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Ben Stark is the Grand Prix Indianapolis 2012 Champion!

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The letter A!fter battling his way through fifteen rounds of Return to Ravnica Limited action, the 2012 Pro Tour Paris champion and team ChannelFireball member found himself in an incredible star-studded Top 8 that featured six Grand Prix champions and two teammates. Ben Stark stuck to his strategy of choice for Return to Ravnica Limited, drafting a powerful Golgari deck that featured the highlight cards of the green-black guild, including Korozda Guildmage, Grisly Salvage, and plenty of creatures with scavenge.

After battling his way through teammate Tom Martell in the quarter finals and Brian Demars in the semi finals, Ben Stark clashed against Chris Fennell, who played through the entire weekend without a single loss (including the Grand Prix Trial that he won on Friday). There, Ben Stark finally ended Fennell's winning streak, earning himself his first Grand Prix title.

The calendar year is coming to a close, and the next Grand Prix stop will be Denver in January, where players will bring their best Legacy decks to battle in the first Grand Prix of the 2013 calendar year. But for this weekend, it's all about the pro who played Golgari to perfection for the first Grand Prix of the 2012-2013 season. Congratulations to Ben Stark on his Grand Prix victory this weekend!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Ben Stark   Ben Stark, 2-0        
8 Tom Martell   Ben Stark, 2-0
       
4 Brian Demars   Brian Demars, 2-1   Ben Stark, 2-0
5 Matthias Hunt    
       
2 Chris Fennell   Chris Fennell, 2-0
7 Adam Yurchick   Chris Fennell, 2-0
       
3 Tyler Lytle   Luis Scott-Vargas, 2-1
6 Luis Scott-Vargas    







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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 5 Cards

  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Finals
    Ben Stark vs. Chris Fennell

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    Chris Fennell vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Semifinals
    Brian Demars vs. Ben Stark

  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Quarterfinals
    Tyler Lytle vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Quarterfinals
    Ben Stark vs. Tom Martell

  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Top 8 Draft
    Luis Scott-Vargas

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    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.  Ben Stark $3,500
 2.  Chris Fennell $2,300
 3.  Luis Scott-Vargas $1,500
 4.  Brian Demars $1,500
 5.  Matthias Hunt $1,000
 6.  Adam Yurchick $1,000
 7.  Tom Martell $1,000
 8.  Tyler Lytle $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Luis Scott-Vargas

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Oakland
    Occupation: Vice-president, Channelfireball.com


    Guild:
    Dimir

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    4-0'd a Daily Event with Travis Woo's OmmniDoor deck. (Also 5 Pro Tour Top 8 and 10 GP Top 8)

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    7-2 Sealed/6-0 Draft

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Mizzium Mortars and Pack Rat (again).

    What decks did you draft today?
    Selesnya Aggro twice. I created a Centaurmy, which led to Centaurmageddon.
    [Editor's note -- Any more puns like this and Armageddon-outta-here.]




    Tom Martell

    Age: 30
    Hometown: San Leandro, CA
    Occupation: Lawyer / Entrepreneur


    Guild:
    Azorius

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner of the last GP Indy, Top 8 PT Paris, 2nd GP Coumbus 2010, 3rd GP Salt Lake City

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    7-2 in Sealed and 5-0-1 in Draft.

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    I was Azorius splashing Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage and Selesnya Charm.

    What decks did you draft today?

    Rakdos mid-range/aggro and Selesnya populate aggro.




    Chris Fennell

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Tallahassee
    Occupation: Law School


    Guild:
    Golgari

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner GP DC Team Limited, Top 4 GP Atlanta, & Top 4 GP St Louis

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    6-0 / 4-0

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Green-White-Blue with Angel of Serenity and random splashed detain guys.

    What decks did you draft today?

    Green-White-Black




    Matthias Hunt

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Saint Paul, MN
    Occupation: Math teacher


    Guild:
    Boros

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Rookie of the Year 2011, Top 16 Worlds 2011, and 8 straight Limited GP Day Twos.

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    Sealed 7-2 (3 byes)Drafts 3-0, 3-0

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Awful Golgakdos aggro (Not Jund! It is called Golgakdos in Ravnica!) with no rares and no removal.

    What decks did you draft today?

    Civic Saber Azorius Aggro both times.




