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Turn Three, Take Fourteen!
Christiansen Mauls Quebec City

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Boston's Nico Christiansen didn't come to Quebec expecting to become a champion. An on-again, off-again player, Christiansen had never so much as made Day 2 of a Grand Prix, let alone won the whole thing. Rather than play one of the established decks from last weekend's Pro Tour Gatecrash, Christiansen chose to play Naya Humans, an explosive aggro deck that had shown up on Magic Online just that week. After seeing the deck's raw power, he knew what he would be playing.

The field of over eight hundred players showcased a varied metagame. Whatever your playstyle, you could find a viable archetype to play. Jund Midrange was the most widely-played, but Blue-White-Red, Saito Zoo, The Aristocrats, and aggro decks of both Jund and Naya colors were winning. But as Day 2 dawned the big stories were Christiansen's Naya Humans and a new take on Human Reanimator, piloted by team MTGmintcard from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Using Angel of Glory's Rise to get back Fiend Hunter, Undercity Informer and Burning-Tree Emissary, it could mill the opponent's library immediately. It caught the tournament without enough graveyard hate, and put Tzu-Ching Kuo, captain of the victorious Taiwanese World Magic Cup team, into the Top 8.

There, he and Christiansen joined a mix of decks, including three flavors of Jund (Midrange, Aggro, and Zombies) as well as The Aristocrats and Naya Aggro. Despite the presence of heavy hitters Reid Duke and Thomas Holzinger, it was only fitting that the finals would see a match between Kuo and Christiansen. Unfortunately for Kuo, the matchup on paper was tremendously in Christiansen's favor, and when Christiansen's deciding semifinal game against Duke featured an attack for fourteen on turn three, it started to seem like destiny. Kuo managed to force the finals to a deciding third game, but that put Christiansen on the play. Christiansen held a pair of Searing Spears from the start, and steered the game to force through just enough damage that those six points of damage were exactly enough to finish off Kuo.

Congratulations to Nico Christiansen, Grand Prix Quebec City Champion!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Felipe Tapia Becerra   Felipe Tapia Becerra, 2-0        
8 Wenzel Krautmann   Tzu-Ching Kuo, 2-0
       
4 Thomas Holzinger   Tzu-Ching Kuo, 2-0   Nico Christiansen, 2-1
5 Tzu Ching Kuo    
       
2 Nico Christiansen   Nico Christiansen, 2-1
7 Maxime Cantin   Nico Christiansen, 2-1
       
3 Reid Duke   Reid Duke, 2-0
6 Wilson Wong    







  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Quebec City provided by ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Rich Hagon, Marshall Sutcliffe, and Jake van Lunen. See full video archives at ggslive's YouTube channel.



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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Nate Price and Josh Bennett
    Top 5 Cards

  • by Nate Price
    Finals
    Nico Christiansen vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo

  • by Josh Bennett
    Semifinals
    Nico Christiansen vs. Reid Duke

  • by Nate Price
    Semifinals
    Felipe Tapia Becerra vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo

  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinals
    Roundup

  • by Josh Bennett
    Quarterfinals
    Maxime Cantin vs. Nico Christiansen

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 9-16
    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.  Nico Christiansen $3,500
 2.  Tzu-Ching Kuo $2,300
 3.  Felipe Tapia Becerra $1,500
 4.  Reid Duke $1,500
 5.  Thomas Holzinger $1,000
 6.  Wilson Wong $1,000
 7.  Maxime Cantin $1,000
 8.  Wenzel Krautmann $1,000
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  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Nate Price


  • Tzu Ching Kuo

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
    Occupation: Tourist


    Guild:
    Azorius

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    World Magic Cup 2012 Champion, 9 GP Top 8s

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Undercity Reanimator by Team MTGMintcard, built by Chapman Sim and Alan Lam, modified by Hao-Shan Huang, Lee Shi Tian, Soh Weng Heng, and me

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Monored. My opponent mana floods.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Jund. The four Angels are in the bottom 20 cards of my deck.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    No need. Our deck is perfect.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Monowhite weenie. I got killed on turn four.

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Cavern of souls Creature
    Undercity Informer

    Instant:
    Grisly Salvage Sorcery
    Faithless Looting




    Thomas Holzinger

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Salzburg, Austria
    Occupation: Losing Teamdrafts


    Guild:
    Selesnya

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    PT Barcelona Top 8, 1.5 GP Top 8s

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    BWR Aristocrats, because Herbert told me to.

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    No clue.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    No clue.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    Tragic Slip maindeck.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    GW Pump Effects (it looked awesome)

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Cavern of Souls Creature
    Falkenrath Aristocrat

    Instant:
    Azorius Charm Sorcery
    Farseek




    Nico Christiansen

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Lexington, MA
    Occupation: Student


    Guild:
    Guildless

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    None

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Naya Humans, all you do is attack

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Esper Control or UWR. You need to have a very strong play on turns one and two.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Jund Aggro. Slow hands can be out raced.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    One more Nearheath Pilgrim and something for the Jund Midrange matchup.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    I only played normal things.

