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Levy's Tempo Delivers the Beats in Austin

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Raphael Levy is the Grand Prix Austin Champion!

There must be something in the water in Austin that invigorates old-school pros. Like Brian Kibler at Pro Tour Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World was good to Raphael Levy.

Levy has been chasing after the lifetime Pro Points record and now finds himself 8 points closer, up to 494. He's only five points behind Olivier Ruel for second and a mere six points behind Kai Budde himself, the only player to hit 500 lifetime points so far. And he did it all clawing his way back from a 7-2 Day 1 performance.

It was a wild weekend as a number of named pros made late runs at the Top 8, only to fall in the last few rounds. It will be remembered for another dominant performance from a ChannelFireball team member – this time David Ochoa – and Innistrad sealed's Swan Song.

But more than anything we very well could look back on this tournament and Levy's performance as the start of his run to the very top of the Pro Points mountain.



Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
5 Ochoa, David A Downing, Eric 2-1
3 Downing, Eric Levy, Raphael 2-1
8 Saylor, David Levy, Raphael 2-1 Levy, Raphael 2-0
2 Levy, Raphael
4 Howden, Jason Cox, Patrick B 2-1
6 Cox, Patrick B Cox, Patrick B 2-1
1 Edwards, Craig J Edwards, Craig J 2-0
7 Bursavich, Austin






Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Austin at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Brian David-Marshall, Rich Hagon, and Nate Price.

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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.   Raphaél Lévy $3,500
 2.  Pat Cox $2,300
 3.  Craig Edwards $1,500
 4.  Eric Downing $1,500
 5.  Jason Howden $1,000
 6.  David Ochoa $1,000
 7.  Austin Bursavich $1,000
 8.  David Saylor $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Austin Bursavich

    Age: 19
    Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Occupation: Grinder

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 4 at Grand Prix Dallas, X-0 lifetime vs. Calosso Fuentes

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Silverchase Fox 8-1.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    U/B and U/R Burning Vengeance. 4-0-2.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Not sure yet. Probably not many.



    Pat Cox

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Arlington, VA
    Occupation: Mechanical Engineer

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Starcitygames.com Invitational Champion

    Top 8s:
    GPs: 3
    PTs: 1

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Grimgrin, Corpse-Born 8-1.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    G/W Travel Preparations, 3-0.
    /B Removal, 1-0-2.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Orlando at least. After that, depends on how I do in Honolulu.



    Craig Edwards

    Age:31
    Hometown:Ponchatoula, LA
    Occupation:

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:

    Top 8s:
    GPs: some Day 2s, Top 32/64
    PTs: some Day 2s, Top 32 Pro Tour London 2005

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Demonmail Hauberk, 9-0.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    2-1 with G/W No Travel Preparations.
    2-1 with B/W with Mentor of the Meek.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Probably none.



    Jason Howden

    Age: 19
    Hometown:Manitoba, Canada
    Occupation: I own Fusion gaming; we have a booth here at the event.

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I’ve qualified for 5 or 6 Pro Tours, but nothing in the last 7 years.

    Top 8s:
    Canadian Nationals

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Evil Twin, I went 7-2 with a bomb-heavy deck.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    1st draft 3-0, 4c Green.
    2nd draft 3-0, R/W (Canadian Flag), Bloodcrazed Neonate/Cobbled Wings combo.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Vancouver, Minneapolis, Lincoln and maybe a few more.



    David Saylor

    Age:34
    Hometown:Libery, Minnesota
    Occupation:Writer/Draftsman

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    much. I don’t do well @ FNM lately.

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Gavony Township, 8-1.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    G/W Humans, 3-0.
    G/W Humans, 1-0-2.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Maybe Orlando and all the Midwest events.



    David Ochoa

    Age:30
    Hometown:Hayward, California
    Occupation:Writer

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    A bunch of money finishes.


    Top 8s: Nationals 2010, 2011
    GPs: 2
    PTs: 0

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Murder of Crows (both of them)! 9-0.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    B/U, 2-1.
    G/R, 1-0-2.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    All domestic U.S. and maybe a few foreign events, depending on the schedule.



    Eric Downing

    Age: 44
    Hometown: Ventura, California
    Occupation: Project Management & Sales for a construction company

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Played in one Pro Tour over a decade ago.

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Silent Departure, 8-1.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    U/B/r Tempo, 2-1.
    4c Burning Vengeance, 3-0.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Orlando for sure. No plans for others yet, but I am planning to go to at least a couple.



    Raphaél Lévy

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Toulouse, Francea
    Occupation: Mercenary

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame

    Top 8s:
    GPs: 18
    PTs: 3

    What was your most valuable card for the Sealed deck portion and what was your record?
    Olivia Voldaren and Back from the Brink. The rest of the deck was *meh*. 7-2.

    What was your record in draft and what archetypes did you draft?
    U/W, 3-0.
    B/W, 3-0.

    What GPs do you plan to travel to this season?
    Orlando next weekend, then as many as I need to reach Platinum Level!