    Adam Yurchick

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Cleveland
    Occupation: Mental athlete


    Guild:
    Dimir

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    GP Houston Champ / US National Team 2009

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    9-0 Sealed / 1-2 & 2-0-1

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Rakdos with Auger Spree and 0 rares.

    What decks did you draft today?

    2X Teleportal Izzet with Chaos Imps and 1XTeleportal Izzet with Hypersonic Dragon.




    Ben Stark

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Tamarac, FL
    Occupation: None


    Guild:
    Whatever

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner Pro Tour Paris (3 Pro Tour Top 8s) / 8 GP Top 8s

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    8-1 Sealed / 4-0 draft

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    5 colors

    What decks did you draft today?
    Green-White
    Blue-Red




    Tyler Lytle

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Yukon, Oklahoma
    Occupation: Software Engineer


    Guild:
    Gruul (sup!)

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Grand Prix San Antonio Champion / Several money finishes at GPs

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    Sealed 8-1

    Draft pod 1:
    1-1-1

    Draft pod 2:
    3-0

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Had Desecration Demon, Chaos Imps, Niv-Mizzet, and Dreadbore. Instead played 3 Ethereal Armor, 2 Knightly Valor, and Righteous Authority.

    What decks did you draft today?

    Pod 1:
    Selesnya with quad Etereal Armor
    Pod 2 Rakdos with 4 Shred-Freaks, Rakdos Return, and Chaos Imps.




    Brian Demars

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
    Occupation: Teacher


    Guild:
    Selesnya

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Vintage Ringer and GP Boston Champion

    What was your record in Sealed/Draft this weekend?
    8-1 Sealed, 4-2 Draft

    What were the highlights of your Day One Sealed Deck?
    Grixis

    What decks did you draft today?




     

  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff











  •  

  • Top 8 Draft – Luis Scott-Vargas

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The Top 8 players for Grand Prix Indianapolis consist of a whopping six former Grand Prix champions. The two who haven't won a Grand Prix? Ben Stark (Pro Tour Paris 2011 champion), and Matthias Hunt (2011 Rookie of the Year). That's quite the resume for this Grand Prix Top 8!

    With such an impressive number of players in this Top 8, it was hard to focus on one player in particular. But given the long-standing history that Luis Scott-Vargas has in the game, featuring five Pro Tour Top 8s (including a win at Berlin in 2008), ten Grand Prix Top 8s, and a National Championship title, the choice quickly became easy. To his left was Matthias Hunt, and to his right was teammate Ben Stark.

    Given player and guild preference, where would Luis Scott-Vargas end up in this Grand Prix Top 8 Booster Draft?

    Scott-Vargas got things started with a pretty exciting first pick in Isperia, Supreme Judge, followed by Lyev Skyknight, cementing him pretty heavily into Azorius.

    However, as his picks were simple, his left neighbor, Matthias Hunt, agonized between two cards: Lotleth Troll, and Skymark Roc. He ultimately took the latter, which could be problematic to Scott-Vargas if his leftmost neighbor chose to force an Azorius deck of some kind. While Hunt has a preference for aggressive blue-white, there existed some overlap in cards that both Hunt and Scott-Vargas could want, which may prove to be a problem in the second pack for the Team ChannelFireball player.

    Luis Scott-Vargas aligns with Azorius in an effort to earn his fifth Grand Prix victory.

    Scott-Vargas followed with a third-pick Keening Apparition, and in the fourth pick, he found a a few enticing options, including Seller of Songbirds and Eyes in the Skies. Ultimately, he went with the populate instant, and followed with Vassal Soul. Faerie Imposter followed, and then Azorius Keyrune, as Scott-Vargas's Azorius strategy was shaping up nicely.

    Hunt, meanwhile, had a collection of cheap white creatures, but was still sticking to his plan with multiple Azorius Arresters, Swift Justice. With rightmost neighbor Ben Stark safely on Golgari, his guild of preference, Scott-Vargas would have little to worry about in the third pack, and as long as he could scoop up some more defensive cards to go with his Azorius guild leader, Scott-Vargas was in great shape.

