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Fabiano Flies to Victory in Montreal

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The letter A! total of 1,622 players put Grand Prix Montreal on the record-sized event map for Canada. Like its sister event over the same weekend in Bueno Aires, Montreal pulled in a fantastic number of competitors from the world over. Here, it was all about Born of the Gods and the Limited environment its created.

After a cut down to 170 players, thanks to nine rounds of Sealed deck, it was Gerard Fabiano that drafted his way to victory in the still-frozen north. Duel-wielding Celestial Archons in his final deck, Fabiano used the same plan every pro had brought for the weekend: aggression. The dominance of white-based aggressive decks was hard to miss as Fabiano's finals opponent, Dave Shiels, used a suite of his own fliers and tricks to cut a path through the Top 8.

Will white continue to reign as the color du jour from Born of the Gods? Grand Prix Philadelphia is the next stop for the Limited format, and all eyes will fall on the City of Brotherly Love for the next step of the format's evolution.



Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
1 Daniel Fournier Daniel Fournier, 2-1
5 Morgan Chang Dave Shiels, 2-0
7 Dave Shiels Dave Shiels, 2-0 Gerard Fabiano, 2-1
3 Brock Parker
4 Gerard Fabiano Gerard Fabiano, 2-0
8 Benjamin Gomes Gerard Fabiano, 2-0
6 Ian Robertson Ian Robertson, 2-1
2 Judah Alt






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  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Montreal provided by Marshall Sutcliffe, Pro Tour Hall of Famer Randy Buehler, Brian David-Marshall, Rashad Miller, and Rich Castle. For a complete playlist of all the matches, visit ggslive's YouTube page.


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Gerard Fabiano $4,000
 2.  Dave Shiels $2,700
 3.  Daniel Fournier $1,500
 4.  Ian Robertson $1,500
 5.  Judah ALt $1,000
 6.  Brock Parker $1,000
 7.  Morgan Chang $1,000
 8.  Benjamin Gomes $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Adam Styborski











  •  

  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Adam Styborski


  • Ian Robertson

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
    Occupation: Business Analyst


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Almost got Top 8 at a PTQ a few times!

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    8-1. Hardest decision was whether to splash for sick cards or not.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?

    2-0-1 with Green-Blue. First-picked Courser of Kruphix. It was either that or Ornitharch. I thought white would be over-drafted... also it's better?

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    2-0-1 with Green-Black. First-picked Asphyxiate. The card is awesome and I like black in this format.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    Green-Blue.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Both Retraction Helix and Arbiter of the Ideal.




    Brock Parker

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Silver Springs, MD
    Occupation: Poker player


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Team Pro Tour Champion [Boston 2003 with Huey Jensen and Matt Linde as "The Brockafellars"], Team Grand Prix Champion [Turin 2000 with Daniel Clegg and Peter Szigeti as "Team Clegg"], and Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2013 Champion.

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    8-1 with Blue-Green with Kiora, the Crashing Wave, Polukranos, World Eater and Courser of Kruphix. Had to decide which five of seven bad cards to play.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with White-Green Heroic. First-picked Akroan Skyguard. It's great.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    1-1-1 with Green-White 2 Aspect of Hydra bad deck. First-Picked Ghostblade Eidolon. The pack was terrible but white is great.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    White-based Heroic decks. White has a million great cards that all work well together.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Kiora, even though my expectations were very high. As far as not-great cards, Crypsis.




    Ben Gomes

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Livermore, CA
    Occupation: Insurance Adjuster


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    23rd at GP Oakland 2013, 17th at GP Sacramento 2013.

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    7-2 with a Red-White Aggro deck that played only a single card that cost more than three. The hardest decision was passing on green's Courser of Kruphix and Hunter's Prowess.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Red-White Aggro. I only had five white cards, but one was Elspeth. I first-picked Hero of Leina Tower.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Red-White splashing Blue. I ended up with too few playables so I splashed Nimbus Naiad off Astral Cornucopia. I first-picked Akroan Conscriptor.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    Blue-Green with Griptides. That card is unreal.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Fearsome Temper has been superb for me.




    Judah Alt

    Age: 36
    Hometown: Watertown, NY
    Occupation: Writer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Monied at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2005. Top 8'd States.

