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Grand Prix Philadelphia Coverage

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The letter A!pparently all it takes to win a Grand Prix these days is a white peacock.

Frank Skarren, long considered a limited master, spotted a white peacock last week in the middle of a city. The bizarre sight was only made stranger when it served as something of an omen to his PTQ win the very next day.

And now, one week later, he's a Grand Prix Champion.

Coincidence? Probably. But it doesn't change the fact that Skarren, long regarded as a limited specialist, lived up to his billing on the way to his second Grand Prix title. And getting there wasn't easy. He faced a Top 8 featuring No. 25 William "Huey" Jensen, Christian Calcano, and his opponent in the finals, the often unflappable and unbeatable No. 2 Reid Duke.

Armed with a blue-green deck and the karma from spotting a white peacock, Skarren tore through the Top 8 on his way to a meeting with Duke's Black Devotion deck. Though he felt like an underdog, Skarren flew over, under, and around Duke's defensive forces, finishing off the all-world pro with a Noble Quarry for the last few points of damage. Duke certainly had a fantastic weekend, but the trophy and the title belong to Skarren.

Congratulations to Frank Skarren, Grand Prix Philadelphia Champion!



Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
6 (25) William Jensen Frank Skarren, 2-0
5 Frank Skarren Frank Skarren, 2-1
2 Adam Mancuso Adam Mancuso, 2-0 Frank Skarren, 2-0
7 Danny Goldstein
8 Pierre-Chris Mondon (2) Reid Duke, 2-0
4 (2) Reid Duke (2) Reid Duke, 2-0
1 Christian Calcano Mark Evaldi, 2-0
3 Mark Evaldi












  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Philadelphia provided by Marshall Sutcliffe, Pro Tour Hall of Famer Ben Stark, Brian David-Marshall, Rashad Miller, and Rusty Kubis. For a complete playlist of all the matches, visit ggslive's YouTube page.


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Frank Skarren $4,000
 2.  Reid Duke $2,700
 3.  Adam Mancuso $1,500
 4.  Mark Evaldi $1,500
 5.  Christian Calcano $1,000
 6.  William Jensen $1,000
 7.  Danny Goldstein $1,000
 8.  Pierre-Chris Mondon $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff











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  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • William Jensen

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
    Occupation: Pro Magic Player and content provider for Channelfireball.com


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame, 2013

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    7-2

    Draft 1:
    3-0

    Draft 2:
    3-0

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Ephara’s Enlightenment

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    White-based heroic

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Played against 13-year-old Oliver Tomajko on the last round for Top 8. I was really impressed by his performance.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    Extinguish all Hope




    Reid Duke

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Sugarloaf, NY
    Occupation: MTG


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2011 Magic Online Champion. Nine previous GP Top 8s, two wins

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    9-0, undefeated in games

    Draft 1:
    2-1

    Draft 2:
    2-1

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Keepsake Gorgon

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    Devotion to Black

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Eye Gouged a Cyclops.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    Silence the Believers




    Adam Mancuso

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Santa Monica, CA
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 8, GP Sacramento

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    8-1

    Draft 1:
    3-0

    Draft 2:
    2-0-1

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Swordwise Centaur

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    Any deck with Lightning Strike

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Lightning Volley wiping the board

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    Sigiled Starfish




    Mark Evaldi

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Stroupsburg, Pa.
    Occupation: Waiter/bartender


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    A few PTQ Top 8s

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    9-0

    Draft 1:
    3-0 (12-0)

    Draft 2:
    1-2

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Casting Forgestoker Dragon and curving out.

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    Midrange deck that suits my play style.

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Aqueous Form on my 2/3 creature with a bestowed Nyxborn Wolf and then casting Hunter’s Prowess. Draw 8!

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    King Macar! Gild on a stick




    Pierre Mondon

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Cols, OH. Currently live in Kansas City, Kansas
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    GP Oklahoma City champion, GP St. Louis Top 8

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    8-1

    Draft 1:
    2-1

    Draft 2:
    3-0

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Polukranos and Mistcutter Hydra

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    I don’t know

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Ray of Dissolution Blue Archetype mid-combat, block all attackers. One-sided Wrath.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    I don’t know




    Christian Calcano

    Age: 25
    Hometown: New York, NY
    Occupation: Tom Ma and Adam Reiser Fan Club


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    PT Theros Top 16, Worlds 2010 Top 16, GP Minneapolis 2012 1stMember of Team One Hit

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    9-0

    Draft 1:
    2-1

    Draft 2:
    2-0-1

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Tromokratis

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    UW Heroic or UB Control

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Beat Frank Skarren in round 13 when he cast Brimaz on turn three all three games.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    Sigiled Starfish looks amazing for limited.




