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Skarren’s Skarrg Rampage in Charlotte

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What started as the largest Grand Prix, and Magic tournament, in history ended with a crash as Frank Skarren brought the Gruul to bear in Charlotte. While Boros and Orzhov proved powerful throughout the weekend, the final draft of the day demonstrated what a keen eye can do during draft. Skarren's opponent in the finals, Gerard Fabiano, wielded a potent Simic deck to muscle by the usual suspects in white.

It's hard to overstate what happened this weekend. 2,672 players showed up to play Gatecrash Sealed Deck on Saturday, opening nearly 250,000 cards from booster packs in the span of just a few minutes. It took 17 rounds of play, including six rounds of Booster Draft, just to get to the Top 8. And, finally, two guilds underrepresented the entire weekend helped their players to the Finals. With the dust settled it's clear that Gatecrash Limited isn't as settled as players think, and Magic events will never be the same.




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Antonino Baldasari   Aaron Lewis, 2-0        
8 Aaron Lewis   Frank Skarren, 2-1
       
4 Frank Skarren   Frank Skarren, 2-0   Frank Skarren, 2-0
5 Richard Nguyen    
       
2 Ben Stark   Gerard Fabiano, 2-1
7 Gerard Fabiano   Gerard Fabiano, 2-0
       
3 Patrick Sullivan   Patrick Sullivan, 2-1
6 Ben Isgur    







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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Adam Styborski and Steve Sadin
    Top 5 Cards

  • by Adam Styborski
    Finals
    Frank Skarren (Gruul) vs. Gerard Fabiano (Simic)

  • by Steve Sadin
    Semifinals
    Gerard Fabiano vs. Patrick Sullivan

  • by Adam Styborski
    Semifinals
    Frank Skarren (Gruul) vs. Aaron Lewis (Boros)

  • by Steve Sadin
    Quarterfinals
    Roundup

  • by Adam Styborski
    Quarterfinals
    Ben Stark (Boros/Gruul) vs. Gerard Fabiano (Simic)

  • by Adam Styborski
    Top 8
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Frank Skarren $3,500
 2.  Gerard Fabiano $2,300
 3.  Patrick Sullivan $1,500
 4.  Aaron Lewis $1,500
 5.  Richard Nguyen $1,000
 6.  Ben Isgur $1,000
 7.  Ben Stark $1,000
 8.  Antonino Baldasari $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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Green Bracket
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Blue Bracket
9
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1
9
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  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Gerard Fabiano

    Age: 29
    Hometown: New Jersey
    Occupation: SAT Teacher


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 4 Pro Tour Boston 2002Winner Grand Prix Philadelphia 2008Friends with Ben Lundquist and Antonio De Rosa

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Orzhov splashing blue

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Boros splashing Clan Defiance; 9-2

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Simic; 3-0Esper; 2-0-1

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    The Gamer's Edge in Strasburg, PA

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Duskmantle Guildmage




    Frank Skarren

    Age: 22
    Hometown: Merrick
    Occupation:


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Day two in two out of three Pro ToursThree GP Top 64s

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Simic Aggro. Nothing beats curving out with evolve and tempo smashing my opponent.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    R/W with a very light green splash; 9-2

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    R/W 3-0U/G splash red 3-0

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    #1 My basement#2 Local card shop on Long Island#3 Cities around the world!!

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Knight Watch. I know the card is simple, but I was very pleased every time I cast it.




    Aaron Lewis

    Age: 33
    Hometown: Madison, WI
    Occupation: Software Developer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    65th Pro Tour Paris6 Grand Prix Day Twos

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Orzhov, lots of reach thanks to extort and can pull back into games

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Simic splashing Clan Defiance; 7-2

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Gruul both drafts; 5-0-1

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Misty Mountain Games, Madison

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Gridlock




    Antonino Baldasari

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Clementon, NJ
    Occupation: Supply Clerk


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I beat Brad Nelson once to Day 2 Grand Prix Nashville in 2010 and Kevin "The Champ" Michael several times at FNM

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    I think Orzhov is the strongest, but I find myself in green decks more often than I'd like.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    White-red splashing black. I went 10-1.