    In the second pack, Scott-Vargas led with a first pick Keening Apparition, shipping a fairly juiced pack with Rogue's Passage, Rix Maadi Guildmage, and a couple of other goodies. In the second pick, Scott-Vargas found Dramatic Rescue, shipping Rakdos Keyrune as the other major notable. The third pick, however, sent off alarm bells, as the Azorius well quickly dried up. Scott-Vargas took Tower Drake, passing a late Stab Wound along with an Annihilating Fire. Hunt, who had not moved from Azorius, denied Scott-Vargas a Frostburn Weird, leaving him to pick only an Ethereal Armor and passing Thrill-Kill Assassin, Augur Spree, and Giant Growth.

    Hover Barrier came after, thankfully, as Scott-Vargas quickly picked up the defender. Vassal Soul followed, but the pick after that contained no options for Scott-Vargas, who took a Sewer Shambler in hopes of denying a Golgari player that pick. Phantom General followed, but after that, the picks quickly dried up.

    The third pack first pick was a fairly large whiff for Scott-Vargas, who found Vitu-Ghazhi Guildmage, Rakdos's Return, Call of the Conclave, and a bunch of other great cards that he couldn't play. He hate-picked the guildmage, knowing he would have problems beating that card, and followed with the second pick Knightly Valor, but passing Azor's Elecutors and Hussar Patrol. A saving grace came in the third pick for Scott-Vargas, as Martial Law made its way into his pile of cards, which was followed by Seller of Songbirds and Trostani's Judgment.

    Selesnya Keyrune came next, and could open up the option to splash for the Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage he tooked earlier, and a Hussar Patrol followed that, along with another copy of the flash creature. However, things quickly dried up past that. A late Dispel came, but in the same pack as a Selesnya Guildgate, and ultimately Scott-Vargas went with the blue counter.

    Ultimately, Scott-Vargas ended up with a fairly solid Azorius deck featuring the guild leader herself, alongside a powerful curve of creatures, despite a partial guild feud between him and Hunt during the draft. Now, the only thing standing between Scott-Vargas and a fifth Grand Prix win were three more rounds. Can Azorius guide the accomplished Magic pro to victory?




     

  • Quarterfinals – Ben Stark vs. Tom Martell

    by Brian David-Marshall

  • There were way too many good match-ups in this Top 8 for two reporters to possibly handle. Chris Fennell and Adam Yurchick were squaring off in a battle of GP Champs who have yet to crack the Sunday stage on the Pro Tour. Rookie of the Year Matthias Hunt was locked in battle with fellow teacher and GP Champion Brian Demars. You also had living legend Luis Scott-Vargas, winner of GP and PT alike, taking on GP San Antonio Champion Tyler Lytle.

    And there was still the match-up between Tom Martell -- who won a Legacy GP in this very hall earlier this year -- and Pro Tour Paris Champion Ben Stark.

    "We have a great storyline..." Stark said to Martell. They had been debating whether or not they were going to be the featured quarterfinal match.

    "I have never beaten you and I am trying to defend my GP Indy title?" said Martell who has lost to Stark in more matches than their titanic five game set in the quarterfinals of Pro Tour Paris. Both players could still recall vivid details and subtle card byplays of the match and began exploring other realities of what could have been if only Martell had chosen not to play for a Spell Pierce (which led to him getting his Tectonic EdgeTectonic Edged).

    "I think we are the only match between two PT Top 8 competitors," said Stark, one of only two players in the Top 8 without a GP win -- although almost every one of them would happily cash their GP hardware in for Stark's PT trophy.

    Game One

    While the players were randomly seated at the draft table the player and not playing in seeded pairs the player with the higher finish still got to choose whether to play or draw. Stark chose to play.

    "You sure?"

    "Not by much," shrugged Martell who played Centaur's Herald on the draw. Drudge Beetles came down on both sides of the table and when Stark played turn tree Dreg Mangler and attacked with both Martell traded Beetles. He passed the turn with mana up to make a Centaur after blocking the Mangler with his Herald but when the turn passed back to him his Centaur was bleeding from a Stab Wound. .com.com

    Tom Martell

    Martell's Aazorius Arrester locked down the Mangler and the Centaur beat in for one. Martell was missing his fourth land and played a second Herald without the ability to cash it in immediately. Stark could not attack and was content to let the Wound fester while adding an attack-ready Ogre Jailbreaker.

    Martell was still scuffling for that fourth land while Stark was almost drowning in his. Fortunately for him he Golgari has plenty of uses for extra mana and he scavenged the Beetle onto the Dreg Mangler and attacked with both.

