by Josh Bennett
Sunday, 6:50 p.m.
by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 16
Greg Hatch vs Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
by Josh Bennett
Feature Match: Round 15
Brian Kowal vs Gerry Thompson
by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 14
Tomoharu Saito vs Patrick Chapin
by Bill Stark
Sunday, 6:04 p.m.
Quick Hits: What Magic 2011 card is undervalued?
by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 13
Tom Martell versus Kyle Boggemes
by Josh Bennett
Feature Match: Round 12
Shuuhei Nakamura vs Brad Nelson
by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 11
Paul Rietzl versus Sam Black
by Josh Bennett
Sunday, 11:52 a.m.
Draft 1 with Brad Nelson
by Bill Stark
Sunday, 10:28 a.m.
Undefeated Sealed Decklists
by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 10
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa versus Matt Nass
by Event Coverage Staff
Info: Day 1 Coverage
by Event Coverage Staff
Info: Day 1 Playerlist
by Event Coverage Staff
Info: Fact Sheet
Feature Match: Round 10 – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa versus Matt Nass
by Bill Stark
With the first day's nine rounds of play running late into the night, tournament officials called off the tenth round to save it for Sunday morning. By doing so they've saved everyone time, but required that players bring their Sealed decks back for battling one last time on Sunday. That found Matt Nass and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa battling one another in a 10 round feature match, effectively a hold over from Saturday.
Paulo was first to the battlefield with a Child of Night, and used Quag Sickness on a Scroll Thief from his opponent to prevent it from overwhelming him with card advantage. A Blinding Mage from Matt Nass promised to keep his opponent's creatures contained, which was a good thing as Paulo Vitor soon had a Sword of Vengeance breathing down his opponent's neck.
Luckily for Matt, the two players stalemated. Neither was able to cast additional creatures for a few turns, and Damo da Rosa didn't have a removal spell for the Blinding Mage. That meant the 1/2 was able to contain the Child which had picked up the Sword, and Nass had bought himself some time to catch up to the equipment. Elite Vanguard for the Californian gave him a second creature to help out the Blinding Mage, but no sooner had he cast it than his Brazilian counterpart found an Azure Drake.
Though Matt was able to answer Azure Drake with a copy of his own, a Doom Blade from his opponent put an end to his Blinding Mage and put him into a bad spot. When Paulo Vitor cast a Frost Titan, forcing one of Matt's lands to stay tapped, the game moved from bad to much, much worse. Not only did Nass have to somehow deal with the Sword of Vengeance, but now he had a 6/6 breathing down his neck too!
Stormfront Pegasus and Squadron Hawk joined Matt's team, but he was forced to chump with an Elite Vanguard to keep his head above water. His opponent just continued adding to his team, dropping an Air Servant and it took only a single draw after that point for Matt to admit defeat in light of the overwhelming board position facing him.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Matt Nass 0
"Play?" Paulo Vitor asked his opponent as they shuffled for the second game of the match.
"I don't know," Matt Nass replied. "I like to draw, but I think you're smarter than me and you opted to play." After some consideration, Matt went with his opponent and chose to go first.
A Scroll Thief on Matt's third turn was ended quickly by Doom Blade, but Nass continued trying to go aggro by casting Howling Banshee. He knew if he gave his opponent too much time, he would lose to Damo da Rosa's bombs, so the more aggressive he could be the better. Black Knight soon joined his team, but Paulo cast Sword of Vengeance. When the Brazilian superstar tried Stone Golem, Matt made some calculations, then allowed the 4/4 to resolve. A turn later he stole it with Mind Control.
That cleared the way for his opponent to cast Frost Titan, and Matt's aggressive posturing came to an end. When Damo da Rosa attempted to cast Call to Mind to return his Doom Blade to his hand, Nass pulled the trigger on Cancel to counter the sorcery. Feeling safe to attack, Paulo equipped his Frost Titan with Sword of Vengeance and moved to the red zone, locking down the stolen Stone Golem; Matt took the damage and fell to 9.
For the second game in a row, Matt drew a card but found nothing and conceded, helpless in light of the assault from both the Sword and the Titan.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2, Matt Nass 0
Sunday, 10:28 a.m. – Undefeated Sealed Decklists
by Bill Stark
After a monstrous ten rounds of Sealed Deck competition, just three players rose above the fray with spotless performances. They were Jacob Wilson, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, and Nick Lynn. Here are the decks they used to earn their 10-0 records. . .
Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Day 1 Undefeated Decks
Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Day 1 Undefeated Decks
Sunday, 11:52 a.m. – Draft 1 with Brad Nelson
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
Grand Prix Portland 2010 - Day 1 Undefeated Decks
by Josh Bennett
Brad Nelson, at 8-2, needed to pour it on to keep up his impressive streak of Top 8's. He didn't mince words on his chances once the draft had finished.
"It's gonna be tough."
