Day 1 Blog Archive

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EVENT COVERAGE

  • Feature Match: Round 8 - Steve Sadin vs Fernando Orge
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 7 – Tomoharu Saitou vs. Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa
    by Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa vs Nicolas de Nicola
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog - 6:06 p.m.: It’s Time for Ask the Pros!
    by Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 5 - Daniele Daversa vs Tomoharu Saito
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 5:04 p.m.: Initial Metagame Impressions
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 4:25 p.m.: Eleventynine
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 4 - Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs Damian Llorente
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 3 - Diego Ostrovich vs Rafael Nunes da Silva
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 1:09 p.m.: Speaking with "the Locals"
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog - 12:34: Play the Game, See the World
    by Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 2 - Gustavo Fischer vs Sebastian Rakier
    by Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 1 - Pablo Persello vs Eddie Bontkowski
    by Nate Price


 
  • Feature Match: Round 1 - Pablo Persello vs Eddie Bontkowski
    by Nate Price
  • I love when things work out the way I want them to. One of the big topics we wanted to examine for this weekend was the local players of Argentina and Latin American players in general. There aren't many tournaments down here, so the players don't quite get as much exposure as we would like. We also wanted to take a look at the players that journeyed here from other countries, and how they were enjoying their experiences here in Buenos Aires. As luck would have it, our first feature match featured a displaced American player up against an Argentinean playing in his backyard.

    A Gathering.
    There was quite a crowd assembled for the first feature match of the day. Pablo Persello is a local Magic player who has been playing off and on since about 4th Edition. This is his first tournament above the PTQ level, and, much to his surprise, his first match in his first Grand Prix happens to be his first feature match. His opponent this round, Eddie Bontkowski travelled to Buenos Aires all the way from Chicago, Illinois in the United States. Apart from a few PTQ Top 8's he has yet to really leave his mark, but, counting players like Brandon Scheel and Gerry Thompson among his friends, he's surrounded himself with a good support group of exceptional players to help him reach his goals.

    Eddie was happy enough with his starting seven cards, but Pablo did a little travelling himself, and Parised down to six. Both players started the game with man-lands. Eddies Treetop Village allowed him a Wren's Run Vanquisher on his second turn, while Pablo's Faerie Conclave powered out a turn 2 Bitterblossom. Eddie continued to build his board with a Tarmogoyf and another Treetop Village. Pablo's Bitterblossom started making Faeries, and was joined by another copy of the powerful enchantment. He then suspended a copy of Ancestral Visions.

    An Imperious Perfect from Eddie made his Vanquisher a four-powered attacker, and Pablo was dropped to an effective 14. Pablo pondered a bit before deciding to play a Sower of Temptation to steal Eddies Tarmogoyf. Eddie replaced his rogue Tarmogoyf on the following turn, and sent his vanquisher in to eat a token. Pablo was losing two a turn from his Bitterblossoms, but was able to start attacking Eddie now to at least return some of the pressure. Pablo sent a Faerie token and is Sower of Temptation in to smack Eddie down to 17. He then doubled up with a second Visions to count down. All Eddie did was make an Elf token with his Perfect and untap his team.

    Eddie Bontkowski
    Eddie thought for a few minutes before deciding to activate his Treetop Village and send it in alongside his Vanquisher and Elf token. Pablo decided to activate his Conclave and block the elf, and he threw his tokens in front of the Vanquisher and Village. This attack dropped him to ten, which would become eight during his upkeep. He was holding a Rune Snag and Spellstutter Sprite in his hand after his draw step, which wouldn't really do much since Eddie had a veritable army on his side, and a factory in the form of his Perfect. Pablo's first Visions was slated to come off o f suspend on the following turn, but being at eight made his options fairly slim. He chose to make the same attack he had on the previous turn, and Eddie dropped to 14.

    Eddie also made the same attack as the previous turn, and after Pablo's tokens jumped in front of the attackers without trample, he was down to a precarious five. His upkeep made that three, but also gave him three new cards when his Visions unsuspended. One of them was a Cryptic Command, which could really help his cause, but Eddie's Treetop Villages were going to make things difficult. He chose just to attack with his Sower of Temptation, reducing Eddie to twelve. He then passed the turn, content to sit on his Command and try to win on the following turn.

    Eddie untapped, activated one of his Treetop Villages, and then declared his attack. Pablo played his Cryptic Command, as expected, and Eddie tapped his Treetop to gain mana for his Imperious Perfect before his team became tapped. He then chose against attacking, instead opting to Terror Pablo's Sower of Temptation.

    "Is it good," Eddie asked?

    "Well, it's not good, but there isn't anything I can do about it," Pablo laughed in response.

    Pablo drew a Terror for his turn, but it was too little, too late. He didn't have enough power attackers to kill Eddie before his Bitterblossoms killed him on the following turn.

    Pablo Persello 0 - Eddie Bontkowski 1

    Sideboarding:

    Pablo: -4 Rune Snag
    +4 Flashfreeze - Less situational than Rune Snag against the predominantly green deck
    Eddie: -4 Profane Command - Many of Faeries' blockers are black, and their deck relies on flash creatures, so it's kind of slow and pointless
    -1 Terror
    -1 Civic Wayfinder
    +2 Slaughter Pact - The surprise factor is much better than Terror against Faeries, specifically to kill early Sowers of Temptation and Mistbind Cliques.
    +3 Squall Line - Um, Faeries fly.
    +1 Cloudthresher

    Pablo Persello
    The second game did not start out well for Pablo, as he was forced to go down to four cards after drawing three successive hands without lands. Sick variance. His four-carder provided him a Faerie Conclave and an Island off the top. When he didn't draw a third land, he was forced into a decision between suspending the Ancestral Visions he would need to climb out of the hole, of sitting on the Flashfreeze to stop Eddie from playing anything. He opted to wait for the Flashfreeze, and it caught a Civic Wayfinder, which effectively stole Eddie's turn. His deck provided him a third land on the following turn, and he used it to get the Visions counting down.

    Eddie's next turn bolstered his forces with a Tamogoyf, which Pablo couldn't contest. When Eddie Thoughtseized him afterwards, he understood why. Pablo was sitting on an uncastable Cryptic Command and Sower of Temptation. The Sower was the only thing that was going to really be able to hurt him in the short run, so the Thoughtseize sent it to the graveyard. A few man-land and Tarmogoyf beats later, and Pablo was forces to curse his luck and hope for a better result in the rounds to come.

    Pablo Persello 0 - Eddie Bontkowski 2


     
  • Feature Match: Round 2 - Gustavo Fischer vs Sebastian Rakier
    by Bill Stark
  • After winning the first round these two South American natives squared off in the feature match area for the first time. Gustavo hailed from neighboring Uruguay but it was Sebastian who had home field advantage, living just an hour from the tournament site in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With their friends crowding around to take photos, the two turned to the business at hand and prepared to play.

    Buenos Aires native Sebastian Rakier settles in for a long match
    After winning the roll, Sebastian quickly revealed himself to be playing a UW Reveillark deck. His opponent, opening on a Vivid Creek and Reflecting Pool appeared to be playing the French Pro Tour-Hollywood concoction dubbed "Quick 'N Toast." The deck features a plethora of lands that can produce all five colors of mana and packs in nearly every single powerful card available in the format.

