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Saito's Legacy Continues!

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It took two days and nineteen rounds of play, but we finally have a new champion for Grand Prix-Columbus! Tomoharu Saito, one of the longest-tenured pro players has added a fourth Grand Prix title to his impressive resume. After repeatedly saying how much he loves how wide open the Legacy format is, he and his Merfolk deck swam through an impressive field, including victories over Brad Nelson's Junk deck, Caleb Durward's impressive UG Madness deck, and finally Tom Martell and his CounterTop deck. Now, with a victory in the rearview mirror, Saito can head home to his new card store with an impressive trophy to place on the shelf, one that says Grand Prix-Columbus champion!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Tomoharu Saito   Tomoharu Saito (2-1)        
8 Brad Nelson   Tomoharu Saito (2-1)
       
4 Caleb Durward   Caleb Durward (2-0)   Tomoharu Saito (2-0)
5 Bryant Cook    
       
2 Tom Martell   Tom Martell (2-0)
7 Korey Age   Tom Martell (2-0)
       
3 Jason Ford   Jason Ford (2-0)
6 Chris Gosselin    


Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix–Columbus at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Ray Punzalan, and Peter Martinez.

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Nate Price
    Final:
    Tom Martell vs. Tomoharu Saito

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Semifinal:
    Jason Ford vs. Tom Martell

  • by Nate Price
    Semifinal:
    Caleb Durward vs. Tomoharu Saito

  • by Rashad Miller
    Quarterfinal:
    Caleb Durward vs Bryant Cook

  • by Blake Rasmussen
    Quarterfinal:
    Tomoharu Saito vs. Brad Nelson

  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinal Round-Up:
    Korey Age vs. Tom Martell
    Jason Ford vs. Chris Gosselin

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Deck Lists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2:
    Feature Matches and more!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1:
    Feature Matches and more!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
  1.  Tomoharu Saito $3,500
  2.  Tom Martell $2,300
  3.  Jason Ford $1,500
  4.  Caleb Durward $1,500
  5.  Bryant Cook $1,000
  6.  Chris Gosselin $1,000
  7.  Korey Age $1,000
  8.  Brad Nelson $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 - Deck Lists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Tomoharu Saito
    Grand Prix Columbus 2010 - Top 8

    Brad Nelson
    Grand Prix Columbus 2010 - Top 8

    Korey Age
    Grand Prix Columbus 2010 - Top 8

    Caleb Durward
    Grand Prix Columbus 2010 - Top 8

     


  • Top 8 - Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff


  •    
    Name: Brad Nelson
    Hometown: Fargo, ND
    Age: 24
    Occupation: Luckiest Man Alive
    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 5-2
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 3/1
    What deck did you play this weekend? Brian Kowal Special
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? This deck. When Kowal Brews, he gets work done.
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? No clue

       
    Name: Korey Age
    Hometown: Louisville, KY
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Inventory Control Manager
    Day One Record: 7-2
    Day Two Record: 6-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 0
    What deck did you play this weekend? Sneak Attack with Show and Tell (Sneaky Show)
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? Aluren combo
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? It did not affect my deck at all in my opinion.

       
    Name: Tom Martell
    Hometown: San Leandro, CA
    Age: 28
    Occupation: Hedge Fund Trader
    Day One Record: 7-1-1
    Day Two Record: 6-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 0
    What deck did you play this weekend? Four-color Counterbalance
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? U/G Madness
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? I might have played Reanimator before the banning, but otherwise no real impact.

       
    Name: Christopher Gosselin
    Hometown: Manchester, NH
    Age: 28
    Occupation: Attorney
    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 5-2
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 0
    What deck did you play this weekend? “Ugly Duckling,” my Doomsday deck
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? Caleb Durward’s Madness deck
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? No effect.

       
    Name: Caleb Durward
    Hometown: Ashland, OH
    Age: 22
    Occupation: None
    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 5-1-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 0
    What deck did you play this weekend? U/G Madness
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? Depends on the tournament
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? A bit. Plus Zoo, Goblins and Merfolk looked like the decks to beat.

       
    Name: Tomoharu Saito
    Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Pro Magic player; Magic store owner
    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 6-0-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 14/5 maybe
    What deck did you play this weekend? Merfolk with black
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? ANT
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? My ANT deck power went very far down. After Madrid I thought about playing ANT again, but Merfolk with Black was better for this GP.

       
    Name: Jason Ford
    Hometown: Waltham, MA
    Age: 18
    Occupation: Student
    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 5-1-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 0
    What deck did you play this weekend? Pro-choice
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? Whatever Ari Lax ships you.
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? They banned what?!

