gpden13

Wijaya Slices Through the Competition!

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Going into this weekend, all eyes were on BUG. Would players be able to compete against the deck full of the most powerful individual cards in the format? Or would players shuffling up Jace, the Mind Sculptors, Tarmogoyfs, Abrupt Decays, and Deathrite Shamans be able to waltz their way through the tournament?

But when the dust settled, and the Top 8 was announced, Legacy proved to be as diverse as ever as only Daniel Signorini had managed to make it to the tournament's elimination rounds with BUG.

Joining Daniel in the Top 8 were Grand Prix Oakland Champion Matt Nass, Pro Tour Nagoya Top 8 alum Pat Cox, 3 time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Josh Ravitz, Ryan Pesch, Andrew Ohlschwager, Donnie Peck, and eventual champion Vidianto Wijaya.

While many top pros had dismissed Esper Stoneblade coming into this weekend, Vidianto Wijaya was able to slice his way past the competition, even defeating back to back Jund decks (which were allegedly a bad matchup for him) in the Semifinals and Finals.

Join us again next weekend as we bring you live streaming video, and text coverage of the Standard format Grand Prix Atlantic City.




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Vidianto Wijaya   Vidianto Wijaya, 2-1        
8 Donnie E Peck   Vidianto Wijaya, 2-1
       
4 Joshua P Ravitz   Joshua P Ravitz, 2-1   Vidianto Wijaya, 2-1
5 Daniel Signorini    
       
2 Matthew L Nass   Patrick B Cox, 2-0
7 Patrick B Cox   Patrick B Cox, 2-0
       
3 Ryan Pesch   Ryan Pesch, 2-0
6 Andrew Ohlschwager    








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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Vidianto Wijaya $3,500
 2.  Patrick B Cox $2,300
 3.  Ryan Pesch $1,500
 4.  Joshua P Ravitz $1,500
 5.  Matthew L Nass $1,000
 6.  Daniel Signorini $1,000
 7.  Andrew Ohlschwager $1,000
 8.  Donnie E Peck $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Deck Tech – Elves with Matt Nass

    by Frank Lepore

  • Team ChannelFireball member Matt Nass is no stranger to Elves. The pro player won Grand Prix Oakland with a very similar build back in 2010, a victory which left his forever known as an elf player. Considering he just won his match that cemented his appearance in the Top 8 this weekend, we wanted to take a minute to get the low down on how the tiny green creatures once again got the job done for him this weekend.

    An Elves deck

    "I think the deck is good against RUG and BUG which are the two most popular decks. I don't like it much against combo, which I have a little sideboard hate for. Basically I like it against almost every fair deck though.

    As you can see I'm not running Mirror Entity because Craterhoof Behemoth kind of obsoletes it. I think it's the best win condition, not close; especially with the Natural Orders in the main deck.

    A lot of the wins come from Glimpse of Nature, and a lot of games you just Natural Order for the Craterhoof Behemoth. The basic gist of the deck is playing an elf on turn one, then try to develop the board a little more with intent to Natural Order on turn three with Gaea's Cradle or something like that. Often Craterhoof Behemoth will be lethal, but if not, you can get Regal Force and try to grind more by drawing a ton of cards.

    Against the fair decks the majority of my wins come from Elvish Visionary and Wirewood Symbiote. You can return it once on your turn, then once on theirs to draw a bunch of cards. Another underrated interaction is Symbiote and Quirion Ranger; you can only use the Ranger once per turn, but you can use it twice if you return it with the Wirewood Symbiote. If this isn't the most synergistic deck in the format, it's definitely very close.

    As far as mana, we only run 19 lands, but the deck will keep every hand with one land. We can't really add more land as then you draw too many when you're trying to go off with Glimpse of Nature.

    Combo decks like Storm and Belcher, decks I can't interact with, are probably my worst matchups. Luckily I haven't played against those decks today though. While the deck's fundamental turn is slower than other combo decks, but it's so much better in grindy games."

    Matt Nass just won Round 14, putting him at an impressive 12-1-1 record and earning him a coveted slot in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Denver!




     

  • Deck Tech – Jund with Pat Cox

    by Steve Sadin

  • After preparing for the event extensively with Reid Duke, Pro Tour Nagoya Top 8 alum Pat Cox decided to play Jund. Yes, that's right, Jund at Grand Prix Denver.

    The scourge of the current Modern PTQ season (and formerly Standard) is also making its presence felt in Legacy. While Reid Duke didn't fare particularly well on Day Two, the deck still performed well enough to put both Pat Cox, and Josh Ravitz into the Top 8.

    To learn more about why Jund is a viable choice in the current Legacy format, I sat down with Pat to ask him a few questions.

    Pat Cox

    Why Did you Play Jund?

    I think the Black Green shell that makes up the core of BUG is the most powerful thing that you can do in Legacy right now. Deathrite Shaman is very good in Legacy since it can always add mana, and both of its other abilities are very relevant.

    Abrupt Decay, Hymn to Tourach, Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf are also great – and I think that Liliana of the Veil is one of the best cards in the format.

    Jace is the most powerful card in the BUG mirror, and the only way that you have to deal with it if you're playing BUG is with, a Jace of your own. If you play Jund, you get to play Lightning Bolt, and Bloodbraid Elf – both of which allow you to kill opposing Planewalkers.

    I thought Ancient Grudge in the sideboard was another good reason to be in red. If you draw even one of them against Esper Stoneblade it's really hard to lose. That said, my only loss in the Swiss was to Stoneblade...

    If your deck is built right, you're not going to maindeck Force of Will anyway if you're playing BUG. So while you're a little bit weaker against combo decks when you're playing Jund because you don't have Force of Will in your sideboard, you're a lot stronger against the "fair" BUG, RUG, and Stoneblade decks that most players are playing.