    "Azul y Azul," Sebastian said, tapping two Vivid Creeks of his own and indicating he wanted to make blue mana for both before trying to evoke a Mulldrifter. Gustavo had a Rune Snag for those shenanigans, and the two players settled in to a game of draw-go for a number of turns.

    The minutes ticked by on the clock. Both players quickly drew cards and passed until a Faerie Conclave from the Argentinean Rakier threatened to go on the offensive. Not to be outdone Gustavo followed up himself with a Doran, the Siege Tower. That drew a look from Sebastian who clearly wasn't expecting the 0/5 out of a Quick 'N Toast deck. An attack from Doran left the totals 18-15 in Gustavo's favor.

    A series of Sower of Temptations attempted to steal the Doran, but Gustavo managed to stymie his opponent's attempts with a Cryptic Command, then a Pact of Negation. It was Sebastian's third Sower, however, that got there. A somewhat exasperated look on his face, Gustavo Fischer asked to see his opponent's graveyard, than solemnly shrugged his shoulders at his fortunes. If he could get away with playing Doran, Cryptic Command, and Pact of Negation in the same deck, it seemed only fair his opponent could draw three copies of Sower.

    A Damnation from Gustavo cleared the board, and both players returned to draw-go. Time was on Sebastian's side, however, as the Buenos Aires native had doubled his number of Faerie Conclaves to two and was able to get in for four damage each turn. If he wanted to win, the Uruguayan Fischer would have to do something about the situation.

    Do something he did in the form of Oona, Queen of the Fae. When Sebastian had no counterspell, Gustavo seemed to be in good shape. A doubleset of Venser, Shaper Savants from his opponent, however, cleared the 5/5 from the board and allowed Sebastian to get in with another Faerie Conclave, leaving the totals 15-12 in his favor.

    The first game of the match was beginning to drag on as the two control players dug their heels in. Gustavo kept replaying his Oona while his opponent kept bouncing it with Venser and Momentary Blink targeting the Venser. Fischer was slowly building up an army of 1/1 Faerie Rogues, however, as he managed to funnel his extra mana into milling his opponent from the Queen of the Fae. After a few more turns of trying to squeeze some breathing room onto the increasingly cluttered board space, Sebastian conceded to have enough time for two additional games.

    Gustavo Fischer: 1, Sebastian Rakier: 0

    With twenty minutes left on the clock, the players tried to move quickly in an effort to get a full match in. Gustavo came out of the gates with a second turn Bitterblossom, but his opponent was ready with a Rune Snag and a turn three play in the form of an evoked Mulldrifter. With sufficient cards and sufficient lands, both players fell back into their rhythm of draw-go.

    It's a bird, it's a plane, its... Zur the Enchanter?
    It was Gustavo's next play that drew some odd looks from the audience. Using four mana from a number of rainbow lands he made a Zur the Enchanter. The crowd pressed in to get a look at it. When the 1/4 legend headed into the red zone unimpeded the following turn, Fischer tutored up a Steel of the Godhead to give his attacker +2/+2, make it unblockable, and give it lifelink. Sebastian didn't seem that worried, using a Wispmare to deal with the Godhead but still needing to find a way to answer his opponent's 1/4.

    A second attack from Zur yielded a second copy of Steel of the Godhead and the totals fell to 25-13 in Gustavo Fischer's favor. Sebastian's time was ticking down, and he decided to do something about it. Tapping five mana he made a Body Double, which quickly drew a Rune Snag from his opponent. After checking out how much he would have to pay to the counter, Sebastian answered with a Rune Snag of his own. Gustavo left the spells on the stack and paused to consider whether he needed to counter the 0/0 at all. The only creatures in the graveyard were a Wispmare and Mulldrifter, both in his opponent's graveyard, but ultimately Fischer decided the Body Double was a threat and used a second Rune Snag to keep it from play.

    Back to draw-go and Gustavo's Godheaded Zur dropped Sebastian down to just two turns left to live. He tried to find answers digging with Bonded Fetch and making a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, but his draw from the Fetch yielded nada and his 3/4 was countered by a Cryptic Command. When a second peek with the Bonded Fetch yielded nothing, Sebastian extended his hand.

    Gustavo Fischer wins 2-0 against Sebastian Rakier.


     
  • Saturday, 12:34: Play the Game, See the World
    by Nate Price
  • Magic: The Gathering should have a slogan like the US Navy. Play the game, see the world. It's an incredibly accurate statement, and, in my opinion, one of the most attractive aspects of the game. Since I started playing the game about 14 years ago (I am such a dinosaur), I've been to Europe, Asia, and South America. I've been surrounded by native languages I can't even name. And the best part, I've met a lot of incredible people from all around the world. The game has provided me an incredibly broadening experience, and I'm going to be forever in its debt.

    Thanks to the Summer Magic program, and the introduction of new Grand Prix and additional prize money to the circuit, there are more opportunities and reasons to explore the world with Magic than ever before. Here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, players from around the world have voyaged to test their skills and further explore the world. Americans Brandon Scheel, Gerry Thompson, Eddie Bontkowski, Brett Blackman, and Steve Sadin made the ten hour flight down from the United States.

    The Americans had some help in their voyage down here that has made their experience a fun one. Steve Sadin's friend, Luis Neiman, a fellow New York Magic player, grew up in Argentina and provided Steve with a slew of things he needed to check out upon his arrival. Eddie Bontkowski's mother works for United Airlines, and thus was able to get him a free ticket, as well as discounted tickets for Brandon and Gerry which ultimately allowed them to come. Rumor had it that Brett Blackman made the long trip from the States concealed in Sadin's carry-on luggage, but any reports about the JSS standout and Grand Prix Top 8er are as of yet unconfirmed.

    Upon my arrival, I hooked up with the other American Magic players, as well as fellow coverage writer Bill Stark, for a trip around Buenos Aires. Gerry, Brandon, Eddie, and I all shared the same flight in from the US, and upon arrival, were a little upset to discover that our bags hadn't quite made the trip with us. Well, all of us but Gerry. "This is the third time in a row I've lost my luggage. I'm kind of getting used to it." We filled out the requisite forms at the baggage claim area and grabbed a taxi into the city.


    Kinda Like Rome

    The trip in was pretty cool. The area between Buenos Aires and the airport is a fairly open area with few buildings and a lot of open land. What they did have, though, were a million soccer fields. They're spread out like basketball courts in the US. As a soccer fan myself, I've always known that Argentina was famous for its love of the game, but I never imagined how suffused the culture was with it. Our cab driver was incredibly talkative, and took great pride when describing his home. "Buenos Aires is different from much of Latin America. It's much more similar to Europe. Many of our people are descended mostly from Spain, Italy, France, and other European countries."


    Dinner

    As we got into Buenos Aires proper, I began to see what he meant. The city reminded me a great deal of the cities I'd been to in Italy. The streets were fairly narrow, the traffic was bustling, and people swarmed. It was just like walking through Rome, which was very cool. After meeting up with the other Americans, we set off to get some food. We heard stories of a very good Argentinean restaurant near our hotel, but Steve and Bill had eaten there the night before. We saved it for later and just found a small Italian café near the event site. The food was pretty good, and they have this beer called Iguana that has a hint of a citrus flavor. It was quite tasty. As our pilot had explained to us upon landing, "Argentina is one of the last places on Earth which is still three to one with the dollar," so our large Italian meal only set us back about $10 US. Pretty savage.