     

  • Quarterfinal - Pat Cox vs. Jason Howden
    by Blake Rasmussen


  • This Top 8 draft resulted in a number of very powerful decks across a variety of archetypes. GW Aggro, BR Revmoval, UW Tempo, UB Control, Red-based aggro and BW were all represented, plus a GU good-stuffs kind of deck that eschews milling for a slew of powerful cards. It seems everyone in the Top 8 got the memo that good cards are good (*cough* Bloodline Keeper, Curse of Death's Hold, Bloodgift Demon*cough*), but synergy might just be better.

    The Pat Cox versus Jason Howden match pitted Cox's traditional UB self-mill, Skaab deck against Jason Howden's nontraditional GUr deck that packed number of interesting – and dangerous – cards.

    Game 1

    Cox tried to build an early advantage with a Curiosity on a Stromkirk Patrol, but a timely Spidery Grasp stopped it from going too far. After that Cox started attacking with a bunch of 1/x creatures – Armored Skaabs and Fortress Crab – before the board stalled out. With Cox at 6 and Howden at 7, Cox attacked with nearly everything, including an Abattoir Ghoul.

    When a splashed Pitchburn Devils blocked the Ghoul, the three damage to Cox stacked on top of the Ghoul's lifegain trigger and Howden used that window of opportunity to fire a Morbid Brimstone Volley at Cox for the win.

    Jason Howden

    Game 2

    Game two was a battle of undercosted zombies as Howden attempted to race Cox's Stitched Drake with a Makeshift Mauler. However, Cox was able to triple-up on the decedent of Serendib Effreet with a Cackling Counterpart. While Spidery Grasp was enough to kill one of the Drakes, Howden couldn't deal with the other two and couldn't quite race thanks to Armored Skaab holding down the ground.

    Pat Cox

    Game 3

    Howden sat on two lands for several turns, even forced to discard from his three-color deck.

    But hold on, it wasn't that simple.

    Cox had very little pressure, as he could only attack with a Walking Corpse and the least imposing Fortress Crab he could muster. Howden even used his discards to fuel a Harvest Pyre and kill the Walking Corpse.

    "It's a 10 turn clock!" Cox said, attacking again with the Crab.

    But now that the Corpse was, well, a Corpse, he was able to use the spare parts to animate a Stitched Drake. And when an Armored Skaab flipped over a ton of business, Howden finally packed it in.

    Pat Cox defeats Jason Howden 2-1

    Craig Edwards defeats Austin Bursavich 2-0



     

  • Quarterfinal - Austin Bursavich vs. Craig Edwards
    by Blake Rasmussen


  • On paper, this match looked pretty lopsided. Bursavich was on the mill plan – not milling himself, but milling his opponent with multiple Curse of the Bloody Tomes and such – and only some moderate removal. Edwards, meanwhile, had a strong green white deck with a bunch of tricks and undercosted creatures.

    Game 1

    Austin Bursavich

    Craig Edwards has a pretty nasty green white build that can curve right out to put more pressure on control decks than they can rightfully deal with. That was exactly what happened as he played Selfless Cathar into Hamlet Captain into Avacyn Priest and followed with an Ambush Viper.

    Bursavich fought back with some powerful cards like Sturmgeist and Battleground Geist, but a Smite the Monstrous let Avacyn Priest dominate the table. Eventually a Festerhide Boar started taking large bites out of Bursavich and led Edwards to victory.

    Craig Edwards

    Game 2

    Game two went much the same. Edwards jumped out to a fast start with Avacyn Priest, Villagers of Estwald and Galvanic Juggernaut. Bursavich was on the back foot right away, and even though a Claustrophobia locked out the Avacyn's Priest, Juggernaut eventually became too much for Bursavich to handle, and he was run over by a bevy of creatures from Edwards' menagerie.



     

  • Quarterfinal - Eric Downing vs. David Ochoa
    by Nate Price


  • "So how many Top 8s does this make for you," Downing asked as he presented his Draft deck to Ochoa.

    "Um," Ochoa paused as he cocked his head in thought. "I think this makes three."

    "That equals the number of Grand Prix I've played in," Downing casually grinned.

    Game 1

    Downing got on the board first with a Traveler's Amulet followed by an Ashmouth Hound. Not wanting to fall too far behind, Ochoa added a Cloistered Youth to his side. Downing had a double-faced card of his own on the third turn, and his Village Ironsmith came down in his human form, just waiting for a lull in the action to transform. Ochoa chose to turn his little girl into a little monster, electing to keep his gaga horror at home. In order to keep the Ironsmith from becoming Ironfang, Ochoa added an Unruly Mob to his turn, failing to find a third land drop.

    While Ochoa's 3/3 was doing a damage a turn to him, it was also gumming up the board for Downing's attackers. Downing eventually forced the trade with his Ashmouth Hound, after burning the Mob away with a Geistflame. This unfortunately left Ochoa without a second creature to take advantage of his newly cast Skirsdag High Priest. Downing had a member of the Skirsdag clergy of his own, the ready-made removal of Skirsdag Cultist. Add to that a Rage Thrower, and Downing had a nice little combo set to machine-gun Ochoa to death.