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    First draft was straight Gruul; second was Simic splash black. 2-1 then 2-0-1

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    The Comic Book Store in Glassboro, NJ. Shout outs to KMD! Also everyone else there, too.

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    All of them. I didn't expect any of them to get me to a Top 8!




    Ben Isgur

    Age: 22
    Hometown: Williamsburg, VA
    Occupation: Student / Co-owner of TCG Centers, Inc.


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:

    Won a Pro Tour Qualifier for Dragon’s Maze, 2nd at StarCityGames Open:
    Richmond. Occasionally beat Tom Chillemi at Draft.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Boros or Gruul; I prefer the fast decks.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Boros; 11-0

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Both Gruul; 2-1 and 1-0-2

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Comics and Gaming in Gainesville, VA

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Murder Investigation




    Richard Nguyen

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Lancaster, PA
    Occupation: Poker player


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 32 of the last 3 Grands Prix

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Boros - fast

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Orzhov/Boros; 10-1

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Simic; 3-0Dimir/Simic; 1-0-2

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    MVP Sports and Games

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Simic Charm




    Patrick Sullivan

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Hillsborough, NJ
    Occupation: Game Designer for Stone Blade Entertainment


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    3 other Grand Prix Top 8s, played in some Pro Tours

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Orzhov. Flexible and powerful.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Boros; 11-0

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Boros; 3-0Boros; 0-1-2

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Sky High Games in San Marcos, CA

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?
    Debtor's Pulpit




    Ben Stark

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Tamarac, FL
    Occupation: None


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    8 Grand Prix Top 8s, winner Grand Prix Indianapolis 2013, 4 Pro Tour Top 8s, winner Pro Tour Paris 2010

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft and why is it your favorite?
    Orzhov - extort

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Four-Color (U/G/R/B); 10-1 (including byes)

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Gruul and Simic; 4-0-2

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Magic Online

    What card exceeded your expectations the most this weekend?

    Shambleshark




     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff











  •  

  • Quarterfinals – Ben Stark (Boros/Gruul) vs. Gerard Fabiano (Simic)

    by Adam Styborski

  • If you've been following Magic scene recently it's been hard to avoid Ben Stark. From his 2013 season-starting victory at Grand Prix Indianapolis through his Top 8 appearance in last week's Pro Tour Gatecrash and you'd believe that he's just a young face with a hot streak.


    Ben Stark

    His 2012 Grand Prix Top 8 appearances in Costa Rica and Atlanta, 2011 victory in Pro Tour Paris, and several more top finishes over the years beg to differ. Stark is in an elite class of player, considered by many to be among the best Limited experts in the world. For him to make the Top 8 of the largest Magic tournament in history seems natural.

    Across from Stark sat Gerard Fabiano, wearing his characteristic grin. He's an enigma among players, though he's been around just as long. From his team's excellent finish at Pro Tour Boston in 2002 to a more recent third place at 2010's Grand Prix Nashville and victory in 2008's Grand Prix Philadelphia, he and Stark felt easy together.


    Gerard Fabiano

    Longtime players with a lifetime passion can make the biggest events seem cozy. But only one could move on to the semifinals.

    Game 1

    Stark led with Boros Guildgate, and followed it with Gruul Guildgate and Forest, but didn't have a creature. Fabiano's end of turn Shambleshark grew thanks to Frontline Medic, and attacks begin. In turn 4 Stark had a Crocanura, but Fabiano served anyway. When Stark blocked with Crocanura and pumped it with Burst of Strength, Fabiano used his Simic Charm to clear it away.

    Each played an Adaptive Snapjaw, and Stark's ate Fabiano's Frontline Medic on the next attack. After Fabiano added Ivy Lane Denizen, Stark preempted any +1/+1 counter action with a Pit Fight for his fresh Skyknight Legionnaire.

    "I guess I'm going to two-for-one myself every turn," said Stark. Without any more creatures over the next two turns, Stark fell.

    Stark 0 – Fabiano 1

    Game 2

    Sacred Foundry into Forest let Stark explode, chaining Burning-Tree Emissary into Disciple of the Old Ways. Fabiano's Prophetic Prism let Stark strike for four, and a Crocanura on turn three put Stark in command.

