Feature Match - Round 3: Jon Sonne vs. Gerard Fabiano
by Brian David-Marshall
Jon Sonne and Gerard Fabiano are long-time friends -- and among the founding members of Team TOGIT which eventually was consumed by the CMU squad -- who have played on Sunday at the Pro Tour together. Along with third teammate Scott McCord they formed Slay, PIllage, Gerard and made it to the Top 4 of Pro Tour Boston way back before the original Mirrodin set had even been released.
The two players came into the event with two byes and spent the bulk of those free rounds testing and tuning their decks. Conspicuously on the side of Sonne's play area was a fully sleeved deck potentially ready to sub in for game two although Sonne had a 3-1 advantage over Gerard during their playtesting with his starting configuration.
The tale of Sonne's two decks could well be told by many players in this event who are able to stretch the abundance of colorless cards across multiple different deck configurations. Few have taken it as far as Sonne though. His starting deck was an infect deck with two copies of Hand of the Praetors and a swarm of similarly keyworded guys to go along with them. His second deck is a metalcraft deck highlighted by the bombtastic Wormcoil Engine -- a card he was not starting in his dedicated infect build.
The players had not heard the Feature Match announcement and had already started their game one. They picked up their cards and headed for the feature match are where we picked things up in the middle of the action. Sonne had killed Gerard's Silver Myr with Contagion Clasp and Gerard was beating with Snapsail Glider.
Sonne kept a one lander," explained Gerard as he Shattered Sonne's Copper Myr that joined Strider Harness in the bin. "He had to discard but I would have kept also."
Gerard was playing a black red deck that seemed to have plenty of removal as he used Grasp in Darkness to swat a Contagious Nim and a turn later deployed Skinrender to kill Sylvok Replica. There was another Nim from Sonne and Gerard just kept attacking. The infect creature blocked Skinrender and Gerard fortified with Bloodshot Trainee.
Sonne played Hand of Praetors but it did nothing to slow down Gerard's attack.
"You know that guy has two counters," reminded Sonne of the smaller than it appeared Skinrender.
"Yup," said Gerard who left it tapped and in the red zone.
Sonne shrugged and blocked the 1/1 with his Hand only to have it finished off with Instill Infection. Sonne tried to mount some defenses with Tumble Magnet and Fume Spitter but Gerard threatened to trump the Magnet with Rust Tick.
Sonne played his second Hand of Praetors but Gerard played Trigon of Corruption, hit "threshhold" and finished him off with Galvanic Blast.
Sonne began shuffling his 80 cards under the table in some Mirrodin inspired version of the shell game as he tried to conceal from Gerard whether or not he was switching to his "other" deck.
"Is that legal?" asked Gerard who was hoping not to see deck two. "Sonne's other deck has Wormcoil Engine and Argentum Armor."
"You can play," said Sonne, which may have been a tip off that he was no longer playing the infect build.
Gerard had a turn two Silver Myr that once again took a Contagion Clasp and Gerard had Snapsail Glider for turn three. Sonne played Glint Hawk and picked up Clasp. Gerard offered a trade when he attacked his Glider into the hawk but Sonne refused. There was a flurry of one for one action as Gerard followed up with Rust Tick only to have it melted for scrap. Gerard then took down the Oxidda Scrapmelter with Skinrender. Sonne played Sky-Eel School which traded with the Skinrender.
Clone Shell from Gerard was followed up by Chrome Steed and the return of the Clasp -- shrinking the Glider -- from Sonne. Gerard played Moriok Replica and passed the turn. Sonne finished off the Glider by proliferating and flew over for two with his Hawk. Sonne then played Myr Galvanizer turning on metalcraft. Gerard cashed in his replica for two cards at the end of the turn.
That paid off in a second Skinrender that Gerard took out the Hawk with. He also played Copper Myr. Sonne erected a Glint Hawk Idol in memory of his fallen bird. Tower of Calamities and Blade-Tribe Berserkers hit the board from Gerard. Sonne took 6 and went to 10 evening the life totals.
Playing Silver Myr turned on the Idol and Sonne swung for two but Gerard had hit Calamitous mana and put down the Steed on his turn. He attacked with everyone and Sonne went to two. He looked at his next card and said, "I can't win."
Final result: Gerard Fabiano - 2 Jon Sonne - 0
Feature Match - Round 4: Josh Utter-Layton vs Martin-Eric Gauthier
by Josh Bennett
One of the last of the fading generation of Canadian Magicians, Montreal's Martin-Eric Gauthier's love of the game has kept him striving alongside the new blood through the PTQ circuit. This round he faces reigning American National Champ Josh "wrapter" Utter-Leyton. The soft-spoken Magic Online ringer is one of the galaxy of stars that make up Team ChannelFireball.
