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Gutierrez Seizes Victory in Fort Worth!

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The letter V!ariation is the spice of life, and we were treated to a veritable spice rack all weekend long. Esper Control transitioned into Azorius Control. Monowhite Aggro featuring Boros Charm became Monowhite Aggro featuring Orzhov Charm. And most notably, Monoblack Devotion took a back seat in the Top 8 for Orzhov Control. Orzhov Control was seen cracking the Top 16 at Vienna last week, and it managed to not only crack the Top 8, but take down the whole shebang here in frosty Fort Worth.

Hailing from Mexico City, Marlon Gutierrez did not have an easy road to becoming the champion here at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. In addition to a twelve hour trek through the ice and freezing rain, Gutierrez found himself facing three of the toughest opponents in Magic in his Top 8 matches. He began by dispatching Seth Manfield's Azorius Control deck in the quarterfinals. He followed that up with back-to-back matches against Hall of Famers, first top-ranked Ben Stark and his Monowhite Aggro deck, then William Jensen and his Azorius Control deck. The finals were a very tight affair, but Gutierrez's Thoughtseizes came at the right times and hit the right targets to swing things in his favor.

This weekend was a coming out party in many senses of the phrase. From Last Breath enabling Azorius Control's rise, to the strong performances of the Orzhov variant of Monowhite Aggro, it was fitting that one of the two Mexican players in the Top 8 broke through to take the title. The timing couldn't have been better, either, with Grand Prix Mexico City, Gutierrez's hometown, on the horizon. Here in February, Gutierrez will have a chance to repeat his title in his hometown, and, if he plays like he did this weekend, he will stand a great chance of doing just that.

Congratulations to Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez, Champion of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Haibing Hu   Carlos Reyes, 2-1        
8 Carlos Reyes   William Jensen, 2-0
       
4 Darin Minard   William Jensen, 2-0   Marlon Gutierrez, 2-1
5 William Jensen    
       
2 Eric Centauri   (1) Ben Stark, 2-0
7 (1) Ben Stark   Marlon Gutierrez, 2-0
       
3 Seth Manfield   Marlon Gutierrez, 2-1
6 Marlon Gutierrez    









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  Sreaming video coverage of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth provided by ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Marshall Sutcliffe, Nate Price, Jacob Van Lunen, and Rich Castle. See full video archives at ggslive's YouTube channel.


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth

  • by Nate Price
    Final
    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. William “Huey” Jensen (Azorius Control)

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    Marlon Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion)

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Quarterfinals
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Darin Minard (Mostly Red Boros Burn)

  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinals Round-up
    Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion) vs. Haibing Hu (Monoblack Devotion)

    Seth Manfield (Azorius Control) vs. Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control)

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Quarterfinals
    Eric Centauri (Azorius Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

  • by Nate Price
    Top 8 Profiles

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 8 Decklists

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 16 Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet
 1.  Marlon Gutierrez $4,000
 2.  William Jensen $2,700
 3.  Carlos Reyes $1,500
 4.  Ben Stark $1,500
 5.  Haibing Hu $1,000
 6.  Eric Centauri $1,000
 7.  Seth Manfield $1,000
 8.  Darin Minard $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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  • Top 16 Decklists

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Amir Salamat's Mono-Black Devotion
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Josh Utter-Leyton's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Charles Lancaster's Azorius Devotion
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Artur Villela's Mono-Blue Devotion
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Orrin Beasley's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Jonathan Slaughter's Mono-Blue Devotion
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    David Gomez's Mono-Blue Devotion
    Top 16 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013




     

  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Haibing Hu's Mono-Black Devotion
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Eric Centauri's Azorius Control
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Seth Manfield's Azorius Control
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Darin Minard's Mostly Red Boros Burn
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    10  Mountain
    Sacred Foundry
    Temple of Silence
    Temple of Triumph