He started with a clear pick of Doom Blade, then Howling Banshee over Liliana's Spectre and Pyroclasm. He kept up black cards, dipping his toe in white. He got a late Infantry Veteran, and it looked like his path was set. Through packs two and three, however, the cards for him were thin. Few fliers, no removal, just fast monsters and a few tricks.
"It's not great. I mean, I have to play Jinxed Idol," he said, grimacing. He went on to explain in detail.
"The draft was a trainwreck from the start. I'm pretty sure what happened was, after I started black, the player on my right got passed a pack with four black cards, took one, and passed me a pack with three. I take Reassembling Skeleton, but wind up giving the player on my left two black cards with Sign in Blood. Suddenly we're all fighting.
"I was committed to black, and I haven't been winning with black-green, so I wouldn't move into it even though it might have been open. It turned out I wouldn't have gotten there, so at least there's that. I went white for Wild Griffin. Now, I love black-white, but you have to get the deck right. It's easy to draft it wrong.
"The worst was, I made a mistake early. It's one I used to make all the time a long time ago. You know how it is, when you're pretty sure you won't be able to get a deck you want, but there's a card for it and you take it, just hoping? There was a Pridemate I didn't take. I had the Reassembling Skeleton, a great card no matter what, and I wanted to wind up in the black-red deck. I could've had three Pridemates to go with the two Lifelinkers."
I asked him about about if he had been hoping for something to come back from his first pack, but he said quite the opposite.
"When my first pack finally came back, what I was looking for were if any of the unplayables didn't come back. If Palace Guard isn't there, I know someone near on my right is cutting white. I knew I wouldn't get anything good, but you can get a lot of information that way."
I asked him about a Disentomb I thought he took fairly early (though over another marginal card), and he said "Between Liliana's Specter and Gravedigger, you can get a lot of value out of Disentomb. Specter, trade, Disentomb, and suddenly they're down two cards. Of course, I never got any Specters."
On the subject of the Pyroclasm he passed pick 2: "I like Pyroclasm a lot, but not in red-black. It's great as a splash in blue decks and green decks. In decks like this, it's not their 2 drops that you're having problems with, it's their four drops."
I asked him how his mana worked out, between his heavy black, Infantry Veterans, and Inspired Charge.
"The mana's fine, it's 9/8. It's not like Sign in Blood is a turn-two play, so my Veterans will be fine. I like to count one-drops as costing more than one mana, just because of how they dictate the way you develop your mana."
"I took Mind Rots early, but I'm not playing them. You're not going to win by going dude, dude, Mind Rot. But it will be good against the slower decks, I expect I'd board it in against three decks at the table. Particularly with the Pyroclasms out there, there'll be matches where I can't just play out my guys."
"I think I can maybe 2-1. 3-0 is gonna be tough, but I'm gonna battle."
After round 11, he was 1-0.
"Got there with Jinxed Idol!"
Feature Match: Round 11 – Paul Rietzl versus Sam Black
by Bill Stark
Just one week ago, Paul Rietzl spent his Sunday winning his first Pro Tour title in Amsterdam. Now, seven days later he found himself paired against Sam Black in the 11th round of competition at Grand Prix-Portland. Though not an individual Pro Tour champion, Sam Black did have a team title under his belt having won the Team Worlds title on behalf of the U.S.A. With announcements in the background blaring information about the 270 person PTQ also happening, the two got their match underway.
Starting on the play, Paul Rietzl aggressively cast a Black Knight on his second turn. His opponent had a creature at two mana as well, but his was Sylvan Ranger and he was unable to attack as the Black Knight began sending for 2 each turn. A second copy of the first striker made its way to the battlefield for Rietzl, but Wall of Frost out of Sam Black threatened to help hold the fort on the ground.
Unintimidated, Paul sent his team sideways anyway before casting a Gravedigger with no targets to return. Sam fired back with a Fauna Shaman and looked to have turned the tides of tempo in his favor as his opponent passed on five mana with no action.
"Someone's got Fauna Shaman, doesn't matter what the format is," laughed Rietzl as he surveyed the board.
A Stormtide Leviathan went to the graveyard for Black as he activated his Shaman, fetching up Garruk's Packleader. Clone from Sam allowed him to copy his opponent's Gravedigger and immediately get the Leviathan back, and when Paul attacked with his creatures the two Gravediggers traded with one another. "This is so awkward," Paul whined as he used a Disentomb to get back his Gravedigger, casting it again despite having no legal targets to return with its "enters the battlefield" ability. The play made sense, however, as the Californian PT champ needed to keep up with creatures or risk falling behind to his opponent's Fauna Shaman.
Garruk's Packleader was killed by Quag Sickness from Paul, but it was quickly replaced by Spined Wurm out of Sam Black. Turning to card advantage to keep him in the game, Paul cast Jace's Ingenuity and drew three cards. A turn later he used Mind Rot to clear his opponent's hand, then cast Sword of Vengeance. It was a powerful series of plays, but Paul only had two Black Knights for creatures and they were soon locked out from attacking as his opponent reached eight mana and was able to cast Stormtide Leviathan.
