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Don't Call it a Comeback!

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Jabba is back! That's right folks, former World Champion Carlos Romao is back, and he is now the proud owner of the Grand Prix-Phoenix trophy. And he had to beat a helluva field to get there.

In a Top 8 that included four Pro Tour Champions (Gadiel Szleifer, Shu Komuro, Geoffrey Siron, Romao), one Hall of Fame candidate (Raphael Levy), 2005 Worlds Top 8 member Andre Coimbra plus Sam Stein and sixteen year old Sean Inoue, it was the kid that almost took home the title. Inoue squeaked out a quarterfinals victory over Shu, then pipped Sam Stein's ridiculous blue-red concoction with topdecked Feast of Flesh in games 1 and 3, on his way to the finals to face an assured star in the finals. This was after Inoue was the last undefeated player in a tournament that featured much of Magic's best and brightest from around the world, a great start for someone who just started driving this year.

On the other side of the bracket, Romao was busy taking down Geoffrey Siron in his quarterfinals and then edging Raphael Levy in the semifinals. He then fell behind Inoue in the finals on a mistake, giving the kid hope that he'd take home the trophy from his first ever Grand Prix. Romao wasn't going to let it happen though, demolishing Inoue with a serious deck advantage in games 2 and 3 that included a pair of Stalking Yetis. Inoue's hand in game 3 was particularly slow, and it didn't take long before Jabba was shaking his hand, ecstatic to hoist another trophy in a game he thought he quit not too long ago. Congratulations to Carlos Romao, the 2006 Grand Prix-Phoenix champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Carlos Romao   Carlos Romao, 2-0        
8 Geoffrey Siron   Carlos Romao, 2-0
       
4 Raphael Levy   Sean Inoue, 2-1   Romao 2 - Inoue 1
5 André Coimbra    
       
2 Sam Stein   Sam Stein, 2-0
7 Gadiel Szleifer   Sean Inoue, 2-1
       
3 Sean Inoue   Raphael Levy, 2-0
6 Shu Komuro    


EVENT COVERAGE FINAL TOP 8 STANDINGS

  • Blog - 9:34 p.m. - Finals - Carlos Romao vs. Sean Inoue
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 9:20 p.m. - Semifinals - Carlos Romao vs. Raphael Levy
    by Julien Nuijten
  • Blog - 9:12 p.m. - Semifinals - Sean Inoue vs. Sam Stein
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 9:06 p.m. - Quarterfinals - Carlos Romao vs. Geoffrey Siron
    by Julien Nuijten
  • Blog - 8:10 p.m. - Quarterfinals - Gadiel Szleifer vs. Sam Stein
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 7:57 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Drafting on Day 2, Draft Archetypes, Feature Match Play, and More!
    by Ted Knutson
  • Round 9: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Deckbuilding with Jelger Wiegersma, News and Notes, Top Pro Play, and More!
    by Ted Knutson & Kyle Sanchez
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Carlos Romao $2,400
 2.  Sean Inoue $1,700
 3.  Raphael Levy $1,200
 4.  Sam Stein $1,000
 5.  Geoffrey Siron $800
 6.  Gadiel Szleifer $800
 7.  Andre Coimbra $800
 8.  Shu Komuro $800
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  • Sunday, Sept 3: 7:57 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks



  • Gadiel Szleifer
    GP Phoenix 06 Top 8








     
  • Sunday, Sept 3: 7:57 p.m. - Quarterfinals - Gadiel Szleifer vs. Sam Stein


  • My name is Sam Stein you betta recognize!

    Sam Stein just missed a Top 8 at U.S. Nationals. A good friend of team members Luis Scott-Vargas and Paul Cheon, Stein making that Top 8 would have given them an off chance of all participating in Worlds together. Neither Luis nor Paul made it to Day 2 here, but Sam finally got his Top 8 and drafted an insanely hot blue-red number with 5 Frost Raptors, multiple Skreds, Krovikan Whispers, and 2 Rimefeather Owls (because one is never enough). Stein's opponent is none other than Magic's precocious wunderkind Gadiel Szleifer. In a Top 8 that included 4 Pro Tour winners and a Hall of Fame candidate, Szleifer might still be considered the best player of the bunch. However, it remains to be seen whether his heavy green, red-splash deck can handle Stein's flying monstrosity.