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Kessig Wolf Run Creature
    Champion of the Parish

    Instant:
    Giant Growth Sorcery
    Bonfire of the Damned




    Maxime Cantin

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Orleans
    Occupation: None


    Guild:
    Izzet

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 8 PTQ

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Jund Control. No bad matchups.

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Human Reanimator. They need to not get Angel of Glory.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Any aggro deck. They can swarm too fast.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    None. The deck is good.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Zombies

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Stomping Ground Creature
    Thragtusk

    Instant:
    Abrupt Decay Sorcery
    Mizzium Mortars




    Reid Duke

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Sugar Loaf, NY
    Occupation: MTG


    Guild:
    Rakdos (JUND!!)

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    2011 Magic Online Champion, 5 GP Top 8s, one win in Nashville

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Jund. It plays the best cards in the format, and it’s great against creature decks.

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Reanimator. I need them to not combo off before turn six or seven.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Humans. They can play Thalia on the play or simply come out too fast.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    I would play an extra Tragic Slip in the maindeck, and more graveyard hate in the sideboard.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Junk Tokens

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Kessig Wolf Run Creature
    Thragtusk

    Instant:
    Sphinx’s Revelation Sorcery
    Farseek




    Wenzel Krautmann

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Tubinger
    Occupation: n/a


    Guild:
    Rakdos

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    GP T8’s in Helsinki, Bochum, Moscow

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Humans, because Humans are great.

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Bonfire – Never miracle it, please.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    I am fine with all matchups.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    Nothing. Always put Klaus on your team.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Black-White with Obzedat, Geralf’s Messenger, and Restoration Angel

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Gavony Township Creature
    Champion of the Parish

    Instant:
    Searing Spear Sorcery
    n/a




    Felipe Tapia Becerra

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Chile
    Occupation: Informatic


    Guild:
    Golgari

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    I play Magic in “Rivendel el Concilio” in Chile

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Jund Zombies. It has a better matchup against control and doesn’t lose to wraths.

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Naya Humans. Kill the important creatures.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Esper Control and Jund Midrange. I only lose to mulligans or bad luck.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    Nothing. It’s awesome.

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Angel Reanimator

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Cavern of Souls Creature
    Lotleth Troll

    Instant:
    Tragic Slip Sorcery
    Dreadbore




    Wilson Wong

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
    Occupation: Courthouse Security


    Guild:
    Gruul

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Regional Champion Ontario 2007

    What deck did you play this weekend, and why?
    Jund. It has no bad matcups and very powerful spells

    What is your worst matchup?
    What needs to happen for you to win it
    Reanimator. I need to win quick, or I won’t.

    What is your best matchup?
    What can go wrong
    Aggro, barring a super-fast draw.

    Knowing what you know now, what changes would you make to your deck or sideboard?
    Add an extra Garruk, Primal Hunter

    What was the strangest deck you played against this weekend?
    Blue-White-Red agro with Wingcrafters and Knight of Glory.

    What are the best cards of these types in Standard:

    Land:
    Kessig Wolf Run Creature
    Thragtusk

    Instant:
    Abrupt Decay Sorcery
    Farseek




     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • (1) Felipe Tapia Becerra
    Grand Prix Quebec 2013












     

  • Top 9-16 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff











  •  

  • Quarterfinals – Maxime Cantin vs. Nico Christiansen

    by Josh Bennett

  • Nico Christiansen's Naya Humans helped him to his first Grand Prix Day 2, and now they've brought him to his first Top 8 and within reach of his first Championship. Standing in his way is Maxime Cantin, playing Day 2's most populous deck, Jund Midrange. It's the sort of deck Christiansen had been feasting on all weekend.

    Unfortunately things did not go to play in game one. Christiansen mulliganed down to an unexciting five. Cantin was happy to match one-for-one against a hobbled opponent. He stopped Lightning Mauler with Dreadbore and Mayor of Avabruck with Mizzium Mortars. Christiansen played his fourth land and summoned a second Mauler and a Flinthoof Boar. Hit hit for five and passed, empty-handed.


    Maxime Cantin

    Cantin calmly untapped and dropped his fourth land and Huntmaster of the Fells. Christiansen swung in. The wolf token blocked Lightning Mauler, and Giant Growth made the save. Next up from Cantin was Thragtusk, and the game was getting farther and farther out of Christiansen's reach. He drew and played Burning-Tree Emissary and passed.

    Cantin hit back for five with the Thragtusk, and Christiansen took it. Cantin passed without playing a spell to flip his Huntmaster, killing off the Lightning Mauler. Christiansen had no play. Cantin attacked with both his creatures, trading the Ravager of the Fells for Christiansen's Flinthoof Boar, then showed Liliana of the Veil and a replacement Huntmaster. Christiansen had had enough.