    22 lands

    Chandra's Phoenix
    Young Pyromancer

    8 creatures

    Boros Charm
    Chained to the Rocks
    Lightning Strike
    Magma Jet
    Shock
    Skullcrack
    Warleader's Helix

    28 other spells

    Chandra, Pyromaster

    2 planeswalkers

    Sideboard
    Assemble the Legion
    Boros Reckoner
    Spark Trooper

    11 sideboard cards



    William Jensen – Azorius Control
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Marlon Gutierrez's Orzhov Control
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Ben Stark's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013


    Carlos Becerrea Reyes – Mostly Red Gruul Devotion
    Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013




     

  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Nate Price


  • William Jensen

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
    Occupation: Gamer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Hall of Fame 2013

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Blue/White Control because Andrew Cuneo built it, and I like to play control decks.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    Being elected to the Hall of Fame.




    Benjamin Stark

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Tamarc, FL
    Occupation: None


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    13 GP Top 8s, Hall of Fame, 4 PT Top 8s, Won PT Paris and GP Indy

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    White Weenie. It's favored against Monoblue and Monoblack Devotion.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    The Hall of Fame ceremony in Dublin. I got inducted with two good friends, Huey and LSV, and my girlfriend Michelle, sister, mom, and dad were there.




    Darin Minard

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Oklahoma City
    Occupation: IT Tech


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 8 Grand Prix Houston

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Burn. I've been doing well with it. People don't usually know how to play against it.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    Spending 10 hours in a car stuck in snowy weather.




    Seth Manfield

    Age: 22
    Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD
    Occupation: Job Hunting/Magic Player


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner GP Daytona Beach and GP Kansas City, Top 8 GP Daytona, Top 16 Worlds 09

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    UW Control. I felt like it was the deck that gave me the most room to maximize play skill. Plus Last Breath makes the deck a lot better.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    My GP win at Kansas City.




    Haibing Hu

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Houston
    Occupation: Engineer this year, hopefully traveling magician next year


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 3 US Nationals

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Monoblack Devotion. I have no idea why, but it seemed good.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    Hopefully not the drive home.




    Carlos Becerra Reyes

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Queretaro, Mexico
    Occupation: Physiotherapist


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    My 2nd Grand Prix, finished 61st in the first, made Top 8 here in the second.

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Monored Devotion splashing Domri Rade. Domri beat a lot of decks, and it does the same things as the Chained to the Rocks version.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    Coming to Dallas with my friends, driving 16 hours from Mexico, and having the best weekend of my life!




    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
    Occupation: Masters Student/Professor


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 64 GP Guadalajara, Top 100 PT Barcelona, Top 8 Nationals 2008

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Orzhov Control. I chose it because I'm in love with Vizkopa and Pack Rat. 14 removal spells and 6 discard spells are a perfect mix for this Grand Prix.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    This Top 8. I know that in Mexico, all of the people are raising their hands for the Big Genkidama.




    Eric Orion Centauri

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Mountain Home, Idaho
    Occupation: Professor of Astrophysics at University of Tulsa


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Utah State Champion 2005, Oklahoma State Champion 2013, 7th in the world in the old Arena rankings from 1998, Top 32 GP Dallas 2012

    What deck did you play this weekend and why?
    Azorius Control. These cards are all insane, and it's what I had in foil.

    What was your most memorable Magic moment in 2013?
    Waking up every morning next to my wife.






     

  • Quarterfinals:
    Eric Centauri (Azorius Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Eric Centauri has had a great run this weekend with Azorius Control, the powerful Sphinx's Revelation control deck that trades the power of Esper's cards for consistency in its mana.

    His opponent, however was No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark, a newly minted Hall of Fame member. He is playing the White Weenie variant that touches into black that he and his Team ChannelFireball compatriots brought to combat the field this weekend.

    The Games

    The match began with a plethora of mulligans, with Stark going to six and Centauri going for a devastating four cards. Stark had a speedy start with Soldier of the Pantheon and Daring Skyjek, while Centauri's first play was Last Breath, which exiled Stark's Mutavault when it was animated on the third turn.