    All Ochoa could do was to continue to build up his board. He added a Screeching Bat and a Doomed Traveler to his team, giving him the requisite number of creatures in play to make a Demon should Downing choose to sacrifice a creature. This made things difficult for Downing, stopping his attacks in their tracks. He added a Rakish Heir to his team and passed the turn without an attack. Ochoa drew his card and passed it right back, allowing the Ironsmith to show his wild side.

    David Ochoa

    With Ironfang now on the loose, the Vampire and Werewolf attacked. Ochoa stuck his Traveler in front of Ironfang and the Bat in front of the Heir. This let him use his High Priest with his Bat when the Traveler died to first strike damage before it died itself. The end result was six damage to Ochoa from the Rage Thrower, knocking him to 10, but gaining a 5/5 flier in the process. After combat, Downing flashed back Geistflame to kill the Spirit token, dropping Ochoa to 8 before adding a Feral Ridgewolf to his team.

    Things didn't look too good for Ochoa at the moment, staring down at a Rage Thrower and a Shock on a stick. Undeterred, he used the end of Downing's turn to make a couple of tokens with a Midnight Haunting. This allowed him to untap and cast Smite the Monstrous on the Thrower, giving him his second 5/5 Demon and removing Downing's best chance of killing him before his Demons took over. Downing kept at it, though, sending his much-calmer Ironsmith and Feral Ridgewolf at Ochoa. When Ochoa stuck a Demon in front of the Ridgewolf, Downing threw the Ironsmith at Ochoa and then pumped the Wolf enough to trample over the Demon for two, knocking Ochoa to four.

    Again, when things looked dire, Ochoa found a way to get right back into the driver's seat. A Moment of Heroism, rare for a Demon, gave him a fourteen-point life swing, bringing him back to a much safer 11, and knocking Downing to a matching total. At this point, Downing was spent. He simply drew his card and passed the turn. Ochoa made a couple more dorks and sent his air force. Downing dropped to 4. He made one last-ditch effort to save himself with a Forbidden Alchemy, but didn't find anything to wrest control from Ochoa.

    Eric Downing 0 – David Ochoa 1

    Game 2

    Downing began things in the second game in much the same manner as the first. An Ashenmouth Hound started nipping at Ochoa's heels, this time joined by his distant relative the Feral Ridgewolf. The canine duo attacked Ochoa down to fifteen on the following turn before being joined by a canine-in-waiting, the Village Ironsmith.

    Ochoa finally made an impression on the board with an expensive 2/2, paying four for the Thraben Sentry. The sentry immediately jumped in the way of the Ridgewolf, trading itself for Downing's creature and his turn, as the mana required to force the trade caused Downing to be unable to add anything else to the board. He was seemingly fine with this a he was able to flip his Ironsmith into Ironfang on the following turn. Calmly, Ochoa untapped and added a Curse of Death's Hold, wiping away Downing's board.

    "I think I passed that Curse. It went a long way," Downing observed as he put his creatures into the graveyard. He made a Skirsdag Cultist to fill the void, but it was lonely without any creatures to chuck. Firmly in control now, Ochoa began to add to the board. First came Stromkirk Patrol, then came Cloistered Youth. Downing tried to find something to do with a Forbidden Alchemy, adding a Silent Departure to his graveyard. He put it to good use on the following turn, returning the Patrol to Ochoa's hand, causing him to miss an attack with it. Behind on life, Ochoa kept his Cloistered Youth cloistered, choosing to attack for a mere one. The Patrol joined the fray on the turn after, and Downing dropped to 14.

    Downing kept digging with Think Twice, but wasn't really committing anything to the board, while Ochoa's army was growing ever stronger. The Ocho added a Thraben Purebloods and a Skirsdag High Priest to his team, giving him quite the impressive presence. Downing managed to get a 3/1 Rage Thrower onto the table, this time too small to be considered monstrous. Ochoa held the removal spell but was surely just fine with being unable to cast it thanks to his Curse. For his attack, Ochoa sent his Patrol and the Purebloods, begging for a trade. Downing didn't oblige, instead taking the damage to drop to 6.

    Eric Downing

    After combat, Ochoa, who touts the banners of good in his channelfireball.com articles, showed his true allegiance, adding a Bloodgift Demon to his team. Fortunately for Downing, the allegiance of Demons can be fickle, and a Traitorous Blood threatened to shift the tide. This gave Ochoa the perfect chance to Smite the Monstrous, keeping his Demon from becoming Skirsdag Cultist bait, and keeping his life total from dropping too precariously low.

    Downing found himself in a bad spot after the last game, staring down the barrel of Ochoa's deck and down a game. However, he found a unique solution to his problem. He began to take advantage of Ochoa's Curse by casting one-toughness creatures, knowing they would die instantaneously. First, came Delver of Secrets, dying to the Curse and dropping Ochoa to 7. Next came Bloodcrazed Neonyte, dropping Ochoa to five. After that, the Rage Thrower attacked. When Ochoa blocked, Downing sacrificed the Cultist to itself, dropping Ochoa to 1. The final point was dealt when the Rage Thrower died in combat.

