Grand-Prix Sao Paulo: Day 1 Blog

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EVENT COVERAGE

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 9
    Gaudenis Vidugiris (Faeries) Versus Marcos Paulo de Jesus (Black-White Kithkin)

  • by Nate Price
    Blog: Saturday, 22:30
    Live from Sao Paulo, It’s Saturday Night!

  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match: Round 8
    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Faeries) vs. Victor Rossini (B/W tokens)

  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: Saturday, 20:34
    It Pays to do Your Homework

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 7
    Raphael Levy (Doran) Versus Manuel Bucher (Elementals)

  • by Nate Price
    Blog: Saturday, 17:50
    Playing the Field

  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match: Round 6
    Willy Edel (B/G Elves) vs. Eduardo Sella (5-color Cascade)

  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: Saturday, 17:30
    Putting the Super in Super FNM

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 5
    Manuel Bucher (Elementals) Versus Paulo Martinello (Black-Green Elves)

  • by Nate Price
    Blog: Saturday, 14:02
    Bem Vindos Ao Brasil!

  • by Nate Price
    Feature Match: Round 4
    Leonardo Labrunna (Kithkin) vs. Antti Malin (Elves)

  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: Saturday, 13:02
    From the Dealer’s Booth

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature Match: Round 3
    Diego Ostrovich Versus Guilherme Fonseca

  • by Bill Stark
    Blog: Saturday, 10:52
    South America Versus the World

  • by Bill Stark
    Feature:
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

 

  • Saturday, 9:48 a.m. -- Feature: Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • You want decklists? We got decklists. Here are the Grand Prix Trial winning decklists from Friday night.














    Pedro Pereira Jr.
    Trial 14


     

  • Blog: 10:52 South America Versus the World
    by Bill Stark
  • It is a theme that runs through nearly every Magic tournament in the world: the battle between local players fighting to defend a Premier level event title on their home turf from the visiting pros looking to pillage said turf for Pro Points and prize dollars. The tale will be told again in Sao Paolo as the local Brazilian players try to fight off visitors from as far away as Europe and the United States and as close as neighboring countries. Making the story even more interesting are national rivalries, as players saw last year during Grand Prix-Buenos Aires, between Argentinean, Brazilian, Chilean, and other playgroups from South America. While fighting for their own national pride, those competing players will be working together to keep the title of Grand Prix-Sao Paolo champion on their home continent of South America, and out of the hands of the pros who traveled from off-continent to claim the trophy for themselves.

    So who should you be keeping an eye on? The biggest names in South American Magic center around a contingent of Brazilian players, recognizable names like Willy Edel, Paulo Vitor Dama Da Rosa, and former world champion Carlos Romao. An old time Argentinian pro, Diego Ostrovich, is also making a return appearance to the Grand Prix stage after last competing in Buenos Aires one year ago. Newcomer Luiz de Michielli, who narrowly missed a Top 8 at Worlds 2008, will be a new face helping Brazil to keep the title both in-country as well as on-continent.

    South American Players (L-R): Luiz, Diego, Paulo Vitor Damo de Rosa, Romao, Edel
    South American Players (L-R): Juza, Zatlkaj, Levy, Bucher, Malin

    So who are the big names here to steal the title for themselves? Certainly some stiff competition in the form of Hall of Famer Raphael Levy, reigning World Champion Antti Malin, Pro Tour Berlin Top 8 competitors Martin Juza and Matej Zatlkaj, and top level pro and world traveler Manuel Bucher. Between the group they possess hundreds of Pro Points life time, and threaten to dream-crush the hundreds of Brazilian and South American hopefuls looking forward to keeping their Grand Prix title on home soil.

    So who will come out on top? Check back all weekend long on magicthegathering.com to find out!

     

  • Round 3 Feature Match: Diego Ostrovich Versus Guilherme Fonseca
    by Bill Stark
  • Diego Ostrovich entered Round 3 of Grand Prix-Sao Paolo after spending the first round of the day with a bye and winning his second. He is one of the people responsible for first putting South American Magic on the map. With a Top 8 performance during a late 90s World Championships, he demonstrated years ago that players from the continent could win, could win in multiple formats, and could be champions (a fact Brazilian Carlos Romao made real when he won the World Championship in that same Top 8). Across from Diego sat his opponent, Guilherme Fonseca. The young Brazilian had a Grand Prix Top 8 on his resume as well as a National Team appearance I 2007. The match would not only be a duel between a relative newcomer in Fonseca against an established member of the professional old guard, but a battle of national pride between Argentina (Ostrovich) and Brazil (Fonseca).

    Diego Ostrovich brought Green-White Tokens to the table.
    Both players started on mulligans, and it was a Wren’s Run Vanquisher from Guilherme Fonseca that was the first creature to hit the board. The 3/3 was soon joined by a Putrid Leech while Diego Ostrovich built up his Green-White Tokens manabase. He finally made a move on board position with his fourth land drop as he cast Spectral Procession. The 1/1s were quickly answered by Maelstrom Pulse from Guilherme.

    Wilt-Leaf Liege from Ostrovich traded for Fonseca’s Putrid Leech, but the Brazilian was winning the race as he put the totals 18-7 in his favor with a Kitchen Finks. Diego tried to crawl back into things with a Cloudgoat Ranger, but the 3/3 Ranger died to Nameless Inversion before getting to block, and Ostrovich fell to 1 from his opponent’s attack rather than chump block with his tokens. It was a risky ploy, but the Argentinean had two Windbrisk Heights on the board. After attacking back with his Kithkin tokens, Diego played free copies of Spectral Procession and Cloudgoat Ranger, cluttering the board with chump blockers for his opponent’s team, and putting himself right back in the swing of things provided Guilherme didn’t topdeck a Profane Command.

    Instead, it was Ostrovich with a monstrous topdeck. After surviving Fonseca’s counter attack with chump blocks that saw him lose a minimal amount of creatures, he counted up some totals, then flopped Overrun onto the board. With his massive army of tokens, the sorcery was a shockingly lethal win for Diego seemingly out of nowhere! Guilherme shook his head in surprise, then picked up his sideboard for the second game.

    Diego Ostrovich 1, Guilherme Fonseca 0

    Guilherme Fonseca wasted no time coming out of the gates against his opponent, playing Putrid Leech on the second turn, followed by Loxodon Warhammer on his third. That led to an equip the following turn, and an attack that put Diego Ostrovich to 9. Ostrovich didn’t seem concerned about the Leech, attacking with three Spirit tokens he had created from a third-turn Spectral Procession. He simply cracked back with his team, activating Windbrisk Heights to put Windborn Muse into play.

    Guilherme Fonseca of Brazil tries to make good with BG Elves.
    The 2/3 forced Guilherme to use most of his mana to attack and, after no blockers were declared, he attempted to pump his Putrid Leech. Ostrovich allowed it to resolve, then used Path to Exile to kill the creature. Fonseca didn’t have enough mana left to play anything for the turn, and was forced to pass back to Ostrovich, falling behind in the board in doing so. In an attempt to catch up, the Brazilian played Llanowar Elves and Kitchen Finks upon receiving the turn back, but Diego quickly followed a Cloudgoat Ranger with Ajani Goldmane. The powerful planeswalker pumped Diego’s team considerably and, despite being at 15 life, the token hordes were too much for Guilherme Fonseca, who conceded the match.