Gauthier won the die roll and chose to draw, shipping back his first hand.
Utter-Leyton led out with Copper Myr and then stopped a Plague Stinger from Gauthier with a Lumengrid Drake. Gauthier failed to find land number three and made a Silver Myr. Utter-Leyton took a moment to consider before swinging in with his Drake and playing Snapsail Glider.
Gauthier hit back for a poison counter, and then showed a pair of Thrummingbirds, threatening to get silly. Utter-Leyton played Strata Scythe for islands, suited up his Glider and bashed for seven. Gauthier returned fire with Skinrender on the Lumengrid Drake, clearing the way for another three poison counters.
Again, Utter-Leyton paused to reflect on his plays. He dropped island and attacked for eight, leaving Gauthier at three. He moved the Scythe to his Myr post-combat and passed the turn. Gauthier swung overhead for two more counters with his birds, then tapped low for Contagious Nim. Utter-Leyton untapped and played Tumble Magnet, shutting down the lone flying blocker and taking the game.
Utter-Leyton 1 - Gauthier 0
Gauthier again put Utter-Leyton on the play, and got a jump on him with Myr advantage. Utter-Leyton played Snapsail Glider and again Gauthier was short on lands. He played Contagious Nim and passed. Utter-Leyton made a Rust Tick and passed the turn back.
Gauthier swung in with the Nim and Utter-Leyton pushed Snapsail Glider in front. Instill Infection made the save. Utter-Leyton untapped, locked down Silver Myr with Rust Tick and played Wizard Replica. Gauthier attacked again, putting two poison counters on Utter-Leyton, and added Plague Stinger to the mix.
Utter-Leyton dropped Panic Spellbomb and soaked up another three poison counters. Post-attack Gauthier simply passed the turn, his mana still tied up thanks to the Tick, and Utter-Leyton cast Barrage Ogre, putting Gauthier's infectors in jeopardy. Gauthier's Stinger flew over for one poison and played Moriok Replica, still waiting for his fourth land. Utter-Leyton bounced it with Lumengrid Drake.
Gauthier replayed his Replica and lost his Stinger to an ogre-thrown Spellbomb. Utter-Leyton decided it was time to get ridiculous and played Wurmcoil Engine. All Gauthier had in answer was a lowly Painsmith. Utter-Leyton put Sylvok Lifestaff on his Drake and swung in with it and the Engine. Moriok Replica bravely stepped in front of the 6/6 and Gauthier drew two cards. The life totals were 20 (and 6 poison) for Utter-Leyton and 13 for Gauthier.
He untapepd and finally played his fourth land. He powered out Riddlesmith and then Necropede, boosting his Contagious Nim and attacking with it. Utter-Leyton put a Myr in front of it and then threw the Myr at the Nim to kill it. Utter-Leyton's creatures smashed in again. Necropede blocked the Engine and shrunk it and the Drake. Unsatisfied with the current power-level of his board, Utter-Leyton upped it with Argentum Armor. Between that, an unopposed flier and the Barrage Ogre, the game was soon over.
Josh Utter-Leyton defeats Martin-Eric Gauthier 2-0
Feature Match - Round 5: Sam Black vs David Williams
by Josh Bennett
Now that the byes are over there's no shortage of talent out on the tournament floor. Case in point, this match: Consummate Gamer David Williams versus StarCityGames columnist and Dominion hustler Sam Black.
Williams was down to five cards in hand before he found an acceptable hand. He led with mountain and Darksteel Axe, bemused at being left with just three in the grip. Black answered with Sylvok Lifestaff, and while Williams played out mountains and passed, added Nihil Spellbomb and Necrogen Scudder to his side of the board.
Williams missed his fourth land drop and passed with a frown. Black played Accorder's Shield and suited up his Scudder to attack for four. Williams finally hit land number four and played out Bloodshot Trainee. Before it could pick up the Axe and go to work, it hit the bin thanks to Black's Skinrender.
Firmly on the back foot now, Williams mustered a Kuldotha Phoenix. Black moved the Lifestaff to his Skinrender and charged in. The Shielded Scudder bounced off the Phoenix, and a post-combat Fume Spitter sent it to the graveyard. The Nihil Spellbomb got rid of it permanently. Williams tried a Cerebral Eruption and hit only land. Black's attack took him to one, and another stab at the Eruption failed to kill both creatures.
Black 1 - Williams 0
Williams chose to play and kicked off with Sunspear Shikari after Black's Fume Spitter. Black played a Glint Hawk Idol and took two. Williams added Snapsail Glider and Memnite to the board. Black played a Leaden Myr, turning on his Idol to swing for two, and a second Spitter. Wiliams summoned an actual Glint Hawk, and Black killed the Memnite with Fume Spitter, forcing the Glider to be recast.
