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Day 2 Grand Prix São Paulo Coverage

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The letter T!he sun has risen over a misty autumn morning here at Clube Athletico Juventus in São Paulo, Brazil. 315 teams began this tournament with hopes of becoming the next Team Grand Prix champions, but only 40 survived the cut to Day 2. Leading the pack are the trio of Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, and Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez, the lone undefeated team. Snapping at their heels are the likes of Americans Armando Bulnes, Stephen Berrios, and Ian Farnung, as well as the strong Brazilian trio of Carlos dos Santos Esteves, Guilherme Merjan, and Tulio Jaudy, all sitting with one loss on the day. There are some other big names bringing up the rear, but still in the hunt, most notably the Argentinean powerhouses Sebastian Pozzo, Javier Luna, and Nicolas de Nicola, and the top Brazilian squad featuring Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, (23) Willy Edel, and Allison Abe.

Today will consist of five more rounds of Team Sealed Deck featuring brand new decks and a new lease on life for players, like da Rosa and crew, who felt that their opens yesterday were... lacking. After those five rounds, the top four teams will be paired up for Team Booster Drafts, with the winners of each Semifinal match drafting one final time to determine the eventual winner.











 

  • Saturday, 9:30 p.m. – Building a Community: Interview with Willy Edel

    by Nate Price

  • The letter W!hen you think of Brazilian Magic, the first name that leaps to mind in most cases is the Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. It's easy to understand why. His numbers have been astronomical and his rise meteoric. He absolutely dominated the Pro Tour and Grand Prix circuit like few players before him had. He is, in every sense of the phrase, a Hall of Famer.

    Past PV, I'm hoping that the next name that popped into your head was Willy Edel's. Edel is a bit of an enigma on the Pro Tour. He has been around seemingly forever, but he unfortunately often goes recognized as the Brazilian player who isn't PV. This belies his incredibly strong and steady performances, including six Grand Prix and four Pro Tour Top 8s and a number of other very near misses. It also fails to fully grasp just how important Edel has been to Brazilian Magic, and how different things would be if he had taken a different path.


    Willy Edel: A pillar of Brazilian Magic.

    "I used to play RPGs when I was like fifteen or sixteen," Edel told me, "but I always disliked that you didn't have a winner. You play for fun and everything, and I've always been a very competitive guy. One day at my RPG store, I saw some guys playing this new competitive card game, so I asked them to learn, they taught me, and here we are. It was like 19 years ago."

    Like many of the professional Magic players I've spoken to over the years, Edel's competitive streak is what really pulled him to the game, and it took him a bit of time to get up to speed.

    "My Pro debut was Pro Tour New York in 2000, the team event," he told me. "I went to the PTQ, which at the time didn't offer flights. At the time there was no help, like sponsorship or anything, so PTQs in Brazil were more like just a big event. Instead of a local event with like 30 people, they were little more than a bigger event with close to 100 people. But I ended up qualifying and deciding to go with two friends. Neither of the guys I teamed with had ever been to the US before, so their fathers helped them to come up with the money for them to take the trip. We have so much fun! If I'm not mistaken we went 3-3 and lost playing for Day 2 in the last round, but it was still an amazing experience. My second Pro Tour wasn't until 2005. I tried for five years to qualify again (I was so bad at the time), but I kept improving and kept improving. The Internet was starting to become a great tool for Magic at that time. We had The Dojo and several other websites, so I was able to improve, and, in 2005, I made the Brazilian National team and played at Worlds. Then in 2006, I qualified for Charleston and have managed to keep it up since then."


    Edel's first Brazilian national team in 2005. It would not be his last.

    Edel knows firsthand how difficult it can be to make it to the Pro Tour, especially from Latin America, and he knows how difficult it can be to stay there. Perhaps the biggest contribution he has made to the Latin American Magic community has been to offer himself as a resource for all of the players that manage to win their qualification, but have no idea how to make what was once nothing but a dream a reality. Many of the things that go into a Pro Tour or Grand Prix trip are things we take for granted, like knowing how to book a flight or hotel. With a limited number of Latin American Grand Prix and such a small number of PTQs, many of the Latin American players simply don't know how to Pro Tour.

    "I know pretty much every single Brazilian player that wants to win a PTQ, and most of them are my friends," Edel smiled. "I've been on the Tour since pretty much 2005 with very few interruptions, and any time someone has won a PTQ, they come straight for me. 'How can I book my flight?' 'What about a hotel or renting a car?' They aren't sure what to do because they've never had to do this before. So I started teaching them. Magic in Brazil has really grown. We used to just have one PTQ a season, now we get five. If Magic had more post-player careers, I think I would like to be a coach. I really enjoy teaching. Not just teaching how to play Magic, but how to properly behave yourself, how to carry yourself at the next level. I just love teaching things like this to my friends."