    Diego Ostrovich 2, Guilherme Fonseca 0

     

  • Blog: 13:02 – From the Dealer’s Booth
    by Bill Stark
  • A quick way to keep tabs on the metagame for any big event is to stop by the dealer booths to see what cards have been hot and hard to keep in stock. The coverage team spoke with both Eduardo Bongiovanni and Andrew Stokinger to find out what players feel will give them the biggest edge this weekend.

    Eduardo Bongiovanni of Domain Magic.

    Eduardo, whose store Domain is helping to staff and run Grand Prix-Sao Paolo, picked his top sellers quickly. “Maelstrom Pulse, Snakeform, Boggart Ram-Gang, and Windborn Muse.”

    Andy Stokinger of Over the Edge Games.

    Former Magic pro Andrew Stokinger, an American whose fluency in Portuguese and Spanish no doubt have come in handy this weekend, manned the booth for his company OverTheEdgeGames.com. He filled us in on the hottest cards he hadn’t anticipated. “Definitely Snakeform, Winborn Muse, Paladain en-Vec, and Everlasting Torment have been surprise hits this weekend.”

    Snakeform is a card that has been used as an answer for Chameleon Colossus in mirror matches like Black-Green Elves, where traditional methods of answering creatures have come in black form (think Maelstrom Pulse) leaving them defenseless to the 4/4 monstrosity. Windborn Muse is a possible mirror match edge for Tokens decks, allowing them to attack freely while forcing their opponents to pay for the same pleasure. Of course, any deck playing white could benefit from the Tenth Edition 2/3, so perhaps we’ll see the flavor-of-the-moment hit the table for Reveillark, Kithkin, and Boat Brew players.

     

  • Round 4 Feature Match – Leonardo Labrunna (Kithkin) vs. Antti Malin (Elves)
    by Nate Price
  • Antti Malin is the current World Champion of Magic. The man who drew the lucky straw of having to play him fresh off of his three byes was Leonardo Labrunna, who sports his 3-0 record via winning a Grand Prix Trial. Both players are playing highly explosive decks, with Labrunna’s creatures building over a couple of turns, while Malin’s Elf deck tries to literally go from zero to sixty creatures in one turn.

    Malin had to mulligan to five and was obviously displeased when Labrunna led off with a Goldmeadow Stalwart into Knight of Meadowgrain. Malin had a decent start for a five-carder. He followed a first-turn Llanowar Elf with a Thoughtseize, stealing a Spectral Procession from a hand also featuring a Cloudgoat Ranger, Path to Exile, and Ajani Goldmane. He then played a Mosswort bridge, hiding away a Ranger of Eos.

    “Ten power, right,” Labrunna asked him?

    “Yep, just need nine more,” Malin replied with a smile.

    Antti Malin: Enough power to activate Mosswort Bridge by himself.

    Unfortunately for Malin, Labrunna hadn’t slowed down. He played a freshly drawn Knight of Meadowgrain to his side before dropping Malin to twelve. Malin simply added a Devoted Druid to his side and passed. Labrunna sent his kithkin across to halve Malin’s life total. In addition, he used a Path of Exile to clear away Malin’s Devoted Druid during his upkeep, denying him the mana during his main phase. Malin just shrugged and started searching for his land. After finding it, he played one for his turn and dropped a Ranger of Eos into play. The Ruel-wannabe snagged him a Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid to begin setting up his combo.

    In order to play the Ranger, Malin had to take a point of damage from a Brushland. After taking it to the face from Labrunna’s army, Malin sat at an always precarious one life. With a glum look on his face, Malin sighed, “Not sure how I’m going to win this.”

    Apparently, his plan involved issuing a Primal Command to go up to eight life and search for Nettle Sentinel. This bought him the requisite breathing room to get through the next turn. Labrunna finally found a fourth land for his Ajani Goldmane, but it was a Windbrisk Heights, so the big kitty would have to wait a turn to lend a paw.

    Malin thought for a while. Eventually, he chose to Commune with Nature, taking and playing a Heritage Druid. This let him float seven mana and play a Regal Force for six cards. After playing one more Nettle Sentinel, he chose to activate his Mosswort Bridge to play a Ranger of Eos, getting another copy of each of his combo pieces. A few elves and a ton of mana later, Malin played Primal Command to return Labrunna’s freshly played Heights and search for some goodies of his own. Before he could decide what, though, Labrunna picked up his cards saying, “Game 2, Game 2.”

    He may not have been sure how he was going to win in, but Malin sure made it look like a guaranteed outcome. The game would have been significantly different, though, had Labrunna not been unable to play Ajani for three consecutive turns. Larger than average Knights of Meadowgrain would have surely done the Finnish champion in.

    Leonardo Labrunna 0 – Antti Malin 1

    Labrunna started off fast again, this time with a Goldmeadow Stalwart and Figure of Destiny. Malin led with a Nettle Sentinel, which was worth more to him alive than dead and thus wisely chose to stay out of the way of the Stalwart. When he decided to get a little squirrely on the next turn and attack with it, Labrunna chose not to block and pump his Figure, figuring it would be worth more to him later as a 4/4.

    Malin added an Elvish Visionary to his elf brigade which was promptly followed by a Manamorphose-powered (so good with the Sentinel/Heritage Druid combo!)Nettle Sentinel. Unfortunately, he didn’t have anything to follow that up with. He was forced to block and trade with the Stalwart on the following turn, letting the 4/4 Figure of Destiny knock him to seven. Labrunna reloaded with a second Stalwart and a Knight of Meadowgrain. All Malin had was a Devoted Druid. He was going to need something exceptional, like last game, if he was going to pull this one out.

    He started out with the right card, and his Primal Command put him back up to ten life and grabbed him a Heritage Druid which he could potentially use to push for the win on the following turn. Unfortunately for him, Labrunna chose to drop him to two before clearing away Antti’s board with a Wrath of God at the cost of his own army.

    Labrunna has plenty more troops where those came from.

    Malin used a Commune with Nature to attempt to rebuild and got an Elvish Visionary which drew him into a Devoted druid. Labrunna vomited a pair of Figures of Destiny alongside another Knight of Meadowgrain to fill his side out with a trio of lethal creatures.

    Malin frowned. He had the pieces, but he didn’t seem to have the time. He played a Ranger of Eos with a green mana floating and got himself a Nettle Sentinel and a Heritage Druid. He played both and passed the turn with his Visionary, Sentinel, Ranger, and Heritage Druid untapped. Labrunna attacked with his team. Malin, sitting at two life, had to block everything. He chose to untap his Devoted Druid and use it, the Visionary, and his Ranger of Eos to stand in front of the horde. He even made sure to add a second counter to his Devoted Druid to kill it before the lifelink could trigger from the Knight of Meadowgrain.