    Danny Goldstein

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Columbia, MD
    Occupation: Head Magician at Drop Zone Games


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2 SCG Open Top 8 finishes. #4vaporsnag #9-0-1-drop

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    7-2

    Draft 1:
    3-0

    Draft 2:
    3-0

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Dat curve

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    Forced blue-green Prophet of Kruphix; get passed Prophet. #infiniteprofit

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Used Akroan Crusader to cast Fall of the Hammer on Omenspeaker, then Searing Blood to finish it.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    Atheros, God of Passage




    Frank Skarren

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Merrick, NY
    Occupation: SCG Writer, Data Entry


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner of Grand Prix Charlotte, multiple cash finishes (top 32 and top 64), played in 5 Pro Tours

    Record on:

    Day 1:
    8-1

    Draft 1:
    3-0

    Draft 2:
    2-1

    What was your MVP on Day 1?
    Eidolon of Countless Battles, mostly because my deck was a relatively average black-white build, and Eidolon won me a lot of games.

    What is your favorite archetype to draft in Theros-Born of the Gods?
    I like red-black Minotaurs. It is very hard to draft successfully, but when you can, it’s unbeatable.

    What was the most interesting/craziest/most noteworthy play that you saw or accomplished this weekend?
    Every time I cast Necrobite… the card is insane.

    What officially spoiled Journey into Nyx card are you most excited about?
    I’ve got to go with King Macar, the Gold-Cursed. Such awesome flavor, and a limited bomb.




     

  • Quarterfinals Round up

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • There's a lot of quarterfinals action to get to, so why are you even bothering with this introduction? Read the recaps already!


    (25) William Jensen vs. Frank Skarren

    Another draft, another blue-white heroic-style deck for William Jensen. Just like his last draft, Jensen was unimpressed with what he cobbled together—likely because he was one of three WU drafters, all of whom weren't happy with their decks. However, Jensen just happened to 3-0 with his last mediocre WU deck, so there really was no telling before the cards were played out.

    Frank Skarren, he of the impressive limited win percentage on the Pro Tour, was, contrary to Huey, pretty happy with his Simic-flavored deck. He said he was missing a few cards he would have liked—particularly Time to Feed (which would also have been excellent against Jensen)—but overall felt like it worked out well.

    So...did it?

    Depends on who you ask. Jensen had trouble getting anything going in the first game while Skarren had an assortment of efficient creatures, bounce, and just enough tricks to prevent the Hall of Famer from ever really getting his footing. Skarren's fliers and unblockable creatures made it nearly impossible for Jensen's aggressive-minded deck to accomplish much once it stumbled out of the gate.

    The second game wasn't much better, as Jensen kept a land-light hand and missed his third land drop for a while. Forced to play Chosen by Heliod on one of Skarren's creatures, Jensen had to scramble just to stay in the match at all. Setessan Oathsworn received an Aspect of Hydra and, just like that, Jensen was the first to fall in the quarterfinals.


    Adam Mancuso vs. Danny Goldstein

    The second of our matches involving a blue-white deck featured Danny Goldstein batting for the Azorius team while Adam Mancuso was battling, in every sense of the word, with a white-green deck that hit hard and early.

    And hit hard and early he did. Curving efficient beaters into Reap What is Sown put Goldstein in an early hole from which he just could not recover. Evangel of Heliod gave Goldstein a way to stem the tide, but his 1/1s were no match for Mancuso's larger creatures. In just a matter of turns, Mancuso's initial wave of attackers punched through for a first game win.

    The second deck looked a lot different, however, as Goldstein suited up an "unblockable Scrying bear"—Oreskos Sun Guide—with Aqueous form and started gaining two life per turn while Scrying and hitting for two damage. Eventually a Setessan Starbreaker took care of the Aqueous Form, but the table was at least set for a longer and less brutal second game.

    In fact, Goldstein actually started to take over with Aerie Worshippers and an Ornitharch. His ground forces were overmatched, but they were at least up to the task of holding the fort just long enough for a 5/5 flier to end the game in just a few short turns.

    That left Mancuso and Goldstein facing the all-important third game. Both had already qualified for the Pro Tour based on their finish, but neither was quite satisfied with "merely" getting to the Top 8.