    Beyond simply preparing players for the logistics of the Pro Tour, Edel has worked hard to ensure that not just Brazilians, but every Latin American player has access to all of the resources and the highest level of play the region has to offer. Much like Team MTG Mint Card has consolidated the top-level talent of Southeast Asia under one banner, Edel has visions of getting the best players Latin America has to offer to compete with each other to raise their game to the next level.

    "I think my biggest goal right now is to get as many Brazilian players and other Latin American players to work together as I can," Edel explained. "In two years, I'd love to see like five or six Latin American players making Gold or Platinum, because right now, it's really only me. Opening my store has made things much easier for everyone, as well. For example, for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, nobody had any Journey into Nyx cards. Nobody had packs to draft. So I went to my store and grabbed eight playsets of everything and plenty of product for people to draft with."

    Players from North America and Europe, with much larger player bases, often don't quite grasp how difficult it can be to consistently make it to the Pro Tour for players from the Latin American region. Since the number of tournaments a region gets is determined by the active player base, Latin America's smaller player base means that there are a smaller number of chances to hit the big time here. As Grand Prix are a major method of players making it to the lowest rungs of the Pro Player club, thereby earning Pro Tour invites, it can be very difficult to make it to enough tournaments to accrue the points required to make it to even Silver. As such, it's often much more about taking that one big swing, about making it big at a Pro Tour and earning an invite to the next one.

    "It's very hard to be prepared for these events down here, it really is," Edel said with a sad shake of his head. "It's just hard to make it to the next level in general in Latin America. For Argentinean players, for example, they only have one PTQ, and even if you win the PTQ and Top 50 the Pro Tour, most of the time they aren't qualified for the next one. There aren't many Grand Prix down here, and they can be difficult to get to. People may think it's easy for a Mexican player, for example, to come down here for a Grand Prix, but it's not. It's easier to go to an event in the United States. For smaller countries, like Bolivia or Peru, there aren't many flights to get to the Grand Prix. I don't see any Bolivians here today, for example, and I've only seen a couple of Argentineans and Chileans.

    Still, I think that things are moving in the right direction. They're getting better. As the community down here grows, we get more Grand Prix and more PTQs, which makes it possible for more people to qualify and try to make headlines. Still, getting to Gold or Silver is very difficult for Latin American players unless they do very well at a Pro Tour, and I'm not sure how to remedy that except to get as many people together as possible to try to raise everyone up to the next level. We're working with three Mexicans for the next Pro Tour, for example. We haven't seen a Mexican win a prize at the Pro Tour in like five years, but we're starting to all band together, and I'm really proud of everyone."

    And those big finishes really do help. Players that have big finishes at major events are highly celebrated in the Latin American community, much as Edel is in Brazil. Brazil has been fortunate to have a number of very celebrated professional players over the years, from Edel and da Rosa to former World Champion Carlos Romão. This has done wonders for their community down here, and is one of the major reasons that they are leaders in the region. But Edel wants that influence and celebration to spread outside the borders of Brazil. By incorporating players from other Latin American countries, Edel hopes to create beacons for all of the other countries in the region, to see their communities grow the way his own has.


    Willy Edel: Kiblering before it was cool...

    "I really want to have a Mexican player or an Argentinean make it to at least Silver, maybe Gold," he told me. "Then, they can go back and inspire their communities to play more and harder. I think it's important that when a player has achieved a certain level of success, they come back and give back to their local community. I've gotten a lot from Magic. A lot of friends say that I am sacrificing myself working with the Latin Americans instead of a big team. I get several invites every Pro Tour to work with one of the big teams, and I always decline them. Maybe that's dumb. Maybe I could have better personal results if I would work with them, but I really enjoy what I am doing. For Pro Tour Born of the Gods, we only had about three Brazilians qualified, so I worked with some of the Europeans and only one of the Brazilians. I felt a little bad that I couldn't share my deck with the other two. I'm not sure what I'm doing for Portland yet, but if enough people qualify for it from Latin America, of course I will test with them. I have been told that I should focus on myself more, but I just can't.

    And it's going to be even harder for him to focus on himself here in a couple of months.