    Fabiano played a Cloudfin Raptor without another creature, leaving blue and green mana ready. After thinking, Stark added an Ember Beast to trigger Crocanura's evolve, then attacked. Cloudfin Raptor blocked the Disciple of the Old Ways, getting pumped by Simic Charm. Scab-Clan Charger on Fabiano's turn put a sturdy blocker up, but a Pit Fight let Stark eat it after the next combat.

    Stark's Firefist Striker forced the Cloudfin Raptor to dodge blocking, letting Fabiano's Adaptive Snapjaw trade with the Ember Beast. With just four life left, Fabiano fell with Stark's next attack.

    Stark 1 – Fabiano 1

    Fabiano played first this time, leading Island into Forest. Stark's Gruul Guildgate and Mountain let him repeat his Burning-Tree Emissary into Disciple of the Old Ways play, but Fabiano's third turn Simic Manipulator promised to change the tides if given time.

    Stark had Plains for Sunhome Guildmage, but Fabiano's Frilled Oculus put a sturdy blocker in the way with the mana behind needed to pump. Without a play, Stark passed back where Fabiano resolved Syndic of Tithes. Passing the turn without a play again, Stark took a moment to read Simic Manipulator before Fabiano's Simic Keyrune entered the battlefield.


    AIt's an evolving board state.

    At the end of the turn, Stark created a red-white Soldier, and passed back again. Fabiano cast Leyline Phantasm, then let Stark have the turn again, content to wait for the right time to use his Manipulator. Stark started counting damage and checking life totals, a healthy 18 each, before adding another Disciple of the Old Ways. Fabiano used six mana to cast Sapphire Drake, and elected to steal Stark's Sunhome Guildmage when he created another token.

    The game had slowed considerably, but Pit Fight cleared Fabiano's Simic Manipulator before Stark played Crocanura. Sapphire Drake dropped him to 11, but Stark cast Skyknight Legionnaire and left it at home. It kept Fabiano's Drake at bay, and the passing of turns to and fro began again. Breaking the silence in style, Fabiano struck in with everyone and Stark began to play with blockers.


    Alpha strikes are terrifying to face.

    One Disciple blocked the Guildmage, Disciple, Emissary, and a token stopped the Oculus, another token stopped Leyline Phantasm, and Crocanura blocked Syndic of Tithes.

    What changed Fabiano's position? Biomass Mutation, where X equals 7, allowed his team to completely demolish Stark's battlefield. Without an answer for the army Fabiano still had, his 10 life vanished the next turn.

    Stark 1 – Fabiano 2




     

  • Quarterfinals Roundup

    by Steve Sadin

  • Ben Isgur (Orzhov/Boros) vs. Patrick Sullivan (Orzhov)

    "Have you ever drafted a deck, sat down assuming you were going to be in some colors, then wound up not being in those colors?" asked Ben Isgur just moments before playing a Slate Street Ruffian out of his solidly three color Orzhov/Boros deck.


    Ben Isgur (left) vs Patrick Sullivan (right)

    While Isgur managed to find all three of his colors of mana, his draw didn't have any sort of staying power – allowing Sullivan to take the first game without breaking a sweat.

    Patrick Sullivan 1 – Ben Isgur 0

    Game Two

    Even though the players had spent most of the first game laughing about just how poorly Isgur's deck had (apparently) turned out – Isgur was nonetheless able to demonstrate that his deck had some good things going for it, as he won the second game in a matter of minutes.

    Patrick Sullivan 1 – Ben Isgur 1

    Game Three

    Sullivan, fully aware of just how fragile Isgur's mana was, chose to draw first in the deciding game.

    Isgur, missing the red mana that he needed to cast several of his spells, still got off to a reasonable start with a Kingpin's Pet, a Syndicate Enforcer, and a Basilica Guards.

    However, his draw once again lacked any sort of real staying power – allowing Sullivan to hack away at his life total with a Dinrova Horror, a Nav Squad Commander, and a pair of Zarichi Tigers.

