Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro 2013 Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – Grand Prix Rio Trial Decklists

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • Jean Hubner
    GP Rio Trial Decklists


  • Saturday, 1:12 p.m. – Jacob Van Lunen's March Standard Deck Compendium

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • Jacob Van Lunen covers everything you need to know about Standard leading up to Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro, from Angel of Serenity to Woodland Cemetery and everything in between.

    Explore his full article right here


  • Saturday, 1:14 p.m. – Play the Game, See the World

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • If you're not in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, you're doing it wrong.

    One of the oft overlooked benefits to traveling to Grands Prix around the world is the traveling part. While a handful of professional tourists—think the Martin Juzas and Shuhei Nakamuras of the world—basically live by the travel mantra, all too often it gets overlooked just how sweet some of these places are.

    And Rio is certainly sweet.

    Of all the places Magic has taken me personally—which spans every hemisphere, multiple continents and scores of venues—Rio de Janeiro definitely ranks among my favorites. The land itself is beautiful, the people are welcoming, the sights are breathtaking, and the culture is intoxicating. Chances are very good this will not be my last time visiting the city.

    This time around, Nate Price and I landed two days before the Grand Prix ready to take in all Rio had to offer. First stop, of course, was our hotel in the heart of Rio's Centro neighborhood. International hotels often have interesting set ups—Japanese rooms are tiny and often single-occupancy, for example—but this was the first time either Nate or I had encountered our sleeping situation for this trip.

    I call top bunk!

    Oddly enough, the bunk beds came with a warning that they were not recommended for children six years old and younger. That seems to me to be the optimal age for bunk beds, but we'll take it anyway. Makes for better late-night ghost stories.

    On the first day, we decided to explore the immediate surrounding area, grab some local food and visit the tournament site to gather our bearings. We knew Friday would be the day we'd play tourist, so for today we were pretty content to see anything within walking distance.

    We didn't have to go very far to find a place worth stopping. Just outside our hotel was the Cathedral Presbiteriana do Rio de Janeiro.

    Cathedral Presbiteriana do Rio de Janeiro

    It's a small cathedral that you likely won't find on many maps, but it had the type of cathedral architecture you would be just as likely to find in Europe as in South America. The inside was typically impressive, but we also had a little fun with the bronze sculptures outside.

    Best sermon delivered by a bronze statue I've ever heard.

    From there we explored Centro, a district not renowned for its tourist attractions, but certainly one where we could find some local cuisine—during one meal we followed our noses to a restaurant that fire grilled its meat, pointed to the picture of a cow on the menu and were very much not disappointed. Our dinner on the first night was similarly blessed, as a random bar in the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa—a must for anyone who likes the nightlife—turned out some of the best ribs either Nate or I had ever had. And I live in Texas.

    Brazilians know their meat.

    Lapa was a treat in and of itself. We went on a Thursday night so it wasn't nearly as crowded as a weekend, but even then the restaurants spilled onto the streets and live samba music could be heard from any number of bars and restaurants. We eventually settled in one spot with some truly impressive dancers, some truly impressive beer, and even an acrobatics show at one point in the evening.

    But we knew we had a pretty taxing day ahead of us, so we turned in long before the bars closed, returning our bunk beds for the evening. Nate called top bunk before I got the chance.

    In the morning we set out for the world-famous Redentor Christo—Christ the Redeemer—at the peak of the Corcovado mountain in the heart of the Tijuca Forest National Park. We navigated the trip by bus and metro, catching more of the city along the way.

    One thing you'll notice traveling through the city is that that graffiti easily doubles as some pretty sweet modern art.

    A familiar site traveling through Rio.

    But the real treat is getting to Corcovado. We take the metro, a bus, and a van to get partway up the mountain when we're greeted with our first glimpse of the famous statue.

    Objects may be larger than they appear.

    See all of those small dots near the base of the statue? Those are people. The statue is actually huge. Taller than super-tall coverage writer Nate Price even.

    Because, tourism.

    I "happened" to be wearing a Captain America shirt that day and couldn't resist a little bit of travel irony.


    Besides housing one of the great wonders of the world, Corcovado also offers a spectacular view of the city.

    The view from Corcovado is nothing short of breathtaking.

    Here you can see one of Rio's harbors, as well as Sugarloaf Mountain jutting up from Guanabara Bay.


    Here you can see much of the expansive city, including the race track on the far right, much of the inner harbor, and the beach front.

    Speaking of the beach, Rio has some of the best in the world. Both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are worth the trip on their own. Nate and I spent much of the afternoon relaxing and swimming (and subsequently losing all photos thanks to some water-related happenstance) and basically never wanted to leave. The locals that we met up with seemed to prefer Ipanema to Copacabana, but the truth is that you really can't go wrong with either. Other, more secluded beaches can be reached with a bit of travel, but we wanted to maximize beach time and minimize driving time.

    But as awesome as all of that was, we were definitely here for some Magic, and a Grand Prix awaited us in another part of town.

    One interesting aspects of Grands Prix outside the United State is that the venues are rarely held in the typical convention center setting. Last year's Grand Prix Sao Paolo, for instance, was held in a large, open air venue. Rio's tournament hall looks like this:

    Not your typical tournament hall.

    The team from Let's Collect did a great job making the site truly an event site as well. There's ample on-site food, a video screen for feature matches, and Pro Tour-quality lighting for when night turns to day. It turned what I would imagine the inside of an old warehouse might look like into a worthy site for a large Magic event.

    Whatever else the tournament has in store for us, Nate and I can safely say we've made the most of the trip. Hopefully, next time, you can too.


  • Saturday, 3:37 p.m. – Round 3 Top Tables

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • With as many twists and turns as the metagame has taken since Pro Tour Gatecrash, it's worth keeping an eye on the round-to-round developments of the metagame here in Rio.

    First, some cold hard numbers. These are the decks that make up the Top 25 tables as of Round 3. Things are sure to shift when everyone with byes shows up next round (including a group of players on The Aristocrats), but this gives us a good baseline with which to start.

    Variations on UWR appear to be the big winners right out of the gate. Most of the lists appear to be more Gerry Thompson than Joel Larsson, but there are a smattering of main deck Geist of Saint Trafts to be seen.

    After that, everyone's favorite 50-50 deck, Jund Midrange, takes up the next spot on the list despite Brad Nelson's kiss of death for this weekend's metagame. He predicted Jund and the next deck on the list, Humanimator, would fall flat this week, certainly something to watch for as the tournament progresses.