       
    Name: Bryant Cook
    Hometown: Syracuse, NY
    Age: 21
    Occupation: Student
    Day One Record: 7-2
    Day Two Record: 6-0-1
    How many GP/PT top 8’s have you had? 1
    What deck did you play this weekend? The Epic Storm
    What is the second best deck in Legacy? Zoo
    How did the banning of Mystical Tutor and the unbanning of Grim Monolith affect your deck choice? I played two Mysticals before the banning. They became Infernal Tutor and a Silence. I think Mystical’s banning was a poor choice, but it hasn’t changed much.
     


  • Quarterfinals Roundup – Korey Age vs. Tom Martell and Jason Ford vs. Chris Gosselin

    by Nate Price
  • Korey Age vs. Tom Martell

    Tom Martell

    Both players spent their first turn doing a little searching, Ponder for Age and Brainstorm for Martell. When he got his head out of the clouds, Martell dropped a second-turn Counterbalance. A blind activation on a Lotus Petal yielded a land, keeping Age at bay. Martell found a Sensei's Divining Top soon there after to try and assemble the combo. Age was ready with a Force of Will, but Martell had a Counterspell to ensure it hit play.

    A Wipe Away from Age threatened to clear the way by removing the Counterbalance. Martel, who had just stacked his deck knew he didn't have a three drop on top for a Counterbalance trigger, so he just picked the enchantment up. When Age tried to go for a Show and Tell in the vacuum, Martel stopped him with a Counterspell.

    At this point, Tarmogoyf began the beats. A 4/5 beater kept turning sideways under the watchful eye of a freshly recast Counterspell. A couple of turns later, after having two of his spells stopped at the hands of Counterbalance and Top, Age went for one more Show and Tell. Martell revealed an Oblivion ring with his Counterbalance, and Age conceded.

    Korey Age 0 – Tom Martell 1

    Korey Age

    On the second turn of the second game, Martell tried to drop a Counterbalance into play. It met a Red Elemental Blast, which met a Force of Will, which met a Daze, which met a shrug from Martell. All four spells hit the graveyard. Martell followed that up with a Tarmogoyf, and the green monster began to eat away at Age's life. A turn later, during Age's draw step, Martell aimed a Vendilion Clique at him. Force of Will kept some secrets, but dropped Age to two cards. One of them was Sneak Attack, but Martell had a Krosan Grip ready for it. The next two turns were elementary for Martell, who just turned his 6/7 Tarmogoyf sideways twice to kill Age and advance to the semifinals.

    Korey Age 0 – Tom Martell 2

    Jason Ford vs. Chris Gosselin

    Gosselin started his quarterfinals match with a mulligan. When Ford tried for a Standstill on the second turn, Gosselin stopped it with a Spell Pierce. Unfortunately, this left him with no answer to the second one played on the following turn. Under the cover of a Standstill, Ford's Mishra's Factory began to attack. Rather than simply take the beats, Gosselin brought an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to Show and Tell. All Ford had was a lousy Underground Sea. The massive monster wouldn't even see an untap, though. Ford quickly dispatched it with an Innocent Blood.

    After hiding a card away under a Shelldock Isle, Gosselin was forced to find an answer to a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. His Brainstorm found him no help, and the mighty planeswalker hit play. It immediately went to work fatesealing Ford, keeping the cards on top. He was clearly going for a win via Jace's ultimate.

    Chris Gosselin

    Gosselin tried to set things up with a Sensei's Divining Top, but a Counterspell stopped it. Force of Will stopped a Doomsday, and it seemed Gosselin was running out of time, and fast. A fateseal stole a Stifle from Gosselin, making sure that the ultimate would go off without a hitch.

    In order to protect himself from whatever Gosselin had hidden under his Shelldock Isle, Ford brought back a Life from the Loam to get a couple of Wastelands out of his graveyard. With the Isle removed, he could ultimate with impunity. Rather than force Ford to go through the motions, Gosselin just conceded.

    Jason Ford 1 – Chris Gosselin 0

    Both players had staples for their decks in their opening draws. Gosselin had a Sensei's Divining Top, while Ford had a Standstill. In response to the Standstill, Gosselin cracked his Marsh Flats and tried to fish for a new set of three cards.

    "I just put these back," he exclaimed after receiving his deck back after a cut.

    "It was that Asian Ninja Cut. You never stood a chance," Ford smiled.

