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Pierluigi Poisons Them All!

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It's a grand day for Italy, and for Pierluigi Aceto - he is the champion of Grand Prix Florence, defending Italian pride in their home Grand Prix!

Italy had already claimed one Grand Prix this year when Emanuele Giusti secured victory in Brussels, and the Italians were ruthless in ensuring that this title also stayed at home. Four Italians in the Top8 became three in the semi-finals, and eventually an all-Italian final was won by Aceto's deadly poison deck, overcoming the Mirran defenses of Nicola Landoni. Aceto had switched loyalties to Phyrexia in the Top8 draft, after staying loyal to White/Red throughout the Sealed portion on Saturday and both of the drafts in the Swiss portion of Sunday. His betrayal served him well, and following Martin Juza's victory for Infect in Bochum another European city fell to the plague.

While the Italian victory was met with great cheers here in Florence, we can assume that Brad Nelson was watching with some satisfaction at home. Shuuhei Nakamura's eventual elimination in his semi-final will make life easier for the current leader of the Player of the Year race when the Pro season comes to it's spectacular conclusion at the World Championships in Chiba next month.

Make sure you rejoin the coverage team for Worlds and spend the 9th-12th of December with us for what is sure to be a fantastic finale to the year!

Until then, and with huge congratulations to Pierluigi Aceto, we sign of from Grand Prix Florence. Ciao!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Jörg Unfried   Nicola Landoni, 2-1        
8 Nicola Landoni   Nicola Landoni, 2-1
       
4 Tommi Lindgren   Shuuhei Nakamura, 2-0   Pierluigi Aceto, 2-0
5 Shuuhei Nakamura    
       
2 Pierluigi Aceto   Pierluigi Aceto, 2-0
7 Anders Melin   Pierluigi Aceto, 2-1
       
3 Mario Pascoli   Guido Citino, 2-1
6 Guido Citino    

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Tobi Henke
    Final:
    Pierluigi Aceto vs. Nicola Landoni

  • by Rich Hagon
    Semi Final:
    Shuhei Nakamura vs. Nicola Landoni

  • by Tobi Henke
    Semi Final:
    Pierluigi Aceto vs. Guido Citino

  • by David Sutcliffe
    Quarter Final:
    Nicola Landoni vs. Jorg Unfried

  • by Rich Hagon
    Quarter Final:
    Shuhei Nakamura vs. Tommi Lindgren

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Deck Lists

  • by David Sutcliffe
    Top 8 Draft:
    Your Top 8 Contenders Line Up!

  • by Tobi Henke
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Coverage:
    Podcasts, Feature Matches and more!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Coverage:
    Podcasts, Feature Matches and more!
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Green Country Breakdown
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Green Playerlist
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Blue Country Breakdown
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Day 1 Blue Playerlist
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Pierluigi Aceto $3,500
 2.  Nicola Landoni $2,300
 3.  Shuuhei Nakamura $1,500
 4.  Guido Citino $1,500
 5.  Mario Pascoli $1,000
 6.  Tommi Lindgren $1,000
 7.  Anders Melin $1,000
 8.  Jörg Unfried $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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

Green Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Blue Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
7
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

 

  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Tobi Henke
  • Mario Pascoli

    Name: Mario Pascoli
    Hometown: Rome, Italy
    Age: 30
    Occupation: Lawyer

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Two-time Italian national champion, three GP Top 8s, one PT Top 8

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    9-0 (White-black)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    2-1 (U/W Metalcraft)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    2-1 (U/W Metalcraft)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    Valakut Ramp



    Tommi Lindgren

    Name: Tommi Lindgren
    Hometown: Hombrechtikon, Switzerland
    Age: 31
    Occupation: Computer engineer

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Two GP Top 8s in Madrid

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Wetzikon

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    8-1 (blue-red-green)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    2-1 (red-blue-green)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    3-0 (black-red)



    Pierluigi Aceto

    Name: Pierluigi Aceto
    Hometown: Chieti, Italy
    Age: 25
    Occupation: Employer

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Won some prereleases.