    After making some tough blocks, and playing a Deathpact Angel – Isgur was able to put together an on board lead at a mere 3 life.

    However, that wouldn't last for long as Sullivan drew, and immediately cast, a game winning Obzedat, Ghost Council.

    Patrick Sullivan 2 – Ben Isgur 1

    Richard Nguyen (Simic/Gruul) vs. Frank Skarren (Gruul)

    Nguyen went to the air early with a pair of Metropolis Sprites, and a Drakewing Krasis – but a Mugging bought Skarren all the time that he needed for his Ivy Lane Denizen, and his army of plus sized Gruul creatures (including Rubbleback Raiders) to smash their way to a one game lead.

    Frank Skarren 1 – Richard Nguyen 0


    Richard Nguyen (left) vs Frank Skarren (right)

    Game Two

    After spending much of the game trading creatures with his opponent, Skarren eventually played a Hellkite Tyrant that Nguyen simply had no answer for.

    A few hits from the dragon were ultimately all it took for Skarren to advance to the Semifinals.

    Frank Skarren 2 – Richard Nguyen 0

    Antonino Baldasari (Orzhov) vs. Aaron Lewis (Boros)


    Antonino Baldasari (left) vs Aaron Lewis (right)

    Baldasari missed his third land drop for a turn, and then found himself stuck on three lands for a long time after that.

    Baldasari did everything he could to fight through his mana woes, even withstanding an attack from a Molten Primordial while he was still bogged down with mana problems.

    But no matter how hard Baldasari tried, without a 5th land, he just didn't have enough spells to survive Lewis's unrelenting assault.

    Antonino Baldasari 0 – Aaron Lewis 1

    Game Two

    Baldasari opened with a turn two Syndic of Tithes – but no third land for the second game in a row. Meanwhile Lewis had a third land, but without a Mountain among them he was unable to play anything. After falling to 12 from just his opponent's Syndic of Tithes, Lewis finally drew the Mountain that he needed to start casting spells.

    Warmind Infantry, Assault Griffin, Skynight Legionnaire, and a Madcap Skills gave Lewis a very fast clock. But Baldasari got out of his mana problems just a couple of turns after Lewis did, and was consequently able to use a Killing Glare, and an Angelic Edict to get the board back to parity.

    Lewis, however, was able to rebuild his position in a hurry with a pair of Warmind Infantries – putting Baldasari into a position where he had to hope that Lewis would walk into his Smite to have a chance at getting back into the game.

    Lewis saw right through it, and cast a precombat Angelic Edict on Baldasari's only blocker to ensure that he wouldn't be vulnerable to his opponent's conditional white removal spell. An Assault Griffin, a Massive Raid and an attack step later Aaron Lewis was on to the Semifinals.

    Antonino Bladasari 0 – Aaron Lewis 2




     

  • Semifinals – Frank Skarren (Gruul) vs. Aaron Lewis (Boros)

    by Adam Styborski

  • Both Frank Skarren and Aaron Lewis were out to prove something. While both had qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze by placing in the Top 8, neither had seen this level of success beyond that. Winning a Grand Prix is already an incredible feat, but winning the largest Grand Prix in history would be the accomplishment.

    Without much to say to each other than a hand shake and "Good luck," the match began.

    Game 1

    Skarren opted to play first, running Forest and Mountain into Disciple of the Old Ways. Lewis's Bomber Corps wasn't a suitable blocker, and Slaughterhorn that Skarren followed with could trade with the Warmind Infantry that appeared across the way.


    Skarren's Gruul were rushing for blood.

    Skarren offered that trade, but didn't accept it. Ivy Lane Denizen promised to beef up Skarren's forces. Lewis missed playing a creature, though he did have Boros Guildgate, and it was on Skarren to decide the next attack. Slaughterhorn was all he offered, but this time Lewis did block with Warmind Infantry, but decided to cast Arrows of Justice instead of trading.

    Armored Transport followed by Mugging left the Warmind Infantry alone, but Lewis's Towering Thunderfist filled in the ranks for him. Armored Transport bounced off the Infantry, and Gruul Keyrune added to Skarren's forces.