    Eric Downing 1 – David Ochoa 1

    Game 3

    After that thrilling finish to what seemed like an out-of-reach game, the third game was a bit more serious. Downing tried to lighten the mood with a joke or two, but Ochoa was all business, not responding and focusing on the match at hand. Unfortunately for him, Ochoa had to mulligan his opening draw and didn't seem to be too pleased with his second. Once again, Downing got started quickly, making a Delver of Secrets and a Bloodcrazed Neonyte on this first two turns. Ochoa had a Walking Corpse to trade with the Neonyte, but Downing replaced it with an Ashmouth Hound. Ochoa tried to mount a defense, but his Thraben Sentry would prove to be less effective as a deterrent when Downing revealed an Into the Maw of Hell and flipped his Delver. Nonetheless, Ochoa got some use out of it as Downing offered the trade, trying to kill the Sentry before it gained some backup. Ochoa dropped to 16. Downing added a Skirsdag Cultist to his team after combat and passed the turn.

    Ochoa found an answer for the Insectile Aberration in a Screeching Bat, giving him some breathing room. He used that breathing room to find some life in the form of a Markhov Patrician. Downing kept at it, though, using the end of Ochoa's turn to sacrifice the Cultist to kill the Patrician before untapping to use Into the Maw of Hell to kill the Bat and Ochoa's lone Swamp. The Aberration swung hard, turn after turn. It was Ochoa's turn to stare defeat in the face. He found a Cloistered Youth, but the Aberration was working hard, dropping him to 7 before Downing found another Ashmouth Hound to join it. A Silent Departure removed Ochoa's blocker, and the handshake was offered a turn later, sending Eric Downing to the semifinals.

    Eric Downing 2 – David Ochoa 1



     

  • Quarterfinal - Raphael Levy vs. David Saylor
    by Marc Calderaro


  • I don't think there's much that needs to be said about Raphael Levy. There's very little in this game he hasn't accomplished. He was the first Hall of Fame inductee to be actively competing on the Pro Tour when he was nominated. This is his 18th(!) Grand Prix Top 8, going back all the way to his first appearance with a 1st–place finish at Grand Prix Lyon in the 97-98 season.

    His deck is a classic UW build with impressive creatures – Delver of Secrets, Invisible Stalker, Champion of the Parish and Geist-Honored Monk – nice support spells like Silver-Inlaid Dagger and two copies of Feeling of Dread, and just a flourish of removal in Grasp of Phantasms, Smite the Monstrous, Dissipate and Lost in the Mist.

    David Saylor also has a long history with Magic. He's been a mainstay in the Midwest Magic scene for just about forever. He's been playing in big events for well over a decade. He has a very aggressive BR deck with Kruin Outlaw, Stromkirk Noble, Heretic's Punishment and some good removal with Victim of Night, Dead Weight and Harvest Pyre.

    Eric Downing

    Saylor is a garrulous player with a big presence on the table. This is compounded by the deceptively demur behavior of Raphael Levy. Saylor starts conversations with everyone around him, the head judge, the table judge, me. Levy extends a hand and Saylor heartily shakes it and we're off to the first game.

    Game 1

    Levy had the first play with a Delver of Secrets and Unruly Mob. Saylor's first play was a turn-three Kruin Outlaw. Even with the addition of Stitcher's Apprentice to Levy's board, the Outlaw was imposing. A post-combat Village Cannibals followed the attack before Saylor passed the turn back to Levy.

    Harvest Pyre, Rage Thrower and Victim of Night along with some land were in Saylor's hand. He thought for a bit after flipping the Outlaw into the Terror of Kruin Pass.

    "Attack step?" Saylor asked. There was a pause. "Uh oh. I've got a feeling."

    Levy tapped his land.

    "... a Feeling of Dread." Saylor completed his sentence and tapped both his creatures as Levy put his white Instant in the graveyard.

    With a Stitcher's Apprentice trigger on the stack, there were some removal tricks on both sides. Harvest Pyre took out the Mob, but then the Cannibals got too big, so they found a Smite the Monstrous. The flurry ended with Levy having a lonely Homunculus staring down Saylor's Kruin werewolf and Rage Thrower. It was 16-17 in Saylor's favor when Levy cast a Chapel Geist. The Frenchmen kept drawing land, but he was hiding it well.

    Saylor attacked following turn and cast a Pitchburn Devil, and Levy pulled back into the game with his next move: a Silver-Inlaid Dagger on the Chapel Geist. The score became 16-9 and it looked like he had enough to block and swing back. But looks can be deceiving. Very deceiving.

    Saylor decided to deal 16 damage on his next attack. The Rage Thrower contributed 6, the creatures got in there for 4, and then a Bump in the Night and a Flashback payment were the final 6.

    David Saylor 1 – 0 Raphael Levy

    It was silent for an entire shuffling period. No one said a word until Saylor said a quick, "Good luck, man."

    "I'll play." And Game 2 commenced.