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Games Academy Pescara

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    7-2 (white-red)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    3-0 (white-red)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    3-0 (white-red)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    My deck



    Anders Melin

    Name: Anders Melin
    Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
    Age: 19

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Swedish national champ 2010

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Dragons Lair

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    7-2 (I played U/W fillers which team kickstart tested without success.)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    3-0 (W/U/R flyers)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    3-0 (W/B aggro)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    Haven’t tested so much, perhaps Vampires.



    Nicola Landoni

    Name: Nicola Landoni
    Hometown: Magnago, Italy
    Age: 28
    Occupation: R&D Chemist

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Day two GP Madrid

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Defcon Zero (Legnano)

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    8-1

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    2-1

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    3-0

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    U/B control



    Shuhei Nakamura

    Name: Shuhei Nakamura
    Hometown: Osaka, Japan
    Age: 29
    Occupation: pro Magic player

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Only one Top 8, this year.

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Last-chance GPT grinder.

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    9-0 (White with Ezuri, Renegade Leader and his Brigade x 2)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    2-1 (G/B Infect)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    1-0-2 (W/U)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    Valakut



    Guido Citino

    Name: Guido Citino
    Hometown: Florence, Italy
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Student

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    First tournament ...

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Seven Dragons - Firenze

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    8-0-1 (red-black)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    3-0 (white-red)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    1-1-1 (white-green)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    I don’t play Standard. I like eternal and limited, so I don’t know.



    Jörg Unfried

    Name: Jörg Unfried
    Hometown: Algishofen, Germany
    Age: 30
    Occupation: Forest manager

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Two-time national team member

    Where do you play Friday Night Magic?
    Fantasy Stronghold, Ludwigsburg

    Record on day one (What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck?)
    8-1 (Jund)

    Record in the first draft (What colors did you play in the first draft?)
    3-0 (red-black)

    Record in the second draft (What colors did you play in the second draft?)
    1-0-2 (Jund)

    What Standard Deck will win the World Championships this year?
    Jund ;-)


     

  • Top 8 Draft – Your Top 8 Contenders Line Up!

    by David Sutcliffe
  • The Top 8 draft took place deep within a scrum of Italian onlookers - the home nation had booked up no less than half the Top 8, and with players like Mario Pascoli and Pierluigi Aceto they certainly had the strength they needed to ensure that Italy claimed it's second Grand Prix of the year. The rest of the year featured some excellent players as well, though, headlined by Shuuhei Nakamura.

    With the Quarter Finals lining up to start let's look at how the draft went for all eight of our surviving competitors, and see how they match up.

    Your Top 8 Contenders Line Up!


    Quarter Final One: Jorg Unfried (DEU) vs. Nicola Landoni (ITA)

    Jorg Unfried was not confident in his deck when he first sat down in the deck building area "It's ok - I'm not too happy but I think it's ok" but had cheered up once he had finished building. His deck was a blue-green mix that featured a mixed bag of infect and non-infect creatures but also some of the most powerful rares in the format - Sword of Body and Mind , Mimic Vat , Tower of Calamities and an Argent Sphinx . He certainly had the firepower to win games, and knew it "Yeah I like it - it's look funny!"

    Nicola Landoni actually had quite a similar deck - he had his own blue flyers from his UW deck and his own Argent Sphinx ! "Yeah I like this, it should be good - I have good blue flyers, and although I don't have much removal the creatures are solid".

    It promised to make for an intriguing matchup, and I would follow it in the Quarter-Finals.



    Quarter Final Two: Tommi Lindgren vs. Shuuhei Nakamura

    Tommi Lindgren was not happy at all "But then I'm never happy! I think it's UW, maybe some green as well". As it turned out he had sold his deck short, and he wound up also playing some red for a Galvanic Blast . His deck was pretty poor - it had the standout Sunblast Angel and some solid creature, but virtually no spells at all - two Stoic Rebuttal s his only instants.