    Why is Liliana of the Veil so good right now?

    Liliana of the Veil's edict ability (target player sacrifices a creature) is very good in a lot of matchups, particularly if you can play it on turn two with Deathrite Shaman. And Hymn to Tourach into Liliana of the Veil is good against anything. And if Liliana of the Veil is your follow up play after one or two other discard spells against combo decks, it's very difficult for them to win because they'll never be able to get enough cards in their hand to actually go off.

    If the discard is so good in your deck, why did you go down to 3 copies of Hymn to Tourach?

    I started with 4 copies of Hymn to Tourach, but I found that there were a lot of situations where I just couldn't afford to draw two of them.

    Sometimes it's obviously good to draw more than one Hymn. But I'm playing a lot of other discard, and there will be times when I need to spend my second turn killing a Dark Confidant or something – so I'll need to wait a long time before I can cast it.

    Did you make any significant changes to the deck while you were preparing for the event?

    The original version of the deck that I was playing had a pair of Treetop Villages, but Reid convinced me to cut them, and to add 2 extra lands so I could play 4 Wastelands. Treetop Village was actually pretty good because it survived Terminus, and it kills Planeswalkers – but the Wastelands are just better.




     

  • Day Two Round by Round Top Table Metagame Breakdown

    by Steve Sadin

  • Round 9 Top Table Breakdown

    5 RUG Delver
    3 BUG (1 BUG Delver, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 BUGw)
    3 Esper Stoneblade
    2 Blue White Countertop (1 Miracles, 1 RIP Combo)
    2 Elves!
    1 Sneak and Show
    1 Dredge
    1 Thopter Sword
    1 Jund
    1 Maverick

    Total number of unique archetypes = 10
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 13

    Round 10 Top Table Breakdown

    6 BUG (2 Midrange, 2 BUG Delver, 1 BUGw, 1 Shardless Agent)
    4 RUG Delver
    2 Esper Stoneblade
    2 Sneak and Show
    2 Elves!
    1 BWR Zombies
    1 Bant
    1 Jund
    1 Death and Taxes

    Total number of unique archetypes = 9
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 12

    Round 11 Top Table Breakdown

    5 RUG Delver
    4 BUG (2 BUG Delver, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 Midrange)
    3 Esper Stoneblade
    2 Jund
    1 Blue White Countertop
    1 Elves!
    1 Bant
    1 Dredge
    1 High Tide
    1 BWR Zombies

    Total number of unique archetypes = 10
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 12

    Round 12 Top Table Breakdown

    5 Esper Stoneblade
    5 BUG (2 BUG Delver, 2 Midrange, 1 BUGw)
    2 Jund
    2 RUG Delver
    1 Blue White Countertop
    1 Elves!
    1 BWR Zombies
    1 MUD
    1 Blazing Halls
    1 Sneak and Show

    Total number of unique archetypes = 10
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 12

    Round 13 Top Table Breakdown

    5 Esper Stoneblade
    3 BUG (2 Midrange, 1 BUG Delver)
    3 RUG Delver
    3 Jund
    1 Bant
    1 Blue White Countertop
    1 Elves!
    1 Dredge
    1 Sneak and Show
    1 BWR Zombies

    Total number of unique archetypes = 10
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 11

    Round 14 Top Table Breakdown

    4 BUG (2 BUG Delver, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 Midrange)
    4 Esper Stoneblade
    3 RUG Delver
    3 Blue White Countertop (2 Miracles, 1 RIP Combo)
    2 Jund
    1 Bant
    1 Elves!
    1 Dredge
    1 BWR Zombies

    Total number of unique archetypes = 9
    Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 12

    Question: is Legacy a diverse format?

    Rounds 10 and 14 were the only rounds all weekend where we saw fewer than 10 unique decks at the top 10 tables... instead we only saw 9 unique decks at the top 10 tables in those rounds.

    Answer: Yes.

    Question: did any decks outperform expectations this weekend?

    A number of top pros, who had carefully prepared for this week's Legacy metagame, chose to pilot Jund and Elf Combo decks. And while the fact that there were so few players piloting the decks made them less than ubiquitous at the top tables – they were nonetheless able to put up exceptionally good performances.

    Answer: Yes.

    Question: is any single deck dominant in the current Legacy format?

    Throughout the weekend, RUG Delver, BUG variants, Esper Stoneblade, and Blue White Countertop variants (both those which lean on Miracles for their kill, and those with Rest in Peace plus Helm of Obedience) all had a sizable presence at the top of the standings – but no single deck was able to truly dominate against this diverse field.

    Answer: No.




     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Covergae Staff










  •  

  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Matthew Nass

    Age: 20
    Hometown: Stanford
    Occupation: Student and writer for channelfireball.com


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    GP Oakland winner, GP Pittsburgh Top 8

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    Elves! It is great against fair decks.

    What’s your best matchup?
    BUG

    What’s your worst matchup?
    Charbelcher or combo in general.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    Huge. The clear deck to beat.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Play something other than Thorn of Amethyst and Mindbreak Trap since combo isn’t popular.




    Andrew Ohlschwager

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Fort Collins
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Nothing, really.

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    UW Miracles. It seemed amazing during testing (which I did very little of).

    What’s your best matchup?
    I don’t know.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    I don’t know.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    I did some testing against it, but not with Miracles.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Nothing that I can think of.




    Daniel Signorini

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Reston, VA
    Occupation: Software engineer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Multiple StarCity Games Open Series Top 8s, with one win. One GP Top 16 finish.

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    BUG Delver. I’m playing it because I designed it, and it’s awesome.

