul. Losing one point of power per creature can often add up to as much as four or five life virtually gained a turn.

    A great example of this is from the one game Eric Berger and Alex John were able to play in their first Finals match. Facing down an army of two-power creatures, John was able to completely stabilize with a single Haunter of Nightveil. He halved Berger's offensive power and gained a big enough body to hold the remaining attackers off. In the end, it was what he needed to assemble a couple more massive bodies to take his game.

    Enabling decks to come back from seemingly dire circumstances, such as this, is why the Haunter of Nightveil earned its spot on this list.





    3. Rubblebelt Maaka

    In every single draft that we got to watch on the video coverage during the course of the weekend, we constantly saw Rubblebelt Maaka going first- and second-pick, much to our surprise. We saw this once again when we watched Ari Lax drafting his Finals deck, taking the card second-pick over other good cards. Each time it happened, we became less and less surprised.

    The Maaka is a great card, doubling as a red Giant Growth and a Hill Giant, it's incredibly versatile. It's also a monored card, a deceptively positive trait. As much as gets made of the desire to put yourself into a Guildpact guild, the fact that the Maaka allows you to decide either Gruul or Boros is an incredibly powerful thing. The bloodrush cost is low enough that you can continue on curve after blowing someone out in combat, something that hurts other bloodrush cards.

    Players seemed to love these facts about the Maaka, and its draft stock rose tremendously this weekend. Though it was already acknowledged as a very good card, this weekend saw its popularity rise to a new level.





    2. Viashino Firstblade

    Grand Prix Providence finalists Ari Lax and Matt McCullough had a combined five copies of Viashino Firstblade in their final draft decks. It was enough to almost make us put the Firstblade in all five slots of this event's Top 5 cards!


    What makes Viashino Firstblade so good? It's really the impact that a three mana haste creature has, along with the burst of damage it provides. Boros loves haste to be able to add that "Surprise, I've got battalion" element to its strategy. Skyknight Legionnaire has been doing an impeccable job of turning on the guild's mechanic a turn early, and Viashino Firstblade serves a similar purpose. Sometimes, the Firstblade even results in more damage, and it still sticks around after its first big attack to keep on swinging in.





    1. Blind Obedience

    What use is a Viashino Firstblade if it comes into play tapped? As Eric Phillipps proved against the five copies of the Boros common he faced in the Finals, not that great. This powerful enchantment hit play early against both of his aggressive Finals opponents, locking down their early rush and enabling him to assemble a defense, all the while also providing him a load of extort triggers.

    The card was just as powerful in the aggressive decks seen around the room on Saturday, as multiple decks used Obedience to both keep blockers at bay for a turn, as well as providing the extra reach to finish things off.

    Considering how devastating the aggressive draws Phillipps faced in the Finals would have been without the Obzedat's assistance, Blind Obedience has certainly bought earned its place in the Top 5 cards.






    • Planeswalker Points
    • Facebook Twitter
    • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
    • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
    • Magic Locator