An Azure Drake joined Sam Black's team, but Paul found a Corrupt to use on his opponent's Leviathan and managed to finish off the creature that was holding his forces back, cushioning his life total in the process. That put Paul back in the driver's seat and he began attacking with a Black Knight wielding Sword of Vengeance. Scroll Thief off the top for Rietzl gave him another threat with which to wield the Sword and Sam Black was forced to keep his creatures back on defense, including the Azure Drake which had been nibbling at his opponent's life total.
Paul sent a big attack, turning two Black Knights and his Sword-powered Scroll Thief sideways. Black attempted to block the Thief with Sylvan Ranger and Giant Growth, while soaking up a Black Knight with Wall of Frost but when Rietzl revealed a Doom Blade to take out the Ranger the score was tied at 5-5 and Paul got to draw a free card. Post-combat he cast Nether Horror and passed. A second attack crashed in, but Paul had miscalculated; though he managed to take out some of Black's creatures, he had only a single untapped threat in the form of Scroll Thief. When Sam drew Mind Control, he was able to steal the Thief and attack back for lethal thanks to the Sword's powers, giving him a surprise win in the first game.
Sam Black 1, Paul Rietzl 0
As he had in the previous duel, Paul Rietzl started the second off with Black Knight though he followed it with Child of Night instead of a second copy of the 2/2 first striker. His opponent parried with Cloud Elemental and Phantom Beast, but the 2/3 Cloud Elemental was unable to block non-flyers. A second Cloud Elemental soon followed for Black, and he went to the skies to race Rietzl. But when Quag Sickness from Paul took out Phantom Beast, Sam had no blockers and was forced to take 4 each turn, while Paul gained 2 back from his Child of Night's lifelink ability.
A second Quag Sickness took out one of the Cloud Elementals, putting Sam further behind and he needed to find a creature of some type to catch up. Sam attempted to use a Mind Control on his opponent's Black Knight, but found his powerful enchantment countered by Negate. Black cast Garruk's Packleader but lost it to Deathmark, and when he traded a Fauna Shaman for Child of Night only to see it returned to his opponent's hand via Gravedigger, Sam was out-tempoed and out-resourced by his opponent forcing a third game.
Sam Black 1, Paul Rietzl 1
It was all down to the final game, and both players came out aggressively. Paul had Black Knight, going three for three in the match with casting it as his first spell, while Sam had Fauna Shaman. When he tried to use it to fetch up a Sylvan Ranger, however, Black found the 1/1 Ranger countered by a Flashfreeze from his opponent. That meant Sam had just Forests for lands, kept from casting his deck's blue cards.
Fortunately for the Midwesterner, however, his opponent Paul had only a second Black Knight and little else for action. That meant a Cudgel Troll with a single green mana up for Sam held the fort nicely. Still void of blue mana, however, Sam could only watch as his opponent cast Jace's Ingenuity for three new cards. Nether Horror joined Rietzl's team, and Black traded in Juggernaut for Garruk's Packleader via a Fauna Shaman activation.
The 4/4 Packleader didn't last long, however, as Paul cast Doom Blade to blow it up. But he didn't have an answer for the Cudgel Troll and was forced to sit back on double Black Knight and his Nether Horror. A Barony Vampire gave him an additional attacker, but it wasn't enough to get through and his opponent made matters even worse by using a Clone to give himself a second copy of Cudgel Troll.
Feeling confident he was ahead on the table, Sam Black began sending one of his Cudgel Trolls to the red zone. Rietzl, no doubt worried about the Giant Growth he had seen in earlier games from Sam, opted not to block despite having two first striking Black Knights. Sam used his Fauna Shaman to trade Stormtide Leviathan for Greater Basilisk, then cast the 3/5 and passed. Trying to break through the stalemate, Paul ripped Sword of Vengeance and equipped it to his Barony Vampire. He then attacked and forced Sam to figure out a profitable block. Black opted to use his Clone version of Cudgel Troll to absorb the damage, but it left Black with no green mana.
Paul went for it, casting Assassinate targeting the original Cudgel Troll. Not wanting to lose his 4/3, Sam cast Unsummon to bounce his own creature, re-casting it on his turn. This time he DIDN'T feel comfortable attacking, and kept the team home. The Cudgel Troll was finally taken out by Quag Sickness from Rietzl, the –X/–X too powerful for even regeneration to overcome. Rietzl still had one more Troll to deal with, the Cloned version, and didn't feel safe attacking. Instead, he shipped the turn back.
Sam found an Azure Drake and was able to begin poking into the red zone to work on his opponent's life total, but slowly Sam was losing life each turn to his opponent's Barony Vampire equipped with Sword of Vengeance. Time in the round was called, but thanks to a three minute extension the two players were able to battle on.
