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Jason is Built Ford Tough in Atlanta

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Grand Prix Atlanta is over! The story headed into the weekend was the upcoming battle to determine the 2010 Player of the Year between Pro Points-tied Brad Nelson and Guillaume Matignon. The two found themselves in separate flights to start the tournament, on separate sides of the Phyrexian/Mirran war (Brad fighting for the Mirrans, Guillaume for Phyrexia), and on separate sides of the debate on who was favored in Paris. But they found themselves in the same boat Sunday, waking up late after flaming out of the main event (though Brad technically finished higher for the moral victory).

Instead, it was Owen Turtenwald and Ari Lax at the head of the pack for Day 2. Both had gone undefeated, and between the two that is a feat they have now accomplished an astonishing SEVEN TIMES! The deck they used to do it? The blue-black scourge: Faeries. In fact, the strategy was powerful enough to waltz them handily into the Top 8 matches alongside fellow Fae backer John Runyon.

But the Top 8 was a tale of innovation. Quietly dominating were the Valakut players, with three of them advancing to the semifinals as Christian Valenti, Jason Ford, and Ben Stark all won their matches. With the Faeries players knocked out, the base red/green strategy knocked out the final non-Valakut player, Jody Keith, and set up a finals between Ford and Stark. Jason felt he had the edge as his Turbo Land version of the deck gained added advantage from a blue splash. In fact, the team of Minnesotans that had created the deck for the event finished the first day of competition an astonishing 33-3-0!

The match was indeed in Jason's favor, and though the seasoned pro Ben forced a third game, Jason held on to take the title of Grand Prix Atlanta champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Ari Lax   Christian Valenti, 2-1        
8 Christian Valenti   Ben Stark, 2-0
       
4 Owen Turtenwald   Ben Stark, 2-1   Jason Ford, 2-1
5 Ben Stark    
       
2 John Runyon   Jody Keith, 2-0
7 Jody Keith   Jason Ford, 2-0
       
3 Charles Gindy   Jason Ford, 2-1
6 Jason Ford    


Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Atlanta at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller and Ray Punzalan.

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Brian David-Marshall
    Finals:
    Jason Ford vs. Ben Stark

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals:
    Ben Stark vs. Christian Valenti

  • by Frank Lepore
    Quarterfinals:
    Jason Ford vs. Charles Gindy

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    John Runyon vs. Jody Keith

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Christian Valenti vs. Ari Lax

  • by Frank Lepore
    Top 8:
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2: The 66-card Special, Garvas Elscott, undefeated Day 1 deck lists, and more!


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1: Feature matches, a history lesson, and more!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

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INFORMATION
  1.   Jason Ford $3,500
  2.   Ben Stark $2,300
  3.   Jody Keith $1,500
  4.   Christian Valenti $1,500
  5.   Ari Lax $1,000
  6.   John Runyon $1,000
  7.   Charles Gindy $1,000
  8.   Owen Turtenwald $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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Pink Bracket
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  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Ben Stark

    Name: Ben Stark
    Age: 27
    Occupation: None
    Hometown: Davie, Florida

    Pro Tour Experience: Two PT Top 8s -- played in like 30

    Grand Prix Experience: Five GP Top8s -- played a ton.

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Red-Green Scapeshift/Valakut. I love the deck and have been playing it online and in person for like two months.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    You don't sideboard a lot with the deck but Nature's Claim was really key vs. the Blue-Green Scapeshift-Omens decks.

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Well I would normally be Mirran because I like control and life gain but in Scars Limited I love Poison so I am Phyrexian for now!

    Jason Ford

    Name: Jason Ford
    Age: 19
    Occupation: Part time big-tymer.
    Hometown: Waltham, MA

    Pro Tour Experience: Five attended with two cashes

    Grand Prix Experience: Two Top 8s -- here and Columbus.

    Other relevant Magic finishes: Lost to Ari Lax casting Troll Ascetic.

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Blue-green Scapeshift because Gerry said so and Matthias Hunt is the next big thing.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    NOT Into the Roil

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Phyrexian, NOT close!