    "I have a child coming along (my first one) in July," he said with a big smile on his face. "I'm not sure that I can afford to keep playing as a full-time player if I'm just Gold, so making it to Platinum is more important than ever. If I am fortunate enough to make Hall of Fame this year, it would be amazing for me. I would be able to take the first year off to take care of my child, only travel for the Pro Tours, and have no pressure of maintaining my Pro Player level. Either way, though, I need to keep doing well, both to try and hit Platinum and to give myself the best shot at making into the Hall of Fame. I have to focus on what's right in front of me for the time being, because in two months, my life will change a lot."

    Keep doing well was the appropriate thing to say, as Edel has had a very good year thus far. He's sitting on 38 points coming into this weekend, making him effectively just shy of getting Platinum for next year. Still, it's more than good enough for him to be both the leader for the top Latin American representative for the World Championships and the frontrunner for Brazilian National captain for the World Magic Cup.

    "The World Championship last year was amazing," Edel gushed. "I played in the last Invitational in 2007, and it was the best tournament ever. The World Championship feels really close to that. They make you feel so important. They do a lot of advertising and publicity. And the other fifteen players were all really good! If I play here and leave 6-6, I would be really disappointed. You can't be disappointed with a 6-6 performance against the actual top players in the world. I really want to go back, this time prepare a little bit better. This year, there are two Latin American spots, so I would love for the two delegates to be myself and Paulo. He always works so hard and he's such a good player, I know that if we went and prepared together that we could do well."


    Edel played against da Rosa at the 2008 World Championships. This year, he hopes that they're on the same side.

    "For me, though, the best tournament in the world is the World Magic Cup. If it were between that and the World Championship, I would take the chance to represent my country in a heartbeat. I always wanted to be a soccer player, but I am so bad...there's just no way. I just love the thought of being on my national team, people cheering and singing the national anthem... I really like the thought of this. There's just such pride at the World Magic Cup, not just for the individual player, but for the country as a whole. I have never gotten as much support as I got when I was on the World Magic Cup team. And I can do exactly what I have been practicing for all of these years for the Pro Tour. I get to take my teammates, get everyone together, and work together with the other Brazilians. The last World Magic Cup was such a good experience! We had a very good team. We came just short, losing a very close match to miss out the Top 8. And I've never felt so sad for being unable to qualify my friends for the Pro Tour. I was really sad. I really want to go and really want to try again."


    Willy Edel and the 2013 Brazilian World Magic Cup team.

    Regardless of what it may mean to him, Edel always seems to be putting the thoughts and successes of his friends and the rest of the Latin American community over his own. He has been through the lean times, has succeeded only to fail time and again before finding his feet and making it to the top. He knows what it takes to succeed and has spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to help convey that to his fellow players so that they don't have to go through the same trials and tribulations that he did.

    "Players around here always ask me what they can do to get better, to make it to the Pro Tour, and my answer is always the same: Play more."

    It really is as simple as that. All he asks is that players play more and continue to work and help Magic grow. With time and hard work, the successes will come. The hard work will pay off. And when it does, Edel will be there to help get prepared for the challenges to come.




     

  • Sunday, 10:45 a.m. – Team Sealed Exercise: The 8-0 Pool

    by Josh Bennett

  • The letter B!elow you'll find the card pool handed to the trio of Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, and Walter Perez on Saturday. Little did they know that the builds they decided on for their three decks would help carry them to the top of the standings on Day 1. Now it's your turn. Take a look at the raw materials and see if you can find the undefeated decks hidden inside. We'll give you our heroes's solution later in the day.

    Fire up the Sealed Deck Builder and give it a go!


     

  • Round 9 Feature Match – Berthoud/Cortez/Perez vs. Santos/Junior/Marcelo

    by Nate Price

  • The letter R!ound 9 begins with a look at our lone undefeated team in the tournament: Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez, and Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez. You can see the Sealed Deck pool they used to build their winning decks here.

    Both Berthoud and Cortez are relatively local to this GP, coming from Taubaté, which lies about 120 km outside of São Paulo. They, like their teammate Perez, are older Magic players that are returning to the game after a bit of an absence. Both Berthoud and Cortez were qualified for the season of Pro Tours and Worlds back in 2009, but university commitments and anew job hampered their ability to compete. Returning to the game in April, they have joined forces with Perez, whom they are familiar with through years of Brazilian National Championships, and have stormed this tournament to open on a perfect record. It couldn't come at a better time, either. Due to inactivity, Berthoud doesn't have the Planeswalker Points needed to qualify for the World Magic Cup qualifiers that begin next month. With 24 Planeswalker Points for each victory here at the Grand Prix, he has already more than halfway closed the gap!