Phantom Beast put a stop to the Barony Vampire attacks, but Deathmark allowed Rietzl to destroy his opponent's Greater Basilisk. That gave the Pro Tour champion one fewer blocker to worry about and he tried to figure out the correct attacks. Ultimately he decided to send in his Vampire. Sam dutifully moved his Beast and the Cloned Cudgel Troll to block and lost his 4/5. Post-combat Paul equipped Nether Horror with the Sword of Vengeance.
The players used up their extension and headed to turns. Sam found his Mind Control and used it to steal his opponent's Nether Horror. That gave him a temporary use with the Sword and Black sent all of his creatures to the red zone. The attack dropped Paul to 1 and wiped his board of creatures save for a lone Black Knight. He had a turn left to live, but did he have what it took to survive?
He drew for the turn and checked his graveyard, indicating he had drawn Gravedigger or Disentomb. Four mana revealed it was the Digger, and he cast it to get his Scroll Thief back. The 1/3 picked up Sword, but when Sam made the correct blocks and was still able to present lethal the following turn Rietzl conceded.
Sam Black 2, Paul Rietzl 1
Feature Match: Round 12 – Shuuhei Nakamura vs Brad Nelson
by Josh Bennett
Japanese globetrotter and Level 8 mage Shuuhei Nakamura regrets playing in the GP Trial on Friday night. He was doing it for some practice, but wound up opening the most busty sealed pool he'd ever seen. He steamrolled his opponents in the swiss before conceding the byes to a player who needed them. The problem is, he thinks he's used up all his good luck for the weekend. It's hard to buy it when you look at the saucy blue-white deck he's drafted.
His opponent, the red-hot Brad Nelson (also level 8, and leading the Player of the Year race) isn't concerned with luck. He's worried about the actual composition of his black-white deck. After a thin and tricky draft he cobbled together a deck that was short on sweet cards with a focus on beatdown. He won his first match with it, but was not optimistic he'd be able to secure another.
Nakamura won the die roll and answered Nelson's start of Infantry Veteran and Ajani's Pridemate with White Knight and Steel Overseer. Nelson, however, was stuck on just two plains. They traded hits, 2 from the Knight for three from the pumped Pridemate while Nakamura worked his Steel Overseer.
On four plains Nakamura made no play. Nelson found a third plains of his own and played a second Pridemate. Nakamura immediately outclassed his board with Serra Angel. Nelson had Serra Ascendant but with the Knight on the other side of the board, no way to make it boost his Pridemates. Nakamura made things worse with Alluring Siren and swung overhead for four. Nelson played Stormfront Pegasus and took another four for his troubles.
Nelson sheepishly played Jinxed Idol (his poster child for the state of his deck) and went to attack. The Siren was now online and forced Infantry Veteran into the fray. Nelson responded with a Doom Blade on Serra Angel, but Nakamura was ready with Negate. That was enough to convince him to pack it in.
Nakamura 1 - Nelson 0
Nelson's hand was slower for game two. His first play was a Wild Griffin on turn three, following a turn-two Siren from Nakamura. Nakamura played a Griffin of his own and happily made the trade when Nelson swung in. Nelson replaced his flier with Howling Banshee.
Nakamura was ready with Azure Drake to keep the Banshee at bay. Nelson drew two with Sign in Blood and Nakamura forced his Banshee into a useless attack. Nelson added Child of Night. Nakamura played his Serra Angel, a ready target for Nelson's Doom Blade. He also played out a Pridemate.
Still, Nelson's team couldn't get past the Drake. Nakamura added an Assault Griffin to his team and politely informed the Pridemate that he would be attacking. Nelson sent his team. The Drake took care of the Pridemate and the Griffin traded for the Banshee. Left with a lone Child of Night, Nelson had nothing more to add.
Nakamura swung in and played Scroll Thief. Nelson again had the hated Idol and played it, sacrificing his Child once Nakamura showed he was willing to block it. Nakamura was fine taking damage as he grew his army. He played Foresee and Steel Overseer. Nelson saw no reason to continue.
"We're ... 1-1. You won in ... Honolulu. Remember?" asked Nakamura
"Oh I remember," replied Nelson, "I'm 0-1 vs Saito, 0-1 vs Mitamura, 1-2 against Yuuya, and now 1-1 vs you. It was a lot better a month ago." Then he came to a realisation. "I was 13-0 in m11 draft, until now," and he pointed at Nakamura in mock rage. Nakamura laughed and they wished each other good luck in the rest of the tournament.
Shuuhei Nakamura defeats Brad Nelson 2-0
Feature Match: Round 13 – Tom Martell versus Kyle Boggemes
by Bill Stark
The very talkative Tom Martell squared off against the politely quiet Kyle Boggemes, joking with one another as they prepared for their first game. Neither was a stranger to playing on the second day of Grand Prix competition nor to competing on the Pro Tour.
Martell led off with a Llanowar Elves, but his opponent had a first-turn spell too: Duress. The discard effect nabbed Unsummon from Tom's hand and he cast Garruk's Companion on his second turn. Martell's Elf allowed him to cast a third-turn Foresee, and after considering his options carefully he opted to keep two on the top and put two on the bottom. When he moved to attack with his Companion, however, the 3/2 was done in by a Doom Blade from Kyle.