    What’s your best matchup?
    I have no idea, but from this tournament, it seems like RUG Delver and Esper Stoneblade are pretty good.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    Probably Dredge.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    It was a huge factor, but I’m the bad guy this time.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    I’d probably cut the miser’s Tormod’s Crypt and a Blue Elemental Blast for two Submerges.




    Donnie Peck

    Age: 18
    Hometown: Omaha, but home is nowhere.
    Occupation: Pizza artist


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2 PTs, 1 Worlds, a few GP Day 2s and cashes.

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    Esper Stoneblade. I like playing Stoneforge Mystic, and Lingering Souls allowed me to use Tim Aten Pro Player cards for tokens.

    What’s your best matchup?
    (No answer given)

    What’s your worst matchup?
    (No answer given)

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    I won a grinder with it. I played a Supreme Verdict maindeck because of it, I suppose.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Nihil Spellbomb did nothing, so I’d add another board sweeper of some sort in its place.




    Ryan Pesch

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Ames, IA
    Occupation: Good question…


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    None.

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    RUG Delver, because it’s the deck that I know best. Also, people said that the field was weak to combo decks, which are my best matchups.

    What’s your best matchup?
    Combo decks.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    UW Miracles. Also the BUG decks aren’t that great.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    I relied on it to make the combo players happy with their choice. Also, I hoped that it would keep Dredge in check.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Put Forked Bolt back into the maindeck.




    Pat Cox

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Arlington, VA
    Occupation: Systems engineer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    1 PT Top 8, 4 other GP Top 8s, SCG Invitational Champion

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    Jund. The BG shell is the best “fair” thing you can do in Legacy, and Bloodbraid Elf, Lightning Bolt, and Grim Lavamancer are very good against the other BG-based decks.

    What’s your best matchup?
    BUG.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    Fast combo decks like Storm, Dredge, etc.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    I am essentially playing BUG, but with cards that beat the mirror match.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Maybe cut the second Umezawa’s Jitte for a Pyroclasm.




    Vidianto Wijaya

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia
    Occupation: Online stuff at MTGdeals.com


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Almost made Top 8 at another GP?

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    Esper Stoneblade, because I love Stoneforge Mystic.

    What’s your best matchup?
    Nothing. Everything is only so-so.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    Read above J

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    Pretty huge. That’s why I played a Lingering Souls deck, because I think BUG is weak against it in game one.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    None. J




    Joshua Ravitz

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Midland Park, NJ
    Occupation: Unemployed. If you know of any sweet job openings, please let me know!


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    A myriad of near misses 7-8 years ago, Top 8 PT Seattle ’04 (teams), Top 8 US Nationals ’05, a couple of GP Top 8s, a few PTQ wins, most recently Top 8 SCG Invitational

    What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
    I played Reid Duke’s Jund deck, because I felt it was well-positioned and didn’t think that UW Miracles was a good choice right now.

    What’s your best matchup?
    Not sure. Maybe RUG Delver or UW Miracles.

    What’s your worst matchup?
    Any “hard combo” deck (Storm, Show & Tell, Storm). I basically always lose game one to those decks. Post-sideboard is better, but it is a big disadvantage starting down a game.

    How big of a factor was BUG in your preparation for this tournament?
    Pretty big; Given the prevalence of Liliana of the Veil, you really cannot employ certain strategies (like Miracles). Most fair decks also need to have reliable, cheap removal for Deathrite Shaman, which is another strange constraint on the format.

    If you were to play your deck again next weekend, what changes would you make (if any)?

    Maybe nothing. I’m not sure.




     

  • Quarterfinals Feature Match – Pat Cox vs. Matt Nass

    by Frank Lepore

  • Pat Cox and Matt Nass are two players familiar with the Grand Prix Top 8 state. Matt Nass won Grand Prix Oakland in 2010 with a similar deck to the one he's piloting today: Elves! Pat Cox is known for his appearance in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Nagoya in 2011, but also for a more recent appearance in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Charleston not even two months ago. We see Cox on a Jund deck that has been utilizing all the disruption Jund has to offer, including two of the stand outs this weekend: Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman.

    Game 1

    Nass led off with a Quirion Ranger while a Thoughtseize from Cox snagged a Green Sun's Zenith. Turn two from Nass saw the combination of Wirewood Symbiote and Heritage Druid. While there was no onboard combo in play right now, Nass was quickly assembling the pieces.

    Cox found a Taiga with his Wooded Foothills and a Deathrite Shaman joined the party. A belligerent Wirewood Symbiote had to head home for the night after Cox dispatched it with a Lightning Bolt. With nothing but a Verdant Catacombs, Nass was forced to pass the turn.

    Matt Nass

    With two cards in Nass's hand, Cox snagged his only action with a Thoughtseize, sending the Natural Order to the bin, leaving Nass with nothing but a Windswept Heath. He followed it up with a Liliana of the Veil, forcing Nass to sacrifice his Heritage Druid as well. There was an attrition war taking place and Cox was very far ahead in it.

    A Dryad Arbor attacked the Liliana of the Veil, sending the one loyalty Planeswalker to her doom, then Nass followed with another Wirewood Symbiote. Both players had their respective pairs of cards, however, as another Liliana from Cox forced Nass to make a difficult decision. Ultimately his Quirion Ranger would be sacrificed and Cox would add a Grim Lavamancer to his growing army: quite the deadly card against an army of relevant 1/1's.

    Nass sent both his creatures at the Planeswalker once more, sending a second Liliana to the grave. A third Thoughtseize from Cox nabbed Nass's last card in hand: an unimpressive Glimpse of Nature.

    Both players chuckled.