    Cantin 1 - Christiansen 0

    Christiansen's deck let him stay on seven, and he opened with the perfect turn one - Cavern of Souls on Human and Champion of the Parish. Cantin was ready with Tragic Slip off an Overgrown Tomb. Christiansen replaced his Champion with the Mayor of Avabruck. Cantin played Farseek and passed. Christiansen added a second Mayor and Boros Elite to his baord, hit for two, and passed.

    Cantin dropped Mizzium Mortars on one of the Mayors and passed his turn, revealing that he had no fourth land. Christiansen hit for three and played Champion of the Parish. Another Mortars cleared out the other Mayor. Christiansen just hit for two, dropping Cantin to eleven. He passed with no play on his four mana.

    It looked like a much-needed respite for Cantin. He used it to cast Farseek for his fourth land. Christiansen untapped and played Lightning Mauler, soulbonding it to give it haste, then attacked with all three, triggering Battalion. Cantin was suddenly at four. When Cantin tapped out for Huntmaster, going up to six, Christiansen showed him a pair of Searing Spears.

    Cantin 1 - Christiansen 1

    Both players kept their openers. Cantin opened with Farseek opposite a turn-one Champion of the Parish. christiansen took two from Stomping Ground, then played out a second Champion and an Experiment One, hitting for three. Cantin played a land, and took care of the bigger Champion with Dreadbore. Christiansen played a land tapped, then summoned Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, hitting for five.


    Nico Christiansen

    Cantin needed a roadblock, and summoned Thragtusk, vaulting back up to seventeen. Unfortunately for him Christiansen had Pacifism at the ready, and crashed through for seven damage. Cantin untapped and went over his option. Eventually, he chose to pay two life for Stomping Ground, going to just eight, but allowing him to summon Olivia Voldaren with activation mana up.

    Christiansen played his fourth land, a Cavern of Souls, and summoned Mayor of Avabruck. In response, Cantin shot down Thalia. Christiansen tapped his last two mana for a second Mayor. Now he had a 7/7 Champion of the Parish and a 4/4 Experiment One. Cantin traded Olivia for the Experiment and dropped to one. He played out Huntmaster of the Fells and Strangleroot Geist, but as soon as he tapped out, Christiansen flipped over the Boros Charm in his hand, taking the match.

    Nico Christiansen defeats Maxime Cantin 2-1




     

  • Quarterfinals Roundup

    by Nate Price

  • Wilson Wong vs. Reid Duke

    This Jund Midrange mirror matchup isn't known for its speed, yet it was still the first of the quarterfinals to finish. Wong came out very slowly in the first game, not making a single play until a Thragtusk hit his side on turn 5. He was on the draw, and a Farseek from Duke put him even further behind. Duke's draw was a bit better, and he began adding Thragtusks to his board on turn 4. After adding two of the big Beast to his side, he followed with an Olivia Voldaren, backbreaking in the Jund Midrange mirror. The Vampire mistress proved her value as she grew and flew over the meager ground forces of Wong, carrying Duke to victory in Game 1.

    Reid Duke 1 – Wilson Wong 0


    Wilson Wong

    In Game 2 of this match, it was Wong who had the Vampire advantage, with his Olivia Voldaren hitting the table before Duke's. Still, this was a Jund mirror match, and Duke had an easy answer in the form of Murder. This cleared the path for his Huntmaster of the Fells and accompanying Wolf token to begin to assault Wong's life total.


    Eventually, however, Wong get back into the swing of things. A Garruk, Primal Hunter, gave him a neverending stream of Beasts. He also found a Huntmaster of the Fells to fill his board up. Duke had found a Staff of Nin to provide a clock and steady stream of cards his way, exactly what he needed to pull ahead. First came a Bonfire of the Damned, clearing away Wong's creatures and his Garruk. Wong had a Thragtusk to fill the void, but Duke followed with an even more impressive Olivia Voldaren. Unlike Wong's earlier copy, Duke's stuck, taking chunks of Wong's life. Wong slowed Duke's advantage with an Acidic Slime, killing the Staff, but Olivia just ate it and pushed even harder. With Duke's clock so large, Wong had very few outs, and when none of them came, he was once again done in by the massively important Vampire.


    Reid Duke

    Reid Duke 2 – Wilson Wong 0

    Tzu-Ching Kuo vs. Thomas Holzinger

    For an aggressive deck, Holzinger's deck provided very little offense in the early stages of the game, very unfortunately against Kuo's Reanimator strategy. While he did have a turn 4 Falkenrath Aristocrat, it was quickly sealed away beneath a Fiend Hunter. Over the next two turns, Kuo began building his engine with two Undercity Informers. From there, he simply had to mill himself a couple of times before he found an Unburial Rites and an Angel of Glory's Rise in his graveyard, which he brought back to combo off on the following turn.

    Tzu-Ching Kuo 1 – Thomas Holzinger 0


    Thomas Holzinger

    This game brought a faster start from Holzinger, with a slew of Humans enhancing a Champion of the Parish to 4/4. Kuo made a few of his deck's dorks, Burning-Tree Emissary and Undercity Informer, which he used to chump block and then mill himself, looking for the kill. Kuo used Fiend Hunters judiciously, trapping a Falkenrath Aristocrat as he had in the first game.