    One deck he did recommend, Junk Reanimator, did find a few adherents in the early rounds. It's less vulnerable to Rest in Peace and Tormod's Crypt—both cards seen in modest numbers here so far—but also less explosive and flashy than the Humanimator deck. Humanimator does a lot of cool things, so it certainly has popularity going for it, but which Unburial Rites deck comes out on top this weekend should be interesting.

    Past that, solid numbers from Jund Aggro, Esper Control, Naya both Midrange and Blitz, plus Wolf Run Bant are all followed by a slew of various decks, any one of which could climb into the spotlight in any given round.

    Among the "others," we have 11 different singletons, including Angel Jund (Jund midrange with Restoration Angel), Rb Aggro, Gruul Aggro, WG Blink (Restoration Angel and Cloudshift), Junk Tokens, Mono Red, 4c Midrange (UWR with Thragtusks), BRW Goodstuffs, Jund Zombies, The Aristocrats, and Junk Midrange.

    The thing to take away from all of this is the sheer variety of decks. In 50 possible lists there were a whopping 20 distinct archetypes, most of which we've seen or heard from at some point this Standard season and any one of which are capable of catching fire and making a run on the Top 8.

    We'll check back in again in Round 5 to see if the metagame has settled any with the introduction of the last players sitting out with byes, but don't be surprised to continue to see the development of a diverse set of decks at Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro.


  • Round 4 Feature Match Juan Veliz vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • For Grand Prix tournaments these days, we often don't cover feature matches till later in the day. It gives us a better feel for who and what is doing well, and we often get more interesting features out of it for you, our readers.

    But we couldn't pass this one up.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa needs no introduction, especially in his home state of Brazil. Since we all know who he is already, I won't waste any words on how good the Hall of Famer is.

    Juan Veliz is quietly one of South America's best players. He was 2nd at Chilean Nationals in 2008 and played in Worlds that same year. Then, in 2009, all he did was Top 8 Grand Prix Sao Paolo—also a Standard tournament.

    But he was up against some stiff competition in Round 4. Not only was Damo da Rosa, well, Damo da Rosa, he had also selected his Esper deck specifically because he wanted to beat Bant—exactly what Veliz was playing.

    Game 1

    The match, however, started poorly for Veliz before either player even turned over a card. He mulled to five quickly, throwing back two equally wretched hands.

    Damo da Rosa was on Esper while Veliz had chosen to pair Green with his Hallowed Fountains, but it was immediately apparent that a long game could be in the cards, as both players started on Augur of Bolas.

    Veliz started undoing his mulligan with a Sphinx's Revelation, but Damo da Rosa was already working his trump card—Nephalia Drownyard—as early as turn four.

    Veliz had his own trump of sorts, finding both a red source and Kessig Wolf Run to let his Augur break through Damo da Rosa's copy of the Merfolk Wizard. He continued improving his cause with a second Augur—finding Dissipate—and a Farseek to make his Kessig Wolf Run all the more dangerous.

    Meanwhile, Damo da Rosa played nothing more until a turn seven Supreme Verdict that ended the threat of Veliz's cavalcade of 1/3s.

    But the Chilean player landed even bigger game with a Thragtusk on his next turn, fighting through Damo da Rosa's Dissipate with his own copy of the instant. Ultimate Price took care of the front half of the Beast, but Veliz's second copy complicated matters.

    Restoration Angel jumped in front of the Thragtusk, trading for it and a ton of life plus a Kessig Wolf Run pump. Damo da Rosa dropped to seven, but then immediately leapt back up to 11 with Sphinx's Revelation. Supreme Verdict then cleared out the last of the tokens, leaving Damo da Rosa with a grip full of cards against Veliz's three.

    It appeared Veliz had a trump...for about the time it takes to tap two mana. Angel of Serenity would have regrown three Thragtusks, but Damo da Rosa had Devour Flesh in response to the trigger to keep it from happening. Veliz, perhaps not realizing Angel has a may ability, exiled his three Thragtusks. Fortunately or unfortunately, it didn't end up mattering much at that point.

    This isn't the last we'll see of this card this match. Not by a longshot.

    The players passed back and forth for a few turns with Damo da Rosa activating Nephalia Drownyard occasionally. When Damo da Rosa activated Ghost Quarter to rid Veliz of his lone Kessig Wolf Run, Veliz chose to concede with one eye on the clock to preserve time for a second and possible third game.

    Damo da Rosa 1 – Veliz 0

    Game 2

    Once again Damo da Rosa was able to hold onto his seven card hand, and once again Veliz could not. Esper was already a slight favorite in this matchup, but Veliz was finding himself in an early hole while beset by mulligans.

    This time, however, he immediately started digging out of it with a pair of Augur of Bolas, one of which hit a Sphinx's Revelation. Damo da Rosa, meanwhile, just drew with Think Twice and started hitting land drops. He was, however, auspiciously missing on a second White mana.

    Veliz, meanwhile, landed a Witchbane Orb to keep Damo da Rosa's Drownyards and potential Jace, Memory Adepts off his back for the forseeable future. Instead, the Hall of Famer through down his defenses with a Restoration Angel meant to keep Veliz's Augurs in check.

    Nephalia Drownyards gave Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa a leg up, but he was scrambling in game two without a second White mana.

    Two monsters flipped the script, as Thragtusk followed by Gisela, Blade of Goldnight put Veliz way ahead on board and dropped Damo da Rosa to 9 life.

    Sphinx's Revelation brought the Brazilian back up to 12 and filled his grip to the brim, paving the way go?

    Short on white mana for Supreme Verdict, Damo da Rosa instead Azorius Charmed Gisela to the top of Veliz's library, then Dissipated his follow-up Thragtusk.

    Still, Damo da Rosa was at five life facing Thragtusk and two Augurs.

    And then there was that Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. When a small Sphinx's Revelation turned up nothing of value, Damo da Rosa was dead on board with nowhere to go.

    Damo da Rosa 1 – Veliz 1

    Game 3

    After the beating Damo da Rosa took at the hands of a certain legendary angel, he went back to his sideboard to readjust his plan for the second game. The Gisela, Angel of Goldnight option was straight out of Melissa DeTora's Pro Tour Gatecrash Top 8 deck, and so far, had done wonders for Veliz.

    But he faced mulligan issues once again, still not able to hold onto his first hand. His second, however, was acceptable.

    Both players played quickly with their eyes on the clock, only making a move when each played flashed in dueling Restoration Angels. Veliz's was backed by Kessig Wolf Run, but no red mana.

    Damo da Rosa's second Angel was met with Sphinx's Revelation for two, which prompted Damo da Rosa to Duress for a look at Veliz's hand.