    With a Sylvan Library in play for Cox, things were looking bleak for Nass. Cox would drop down to a mere five life as he decided to keep a second card from the top of his library. A Bloodbraid Elf for Cox hit a second Deathrite Shaman for before attacking Nass down to 15.

    Nass put a card into play face down.

    "Morph." Nass said.

    Both players laughed.

    "Is that going to be a problem?" Nass joked.

    A second Bloodbraid Elf from Cox hitting a third Liliana and Nass knew his 2/2 mystery creature was not going to do it.

    Patrick Cox 1, Matthew Nass 0

    Game 2

    "I shouldn't have unmorphed it!" Nass joked about his face down Birchlore Rangers. "I misplayed."

    Once again both players displayed the lighthearted tone of the match. They were both having fun and it was apparent in their interactions.

    "Lemme read that. I don't even know what that does." Cox admitted as he read the card.

    Nass was on the play which meant he was the first to decide to drop to six cards. There was an "I'll think" from Cox before deciding to keep his initial seven. Unfortunately six was not going to do it for Nass and it was down to five he went. With a win in the bank for Cox, things were not looking good for the Elves player.

    Nass led off with a Dryad Arbor, and Cox immediately Wastelanded it. A Gaea's Cradle from Nass meant he had zero mana production while Cox cracked a Verdant Catacombs for a Badlands. Down came a Grim Lavamancer and it was back to Nass.

    Nass found some action as he played a Misty Rainforest for a Bayou, cast a Wirewood Symbiote, then searched for another Dryad Arbor with his Green Sun's Zenith. Things were looking up, but would they stay that way?

    Cox wasted no time getting rid of the threatening 1/1 Forest before Wastlanding Nass' Gaea's Cradle as well. He was intent on keeping Nass off his mana. A second Cradle for Nass followed by a Quirion Ranger meant Cox's work was far from finished.

    Cox played not one, but two Deathrite Shamans on his turn - the most dominant card of the weekend - and passed back to Nass. Nass still had surprises however. He revealed the last card in his hand - a Natural order - and traded his Quirion Ranger for the soul of the world: Progenitus!

    Patrick Cox

    Things had suddenly taken a turn for the worse for Cox. His army of one drops looked to be no match for the 10/10; it threatened to close the game in two turns. Cox followed with two damage to the Symbiote from the Lavamancer and an Umezawa's Jitte, but was it enough? The Hydra Avatar dropped Cox to 8 life and Nass followed it with a morph creature.

    Cox had a plan. He equipped his Shaman and attacked. No blocks from Nass and Cox would kill the morph creature with the Jitte counters. Cox followed his play with a Liliana of the Veil and forced Nass to sacrifice his commanding Progenitus. Cox was once again in the lead by a large margin. A Bloodbraid Elf cascaded him into a Dark Confidant and Nass knew when his number was up.

    Patrick Cox advances to the semifinals over Matt Nass, 2-1




     

  • Quarterfinals Feature Match – Quarterfinals Roundup

    by Steve Sadin

  • Ryan Pesch (RUG Delver) vs Andrew Ohlschwager (R.I.P. Combo)

    Game One

    Andrew Ohlschwager had no answers for the Nimble Mongoose, or the Tarmogoyf that Pesch started the game with, allowing the lone RUG Delver player in the Top 8 to get off to a quick one game lead.

    Ryan Pesch 1 – Andrew Ohlschwager 0

    Ohlschwager (left) vs. Pesch (right)

    Game Two

    The second game played out much like the first, as Pesch got off to another quick lead with a Delver of Secrets, and a Nimble Mongoose.

    And while Ohlschwager was eventually able to wipe his board away with a Supreme Verdict, by the time he had done that he was down to a meager 1 life – setting the stage for Pesch to finish him off with a Lightning Bolt.

    Ryan Pesch 2 – Andrew Ohlschwager 0

    Vidianto Wijaya (Esper Stoneblade) vs Donnie Peck (Esper Stoneblade)

    Game One

    While I was busy watching Pesch win his quarterfinals match, Donnie Peck managed to win a long, exhausting, first game thanks to a Batterskull, and abundance of mana.

    Donnie Peck 1 – Vidianto Wijaya 0

    Game Two

    Wijaya was able to resolve an early Stoneforge Mystic fetching Batterskull. And while Peck was able to resolve not one, but two Stoneforge Mystics of his own – a Swords to Plowshares, and a Snapcaster Mage (flashing back Swords to Plowshares) ensured that Peck would be unable to get so much as a single activation out of his Stoneforge Mystics.

    Peck was eventually able to plow away Wijaya's Germ token, but by the time he had done that, Wijaya had resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

    Donnie Peck

    But Peck wasn't done fighting yet. A Lingering Souls allowed Peck to eventually kill off Wijaya's Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and a Vindicate took out the Batterskull.

    Wijaya kept himself in the driver's seat by building up an army of 8 Spirit tokens with a pair of Lingering Souls, but Peck did what he could to keep things interesting by resolving his own Batterskull.

    The Batterskull kept Peck in the game for a little while, but Wijaya eventually drew a Disenchant allowing him to even the score at one game apiece.

    Donnie Peck 1 – Vidianto Wijaya 1

    Game Three

    Peck got off to a big lead early thanks to a Thoughtseize that stripped away a Stoneforge Mystic, and a Stoneforge Mystic of his own which he used to fetch Batterskull.

    Vidianto Wijaya

    After taking a couple of hits, Wijaya found a Swords to Plowshares to deal with his opponent's Germ token.