    However, recovering from a mulligan to four for a mana-hungry control deck is difficult, and for Centauri, it proved to be insurmountable when he had no Supreme Verdict when Stark flooded the battlefield after his attacks on the third and fourth turn.


    No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark

    In the second game, Stark led with Dryad Militant, which was hit with Azorius Charm on the next turn. Stark replaced the temporarily disposed one mana creature with Daring Skyjek, and then the Hall of Famer pulled the trigger on Thoughtseize the next turn, revealing three lands (including a Mutavault), Azorius Charm, and Jace, Architect of Thought on the next turn. He discarded the Azorius Charm, then attacked for 3 before casting Soldier of the Pantheon.

    Wary of a Spear of Heliod (which Stark had waiting in hand), Centauri passed the turn with four open rather than playing Jace, only to see Xathrid Necromancer resolve from Stark on the next turn. "That was pretty good there," Centauri said, taking 3 from Stark's creatures after Celestial Flare bought Centauri some life. The sacrificed Soldier of the Pantheon, which was sacrificed to Celestial Flare, was replaced with a zombie token, and Stark passed back. Centauri again passed with five open, and was helpless to Stark's Spear of Heliod on the next turn.


    Eric Centauri

    A misstep of allowing the Spear of Heliod to resolve before having responses left Centauri unable to deal with the Xathrid Necromancer while he had a chance to before it became three power. The Last Breath that Centauri drew now no longer had a god target. The mistake cost Centauri the chance to come back, as Stark's creatures pummeled in and left him without options during his next turn.

    Centauri 0 – Stark 2




     

  • Quarterfinals Roundup

    by Nate Price

  • Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion) vs. Haibing Hu (Monoblack Devotion)

    Early plays from both players, with Reyes filling his board with Ash Zealot, Boros Reckoner, and Burning-Tree Emissary alongside Domri Rade. Hu, meanwhile, filled his board with an infestation of Rats, adding two Pack Rats and a load of tokens to the table. Reyes managed to slowly drive them away thanks to his first-strike creatures and some timely fights from Domri. Eventually, after whittling away Hu's hand, Reyes cleared the remainders away with an overloaded Mizzium Mortars. They had dealt a massive blow, however, halving Reyes's life total.

    From here, Hu went big with his threats, taking to the skies with a pair of Desecration Demons. These Demons were kept at bay initially through some timely sacrifices, but they soon broke through. A Gray Merchant of Asphodel dropped Reyes to four life, clearing the way for one attack from a lone Demon to finish things off.


    Haibing Hu

    Game 2 opened as a game of point-counterpoint, as Reyes played creatures only to have them destroyed by Hu. This trend ended abruptly when Reyes resolved a Xenagos, the Reveler, on his fourth turn, spewing out the first in a string of hasty Satyrs. This stream of creatures proved to be quite a problem for Hu, who was lacking a Hero's Downfall to deal with the Planeswalker. He tried to set up the beginnings of a token army of his own with a Pack Rat, but it didn't even get to activate once before Hu conceded to the hole he was in. Xenagos, three Satyrs, two Boros Reckoners, and an Ash Zealot were a significant upgrade over the lone Rat.


    Carlos Becerra Reyes

    A first-turn Thoughtseize remedied the problem of the third game, stripping a Xenagos, the Reveler, from Reyes's hand. This was an easy way to get rid of Xenagos before he became a problem, and the Planeswalker met his demise while he was nothing more than a glimmer in Reyes's eye. Hu was also able to slow Reyes down with some early removal, including a Doom Blade and Devour Flesh for his first two creatures. Unfortunately for Hu, an early stumble on mana prevented him from taking care of the next two, and Reyes's Boros Reckoner and Stormbreath Dragon did work, dropping Hu to 11. A Hero's Downfall managed to stem the tide slightly, removing the Dragon, but a second Boros Reckoner threatened to end the game in short order. Even a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, though it padded Hu's life total a bit, couldn't play successful defense against the pair of Reckoners. A Purphoros, God of the Forge, on the following turn sealed the deal for Reyes, giving him the match.