    Game 2

    Each player had strong turn-one plays. Champion of the Parish and a Stromkirk Noble stood toe to toe.

    "Can't be blocked by humans?" Levy asked.

    "That's what it says." Saylor smiled.

    "Can be blocked by Homunculus." Levy played his Stitcher's Apprentice.

    The next few turns played out as these archetypes might expect. Saylor correctly predicted out loud an Unruly Mob, and Levy showed no surprise when a Blazing Torch took out his Homunculus. Abbey Griffin vs. Kruin Outlaw; Good humans vs. Evil Werewolves and Vampires. After casting a Voiceless Spirit, Levy sat on a Feeling of Dread and a Dissipate.

    Markov Patrician and Rage Thrower were back in Saylor's grip after casting a Riot Devils and a big, swingy game-changer, Heretic's Punishment. That caused Levy to go deep into the think tank. He brought Saylor down to 8 with a Feeling of Dread, and an all-out attack. Saylor was content to flip is Terror of Kruin Pass.

    He overheard Levy counting to himself in French and immediately questioned his tactics, then wanted to match him. He spoke a mix of broken Spanish and mortally wounded French which prompted Levy to eventually say, "Forget it," and he went back to staring at his cards and thinking.

    "Well how do I say 'Forget it' in French? I mean, I have to learn sometime right?" Saylor leaned in toward Levy.

    Levy taught him, went back to thinking, and the match proceeded.

    Raphael Levy thought a lot. "This is a complicated game." He declared the Voiceless Spirit and the Abbey Griffin as attackers, but the Heretic's Punishment took the Spirit out. Saylor went at 6.

    Raphael Levy and recounted. "I think that's the play. That's the play."

    He cast multiple copies of Feeling of Dread and attacked into a lot of untapped mana, hoping there wasn't removal.

    ...

    There wasn't.

    David Saylor 1 – 1 Raphael Levy

    Eric Downing

    There was much talk amongst the reporters earlier about the collected, calm play of Raphael Levy. He frequently lays his cards on the table and folds his arms and placidly stares at his opponent as they play. He answers opponents' questions in the fewest words possible, all his movements are efficient.

    These aspects are exactly what makes him such a good foil to David Saylor. He beats on the table, he talks, sometimes to no one in particular, and he makes Levy seem that much more confident. Don't mistake Saylor's play for sloppiness though, it's far from that. His style is just as calculated as Levy's. He is very effective at moving attention from the difficult play decisions at hand. He's actually scarily good at it.

    Game 3

    Saylor started off the game with an Ashmouth Hound into Village Cannibals. He got a early lead of 18-14, as Levy fought back with an aggressive start of his own with Doomed traveler, Unruly Mob, and an Abbey Griffin.

    Scourge of Geier Reach was an impressive play, especially as it grew with Levy's Geist-Honored Monk.. It was quite chumpable though, and Doomed Traveler knew of his demise long ago, and jumped in front of the fiery elephant.

    The totals were diminishing quickly and this was easily the fastest game of the three. No one seemed to have the upper hand until a Feeling of Dread allowed Levy to make the scores 12-3 (that Monk makes Flying spirits really big).

    "Feeling of Dread is really good." Saylor said as he packed up his cards.

    He had a great run today, but it would be Levy advancing to the Semi-Finals.

    Raphael Levy 2 – 1 David Saylor

    Congrats to Raphael!



     

  • Semifinal - Raphael Levy vs. Eric Downing
    by Blake Rasmussen


  • With the new Organized Play changes, making the Top 4 of a Grand Prix automatically qualifies you for the next Pro Tour. So Raphael Levy and Eric Downing had to be pretty happy to be here, right?

    The answer is of course they're thrilled to make it to these rarified heights in a more than 1,000-man tournament, but each had already punched their ticket to Hawaii, Downing through Planeswalker Points and Levy through, well, being Raphael Levy and being in the Hall of Fame. His performance this weekend was opening the door for him not only to cross 500 lifetime Pro Points this season (he needed only 14 before the tournament started), but to take over the all-time lead in Pro Points from none other than Kai Budde.

    Just as impressively, Levy started the day 7-2 and hadn't dropped a match all day.

    Downing didn't like his deck much, but he had put together a very fast, very aggressive mostly red deck that had already finished off David Ochoa's BombRare.dec in the quarterfinals.

    Levy, as was his style this weekend, was in white and aggressive. He was using two Feeling of Dread and Geist-Honored Monk to pace his UW tempo deck through the Top 8.

    Game 1

    Levy started the game with an Unruly Mob that was quickly overshadowed by Downing's Ashmouth Hound. The Frenchman played an Elder Cathar that could get out of hand if allowed to buttress the Mob and followed it up with an Abbey Griffin. Griffin had been much maligned as being mediocre, but they were serving Levy well this weekend.

    Downing's aggressive UR deck started spitting out creatures too. Feral Ridgewolf joined his side of the field just before Forbidden Alchemy dug deep. He binned a Think Twice among the cards, digging for the Traveler's Amulet he played.

