gprio13

Da Silva Grabs Gold in Rio

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In one of the rarest instances of friendship and sportsmanship and who knows how many other 'ships, Artur Villela conceded the finals to his close friend and newly minted Gold-level Pro, Jose Francisco da Silva.

It was amazing enough that the pair were paired in the final match of the 709-person Standard tournament, wading their way through a sea of midrange, control, and Reanimator decks with two very different decks that both leaned on Falkenrath Aristocrats. Villela set himself up to help his friend with a Jund Aggro deck capable of some Blitz-esque starts, while da Silva stunned the competition with The Aristocrats, a deck that was more popular than initially expected this weekend.

While much of the weekend was a race to the middle, the Top 8 was just as notable for what wasn't there as what was. Not a single Blue card made the final brackets, and every deck but one sported Green cards. Unburial Rites were everywhere, but mostly in the form of Junk-style value Reanimator decks. And Naya Blitz, the darling of a week ago, was nowhere to be seen when the dust settled.

But in the end it was two speedy but resilient Falkenrath Aristocrats that won the weekend. That and friendship.




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Wellington Cordeiro   Walter Filho, 2-1        
8 Walter Filho   Artur Villela, 2-1
       
4 Artur Villela   Artur Villela, 2-0   Jose Francisco Silva, 2-0
5 Jorge Henrique Siqueira    
       
2 Martan Quiroga   Jose Francisco Silva, 2-0
7 Jose Francisco Silva   Jose Francisco Silva, 2-0
       
3 Andres Monsalve   Andres Monsalve, 2-1
6 Matias Arvigo    







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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Jose Francisco Silva $3,500
 2.  Artur Villela $2,300
 3.  Andres Monsalve $1,500
 4.  Walter Filho $1,500
 5.  Wellington Cordeiro $1,000
 6.  Martan Quiroga $1,000
 7.  Jorge Henrique Siqueira $1,000
 8.  Matias Arvigo $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Andres Monsalve
    Grand Prix Rio De Janeiro 2013 Top 8 - Standard


    Arthur Villela
    Grand Prix Rio De Janeiro 2013 Top 8 - Standard




    Jorge Henrique Siqueira
    Grand Prix Rio De Janeiro 2013 Top 8 - Standard







     

  • Top 16 Decklists (9-16)

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Daniel A Ferraresso
    Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro Top 16 - Standard



    Welder Pereira
    Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro Top 16 - Standard





    William Araújo Bossaneli
    Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro Top 16 - Standard





     

  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Jose Francisco Dantas Mangueira da Silva

    Age: 28
    Hometown: São Paulo, Brasil
    Occupation:Magic Online grinder and student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 8 GP Curitiba 2001, Top 4 GP São Paulo 2012

    Day 1 record:
    8-1

    Day 2 record:
    4-2

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    Atirastorourix.dec made by Eduard Borges (shooter) and Pedro Carvalho (megaphone). Falkenrath Aristocrat.

    What do you think the Top 3 cards in Standard are?
    Killing Wave, Burning-Tree Emissary, Acidic Slime (jk)
    Falkenrath Aristocrat, Sphinx's Revelation, Thragtusk

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst
    None. This deck is basically 4 Falkenrath Aristocrats, a bunch of cards that can cast it, and some that can protect it!!!

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    It would mean a lot, but not more than representing Jesus's team! And also, if you're reading, Eviny (my girlfriend), you're the reason off my happiness.



    Artur Scoralick Villela

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Juiz de Fora, Brasil
    Occupation:Magic dealer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Two-time winner of the Legacy National Championships (2010-12)

    Day 1 record:
    7-2

    Day 2 record:
    5-0-1

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    Jund Aggro. Falkenrath Aristocrat.

    What do you think the Top 3 cards in Standard are?
    Falkenrath Aristocrat, Burning-Tree Emissary, Kessig Wolf Run

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst

    Best:
    Everything.

    Worst:
    Nothing (except the heat).