    After the Standstill resolved, Ford went to work building his mana. A few turns of land-go prompted Gosselin to ask, "You really did this all day?" With a hand full of counters, Ford felt comfortable enough to start sending his Mishra's Factory. Gosselin's life started decreasing slowly by twos. Gosselin, still bitter about losing his Shelldock Isle last game, broke the Standstill with an Extirpate on Wasteland. Upon seeing Ford's hand, he sighed.

    "I know; it's a little obnoxious."

    Two Counterspells, two Cunning Wishes, two Innocent Bloods, two Brainstorms, a Life from the Loam, and a Force of Will are a little more than what I'd call obnoxious. Still, over the next couple of turns, Gosselin began the arduous process of removing answers from Ford's hand. After fishing out a Counterspell with a Thoughtseize, he went for the Doomsday. Ford tried to stop it with a Force of Will. Gosselin had a Force of his own, and the powerful black sorcery resolved.

    Jason Ford

    A library of Spell Pierce, Shelldock Isle, Emrakul, Cloud of Faeries, and Solitary Confinement joined a hand of Shared Fate and Spell Pierce as Gosselin's last seven cards. Ford dropped a Standstill and sent the turn. As the next couple of turns passed, Ford saw his chance. At the end of one of Gosselin's turns, Ford cast a Cunning Wish. This popped the Standstill, forcing Gosselin to draw three cards, which would kill him. In response, Gosselin had a Spell Pierce to retrigger the Standstill, sending the cards the other way. Ford was ready with a Brainstorm to send the cards back at Gosselin. Gosselin had one last hope, a Brainstorm of his own, to send keep himself from decking. Unfortunately, Ford had one more copy of Brainstorm to send three cards Gosselin's way, killing him during his end step.

    Jason Ford 2 – Chris Gosselin 0

     


  • Quarterfinal - Tomoharu Saito vs. Brad Nelson
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Brad Nelson has been best known as "FFfreak" on Magic Online, but as of late has been putting up a number of impressive results in the world of paper Magic. He squeaked into the quarterfinals after a player was given a match loss in the final round of Swiss to another player in contention, catching him completely off guard when the Top Eight was announced.

    Saito, alone at 43 points and one of the few pros left in the tournament, was anything but surprised. His UB Merfolk deck had been taking down opponents all weekend and he went into the round of eight as the first seed.

    Game 1

    Saito slapped himself to begin game one, his way to focus himself, and we were off. Nelson led with Mox Diamond, Scrubland and a Dark Confidant, all on turn one. Saito allowed them to resolve, then followed up with an Aether Vial on his turn.

    Confidant revealed a land and attacked for two on the second turn, and was followed onto the battlefield by a Squire-sized Tarmogoyf.

    Saito, meanwhile, ticked up his Aether Vial and used a Wasteland on Nelson's Scrubland before passing back.

    Confidant continued to show kindness, revealing a Horizon Canopy to keep Nelson at 20. The Canopy came down just before the Tarmogoyf crashed in for one. Saito had a Cursecatcher off of Aether Vial at the end of Nelson's turn.

    Saito then used his Aether Vial, now on two, to play a main phase Silvergill Adept. He followed with a Lord of Atlantis, allowing the Cursecatcher to do its best Hound of Konda impression.

    Meanwhile, Confidant was still providing the goods. Nelson revealed a Thoughseize and immediately cast it, revealing Reejerey, Daze, Mutavault and Underground Sea. Nelson chose to take the Lord, and attacked with a now 3/4 Tarmogoyf. He also used the Maze of Ith he played pre-combat to untap his Tarmogoyf after it had dealt its damage. Sensei's Divining Top finished off the turn.

    Saito merely ran up his Aether Vial, played a Mutavault and passed with a sigh.

    With Top working now, Confidant was especially kind, revealing a Mox Diamond this time around. Nelson continued his frontal assault with another Tarmogoyf, but Saito, slapping himself to stay focused, had the Force of Will.

    The Tarmogoyf already on the battlefield, now powered by an instant as well, was a 4/5. The Adept, Cursecatcher and animated Mutavault all blocked the monster. Adept and Cursecatcher both died, and after combat Nelson used Wasteland to destroy the Mutavault.

    Back on Saito's turn, he played more draw go, though his Lord took a trip to the Maze of Ith.

    Brad Nelson

    A Vindicate destroyed the Lord of Atlantis, but Saito had another Lord of Atlantis through his Vial, causing Nelson to use Maze of Ith to protect his attacking Confidant. This allowed Lord of Atlantis to attack and drop Nelson to 10, which became 9 when his upkeep revealed a Sensei's Divining Top.