    Levy, however, upped the ante with a Doomed Travelers and a Stitcher's Apprentice. The Apprentice left unchecked could turn the Mob into a monster (somewhat ironically).

    Aware of that fact, Downing used Geistflame to kill the Mob before the Apprentice became active. However, it still had both a Doomed Traveler and an Elder Cathar to work with. Levy tried another Abbey Griffin, but lost it to Brimstone Volley.

    Rage Thrower was another haymaker for Downing, as it made using the Apprentice difficult at best.

    Still, Downing respected the little apprentice enough to destroy it with Into the Maw of Hell. Levy turned it into a Homunculus and kept his advantage on the board, even if he lost one of his tricks.

    Grasp of Phantoms cleared out the Rage Thrower and Levy took the opportunity to attack with the Griffin, Homunculus and Elder Cathar.

    Downing recast the Rage Thrower and used the opportunity to attack Levy down. But that sinking feeling Downing got when he went to declare his attackers was the Feeling of Dread the Hall of Famer flashed back.

    Silent Departure made a go of it with Edwards at two life, but a second Feeling of Dread shut that plan down.

    Levy 1 – Downing 0

    Game 2

    This time, it was Downing's turn to be the aggressor. Ashmouth Hound and Rakish Heir came down early, but had to face Levy's Chapel Geist.

    Levy refused to trade the Geist for just the Hound and Downing continued to curve out, using his four mana to play both a second Hound and a Village Ironsmith. With four creatures on the board, all of which could be dangerous attackers, Edwards was putting some serious pressure on Levy, and an Abbey Griffin was not going to change that.

    Downing got aggressive to take down Game 2

    [insert image of Eric Downing; Caption: .]

    It was so ineffectual, in fact, Downing actually just attacked with all four of his creatures the next turn, including his still 1/1 Village Ironsmith. He was either representing a trick or trying to get in as much damage as possible while he could. Neither option was very good for Levy.

    Geistflame on both ends allowed Downing to kill the Abbey Griffin and Chapel Geist at the expense of his Rakish Heir, all while getting in four damage.

    Levy, still on the back foot, could only play Stitcher's Apprentice to trade with a hound.

    Unruly Mob quickly died to a Geistflame, and once Downing was done with his turn, Levy only had an Invisible Stalker facing down a Village Ironsmith, Ashmouth Hound and a Skirsdag Cultist, all while sitting at 8 life. He just happen to also be stuck on four lands with a Geist Honored Monk in hand. When he didn't see any roads to victory, he chose to move on to game three, with a number of cards languishing in his hand.

    Levy 1 – Downing 1

    Game 3

    Downing played an early Bloodcrazed Neonate, looking to get aggressive again, but Levy made it look pretty silly with a Voiceless Spirit.

    The Voiceless Spirit continued to rule the roost, as it flew past a Lantern Spirit that Downing used to trade with a Stitcher's Apprentice and keep Levy off any crazy combos.

    Levy has been dominant today, storming back from a 7-2 Day 1 to make the finals.

    Forbidden Alchemy revealed both Geistflame and Think Twice, but Levy trumped either of those possible plays with Geist-Honored Monk.

    Silent Departure and Geistfame cut down on Levy's creature count, but he reloaded with Unruly Mob and a Silver-Inlaid Dagger. The attack for 10 dropped Downy all the way to four, and when he couldn't muster a defense the following turn, he extended his hand and wished Levy good luck in the finals.

    Raphael Levy defeats Eric Downing 2-1 and moves on to the finals



     

  • Semifinals Pat Cox vs. Craig Edwards
    by Marc Calderaro


  • Craig Edwards was very excited to hear that David Ochoa lost his Quarterfinal match-up. "He was my only loss on the weekend. I lost to him twice." Edwards had before shown signs of fatigue, but since hearing about Ochoa, he'd perked up.

    "I was his only loss," Pat Cox countered. He wore a huge grin.

    Game 1

    Pat Cox drew first blood with Walking Corpse, and following the carnage trail was an Abattoir Ghoul. Craig Edwards evened the score at 18 a piece, then cast Village Bell-Ringer on his opponent's end-step.

    "Saw that one coming," Cox quipped.

    "Why didn't you just blindly attack into it like all my other opponents?" Edwards took out Cox's fresh Stromkirk Patrol with a Fiend Hunter. He then used a Blazing Torch plus a few extra points of combat damage to take out the Ghoul. A Festerhide Boar feasted on the corpse and then fed on the Walking variety in the red zone, further dwindling Cox's creature base.

    Craig Edwards is off to an early lead

    Edwards's Boar, Voiceless Spirit, Bell-Ringer, Darkthicket Wolf and Fiend Hunter stared down a Deranged Assistant, but they all backed off as soon as the monstrous, grotesque Skaab Goliath showed up. All, that is, but the flyer, who made the totals 7-16 in Edwards' favor.

    Cox was fighting hard, but he was drawing too much land. He wasn't going to be able to hold off the alpha strike for long. A Blazing Torch was added so the Goliath couldn't block, and Cox could no longer hold off. It was very sad. All the Goliath wanted to do was play. Instead, he was solemnly picked up off the battlefield along with Cox's other cards as he prepared for the second game.