    Juan Veliz found himself reaching for his graveyard a lot in Game a good way.

    And it was a good one. Sphinx's Revelation, Dissipate, two Thragtusk and an Angel of Serenity gave Paulo plenty to ponder before eventually taking Sphinx's Revelation. Devour Flesh put Damo da Rosa on the offensive, but the expected Thragtusk put a pretty significant buffer between Veliz's life total and Damo da Rosa's angels.

    Ghost Quarter from the Esper player played Strip Mine to keep Veliz off seven mana for his Angel, but Veliz one-upped him with Detentions Sphere to remove Damo da Rosa's pair of 3/4s. A second Thragtusk put Veliz firmly in the driver's seat.

    With few other options, Damo da Rosa was forced to play his Angel of Serenity to keep the Thragtusks at bay. Detention Sphere let him clear out the Beast tokens, but left him vulnerable to Veliz's own seven mana Angel if he drew a land. A pair of Negates traded when Damo da Rosa played the enchantment, but Veliz found his seventh land in time to fire off his own Angel.

    With no relief in sight, the Hall of Famer extended his hand. Angel of Serenity was enough to take the game and, verily, the match.

    Damo da Rosa 1 – Veliz 2


  • Saturday, 5:10 p.m. - The Return of Team Uruguay

    by Nate Price

  • With the World Magic Cup qualifiers on the horizon, things are starting to get tight as players around the world are scrambling to acquire enough planeswalkers points to gain eligibility. While many are making a mad dash for the requisite number of points, another started planning for this one year ago, and are they ever ready this time around.

    Team Uruguay

    Uruguay was one of the big surprises at last year's World Magic Cup. Coming in with the least amount of professional experience of any team in the field, Uruguay was not high on many people's lists of teams to watch on the weekend. For many, they were a perfect example of what the World Magic Cup was about: a team of players from an area of the world with a smaller Magic community getting the opportunity to experience Magic at the highest level. As rounds went by and opponents fell to the wayside, they became an even better example of then spirit of the World Magic Cup, representing not only the opportunity to play, but the fact that anyone can win.

    Uruguay has one of the smaller Magic communities in the world, and this certainly poses some problems with the ability to compete at the higher levels. As last year's captain Nicolas Righetti explained, "There have definitely been some problems getting product where we are. Since it can be hard to get product, it is often expensive for newer players to begin playing."

    Teammate Federico Bigalli agreed. "We also are a bit behind because of the lack of high level teams. Looking at Grand Prix in Europe and the US, there are all of these big teams that are able to work together and discuss strategy. That really gives them an advantage when preparing for events."

    One of best parts of the World Magic Cup is the way that it has helped confront and overcome some of the difficulties facing many of the smaller Magic communities. For example, in last year's World Magic Cup itself, Team Uruguay found itself without decks for the Team Constructed portion of the tournament. In a true erasing of borders, Argentina and the Dominican Republic came to the rescue, providing them with the weapons needed to fight in the group stages.

    Righetti went on to add that winning the money they won made things much easier for them as well.

    "Getting the money was really important. I don't want to make this about money, but it truly has helped. It has allowed us to travel more to play in Grand Prix, like this one. It has also allowed us to make multiple trips to Buenos Aires to test with the Argentineans. We actually went and tested with them before this event."

    The international outreach that reached them after their success at the World Magic Cup has given them the foundations of a very strong Latin American team, born out of generosity and an experience that could only have happened at a tournament like the World Magic Cup. Their experiences there helped not only provide them answers to some of the hardships faced in bridging the gap to the upper levels of the game, it raised the bar internally as well.

    As Bigalli put it, "The skill level of the whole country was increased."

    Teammate Martin Castillo went on to add, "Everyone is more motivated. They all want to achieve what we did, and, because of this, the community has started to really grow."

    Not only has Uruguay's outlook on internal competition changed, their view of their place within the Magic world has grown as well. Playing against the strongest teams and biggest names the game has to offer and beating many of them has given the Uruguayans a sense of belonging, that they deserve to play with the best of the world.

    "When I sat down to play against Jelger Wiegersma, I was terrified," Righetti admitted. "He is one of the best players to ever play, and who am I? After beating him that first game, I realized that he was just another player, and that I could beat him. After I won the match, I knew I could beat anyone."

    Castillo went on to add, "It was definitely a scary thing at first, but it was an incredible opportunity. It was hard, but we were able to play the best and beat them."

    With all of that said, there is less than a month before the first of the three World Magic Cup qualifiers is slated to take place. Uruguay has been preparing for them since the day they got back home, eager to improve on their already impressive performance. And are they ever eager for the chance.

    "Martin and I are in a really close race to be the top player in our area," Righetti laughed. "We want to put the best team forward that we can, so we've really been competing hard."

    Bigalli added that, while he would obviously love to make the team, he feels good about Uruguay's chances this year even if he doesn't.

    "Even if none of us go," he said, "We know that the team that goes will take this very seriously. They will do us proud."

    At the mention of taking it seriously, Righetti broke into laughter.

    "We didn't start taking things incredibly seriously going into the event last year," he admitted. "We were eager for the opportunity to go out and have fun with people, so that was on our minds. Now, things have gotten very serious in Uruguay. I mean, we are here in Rio, and the first thing on our mind is making sure we get enough sleep and are sharp for play today and tomorrow."

    That caused the laughing Castillo to become serious again.

    "This is very true. We want to do well. We have become very competitive after dong well last year. We want to achieve the same results as last year or better, and we know that the only way to do that is by working hard and preparing."

    Still, don't think that the party has completely left the Uruguayans.

    "We have worked hard to prepare for this event," Righetti offered in closing. "But if something happens, you can expect us to enjoy ourselves the rest of this weekend. After all, that is one of the best things about traveling for Magic. Thank you for all of the fun memories!"


  • Saturday, 6:03 p.m. - Round 5 Top Tables

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • We've now had a round to let the players with three byes settle in, possibly take a loss, and help set the direction of the tournament. The changes are subtle since we last checked in during Round 3 , but begin to indicate where the tournament might be headed.

    First, the giant pie chart:

    Once again we see UWR Flash and Jund Midrange take the top two slots, and I would be surprised if that shifted dramatically as the tournament went on. Both are well represented in Rio ad piloted by a number of strong players. Expect to track those two decks as the tournament goes on.

    The two new entrants into the statistically significant group are Wolf Run Bant and The Aristocrats. We noted in Round 3 that the Aristocrats had a number of adherents who would be coming in during Round 4—notably three trial winners—and that influx of creature sacrificing Sam Black creations has been borne out so far. The deck is notoriously tricky to play—note Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz saying he plays the deck differently from Tom Martell—but offers a ton of options for players familiar with the deck. This is one to watch all weekend.