    Christian Valenti

    Name: Christian Valenti
    Age: 20
    Occupation: Grinder
    Hometown: Hendersonville, TN

    Pro Tour Experience: Two PTs

    Grand Prix Experience: Multiple GPs -- 1st Top 8

    Other relevant Magic finishes: Won $3500 on the JSS circuit. Five SCG Open Top 8s.

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Red-Green Scapeshift. Unfair power level and it doesn't rely on Prismatic Omen.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Spellbreaker Behemoth

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Mirran

    Charles Gindy

    Name: Charles Gindy
    Age: 25
    Occupation: Pro Fish (Glub Club)
    Hometown: Jax, Florida

    Pro Tour Experience: Pro Tour Champ Hollywood '08

    Grand Prix Experience: Grand Prix Champ DC '04

    Other relevant Magic finishes: Nats 09 and Open Series '10 Champ

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Jund. Tested it online and it beat everything I played so I stuck with it.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Thoughtseize

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Mirran

    John Runyon

    Name: John Runyon
    Age: 24
    Occupation: Retail
    Hometown: Charleston, SC

    Pro Tour Experience: None

    Grand Prix Experience: Second Grand Prix -- first since GP Dallas a couple of years ago.

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Faeries. I don't mind the mirror and I dislike playing vs. Faeries with other decks.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Sower of Temptation

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Phyrexian (steamed)

    Ari Lax

    Name: Ari Lax
    Age: 20
    Occupation: Student
    Hometown: Huntington Woods, MI

    Pro Tour Experience: Level 4, PY Kyoto 15th, 0 other monies.

    Grand Prix Experience: Top 8 in Seattle and Nashville. 23 straight Day one wins at Constructed GPs.

    Other relevant Magic finishes: JSS Grinder, member of Team RIW

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Fae, literally undefeatable

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Realistically Tectonic Edge but Consign to Dream for the showboats.

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Phyrexian

    Owen Turtenwald

    Name: Owen Turtenwald
    Age: 21
    Occupation: Writer for Channelfireball.com
    Hometown: West Allis, WI

    Pro Tour Experience: Two PT Top 32

    Grand Prix Experience: Four GP Top 8

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Faeries because LSV tested it infinite on MTGO and shipped a good list.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Vampire Nighthawk

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Phyrexian

    Jody Keith

    Name: Jody Keith
    Age: 23 tomorrow
    Occupation: Taxicab Driver
    Hometown: Nawlins

    Pro Tour Experience: Day Two Hawaii '09, 41st San Juan, and PT Amsterdam

    Grand Prix Experience: Top 32 Houston, Day Two Dallas '07, and Day Two DC

    What deck did you play and why did you choose it?

    Played blue-white control because I expected a lot of aggro and Baneslayer is the house.

    MVP sideboard card on the weekend?

    Rachet Bomb

    Phyrexian or Mirran?

    Mirran


     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Frank Lepore
  • Ben Stark (RG Valakut)
    Grand Prix Atlanta 2011 Top 8

    Jason Ford (Prismatic Omen)
    Grand Prix Atlanta 2011 Top 8

    Jody Keith (UW Control)
    Grand Prix Atlanta 2011 Top 8

    Christian Valenti (RG Valakut)
    Grand Prix Atlanta 2011 Top 8

    Charles Gindy (Jund )
    Grand Prix Atlanta 2011 Top 8


     

  • Quarterfinals – Christian Valenti (RG Valakut) vs. Ari Lax (Faeries)

    by Bill Stark
  • Ari Lax has gone undefeated on the first day of a Grand Prix three times in his career. Atlanta marked the third such time, and his Faeries deck had proven very reliable throughout the weekend. He found himself using it to square off against Christian Valenti, a star of a number of independently run circuits outside the realms of the Grand Prix and Pro Tour.

    Game 1

    Both players kicked off the match with mulligans, though Ari got to stay on six cards while Christian wound up down to five. They each kicked the game off with enchantments on their second turns, Valenti dropping Khalni Heart Expedition while his opponent had Bitterblossom. A Vendilion Clique added to Lax's team, and he seemed solidly on his way to a quick victory.