    Shuuhei Nakamura had one word for his draft "Dead!" and even after he had finalised his deck he seemed no happier "Still dead! I'll never win." what Shuuhei had was a very standard red/green aggressive deck featuring multiple Molder Beast s but pretty much no actual creature removal. The only ray of hope for Shuuhei was the distinct chance that Lindgren's deck was actually worse than his own.



    Quarter Final Three: Pierluigi Aceto vs. Anders Melin

    Pierluigi Aceto was everything that Shuuhei Nakamura was not - his deck was good and he knew it. Being the sole Infect deck in a draft is perhaps the best position to be in for Scars Limited, and this time Aceto had that honor. His deck featured a trio of Plague Stinger s, with all the usual Infect suspects in support and enough black removal to suggest they would get the job done. "Yeah I'm really happy - I like this deck a lot, I think it's really good!"

    Anders Melin was less emphatic about his deck. It was a GW deck that featured some strong creatures but not much else "I've not decided if I like my deck or not. It's got some really good cards but it has it's weakness too - I don't really have answers. My plan is to curve out"



    Quarter Final Four: Mario Pascoli vs. Guido Citino

    Mario Pascoli was sat at the head of a strong Black-Red deck. The theme for many players in the draft was a lack of removal, and the reason why was clear - Pascoli had it all! Galvanic Blast s, Instill Infection s, Flesh Allergy , Skinrender - he had it all, and half of it he had twice. The rest of his deck was solid aggressive creatures, but the key to success would be his opponents failing to get anything to stay in play. "Yeah it's good - I'm happy."

    Guido Citino was less emphatic about his deck "Not so much, I wanted White/Red and I didn't get any red. I'm mono-white with just a little red for Vulshok Replica and my Saberclaw Golem ". Still, Citino had all the Glint Hawk s from the table, and although he didn't have the nuts White metalcraft deck it still featured enough flyers and enough artifacts to mean he could win games. His big problem was that it probably wasn't a great matchup against Pascoli's removal - although he didn't know that yet.

    So that was layout of our Grand Prix Florence Top 8, and it looked intriguing. We had the blue flyers clashing, perhaps the two worst decks struggling against each other, Melin hoping to outrace the Infect, and an all-Italian clash in the last Quarterfinal.

    Could Italy defend the Grand Prix? In Pascoli and Aceto they looked in good shape...



     

  • Top 8 – Deck Lists

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Pierluigi Aceto
    Grand-Prix Florence Top 8 draft

     

  • Quarter Final – Shuhei Nakamura vs. Tommi Lindgren

    by Rich Hagon
  • In the only all-Pro clash of the quarter finals, the talented Tommi Lindgren from Sweden takes on Shuhei Nakamura of Japan. There may not be much left to say that's new about Nakamura, but something that perhaps doesn't get said enough is that he's a BRILLIANT Magic player.

    Coming into the weekend on 38 Pro Points, only a win here would bring him within realistic range of Brad Nelson in the Player of the Year Race. That win looked almost mythical when there were 1,284 potential opponents.

    It doesn't look mythical now.

    Nakamura opened with a Forest , while Lindgren had the first play of the match, a Sylvok Lifestaff off an Island . Flight Spellbomb , Horizon Spellbomb , and Loxodon Wayfarer followed, with Nakamura settling for Ferrovore and Leaden Myr , the Ferrovore dealing first damage.

    Nakamura's Molder Beast was quickly back in his hand, with Lindgren sending it back via Lumengrid Drake , the flyer commencing the aerial assault the following turn.

    Shuhei Nakamura

    Things were progressing steadily until Lindgren unloaded Venser, the Sojourner , blinking out his Lumengrid Drake to once again send away Nakamura's Molder Beast . A Japanese Oxidda Scrapmelter destroyed the Sylvok Lifestaff , Nakamura completing the turn with Tumble Magnet .