    Past that, we see a re-emergence of Saito Naya similar to the deck Eric Froehlich used to Top 8 Pro Tour Gatecrash. It's a touch slower than its Naya Blitz cousin, but that may be a good thing with everyone targeting the sleek, fast Human version with Pillar of Flames and Tragic Slips.

    White Jund is an interesting one. I've only see a few copies pop up around the site, but they basically splash White off Farseek and Avacyn's Pilgrim for Lingering Souls, Restoration Angel, and Loxodon Smiter, among others.

    There's another interesting way to look at the list, putting them with their macro archetypes to get a sense of the tournament from 50,000 feet up.

    Note that I've included Wolf Run Bant as a midrange deck. Most of the versions I've seen this weekend are packing things like Loxodon Smiter, main deck Angel of Serenity, and fewer Dissipates. That might not be the correct qualification in the long run, but they're certainly quite different than Esper Control and even UWR Flash.

    I put the Reanimator decks in the midrange column as well, except for Humanimator, which makes up the entirety of the combo column. Bant Auras, while it has some combo-esque features, is really just an aggro deck that can compete on speed with some of the fastest decks in the format.

    What we see is that, right now, it's a race to the middle. True control decks are almost non-existant—we're bending the definition slightly with UWR Flash, since some versions can be quite aggressive—and aggressive decks aren't terribly popular despite the success of Naya Blitz at Grand Prix Quebec City. It seems like the aggressive decks are getting pushed out by Pillar of Flames, Restoration Angel, Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk. The aggressive decks certainly have the punch to push through those obstacles, but often not all at once. It's likely some enterprising souls will blitz their way to the top, but they're in short supply at this point in Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro.


  • Saturday, 7:11 p.m. - Preparing for a Wide-Open Format with some of Brazil’s Best

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • There are a ton of archetypes at Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro. Seriously. Like, a lot.

    That can make preparing for such a tournament pretty daunting. Beating a well-defined, four or five deck metagame is one thing. But how in the world do you beat all of the things?

    The short answer from some of Brazil's best and brightest: you can't.

    The long answer: You can still pick the right deck. And we can tell you how, straight from the minds of Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Willy Edel and Juliano Souza.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Willy Edel and Juliano Souza know how to tackle wide-open formats.

    Damo da Rosa laid out the basic blueprint for how to tackle a format where no strategy is dominant.

    "You have two options," the Hall of Famer said. "You pick a deck and play it a lot and get to know it, or you try and play a bit with every deck and try to guess the specific metagame."

    Edel agreed, but said he and Damo da Rosa differed slightly in their approaches. Damo da Rosa likes to play a bit with as many viable decks as possible—something he did by testing for both Pro Tour Gatecrash and Grand Prix Quebec City—then choosing the one he thought best suited his strengths and the tournament. In this case, he chose Esper Control in response to what he saw as a plethora of Bant decks.

    Edel, meanwhile, likes to start out playing a ton of decks to get a sense of what they can do, but then prefers to hone in on one deck and fine tune it from that point.

    "I like playing the best version of a certain deck rather than playing a normal version of the deck," Edel said.

    For this tournament, that meant fine-tuning Saito Zoo, the deck that helped propel Eric Froehlich to his Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Gatecrash. Edel had tried Naya Blitz, but felt the deck lacked consistency, something he wanted for this Grand Prix. So he took his foot off the gas slightly in favor of something resembling Froehlich's deck.

    But comfort was also a factor. Edel said he felt like Saito Zoo was a bit like Modern Jund, in that it could switch roles with relative ease. He also felt the deck, again, like Jund, had game against pretty much anything, enabling him to often simply outplay other people. And Jund, if you recall, is certainly something Edel knows quite a bit about.

    Edel even acknowledged that Reanimator—either the Junk or Human variety—might just be the best deck for this tournament. The catch was that he couldn't control his fate quite as well.

    "You just lose if people want you to," Edel said, pointing to the plethora of strong graveyard hate available to players of any type or style of deck. Given that, Edel said, he'd rather just avoid the "hate or no" sub-game altogether.

    Julaino Souza—a member of the Brazilian World Magic Cup team from last year—had similar thoughts to Edel but ultimately chose a different path. Souza was debating between Esper and UWR Flash right up until Friday, but knew he was in for a long day if he played something slower. So instead of committing himself to 40 minute rounds every round, the Magic Online grinder known as Babomes chose the "There is no such thing as a wrong threat" tactic, tying his fates to the sometimes awkward draws of Naya Blitz.

    "I got excited because I beat my friends something like seven times in a row," Souza said of playtesting the deck. "The deck is capable of beating anything with a good draw."

    In that way, Souza, like Edel, had also chosen a deck that he felt could beat anything, but for different reasons. Edel chose something he though had a chance against anything, giving his play skill a chance to shine. Souza, on the other hand, chose a high-variance deck that had draws capable of beating anything by virtue of blisteringly fast hands. That said, Souza sounded more than a bit envious of Edel's deck, saying he thinks he might just have the best deck in the room.

    Despite their different deck choices—or maybe because of them—all three acknowledged that Standard was so wide open, you really could play just about anything you want.

    "There are probably 10 decks out there you could play that I wouldn't make fun of you for picking," said Damo da Rosa. "There are a lot of options."


  • Round 6 Feature Match - Guilherme Vieira vs. Victor Fernando Silva

    by Nate Price

  • There is nothing more frustrating than being qualified for a tournament and finding yourself unable to attend. At no time is this more true than when the tournament you cannot attend is one with your country's pride on the line. That was exactly the situation that Victor Fernando Silva found himself in around August of last year. Qualified for the World Magic Cup, Silva was forced to root from home as he found himself unable to make the trip to Indianapolis for the WMC. Here on his home soil, he is currently undefeated and searching for another tournament win. Standing in his way is Guilherme Vieira, who had spent the previous evening battling though the grinders to earn himself three byes for the GP. He had used his byes well up to this point, remaining undefeated as Silva had.

    The UWR/Jund matchup is quickly becoming one of the hallmark matchups of this current iteration of Standard, though which variant of each that you get is anyone's guess. In this particular one, Vieira was sporting the Midrange Jund deck, which is a beast against most of Standard's creature-based strategies, while Silva came prepared with the traditional UWR Control a la Gerry Thompson.