    Giving his creature vigilance, Lewis attacked successfully before adding another Bomber Corps to the team. With plenty of mana available, Scab-Clan Charger become a 3/5 from Ivy Street Denizen, but Lewis attacked with everyone anyway.

    Bomber Corps's trigger took out Armored Transport, Denizen and Disciple doubled blocked the Corps, and the beefy Scab-Clan Charged was killed by Aerial Maneuver on Warmind Infantry. But Skarren wasn't out, adding Hellkite Tyrant to his team.

    It was just for a moment as Angelic Edict exiled the Dragon and Lewis repeated his attack with Boros Keyrune filling in for Bomber Corps. Putting Skarren down to three life forced him to keep blockers up, and instead his Skarrg Guildmage animated a land for him to attack.

    Facing Lewis's Towering Thunderfist and Warmind Infantry, Skarren began counting. Clan Defiance killed the Thunderfist and dropped Lewis to four life. Without another creature in the way, Skarren struck for the first win in the match.

    Skarren 1 – Lewis 0

    Game 2

    Lewis began this game and leaped in action with Truefire Paladin on the second turn, and Wojek Halberdiers on the third. Skarren had only Slaughterhorn to show in the same timeframe. Without hesitation, Slaughterhorn blocked Lewis's Halberdiers, but Lewis just replaced it with Assault Griffin.


    The Boros brought fury in Game 2.

    Skarren's rare, Rubblebelt Raiders, was impressive, but Lewis already had an answer in play with Cinder Elemental. Crocanura joined Skarren's defenses, yet Lewis attacked anyway with his Paladin and Griffin. The Crocanura died to Truefire Paladin pumping itself. Skarren was without more creatures to resist the onslaught, so Lewis's Daring Skyjek and Boros Keyrune finished their march.

    Skarren 1 – Lewis 1

    Game 3

    Skarren was on the play again, leading with Forest into Wasteland Viper, but he missed his two drop as Lewis found Bomber Corps. A familiar Slaughterhorn joined Skarren's team on the third turn, but Lewis missed his three drop. Both players started slower than expected.

    When Skarren attacked with his team, Massive Raid helped the Lewis's Bomber Corps trade with Skarren's Slaughterhorn. Cinder Elemental looked to help resist Rubblebelt Raiders, but Skarren's quick Mugging left it to attack freely. It quickly grew to a massive 8/8 stature, and dropped Lewis to two life along the way.

    Skarrg Guildmage from Skarren sealed the deal for him when no more creatures appeared for Lewis's Boros army.

    Skarren 2 – Lewis 1




     

  • Semifinals – Gerard Fabiano vs. Patrick Sullivan

    by Steve Sadin

  • In the early 2000s, New Jersey natives Gerard Fabiano and Patrick Sullivan were two of the most dedicated Pro Tour Qualifier players I've ever seen. If there was a PTQ within 8 hours of New Jersey, and they weren't already qualified, then there was a very good chance that they would drive there together.

    A decade, and quite a bit of Grand Prix, Pro Tour (and, of course, PTQ) success later and these two long time friends find themselves playing against each other in the Semifinals of the largest Magic tournament of all time.

    Game One

    Sullivan chose to draw first, and soon found himself staring down a +1/+1 counter happy board of Simic Manipulator, Simic Fluxmage, and Ivy Lane Denizen. A Grisly Spectacle (killing the Simic Manipulator), a Nav Squad Commando, and a Treasury Thrull helped Sullivan to catch up - but he was still in a somewhat precarious position.

    With Sullivan tapped out, Fabiano decided to attack with his 4/5 Simic Fluxmage. When Sullivan blocked it with his 3/5 Nav Squad Commando, Fabiano flashed in a Brambleshark and (thanks to Ivy Lane Denizen) made his Simic Fluxmage into a combat winning 5/6.


    Gerard Fabiano

    An Angelic Edict dealt with the gigantic Simic Fluxmage, and an Executioner's Swing killed off Fabiano's follow up play of Leyline Phantom. Unfazed by the fact that he had just lost his two biggest creatures in rapid succession, Fabiano simply refilled his hand with an Urban Evolution.