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    It would be fun, and a great new opportunity to play in a unique tournament.



    Andres Fabian Monsalve

    Age: 29
    Hometown: La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Occupation: Employee


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2 Pro Tours, Finals of GP São Paulo 2009

    Day 1 record:
    9-0

    Day 2 record:
    3-2-1

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    Junk Reanimator, Acidic Slime

    What do you think the Top 3 cards of Standard are?
    Unburial Rites, Thragtusk, Lingering Souls

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst

    Best:
    Midrange decks, Jund

    Worst:
    Jund Aggro, Naya Blitz

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    It would mean a lot to represent my country, friends, team, EVERYONE! Thanks to all of them (MTGmulligan Team and Team Penumbra) for this.



    Mathias Gabriel Argivo

    Age: 23
    Hometown: La Plate, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Occupation: Employee


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Nothing special. I've been playing for only a year and a half, and this is my first GP.

    Day 1 record:
    8-1

    Day 2 record:
    4-1-1

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    Jund Midrange. Olivia Voldaren. She has won games by herself.

    What do you think the Top 3 cards in Standard are?
    Unburial Rites, Olivia Voldaren, Rakdos's Return

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst
    Best matchups are Esper and Bant (which I didn't play against the whole tournament). Worst matchups are Reanimator and super-fast aggro decks.

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    Everything. Magic is a big part of my life and it'd be an honor.



    Martin Quiroga

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Occupation: Factory Worker


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    3 Nationals Top 8, Winner of PTQ Puerto Rico

    Day 1 Record:
    8-1

    Day 2 Record:
    4-0-2

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    The Aristocrats!!! Best card by far was Falkenrath Aristocrat, but also Skirgard High Priest did his job very well.

    What do you think the top 3 cards in Standard are?
    Sphinx's Revelation
    Thragtusk
    Falkenrath Aristocrat

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst
    I don't have any really good match, but worst match is probably Wolf-Run Bant

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    It means everything for me! I love to play Magic and there is nothing better than represent my country!



    Jorge Henrique Cesar Siqueira

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Recife - Brazil
    Occupation: Financial Marketing


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Top 64 at GP Sao Paulo 2012

    Day 1 Record:
    8-1

    Day 2 Record:
    4-1-1

    What did you play on Day 1 and what was your best card?
    Junk Reanimator and best card was Unburial Rites

    What do you think the Top 3 cards in Standards are?
    Burning-Tree Emissary
    Sphinx's Revelation
    Unburial Rites

    What are your best matchups?
    worst
    Jund Midrange by far. Control are OK and Humanimators are the worst.

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    I have no idea, I love the game and probably it would be awesome!



    Welington da Silve Cordeiro

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Nova Iguacu - Brazil
    Occupation: P&D Studant ( Math )


    Previous Accomplishments:
    None

    Day 1 Record:
    8-1

    Day 2 Record:
    5-1

    What did you play on Day1 and what was your best card?
    Gruul Agroo, Brimstone Volley

    What do you think the top3 Cards in Standard are?
    Burning-Tree Emissary
    Boros Reckoner
    Thragtusk

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst
    I dont have any really good matchups, but UWR is the worst and for some reason I won lots of this matchup.

    What would it mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?
    A great Honor and I would be very Proud!



    Walter Filho

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Itarare - Brazil
    Occupation: Business Man


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    None

    Day 1 Record:
    7-2

    Day 2 Record:
    5-1

    What did you play on Day1 and what was your best card?
    14 "Pedagio". Angel of Glory's Rise

    What do you think the Top 3 cards in standard are?
    Boros Reckoner
    Thragtusk
    Sphinx's Revelation

    What are your best matchups?
    Worst
    Control Decks, Worst is Jund Zombies

    What would mean to you to represent your country in the World Magic Cup?