    When Holzinger managed a Silverblade Paladin, Kuo's life total took a huge hit. He had cast a Huntmaster of the Fells on the previous turn, and he opted to double block the Paladin with both the Huntmaster and his Wolf, taking eight from the 4/4, double-striking Champion that snuck through. This dropped him to 9. When he cast a second Huntmaster, he managed to buy all the time he needed. His Wolf chumped, and Holzinger had no play. The Huntmaster transformed, killing one of Holzinger's creatures and giving Kuo a 4/4 attacker. A second Fiend Hunter got rid of the offensive Champion of the Paris, leaving Holzinger with a virtually empty board. Only a Doomed Traveler remained, and it was about to prove that it was not just a clever name.


    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Kuo was playing off of the top of his deck, but it didn't matter. He had a massive advantage on the board for the first time all game, and he pressed it. A third Huntmaster came down, one again transforming on his next turn. It killed the Traveler, leaving Holzinger with a single Spirit token left to guard the gates. He dropped to two. His draw provided nothing, and Kuo took his semifinal match in two games.

    Tzu-Ching Kuo 2 – Thomas Holzinger 0

    Wenzel Krautmann vs. Felipe Tapia Becerra

    Krautmann had a blazing start, getting three Champions of the Parish into play over the early turns of the game. Combined with a Burning-Tree Emissary and a Wolfbitten Captive his little minions grew to as big as 5/5. Becerra had a couple of early ways to stem the tide, with a Lotleth Troll and a Geralf's Messenger, but he found himself quite far behind. Still, between those creatures and the addition of a couple more, he was able to slow the game down just enough to avoid death. Eventually, he was able to block and sacrifice enough creatures to his Lotleth Troll that its impressive size overmatched that of the Champions. Still, Becerra was at a much lower life total and was still facing down a more impressive army than his own.

    Interestingly, because of a topdeck by Kratumann, Becerra was able to turn the game around. A Silverblade Paladin offered the chance for Krautmann to begin getting in for a great deal more damage than previously. When he went for the attack, Becerra let a creature die in combat to grow his Troll and then used Tragic Slip to kill off the giant Champion. This left Krautmann with an inferior force for the first time all game, and gave Becerra the slight edge. He was still behind, but he was rapidly pulling ahead. When he added a second Lotleth Troll to his side, it looked like things were going to go downhill for Krautmann from here.


    Wenzel Krautmann

    Still, the top of Krautmanns deck came through in a pinch, providing him a Frontline Medic, a perfect way to give himself some reach. Life totals were 6-4 in favor of Krautmann as he pondered his attack. The appearance of the Medic had forced Becerra back into a defensive posture, so all of his creatures were back to block.

    Becerra's Lotleth Trolls were more than up to the task of blocking, regenerating to stick around after combat. He ended up absorbing all of the damage and stayed relatively safe. Fortunately, this also left him an excellent window to finish things off. With Krautmann virtually defenseless, he sent his massive Trolls over to attack. Their trample damage was more than Kratumann's defenses could handle, and he scooped up his cards with lethal damage on the stack.

    Felipe Tapia Becerra 1 – Wenzel Krautmann 0

    The second game of the match featured an uncharacteristically slow start from Krautmann, with no creatures on turns 1, 2, or 3. Becerra, meanwhile, managed to drop two Lotleth Trolls onto the table within the first three turns. Krautman showed why he had kept his hand on the fourth turn, casting a Huntmaster of the Fells that was going to be unfortunately overmatched against Becerra's Trolls. When the Huntmaster transformed on Becerra's next turn, he fired off an Abrupt Decay to kill it. Krauttman had a Restoration Angel to keep it alive, but Becerra had a second copy to make sure the Ravager stayed dead.


    Felipe Tapia Becerra

    Becerra attacked with a 3/2 Lotleth Troll. He only had one card left in hand, and Krautmann mused about whether or not it was a creature. Deciding that either it wasn't or that he didn't care, Krautmann shoved his Angel in front of it. When Becerra revealed that it was a Vampire Nighthawk that he could discard to his Troll, he seemed distraught. His Angel died and Becerra regenerated his Troll. Now things looked quite dire for Krautmann.

    Kratumann took his turn. All he had left on his board was a 2/2 Wolf token, and he was facing down a trio of creatures. Krautmann made another Huntmaster on his turn, going up to three creatures himself, and putting him at a slightly safer six life. Still, the Troll's trample was what had done him in the first game, and he was facing a tough road in this one. Becerra's next attack cleared Krautmann's board, dropping him to 2 in the process. After one more draw step, Krautmann conceded defeat.