    Game 1

    As expected, the game began quite slowly. Vieira was the first to make a move, but his Garruk, Relentless was stopped by Negate. He was able to land a Garruk, Primal Hunter, soon after, getting an immediate Beast in the process. Silva wasted no time spending two Searing Spears to make the planeswalker go away. He also used a Counterflux to stop Vieira's attempt at a Thragtusk, though a second was able to slip through.

    Silva found himself beginning to slip behind. A Sphnx's Revelation for three helped keep him afloat, but he was unable to find a Supreme Verdict. He dug with Augur of Bolas, even getting a re-buy with Restoration Angel, but to no avail. When he tried to block the Beast with the Angel, Vieira Murdered it. This forced Silva to blow an Azorius Charm to kill the Beast, dropping to 10 in the process. An Olivia Voldaren after combat complicated matters further.

    Guilherme Vieira

    Silva dug yet again with a Sphinx's Revelation for five, but he was going to need a good deal of help in those five cards to dig himself out. First, he aimed an Azorius Charm at an attacking Thragtusk. Vieira had left his Olivia behind. Refusing to replay the Thragtusk, Vieira simply attacked with his Beast, trying to draw out either a removal spell or an Angel. He got an Azorius Charm for his efforts. Before the token left, Vieira used his Olivia to ping it twice, putting it out of Angel range. After combat, Vieira replayed the Thragtusk only to be stopped by Rewind. Seemingly paranoid about either an Azorius Charm or a Snapcaster Mage, Vieira continued to leave his Olivia behind.

    At the end of Vieira's turn, Silva used the Snapcaster Mage Vieira was Fraid of to flash back a Sphinx's Revelation for five. Vieira killed the Snapcaster Mage with Olivia, making her a 6/6. A Revelation for seven left Silva at a very safe life total, but with little in terms of a library. A Supreme Verdict cleared the board, and now it was Silva in control. Two Restoration Angels and Aurelia, the Warleader, hit the table and threatened to end the game in two short turns. Unable to push any removal through the freshly minted permission in Silva's hand, Vieira was forced to simply sit and watch as his massive life total simply evaporated.

    Guilherme Vieira 0 - Victor Fernando Silva 1

    The first game of this matchup traditionally favors the UWR deck, as Vieira's Midrange deck is geared to deal with the creatures of Standard, not the control decks. All of that changes after sideboard, however. With access to discard spells, including the lethal Slaughter Games, the Jund deck gains a good deal of ground on Silva's UWR deck. Still, with one game down, Vieira was going to need a fortunate turn of events to take the next two games off of Silva.

    Game 2

    The second game started considerably more favorably for Vieira, who was able to resolve an early Farseek, giving him an important mana advantage. He then put Silva to the test, resolving a Grafdigger's Cage on the following turn, intent on shutting off Snapcaster Mage. With the graveyard shut down, Silva simply flashed in a Snapcaster Mage to gain an attacker. With two mana available, Silva was able to Negate the Garruk, Primal Hunter, that Vieira tried to cast on turn four. While this left him unable to counter the follow-up Liliana of the Veil, Searing Spear was enough to finish her off after she had eaten the Snapcaster Mage.

    Victor Fernando Silva

    Silva seemed oddly nonchalant as Vieira resolved an Underworld Connections, very powerful in this control matchup. When he tapped out to play an Aurelia, it lent some idea why. Silva was looking to end this game fast, and he immediately dropped Vieira to 8. Vieira's lands had only done two damage to him over the course of the match, and the Snapcaster had contributed four, but Aurelia's six a turn made that look like chump change. Without a manner of destroying the Silva's Angel, all it took was a single attack and a Searing Spear to finalize Silva's win.

    Guilherme Vieira 0 - Victor Fernando Silva 2


  • Saturday, 8:25 p.m. - Round 7 Top Tables Update

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • Nearing the point of no return, the field is actually tightening ever so slightly from the wild wild metagame just a few rounds ago. There are still 15 different archetypes represented, but the top is getting heavier, the bottom lighter, and the lines are starting to blur between successful decks and close cousins.

    As usual, first, the big pie chart of information:

    Jund Midrange now has a firm grasp on the top tables, taking nearly 25 percent of the Top 50 slots right now and doubling up on its closest competitors. Flash, in all its variations, has remained strong, as we predicted as early as Round 3.

    The real surprise is The Aristocrats, which has slowly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in Rio.

    Notice also that there are fewer singleton lists as the cream starts rising to the top. We see that the tournament is really starting to revolve around a Naya/UWx/Jund/Blood Crypt metagame, with all kinds of flavors in each category and a variety of ways to play each.

    Take the "White Jund" deck as I've been calling it. It is, essentially, a successor to Dark Naya that simply leans heavier on the Black than previous incarnations, turning the White into far more of splash than it used to be. Some versions have also adopted Orzhov Charm, picking up on the card's power thanks to Aristocrats.

    Let's also look again at the macro archetypes.

    That race to the middle I talked about in Round 5? It has become even more pronounced. Humanimator has been pushed off of the Top 25 tables (there could be some lurking at 15 points still outside our sample), and control is almost impossible to find—and that's with us stretching to include UWR Flash in the control column, which, while not quite intellectually dishonest, might be slightly misleading depending on the build. Still, more players are Gerry Thompson followers than Joel Larsson from what I've seen, so unless something changes, we'll leave it in control for now.

    The clear winners so far? Farseek and Stomping Ground, by far. Farseek is the fuel that feeds the Green-based midrange fire (which is most of the midrange action outside The Aristocrats), and Stomping Ground is the lone common thread that winds between Aggro, Midrange and Combo. And if it weren't for Jund putting up the numbers it has, Restoration Angel would certainly be in line for one of those top slots.

    Can this spiral to the middle possibly hold for two more rounds? Stay tuned for the end of the day wrap up in Round 9.


  • Saturday, 8:40 p.m. - Getting There - Making it to the Pro Tour with Willy Edel and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

    by Nate Price

  • For those of you who haven't been to Brazil during the end of summer, the best word to describe it is hot. Sure, beautiful, intense, relaxing, and vibrant are also excellent words to describe it. But first and foremost, it's freaking hot.

    Even with the tropical sun blazing overhead, it's hard to miss the parallels to Magic. Brazil has some excellent players playing at the top of the game. Willy Edel, playing on the world stage since 2000, has been experiencing some of his best Magic play withing the past year. With a win at Grand Prix Toronto and a Top 8 in Seattle at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, it's hard to look at a final standings page from a tournament and fail to find his name near the top. Joining him in the Top 8 of the Pro Tour was Pedro Carvalho, who was able to parlay his win in a massive Magic Online PTQ into that stellar performance. Finally, he brightest star of Brazilian Magic right now has to be Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, the first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. From his work with Channelfireball to his Twitter conversations, PV has become a strong voice for both Brazilian Magic and the Pro community as a whole.