     

  • Quarterfinals - Artur Villela vs. Jorge Henrique Cesar Sique

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • There is an introduction that could be written for this match. I could wax and wane about the success Artur Villela has had with Jund Aggro or the similar success enjoyed by Jorge Henrique Cesar Sique with Junk Reanimator. But that seems like a lot of waste when the games went...well, see for yourself.

    Game 1

    Villela's fast Jund deck wasted no time in the quarterfinals. Two Burning-Tree Emmisarries, Mogg Flunkies and a Flinthoof Boar had Sique at 10 life before he could really do much of anything. Oh, and those were all attacking on turn three. Emissary is a heck of a card.

    Jorge Henrique Cesar Sique

    Centaur Healer bought some time, but Abrupt Decay shut it down quickly.

    It really was just that fast.

    Villela 1 – Sique 0

    Game 2

    Experiment One got things started quickly for Villela again, attacking for three on turn two thanks to Burning-Tree Emissary into Mogg Flunkies. When a Flinthoof Boar joined the table on turn three, it looked like we might have a repeat of the first game.

    Jorge Henrique Cesar Sique

    Centaur Healer once again provided some breathing room, but once again it was hardly enough. Three more quick beaters—Experiment One, Mogg Flunkies and another Flinthoof Boar—were more than enough to take an equally fast second game.

    So, apparently, this isn't a great matchup.

    Vilela 2 – Sique 0




     

  • Quarterfinals - Andres Monsalve vs. Matias Arvigo

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • This matchup was inevitable from Round 1 of the tournament. Junk Reanimator and Jund Midrange clashed and crossed swords repeatedly all weekend long as two of the most popular—and best positioned—decks in the field.

    Andres Monsalve was one of two Junk Reanimator decks remaining in the tournament and he faced a much better matchup than his Unburial Rites compatriot in arms, Jorge Henrique Siqueira, who was beating soundly by Jund Aggro in over a total of about 8 cumulative turns.

    Matias Arvigo's Jund deck, on the other hand, was not well set up to battle against recurring Thragtusks and Angels of Serenity. The deck had the ability to put the vice on opponents who stumble, but if Monsalve could stock his graveyard and hand with value creatures, he would give himself a strong chance to advance to the semifinals.

    Game 1

    Monsalve and Arvigo both spent their early turns setting up for their middle and late game. Monsalve with a Grisly Salvage to load up his graveyard, Arvigo with a Farseek to fix his mana perfectly.

    Matias Arvigo

    Arvigo was the first to make a move on the battlefield, resolving Liliana of the Veil and ticking it up in response. Considering Monsalve actively wanted cards in his graveyard, it was unlikely this would get the Jund player very far. Garruk, Primal Hunter, however, represented a very real threat.

    Monsalve, however, was content to continue filling his graveyard and simply lay a Thragtusk. The 5/3 wasn't much of a threat against Garruk, but Monsalve mostly just had to buy time till he could finish the game with either Craterhoof Behemoth or Angel of Serenity. Or both.

    Arvigo's own Thragtusk complicated matters quite a bit, drawing him five cards off Garruk and giving him a formidable defense.

    A formidable defense that just could go quite as big as Unburial Rites on Craterhoof Behemoth.

    The Rites, however, was mostly for value, as Monsalve "just" succeeded in killing Garruk and dealing a few damage.

    A second Thragtusk gave Arvigo more than just a few life to spare, however. He was all the way up at 28 while the Junk player was skating along at just 10 life.

    But Angel of Serenity shut down the board pretty quickly. It looked like Monsalve might have turned the corner necessary to take the first game.

    Until Arvigo cast a Devil's Play for full value. Monsalve fell to three life and faced at least five damage on the flashback next turn. He had access to Thragtusk in his graveyard, but his position was still pretty precarious.

    He went digging with Grisly Salvage to find some help, but didn't turn up a way to win that turn. Instead, Monsalve returned a Thragtusk to jump to 8, allowing him to attack with his Angel of Serenity and survive Devil's Play.