    Felipe Tapia Becerra 2 – Wenzel Krautmann 0




     

  • Semifinals – Felipe Tapia Becerra vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo

    by Nate Price

  • Becerra's highly aggressive deck is one of the biggest nightmares for Kuo's Reanimator strategy. This matchup was going to come down to Becerra's start, and how Kuo countered it. Becerra started off with a fairly good first turn, making a Gravecrawler, but he didn't have the second-turn Lotleth Troll to follow it up, or another play for his third turn. This was exactly what Kuo needed to happen in order to steal Game 1 from Becerra's Jund Zombies deck.

    Early in the game, Kuo's creatures serve as nothing more than sacrificial pawns used to extend the game, and his early Burning-Tree Emissary did exactly that. It came down, allowing Kuo to also cast Faithless Looting, before trading with the Gravecrawler in combat.


    Felipe Tapia Becerra

    Becerra was able to find a third source of mana, a third Cavern of Souls, on his fourth turn, enabling a hasty Dreg Mangler. It crashed over, dropping Kuo to 11. Kuo once again made a sacrificial Emissary, this time using a green to cast a Grisly Salvage. It put two lands in his hand and a Fiend Hunter, Angel of Glory's Rise, and Undercity Informer into his graveyard. That was the whole combo, all in one fell swoop. Becerra attacked with his creature, but it was stopped by the Emissary, giving Kuo yet another turn. The turn was all he needed, as he had an Unburial Rites in his hand, casting it to take the first game off of a very slow start from Becerra.

    Felipe Tapia Becerra 0 – Tzu-Ching Kuo 1

    After sideboarding, Kuo's Humans Reanimator deck brings in a package very similar to that of the old Junk Reanimator decks. Thragtusks and other life-gaining creatures shore up his life total, giving him plenty of time to establish control. The only crack in this strategy comes in the Lotleth Trolls in Becerra's deck. Their trample and regeneration make them nightmares for Kuo's creatures to deal with in combat. Fortunately, Fiend Hunter is amazing against the Trolls, and they will likely be his saviors if Becerra gets off to a fast start.

    Already down a game, Becerra couldn't feel too good about having to mulligan to six so close to the finals. His second hand was acceptable, though he did betray a bit of trepidation about it before drawing his last card. Once again, his draw was fairly slow, not adding to the board on the first two turns. He did manage a Geralf's Messenger on his third turn, but it was much slower against Kuo's ost-sideboarded strategy. Kuo padded his life total with a Centaur Healer before attacking with a Burning-Tree Emissary. Becerra chose not to run his Messenger into the Healer, instead passing the turn without a play.

    Becerra's deck continued to deliver no threats, instead providing him a seemingly endless wave of lands. He looked exasperated as he was forced to pass turn after turn. Kuo, meanwhile, dug through his deck with Faithless Looting, finding yet another Healer to stymie Becerra.

    Becerra did find a saving grace eventually, casting Slaughter Games naming Angel of Glory's Rise. Kuo shrugged and revealed his last card in hand: the Angel. He had enough mana to cast it, but had just gotten to that point after casting the Looting on his previous turn.

    Still, Kuo was ahead. Becerra only had a Geralf's Messenger in play, and Kuo had made his deck less reliant on the Angel combo. While the Angel's ability was particularly potent in this Zombies matchup, he was going to more likely win with Thragtusks, Centaur Healers, and Huntmaster of the Fells.

    Kuo attacked with his team. Before blockers, he cast an Abrupt Decay on the Messenger, actually turning on Becerra's Tragic Slip. This allowed him to kill a Healer, taking 5 to drop to 13. On his turn, he found another threat, this time a Gravecrawler, which he added to his team. As he was behind, the Gravecrawer not being able to block was a bit of an issue.


    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Kuo cast a Grisly Salvage on his turn, flipping over a trio of strong creatures. Rather than take a Centaur Healer or a Restoration Angel, Kuo decided on a Huntmaster of the Fells, immediately casting it. Becerra found his best creature on his draw step, making a Lotleth Troll and passing the turn. Kuo's Huntmaster transformed, getting the Lotleth Troll out of the way temporarily. When Kuo attacked with his team, Becerra tried to kill the Ravager of the Fells with an Abrupt Decay.

    There was a collective gasp from the crowd when Kuo revealed a freshly-drawn Restoration Angel, resetting the Huntmaster and just absolutely giving the firm lead to Kuo. The turnabout was so strong that Becerra seemed unable to recover. His life had been decimated by the uncharacteristically aggressive Centaur Healer. All it took was one more attack with his swarm of 2/2s and 3/3s to make his way to the finals in style.

    Tzu-Ching Kuo 2 – Felipe Tapia Becerra 0




     

  • Semifinals – Nico Christiansen vs. Reid Duke

    by Josh Bennett

  • This weekend nobody could stop Nico Christiansen and his Naya Humans deck. That is, until he ran into Reid Duke in round twelve. Duke's Jund Midrange served up the right cards at the right times to hand Christiansen his first loss. However, that was the exception. The rule had been that Christiansen crushed Jund. Now he had a chance for revenge, and when it mattered most. Better yet, Christiansen would be on the play for game one, casting a long shadow over Duke's chances.