    Standing in their way are the trio of Rodrigo Santos, Edson Junior, and Vinícius Marcelo. Santos, Junior, and Marcelo had an incredibly strong Day 1, picking up their only loss in Round 6, ending the day in third place.

    The Decks

    Yesterday, Berthoud took an aggressive Black/Red deck to battle, but his deck today is the polar opposite: grinding Black/Blue control. Complete with tons of deathtouch, regeneration, and large toughness, his deck is a terror for Green decks, and it has Oracle's Insight and other good control cards to win the long mirrors. He will be facing off against Santos's Green/White constellation deck. An unusual archetype, his deck has multiple copies of Harvestguard Alseids, Oakheart Dryads, and plenty of enchantments to trigger them. To top things off, he has Nessian Wilds Ravager to dominate the board come the late game. His deck is very powerful but faces an uphill battle against Berthoud's deck which seems tailor-made to defeat it.


    Near to far: the undefeated Perez, Cortez, and Berthoud on the left; Marcelo, Junior, and Santos on the right.

    In the middle, Cortez stayed true to his Red/White heroic roots, today playing a deck that tops out at Forgestoker Dragon. He will be facing down Junior and his Blue/Black control deck that looks vaguely like Berthoud's, but with more fliers.

    Last, Perez has stuck by what got him through Day 1: Blue/Green. His deck is heavy on the three-powered creatures, hitting as early as Swordwise Centaur and as late as Prognostic Sphinx. He will have his work cut out for him against Marcelo's very aggressive Red/Black Minotaur deck featuring Kragma Warcaller, Felhide Spiritbinder, and a plethora of burn.

    The Games

    Lucas Esper Berthoud (Black/Blue) vs. Rodrigo Santos (Green/White)

    As expected, Santos's Green beaters were very poorly matched against Berthoud's deathtouch (Baleful Eidolon) and regeneration (Servant of Tymaret). Santos had an out in his hand, but he couldn't find a second White source for his Supply-Line Cranes. With neither player having any good opportunities to attack, the game eventually stalled, stretching things to the point that Berthoud was able to cast Tromokratis. Acting as a virtual Plague Wind, Tromokratis traded for almost all of Santos's board. While Berthoud's big clock was now dead, an Oracle's Insight on a Servant of Tymaret became an even more noxious one, slowly draining Santos's life away, while keeping Berthoud flush with cards. When Santos finally drew a second Plains for his Cranes and gave it an Ordeal of Heliod, Berthoud sealed the deal with a Griptide to send the flier back to the top of the deck, giving his small platoon of one-powered creatures the space they needed to finish the game.


    Santos desperately waits for a second Plains to get into the game.

    Just like in the first game, neither player could really get an offensive foothold in the second game. Archetype of Courage made combat a living nightmare for Berthoud, but the large toughnesses and regenerators on his side made favorable attacks an impossibility for the time being. Both players simply continued to build their boards while Berthoud chipped away with Grim Guardian and Servant of Tymaret.

    At one point, there were almost two dozen creatures on the table, including a 12/12 Nessian Wilds Ravager and a 5/5 Nessian Courser with Raised by Wolves on it, yet Santos didn't attack. The stall was eventually broken by Berthoud, who already had a 4/5 Gray Merchant of Asphodel with a Nyxborn Eidolon on it. He further enhanced it with a Herald of Torment, giving him a seven-powered attacker, quickly reducing Santos to 2. With two Grim Guardians in play, Berthoud was one enchantment away from winning the game outright. He bestowed a Leafcrown Dryad on his monstrous Ravenous Leucrocota before going for the attack, trying to hastily end the game. Berthoud still had one trick up his sleeve, though, as a Sudden Storm tapped down the Leucrocota and the largest of Santos's attackers, allowing him to easily survive the attack and have a free alley to attack for the win on the following turn.


    There were more cards in play than were in either player's library at this point...

    Paulo Ricardo Cortez (White/Red) vs. Edson Junior (Blue/Black)

    As long and drawn out as the neighboring match was, this match was a fairly big disappointment. Cortez stalled on two lands, beating down with an Akroan Skyguard, but unable to cast anything else, not even a way to trigger heroic. Junior's Black/Blue control was somehow the aggressive deck with Keepsake Gorgon and Wavecrash Triton beating down. After spending far too long without a third land, Cortez was forced to concede only five minutes into the match.