    Seth Manfield (Azorius Control) vs. Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control)

    Gutierrez mentioned in his player profile how good he thought his massive number of discard spells were in this event, and the first game of this match was the perfect indicator of why. A Duress and a pair of Thoughtseizes ravaged Manfield's hand, leaving him with just an Essence Scatter and two Revelations in his hand. Still, when a flurry of discard still leaves a Revelation in hand, the cards lost become moot. Manfield simply used his remaining copies of Revelation to dig through his deck. This eventually found him a Supreme Verdict to clear away the Baron, though it had dealt him quite a bit of damage, dropping him all the way to nine life. A follow-up Desecration Demon was also locked in a Detention Sphere, providing yet a bit more protection for the imperiled Manfield.


    Seth Manfield

    A Sin Collector revealed a three-card hand of two Dissolves and Last Breath, effectively stripping two cards from Manfield in exchange for its life. Gutierrez pressed his advantage, running Manfield out of cards, but a massive Sphinx's Revelation from the top of his deck completely swung the game in his favor. The Jace, Architect of Thought, continued the trend, netting him yet another Revelation. By this point, Gutierrez was drawing off the top of his deck, and Manfield was chock full of cards. One Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and Ætherling later, and Gutierrez conceded.

    Though his draw contained less hand destruction than the previous one, Gutierrez was still able to mess with Manfield's hand early in the second game, aiming a Thoughtseize at a hand containing Last breath, Dissolve, Jace, Revelation, and three lands. The permission spell went to the graveyard, signaling that Gutierrez had something important that he wanted to resolve. That something looked to be a Desecration Demon, incredibly powerful against this creatureless Azorius Control deck. The Demon began his work, first removing Jace from play, then starting in at Manfield's life. A second Thoughtseize stripped Manfield of his Sphinx's Revelation, leaving him with a hand filled with lands.


    Looking bad, Manfield ripped a Celestial Flare from the top of his deck, giving him a great answer to the rampaging Demon. Before passing the turn to Gutierrez, Manfield resolved a Jace, Architect of Thought, and drew himself a couple of cards. Unfortunately for him, he revealed another Celestial Flare on the Jace activation, meaning that, whether he took the pile containing it or not, the jig was up. After a minute of thought, Gutierrez gave him a split that offered Celestial Flare and Ætherling, which he gladly took. This was even better for him when Gutierrez aimed a Thoughtseize his way, revealing to the Mexican player that Manfield had a backup copy of the Flare. This prompted Gutierrez to part ways with his Demon, taking the Ætherling and allowing Manfield to Flare the Demon away. In its place, Gutierrez summoned a Pack Rat, which Manfield had no immediate answer to.

    Fortunately for him, his deck was kind, providing a Detention Sphere. Interestingly, Manfield chose to instead sequester the Underworld Connections on Gutierrez's Swamp, valuing the denial of cards over the immediate threat of the Pack Rat. Between the Flare in hand and the Jace in play, he was temporarily safe from the Rat, knowing that he would be able to find time to dig for a Supreme Verdict. This is exactly what happened, as Gutierrez opted against the attack, in favor of recruiting a Blood Baron of Vizkopa to his team. When Jace revealed a Supreme Verdict on the following turn, it was very quickly put in its own pile, and just as quickly snapped up by Manfield. With a freshly cleared board, Manfield looked to be taking control.

    That illusion of control was quickly shattered. Gutierrez put Manfield to some difficult decisions. A Pack Rat forced Manfield to eventually throw his Jace away looking for cards. Later, he was forced to make a difficult decision on Pithing Needle opting to lock out Mutavault, as opposed to the Pack Rat. When a Desecration Demon came down soon thereafter (off of the top of the deck), Manfield was bitten by his own Needle, unable to activate his own Mutavault to defend for a turn. This rapid shift in fortunes sent Manfield reaching for his sideboard for the final game.