    Tiny Jacket

    After a brief stop at the event site, we turned to our guide for the weekend, Steve Sadin, asked him where we should head next, and, with a glint in his eye usually reserved for Christmas and birthday parties, he quite simply said "the Leather District." Steve was a man possessed. We got in our cabs and made the trip out to the Leather District on the other side of Buenos Aires. With each passing street, Steve grew visibly more excited until it ultimately reached a fever pitch. Upon exiting the cab, I actually felt a twinge of his excitement creep into me. I have never been surrounded by so many leather shops in my entire life. It was like the Village People, Hell's Angels, and all of West Hollywood had relocated to South America.


    The Bomber Brothers

    Apparently, upon entering the district, everyone had caught the fever and wanted to buy something. The fact that the goods were high quality and about half the price of American goods didn't hurt. Steve and Brandon tried on matching Bomber jackets, causing us to call them the "Bomber Brothers" for the remainder of the day. Brett bought a nice pair of leather gloves for his mother. Bill bought himself a new wallet. Laden with our new leather goods, we took off and came back to the event site.


    Shuhei and Olivier

    Sadly, the one thing we didn't get to do was visit the Tango district. Yes, there is an entire district devoted to the Tango here in Buenos Aires. We've planned to go before we leave, but the Japanese players beat us to it. When I found Shuhei Nakamura and asked him how he had spent his trip thus far, his eyes got wide, and he nearly breathlessly uttered "Tango show!" Apparently, he and Tomoharu Saito had trekked out to the Tango district and taken in a show. Anything that can leave the normally talkative Nakamura nearly speechless should be incredibly entertaining. He and Saito are going to be in town until late Monday, and are intent on enjoying themselves. This is the second leg of a western trip for the two Japanese players. They spent the previous week in Indianapolis being entertained by Gabe Walls, practicing for this event, and participating in the Limited Grand Prix that took place. Not a bad vacation for two of the most travelled players on the Tour.


    The Frenchies

    It's hard to mention travelling and not discuss the French. Raphael Levy, Remi Fortier, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, and Olivier Ruel made a stop here in Buenos Aires after Indianapolis as well. In fact, they had stopped in Iguazú, which is on the Brazillian border, for a little relaxation beforehand. Upon arriving, they noticed the abundance of soccer, pardon me football, fields as well, and even managed to take in a game with Argentinean Pro player Diego Ostrovich. Antoine even got to play a little before the Grand Prix. "I played enough that my leg kind of hurts today," he said with an exhale and a bit of a laugh. The French players are planning on staying here in Argentina until Tuesday, and then they're going to continue their South American trek with a trip to Uruguay.


    Kinda Like Rome Too

    Travel is our theme of the weekend, here at Grand Prix - Buenos Aires, and these Pro players are shining examples of the avenues that Magic can open to you. The Grand Prix circuit is so expansive and world-encompassing that you could play Magic virtually anywhere in the world. Check out the Grand Prix schedule and make some travel plans for yourself. You'll create some unforgettable memories for yourself and, who knows, you may come back a champion.


     
  • Saturday, 1:09 p.m.: Speaking with "the Locals"
    by Bill Stark
  • No South American Grand Prix would be complete without taking a look at some of the marquee players who make the Magic scene here work. Before we get to that, however, let's set the picture.

    It was 2002. The entire world was under the spell of a 1/2 named Psychatog and headed into the World Championships that season there were two things everyone knew: always counter your Psychatog opponent's card drawing, and pray that you get paired against a player from South America as you were assured to win. It took 72 hours for the world to learn it was wrong, and they did so at the hands of one man: Brazilian Carlos Romao.

    Former World Champion Carlos Romao
    Carlos bucked the conventional wisdom and allowed his opponent's to resolve their card drawing, using his counterspells instead on the few relevant threats they could play. By hoisting the trophy that Sunday he, alongside fellow Top 8 member Diego Ostrovich (we'll get to him in a moment), had shattered the idea that South Americans couldn't compete on the international scale, and they paved the way for such names as Willy Edel and Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa. After years of international travel following his win, how did Carlos feel about having a Grand Prix practically in his backyard?

    "I don't think it has any special meaning for me," he explained, clarifying "I'm used to playing American Grand Prixs and traveling internationally. It's really special for the players from this area who don't get to do that. For them it has a lot of special meaning, and that makes me happy."

    Did the former World Champ have any predictions on who would be doing well on the weekend? "I think Paulo Vitor will do amazing, but I don't think that's a surprise. He's been having a good season this year." The Brazilian then turned his attention to some newer faces from the Sao Paolo community. "I think some new players like Francisco Baraella and our friend nicknamed 'Leite' are very focused for this Grand Prix. I expect one of them in the Top 8." Bold predictions, but how did Carlos feel about his own chances?

    "I'm playing an unknown deck designed by a friend. I think the deck's good against the field, but I don't know what to expect. I'm excited." He replied before turning to rejoin his friends.

    Buenos Aires, Argentina's hometown hero Diego Ostrovich
    The aforementioned Argentinean Diego Ostrovich is unquestionably the most famous player from Buenos Aires, home of the Grand Prix. While social and professional constraints have forced Diego to spend less time traveling to compete at the Pro Tour level, you could see the fire in his eyes this weekend. "With all the people here cheering for you, winning is extra special." He explained. "A lot of players want you to win. I don't know if I can, but I definitely prepared [for the event]." Was he concerned about any of the traveling pros from places like the United States, Japan, and Europe "stealing" the title?

    "I don't mind. I'd rather have a friend win than someone I don't know." He even-handedly replied. "Of course, I know all of the guys who traveled here so I don't mind if they win," he said, before quickly adding "or if I win..."

    There was one final question for Ostrovich before he turned to get some breakfast, making good use of his two rounds of byes. Did having an event at home, just a 15 minute drive away, hold any special significance for him? "Yeah. It's always a great feeling, having people from other countries come visit and showing them your home city. It's really, really great."

    Pro Tour-Hollywood Top 8er Paulo Vitor
    The final player in the interview queue was Brazil's Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa. The level 7 mage has been the face of Brazilian Magic since Romao's win in 2002 and is hot off the heels of a Pro Tour-Hollywood Top 8 performance piloting Faeries. When asked if that performance played a role in determining whether or not he would make an extra effort to attend the Summer Series Grand Prixs he replied "Yeah, probably."

    Following that question up I asked how he felt having a Grand Prix so close to Brazil. "It's good for a change. There are many more Brazilian players here this time, however. Last time [a Grand Prix was held in South America] in Brazil, the same players played the game but didn't go to the Grand Prix. This time they came all the way to Argentina to compete."

    Was it nice having a short flight to an event for once? "It's a two hour flight from Brazil," laughed Paulo, "but I flew straight here from Grand Prix-Indianapolis!"

    Three South American players, all ambassadors of the game, and all hoping to turn up some fame and fortune this weekend at Grand Prix-Buenos Aires. Will one of the old guard manage to keep the title of champion on the continent? Stay tuned to Magicthegathering.com to find out!