    Malin was left with a Heritage Druid and a Nettle Sentinel in play and three Regal Forces in hand. All he needed was an Elf of any kind to start dropping the Forces into play. He drew his card and then conceded the game, flashing me his freshly minted quads.

    Leonardo Labrunna 1 – Antti Malin 1

    Malin started the final game off with a bit of a stumble, but he’s proven that his deck can win off of mulligans before. Labrunna tried to cheer him up by pointing out that mulliganning to five has already resulted in a win once, but Malin didn’t seem too comforted. He seemed less so when he had no one drop, and Labrunna came crashing down with the ideal Goldmeadow Stalwart into Knight of Meadowgrain opening. A Wizened Cenn before his next attack threatened to end this game early, especially considering that Malin’s only creatures were a pair of Elvish Visionaries. He snagged his combo pieces with a Ranger of Eos, but with the addition of a Glorious Anthem, Labrunna’s board looked insurmountable.

    Thinking of things from Malin’s perspective, he had the pieces in hand, and a turn to play with, but he really didn’t want to have to lose any elves. He was going to need all the mana he could muster if he was going to stage a coup. After doing some quick combat and mana math, Malin looked like a man resigned to his fate as he ultimately dropped the lone Ranger in front of the Wizened Cenn. He was going to go for it.

    The Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid came into play first. With the start of the combo assembled, Malin went to work. The first thing he did was cast a Primal Command, getting himself seven life, a Regal Force, and a meek, “oh no,” from Labrunna. A Commune With Nature found him a very important second Nettle Sentinel, and he passed the turn at eleven life, staring down at a pair of 3/3s. Malin chose the safe route and used his now considerably less useful Elvish Visionary to save himself three life in case Labrunna chose to Wrath of God post-combat. When he simply added more creatures to his board, things started to look really good for Malin. At least as good as they can when you’re staring down four massive creatures.

    A second Ranger of Eos found him a second set of combo pieces which made their way into play amidst a flurry of tapping elves. After Malin had three Sentinels and a pair of Heritage druids in play, he played his last card: the Regal Force he had searched for with the Primal Command. That filled him up to seven cards. He got a few more creatures into play before playing another Regal Force and drawing yet more cards.

    Malin gets trigger happy.

    About this time, the round ended. While Malin was clearly now in the drivers’ seat, his opponent was at 30 life, which Malin now had only two attack steps to blow through. He played some more guys and drew some more cards, essentially getting every creature he wanted into play. I’m not going to lie, at some point, Malin had every card in his deck either in play or in his hand. He may have had a few cards of his opponent’s deck, too, I dunno. I kinda lost track. After blacking out for a bit to the tune of “X mana in pool...this trigger resolves...I draw a Brazilian cards...this trigger resolves...” At some point, I realized that Malin was going to win by putting most of Labrunna’s permanents on top of his deck before attacking for the win. Labrunna saw this too and promptly conceded. After his concession, the fiercely passionate Brazilian crowd around him broke into a Portuguese football-style song. At this point, Malin leaned into me and asked what was going on. I just smiled back and responded in the only way I knew how.

    “Bem vindo ao Brasil.”

    Leonardo Labrunna 1 – Antti Malin 2

     

  • Blog: 14:02 – Bem Vindos Ao Brasil!
    by Nate Price
  • What do you think of when you hear the country Brazil?

    For me, it’s soccer, beaches, endless amounts of meat served by men in funny pants, and the country’s chief export: gorgeous women. Something else I have come to associate with it, especially apparent after Grand Prix – Buenos Aires last year, is an incredibly rich Magic community. I snagged a couple of minutes with a few of the faces of Brazilian Magic to discuss living and gaming in Brazil.

    The last time I sat across the table from Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in South America, he and a veritable army of Brazilian players had made the trek south to turn Grand Prix-Buenos Aires into an effective home game. This time around, it really is a home game as this Grand Prix is a short flight from his home of Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul.

    Usually, I get in a day or two before the event to get acclimated to the environment and have a chance to enjoy myself sightseeing and immersing myself in the local culture. Last year, I went on a whirlwind tour of Buenos Aires with some American compatriots that involved a visit to the leather district and a lesson about the tango.

    This year, my flight got cancelled, and I didn’t arrive until the middle of round one. Sigh. According to Damo da Rosa, though, I didn’t miss a whole lot. “The nightlife here isn’t too bad, but Sao Paulo is really a business city...If you want a really good time, you need to head to Rio de Janeiro or to the northeast. That’s where all the really beautiful beaches are. Rio’s mainly got the tourist stuff.”

    We had a fun little moment when I asked him to describe what Brazil is really known for around the world. After all, America is known for it’s overweight, abrasive cowboys (not quite sure where that comes from). Paulo didn’t even skip a beat before spouting out “Soccer,” which was the first thing I wrote down. Brazil is almost synonymous with soccer, especially if you don’t follow it. It takes a lot to be the face of something to people who don’t follow that something. Kind of like the Yankees in baseball.

    After a bit more though, he came up with the beaches here, which were the second things on my list. As you head to the northwest, near the Caribbean border of Brazil, the beaches get finer and more luscious. It borders on the Amazon and the rainforested areas, so there’s a plethora of wildlife in the area as well. It’s quite the sight to behold for you nature lovers out there, though I don’t recommend going without a guide.

    After letting him know he was two for two on my list, a sly smile crept over his face as he said, “I guess women, too.” At this point, I could barely contain my laughter, because it is so true. Adriana Lima. Gisele Bundchen. Something like 7 of the top twenty models in the world come from Brazil. It’s like they freaking genetically engineer them here. It was the same way in Argentina last year. All I have to say is that after these two trips, I’m seriously considering moving to South America. It must be something in the water.

    When he couldn’t come up with anything else, I brought up the churrascaria. “That’s my state,” he exclaimed. Apparently, Rio Grande do Sol is one of the birthplaces of the churrascaria style of restaurant that my stomach has come to love and respect. There is a Fogo di Chao within walking distance of our hotel. At least on the way there. I may be too full to walk to the parking lot after leaving. If you don’t know what this style of restaurant is, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Let’s just say it’s like red light/green light. With delicious steak. Yum!

    After briefly indulging my stomach, da Rosa pursed his lips and got a far-off look. When he came back to me, he had one more thing that, if Brazil isn’t known for, it should be. “There are people from everywhere here. Europeans, Japanese, Americans...You can find anyone here.” Despite this incredible diversity, you will never find a more closely knit group of Magic players than here in Brazil. There are three major groups of players in Brazil: one here in Sao Paulo, one to the south and a last to the north, but they all communicate and cheer each other on. It’s a common occurrence after a feature match for calls and songs to echo across the event hall, regardless of the outcome of the match. They have even found reason to celebrate in losing. The energy is palpable.