Black untapped and dropped Golem Artisan, but it wasn't long for this world thanks to Oxidda Scrapmelter from Williams. Black tried Bleak Coven Vampires but they were Arrested and now Black was down to nine. He cycled his Nihil Spellbomb and passed with three mana open. Williams swung in again. Fume Spitter chumped the Scrapmelter and shrunk the Shikari.
Next up for Black was the mighty Steel Hellkite. Mighty, that is, until Williams untapped, Arrested it, and then finished Black off with Galvanic Blast.
Black 1 - Williams 1
Black mulliganed for the deciding game, and was soon facing down a Sunspear Shikari with a Darksteel Axe. He cycled Nihil Spellbomb and played a second, falling to sixteen. Williams played a plains and passed. Grasp of Darkness from Black took care of the Shikari. Black added Origin Spellbomb and passed.
Williams made a Glint Hawk Idol. Black played out Culling Dais and Leaden Myr. Williams picked up his Axe with Glint Hawk and played Silver Myr, hitting for two with his Idol. Black cycled both his Spellbombs and passed. Williams thought for a moment before tapping out for Precursor Golem and hitting for four in the air.
Black was in a pickle. He shuffled the cards back and forth before deciding on a Razor Hippogriff, getting back Origin Spellbomb and putting him to eleven. Williams replayed his Axe, suited up his Idol, and got rid of the Griffin with Galvanic Blast. He charged in and left Black with no board and one life. Unsurprisingly, that was enough.
David Williams defeats Sam Black 2-1
Quick Question #1: What is the most interesting card in your sideboard?
by Brian David-Marshall
Probably Dispense Justice. That's what people have said when I showed them my deck. I am always attacking with my deck so my opponents are always blocking. They never really have time to attack and I never have any mana up.
Trigon of Rage. I think it is good in most every deck -- I am happy to take it early in a draft. I am black-white control and all my win conditions are just unreal huge bombs like dragons and Myr Battlesphere. It doesn't fit into my plan at all.
Snapsail Glider which I am not playing because my deck is really good and deep and I didn't have to. It is a card that I almost always play. It is a probably a mistake.
Vedalken Certarch. I am playing a blue metalcraft deck and that is a card that a lot of people think is really good and would be playing in their decks. It is really easy to kill one-toughness guys when they are relevant with Arc Trail or Embersmith and I just wanted to minimize my vulnerability to those cards. Plus it is nowhere near as good as you would expect it to be.
I have a Rust Tick in my sideboard since there aren't that many artifacts that I want to tap down. I am playing a pretty aggressive infect deck and I have two Tumble Magnets and a Sylvok Replica there is not a whole lot more I need Rust Tick for. It is kind of slow and I would rather curve out with poison guys.
I am taking out all my green cards for all my blue cards. I rebuilt my deck before round four. Thanks to those three byes my deck is a little better.
Feature Match - Round 7: Rich Hagon vs. Hussein Jiwani
by Brian David-Marshall
Coming into this event my Pro Tour boothmate wrote a column about his trip to play in the Grand Prix and his desire to play meaningful Magic in the Feature Match area. Well with no byes and a 5-1 record after six rounds Richard Hagon had earned the right to hear his name called/garbled over the PA system to play his seventh round under the watchful eyes of reporters and spectators.
His opponent was local player Hussein Jiwani who was playing in his first ever Grand Prix. Like Rich, he had no byes coming into the event and had earned all his wins the hard way. The two players chatted while they shuffled and finally it was time for the action to get underway.
"The very best of luck to you," beamed Rich. "Have a tremendous amount of fun."
Myrsmith from Hussein led things off but Rich promptly shut that down with Contagion Clasp. Hussein played Origin Spellbomb and cycled it after Rich had played the seemingly ubiquitous Snapsail Glider. Hussein played this format's Flametongue Kavu -- Oxidda Scrapmelter -- and took out the Glider, clearing the path to attack for one.
Rich played Accorder's Shield and said go. Hussein untapped to play and equip Darksteel Axe to the token and drop Rich to 13 life. Rich made a Golem Artisan which was followed by Precursor Golem a turn later. Hussein, in the meanwhile, had attacked Rich down to 7.
"You have two cards," asked Hussein as he played Hoard-Smelter Dragon.
"I beat that card last round," said Rich but there was a trace of regret in his voice that suggested he would not be repeating that feat this game. Rich sent his Precursor army into the red zone and one of the tokens traded with the equipped Myr token. Rich then summoned Oxidda Scrapmelter to take out Gold Myr. He was dead on board but put on a brave face.