     
  • Feature Match: Round 3 - Diego Ostrovich vs Rafael Nunes da Silva
    by Nate Price
  • Diego vs Rafael
    AS the players run out of byes, we begin to see some of the more established names making their way into the fray. This round, after his two ratings-based byes, Diego Ostrovich wandered his way over to the feature match area. Diego is a local Argentinean who has been around the Pro Tour for quite some time now. He was a member of the Worlds Top 8 that featured fellow South American Carlos Romao as the eventual champion. It could be said that he and Romao really put South American Magic on the map. His opponent this round is Rafael Nunes da Silva, a Brazilian player who had first round bye due to his rating. He is a member of the strong Brazilian contingent of players on the Pro Tour, and routinely tests with the likes of Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa, Willy Edel, and the aforementioned Carlos Romao.

    Rafael won the die roll and chose to go first. Diego was a bit unhappy with his opening seven cards, and decided to try his luck with another six. His following six provided him with a far superior hand and he went with them. Rafael got the first game underway with a first turn Mutavault that attacked Diego for two on the following turn. Diego decided to get back the card he lost and then some with a turn one Ancestral Visions. His second turn brought him a Cursecatcher, which could ultimately prove quite annoying for Rafael.

    Rafael
    Rafael added a Scion of Oona to his board, and Terrored the Merrow Reejeery Diego played on his following turn. He attacked with the Scion, but chose not to pump it with his Pendelhaven, signaling a probable Rune Snag. Diego just shrugged, and kept the pressure up by attacking with his own Mutavault.

    When Diego's Ancestral Visions attempted to refill his hand, Rafael had a Cryptic Command to stop it. He hadn't been able to do anything on his previous turn, but it was worth it to deny Diego the cards. Diego just played a Stonybrook Banneret and passed the turn. Rafael passed right back, and it was clear that something was up. When Diego activated his Mutavault to attack with it, Rafael had a Mistbind Clique to tap Diego's lands. He had to activate his Mutavault, which allowed him to champion the land instead of his incredibly useful Scion of Oona. When a second Scion joined the table on the next turn, Rafael's men were now untouchable.

    Diego was stuck on three lands at this point, and was quickly losing ground. His Merfolk deck has a far less powerful late game than Rafael's Faeries, and his early stumbles became more important as the game wore on. Diego kept increasing his army, as well as digging for some answers with Silvergill Adepts, but they weren't going to win the race anytime soon. He had the Lord of Atlantis in his hand, but he didn't have enough damage on the table, nor a follow-up if Rafael had a counterspell in his large hand.

    As the large, untouchable, flying army loomed, Diego was forced to try and draw a miracle card to save him. I'm not sure what that card could have been, but it was clear that his deck didn't provide it to him, and he packed his cards up for Game 2.

    Diego Ostrovich 0 - Rafael Nunes da Silva 1

    Sideboard:

    Diego: -3 Sower of Temptation - Most of Faerie's creatures are fairly small.
    -1 Aquetect's Will
    -1 Lord of Atlantis
    +2 Trickbind
    +2 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir - Pretty good against a deck built around flash.
    +1 Reveillark - Helps shore up some late game holes, as well as returning a Lord or Reejeery for the late game alpha strike. Having a big, flying creature doesn't hurt, either.

    Rafael: -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Mistbind Clique
    -3 Scion of Oona - Merfolk doesn't really have anything that targets creatures.
    -1 Spellstutter Sprite
    +3 Damnation - Punish overextension and reset the board against a highly aggressive deck.
    +1 Murderous Redcap - Killing multiple creatures with only one of your own is pretty good.
    +1 Slaughter Pact - Gotta kill Reejeery and Lord.
    +1 Thoughtseize

    To open the second game, Rafael kindly returned Diego's first game mulligan. Diego started out of the gates quite strongly. Ancestral Visions preceded a Stonybrook Banneret and Lord of Atlantis. Rafael had a Rune Snag for the Lord and a Thoughtseize for the Cryptic Command in Diego's hand. Diego held a Reveillark, though, and that could be very unfortunate if it hit play. Diego managed to get a second Ancestral Visions suspended before getting Thoughtseized, though, so he would be able to make it up eventually. When Rafael Terrored the Stonybrook Banneret and then countered Diego's first Ancestral Visions with a Cryptic Command, things started to look really good for him. He didn't have any offense to speak of, but neither did Diego.

    Diego
    A third Ancestral Visions started counting down for Diego, but he didn't have much in the way of pressure. A Bitterblossom and Scion of Oona from Rafael meant that at least one player had a threat coming to bear. When Diego's second Ancestral Visions tried to come off, Diego had a Cryptic Command to force it through and return the Scion to Rafael's hand. The Visions gave Diego a few more threats, and a Lord of Atlantis and Silvergill Adept made it into play. Now the race was on. A Vendilion Clique appeared for Rafael and sent a Cryptic Command back for a land. In addition, Rafael had a Mistbind Clique during Diego's upkeep to steal the turn from him. He also had a Spellstutter Sprite for the unsuspending Visions. The race looked firmly in Rafael's favor now, and the victory was all but sealed when Rafael played a Slaughter Pact during Diego's attack to kill the Lord of Atlantis, which allowed his Faerie token to trade for the Adept. At this point, Diego was out of gas, and behind in life. He had made the game very close, but some last minute heroics, and a couple of timely counterspells, took the match from Diego.

     
  • Feature Match: Round 4 - Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs Damian Llorente
    by Bill Stark
  • Pro Tour superstar Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa is not a name you want to see on your pairings sheet when sitting down to play Magic, particularly if your event is, like Grand Prix-Buenos Aires, a Constructed affair. If that concerned Damian Llorente, an Argentina native who had a 700 kilometer trip to make it to the tournament, he didn’t let on instead calmly shuffling and mentally preparing himself for the match.

    Without much talking the opponents got down to business with Damian opening on red-green Snow while Guillaume, in a repeat of Hollywood, played a number of multi-colored lands before evoking a Mulldrifter. It seemed the French player was playing Quick ‘N Toast again, a deck choice that had very nearly netted him a Top 8 during the California Pro Tour.

    Damian managed to stick a Kitchen Finks to go along with his Treetop Village, but Guillaume seemed nonplussed, simply playing a Wall of Roots for defense. He was likely more concerned about the fact he hadn’t been able to make a land drop following turn 4. Meanwhile Damian simply tried to get into the red zone with his Finks and Treetop Village, using a Skred to clear the Wall of Roots.

    In an effort to catch up on lands, Guillaume evoked a second Mulldrifter, but his Argentinean opponent was quick to respond. “Before that,” he said, placing a Cloudthresher on the table at instant speed. With only a single land open, Guillaume had no choice but to nod, and the 7/7 threatened to end things quickly for Wafo-Tapa.

    A 13 point attack left the totals 20-5 in Llorente’s favor and after drawing a card and carefully considering his options Guillaume made a Kitchen Finks of his own climbing to 7. When his opponent used a main phase Skred, Wafo-Tapa climbed to 9 but was still dead on board if Damian used a Mouth of Ronom to kill the 2/1. After careful consideration, Llorente opted to use a Firespout instead and Wafo-Tapa quickly nodded his head and moved to the second game, sufficiently convinced his opponent wouldn’t forget to attack.