    The one negative thing da Rosa had to say about the state of Magic in Brazil actually speaks to one of its greatest strengths, in my mind. It’s virtually impossible to get any trading card games shipped into the country for sale. Players have to travel out of the country to pick up product, but even then there’s a limit on the amount they can bring. This can make live play very difficult to stay on top of on a regular basis. Magic Online helps bridge this gap a great deal, but these players don’t stop there. They still go out of their way to get what they need to play at their local shops and at friends’ houses. Despite what would normally be a handicap, they still show up on top of their game and players like da Rosa, and Willy Edel, and Carlos Romao have risen to the top tiers of the game. Considering the support network down here, it’s not surprising. As far as Magic goes, it’s easy to see why Brazil is effectively the King of Latin America.

     

  • Round 5 Feature Match: Manuel Bucher (Elementals) Versus Paulo Martinello (Black-Green Elves)
    by Bill Stark
  • Manuel Bucher is a Swiss world traveler famous for popularizing the Quik ‘N Toast deck that spawned Five Color Control in Standard. He’s also well known for testing with Patrick Chapin and for attending nearly every event on the Pro Tour calendar. Paulo Martinello, his opponent for the round, was an up and coming Brazilian player. He was looking to defend the Feature Match home turf and mar Bucher’s unblemished X-0 record.

    Paulo Martinello makes his Feature Match debut.
    Thoughtseize followed by Wren’s Run Vanquisher was how Paulo Martinello decided to start his game off against Bucher. He needed to rely on some disruption followed by a swift assault to keep Manuel from stalling the game long enough to get his Elementals engine online. That would mean Horde of Notions endlessly returning Fulminator Mages, Mulldrifters, and/or Shriekmaws at the Swiss pro’s slightest whim. Loxodon Warhammer and Imperious Perfect jumped to the cause for Martinello, and by the time he started his fourth turn, Manuel Bucher was at just 3 life from his opponent’s overwhelming board position.

    Incandescent Soulstoke stood the ground for Manuel, who also played a Flamekin Harbinger to find Nameless Inversion. The wily pro would need some help to escape his opponent’s very aggressive early start, but his face was blank as to whether he considered it possible to survive the predicament he was in. When Paulo activated both a Treetop Village and Mutavault to join his already impressive team, Bucher decided to concede from a position that had become unwinnable.

    Paulo Martinello 1, Manuel Bucher 0

    Wren’s Run Vanquisher from Paulo Martinello was dispatched by an evoked Shriekmaw from the Manuel Bucher portion of the table and Game 2 was under way! When Paulo tried Imperious Perfect, Manuel one-upped him playing Ranger of Eos. The two parried back and forth, looking for any advantage.

    Wily pro Manuel Bucher tries to dispatch his Brazilian opponent.

    Bucher’s Ranger had searched up Flamekin Harbinger and Soul Warden, and the Soul Warden immediately started building a life cushion for Manuel while the Harbinger searched up a Mulldrifter for the top of the European player’s deck. The 1/1 then traded in combat with Ranger of Eos for his opponent’s Wren’s Run Vanquisher, pumped to 4/4 by Imperious Perfect. Reveillark hit the board after that for Manuel, and things started looking bad for Paulo. He couldn’t profitably hit his opponent in the red zone, which meant he’d have to find some other way of dealing with Bucher’s team. An evoked Reveillark for Manuel netted him his Mulldrifter ad Flamekin Harbigner back.

    It was the little Soul Warden that could, pumping and pumping Manuel’s life total. When Paulo tried an attack featuring Putrid Leech and a pumped Chameleon Colossus, Bucher took it all...and fell to 24. He then turned the tables with Horde of Notions and Reveillark, forcing Paulo to use removal on the 5/5 Horde. Martinello tried to find a way out of what seemed like impending doom, with his deck being outdrawn nearly two-to-one thanks to Manuel’s impressive card advantage machine. When the Swiss player dropped Incandescent Soulstoke to pump the portion of his team that flew, the two players were off to the rubber game as Martinello could only watch, helplessly.

    Paulo Martinello 1, Manuel Bucher 1

    An army of Elves were the opening plays for both players in the final game of the match. Martinello had triple copies of Llanowar Elves before finding Chameleon Colossus to play, while his opponent had Bloom Tender. That accelerated out an Incandescent Soultoke and a Smokebraider, possibly spelling trouble for Paulo. He needed to take advantage of his board lead, and to do so quickly.

    Paulo made an attack with his Chameleon Colossus, and Manuel opted not to block. Martinello pumped his 4/4 once, then again, representing lethal damage. At that point, Manuel stopped the game, unclear about the amount of mana his opponent had access to. They called a judge to verify whether or not Paulo had played a land before combat. Had the Brazilian made a misleading play? Or had the seasoned pro simply mis-calculated the amount of mana his opponent had access to? Either way the situation was going to be sticky, with one player very unsatisfied with the results.

    When head judge Scott Marshall returned to give his verdict, he ruled that Paulo had played the land before combat, and that the Colossus was unblocked and 16/16. The tapped out Bucher was dead to rights; an unexpected finish to the match!

    Paulo Martinello 2, Manuel Bucher 1

     

  • Blog: 17:30 – Putting the Super in Super FNM
    by Bill Stark
  • Public Events are one of the most exciting aspects of any big tournament. Regardless of how well you do in the main event (or, in the case of Nationals, Worlds, and Pro Tours, whether you qualified for said event in the first place), you can find plenty of matches to play in Public Events tournaments. A recurring theme for Premier Events of late has been a “Super FNM” held on Friday night; picture your tried and true Friday Night Magic times ten. Some Super FNMs have hosted nearly a hundred players, and the prizes are generally more significant than what you’d find at your local store’s outing.

    So, how did Devir LTDA., hosts of Grand Prix-Sao Paolo, set out to distinguish their Super FNM from the other great Super FNMs held at Premier Events around the world? By taking the concept of the Friday Night Magic foil to a whole new level:

    Taking Super FNM to a whole new level...

    No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That’s a collection of every Friday Night Magic promotional foil that has ever been handed out. The framed collection was awarded to the winner of the big event in Sao Paolo. The prize features staples like Duress, Kird Ape, Silver Knight, Mulldrifter, and dozens of others and has been responsible for more than a few wide-eyed stares throughout the weekend. It’s on display for the duration of the Grand Prix and is proof positive that even if you don’t do so well in the main event, there are still plenty of awesome things to do at Premier Events.

     

  • Round 6 Feature Match – Willy Edel (B/G Elves) vs. Eduardo Sella (5-color Cascade)
    by Nate Price
  • This match marks our first all-Brazilian feature match of the weekend. To my left, Willy Edel, a well established Brazilian Pro Player donning a turtleneck from Pro Tour-Geneva sat stoically awaiting his opponent to make the first move. That man, Eduardo Sella did not seem the least bit fazed by Edel’s display of previous success. After all, every player wishing to make a name for themselves must start somewhere. You can’t be the best in the world until you are the best in your own backyard. Sella is an up-and-comer, but he hasn’t quite had the same mainstream success as the man across the table.