Hussein used the dragon's ability to kill the Golem Artisan, which could potentially fly to block it, and then paused when Rich did not scoop.
"If you attack with him you can win," grinned Rich with three untapped mana.
"Sounds like bait to me."
"You want me to tell you this is Dispense Justice?" asked Rich.
Perhaps it was just a little too much salesmanship for Hussein's taste and he shrugged and attacked.
"One-nil you," laughed Rich as he scooped up his cards. "I wish I had Dispense Justice."
Rich came out of the gate fast with Glint hawk Idol, Livewire Lash, followed by Glint hawk returning Lash. Hussein was able to catch up quickly with Darksteel Axe followed by a turn three Sunspear Shikari that threatened to pick it up.
Rich played Strider Harness, equipped the Glint Hawk and attacked for five but Hussein was stealing his momentum by attacking for four and gaining four life in the process. Rich upped the pressure with Kemba, Kha Regent, equipping it with the Harness and attacking for seven.
Despite the attack Hussein was advantaged 12 to 14 after another lifelinked swing from the Sunspear. Ghalma's Warden joined the team.
"Wow, I feel like I have just cheated," exclaimed Rich upon drawing his next card. It was Prototype Portal imprinting Livewire Lash. He attacked for four in the air. Hussein played
Palladium Myr turning on metalcraft and attacked with the Warden and the Shikari. The Kemba token blocked the Warden and Rich fell to 8. At the end of the turn he made a copy of Livewire Lash. If Hussein had no answer that had the potential to get out of hand over the next few turns.
Rich equipped the token copy to Kemba and dropped Oxidda Scrapmelter on the Palladium Myr but had no attacks. Heavy Arbalest took Hussein back into metalcraft and he attacked with his Warden and Shikari again. He had cycled Origin Spellbomb but could not attack with it because his metalcraft would turn off it died in combat. Rich double blocked the the Warden with a token and Scrapmelter -- only the Scrapmelter died in the fracas -- and also chumped the Shikari with his Hawk.
Rich made a pair of tokens on his upkeep. Golem Artisan turned on the Idol and he attacked with it and a token. Hussein Galvanic Blasted him at the end of the turn and Rich fell to 4. Hussein traded a couple of guys in the red zone with Rich but Hussein still had enough remaining to equip his Myr token with Arbalest and if Rich could not do something about it Hussein would win over the next turn.
Strider Harness allowed Rich to attack with an extra cat token and he dropped Hussein to 10 with the attack. Hussein untapped to equip his Arablast to his Myr.
"That's fine," said Rich again looking at three untapped mana which could be used for a game winning Soul Parry. Hussein had no choice but to go for the win. Rich scooped up his cards and showed him the Dispense Justice he was holding.
"Hey you lied to me," laughed Hussein.
"Of course I did," grinned Rich as he wished his opponent continued success in the event. Rich would need to win his next two rounds to make the cut to Day Two.
Final result: Hussein Jiwani - 2 Rich Hagon - 0
Quick Question - Dinosaur Hunter Edition: "What was the last Premier Event you played in?"
by Josh Bennett
Mauro Bongiovanni - Tournament Organizer
"Actually, I played Grand Prix - D.C. a few months ago, but before that, it's been ages."
Mike Pustilnik - Pro Tour LA 2000 Champion
"Grand Prix Philadelphia 2006"
Matt Vienneau - Top 8 PT Atlanta 1997
"Pro Tour Kobe 2006"
Brock Parker - Pro Tour Boston 2003 Champion (with William Jensen and Matt Linde as The Brockafellars)
"GP Washingon, like four months ago. Before that, I have no idea."
Jurgen Hahn - 2002 Canadian National Champion
"Canadian Nationals 2008"
Rich Hagon - Pro Tour Commentator
"Pro Tour Philadelphia 2005"
Saturday, 7:30p.m.: Taking a Tumble Through Scars with Brad Nelson
by Brian David-Marshall
As deck construction came to a conclusion and I wove my way through the throng of players in attendance for Grand Prix Toronto -- all 1362 of them -- and it seemed like I was listening to the same conversation over and over again regardless of which knot of former Pro Tour Champions, Grand Prix winners, past and future Player of the Year winners, and PTQ grinders I was navigating past.
"I am pretty sure I misbuilt my deck."
"I am going to be sideboarding in this whole color for every game two."
"I had two different ways I could have built my deck."
Don't take these comments as grousing. What is not conveyed in text was the glint in their eyes at the challenge of finding the correct permutation of 40 cards from their 84 card pools. No one's eyes gleamed at the challenge more than current Player of the Year front-runner Brad Nelson. He took all of the time allotted to him for deck construction and was still not confidant that he had found the optimal configuration of cards needed to wind his way through this gigantic field.