    Still, getting to the Pro Tour is hard work, and staying there once you've gotten there, as Edel and PV have done, is incredibly hard work. This goes doubly true for players from many areas in Latin America. Players in growing communities, such as the ones in Latin America, face unique problems in reaching the top levels, in addition to staying there once they've arrived.

    Edel and PV are two players who have faced those long odds and managed to thrive, and they owe a lot of it to how they approached the game as they were developing and the opportunities they were given. Both players had fairly standard origins in Magic.

    "I was eight years old, and I saw an advertisement for this card game that came with a free card," PV recounted. "It looked pretty cool, so I asked my mother to buy me some cards, and she took a friend and I to buy some starter decks. We played at school mostly, but from there I started to go to card stores, then to bigger tournaments, and eventually to PTQs."

    Willie Edel

    Edel had a bit more experience in gaming before transitioning to Magic, but his spiral into competitive play was much as PV's was.

    "I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons when I was in high school," Edel recalled with a smile. "I really enjoyed the game, but I always disliked that there was no winner. I am an incredibly competitive person. One day, we were playing at a local store when someone showed me Magic and explained it to me, and I became very interested in it. It was a game that had the competitive style that really suited my nature."

    In spite of their incredible current success, coming from Latin America really presented some challenges for both players in their attempts to break through to the

    professional level.

    Edel recalled his first brush with professional play.

    "I won my first PTQ in 2000, before they began giving flights to the winners. I might not have gone, but my father flew a lot for work, so he was able to take advantage of that to get me a flight to the tournament. Still, it was not a very good experience for me. I didn't do that well and came home disappointed. My next opportunity came with Brazilian Nationals, which gave me a chance to go to Worlds in 2004 in San Francisco. Then I made it back the next year for Worlds in Yokohama. Nationals and Worlds was my real path to competitive play. Eventually, I qualified for another Pro Tour, did well, and have been traveling for Magic since."

    Similar to Edel, the World Championships played a large part in the of his Hall-of-Famer compatriot.

    "I won three PTQs before there was flight support," PV admitted. "I wasn't able to afford to go without it. I was able to qualify for the World Championships a couple of times, including once as one of the top-rated players in Latin America. Eventually, I decided to save up and pay for my way to GP London, qualified for Pro Tour Honolulu, and have been doing well since."

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

    While the Nationals and Worlds path that both Edel and PV used to foster their professional careers no longer exists, the World Magic Cup has stepped up to replace it. True, the WMCQs aren't the same style of standalone tournaments that Nationals was, the multiple event sites can be very beneficial for areas like Brazil that have become fairly regionalized thanks to the prohibitive nature of travel in the region. Three different events in three major play areas gives players an opportunity to choose the event closest to them to travel to if they want, giving access to more players in the region.

    Another major boon to players from Latin America is the advent of Magic Online PTQs. While they are certainly more difficult and larger than a standard PTQ, they offer an opportunity to qualify that doesn't rely on the ability to get to a tournament. This effectively takes the number of PTQs Brazilian players gets and raises it from three or so to over a dozen. This has already had a massive effect on the Brazilian community, with Pedro Carvalho winning an online PTQ and parlaying it into a Top 8 finish at the Pro Tour. This was yet another example of how it is possible for Latin American players to make it to the upper levels of the game and succeed.

    But there are a few pitfalls that can come out of coming from a region with a markedly smaller pro community, if one even exists. Edel explained, "the first time you qualify for a Pro Tour, you know nothing. You don't know how to book you flight or take care of your hotel, you don't know the things you need to do to take advantage of your qualification. It is great having Paulo and I available for players who win their first PTQ to contact, but there are other countries that don't have that luxury. Argentina doesn't really have guys like Diego Ostrovich around anymore, guys that are experienced and can make the process less confusing and scary."

    PV echoed a similar sentiment.

    "It is very easy to make it to the Pro Tour, do poorly on your first time, and then be too scared or disappointed to try again. This is especially bad in places like Latin America, where the fact that there aren't many PTQs in any one area that the one shot you get may be your only one. It is very easy for players to win a PTQ, think that they are good enough to compete without a large amount of preparation, and then fail when they get to the Pro Tour."

    PV's statements really point out one very important aspect of Latin America that can even be overlooked by Latin Americans themselves: there is an amount of isolation in the communities that can cloud players' judgment. In Europe and the US, the players on the big teams never let up. They are constantly competing and testing to be prepared for every event. In order to compete with them, players have to approach them the same way, especially if you aren't sure when the next opportunity is going to come around. PV really stressed this point, and Edel totally agreed.

    "If you want to succeed at the Pro Tour, you have to take it seriously," PV implored. "And don't let a misstep scare you from trying again. We need more players from Latin America to do well at big events. Just keep preparing and keep trying."

    As men who have done this themselves, their words carry a great deal of weight. They both desperately want more good things to come for their country and know that increasing the exposure that players from their region get is the first step to achieving that. It's clear that, despite their tremendous success, they haven't forgotten and still sympathize with the difficulties that each player from Latin America faces. As more players like Pedro Carvalho emerge from areas like Brazil, the path to follow becomes even clearer. With beacons like these two magnanimous pros to light the path, it falls to Latin American players to heed their advice and follow their example. Who knows, you could be the next Latin American Hall-of-Famer!


  • Saturday, 9:06 p.m. - Quick Questions: Why are you playing the deck you selected for this weekend?

    by Nate Price and André Marcatti

  • Ricardo "Manowar" Cabrini (Junk Reanimator): The best decks in the format are UWR and Jund, but they can't handle the board and card advantage that Junk Reanimator can generate. They have Sphinx's Revelation and Garruk, Primal Hunter to get ahead against other decks, but these are useless against Junk.
    Willy Edel (Naya): I like the deck. I feel comfortable with it. It reminds me a lot of Modern Jund in the sense you can switch gears very often. Even though it doesn't have any exceptional matchups, the experience I have with the deck is enough to give me an edge against the field.
    Carlos Alexandre "Batutinha" Esteves (Junk Reanimator): The field is filled with Jund and UWR decks, and they're both great matchups for Junk Reanimator.
    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Esper Control): I took a look around at the decks I saw here and noticed a lot of Bant Control and UWR decks. Since Esper Control has a good matchup against those decks, I wanted to play it. It also doesn't really have very many bad matchups, with the most notable being Reanimator decks. I also figured that since Brazilian tournaments always seem to have a large number of aggressive decks, many players would be playing more removal spells in their decks, which makes them worse against Esper. I was trying to next-level them there.