    And while a Lingering Souls, and another Stoneforge Mystic for Umezawa's Jitte gave Peck a temporary on board lead, Wijaya was eventually able to wrestle control of the match with a Zealous Persecution, a Disenchant, a Batterskull of his own, and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

    Donnie Peck 1 – Vidianto Wijaya 2

    Josh Ravitz (Jund) vs Dan Signorini (Delver)

    Jund versus BUG Delver is often a grindy matchup that can come down to a single card. But other times, the games are absolute blowouts.

    Signorini took the first game in resounding fashion. After knocking the only relevant spells out of Ravitz's hand with a Hymn to Tourach, he was ultimately able to end the first game with nearly 20 power of creatures on his own side of the board, while Ravitz didn't have so much as a single non-land permanent.

    Dan Signorini 1 – Josh Ravitz 0

    Dan Signorini

    Game Two

    A Force of Will to counter a Dark Confidant, and a second turn Hymn to Tourach gave Signorini a bit of an advantage early – but when he had no answer for Ravitz's Grim Lavamancer or his replacement Dark Confidant, things quickly went downhill for Signorini.

    A Tarmogoyf, and a pair of Wastelands gave Signorini some hope of racing Ravitz, but that hope would prove to be short lived. Once Ravitz found a Lightning Bolt, he was able to kill off Signorini's Tarmogoyf, and not long after that, the players were shuffling up for the deciding 3rd game.

    Dan Signorini 1 – Josh Ravitz 1

    Josh Ravitz

    Game Three

    Ravitz opened strong with a Deathrite Shaman, a Tarmogoyf, and a Liliana of the Veil that killed of Signorini's Insectile Abberation the turn it came into play.

    And while Signorini did his best to keep Ravitz off of 4 lands (and the Bloodbraid Elf that comes with it) with a Sinkhole, that only served to delay the inevitable as Signorini didn't have any relevant spells that would allow him to take advantage of the time that he was buying himself.

    Dan Signorini 1 – Josh Ravitz 2




     

  • Semifinals Feature Match – Pat Cox vs. Ryan Pesch

    by Frank Lepore

  • Ryan Pesch has been piloting RUG today - one of the format's most popular and successful decks - on his way to his very first Grand Prix Top 8. With multiple Top 8 appearances under his belt, Pat Cox made short work of his previous opponent, the elf wielding Matt Nass, and was out for blood...or a Grand prix trophy. Was he going to have as easy a time when his next opponent was wielding counterspells? This time both players were piloting decks that excelled in pressure and disruption, but only one could proceed to the finals.

    While waiting for Cox, Pesch joked about how Cox not showing up might be the only way he could win this match. Cox was Pesch's only loss in the Swiss rounds and, after seeing Cox's decklist, he wasn't feeling any more confidant.

    Game 1

    Both players kept their openers and Pesch led off with a Scalding Tarn seeking a Volcanic Island, followed by a Grim Lavamancer. A Verdant Catacombs seeking out a plain old Swamp from Cox and it was back to Pesch; Cox was intent to avoid a Wasteland death. Pesch then "Ponder"ed his options, choosing not to shuffle his library, before attacking with his 1/1 Wizard.

    A Taiga from Cox and it was two turns with no plays. Pesch had some breathing room from his bogeyman. He cast a Brainstorm, put two cards back, then decided to Wasteland Cox's Taiga. Cox responded by casting an Abrupt Decay on the Grim Lavamancer which dealt two damage to Cox before his death rattle.

    Ryan Pesch

    A Wooded Foothills finding a Forest for Cox allowed him to cast his Dark Confidant, but Pesch had the Daze. Cox cast a second Dark Confidant on his turn and this one would indeed resolve. Cox followed his play with a Deathrite Shaman, and passed the turn.

    Double Lightning Bolts from Pesche made short work of the invitational champion and his elvish friend. Cox had a Hymn to Tourach for Pesch, leaving him with a mere one card. He then cast a Tarmogoyf, but before the players could determine its power and toughness, it was met with a Dismember. Cox followed up with a Bloodbraid Elf off the top, which hit another Hymn, forcing Pesch to discard his final card: a Tropical Island.

    It was back and forth as both players drew creature and answer, one after the other in unison. Cox kept Pesch off green mana as he ticked up his Liliana of the Veil. A 4/5 Tarmogoyf came down and he finally saw a way to win the game. A Dark Confidant, a Wasteland, and a few turns later and the Lhurgoyf would be victorious.

    Pat Cox 1, Ryan Pesch 0

    Game 2

    As Cox ran off for a quick bathroom break, Pesch meticulously sideboarded. The newcomer was deep in thought and wasn't liking his odds. Were his only two losses in the entire tournament to come at the hands of the same player?

    Another Grim Lavamancer from Pesch started the game while Cox had but a Badlands. He attempted to Ponder, but Cox had the Pyroblast. A Wasteland took Pesch's only Volcanic Island, and Pesch was looking at no lands for his third turn.

    Pat Cox

    Cox cast a Tarmogoyf, and Pesch...was still without any lands. Despite not being able to cast a single card in his hand, Cox decided to remove two of them with a Hymn to Tourach.

    "Can I just say a number and you discard that one, and we'll roll for the second? Is that okay?" Cox inquired of Pesch's seven card hand.

    "Sure," Pesch replied, as two cards were ripped from his seemingly useless hand.

    A Spell Pierce and a Brainstorm hit the bin, and on his next turn Cox added a Bloodbraid Elf and a Liliana to his board. With nary a board to even call his own, all Pesch could do was pack it up and offer the handshake.

    Pat Cox would advance to the finals over Ryan Pesch, 2-0




     

  • Semifinals Feature Match – Josh Ravitz (Jund) vs. Vidianto Wijaya (Esper Stoneblade)

    by Steve Sadin

  • Josh Ravitz, who is playing in his third Grand Prix Top 8 this weekend, might not be a household name outside of the East Coast. However, if you've been to even a couple of PTQs in the North East then you undoubtedly know how good Josh is.