    "I wish I had land," groaned Tom. He was able to get rid of his Stab Wounded creature and hold the Jailbreaker at bay while making another token. He drew and played his fourth land.

    "You got your wish," said Stark who prepared to take five after Azorius Justiciar told his team to take a timeout. He did have another Stab Wound for the new token.

    Martell played Growing Ranks but was going to have to put his token in the path of the 5/5 Mangler. He was hoping to trade his pair of two powered creatures for the Ogre Jailbreaker. Stark made the trade but just rebought the 4/4 with Treasured Find.

    Martell was behind and had to take damage if he wanted his token generators to sync up with Growing Ranks. Seller of Songbirds joined the team and immediately regretted the decision since it was going to mulched by the oncoming Golgari horde. While Martell was vocally griping about his mana difficulties Stark was at a low simmer about his inability to put the game away as his deck yielded plenty of land when he wanted action cards.

    He played Gisly Salvage into Sewer Shanbler and sneered at the 2/1: "Garbage"

    "Guys are guys here," sighed Martell who needed to find some respite to get his deck's populate going. He kept his bird token around while his Seller jumped in the path of the Mangler. He took four from the Jailbreaker to set up something to populate. He did and added Sunspire Griffin.

    Stark just kept on in Juggernaut mode. The Griffin ate the Shambler and a token stepped in the way of the 5/5. Martell fell to three from the unblocked Jailbreaker.

    Martell played Golgari Decoy and though maybe he was going to be able to scratch his way back into the game until he heard Stark exclaim during his draw step.

    "That's a good one..." said Stark as he played Korizda Guildmage and made it impossible for Martell to block the intimidating Jailbreaker.

    Ben Stark - 1 Tom Martell - 0

    Ben Stark

    Game Two

    Martell opened with a mulligan and made no plays over three turns. Ben played Drudge Beetle and Trestle Troll before Tom played Growing Ranks to an empty board. Stark added Sluiceway Scorpion. Martell did not have a token maker and instead played Armory Guard which was promptly giving a Stab Wound -- Stark had three copies of the Aura in his deck -- and so was his Sunspire Griffin a turn later. Rather than take four during his upkeep Martell used an infertile Sundering Growth to heal his Guard. Stark shrugged and played Treasured Find to get back the enchantment and reinjure the Armory Guard. There was nothing Martell could do with the enchantments festering away and his life soon trickled away.

    Final result: Ben Stark - 2 Tom Martell - 0


     

  • Quarterfinals – Tyler Lytle vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

    by Brian David-Marshall

  • With the Stark/Martell battle in the books (and it sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, doesn't it?) There was time to check in on House Scott-Vargas' battle with the upstart champion Tyler Lytle who was playing in back-to-back GP Top 8s after winning Grand Prix San Antonio just last month. They were deep into game three and Lytle -- who was playing a Rakdos deck -- had gotten Scott-Vargas -- playing Azorius -- down to just six life.

    Tyler Lytle

    Game Three

    Luis was sitting behind two bird tokens and Vassal Soul while Tyler was unleashing an army of Grim Roustabout, Dead Revelers, Splatter thug, and Cobblebrute. An all out attack from Lytle ended badly when Luis had Trostani's Judgment for the Splatter Thug, traded Vassal Soul for the 'Brute, and chumpblocked the Revelers with a bird token.

    Lytle restocked with Spawn of Rix Maadi which traded with two tokens and a Selesnya Keyrune. Lytle attempted to end the game with Explosive Impact but Scott-Vargas had Dispel.

    "You have another one?" Scott-Vargas asked nervously. Lyev SkyKnight came down to hold back the killing blow and a turn later it was joined by Isperia Skywatch -- and then by Isperia, Supreme Judge itself but Lytle had Auger Spree in hand for that. He untapped and added Golgari Longlegs. His plan was to win the game with an overloaded Chemister's Trick tapping all of Scott-Vargas' creatures but LSV drew the best possible card he could draw at that time in Knightly Valor.

    Luis Scott-Vargas

    The vigilant 5/5 Skywatch frustrated Tyler's plan of getting the last points through and LSV managed to snatch a victory from the jaws of near certain defeat. Lytle was kicking himself over the hasty Explosive Impact but LSV assured him that he never would have tapped out of blue as long as he was holding Dispel.