    Nelson had yet another Vindicate for Lord of Atlantis and another Wasteland for Saito's freshly played Mutavault, as well as a Tarmogoyf the following turn. An attack from Dark Confidant knocked an empty-handed Saito to eight, and then to seven after he used a Flooded Strand to find an Island.

    And when Nelson showed the Swords to Plowshares for Saito's freshly played Coralhelm Commander the next turn, Saito conceded rather than face more Tarmogoyf attacks.

    Brad Nelson – 1 Tomoharu Saito – 0

    Game 2

    Saito had no turn one play to start game two, while Nelson had Sensei's Divining Top off a basic Swamp.

    A Silvergill Adept revealed a Coralhelm Commander Saito couldn't play with his current Island/Wasteland board, which made the Commander the perfect Force of Will fodder to counter Nelson's attempted Hymn to Tourach.

    This allowed Saito to resolve Standstill the following turn and start working on Nelson's life total with the Silvergill Adept.

    Nelson's Top, however, delivered a Wasteland to take out Saito's own Wasteland, which was tapped at the time. A second Wasteland took out Saito's drawn Mutavault, but the two continued to refuse to break the Standstill while the Adept took Nelson all the way down to 5 two points at a time.

    At this point, Saito was finally forced to discard, pitching an Aether Vial while Nelson attempted to figure out when and how he could break the Standstill.

    Tarmogoyf on the battlefield as a 5/6, it seemed, was the answer. Saito checked the graveyard and, thanks to the Aether Vial and Standstill, the Tarmogoyf was big enough to draw out a Force of Will. The follow-up Dark Confidant, however, resolved.

    Undeterred, Saito again attacked with Silvergill Adept, except this time it met Nelson's Swords to Plowshares. The Mefolk player then played a Cursecatcher, Wasteland and a Standstill, hoping to freeze or negate the card advantage gained by Dark Confidant.

    The Cursecatcher ended up trading with the Dark Confidant as Nelson allowed Saito to get stuck under his own Standstill. Only the Wasteland a turn earlier had been played to negate Nelson's copy. Saito used his to blow up Nelson's Wasteland, then had a Mutavault to threaten Nelson's precious 5 life.

    Another fetch land activation took Nelson to four, and when Sensei's Divining Top didn't reveal anything helpful, the players moved on to the third and decisive game.

    Brad Nelson – 1 Tomoharu Saito – 1

    Game 3

    While Saito kept, Nelson was forced to mulligan on the play, though he did have a turn one Sensei's Divining Top once more. Saito simply made a turn two Silvergill Adept which, for the time being, could actually tangle with a 1/2 Tarmogoyf.

    Not that it had to. Submerge sent the Tarmogoyf to the top of Nelson's library, and he used his turn replaying it alongside a Karakas.

    Only, Saito had a second Submerge. Nelson tried Diabolic Edict, but Saito had the Spell Pierce as the Adepts sent Nelson to 14. Aether Vial rounded out Saito's turn.

    Tomoharu Saito

    Nelson topped on his upkeep then revealed Saito's hand with a Thoughtseize. The spell revealed two Force of Will, Cursecatcher, another Vial and a Lord of Atlantis that Nelson sent to the graveyard. He then re-played the Tarmogoyf as his last card in hand, but was thwarted by Force of Will pitching Force of Will.

    Attacks took Nelson to seven, and Saito had another land and the second Aether Vial, leaving the Cursecatcher as the only card in his hand. Nelson, looking for a blocker, played Dark Confidant. With five power on the opposing side, it was unlikely to have time to reveal anything.

    And it did, in fact, trade with a Silvergill Adept. Meanwhile Nelson fell to four. An upkeep Diabolic Edict kept him at two life, but with no cards in hand he would need a series of topdecks to take down the cagey pro.

    He found a Tarmogoyf, but a Coralhelm Commander Vialed in at end of turn earned the concession.

    Brad Nelson – 1 Tomoharu Saito – 2

     


  • Quarterfinal - Caleb Durward vs Bryant Cook
    by Rashad Miller
  • Game 1

    Cook led with Scalding Tarn for Underground Sea into Ponder. Durward sacrificed Wasteland to destroy the Underground Sea. Durward played a turn-two Gemstone Mine and his second Ponder. Durward followed with Noble Hierarch on his second turn. Turn-three for Cook consisted of Brainstorm, bringing the Gemstone Cavern down to one counter, followed by Scalding Tarn to shuffle away the unwanted cards. Durward's third turn was a less impressive hard-cast Basking Rootwalla. Cook took this opportunity to Burning wish for Dimishing Returns. Durward attacked Cook with Basking Rootwalla which in combination with fetch-land activations and exalted brought Cook to fourteen. Durward finished his turn with resolving Survival of the Fittest.