Soon the competitors started throwing haymakers with a Garruk's Packleader for Tom answered by Nether Horror from Boggemes. But Martell took a lead on cards as his 4/4 allowed him to cantrip each time he added a chunky member to his team. First up was Greater Basilisk, which his opponent answered by way of Rotting Legion, then Tom had a host of weenies with Alluring Siren, a second Llanowar Elves, and Runeclaw Bear hitting the battlefield.
Boggemes cast Mind Rot, emptying his opponent's hand of its final two cards and the players sat back, firmly stalemated. Alluring Siren started to give Tom a lead on the table by forcing Kyle to run his Rotting Legion into Greater Basilisk, but after losing the 4/5 he was able to dispatch his opponent's troublesome 1/1 with Assassinate.
Still trying to break through, Primeval Titan showed up for Tom Martell who stacked its "enters the battlefield" trigger to resolve before he would draw an extra card from his Packleader. That gave Martell plenty of gas and while Kyle was able to come up with Viscera Seer and Bloodthrone Vampire as possible blockers, he didn't have enough juice to keep up with his opponent's threats and was forced to concede.
Tom Martell 1, Kyle Boggemes 0
A Llanowar Elves from Martell led the second game much as it had in the first, but Tom's second-turn Runeclaw Bears allowed him to attack with the 1/1. Kyle worked on his opponent's hand and established an air force with Liliana's Specter, then Nether Horror. His opponent cast a Brindle Boar, joking about the marginally playable common.
Despite being the green mage, Tom Martell found himself losing the fatty race to his black opponent who cast Rotting Legion. A turn later Kyle had Sign in Blood to gas up his hand, then cast Diabolic Tutor.
"What'd you get?" Tom asked, innocently.
"This one," Kyle replied, pointing at the facedown card in his hand while giving no indication as to its identity.
Spined Wurm joined Tom's team, finally giving him a fatty, but no sooner than he had cast the thing did it die to a Quag Sickness for -6/-6. Kyle was soon up on card advantage, getting full benefits from his Gravedigger, and as Tom failed to play creature turn after turn he found himself increasingly behind on the table. After a chump block with Brindle Boar bought him one additional turn, he still failed to find any help and the players were on to the third game.
Tom Martell 1, Kyle Boggemes 1
With the match on the line, the two players prepared for their third game but in contrast to the first two they were each slow to start casting spells. The first to the battlefield was a Barony Vampire for Kyle Boggemes, whose opponent fired back with Azure Drake. Boggemes had a flyer of his own in the form of Liliana's Specter, and the 2/1 nabbed a Forest from his opponent's hand.
Foresee allowed Tom to quickly make up for the discarding, and he found four spells sitting on top of his library. He opted to put all four on the bottom of his library, however, playing a Forest and passing. Kyle drew some cards himself with Sign in Blood, but was outmatched by Primeval Titan from Martell. The 6/6 was powerful on its own, but its land-fetching abilities were going to be critical in the game as Fireball lay in wait in Tom's hand; a few attacks with the Titan, whether Kyle could block or not, would fetch him the mana he needed to make the X spell lethal.
Quag Sickness from Kyle allowed him to cut the Titan down to 3/3 size, but Martell reloaded with a Garruk's Packmaster and an attack with his Titan. That put the Californian player up to ten lands total on the battlefield and trample allowed him to drop Kyle to 15. Boggemes had a full grip of cards in hand but was a little shy on mana and certainly shy on creatures. He sent his Liliana's Specter sideways and attempted to Fireball his opponent's Packmaster for 4. Tom had Negate, and that left Kyle tapped out. When Martell quickly turned his team sideways, Kyle was dead to the Fireball powered by Primeval Titan from his opponent.
Tom Martell 2, Kyle Boggemes 1
Sunday, 6:04 p.m. – Quick Hits: What Magic 2011 card is undervalued?
by Bill Stark
Luis Scott-Vargas: Infantry Veteran. People don't realize is the third best white card.
Tomoharu Saitou: Goblin Balloon Brigade. It's better than Goblin Piker! And it's really good with two Goblin Chieftains! *shows two Goblin Chieftains in his deck*
Martin Juza: Giant Growth. In general I think it's really undervalued.
Cedric Phillips: Plummet. It should be in the green maindeck every time.
Gerry Thompson: Elixir of Immortality. I have a million card draw and removal and six creatures. I can kill them with Elixir.
Eric Froehlich: Infantry Veteran is phenomenally good. So are Silvercoat Lion and Inspired Charge.
Michael Jacob: Elixir of Immortality. I think if you have four card draw you should play it. It's really good.
Conley Woods: Sylvan Ranger. Everyone thinks green is horrible, so it goes late which lets you splash.