    Although Nakamura made Furnace Celebration , there wasn't much to celebrate, as Lindgren continued his Venser/Drake shenanigans, adding a Neurok Replica via a manabase that looked more like Ravnica than

    Mirrodin: Plains , Plains , Island , Island , Mountain , Razorverge Thicket .

    The Furnace Celebration eventually combined with Tumble Magnet to kill Lindgren's Lumengrid Drake , and a second 2/2 flyer fared no better, with Nakamura sacrificing Clone Shell to Ferrovore , getting Molder Beast in the process. By this time Venser had reached eight loyalty, so Nakamura was forced to send the Leaden Myr , via Furnace Celebration , to the Planeswalker. Nonetheless, the red Enchantment was doing lots of good things for the Japanese standout, and eventually Lindgren had to accept that his Planeswalker had been dealt with, just before it could do dastardly Ultimate things.

    A second Clone Shell for Nakamura threatened yet more Imprint fun and games, with Lindgren now attempting to sculpt a plan with very limited tools – a Loxodon Wayfarer , and Auriok Replica , which soon died to Furnace Celebration , the Clone Shell this time revealing Saberclaw Golem . Bloodshot Trainee and Tangle Angler piled on the misery, moments before the end.

    Furnace Celebration 1 – 0 Tommi Lindgren.

    Tommi Lindgren

    Leaden Myr appropriately 'lead' off for Nakamura, with further acceleration thanks to Gold Myr . Throne of Geth was next, and then a turn four Molder Beast , which is apparently quite good with a Throne of Geth ...

    Lindgren meanwhile had Neurok Replica , Sylvok Lifestaff , and the Loxodon Wayfarer that had spent 97% of game one on the battlefield.

    I'm surprised it wasn't exhausted really.

    Nakamura Imprinted Clone Shell , but elected not to sacrifice it to Throne of Geth , settling on the Molder Beast dealing five damage.

    Lindgren cast Auriok Replica , equipping it with the Lifestaff.

    Nakamura forced the issue the next turn, sacrificing the Clone Shell to reveal Saberclaw Golem , Lindgren duly obliging by sacrificing his Auriok Replica to blunt a huge Molder Beast assault.

    That was a temporary reprieve, however, since Nakamura delivered both Bloodshot Trainee and Furnace Celebration to the battlefield.

    Suspecting what was coming, Nakamura held out a Trigon of Rage , which Lindgren countered with Stoic Rebuttal . That allowed Nakamura to cast Tumble Magnet , which wasted no time in tapping down a potential blocker. Already Lindgren was down to eleven, and facing a horrendous position, which his own Saberclaw Golem seemed unlikely to help.

    Furnace Celebration killed the Golem with the help of a sacrificed Leaden Myr , the Tumble Magnet tapped down Neurok Replica , leaving Nakamura to pile in with Molder Beast , Bloodshot Trainee , and Saberclaw Golem . Now Lindgren was at two, with Nakamura adding both Gold Myr and Vulshok Replica to the battlefield. That's Vulshok Replica , that sacrifices to deal damage.

    Furnace Celebration , sorry, Shuhei Nakamura 2 – 0 Tommi Lindgren.


     

  • Quarter Final – Nicola Landoni vs. Jorg Unfried

    by David Sutcliffe
  • These two players, each with their own variants of a blue control deck of flyers, got off to a predictably slow start in the first game Nicola Landoni led the way with a Perilous Myr and Trinket Mage (searching up a Darksteel Axe ) while Jorg Unfried had a Sylvok Replica to hand. The German was the first to unveil his big rare flyer - an Argent Sphinx , but Landoni immediately replied with his own Argent Sphinx and the stalemate continued.

    Stepping the arms race up a gear, Unfried played a Mimic Vat and sent his Argent Sphinx , unblocked, to reduce Landoni to 16, and on his own turn Nicola Landoni equipped his own Sphinx with the Darksteel Axe and hit back, making the scores 12-16 in his favor. The Italian added a Sky-Eel School on his next turn but Unfried had the perfect answer to Landoni's growing air force - an Acid- Web Spider!