    You see, Ravitz has a knack for winning PTQs – having qualified for seemingly every Pro Tour that he's wanted to play in by tearing through 200-300 person qualifiers.

    And while he doesn't have quite as many battle scars from the PTQ circuit as Ravitz does, Vidianto Wijaya has nonetheless established himself as one of the most feared players on the West Coast PTQ circuit – regularly securing himself invitations by winning constructed, and limited PTQs alike.

    But thanks to their Top 4 finishes here, PTQ players on both coasts will be able to sleep a little bit easier than they might have otherwise knowing that they won't have to face Ravitz or Wijaya at any upcoming Pro Tour Dragon's Maze qualifiers.

    Game One

    Ravitz opened with a Deathrite Shaman, a Thoughtseize, and a Hymn to Tourach – but a Swords to Plowshares, a Brainstorm, and a flashed back Lingering Souls allowed Wijaya to keep up early.

    Although he had an ample supply of disruption, Ravitz didn't have any pressure to give himself an early advantage. Instead, Ravitz could only respond to Wijaya's Inquisition of Kozilek by using a pair of removal spells to take out his opponent's spirit tokens.

    Josh Ravitz

    Without any creatures on his opponent's side of the board, Vidianto Wijaya quickly took over the game with a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. A pair of Snapcaster Mages, a few attack phases, and nary so much as a spell from Ravitz later, and Wijaya was up a game.

    Vidianto Wijaya 1 – Josh Ravitz 0

    Game Two

    Ravitz opened with a Deathrite Shaman, and a Thoughtseize (taking Brainstorm) - while Wijaya, who had kept a fairly weak hand, did what he could to keep Ravitz off of four mana.

    First Wijaya used a Relic of Progenitus in response to a Deathrite Shaman activation (to prevent Josh from getting any mana), then he cast and activated an Engineered Explosives to kill off the Deathrite Shaman.

    However, these efforts would only stall Ravitz for a turn as the North Easterner had the four lands that he needed to cast a Bloodbraid Elf, which found a Tarmogoyf – and another Bloodbraid Elf a turn later which found a Thoughtseize.

    Wijaya (who needed to find a Perish or a Supreme Verdict in a hurry) responded to the Thoughtseize with a Brainstorm, but Ravitz countered it with a Pyroblast.

    Thoughtseize stripped away a Snapcaster Mage, but the second Snapcaster Mage in Wijaya's hand gave him a chance to flashback a Brainstorm...

    However, even with those extra cards Wijaya was unable to find a board sweeper that would have helped him back into the game.

    "No Wrath. How lucky," exclaimed Ravitz in a monotone as the players began shuffling for game three.

    Vidianto Wijaya 1 – Josh Ravitz 1

    Game Three

    Ravitz began the third game with a Deathrite Shaman, and a Dark Confidant – and while Wijaya had a Darkblast to kill off his opponent's Dark Confidant, he was unable to get any additional mileage out of it because it promptly became fuel for Ravitz's Deathrite Shaman. However, because he was stuck on two lands, activating his Deathrite Shaman was the only thing that Ravitz could do on his third turn.

    An Engineered Explosives killed off Ravitz's Deathrite Shaman, but a third land allowed him to rebuild his board with a Deathrite Shaman, and a Dark Confidant.

    Wijaya, fully aware of how bad it would be if he let his opponent's Dark Confidant live for even a turn, decided that he needed to draw an answer fast. After ripping through his deck with a pair of Brainstorms, and a Snapcaster Mage, Wijaya found the Swords to Plowshares that he needed to deal with Ravitz's Dark Confidant.

    A Hymn to Tourach then knocked the last two cards - an Inquisition of Kozilek, and a Lingering Souls - out of Wijaya's hand. And while Ravitz undoubtedly would have liked to exile the Lingering Souls out of Wijaya's graveyard, with only a Mountain and the Deathrite Shaman itself for mana Ravitz instead had to play a second Deathrite Shaman before passing the turn.

    When Wijaya top-decked a Stoneforge Mystic, cast the Umezawa's Jitte that he fetched with it, and flashed back a Lingering Souls – he was suddenly threatening to run away with the game.

    But an Abrupt Decay, and a Deathrite Shaman activation later Wijaya was down to 12, and once again in a very rough spot.

    An Engineered Plague naming Spirits, a Bloodbraid Elf, and a few more Deathrite Shaman activations later, and Wijaya was down to 6 life and in need of an immediate answer...

    Vidianto Wijaya

    ... a Perish fit that bill nicely, allowing him to take out both of Ravitz's Deathrite Shamans. In response, Ravitz activated both of them to take Wijaya down to a mere 2 life.

    Ravitz then drew a Tarmogoyf, but that fell to a Swords to Plowshares

    Before Ravitz could find something that could deal the final 2 damage he needed to put Wijaya away, a Stoneforge Mystic found a Batterskull that was soon supplemented by a Sword of Feast and Famine.

    An Abrupt Decay killed off the Germ once, buying Ravitz a bit of time. But without any way to permanently deal with the recastable Batterskull, Ravitz could only sit and watch as Wijaya attacked his way into the finals.

    Vidianto Wijaya 2 – Josh Ravitz 1




     

  • Finals Feature Match – Pat Cox vs. Vidianto Wijaya

    by Frank Lepore

  • This is the Grand Prix finals that legends are made of. Despite Wijaya having tremendous success at Pro Tour Qualifiers and in various other card games, this marks his first breakthrough into the Top 8 of a Magic Premier Event. Conversely, Pat Cox has spent the last few years successfully making a name for himself on the Pro Tour, with a Top 8 Appearance at Pro Tour Nagoya in 2011 along with four other Grand Prix Top 8s prior to this weekend.