Feature Match: Round 14 – Tomoharu Saito vs Patrick Chapin
by Bill Stark
A former Pro Tour Player of the Year, Tomoharu Saitou is one of the newest members of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. He is so new, in fact, he has yet to be inducted though he will be at the ceremony to be held in December at the World Championships. His opponent? Writer and professional player Patrick Chapin who is Hall-eligible after a decade on Tour and having accrued over 100 Pro Points.
On the draw, Patrick Chapin was still the more aggressive of the two players as he opened on Child of Night and Gargoyle Sentinel. Across the table from him Tomoharu had Goblin Tunneler which soon traded for the Child. Chapin reloaded with a Sign in Blood targeting himself, casting Viscera Seer afterwards. That drew a response from Saito: Lightning Bolt to destroy the Gargoyle Sentinel preventing his opponent from sacrificing the creature to scry.
Despite having four mana, the Japanese pro Saitou had to draw and pass for the turn. It was up to his opponent to control the flow of the game, but control it he did by casting a Rotting Legion. Tomoharu tried for a Cyclops Gladiator but had it promptly destroyed with Quag Sickness from his opponent, whose deck appeared to be monoblack. Manic Vandals for Tomoharu looked to hold down the fort, and if he had had it earlier in the game would have allowed him to blow up his opponent's Gargoyle Sentinel for free.
Unimpressed by his opponent's underwhelming start, Patrick Chapin added Nether Horror and Reassembling Skeleton to the battlefield. The 1/1 Skeleton was the perfect thing to go with his Viscera Seer, allowing him to repeatedly scry his draw step into the order he wanted, but he never got the chance as Tomoharu opted to concede rather than fight on with no creatures on the table.
Patrick Chapin 1, Tomoharu Saitou 0
A language barrier kept both players silent as they shuffled for the second game, though Saitou was conversationally fluent in English despite being from Japan. The two took the full three minutes for sideboarding before Tomoharu declared he would play first in the second game.
Casting spells like a true red mage, Saitou curved out much better for the encore duel opening on Goblin Piker and then casting Goblin Balloon Brigade. His Piker was shut down by Reassembling Skeleton from Pat, who followed up that 1/1 with a Bloodthrone Vampire but found his Duress stymied by the fact Saitou had no non-creature, non-land cards in his hand.
The Balloon Brigade inflated its toad (read the flavor text!) and got in for 1 unblockable point, but stuck on three mana Saitou had to pass with no other action. He was forced to eat a 1-point attack back via his opponent's Bloodthrone Vampire, then had to discard two cards to a Mind Rot from Chapin's hand. A turn later he took 7 from an attack out of the Bloodthrone as Chapin sacrificed his Reassembling Skeleton three times.
Saitou finally found a third creature, Ember Hauler, and used the 2/2 to chump his opponent's Bloodthrone Vampire, sacrificing it to deal 2 to Chapin. The Japanese player was fixing for a race, and it was on as he cast a Manic Vandal to chump the Bloodthrone for one more turn. But Chapin spoiled the plan by using Quag Sickness to take out Goblin Piker leaving Saitou with just his Goblin Balloon Brigade after combat and when he drew and found no fourth land, he graciously extended his hand in defeat.
Patrick Chapin defeats Tomoharu Saitou 2-0.
Feature Match: Round 15 – Brian Kowal vs Gerry Thompson
by Josh Bennett
Gerry Thompson presents himself as a hater of the first order, but behind his prickly exterior lies not only a prickly interior, but also a brain that has earned renown for polishing decks from the fringes that would go on to define formats. His opponent, Brian Kowal is a creative deckbuilder, probably best-known as the brains behind Boat Brew, the red-white Reveillark deck that dazzled Standard a while back.
Kowal won the roll and chose to play. The two drew up their openers and Thompson was quick to ship it back. "You reverse-Ochoa'd me. All spells." He stayed on six.
Kowal led with Black Knight, and Thompson blocked its first attack with Reassembling Skeleton. Kowal added Barony Vampire to the board. Thompson played his third land and passed. Kowal played Liliana's Specter. Thompson thought before pitching Sign in Blood.
"Woo. Three-for-one'd you," said Kowal
Thompson brought back his Skeleton and untapped. He quickly shipped the turn with a shrug. He was stuck on three lands. Kowal's mono-black deck played out monsters on subsequent turns, and soon Thompson was packing up.
Kowal 1 - Thompson 0
Both players sided extensively for the second game. They shuffled up and kept. Thompson was the first to act, saying "Let's see if this works out for me."
He played Demon's Horn with a flourish. Kowal made impressed sounds.
Kowal had no play on two, and Thompson made no move on three. Kowal cast Mind Rot and caught swamp and Corrupt. Thompson played his fourth land and passed. Liliana's Specter stole another swamp from him, while the Horn counted up his life total.
Thompson untapped and played Diabolic Tutor. Kowal fuelled up with Sign in Blood and played Barony Vampire. Thompson played Foresee and a fifth land. Kowal's attack only managed to bring him back down to eighteen. Kowal summoned Royal Assassin and passed.