    "This deck is not that good," Goldstein mused as they kicked off the second game. "But I've got that bear again."

    But Mancuso quickly one-upped him with a parade of larger creatures, pump spells, and even the occasional removal in the form of Time to Feed and Shredding Winds. Eventually Mancuso went really big with a Nemesis of Mortals. Reap What is Sown provided another significant push. When that Shredding Winds felled a Wingsteed Rider after an attempt to give it lifelink, that was more than enough for Mancuso's monsters to take over.


    (2) Reid Duke vs. Pierre-Christoph Mondon

    No. 2-ranked Reid Duke read the draft perfectly. Starting in blue-green, Duke deftly switched to black when it became apparent it was wide open. We're talking Grand Canyon wide open. We're talking only drafter at the table, 8th-pick Grey Merchant wide open. He had a few green and blue cards he could swap in and out as he saw fit, but Duke had definitely discovered the correct color for this draft.

    Pierre-Christoph Mondon had likewise taking an under drafted niche and run with it hard. He wasn't the only red drafter at the table, but he sure was close. His blue-red deck was packed with ways to deliver damage in large chunks—which either made him set up well to attack Duke's slower deck, or put him at a disadvantage due to Duke's lifegain.

    It looked to be the latter in the first game, as Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix set a pretty hard defensive line right away. Duke was in full control of the game pretty much from the get-go, using a slew of removal, discard, and a touch of lifegain to harass Mondon's aggressive plans. It took a few turns for Duke to take down game one, but the result was never really in doubt.

    The second game, however, was in doubt right from the start. Duke had a mediocre hand that was on the other side of slow while Mondon got in some damage.

    Mondon, however, was missing blue mana and found himself unable to do as much damage as he would have liked. That gave Duke enough time to land a very intimidating Nessian Asp.

    By the time the snake went Monstrous, Duke was using it to charge into the red zone and drop Mondon to just eight life. That made any hit from the Asp lethal, leaving Mondon in a bit of a precarious position, even as he found ways to drop Duke to just seven life. And he did it all still lacking blue mana.

    But as Mondon drew more and more air, he could no longer keep up while having to sacrifice a creature per turn to the 8/9. When Lash the Whip blew out Mondon's last block, he extended the hand and wished Duke good luck in the semifinals.




     

  • Quarterfinals - Christian Calcano vs. Mark Evaldi

    by Justin Vizaro

  • First-seed Christian Calcano is a well-known veteran of the Grand Prix and Pro Tour class of 21st Century Magic, and already has a win under his belt as well from Grand Prix Minneapolis (2012). Mark Evaldi has been a giant-killer today, and has already played Calcano twice, winning one and losing the other. This third match will end the best of nine, and leave one man en route to a date with the trophy.

    Evaldi's red-white deck has a relatively aggressive curve, so Calcano's option to play first is particularly helpful, as he will need the extra turn to mount his defense against Evaldi's downhill blitz.

    As expected, both players opened in the manner that is characteristic of their decks, with Evaldi building a nice board position with a pair of low-curve creatures. Calcano countered with a Hundred-handed One that was immediately Chained to the Rocks. A Setessan Battle Priest carrying 3 auras has quickly pulled Calcano back into the game, and helped him stabilize as Evaldi failed to add more to the board.


    In an attempt to get the most out of two creatures, Evaldi pushes a dummy attack into Calcano's board, allowing him to cast Rage of Purphoros to kill the Battle Priest. After Rise to the Challenge helped Evaldi take down Horizon Scholar and Hopeful Eidolon on a team block, Evaldi added another creature to the table and passed. Calcano managed to hold off for another turn as he locked down Evaldi's attacks with Sudden Storm, and drew into the seventh land he needed for a very timely Fated Retribution during Evaldi's next combat phase. Following the Retribution, Calcano added Wingsteed Rider, Griffin Dreamfinder, and Horizon Scholar to the table while Evaldi looked for something to help his Spearpoint Oriad.

    Heliod's Emissary gave Evaldi the break he needed to push more damage through Calcano's board, but Hopeful Eidolon on Horizon Scholar gave Calcano a Baneslayer Angel to pad his life total. Stormbreath Dragon (who was a surprisingly late pick in the draft) arrived just in time for Evaldi in this game, giving Calcano cause for concern, but Mnemonic Wall brought Sudden Storm back from the graveyard and gave Calcano some help.

    Late dragons are good, I hear.