    Damian Llorente: 1, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa: 0

    Magus of the Moon assists Damian Llorente
    Missed land drops from the first game were compounded for Guillaume Wafo-Tapa as he quickly sent his opener back for a new hand of six. Luckily for him his opponent wasn’t far behind, opting to cash his seven in for one fewer as well. Both happy with second chance hands Guillaume led the board with plays landing a turn 3 Kitchen Finks. That simply opened up the door for Damian to play a trump in the form of Magus of the Moon. The 2/2 Future Sight rare would, temporarily at least, stunt Guillaume’s mana development as each of his lands was turned into a Mountain.

    All hope was not lost for the Frenchman, however, as his deck could still be packing Murderous Redcaps and/or Slaughter Pacts to deal with the Magus. If he could simply find one in time, they’d have a match, but Damian wasn’t making things easy. A series of Skreds took Wafo-Tapa’s Kitchen Finks off the board and a Chameleon Colossus promised to make trouble for the former Pro Tour champion. With enough mana to pump the Shapeshifter into an 8/8 Guillaume was on a very quick clock.

    Still the super pro could only play draw go, building up a formidable amount of lands. Unfortunately for him, they were all still Mountains and he had yet to find a Redcap or Slaughter Pact. With a single draw to find an answer, Guillaume peeled an unhelpful Mulldrifter and quickly extended his hand in defeat.

    Damian defeats Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 2-0.

     
  • Saturday, 4:25 p.m.: Eleventynine
    by Bill Stark
  • Brandon Scheel is a name you should learn to recognize, if you haven’t already. Hailing from Iowa the pro has slowly moved up the ranks from PTQ regular to semi-pro to making a full run on playing Magic nearly full-time this year. His efforts have paid off, though in an anomalistic way the coverage team couldn’t help but notice this weekend. You see, Brandon Scheel has finished in exactly 11th place at the last three premier events he’s played in.

    They call him ‘Luck Number Scheeleven’
    It all started at Pro Tour-Kuala Lumpur. After making Day 2, Brandon stumbled early to put himself out of Top 8 contention. He managed to right the ship, however, in time to put up a solid enough performance to nab 11th. Fast forward to Pro Tour-Hollywood, then Grand Prix-Indianapolis just last weekend and the story repeated itself not once but TWICE.

    “I felt my finishes in Hollywood and Indianapolis were better than my finish in Kuala Lumpur,” the American explained while waiting for the last of his byes at Grand Prix-Buenos Aires to expire. “I was in contention at those events, but in Malaysia I knew I was out going into the final rounds.”

    While some would consider 11th place at so many tournaments a curse, Brandon recognizes the significance of such an achievement in the overall scheme of things. “I’m shooting for level 7 this year, and I’m focused on that.” He pointed out, indicating that the high number of Pro Points afforded even someone in 11th place could be enough to accomplish his goals. “I feel I’ve improved over the years and that I’m getting better. I can do more to succeed, but I’ve had a really good year.”

    When asked how he wound up at Grand Prix-Buenos Aires Scheel shot the nearby Steve Sadin a look. “I was tricked!” He exclaimed as the Limited Information columnist guffawed in the background. “Actually I’ve been having a lot of fun here in Argentina,” Scheel added.

    As for his chances at this weekend’s event? “We definitely want an American to win,” Scheel quickly responded, indicating himself and his traveling companions. Was that to make up for the fact a European had just managed to hoist the title the previous weekend at Grand Prix-Indianapolis? “No,” Brandon said, laughing, “Jelger’s [Wiegersma, Grand Prix-Indianapolis champion] a good guy. I hear he slept on a floor all last weekend.”

    As a contrast to Brandon Scheel, Nicolas Bevacqua is a name you may not recognize yet, but not for his lack of trying. Like Brandon, Nicolas has finished the exact same position in the last three major events he’s been able to play only in the ignominious 9th instead of 11th. When asked if he was disappointed in those finishes at two Grand Prix Trials and his Regionals Nicolas responded “Actually no. TheMagicTutor.com gives a special prize to 9th, a free entry to the next event! That means I got in to the Grand Prix for free, and I still got some boosters.”

    Nicolas Bevacqua of Argentina

    The Grand Prix marks the first premier level event Nicolas has attended, and he assured everyone he was looking forward to Day 2. The computer programming student was also excited the event was being held at the Centro Cultural Borges. “I live in Buenos Aires,” he pointed out. And if he manages to break the curse and finally get to the Top 8 of an upcoming Pro Tour Qualifier for Berlin? “I’d like to go if I can.”

    Brandon Scheel and Nicolas Bevacqua, connected via random acts of fate and proof that even if you miss the Top 8, you can still find silver linings. Check back to Magicthegathering.com to see if Grand Prix-Buenos Aires marks a change in either’s fortunes!

     
  • Saturday, 5:04 p.m.: Initial Metagame Impressions
    by Nate Price
  • The Standard format has had a little time to settle since the first time we saw it on the big stage. Going into Pro Tour – Hollywood, it was assumed that the big decks were going to be Faeries, Green-based Elf decks, Reveillark, and something red, with a general smattering of other decks for Flavor. What we saw didn’t disappoint. A number of distinct deck types made their tournament debut in Hollywood, with all the favorites out in numbers. You can check out the exact decklist breakdown for Hollywood here, here, and here.

    Since the Pro Tour, Regionals have reared their heads, and we were finally able to see what the world at large had done with the information the Pros handed them in Hollywood. Faeries, the early season favorite, proved why by putting more players in Regionals Top 8s than any other deck. As expected after its dominating performance in Hollywood, the black/green Elf deck Charles Gindy used to win the tournament gave a number of players a spot in their National tournament. Beyond that, the decks were fairly spread out, and much more evenly represented. It appeared that Faeries and Elves were going to dominate players’ minds headed into the remainder of the season.

    After spending some time wandering around the tournament site here in Argentina, especially after the players with three byes joined the tournament, it seemed that the format in Buenos Aires has had some predicted results. Faeries has been strong since the opening days of this format, and shows no sign of stopping or slowing down. Likewise, the black/green decks have remained strong.

    However, rather than being a two-deck race, it appeared that the format has congealed into primarily five decks. Since Hollywood, it appears that the red/green and Reveillark decks have made quite a push to be represented, and they have shown up here in Argentina with a similar frequency to the supposedly dominant Faerie deck. Another deck that has unexpectedly shown up in force is the Merfolk deck, similar to the one Jan Ruess piloted in Hollywood. The water-based blue men have proven only slightly less popular than their flying counterparts.

    Following behind these five major decks are a variety of other known commodities. The five-color control deck Manuel Buchard designed for Hollywood, affectionately dubbed “Quick ‘n Toast,” has followed the Frenchmen across the ocean, but it appears that very few players other than them are running it. Perhaps the deck’s steep learning curve has scared players into an easier choice. In addition, the Doran deck, despite its relative success in Hollywood, appears to have been trumped by the more consistent, traditional green/black Elf decks.

    This is only a collection of early impressions, and we’ll see which decks rise to the top as the day progresses. Check back later for a more in depth Day 2 metagame breakdown complete with decklists.