    Edson Junior just absolutely steamrolled a helpless Walter Cortez.

    The second game was a problem in the opposite fashion. This time, Cortez had the lands but didn't have the threats, as his very slow draw failed to apply any pressure on Junior. The one big chance that Cortez had was a Forgestoker Dragon, but Nullify put a stop to any hopes of stealing a game and sending this match to three games. This loss evened the round at one match apiece.

    Walter Augusto Mechelewski Perez (Blue/Green) vs. ViníciusMarcelo (Black/Red)

    In the deciding match of the round, things came down to the wire. Early aggression with Tormented Hero and Kragma Butcher with an Everflame Eidolon put Marcelo well ahead in the first game. Perez got some defense running with a bunch of three-toughness creatures, including Nessian Courser, Pheres-Band Tromper, and Nyxborn Triton, but he had already taken an immense amount of damage. With the ground now blocked, Marcelo took to the skies with Master of the Feast. Perez tried his best to deal with the massive flier, but he was forced to blow a Retraction Helix and chump with Prognostic Sphinx just to buy more turns. Eventually, he ran out of answers and fell to the giant Demon.

    Marcelo's second draw was even more aggressive than his first: Tormented Hero into Sigiled Skink into Master of the Feast. Perez was able to skillfully trade away his creatures as the Master slowly feasted on his life total. Dropped to 5, Perez found a Fade into Antiquity to remove the Master the turn before it was lethal. Following that up with Prognostic Sphinx gave Perez the ability to start crafting his draws, something that highly favors the generally late game-oriented Blue/Green deck. He started shipping all of his lands and drawing nothing but his best spells. This allowed him to set up an impregnable defense, all while attacking for the win through the air. It was an impressive turnaround that was certainly bolstered by the extra cards he had drawn off of the Master.


    The Prognostic Sphinx says... outlook good.

    Game 3 started out much slower for Marcelo. This gave Perez time to begin casting his 3/3s to take over the board. Marcelo threw a wrench into the works with a Felhide Spiritbinder, but Perez used a Satyr Grovedancer to make his Pheres-Band Tromper big enough to attack safely, turning it into a potential snowballing threat. Time to Feed took out the Kragma Warcaller that Marcelo was hoping to use to combo with his Spiritbinder, essentially winning the game on the spot for Perez. Perez was able to attack with his team and drop Marcelo to 2. Marcelo needed to try and win the game on this turn, with Perez tapped out. He used the Spiritbinder to copy the Tromper, giving him six power of attackers. He also had Rouse the Mob, which could account for four more. With Perez at 14, Marcelo had neither the mana nor the method to deal the final points of damage, offering a vigorous shake of the hand to the victorious Perez.

    Berthoud/Cortez/Perez defeat Santos/Junior/Marcelo 2-1 to remain undefeated.




     

  • Round 10 Feature Match – Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung vs. Melichar/Matousek/Ristovsky

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Players

    It was an all-foreign showdown in the Feature Match area this round. On one side, from Chicago, the team of Ian Farnung, Stephen Berrios and Armando Bulnes. It turns out that Farnung, code name "White Devil," is a frequent traveller and a regular in Brazil. Having missed the domestic team Grand Prix in Providence, Farnung saw this as an opportunity, and managed to corral Berrios and Bulnes into a week's vacation punctuated by a run at a team limited title.

    It's a similar story on the other side, except with even farther to travel. Despite hailing from the Czech Republic, Pavel Matousek has been making the rounds of Grand Prix in exotic places. "I'm not good," he hastens to add with a laugh, "I'm just a Magic tourist." This time he brought his friends Tom Ristovsky and Martin Melichar along for the ride.

    They broke down the colors as follows:

    Martin Melichar: Green-Blue
    Pavel Matousek: Blue-Red
    Tom Ristovsky: Mono-Black

    Armando Bulnes: Blue-Red
    Stephen Berrios: Green-Black
    Ian Farnung: White-Blue


    Left side, bottom to top: Melichar, Matousek, Ristovsky
    Right side, bottom to top: Bulnes, Berrios, Farnung

    The Matches

    A-Seat: Melichar vs. Bulnes

    It looked like Bulnes would carry his team to an early lead when Melichar had to send back his first two opening hands. His five were good, however, and he rolled out a sequence of Turn 2 Golden Hind, Turn 3 Karametra's Acolyte, Turn 4 Staunch-Hearted Warrior and a 5/5 Reverent Hunter. Bulnes summoned a Bladetusk Boar to go with his Archetype of Aggression and wasted no time pushing them both in front of the Hunter. Melichar had no trick, but he did have a Snake of the Golden Grove to replace his monster.