    With two Grand Prix Top 8s -- including a win -- in his last two attempts, something tells me we will be seeing more of Mr. Lytle in the future.

    Final result: Luis Scott-Vargas - 2 Tyler Lytle - 1


     

  • Semifinals – Brian Demars vs. Ben Stark

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Shortly after the match between Chris Fennell and Luis Scott-Vargas finished, the other semi final match between Brian Demars and Ben Stark was just getting started. What excellent timing!

    Game 1

    Stark led off action with Daggerdrome Imp, while Demars had Doorkeeper. Stark sent the 1/1 imp in the air and added Axebane Guardian to the battlefield before shipping the turn back. Demars had no action on the third turn, as Stark added a sizable attacker with Ogre Jailbreaker to the field. Demars cast Arrest to lock down the Jailbreaker, but Stark found new action with an end-of-turn Grisly Salvage off of Axebane Guardian.

    Kurozda Guildmage followed by an activation of its second ability turned the arrested Ogre Jailbreaker into a small army of saprolings, but Demars had the long-term answer to the 1/1 tokens with Skymark Roc. Stark thought for a moment about playing around Dispel, but opted to invite Skymark Roc anyway to a Launch Party, sacrificing a saproling. Demars let it resolve, as attacks left Demars at 11.

    Ben Stark contemplates over the best use of his Golgari creatures.

    Demars cast Concordia Pegasus and passed, while Stark sent in the team. Demars added Hussar Patrol to his side, complicating Stark's Kurozda Guildmage targets. When the Hussar Patrol jumped in front of the guildmage, that choice became easier, as two pumps let the guildmage power through the Hussar Patrol while the Daggerdrome Imp ran into Concordia Pegasus. The saprolings dropped Demars to 8.

    Demats detained the Kurozda Guildmage with Isperia's Skywatch, buying himself some time, while Stark dropped two attackers onto the board with two Sewer Shamblers. Demars dug for options with Inspiration and passed with two open, using the mana to Azorius Charm a Sewer Shambler to the top when Stark sent the Shamblers in with Kurozda Guildmage.

    While Demars had a Chromatic Lantern and Izzet Staticaster to dispose of the saprolings, he had no out to the Kurozda Guildmage and its ability to give his creatures intimidate. When he activated its ability targeting the in-play Sewer Shambler, Demars offered the concession.

    Demars 0 - Stark 1

    Game 2

    Demars went first, but Stark was the first to act with an end-of-turn Grisly Salvage, finding a Trestle Troll and binning a bunch of non-scavenge cards. Dreg Mangler came down and swung for third turn, meeting an Avenging Arrow from Demars after its attack. Demars, however, missed his third land, while Stark played Sluiceway Scorpion. Demars found and cast Azorius Keyrune, but lost it to Stark's Sundering Growth.

    Demars found his fourth land and cast Runewing, immediately throwing it in front of Sluiceway Scorpion when a Dreg Mangler scavenge turned it into a 5/5. Demars found an Izzet Guildgate, as the Scorpion attacked in, dropping Demars to 10. An end-of-turn Hussar Patrol came down after Stark resolved Drudge Beetle, and Isperia's Skywatch temporarily held the 5/5 Scorpion back.

    However, with Demars at 10, Stark turned up the heat with Stab Wound to hinder the 3/3 flying creature, as Demars took 2 at the start of his turn. Demars cast Nivix Guildmage and passed with three open, using the mana to cast Izzet Staticaster to finish off his wounded Skywatch... but not before Stark cast another copy of the black "removal" on Hussar Patrol, as the bleeding of Demar's life total continued on.

    Brian Demars works to survive multiple Stab Wounds.

    Demars played a land and passed with seven up, while Stark added another Sluiceway Scorpion to his board. Nivix Guildmage looted Demars a card, as he discarded Chromatic Lantern, and an end-of-turn Izzet Charm took out his own Hussar Patrol, stopping the bleeding with him at 6.

    Stark untapped and thought for a moment, slowing down his otherwise brisk play. He sent his Scorpions and the Drudge Beetle in, as Demars cast and copied Azorius Charm on the Scorpions (thanks to Nivix Guildmage). Stark decided to Launch Party, sacrificing the Drudge Beetle, to dispose of the Nivix Guildmage before it could do anymore harm (while dropping Demars to 4). Stark added Axebane Guardian to his board alongside a previously cast Trestle Troll.