Thompson wasn't done reversing Kowal's discard. This time it was Jace's Ingenuity and then a swamp. Kowal gamely hit for five and played a Nightwing Shade. It was then that Thompson revealed the second half of his Demon Horn plan: Phylactery Lich. A child of Night further boosted his defence.
Kowal still had his flyers. He swung in and spent all his mana pumping the Shade. Eight damage took Thompson down to 9. He answered back with Corrupt for three on the Shade (he lamented his wealth of islands) and Kowal neglected to stop the lifegain with his Assassin, instead saving it to prevent the Child from attacking. The Lich swung in for five.
Kowal untapped and put Stabbing Pain on the Child. His team attacked all-out and he played a post-combat Howling Banshee. The life totals were 10 to 5 in Kowal's Favor. After a moment's thought, he added Black Knight.
Thompson had a ready answer. Mind Control took care of the Banshee, and Kowal took another five from the Lich. Elixir of Immortality meant that Thompson would be well out of reach.
Kowal took a minute to survey his options. Thompson still had three in the grip. Stabbing Pain tapped the stolen Banshee and he finished it off with the Royal Assasin. He attacked with The vampire and Specter, leaving the Black Knight home and Thompson at two. At end of turn the Elixir put him back to seven.
Thompson untapped and announced "I will gain a life," putting down a second Phylactery Lich.
Kowal goggled. "Geez, nice deck."
Kowal put Necrotic Plague on the second Lich, forcing Thompson to sacrifice it. The Plague moved to Kowal's Specter, then back over to the second Lich. Neither player moved until there was only the Assassin on the board, and Thompson brought back his Skeleton to keep the Plague active for one more turn. He untapped, put the Plague away permanently, and played Nantuko Shade. The Shade got in one attack before Jace's Ingenuity served up Thompson another Corrupt, which he quickly showed to save Kowal some time thinking.
Kowal 1 - Thompson 1
Kowal put Thompson on the play, and cast Duress, saying "Gotta get that Horn."
"It's there if you want it..."
Thompson turned over his hand: Nantuko Shade, Reassembling Skeleton, Sign in Blood, Demon's Horn and lands. When Kowal chose the Horn, Thompson asked him to speak up for the ggslive camera. It might have been the first time that exchange had happened.
Thompson played the Shade and Kowal Duressed him again, seeing he'd drawn Child of Night, and taking the Sign in Blood. Naturally, Thompson untapped and played another right off then top. "Yeah."
Kowal made a Barony Vampire, and Thompson's Shade attacked right past it for three. Thompson added Child of Night. Kowal untapped and dropped the Necrotic Plague on the Shade. Thompson cast Diabolic Tutor for another Sign in Blood while the Plague did its work. Kowal made no play other than infecting the Child, and on Thompson's upkeep the board was clear again.
Thompson cast his Sign. and played an island, passing the turn holding on to his Skeleton as insurance against Kowal's discard package. Kowal made a Howling Banshee. Thompson stole it with Mind Control. Kowal tried another, but it fell to Corrupt. He Mind Rotted, but had no way to stop the overhead assault. He conceded in short order.
After the match, Thompson revealed his sideboard package, the two Liches backed by TWO Demon's Horns. He swapped them in for Doom Blade, Assassinate, Barony Vampire and Armored Cancrix. It also let him trade an island for a swamp.
Gerry Thompson defeats Brian Kowal 2-1
Feature Match: Round 16 – Greg Hatch vs Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
by Bill Stark
After starting the tournament undefeated, plowing through 12 rounds before picking up his first loss, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa had the wheels on his Magic 2011 train fall off. Since starting spotless he had picked up multiple losses and found himself in Round 16 facing elimination from the Top 8. He was hoping to make the cut with some lucky tie breaks after managing to hold on to some of the highest percentages of players with 36 Swiss points headed into the final round of competition. His opponent, Greg Hatch, was looking to lock up as much cash as possible as well as a possible qualification for Pro Tour-Paris by finishing in the Top 16. With a huge stroke of luck Hatch might even manage a Top 8 himself.
Paulo Vitor cast Viscera Seer, then when his opponent cast Wild Griffin dropped a Captivating Vampire to make sure his 1/1, made 2/2 by the Captivator, could attack. Casting a Foresee, Greg set up his draw step and pulled ahead on cards, determining he could afford to attack with his Griffin based on what he knew was coming. His opponent fired back by attacking with both of his Vampires, but had no spells to cast on four mana.
Excommunicate for Hatch let him temporarily deal with the Captivating Vampire and he also cast Stormfront Pegasus, but the 2/1 was felled by Deathmark from his opponent who re-cast his Captivating Vampire too. The pace of play in the match was quite fast as both felt the pressure of playing in the final round of a high profile event. Trying to keep up the offense, Paulo sent both his Vampires to the red zone but had his Vampire lord felled by a Condemn. Rather than put the creature on the bottom of his library, however, he sacrificed it to his Viscera Seer to draw a card.