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    8-1 with Blue-White Ephara featuring Akroan Horse and Plea for Guidance. Hardest decision was leaving Divination out of the main deck.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Blue-White. I first-picked Temple of Enlightenment hoping to go base-white aggro.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    2-1 with White-Red-Green. It was aggressive, removal-heavy and mostly white, supported by two Temples, Opaline Unicorn and Springleaf Drum.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    Blue-based decks with Retraction Helix and untapping cards such as Crypsis, Kiora's Follower and Breaching Hippocamp.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Mischief and Mayhem, because on Magic Online I always lose to it, yet never win when I play it myself.




    Daniel Fournier

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Four Pro Tour Qualifier Top 8s. Six Grand Prix Day 2s. One Grand Prix winner's photo. Once beat "the" Andrew van Leeuwen in a sanctioned match.

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    9-0 with Blue-Red. I struggled with which mediocre two-drop was best in my deck.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Red-White Aggro. First picked and did not play Ornitharch. It was the best card in the pack by far.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    1-0-2 with Blue-Red Aggro. First picked Kragma Butcher in an otherwise weak pack because I only needed to win one match to make Top 8.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    White-Red Aggro or heroic. When it's open it's completely obscene.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Everflame Eidolon. It won me many games. When it falls off it still trades with something on the ground.




    Morgan Chang

    Age: 32
    Hometown: New York City, New York
    Occupation:


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Two Grand Prix Top 8s

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    8-1 in Sealed. Played Black-Red with Mogis, God of Slaughter. Played red with bigger creatures (higher curve) and removal as opposed to the white with a lower curve, but with no way to close of grindy games.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    2-1 with White-Red Aggro.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with White-Red Aggro.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    White-Red Aggro or heroic. The deck is mostly commons and very synergistic.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Fearsome Temper. It's well-costed, has a big upside, and is quasi-evasion.




    Gerard Fabiano

    Age: 30
    Hometown: New Jersey
    Occupation: Teacher, StarCityGames Writer


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Prerelease champion at The Adventurer's Guild in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    9-0 with Red-Blue-Green. Those colors had the rares.

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    2-1 with Red-Blue-Green with Forge-Stoker Dragon.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    2-0-1 with Blue-Black with Siren of the Fanged Coast.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    Blue-Black in the hopes to open Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Sudden Storm




    Dave Shiels

    Age: 25
    Hometown: The Sanctuary, Boston, Massachusetts
    Occupation: Powerful Wizard


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner Grand Prix Dallas 2011, three Grand Prix Top 8s, worked with the 40-card Friedman

    What was your record in Sealed? What did you play? What was the hardest decision in your build?
    7-2 with Blue-Green, whether or not to play Stymied Hopes

    What was your record in Draft 1? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Blue-Green with Xenagos that I first picked out of a weak pack.

    What was your record in Draft 2? What did you play? What did you first-pick and why?
    3-0 with Blue-White. Akroan Phalanx because white is the best color.

    What's your favorite Born of the Gods Draft archetype, and why?
    White heroic. Lots of good cards in both packs and can be paired with any other color.

    Which Born of the Gods card exceeded your expectations in Limited, and why?
    Crypsis. Catching opponents off guard, especially with inspired creatures or against Sudden Storm






     

  • Quarterfinals - Judah Alt vs. Ian Robertson

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Decks

    Judah Alt wound up in the powerful Red-White combination, but his deck splits its focus between the early and late games. Ian Robertson has a ponderous Green-Black deck with plenty of combat tricks and some powerful cards.

    The Match

    Game one was an arduous affair. After some early trades, including a two-for-one off Lightning Volley, Alt was moving ahead with a Hopeful Eidolon enchanted with Observant Alseid and Dragon Mantle. Robertson was stuck on four land with just Forlorn Pseudamma and Baleful Eidolon. He took another hit from the big Hopeful Eidolon, trying to peel his fifth land. Alt summoned Evangel of Heliod and got four tokens. Robertson missed on land and tapped out for Pheres-Band Tromper.


    Judah Alt

    Alt was getting eager. He saw weakness and turned all his creatures sideways. Robertson no longer had the luxury of playing around shenanigans. He put the Baleful Eidolon in front of the Hopeful, and ate a token with his Tromper, falling to eight. Alt added Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass.

    Finally the dam broke, and Robertson hit his land. Alt was running out of cards and Robertson had a grip of answers. Soon the board was tipping the other way with Robertson swinging and Alt on dwindling token resources. He was empty-handed and would soon be taking big damage. His deck took pity on him and served up a nice one: Heliod, God of the Sun.