The following interview took place immediately after the deck building process was completed and before Brad had played any rounds with the deck.
BDM: What leaped out out at you when you looked though your card pool?
Brad: The first thing that I saw that was just awesome was the combo of triple Tumble Magnet, Contagion Clasp, and two Glint Hawks. That is just a ton of board control and I decent red removal in Spikeshot Elder, Shatter, and Galvanic Blast. The whole deck had a ton of tiny combos like Bloodshot Trainee and any equipment or Trigon of Rage and fliers. I knew there was going to be a deck to build. I went white-red because white had the only bomb rare -- although I didn't know for sure if it was good -- True Conviction. All I know is that it is messing with mana base. I was thinking about cutting it so I could go to 16 land -- even though I don't like 16 land in this format.
BDM: Even though your red cards don't have heavy red casting costs you want to make sure you have enough red to activate your Spikeshot Elder?
Brad: Exactly, I really want to have four Mountains in play on turn six. I want to be able to double activate him but I also wanted to have that bomb in True Conviction to play in game one. I ended up cutting a Tumble Magnet from the deck in game one -- and I am not sure if that is right -- to make room for it. I can always sideboard into the cards I want for certain matchups. I don't know if it is right because I have three ways to keep the Magnets active. If I can get Tumble Magnet and Clasp going I am not going to lose any board position. (Picks up the Sunspear Shikari) I don't know if this guy is good enough for my deck but I want to be pushing damage through if I am going to play Tumble Magnets.
BDM: You feel like they work best when backing up aggressive creatures?
Brad: I played the Sylvok Lifestaff because of that -- it is good with my Shikari and my Glint Hawks. I think the board is going to get bogged down with Tumble Magnets and Rust Ticks so I want to push through damage in the air. It is also good with my Spikeshot Elder.
BDM: It is almost like a Fish deck...
Brad: It is very tempo based. I wish I had a couple of better creatures. I was disappointed when I got the deck but then I started looking at it and it is not that bad. My other colors were unplayable and I could not do anything with them. Two of my Mythic Rares are just bad rares...
BDM: I don't know if you will get a lot of sympathy complaining about opening a Mox Opal.
Brad: If I was in my local store and opened an Opal I would jump for joy but I did not travel 1000 miles to open an Opal.
BDM: And you also don't care much for Platinum Emperion?
Brad: I don't think it is a bad card but not for this deck. Like you said I am kind of fish-like but I can't control a game for a long time. I could never control the game until someone decks out so a card like this is going to be too hard to get to. I don't ever want to hit eight mana -- although I might want to hit nine mana with the Elder but never eight. True Conviction is as high as it goes.
BDM: This deck feels like a Constructed deck in that you have a sideboard all laid out that is not radically different from your base deck but might be needed for certain match-ups.
Brad: I think there will be a lot of decks where I board out Conviction and swap my ninth Plains for a ninth Mountain and then bring in Tumble Magnet. I think there will also be games where I bring in Bloodshot Trainee and the equipment to activate him because I need to kill creatures. I will bring in the Myr Propigator against infect decks. I really like this pool because I have a ton of sideboard options. A judge was actually waiting for me to put my name on top of the deck sheet because I was the last person at my table. I have never spent the entire 30 minutes figuring me deck out. This was the hardest pool I have ever built in my life.
BDM: Do you think this is a bomb dependant format?
Brad: In most formats when your opponent plays a big, bomb fattie it is either Doom Blade or your are dead. In this format the board situations can get so complicated that you have to look really deep into how to play Magic to get through them.
BDM: Do you mean complicated to be taken in a disparaging way about the format?
Brad: No, no, no... it is actually great. This is the most embarrassing thing but I actually timed out on a decision on MTGO because I was just thinking and thinking. I forgot about the time and all of sudden I was timed out. It was round three and I was 2-0 and then I got no-prized because I get disconnected and dropped.
BDM (laughing): When was the last time you timed out on MTGO?
BDM: Going back to the deck for a minute. This does not fall under the two primary archetypes of the format -- metalcraft or infect.
Brad: I could get metalcraft pretty easy but I am not depending on it. This deck is just a lot of good synergies. I have some good removal. I have Rust Tick which I think is one of the better creatures you can have. It can beat Trigons. Sometimes they will play Trigon of Corruption and it is so good but you can tap it down and keep it tapped down for the rest of the game. Plus when you want to finish them off -- it is like any other tapper -- you can untap it and tap something else. With a Tumble Magnet I can take out three of their blockers for the alpha strike. You were right, it is just a Fish deck -- I can set up the Berserkers to deal six damage.