    Demars then revealed a major setback: Skymark Roc. Stark followed with Ogre Jailbreaker, and on the next turn replayed both Sluiceway Scorpions, forcing Demars to start attacking with his Roc to return the deathtouch creatures back to Stark's hand. Stark sent in the remaining Scorpion, which traded with Demars's Goblin Electromancer, and followed with the bounced Sluiceway Scorpion and a Drudge Beetle scavenge to grow the deathtouch creature. Demars continued attacking with the Roc, and a Dramatic Rescue set Stark back when it returned the Scorpion once again. Stark rebuilt with Towering Indrik, and a scavenge from one Scorpion to another, making the new one a 4/4.

    Demars had an Arrest for the 4/4 Scorpion, but staring down 3 power in reach creatures, he could no longer attack as he passed the turn. Stark, meanwhile, played Ogre Jailbreaker, finding a guildgate to go with it on the following turn as he continued to put the pressure on Demars. While Demars dug with Thoughtflare, he threw one of his creatures in front of the 4/4 attacker, surviving a turn.

    However, when Stark found the Kurozda Guildmage and resolved it on the following turn, the game was over. Demars did not have an answer to the Guildmage or the following attacks from Stark's intimidating Ogre Jailbreaker.

    Demars 0 – Stark 2




     

  • Semifinals – Tyler Chris Fennell vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • "Want to roll to see who goes first?" Luis Scott-Vargas asked jokingly to his opponent, first seed Chris Fennell, who graciously declined his opponent's offer.

    Game 1

    Both players immediately kept their opening hands, as Fennell started off action with Azorius Arrester. It got in for 2 damage and was joined by Warfaring Temple, a creature Scott-Vargas reeled back in response to. Scott-Vargas had no action on the third turn, and the Wayfering Temple swung in for 4 with the Azorius Arrester after Fennell played Seller of Songbirds.

    Scott-Vargas had Lyev Skyknight to halt the Wayfaring Temple for a turn, but traded it with a bird token on the next attack. However, with no real answer for the Wayfaring Temple, Scott-Vargas picked up his cards moments later for the second game.

    Chris Fennell leads off with a blazing fast first game victory.

    Fennell 1 - Scott-Vargas 0

    Game 2

    Scott-Vargas led things off with Keening Apparition, which attacked for 2 and was joined by Vassal Soul on the next turn. Fennell cast Axebane Guardian on the third turn, which jumped in front of Keening Appariation as he fell to 16. Scott-Vargas followed with Seller of Songbirds and passed without a fourth land. Fennell cast Arrest on Keening Apparition, and passed again, taking 3 damage to Scott-Vargas and his flying creatures.

    However, the race quickly changed as Fennell cast Courser's Accord for two centaurs, while Scott-Vargas, still stuck on three lands, cast Selesnya Keyrune to get to his fourth mana.

    Luis Scott-Vargas fights to stay ahead, aiming for a fifth Grand Prix victory.

    The two centaurs attacked in, dropping Scott-Vargas to 14, while Trostani's Judgment exiled the Vassal Soul and gave Fennell another centaur. Scott-Vargas found a land, although seemingly too late, his hand filled with more expensive cards.

    Fennell's centaurs were sent in, as Scott-Vargas flashed in Hussar Patrol, blocking with it and Seller of Songbirds. Sundering Growth set Scott-Vargas back a turn. "That guy's pretty good against me," Scott-Vargas said as Azor's Electutors came down after combat for Fennell.

    Phantom General gave Scott-Vargas another blocker, but Fennell's own copy of the four cost creature gave him a little more added value, forcing Scott-Vargas to block just to stay alive. When a miracle was not waiting on top, Scott-Vargas offered the handshake.

    Fennell 2 - Scott-Vargas 0


     

  • Finals – Ben Stark vs. Chris Fennell

    by Brian David-Marshall

  • "I will play," cackled Fennell as these two Florida natives sat down to determine who would win the lion's share of the $30,000 in cash prizes this weekend and the smart looking new trophy that comes with the title of Grand Prix Champion.

