gpcr12

Shuhei Nakamura, Trophy Summoner, Adept in Costa Rica!

  • Print

The battle ground may have been Costa Rica, but the victors came from far and wide. Shuhei Nakamura and Ben Stark led nearly the entire way through the tournament, from perfect runs on Day 1 to staying near perfect throughout the Draft portion of the tournament. Rounding out one of the best Top 8s ever to share a Draft table were Americans Josh Utter-Leyton, David Ochoa, David Sharfman, AJ Sacher, and Canadian Pascal Maynard. The lone Latin American representative in the Top 8 is the most experienced player from the region in the field, Brazilian Willy Edel. But it was the Hall of Famer Nakamura who navigated through this star-studded field to capture his fourth Grand Prix title.

Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
1 Shuuhei Nakamura Shuuhei Nakamura, 2-1
7 A.J. Sacher Shuuhei Nakamura, 2-0
5 Willy Edel Willy Edel, 2-0 Shuuhei Nakamura, 2-0
8 Pascal Maynard
3 Josh Utter-Leyton Ben Stark, 2-0
2 Ben Stark David Sharfman, 2-1
6 David Sharfman David Sharfman, 2-0
4 David Ochoa
What's being said about us...
Join the Conversation

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.    Shuuhei Nakamura $3,500
 2.    David Sharfman $2,300
 3.    Ben Stark $1,500
 4.   Willy Edel $1,500
 5.   Josh Utter-Leyton $1,000
 6.   David Ochoa $1,000
 7.   A.J. Sacher $1,000
 8.   Pascal Maynard $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final
Standings

14
13
12
11
10
9
14
13
12
11
10
9
14
13
12
11
10
9

8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
 

Top 8 - Player Profiles

by Nate Price

David Ochoa

Hometown: Hayward, CA

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
4 GP Top 8s, 2 Worlds teams, Tons of GP/PT scrubouts.

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
7-1, black/red, Firewing Phoenix, Nefarox

Draft 1:
3-0, red/green, Firewing Phoenix, Silklash Spider

Draft 2:
1-1-1, blue/black/red, Nefarox, Nicol Bolas

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Abrupt Decay

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
Touring the country (La Paz Waterfall Gardens), Doka Coffee Estate

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
India



Shuhei Nakamura

Hometown: I forgot.

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Missed on tiebreakers in the Magic Players Championship.

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
8-0, black/green/red

Draft 1:
2-1, black/blue

Draft 2:
1-0-2, blue/red, Talrand and Wild Guess

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Dreadbore

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
The first 24 hours. I slept for 20 hours (yes, I know, it’s so bad).

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
Miami, Israel, India



AJ Sacher

Hometown: Dominaria

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Mediocre nonsense years ago.

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
7-1, blue/white/red, lots of sideboarding

Draft 1:
green/white black, junk

Draft 2:
red/white garbage

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Not many. I like the modal spells like the charms and all of the dual lands.

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
Meeting the locals and eating the food.

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
Tim Aten’s basement or Las Vegas!



Pascal Maynard

Hometown: Quebec City, Canada

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 GP Top 8s this year!

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
7-1, blue/black control, 2 Archaeomancers and good spells

Draft 1:
1-2, blue/white fliers, 3 War Falcons and some soldiers

Draft 2:
3-0, monoblue splashing black, 4 Mind Sculpts and 3 Jace’s Phantasms!

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Abrupt Decay

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
Tourism, tours, getting to eat local food, having fun with my friends.

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
North Korea



David Sharfman

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Won PT Nagoya, won GP Paris, and made Top 8 at US Nationals

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
red/white, 2 Oblivion Ring, Pacifism, 2 Turn to Slag

Draft 1:
green/white, Elephants and Spiders

Draft 2:
green/blue, Thragtusk and 3 Sentinel Spiders

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Detention Sphere

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
Going on tours!

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
ORLANDO!!!



Ben Stark

Hometown: Miama, FL

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
May have won Pro Tour Paris, may have like two other PT Top 8s and 7 or so GP Top 8s.

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
8-0, blue/green, Thragtusk, Sands of Delirium

Draft 1:
3-0, red/green, Thragtusk, 2 Searing Spear

Draft 2:
I only played one match against Ochoa, black/red, intentional draws

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Sphinx’s Revelation

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
I like papaya.

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
Miami!



Willy Edel

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 PT Top 8s, 3 GP Top 8s, Top 4 in the Worlds Team competition, 4 Nationals Top 8s

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
6-2, red/white, Krenko and Thundermaw Hellkite

Draft 1:
3-0, black/blue, Jace, Memory Adept

Draft 2:
2-0-1, white/black, 5 War Falcons and 3 Attended Knight.

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
All of the Golgari cards.

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
It’s just been really fun so far in general.