    Christiansen kicked things off with Boros Elite, and after Duke played Woodland Cemetery, added Burning-Tree Emissary and Mayor of Avabruck, hitting for two. Duke untapped and cast his one maindeck Tragic Slip, saying "Lucky" with a sheepish smile as he sent the Mayor to the graveyard. He played a second tapped Cemetery and passed. Christiansen hit for three and played Frontline Medic.


    Reid Duke

    Duke was still on the back foot. He had to pay two life for Overgrown Tomb in order to Murder the Medic. Christiansen hit for three more and played Boros Elite. Duke played Rootbound Crag and summoned Huntmaster, hoping for profitable blocks. Christiansen played Lightning Mauler, bound it to the Emissary, and crashed in with all his creatures. Wolf token blocked the Emissary, and Huntmaster blocked the Mauler, letting the two 3/3 Elites through. Christiansen tapped one for Giant Growth, saving his Mauler.

    Duke was down to just six life and no board. Blood Crypt put him to four, but it let him have Thragtusk to go back up to nine. Of course, Christiansen wasn't done yet. He summoned Flinthoof Boar and bound it to the Lightning Mauler, swinging again with four creatures. Thragtusk traded for the Boar, leaving a 3/3 beast behind. Duke was down to just one life.

    Still, he wasn't dead. Christiansen had no burn. Duke summoned Olivia Voldaren and a lowly Arbor Elf, giving him three blockers to survive a turn. Christiansen turned his creatures sideways, and the blockers lined up: Elf on Boros Elite, Beast token on Boros Elite, and Olivia on the Lightning Mauler. Christiansen made no play. After the dust settled, it was just Boros Elite against Olivia. Christiansen played a tapped Temple Garden and passed. He was finally out of gas.

    Duke had stabilised the board. He untapped, shot down the Elite, then cast Farseek for a third red source.

    "So, one to sixteen?" asked Duke

    He checked Christiansen's graveyard. He didn't risk an attack, keeping Flinthoof Boar from being an out.

    Christiansen slid his card off the top, then turned over Searing Spear with a shrug.

    Christiansen 1 - Duke 0

    Duke kept his opening seven. Christiansen went to six. Duke led with Stomping Ground, and had the decency not to celebrate when Christiansen had no one-drop to go with his Cavern of Souls. Duke untapped, cast Farseek, and passed it back. Christiansen played a second Cavern and chained Burning-Tree Emissary into Mayor of Avabruck. Duke played his fourth land and a Huntmaster of the Fells.

    Christiansen untapped, then sent his 3/3 Emissary into the red zone. Duke took three. Christiansen played a tapped Sunpetal Grove and summoned Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It was no trouble for Duke. He just passed his turn and let the werewolves transform. Christiansen's trigger went on first, as he was active player, then Duke's. That meant that Ravager of the Fells could kill the Mayor.

    It looked like there was no way out for Christiansen. He summoned Experiment one and Flinthoof Boar, and though he forgot the evolve trigger it didn't matter. Duke Murdered Thalia at ened of turn, flipped the Huntmaster back for a wolf and two life, then upped his defenses with Garruk, Primal Hunter and his good buddy, beast token.

    Christiansen gamely played another turn like he was still in it, but the Bonfire of the Damned waiting on top of Duke's deck sent them to game three.

    Christiansen 1 - Duke 1

    Duke was focused as he shuffled up. "I knew this was going to come to game three," he said.

    Both players kept, and what followed was sheer brutality.

    Christiansen Turn One: Cavern of Souls, Champion of the Parish

    Duke Turn One: Blood Crypt, tapped.

    Christiansen Turn Two: Champion of the Parish, Stomping Ground, Experiment One, attack with 3/3 Champion.

    Duke Turn Two: Stomping Ground, tapped.


    Reid Duke

    Christiansen Turn Three: Burning-Tree Emissary, Mayor of Avabruck. Attack with 6/6 Champion of the Parish, 5/5 Champion of the Parish, and 3/3 Experiment One.

    Duke counted the damage - fourteen on turn three. Someone in the audience made a disgusted sound, and it seemed like everyone present agreed. Duke smiled and extended the hand.

    Nico Christiansen defeats Reid Duke 2-1




     

  • Finals – Nico Christiansen vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo

    by Nate Price

  • All weekend long, we had been following the improbable story of the Humans. Virtually ignored one week ago at Pro Tour Gatecrash, Humans-based decks seemed like a relic of the past. Still, as play progressed here in Quebec City, it became clear that there was something brewing. From virtual obscurity, both the Humans Reanimator deck and the Naya Humans deck began to become a larger and larger part of the top tables. Where other time-tested decks, like Esper Control, Bant, and UWR fell by the wayside, the two Humans decks thrived. Now, with one more match to determine the winner, they have reached the pinnacle, fated to dual each other to determine which Humans deck sits atop the Standard world.

    Based on all we've heard this weekend, Kuo's Humans Reanimator deck did not appear to be favored in this matchup. His teammate Lee Shi Tian actually refused to play lands he had in his hand in a match against Kuo's finals opponent, Nico Christiansen, because Christiansen's draw was too fast. He didn't want to give away any additional information. Still, if Christiansen's opening draw were to stumble, Kuo's deck might get the window it needs to win.


