Braga Outlasts Record Competition in Buenos Aires!

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What a weekend! The largest South American Grand Prix on the history books, and one for the ages. Nearly 600 players showed up from all over the world to take their shot at earning some of the Summer Series’ additional Grand Prix prize support, but only one emerged victorious! To get there Francisco Braga had to face some tough competition in the form of professional players both locally and abroad arriving to rain on his parade.

Of course, the true story of the weekend was the utter dominance of the supposed “pros” at the hands of a contingent of South American players. Only Olivier Ruel survived to the Top 8 where he quickly succumbed in the quarterfinals. It was Damian Buckley who held the honor of being the last member of the home country standing, falling to eventual finalist Felipe Alves Pelligrini in the semifinals to set up a championship match between two Brazilians. Pelligrini’s innovative take on Monored Storm turned heads all weekend, but fancy outside-the-box thinking wasn’t enough to get him through a wall named Francisco Braga. Braga’s black-green Elves list echoed Charlie Gindy’s success from Pro Tour-Hollywood and the little tribe that could did, adding yet another championship title to its already impressive resume.

Francisco Braga is your 2008 Grand Prix-Buenos Aires champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Ivan Taroshi Fox   Damian Buckley, 2-0        
8 Damian Buckley   Felipe Alves Pellegrini, 2-1.
       
4 Nicolas Bevacqua   Felipe Alves Pellegrini, 2-1   Francisco Braga, 2-0.
5 Felipe Alves Pellegrini    
       
2 Adrien Degaspare   Adrien Gustavo, 2-1
7 Olivier Ruel   Francisco Braga, 2-1
       
3 Francisco Braga   Francisco Braga, 2-1
6 Sebastian Pozzo    

EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION

  • Finals: Felipe Alves Pellegrini vs Francisco Braga
    By Bill Stark
  • Semifinals: Adrien Degaspare vs Francisco Braga
    By Nate Price
  • Semifinals: Damian Buckley vs Felipe Alves Pellegrini
    By Bill Stark
  • Quarterfinals: Olivier Ruel vs Adrien Degaspare
    By Nate Price
  • Quarterfinals: Nicolas Bevacqua vs Felipe Alves Pellegrini
    By Nate Price
  • Quarterfinals: Sebastian Pozzo vs Francisco Braga
    By Bill Stark
  • Quarterfinals: Damian Buckley vs Ivan Taroshi Fox
    By Bill Stark
  • Quart de finale: Olivier Ruel vs Adrien Degaspare
    Remi Fortier
  • Info: Top 8 Player Profiles
    By Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog: 4:28 - Metagame Breakdown
    By Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 14 - Nicolas Bevacqua vs Daniele Daversa
    By Bill Stark
  • Feature Match: Round 13 - Eduardo Borges vs. Felipe Alves
    by Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 12 - Julio Bernabe vs Brett Blackman
    by Bill Stark
  • Blog: 1:23 - Deck Tech: Monored with Shuhei Nakamura
    by Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 11 - Francisco Braga vs. Olivier Ruel
    by Nate Price
  • Blog: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Feature Match: Round 10 - Paulo Ricardo Cortez vs. Francisco Braga
    by Nate Price
  • Blog: Grand Prix-Buenos Aires Photo Essay 1
    by Bill Stark and Nate Price
  • Feature Match: Round 9 - Santiago Guzzetti vs Olivier Ruel
    by Bill Stark

  • Info: Day 1 Blog Archive - Featured Match Coverage, Speaking with the Locals, Ask the Pros and more!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Francisco Braga $4,000
 2.  Felipe Alves Pellegrini $3,000
 3.  Adrien Degaspare $2,000
 4.  Damian Buckley $2,000
 5.  Ivan Taroshi Fox $1,500
 6.  Olivier Ruel $1,500
 7.  Nicolas Bevacqua $1,500
 8.  Sebastian Pozzo $1,500
Pairings Results Standings
Final
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  • Feature Match: Round 9 - Santiago Guzzetti vs Olivier Ruel
    by Bill Stark
  • Both these players had managed to end the first day of play with perfect records, and Santiago awoke to find himself at the very top of the standings. He opened the game by suspending back-to-back Ancestral Visions, but a series of Careful Considerations ensured Olivier would be able to keep up. The Argentinean was representing Faeries, but he wasn't doing much in the form of actually playing the pesky critters. Olivier, meanwhile, focused on resolving a Mulldrifter. The two players sat in silence, though whether that was from lack of sleep the night before, a language barrier, or simply trying to concentrate under the lights of Day 2 remained to be seen.

    Olivier Ruel
    When Olivier played a Kitchen Finks, Santiago made his first Faerie of the game in the form of Sower of Temptation, sneaking the 3/2 onto his side of the board. Olivier didn't seem concerned after playing not one but two Wall of Roots, and the two players moved the game along slowly, Santiago trying to make Faeries, Olivier trying to disrupt that.

    Eventually the Frenchman decided to "go for it", opting to make a Cloudthresher during his opponent's upkeep. A pair of Rune Snags traded, then a surprise Pact of Negation sealed the deal for Ruel, allowing him to outmaneuver both his opponent's spells and lands. At 13 life at the start of the turn, Guzzetti fell to 12 from a Bitterblossom, then 10 from Cloudthresher. Tapped out from his counters he had no choice but to concede as the Cloudthresher alongside Ruel's re-stolen Kitchen Finks threatened lethal damage. The outcome caught the crowd pressed in to watch off guard, but Santiago revealed no emotions. [insert image align right "FM9_Santiago Guzzetti" cap: The stoic Santiago Guzzetti]

    Olivier Ruel: 1, Santiago Guzzetti: 0

    On the play for the second, Santiago came out of the gates with the best second turn his deck could muster in Bitterblossom. Ruel pouted his lip but shrugged, unable to counter the troublesome enchantment on a single land. Guzzetti's third turn brought a suspended Ancestral Visions, and Olivier could only evoke a Mulldrifter in the hopes of keeping up with his opponent.

    Santiago Guzzetti
    Santiago's army grew incrementally each turn, and Olivier's efforts to stem the bleeding were met with counters. His comes-into-play-tapped lands ensured he couldn't find the spare mana to pay for his opponent's Rune Snags, and a Spellstutter Sprite hopped into play to counter as well. Things weren't looking good for the Frenchman.

    Or so it seemed. The wily pro had actually been bleeding his opponent's counters out while building up the manabase to play Cloudthresher. The 7/7 hopped into play during Santiago's upkeep, just prior to Ancestral Visions resolving. Santiago shrugged and scooped up his team, placing them in the graveyard. It was a small victory for Olivier who still had a Bitterblossom and an opponent who had just netted three additional cards to deal with.

    It took two more draw steps for Olivier to realize the inevitable, and he scooped it up to the impending 1/1 Faerie Rogue doom.

    Olivier Ruel: 1, Santiago Guzzetti: 1

    The crowd of onlookers swelled as the players headed into the rubber game where things started off very slowly for Santiago. He made some early land drops, but had no creatures or pressure to speak of while Olivier quickly jumped ahead on the land front thanks to double copies of Wall of Roots and a Dreadship Reef he was able to repeatedly charge. Ruel put so much value in maintaining that advantage, in fact, that when his opponent attempted to Cryptic Command the Reef, Ruel spent a Rune Snag to keep it on the board.

    The next counter battle came just a short time later over Olivier's Careful Consideration. Santiago attempted to Rune Snag for four and while Olivier had the four mana, he opted to play Cryptic Command to cantrip the Coldsnap common instead. Santiago simply shrugged and played a second Rune Snag. Olivier considered how important his blue "sorcery" was, then decided to Pact of Negation the second Snag, winning the resource battle. Santiago still had yet to play an actual Faerie, though an early attack with a Mutavault had put the totals at 20-18 in his favor.

    A Thoughtseize from Santiago revealed some trouble: his opponent's hand was total gas featuring two Cloudthreshers, Slaughter Pact, Careful Consideration, and Crovax, Ascendant Hero. Santiago had his hands full, but despite being in his first feature match, his face didn't belie any emotions. Olivier may have been the seasoned pro in the match, but the Argentinean certainly wasn't going to let it bother him.

    In the background an announcement was made regarding sign-up for the day's PTQ and the crowd watching the game dwindled.

    Santiago was able to counter Ruel's second Cloudthresher after his Thoughtseize had nabbed the first, but Ruel's Careful Consideration resolved and was followed up by Crovax. With no attacking force in play Santiago was not in good shape. He tried to get something going, and a long complicated stack arose over his Mistbind Clique at the end of Olivier's turn. When all was said and done, Olivier had managed to counter the 4/4 (3/3 thanks to Crovax) and both players were nearly out of cards. Guzzetti still had an Ancestral Visions counting down, but it looked like it would be too little too late as Olivier got to refuel first with a Mulldrifter. [insert image left align "FM9_Olivier Ruel" cap: Globetrotter Olivier Ruel]

    Olivier's next play was a wild one as he tapped seven mana to plunk a Platinum Angel onto the table. At just 5 life, Santiago seemed to be drawing dead, but a series of fortunate Cryptic Commands might be able to buy him some time. It was all down to what his Ancestral Visions could provide. Unfortunately for Guzzetti, Ruel had the Pact of Negation and when the top card of the Argentinean's deck wasn't a miracle, he extended his hand.

    Olivier Ruel defeats Santiago Guzzetti 2-1.



     
  • Grand Prix-Buenos Aires Photo Essay 1
    by Bill Stark and Nate Price
  • Planeswalkers. A familiar site wherever Magic is played.

    Luchadore, or Magic player?