    A maindeck Volcanic Fallout allowed Christian to wipe his opponent's board, but Lax was ready with a Mistbind Clique, championing his Bitterblossom. He followed that up with a Vendilion Clique, but lost the 3/1 immediately to a Lightning Bolt. His 4/4, however, was good, continuing to put his opponent under the gun while Lax sat back, his hand stocked with counters. A touch of mana screw didn't help Christian at all, stuck on three lands after his double mulligan with his Khalni Heart on two counters.

    A second Mistbind Clique from Ari to Time Walk his opponent was enough to seal the deal; out of resources and unable to survive the 4/4 beatdown, Christian found himself down a game.

    Ari Lax 1, Christian Valenti 0

    Christian Valenti

    Game 2

    Christian opened the second game on Khalni Heart Expedition, just as he had in the first game. His opponent quickly slapped a Spreading Seas on Valenti's lonely Forest, but Christian was ready with a Terramorphic Expanse he could use to find a second. When he attempted to cash in the poor man's fetch, Ari responded with Consign to Dream. The instant put the Khalni Heart back on top of Christian's library, and when he resolved his Expanse he had to shuffle it back into his library.

    Seizing on the fact his opponent was tapped out, Christian cast Cultivate on his turn, ramping up his mana. He was then able to resolve a Spellbreaker Behemoth, turning the table and putting Ari Lax in a tight spot. Lax couldn't counter the 5/5, and with it on the battlefield could no longer counter creatures with power 5 or greater. That allowed Christian to cast and resolve a Primeval Titan he had topdecked, and Ari didn't seem pleased about the situation.

    "This is real life," he said, laughing at the cruelty of the fates.

    With 11 points of power on the table, Christian pressed his advantage, crashing in and fetching up lands with his Titan. "There's actually no way I can win this," Ari said, thinking about his possible outs. Proving the point, he scooped up his cards rather than try to fight on.

    Ari Lax 1, Christian Valenti 1

    Ari Lax

    Game 3

    Opening on Thoughtseize, Ari Lax saw a hand from his opponent that featured Scapeshift, Rampant Growth, Spellbreaker Behemoth, and double Volcanic Fallout. What Valenti didn't have, however, was a source of green mana. The 5/5 Behemoth went to his graveyard, and Christian spent his second turn whiffing on a green source and passing.

    The game slowed down from there, with Valenti looking for green mana while Ari was happy to sit back and play lands. He cast Inquisition of Kozilek only to see his opponent had picked up two copies of Guttural Response. He forced one of the copies to the graveyard with the discard spell, but still didn't have any creatures. An Evolving Wilds made its way to the top of Christian's deck, and he finally had access to green mana. But his opponent had a third discard spell, Thoughtseize again, to force the last Guttural Response out of the Valakut player's hand.

    Using the Wilds, Christian finally found himself with access to both of his colors. He attempted a Rampant Growth, but had it countered by Cryptic Command. Ari was up on the board state, but he didn't have any attackers and that was bad news for him. If he didn't put pressure on his opponent's life total, the fact that Christian had stumbled on mana early wouldn't matter.

    A Primeval Titan was Mana Leaked, then a third Thoughtseize relieved Christian of a copy of Scapeshift from his hand. A Scapeshift hardcast was also countered by Cryptic Command, but with the land counts rising to ridiculous heights, Ari Lax still did not have a threat. Finally a Bitterblossom came down for the Faeries player, but with his opponent holding double Volcanic Fallout, Ari's triple Thoughtseize start looked like it might come back to haunt him, his life low against a deck playing red.

    His Bitterblossom slowly pinged Ari down, with Christian using the Fallouts to contain the table of attackers. Occasionally Lax would use a counterspell to take out his opponent's spells, but when Lax ran out of counterMagic, Valenti stuck a Primeval Titan. That allowed him to fetch up Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and with Khalni Heart Expedition on the battlefield he was able to burn his opponent out.