    Caleb Durward

    Cook started turn-five with Brainstorm and Rite of Flame. This was when Cook started noting his storm count. Dark ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor raised the count to five. Cook responded to his Infernal Tutor by sacrificing Lion's Eye Diamond for black mana. The tutor searched up Ad Nauseam. Cook played Ad Nausem and revealed Silence, Chrome Mox , Infernal Tutor, Gemstone Mine, Dark Ritual, Duress, Infernal Tutor, Empty the Warrens, and Orim's Chant before stopping to think. After a short pause, Cook revealed one more card; Lotus Petal. Cook then played a land, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and finally Empty the Warrens for eighteen Goblins. Facing down a Goblin horde, Durward took to the air by discarding Vengevine to Survival of the Fittest for Wonder then pitching Wonder for Basking Rootwalla. Cook played Orim's Chant with kicker during combat to preserve his precious two life points.

    Bryant Cook

    Cook attacked with eighteen Goblins. Durward traded his Basking Rootwalla for a Goblin and was dealt seventeen damage going down to three. Durward was finally able to show what his Survival engine can do when he pitched Basking Rootwalla, with madness, to get another Basking Rootwalla. The second Basking Rootwalla was then discarded, with madnees, to trigger the Vengevines in Durwards graveyard. Cook had no answer for the flying duo of Elementals.

    Durwood 1 – Cook 0

    Game 2

    Cook led with City of Brass into Ponder. Durward mimicked his game-one performance with an immediate Wasteland activation on his turn. On the next turn, Cook played Polluted Delta. Durward continued his parody of game-one with Noble Hierarch on turn-two. A Brainstorm, Polluted Delta activation, and a Ponder summed up Cook's following turn. Durward applied major pressure by casting Aquamoeba, discarding Vengevine, and casting Wild Mongrel. This triggered Vengevine and allowed Durward to attack Cook down to thirteen. Cook knew he was running out of time so we went for broke. He played Rite of Flames, two Lotus Petal, two Dark Ritual, and a Burning Wish for Dimishing Returns. Durward attempted to Spell Pierce the Returns, but Pyroblast ensured a fresh hand of seven cards for both players. Cook's new hand yielded him two Ponder and a Brainstorm but managed nothing more from casting those spells. Cook extended his hand and Durward continued on to the Semi-Finals.

    Durwood 2 – Cook 0

     


  • Semifinal - Caleb Durward vs. Tomoharu Saito
    by Nate Price
  • Caleb Durward and Tomoharu Saito met earlier in the day today, with Saito taking a 2-0 victory in round fifteen.

    "Yeah, he crushed me. Probably because he's good at the game or something."

    Saito won the roll and chose to go first. Both players started with a mulligan, keeping things even. Saito was the first on the board with a second turn Coralhelm Commander. When Durward tried to match it with a Wild Mongrel, Saito Dazed. A Lord of Atlantis came down, giving the Commander a free pass to knock Durward down to seventeen.

    Saito is 'good at Magic.' Or something.

    Durward, recognizing that Saito failed to play a land on the previous turn aimed a Wasteland at Saito's Underground Sea, locking him to a single Island. HE also played a Basking Rootwalla. Saito managed to draw a Mutavault on his turn, and he used it and his Island to level the Commander up to two, making it a 4/4. The Commander and Lord seung in, knocking Durward down to eleven. Durward untapped and played an Umezawa's Jitte, though it was a touch too late. After having his Tropical Island hit by a Wasteland on the following turn, Durward conceded.

    Caleb Durward 0 – Tomoharu Saito 1

    For the second game, Durward started out significantly faster with a Noble Hierarch. On his next turn, he used a Misty Rainforest to search out a Forest to match his first one, careful not to give Saito a chance to Islandwalk. When he used them to attempt to play a Wild Mongrel, Saito countered it with Force of Will. He then added insult to injury with a Submerge on the Noble Hierarch. He then added a Silvergill Adept to fill the void.

    Now forced to rebuild, Durward started off with a Survival of the Fittest. Saito added a second Adept to his board on the next turn and left a Wasteland up, just waiting for a target. At the end of Saito's turn, Durward began the searching fun by discarding Vengevine to get Basking Rootwalla. After untapping, he discarded that Rootwalla to snag another Vengevine before playing the Rootwalla with madness and a Noble Hierarch. The Vengevine crashed over, knocking Saito to fourteen.