    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

    The final game came down to a few interesting turns. Gutierrez opened with a fairly aggressive draw, leading with Pack Rat, Sin Collector, and Lifebane Zombie. The Sin Collector was countered with Dissolve, but the other cards began to make work of Manfield, who was sitting on a pair of Elspeth, Sun's Champions, in his hand. He was also sitting on a Sphinx's Revelation, but the turn before he would likely cast it, it was stripped by a Duress. Since Manfield was going to be looking for a Supreme Verdict anyway, he chose not to cast the Revelation, allowing it to be stripped from his hand. Elspeth came down to provide a frontline of defense, but the Lifebane Zombie's intimidate meant that a constant stream of damage was still going to be headed at Manfield. Even with three Soldier tokens preventing the bulk of Gutierrez's damage, the Lifebane Zombies did their job, skirting past Manfield's defenses, eventually dealing the killing blow.




     

  • Quarterfinals:
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Darin Minard (Mostly Red Boros Burn)

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • William Jensen has done it again. Just last week, he was able to secure another Grand Prix Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Toronto. This week, he finds himself in the same position, this time piloting Azorius Control against Darin Minard's Burn deck. Who will advance to the Semifinals? Find out below!




     

  • Semifinals:
    William Jensen (Azorius Control) vs. Carlos Becerra Reyes (Monored Domri Devotion)

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • William Jensen has earned himself back-to-back Grand Prix Top 4 finishes this weekend, and the Hall of Famer stands poised to be in a great spot to win with Azorius Contro. His opponent, Carlos Becerra Reyes of Queretaro, Mexico, looked to stop that run and improve on what has already been an impeccable performance for his second ever Grand Prix.

    Would rookie Reyes keep the dream alive of winning the second Grand Prix he's ever played at, or would Jensen secure himself a chance at winning his second Grand Prix trophy of the year? Find out below!




     

  • Semifinals:
    Marlon Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. (1) Ben Stark (Mostly White Orzhov Aggro)

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Marlon Gutierrez has had an incredible run this weekend. Not only has the masters student and professor from Mexico City locked up an invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Journey into Nyx later next year, but he has also been crushing his competition all weekend with Orzhov Control, a deck that has access to four Blood Barons of Vizkopa. And the Blood Barons have been serving him well all weekend, with his deck of choice appearing to be very well positioned for this event.

    Needless to say, the Blood Barons were going to make No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark's journey into the finals a very steep uphill battle. His White Weenie deck, which delves into black for Orzhov, has no way to interact with the five mana creature, and Gutierrez's combination of cheap discard spells and removal. Would the Hall of Famer be able to push through with a quick win before Gutierrez's deck was completely online?

    The Games

    Gutierrez led with a first-turn Thoughtseize, disposing Stark of Xathrid Necromancer and leaving him with Imposing Sovereign, Boros Elite, Godless Shrine, and three Plains. Stark led with his one mana creature, and then added the Sovereign to his board on the next turn, unable to attack with Boros Elite due to Gutierrez's untapped Mutavault.


    Marlon Gutierrez

    Gutierrez had a creature for the board with Pack Rat on the third turn. It came in tapped, and Stark's creatures attacked in, another Boros Elite joined his team post combat. Gutierrez had no fourth land, but he passed with his Pack Rat untapped. Stark sent his team in, dropping Gutierrez to 9 but losing Imposing Sovereign in the process.

    While Gutierrez couldn't find land but was content with the situation given that his Pack Rat was providing him with options, Stark was unable to find spells and was drowning in lands. Slowly, his board was whittled away, the Hall of Famer losing creatures to Gutierrez's removal spells, while Gutierrez made sure to keep at least one Pack Rat available to continue clogging the board. Eventually, Gutierrez added a real copy of Pack Rat to join his board of Pack Rat tokens.