    The view from the top

    Pro Tour-Valencia champion Remi Fortier

    Taking opponent intimidating seriously

    Artist in residence Matt Cavotta

    The judges headed by Scott Marshall (in red)

    The 'stoop' outside the tournament hall

    American Brett Blackman with Chilean friend Julio Bernabe

    We hope that price is in pesos...

    How Sistine...

    Sporting the local fashion



     
  • Feature Match: Round 10 - Paulo Ricardo Cortez vs. Francisco Braga
    by Nate Price
  • Based on the relative success of its players, Brazil is probably the most successful South American country in all of Magic. Players like Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Carlos Romão have been consistent winners on the Pro Tour for a while now. Considering that Brazil Is only a three to four hour flight away from Argentina, it is no surprise that a large contingent of Brazilian players have made the trek down. This round features Francisco Braga, a veteran Pro Tour player, against an up and coming Brazilian player, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, who is looking to break into his first Top 8, and is looking strong so far this weekend.

    Paulo Ricardo Cortez
    Cortez started down a card on the play, but quickly planned to get the advantage back. He found a six-card hand that started with Ancestral Vision, which has a tendency to erase the disadvantage of a mulligan. He also had a Spellstutter Sprite for Braga's second turn Boreal Druid, setting him back a turn and gaining an attacker in the process. Braga had a Civic Wayfinder on his following turn, but it was very quickly trumped by the Mistbind Clique that Cortez played during Braga's upkeep. A Bitterblossom on his own turn gave him the clear advantage in this game.

    Braga tried to increase his creature count to try and race with Cortez. He managed to sneak a Wren's Run Vanquisher through, but his Tarmogoyf met a Rune Snag. Cortez played a second Bitterblossom, which should help him produce enough faeries that Braga wouldn't be able to get through. Braga tried to play a Garruk Wildspeaker, which could overrun his team past the tiny faeries, but a second Rune Snag from Cortez foiled that plan. With the Mistbind Clique beating since the fourth turn, Braga was perilously low. All Cortez had to do was untap, activate a Faerie Conclave, and send his fliers in for the last eight damage.

    Paulo Ricardo Cortez 1 - Francisco Braga 0

    Braga started this game off at a much greater pace. A Gilt-Leaf Palace revealed a first-turn Llanowar Elf, which he used to power out a second-turn Imperious Perfect. Cortez was prepared with a Terror for the Perfect, which slowed Braga down. Despite the setback, Braga had another Perfect on the following turn, which was again met by a Terror from Cortez. Talk about perfect. Cortez also had a Pendelhaven to Strip Mine Braga down to four mana sources.

    Francisco Braga
    Four mana sources were all he would need, though, because that's all it takes to cast Chameleon Colossus. Cortez had an Ancestral Vision and a Bitterblossom on his turn, but the black faerie tokens weren't going to be able to stand in front of the Colossus. However, when Braga tried to play a Civic Wayfinder, Cortez was ready with a Cryptic Command to counter it and bounce the offending Colossus. Despite his best efforts, though, Cortez just couldn't stop it when Braga just replayed it. Without some sort of removal or even creatures that could block the big guy, the Colossus was free to smash Cortez into oblivion, which it gladly did.

    Paulo Ricardo Cortez 1 - Francisco Braga 1

    These games had gone at a fairly rapid pace, leaving no room for a late game. Either Braga got his ground attack going, or Cortez got his air attack going. Either way, the other couldn't really do anything once they'd been put on the defensive.

    For this last game, Cortez kept a questionable hand containing a Terror and six lands. I know this, because Braga played Thoughtseize on the first turn to strip Cortez of his only spell. A Civic Wayfinder hit the board with no opposition from Cortez, and looked poised to run right into Cortez's Mutavault. Braga also sent his Mutavault into the fray, and Cortez chose to trade the two lands up. Braga drew a replacement Mutavault, and was content to just attack and make Cortez break the ice.

    And break the ice he did. Razormane Masticore is pretty good against the Elf deck, I've been told. Good enough that Braga had to Slaughter p=Pact it before it could start to do any real damage. Cortez was sitting on two Mutavaults now, but hadn't added any non-land permanents to the board. Braga had the man-land advantage (man-landvantage?), though, as he matched Cortez's two Mutavaults, but added a Treetop Village to his credit.

    When Braga sent his Treetop Village in, Cortez traded one of his Mutavaults for it. When Braga followed that up by sending his Mutavaults in, Cortez flashed out a Spellstutter Sprite, which, thanks to Pendelhaven, ate a Mutavault and lived to tell the tale. The occasional 2/3 was now poised to rule the board, and severely slow Braga down. Attempts at an Imperious Perfect and Squall Line were met with Rune Snag and Flashfreeze respectively. By this point, though, Braga's Civic Wayfinder had gotten in enough beats that Cortez was quite low, and with his store of business dried up, a Slaughter Pact was able to force through the last points of damage.

    Paulo Ricardo Cortez 1 - Francisco Braga 2



     
  • Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Francisco Braga
    Day 1 Undefeated Decklists



    Santiago Guzzetti
    Day 1 Undefeated Decklists



     
  • Feature Match: Round 11 - Francisco Braga vs. Olivier Ruel
    by Nate Price
  • Olivier's always ready for the camera.
    Olivier made it to the table first, and we chatted a bit about how his weekend had gone thus far.

    "Things have been going so well for me in this tournament. I keep getting match-ups I want. The decks I don't want to play keep putting themselves in another bracket. I'll be happy playing against Elves and Faeries all day."

    Luckily for him, his opponent this round, Francisco Braga came to the table bearing an Elf deck that Ruel's updated Quick 'n Toast deck was itching to play against.

    "Can I say hi to my father," Olivier asked me as he was shuffling for the first game? "He always says that I say hi to everyone but him. And tell him I'm sorry I didn't get him a gift for Father's Day, I'll get him something from Argentina."

    The players shook hands, wished each other a good match, and prepared themselves for the first turn. Braga had to mulligan, but his next six were far more suitable. He found a first-turn Llanowar Elves, and a second-turn Thoughtseize, stripping Ruel of a Careful Consideration. He also found that Ruel had a Wall of Roots and a Rune Snag in his hand, so when Ruel chose not to play the wall on the following turn, Braga decided to bait the Snag with a Wayfinder. That left him free and clear to play a Chameleon Colossus on the following turn.

    The Chameleon colossus creates q pretty decent problem for Ruel's deck, since it's only way to really remove it is via Cryptic Command. When Braga smashed in with the Colossus, and Ruel had no effects, Braga chose to risk the Command and pump it. Ruel didn't have the Command, and Braga dropped the Frenchman to ten.

    Braga has some thinking to do.
    When Braga brought the pain on the next turn, Ruel played a Cloudthresher to block it. This forced Braga to use even more mana, and denied him the chance to build his army. Ruel was trying to buy himself as many turns as possible before ridding himself of the Colossus. When Braga went for an attack on the next turn, Ruel finally Commanded the Colossus away, after Braga tried to pump it.

    Braga, wary of a counterspell, chose to play a Wren's Run Vanquisher instead of the Colossus. When Ruel Firespouted to clear the board on the following turn, Braga took advantage of the opportunity to replay the Colossus. Ruel found some blockers for it in the form of Mulldrifter and Kitchen Finks, which would hold down the fort nicely until Ruel could either deal with Braga or his colossus. A second Finks gave him even more turns, as well as some much needed life.

    Eventually, Ruel had enough mana to play the Platinum Angel he'd been holding since his initial draw. This effectively neutralized the colossus, as well as giving Ruel a way to kill Braga. When Braga played his last card on the following turn, an Imperious Perfect, Ruel went for the throat. He played a Cloudthresher at end of turn, reducing himself to zero life and Braga to six. He then Slaughter Pacted the Perfect, which was Braga's lone blocker, and attacked with his two large men.

    Francisco Braga 0 - Olivier Ruel 1

    Green creatures can't swim.
    Game 2 looked to be starting in impressive fashion for Braga, who was now down a game. He had a Wren's Run Vanquisher to go around Ruel's Wall of Roots, and a Tarmogoyf on the following turn. However, he failed to find a third land early, and was forced to sit on his two men and attack for three each turn. Unfortunately, that all came to a stop when Ruel dropped a Teferi's Moat into play and named Braga's deck for the color.

    Braga tried to keep Ruel from pulling too far ahead with a Thoughtseize, but saw that he didn't really have to. Ruel held only a Firespout and four lands. As he prepared to draw his card, Ruel put his best jazz hands in motion and yelled "Consideration" to try to coax one out of his deck. His deck apparently didn't hear him, and provided him with another land. When he tried the same trick on the next turn, though, he found a shiny Careful Consideration staring him in the face. "Yes! It worked this time!"

    Now able to flush some of the lands from his hand for a few useful cards, Ruel looked to have the advantage. Braga had a Garruk for his next play, but even the planeswalker couldn't force a way across the Moat. He was content, however, to keep playing creatures and building up his Garruk's loyalty. Eventually, an attempted Thoughtseize was dismissed by a Cryptic Command, but it was only a temporary break in the inaction.

    Ruel finally played a Mulldrifter, giving the board its first creature able to attack. Ruel looked over at me during the next few turns of attacking for two and growing Garruk and commented, "You must be having fun." Then, realizing that I was writing this match by hand now, he cheered, "Low Battery! We did it," and pointed to my newly powered-down computer. I can't believe they got me so good!