    Saito tried to wrest control of the clock from Durward with a Lord of Atlantis that would give all of his men a free pass. In response, Durward floated a blue mana before trying to Daze it. This served both the purpose of forcing Saito to tap his Mutavault rather than attacking it, it also got rid of the Island, allowing him to chump block with his Rootwalla.

    On the following turn, Durward sent his Vengevine over for five, knocking Saito down to nine. Not wanting to replay the Island with a Lord of Atlantis in play, Durward just passed the turn. For his turn, Saito had a bomb. An Umezawa's Jitte could dominate this creature-centric matchup, and as of his turn, he had the only copy. A Silvergill Adept picked it up and swung in, knocking Durward to eleven. At the end of Saito's Turn, Durward started his Survival chain. Vengevine got Vengevine got Basking Rootwalla. Wonder got Rootwalla. On the next turn, it appeared that he would be able to send a quite lethal team of Vengevines through the air at Saito.

    The kid gloves are off. The gauntlets are on.

    On his turn, Durward started thinking hard. When he began his play, he started by discarding a Rootwalla to get the last Vengevine. That Vengevine found another Rootwalla. That Rootwalla found a Noble Hierarch. With two Rootwallas entering play via madness, the three Vengevines in Durward's graveyard all came back into play. Durward turned his elementals sideways through the air and Saito packed it in.

    Caleb Durward 1 – Tomoharu Saito 1

    "How long was the flight from Japan," Durward asked while shuffling after a mulligan?

    "About fifteen hours," Saito responded.

    "That's crazy," Durward said as he shook his head.

    Saito just smiled and offered a quick, "I'm crazy," with a smile. That brought a good round of laughter from the crowd.

    Durward's laughter died quickly as he was forced to mulligan to five cards. Saito started strong with a turn two Coralhelm Commander. Durward tried to match it with a Wild Mongrel, but Saito had a Daze. Making matters worse, Saito had a Wasteland for Durward's Tropical Island. Add to that an Æther Vial, and it seemed as though things were going south quickly for Durward. Free to use his mana to level, Saito just kept putting counters on his Vial and Commander, content to put creatures into play rather than cast them.

    Durward was in a world of hurt. He had whiffed on his second turn and was facing down arapidly growing army and a hand full of cards from Saito. Durward tapped out on the following turn to play an Umezawa's Jitte. Saito must not have cared much about it, because he waited until after it resolved to tap his Vial and put a Cursecatcher into play. His team smashed over on the following turn, dropping Durward to nine. Two fetchlands dropped him to seven.

    A Basking Rootwalla showed up to pick up the Umezawa's Jitte, but Saito just added more men to his team. All it took was a Nature's Ruin on the following turn to push the Rootwalla out of the way, and Saito's Merfolk could swim over for victory.

    Caleb Durward 1 – Tomoharu Saito 2

     


  • Semifinal - Jason Ford vs. Tom Martell
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Tom Martell battled back to earn his spot in the semifinals, winning his last four matches after hitting his second loss (with a tie) early on day two. His four-color Counterbalance list had endured Goblins, Burn, and two feature matches to get where he was sitting now.

    That loss? The man standing between him and a berth in the finals, Jason Ford, running Standstill.

    With both decks relying on Force of Will and two-mana blue enchantments, the match threatened to last long into the night if neither player seized any initial advantage. And it didn't disappoint. Or it did, depending on how long you like your untimed semifinal matches.

    Game 1

    Martell kicked off the action with a first turn Sensei's Divining Top, which he activated in his following upkeep, while Ford has his deck's namesake enchantment, Standstill, threatening to slow down what already was a pretty slow matchup. He even had the Mishra's Factory to make it threatening to let sit.

    Martel wasted little time breaking the enchantment with an end of turn Brainstorm, and Ford discarded an Innocent Blood and a Pernicious Deed after drawing his cards.


    Jason Ford works to stay awake during an epic first game

    A few turns of "draw go" and "draw, Top, go" kept things moving along. Ford Wastelanded a Tundra and played a Pernicious Deed. Martell had multiple Tops on the table, but nothing else to worry about with Deed. He continued to activate Top to find an edge.

    "Which one?" Ford asked. Martell simply pointed at one. Next time Martell Topped Ford simply asked "Same one?"

    Ford then attempted to resolve Jace, the Mind Sculptor, tapping out to do so and kicking off a flurry of spells. Martell responded with a Vendillion Clique, which met a Force of Will pitching Spell Pierce. That, in turn, was met with Brainstorm/shuffle and Top draw and activate. Martell played Force of Will, targeting the original Force, which Ford let resolve, only to again attempt to counter the Clique with another Force of Will. Another Force of Will from Martell countered the Jace.