    Sam Stein won the coinflip and chose to play. Szleifer had to mulligan his first hand, but built up quickly after that, casting Sound the Call plus Frostweb Spider and Boreal Druid to Stein's lone Frost Raptor. Ronom Serpent from Stein quickly clogged down the middle, pushing the game into a stall. A sixth land and Aurochs Herd from Szleifer threatened to change that, especially since it tutored up a second Herd, but Rimefeather Owl came down on Stein's side of the board, looking very menacing.

    Gadiel Szleifer

    Krovikan Whispers stole Gadiel's Spider, thus clearing the way for the Owl. Two swings later Gadiel was shuffling up for game 2.

    Stein 1 - Szleifer 0

    Game 2 was a battle of land and air, with Stein providing the air power and Szleifer attempting to race on the ground. Stein had plenty of removal and chump blockers, and it doesn't take long to kill a man when you are swinging through the air for five a turn.

    Stein 2 - Szleifer 0


     
  • Sunday, Sept 3: 9:06 p.m. - Quarterfinals - Carlos Romao vs. Geoffrey Siron


  • Quick, act casual!

    In a quarterfinal match of a northern American Grand Prix, a PT Champion from Belgium is facing a World Champion from Brazil. Geoffrey almost didn't make the trip to Phoenix, but another Top 8 competitor, Raphael Levy, convinced him to get a ticket when Geoffrey was having a bad day.

    Carlos drafted a decent red/black deck but like most black/red decks it had too many four-drops and too few two-drops. The highlight of his deck were definitely the two copies of Stalking Yeti, but they won't help much should his opponent have Ronom Hulks. He has only one Chill to the Bone to consistently deal with that problem card, and otherwise he'll have to hope to have enough time to deal with it using Disciple of Tevesh Szat.

    When I came over to his table, Geoffrey started laughing. He told me that his deck is awful, and at first glance it looked pretty bad to me. Geoffrey started off with a Krovikan Mist from a weak pack, and then picked up a few black cards, but decided to switch to black/green when he got a very late Karplusan Strider. The color switch didn't work out for him, and he ended up with a 2-booster deck, and needed to play a lot of deck fillers. Martyr of Spores, Rimebound Dead, Krovikan Scoundrel, Frostweb Spider, an off-color Steam Spitter, Tresserhorn Skyknight, only two Feast of Flesh and a single Surging Might are all cards that he'd rather not play maindeck, but he didn't have any playables in the sideboard either. He does have two Ronom Hulks though, which should be very good against Carlos' deck, but since his deck's overall card quality is so low, I think it'll be a close one.

    Game 1

    Carlos played first and both players kept their seven. Geoffrey cast the first spell, Into the North for Mouth of Ronom, while Carlos had a third-turn Krovikan Scoundrel. Geoffrey had the right answer: third-turn Disciple of Tevesh Szat, but it only traded for Carlos' Stalking Yeti. Phyrexian Ironfoot once again dominated the Scoundrel, and Carlos had two Thermopods in consecutive turns, and Geoffrey traded his Ironfoot. When Geoffrey got up to six mana, he played Tresserhorn Skyknight, and opted not to trade for the remaining Thermopod, and Carlos followed it up with Earthen Goo and an Ironfoot of his own. Geoffrey made his 5/3 flying 7/5 with Surging Might, and played Rimebound Dead to slow down the beatings a little. The board was now: Scoundrel, Ironfoot, Thermopod and Earthen Goo for Carlos (with one card in hand), and 7/5 Tresserhorn, Rimebound Dead and Mouth of Ronom (with no snow mana) for Geoffrey (also with one card in hand). Carlos was still at a healthy 19 while Geoffrey was at 10, and on his next turn Carlos attacked with his team. Chill to the Bone got rid of Earthen Goo, and when all the dust cleared, Carlos had Ironfoot and Geoffrey had a the Tresserhorn and 7 life. Carlos played his last two cards: a pair of Goblin Furriers, and Geoffrey found a snow land to activate Mouth of Ronom with, trading for the Ironfoot, but he still couldn't attack with his 7/5 because he would lose the race like this.
    Both players were out of gas and in topdeck mode now, and Carlos found a Stalking Yeti, trading it and Goblin Furrier for the 7/5 while droping Geoffrey to 5. Geoffrey found Stromgald Crusader for the Furrier, but Carlos found an unblockable Zombie Musher, and Geoffrey couldn't deal with it in time.