    Now he had time. His eight land meant two 2/1 blockers per turn. Robertson was sent back to the drawing board to amass an army big enough to break through. He started to do it, too, with Keepsake Hydra enchanted with Nighthowler, Nessian Demolok, Servant of Tymaret and Pharika's Mender.

    However, Alt had played it cagey. As soon as the board was juicy enough he turned over the one card he'd kept while Heliod did his work: Fated Retribution. Robertson all but slumped in his chair. Now he had no way to bust through and Alt was about to hit twelve land. Also he had fewer than ten cards left in his library. Rather than draw out the inevitable, he packed and shuffled up for game two.

    Alt 1 - Robertson 0

    Fans at the rail who took a break after the marathon first game (during which fully two of the other quarterfinals finished) wound up missing the second entirely. Alt wound up playing a one-land hand and didn't find a second before Robertson had out Nyxborn Wolf and Pheres-Band Tromper.


    Ian Robertson

    He made a go of it, cycling a Dragon Mantle on the Wolf and hit three land before a lethal attack could be made. He tried Bolt of Keranos on the tapped Tromper but Robertson showed him Feral Invocation and they were on to game three.

    Alt 1 - Robertson 1

    Alt's anticlimax continued into the decisive third game. Stuck with a clunky draw and only three lands, he was under pressure from Pheres-Band Tromper and soon it would grow out of reach. He gamely double-blocked, and Robertson showed him Savage Surge. Without mana to make any big plays, he couldn't match up against Robertson's larger creatures, and soon was extending the hand in defeat.

    Ian Robertson defeats Judah Alt 2-1




     

  • Quarterfinals - Gerard Fabiano vs. Benjamin Gomes

    by Adam Styborski

  • Gerard Fabiano most recently graced the Grand Prix Top 8 stage last year at Charlotte. The then-record breaking event demonstrated that skill is not something always lost to time, as Fabiano's history stretches over a decade into the past. What sets Fabiano apart from most high-caliber players is his "unorthodox" table manner. Talkative, friendly, and gregarious to the crowd and camera means you rarely forget his presence at an event.


    Gerard Fabiano

    Never heard of Benjamin Gomes? You might want to remember his name. While he may not carry the history and renown of his opponent, Gomes has found great success in his short career. "My first Grand Prix was Oakland last year," Gomes said. "I finished twenty-third after going 0-2 in the last two rounds, then finished seventeenth at Grand Prix Sacramento. For this weekend, I had byes from Planeswalker Points from the previous GPs."

    Of course, proof is in the pudding and Gomes would have his work cut out for him against the affable Fabiano.

    Fabiano came out swinging with Labyrinth Champion, which he quickly put a Chosen by Heliod onto in an attempt to clear away Gomes's Agent of Horizons. Fabiano used Fall of the Hammer to ensure the job was done when Gomes tried Crypsis to save it.

    Nylea's Disciple and Bident of Thassa let Gomes draw a couple cards, but he was down to 8 life on Fabiano's next next attack. Heliod's Emissary tried to clear the way for Fabiano, but Gomes had a second Crypsis to finally block the Champion away.

    But it that became the last of Gomes concerns. Fabiano played two Celestial Archons, only one of which met a Fade into Antiquity. Nimbus Naaid was Gomes's last line of defense, but Fabiano used Excoriate to remove it and push through the last 5 damage needed.

    "Where are you from?" Fabiano asked.

    "California," Gomes said.

    "Oh dude, awesome," Fabiano's head bobbed.

    "How about you?"

    "Jersey." Fabiano's charm pulled Gomes in to a conversation that wandered from places they know to stores they play in. Fabiano was impressed Gomes played so much at his local store. The veteran player was giving encouragement to his opponent before trying to finish defeating him.

    The second game was just as fast. Arena Athlete with Ordeal of Heliod, then Chosen of Heliod, let Gerard come screaming out of the gates and kept Gomes's early Nessian Centaur from blocking. Even worse, a potent Fated Intervention was stranded in hand. As soon as Gomes hit his sixth mana, Vulpine Goliath came in to block.

    "What's your life?" Fabiano asked

    Divine Verdict dealt with the Fox from Gomes who was still facing a lethal attack. However, on the next turn Gomes made a mistake and played Island before casting Stratus Walk. The Forest he needed to cast Fated Intervention was the drawn card. He played the Forest and passed the turn before it was realized he played two lands. After a quick review, the game was backed up and Gomes, seeing he writing on the wall, conceded.