     
  • Feature Match: Round 5 - Daniele Daversa vs Tomoharu Saito
    by Nate Price
  • Venezuela's champion, Daversa.
    The international flavor keeps on flowing here in Buenos Aires. Tomoharu Saito is a phenomenal Japanese player who has been putting up consistently good finishes for a while now. He’s been making his way all the way around the Grand Prix circuit, as well as the Pro Tour, and taking in the sights around the world. “I want to see all the countries of the world,” he told me as we talked. He’s been quite the globetrotter as of late, with Buenos Aires being the second leg of a western Grand Prix swing starting last week in Indianapolis.

    His opponent this round is Daniele Daversa. Daniele comes from neighboring Venezuela, and has managed to make his way to Worlds and the PT a few times, including one trip as, how to put this: the Venezuelan national champion. After discussing his previous tournament experience and finishes, he managed so slide that one in on me and caught me totally off guard. Needless to say, this match between a Japanese powerhouse and South American national champ seemed to be shaping up to be quite interesting.

    Japan's Saito isn't losing any steam.
    Both players kept their opening draws, and Saito started getting busy with a turn one Ghitu Encampment, which Daversa matched with a Treetop Village. Saito followed his man-land up with a Mogg Fanatic and a Keldon Megaliths. He then added an Ashenmoor Gouger to play. Daversa’s first non-land contribution to the board was a Loxodon Warhammer, which would be quite good against Saito’s red deck, provided he could get a creature to equip it to.

    Saito kept the pressure on with a Blood Knight and another Mogg Fanatic. Daversa was forced to tap out for a Chameleon Colossus on the following turn, which would look quite impressive with a Warhammer in its hand. However, Saito had a Flame Javelin to prevent that dream from ever becoming a reality. After an alpha strike from Saito, Daversa was reduced to a precarious six life. He played a Civic Wayfinder and had a Nameless Inversion for one of Saito’s men, but, with the Ghitu Encampment providing Saito and additional attacker, he couldn’t stop enough damage coming through to prevent the Mogg Fanatics from finishing him off.

    Daniele Daversa 0 – Tomoharu Saito 1

    The man-land shenanigans (man-landigans?) from the first game continued here in the second. Daversa came out of the gates much better this game, and his Tarmogoyf went unmatched from Saito. Daversa followed that up with a Loxodon Warhammer on the following turn. Knowing now that Daversa had no way to make his Tarmogoyf larger, Saito went to kill it with Lash Out. Saito paused for a decent amount of time after his draw step before deciding it was important to get a Magus of the Scroll down as soon as possible to prevent anything from surviving long enough to pick up the Warhammer.

    Daversa was ready with a creature the Magus couldn’t kill. Chameleon Colossus was just itching to pick up the Warhammer he was denied in the first game, but, once again, Saito had the Flame Javelin to kill it before it became trouble. Tarmogoyf stepped up next for Daversa, and he was going to need to be dealt with before he became harder to kill than the Colossus. A Civic Wayfinder also came into play for Daversa, which meant that Saito had to kill two creatures in order to keep the Warhammer useless.

    He did have an Incinerate for the Goyf, but had no guaranteed answer for the Wayfinder. Daversa equipped his Wayfinder with the Hammer and declared his attack. Fearing the Ghitu Encampment, though, he kept it home and opted to play a Troll Ascetic, which could be better with the Warhammer anyway. Saito used his Magus at the end of Daversa’s turn to kill the Wayfinder, leaving him with only an angry Troll to pick up the Hammer.

    Ghitu Encampment got to prove his value on the following turn, as Daversa chose to send his hammer-wielding Troll over to have a chat with Saito. Daversa had to regenerate his Troll, removing it from combat, but tying up two of Saito’s mana. He followed his attack up with a Tarmogoyf, which was large enough to get over the Encampment. Saito had another waiting to come into play, and Daversa just passed the turn back to Saito after equipping his Goyf with the Warhammer. Saito was content to just play his lands and start aiming his Magus and burn spells at Daversa’s face. A demigod of Revenge from the Japanese player left him with a huge body, as well as mana available to activate both his Ghitu Encampment and Magus of the Scroll. Daversa went deep in the tank before deciding to activate a Treetop Village and give it the Hammer. He chose to send the Treetop in and let Saito figure things out. Saito did some quick math and decided to just take the damage, which knocked him to 14, and put Daversa up to 21. This was not going to be a fun race for Saito, and he had some serious thinking to do on his next turn. Ultimately, he untapped his lands and simply said go with two cards in hand and two untapped Encampments.

    Saito puts the heat on.
    It was now up to Daversa to figure things out. He couldn’t send his Treetop into two Ghitu Encampments, so he decided to just equip his Troll Ascetic and pass the turn back. Saito kept shooting away with his Magus of the Scroll, and dropped Daversa to 17 at the end of his turn. He decided it was time to begin the beating, and sent his Demigod over to chat with Daversa. After combat, he did a bit more math and decided to play the copy of Demigod of Revenge he had just drawn. Now, even though, he couldn’t activate both of his Encampments, he could just block with his Demigod to kill the offending Village and potentially get it back later with another copy of Demigod.

    Daversa untapped and realized that his options were fairly slim. He was facing down lethal damage on the following turn, and at least needed to rid himself of one of the Demigods and gain some life. He activated his Treetop and equipped it with the Warhammer. When it attacked, Saito activated an Encampment and blocked. After first strike damage was on the stack, he used an Incinerate to finish the Village off before it could gain Daversa any life. Without any way to get an equipped creature past Saito’s defenses, Daversa was forced to concede.

    Daniele Daversa 0 – Tomoharu Saito 2

     
  • Saturday, 6:06 p.m.: It’s Time for Ask the Pros!
    by Nate Price
  • If you could arrange a Grand Prix anywhere in the world to give you a reason to vacation, where would you go?

    Steve Sadin – Definitely Tokyo

    Carlos Romao – French Polynesia. It’s perfect, but I don’t know if I’d make it to the tournament if I was there.

    Remi Fortier – New York. I know Worlds was there last year, but there’s so much to do.

    Gerry Thompson – My backyard. I guess Japan if I felt like actually going places, but it’d be nice to not have to go anywhere.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa and Olivier Ruel – Japan. Wizards of the Coast doesn’t run enough tournaments there.

    Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa – I’ve been most of the places I want to go, but I really liked Hawaii and Geneva. I guess I’d really like to go to Russia. No reason special other than I haven’t been there.

     
  • Feature Match: Round 6 Feature Match Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa vs Nicolas de Nicola
    by Bill Stark
  • As the feature match was announced for round 6, a chorus of voices arose from the crowd in support of Buenos Aires’ own Nicolas de Nicola, though as level 7 mage Paulo Vitor headed over to the match he claimed “I heard one guy yell ‘Go Paulo!’” The two players remained silent as they shuffled, a curious crowd of onlookers pressing in to watch a big international name do battle with a big local name.

    Level 7 Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa.
    Paulo was quick to play first after winning the die roll. The Brazilian superstar had brought the deck that served him so well during Pro Tour-Hollywood, Faeries. As the highest finishing proponent of the Fae during that event, it was no surprise to see him sticking to his tribal guns for Grand Prix-Buenos Aires.