It is going to be a tough deck. The one thing I don't like is that I don't have a way to deal with a non-artifact bomb -- maybe I should be playing my third Tumble Magnet. I don't know if it was right to not play all three but I guess I will know by the end of the day.
BDM: It definitely looks like you have your deck set up so that you have a specific sideboard that is an extension of your deck and not a color swap out or change in strategy.
Brad: That is one of the things I love about Limited. I think about sideboarding more than I think about my main deck. If I can sideboard against certain decks or archetypes I am happy to make a weird decision for game one.
BDM: I am amazed by how many decisions you can make in this format as soon as turn two.
Brad: Even in Zendikar, the format of two-drops, you always knew your play. You always play your best two-drop then you play your next best two-drop. This format has a lot of hard turns. What do I do if I open on a hand of Glint Hawk, Lifestaff, Idol, and Elder? If that is my opener there are so many ways I can play that.
BDM: What is your prediction for this deck? You have six rounds to play after your byes before the cut to Day Two. How are you going to do with this?
Brad: 8-1 if I am playing good Magic and not making Day Two if I am not playing good Magic. I think I will lose a round to someone with a bomb. This is the perfect pool for me to open for this event. I have to work hard and I like working hard to win. I am going to have some long rounds and could even end up with a draw.
With one round to go before the cut to Day Two, Brad had already secured the right to sit down at a draft table tomorrow at 7-1. Here is the deck that he played:
Brad Nelson Sealed Deck
Grand Prix Toronto
Feature Match - Round 8: Elijah Pollock vs Brad Nelson
by Josh Bennett
"I haven't played since the last Mirrodin block. I've been saying that was four years, but someone corrected me. It's actually been seven," said Pollock as he shuffled up his cards.
"So you're an old-school player then," said Nelson.
Pollock laughed. "Yeah I guess so. What about you, you're a Pro Tour regular, yeah?"
Brad Nelson was too polite to mention his two PT Top 8's this season, but after some outside prompting they were comparing resumes. Pollock's big finish was second in the Venice Masters alongside David Rood and Steven Wolfman. The focus shifted back to the business at hand. Both players were sitting at a comfortable 6-1, needing just one win in the next two rounds to cross into Day 2.
Nelson chose to draw and got on the board quickly with Sylvok Lifestaff and Sunspear Shikari, following a Ratchet Bomb from Pollock. Pollock spent his third turn on Leaden Myr and passed. Nelson equipped his Shikari and attacked, and Pollock blew it up with the Bomb. Contagion Clasp took care of his Myr.
Pollock played out Perilous Myr but had no fourth land. Nelson swung in and Pollock refused the trade. Nelson played Rust Tick and passed the turn. Pollock missed on land again and played Moriok Replica. He let the Shikari in again. Nelson brought out a second Tick. Pollock played a second Perilous Myr.
Nelson's Ticks locked down the Myr and he summoned Blade Tribe Berserkers. They joined the Shikari in the Red Zone. Moriok Replica made the trade and Pollock fell to eight. He untapped and found a late swamp. He Arrested the Berserkers. Nelson untapped his Ticks and hit for two, then played Tumble Magnet.
With that much lockdown on the board, things were looking grim for Pollock. He played a Rusted Relic. Vulshok Replica from Nelson further reduced his life expectancy. Pollock made a Sylvok Replica, and chucked it at the Vulshok when it attacked the following turn. It, in turn, went to his face. He was down to just one life. He played Revoke Existence on one of the Ticks and attacked for five, hoping for the best.
The best did not come. Instead, Nelson played a Perilous Myr. Pollock drew, and scooped.
Nelson 1 - Pollock 0
Between games Pollock completely retooled his deck.
"I think this is the best sealed format ever. I've been switching to a second deck every match, and after round five I found a two-card tweak to it. Now I'm going to try this."
"Seems like the time to do it," laughed Nelson.
Pollock put Nelson on the play, and watched as Nelson mulliganed down to five. Nelson opened with Perilous Myr and, after missing his third land drop, Trigon of Rage. Pollock played out Sylvok Replica and took four from the incoming Myr. Nelson picked up his Trigon with Glint Hawk, having found a third land.
Pollock untapped and played a forest, then Arrested the Hawk. He took another one from the Myr, unwilling to trade his Replica for it. Nelson added Rust Tick to his board. Pollock Revoked its Existence and played a Snapsail Glider, attacking for one.