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?
Any city from Brazil’s northeast.



Josh Utter-Leyton

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 PT Top 8s, 4 GP Top 8s, US National Champion

What decks did you play in Sealed and your two Drafts, and what were your records?
(Give colors and key cards)

Sealed:
7-1, green/black, Akroma’s Memorial

Draft 1:
3-0, green/black, 2 Garruk’s Packleader

Draft 2:
1-1-1, green/white, Odric and Ajani

Have you seen any of the Return to Ravnica, and if so, what card are you the most excited about?
Rakdos Charm. The charms are all awesome, but most of them give you three options that are generally solid, but not that efficiently costed. Rakdos Charm gives you three narrower options that are more powerful when they are good, which is exactly what you want when you have so many options anyway.

What has been your favorite experience here for the first Central American Grand Prix?
The people.

What is someplace you would love to see host a Grand Prix?



 

Top 8 - Decklists

by Nate Price

David Sharfman
Grand Prix Costa Rica 2012 - Draft

Shuhei Nakamura
Grand Prix Costa Rica 2012 - Draft

David Ochoa
Grand Prix Costa Rica 2012 - Draft

 

Quarterfinals
David Sharfman vs. David Ochoa and Josh Utter-Leyton vs. Ben Stark

by Nate Price

David Ochoa was not particularly happy as I sat down to begin watching his Quarterfinals match.

"I'm on the play, and I mulled down to five, so make sure that when I lose, the coverage adequately reflects that. 'Ochoa fought valiantly, but in the end, his two-card deficit proved too difficult to overcome...'"

Ochoa got started with a bang, five card hand or no, running a Krenko's Command out and began smashing. Sharfman made a Harbor Bandit, but declined to block one of the tokens when given the opportunity.


David Sharfman

"I fear the Trumpet Blast," he admitted.

"You know, I've played one of thise when I wasn't the attacking player. It did not go well for me," Ochoa laughed.

Sharfman was right to fear the Trumpet Blast, as Ochoa used it to great effect when Sharfman tried to block with a Watercourser on the following turn. Unfortunatly for Ochoa, he fought valiantly, but the two card deficit seemed too difficult to overcome. Stuck with only red sources, Ochoa had only played those two cards for the first six turns of the game. Sharfman, on the other hand, added a Chronomaton and Vedalken Entrancer to his side, attacking for a large chunk of Ochoa's life total each time. Without casting a third spell in the match, Ochoa conceded to Sharfman in the first game of the Top 8.

David Ochoa 0 – David Sharfman 1

Meanwhile, on a table not too far away...


Ben Stark

Ben Stark and Josh Utter-Leyton were in a slugfest of a match. Utter-Leyton had a Silklash Spider in play, but it was hiding under an Oblivion Ring. Stark had a few dorks in play, including a Furnace Whelp, Mogg Flunkies, and a Timberpack Wolf. Utter-Leyton only had an Akroma's Memorial in play, freshly cast, which prompted a "that's a good card" admission from Stark. Stark had Utter-Leyton down to a very low life total, however, and after one swing, he was in peril of dying on the following attack, He didn't have enough things to slide into play to stop the onslaught, and Stark was able to find a way arQF Stark 1ound the one creature Utter-Leyton did play, taking the first game in their Quarterfinal match.

Ben Stark 1 - Josh Utter-Leyton 0

For the second game, Ochoa once again had to mulligan. Sharfman started out with a Chronomaton and a Kraken Hatchling, allowing him to begin growing his robot straight away. On the other side, Ochoa had an interesting start of two Rings of Valkas. Unfortunately, he didn't have anything to follow them up with, while Sharfman made a Wind Drake and began attacking with his Chronomaton for two.


David Ochoa

Things were oddly reminiscent of the first game, where Ochoa played two spells and then the match was over. Sharfman had a huge advantage on the board, and things got even more out of hand as he played a Mark of the Vampire on the Wind Drake and moved to attack. He only sent the Drake, prompting Ochoa to Unsummon it mid-combat. This gave Sharfman leave to pass the turn with one mana up, which he used to pump his Chronomaton after Ochoa passed the turn right back.

Ochoa was dropped to 10, and still hadn't added anything else to the board. When he finally did make a commitment, it was an Arms Dealer, which he put one Ring on, leaving two mana available. This allowed him to block the 3/3 Chronomaton and sacrifice the Arms Dealer to kill a freshly-cast Faerie Invaders. Still, Ochoa dropped to 7. Sharfman kept adding more threats to the board, and Ochoa kept doing nothing. Within two more attacks, Ochoa was disappointed and dead.

"My deck does do more than this, I swear," he said with a sad look on his face. He didn't even really get to play Magic as he mulliganned into oblivion.

"Three one-land hands, three mulligans," he lamented after the match.