    "If you ever want to chat about decks or stuff just send me message on Facebook," Fabiano offered, quick to move right back to the friendly banter he's known for. Gomes smiled, happy to oblige.

    Gerard Fabiano defeats Benjamin Gomes, 2-0




     

  • Quarterfinals – Dave Shiels vs. Brock Parker

    by Adam Styborski

  • Brock Parker's return to the Magic spotlight was something the vocal crowd of pro players at home approved. With his team Pro Tour-winning teammate

    For the first game Shiels used his aggressive, evasive creatures to try and overwhelm the defenses Parker could set. But Parker's ability to drain and remove kept him in the game that continued longer than the entire Fabiano-Gomes quarterfinal match for Shiels finally won.

    "That was a sweet game of Magic!" Shiels exclaimed. "I've never had a game where I kept a hand with double Gods Willing take that long."

    The second game didn't. It featured an Ordeal of Heliod-enhanced-twice-over Battlewise Hoplite that quickly became 7/7), which Parker was only able to buy time against.

    Dave Shiels defeated Brock Parker, 2-0




     

  • Quarterfinals - Daniel Fournier vs. Morgan Chang

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Decks

    Morgan Chang is playing a Green-Blue deck packed with mana-ramp and haymakers. Daniel Fournier has a textbook Blue-Black control built around amassing card advantage and grinding the opponent out.

    The Match

    Despite the stakes, both players were relaxed and in good spirits. Fournier had to mulligan to six, and then to five, but still refused to be perturbed. Spectators could be forgiven for assuming that this one was over before it began, but if they did, they were mistaken. Even when Chang dropped Kiora, the Crashing Wave against Fournier's board of four lands, the game was far from over.

    Fournier added Omenspeaker, forcing Kiora to go on the defensive. Chang hit six land and went big with Shipbreaker Kraken. Fournier was ready with Hero's Downfall, getting a laugh from Chang.


    Morgan Chang

    "So we're just playing mono-rares, right?"

    An Oracle's Insight for the Omenspeaker looked like it would help Fournier's cause, but Chang had Eternity Snare. Fournier needed another rip but missed. Finally it seemed like that hammer would come down, and in spectacular fashion: Chang tapped all his lands and summoned the mighty Colossus of Akros. He was visibly shocked when Fournier tapped four and put Gild on the table.

    "WHAAAAAT??"

    "I thoguht we agreed we were playing mono-rares."

    Unfortunately that was the last of Fournier's fireworks. Chang played out some more pedestrian threats in Vulpine Goliath and Snake of the Golden Grove and they were up to the task of bringing Fournier to zero.

    Chang 1 - Fournier 0

    Chang's deck hit the ground running in the second game, with a crucial turn-two Voyaging Satyr powering out Pheres-Band Tromper. Fournier was trying to hold the ground with Returned Phalanx and Aerie Worshippers, but Voyage's End let the Tromper attack safely, meaning it would grow to an unwieldy 4/4. The bad news kept coming for Fournier. Chang Nullified his attempt at an Omenspeaker, and after Returned Phalanx came back, suited up his Tromper with Thassa's Emissary, swinging in for seven damage and a card.

    Fournier was tenacious. He brought out Wavecrash Triton and threw his Phalanx in the way of the big Tromper. Chang could only add Sedge Scorpion, giving Fournier a window to gain some ground. He did exactly that, with Oracle's Insight on the Wavecrash, giving him a steady stream of cards and locking the deadly attacker for a turn.

    Chang's deck gave him Fated Infatuation off the top to make a second Tromper. Still only the Scorpion and the big Tromper could get in, and the Insight was letting Fournier churn through his deck and making his chump blocks less of an issue. He also had his splashed Scholar of Athreos, meaning his excess mana could help buoy his life total. Thassa's Bounty gave Chang a burst of cards and milled Fournier's Gild, causing him to excitedly shout "Colossus is live!"


    Daniel Fournier

    Of course, he still needed to draw it, and the Bounty had only given him a second Scorpion as an attacker. Hero's Downfall took care of the mighty Tromper and suddenly Chang was only doing two a turn, while Fournier could Scholar for three. Chang's life total was still in the teens, however, and now his deck was serving up nothing but blanks while Fournier sat behind his wall of blockers. Fournier almost couldn't believe it when he successfully drained the last of Chang's life.