    Unfried played a Soliton as the stalemate continued, while Landoni added a Grand Architect to the battlefield, swelling the strength of his blue flyers. The only thing holding the Italian back now was Unfried's Mimic Vat . Currently the Vat had no creature imprinted on it, and the Italian had to be certain that any attack would prove decisive as creatures killing each other would only aid his opponent's cause.

    Calculating all the options available, Landoni chose his moment to strike - attacking with an Axe-wielding Darkslick Drake , Argent Sphinx , and Sky-Eel School . Unfried blocked as best he could with the Acid- Web and Argent Sphinx , but took five damage and was unable to kill creatures for either player so his Mimic Vat remained useless. Unfried struck back with his Soliton putting Landoni to 13, and braced himself for the next assault.

    The attack never came - with Unfried having all his lands untapped Landoni was too concerned about any potential instants that could wreck his attack step - he could easily play into the hands of his opponent and the Mimic Vat . It seemed a crucial turn, handing the initiative back to Unfried. Finally with some breathing room the German used his Sylvok Replica to destroy Landoni's Perilous Myr and imprint the Myr to his Mimic Vat - that wasn't as powerful as it might first appear, though - the Mimic Vat token is Exile d at the end of turn and so doesn't trigger the Perilous Myr 's ability.

    Landoni's Vedalken Certarch threatened to end the stalemate, and Unfried was forced to use a Slice in Twain on the Italian's Silver Myr just to prevent Metalcraft. Landoni pulled a Soliton to get back to two artifacts - as soon he drew a third artifact he could end the game, and Unfried flew into a frenzy of activity as he had to win before Landoni drew an artifact. The German summoned a pair of Alpha Tyrranax and sent them lumbering into the red zone. Landoni took a hefty blow and dropped to 3 life… the scores were now poised at 3 to 5!

    After failing to find a third artifact again (ironically pulling a second Certarch) Landoni passed the turn. There was another attack from the Tyrannax's, and now Landoni was forced to begin chump blocking with his ground forces. The Italian finally found a third artifact, but Unfried had Stoic Rebuttal to hold him back from Metalcraft and a turn later Landoni had to concede what had been a mammoth first game!

    Landoni 0 - 1 Unfried

    From seeming on the the brink of defeat Unfried had manufactured an unlikely victory, but it seemed as though all his efforts were to be cancelled out in just a few turns. The German was stuck on two land, with Landoni's Vedalken Certarch tapping down his Copper Myr every turn. The German needed time to recover, but Landoni was never going to give it to him. A Darkslick Drake and Darksteel Axe upped the beatdown and the German was forced to concede - any blockers he could find would be shut down by the Certarch anyway. Inside minutes Landoni had levelled the match.

    Landoni 1 - 1 Unfried

    It was finally time for Jorg Unfried to take to the offensive, but he was betrayed by the mixture of Infect and non-Infect in his deck - curving out a Blight Mamba into a Neurok Invisimancer before stalling on three land and being forced to play a Cystbearer . The Invisimancer began nibbling away at Landoni while the German's Infect creatures stayed home to fend off Landoni's ground assault.

    That assault was rapidly gaining momentum, though - Perilous Myr and Auriok Replica were joined by a Chrome Steed and Grand Architect , but with Unfried's Infect creatures the Italian was cautious about attacking and didn't dare hit back, instead continuig to build up further with a Trinket Mage that found his trusty Darksteel Axe .

    Again failing to draw land, Unfried had only one play left - all his eggs had to go into one basket and the German played a Sword of Body and Mind , a turn later equipping it to the Invisimancer. The first hit from the Sword was parried by Landoni's Auriok Replica but the Italian couldn't hide behind that Replica a second time and was forced to go onto the offensive. Equipping his Chrome Steed with Bladed Pinions , and his Grand Architect with a Darksteel Axe , the Italian attacked but was only able to get 1 damage through.