    Follow all that?

    When the dust settled, neither Jace nor the Clique entered the battlefield, and both of Martell's Tops were in his library.

    After the carnage of the previous turn, Martell played a Tarmogoyf, possibly to bait the Pernicious Deed. Only Ford instead played Innocent Blood, then attempted to Wasteland Martell's black-bordered Tropical Island.

    "Can you please target the white-bordered one? For the coverage?" Martell asked. Ford relented.

    Martell once again spun the Top and resolved a Counterbalance, but Ford still had his active Deed and an attacking Mishra's Factory. Martell was down to 12.

    Still, the Counterbalance/Top was enough to convince Ford to activate the Deed for two, enabling him to resolve a Standstill Martell would have to break since he had no way to deal with the Factory otherwise. And he did with a Sensei's Divining Top followed by a Tarmogoyf.

    The Standsill let Ford find yet another Pernicious Deed, which he activated for two. Martell flipped his Top to his library, then binned the Tarmogoyf. Ford then used his Wasteland to target Martell's Flooded Strand, which kept him from activating it for fear of losing the Top.

    Martell played the Top then dropped another Tarmogoyf, which was met by a fourth Pernicious Deed, though Ford held off on activating it as the Tarmogoyf took him to 11.

    The reason was soon clear, as Innocent Blood killed the offending 5/6.


    Now you know everything you need to know about game one

    Martell continued to play threats, as a Jace began to use its plus-two ability to Fateseal Ford. Factory continued attacking, but now aimed at the Planeswalker. The pattern repeated itself for several turns as Martell used the time Jace bought to work his Tops.

    Over, and over, and over again…

    Meanwhile, Saito and Durward were in game three. It was that kind of match.

    Eventually, approximately 87 turns later, Martell broke the virtual standstill (not to be confused with the actual card) with a Vendillion Clique, which revealed Life from the Loam, two Ghastly Demise, and an Innocent Blood. Ford hard cast Force of Will, and Martell countered with, well, Counterspell. The Clique took Life from the Loam, and then died to Innocent Blood.

    And Jace and Mishra's Factory began their little dance again. However, this time Martell attempted to Swords to Plowshares the Factory. Ford chose to preserve it in his graveyard for a future Life from the Loam by Ghastly Demising his own land.

    And then the players went back to doing a whole lot of nothing, Jacing, and Topping, not necessarily in that order.

    After all the nothing, Martell finally found a Counterbalance which also finally prompted Ford to activate his final Pernicious Deed. Martell flipped both of his Tops to his library, but the Counterbalance fell.

    Following the pattern of brief periods of action between the spaces of not much happening, Ford Brainstormed, followed by a Standstill and a Mishra's Factory. Meanwhile, Jace sat just short of ultimate at 11 counters. Factory was going to be in survival mode, keeping Jace from winning the game outright.

    "One short," said Martell.

    He chose to break the Standstill with a Counterbalance, which he resolved alongside a Top through several counter spells from Ford.

    A second Mishra's Factory allowed Ford to pump for three damage to Jace, and he even had the Force of Will to stop Swords to Plowshares. However, a Tarmogoyf and the Top/Counterbalance lock was enough to finally convince Ford to move on to Game 2.

    Tom Martell – 1 Jason Ford – 0

    Game 2

    "I'm borderline going to fall asleep. I haven't eaten anything today, I'm tired of playing, and I'm still not convinced this deck is good," said Ford as he shuffled up after game one lasted over an hour.

    The first action of the game was Martell's turn three Counterbalance after both players hit their first land drops. A Spell Pierce met Red Elemental Blast, allowing Martell the luxury of an early Counterbalance. Though any flips would have to be blind for the time being.


    After an epic game one, Martell made short work of Ford in game two

    Ford attempted Jace, the Mind Sculptor on his turn, but lost it to a Force of Will that pitched Vendillion Clique. Martell then had his own Jace.

    "Hold on, I'm going to think about what I'm going to do with him," said Martell.

    "Win?" quipped Ford who was quickly falling behind. Well, relatively quickly. His only action was a Wasteland on Martell's only red source, followed by Wasteland on Martell's only green source.

    Soon, Martell also had a Top active. With Jace, Top and Counterbalance all working, Ford was going to have to find some serious Magic to force game three.