    Chang 1 - Fournier 1

    Chang scored a big victory early in the deciding game, when Fournier tried to summon his Scholar of Athreos early and ran smack dab into Nullify. Chang's draw was a little clunky, however, and couldn't muster pressure. Fournier hid behind Gray Merchant of Asphodel and then gave it Oracle's Insight, beginning the process of finding what he called the few of his cards that did things.

    Chang played his seventh land and showed that he wasn't entirely without offense. He summoned Kraken of the Straits. With Hero's Downfall already in the grave it looked like it could go all the way. Fournier would need to get lucky with his draws. Chang ripped Time to Feed, and inexplicably chose to kill the Returned Phalanx. That gave Fournier extra draws, and combined with Bident of Thassa he quickly worked all the way through his deck to get the Gild that was his only remaining solution to the mighty Kraken. Bident also meant that Chang couldn't amass small threats, they were constantly forced to run into Fournier's barricade of blockers.

    Fournier's library had dwindled considerably, but thankfully for him Bident's draw is entirely optional. Chang politely asked him to reconsider drawing four of the last six or seven cards in his library, but Fournier insisted on standing pat. Victory followed shortly after.

    Daniel Fournier defeats Morgan Chang 2-1




     

  • Semifinals – Gerard Fabiano vs. Ian Robertson

    by Adam Styborski

  • Without missing a beat, Gerard Fabiano continued his friendly banter from the previous Top 8 match.

    "Want some?" he asked, waving his cologne about toward Ian Robertson.

    Robertson was a regular around his local Pro Tour Qualifier circuit, and he seemed in good spirits for his for grand Prix Top 8 appearance. "No, no. I don't need a disinfectant," Robertson joked back with a smile.

    If nothing else, Fabiano can always take the edge off a match and make Magic feel fun.

    As in the quarterfinal games before Arena Athlete and Elite Skirmisher led another quick start for Fabiano, who had removal for the first creature Robertson played on turn four. Robertson's lack of early blockers was a serious problem: Blink and you would have missed the Game 1 win from the New Jersey native.

    The second game was similar to the first: Fabiano playing out his hand of creatures – Cavalry Pegasus, Elite Skirmisher, Heliod's Emissary, and Areno Athlete – aggressively, Robertson missing crucial blockers. And again, Fabiano drove home to victory with removal when Robertson's creatures appeared too late.


    Born of the Gods Draft is much faster than its Sealed counterpart.

    "Good game," Robertson offered with a handshake before he quickly moved on. Fabiano didn't have time to chat with his opponent afterwards for this match.

    Gerard Fabiano defeated Ian Robertson, 2-0




     

  • Semifinals - Dave Shiels vs. Daniel Fournier

    by Adam Styborski

  • When both decks have tricks in Born of the Gods Draft, who wins? It's a question Dave Shiels and Daniel Fournier looked to settle. Fournier was still undefeated on the day, double drawing into the Top 8 and winning his quarterfinal match, but Shiels was hungry for more. He had wanted to start the match earlier but the other quarterfinal matches were still catching up.

    In the first game, Shiels moved to be the speedy attack deck again, but Vortex Elemental from Fournier slowed him to a halt. Two copies of Ordeal of Heliod with a Battlewise Hoplite is challenging for all but exactly the right cards, and Fournier looked to be keeping the aggressive deck in check. Eventually, the battlefield was dominated by Shiels's oversized Coastline Chimera that punched through with Gods Willing.


    Building the biggest creature is a way many Born of the Gods Limited games end.

    "I can't beat a 1/5," Fournier quipped, grinning. With three +1/+1 counters and a bestowed Nimbus Naiad, Coastline Chimera was hardly "just" a 1/5.

    Shiels didn't miss a beat. "That's what I did to Brock," he said, referring to his quarterfinal opponent. "Fourteen lands and six spells beats fourteen lands and five. I mean, I'm playing twenty-five lands."

    There was a chuckle all around the table.

    The second game looked slower for Shiels, and it was Fournier that had an evasive attacker to start in Siren of the Silent Song. Ordeal of Heliod changed the race in Shiels favor, but he was discarding cards to Fournier's inspired trigger. Akroan Skyguard was deflected with Triton Tactics – causing another of Shiels's cards to fall from hand – but Gods Willing saved the Lagonna-Band Elder from Hero's Downfall. Going back up to 22 life from Ordeal of Heliod meant Shiels could take significantly more damage than Fournier, even after the letter stole some with Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

    With his second Gods Willing already in hand, Shiels put Fournier down to 6 life – the exact amount a Lagaonna-Band Elder with three +1/+1 counters on it could hit for. However, Aerie Worshipers left Fournier with two different colors of blocker. It took another turn, but Shiels's patience paid off when Fournier tapped down to just double black.