    Nicolas de Nicola represented black-green Elves until his third turn when he played a Murmuring Bosk revealing Doran, the Siege Tower, then played the Siege Tower himself. Paulo quickly Rune Snagged, and had a second the following turn when Nicolas went for Chameleon Colossus. An Ancestral Visions bought Vitor plenty of gas, and he played a Bitterblossom with mana to spare for a potential third Rune Sang or Spellstutter Sprite.

    The players continued a back and forth with Bitterblossom cluttering the board and slowly eating away at Paulo’s life total. Nicolas, recognizing he needed to be aggressive to pull the game out, got into the red zone with a Treetop Village and Llanowar Elves backed by Pendelhaven. When Paulo made a Mistbind Clique to block, de Nicola had a heads up play. He used his final mana, tapped before the Clique’s comes-into-play ability, to make a Nameless Inversion on the Clique. Unable to counter, Paulo watched his 4/4 become a 7/1 while blocking the Treetop. That meant the creature-land got to sneak two extra damage in via trample and bring de Nicola that much closer to victory.

    Still, Paulo isn’t a level 7 for nothing. A Scion of Oona quickly morphed his team into an army and put his opponent in a tight spot. With the totals at 8-7 in Paulo’s favor, and with the Brazilian’s board being far more advanced, Nicolas needed some help from the top. A Slaughter Pact targeting Scion was countered with Rune Snag and when a follow-up Profane Command from Nicolas met the same fate, the Argentinean scooped up his cards for a second game.

    Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa: 1, Nicolas de Nicola: 0

    Both players started on a mulligan for the second game, with Nicolas coming out further ahead on his after a second turn Bitterblossom. Paulo could do nothing but shrug, using a Spellstutter Sprite reveal to make his second land drop in the form of an untapped Secluded Glen. A Kitchen Finks soon joined the army of Faerie Rogues on de Nicola’s increasingly cluttered board, and Vitor’s only creature, a Scion of Oona, was quickly dealt with via Nameless Inversion.

    Things were spinning wildly out of control for the Brazilian, and even a Razormane Masticore didn’t look like it could provide any help. With his opponent tapped out from playing the mechanoid monster, Nicolas wasted no time in resolving a Chameleon Colossus. Struggling but still in it, Paulo promptly made a Sower of Temptation and stole the 4/4.

    Buenos Aires resident Nicolas de Nicola.
    With the totals at 14-6 in favor of Nicolas, Paulo moved in with his Sower and a stolen Chameleon Colossus. The Argentinean was able to nullify the attack by simply blocking the 4/4 with his Kitchen Finks; the two points of life gain canceled out the Sower’s damage. Nicolas then continued applying pressure with two Faerie Rogue tokens that munched Paulo to 4. Da Rosa had managed to keep the Faerie count low thanks to his Razormane, but he didn’t have a lot of room left to maneuver.

    An end of turn Cloudthresher forced Paulo to carefully consider his plays. He had been trying to race with his opponent, clearly threatening a Cryptic Command that would tap all of Nicolas’ creatures, then allow Paulo to get in for lethal once Nicolas had been wittled to 11 life. The Thresher meant Paulo would likely have to burn up his Command or risk falling to 1 while losing his Sower, which would then return Chameleon Colossus to de Nicola.

    Instead, Paulo decided to allow the 7/7 to enter play, then used the Command to tap his opponent’s creatures and bounce a Treetop. Nicolas nodded, then revealed a Slaughter Pact targeting Razormane Masticore. With another Treetop Village in play able to attack, and Paulo at just 1, the Brazilian had no choice but to move to a rubber game.

    Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa: 1, Nicolas de Nicola: 1

    With just ten minutes left in the round at the start of game 3, the players were pressed for time. At 5-0 they were still in good shape to play on Sunday, but a win here would guarantee one of them that chance. Paulo opened on a seemingly weak start after his opponent mulliganed, playing a first turn Mutavault, and using his second turn to attack with it. Things started looking much better, however, when his opponent missed a second land drop, and soon had to discard. Wasting no time Vitor continued to send his 2/2 Mutavault into the red zone.

    Nicolas managed to find his second land, however, and tried to make up for lost time with a Bitterblossom. The Buenos Aires resident was not going out quietly. He followed up with a third land, and a Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves to boot. When Paulo tried to Sower the Birds of Paradise, Nicolas immediately answered with Slaughter Pact, then added a 2/3 Tarmogoyf to his board.

    A Paulo Vitor Razormane Masticore promised to spell trouble, and Nicolas quickly tried to maneuver a Cloudthresher into play to answer. The 7/7 would become lethal very quickly against Paulo, but when Vitor revealed a Terror for the Elemental, Nicolas nodded and conceded at just 5 life and facing the Razormane.

    Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa wins 2-1 against Nicolas de Nicola.

     
  • Feature Match: Round 7 Feature Match – Tomoharu Saitou vs. Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa
    by Nate Price
  • At this point, I don’t think the two players in the feature match area need that big of an introduction. Tomoharu Saitou and Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa are pretty big names on the Pro Tour, and have already had their names in lights here this weekend. The two players know each other well and began a nice little exchange as they sat down for the match.

    “Paulo, do you know my deck? I don’t know your deck,” Saitou quizzed as he shuffled for the first game.

    “Oh, you know my deck,” da Rosa nudged him.

    With a look of dawning recognition, Saitou exclaimed “Oh, Faeries! You’re a Faerie Master!”

    Da Rosa just smiled and offered a die to Saitou. After winning the die roll, Saitou admitted some mastery of his own.

    “Die Roll master! Ok, I start. Good Luck!”

    Unfortunately, he started by trying to figure out whether he should mulligan a two land hand with a bit of burn and Demigod of Revenge. Ultimately, he decided to keep and was rewarded with a third land that would let him play his two Flame Javelins, the first of which went straight at da Rosa after he passed his third turn. During Saitou’s draw step, da Rosa aimed a Vendilion Clique at Saitou’s hand, and forced him to trade his Magus of the Moon for a new card. The Magus would have left Paulo on three Mountains and an Island, which would have spelled bad news for the Brazilian.

    Saitou opted to play an Ashenmoor Gouger instead of the now unreachable Magus. When he went to attack da Rosa on the following turn, he was displeased to see a Cryptic Command bouncing his guy and drawing da Rosa a card. He scooped his creature up and decided to Flame Javelin da Rosa’s Clique instead of replaying the Gouger. Now that the board had again reached parity, da Rosa decided to upset it by playing a Bitterblossom. In addition, when Saitou replayed his Gouger on the following turn, da Rosa had a Vendilion Clique in response to force Saitou to use his burn while he could. He decided to Incinerate the freshly cast Clique and revealed a Flame Javelin and two Demigods of Revenge. Flame Javelin went to the bottom, and Paulo went to work.

    And while at work, he just drew and passed the turn. Quite the busy day. He had big plans for Saitou’s Demigods. Saitou decided that rather than let da Rosa abuse Cryptic Command, he would just attack with his Gouger. Unfortunately, that let da Rosa abuse Mistbind Clique. After blocking the Gouger with a Faerie token, da Rosa played the Clique with damage on the stack to eat the already dying token and deny Saitou the rest of his turn.