    Game 2

    Geoffrey Siron!

    Geoffrey naturally played first, and both players kept their seven again. The first play of this game was Geoffrey's second-turn Martyr of Spores, and he grinned next turn when he played his single copy of Surging Might on it, making it a 3/3. Carlos had Gutless Ghoul and Zombie Musher, but none of them were big enough to take on the Martyr, let alone Geoffrey's fifth-turn Ronom Hulk. Martyr of Ashes came down for Carlos, but all it did was chump-block the Ronom Hulk and gain two life through Gutless Ghoul. He revived it with Grim Harvest though, but not before Geoffrey added Karplusan Strider to his team. Carlos just replayed his Martyr and attacked with Zombie Musher, confusing Geoffrey a little. He thought for a while on his next turn, and decided to send all his guys in. Carlos had only one card for the Martyr; Thermopod, and traded it and Gutless Ghoul for Geoffrey's Martyr, but he did get back his Grim Harvest. Geoffrey only had Boreal Druid, but the board looked to be good for him, until Carlos dealt with the Ronom Hulk using Soul Spike at the end of his turn (the Hulk had been dealt one point of combat damage by the Martyr and one point by its activation). Carlos followed it up with an unhasty Thermopod, and suddenly the tables were turned as Geoffrey's whole game plan was based on that Ronom Hulk. Carlos added another unblockable Zombie Musher, and Geoffrey didn't find a solution for them in time.

    End result: Carlos Romao defeated Geoffrey Siron 2-0.

    This quarterfinal match ended relatively fast, so I tuned in on the match of Shu Komuro versus Sean Inoue as they were just starting their third game. Shu played first, but had to mulligan, and his second hand wasn't much better: Field Marshal and two Kjeldoran War Cry, but just 3 Mountains as his lands. He thought about it, but shipped it back again, and kept his five-card hand of Plains, two Mountains and two Kjeldoran War Cry. Sean kept a hand with two Feast of Flesh, two Krovikan Scoundrel but only one land (Swamp), and we were finally off. Shu's hand wasn't very good by itself, but if he could draw a few guys, the double War Cry could easily win it for him. His first two draw were Mountains while Sean played two Krovikan Scoundrels while being stuck at two lands, and Shu found Ronom Unicorn but it was Deathmarked. Surging Sentinels gave Shu some hope on the next turn, but it missed and was the target of Feast of Flesh three times, the first two attempts being annulled by War Cry. Sean found his third land and played Stromgald Crusader, and Shu tried Surging Sntinels again, but missed again. A few more draws gave Shu a few more lands, and he extended the hand.

    End result: Sean Inoue defeated Shu Komuro 2-1.


     
  • Sunday, Sept 3: 9:12 p.m. - Semifinals - Sean Inoue vs. Sam Stein


  • Sean 'The Kid' Inoue

    Sean Inoue loves a Feast of Flesh. He used the underdrafted black card on each of Stein's first two fliers, adding Squal Drifter and Zombie Musher to his side of the board. Of course, Stein just made more - that's what his deck does - and he once again had a pair of Frost Raptors and Korvikan Mist on the board. Adarkar Windform hit the board on Stein's side, but Inoue was keeping the pressure on with Gelid Shackles for the larger flier and a pair of Stromgald Crusaders.

    The game was always close, with fast and furious attacking on both sides of the board, but Stein's Rimefeather Owl changed the combat math dramatically in his favor, though his life was now a paltry 6 to Inoue's 11. One turn before certain death, Inoue ripped his third Feast of Flesh for the game, killing a Frost Raptor, tapping the second with Squall Drifter, and attacking for just enough damage to kill Stein in an extremely close game.