    Betrayed by his own team in the next combat phase, Calcano saw his own Horizon Scolar coming across the table thanks to Portent of Betrayal, which not only pushed his life total dangerously low, but also gave Evaldi a little bit of extra padding as well, making the swing-back option less viable.

    "That was a fun game, though, I'm not gonna lie," Calcano said, as both players packed up and moved to the video coverage table.

    Calcano mulliganed to 6 cards on the play in game 2, and pushed a Guardians of Meletis onto the table before Evaldi could truly get moving. Evaldi challenged him early, though, sending Akroan Hoplite into the red zone after a main phase Titan's Strength. Calcano bit, calling Evaldi's bluff, which wasn't actually a bluff at all; Rise to the Challenge send the Guardians to the graveyard. Evaldi kept the pressure on with Minotaur Skullcleaver, followed shortly after by Stormbreath Dragon, dropping Calcano to 5. Calcano's Hundred-handed One can't reach high enough to block the Dragon, regardless of the number of hands he has. Evaldi quickly closed out the game with a monstrous Stormbreath Dragon, and ended the 3-match series against Christian Calcano with a 2 – 0 win.

    Sometimes you get a powerful guy like Stormbreath Dragon 4th or 5th pick and move on to face Reid Duke for the 3rd time in the top 4 of a Grand Prix.




     

  • Semifinals - (2) Reid Duke vs. Mark Evaldi

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • These two are beginning to make a habit of this.

    This is not the first time these two have played. This isn't even the first time they've played this weekend. Mark Evaldi convincingly bested No. 2 Reid Duke early in the day on his way to being the last undefeated player in the tournament, and then Duke got his revenge in the later rounds to stay live for the Top 8.

    Even then the games had been high stakes, top-of-the-roster kind of stuff. They were the last two remaining undefeated players the first time they clashed. The second time Duke needed a win to even have a chance to make the Top 8. Now, they were playing for a chance at the GP Philadelphia trophy.

    Duke was playing another primarily black deck with a pair of Grey Merchants and a bevy of removal. He was utilizing a number of powerful green cards as his secondary. Nessian Asp highlighted his defensive—and, when the game went long enough, offensive—weapons.

    Evaldi, meanwhile, was leaning on the aggression Iroas bestowed upon his red and white followers. A low curve, some removal, pumps and burn, and Evaldi hoped to end games well before Duke's more powerful cards could start to matter.

    In other words, if he didn't win quick, he wasn't likely to win at all. But if Duke stumbled, even a bit, Evaldi was there to punish him.

    It was a measure of revenge, a touch of tiebreaker, and a whole measure of Top 8 pressure.

    The Games

    Blink and you might have missed the first 8 points of damage Duke took in the chin. I know I did. Minotaur Skullcleaver hit for four to start, then another four with a Fearsome Temper. Duke was able to reduce the temper, but still was under the gun.

    Until Nessian Asp showed up to save the day, that is. Because it does that.

    Evaldi nodded knowingly, grimacing slightly as he was forced to deal with a major roadblock and no way to break through. He was forced to sacrifice a Deathbellow Raiders to the 4/5, passing the turn with no play and no answer at the ready.

    And when he "answered" with a Bronze Sable, it looked very much like Duke was firmly in command of the game, still at the 12 life he fell to in his first few turns. The Asp went monstrous and began to do a pretty good Abyss impression while Duke's other removal—Sip of Hemlock and Lash the Whip—ensured nothing could stand in the 8/9's way.

    A second Gray Merchant pretty much sealed the deal.

    Mark Evaldi is 1-1 vs. Reid Duke this weekend. Could he steal a third on his way to the finals?

    "Double Gray Merchant every draft?" Evaldi said, smiling as his well-sealed fate.

    He would know.

    For the second, Evaldi found himself down a card and missing land drops immediately. His Deathbellow Raiders did get in for four damage, but without any help or a third land, Duke easily started pulling away.

    Does this man look like he has the second Grey Merchant? Because he does.

    First, Courser of Kruphix started gaining life and attacking back. Then, Disciple of Phenax gave way to Nessian Asp and Grey Merchant.

    All of those things were far more impressive than the Bronze Sable Evaldi could muster. Duke went through the paces and Evaldi made a show of playing it out, but the game was never really in doubt. Methodically, turn by turn, Duke dismantled what little defense Evaldi could muster and moved on to yet another Grand Prix finals.