    Orzhov Charm killed off a Ivy Lane Denizen and cleared the way for Sullivan to get a hit in with his Treasury Thrull – but Fabiano was able to rebuild his board (and continue growing his Brambleshark) with a Drakewing Krasis, a Frontline Medic, and a Sapphire Drake

    An Arrows of Justice and an Executioner's Swing allowed Sullivan to take out Drakewing Krasis, and Brambleshark – but with no answers left to deal with Fabiano's Sapphire Drake, Sullivan was forced to sit and watch as his life total rapidly disappeared.

    After falling to 5, Sullivan drew the normally outstanding Obzedat, Ghost Council – however even that wasn't enough to prevent Fabiano from killing him on his following attack phase.

    Gerard Fabiano 1 – Patrick Sullivan 0

    Game Two

    Sullivan once again chose to draw in the second game, and once again found himself backpedalling early as Fabiano opened with a Frilled Oculus, a Simic Manipulator, and a Scab-Clan Charger.


    Patrick Sullivan

    Sullivan was eventually able to kill off the Simic Manipulator with an Orzhov Charm, allowing him to cast a Thrull Parasite, and a Basilica Screecher without fear of them being taken – but even so, he wasn't making much headway.

    Undaunted by his opponent's 1/1 or 1/2 extort creatures Fabiano attacked, and then restocked his hand with an Urban Evolution - while Sullivan simply played a Dimir Keyrune, and paid for his two extort triggers.

    Sullivan attempted a Knight Watch on his following turn, but when Fabiano countered it with a Mystic Genesis Sullivan knew he was beat.

    After staring at the board for a few seconds, Sullivan extended his hand and wished his friend good luck in the finals.

    Gerard Fabiano 2 – Patrick Sullivan 0




     

  • Finals – Frank Skarren (Gruul) vs. Gerard Fabiano (Simic)

    by Adam Styborski

  • 2,672 players entered the tournament Saturday. It took three cuts across 17 rounds to determine the Top 8 on Sunday. Now, at the finals, just a fraction of the field was left.

    Gerard Fabiano, still jovial, helped Frank Skarren loosen up. Tears began to well in Skarren's eyes as he and Fabiano discussed the gravity of the day: one of them would win the record-shattering event. The hours of play had taken their toll, but neither player seemed unhappy.


    Gerard Fabiano had a way of making any situation light-hearted.

    As far as finals go, everyone was happy to finally find the end in sight.

    Game 1

    Skarren led off, Fabiano again lamenting his lower-than-his-opponent's standings record, but Skarren didn't have a play even through the third turn. Battlefield Medic fired from Fabiano's hand, and Skarren's first creature, Ivy Lane Denizen, declined to block on the next turn.

    Ghor-Clan Rampager triggered the Denizen, which added a counter to itself and attacked. Fabiano held his Medic the following turn, and cast Urban Evolution to draw a several cards and play a second Simic Guildgate.

    With seven power in creatures, Skarren used two copies of Mugging to kill the Battlefield Medic before attacking Fabiano to 10 life. A Scorchwalker from Skarren represented lethal damage next turn. Fabiano's beefy Leyline Phantasm didn't block Skarren's next attack, just a Scorchwalker, as Fabiano activated his Simic Keyrune to trade instead.

    On his turn, Fabiano played a Simic Manipulator and Ivy Land Denizen, but Skarren used Massive Raid to kill the Manipulator before it could get out of hand. Attacking with his larger Denizen and Ghor-Clan Rampager, Fabiano blocked the 4/4 with both his Ivy Lane Denizen and Leyline Phantasm, which ended with both green creatures dying and the Phantasm returning to Fabiano's hand.


    Frank Skarren was on a rampage with his Rampagers.

    A second Ghor-Can Rampager from Skarren became a 5/5 thanks to Ivy Land Denizen, but Fabiano replayed his Leyline Phantasm and put Way of the Thief on it. Despite facing that 7/7, Skarren still attacked with his team, and used Skinbrand Goblin to get the Rampager to trade with the massive Phantasm.

