With just one round left to go, different players in the room are chasing different dreams. For some, at this point all that is left to play for is pride. For others though, this is the most important match of the weekend to this point. The winner will advance to the elimination stages on Sunday, a chance to play for the trophy and all that comes with it. The loser will be watching from the sidelines, left wondering if there was something they could have done differently, or if they would get the chance to be this close again.
This story is the one we find in the feature match area. Pedro Carvalho from Brazil won a Magic Online qualifier, and his performance over the weekend has been sufficient to get him under the lights in round 16. He is a Magic Online gamer who goes by the name of _megafone_ online, where he is a force to be reckoned with. Just one table over, his countryman Willy Edel was in a similar position, playing for his tournament life. Carvalho's opponent, David Shakarisaz was just as anxious to lock up his final win too, for what would be his first Pro Tour top 8.
Pedro Carvalho and David Shakarisaz are both playing for the chance to battle for the title on Sunday. Who will make it to the Sunday stage?
Inmoth Nexus, Memnite, Springleaf Drum and Signal Pest were the turn one plays from Carvalho, whose Robots deck would be up against blue-red combo from Shakarisaz. A Master of Etherium came on turn two, while Shakarisaz had just a Spellskite for the second turn.
Another Signal Pest came down, followed by Arcbound Ravager. Carvalho was playing fast, and soon had his opponent to just 10 life. Shakarisaz had to do what he could to stem the unbridled aggression from his opponent.
Carvalho's robots are going on a rampage.
He played a Pestermite before Carvalho's combat step, in order to tap down a potentially lethal Inkmoth Nexus before Arcbound Ravager could make it dangerously large. After playing another Signal Pest and Memnite, Carvalho attacked with what he was able to, and it was still enough to leave Carvalho in a rough spot. He didn't have many great blocks, and threw his creatures under buses where he could, but that wasn't enough. A super fast start from Robots did it.
Pedro Carvalho 1, 0 David Shakarisaz
For game 2, it was likely that Shakarisaz would have a great deal more in the way of sweepers and potential artifact hate. We had already seen though that Carvalho's deck was incredibly explosive, giving only a short window in which Shakarisaz would be able to interact with whatever he was bringing in.
This was Pedro Carvalho's second Pro Tour, and he was just one game away from being in the top eight. No pressure.
"I was so nervous when I played Jelger Wiegersma in round one," remarked Shakarisaz with a smile. That was 15 rounds ago, and now he had even more pressure on him.
Carvalho had a mulligan for the second game, but still had the first play, in Signal Pest off an Inkmoth Nexus. Shakarisaz had Sleight of Hand, followed by Halimar Depths. One way or another, if Shakarisaz had a trump sideboard card, he was giving himself the best chance of drawing it on time.
Two points of infect damage came through from Carvalho on his second turn, as all he had to bolster his board was an Island. Darksteel Citadel came down for the third turn, but no other plays, or even attacks. Carvalho looked on as his opponent gradually built a mana base, including Steam Vents and Breeding Pool.
Springleaf Drum came from Carvalho. He then attacked for one poison, and passed. At the end of turn Shakarisaz tried for a Deceiver Exarch, but was stopped by Unified Will from the Affinity deck. Another Exarch came the following turn, while Carvalho had a Thoughtcast to draw two. He cast Mox Opal, and went for it with a Cranial Plating. From here, Shakarisaz responded with Ancient Grudge to take out both the equipment and Signal Pest.
"You got the combo?" Carvalho was afraid of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker which could spell the end of the game at any time in lethal combination with Deceiver Exarch.
It wasn't there, and only Grim Lavamancer came along. Carvalho had a new Cranial Plating, but Shakarisaz again had Ancient Grudge to get rid of the equipment. Shakarisaz was up to five poison counters, but that was quite a way from being lethal.
Shakarisaz didn't have his combo, meaning it was still all on Carvalho. A Master of Etherium came along, meaning one Inkmoth Nexus could attack. Grim Lavamancer tried to shoot it down, but Blinkmoth Nexus came to the rescue with the pump. Shakarisaz had to use Ancient Grudge's flashback to get rid of Master of Etherium, after having taken some more infect damage.
Carvalho was quick to get stuck in with his team of Inkmoth Nexus. Shakarisaz had to do something to keep in the game. He used Grim Lavamancer to kill one Inkmoth Nexus. Blinkmoth Nexus pumped the other. Shakarisaz cast Deceiver Exarch to untap his Grim Lavamancer to shoot the other. Carvalho cast Dismember in response to kill the Grim Lavamancer before it could untap. Now there was nothing to stop that final two points of damage.
Shakarisaz ruefully extended his hand. He'd had a number of lines of play in the game that could have brought a different outcome. Given the option he'd chosen, he was not going to be in top 8 this time, and would have to console himself with a great performance on the weekend, and qualification for Pro Tour Gatecrash in 2013.
Pedro Carvalho 2, David Shakarisaz 0
Pedro Carvalho's Robots
Pro Tour Return to Ravnica Top 8, Modern
David Shakarisaz's Splinter Twin
Pro Tour Return to Ravnica Top 8, Modern