    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Christinansen started off with a first-turn Chanpion of the Parish, his ideal opening. On the next turn, he followed that up with a Burning-Tree Emissary into an Experiment One. The Champion became a 3/3, and Kuo dropped to 17. On his turn, Kuo made a pair of Burning-Tree Emissaries, both doing their job to stem the tide. Still, Christiansen had a massively powerful draw. Before attacking, he made a Frontline Medic, turning his Champion into a 4/4 and his Experiment into a 2/2. He sent his team in to attack. Kuo chose to double block and kill the Champion, leaving Christiansen still able to trigger his Medic on his next turn. Kuo was up against the ropes, down to 7 life and no board presence. On Christiansen's next turn, he was able to attack for lethal damage, ending game one in very quick fashion.

    Nico Christiansen 1 – Tzu-Ching Kuo 0

    After sideboarding, Kuo is able to fill his deck with creatures aimed at keeping his life total high and putting bodies in front of Christiansen's creatures. Cards like Centaur Healer and Thragtusk do a wonderful job of both supplementing his early game, while giving him an alternative path to victory. Christiansen, on the other hand, has access to [].

    While the matchup is admittedly abysmal for Kuo during Game 1, the package he gets to bring in for the second two is much better for him. Still, a blazing start from Christiansen is still one of the scariest things that can happen in Standard, and it can be difficult to beat, even with appropriate precautions.

    Kuo and Christiansen kept their opening draws, and Kuo was on the draw. Christiansen made a quick Champion, just as he had in the first game, and his hand was chock full of ways to grow it. What he needed was a second land.

    He didn't get it. Forced to simply attack for one with his Champion, Christiansen began to open the window Kuo needed. Grisly Salvage sent Mulch, Abrupt Decay, Thragtusk, and a Stomping Ground to Kuo's graveyard, and a Restoration Angel to his hand. Christiansen was still without a second land, and Kuo looked to be taking an extreme advantage. When he untapped and made a Thragtusk, it looked like the game might be his.

    Christiansen did his best. He found that second land before the Thragtusk got active, using it to populate his board. Burning-Tree Emissary and Mayor of Avabruck made the Champion a 3/3, but he was still forced to stay back and defend. Kuo's second Thragtusk, in addition to the Angel in his hand, made things look quite grim for Christiansen. He was down 11-26, and wasn't going to be able to get aggressive anytime soon. He made a Frontline Medic, but it was more serviceable as a 3/3 body than an enabler for attack. When Kuo made a Fiend Hunter to steal away the Champion of the Parish, Christiansen's force was crushed. All it took was one more attack with his large force for Kuo to draw the concession from Christiansen, sending it to a decisive Game 3, where Christiansen would importantly be on the play.

    Nico Christiansen 1 – Tzu-Ching Kuo 1

    This was exactly what the Humans Reanimator deck wanted to do against the Naya Humans deck. With a stumble, as we saw in that game, it could overcome the aggressive advantage and draw things out until large, life-gaining beasts could take over the game. Still, with the final game starting on Christiansen's Naya Humans side, Kuo was once again put into a tight spot. Assuming Christiansen had a fair draw, Kuo was going to need early Centaur Healers or Fiend Hunters to stay ahead. Pulling a turn involving a Healer and a Burning-Tree Emissary might well result in exactly the momentum swing Kuo would need to turn the corner and take the lead. As for Christiansen, the onus is on him to do what his deck does: play creatures and attack. If he can do that, his pressure forces Kuo to have the exact right cards to survive, precisely where he wants to be. Naya Humans is a deck that wants to drive, and Christiansen has been doing that all weekend.

    Kuo began with a mulligan to six, not at all what he wanted to do against this aggressive Naya deck. He would need all of his resources to stave off Christiansen's early rush, hopefully trading away creatures in the process. His second six were much better and he let Christiansen begin. The Naya deck began a bit slower than we'd seen from Christiansen so far, passing the first turn without a play. Kuo, meanwhile, began filling his graveyard and digging for the cards he needed, pitching a pair of Fiend Hunters to a Faithless Looting.

    Christiansen's second turn was where the race began. He made a Burning-Tree Emissary and a Flinthoof Boar and passed the turn. He only had a Cavern of Souls and a Rootbound Crag, so his Boar remained a 2/2. Kuo built his mana on his turn, using Farseek to get closer and closer to Thragtusk mana. Christiansen sent his creatures in, dropping Kuo to 14. After combat, he made a Champion of the Parish and passed the turn.

    Kuo hit four mana and passed the turn without a play, signaling a Restoration Angel. Christiansen made a second Cavern of Souls, using it to make a Lightning Mauler, which he paired and sent in alongside his other creatures. Kuo put the Angel in front of the Champion, dropping to 8. Christiansen held two copies of Searing Spear which represented close to lethal damage.