Reassembling Skeleton hit for Damo da Rosa, completing his combo with Viscera Seer, and when Greg used a second Excommunicate targeting the 1/1 Seer Paulo responded by sacrificing his Skeleton once, then putting the Seer on top of his library. Siege Mastodon hit for Greg while his opponent spent most of his mana working his Seer/Skeleton scry engine. Liliana's Specter for Paulo's blue-black deck threatened to trade for his opponent's Wild Griffin, and a second Deathmark out of the Brazilian pro dealt with the freshly cast Siege Mastodon.
But Pacifism cleared the way for the Griffin to continue attacking for Hatch, who built his flying team with a Squadron Hawk. His opponent sacrificed his Pacified Specter to scry with Viscera Seer before casting Juggernaut. The scores stood 6-5 with Paulo Vitor in the lead, and Greg went for it: he cast a Warlord's Axe and attached it to his Squadron Hawk to swing for the win. A Stabbing Pain destroyed the Hawk, however, and he was forced to chump the incoming Juggernaut. When Quag Sickness destroyed his final remaining creature, Greg was dead to Paulo's ground assault.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Greg Hatch 0
The second game started out with Viscera Seer for Paulo while his opponent held off on casting spells until the fourth turn. That brought Assault Griffin for Hatch, but the powerful flyer was felled by a Deathmark from his opponent. One thing Greg did have going for himself? The fact his opponent was thoroughly mana screwed, stuck on just two lands to Greg's five. Infantry Veteran and Alluring Siren promised to cause trouble for Paulo Vitor, but he used a Stabbing Pain to take out the Veteran, still stuck on just Island and Swamp.
The mana screw worsened for Paulo Vitor, who, failing to amass the resources he needed to cast the spells in his hand was forced to discard his Captivating Vampire. He finally found a third land and was able to drop Scroll Thief to the battlefield, but Excommunicate from Greg forced him to re-draw the 1/3. By the time he was able to cast it again his opponent's board featured Stormfront Pegasus, two Siege Mastodon, and a Brittle Effigy. Paulo valiantly pressed on but his lack of resources proved too much to overcome and Greg evened the match at one game a piece.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Greg Hatch 1
Down to as little as a single game left to play in the tournament, both Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Greg Hatch shuffled quietly for the third game. Greg asked the table judge for six of each basic land at one point, clearly shifting things around in his sideboard, and the two got underway.
Though he had to take a mulligan, Greg Hatch came out guns blazing with an Infantry Veteran on his first turn. Paulo didn't have a creature until the second turn, but his Reassembling Skeleton was soon followed by Scroll Thief. The 1/3 Ophidian wannabe was returned to the top of his library by Excommunicate from Hatch, but Greg's blue-white deck had failed to give him any creatures beyond the Infantry Veteran he had opened on.
Pacifism nullified Paulo's Scroll Thief as he recast it while Greg got to four mana in time for Assault Griffin. The 3/2 was kept on defense, however, as Azure Drake made an appearance for Damo da Rosa. Before long, Paulo was sending with his 2/4 and his 1/1 Skeleton and Greg took a risk by blocking. His 3/2 Griffin stepped in front of the Skeleton but was finished off with Stabbing Pain. Paulo then used Unsummon on his Scroll Thief to free it from Pacifism, recasting it in the same turn.
Struggling to keep his head above water, Greg cast Cloud Crusader and used it to double block his opponent's Scroll Thief a turn later. That cost him his Infantry Veteran but permanently dealt with the 1/3. His opponent cast Liliana's Specter, then a turn later Juggernaut and Greg's board of Cloud Crusader and Stormfront Pegasus began looking meek. They got a big bump, however, as he dropped a Serra Angel.
The game became a truly back and forth affair with Paulo Vitor answering his opponent's Serra Angel with Nightwing Shade, all the while forced to beat down with Juggernaut's "must attack" clause. At 8 life Greg was starting to suffer from the artifact's constant hammering and had to sacrifice his Cloud Crusader and Stormfront Pegasus to block it. He cast a Siege Mastodon to help him stay caught up on the ground, but his opponent added a Cloud Elemental to the battlefield and promptly sent his entire team sideways. Hatch had no choice but to chump Nightwing Shade with his Serra Angel. A draw step later he was out of road on which to maneuver and conceded the match to his Brazilian opponent.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2, Greg Hatch 1
Sunday, 6:50 p.m. – Undefeated Drafters
by Josh Bennett
Here's a quick look at the decks played by those who swept M11 draft.
Martin Juza - Draft 1 3-0
Martin Juza - Draft 2 2-0-1
Christian Keeth - Draft 1 3-0
Christian Keeth - Draft 2 3-0
Thomas Kiene - Draft 1 3-0
Thomas Kiene - Draft 2 2-0-1
David Ochoa - Draft 1 3-0
David Ochoa - Draft 2 2-0-1