David Ochoa 0 – David Sharfman 2


Josh Utter-Leyton

Back in the other match, Utter-Leyton once again had a Silklash Spider hanging out underneath an Oblivion Ring, and the life totals stood 8-20 in favor of Stark. Stark had a Volcanic Strength on a Timberpack Wolf that was eating away at the green/red Utter-Leyton. I didn't get to sit down for long before the 4/4 beatings became lethal.

Ben Stark 2 – Josh Utter-Leyton 0

 

Quarterfinals - Willy Edel vs. Pascal Maynard

by Marc Calderaro

Game 1

Willy Edel opened with a Knight of Infamy, his White-Black Exalted-like deck, hoping to get there against Pascal Maynard's White-Green assault. Edel continued with a Attended Knight and kept things cruising.

Maynard Captain's Call was the first play from him, but he followed with a Crusader of Odric and a Warclamp Mastiff. That seemed all right until a Healer of the Pride started to get Edel's life total out of control. It was 21-13 in his favor when he swung with a double-exalted Knight thanks to another Aven Squire.

This continued for a few turns while Maynard tried to add enough creatures to stop Edel's madness. Around 5 life, thanks to a timely Captain's Call and Aven Squire, making the Crusader very big, Maynard stabilized with the totals 13-5. The only reason Edel was so low himself was because he'd taken some hits rather that lose any of his critical guys giving him the advantageous board.

Eventually the Aven Squires traded, while Maynard sunk to two life. He was still close but with the board now stalled he just needed for find an answer, and his deck had them.

However, it was Edel who found it. A Sign in Blood. Edel targeted the Canadian and Edel earned the first game.

Willy Edel 1 – 0 Pascal Maynard


Pascal Maynard

Game 2

Ajani's Sunstriker and an early Timberpack Wolves traded for the two players and a growing Chronomaton from Edel hit an Oblivion Ring from Maynard.

And then a weird little thing happened – two Pillarfield Ox faced off against one another. Maynard turned to me and said, "Yes, this is a Top 8 match."

Edel neglected to weigh in on the matter; he was busy suiting up his own Ox with a Mark of the Vampire and bashing in. This scared Maynard enough that he tried to double-block, but Edel had the blowout Divine Verdict and the Ox remained alive.


Willy Edel

Oh, had I failed to mention that the two decks also both had Healer of the Pride? So after attackers the score was still 24-22 in Edel's favor. After another Ox attack it became 17-29.

With an Angelic Benediction and a Ring of Thune to back this Ox up, it might just get there. Maynard was despondent. He was starting to only draw land. He had an Ajani's Sunstriker a Garruk's Packleader and that Healer of the Pride and he was still losing. After an Attended Knight from Edel, Maynard at least started looking like he was losing to a respectable board state.

The Ring only stayed on the Ox long enough to make it a 5/7. He moved it to the knight to create an acceptable blocker. Maynard was still bleeding life. It was 28-10. How was he losing to a blood-thirsty Ox? Could he ever stop drawing land? There are many answers in his deck to a Pillarfield Ox.

4-34. Maynard was still trickling life points. He had now drawn six land in a row.

He never drew out of it.

Willy Edel 2 – 0 Pascal Maynard

 

Quarterfinals - Shuhei Nakamura vs. A.J. Sacher

by Marc Calderaro

It's good to see A.J. Sacher back in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix. The last time he was up here was back in Denver in 2008. Before then and since then he has been a perennial face and is a prolific streamer. To qualify for the next Pro Tour, all he has to do is beat Shuhei Nakamura sporting a deck with Talrand, Sky Summoner, Jace, Memory Adept and a crap-ton of instant-awesomeness. Easy peasy, right?

Game 1

Sacher opened with a Duty-Bound Dead into a Knight of Infamy. He quickly took some points off Nakamura's slower deck which just played out a War Priest of Thune.

After sustaining some blows, Nakamura tried to go for the long game with Talrand, Sky Summoner. It'll be hard, but if he could get some key spells off he can profitably trade with Sacher's less powerful creatures. Nakamura made a 2/2 Drake with an Essence Scatter stopping a Bloodthrone Vampire, but he was still falling behind.


Shuhei Nakamura

Sacher was still swinging in. He made the totals 8-24 thanks to Mark of the Vampire on the double-exalted Knight. Nakamura fought back with Captain's Call to net another Drake. But it was going to be hard to block a creature with Protection from White with a bunch of White dorks.

Sacher gave Nakamura some tokens to work with to represent the Soldiers. The tint of them was yellow, so Nakamura threw one in front of the Pro-White knight saying, "It's Yellow, right?"

A.J. was not biting. "No. It still counts as White."

Nakamura smiled, but it must have been hard to keep smiling with a giant knight beating you into submission. A turn later, Nakamura submit.