    Inoue 1 - Stein 0

    Stein took the early lead in game 2 courtesy of a pair of Frost Raptors and Surging Flame on Stromgald Crusader. Inoue beat back with Jotun Owl Keeper and Squall Drifter, but Skred immediately took out the tapper. Vexing Sphinx from Stein went large, and then he got downright nasty by stealing Inoue's Owl Keeper, forcing the sixteen year old to scoop up his cards. That was a mauling.

    Inoue 1 - Stein 1

    Sam Stein

    Inoue again took the early lead in game 3, casting Squall Drifter, Surging Sentinels, and Zombie Musher over the first four turns. Stein dealt with the Drifter and cast Rimewind Taskmage plus Adarkar Windform a couple turns later, losing an Ohran Yeti to Sentinels plus War Cry and taking some beatings in the meantime. Feast of Flesh helped Outrider trade with the Windform, and with Stein at 10, he cast Ronom Serpent to gum up the board and activate his Taskmage. Rimefeather Owl followed the Serpent, earning an audible sigh from Inoue.

    Sean was mushing in for an extra two a turn, dropping Stein to 6, as Stein smashed back for 10 with the Owl. With the prospect of chumpblocking in his future, Inoue pulled Feast of Flesh from the top if his deck, killing a Frost Raptor. This allowed him to push just enough damage through to kill Stein in a virtual replay of game 1. Stein, obviously, was not pleased.

    Inoue 2 - Stein 1


     
  • Sunday, Sept 3: 9:20 p.m. - Semifinals - Carlos Romao vs. Raphael Levy


  • Game 1

    I tuned in a little late, and saw a board position of Boreal Druid, Ronom Hulk, Martyr of Spores and Hibernation's End on one for Raph, while Carlos had Rimebound Dead, Disciple of Tevesh Szat and Phyrexian Ironfoot, but he was already at 8. Hibernation's End found Raph a Boreal Centaur on his next turn, and Ronom Hulk came through to put Carlos at three. He only had three Swamps and Mouth of Ronom, with a hand of only red cards and a Grim Harvest, and couldn't deal with the Ronom Hulk.

    Game 2

    Carlos played first and started with six cards. He played a third-turn Goblin Rimerunner and Flametongue Kavu-ed Raph's Bull Aurochs with Stalking Yeti, and followed up with Thermopod while Raph tried to slow things down with Simian Brawler and a Thermopod of his own. It didn't help too much though, as Carlos emptied his hand on his next turn: Chill to the Bone for the Brawler and Goblin Furrier, and he swung in for seven with the help of Goblin Rimerunner. Raph only had Boreal Druid and a virtually useless Hibernation's End, and Carlos drew the lethal Soul Spike, so we were on to Game 3. He slowrolled it a little though, as he didn't want Raph to know that he had it, but he ended up needed it because Raph was coming back in the game.

    Game 3

    No mulligans this game, and Raph lead with Martyr of Spores and Bull Aurochs while Carlos had Krovikan Scoundrel and Phyrexian Ironfoot, but no red mana again. Raph played Magmatic Core and Carlos had Zombie Musher, but he was running out of spells that he could cast. Magmatic Core's first trigger made short work of Carlos' Scoundrel, and things were not looking good at all for the Brazillian World Champion, as he couldn't cast any more spells without finding his red mana source, and Magmatic Core was getting ready to take out his Musher and Ironfoot. Raph added Orcish Bloodpainter to his squad, but he didn't have any real power on the board yet which might give Carlos some more time to draw into a Mountain. Raph's Goblin Rimerunner on the next turn put some pressure on Carlos though, and he traded his Ironfoot for the Bloodpainter and a Magmatic Core trigger.