    While waiting for Wijaya, Cox joked about how he had to change his flight that left in about 50 minutes. It was the least serious complaint Pat would have all day as he competed for the lion's share of $30,000.

    Game 1

    "You're playing?" Cox asked.

    "Yeah," Wijaya responded smugly.

    After some careful deliberation, Cox would reluctantly keep his opener. Wijaya led off with a Marsh Flats which found him a Swamp into an Inquisition of Kozilek. Cox revealed his hand showing five lands, a Thoughtseize, and a Bloodbraid Elf. With little gas, things were off to an awkward start for Cox.

    All Cox could muster was a Bloodstained Mire before passing back. Wijaya Ponder'ed choosing to shuffle his library, then passed back. With Wijaya showing no blue sources, Cox felt say attempting to land a Dark Confidant. The invitational winner was not long for this world, however, as the Dark Confidant met his demise at the business end of a Swords to Plowshares.

    Pat Cox

    A Jace, the Mind Sculptor joined the board for Wijaya and he chose to +2 Jace targeting himself. Cox Lightning Bolted the Planeswalker before untapping and casting a Bloodbraid Elf which found Cox a Hymn to Tourach. With one card in Wijaya's hand, things were looking grim.

    Wijaya had a second Jace which was once again brought to five loyalty, then attacked back down to two. Cox dropped a Deathrite Shaman and Wijaya added a Snapcaster Mage which made short work of the Bloodbraid Elf...via a flashed back Swords to Plowshares, that is.

    Systematically dismantling Wijaya's board, Cox Abrupt Decayed the Snapcaster Mage, then cast a Liliana of the Veil for remove Wijaya's last card: and Umezawa's Jitte. Wijaya was then able to find and cast an Engineered Explosives for three, which threatened to leave him with the only remaining Planeswalker. The life totals were 15-24 in Cox's favor, but with an active Jace, Wijaya looked in control.

    Wijaya finally found the deck's name sake in a Stoneforge Mystic that added the infamous Batterskull to his hand. Like a true master, however, Cox was able to top deck another Liliana of the Veil, forcing Wijaya to discard the equipment as it was his only card!

    After several turns of Cox ticking Liliana up and Wijaya ticking her back down, Wijaya finally found a Lingering Soul and made four 1/1 fliers. Wijaya finally had a way to take back all that life he had given Cox.

    Wijaya would then make four more tokens from a second Lingering Souls and with no direct answer in his maindeck for multiple 1/1 fliers, Cox threw in the towel.

    Vidianto Wijaya 1, Pat Cox 0

    Game 2

    As the players shuffled up, Wijaya questioned Cox's logic behind keeping his five land hand in game one. Cox was ready though, as he admitted how good Bloodbraid Elf was against Wijaya's deck.

    Both players kept and Cox had the turn one Deathrite Shaman one more time. Wijaya wasted no time in sending the elf to the fields with a Swords to Plowshares. Turn two from Cox saw a Dark Confidant as Wijaya could merely Ponder for answer.

    "All those basics..." Cox lamented, as Wijaya continued to search out basic lands in order to turn off Cox's Wastelands.

    A Vindicate ended up sending the Confidant to an early grave while Cox then landed a Bloodbraid Elf into a second Dark Confidant. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor for Wijaya allowed only a Brainstorm before meeting an untimely demise. Cox then played an Engineered Plague naming none other than "spirit."

    Wijaya had another Swords to Plowshares for the second Dark Confidant, but with Cox holding five cards in his hand, the Bloodbraid Elf was looking a little frightening as it managed to drop Wijaya to nine life.

    "You're at nine life?" Cox asked?

    "Yeah," Wijaya confirmed.

    "Bolt you?" Cox Said, dropping Wijaya to six. "Bolt you?" Cox said again, dropping Wijaya to three. "Bolt you?" Cox said one final time. And three Lightning Bolts later it was off to game three.

    Vidianto Wijaya 1, Pat Cox 1

    Game 3

    While Cox was content with his hand, Wijaya would go back to Paris for the first time in the match. Cox would open on a Thoughtseize making Wijaya's opener even smaller. Wijaya responded with a Brainstorm in an attempt to protect two of his best cards from the one mana sorcery. Upon resolution, the Thoughtseize would reveal a Lingering Souls, an Umezawa's Jitte, a Sword of Feast and Famine, a Cabal Therapy, and a Flooded Strand from Wijaya. Cox would nab the Jitte and pass the turn.

    After a second Brainstorm, Wijaya would reluctantly seek out a nonbasic Underground Sea with his Flooded Strand in order to name Dark Confidant with his Cabal Therapy. Although he missed, Cox would now reveal his hand of Wasteland, Bloodstained Mire, Hymn to Tourach, Liliana of the Veil, Wooded Foothills, and Lightning Bolt. Just as Wijaya feared, Cox's Wasteland would make short work of the blue/black dual land, but Wijaya had a Scrubland for an Inquisition of Kozilek.

    Cox's hand had been improved by a second Hymn to Tourach, but Wijaya was content discarding the Liliana of the Veil. Cox searched out a Badlands for his Hymn, forcing Wijaya to discard his last two cards. He was in top deck mode, but both players had barren boards.

    The second Hymn from Cox removed Wijaya's freshly drawn Swords to Plowshares, and Wijaya swung in with two flashbacked Spirits. Wijaya was drawing well though and had the Darkblast for Cox's Grim Lavamancer. A Lightning Bolt made short work of a spirit, and the scores were 12-17 in Wijaya's favor.