A.J. Sacher 1 – 0 Shuhei Nakamura


A.J. Sacher

Game 2

A Watercourser came from Nakamura and his next-turn Augur of Bolas whiffed, throwing three cards to the bottom. Sacher pumped his fist. His own board contained a Tormented Soul and a Bloodthrone Vampire. Any change in board state would not favor him. The Soul beat Nakamura to 16.

The Japanese player didn't mind too much about missing with Augur, or going down to 16, because he found a Talrand, Sky Summoner right on time. And thanks to another Captain's Call Nakamura had tons of tokens. Oh wait, did I say one Captain's Call? I meant two. Two Captain's Calls. That's eight tokens in two turns.

Sacher had a Giant Scorpion, Ravenous Rats and Duty-Bound Dead for him. A Servant of Nefarox came soon after, pumping the Tormented Soul for an inevitable clock. 3/3 Unblockable is nothing to sneeze at – just ask Riverfall Mimic.

However, I'm not a doctor, but a constantly produced stream of 2/2 Drakes also seems like a decent clock. And a Riverfall Mimic would likely confirm that as well.

The Tormented Soul knocked Nakamura down until it was 15-11, but the Drakes were in the air and the Soldiers were on the ground. It was elementary from there. Sacher could find the way to stop the token inevitability. And Nakamura tied the games at one.

A.J. Sacher 1 – 1 Shuhei Nakamura

Game 3

Nakamura started with his Planeswalker in his opening grip. If he could get to Jace and protect it, he could advance to the semifinals. If he could do it. Sacher was going to make sure that couldn't happen. Even though there was a mulligan to five, Sacher's deck looked to provide some early threats. His Walking Corpse traded with the War Priest of Thune, and two Goblins from Krenko's Command started to work on Nakamura's life total.

Servant of Nefarox and Duskmantle Prowler made for big attackers, but Nakamura had an Aven Squire and a Griffin Protector back to block when he played the Jace, Memory Adept and drew a card. Nakamura landed the 'walker while still at a high life total, but had a hand of land and a single Encrust. Even though Nakamura started two cards up, if they are just going to be land, it doesn't really matter.

Another Augur of Bolas whiffed, and although the Japanese player was surviving he was yet to win. It was 13-18. Sacher was still putting up some decent threats and was making Nakamura work for everything. Nakamura threw one creature after the next in front of Jace, as the amount of counters grew to seven. That's ultimate amount, my friends.

However, Nakamura was all-but out of creatures. He tapped out to make a Talrand Sky Summoner and an Encrust on the Duskmantle Prowler. After that, he had only land in his hand.

Sacher attacked with everything. The Griffin Protector jumped in the way and died for the cause. Jace sunk to 3 counters. Talrand and Aven Squire continued to just chump-block. Sacher's chin rested on his first. His opponent's life total still hadn't changed. However, after a Captain's Call, Nakamura felt comfortable to take four life off Sacher. It was A.J.'s turn to start losing life, and there were 19 cards left in Sacher's library.

After a second Captain's Call, Nakamura felt comfortable not just attacking his opponent, but destroying him. A.J. Sacher drew for his turn and saw his Semi-final hopes disappear. He extended his hand to the Hall of Famer.

He fought well for a five-card hand, and almost overwhelmed a Jace. But "almost" only counts in Cruel Ultimatums and Chaos Orbs.

Shuhei Nakamura 2 – 1 A.J. Sacher

 

Semifinals - Shuhei Nakamura vs. Willy Edel

by Marc Calderaro

"So you have the Jace I opened?" Willy Edel joked. "I told this guy [points to me] before the match that I would die to that card." Shuhei Nakamura had indeed received that Planeswalker, and used it to dismantle A.J. Sacher to get here. Edel was the lone representative from the southern hemisphere left in the tournament. And from the man who was considering leaving the game just a short time ago, finds himself qualified for the next Pro Tour and with some significant Pro points, with a Top 32 finish at Pro Tour Barcelona and two Top 16 Grand Prix finishes at Vancouver and Sao Paolo.

I don't think we'll be seeing Willy Edel leaving anytime soon. Although he might be leaving soon from this specific tournament. Shuhei Nakamura's deck is fierce, real fierce.

Game 1

Willy Edel started with plays on turns one, two and three even after some nasty mulliganing. War Falcon, Ajani's Sunstriker and a Ring of Thune. Sadly, he hadn't found the third land to equip the Ring yet so it sat alone.

Nakamura's start was as defensive as could be. Just what his deck wanted. An Aven Squire, Watercourser and Divination. This allowed him to get set up for the mid-game while Edel was still stuck in the early portions of the game still. The Japanese player made a Talrand, Sky Summoner and then two Augur of Bolas, each netting an Essence Scatter. For the foreseeable future, the creatures on Edel's board would have to do.