    Unfried struck back with the Invisimancer, this time the Sword of Body and Mind did it's work - Landoni was down to half his life total and half his deck! Landoni delivered another alpha strike, but with a Flight Spellbomb sending his Cystbearer skyward, and his Wall of Tanglecord having Reach, Unfried escaped almost unscathed. Buying more time Landoni played a second Auriok Replica , but so long as the German had his Wall of Tanglecord there was no sign of Landoni being able to get a decisive blow to land.

    He tried his hardest, but with Unfried adding an Argent Sphinx to his blockers the Italian was thwarted again - the Invisimancer struck one more time and milled out all but one card of Landoni's library!

    This really was all-or-nothing stuff. Drawing his last card Landoni knew that he had to fashion a win from somewhere, but what was the last card? It was Tempered Steel ! Would it be enough to win the game? Caution was thrown to the wind and Landoni sent everything he had across the table.

    Unfried made a critical error he assumed that when Landoni's Grand Architect turned one of his artifact creature blue is stopped being an artifact creature! He blocked the way he wanted and let what he thought was 4 damage through, leaving him with 4 life left. In fact it was 8 damage and he lost the game!

    Jorg Unfried was clearly furious with himself for the mistake - he knew that the whole match had hinged on it. It would be scant consolation to the German, but after 15 rounds of Magic mistakes are all too easy to make - and that's even before you factor in the pressure that is added in the final seconds of a Grand Prix quarter final. But for Landoni the great escape had succeeded, however implausibly, and another Italian progressed into the Semi Finals!

    Landoni 2 - 1 Unfried


     

  • Semi Final – Pierluigi Aceto vs. Guido Citino

    by Tobi Henke
  • And now it was down to four. Over in the other semi final, Shuhei Nakamura was battling it out with Italian Nicola Landoni, over here the Italians were among themselves. The match-up was green-black infect (Aceto) vs. white-red artifacts (Citino), the archetypical default match-up of the format.

    Aceto had two early Plague Stingers, then took out Citino's only flyer, a Glint Hawk, with Grasp of Darkness. Next, Citino put Bladed Pinions on Sunspear Shikari. That died to another Grasp of Darkness, but the Pinions stuck around and were obviously still going to be a problem. Citino summoned Auriok Replica and equipped it. Aceto cast Blight Mamba, Citino made Auriok Sunchaser and a third artifact in Necrogen Censer.

    Pierluigi Aceto

    With Citino's air space closed down for all for all further traffic, Aceto started to get his ground offensive rolling. His Cystbearer died to Dispense Justice, but came back with a vengeance ... or, more accurately, with a Corpse Cur. This time around, Citino stopped the 2/3 via Arrest, and cast Snapsail Glider. But the Phyrexians were not to be denied. They attacked, took down a big part of Citino's defense, and put Citino himself at eight posion counters. Then, Aceto cast Vector Asp, which found itself in the unusual position of a potential kingmaker. The battlefield now was: Corpse Cur, Blight Mamba, one Plague Stinger, and the Asp for Aceto; Auriok Sunchaser, Snapsail Glider for Citino.

    The latter topdecked neither blocker nor removal, and died on the next attack.

    Pierluigi Aceto 1 - 0 Guido Citino

    Citino had Sunspear Shikari followed by Snapsail Glider, Aceto had Plague Stinger followed by Moriok Replica. The two-drops traded blows, and Citino cast Auriok Replica. Aceto activated his Replica and cast another Plague Stinger. Citino, meanwhile, decided to go for all-out aggression, attacked with his three 2/2s, and added Saberclaw Golem to his team.

    Suddenly, Aceto's two Plague Stingers didn't seem all that impressive anymore. A combination of Vector Asp and Instill Infection took care of the Saberclaw Golem, but he was still far behind and falling further. Soon, his Plague Stingers had to block, and it was all downhill from there.