    The real break came a few turns later. Braga quickly aimed a Krosan Grip at Ruel's Teferi's Moat. "Just make sure you let me know before you attack," Ruel requested. Braga did just that after using his incredibly loyal Garruk to Overrun his troops. Ruel simply shrugged and quietly said "ok." This prompted a quizzical "ok?" from Braga. "Seriously," Ruel responded with a slightly depressed chuckle. Braga turned all his me clockwise and let Ruel declare his blockers. A Slaughter Pact and insufficient amount of toughness later, and Ruel looked wistfully at his deck and chided it for not providing him, well, anything, really.

    Francisco Braga 1 - Olivier Ruel 1

    I promise you, all of these will be in play at some point.
    For the final game, Braga was forced to mulligan to six. While he was shuffling his deck, Ruel went ahead and put a card face-down, tapped, and with two counters on it. Which vivid land could this be? After Braga resolved his mulligan, Ruel revealed it to be a Vivid Grove and passed the turn. For his next trick, he grew a Wall of Roots, providing him some extra mana, as well as a defense against Braga's Mutavault.

    Braga hit hard on the next turn, though. A Thoughtseize stripped a Teferi's Moat from a hand containing Rune Snag, Damnation, Platinum Angel, and a Mystic Gate. Now, Braga got to deal with a Moat without using a Grip and was well informed about how to play the coming turns. He chose to keep his force small, relying on only a Mutavault, Llanowar Elves, and Civic Wayfinder to do his dirty work. This was giving Ruel some time to draw some cards, but it didn't appear to be happening. Ruel was forced to double Rune Snag a Garruk Wildspeaker, but he didn't have any answers for the threats on board except the Damnation in his hand, and that would hurt him more than help him since he was trying to get to Angel mana.

    It's time to play Guess the Vivid Land!
    Ruel bought himself some time a couple of turns later when he Cryptic Commanded a Treetop Village back to Braga's hand. This gave him the couple turn reprieve he needed to drop a Platinum Angel into play. However, Braga had a Profane Command to kill the Angel, once again leaving Ruel vulnerable. After drawing yet another useless card, he chuckled, "c'est une blague ce match," lamenting the fact that his deck had failed to provide anything of value when he needed it. After taking a hit to one, Ruel drew his card and conceded.

    Zut.

    Francisco Braga 2 - Olivier Ruel 1



     
  • Sunday, 1:23: Deck Tech: Monored with Shuhei Nakamura
    by Nate Price
  • Shuuhei shows off his deck.
    I had the pleasure of talking with Shuhei Nakamura today between rounds about his fairly unique deck. He and Tomoharu Saito, the only two Japanese players in the tournament, are the only ones playing this version of this deck, and they both piloted it to a berth on Sunday.

    After laying his deck out, I asked him to tell me a little about it. I had heard rumblings during the early rounds of the tournament yesterday that the Japanese players were running some, for lack of a better word, unique card choices. Immediately after I asked him about his deck, Shuhei laughed and pointed straight at the Ashenmoor Gougers and said, "I don't like this card."

    I found that really funny, because the main thing I'd heard about the deck leading up to the first time I got to see it in action was that it was running "the 4/4 can't block guy." No one even referred to it by its name. Now I heard that one of the things that made his deck unique was something he didn't really enjoy in the long run. He explained that before going to Indianapolis last week, he had been staying in Tokyo when Saito had called him up.

    "Shuhei! I have a good deck! This deck is perfect!" After that, Shuhei just laughed, pointed to the Gouger, and said, "Perfect." He did explain what made it a worthy inclusion in the deck. "It doesn't die to Terror, Nameless Inversion, Slaughter Pact, and Firespout. But I'd still rather have Tattermunge Maniac. This deck has very few two drops. It needs more to do on turn two."

    Perfect.
    The other card that spices the deck up from a normal red deck is the Demigod of Revenge. The Demigod frequently functions as a burn spell, as well as a potential blocker for dire circumstances. It also lives through the same spells that can't kill the Gouger.

    Ultimately, the deck plays out much less like the hyper aggressive red decks from Hollywood. It plays a very controlling game with Magus of the Scroll and Magus of the Moon and relies primarily on a few larger creatures to make up the majority of the creature based damage. It can aim burn spells and the Magus of the Scroll at opponents to finish them off, but they're often aimed at offensive creatures to clear the path as the Demigods take them down.

    Shuhei sits at 8-3 going into the next round, and needs to win out to make the Top 8.



     
  • Feature Match: Round 12 Julio Bernabe vs Brett Blackman
    by Bill Stark
  • Brett Blackman was the sole American to make the cut to Day 2, having done so on the back of his Faeries deck. Julio Bernabe was the Chilean national champion in 2006, but more importantly Julio and Brett are friends from the world of Magic Online. The two players had met up on Friday night after arriving at the tournament site to catch up with one another with Julio even providing some tips for Brett regarding places to eat and sites to see. Now they were reduced to playing with a loss for either guaranteeing they couldn't make Top 8.

    "So you're playing 61 cards?" Julio teased his friend as they sat down to the match. "Why?"

    Blackman could only shrug, embarrassed. The true story was that he had simply mis-counted his deck when he registered, accidentally including an extra Island in his list. As they presented their decks for cutting, the judges swooped in. "Deck check?" Brett asked. As the judges took the player's decks away, Julio reassured his friend and opponent.

    "They always deck check me," the Chilean pointed out. "In Hollywood, they deck checked me two rounds in a row, and in Kuala Lumpur too!"

    Former Chile National Champ Julio Bernabe

    "That's nothing," Blackman replied, "I once got deck checked five rounds in a row at a JSS!"

    After their decks were returned, the two players offered each other a hearty handshake and dual "Good lucks." Because Brett had won the die roll he got to play first, which proved critical. He was able to suspend an Ancestral Vision right out of the gates, protecting it from Julio's first turn Thoughtseize. Brett followed up that start with a Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique, and Julio fell behind losing a Wren's Run Vanquisher to Terror and suffering from a lack of options against Brett's ever-increasing army and (presumed) wall of counterspells.

    Julio tried to dig his way out with a Tarmogoyf, but Brett's air force dropped the Buenos Aires resident to 8 life. That left Bernabe looking to the top of his deck and when he didn't find anything useful there, he scooped his cards up. The game felt like it had ended before it even began.

    Brett Blackman: 1, Julio Bernabe: 0

    The American started off with a mulligan while Julio Bernabe burst out of the gates on the back of Llanowar Elves. The 1/1 powered out a turn 2 Imperious Perfect, but Brett was quick to stymie that plan with a Terror. A Kitchen Finks soon followed for Bernabe, and after some quick attacks the totals stood 21-13 in his favor.

    Still, Blackman slowly tried to crawl into the game. A Spellstutter Sprite managed to snag a Tarmogoyf, and a follow-up Loxodon Warhammer made things look pretty good for the plucky Pennsylvanian. That changed quickly, however, when Julio untapped and attacked Brett to 8, then followed up with a Primal Command to put the Warhammer back on top and search up a Cloudthresher, Blackman conceded to get to a third game.

    Brett Blackman: 1, Julio Bernabe: 1

    The happy-go-lucky Brett Blackman
    Brett started the third game just as he started the second, by throwing his seven card hand back for six. Blackman and Bernabe sat in stark contrast with one another, Blackman nervously twitching and bouncing around while Bernabe calmly sat, posture perfect, and shuffled the cards around in his hand to determine whether he should mulligan.

    Both players were out of the gates quickly for the third game, Brett with a Bitterblossom and Julio with a Boreal Druid into Imperious Perfect. Julio had managed a Pendelhaven as his second land, but Brett killed it with a copy of his own, then evened the board out when Julio attacked by blocking Imperious Perfect with Mutavault and the Boreal Druid with a Faerie Rogue token.

    The game quickly turned into a race with both players short on land. A second Bitterblossom joined the team for Blackman while Bernabe's board increased to the tune of a Tarmogoyf and Chameleon Colossus. The life totals stood 12-11 in Blackman's favor, but his mana was in much worse shape than his opponent's and he needed some help to survive the match. With two Cryptic Commands in hand but only two blue sources of mana in play, Brett needed a land.

    Julio wasn't about to go down without a fight. He used a Thoughtseize to cut the number of Cryptic Commands in his opponent's hand in half. That dropped the Chilean to 9 life, and when Brett managed to draw a Secluded Glen Bernabe let out an out-of-character groan of disbelief. The race was going to be very tight.

    As the game's intensity increased, both players showed signs of stress. Julio had to go deep into the tank to consider each of his plays. His opponent, coughing hoarsely, requested a glass of water. A spare judge watching the match acquiesced. It was time for the big turn.

    Julio declared an attack step, forcing Brett to blow his Cryptic Command. Blackman tapped each of Julio's creatures, but because Julio had two Treetop Villages and a Mutavault, Brett had to bounce one of the Treetops to survive. Bernabe simply tapped the creature-land for a mana, activated the other Village and Mutavault, and forced Brett to chump block. By doing so he drastically reduced the number of creatures Brett controlled and guaranteed Blackman couldn't win unless there was a Scion of Oona on top of his library. When it didn't appear, Brett simply shook his head and extended his hand to his friend.

    Julio Bernabe defeats Brett Blackman 2-1.



     
  • Feature Match: Round 13 - Eduardo Borges vs. Felipe Alves
    by Nate Price
  • 1+2+1+1 is. . .
    Felipe Alves was a man on a mission. He came into this event with no byes and sits here just two wins away from a Top 8 finish. Not bad for the man they call Fanfarrão in Brazil. The first hurdle he has to overcome in these final rounds is a man who refuses to be beaten or out-nicknamed. Eduardo "Shooter" Borges (fyi, everyone in Brazil has a nickname) was looking to head off Alves and etch his own name on a seat at the final table.