    Unable to kill Monsalve, Arvigo simply passed his next turn—and fell into a deeper hole. A Thragtusk on Monsalve's draw step put him further out of range. More Unburial Rites and more Thragtusks increased Monsalve's life cushion, all while Angel of Serenity continued to swing for five a turn.

    Finally, Monsalve made his move. Targeting Restoration Angel with Unburial Rites, he attempted to blink out his Craterhoof Behemoth and end the game immediately. Murder slowed the plan, but a flashed back Unburial Rites on the newly dead Behemoth sealed the deal.

    Monsalve 1 – Arvigo 0

    Game 2

    Sideboard games were much better for Jund, as they gained ways to interact with the value-Unburial Rites plan. It still wasn't a great matchup—Slaughter Games was his only way to interact with the graveyard—but it was certainly better than Game 1.

    Again, the players spent the early turns setting up, Monsalve with Grisly Salvage and Lotleth Trolls—plural—and Arvigo with lands and a Huntmaster of the Fells.


    Arvigo then played the first of his Slaughter Games, chosing to remove Acidic Slime and catching one in Monsalve's hand. He followed up the next turn with a Thragtusk, albeit one that couldn't profitably attack into a pair of Lotleth Trolls. At least not until Bonfire of the Damned tapped them down and chipped in for two points of damage

    Monsalve, so active early on in the last game, did nothing but play lands for several turns

    A seventh land gave Monsalve a shot when he cleared the board via Angel of Serenity, but Arvigo merely had to show his opponent the Devil's Play in his hand to push the match to Game 3.

    Monsalve 1 – Arvigo 1

    Game 3

    Monsalve kicked things off with a Duress, seeing Slaughter Games, Bonfire of the Damned, Olivia Voldaren, Thundermaw Hellkit, Huntmaster of the Fells and just two lands. It was a saucy hand—if Arvigo ever hit four lands to cast anything.

    Slaughter Games hit the bin, but Monsalve had to be happy with what he saw.

    Andres Monsalve

    He cast and started attacking with a Lotleth Troll, but was staring at a hand that contained just lands, Craterhoof Behemoth and Angel of Serenity. If Arvigo could see HIS hand, he'd probably be pretty happy too.

    Well, for about a turn anyway. Acidic Slime set Arvigo back on mana—from three to two—only to be undone by a Farseek, much to the delight of the crowd. Arvigo tried to make a go at it with a Mizzium Mortars, but unable to find a fourth mana source, he was quickly undone.

    Monsalve 2 – Arvigo 1




     

  • Quarterfinals - Jose Francisco da Silva vs. Andres Monsalve

    by Nate Price

  • Nothing is more intoxicating than the taste of victory, nothing more sobering than the bite of defeat. Jose Francisco da Silva and Andres Monsalve have both come so close to experiencing the thrill of hoisting a Grand Prix trophy, but both have also fallen short. In addition to one previous Grand Prix Top 8, da Silva managed to crack the semifinals of Grand Prix Sao Paulo last year, but failed to make it through to the finals. Monsalve, on the other hand, managed to make it to the finals of his home Grand Prix Buenos Aires in 2009, losing in the finals to a Brazilian player. His strong performance here in Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro has given him a chance for revenge, a chance to take a Brazilian trophy home to Argentina.

    Semifinals are under way

    Game 1

    Things did not start incredibly auspiciously for the Argentinean. After mulliganing to six cards, Monsalve began with an Avacyn's Pilgrim, which, across the table, da Silva matched with a Champion of the Parish. While Monsalve's Pilgrim did nothing, da Silva's Champion began to grow, becoming a 2/2 and attacking for 3 by virtue of a Knight of Infamy. For the second straight turn, Monsalve did nothing. As he had every turn, da Silva continued to exponentially increase his damage. Silverblade Paladin pumped his Champion and made it into a double-striker. The attack forced Monsalve to block with his Pilgrim and rescue it with a Restoration Angel, keeping himself at 17. Monsalve added a second Avacyn's Pilgrim and passed the turn right back.