    Christian Valenti 2, Ari Lax 1


     

  • Quarterfinals – John Runyon (Faeries) versus Jody Keith (UW Control)

    by Bill Stark
  • After a harrowing lost game to his Round 14 opponent despite the fact said opponent had mulliganed to four, Jody Keith was lucky to have pulled two games out to find himself in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Atlanta. His opponent was John Runyon, who was one of a number of players riding Faeries to the final rounds of the day. The two were the most unknown players competing in the single elimination rounds, but after 14 rounds of play they had clearly demonstrated that they belonged in the Top 8.

    Game 1

    After a mulligan, John Runyon started off with a meager offense: a lonely Spellstutter Sprite he had hardcast just to attack. His opponent seemed just fine with that, building up his mana and sitting back on a comfortable life total. At four lands, he cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor which resolved. He used the powerful planeswalker to fateseal himself, then passed the turn.

    With his opponent tapped out, John used the opening to stick a Bitterblossom. That would allow him to build up his army, but he needed to come up with an answer to the Jace he was facing. A Creeping Tar Pit joined his team, but he allowed a Vendilion Clique from his opponent to resolve. The 3/1 was a little weak to the chump blockers being pumped out of Bitterblossom, and a Peppersmoke in response managed to knock the flier down immediately.

    Jody Keith

    Having been able to peek at his opponent's hand, Jody knew the coast was clear to cast the Sun Titan in his hand. That allowed him to return his Vendilion Clique to the battlefield and gave him a powerful threat indeed, both as a 6/6 creature and a source of continuous card advantage. Runyon dropped a Scion of Oona to back his Bitterblossom tokens, but soon lost the 1/1 to a Path to Exile from Jody. He then found himself in a lock, getting Vendilion Cliqued each turn as his opponent returned the 3/1 with Sun Titan while slowly whittling his Bitterblossom tokens down via chump blocks.

    That combo proved to be too much. When John had Mistbind Cliques countered by his opponent on back-to-back turns, the Faeries player packed the first game in to his opponent's superior board state.

    Jody Keith 1, John Runyon 0

    Game 2

    The second game of the match started off slowly for both Jody and John, with Runyon's Scion of Oona matched by Kitchen Finks from his opponent. The two began exchanging blows with their three-drops, but Jody's 3/2 was clearly winning that race. A second copy of Kitchen Finks soon doubled that clock, and John Runyon's Faeries build found itself in the odd position of getting beaten down by the Blue-White Control deck.

    John Runyon

    A Mistbind Clique evened things up for Runyon, championing a Mutavault. The powerful threat was a 5/5 thanks to Scion, and couldn't be Path to Exile'd until his opponent dealt with the 1/1. Rather than sit back to block, however, John began racing. He sent his team to the red zone, adding a Spellstutter Sprite to its number, and the players began exchanging blows.

    A Cryptic Command from Jody allowed him to Fog for a turn, but Runyon kept pushing. The blue-black player found himself a Jace Beleren, which he used to begin drawing extra cards, and a second Mistbind Clique helped to try to catch him back up. The effort wasn't enough though as Jody managed to switch gears to relying on Celestial Colonnade alongside his Kitchen Finks, and that was enough to take the match.

    Jody Keith 2, John Runyon 0


     

  • Quarterfinals – Jason Ford (Prismatic Omen) vs. Charles Gindy (Jund)

    by Frank Lepore
  • Charles Gindy is no newcomer to the top 8 stage. A former National and Pro Tour champion he now has another Grand Prix top 8 to add to his belt. This event marks only Jason Ford's second Grand Prix top 8, but with his friendly demeanor complimenting his tight play I'm sure it won't be his last. Jason has had success today piloting the Prismatic Omen deck, without the Wargate package, while Gindy had relied on the old standard of Jund. While Jason's deck wins systematically and explosively, often in one turn, Gindy has been relying on efficient creatures and immense card advantage to provide insurmountable pressure.