    When Bulnes spent his fifth turn summoning Keranos, God of Storms, it suddenly seemed like the mulligan to five was going to get there. Melichar's squad dropped him to just seven life. Here, however, things started to break Bulnes's way. Keranos started to hand out free lightning bolts, and he had Sudden Storm to buy time. Melichar finally began to draw lands, and spent most of his board on attacks that brought Bulnes down to just one life. He was way up on cards and that included enough cheap creatures to mire the board, and Prescient Chimera with Everflame Eidolon closed the game out quickly.

    Bulnes 1 - Melichar 0

    Game two began in a similar, though less explosive fashion. Melichar played out an early beatdown force and had an edge. Bulnes again had the early Keranos, but this time Melichar was ready with Fade Into Antiquity. when Prescient Chimera threatened to put an end to the beatdown party, he locked it up with Sudden Storm.

    Bulnes did his best to claw and scrape to keep himself in it, and when Melichar went for the killing blow he was ready with Griptide to foil it. He again managed to stabilize at just one life. Anthousa, Setessan Hero offered a Glimmer of Hope, but Bulnes took no chances, sending it home with Voyage's End a turn before swinging for lethal.

    Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung 1 - Melichar/Matousek/Ristovsky 0

    B-Seat: Berrios vs. Matousek

    Meanwhile it was a knock-down-drag-out fight in the middle seat. Matousek had managed to take the first game that featured Berrios's double-bestowed Nessian Courser racing against an Ember Swallower and its entourage. With Melichar already eliminated Matousek wanted to end this match quickly. His Vortex Elemental took care of one of Berrios's fatties then came back for an encore shortly thereafter, shuffling away Nessian Asp. However, Berrios had saved the best for last: Nessian Wilds Ravager. It hit play as a 12/12. Matousek's plan was to keep it at bay with Wavecrash Triton while flying overhead for damage, but after his second bestow he was out of ways to trigger heroic. Soon their match was tied. While shuffling up, they turned their attention to the C-Seat.

    C-seat: Farnung vs. Ristovsky

    Farnung was the aggressor early with Oreskos Sun Guide into Sightless Brawler. Ristovsky fought back with Tormented Hero suited up with Ordeal of Erebos but the race wasn't in his favor. Farnung was able to bust through Servant of Tymaret with Ajani's Presence. Ristovsky summoned Baleful Eidolon to stop ground attacks and bestowed Nyxborn Eidolon to his Hero. For a moment he was in the driver's seat, but that all changed when Farnung untapped and gave his Sun Guide the power of Nimbus Naiad and flew overhead. He was out of cards but soon had Ristovsky down to two. Ristovsky drew Feast of Dreams to buy another turn's attack, but his next draw was a blank and Farnung took game one.

    Game two started with both players trading off tricks and creatures. Farnung emerged with the stronger board, a 2/4 War-Wing Siren and a Vaporkin against just Servant of Tymaret. However, he was down to just six life and had a ways to go to kill Ristovsky. Ristovsky bestowed Cavern Lampad, which forced Farnung's Sudden Storm. He then drew in to Akroan Mastiff, not ideal against the Servant but it would probably be fast enough. That is, until Ristovsky showed him Gray Merchant of Asphodel, draining enough life to force a third game.

    The third game seemed to start well for Ristovsky. He stopped Farnung's early offense and caught a Sea God's Revenge with Disciple of Phenax. The only concern on the other side of the board was an Akroan Mastiff. However Farnung's deck was kind, and just a few turns later he had assembled an attack force capped by War-Wing Siren wearing Sightless Brawler. Ristovsky had his trusty Servant of Tymaret and some tricks in hand, but no way to counterattack, and was falling farther and farther behind. Farnung played it extra cautiously because of Ristovsky's stacked grip, but inevitability was on his side, and soon he was relaying the good news to his teammates.

    Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung 2 - Melichar/Matousek/Ristovsky 0




     

  • Sunday, 2:30 p.m. – Quick Questions: Between your two decks, which card has been the best for you this weekend?

    by Nate Price


  • Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa/Willy Edel/Allison Abe

    da Rosa: Arbor Colossus. It was in my deck yesterday, and I didn't have many ways to deal with fliers. Plus it's just an incredibly powerful card in its own right.

    Edel: Mountain? I did play red in both decks... I'd probably say Xenagos, the Reveler. He let me simply steal some games against opponents yesterday.