  • Saturday, 9:14 p.m. - What is the Best Card in Your Deck?

    by Nate Price with André Marcatti

  • Willy Edel (Naya): Domri Rade. It's the card that allows me to switch gears. He's obviously good against control, but he also lets me play a more controlling game against the aggressive decks.
    Paulo Vítor "PV" Damo da Rosa (Esper): Sphinx's Revelation. The deck has a lot of lands and is filled with removal spells, which trade "one-for-one" throughout the game. Revelation gives me the late game card advantage I need after stabilizing to close the game with Nephalia Drownyard.
    André "Inglês" Franco (Jund Midrange - Splashing White): Restoration Angel.
    José "Zeh Dantas" Francisco da Silva : Falkenrath Aristocrat. Hard to kill, haste, evasion... She's got the whole package!


  • Round 8 Feature Match - Pedro Carvalho vs. Vinicius Garcia Teixeira

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • It's elimination time here at Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro, as players scramble to keep their head above the X-2 waters that will grant them passage to Day 2.

    Two of those players include Vinicius Garcia Teixeira and Pedro Carvalho. Teixeira is a relative newcomer to the spotlight, but Carvalho is a longtime pro who's no stranger to success. In fact, were it not for the insane season Willy Edel is having, Carvalho would be leading Latin America in Pro Points.

    He's not particularly close to Edel at this point (no one in the region is), but a good finish this weekend might at least put him back in the conversation. Assuming, of course, Edel didn't pull another Top 8 out of his pocket.

    But that all started this round. Lose, and Carvalho would hit the dreaded three loss mark. Win and he still had one more round. He was playing the popular The Aristocrats deck debuted at Pro Tour Gatecrash and fine-tuned since then. The deck was a favorite among some of the room's better players, but had already faltered for Carvalho twice.

    Meanwhile, Teixeira's deck was fast, efficient, and brutally consistent. Eschewing a third color, his Boros deck could hit nearly as hard as Naya Blitz without much of the inconsistency that makes that deck a liability.

    Game 1

    Teixeira started exactly how he wanted to, throwing down Stromkirk Noble to get some quick attacks in. In Carvalho's largely human-based deck, it was as good as unblockable in the early turns. A pair of Rakdos Cakcler's on turn two kept the pressure on about as high as it could go. His third turn Frontline Medic was even worse for Carvalho.

    But Carvalho was busy himself, curving Doomed Traveler into Knight of Infamy into an Orzhov Charm on Stromkirk Noble. He followed up with a Silverblade Paladin to pair with his Spirit token.

    Pedro Carvalho was under the gun from the minute his opponent played his first Mountain.

    At this point, Teixeira was clearly out of gas. He hadn't made a play since the Medic, while Carvalho cast a Falkenrath Aristocrat to start attacking. He was low on life, but his board made it hard for Teixeira to gain any traction.

    That all changed when when Teixeira put a Hellrider straight from the top of his deck to play. Carvalho was forced to make some pretty bad blocks against Teixeira's suddenly indestructible squad, costing him his previously formidable board position and a bit of life. When his draw step yielded no help, Carvalho found himself down a game with none to spare for his tournament life.

    Teixeira 1 – Carvalho 0

    Game 2

    Another game, another one drop, this time it was Rakdos Cacklers on turns one and two that turned up the heat for Teixeira.

    But being on the draw was a different world for Teixera, and Carvalho jumped out in front with some Lingering Souls and a Cartel Aristocrat. His Skirsdag High Priest, unfortunately for him, was dealt with via Searing Spear.

    Now facing a strong defensive fronts, Teixeira was forced to hold back and develop his board for a turn with Frontline Medic.

    Then Carvalho played Vault of the Archangel.

    Suddenly the entire game changed. Teixeira blocked with his Frontline Medic, losing it in the process to a Vault activation. His follow-up Stromkirk Nobles were dealt with soundly the next turn thanks to Restoration Angel, as was Boros Reckoner with Tragic Slip. When Carvalho attacked and activated the Vault one more time to put his life total out of reach, Teixeira quickly conceded to move on to Game 3.

    Teixeira 1 – Carvalho 1

    Game 3

    Back on the play where he wants to be, Teixeira fanned out his seven, finding something he liked. It lacked a one drop, but a pair of Ash Zealots more than made up for it. Lightning Mauler kept the hasty beats coming.

    Vinicius Garcia Teixeira won a blisteringly fast, blink and you'll miss it third game, keeping him alive for Day 2 one more round.

    Unfortunately for Caralho, he was short on mana. Working with only a Sacred Foundry and a now impotent Vault of the Archangel, all he could do was chump block for a few turns with Doomed Traveler before Searing Spear and Skullcrack ended the match in short order.

    Just that fast, Carvalho was dead in the water, while Teixeira lived to fight another round.

    Teixeira 2 – Carvalho 1


  • Saturday, 11:14 p.m. - Top Tables Round-Up

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • You know the deal by now. We surveyed the Top 25 tables, took note of every archetype and compiled a list. Every one of these decks was at least 6-2 coming into the final round, which means they were playing for a shot at Day 2 at the very least.

    Pie chart!

    A few larger trends. Again, we see fewer random decks, but still a whopping 13 archetypes (more on that in a moment). Jund Midrange is still the top dog, but with a far smaller share of the metagame. UWR Flash has remained a consistent level the entire tournament, while Aristocrats rose sharply after the players with byes joined play, and stayed elevated for the remainder.

    Meanwhile, note the rise of Junk Reanimator to one of the most played archetypes. It seems like Brad Nelson might have been right about the Black-Green-White Reanimator version being the best for this weekend.

    But after that there's a smorgasbord of decks that are close, share 75 percent of cards, or are practically indistinguishable from one another save a few key cards. Saito Naya and Naya Midrange play very differently, but you would be surprised how easy it is to mistake one for the other.

    In an effort to differentiate the decks, let's look at some of the pillars of the format. Note that some of the numbers will overlap because, for example, Bant is both a Farseek deck and a Sphinx's Revelation deck. It does, however, give us a decent idea of how the archetypes play out when pegged to a few key cards.

    The only oddity is that I didn't include Humanimator in the Burning-Tree Emissary decks, as the deck doesn't revolve around that card nearly as much as the aggressive decks, and it kind of skews a sense of what these cards accomplish.

    What does this tell us?