    Alves won the die roll and chose to go first. He started with a Mountain and a Lotus Bloom, which slowly started to unsuspend. A second soon joined, and it appeared that he would have a ton of mana at his disposal quite soon. Borges started some suspense of his own, and in a few turns, his two Ancestral Visions would provide him a ton of cards.

    The first Bloom came out of suspense and was met by a Spellstutter Sprite. Alves had only two lands at this point, though one was a constantly charging Fungal Reaches. Borges had a Cryptic Command for the second Bloom, and Alves was looking way behind. A Mistbind Clique came into play for Borges, but Alves had a Shock and a Shard Volley for both of Borges' faeries, which forced Borges to sacrifice his Clique.

    Though set back a little bit, Borges' Visions were unsuspending and filling up his hand with gas, while Alves was stuck on two lands. A couple of Scions of Oona gave Borges' entire army shroud, and between the two of them and a Mutavault, Alves went down fast.

    Eduardo Borges 1 - Felipe Alves 0

    Borges gives Alves the death stare.
    That game had the potential to go far differently had Borges let one of the Blooms slip through. But with no land, Alves had no game once they were dealt with.

    Alves began the second game by hiding a card away with his Spinerock Knoll. Borges wasn't hiding anything, and his Faerie deck provided him the ideal turn-one Vision, turn-two Bitterblossom start. Alves had a Magus of the Moon to slow things down, but Borges had drawn an island and Swamp to suspend another Ancestral Vision and allow him to continue to cast spells.

    The first of those spells he cast was a Mistbind Clique during Alves' upkeep. He then had a third Ancestral Vision to suspend the following turn. Alves looked to be hurting, and he started to think far more before deciding his plays. He was stuck on four lands, while Borges had five and a full hand of cards thanks to his Ancestral Vision. Alves had a Lotus Bloom coming off suspension next turn, but there was no guaranteeing that it would ever get there.

    When the Bloom did manage to get into play on the following turn, Alves sprang into action. He used it to play a Pyromancer's Swath, and paid for an attempted Rune Snag. He then played a Manamorphose, two Rites of Flame, and a Tarfire before aiming a bunch of large Grapeshots squarely at Borges' head. Borges couldn't do anything but watch the torrent of Lightning Bolts coming out of the storm.

    Eduardo Borges 1 - Felipe Alves 1

    Felipe started the final game off with another hideaway land. Borges, on the other side, had a Mutavault and decided to attack on his second turn. Neither player played a spell until Borges decided to try to use Cryptic Command to bounce a Fungal reaches with four counters on it. Alves had a Guttural Response to that.

    Alves, glowing in victory.
    The first lasting contribution to the board came in a pair of Bitterblossoms that Borges sighed as he played. Next turn, he attacked Alves down to twelve with his Mutavaults, but that would be as low as he would go. On his next turn, he took advantage of the fact that Borges only had one blue source available to go for the kill. He started with a Shock aimed at Borges' head. That led to a Grapeshot for two which in turn fed an Ignite Memory. Borges had a Rune Snag for the Ignite, which Alves paid. Ultimately, it effectively countered the Ignite Memory, though, since it left Borges with only an Island in his hand. The spell count was high enough now that the last two cards in Alves' hand, a Pyromancer's Swath and Grapeshot, were enough to seal the deal amidst scores of cheers for the resilient Brazilian player.

    Eduardo Borges 1 - Rafael Alves 2

     
  • Feature Match: Round 14 - Nicolas Bevacqua vs Daniele Daversa
    By Bill Stark
  • Saturday’s blog coverage featured an Argentinean by the name of Nicolas Bevacqua with a unique problem. Mr. Bevacqua keeps finishing in 9th place. When the final round’s pairings went up, who should be in contention for the Top 8 but none other than Mr. Bevacqua himself. With a win he would have the chance to compete for the title but a loss? A loss of course meant he was at risk to finish in 9th yet again.

    Standing in his way, and rightfully seeking an opportunity to battle for the title himself, was Venezuelan Daniele Daversa. Daniele came to the Grand Prix from his hometown in Valencia and was one of many South American players to loudly demonstrate their ability to compete in the competitive limelight. As an added bonus, Daversa even managed to win the die roll.

    Nicolas Bevacqua tries to break his curse
    He wasted no time in getting on the board leading with a second turn Wren’s Run Vanquisher. Nicolas’ red-blue-white Reveillark deck wasn’t exactly intimidated by a single 3/3, but if his mana stumbled and/or he couldn’t find the right resources at the right times his card advantage machine would never kick in and he could be overrun by his opponent’s black-green Elves deck. In an effort to slow the pace down, Bevacqua made a Kitchen Finks on his third turn.

    The players built up their board positions, with Daniele adding a Tarmogoyf and two Mutavaults, and Nicolas working to build up his manabase. He knew that the longer the game went, the more favored he was to win it, and he wanted to do everything in his power to slow the action down. A Mulldrifter, hardcast so as to be able to chump block, went a long way to that end boosting Bevacqua’s hand size, guaranteeing future land drops, and disrupting the combat step. When he was able to use an evoked Reveillark to return the 2/2 and his Venser to play, Daniele could only grimace.

    The Venezuelan continued trying to beat down, but each combat step failed to get through relevant points of damage, and cost Daversa more and more Mutavaults while his opponent simply kept reloading. When Nicolas played a Reveillark and suspended a Greater Gargadon all in one turn, Daversa quickly scooped to get to the second game.

    Nicolas Bevacqua: 1, Daniele Daversa: 0

    Daniele wasted no time trying to regain his footing in the second game by coming right out of the gate with Llanowar Elves, Wren’s Run Vanquisher, and a Tarmogoyf (albeit a 0/1 Tarmogoyf). For backup he also had a Mutavault waiting in the wings. The 2/2 creature-land would likely play a prominent role in the matchup as Nicolas was sandbagging a Wrath of God he used on his fourth turn to reset the board. Pouting his lower lip Daniele nodded and scooped up his team.

    A Thoughtseize from Daversa revealed bad things coming as a look at Bevacqua’s hand showed Reveillarks, land, a second Wrath of God, and a Sower of Temptation. The one thing the Venezuelan Daversa had going for him was the fact he had whittled his opponent down to just 8 life, made 5 on a second attack. While Nicolas’ board position and potential seemed much stronger, he was in danger of simply losing to brute tempo from his opponent.

    A Reveillark from Bevacqua gummed up the ground and Daniele got in for his last few points to drop his opponent to 1. If he wanted to win via combat, he was going to need evasive creatures or more creatures than his opponent. Considering Nicolas had a Mulldrifter waiting in the wings and that Daniele was simply drawing blanks, that didn’t seem likely.

    Bevacqua played his Mulldrifter, but hesitated on how to spend his mana. He eventually opted to spend all his mana except Mind Stone so that he could cantrip if he hit a land from the top of his library. When he saw his two cards, however, he immediately berated himself. A Greater Gargadon from the top meant if he had left up his Vivid Creek he could have won then and there, looping Reveillark with Murderous Redcap and a Body Double in the graveyard. Instead he gave his opponent one more turn to hit Profane Command.

    Daniele Daversa tries to keep his opponent in 9th
    Daniele drew, but whiffed. After passing back, however, he didn’t immediately concede, forcing his opponent to go through the motions of going off. When Nicolas began the combo, Daniele flashed a Faerie Macabre, hitting the Murderous Redcap and Body Double. That forced Nicolas to reconsider his plans for the turn, but he still had enough blockers for Daniele’s team and a Greater Gargadon on just four suspend counters.

    The game had become very tense. Every draw Daniele got was one step closer to winning, and Nicolas seemed a bit frustrated that a game he had nearly won was just out of his grasp thanks to a mistake. There was no doubt, however, that he was in control of things, barring a fortunate draw for his opponent. Greater Gargadon continued ticking down, and a Reveillark hopped in to join Bevacqua’s team as well.

    With one final draw, Daniele paused before revealing the card. A single card, a single play, was all that separated Nicolas Bevacqua from being able to play in the Top 8 or provide Daversa the chance to keep playing. The Venezuelan carefully flicked the corner of the card, slid it up slightly at an angle...then dejectedly flipped a land onto the table.

    Nicolas Bevacqua defeats Daniele Daversa 2-0.

     
  • Metagame Breakdown
    By Nate Price
  • Well, after the dust had settled on Day one, we were left with the top 64 decks from the field. Pretty much as predicted yesterday, Faeries and BG Elves were the strongest competitors, winning money for just over one third of the Day two competitors. Following close behind, though, were Reveillark, Merfolk, and RG Snow. While not quite as popular as Faeries and Elves, they still made a strong showing, and accounted for nearly the same number of competitors. The rest of the field was a mish-mash of the other decks available from the card pool. If it’s a deck that you saw in Hollywood, someone is playing it here at Day two of Grand Prix-Buenos Aires.

    Here’s the complete Day two breakdown:

    Faeries – 14
    BG Elves – 12
    Merfolk – 8
    RG Snow – 8
    Reveillark – 7
    BG Rock – 2
    Red Deck Wins – 3
    Doran – 4
    Gassy Knoll – 1
    BR Tokens – 2
    RG Elves – 2
    WUG Reveillark – 1
    Quick ‘N Toast – 1

     
  • Top 8 Player Profiles
    By Event Coverage Staff
  • Name: Olivier Ruel
    Age: 27
    Hometown: Lille, France
    Occupation: Student
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 23/3, I think.
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: I managed to get to the site at 7am when Day two started at 9am, and waited for two hours in the cold, as I was only wearing a shirt. That was surely a Magic accomplishment.
    What deck are you playing and why: Quik n’ Toast, because it wins against 90% of the decks in the format.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? Guillaume and Remi advised me to run Platinum Angel in the deck, and it was a decisive modification! I didn’t have much time to playtest because of exams, so I just played the same deck I ran in Hollywood. I decided to add Pact of Negation and Mind Shatter to do better against control, and played a few games at Diego Ostrovich’s place.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I didn’t do much here. I didn’t know I was coming here until last week, so I hadn’t really planned anything. I offered that if Remi Fortier would sponsor my plane ticket, I’d give him all my winnings. If I can get ten pro points, and Remi can make 4.5k, I guess we call it a good deal! By the way, hi to Finaref-boy!