    Fournier had run out of removal for the Elder, but pulled two extra life with Pharika's Cure. Hopeful Eidolon before combat meant the lifetotals shifted to Shiels, 22, and Fournier, 1. Afterwards, Fournier's battlefield was full of blockers and attackers thanks to Aerie Worshippers and inspired trigers.

    Even Prognostic Sphinx and an army of fliers wasn’t enough to save Daniel Fournier.

    Shipwreck Singer made Vortex Elemental and Lagonna-Band Elder finally meet, "messing up all those cards I scryed," as Fournier put it but Shiels seemed nonplussed: Setessan Griffin and Acolyte's Reward let Shiels redirect the last point of damage.

    "I'm sure I misplayed that board," Fournier admitted, "but I'm not sure I could beat that hand anyway."

    Fournier's hand extended, closing another Grand Prix Montreal semifinal match.

    Dave Shiels defeated Daniel Fournier, 2-0




     

  • Finals - Gerard Fabiano vs. Dave Shiels

    by Adam Styborski

  • As two players with a long history in the game, Dave Shiels and Gerard Fabiano were well acquainted with one another. The banter started immediately. "We call the second place one 'three-dimensional plaques'," Shiels said, calling back to the older awards for Grand Prix finalist awards.

    "Yeah, when I went to the finals at Charlotte," Fabiano said, looking back to his Top 8 about a year earlier, "I saw the silver one and said 'I want it!' I didn't know it was second place."

    Laughter was on both sides, and mirth continued throughout the match.

    Akroan Crusader with Chosen of Heliod was a typical quick start from Fabiano. "I know you got something. I fall for it all the time," Fabiano said as he attacked. Akroan Skyguard with Acolyte's Reward took out the tough token-making Crusader for Shiels.

    "Okay, that wasn't so tough. I'm not even sure if I messed that turn up," Fabiano said as he passed back.

    Coastline Chimera looked to be a solid blocker, but Fabiano's first Celestial Archon appeared. Shiels's Chorus of the Tides joined the aerial party, all the while he kept Gods Willing at the ready. Each player continued to play creatures into the stalemate until Fabiano moved in with Coordinated Assault and Chosen of Heliod, using Elite Skirmisher to clear the way.

    But Shiels's Gods Willing was waiting and kept a protection from white, and now 4/4, Akroan Skyguard at the ready. After checking potential blockers, Fabiano was left with one card in hand and passed back without attacking.

    Bestowing Hopeful Eidolon on Akroan Skyguard let Shiels begin his own attack rising o 18 life and putting Fabiano on the defense. Divine Verdict was Fabiano's answer. Afterwards, the battlefield continued two crowd with ever more creatures and tokens.


    This was the first time in the Top 8 Fabiano's furious beat down was slowed to a crawl.

    Fabiano attacked with his fliers, and used Battlewise Valor to win combat when Shiels blocked with his. Now Fabiano had the advantage with Cavalry Pegasus as even his Archetype of Aggression was a Human. With an all-in attack Shiels showed his hand full of basic lands.

    "Want me to tell you something you did wrong?" Fabiano asked Shiels as they shuffled up between games.

    "Sure."

    "Well," Fabiano started before pausing and reconsidering, "actually you didn't make a mistake."

    "There were a lot of judgment calls," Shiels offered. The two jumped into debating the nuance of how certain attacks or blocks earlier could have shifted the stalemated game, but they ultimately agreed the Ordeal of Heliod and lost life didn't really matter.

    The second game flipped the usual early game state for Fabiano in this Top 8: Shiels came out quickly, putting the veteran down to 10 with Heliod's Emissary on defense. Shiels's Battlewise Hoplite created a rules conundrum as Mortal's Ardor was responded to by Fabiano's Fall of the Hammer, to which Shiels played Gods Willing.

    It took a few minutes to confirm that protection from red would do what Shiels wanted it to do: Stop damage from Heliod's Emissary cutting down Battlewise Hoplite. Shiels built Battlewise Hoplite up to 5/5 with Ordeal of Heliod on the next turn, and Shiels used Oreskos Sun Guide to force Fabiano into using Divine Verdict. Playing it carefully left Shiels free to even the match up.

