Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Blue-Black Control) vs. Jonathan Randle (White-Blue Control)
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is having an incredible year. The Brazilian already snagged his first Pro Tour win in San Juan, and by making Top 8, he is keeping the dream alive to snatch the Player of the Year title from the grasp of Brad Nelson, who had been the clear front-runner in the race coming in to the competition. Paulo's performance was great across all three formats of the individual World Championships, and he had entered the Top 8 as the number one seed. His Standard deck, a Blue-Black Control deck, is a popular one in the Top 8, able to control the board, and get significant card advantage through a collection of card-drawing spells great and small, from Spreading Seas to Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Paulo's opponent, Jonathan Randle, might not be so familiar. A former Great Britain National Champion, he qualified for Chiba as the alternate member of this year's team. Hailing from Worcester in England (pronounced Wusster), Randle is a regular on the U.K. Magic scene, even moderating and editing the MTGUK community site. His start in Standard had been far from spectacular, but many had already pointed out that the metagame for this Top 8 is not exactly the metagame seen on Thursday. His large amounts of planeswalkers in White-Blue Control might well prove effective in this control-packed Top 8.
The first game started out with Preordains on both sides. This was not a match that would be won with quick beatdown, and each player looked to sculpt a hand that would be able to resolve a big threat and protect it.
Paulo had no intention of letting Randle's work go unimpeded. A pair of copies of Inquisition of Koszilek took first a Jace Beleren,then a Mana Leak, and ensured that Damo da Rosa knew that the only real threat in Randle's hand was a Baneslayer Angel. Each player had a Spreading Seas; Randle for a Creeping Tar Pit, and Damo da Rosa for a Seachrome Coast. The Tar Pits in particular had the potential to be pivotal in the matchup, as they make the planeswalkers of a deck like Randle's fairly easy to deal with.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa gets the drop on Johnathan Randle.
Randle had a pair of copies of Tectonic Edge, while Damo da Rosa had only one. The big place that the Brazilian was ahead was with first one, then two copies of Sea Gate Oracle. In addition to providing a card on the way in, the little Wizards did a fine job of beating in, swiftly taking Randle down to 12 life before he tried for that Baneslayer Angel.
The counter-war for the Angel began with a Mana Leak from Damo da Rosa, who had seven lands open by this point to Randle's three. The match had been draw-go until this point, more or less, but had not been running slowly for it. After a little thought, Randle paid the three mana for Mana Leak, and then nodded as a second one came to keep him off his Angel. Paulo then used his Tectonic Edge on his opponent's while Jonathan was tapped out.
On Damo da Rosa's turn he dropped Jace, the Mind Sculptor onto the board, and used the planeswalker to Brainstorm. Attacks put Randle to 10, and it seemed that with mana up and a Jace on the board, the Englishman would have a hard time pulling things back.
A second Baneslayer Angel from Randle met the same fate as the first in Mana Leak. This time Randle was unwilling to tap out to pay the . Knowing Damo da Rosa's list, Randle had to know that there could not be much more permission from the Brazilian. At this point in the game, though, this may have been small consolation.
Paulo was rocking and rolling in Game 1 now, casting back to back copies of Spreading Seas on two of Randle's Plains, leaving him with just a single Celestial Colonnade for white mana. He then played a Tectonic Edge, to make sure that Randle's was a mono-blue deck with spells that it likely couldn't cast.
Tectonic Edges and Spreading Seas came from Randle too, but somehow seemed a little anemic, as they were not backed up by any sort of clock, or a planeswalker to merrily cast Brainstorm every turn.
Randle's 10 life had gone to 8, then 6, then 4. Damo da Rosa attacked Randle down to just 2, and used Jace, the Mind Sculptor to look at the top card of his opponent's deck. Jonathan was out of luck, and both Jace and Paulo knew it better than he did. The top card stayed there, and when Randle saw it, the game was over.