    "This is literally like a Cool Stuff 8-man," laughed Ben Stark of the constant drafting that goes down at their local store.

    "How much are tickets to Denver?" asked Fennell as he realized he was qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze and suddenly interested in the accumulation of Pro Tour Points. "That's what i need to figure out."

    The two kept wisecracking and shuffling and Jackie Lee, who was watching from the sidelines commented: "It is so much more casual without the cameras."

    Both players cracked up.

    "It would be exactly the same," promised the gregarious Fennell.

    "I don't know I might be shy on camera," said Stark through a miserably failed attempt at a straight face.

    Game One

    This was the first time the two players would actually square off against each other this weekend other than an intentional draw down the stretch.

    "We both 3-0'd our first pod thanks to different records," explained Fennell of the first time they glided past each other. He was mulliganing twice while he talked -- the second time it was a virtual six-lander.

    "I almost kept in anyway but it cannot win," said Fennell. "Five lands and an Axebane Guardian seems bad against three Stab Wounds."

    Ben Stark made the first play with Sewer Shambler -- a card Fennell was keenly aware of and hoping to be able to avoid the Swamp portion of his deck. Fennell played Azorius Arrester to buy a turn. Stark nodded and played Towering Indrik.

    Fennell would have like to avoid Swamps but his one Golgari Guildgate did not arrive and he couldn't not play Vraska the Unseen. He added one to her loyalty and shrugged: "I gotta make a game of it."

    "It is definitely going to be a game," agreed Stark who uses Grisly Salvage to find Korozda Guildmage and play it. "Vraska is a good card."

    "I don't know if I want to play a three toughness creature against you," groaned Fennell who killed the Guildmage with the second ability of the Planeswalker.

    "I don't know why but I am sure you have your reasons," giggled the player with three Stab Wounds in his deck.

    Ultimately Fennell played Axebane Guardian and Vassal Soul.

    Stark dinged the Planeswalker with Sewer Shambler to get it to one. He added Zanikev Locust to his team. Fennell had played out his hand -- what little there had been of it this game -- last turn and the top of his deck did not have anything useful to contribute to the board.

    Stark sent the flier at Fennell and traded his Sewer Shambler for Vraska. He also played Treasured Find -- a card that Ben Stark made look better than I have ever seen it before throughout the Top 8 -- to get back the Guildmage and replay it.

    A turn later Stark was able to sacrifice his Indrik for four saprolings and swarm Fennell nearly to death. He had enough mana that when Fennell put a recently cast Towering Indrik in the way of a token, Stark had three activations to kill the 2/4 in battle. He pawed one more card off his deck and then scooped up his sideboard.

    Ben Stark - 1 Chris Fennell - 0

    Game Two

    Fennell was already concerned about Stab Wounds without having to worry about unblockable Sewer Shamblers. He went to his sideboard to bring in Arial Predation, Horncaller's Chant, and Sundering Growth along with some additional Forests in place of Vraska, Lotleth Troll, and Towetring Indrik. Fennell kept his opening hand while Stark agonized over his decision.

    "It is not a clear mulligan. It is so close," said Stark with his head in his hands. He finally decided to send back five lands, Axebane Guardian and Daggerdrone Imp. He kept the next six and had the game's first play with Drudge Beetle. Fennell played Seller of Singbirds which looked pretty evenly matched until Stark came roaring into the red zone with five points of power thanks to a hasty Dreg Mangler.

    Fennell had picked up his pen but when Stark picked up his pen as well Fennell cautioned him: "Hold on I may actually block."

    "I am tapped out do whatever you want."

    He took five.

    Twice. His hand was top heavy but really wanted him to have creatures. He had both Trostani's Judgment and Collective Blessing and could not just be throwing any creatures away.

    Stark added a Daggerdrone Imp to his team while Fennell played Azor's Elocutors. Grisly Salvage gave Stark a fifth land and put Sewer Shambler into his yard where he could scavenge it onto his Imp. He attacked for three and the score was already 20 to 7 in Stark's favor.

    Fennell played Eyes in the Skies to throw one guy in the way of the Imp -- stuck now on five mana with multiple plays if he could draw that sixth land. His time was running out as Stark was gaining life from the Imp and enchanted the Elocutors with a Stab Wound.