    Eventually, Gutierrez reached five mana, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa was more than enough to earn the concession from Stark.

    Gutierrez again led with Thoughtseize in the second game, seeing a hand of Banisher Preist, Orzhov Charm, Precinct Captain, Dark Betrayal, and two Mutavaults. He chose to discard Stark's Dark Betrayal, leaving Stark to cast Daring Skyjek from off the top on the next turn. Devour Flesh immediately disposed of the 3/1 creature, and Stark replaced it with Precinct Captain on the next turn.


    No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark

    Stark had no proactive action on the third turn, and passed back to Gutierrez, who also had no plays. Stark beat down with Mutavault. He found Xathrid Necromancer on the next turn, and he added it to his board. Pharika's Cure quickly shot down the powerful human wizard, and Gutierrez followed up with Desecration Demon, which was promptly exiled by Stark's Banisher Priest. Attacks from the zombie and the Mutavault put Gutierrez down to 12. Stark did not hesitate to send in his team, and when Gutierrez had Doom Blade for the Banisher Priest, Orzhov Charm destroyed the Desecration Demon when it came back into play.

    Before blocks, Gutierrez woke up his Mutavault, then blocked Stark's own copy of the land. Devour Flesh caused Stark to sacrifice his blocked Mutavault, and Gutierrez dropped to 8. However, the newcomer stabilized when Hero's Downfall and a blocking Mutavault left the Hall of Famer without creatures.

    When Gutierrez had Pack Rat as his final follow-up, the writing was on the wall. The rats quickly multiplied, and Stark's draw steps did not yield and way out. He offered the handshake a few turns later.

    Gutierrez 2 – Stark 0




     

  • Final:
    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez (Orzhov Control) vs. William “Huey” Jensen (Azorius Control)

    by Nate Price

  • Things progressed very slowly to open this game, as expected in this control-heavy matchup. The first contribution to the board was a Desecration Demon from Gutierrez. Thoughtseize drew out a Dissolve, Jensen making sure to leave mana up to Azorius Charm, but a second hit home, revealing a powerful hand of Supreme Verdict, Sphinx's Revelation, Detention Sphere, Divination, and the Charm. After recording the contents, Gutierrez took the Revelation. His Demon attacked and was summarily sent to the top of Gutierrez's library. When he came down the next turn, Jensen cleared it away with his Supreme Verdict. A second followed in its wake, and it found itself trapped in a Detention Sphere.

    Jensen began to try and assume control of the game with Jace, Architect of Thought, using it two draw cards twice, netting himself an Azorius Charm and two Dissolves over the course of the two activations. He even had the second Supreme Verdict already in hand to deal with a Blood Baron of Vizkopa that hit the table. After denying Gutierrez an Underworld Connections and resolving a Sphinx's Revelation for six, Jensen appeared to be well on his way to taking the first game of this finals.


    William Jensen

    Gutierrez managed to slowly draw cards out of Jensen's hand, but another Sphinx's Revelation for ten cards simply negated the losses. An Elixir of Immortality gave him a way to shuffle his now enriched graveyard back into his library, as he set on his long, grinding path to victory. It took quite a few more turns and another Elixir activation, but Jensen finally managed to draw enough cards out of Gutierrez to actually win the game. Victory by resignation has likely accounted for more wins for this Azorius Control deck than any other source over the weekend, and a resourceless Gutierrez added another tally in that column.

    Game 2 opened with a fight over card advantage. Gutierrez's first Underworld Connections was stopped by Syncopate, but the second landed, ensuring a stream of cards for the Mexican player. Jensen responded with a Jace, Architect of Thought, but he only got a single activation before it was locked down under a Pithing Needle. Jace, Memory Adept, came down to take its place, but it suffered a Hero's Downfall. Jensen managed to find a Pithing Needle of his own to shut down Gutierrez's Underworld Connections and any other shenanigans that Gutierrez's Swamps might try to get into.