    As spread out as the archetypes are, we've really got just a few pillars on which the format rotates, with the other cards surrounding the core strategies somewhat interchangeable. If you're playing Farseek, for example, you can play Thragtusk or Olivia Voldaren or Huntmaster of the Fells or Restoration Angel or some combination thereof. You can ramp to Sphinx's Revelation or Rakdos' Return. If you want to cast Unburial Rites, you can do it for value or you can do it to combo. If you want to attack quickly, you need one or more of Burning-Tree Emissary, Gravecrawler or Champion of the Parish.

    There were several other cards that could have been put into this chart. Loxodon Smiter is another interesting card to watch. It's not terribly useful in classifying decks because it has been adopted by aggressive, midrange and control-ish decks as the Selesnya three-drop of choice. Centaur Healer is out there, but not in nearly the numbers that the 4/4 for three has been.

    Boros Reckoner is another one that crosses far too many archetypes to really account for any single style of deck, as both aggressive decks and more controlling ones are interested in the best Minotaur this side of Tangarth.

    Thragtusk and Restoration Angel are interesting studies. They often simply signified "deck with Green or White that isn't trying to keep its curve low." They don't really tell us much, but, for the record, there are 23 Thragtusk decks and 27 Restoration Angel decks among those noted. It's a testament to their power—and big reasons for Midrange's success—that they get included pretty much everywhere they can be.

    The takeaway? If you want to Top 8 a Standard tournament right now, especially a Grand Prix, odds are you better be playing one or more of these cards. And if not, you better have a very, very good reason.


  • Saturday, 11:19 p.m. - Round 9 Roundup – Four Undefeated Players

    by Nate Price

  • With one round left to play, four players sit with perfect 8-0 records: Victor Fernando Silva, Guilherme Machado, Guido Quintana, and Andres Monsalve. Thanks to the incredibly parity of Standard right now, all four prospective undefeated players were playing different decks. Even more interesting than the parity shown in the top four players was the distinct lack of midrange archetypes. Considering their pervasive presence in the room, in was incredible that not a single deck made it to the undefeated mark.

    Guido Quintana

    With only one more opponent standing between them and perfection, play in the final round was fierce. Quinta's Jund Aggro deck put up a hasty front against Machado's tricky Aristocrats deck. Between a Dreg Mangler and Flinthoof Boar, Quinta was able to put a large amount of pressure on early in the first game, pushing over Lingering Souls tokens with Ghor-Clan Rampager, and delivering enough trample damage to absolutely run away with the first game.

    Guilherme Machado 0 – Guido Quintana 1

    In Silva's match against Monsalve, things were not as clear cut. Silva was playing UWR Control, with its glacial early game and explosive late game, against Monsalve's Junk Reanimator deck. Traditionally a good matchup for the Reanimator deck, Siva appeared to be holding his own, racing with a pair of Restoration Angels in an attempt to kill Monsalve before he could go off. Monsalve, on the other side, had an air force of his own, made up of a full Lingering Souls worth of Spirits and an Angel of his own. When even more Spirits joined the table, Silva was put in a spot where he would have to remove his own offense in order to survive. An unfortunate Augur of Bolas sent potentially game-winning Angel of Serenity and Aurelia, the Warleader to the depths of his deck.

    Silva vs. Monslave

    Facing an incredible air force from Monsalve, Silva was put to the test. He blocked the best he could, even going so far as to use a Snapcaster Mage to flash back Azorius Charm, opting to give his team lifelink to gain some more breathing room. When the dust settled, Monsalve tried to refill his blockers with a flashed back Lingering Souls and a Lotleth Troll, but Silva had Counterflux for the fliers. This gave him a window. He used Searing Spear to force the Troll to regenerate, clearing the way for his ground troops and giving him one more card in his graveyard to fire at Monsalve with a Harvest Pyre, clearing his graveyard. The onslaught dropped Monsalve to 3, perfect range for a Searing Spear to finish him off.

    Victor Fernando Silva

    Andres Monsalve 0 – Victor Fernando Silva 1

    There were a fair number of mulligans for the second game of these two matches, with both players in the Machado/Quinta match dropping to four and three cards respectively, while Monsalve counted himself lucky to only be forced to six. Monsalve used his six cards well, using two Avacyn's Pilgrims to accelerate out a third-turn Acidic Slime, destroying one of Silva's lands. He floated mana to Searing Spear it, reducing the damage, but he was still put reasonably behind. Monsalve was able to press his advantage with a Lingering Souls and Restoration Angel, and the combination of aggressive land destruction and little men was enough to give him the second game of the match.

    Andres Monsalve

    Andres Monsalve 1 – Victor Fernando Silva 1

    The other match saw a reasonably standard finish given the comically large number of mulligans it entailed. Machado was able to arrange a 2/2 Champion of the Parish and a Doomed Traveler, but stalled out at two lands with little to do. Quinta, on the other hand, parlayed his three card opening hand into a 3/3 Experiment One, 3/2 Strangleroot Geist, and 4/4 trampling Ghor-Clan Rampager. He was greatly outclassing Machado's board despite his inferior starting position, and his Kessig Wolf Run threatened to overtake Machado with trample as he had in the first game.

    Guilherme Machado

    Already down to a lone Spirit token, Machado fell deep into contemplation, eventually extending his hand and giving Quinta a "gee gee."

    Guilherme Machado 1 – Guido Quintana 2

    There could only be one more undefeated. Victor Fernando Silva had fought back from an impressive hole to steal Game 1, while Andres Monsalve was able to aggressively dictate the second game. In the final, things were about as textbook as they could get. Monsalve tried to resolve spells like Mulch and Thragtusk; Silva countered them. Monsalve was eventually able to land a pair of Tusks, but one soon met a fiery end to a Searing Spear. With a pair of Restoration Angels on his side, Silva was prepared to play defense.

    Even the finest defense has its weaknesses, though, and Silva's was four Thragtusks. Or at least it seemed at first. An Angel traded for one and a Searing Spear ate the other. This left Monsalve sitting with two Beast tokens and suddenly unable to attack. He tried for an Unburial Rites to make a comical fifth Tusk, but a Snapcaster Mage flashed back Negate to stop it. While you may have been expecting a flash back on the Rites at this point, Monsalve had actually Mulched enough lands that he was able to tap seven lands for an Angel of Serenity from his hand, clearing the path for his Beasts. He chose not to remove the Snapcaster, worrying about it being reused should his Angel die.

    Andres Monsalve wins to end Day 1 undefeated

    With very few outs and facing a soon to be lethal board, Silva found himself unable to salvage the game. Andres Monsalve became the second player to end Day 1 undefeated, to the approving roar of the onlooking crowd.

    Andres Monsalve 2 – Victor Fernando Silva 1

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