    Call of the Conclave added to Fennell's board but what he really wanted to add was that elusive sixth land. Stark was in cruise control. He was getting two in a turn guaranteed and his Imp had a steady supply of birds to prey upon. He even had the luxury of playing Treasured Find to grow back Arial Predation. He also played a Sewer Shambler.

    Fennel drew his sixth mana and tried to figure out some exit strategy with Collective Blessing and Trostani's Judgment. Ultimately he just passed and when Stark attacked with the Imp he went into the tank.

    "I have to play to one of two cards and if I choose the wrong one I am going to tilt so bad," groaned Fennell. He blocked the Imp and played Trostani's Judgment on his own Stabwounded Elocutors. Stark let the populate resolve and then used Arial Predation on the fresh token.

    Fennell drew one final card but he did not have enough creatures still standing to make the Blessing matter. He laid his cards on the table and congratulated the Pro Tour winner on becoming the seventh person in this weekend's Top 8 to win a Grand Prix trophy.

    Final Result: Congratulations to Ben Stark on winning Grand Prix Indianapolis and handing Chris Fennell his first loss since he started playing Magic on Friday in the Trials.




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Event Coverage Staff



  • 5. Ethereal Armor

    Here's a question for you. When your Sealed pool features big hits such as Desecration Demon, Chaos Imps, Dreadbore, along with three copies of Ethereal Armor and two Knightly Valor, do you play the heavy rare Rakdos deck, or the aggressive white deck full of auras? If your name is Tyler Lytle, you go with the latter. The three Ethereal Armors served him out in out-pacing opponents all throughout Day 1. The Grand Prix San Antonio champion blasted through the Sealed portion of this weekend's Grand Prix with an 8-1 record, picking up more than a fair share of wins off of speedy starts featuring the one mana aura, which was capable of out-pacing decks that had a wider range of powerful cards but a clunkier deck as a result.





    4. Civic Saber

    2011 Rookie of the Year Matthias Hunt blasted through both of Sunday's Booster Drafts with aggressive Azorius decks, and Civic Saber was one of the key cards for his draft strategy. A first-turn Judge's Familiar can attack for 3 on the second turn with a Civic Saber, Vassal Soul attacks as a 4/2, causing opponents to back-pedal quickly against creatures that are far from easy to block. The damage that Civic Saber adds to the multi-color flying creatures that Azorius offers makes this card an unexpected find, and it also makes the Azorius aggro strategy that Matthias Hunt favors an archetype to look for more of on Magic Online.





    3. Stab Wound

    Of all the forms of removal in Return to Ravnica Limited, Stab Wound is the only one that many players will take over some of the format's more powerful rares. Why? It's a form of removal that can also double as a win condition. Throwing Stab Wound on a defender is not an uncommon way to finish someone off after your early creatures have dealt the first points of damage, and sometimes, it forces opponents to throw their own tricks at their creatures just to survive. Ben Stark proved how potent this can be in his semi final match against Brian Demars, where Demars had to fight just to make sure his own creatures actually succumbed to their Stab Wounds!





    2. Korozda Guildmage

    Many by now are familiar with the power of the guildmages, most notably the Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, one of the crowning uncommons of Return to Ravnica. Korozda Guildmage, however, is not to be underestimated, and has proven itself to be on a similar power level here this weekend. Its ability to send creatures through a slew of blockers makes it difficult to race, and its second ability complicates removal while also acting as a way to make sure your creatures with defender can turn into an army of attackers at the drop of a hat. Ben Stark proved the power of both abilities well in his semi final match, where Korozda Guildmage made use of Arrested creatures by transforming them into saproling, and it allowed Stark's smaller attackers to get through Brian Demars's big blockers without any issue.





    1. Grisly Salvage

    While Korozda Guildmage is certainly one of the most powerful Golgari cards, it is the guild's most defining card in Limited. That title belongs to Grisly Salvage, perhaps one of the most important cards to the Golgari deck. Grisly Salvage helps you hit your land drops each turn, it can find creatures that you need to cast, and at the same time it stocks your graveyard full of goodies that you can scavenge back, giving this two mana instant a ton of versatility. Sometimes, even the instants it sends to your graveyard can be made useful too, as Ben Stark demonstrated with Treasured Find to return an Aerial Predation that hit the bin, a play which dramatically altered the pace of play in his final match against Chris Fennell.






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