    With the card advantage war behind them, both players took to the board with creatures. Gutierrez landed a token-spewing Pack Rat, matched on Jensen's side by the equally annoying Elspeth, Sun's Herald. Hero's Downfall betrayed the Elspeth as well, and a Supreme Verdict set the game back to null.

    Both players were effectively playing off of the tops of their decks at this point, and Gutierrez struck first, landing a Blood Baron of Vizkopa against a defenseless Jensen. Jensen played a Jace, Architect of Thought, which was soon freed from the constraints of the Pithing Needle by a Detention Sphere. With a target other than Jensen now available, the Baron switched paths, taking Jace out of the equation and ensuring that Gutierrez maintained his advantage. Jensen managed to find himself a Supreme Verdict to kill the Baron, but Gutierrez's Mutavault was still enough to finish off the wounded Jensen, as he floundered his attempts to draw into defense.

    Gutierrez was faced with an interesting decision on the second turn of the final game. A Thoughtseize had the chance to strip a Pithing Needle, Elspeth, Supreme Verdict, Dissolve, or the Divination that Jensen needed to draw into more lands. He ended up denying the card drawing spell, and a Sin Collector denied him the Supreme Verdict as well. A second Thoughtseize denied Jensen his other defensive card, Detention Sphere, and things looked decidedly in Gutierrez's favor. He added a Lifebane Zombie to his side of the board, giving himself a fast clock.


    Marlon Jacob Avila Gutierrez

    With his back against the wall, Jensen managed to find a Divination, using it to draw himself into a pair of lands. Those lands would allow him to dig even further with his Sphinx's Revelation, though it was going to be from a losing position. Gutierrez had the chance to strip Jensen of the Revelation with a third Thoughtseize, but opted instead to take the Pithing Needle, a decision that made much more sense when he cast an Underworld Connections immediately thereafter.

    Jensen was down to ten. He dropped himself even lower with an untapped Hallowed Fountain, allowing him to play Elspeth from his hand, though it didn't change the clock the Lifebane Zombie represented. A second Lifebane Zombie represented a lethal upcoming attack, and left things to Jensen's library. He slowly peeled the card off the top of his deck, looking for a Supreme Verdict. Instead, he found another Counterspell. He made Gutierrez go through the motions of killing him, which he was more than happy to do. As the handshake came out, the dozen or so Mexican players flanking the feature match area erupted in cheers for Gutierrez, champion of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth!




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth

    by Mike Rosenberg



  • 5. Thoughtseize

    Information is powerful. Very powerful. Thoughtseize does a whole lot more than simply provide its user with a powerful form of disruption. It also ensures that the coast is clear; that no traps or tricks are waiting in your opponent's hand, waiting for you to step into them. The timing of casting Thoughtseize is just as important as taking the right card. When it comes to a discard spell as powerful as Thoughtseize, it is key to save it for when you know exactly what you need to strip from your opponent's hand in order for your threats to go unanswered.

    We saw that timing played to good effect when Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth Champion Marlon Gutierrez stripped Hall of Famer William Jensen of a Divination in the third game of the finals. That play changed the impact of Jensen's hand, which he needed to draw into more lands in order to truly take off. Instead, he was left grounded, and missed a key land drop on the fourth turn. From there, Gutierrez was able to use Thoughtseize to strip his opponent of key answers to the threats he then deployed, making sure the path was safe for his Sin Collector and Lifebane Zombies to ultimately win the game.





    4. Spear of Heliod

    It's been a while since we've seen a Glorious Anthem putting in some serious work in a Standard format, but the three mana legendary artifact enchantment has been a big part of the White Weenie decks we've seen this weekend. The Spear provides a very important increase in power that helps the deck get over big hurdles such as the format-defining planeswalker Jace, Architect of Thought. We saw how this could mess with a control player's game plan in the Quarterfinals when the threat of a Spear of Heliod from Ben Stark kept Eric Centauri from deploying his Jace in their second game, knowing that it would just put him behind drastically.