    The third game returned to Fabiano's speedy delivery, using Akroan Crusader and Fall of the Hammer to knock Shiels's Deepwater Hypnotist away. Shiels fell to 15 and failed to find a third land as Fabiano played his first Celestial Archon. The second Archon that came down from Fabiano after attacking made Shiels's sixth turn Island for three mana seem even smaller.


    Fabiano's twin Celestial Archons were tough in most positions. Two lands left Shields with hardly any options at all.

    Lagonna-Band Elder pulled Shiels back up to 12, but Fabiano's Coordinated Assault-backed attack put Shiels to 2. There was nothing left in Shiels's deck to stop the onslaught of the Archons.

    Gerard Fabiano defeats Dave Shiels, 2-1.




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Adam Styborski and Josh Bennett



  • 5. Akroan Skyguard

    Any conversation about Born of the Gods Limited begins with this card. Wingsteed Rider was the best common in all-Theros draft, and white managed to go one better in the new set. Don't be fooled by the smaller stats. A power and a toughness is a bargain price for coming out a full turn earlier. Add to that some powerful 3-drop enhancers like Nyxborn Shieldmate you can have your opponent on the back foot before they get a nonland permanent into play.

    Also, Born of the Gods is a small set, so more Skyguards turn up in packs than Wingsteed Riders. It's not just white; Born of the Gods in general skews to the aggressive side of things. It also makes up half of the packs in a sealed pool, so the format as a whole is much more aggressive. This means that to be successful, sealed decks have to either come off the blocks quickly or be prepared for those who do.





    4. Asphyxiate

    Not every color made out like a bandit in Born of the Gods. Black's commons are for the most part a dismal collection of filler cards. That is, except for this little gem, a powerful, efficient removal spell. Now, because black is so starved in Born of the Gods, it takes a lot of luck to get enough playables for it to work in sealed. However, that same shortness can serve as a benefit when it comes to draft. Not only do fewer players want to draft black, so the self-correction of draft comes into play, but it becomes much easier to cut black in pack one. First-picking an Asphyxiate is therefore a powerful gambit. It's not impossible to wind up as the only one drafting black at your table, which is a recipe for a 3-0 performance.





    3. Phenax, God of Deception

    One of the most compelling discussions of the weekend came out of one of Alexander Hayne's drafts: Is it correct to take Ornitharch over Phenax, God of Deception? Even the pros were split on this one. On the one hand, Ornitharch is the sure thing. It gets you five power of flying damage served one of two ways. It's also in white, considered to be the most powerful color in the format. Phenax is more of a gamble. Not only is it a two-tone card, making it easier to get pushed off of, but it also only works in one style of deck. However, if you manage to craft that sleek blue-black control deck, Phenax is a powerful finisher, and very difficult to answer.

    Hayne, however, didn't have to make that choice. He had the luxury of being passed Phenax second-pick, a signal that the player on his right would not be interfering with his plans. Knowing that you have to draft an overall plan, not just a collection of cards, is essential in this format, and players who have put in the hours can get an edge by being best able to exploit the power of cards with that kind of context-dependent power.





    2. Gods Willing

    Simply put, Gods Willing is everything you want in a trick. It triggers heroic on the cheap. It short-circuits removal without forcing you to hold up a ton of mana, meaning you can keep building your board. It can even act as a pseudo-Falter, allowing a single attacker to push past mono-colored opposition for the final few points of damage.

    Finalist David Shiels used it to cut a path through the Top 8. Against Brock Parker, his Gods Willing saved a Battlewise Hoplite that then grew out of control with Ordeal of Heliod. In the semifinals he was racing against Daniel Fournier's Siren of the Silent Song, hardly an ideal situation, and he refused to discard the powerful instant, saving it to help set up a lethal endgame.





    1. Celestial Archon

    Here's a creature that really puts an exclamation point on the end of an aggressive curve. It may be four power compared to Ornitharch's five, but the Archon rules the skies. The fact that you can bestow it on a ground creature and surprise the opponent with a massive evasive attacker is just backbreaking. Gerard Fabiano took the Top 8 by storm with a double dose of this powerful rare. Fabiano's opponents were sometimes able to answer one Archon, but the second proved too much to handle. In the tournament's final game Fabiano seized the trophy with a brutal sequence of turn-five Archon, turn-six Archon. There was not a turn seven.






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