    Next turn, in an attempt to make up ground, Saitou played his Demigod before attackers, which da Rosa thought a great deal about before allowing. Both of Saitou’s men turned sideways, and left da Rosa with an interesting decision. He was sitting on nine life with a Bitterblossom in play, and Saitou was playing red. How much damage could he afford to take and what should he do? Eventually, he decided to play Scion of Oona before blockers and use his Faerie token to block the Demigod. That dropped him to a very precarious five life. However, he did have Saitou to thirteen life, and the Scion made his men unkillable and larger. Saitou would be dead soon if he couldn’t find a way to deal the last few points of damage.

    After combat, Saitou played the Blood Knight that da Rosa had washed him into. A Spellstutter Sprite stopped the potential blocker form getting down, though, and provided another two points of damage for the Brazilian. Da Rosa drew his card and attacked with the Scion and Mistbind Clique, opting to hold blockers back since his team was not quite lethal. Saitou now sat at seven. On his turn, he sent his two attackers in to eat da Rosa’s two blockers. All he had left in his hand now was the other Demigod. Da Rosa had a Spellstutter Sprite for it, and took home Game 1.

    Saitou 0 – Da Rosa 1

    Da Rosa started out his second game with a mulligan to six. His six card hand offered him the notorious Ancestral Visions / Bitterblossom start, so I guess his mulligan paid off. Saitou got some business on the table with a second-turn Blood Knight that got hit immediately with a Terror from da Rosa. A flashy Sulfur Elemental gave Saitou a replacement attacker, and a Magus of the Moon gave da Rosa a bunch of Mountains. Saitou upped his team one more time with an Ashenmoor Gouger.

    Da Rosa was now facing down a formidable army, and was unable to play any of his spells. This is not usually a position from which one wins games. However, da Rosa remained unfazed as his Ancestral Visions became unsuspended. He drew some cards, played an Island, and plopped a Razormane Masticore into play. That would make quick work of the Magus of the moon, and give da Rosa complete control after a few turns. However, Saitou had a Flame Javelin and a Shock to take the kitty down.

    Not ready to give up yet, da Rosa played Slaughter Pact to kill the Magus, giving him a chance to get back into the game. With his life total at three, he managed to get a Mistbind Clique into play to champion his Bitterblossom. His life total was no longer bleeding away, but now he had to get rid of Saitou before Saitou got rid of him. A Rune Snag ate a Demigod of Revenge, and a Terror scared the Sulfur Elemental away. When he followed all this up with a Razormane Masticore, Saitou could see the game slipping away. All he could manage was to play another Ashenmoor Gouger. Mistbind Clique was taking four point chunks out of his life, and that pool was going to be dry soon.

    When Saitou attacked with his two Gougers on the following turn, da Rosa was forced to activate his Mutavault to block. Saitou tried to Shock it out of the way, but da Rosa had a counterspell. However, that left him helpless to stop the Flame Javelin that came his way next.

    Tomoharu Saitou 1 – Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa – 1

    With the match down to a single chance at redemption, both players shuffled up in silence. Saitou began the match off with blinding speed. His Mogg Fanatic and Blood Knight came right out the gates ready to battle. However, da Rosa wasn’t without his own threats. Bitterblossom on the second turn could provide a sea of attackers and blockers if given enough time. It also provided the additional Faerie da Rosa needed to Spellstutter Sprite the Blood Knight Saitou attempted on the following turn. Saitou expected a counter, though, and saved the Magus of the Scroll to be his follow up.

    During Saitou’s next draw, da Rosa used a Mistbind Clique to force Saitou to activate his Magus early. He aimed it at da Rosa’s Sprite and named Ashenmoor Gouger, which wasn’t revealed. Saitou had nothing more he could do and just passed the turn back to da Rosa. Now that the game had reached an inflection point, da Rosa began his assault. He started with a Terror on Saitou’s defending Blood Knight. He then activated his Mutavault and attacked with his impressive army. Saitou had to trade his Mogg Fanatic for the Mutavault, and dropped all the way down to seven.

    He then untapped, replaced his Blood Knight, and used his Magus to successfully shoot down the Spellstutter Sprite. Da Rosa untapped and sent his Clique and a Faerie token across to drop Saitou to two. Saitou’s draw yielded nothing to stop the onslaught, and he offered his hand to da Rosa.

    “See you in the finals,” Saitou predicted with a smile. We’ll see on Sunday if Saitou’s Magic 8-ball comes true.

     
  • Feature Match: Round 8 Feature Match Steve Sadin vs Fernando Orge
    By Bill Stark
  • Fernando Orge extended the option to draw to his opponent, American Steve Sadin, as he sat down to the table but Sadin politely turned the ID down. A twelve hour plane flight, one would imagine, left Sadin with the desire to actually play Magic this weekend.

    Steve Sadin came to play!
    Steve was the first one on the board with a Kitchen Finks, but his opponent focused on building up his manabase with Coldsteel Heart set to blue. It appeared the Buenos Aires native was playing Reveillark, but it wasn’t completely clear. A Bonded Fetch from the Argentinean spelled things out a bit louder.

    The Fetch eventually stranded a Reveillark in the graveyard, and Fernando was happy to land a Body Double copying the 4/3. Not to be outdone, Sadin hit the faux-Reveillark with an Oblivion Ring before crashing into his opponent with a Kitchen Finks and Chameleon Colossus. That left the totals at 20-10 in Sadin’s favor.

    Steve continued to put the pressure on, but was dismayed when his next attack step yielded a Venser from his opponent. That bounced Oblivion Ring returning Body Double. The Double copied Reveillark, and by the time combat was over nearly every creature on Steve’s board was dead and Orge had managed to return a Venser and his Body Double copying Reveillark. That led to some confusion in which Sadin wasn’t completely clear the Body Double could return itself. After consulting with a judge, he still wasn’t sure and asked to verify the call with the head judge.

    After getting the interaction cleared up, Orge wasted no time setting up the Reveillark loop. With Steve tapped out from the attack, Fernando had nothing to worry about as he evoked a Mulldrifter and suspended a Greater Gargadon. From there it was a simple matter of creating a loop of sacrifices to the Gargadon in order to bounce all of Steve’s permanents with Venser. Once it was apparent his opponent knew how to go through the motions, Steve conceded.

    Fernando Orge: 1, Steve Sadin: 0

    A Thoughtseize from Steve nabbed his opponent’s Teferi’s Moat, and a turn 3 Doran, the Siege Tower put out a hefty clock. Unfortunately for Steve, Fernando had managed to draw a Sower of Temptation which stole the 0/5. Steve had a follow-up Chameleon Colossus, but it was looking like taking the draw might have been a better play for the New Yorker.

    Fernando Orge remained unintimidated
    Back-to-back Mulldrifters kept Fernando loaded with cards while Steve had to contend with the fact he knew his opponent was holding at least one counter in the form of a Pact of Negation Sadin saw on his first turn Thoughtseize. Sure enough when the American attempted a Mind Shatter for four his opponent used the Pact. A Mulldrifter and a Sower of Temptation kept attacking through the air and Steve was at a paltry 5 life.

    Fernando gave no indication he was intimidated by the American pro, though a tiny bit of nervousness could be detected as he said “Okay” to each of Steve’s spells, waiting for the final, critical removal spell to counter, guaranteeing his success. When Orge flipped a final Rune Snag, Steve calmly nodded and extended his hand, offering a good luck to his opponent for Day 2.

    Fernando Orge defeats Steve Sadin 2-0.

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