    Craig Edwards 1 – 0 Pat Cox

    Game 2

    Cox started off again, this time with a Walking Corpse and an Armored Skaab, binning an Makeshift Mauler, a Dead Weight and a Fortress Crab. Typhoid Rats joined them on turn four as a Corpse Lunge killed off Edwards's Darkthicket Wolf. Edwards had a Village Bell-Ringer and a 1/1 Lumberknot. It was a defensive early game with Cox ahead 18-17.

    "You're bleeding me, bro," Edwards said as he took one per turn. He dropped a Villagers of Estwald and passed it back.

    Sensory Deprivation, Cackling Counterpart and Ghoulcaller's Chant were part of a stacked hand for Cox. He cast an end-of-turn Snapcaster Mage to recur the Corpse Lunge, but Edwards was waiting for it, playing Spidery Grasp to save his Villagers. The 2/3 soon flipped into its bigger form, but then hit the bin to more removal.

    The scores were still high and both players were jockeying for position. The Lumberknot had slowly grown to 3/3 and Cox's board had slowly grown, thanks in part to Cackling Counterpart, into a bevy of Blue and Black dorks that couldn't attack, but made for a great defense. Excluding a mountain of land, Edwards had just a Smite the Monstrous in his hand and it had a grand total of zero targets out of six of Cox's creatures.

    Deranged Assistant and Armored Skaabs had been seriously milling Cox. His deck was at most half the size of Edwards's. Cox was pinging successfully each turn and the totals were 18-13. Creepy Doll kept coming as Edwards kept drawing land after land after land.

    Finally the game threatened to move faster than a Psychatog mirror match when Cox cast an un-smite-able Stitched Drake. It elicited some action from Edwards who used his Blazing Torch to kill a creature and grow his Lumberknot, then used a new Prey Upon to kill the Drake and grow the 'knot further to a 5/5. Attacks started to even the totals at 13-12. Edwards lamented the Creepy Doll forcing his Lumberknot to stay back on defense.

    Ghoulcaller's Chant brought back the Drake and Abattoir Ghoul and Cox swung with his little guys to sink Edwards to 7. Edwards had six cards in his hand, but most were land. He maintained enough removal though so that every time a big creature swung (read: Stitched Drake), he had a response (read: Rebuke, this time). But when Cox made a Stitched Drake for the third time (with the flashed back Cackling Counterpart), it proved to outlast the removal Edwards had drawn.

    Cox had eight creatures and the only thing standing in his way was a Voiceless Spirit. He tried to put it on top of the library with a Grasp of Phantoms, but Ranger's Guile prevented it. So instead, Cox just swung with the entire team.

    Lumberknot killed the Abattoir Ghoul, Village Bell-Ringer stopped the Walking Corpse, Voiceless Spirit jumped in front of the Drake. A Smite the Monstrous took out a Stromkirk Patrol; after first-strike damage on the Drake, the Bell-Ringer used a Blazing Torch to finish off the flyer and Edwards went to 1.

    It was a valiant effort, but it didn't stop him from drawing land. A draw step later, it was over.

    Craig Edwards 1 – 1 Pat Cox

    "I thought about hate-drafting that stupid Creepy Doll. I hate it so much." Edwards, apparently doesn't like creepy automata with scissors. I can't imagine why. "I had a big Lumberknot ... Stupid Creepy Doll."

    Game 3

    Edwards's early Selfless Cathar and Villagers of Estwald were blunted by the 1/4 Armored Skaab. He, along with his Deranged Assistant friend, had milled a Cackling Counterpart into the 'yard for later use.

    The Villagers flipped and took Cox to 15, then Preyed Upon the minty fresh Battleground Geist as Edwards looked to control the tempo of the game. He had a Fiend Hunter, Darkthicket Wolf and a Ranger's Guile in the grip and he made the Cathar useful again when he gave it a Blazing Torch to play with.

    Cox's endless parade of low-powered creatures continued, but this time he played both the Stitched Drake and a Makeshift Mauler to complement them. The transformation of the Howlpack of Estwald back into Villagers signified the shifting tempo of the game. Edwards ganged up to take down the Mauler, and was left with only a constantly transforming Estwald with the totals 15-17, then 15-14.

    Pat Cox comes from behind to take the last 2 games

    Cox again used a Ghoulcaller's Chant to get a two-for-one, and consistently maintained a creature lead on Edwards. Edwards let out a large sigh as he shifted his land around in play. Fiend Hunter removed the Stitched Drake from the game and if it weren't for a Battleground Geist – soon copied with the Cackling Counterpart in the graveyard – there'd be very little game movement. But as it was, the four-powered flyers put Edwards on the back foot. In fact, both back feet. He was on 11, and a mere two turns away from death.

    Edwards attacked with his Villagers and Cox had no fear throwing the Skaab in front of it. The two creatures bounced off one another, and soon after Edwards fell to 3 from the mutually pumping flyers.