    Sella let Edel’s deck do much of the hard work for him in the first game. Though he had mulliganned himself, he was starting a card up on Edel, who was forced to mulligan twice. A Vivid March powered up a Reflecting Pool for Sella on the second turn. Edel had a pair of his own lands that come into play untapped in a pair of Treetop Villages. Sella had a Fulminator Mage for one of them, leaving Edel on a lone Village and Forest. When he played a Bloodbraid Elf on the next turn, the cascade brought a Grixis Charm bounced the Village back, dropping Edel to just that Forest. An Incendiary Command took the Village out for good, and Edel was against the wall.

    What to take...what to take...

    A Gilt-Leaf Palace got him a source of black mana for a Thoughtseize that stripped Sella of another Fulminator Mage before it could take out the Palace. It revealed a Jace Beleren as Sella’s other card, though, and the powerful planeswalker hit the table on the next turn and started his card advantage dance. When Edel tried to Nameless Inversion the Elf on the next turn, Sella had a Boomerang to save it. It crashed down again, and hit another copy of Boomerang to return Edel’s Palace to his hand. All Edel could do was replay it and use it to drop a Putrid Leech into play. Sella untapped, played a second Bloodbraid Elf and, when the cascade revealed a Grixis Charm to remove the blocker, Edel conceded.

    At this point, you’d expect me to write that Eduardo Sella was up 1-0. However, you apparently failed to take into account that apparently the round clock hadn’t started yet and no one, myself, the table judge, and the mass of people around, had noticed. According to the head judge, the game didn’t count. This brought the entire feature match area, including Sella, into a roar of laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so amused that his game win didn’t count.

    After a bit of shuffling, the players and tournament staff were finally on the same page.

    “Ok, so starting now,” Edel asked the judge? When he got the affirmative, he wisecracked, “You sure,” which drew a few laughs from his Sella and the gathered crowd?

    No, Willy, technically this is Game 1.

    This second game started out in a completely different fashion from the first. Edel came blasting out the gates with a Putrid Leech and a Wren’s Run Vanquisher revealing a soon-to-come Chameleon Colossus. Sella was desperate to avoid this, and aimed a Fulminator Mage at Edel’s Treetop Village, killing two birds with one stone. He followed this up by getting a Bloodbraid Elf to cascade into a Grixis Charm, killing the Putrid Leech. Edel’s following Thoughtseize was like a two-for-one, snagging a Bloodbraid Elf from a hand containing a Captured Sunlight, Incendiary Command, and Cryptic Command. Sella untapped and played a Captured Sunlight, which cascaded into a Jace Beleren, who immediately protected himself by letting both players draw a card. Even planeswalkers aren’t immune to the Maelstrom Pulse, though, and Jace went to the bin accompanied by a popping sound from Edel. When Edel tried to play a Putrid Leech on the following turn, Sella had a Cryptic Command to counter it and return his Elf to his hand. This let him replay it and cascade into a Grixis Charm to kill the Vanquisher.

    A Kitchen Finks stopped the bleeding for Edel, but he was still a bit behind. He had yet to draw a fourth land and Sella managed to put him down to two with a Fulminator Mage from a Captured Sunlight. Edel had a replacement, as well as a second Finks to bring him back up to 14. Sella dropped the hammer on the next turn, though. His Cruel Ultimatum completely swung the game. Despite working from the top of his deck, Edel managed to find himself a third copy of Kitchen Finks to slow the beats down. Two copies of Fulminator Mage gave a hint of inevitability to Sella, and his men were now dual threats, just like Edel’s Fink army.

    An Incendiary Command dropped Edel to two lands and only six life. A Deny Reality on the following turn cascaded into a Boomerang that removed Edel’s only blockers from the equation. With the path now clear, it only took Sella one swing to make sure that I actually got to write the line:

    Willy Edel 0 – Eduardo Sella 1

    Sella is in Command.

    For game 2(3?), Edel started off quickly. Llanowar Elves ramped into an Imperious Perfect, which was joined a couple of turns later by both a second Perfect and a Wren’s Run Vanquisher. A Thoughtseize was tossed in there for good measure revealing a hand that had no answers to that quick of a start, save for what a Bloodbraid Elf might cascade into. Not wanting to risk anything, Edel denied Sella the chance to see what would come up. Sella was forced to make and chump with a Fulminator Mage to stay alive and kill a Mutavault. On the following turn, he had to blow a Cryptic Command to tap Edel’s men for a turn. Edel even managed to have the Thoughtseize to strip Sella of a Bituminous Blast to prevent any cascade shenanigans.

    Edel had been using 4/4 Dragon tokens for his elves up to this point. When he played his third Perfect on the following turn, they actually got there and Sella knew he was toast.

    Willy Edel 1 – Eduardo Sella 1

    The second game was like a totally different match than the first. Edel came out of the gates blaring and Sella’s slower deck was hard pressed to find the cards needed to slow him down. For this final game, Sella was going first and Edel was down a card. Things appeared to be on his side.

    Edel seems happy to take Game 3...or four...however you want to look at it.

    A second-turn Thoughtseize from Edel caused him to sigh a little when he saw two Captured Sunlights, Grixis Charm, Cruel Ultimatum, and Wrath of God. Sella wasn’t going to be playing the aggressor this game. Edel finally settled on the Grixis Charm before adding a Mutavault to his team. Sella was stuck on three lands and Edel went to punish him with a Chameleon Colossus. A fourth land still refused to show, and Sella just passed the turn. Edel added a Kitchen Finks to his side, giving him yet another way to get around the impending Wrath of God.

    Considering Sella’s deck’s unwillingness to cough up a fourth land, it was fairly unnecessary. All he could muster was a Fulminator Mage to block the Finks and trade with the Mutavault. All it took was one more swing and one more draw step with no land and Sella conceded another fairly anti-climactic game.

    Willy Edel 2 – Eduardo Sella 1

     

  • Blog: 17:50 – Playing the Field
    by Nate Price
  • Deck selection is an incredibly important part of success on the upper tiers of play. As a season progresses, the representation of a particular deck may wax or wane depending on how the rest of the format reacts to it. I wandered around the room trying to get an idea of how some of the pros plan to deal with some of the major players in this current Standard metagame.

    What deck or cards would you plan on playing if you knew the metagame was going to be primarily:

    Cascade Swans

    Most Pro’s were pretty uniform in their acceptance of this being a good matchup for Faeries. Antti Malin took it a step further saying “It’s good Game 1.” After Game 1, they get to bring in the fun sideboard cards, like additional Volcanic Fallouts and the like and things get much hairier. Da Rosa also pointed out that Pithing Needle is pretty ok against a deck that repeatedly needs to use an activated ability.



    Faeries

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is the uncrowned king of Faeries, and he admits that the Black/Red Blightning deck is good against Faeries, but it’s bad against anything else. He went on to explain that it’s actually not too difficult to add cards to your maindeck to make it more prepared for Faeries. Just toss a couple of Cloudthreshers, Bitterblossoms, or Volcanic Fallouts if you aren’t already packing them and they’ll help you deal with most of the deck;s major threats. Antti Malin believes that a good deck to play in a Faeries heavy environment is the Jund-based aggro deck. It’s just got such good, quick threats as well as the card advantage from the cascade to back it up.