Damo da Rosa 1, Jonathan Randle 0
The next game began with a mulligan for Damo da Rosa, who was on the draw. He had the first play of the game, though, in Duress, seeing Preordain, Mana Leak, Elspeth Tirel, Day of Judgment, and two lands. He took the Preordain and passed. It seemed that Jonathan was not bad at finding draw spells. He drew for his turn and cast Jace Beleren, using the planeswalker to draw a card immediately. This turned into letting each player draw the following turn, as a Creeping Tar Pit threatened the planeswalker.
Randle represents Britain in the Quarterfinals while behind him Love Janse, the Swedish Fish himself, faces off against Christopher Wolf of Austria.
A second Creeping Tar Pit soon came, but there was a Spreading Seas from Jon for one of them, and he used Jace to draw, almost to tempt Damo da Rosa to tap out in order to get the kill on his planeswalker. Damo da Rosa was not biting. He used Spreading Seas to neutralise a Celestial Colonnade on Randle's side of the board, and a Preordain to keep his own hand stocked.
Tectonic Edge from Randle made the board a man-land free zone. Much as with Game 1, the progress in the game was measured more in numbers of lands in play than any other board development, with neither player willing to blink first.
Finally, Randle went for it, casting and resolving Gideon Jura, who immediately went up to 8 loyalty to make Damo da Rosa attack. With Randle tapped down a little lower, Damo da Rosa now felt safe to cast Inquisition of Kozilek, which met a Negate. A Mana Leak came from the Brazilian, which in turn prompted a second Negate from Randle, tapping him out. Damo da Rosa had nothing further for his turn and passed.
Randle got his first blood of the game, attacking with Gideon Jura for 6. Jace Beleren let both players draw, to go up to 3 counters. Randle wasn't about to let "baby Jace" go away, as having it on the board was like a ready counter for any Jace, the Mind Sculptor from Damo da Rosa.
Damo da Rosa tried an Inquisition of Kozilek, and missed on scoring a discard, but did see a hand of three copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Elspeth Tirel, Gideon Jura, and Day of Judgment. Powerful cards, but no permission.
When Randle went for another attack, his Gideon fell on a Doom Blade. After a turn or so of using Tectonic Edge to cut down on Damo da Rosa's land base, Randle tried for another. Damo da Rosa had a Stoic Rebuttal, but Randle came over the top with a Mindbreak Trap, tapping out.
With Randle tapped out, there was little that Damo da Rosa could profitably do to capitalise beyond casting a Spreading Seas. He looked on as Gideon Jura attacks knocked him down to just one life, and gave the thumbs up as Elspeth Tirel joined Randle's team, bringing three Soldier tokens to the party. Damo da Rosa made a desperation Grave Titan, but it only provided 3 blockers, and with Gideon and three Soldiers, Randle was just able to sneak through the extra point.
Damo da Rosa 1, Randle 0
Damo da Rosa had his second mulligan of the match to kick off Game 3, shortly followed by his third. Randle was gentlemanly in looking bored during all this extra shuffling, rather than pumping the fist, which even British decorum might not have stopped him from doing inside.
Randle had a Preordain for his first turn, while Damo da Rosa played a turn-two Spreading Seas. There was a Spreading Seas from Randle too, on a Tectonic Edge. This meant that Damo da Rosa had double blue available in what would otherwise have been a very Tectonic Edge–heavy draw.
Damo da Rosa played a Ratchet Bomb, while Randle resolved a Leonin Arbiter. This little cat is an interesting choice that was primarily included in the English sideboard to help the Valakut match. It does still attack for 2, though, as Damo da Rosa soon discovered the hard way.
Paulo used a Mana Leak to fight off Preordain, and Randle sheepishly played a fetch land, with the mana up to use it. Paulo ticked his Ratchet Bomb up to 2. Randle resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor through Stoic Rebuttal thanks to a Negate. He used it to Brainstorm, and got stuck in for some more attacks. Paulo was now very much on the back foot, but had a window to work with now that Randle was tapped out. Paulo traded off Jace, the Mind Sculptor with that of his opponent, but could only look on as Randle resolved Venser, the Sojourner. Venser flickered a Spreading Seas to draw Randle a card, and threatened a fast emblem for the Englishman.