    Game 1

    Jason mulled to five while Gindy kept his seven. Jason started off on a Halimar Depths followed by an Explore on his second turn. Gindy in turn ran out a Leech and passed the turn. Jason Preordained, put both card on the top of his deck, then played a Prismatic Omen. Gindy took his turn, drew his card, played a Blightning, then bashed with a pumped Leech putting Ford to thirteen life. As Jason had no action, Gindy followed it up on his next turn with a Kitchen Finks which gained Gindy some irrelevant life, but more importantly, provided a consistent three damage turn after turn. He then swung in again to bring Ford down to nine life. After a second Blightning on Gindy's next turn and Ford having no cards left in his hand, it was high time to scoop 'em up and head to game two. The mull to five is definitely a killer.

    Jason Ford

    Game 2

    After game one both players made jokes about how Gerry T wasn't able to attend the event and elicit a general feeling of comfort in having made top 8. They seem friendly toward one another and inquire where Magic will next take them.

    Jason was on the play this game and both players ended up keeping their openers. Jason started early with a turn two Rampant Growth, while Gindy lead off with another Leech. Jason followed it up the next turn with a Kitchen Finks gaining him a much needed two life in this match up. Gindy tapped a black and cast Thoughtseize, seeing Kitchen Finks, Primal Command, Prismatic Omen, Tectonic Edge, and a Forest. He eventually chose the Primal Command and swung for four with a pumped Leech. Jason chose to block with the Finks. Jason gained two more life and Gindy bolted it at end of his turn.

    Jason played a fetch land then a Prismatic Omen and passed, but Gindy followed it up with a Blightning which ripped Jason's last two cards out of his hand: Wurmcoil Engine and a Forest. Jason topdecked a land and played it, while Gindy then played a Bloodbraid Elf. Gindy "spun the wheel" and revealed another Blightning off the top which was little more than a glorified Lightning Bolt. With no cards left in his hand and a relevant Valakut to compliment his Prismatic Omen, Jason was forced to crack a Scalding Tarn and deal three to the Elf with the Molten Pinnacle in order to simply stifle the bleeding.

    Jason drew a land then passed the turn. Gindy then swung with the Leech again before dropping both a Fauna Shaman and a Putrid Leech, upping his creature count to three and putting Jason Ford in a very precarious position. It was all for naught however as Jason casually dropped his drawn card onto the table: a Scapeshift off the top to compliment his Prismatic Omen would reward Jason Ford game two!

    Charles Gindy

    Game 3

    Gindy was on the play this game, which is a huge advantage for Jund because of the sheer amount of pressure it can put on it's opponents. Unfortunately, while Jason kept his opener, Gindy could not do the same. Luckily for Gindy, he was able to keep his six. Both players led with tapped lands in the form of a Halimar Depths and a Savage lands. Gindy them played a turn two Fauna Shaman and passed the turn. Jason then followed with a Rampant Growth fetching out an Island. Gindy took back the turn, swung with the Shaman, and reluctantly passed it back to Ford after having missed his third land drop.

    Jason then cast Preordain, followed by a second Explore. He seemed to be in a pretty good position and was ramping quite aggressively, contrary to his opponent. Gindy once again beat with his Fauna Shaman, dropping Jason to sixteen life, then played a Kitchen Finks off of a lucky third land. The turn was passed right back to Gindy after Jason played a Valakut and a Prismatic Omen. The Omen wasn't long for this world, however, as Gindy quickly cast Deglamer on it promptly after untapping. It had appeared that no Omen shenanigans were to be had this day. Gindy then swung for five and it was back to Ford once again. Jason played his third Explore, but unfortunately neglected to play the second land off of it and passed back the turn. Gindy once again swung for five, bringing Jason to a mere eight life. Gindy tapped three lands and cast Blightning, which Jason responded to with Cryptic Command, countering the spell and drawing a card. The turn was Jason's and he cast a Kitchen Finks after mulling over his options. Gindy used Fauna Shaman's ability, discarding a Demigod of Revenge only to find a second one.

    "Got the land?" Ford asked.

    "No…," Gindy joked back, "but I will."

    Gindy revealed the card to the public as he drew it, showing a third Demigod! Not the land he needed. He then played a second Kitchen Finks, swung in, and passed the turn. Jason drew his card, and flung two cards onto the table casually, just as in game two. The card: a Prismatic Omen and a Scapeshift. That, boys and girls, would be game and Jason Ford would proceed to the semi-finals!