Nelson paged through his hand, wearing a look of concentration. He chose to hold back his Myr and play a second Tick. Pollock tapped out for Golem Artisan. Nelson made a Glint-Hawk Idol. Pollock untapped and Shattered the Tick, prompting Nelson to Galvanic Blast the Golem in response. Nelson hit for two and passed.
Pollock's next play was Bloodshot Trainee, and Nelson made a show of hopefully crossing his fingers.
"That's quite a draw for a mulligan to five..." said Pollock
"He said, as he prepared to cast Battlegear..." said Nelson
Nelson dropped Trigon of Rage and hit for five in the air with his Idol. Pollock put a stop to that with Sylvok Replica on the Idol. Nelson replaced it with a Sunspear Shikari. Then his fears were confirmed as Pollock played Barbed Battlegear and put it on his Trainee, shooting down the Shikari.
Undaunted, he sent in his Perilous Myr and boosted it with the Trigon after it got through. Pollock was down to five. Contagion Clasp shrunk the Trainee to a 5/1. Pollock then played a second Battlegear and suited up his Glider, hitting for six. Nelson swung in with his Myr again and after the Trainee shot it down and the Clasp proliferated, the boards were empty.
Nelson hoped that Spikeshot Elder would take it home, but Pollock had Galvanic Blast. However, he had no answer for Nelson's follow-up: Chrome Steed.
Brad Nelson defeats Elijah Pollock 2-0
Feature Match - Round 9: Matthew Vienneau vs. Gerard Fabiano
by Brian David-Marshall
This was Gerard's second trip to the Feature Match area on the day. He was last seen in round three beating his friend Jon Sonne. He picked up two losses along the way while battling through a rogue's gallery of name players. Now with his back against the proverbial wall -- technically his back was up against the banner -- the Grand Prix Philadelphia champion had to square off with one of the original superstars of Canadian Magic Matt Vienneau.
The highlight of his resume was a Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Atlanta back in 1996, a pair of Grand Prix wins in Detroit and Dallas, and two more Top 8s including a Grand Prix Top 8s as the Ancient Kavus alongside Gary Krakower and Mike Pustilnik -- both of whom were also in attendance this weekend.
Gerard won the the roll and made the trendy decision to draw first. Matt kept his hand while Gerard went back for a fresh set of six, which he kept. Embersmith from Matt followed by Necrogen Scudder and an attack for two. Gerard made his first play on turn three -- Moriok Replica.
Trigon of Corruption was the play from Matt who then attacked for three. Gerard could only muster a Silver Myr. Matt pinged the Myr with Embersmith when he played Perilous Myr. Matt attacked with both his guys and Gerard blocked the Embersmith with Moriok Replica and chose to sac it for two cards instead of trading it with the pinger.
Gerard Shattered the Trigon and summoned Snapsail Glider. Matt kept attacking and this time Gerard opted to trade his Glider for the Embersmith. Gerard fell to 6 and Matt summoned Bleak Coven Vampires but was without metalcraft.
Both of these players have been very chatty in Feature Matches of events past but with Day Two on the line they both were quiet and deeply focused on the game. After much debate Gerard played Koth the Hammer and untapped a Mountain to attack the Canadian player leaving only two black mana untapped.
Matt untapped and attacked with everyone. "You," he said in case there was any doubt. Gerard had two mana untapped and used it to Grasp of Darkness the Vampires. He fell to two life. Matt had another member of the Bleak Coven lurking in the shadows and played it. Gerard stared intently at the cards in his hand but could not come up with some combination of them that could stave off the inevitable.
At Gerard's request Matt was on the play again. This time he had to send back his cards for six new ones while Gerard stood pat and would be looking at eight cards on his first turn. Matt broke the chorus of "go" on turn three with Necrogen Scudder. Gerard played Palladium Myr which drew an arched eyebrow from the PT Atlanta Top 8 competitor. He promptly Shattered it and played Perilous Myr.
Gerard dropped Skinrender on the Scudder. Matt played Blade-Tribe Berserkers and the game moved ahead without any red zone action. Gerard untapped and played Mimic Vat while Matt looked longingly at the Shatter in his graveyard. Gerard attacked with his Skinrender and there was no way that Matt could make the trade. He attacked back with the Bersekers but Gerard had the Grasp and was soon attacking with a token copy of the Berserkers. Matt scooped shortly thereafter.
"I am going to draw," announced Matt. Both players kept for this rubber game. Copper Myr from Gerard had Matt thinking about Galvanic Blast at the end of the turn. Ultimately he decided to burn the mana accelerator. Gerard played a Silver Myr while Matt was stuck on two lands. He put out a Wall of Tanglecord to hide behind but Gerard played Rust Tick and Trigon of Corruption. Matt played Nim Deathmantle and drew a Clasp -- instead of land three -- and killed the Myr.