Paulo, PV, Paulo Vitor, DDR—whatever you call him, the man is a master.
Damo da Rosa cast Jace Beleren, but did not get much use out of it before Randle had one of his own to kill it, and then a second to start drawing even more cards. Venser plus Spreading Seas soon meant another card and 7 loyalty. Paulo had been ticking up his Ratchet Bomb to deal with Venser, but was still taking damage from Leonin Arbiter each turn. Considering that Damo da Rosa had started the game at five cards, it was impressive that things were still going on, but the Brazilian was not in great shape.
Randle tried for Elspeth Tirel, which found a Stoic Rebuttal from Paulo. Another Planeswalker dealt with. Paulo was now at just 5 life though, meaning that Leonin Arbiter alone was a short clock. That 5 life soon became 3 before Damo da Rosa finally found something in Doom Blade, but Randle stopped it with Mindbreak Trap. Another attack put Paulo at 1. He had a Tectonic Edge to get rid of a fresh Celestial Colonnade, and even drew another Doom Blade to try to kill Leonin Arbiter, but it was not enough, as Negate protected the Cat to do the final points.
Randle 2, Damo da Rosa 1
Now having to win two games straight to advance, Paulo looked intense in his thoughts for sideboarding in what could be his final game of the World Championships. Randle, meanwhile, seemed calm as he went through a routine of shuffling that he had surely done a thousand times before.
Both players had seven card hands to work with in game 4, and Paulo had an early Duress, seeing Negate, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Preordain and four lands (including Tectonic Edge). Negate hit the grumper, leaving Randle without permission, for now. Paulo used this to secure early Jace advantage with Jace Beleren. Jon's card drawing had to be done the old fashioned way with Preordain.
When Randle tried for a Leonin Arbiter, Damo da Rosa was ready with the Mana Leak. No such cat shenanigans this game. After a Preordain, Randle's next line of attack was a Jace Beleren of his own. This met Mindbreak Trap.
For the second time in the match, Damo da Rosa played an Inquisition of Kozilek as a Peek without the card draw, seeing two copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Gideon Jura and lands. Randle tapped out for Gideon Jura, only to see it hit by Spell Pierce. Damo da Rosa's next retort was Grave Titan.
Randle traded off a Jace, the Mind Sculptor for Jace Beleren, but could do little to stop Grave Titan from crashing in. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor came from Damo da Rosa, and checked out the top card of Randle's deck. The Day of Judgment on top was deemed powerful enough by the Brazilian Pro to send to the bottom, and the card that replaced it on top was not enough to get Randle back in the game. The match would go to the rubber game.
Damo da Rosa 2, Randle 2
Randle was quick to run out a turn-two Leonin Arbiter in the decider. Could the 2/2 prove its worth again? His follow-up was a Preordain that hit a Mana Leak, but no third land. Paulo not only had land, but he had Sea Gate Oracle to block with too. Randle simply drew and passed for his turn. Would this match come down to missed land drops?
Randle fights for his life in the Quarters.
An Inquisition of Kozilek saw two Negate, Spreading Seas, Mana Leak, Jace Beleren and Elspeth Tirel. The Mana Leak disappeared. Randle was gracious enough to draw a third land to make the game more interesting, and then a fourth. A quick Grave Titan from Damo da Rosa though seemed a rough one for the Englishman to beat. He cast a Jace Beleren and started digging for answers. Spreading Seas dug still further. Damo da Rosa did not look worried. He cast Duress and saw that Venser the Sojourner had joined Espeth in Randle's hand. Elspeth soon went to the graveyard, and then Damo da Rosa attacked, knocking out Jace Beleren and some of Randle's life total, while making more Zombies with Grave Titan. Another set of attacks the following turn took Randle to 2.
With a smile, Randle cast Venser and used it to flicker Grave Titan. It was all over, and Randle extended his hand.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa defeats Jonathan Randle 3-2 and advances to the Semifinals!