    Name: Sebastián Pozzo
    Age: 18
    Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Occupation: Student
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: none
    What deck are you playing and why:Reveillark, because I didn’t have four Mutavault! But, basically because it’s good, and I’m comfortable with it.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? Playtesting with friends. Thanks to Alan Villamayor, Axel Beichestoyr, and Dionision Ugalde.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: Beating 2 Faeries 2-0 straight! . . .and some awful misplays :(


    Name: Adrien Gustavo Despare
    Age: 23
    Hometown: Limeira – Sao Paulo
    Occupation: Businessman
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: This is my first GP
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: Regionals Champion
    What deck are you playing and why? BG, because in my opinion it’s the best deck.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? Testing in Pizza Hutt in airport with my friends Nicolas Damian and Fernando Papini
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: Every moment with my friends.


    Name: Damian Buckley
    Age: 24
    Hometown: Buenos Aires
    Occupation: Business
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: Only this one
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: 63rd at Worlds 2007
    What deck are you playing and why? Faeries because it’s solid (I feel comfortable with it) and I’ve had very good records with it at previous tournaments
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? I tested with my team (WNM). I owe this to them.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I live here.


    Name: Felipe Alves Pellegrini
    Age: 23
    Hometown: Sao Paulo
    Occupation: Physiotherapy
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: Only this one
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: I won an FNM
    What deck are you playing and why? Storm, because it never has a bad matchup.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? Much training with my friends from Sao Paulo (Andre Franco, Daniel Frias, Gilherme Merjam, Renato Wohlers and others)
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I drank a lot, and practiced in the hotel.


    Name: Francisco Braga
    Age: 21
    Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
    Occupation: Professional Poker Player
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: This is my first GP
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: 2007 Brazillian National Team member
    What deck are you playing and why? BG elves, because that was the only one left for me
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? I didn’t. No one.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I went to Pacha and it was awesome.


    Name: Ivan Taroshi Fox
    Age: 28
    Hometown: Curitiba
    Occupation: I sell Magic cards at my website store.com.br.
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: Only this one
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: Some good placing at Nationals and some PTQ top 8s.
    What deck are you playing and why? RG Mana Ramp, the updated list by Marijn Lybaert except for 1 land. It hads good matchups against the field.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? I tested with my team and main partners Leonardo “Pig” Graichen and Rubens Campana. We played a lot. I also thank Carlos Crevelloni for believing in me.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I had fun with my friends and met Wafo-Tapa.


    Name: Nicolas Bevacqua
    Age: 20
    Hometown: Buenos Aires
    Occupation: Student
    Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 1 GP Buenos Aires consecutive
    Other previous Magic accomplishments: Three times ninth in PTQ/GPT events
    What deck are you playing and why? Reveillark, because it has good matchups vs. elves and I expected a lot of aggro in the metagame.
    How did you prepare for GP-Buenos Aires? Who did you prepare with? I prepared by playing in the GPTs and Regionals where while I didn’t win any of them I got enough points to ensure 2 byes in the GP.
    Describe something fun you’ve done here in Buenos Aires: I study and hang out with my friends. Also I like to spend time with my penguin bear.


     
  • Quarterfinals: Damian Buckley vs Ivan Taroshi Fox
    By Bill Stark
  • Ivan Taroshi Fox was one of over a hundred Brazilians who made the trip all the way to Argentina for the Grand Prix. His opponent in the quarterfinals was one of many Argentineans who had turned out for the event. As a resident of Buenos Aires, Damian had a short trip to make it to the big event and the two represented a recurring theme throughout the weekend: a Brazilian trying to steal the title from an Argentinean trying to keep the title at home.

    Karma punished Ivan for winning the die roll by forcing him to send his opener back. His second hand forced him to deliberate before he finally decided to keep, opening on a Highland Weald. Damian Buckley countered with an Ancestral Vision on turn one, a key play for his Faeries deck. Not to be outdone, Ivan accelerated into a Harmonize to net himself three cards. His Red-Green Snow deck, which saw Top 8 play during Pro Tour-Hollywood in the hands of Belgian pro Marijn Lybaert, was designed to have a favorable matchup against Faeries. The pesky Fae, however, had a way of stealing games they shouldn’t be able to win.

    The first creatures on the board were a Chameleon Colossus for Ivan and a Scion of Oona for his opponent. Buckley was off to a slow start and was definitely hoping his Ancestral Visions would pull him out of a hole. He did get some help with a Cryptic Command that was able to surprise bounce Chameleon Colossus, which he then forced to the bottom of his opponent’s deck via Vendilian Clique. He also managed to find a second Ancestral Vision, promising to keep him gassed up into the late game.

    A Faerie Conclave joined the Clique on the beatdown path, and Ivan tsk-tsked under his breath, apparently concerned over the fact his draw wasn’t as strong as he had hoped. Considering some of the draws the Faeries deck can open on, however, it seemed difficult to justify his complaints. Buckley’s creature-land and 3/1 were hardly the exquisite threats the Faeries deck is famous for.

    Ivan managed to land a second copy of Chameleon Colossus, but judging by the manner in whish Damian said yes, completely void of any fear, it seemed probable he had a Sower of Temptation for the problematic 4/4. Sower’s ability to steal the Shapeshifter as a result of not being a black Faerie has made it a very popular card on the weekend. When given the turn back, however, Buckley failed to steal the creature, instead adding to his board with a Bitterblossom that was finally able to start cranking out 1/1s.

    Faeries aficionado Damian Buckley
    A second Ancestral Vision for Damian finally wound down, affording him additional opportunities to hit a Sower of Temptation. He didn’t, but he had a Cryptic Command that could prove useful and Colossus blockers in the form of Mutavault. It was the Command that worked wonders for him, however, as Ivan opted to double pump the 4/4 during his attack to create a lethal sized creature. Damian shrugged and bounced the creature with a Cryptic Command. His Scion-pumped Bitterblossom had quickly turned the game around for him, and a Mistbind Clique in his hand meant Ivan might not have many options left.

    That thought was echoed by Ivan when he saw the 4/4 enter play on his upkeep. A peek at the top card of his library revealed no help, and he scooped for game 2.

    Damian Buckley: 1, Ivan Taroshi Fox: 0

    For the second game in a row, Damian Buckley started with a creature light Faerie draw though unlike the first game he wasn’t being helped out by a suspended Ancestral Vision. His opponent wasted no time in accelerating his manabase using Into the North.

    A Scion of Oona from Buckley was the first creature to hit the board and Ivan briefly considered spending a burn spell to kill the 1/1 immediately. For whatever reason he thought better of the play, and Damian was all too happy to follow up with a Bitterblossom. The Argentinean even had a Terror for Fox’s Magus of the Moon, adding the mana to play it in response to the 2/2 hitting play.

    Ivan Taroshi Fox tries to keep his run going...
    Ivan wasn’t going out without a fight, however, sneaking an evoked Cloudthresher into play to deal with his opponent’s board. Bitterblossom would keep churning out 1/1s, but the Scion was no longer making them so difficult to manage. Damian drew a land for his turn and frustratedly slapped it onto the table, a tell indicating he felt he was mana flooded. He still had two Cryptic Commands to stop his opponent’s consecutive Chameleon Colossus’ however.

    Whatever complaints Buckley had about his mana issues, they subsided quickly as an Ancestral Visions wound down off of suspend and left him with a whopping number of cards in hand. His opponent needed a solution to the Bitterblossom tokens and quickly, but a first game repeat of an upkeeped Mistbind Clique meant Ivan would have to work harder than usual in order to find it. He tapped four mana to evoke a Cloudthresher, but Damian revealed a Spellstutter Sprite and Ivan nodded politely, extending his hand in defeat.

    Damian 2-0

     
  • Quarterfinals: Sebastian Pozzo vs Francisco Braga
    By Bill Stark
  • Sebastian Pozzo is a student who didn’t have to travel far for this event. Hailing not only from Argentina but the city of Buenos Aires itself he had a much shorter trip to make than his opponent Francisco. To be fair, Francisco simply traveled from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, not a terribly long distance compared to many of the travels of Grand Prix Top 8 members throughout the course of the game’s history.

    After winning the die roll, the young Pozzo was forced to take a mulligan. He didn’t take long to consider his second hand before shipping that back as well. His nerves showed through while shuffling, however, as he spilled his cards onto the table. Laughing sheepishly he simply picked them up and returned to his mulligan.

    The game got underway, a classical control against beatdown matchup. Pozzo’s red-white-blue Reveillark deck aimed to stall his opponent’s black-green Elves build in order to win the long game through massive amounts of card advantage and an “infinite” combo involving Reveillark, Body Double, Greater Gargadon (suspended), and a 2-power creature with a comes-into-play ability. Concerned about letting the game go long, Francisco quickly got his beat on thanks to a Wren’s Run Vanquisher and Civic Wayfinder, both pumped by an Imperious Perfect.

    The creatures quickly made short work of Pozzo’s life total, and he tried to dig to any form of answers to move to the late game. With a Treetop Village and Mutavault playing backup, however, his options were very low. It took only a few full attacks before Sebastian conceded, failing to have drawn any type of removal for his opponent’s threats and having had no success blocking.