    Da Silva untapped and immediately removed the Angel with an Orzhov Charm. The four damage was a more than reasonable price to pay to clear a path for his attack. Again, da Silva increased his army. A second Knight of Infamy turned his Champion into a 4/4, and his trio of available creatures attacked. Monsalve was forced to chump block the 8 damage represented by the Champion, still taking 6, dropping to 11. Next turn, he was going to be facing a ridiculous amount of damage from da Silva's team, and he didn't have an Angel of Serenity to save him. He simply shook his head.

    da Silva takes game one really quickly

    "Way too fast," he said as he picked up his cards. "Way too fast."

    Jose Francisco da Silva 1 – Andres Monsalve 0

    Game 2

    Once again, both players began with a first-turn creature. This time, Monsalve followed his Avacyn's Pilgrim up with a Mulch for one. Da Silva, meanwhile, had a similar start to his last, though he downgraded in power. Knight of Infamy followed Doomed Traveler and soon began attacking for 3. A Champion of the Parish arrived just a little late, missing out on two counters.

    Monsalve tries to even the score

    Once he hit four lands, Monsalve brought out the big guns. Thragtusk gained him five life back up to 20, but da Silva immediately nullified it with a Falkenrath Aristocrat. Monsalve attacked with his Tusk, forcing da Silva to block with his Traveler, sacrificing it to put a counter on the Aristocrats. After combat, Monsalve played a Lotleth Troll and a Restoration Angel, flickering his Thragtusk for five more life and a 3/3 Beast.

    Da Silva and Monsalve were at an interesting crossroads. It appeared that da Silva held a slight avantage on the board, but it wasn't clear by how much. Any ambiguity evaporated when a second Falkenrath Aristocrat hit the table, swinging in with the first. Monsalve threw his Angel in front of the bigger Aristocrat, forcing da Silva to sacrifice his Champion of the Parish. Monsalve dropped to 14. Another attack on the following turn at a defenseless Monsalve sealed the match. Da Silva managed to better his mark from Sao Paulo last year, making his first Grand Prix finals. Monsalve found himself finishing just short of a victory one more time, unable to avenge his loss in Buenos Aires.

    da Silva wins to advance to the finals

    Jose Francisco da Silva 2 – Andres Monsalve 0




     

  • Semifinals - Walter Filho vs. Artur Villela

    by Julio De Biasi

  • Things were cordial as Walter Filho and Artur Villela approached the table for their semifinal match. While they perused each other's lists, they calmly chatted about their decks. Villela even went as far as to offer to show his deck to Filho to clear any of his doubts about card names.

    Game 1

    Vilela started strong, unleashing a Rakdos Cackler on the first turn. He followed this up with an untapped Overgrown Tomb, allowing him to cast both Experiment One and another unleashed Cackler. Filho tried to set up his combo, using a Burning-Tree Emissary to enable a Faithless Looting. That allowed him to discard Undercity Informant and Grisly Salvage. It didn't take long for Villela to decide on attacking with everything, leaving Filho to figure out his defense. Emissary blocked the 2/2 Experiment, forcing Villela to bloodrush it with a Ghor-Clan Rampager, dropping Filho to 8. Filho was completely unprepared for the onslaught and fell very quickly in Game 1.

    Artur Villela 1 – Walter Filho 0

    Game 2

    Already down a game, Filho was forced to mulligan in the second, and he didn't look happy about it. He looked even less happy when Villela opened with an Experiment Filho signaled some sort of instant when he took two from Overgrown Tomb before passing. He revealed it to be an Abrupt Decay, which he used to destroy a second Experiment One that Villela tried to cast after combat.