    Reid Duke 2 – Mark Evaldi 0




     

  • Semifinals – Frank Skarren vs. Adam Mancuso

    by Justin Vizaro

  • Neither Frank Skarren nor Adam Mancuso is playing in his first Grand Prix, and both players have Top 8 finishes as well, with Mancuso's most recent coming in Sacramento, and Skarren's in Charlotte, where he took 1st place. Both Skarren and Mancuso managed to build decks that like to play forests, but Skarren prefers water to wheat, going with the blue-green aggressively-curved deck featuring Vaporkins and heroic men. Mancuso thinks plains are just fine, and likes the combat tricks being in white affords him. He likes those tricks so much, he actually took Reap What is Sewn Pack 1, Pick 1 in the top 8 draft.

    Both players came out swinging (literally and figuratively), moving through their first turns very quickly with small creatures and big effects. After a few points of life tick down for each player, bigger threats hit the table in the form of giant Snakes. Both players were able to build a board of sturdy threats and threaten big damage, but neither could break the game of chicken until Mancuso decided it was time to get into the red zone with more large guys than Skarren could block. The game ended as quickly as it began, with Mancuso dropping Feral Invocation on an unblocked fatty to push through lethal damage.


    With Skarren on the play, both players opted to skip the small stuff in game 2, moving directly into higher-impact cards like Agent of Horizons (for Skarren) and Nessian Asp (for Mancuso). In the board state depicted below, Mancuso makes his first attempt to break the game open against Skarren, pushing two combat tricks onto Phalanx Leader, sizing up all of his creatures, and killing Skarren's Staunch-hearted Warrior.


    Mancuso's angle with this deck is to bring strong combat tricks to already solid green creatures and hope to come out on top, and the pressure he has mounted so far on Skarren has accomplished that goal. Skarren spent a few turns finding small creatures to throw in front of a rapidly-growing Nessian Asp, slowly picking away at Mancuso's life total with an Agent of the Horizons that always found his way home. As both players hit a land pocket in top-deck mode, Mancuso effectively has Abyss in play against Skarren's agent in a race to close the game. Skarren's addition of Nyxborn Triton was enough to speed up the clock and push him past Mancuso for the final points of damage.


    Moving into game 3, both players opened up with an extremely aggressive set of turns, and Skarren taking full advantage of a blowout early play with Swordwise Centaur and Hunt the Hunted. He continued to add creatures to the table as Mancuso could not find a non-land card off the top of the deck. Rough beats lead to a quick dispersal, and sent Frank Skarren into the finals of Grand Prix Philadelphia.




     

  • Finals – Frank Skarren vs (2) Reid Duke

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • It's hard for a player like World No. 2 Reid Duke to improve on past performances. With the new Grand Prix cap set at your five top performances, it can become difficult to improve on past high finishes when you're as ridiculous as Reid Duke.

    I know, I know, first world problems and all that.

    But Duke has certainly managed to put up a performance to top most of his other GP finishes this year. Most. A win here would certainly give him a boost, both in the Player of the Year standings and in a push to be the top ranked player in the world. His devotion to black cards this weekend had served him well, and his double Grey Merchant deck was certainly packed with power.

    Standing in his way is Frank Skarren who is secretly one of the best limited players in the world. Skarren has one of the best lifetime win percentages across limited formats on the Pro Tour, and is pretty well-respected among the Pro community. He was pretty happy with his blue-green deck during build, lamenting only a few missing cards.

    Duke had faced off against aggressive decks throughout the Top 8, but Skarrens was a little less wall-to-wall aggressive and could play a passable midrange game.

    And, as a bonus, these two incredible players just happen to be among the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Sportsmanship all around and all that.

    "Good luck, Frank."

    "Good luck, Reid."

    The Games

    For the first time in the Top 8, Duke faced someone who could parry his blows with more than another 2/1. Skarren was even able to remove Courser of Kruphix right off the bat, following up with a Nessian Courser and Horizon Chimera. In doing so, he actually pulled fairly far ahead. Leafcrown Dryad on the Chimera only pushed Duke closer to the brink.

    For his park, Duke wasn't doing nothing, but his something was far less impressive. Fanatic of Mogis and Disciple of Phenax were fine cards, but they certainly weren't stopping a 5/4 flier any time soon.

    Reid Duke has been pretty much unstoppable in this Top 8. Could anyone slow the world's second-ranked player?

    Nor were they stopping the 5/5 flier Centaur Courser became when Nimbus Naiad jumped it to the air.