    The natural progression after falling to three from big flyers is to, well, die. And that's what Craig Edwards did; he died.

    Pat Cox 2 -1 Craig Edwards

    Pat Cox advances to the Finals!



     

  • Finals Pat Cox vs. Raphael Levy
    by Blake Rasmussen


  • Could there be something about Austin that favors old-school pros and Hall of Famers? Three years after Brian Kibler won Pro Tour Austin, Raphael Levy, one of the longest-playing Pro Tour players – his first Grand Prix win came in 1997 – is in position to win his fourth Grand Prix and continue his now seemingly inevitable march toward 500 Pro Points and first on the lifetime list.

    Standing in his way is Pat Cox. While it's hard to match Levy's lifetime achievements, Cox is an accomplished player in his own right. The American made it through the Top 8 on the back of a defensive UB Skaab-based deck that could turtle-up behind Armored Skaabs and Fortress Crabs.

    Game 1

    For the final match of Grand Prix Austin, Levy chose both to play and to keep. His aggressive start of Doomed Traveler and Invisible stalker had Cox on the back foot almost immediately. It didn't help that the America was stuck on just Swamps early, unable to cast much more than a Dead Weight on a Selfless Cathar in the early turns.

    Pat Cox in the finals

    An Abbey Griffin threatened to fly over any of the many Armored Skaabs in Cox's deck once he found an Island, and Cox was quickly down to 8 life when Levy cast Geist-Honored Monk to flood the board with evasive creatures.

    Deranged Assistant and Grasp of Phantoms gave him a small amount of breathing room, but the Monk was still a 5/5 and Cox was still well behind on the board. He stayed that way when Levy countered his Deranged Assistant and bounced a Stromkirk Patrol with Lost in the Mist.

    "That was not much of a game," Cox said before choosing to play first in game two.

    Levy 1 – Cox 0

    Game 2

    Levy once again got off to a quick start with a Selless Cathar and a Spectral Rider, enhanced by a Silver-Inlaid Dagger.

    Cox flashed in a Snapcaster Mage to block a Silver-Inlaid Dagger enhanced Cathar, which in turn allowed him to cast a Makeshift Mauler to gum up the board. But the Spectral Rider picked up the Dagger and continued to ride in on Cox's life total, dropping him to 13 before Levy played a Stitcher's Apprentice.

    Victim of Night on the Rider let Cox suddenly perk up slightly, suddenly finding himself ahead on the battlefield.

    But the feeling didn't last long. Grasp of Phantoms took care of the Makeshift Mauler, as Cox had no other creatures in his graveyard to feed it. Levy even had another Stitcher's Apprentice to help carry the load.

    The Stitcher's Apprentices picked up the Dagger and attacked Cox down to five, the Frenchman zeroing in on a trophy he's been chasing for the last year. Cox tried a last-gasp Creepy Doll, but a timely Dissipate kept Levy firmly in control.

    Two attacks and 8 damage from Stitcher's Apprentices later and Hall of Famer Raphael Levy was the Grand Prix Austin Champion!

    Raphael Levy defeats Pat Cox 2-0 and is the GP Austin Champion



    Congratulations to Raphael Levy, the 2012 GP Austin Champion


     

  • GP Austin Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff




  •  

  • Top 5 Cards of GP Austin
    by Marc Calderaro



  • This is the second time this red rare has graced this list. And for good reason. Recursion is always a key to breaking the symmetry of the Sealed format, and Devils does that in style. It was the marquee card of many of the top-finishing Sealed decks. It returns your Midnight Haunting, your Into the Maw of Hell, your Lost in the Mist. You name it, as long as it's an Instant or Sorcery, Charmbreaker Devils has probably recurred it to win a game.




    Feeling of Dread is a perfect representative of the tempo base of this format. Raphael Levy's two copies in his Top 8 deck pretty much gave him the Quarter- and Semi-Final wins. Like Travel Preparations and Desperate Ravings it is a powerful card if you are in both colors, but you probably want to stay away from it if you can't pay its Flashback cost. Mostly.




    It would be a big mistake not to highlight this card. Not only is it powerful on its own, but add in a modicum of synergy available in the format, say, a Silent Departure or even just a simple Doomed Traveler and this friend of the ghosts becomes a force with which to be reckoned. Another integral card in Levy's winning deck it came out early and often and frequently won the game on the spot.




    A sign of the true depth of the limited format, the true power of this card hadn't even been fully utilized until a few short weeks ago. But don't let its late appearance on the scene mislead you into misjudging its power. Add in a dash of self-mill (or your opponent milling you) and this card can explode in the late game (or even the mid-game) and completely overwhelm an opponent before they can say, "Eww! Spiders!"




    I can think of no card to define the versatility of the format better than Prey Upon. This humble piece of green removal, over the evolution of the format, became more and more important and more and more of a centerpiece in any deck involving green, especially Green-White. Historically the worst archetype in tournament Magic, adding a single piece of efficiently costed, color-pie friendly removal made Green-White arguably the most consistent and powerful archetype of a consistent and powerful format.



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