    Nico Christiansen

    Kuo took his turn. Simply flashing back a Faithless Looting, Kuo passed it right back. At the end of his turn, Christiansen tossed one of his Spears at Kuo, dropping him to 5. He then untapped, made a Mayor of Avabruck, and attacked with his team. Kuo looked for a way out. He didn't know about the second Spear and set about trying to survive the attack. He had left himself Abrupt Decay mana available and intended to use it. His Angel lined up in front of the Lightning Mauler, and an Abrupt Decay took out the Emissary.

    That left the Boar. The lone, non-Human in the deck. The little piggy that could. All he needed was the two damage the Boar was able to do to put Kuo in the Danger Zone. As soon as the Abrupt Decay came out, Christiansen flashed the Searing Spear, and his crowd of friends roared with approval.

    "Seriously...Nico just won a Grand Prix," yelled a friend from the gallery.

    Christiansen sat smiling, slowing down for the first time all weekend, letting his victory settle in.

    Nico Christiansen 2 – Tzu-Ching Kuo 1




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Nate Price and Josh Bennett



  • 5. Champion of the Parish

    How appropriate that the Grand Prix Champion's deck depends on the power of a Champion. We had seen the little 1/1 that could at Pro Tour Gatecrash, where Tom Martell gave a clinic on Champion openings with his winning deck, The Aristocrats. Aristocrats creator Sam Black went so far as to call the Champion one of the best creatures in the format, and you would be hard pressed to disagree given the results.

    And Nico Christiansen certainly didn't want to argue. Not only did he say that the Champion of the Parish was the most important card in his deck, and the card he most wanted to see in his opening hand, he agreed that it was one of the most powerful cards in the format, and that no deck could exploit that power like Naya Humans. Surrounded by a supporting cast of blitzkriegers, the Champion proved simply too big and too fast for most decks to handle. It was incredible to watch. Simply blink and you could miss the Champion growing from 1/1 to 5/5, all within the span of a turn or two. It's like a Weeping Angel, ready to pounce as soon as you look away. With two consecutive events under its belt, I doubt anyone will be closing their eyes once it hits the table anytime in the near future.





    4. Burning-Tree Emissary

    There's an old Magic adage: A free spell is always better than it first appears. While it's true that sometimes you get a Commandeer, more often than not you're looking at a Bloodbraid Elf or a Gut Shot, a card that helps to define a format. It's telling that it shows up in both the finalists decks, despite their different plans of attack. In Nico Christiansen's Naya Humans, it's a turn-two engine that enables unbeatable aggro draws. In Tzu-Ching Kuo's Human Reanimator it serves a double function. On one side it's part of the instant-mill kill with Undercity Informant. However it also gives him powerful defensive openings against aggro, letting him get a blocker AND a Farseek on the second turn. Expect to see a lot of this creature in the coming weeks.





    3. Abrupt Decay

    Abrupt Decay was easily the most versatile removal spell in the format this weekend. It helped slow down the hyper-aggressive Jund and Humans decks running around the top tables, chopping Champion of the Parish and Flinthoof Boar down to size. It helped push defensive creatures out of the way in those same Jund Aggro decks, especially Ravager of the Fells and Beast tokens from Garruk, Primal Hunter. The Reanimator Decks used it to deal with Rest in Peace and Grafdigger's Cage. If there was something that could stop any deck in the format from doing what it was supposed to, Abrupt Decay dealt with it.







    2. Farseek

    This is not the first time that Farseek has made the Top 5 Cards, and it will not be the last time. With the sheer power of the Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash dual lands enabling three- and four-color decks, Farseek is the method of choice to ensure the smoothness of draws. Considering the increase in speed that Jund and Naya Humans have contributed to the format, Farseek also plays an important role helping the slower midrange and control decks get to Thragtusk and Huntmaster of the Fells faster. In the end, the fact that Farseek exists is the reason that decks like Jund Midrange and Wolf Run Bant are even able to exist. The overwhelming presence of Jund Midrange here this weekend can be attributed directly to this precious little sorcery's power, recognized by some of the members of the Top 8 as the best sorcery in Standard.





    1. Lotleth Troll

    While Jund Midrange might have been the most played deck here this weekend, Aggro versions of Jund might have ultimately been more successful. One variant of Jund Aggro is the innovative Jund Zombies deck piloted by Felipe Tapia Becerra. Featuring the standard Zombie package of Standard, Becerra's deck won most of its matches due to the incredibly potent, yet perpetually overlooked, Lotleth Troll. Starting at a completely reasonable 2/1 body, the Troll rapidly reaches larger power, taking over combat with the ability to regenerate and its back-breaking trample. Able to switch seamlessly from defense to offense as the pace of the game dictates, the Troll punishes the standard methods of defending oneself in this format. It lives through removal, and it crashes over chump blocks. It does everything you want a creature in Standard to do right now, and it comes down one the second turn. While Becerra was unable to win the tournament, he surely gave to world a better look at why the Troll should always be on their minds.






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