    Duke looked at the two fliers, confirmed he had fallen all the way to two life, and, for the first time in the Top 8, conceded a game.

    Not wanting to wait around nearly as much a second time, Duke got aggressive right off the bat, curving Nyxborn Eidolon into Mogis's Marauder. He lacked green mana, but with Skarren managing just a Vaporkin and Satyr Wayfinder, Duke didn't really need his second color just yet.

    What he did need was a fifth land to play his Keepsake Gorgon. Instead, he found an Opaline Unicorn. It delayed his Gorgon for a turn, but did at least promise to bring it out, much like Annie, tomorrow.

    However, the Gorgon was delayed another turn when Duke was forced to Lash the Whip at a Staunch-Hearted Warrior mid-combat to ensure an Aspect of Hydra didn't pump it to nigh unassailable hights.

    All the while Vaporkin was plugging away, two damage at a time. When it was joined by a Nimbus Naiad-enhanced Centaur Courser, Duke was very suddenly on the verge of death.

    Frank Skarren might have raised an eyebrow or two at his deck and his opening hands, but it all seemed to work out for the limited master.

    Fade into Antiquity looked to provide some reprieve, exiling the offending Naiad, but there was still the matter of the Vaporkin. The tiny flying elemental picked up some help from a Leafcrown Dryad, sending Duke to one. With removal in hand, Duke could likely handle it.

    Except Skarren had a secret weapon. A follow up that could let him squeeze that last point of damage out of Duke.

    Noble Quarry.

    Unable to remove both the flier and the Quarry with a hand full of expensive removal, Skarren found his way across the finish line just before Duke would have taken over.

    "I was able to find a way to get in those last points of damage before his more powerful cards took over," Skarren said. "It took a little bit of luck."

    That may be overstating it a bit, as Skarren clearly demonstrated his prowess in the format all weekend, but it didn't matter either way. With an extended hand, Duke acknowledged what the cheering crowd had already realized.

    Frank Skarren was the champion of Grand Prix Philadelphia.

    Frank Skarren 2 – Reid Duke 0




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Event Coverage Staff



  • 5. Gray Merchant of Asphodel

    The cornerstone of two different Reid Duke draft decks, including the Top 8 deck that brought him to the finals, Gray Merchant has lost a little luster in limited since the introduction of Born of the Gods. But when it works, it works. Duke wasn't the only one to harness the power of "Gary," but he certainly showed us just why it was dangerous to let the undead merchant have his way.








    4. Nessian Asp

    It's no secret that Nessian Asp is one of the most intimidating creatures in the format, sealed or draft. This common beater could serve as a monstrously offensive attacker or a defensive stopper pretty much without peer. Reid Duke rode his copy of the 4/5 snake all the way to the finals and, quite frankly, if he had seen one in that match we might be crowning him instead. But without the snake reaching for the clouds, Duke fell to a bevy of flying creatures out of Skarren's deck. Next time, better get an Asp.






    3. Reap What Is Sown

    Top 8 competitor Adam Mancuso took this card pack one, pick one because it's just that good. Distributing three +1/+1 counters for a small investment is good enough already, but in a format full of Heroic Creatures, targeting three different creatures for three mana can be a complete blowout. Less revered in Sealed, Reap What Is Sown is pretty much THE reason to be in green-white, and one of the best ways to spend three mana in the format, period.







    2. Sudden Storm

    Among other noteworthy contributions to the top decks on the day, Sudden Storm carried Christian Calcano to a perfect 9-0 in day 1, and also helped him go 2-1 and 2-0-1 in his drafts. Sudden Storm is reminiscent of Frost Breath, which was very powerful in M13 limited, and it delivers the same or greater value in this format. Quite often in Theros block sealed and draft one or two large creatures are the only ones on the table thanks to Bestow. Sudden Storm allows a player to either push through two "free" combat phases to win the game, or buy time to stabilize and dig their way out of an unfavorable board state.




    1. Noble Quarry

    We have officially entered the Age of the Unicorn. Skarren rode his Noble Quarry to victory over Reid Duke in the finals of Grand Prix Philadelphia, and the eye-catching unicorn brought more than a few players into Day 2 as well. Unicorns have long been considered good omens, and the gods smiled favorably on Skarren and many others that played this card this weekend. Noble Quarry is a strong option when Bestowed, granting some green decks the ability to kill smaller creatures easily, but is also very strong when cast for four mana as a lure that grants its controller a free combat phase.




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