    Vidianto Wijaya

    Cox finally found a Dark Confidant, but Wijaya was able to dredge his Darkblast and send him packing. A Thoughtseize from Cox revealed two very powerful cards: a Supreme Verdict and a Perish. Cox went with the Verdict and passed the turn after dropping to a meager five life.

    A lonesome spirit ticked away as Cox drew things like Ancient Grudge and Dark Confidant: dead options in his current position to be certain. At a mere one life and only one draw step to find an answer to Wijaya's single spirit threatened to close out the game. Cox drew his card, then flipped over a hand of Dark Confidant, Dark Confidant, Ancient Grudge, Ancient Grudge, and Bayou, leaving Vidianto Wijaya your Grand Prix Denver champion!

    Vidianto Wijaya 2, Pat Cox 1




     

  • Top 16 – Decklists 9-16

    by Frank Lepore











  •  

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Denver

    by Nate Price



  • 5. Wirewood Symbiote

    Elves has been one of the most interesting combo decks in Magic for a while now. It follows the same general pattern of most combo decks: get a card-drawing engine and a mana engine into play and then win. Only this combo deck uses creatures to achieve these ends! The lines of both of these engines intersects at the only non-Elf creature in the deck to get more than a single copy: Wirewood Symbiote. Elves uses Glimpse of Nature to set up the ability to draw a bunch of cards, provided it can play a lot of creatures in one turn. Symbiote provides both a way to return creatures to the hand, allowing for additional cards to be drawn, but it untaps creatures, providing an extra source of mana. This is the crux of the engines in Elves. On top of enabling both engines, the Symbiote also provides excellent protection for the essential Elves in the deck, like Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel. It provides a card-drawing engine with nothing more than some mana and an Elvish Visionary, enabling the deck to find the pieces it needs to finish going off. Of all of the combo pieces in the Elves creature lineup, Wirewood Symbiote was killed more and discarded more than any other creature, a testament to its understood power.





    4. Wasteland

    Once upon a time, Wasteland was a card that existed in decks to shorten the game. You saw it in aggressive decks, who used the mana disruption to prevent opponents from recovering from their onslaught. In Legacy, this use for the card certainly still exists, as Delver decks often use the powerful nonbasic land to put the screws to opponents after an aggressive start. What's unexpected is the way that it is used to extend games as well. Legacy can be blisteringly fast. Players play with as many early disruption cards as they can in an attempt to prevent the hilariously fast combo decks from simply pushing everything else out of the field. Wasteland is a key player in that. It can lock down a color of mana. It can kill cards like Svyelunite Temple, which decks use to advance their combo by a turn. These combo players try to speed the game up, and Wasteland just slows it back down. Combined with the large number of ridiculously efficient one- and two-drops, Wasteland has proven to be a major reason that the interactivity level of play here this weekend was so high. It's very interesting that a card that was used at one point to ensure non-interactive play has become one of the leading reasons that interaction in Legacy exists.





    3. Lightning Bolt

    On the other side of the fence from Wasteland, you have its old running mate Lightning Bolt, which seeks to take turns away from the game. Of all of the powerful cards available in the over 10,000 cards in the Legacy card pool, how absurd is it that three damage for one mana would be so important? At the bare minimum, it takes turns away from the game. Three damage is often the size of an attack in a format filled with Nimble Mongoose, Insectile Aberration, and Vendilion Clique. Each Bolt is one less attack before the end of the game. In addition, it kills many of the defining creatures and planeswalkers of the format dead. From Deathrite Shaman to Liliana of the Veil, two other very important cards this weekend, Lightning Bolt is a terribly efficient way to deal with them. It seems so simple: three damage for one mana. Yet despite its simplicity, it possesses an incredible amount of versatility given the current state of Legacy.





    2. Liliana of the Veil

    Amongst the players considered at the forefront of Legacy, Liliana of the Veil was chosen as the best card that people simply don't respect enough right now. Considering the ridiculous strength of some of the less fair combo decks in the format, it's easy to see why she falls under the radar. Liliana isn't nearly as flashy as Omnipresence or Storm for a million, but she more than makes up for that with perfectly-placed power. Her constant stream of discard is the nail in the coffin to back up the hand disruption most decks are packing to combat combo. More than that, her Cruel Edict ability is perfectly placed in a format that tends to see decks that tend to ride a mere one or two creatures on the board to victory, like the Delver and UW variations. Considering she hits the table on turn three, right behind Tarmogoyf, this is a major positive. As a major component of both Jund and many BUG lists, she has played a major part in keeping Legacy "fair." Josh Ravitz described the BG core of these decks as the most powerful "fair" thing you can do, and Liliana is at the heart of that core.





    1. Deathrite Shaman

    Deathrite Shaman is about as omnipresent in Magic right now as Lingering Souls was in its prime, but it's only now that people are starting to speak of it in the same reverential tones. The seemingly-innocuous 1/2 for one mana is a veritable Swiss Army knife of value. All three abilities provide benefits on multiple levels, from advancing your own position to worsening that of your opponent. While exceptional in Modern and solid in Standard, Legacy offers the perfect storm of conditions required to put the Shaman on top. The presence of fetch lands and Wasteland pushes the mana-production ability to a new level. Cards like Tarmogoyf, Golgari Grave-Troll, and Snapcaster Mage make the other two abilities relevant for their denial abilities. And in a format with rampant numbers of cards like Polluted Delta, Thoughtseize, and Gitaxian Probe, players often only have to make up about a dozen damage, easy to accomplish with the Shaman's black activation. As the heart-and-soul of both BUG and Jund, major players this weekend, the Shaman has easily been the most influential card here at Grand Prix Denver.






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