    Martell tried to find a clock with Vendilion Clique, but Ford had a Counterspell, one of the few spells he would resolve the rest of the game, as Jace began sealing Ford's fate. Pernicious Deed was countered by Counterbalance (Krosan Grip , but Ford did manage to find a Mishra's Factory, but the previously revealed Krosan Grip kept it from ever touching Jace. And a few turns later, Ford extended his hand.

    Tom Martell – 2 Jason Ford – 0

    Tom Martell advances to the finals against Tomoharu Saito.

     


  • Final - Tom Martell vs. Tomoharu Saito
    by Nate Price
  • It only seemed fitting that the one and two seeds of the Top 8 should win through their brackets to meet in the finals. Before the match, both players spent the full amount of time studying each others' decklists. Saito was amused at the one Mountain in Martell's deck.

    "Wasteland. Too good," Martell explained.

    When Saito noticed the Llawan, Cephalid Empress in his board (which happens to be there for this matchup), he asked to make sure he was reading the right card.

    "Yes. So how do I sideboard," Martell asked? "Want to tell me?"

    "...no."

    Both players shuffled their decks thoroughly. Then, they shuffled each others' decks thoroughly. Somewhere along the line, maximum randomness was achieved.

    Martell won the die roll and chose to go first. Saito made the first move with a first-turn Æther Vial. Martell played a Brainstorm in response, but Saito made him think that he might Daze it for a minute before letting it resolve. Martell really needed to find an answer to the Vial. LSV and PV told me earlier in an interview that their worst matchups are games that start with a resolved Vial. Unfortunately, Martell found no help. The Vial hit play.

    Martell attempted to land his own permanent, a Counterbalance, on the following turn. Again, Saito thought for a long minute before deciding to Daze it. Saito kept Martell's lands under control with a Wasteland on his turn. Thanks to the Vial, he no longer had to worry about building up his mana to play his creatures. Martell just untapped and played a Sensei's Divining Top. Saito moved his Vial up to two and tapped it to two a Coralhelm Commander into play with it. An Island followed and his Commander went to level one.

    Martell's Top paid him dividends, helping him to find an Oblivion Ring to deal with Saito's Vial. Unwilling to let it go without a fight, Saito removed a Merrow Reejerey to Force of Will the Ring. Keeping his Vial on two counters, Saito began his turn. He activated his Vial to put a Silvergill Adept into play, drawing him a second card for the turn. He then leveled up his Commander and sent it over for three. His final play for the turn was a Cursecatcher.

    Martell, needing to stem the bleeding activated his Top to search before using it to draw a Swords to Plowshares from the top of his deck. He promptly aimed it at the Commander, which Saito allowed. He then plopped a 3/4 Tarmogoyf into the way of the marauding Merfolk. Unfortunately for him, Saito had a Lord of Atlantis to give them a way around the 'Goyf. Martell dropped to eleven.

    Martell replayed his Top and activated it. After ordering the top of his deck, he sent his Tarmogoyf over for three. At the end of his turn, Saito thought for a minute before passing on activating his Vial. HE then untapped, played a Mutavault, and attacked Martell down to four. When a Brainstorm failed to find Martell any help, he conceded before even putting the cards back on top of his library.

    Tom Martell 0 – Tomoharu Saito 1

    Before sideboarding, Saito gave himself his signature slaps to focus his attention. Martell shuffled his whole sideboard into his deck before carefully thumbing through it and picking out his fifteen rejects. Saito just pulled out he changes he needed to make and made them.

    Martell thought for a minute about an opening hand that contained a Counterbalance, but no way to protect it before keeping his draw. Saito seemed quite pleased with his hand as he immediately followed Martell's declaration to keep with an enthusiastic one of his own. When he led off with a Cursecatcher on the first turn, it became apparent why. Martell managed to get his Counterbalance on the table on the following turn, much to his relief. He whiffed on his blind activation in an attempt to counter a Coralhelm Commander, but at least he was online.

    Saito managed to sneak another Merrow Reejerey into play through Counterbalance, which revealed a Swords to Plowshares on top. Martell's inability to manipulate his deck was really starting to become a problem. Saito attacked him down to fourteen.

    Martell decided on his turn to clear the board with a Firespout. Saito Dazed, leaving his Cursecatcher behind. Martell couldn't stop the Daze and was simply forced to pay the one mana. This forced Saito to sacrifice his Cursecatcher, netting the Firespout at least one creature. Unfortunately, there were still some very problematic ones on the board, and a Mutavault in reserve. When Saito sent the team on his turn, Martell dropped to five. Martell simply played a land and passed his turn. Saito activated two Mutavaults and sent his whole team. Martell did the math and conceded the game.

    Tom Martell 0 – Tomoharu Saito 2



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