Edel was at least growing his Sunstriker, but with a three-power Drake attacking each turn (thanks to the Exalted trigger on the Aven Squire), and without the ability to cast another creature (at least not for the next two summonings), things weren't looking good.

A 4/4 Ajani's Sunstriker attacked, with the aid of Angelic Benediction, but Nakamura had things under wraps. He used a Show of Valor on his Talrand and the legendary creature made short work of the cat. Oh, and Nakamura got another Drake for his efforts.

Nakamura untapped started taking away chunks of Edel's life in four-point increments and won the first game.

Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 0 Willy Edel


Will Edel

Game 2

The Brazilian started this game out with Chronomaton. It grew into a 4/4 before anything else was cast. This game was a bit of a slow-burn.

Nakamura opened with a Captain's Call, then Divination and Augur of Bolas. For the third time in the Top 8, the Hall of Famer's Augur failed to find an instant or sorcery, though Nakamura got excited for a minute and revealed his Talrand, Sky Summoner as if it were going to his hand before chuckling and putting it on the bottom. Oops.

Nakamura composed himself and acted as if it ain't no thang, casting a Jace, Memory Adept with the Soldiers and Augur to block. By this time, Edel had made an Attended Knight, using it, the Chronomaton and the 1/1 Solider to knock Jace down to two counters immediately. Now, I say "immediately" but I actually mean, "after Edel put ten cards from his library into his graveyard."


Shuhei Nakamura

The next turn the same thing happened. Ten more cards hit the bin. Edel at least had a Pacifism for the Augur of Bolas, but Nakamura had War Priest of Thune to add not one, but two more blockers, killing the aura in the process.

Ten more cards hit the bin. Edel had no way to remove the Jace. He thought about his outs for a minute, but then extended his hand.

"I told you that Jace would kill me!" Edel smiled. Though he would've loved to go to the finals, he had just earned himself a trip to the next Pro Tour. He was excited enough.

Nakamura wryly scooped up his cards and let out a slight smirk. He was on to yet another Grand Prix finals. And with the way his deck looks, it might just be another win.

Shuhei Nakamura 2 – 0 Will Edel

 

Semifinals - Ben Stark vs. David Sharfman

by Nate Price

There was an incredible amount of hilarious banter between all of the American players as they sat around watching Stark and Sharfman shuffle before the game.

Stark started recounting his matches. "I played literally everyone I know over the course of the tournament. Though I guess that's kind of how these things go. I'm like 2-2 against Ochoa, and like 0-10 against Kibler," who was walking nearby.

"Well we're all 0-10 against Kibler," chimed in Josh Utter-Leyton from a nearby chair.

Stark started off with a mulligan, prompting a round of jokes about how much each player had forced their opponents to mulligan.

"Ochoa mulliganned three times against me," Sharfman pointed out.

"Yeah, Wrapter [Utter-Leyton] mulliganed both games against me, too."

Game 1

Stark was the first to attack, playing a Reckless Brute and attacking for 3. Sharfman made a Scroll Thief, but chose not to block as Stark crashed in again. Stark passed the turn with four lands available, likely signaling something. Sharfman bit and attacked in with his Scroll Thief. Stark tapped his lands and virtually windmill slammed his Yeva, Nature's Herald into play, blocking the likely surprised Scroll Thief. After combat, Sharfman replaced the Thief with a Harbor Bandit. When Stark attacked in with his team on the following turn, Sharfman curiously let himself go down to 7. After combat, Stark added a Krenko, Mob Boss, to his side, prompting a chuckle from a nearby Brian Kibler.

At this point, Stark was miles ahead. Sharfman made a move to get back into thing with a Mark of the Vampire on his Bandit, giving him a 5/5 lifelinking critter to stem the tide. Stark attacked in with just his Brute, and Sharfman was more than happy to block. After combat, a Flames of the Firebrand finished the big lifelinker off. Sharfman drew his card, played a land, and immediately fired off a Public Execution, not giving Stark a chance to activate Krenko. That left Stark with a lone Yeva in play. Yeva began the beats, dropping Sharfman to within a single remaining lethal attack. When Sharfman tried to make a pair of blockers, a Watercourser and a Vedalken Entrancer, Stark used Prey Upon to kill the Entrancer, forcing Sharfman to have to block with his Watercourser, once again clearing his board. On the following turn, he came up with nothing, and Stark took the first game thanks to a backbreaking Yeva, Nature's Herald.

Ben Stark 1 – David Sharfman 0


Ben Stark

Game 2

"I've only ever seen one person play around Yeva, and that's Shuhei [Nakamura]. He did it to me in the Swiss," Stark explaine. "I had a pair of Forests and Mountains open, passed the turn right back to him after he played a three-drop, and he just passed it right back. It was insane. Like 99% of people don't play around it there, so I didn't expect you to, either."