    Jund Aggro

    Speaking of the Jund aggro deck, none of the players I talked to could really say anything bad about the deck. It seemed pretty solid and fairly well respected, though no one seemed too afraid of it.



    Kithkin

    Perhaps the best response I got to asking about a Kithkin heavy metagame was from Antti Malin. He just pointed to his deck. He had just gotten done playing against a Kithkin deck with his Turboelf deck when I caught up to him. According to him, he didn’t even need to sideboard. The only card he really feared was Wrath of God, but it almost hurts them as much as you, and you recover better.



    5c cascade control / Sygg / Bloodbraid Control

    This was another one where players just didn’t have too much to say. The types of decks are just so diverse that coming up with a solid answer to cover them all was like asking for a beer in a beergarden: you could get a million answers, none of which would really be wrong.



    B/W Tokens

    For this deck, absolutely everyone agreed that Swans was the way to go. In fact, if Calafel’s performance was anything to go by, Swans just owns the token deck. It’s just too fast and effectively relies on a different clock than the Tokens deck is using. Factor in that the Tokens deck doesn’t really have any disruption for the combo and you have a clear victor.

     

  • Round 7 Feature Match: Raphael Levy (Doran) Versus Manuel Bucher (Elementals)
    by Bill Stark
  • It was a battle of visiting titans as Grand Prix-Sao Paolo competitors sat down for the seventh round of play. Hall of Famer Raphael Levy was paired against traveling partner (for this Grand Prix, anyway) Manuel Bucher. Earlier in the day a colossal misunderstanding had led to an even more colossal mis-play for Bucher, and he suffered his first loss of the tournament under the bright lights of the Feature Match stage. Levy, meanwhile, had lost his fourth round match and was looking to stay at X-1 against a tough opponent.

    The Hall of Famer won the die roll and quickly applied the beatdown. Qasali Pridemage was joined by Knotvine Paladin, and when Bucher tried to fight back with an Incandescent Soulstoke, Raphael was at the ready with Nameless Inversion. Manuel wasn’t out of the game yet, however. He worked to catch back up with Ranger of Eos fetching double Soul Warden. The 1/1 had proved to be a techy choice on the weekend, gaining Bucher an inordinate amount of life every time it hit the table.

    Hall of Famer Raphael Levy.
    Doran, the Siege Tower hit the board for the French Hall of Famer, but Levy was starting to fall behind as he missed a few land drops. In play he had three pain lands, one of which was Murmuring Bosk, and his own manabase was inadvertently keeping the race close. Meanwhile Manuel “went off” playing a number of creatures on his turn with double Soul Warden. That meant he was gaining two life per creature he played, a not insignificant amount of life gain in a race situation.

    Maelstrom Pulse from Raphael took out his opponent’s Soul Wardens, but Manuel got right back into things playing Flamekin Harbinger to tutor up a Reveillark for the top of his library, then hardcasting a second copy of the 4/3. Attacking had just become exceedingly awkward for Raphael Levy. He pondered what to do on his own turn. At long lost the Frenchman decided to play Dauntless Escort, then passed the turn. It was a key tipping point for Manuel Bucher, who was threatening to take control of the game with double Reveillark, stalling the board and grinding out overwhelming advantage against his opponent to take the victory lap in his second tour of the Feature Match table on the weekend.

    Still unable to get through in the red zone, Levy played a Treefolk Harbinger and Qasali Pridemage, but could only watch as Manuel evoked his second Reveillark, getting back both copies of his Soul Wardens from the graveyard. He then played Flamekin Harbinger and Smokebraider, gaining 6 life total from the series of plays, and searched up a Horde of Notions. With the window of opportunity quickly closing, Levy played Wilt-Leaf Liege, then sent his team into the red zone. Bucher did some math, made his blocks, and took 0 damage from the attack after his creatures died and he was able to put more into play from Reveillark, gaining 4 life from his Soul Wardens.

    The following turn Raphael Levy looked at the top of his deck, didn’t find an answer to the hopelessly clogged board, and conceded the game in the face of overwhelming pressure.

    “I haven’t won a Game 1 yet!” Levy said as they moved to their sideboards.

    Manuel Bucher 1, Raphael Levy 0

    A Harbinger was the first play of the game, not for Manuel Bucher’s Elementals deck but for his opponent’s, who opened on the 0/3 Treefolk Harbinger. Levy used the card to hunt up a Murmuring Bosk and played a second copy of the Harbinger on his second turn hunting down a Doran, the Siege Tower. Meanwhile Manuel had played a Soul Warden on his first turn, then followed it up with Bloom Tender. He was hoping to accelerate out to something explosive, and steal an early win.

    Doran hit play for Levy, then Wilt-Leaf Liege on the following turn and he was able to use his green team to knock Manuel to 11. Bucher continued working his Soul Warden and Bloom Tender combo to play out powerful spells. After Mulldrifter he played Smokebraider, then a Reveillark. The 4/3 Lark was a big problem for Levy in the first game, and it certainly hadn’t gotten worse in the second. Raphael made an all-in attack, dropping Manuel to 1, but the Reveillark quickly bumped the Swiss native up to 3 as it returned two other chump blockers to play upon dying.

    A Path to Exile from Raphael answered Bucher’s second Reveillark, and Levy’s beefy brigade of Treefolk threatened to bring the Manuel house down if he didn’t act quickly. When he found no help awaiting him on top of his library, Bucher called it a game.

    Raphael Levy 1, Manuel Bucher 1

    Both players spent their first turns playing Harbingers, Bucher dropping Flamekin Harbinger into play and searching up a Smokebraider while Levy went with Treefolk Harbinger and found himself a Nameless Inversion. The tribal instant allowed Raphael to kill his opponent’s mana accelerator on the second turn, and Levy was soon beating down the gates with his Harbinger pumped by Doran, the Siege Tower. When he used Maelstrom Pulse to kill Bucher’s freshly cast Incandescent Soulstoke, the Swiss player seemed to be in a bit of a tight spot.

    Globetrotting Grand Prix guru Manuel Bucher.
    Looking to dig out of it, Manuel evoked Mulldrifter to find himself some action. He couldn’t afford to play anything else for the turn, however, and passed only to chump block Doran with Flamekin Harbinger. Levy continued pressing his advantage, using his three lands to play Knotvine Paladin and a second Treefolk Harbinger before passing the turn. Bucher took the initiative to play Ranger of Eos, fetching twin copies of Soul Warden, and tapped out to play all the creatures on his turn.

    Levy did some math, then attacked Bucher to 1 after Manuel sacrificed Ranger of Eos and one of his Soul Wardens as chump blockers. Noble Hierarch and Dauntless Escort were Levy’s post-combat plays, and it wasn’t looking good for Manuel. An evoked Reveillark bought him some time thanks to Mulldrifter and his second Soul Warden coming back into play, but Levy seemed nonplussed playing Wilt-Leaf Liege and turning his monstrous team sideways. Bucher chumped to survive the turn, but lost his team in doing so and was sitting on not many outs to pull it off. He drew his card for his turn, shuffled his hand around, then accepted his fate. Out of answers, he extended his hand to his friend.