    Without a creature in play, Fabiano was forced to use Mystic Genesis to stop Skarren's Crocanura, getting a 3/3 he chose to not block with. One life was a precarious place for Fabiano, but he didn't have a creature again so his Ooze took the hit instead. One more turn without a creature and Fabiano finally fell.

    Skarren 1 – Fabiano 0

    Banter continued between games. "If I don't win this I'm going to want to keep playing, going to more Grands Prix. If I win I might take it easy awhile." Fabiano said. "But hopefully San Diego will be fun," he continued, pointing out that they were both qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze, taking place in San Diego this May.

    "Yeah, I think I'm just going to keep playing," Skarren shared, "I'd really like to qualify for Amsterdam." The World Magic Cup, and winning one of its qualifiers was on his mind. Win or lose, there's always another event to enter and achievement to earn.

    Game 2

    Fabiano wasn't happy to take two mulligans, but Skarren shared his wasn't pleased with his hand either. Simic Guildgate and Island gave Fabiano a Frilled Oculus on turn two, followed by a quick attack-and-pump on turn three. Skarren's familiar Slaughterhorn appeared, but with four lands available Fabiano just passed back.

    Scorchwalker joined Skarren's party, but Fabiano had a Leyline Phantasm to fight too. Skarren attack with his Scorchwalker; Fabiano decided to just take it. On his turn Fabiano attacked with his Oculus, and Skarren activated his Gruul Keyrune to double block alongside his Slaughterhorn. Fabiano pumped his Oculus with its own ability, then again with Simic Charm, to kill Skarren's team duo.

    Following that, Fabiano used Leyline Phantasm with "expensive vigilance" as his put it, attacking and recasting it after combat, but Skarren used the opportunity of Fabiano lacking the mana to pump his Frilled Oculus to cast both Slaughter Horn and Massive Raid, killing the Homunculus. When Skarren attacked again, Fabiano used a blocking Leyline Phantasm and Smite to kill Scorchwalker.

    Without more creatures on Fabiano's side, Skarren continued his attack. With Mugging, Massive Raid, and Ghor-Clan Rampager, with his second in already in hand, Skarren took just one turn to take Fabiano from eight to zero life, winning Grand Prix Charlotte!

    Skarren 2 – Fabiano 0




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Adam Styborski and Steve Sadin



  • 5. Boros Guildgate

    Boros was considered among the best archetypes upon the release of Gatecrash. While how many players overdraft it is up for debate, what's clear is that it's a force to be reckoned with regardless. Patrick Sullivan parlayed his love for white-red and its difficult-to-cast two drops, such as Wojek Halberdiers and Truefire Paladin, into a 14 round win streak and seat at the Top 8 draft.













    4. Plains

    Basic lands usually aren't exciting, but at the beginning of Day 1 sleeving several of these up may have made you very happy. Only two of the nine undefeated Day 1 decks didn't play Plains, and 52 Plains were in a total of 154 lands - a third of the entire mana available, including the two decks without them. Casting white spells was a good deal players didn't pass up.













    3. Syndic of Tithes

    As the Booster Draft rounds of Pro Tour Gatecrash made clear, Orzhov is a powerhouse in this Limited format. Between aggressive Boros decks looking to fill their two-drops out, or slightly less aggressive Orzhov decks that could capitalize on either attacking or generating extort triggers, Syndic of Tithes was in demand all weekend long.













    2. Ivy Lane Denizen

    Gerard Fabiano, and Frank Skarren both made great use of Ivy Lane Denizen on their roads to the finals. Skarren was able to overpower Richard Nguyen in the quarterfinals thanks to the +1/+1 counters that his Ivy Lane Denizen gave his (already large) Gruul creatures - and Gerard Fabiano used Ivy Lane Denizen along with a flashed in Brambleshark to win a particularly key combat in his semifnals match.













    1. Ghor-Clan Rampager

    While Gruul stayed off the radar between Sealed Deck rounds, the power of the guild was brought to bear in the final Booster Draft. Frank Skarren, packing two copies of this powerful Gatecrash uncommon, smashed his way through the Finals, and put red-green at the top of the heap at the end of Grand Prix Charlotte.






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