    On his next turn, Carlos found his Mountain and the game was on again. The board was now Zombie Musher and Mouth of Ronom for Carlos, and Magmatic Core, Rimerunner and Bull Aurochs for Raph. Goblin Furrier for Carlos slowed down Raph's attack, but it got shot by the Core as well. Carlos found a second Mountain on his next turn though, and Stalking Yeti dealt with the Rimerunner, but it too got shot by the Core while Raph added a second Bull Aurochs. Carlos returned it with Grim Harvest and played Gutless Ghoul, and Raph finally sacrificed his Core to make room for a Ronom Hulk that Carlos currently didn't have a solution for. He had a lot of cards to work with though, and both players weren't at that healthy a life total, so his plan was to chump block the Hulk a couple times and try to race it. Stalking Yeti took care of another Bull Aurochs, and Carlos also played Earthen Goo to chump-block Ronom Hulk on the next turn. Raph added an Aurochs Herd (finding another copy), but Carlos had the Mouth of Ronom for it, putting Raph at two with an unblockable Zombie Musher in play. Raph was dead next turn and didn't find anything, and extended the hand.

    Raph Levy didn't manage to win his exactly 50th GP, and Carlos Romao moved on to the finals!


     
  • Sunday, Sept 3: 9:34 p.m. - Finals - Carlos Romao vs. Sean Inoue


  • Inoue was undefeated on Day 1 and played an excellent Day 2 to land him here

    In a Top 8 featuring 4 Pro Tour winners, 1 Hall of Fame candidate, and a Top 8 member from 2005 Worlds who also made the Top 8 at the last Grand Prix format, in all of that, 16-year-old Sean Inoue finds himself in the finals. His black-white deck doesn't appear to be anything special, but it does have an aggressive bent to it and 5 Feast of Flesh that he seems to draw on cue whenever he needs them. His opponent in the finals is former World Champion Carlos Romao. Romao said earlier in the day that he tried to give up the game in the last couple of years and has now come back with a vengeance. Inoue and Romao were the last two undefeated players in the event and now they are the last two men standing, pitted against each other in a battle of cardboard paper cuts that will go straight to the pain. If I had to pick a favorite here, I'd definitely give Romao the nod, though Inoue has managed to defeat nearly all comers thus far.

    Inoue cast the first creature of the game in Stromgald Crusader, while Romao smashed back with Goblin Furrier before casting Orcish Bloodpainter. The Bloodpainter fell to Feast of Flesh and Inoue followed up with another attack and Krovikan Scoundrel.

    Romao made a major misplay with Martyr of Ashes, only revealing one card when it was clear that he had multiple red cards in hand (including a Stalking Yeti Inoue had just seen on top of Romao's deck via Mishra's Bauble). This let Inoue cast Kjeldoran War Cry to save his men, getting an extra four damage out of the affair. A second Martyr cleared the board a turn later, but by that time Romao was at 4, with Zombie Musher picking away at him. Romao could not find an answer and fell behind in what clearly looked like an advantaged matchup for him.

    Inoue 1 - Romao 0

    Romao dominated early in game 2, at least partially due to some early mana screw for Inoue and partially due to a mistake Inoue made regarding Goblin Furrier's special drawback and Squall Drifter. That was embarrassing.

    Carlos Romao showed why he is a champion.

    Inoue's mana screw remained in effect for multiple turns while Romao built up his forces and whittled away Inoue's life total, though he was fighting through Feast of Flesh all the while. About the time Romao started to run out of gas, Inoue started to draw land, making for an interesting, back-and-forth game in what originally looked like a blowout. Stromgald Crusader and Surging Sentinels were suddenly facing down Orcish Bloodpainter, Gutless Ghoul, and Goblin Furrier. Chill to the Bone killed the Sentinels, but Inoue struck back with a turn of Gelid Shackles, Feast of Flesh, and Feast of Flesh to stabilize. Inoue's luck finally ran out and Goblin Furrier plus Earthen Goo finished him off to even the match at one game a piece.

    Inoue 1 - Romao 1

    Stalking Yeti played a big part in game 3, which should tell you right away which player likely won. Inoue kept a mediocre draw and managed to use some cantrips to draw into creatures, but Romao's men were all better than Sean's and for once, Inoue's Feast of Flesh fetish seemed to have deserted him. Further fat plus the obligatory attack steps from the Brazilian, and Carlos Romao was once again on top of the world, or at least on top of Grand Prix-Phoenix.

    Romao 2 - Inoue 1

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