    Pierluigi Aceto 1 - 1 Guido Citino

    Guido Citin

    Once again, Aceto began the game with Plague Stinger and, this time, he followed it up with Cystbearer, which can only be described as the infect deck's dream start. But Auriok Sunchaser, Memnite, and Vulshok Replica for Citino wasn't exactly bad either.

    Aceto traded his Sylvok Replica for Citino's Vulshok version, then attacked for three to put his opponent at four counters. Without the Replica, Citino was left with one artifact. He could do nothing but play Glint Hawk and recast his Memnite.

    Aceto apparently figured he could take this game more slowly; he skipped his attack and simply put down a Trigon of Corruption. Citino made Saberclaw Golem. Trigon and Instill Infection shot down the Glint Hawk and allowed Aceto to get one in with his flyer unimpeded.

    Citino decided his best option was to take his chances in a damage race. He arrested the opposing Cystbearer and turned everything sideways. That left an opening for Aceto to get in with his Blackcleave Goblin in addition to his Plague Stinger, putting Citino at eight poison counters. Now, Citino was forced to continue with the race, attacked and made Ghalma's Warden. When Aceto killed the Warden with Grasp of Darkness, Citino offered the handshake of concession.

    Pierluigi Aceto beat Guido Citino 2-1 and advanced to the all-Italian finals.


     

  • Semi Final – Shuhei Nakamura vs. Nicola Landoni

    by Rich Hagon
  • While Nakamura's victory over Tommi Lindgren was rather mundane, it's fair to assume that Landoni's heart was thumping wildly after a last-card win over Jorg Unfried of Germany. Nakamura had Player of the Year to think of, while Landoni was all about the here and now in his first Grand Prix top 8.

    Trigon of Rage and Horizon Spellbomb from Nakamura faced a classic opening for the Italian. Silver Myr, and then Argent Sphinx, with Chrome Steed not far behind. Nakamura cast and then attacked with Ferrovore, with Landoni happy to take the damage. This was, after all, a race he was currently winning. Tangle Angler threatened to change things somewhat, Landoni sending the Sphinx in for a second time before dropping a matching pair of Auriok Replicas.

    For the first time in the match, the pace slowed, as Nakamura forced one of the Replicas to block his Tangle Angler, using Trigon of Rage to raise the Angler to lethal on the Replica. Landoni equipped his Chrome Steed with Bladed Pinions and piled in once more. 16, 12, 4, dead.

    Now that was brutal.

    Nakamura 0 – 1 Landoni


    Shuhei Nakamura

    The Japanese former Player of the Year had seen little cause for optimism in game one, which a mulligan from Landoni did little to change. Mana Myr traded in the early going of game two, Nakamura assembling an average Ferrovore and Wall of Tanglecord, Landoni bringing a distinctly not-average Grand Architect, plus Auriok Replica equipped with Bladed Pinions. The Trinket Mage from Landoni that followed was decent, fetching Darksteel Axe, which also joined Bladed Pinions on the Auriok Replica.

    Turn to Slag must have been the fear, but Nakamura contented himself with back to back Molder Beasts. Nakamura had Wing Puncture for the Auriok Replica, using a Molder Beast to deal it five damage. Trinket Mage became the new bearer of assorted equipment.

    For the third time, Nakamura spent five mana on a creature, this time the 4/2 Saberclaw Golem. Now Landoni sent the equipment to yet another new home, the Grand Architect, while Nakamura cast the Tangle Angler that had struggled in game one. Still, this time the 1/5 might be able to sculpt an enormous attack in a classic 'yoo-hoo, look at meeeee everybody!' moment. In came the Angler, the Ferrovore, the Saberclaw Golem, both Molder Beasts. With no tricks, Landoni took a humungous sixteen damage, dropping to two, and there was no comeback from there.

    Nakamura 1 – Landoni 1


    Nicola Landoni

    Surely Nakamura wasn't about to pull out yet another victory, against a deck that looked clearly superior?