    Jason Ford 2, Charles Gindy 1


     

  • Semifinals – Ben Stark (RG Valakut) vs. Christian Valenti (RG Valakut)

    by Bill Stark
  • Game 1

    After dispatching Owen Turtenwald in the Quarterfinals, Pro Tour star Ben Stark (no relation to this author), found himself in a mirror match against fellow Red-Green Valakut player Christian Valenti. Christian had dispatched Ari Lax's Faeries build, meaning both were blue-black killers. "The all important roll?" Christian proposed to his opponent, indicating he felt the die roll was key to the mirror.

    Winning it, Ben got an added bonus as his opponent started the match off on a mulligan. For the Valakut mirror, it was definitely a foreboding start for Mr. Valenti. Stark opened on Khalni Heart Expedition, with a Raging Ravine for good measure as a backup plan. Christian didn't have any acceleration with which to start, but did have a turn five Primal Command to gain 7 life and tutor up a Primeval Titan.

    With a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle already on the battlefield for his opponent, Ben found his early start beginning to get overmatched by his opponent's draw. He used his Expedition to cast a Primeval Titan of his own, fetching up a copy of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle of his own as well as a Mountain. With a copy of Valakut already on the table for the Floridian, and a third as his land drop for the turn, he had turned the tables right back on his opponent.

    Christian Valenti

    Christian cast his Primeval Titan, but Ben revealed a Prismatic Omen in his hand. That meant his incoming attack from Primeval Titan would be lethal just from Valakut triggers alone, the Prismatic Omen turning all of his lands into Mountains, and Valenti conceded.

    Ben Stark 1, Christian Valenti 0

    Game 2

    Christian Valenti had to take a mulligan again in the second game, but at least this time his opponent also had to send his opening seven cards back. They each stayed on six cards, and Christian got out to an early lead with an Explore to accelerate his draw. A Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle appeared for both players, and Stark matched his opponent's Explore with Rampant Growth. Khalni Heart Expedition was the next accelerant for Christian, while his opponent had Cultivate.

    Ben Stark

    Unfortunately for Christian, his opponent's accel was better. While Christian was able to build to five mana, he was short the second green he needed to cast Primal Command. When he passed the turn, ready to go nuts with Khalni Heart as soon as he untapped, Ben revealed his hand: Forest, Prismatic Omen, and Scapeshift. That was exactly what he needed to one-shot kill Valenti, and Christian accepted his defeat.

    "That was just the absolute nut," Ben offered, apologetically. "Maybe in your next Top 8, which will be soon, you'll take it down!"

    Ben Stark 2, Christian Valenti 0


     

  • Finals – Jason Ford (Turbo Land) vs. Ben Stark (Red-Green Valakut)

    by Brian David-Marshall
  • This was the sixth time Ben Stark had reached the Top 8 of a Grand Prix but the win has eluded him thus far in his career.

    "I am good at getting here but not at winning them," sighed Stark as he and Ford sat down and went through the pregame small talk.

    "This would be the second time you lost to a Boston native," said Ford, referring to Ben's loss in the finals at Grand Prix Boston a couple of years back.

    "Are you better or worse than the last one I lost to?"

    "I have no official comment," sidestepped Ford. "He has won a GP and I have not."

    Before they began to play the competitors had a chance to review each other's deck lists. Stark pored over the innovative Turbo Land version of Scapeshift that Ford had brought to the table courtesy of Gerry Thompson and Matthias Hunt. Ford gave Stark's list a cursory glance and began to shuffle.

    "You should probably look at my deck," laughed Stark as he continued to study the deck.

    "I already know what you are playing," shrugged Ford.

    "I am playing a pretty standard version."

    Game 1

    Ben sent his opening seven back and the obviously anxious Ford groaned a little.

    "I hope you don't mulligan too much because you shuffle so much."