    Francisco 1, Sebastian 0

    The second game of his quarterfinals match was a bit kinder to Sebastian Pozzo, affording him an opening hand he could keep. Both players accelerated their manabase, Pozzo with Mind Stone and Braga with a Llanowar Elves. The Brazilian didn’t need the extra mana on his third turn, however, opting to get in for 1 and simply play a Wren’s Run Vanquisher. The 3/3 quickly met its match, however, in the form of Sebastian’s Sower of Temptation stealing it.

    Undeterred Francisco continued building his creature base, using a Civic Wayfinder to steady his land drops. Pozzo also had a creature with a comes-into-play ability, though his was Mulldrifter. At a healthy score of 19-15, things were looking good for the young ‘un. He didn’t even seem to mind when his opponent made a Chameleon Colossus.

    Pozzo tries to make good in the Top 8
    Pozzo was so unconcerned about his opponent’s board position, in fact, that he decided to race, sending his entire team into the red zone. After considering his options, Braga opted to trade his newly cast Shapeshifter for his formerly cast (and stolen) Vanquisher. It was an awkward position for the Brazilian, losing the race against a control deck in the early turns, but things were about to get worse.

    A second Sower of Temptation stole Braga’s Civic Wayfinder, a Kitchen Finks simultaneously boosted Pozzo’s life total while ensuring he’d have a blocker that was hard to kill, and a Venser disrupted the combat step in the Buenos Aires resident’s favor. It had gotten so bad Braga had no choice but to hardcast a Faerie Macabre. A nearly all-in attack from Sebastian forced Francisco to block defensively, costing him his Macabre, a Mutavault, and a different Civic Wayfinder. He was left to digging for help, and when he didn’t find it the two players moved to their final game.

    Francisco Braga: 1, Sebastian Pozzo: 1

    Like most feature match participants over the course of the weekend, the two opponents remained silent while preparing for the final game of the match. Braga was the first one out of the gates with a Thoughtseize nabbing Mulldrifter and a Llanowar Elves. The Elemental proved a potentially damaging selection as it allowed Pozzo to utilize his Reveillark with the 2/2, but Braga seemed to want to keep his opponent off of more lands, and on just two hoping to hit a third to evoke the Mulldrifter, Pozzo wasn’t exactly happy about the situation.

    Elves champion Francisco Braga
    Still, his opponent wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on him, and he did manage to find a Coldsteel Heart to build up his own manabase, though he did miss a fourth land drop. Deciding to shift the pace a bit Braga activated his Treetop Village and sent three creatures into the red zone: the Village, his Llanowar Elves, and a 2/3 Tarmogoyf. Pozzo quickly made a Vendilion Clique before pondering over what card to send to his opponent’s library. The 3/1 traded with the Treetop Village and Sebastian fell to 16.

    His mana finally starting to flow, Pozzo set about crafting his end game scenario. A Coldsteel Heart provided him the red mana he needed to suspend Greater Gargadon, and his fourth land drop allowed him to steal his opponent’s Faerie Macabre with a Sower of Temptation. The game had definitely become a back and forth affair.

    Francisco’s attacker base had whittled down to “less than intimidating” with just a Mutavault and two Llanowar Elves. His opponent’s board, however, wasn’t much more spectacular with an Island, Faerie Conclave, Coldsteel Heart, and suspended Gargadon on two counters. Worse still, Pozzo had been forced to trade some creature-lands in combat, returning him to his previously mana light position and leaving him at just 2 life.

    When his opponent moved to attack with his meager but still lethal forces Pozzo had no choice but to activate his Conclave, then sac his remaining two mana sources to put Greater Gargadon into play. It was not to be, however, as Braga turned a Terror from his hand onto the table and sent Pozzo back home.

    Francisco Braga defeats Sebastian Pozzo 2-1.

     
  • Quarterfinals: Nicolas Bevacqua vs. Felipe Alves Pellegrini
    By Nate Price
  • This was a match-up of combo deck versus combo deck, with Nicolas sporting a Reveillark deck and his opponent, Felipe, running the Gassy Knoll storm deck.

    Bird's eye view.
    Nicolas started the first game rather inauspiciously with a mulligan to six. Once he’d found a hand he liked, though, he began building his mana base and hand through a series of Coldsteel Hearts, Mind Stones, and an evoked Mulldrifter. Felipe, meanwhile, had kept a hand featuring only two lands, one of which was a Molten Slagheap. This kept him from falling too far behind in mana. That is, at least, until Venser, Shaper Savant comes to play. Nicolas used the speedy mage to bounce a charged up Slagheap in response to Felipe charging it. This set him back tremendously, especially considering the mana troubles he was having.

    Felipe had a Tarfire to kill the Venser, but that still didn’t fix his mana problems. He was forced to rebuild form the beginning. A Kitchen Finks came into play for Nicolas, which presented the dual problem of gaining Nicolas life and providing him an attacker to beat on a struggling Felipe. A Careful Consideration on the following turn greatly increased Nicolas’ already sizable advantage and left Felipe scratching to get back in. He used Tarfire to burn off a Faerie Conclave, but it seemed to be not nearly a big enough bandage.

    A couple of turns later, Nicolas evoked a Reveillark, which returned a Mulldrifter and Venser to play. The Venser went right back to work on the Slagheap, reducing all the work Felipe had done to nothing. By this point, the game was over in everything but name, and after a couple more turns of futility, Felipe conceded.

    Nicolas Bevacqua 1 - Felipe Alves Pellegrini 0

    Don't blame Nicolas, the penguin told him to.
    Nicolas started the second game off with a mulligan again, and was clearly hoping that his new hand treated him as kindly as his previous mulligan had. Francisco, on the other hand, had a stellar start, by comparison to the last game. He led with a Spinerock Knoll and a Magus of the Moon, which completely shut down Nicolas until he used his newfound red mana to cast Pyroclasm. That left him mana to play a Kitchen Finks, as well, to negate the damage the Magus had done to him.

    Felipe continued preparing himself for his big turn, and played a second hideaway land before passing the turn. After Nicolas drew and said go, Felipe tried to charge his Slagheap only to run into the first game’s MVP, Venser. The Shaper Savant got rid of four storage counters, and set him back a couple of turns. Next turn, after Nicolas nearly tapped out for a Mulldrifter, Felipe decided it was time to pull the trigger.

    He brought the big guns out first with a Pyromancer’s Swath that got stopped by Pact of Negation. That allowed Felipe to now wash through a Manamorphose into two Tarfires, a Grapeshot for a billion, a new Pyromancer’s Swath, and then the finisher: a hidden away Grapeshot for like four trillion. Pew pew.

    Nicolas Bevacqua 1 – Felipe Alves Pellegrini 1

    Felipe waits patiently.
    Felipe mulliganed all the way down to five in the deciding game, something which didn’t bode well for his chances to make it to the next round. He did manage to get a hideaway land into play alongside a Magus of the Moon. Meanwhile, Nicolas had created a couple of Mind Stones, but had no access to a color other than red. So he did what any Reveillark player would do in this situation: he played a Greater Gargadon. They cost red mana. He also found a couple of Coldsteel Hearts over the next few turns which gave him access to white mana.

    Felipe found himself a Lotus Bloom, but not much else and was content to send his Magus in for little two-point chunks until Nicolas stopped him. Eventually, a Reveillark came down to force Felipe to stop attacking, and when a second joined soon after, things started to look a little bad. Nicolas swung in with both of his creatures, and dropped Felipe to eight. One more swing from the two Larks would finish him off, so it was now or never. Lotus Bloom became Tarfire, which became Shock, which became an Ignite Memories. Nicolas was only at ten, and the Magus of the Moon had locked a number of cards in his hand for a while. When he hit Reveillark and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir on his first two picks, the Brazilian peanut gallery erupted in cheers.

    Nicolas Bevacqua 1 – Felipe Alves Pellegrini 2

     
  • Quarterfinals – Olivier Ruel vs. Adrien Degaspare
    By Nate Price
  • Adrien ponders his sideboard.
    The first game started out incredibly poorly for Olivier. Adrien managed two Llanowar Elves, a Kitchen Finks, and a Treetop Village before Olivier managed to get a Wall of Roots into play. He did manage to knock a Garruk Wildspeaker out of Adrien’s hand on the fourth turn (his other two cards were man-lands), and he Slaughter Pacted the first Treetop.

    But Adrien never ran out of gas. Before Olivier could block with the Wall of Roots, Adrien Slaughter Pacted it, and then, after it got Makeshift Mannequinned back, he Nameless Inversioned it. Olivier just couldn’t keep any defense in play. He bought himself a turn with a Cryptic Command, but his Firespout was no match for Kitchen Finks and man-lands.

    Olivier Ruel 0 – Adrien Degaspare 1

    The second game was a much less aggressive draw for Adrien, which gives Olivier’s deck a chance to set up. Adrien’s second turn Thoughtseize met a Rune Snag, and his Tarmogoyf was met by a Kitchen Finks. Olivier dug a little deeper on the next turn with an evoked Mulldrifter. Adrien decided to Extirpate the rest of Olivier’s Rune Snags, and saw his hand containing two copies of Teferi’s Moat. He then untapped and Mind Shattered for two, hitting one of the Moats and Olivier’s only land.

    Olivier looks like his mind has been shattered.
    Things were looking a little bad for Olivier at this point. He was stuck on four lands, and couldn’t really mount a defense. Adrien Slaughter Pacted the Kitchen Finks so his Treetop Village could safely attack and then activated his man-land. Before it got in there, though, Olivier bought himself a turn with a Cryptic Command, tapping all of Adrien’s creatures and drawing a card. This got Olivier the fifth land needed to play his other copy of Teferi’s Moat.