    The Spear also helps White Weenie players in providing a major trump against other creature decks. Is Desecration Demon giving you trouble? Pay three mana after you take your lumps and get rid of it. The same can be said for most creatures out of the devotion decks, where losing a creature to a simple activated effect could mean the difference between your devotion cards taking over a game or never getting off of the ground. Regardless, it is clear that the Spear is one godly weapon that white creature lovers should not overlook.





    3. Xenagos, the Reveler

    Previously seen in Makihito Mihara's Colossal Gruul deck from Pro Tour Theros, Xenagos, the Reveler, has seen better days. The Gruul Devotion deck has fallen out of popularity, and Xenagos has fallen by the wayside alongside it. Now relegated to the sideboards of Monored Devotion decks, Xenagos seemed likely to be a fringe player at best.

    Things have changed. Thanks to the rise of Mono-Black Devotion and Azorius Control, this powerful Planeswalker has been given a new life. As a constant source of hasty creatures, Xenagos gives decks like Azorius and Mono-Black fits if he's able to resolve. The mana ability is relevant, but Xenagos's true strength lies in the bevy of Satyrs that answer his beck and call. All it takes is two or three activations to get out of hand, and not even a Supreme Verdict can end the tide of Satyrs. Semifinalist Carlos Becerra Reyes used Xenagos to great effect against Haibing Hu's Mono-Black Devotion deck, absolutely running him over. Hu had the removal spells to deal with a few early threats from Reyes, but once Xenagos hit play, the one-for-one removal Hu's deck offered proved too slow to keep up.





    2. Pack Rat

    It's hard to believe that the terror that ruled Return to Ravnica Limited has become a major player in the Standard metagame, but by now, it has been firmly established through multiple Grand Prix successes - and especially after Owen Turtenwald's victory at Grand Prix Albuquerque with four Pack Rats in the main deck - that the Limited boogeyman is here to stay for a while as one of Standard's most devastating win conditions.

    The Rats are of course known for their ability to steal games when played on the second turn, as an unanswered Pack Rat can quickly multiply out of control, its user not needing to cast another card for the duration of the game so long as a single Pack Rat remains. However, they also serve as a fine way to close out a game that has been stabilized. We saw a great example of this in the Semifinals, when Marlon Gutierrez used Pack Rat in the second game to close out a stabilized game against No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark, whose board was whittled down to nothing while Gutierrez's rats slowly multiplied and finished off the Hall of Famer.





    1. Last Breath

    One of the most interesting things to watch in this Standard environment is the evolution of the removal spells of choice. In the earliest days, Doom Blade was the go-to spell to remove virtually everything of value in the format. With the rise of Mono-Black Devotion and the dominance of Nightveil Specter coming to bear, Doom Blade has fallen on hard times. Players have searched high and low for the correct mix of Hero's Downfall, Doom Blade, Devour Flesh, and Ultimate Price to complete the removal suite of Esper Control. In any case, it appeared that Esper was the primary voice in Standard control.

    Enter Last Breath. Capable of removing Nightveil Specter, Mutavault, and most of the other big aggressive threats in this format, Last Breath fills an important new role in Standard. The rediscovery of this removal spell has led to the rise of Azorius Control, seen most notably in the performances of Seth Manfield and Huey Jensen this weekend. Comprising effectively the same amount of the field as Esper Control, Last Breath gives the Azorius Control deck access to the spot removal black offered, without needing to dip into another color. With Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Thoughtseize seeing less and less play, there is less impetus to stretch the mana and play esper. In addition, the long game plan of Azorius Control cares little for the lifegain offered to the opponents. Against the tide of Mono-Black Devotion and Whip of Erebos, the fact that creatures get exiled by Last Breath really comes into play, as well. This seemingly restrictive removal spell has proven its worth this weekend, and sets the stage for an important role in weeks to come.






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