    Raphael Levy 2, Manuel Bucher 1

     

  • Blog: 20:34 – It Pays to do Your Homework
    by Bill Stark
  • The world’s best know when you sit down to play a match at a Grand Prix-level event, you should use a pen and paper to track life totals, notate why life changed, shuffle your deck and your opponent’s sufficiently, and come to the table well rested and tested. Making the extra effort to do these things will prevent mistakes that can cost you games or matches and have taken many a player on successful professional journeys to Magic events all over the world. This weekend, two pros found out one more thing they’ll have to do to avoid needless penalties: verify who they’re supposed to play against each round.

    The mistake is a simple one that any Magic player is capable of making. You rush to the pairings, see where your seat number is, and sit down to your match. What you fail to realize is that you actually looked at the wrong number, instead sitting down in the seat of the player listed just below you on the pairings. Under normal circumstances that situation would naturally correct itself as the player whose seat you are in shows up to play his or her match, wondering why you’re where they’re supposed to be. But what happens if they make the same mistake as you, and sit down in your chair?

    The consequences for such a mistake are harsh: a game loss as the round begins for not being in your seat (being in “a seat” is not the same as being in “your” seat!) and, if the match progresses for ten minutes or more, a second game loss. That’s the situation the two pros found themselves in, and they left the match with easily avoidable losses souring their previously unblemished records.

    The moral of the story? When you check your seating before sitting down for a round, verify both your seat number and the name of your opponent. Then, when you sit down, you can check that the person sitting across from you is the person you’re supposed to play. It’s a simple means of preventing the same fate as other, less cautious players who have come before you. When the head judge Scott Marshall finally issued his ruling, he determined that Paulo had played the land before combat and that Manuel would take lethal damage from the 16/16 Colossus. An unbelievable end to the match!

    Paulo Martinello 2, Manuel Bucher 0

     

  • Round 8 Feature Match – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Faeries) vs. Victor Rossini (B/W tokens)
    by Nate Price
  • The closer an event gets to an elimination round, the greater the chance you will start to see some elimination matches in the Feature Match area. With only nine rounds today, this seemed like as good a time as any to start. Especially considering that Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, who has become the modern face of Brazilian Magic has managed to drop two matches and now sits on the verge of elimination. It’s up to Victor Rossinito to take down a hometown legend if he wants a chance at his turn in the spotlight.

    Unfortunately, Rossini started about as behind as a person could feasibly be. He had to mulligan four successive no land hands down to a three-card hand that contained a Mutavault as its only source of mana. His second source was a Fetid Heath which his Mutavault couldn’t turn on.

    Da Rosa can’t take pleasure in beating up on a man who mulled to three.

    Wile he scraped to try and simply get on the board, da Rosa was in full swing with a pair of Scion of Oonas and a Jace Beleren. When Rossini finally scored an Arcane Sanctum for mana, da Rosa used a Cryptic Command to deny his Bitterblossom. Hopefully, Rossini would be able to vindicate a savaging at the hands of the variance inherent in Magic.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – Victor Rossini 0

    Despite his bad luck, Rossini never spoke out or complained. His voice was a little tight, but good players tend to accept the game for what it is and recognize that things like that are a part of this game we love.

    Da Rosa got on the board first with a second-turn seing from a Mutavault. A Thoughtseize stole a Scion of Oona from a grip also containing a Jace Beleren and Cryptic Command. The planeswalker came down on the following turn for da Rosa and he went right up to five loyalty. A Spectral Procession followed from Rossini, but the Bitterblossom that he tried to cast on the following turn met a Cryptic Command that also killed a token. A second Procession soon followed, leaving da Rosa facing down five fliers. He played a Thoughtseize to reveal another Procession and a Cloudgoat Ranger. He chose to take the Procession, took the last counter off his Jace, and passed the turn.

    Rossini has a procession of Processions.

    The Cloudgoat Ranger didn’t make it any further than the stack. Paulo’s Cryptic Command took care of it and gained him a card in the process. He then played a Bitterblossom and used his new faerie to power a Peppersmoke. A Thoughtseize from Rossini showed a second Jace as well as two new copies of Scion of Oona. One of the faeries hit the bin and Rossini swung da Rosa down to six. He had four fliers in play, but da Rosa was gaining on him. His Bitterblossom spat out the first blocker, dropping him to five. He chose to attack with the Scion of Oona that he played at the end of Rossini’s turn, signaling an incoming Crytpic Command. Sure enough, when Rossini tried to send his fliers on the next turn, da Rosa stopped them cold with a Command.

    By this point, da Rosa was down to three, but he had the flier advantage now, thanks to his Scion of Oona. As long as he found a Cryptic Command or Mistbind Clique in the next few cards, he would steal this game back from Rossini. Rossini attempted a Kitchen Finks, which brought a long counting session from da Rosa. He didn’t have an immediate way to deal with the Bitterblossom in play, and he needed to be able to play the Scion of Oona in his hand in order to swing for the win. The Finks pushed Rossini’s life total higher than da Rosa could deal with, and da Rosa’s only counter wasa Broken Ambitions, which he couldn’t use to counter the finks and play the Scion. Instead, he chose to Ambitions it for enough to tap Rossini out and then clash away a card that didn’t help him. This left him with enough mana to play the Scion at the end of Rossini’s turn. Between the clash (he dumped a useless land), his draw step, and Jace, he found what he was looking for. A massive swing and another Scion of Oona ended things, keeping da Rosa alive for at least one more round.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2 – Victor Rossini 0

     

  • Blog: 22:30 – Live from Sao Paulo, It’s Saturday Night!
    by Nate Price
  • Magic is an ever evolving game. That’s a major contributing factor to what has made the game so immensely popular. Things just refuse to get stale. As of right now, there are over 10,000 individual Magic cards that have seen the light of print. That’s an absurd number. I remember back in the day when I first learned how to play (read: made up my own rules). Unlimited was the most recent release. In my mind, Pirate ship was worth way more than Tropical Island. After all, it had to be rarer. How else could I explain the three Tropical Islands I had, but no Pirate Ships to sail around them in? It was a lonely Island. There were only a couple hundred cards to keep track of, and they were simple.

    Except for Word of Command. Screw that card.

    And Raging River, too.

    And banding.

    Alas, time has passed and a Brazilian new cards have come out with wondrous new abilities like Morph, Cascade, and Horsemanship. I’ve grown into a much smarter player (note I didn’t say better), and now I have learned to appreciate those cards. Raging River is a benchmark in flavorful design. Banding is an absolute powerhouse ability in the base set and under the original rules. Word of Command is...still confusing. Seriously, screw that card.

    Anyway, during my time, I’ve developed a fondness, nay, a love for Drafting that supersedes all else. It is hands down my favorite way to play Magic. Ten years ago, the concept of busting a pack for anything other than to add to my collection would have frightened and confused my like some unfrozen caveman lawyer, but I have evolved as a Magic player, and I am sad I missed the chance.