    Abe: Prognostic Sphinx. It's so hard to deal with.


    Armando Bulnes/Stephen Berrios/Ian Farnung

    Bulnes: Revel of the Fallen God. My deck yesterday was an 18-land, 22 mana source, ramp into double Revel special. I think the over/under of the number of Satyrs I've made this weekend is 42.5. In this deck, it's probably Keranos, God of Storms. Though if someone had their way, it would have been in my sideboard...

    Berrios: Yeah, yeah...I was wrong about that. My best card has easily been Servant of Tymaret. I did 20 to people multiple times this weekend with just Servant of Tymaret triggers.

    Farnung: Observant Alseid. The card's just really powerful in a focused heroic deck. All of the Theros bestow creatures are.


    Lucas Esper Berthoud/Paulo Ricardo Cortez/Walter Perez

    Berthoud: This is going to sound really stupid, but it's probably Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass. My deck yesterday had so much removal that people couldn't keep creatures in play against me. I just needed a creature that could kill them quickly, and the Cyclops filled that role perfectly.

    Cortez: Gods Willing. I have played red/white heroic twice now, and Gods Willing just did so much for me. It saved my creatures, triggered heroic, and won me many games.

    Perez: Any of the two-casting cost mana creatures: Golden Hind, Kiora's Follower, Voyaging Satyr, and even Font of Fertility. I have had a bunch of them between my two decks, and they have been the key. It's very important to ramp up to the four-drop slot in this format.




     

  • Sunday, 3:30 p.m. – Team Sealed Exercise: The 8-0 Decks

    by Josh Bennett

  • The letter I! sat down with our Day 1 undefeateds, Lucas Esper Berthoud, Pablo Ricardo Cortez and Walter Perez to get some insight into their deckbuild. First I asked about how they came to the decision to split red. Paulo Cortez was quick to emphasize that that decision was the key to the entire build.

    "We started out with the Black-Red deck, and we tried splitting the blue to make a blue-white heroic deck, but it just wasn't working out. We tried all kinds of things, but the more we looked at the Black-Red, we realized it had cards in it that it didn't need."

    His teammate Berthoud explained further.

    "The two decks want very different things. Black-Red doesn't need all the burn because it has black removal to rely on. Also, it doesn't have the cards to make good use of Arena Athlete and Akroan Line Breaker. With the white cards you get a dedicated heroic deck, with the benefit that all the enchantments you want to play also trigger Forgeborn Oreads."

    I also asked about the way they built their green-blue deck. It had so many tools available, I wanted to know the reasons behind their choices.

    "The high-end cards we played are so good, that if the game goes long we don't have anything to worry about. So all we had to do was make sure the deck could survive to that point, which meant playing every two-drop we could get our hands on. The deck wants to put on early pressure, force the opponent to respond to it, and then dominate the endgame."

    Here's their exact lists. How do they compare to your take on things?






     

  • Round 12 Feature Match – Berthoud/Cortez/Perez vs. Fornari/Appel/Muller

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Players

    Day 1 dandies Lucas Esper Berthoud, Paulo Ricardo Cortez and Walter Perez have spent Day 2 learning how the other half lives. Having started the day 1-2 they need to win out to guarantee Top 4. Standing in their way and hoping to continue the delivery of bad news is the trio of Guilherme Fornari, Eder Vlamir Appel, and Alan Muller.

    They broke down the colors as follows:

    Berthoud: Black-Blue
    Cortez: Red-White
    Perez: Green-Blue

    Fornari: Black-Red
    Appel: Green-Blue
    Muller: White-Blue


    A-Seat: Berthoud vs. Fornari

    Fornari had to make a tough call early, trading his Felhide Brawler and a Magma Spray for Berthoud's Returned Phalanx. He needed a clear path for his Bloodcrazed Hoplite and Ordeal of Erebos. Berthoud caught a Borderland Minotaur with Disciple of Phenax, but the Hoplite was too big to handle and took two cards from Berthoud. He fought back gamely, but he couldn't get a presence on the board while Fornari was amassing creatures. The final straw was a Felhide Petrifier to go with his Felhide Minotaur. Berthoud had no profitable blocks and soon succumbed.

    Game two was more of the same. Berthoud matched answers to Fornari's early threats, but as soon as there was a lull Fornari was ready with an Ordeal of Erebos to take advantage. For a moment it looked like Berthoud would get a chance to trade with the enchanted creature before the Ordeal went off, but after he double blocked Fornari showed him a backbreaking Necrobite. From there he simply didn't have the tools to mount a defense.