Stark started the final game off with an incredibly fast start. His Arbor Elf allowed an early Canyon Minotaur, but Sharfman kept ahead of it with a Scroll Thief bearing a Mark of the Vampire. The 3/5 lifelinker was quite the obstacle and negated any potential damage Stark could do at the moment to boot. Stark cast a Mindclaw Shaman, revelaing a hand of good blue creatures, including a Watercourser, Vedalken Entrancer, Faerie Invaders, and Archaeomancer, but no spells to cast for free. By this point, Sharfman was forced to stop attacking with his Scroll Thief, as Stark had enough creatures to kill it if he gang blocked, and it was much more worth it to have a 3/5 lifelinking blocker. Stark added a Furnace Whelp to his team, giving him a way to rise above the ground stall, but he knew Sharfman held a Faerie Invaders in his hand. Unwilling to attack into it, Stark just passed the turn until Sharfman dropped it into play. Sharfman had also taken the time to play the Watercourser and Harbor Bandit, making his board a bit more impressive than Stark's.

With the Invaders now in play, Stark used Flames of the Firebrand to push it out of the way, clearing the way for his Furnace Whelp to begin whittling away at Sharfman's life total. Sharfman started pressing his advantage sending the Watercourser and an unblockable Bandit. The Mindclaw Shaman traded with the Courser, but Sharfman still dropped Stark to 8.

Stark began to battle back, and in a big way. The Mogg Flunkies and Canyon Minotaur he added to his side were given free rein to attack after a Turn to Slag removed the 3/5 lifelinking Scroll Thief from the equation. With such massive creatures at his disposal, he looked to soon be able to make mincemeat of Sharfman's life total. A big swing dropped Sharfman to 9. At the end of Stark's turn, Sharmfan used his Entrancer on himself in an attempt to get something into his graveyard that the Archaeomancer he was holding could return, but he hit nothing of value. Sharfman decided to attack with his remaining two creatures, a Harbor Bandit and Vedalken Entrancer, dropping Stark to four. After combat, he simply unloaded his hand, an Archaeomancer and a Watercourser, providing enough defense to survive the turn, and a big enough threat that Stark couldn't attack for fear of the lethal counterattack. Stark simply passed the turn. When Sharfman drew a Tricks of the Trade for his turn, he had all the unblockable damage he needed to finish the second game.

Ben Stark 1 – David Sharfman 1


David Sharfman

Game 3

"You win again," Stark asked Shuhei Nakamura as he walked over to hecck out the match?

When Namakura gave him the thumbs up, Stark broke into laughter. "So fast! He just crushes everybody in like five minutes." At least the players in this match knew who they were going to be facing in the finals. Not that they felt any better...

Sharfman was the first on the board with a Watercourser, but Stark was the first to attack, his Reckless Brute fearlessly attacking into the Courser for 3. Sharfman attacked back for 3, pumping his Watercourser once before playing a Harbor Bandit. Respecting the power of the unblockable Bandit, Stark immediately offed it with Flames of the Firebrand. Stark kept building his board with a Canyon Minotaur, but things soon took a decidedly different turn.

Sharfman played Sands of Delirium, giving him an alternative to winning the game through pure damage. Despite the new route to victory, Sharfman pressed the advantage he had, using his mana to cast more creatures, such as a Faerie Invaders, Harbor Bandit, and Wind Drake, presenting a large amount of unblockable damage. When he added a Kraken Hatchling to his side, he had enough defense to prevent Stark from trying anything funny. Even with the Sands on the table, Sharfman was more than content to ride his evasion to the victory, winning through the tried and true method of damaging his opponent to death.

Ben Stark 1 – David Sharfman 2

 

Finals – Shuhei Nakamura vs. David Sharfman

by Marc Calderaro

"Don't beat me took quickly, please." David Sharfman smiled as if he were joking, but I don't think he was. Nakamura's deck has been a beast and a looming shadow over the over everything throughout this Top 8.

Ben Stark chimed in from the crowd to no one in particular, "We'll be going to dinner soon." I'm sure that didn't help Sharfman's confidence level. "Five minutes, tops."

However things looked up for Sharfman early and he could do nothing but smile when Shuhei Nakamura had to mulligan to five cards. This was an early-game victory for him. He told me not to put that into the coverage. I didn't listen.

Game 1

Nakamura stuck a Watercourser as his first play of the game. Sharfman was able to get an early Chronomaton and a Harbor Bandit on the board and used the latter to take Nakamura to 17 and deal the first points of damage in the game. Sharfman used Nakamura's mulligans to press an advantage.

The Japanese, though down on cards, showed the sheer power of his deck by hitting a turn-four Talrand's Invocation with an Aven Squire, Show of Valor and Redirect still in his hand. Before Sharfman untapped, his Chronomaton grew into a 2/2.