    Walter Filho

    With an unusually slow start from Villela, Filho found himself able to afford a little breathing room to set up his combo. A Faithless Looting sent an Angel of Glory's Rise and Unburial Rites to the graveyard, giving a vision of things to come. Villela found some gas on his next turn, adding a Dreg Mangler to his board, evolving his Experiment One into a 2/2. Flashing back Faithless Looting let Filho add a Fiend Hunter and Huntmaster of the Fells to his graveyard, giving him a nice complement of Humans to bring back. He took one more hit from Villela's creatures before reanimating the Angel, filling his board with creatures. Huntmaster and its Wolf token beame attackers and padded his life total. Fiend Hunter took care of the Dreg Mangler, putting Villela behind for the first time all match. Villela had a Dreadbore to kill the Angel, but Filho was able to craftily trade away more Humans before once again reanimating the Angel, wiping away Villela's board and sealing the second game.

    Artur Villela 1 – Walter Filho 1

    Game 3

    The final game looked startlingly similar to the second, with Filho mulliganing and Villela opening on an Experiment One. This time, an unleashed Rakdos Cackler evolved the Ooze, allowing Villela to attacks for 2. Filho had a Faithless Looting to bin Thragtusk and Grisly Salvage, but he was rapidly falling behind. Villela continued to strengthen his board, adding a Mogg Flunkies to get another evolution for his Experiment, swinging for 5. Once again, Filho simply put a land into play tapped and passed the turn. The nail in the coffin was a Falkenrath Aristocrat, evolving the Experiment one final time, making an attack for far more than lethal.

    Artur Villela

    Artur Villela 2 – Walter Filho 1




     

  • Finals - Jose Francisco da Silva vs. Artur Villela

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • How good are your friends? Good enough to concede the finals of a Grand Prix outright?

    That's how good of a friend Artur Villela is, anyway. Facing his friend Jose Francisco da Silva in the finals of Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro, Villela walked up to the feature match area, looked the judge in the eye and asked a question I've never heard at this stage of a Grand Prix before.

    "Can I just concede?"

    Villela said da Silva simply needed and wanted the Pro Points more than he did. A win this weekend put da Silva at exactly the Gold level for Pro Points for the next season.

    It wasn't a question of bartering or figuring out a split. Villela just made the offer.

    Da Silva, obiously, accepted.

    That makes Jose Francisco da Silva the Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro champion!




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Blake Rasmussen



  • 5. Loxodon Smiter


    Coming into the weekend, there was something of a debate between Loxodon Smiter and Centaur Healer.

    Debate settled.

    Smiter not only replaced Healer in the vast majority of Wolf Run Bant decks, but made a strong showing in aggressive Green and White flavored decks.

    As it turns out, with the plethora of 3/3s and a serious number of Searing Spears floating around the tournament, being a 4/4 is worth far, far more than the three life Centaur Healer offers.

    The advantages the precious pachyderm offers are many. It survives the aforementioned Searing Spear, it brick walls Naya Blitz's menagerie of 3/3s, it nicely invalidates Liliana of the Veil, and it's a much better fighter when paired with Domri Rade.

    But the real testament to the power of a three-mana 4/4 is how many different kinds of decks elevated the elephant to their starting 60. Control decks, midrange decks, aggressive decks, all of them wanted some of the Smiter.







    4. Huntmaster of the Fells

    Midrange was the initial story of the weekend, as a massive portion of the field on Day 1 came sporting decks with Farseek, Huntmaster of the Fells, and his friends. Stemming from Magic Online's reaction to the aggro-based results from Grand Prix Quebec City, it was apparent that Midrange was going to be out in force here in Rio de Janeiro, and it did not disappoint. One of the bigget weapons the deck has at its disposal is Huntmaster of the Fells.

    Often losing the spotlight to flashier creatures like Thragtusk, the Huntmaster is one of the true cores of the deck's success. It does multiple things that a deck wants to do against aggressive decks. First, it helps stem the tide of attackers thanks to the two blockers it provides. Then, the lifegain does serious work in protecting life totals. Finally, if it gets to transorm, it can utterly take over games against more aggressive decks, killing creature and providing a large threat in one fell swoop.