Rust Tick from Gerard was soon joined by Snapsail Glider while Matt fought valiantly with his two lands. He drew Shatter for the Trigon but Gerard played Razor Hippogriff to get it back. By the time Matt drew the third land they were into double digit turns of the game and there was nothing he could do to withstand the assault from Gerard. He laid down a hand that had been waiting on a third land to play either Rust Tick, Necrogen Scudder, or a sideboarded Blistergrub since the beginning.
Final result: Gerard - 2 Matt - 1
After the game the two players discussed Matt's decision to Blast the Myr in game three. Gerard explained that his philosophy is to never kill the mana Myr on turn two. For Matt the decision to Shatter the Palladium Myr was the one that haunted him.
"I only had the one Shatter," said Matt with a shake of his head.
Feature Match Round 10 – Jon Smithers vs. Conley Woods
by Josh Bennett
Having passed through to Day 2, the last challenge in sealed deck for these two players was being the sole undefeated in their half of the tournament.
Woods started with Origin Spellbomb that showed up late on turn two. Smithers dropped a Necropede. Woods played a Vulshok Replica and after Smithers dropped Ferrovore (underrated, in his opinion) he swung in. Smithers traded off his Necropede, freeing up Woods to play Embersmith.
Smithers hit for two and put up a Wall of Tanglecord. Woods popped his Spellbomb at end of turn, then untapped and made a Chrome Steed, dinging Smithers for one with the 'smith. He swung in for another point with Myr and Embersmith and passed the turn. Smithers tried to slow the tide somewhat with Tumble Magnet and Origin Spellbomb.
Auriok Replica from Woods tagged Smithers for another point, and his attack got in for one more. Smithers made a Gold Myr and passed. Woods's Silver Myr let the Embersmith dispatch it. At end of turn, Smithers cracked his Spellbomb. The time for nickles and dimes was over. He untapped and dropped Molten-Tail Masticore.
Woods made a face. He made a Rusted Relic and shot down the Myr token. The Cavalcade of hilarity continued for Smithers, who first discarded Kuldotha Phoenix to his Masticore, then summoned Steel Hellkite. Woods couldn't help but shout "Whooooooooooa!"
He untapped and played a Tumble Magnet, Embersmith doing a point in the process. The Hellkite got locked down for a turn and Smithers chose to make a Magnet of his own to keep things sane. Woods passed an uneventful turn and watched Smithers regrow his Phoenix and hit for four, the Magnet stopping his Hellkite from going crazy.
Woods untapped and announced his attack phase. Smithers declined to tap anything, and Woods swung all out. He then dropped Grasp of Darkness on the Masticore. The Ferrovore devoured it, and Woods used his Magnet to get it out of the way as well. When the dust cleared, Smithers was still at five.
Smithers returned fire with all his creatures. Woods stopped the Hellkite with Auriok Replica, but Smither was still clear to devour his artifacts with Ferrovore and take the game.
Smithers 1 - Woods 0
"I'll still wish you luck, just less," said Woods
"I think that's fair."
"I'll let you draw ... two of your big rares."
Smithers went to six, but Woods kept his opener, saying "Juza's rolling over in his grave."
He got on the board first with Vulshok Replica, and hit for three past Smithers's Palladium Myr before playing Chrome Steed. Smithers's four-drop was the somewhat-more-impressive Molten-Tail Masticore. Woods played a second Replica and swung in with a red open. Smithers thought briefly, then chose to block and regenerate. Woods passed the turn, revealing the bluff.
Smithers pitched Ferrovore and attacked for four, then played a Steed of his own, holding regeneration mana up. Woods untapped, Shattered the Steed, and played Painsmith. Tumble Magnet from Smithers further complicated things, and Woods took four more. The Magnet tapped one of the Replicas, and the other and the Painsmith swung in. Palladium Myr traded for the Replica, and Woods played his second swamp for Grasp of Darkness, finally ridding himself of the Masticore. All Smithers could play was a second Tumble Magnet and a Gold Myr, leaving himself empty-handed.
"If we go to game three, you 're NOT allowed to draw that guy... and I get to draw mine," joked Woods
Smithers tapped the Painsmith and Woods declined to attack with his Replica.
"What do I want to draw here," wondered Smithers aloud. "I guess Steel Hellkite would be good."
When he didn't show it immedately, Woods prompted him. "Your dreams didn't come true?"
"It's not a Hellkite..." said Smithers, and started tapping mana. He stopped at five: Razor Hippogriff, getting back his Masticore.
Woods's last hope was a Cerebral Eruption, but it only hit a Panic Spellbomb. He extended the hand.
Jon Smithers defeats Conley Woods 2-0