    Luckily for the players here at Grand Prix-Sao Paulo, they have the prescription for that fever, and it ain’t no cowbell. What did you do on Saturday night? Me? I watched an Italian Revised Sealed deck. And it was awesome.

    Volcanic Island, Serra Angel, and Fireball? How lucky!

    I’ve always found that the nostalgia factor of Magic reminds me a lot of that of Saturday Night Live. Just like in Magic, the cast is in perpetual flux. And, just as in Magic, the particular cast that drew you in has a special hold on your heart. For me, it was that first pack of Unlimited and the SNL cast from the late 80’s and early 90’s featuring Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, David Spade, etc. In my mind, they were both epic.

    What I’ve learned about Magic, is that, as time passes, the cards becoming more powerful makes the older stuff defunct. That doesn’t happen in comedy. Grizzly Bears wouldn’t last ten seconds in a world that Ashcoat Bears couldn’t conquer. Shivan Dragon (not my baby!), meet Flameblast Dragon. In addition, there are a few cards that were so overpowered that they had to have their power levels reduced as time went on (I’m looking at you Dark Ritual). That’s more like the relationship I’m used to seeing in comedy. The older masters served as inspiration for future generations, but rarely became defunct. There will never be another Richard Pryor in the same way there will never be another Swords to Plowshares (sorry Chris Rock and Path to Exile; I love you both, but you just aren’t the same).

    Pestilence is always good.

    Tonight, though, the old stars came alive. The overpowered goodies got to run alongside the destined-for-obscurity baddies. Firebreathing Hurloon Minotaurs failed to melt Walls of Ice. I saw a Benalish Hero die to Balance. I saw an obscenely large Braingeyser. I love drawring! Things were right in the universe. At least all but one thing. I was forced to cover the event instead of playing in it. I’ll have to wait until another day to get my chance. Regardless, everything I’ve reported here is true. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

     

  • Round 9 Feature Match: Gaudenis Vidugiris (Faeries) Versus Marcos Paulo de Jesus (Black-White Kithkin)
    by Bill Stark
  • Again and again the Feature Match area had seen the same matchup throughout play Saturday: a local Brazilian player battling to make good against a visiting pro. For the ninth and final round of play, the story was the same but this time there was even more on the line. With Gaudenis Vidugiris and Marcos Paulo de Jesus both sitting at two losses, they were playing an elimination match. The winner would go on to compete on the second day of play while the loser would be off to sleeping in and Public Events. A whole new level of pressure was added to the contest for both combatants.

    Brazilian Marcos Paulo de Jesus tries to hold on to compete in Day 2.
    It was 1/1 token fliers taking the lead for each player as Gaudenis Vidugiris started on double Bitterblossom while his opponent opened on Windbrisk Heights and Spectral Procession. When Vidugiris tried to Mistbind Clique de Jesus on the upkeep of the Brazilian’s fourth turn, Marcos was ready with Path to Exile to RFG the 4/4. He then spent the rest of his turn attacking his American opponent to 14 and playing a second Spectral Procession.

    Gaudenis, who fell to 12 on his upkeep at the hands of his dual Bitterblossoms, considered his options for the turn. He needed to stay in the race against his opponent, and come out ahead before his own Bitterblossoms killed him. He attacked for 5 with a Mutavault and some Faeries, then watched as Marcos fired back with an attack for 4, a Figure of Destiny, a Goldmeadow Stalwart, and a Wizened Cenn. Vidugiris used Cryptic Command to tap his opponent’s team and draw a card, then fell to 6 on his upkeep from Bitterblossom.

    “You’re at 12, correct?” Gaudenis verified as he took his turn against a completely tapped out Marcos Paulo de Jesus. When the Brazilian confirmed that fact, Gaudenis flipped a Scion of Oona into play, then attacked for exactly 13, taking the first game seemingly from out of nowhere.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 1, Marcos Paulo de Jesus 0

    Marcos kicked off the second game aggressively, playing a first-turn Goldmeadow Stalwart that revealed a second copy in his hand. Gaudenis fired right back, however, playing a Swamp and using it to cast Deathmark on his opponent’s 2/2. Paulo de Jesus followed up with the second copy of the 2/2, then played a Spectral Procession on his third turn. Combined with the Windbrisk Heights he had played on his second, it was a powerful start even through the Deathmark.

    While Gaudenis played nothing for two turns, Marcos played a Wizened Cenn, then bashed into his opponent’s open board. When Vidugiris tried to block the Cenn with a Mutavault, Marcos had Zealous Persecution at the ready, and all Gaudenis could do was Peppersmoke a Procession token in response. The attack put him at just 4 life, but he had Infest on his turn to reset the game and buy himself some time.

    Marcos wasn’t impressed. He reloaded with Cloudgoat Ranger, playing an army inside just one card, and when he moved to attack with said forces, had Path to Exile to prevent Gaudenis from playing Mistbind Clique removing his Mutavault. The match was tied.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 1, Marcos Paulo de Jesus 1

    The crowd of onlookers leaned in to support their local hero Marcos as the two players shuffled for the final game of their match, but things didn’t start off well for him. Gaudenis had a second-turn Bitterblossom while Marcos had neither a first, nor second-turn play. To get ahead in the matchup, he definitely wanted to try to put early pressure on his opponent, but as Gaudenis added Jace Beleren to his Bitterblossom, it looked like it was him who was coming out of the early game strongest.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris tries to pad his Pro level by advancing to Day 2.
    Spectral Procession hit play for the Brazilian side of the table, but when Marcos tried to follow it up with Ajani Goldmane, Vidugiris was ready with Broken Ambitions. He even managed to tap his mana craftily around Sunken Ruins and a lone Island to use Peppersmoke on one of Paulo de Jesus’ Procession tokens. Falling further and further behind on the board, Marcos decided to try to get back into things. He attacked with his remaining tokens the following turn then, before blockers, played Zealous Persecution. Gaudenis used Spellstutter Sprite to counter the spell, but in response Marcos played a second copy of the card. Vidugiris was ready for that as well, using a second Sprite to counter that, again with enough mana to Peppersmoke one of his opponent’s creatures. The turn was devastating for Marcos, who was left with just land on the board.

    Gaudenis started to go on the warpath, attacking Marcos to bring the score to 15-13 in the American’s favor. When Vidugiris tried to Mistbind Clique his opponent the following turn, however, Paulo de Jesus was ready with Path to Exile. Still, for the Brazilian to advance, he needed to find some big time help waiting for him on top of his deck. He had Knight of Meadowgrain and Wizened Cenn, but his opponent was very far ahead in cards thanks to Peppersmokes and Jace. Vidugiris had Terror and Deathmark to deal with his oppoent’s creatures, then attacked Marcos to 4 and played a Mistbind Clique on Marcos’ upkeep. When the Brazilian didn’t have another Path to Exile to keep his lands untapped and kill the 4/4, his tournament at Grand Prix-Sao Paolo came to an end.

    Gaudenis Vidugiris 2, Marcos Paulo de Jesus 1

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