    Fornari/Appel/Muller 1 - Berthoud/Cortez/Perez 0

    B-Seat: Cortez vs. Appel

    Cortez was on the back foot right away thanks to a double-whammy of threats from Appel: Big Daddy Arbor Colossus, backed up by the combo of Aerie Worshippers and Springleaf Drum. Cortez manufactuerd some offense with Ordeal of Heliod on Ember Swallower, and Appel was unwilling to risk his Colossus in combat, content to just chump. Cortez also had Ornitharch, but thanks to the Colossus it was a temporary measure at best. Cortez monstroused his Ember Swallower to set Appel back on land, but a turn later he supersized the Colossus to take down the Ornitharch, clearing a path for his fliers. Cortez had no way to break through.

    Things went quite differently in game two. Cortez hit the ground running with Spearpoint Oread and Ember Swallower while Appel searched out lands with Burnished Hart. Appel tried to set up a defense but the hits just kept on coming for Cortez. First Ornitharch, then Mogis's War Hound on the Oread to gvie him a dominant attack force. Aerie Worshippers showed up far too late to the party, and without their Drum.

    Cortez took a gamble on the deciding game. His two-plains opening hand hit a mountain right on time, and he chose to play it aggressively, dropping Mogis's War Hound on Turn 2. Eder had no play, and Cortez followed up with an Elite Skirmisher. Appel put the brakes on that attack force with the ubiquitous Aerie Worshippers. Cortez could only swing in and watch as they devoured the Skirmisher. He replaced it with Ember Swallower only to get a double-dose of bad news. Appel played Springleaf Drum, and then ambushed the attacking Ember Swallower with Fleetfeather Cockatrice.

    It looked grim for Cortez. He needed that Aerie Worshippers off the board before it swarmed him with fliers. He summoned Puphoros's Emissary and passed. Appel made a bird and sent it back. Cortez dropped Fearsome Temper on his Warhound and attacked with both his creatures. Here, Appel played right into his opponent's hand. Looking to put the game away entirely he put his Aerie Worshippers in front of the 4/4 and gave them a Feral Invocation. Cortez showed him Magma Spray to deal the last two points.

    And that was it. Appel had nothing further to add to the board, while Cortez hit with his Emissary and summoned a Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. In short order he had the win.

    Fornari/Appel/Muller 1 - Berthoud/Cortez/Perez 1

    C-Seat: Perez vs. Muller

    That meant everything would come down to the battle of the C-Seat. Game one had gone long, with Perez slowly whittling away Muller's life total with Prognostic Sphinx, while Muller tried to summon enough of an air force to force it to stay home. The Sphinx kept Perez's draws spicy, and Wavecrash Triton helped his tricks like Time to Feed and Retraction Helix to do double duty. The cruel irony of it was that Muller had his own Prognostic Sphinx in hand, but lacked a second island to summon it. The turn he finally managed to establish a blockade, Perez dropped Whitewater Naiads to make the last few points unblockable.

    In contrast to the slow buildup of the first game, the second hinged on a turn-one play: The lowly Triton Shorestalker. The little unblockable that could first teamed up with Loyal Pegasus to get in some early damage, and after Perez got his defenses set, Muller grew it to a 2/2 with Satyr Grovedancer. A turn later it became a 4/4 thanks to Observant Alseid, and the tricks that had served Perez so well earlier were nowhere to be found. He was forced to Hour of Need the Shorestalker just to stay alive, but the army that Muller had built in the meantime was more than enough to finish him.

    And so it would be one game for all the marbles. Muller dominated it early, with an Archetype of Courage suited up with Observant Alseid and Chosen by Heliod. When Perez went for a counterattack in the air with a 4/3 Chorus of Tides, Muller was ready with Cloaked Siren for a brutal ambush. Time was rapidly running out. Supply-Line Cranes grew the Siren to a 4/3. Perez was down to his last few life points. He summoned the mighty Prophet of Kruphix and passed. Muller went for the throat, and Perez flashed in Prognostic Sphinx to kill the Siren and survive the attack at one life. He brought out Whitewater Naiads on his turn and attacked for six, scrying his trump card to the top of his deck. Muller had no play. Perez untapped, drew, and showed him Archetype of Imagination, killing Muller instantly. Muller could only shake his head slowly in disbelief, before congratulating his opponent.

    Berthoud/Cortez/Perez 2 - Fornari/Appel/Muller 1




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