Sharfman left everything untapped and had attacked with nothing, choosing to keep five mana open for whatever Nakamura could throw at him. Naka threw the two Drakes and his Watercourser. Sharfman played a Faerie Invaders, but Nakamura had a trump in Show of Valor. After the 3/3 Flyer died, Nakamura ruled the skies.

After two attacks the total went from 17-14 to 17-8. Sharfman was on back-peddling. Not out of the game by a long shot, but he couldn't hold back attackers anymore and still expect to win. Heeding my hive-mind advice, he swung in with his Chronomaton and Harbor Bandit, taking Nakamura to 12, while leaving back a 2/2 Wind Drake.

Nakamura attacked with one Drake (pumped by the Aven Squire). Sharfman thought for a bit, then cast a Public Execution. He pointed the card at the non-attacking Drake. "This guy." The token disappeared and Shuhei passed the turn without having done any damage.

Most people observing at this point posed the question why Shuhei didn't use his Redirect on the Public Execution. It was a stumper for everyone except for Shuhei. The wording on Public Execution reads "Destroy target creature an opponent controls", so casting Redirect would do little good. It was amazing that Nakamura knew that well enough to not even give a second thought, as most other people in the room where confused by that play.

Though Nakamura had ended his turn without having dealt damage, the same could not be said for Sharfman. He attacked with his Drank and Harbor Bandit before dropping a Watercourser. The totals were 7-8.

Nakamura had his Talrand, Sky Summoner and Captain's Call sitting in his hand, but not nearly enough mana to cast them both in the same turn. He started tapping damage out on the table.

He made three Soldier tokens and dropped Sharfman to 5 with a 3/3 Drake attack. Sharfman drew two cards from Divination and retreated into his brain. He had four mana left open. He used two of it to make Harbor Bandit unblockable at take Nakamura to 4. [4-5]. He had a Negate in his hand, awaiting a juicy target.

A Drake crack-back made it 4-2. Nakamura cast Talrand. He had a Watercourser, Aven Squire, three tokens and a the legend to block. Sharfman had a Harbor Bandit that could go past all of them. He tapped two, made it unblockable and took Nakamura to one.

Sharfman went for the win. He used his remaining mana on an Essence Drain leaving nothing open for the Negate. Against mere mortals, this would have been more than enough for the win, but Nakamura had the craziest trump sitting in his hand. Remember it? It was Redirect.

This deck was so ridiculous, Nakamura mulliganed to five and he was gifted the right cards at the right time, played the right way to still get the win.

Granted, that Redirect could have been a boring old Negate, because with the extra 2/2 Drake from Talrand, Nakamura was still likely to earn the "W', but still. C'mon...Redirect for the win? Awesome.

Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 0 David Sharfman

Game 2

After having to think about keeping his two-land opener, Sharfman kept. The Floridian was going to have to draw well, as Nakamura started off with Aven Squire and Captain's Call right on time. A turn later, there were two Drake tokens on the field thanks to Talrand's Invocation. He had eight-power-worth of creatures on turn five. And Sharfman was about to find his third land.

Though Sharfman stumbled on his third and fourth land drops, he hit them on subsequent turns. He made a Scroll Thief and Wind Drake. He started to catch himself up on the board, but was obviously wary about the time of hand Nakamura had waiting him, and the life deficit where he already found himself.

The Japanese player bounced Sharfman's Drake and knocked his opponent to 9. All Nakamura had to do now was keep his opponent off-balance enough, and he would have this Grand Prix sewn up.

Behind me, Ben Stark sighed. He was rooting for his state-mate as hard as he could, but even he knew the situation was dire. Sharfman had a desperate play of Mark of the Vampire on his Scroll Thief. He was hoping the ifelink could buy him the time he needed.

But without any other support, the fliers (Aven Squire and two Drakes) took him to 7, then 2. Nakamura was waiting with two Essence Scatter in his hand. Sharfman tried to make something happen. But sadly, those somethings were in creature form. And so with four quick taps of land, and two quick flashes of counterspells, Nakamura was back on top of the world.

Shuhei Nakamura 2 – 0 David Sharfman

Shuhei Nakamura, after just missing the Top 4 at the Player's Championship on tie-breakers, gets receives justice and picks up his fourth Grand Prix win.

Congratulations, Shuhei!

 

The Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Costa Rica

by Event Coverage Staff



5. Talrand's Invocation

Four power of flying creatures for four mana.

Seems legit.

This card is absurdly powerful, and it has the power to single-handedly win games, dropping a large amount of flying beef onto the table for a minimal mana commitment. Add in the fact that it can be brought back by Archaeomancer, and you have a recipe for a winning deck. This card was a major player in every successful blue deck of the weekend, including Shuhei Nakamura's winning decklist. In a format where evasion rules, such as this one, the most efficient evader rules the roost, and in this case, it's the incredibly powerful Talrand's Invocation. If you could only have it in the same deck as Talrand, Sky Summoner...like Nakamura did...twice...