    Stark kept his next six and led off the finals with Raging Ravine while Ford played Ponder. Ford had Explore on turn two and used it to play Halimar Depths as his additional land. With Ford's mana tapped the coast was clear for a Cultivate from Stark netting Forest and Mountain.

    Jason Ford

    Misty Rainforest for Ford was the first life change of the game and he played Oracle of Mul Daya. there was a Tectonic edge off the top and an Explore waiting on top for next turn. Stark played Valakut and cast Harrow but he did not have much longer to put his pieces together. Ford played Prismatic Omen and played Valakut "Three you". He played another land and did another three and said "Go."

    "Yeah I should have attacked you there," sighed Ford as he looked at his Oracle that was standing around doing nothing. Stark played Primeval Titan and Ford used Cryptic Command.

    He did six damage twice with two lands on his next turn and then remembered to attack for the killing blow.

    Jason Ford 1, Ben Stark 0

    Game 2

    Ford seemed reluctant during sideboarding and the two players discussed their previous matchup during the Swiss rounds.

    "I have since talked to Gerry (Thompson) about sideboarding and he has very different ideas," said Ford when Stark was surprised that Ford seemed unsure.

    "That hardly seems fair," said Stark.

    "Everything he has told me about the deck has been wrong..." shrugged Ford.

    "I think Gerry is the best Constructed player in the world but I should not be trying to convince you to listen to him," laughed Stark.

    "I think it has more to do with how he would play the game and how I play the game," explained Ford.

    Stark led off the second game with a Valakut while Ford plumbed the Halimar Depths. Both players went to three lands on turn two -- Stark used Rampant Growth and Ford did it with Explore. Prismatic Omen for Stark prompted a head shake from Ford. He winced as he took his turn and passed back to Stark after playing his fourth land.

    During Stark's draw step he played Vendilion Clique and Stark revealed two Scapeshifts, Primeval Titan, Mountain, and Verdant Catacombs.

    "Keep em," Ford frowned.

    Ben played his fifth land and played Scapeshift sacrificing four lands for three Valakut and a Verdant Catacombs.

    "They are tapped?" asked Ford, who was clearly used to casting Scapeshift and the game ending right there on the spot. He played a Ponder on his turn and conceded to the two dozen points of damage he was going to take from Stark's fetch land next turn.

    Jason Ford 1, Ben Stark 1

    Game 3

    "I am good," said Ford of his opening seven. Stark was struggling with his decision and finally announced:

    "I can't do this. I wanted to keep this hand."

    "Was it the 'no green source?' " asked Ford.

    "Yeah."

    "Oh god!" said Ford in the tone of someone who had learned his lesson the hard way. "Don't do it."

    Ben Stark

    Ford led of with Halimar Depths and sat back on his mana on turn two to Mana Leak Stark's Khalni Heart Expedition. He untapped and played Rampant Growth. Stark played Prismatic Omen, laid Valakut and passed the turn.

    Ford was digging through his deck with Preordain and Explore and was up to six lands. Stark was very close to having the game locked up and played Cultivate for Forest and Mountain and played Evolving Wilds.

    Ford went into the tank. He broke a fetch land and announced: "I am not going to shuffle because I am going to cast Scapeshift."

    "Scapeshift resolves," said Stark who could neither do anything about it or see a Prismatic Omen in play. Ford got two Halimar Depths and two other lands. He realized immediately that he could have held off on his Misty Rainforest to stack the two Depths triggers. As it stood now he had to hope what he was looking for was in the top three cards of his library. .

    Stark did some math, played Khalni Heart Expedition, and started bolting Ford with his lands.

    "I think I am short..." said Stark and sure enough when the dust settled Ford was at three.

    "I have the Scapeshift in my hand and the Omens is on top of my deck," said Ford who did not want to slow roll his opponent.

    Stark looked over the board and thought for a moment. "You need to have a Forest. Show me a Forest and you win."

    Ford cracked his Rainforest and was indeed able to get the green source he needed to cast the Prismatic Omen. From there he had access to all the colors he needed.

    Stark nodded and extended his hand to congratulate the Grand Prix Atlanta Champion Jason Ford.

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