    Perilous Myr and Snapsail Glider was a good opening for Landoni, with Chrome Steed on turn four. By then all Nakamura had was three land and a Throne of Geth. Still, his fourth turn tilted things more favorably, with Oxidda Scrapmelter destroying the Chrome Steed before it could overrun him entirely.

    Landoni continued aggressively, attacking before adding Vedalken Certarch to the battlefield, with Metalcraft already online. Nakamura Imprinted Clone Shell, and passed. He used Throne of Geth to sacrifice the Shell, revealing a second Clone Shell underneath, which Landoni aimed Disperse at. Nakamuia was still in big trouble, though, as Landoni pounded into the red zone once more with Snapsail Glider, Auriok Replica, and Perilous Myr, with Riddlesmith up next.

    Nakamura returned Clone Shell to play, but Landoni had a big fat Tempered Steel just around the corner, straight from the top of his deck, which drew a breath from the large crowd. Snapsail Glider dropped Shuhei to just four life. He checked. He checked again. And he extended the hand in, as always, gracious defeat.

    Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 2 Nicola Landoni


     

  • Final – Pierluigi Aceto vs. Nicola Landoni

    by Tobi Henke
  • Pierluigi Aceto

    The Italians did it. They finally managed to eliminate all foreign intruders. Who would hoist the trophy after this last match of the long and grueling weekend was still to be decided, but one thing was already certain. This year's Italian Grand Prix would soon be won by an Italian player.

    Aceto won the die-roll and went first, but Landoni had the first play with Vedalken Certarch. Both players had Myrs on their second turns, Aceto of the Ichorclaw variety, Gold Myr for Landoni. Ichorclaw Myr got in for one and Aceto summoned Cystbearer. Meanwhile, Landoni's deck really started rolling: he cast Riddlesmith and Silver Myr for even more extra mana and some extra card filtering.

    The number of one-toughness creatures looked to become a liabilty, however, when Aceto cast Trigon of Corruption. But Landoni was ready to switch to tougher creatures at moment's notice; he made Kemba, Kha Regent and Bladed Pinions. The Trigon began its work on Landoni's creatures and, while the Cystbearer was repeatedly tapped by Vedalken Certarch, the Plague Stinger continued to spread its lethal infection. Kemba died to Grasp of Darkness, Soliton died to Sylvok Replica, and Landoni soon found himself with his back against the wall. Landoni needed answers, quickly, but all he got was more questions from Aceto. Ichorclaw Myr provided another threat and a hasty Blackcleave Goblin on the next turn sealed the deal.

    Pierluigi Aceto 1 - 0 Nicola Landoni

    Nicola Landoni

    Both players mulliganed their opening seven and kept their six. Despite all probability, Aceto had no play on his second turn, while Landoni got off to an early lead with Riddlesmith followed by Perilous Myr. And even then, the best Aceto could do on his third was Vector Asp. The Asp blocked Riddlesmith which Landoni replaced with Ghalma's Warden.

    For a moment there it seemed as if Aceto might actually have a shot at a comeback when he cast Sylvok Replica, but on turn five he once again went without any play at all. Plague Stinger was also not doing much to stabilize, as Ghalma's Warden and Perilous Myr attacked and attacked, and were joined by Sky-Eel School.

    But then Aceto tapped seven lands, cast Heavy Arbalest, and attached it to his Plague Stinger. Landoni decided to hold back for the time being and just attacked with his Perilous Myr. This decision backfired, however, when Aceto topdecked Necropede and moved Heavy Arbalest over to that. With two infect creatures taking turns at using the Arbalest, all of a sudden, Landoni was in a losing position! As his creatures waned and vanished left and right like sand running through his fingers, he started a couple of more desperate all-in attacks but it was all too little, too late. The Arbalest shrank all of his creatures enough to render them irrelevant and continued to poison Landoni himself.

    Pierluigi Aceto bested Nicola Landoni in two suspense-packed games to become the new champion of Grand Prix Florence. Congratulations!

    Pierluigi Aceto 2 - 0 Nicola Landoni

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