    Adrien was forced to resort to thinning his deck with a Civic Wayfarer. He had a Mutavault to get around the Moat, but Olivier still had a Kitchen Finks to block it. A few turns later, it didn’t matter. A Krosan Grip got rid of the Moat really quickly, and Adrien activated his Treetop and sent his three men into the sudden void. Olivier threw his Finks in front of the Tarmogoyf, and used Cryptic Command to return Treetop Village to Adrien’s hand (he had already played a Forest for his turn). The Wayfarer hit him for two, but Olivier didn’t really seem to mind.

    Damnation cleared the board away after Olivier untapped, and he played a Wall of Roots and Kitchen Finks to hold the ground against the man-lands. Adrien decided to play the large men he held in reserve. A Chameleon Colossus and Tarmogoyf just towered above Olivier’s creatures. Olivier had a big creature of his own, though. Platinum Angel came down and made it so Olivier couldn’t lose. Well, as long as the Angel was in play, at least.

    Carry the two. . .
    Adrien tried to make that window very short indeed, and threw a Profane Command at the big flier. Olivier had a Pact of Negation to stop it, though, and went to take his next turn.

    Here’s where it gets funny. Olivier just breezes past his upkeep and draws his card. At this point the judge watching the match stopped him and started to remind him about his Pact of Negation. Before he could get the words out of his mouth, though, Olivier shot a finger out to point at the Platinum Angel. Almost as one, the judge and all the spectators around him went, “oh!” Sometimes you just can’t lose.

    With his first swing from the Platinum Angel, Olivier knocked Adrien down to nine. His pain lands had been working overtime, and that made the clock short for Olivier. Adrien kept attacking with his team, and Olivier kept blocking the guys he needed to in order to stay alive. He wasn’t going to lose to a Krosan Grip after working so hard to get here. After his blockers had been depleted, Olivier had to take an alpha swing to the face, but Adrien didn’t have enough mana to pump his Colossus and Grip. That dropped Olivier to three. When Adrien tried to Profane Command for the last bit of life, Olivier showed him a Pact of Negation (that he wouldn’t have to pay for), and they started to pack up their cards.

    Olivier Ruel 1 – Adrien Degaspare 1

    Choose wisely, Adrien.
    Adrien came out of the gates swinging for this last game. He had a Tarmogoyf on turn two, and sent his Treetop Village in on turn three rather than run into a Rune Snag. Olivier made a Wall of Roots on turn three that would let him Rune Snag and have a blocker. When Adrien went for a Chameleon Colossus on the following turn, it turned out that Olivier didn’t have a Rune Snag for it. Olivier played a Careful Consideration on the following turn to try to dig for an answer to the Colossus.

    What he found was a Damnation that killed everything except the Garruk Adrien had just drawn. With Olivier nearly tapped out, Adrien tried to use a Garruk-powered Mind Shatter to empty Olivier’s hand. Olivier had a Pact of Negation to keep it, but was going to be put on the back foot. When Adrien tried to Slaughter Pact Olivier’s lone blocker, Olivier was forced to Rune Snag it. Adrien chose not to pay, and instead, activated both of his Treetop Villages, used Garruk to Overrun, and sent in the team. Olivier tried to find some answer with a Careful Consideration, but nothing was forthcoming. All it took was one more swing from the Treetops to finish the match.

    Olivier Ruel 1 – Adrien Degaspare 2


     
  • Semifinals: Damian Buckley vs Felipe Alves Pellegrini
    By Bill Stark
  • Felipe Alves Pellegrini had managed to find himself all the way in the semifinals of Grand Prix-Buenos Aires on the back of a deck many would have said was outdated prior to the event. His Monored Storm, essentially a re-hashing of Patrick Chapin’s “Gassy Knoll” deck from the World Championships this past season, had managed to burn numerous players to death on the back of small rituals and Pyromancer’s Swath. He also relied on Empty the Warrens as an alternate kill, unlike Chapin’s build which was based around Dragonstorm. Damian Buckley was playing the much more traditional Faeries, the deck that supposedly had rung the death toll of Monored Storm some months ago.

    Both players started on a mulligan though Damian recovered more quickly. Felipe missed his third land drop, then his fourth, and was forced to use a Shock on a Scion of Oona the instant it was played to prevent things from getting out of hand. Buckley didn’t seem concerned, attacking with a Mutavault each turn while leaving four additional mana open as possible counters in the event his opponent tried any funny business.

    Damian Buckley fights for the finals
    Funny business was exactly what Felipe got down to, despite sitting on just two lands and with only a turn to go until a Lotus Bloom entered play. He used a red mana to play Rite of Flame, making a mark on his notepad to indicate the potential storm count. His opponent was happy to Spellstutter Sprite and Pellegrini paused to consider the next appropriate course of action. He settled on removing two counters from a Fungal Reaches in order to Manamorphose, forgetting to mark his opponent’s Sprite on his storm count sheet.

    When the Manamorphose was met with a second Sprite, Felipe simply passed the turn. When he tried to put his Lotus Bloom into play during his next upkeep, Buckley swung into action. Using a Cryptic Command he countered the artifact then bounced his opponent’s Spinerock Knoll, undoing the card that had been hidden underneath it. After slowly being bled all game, Felipe had just one more turn to “go for it” before a combination of 1/1 Sprites, Pendelhaven, and a Mutavault would put an end to him.

    With no time left, he opted to try to go off again. A second Rite of Flame netted him Red ManaRed ManaRed Mana which he then used to play an Empty the Warrens for four 1/1 Goblins. The crowd leaned in, expecting a larger turn, but the chump blockers could keep Felipe alive for at least one more draw step. It was his only choice.

    When Buckley moved all in, Felipe sent three Goblins in front of the Mutavault. Both Spellstutter Sprites got through but when Damian tried to pump one with Pendelhaven, Felipe responded with Shard Volley. Buckley didn’t take long to consider the board situation before trumping with a second devastating Cryptic Command. He set the modes to countering the Shard Volley and bouncing his opponent’s Spinerock Knoll, leaving Felipe with just a Fungal Reaches on a single charge counter (he had sacrificed a Mountain to the Volley). Felipe drew his card for the turn, then packed up for the second game.

    Damian Buckley: 1, Felipe Alves Pellegrini: 0

    A crowd of onlookers pressed in to watch the match while the players sideboarded, getting so close judges had to physically move them back. Damian Buckley represented the only Argentinean left in the tournament and, judging by the cheers he received after winning the first game, more than a few of his fellow countrymen were watching his match. If Argentina was to hold on to the title for Grand Prix-Buenos Aires, they would have to do so through Damian.

    It didn’t hurt that he had a favorable matchup against his Sao Paolo, Brazil opponent Felipe. Hailing from the same region as players like Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Felipe had a much stronger start in his second game. A Spinerock Knoll and suspended Lotus Bloom meant he was going to be able to threaten to go off very early. When the Bloom entered play with no argument from Damian, things definitely looked good for the Brazilian.

    He deliberated over the correct course of action before opting to simply play a Magus of the Moon. The 2/2 was a bit unexpected, but Damian had two Island and a Secluded Glen so it would only be marginally problematic and Buckley let it resolve. He then used his opponent’s end of turn step to Vendilion Clique a Pyromancer’s Swath to the bottom of Felipe’s library.

    The 3/1 got in for a Lightning Bolt against Pellegrini, and during the Brazilian’s upkeep Damian attempted a Mistbind Clique. Unfortunately for him, Alves had drawn a spot removal spell and was able to Shard Volley his opponent’s only championable Faerie in response. That earned a rap on the table from Buckley who was clearly a bit aggravated his opponent had managed to draw one of the few cards that could wreck him in that situation.

    Felipe decided to go for it. He sacrificed his Lotus Bloom to play Pyromancer’s Swath. Damian attempted to counter with Flashfreeze, but Felipe had Guttural Response and the enchantment hit play. Manamorphose was Rune Snagged leaving a Grapeshot stranded in Felipe’s hand, which he was forced to discard at the end of his turn thanks to Swath.

    Buckley was on a clock, however, as the Magus of the Moon started beating down, slowly at first, but gaining steam when a second copy hit play. A Tarfire added another 4 to the effort, and as Damian hit a succession of non-basic lands to go with the black cards in his hand, he was quickly burned out of existence.

    Damian Buckley: 1, Felipe Alveres Pellegrini: 1

    Clearly feeling the pressure of the final game of the match, Damian Buckley slammed his deck on the table for good luck before holding it up to kiss it. The stunt seemed to do the trick as his opponent mulliganed to kick off the game.

    A Thoughtseize from Buckley was his first play of the final battle, albeit not until the third turn and at the cost of 3 life thanks to an Underground River. His opponent’s hand revealed two Shock, Rite of Flame, and Shard Volley, and the Argentinean binned one of the Shocks. He did miss his land drop, however, and in the background a Lotus Bloom ticked down from three counters for Felipe.

    Felipe Alves Pellegrini tries to force an all-Brazil finals
    Buckley continued missing land drops while his opponent built up a massive mana presence. Two Molten Slagheaps accrued counters while twin copies of Spinerock Knoll promised to deliver the goods when the time was right. And on top of all that Alves Pellegrini had a full hand and a Lotus Bloom on just one suspend counter.

    The Bloom entered play and Buckley had no choice but to Spellstutter Sprite the artifact, dropping him to 16 in the process. Felipe carefully added each spell to his storm count, indicating Argentina’s chances of preventing an all-Brazil finals were slim. Not all hope was lost, however, as Felipe decided he couldn’t afford to go off just yet, instead passing the turn.