Since evasion rules this format, it is hard to overlook how important the flying on the Drakes is. Able to fly over any defenses an opponent can set up the Drakes from Invocation are capable of ending the game in a mere five turns. Support them with any sort of defense, and they will hand you the game. They are also exceptional at defense, able to trade with many of the important smaller creatures of the format, or at least able to deter an army of 1/1s from attacking if left back. Since the creatures come as a pair, you are free to attack for 2 with one while leaving the other back as a defender. This incredible versatility combined with the utter power the card possesses really shined this weekend in multiple of Shuhei Nakamura's decks.





4. Jace, Memory Adept

Jace seems like kind of a cheaty inclusion here in the Top 5 cards because he is so obviously powerful. I mean, he's a Planeswalker, which is one big point, and he has an ability that is ludicrously more powerful in Limited than Constructed (the mill), which is a second big point. Add to that his key role in both the 8-0 deck Ben Stark used to roll through Day 1 and Shuhei Nakamura's tournament winning deck, and you have an easy inclusion into the Top 5 cards. The utter power of his mill ability, which ends the game after two or three activations, is understated, even as powerful as it is, until you see a player take an unwinnable game and just turn it around simply because they played a Jace. He may be the single most unfair card in the format, moreso than Thundermaw Hellkite, more than Thragtusk and Sands of Delirium. Jace just ends games, and he did so this weekend in spectacular fashion, so he gets to be in the Top 5.





3. Silklash Spider

It's fitting that both Silklash Spider and Talrand's Invocation should make the Top 5 cards when they were the two cards that Ben Stark was deciding between in his first pack of his first Draft on Sunday. Especially when you consider that whichever he didn't pick ended up in Shuhei Namakura's deck, siting just to his left.

He picked the Spider. Shuhei won the tournament.

Now now, before you ride me, Stark crushed that pod, riding his massive, 2/7, long-legged Spider into a Top 8 berth. David Ochoa used it to great effect in his first Draft deck, and Josh Utter-Leyton managed to get it stuck under an Oblivion Ring twice in his Quarterfinals match against Ben Stark. What makes the card so good is that all of that talk about evasion being important? Well Silklash Spider kills fliers dead. Hell, it kills blue decks dead. Add to that it has an enormous toughness, and you have a nasty critter. When was the last time you saw someone bash through a seven toughness without some ridiculous tricks? It's impossible for the blue decks to beat, difficult for the green decks to bash through, and it's hard for the red decks to burn away. Simply put, the Spider is a boss.





2. Captain's Call

There is something to be said for spending four mana for more than one creature. Captain's Call is reminiscent of Lingering Souls in its flexibility. Sure, the tokens don't fly. Sure, it costs four mana at once rather than over two turns. Sure, it only makes three tokens.

But bear with me.

First, look at how it performed in Pascal Maynard's Top 8 deck. With an aggressive white base, the tokens served as part of an attacking army, as well as a powerful way to pump his Crusader of Odric. In this light, it can be seen to be an aggressive wunderkind, filling the role of enhancer and attacker all in one. In addition, the card creates multiple attackers, allowing armies to slip through cracks to bleed opponents to death, making it easier to sneak in for the last few points of damage later in the game.

Then, compare that to how it functioned in Shuhei Nakamura's winning deck, where he used it in conjunction with Talrand, Sky Summoner, to create a Drake to attack with while hiding behind the Soldiers on the ground. In this role, it demonstrates how making multiple tokens can be very beneficial when a deck needs a defensive timeout. As long as the opposing team doesn't have trample, Captain's Call acts ,at worst, as a Fog, providing a one turn reprieve, and at best as three turns of chump blocking, which is often enough for the deck to either gain control or finish things off in the air. Both combined, you have a very solid card, one that earned its keep here at Grand Prix Costa Rica.





1. Mark of the Vampire

It's rare that an Aura makes the list in a Limited format, but this is one time that an exception must be made. The format itself is rather light on hard removal, making creature enchantments like this and Tricks of the Trade very powerful. What gives Mark the edge is the lifelink. There were many points over the course of the weekend where we saw players who had been pushed into a corner land a Mark of the Vampire on a creature and lifelink their way back into the game, often to a win. It works well with the evasion creatures, it works well with the beefy green creatures... it even works well on cards like Scroll Thief, which David Sharfman discovered as he used the combo to great success on his way to the Finals. This format is one perfectly positioned for Auras to shine, and Mark of the Vampire is the best of the bunch.



  • Planeswalker Points
  • Facebook Twitter
  • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
  • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
  • Magic Locator