    Still Damian’s luck failed him as his deck refused to yield a land yet again. The player didn’t let on he was frustrated, though he had taken to nervously shuffling his cards back and forth in his hand. Felipe decided it was time. He played a Rite of Flame, then followed it with a second. A Shock targeted Buckley (14), then a Shard Volley sacrificing a Mountain (11, storm at 4). That led to an Empty the Warrens for ten total Goblins, but when he was asked how many were created, he forgot to count the Empty itself and said “Eight Goblins.” Damian looked crestfallen, but was clearly trying to think of a way he could pull the game out. When his next draw still did not yield a land, Damian extended his hand in defeat.

    Felipe Alves Pellegrini defeats Damian Buckley 2 games to 1.

     
  • Semifinals: Adrien Degaspare vs. Francisco Braga
    By Nate Price
  • Adrien works on his grocery list.
    The distinction between the decks these players have used to reach the semifinals is very fine. Francisco Braga is playing an Elf-based BG deck, while Adrien Degaspare is running a more controlling version similar to the Rock. This game would decide which BG variant gets to make its way to the finals.

    Adrien won the die roll and the right to go first. Francisco took one look at his hand and threw it back. He figured he could do better with another six, and judging by his reaction to his second had, he did. Both players started the game with a turn one Llanowar Elves. Adrien chose to follow his up with a Kitchen Finks, while Francisco had a Civic Wayfinder as a second act.

    The Finks allowed Adrien to be a bit more aggressive, so he sent it in before upgrading to a Chameleon Colossus. Francisco had a Garruk Wildspeaker as his four drop, and he immediately used it to make a beast. When Adrien attacked on the following turn, Francisco threw his new beast and Wayfinder in the way of the charging creatures. Adrien then played a Tarmogoyf. His force was quite impressive, and Francisco was down to just a Llanowar Elves and a quickly depreciating planeswalker.


    Yes, Francisco is a competitor.
    Francisco untapped and played a Tarmogoyf of his own to match up with Adrien’s, as well as replacing his Garruk pet. Adrien had free reign to attack with his army on the next turn, and a Kitchen Finks smashed in alongside the Colossus and Elves, which forced Francisco to seriously think about his blocks. Ultimately, he decided that the Tarmogoyf would eat an Elves, the other Elves would trade, and the beast would chump the Colossus.

    On Francisco’s next turn, he finished off his Garruk to make one final beast. He also fired up both his Treetop Village and Mutavault before sending his team in. He was ahead on the life totals 16 to 17, and had multiple creatures to Adrien’s lone Colossus. This forced the Colossus to stay home and play some defense. Francisco played a Chameleon Colossus of his own, which caused his board to completely trump that of his opponent. Now he had the advantage in every aspect.

    And then Adrien decided to regain the Colossus advantage by adding a second copy to his team. Undaunted, Francisco still sent his Colossus, beast, and Goyf across to say hello. Adrien decided to block the beast and the Colossus, which Francisco then pumped to take Adrien’s out. After drawing his card and finding nothing, Adrien conceded.

    Adrien Degaspare 0 – Francisco Braga 1

    Adrien attempts to become the colossus.
    Francisco had a first-turn Thoughtseize to strip a Chameleon Colossus out of a two-land hand. A second Thoughtseize on the following turn showed that Adrien had drawn a third land, and so chose to take the Sudden Spoiling. On the following turn, Adrien played one of his Civic Wayfinders to grab himself an additional land. It then became apparent that Francisco had stayed with a two-land hand as well, and he hadn’t drawn out of it as nicely as Adrien. Adrien played a Garruk, and then untapped his lands, allowing him to Thoughtseize Francisco. This stole the Garruk that Francisco would have been able to use to kill Adrien’s.

    Francisco finally found a third land to play his Civic Wayfinder, which got him yet another land. Adrien swung the hammer hard on the next turn, though, and his Garruk powered Profane Command for five killed the Wayfinder and returned the Chameleon Colossus back to play. Next turn, Adrien simply had to use Garruk to Overrun his men and activate his Chameleon Colossus to force through lethal damage. 14/14 trample is kinda scary!

    Adrien Degaspare 1 – Francisco Braga 1

    The final game started with nice, aggressive draws from both players. Francisco led with a Llanowar Elves and Garruk Wildspeaker, which immediately made a beast. Adrien, meanwhile, chose to Thoughtseize a Profane Command before playing a Tarmogoyf. He then Nameless Inversioned Francisco’s beast token, which made his Tarmogoyf a 3/4. Before it could do any real damage, though, the Tarmogoyf met a Slaughter Pact.

    Francisco gets congratulations from the crowd.
    In retribution for last game, Francisco used Thoughtseize to strip Adrien of his Garruk, ensuring that Francisco maintained planeswalker advantage. He followed that up with a 5/6 Tarmogoyf. Adrien was forced to tap out to play a Chameleon Colossus, which was starting to pale in comparison to the army that Francisco and Garruk were assembling. One more Tarmogoyf from Francisco, and Adrien was forced to Damnation to slow Francisco down.

    Francisco bounced right back, though, and was ready to refill the board with a Wren’s Run Vanquisher and a token from Garruk. Adrien used a Profane Command to kill the Vanquisher and get his Goyf back. Unfortunately, Francisco kept building his army. Beast after beast flowed from Garruk, and a couple of turns later, despite his best efforts to stem the tide, Adrien was overwhelmed by beasts, man-lands, and elves.

    Adrien Degaspare 1 – Francisco Braga 2


     
  • Finals: Felipe Alves Pellegrini vs Francisco Braga
    By Bill Stark
  • The story of the weekend by far was whether or not the first South American Grand Prix in some years would see an outsider steal the title away from the continent. A capacity crowd showed up to loudly proclaim “Not on our watch!” and the final two left standing were Felipe Alves Pellegrini and Francisco Braga. Unfortunately for our Argentinean readers, the title of Grand Prix-Buenos Aires would not be staying within the country as the two players from Brazil sat down to battle.

    Braga had brought a relatively familiar take on the deck Charles Gindy used to win Pro Tour-Hollywood, black-green Elves. His opponent’s take on the format, however, had been far more innovative. Felipe was piloting a Monored Storm deck easily mistaken for Patrick Chapin’s Gassy Knoll from Worlds 2007 in New York. The key difference between the two builds was that Pellegrini’s cut the Dragonstorm engine in favor of Empty the Warrens.

    Francisco Braga aims for the title.
    Braga opened on a mulligan to begin the first game of the match, but having lost the die roll he’d be able to make up the card on the first turn. Because his clock was slower than Pellegrini’s, it was possible Francisco was trying to mulligan to a specific card, like Thoughtseize. His ability to draw that sorcery could very well prove to be one of the deciding factors in the matchup. He kept at six.

    After hitting his first two land drops, in the form of a Spinerock Knoll and Fungal Reaches, Felipe stumbled a bit on the third turn by not playing a land. The Fungal Reaches would let him keep up by charging each turn, effectively serving as a land drop, but Francisco didn’t back down from presenting a clock. His Imperious Perfect ate a Shock, but Chameleon Colossus stuck, threatening to take the game over quickly. A follow-up Thoughtseize spelled big problems for Felipe, though he had finally managed to draw a land.

    At 18-14 in favor of Braga, a Tarmogoyf hit play for his side of the board. With enough mana to pump his Chameleon Colossus, the two creatures represented a two turn clock for Felipe, who had lost his Pyromancer’s Swath to Thoughtseize. Worried about waiting, Felipe decided to go for it. He Played a Manamorphose, then a second putting the storm count on two and wiping his charged Fungal Reaches clear of counters. His draws yielded him little action and the best he could muster was using a Tarfire and Shock to kill the Chameleon Colossus after playing a second Spinerock Knoll. The Tarmogoyf crept to 5/6.

    Francisco did what Elves do, attacking with his creatures and playing more of them to put Felipe dead if Braga was allowed another turn. That meant a lot of thinking on Felipe’s turn, but instead of going off he simply passed. When his opponent didn’t forget to attack, Felipe conceded.

    Francisco Braga: 1, Felipe Alves Pelligrini: 0

    Felipe came roaring out of the gates for the second game opening on a Mountain and suspending two Lotus Blooms. He didn’t seem concerned about the possibility he’d run out of gas either, using up a Shock early to destroy a first turn Llanowar Elves from Francisco Braga. He then answered Braga’s turn 2 Tarmogoyf with a Magus of the Moon that turned his opponent’s Llanowar Wastes into a Mountain.

    Felipe does his best to combo.
    When the Blooms hit play, Felipe opted to move all-in, sacrificing both of them to play twin copies of Pyromancer’s Swath, then suspending a Rift Bolt. Braga answered by using a Krosan Grip on his own turn to destroy one of the enchantments, turning his Tarmogoyf into a formidable 5/6. By the time he got his turn back, Felipe Alves Pellegrini had a tough choice to make regarding what he was going to hit with his Rift Bolt. Eventually he decided to send it to his opponent’s head, with a post-combat Shard Volley bringing the totals to 12-6 in his favor.

    Francisco’s counter attack tied it at 6-all. Felipe returned fire with a Shock that dropped Braga to 2 with a bit of help from Swath and things got interesting. Felipe had to leave his Magus of the Moon back to chump block a Tarmogoyf, but by doing so he accidentally turned his Fungal Reaches into colorless producing lands, instead of the Mountains they had been with the Magus in play. Needing to draw both a red source AND a burn spell, Felipe knew he was drawing dead and Francisco Braga claimed the title of Grand Prix-Buenos Aires champion.

    Francisco Braga defeats Felipe Alves Pellegrini 2 games to 0.

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