    Here in Rio de Janeiro, it was hard to wander the tables this weekend without tripping over the Huntmaster or one of his Wolf tokens. As Jund Midrange was the most highly represented deck over the course of both days of Magic, it's hard to understate the importance and ever-presence of Huntmaster. Interestingly, with less aggressive decks in the field than originally expected, it was really the 4/4 body of Ravager of the Fells that proved the most useful, aiding the deck's other large creatures in bringing games to a premature close.








    3. Angel of Serenity

    There was much made of "going over the top" near the end of the last Standard season. The format had lulled to be full of oversized five- and six-mana threats, each of which was capable of ending the game in very short fashion. One of the strategies to defeat this was to come up with a threat that was able to trump those supposed trump cards.

    Enter Angel of Serenity. While it clocks in at a reasonably high seven mana, the effect can be devastating. As if removing an opponents three biggest threats, regardless of what they are, wasn't enough, that ability come stapled on an impressive 5/6 body, capable of withstanding the largest flying threat an opponent can muster. The Angel has found multiple homes in Standard, including an interesting new take on UWR, but its coziest home has been in Junk Reanimator.

    Junk Reanimator is able to take advantage of Mulch and Grisly Salvage to ensure that it is reliably able to cast it from hand, adding a little more value to the mighty Angel. She is exceptional in this heavy-midrange format, since opponents' decks are slower, giving her more time to get online. They also pose condensed threats,single creatures that can be easily removed with her ability.

    Another overlooked part of her ability is the fact that it hits creatures in opponents' graveyards. This weekend especially, with its heavy Reanimator presence, has been a veritable showcase for this mode of her ability. While it is much better against the Humanimator deck due to its heavy reliance on recursion to win, the fact that other Junk Reanimator decks can cast their threats just means that she can simply hit them while they're in play. In any case, she has been an absolute beast this weekend, and is one of the most perfectly-placed cards in the entire format.

    At least this week...







    2. Falkenrath Aristocrat

    One of the biggest surprises on the weekend was the large number of Aristocrats decks winning Trials and then continuing their success in the Grand Prix itself. The third most represented deck, The Aristocrats stands in a wing of its own in the current Standard field. It can be an incredibly intricate deck to play, and seeing such a high level of success with the deck in the numbers it had was not something that was high on our list of expectations.

    Certainly one of the biggest threats in the deck, Falkenrath Aristocrat proved to be even more potent this weekend than in it perhaps was in the past. Fighting a field of Midrange allowed the interaction between the Aristocrat's sacrifice outlet and Tragic Slip to come to prominence. Add to that the fact that it is able to help the Aristocrats deck finish off Reanimator decks in a couple of hasty attacks, and it really pulled its weight throughout the tournament. As one of the major threats at the top end of Jund Midrange as well, the Aristocrat got even more of a workout this weekend.

    Perhaps the crowning achievement of the Aristocrat this weekend was its sheer dominance of the Top 8. Half of the decks in the Top 8 featured the bourgeoise beater, including the two decks that met in the finals. And in the matches that put them both into the finals, Falkenrath Aristocrat was the creature that dealt the fatal blow. It is truly a format defining card, a tournament defining card, and one of the Top 5 cards of this weekend.








    1. Friendship

    Look.

    We never get cheesy at these things, and we always give you a nice set of cards that had meaningful contributions over the course of the weekend. Well this weekend was the first time that I'd ever seen friendship actually win a Grand Prix, so I'm giving it the attention it deserves.

    This whole weekend has been an exploration of Latin American Magic. We've had an opportunity to see how Magic has strengthened community bonds in Latin America, from the Uruguayans and their newfound partners in Buenos Aires to the squads of Chileans and Argentineans that traveled in groups so that no one would have to travel alone. While we see these in the other, larger communities as well, the bonds between players in Latin America are the foundation for their growth and increasing strength.

    Nowhere was this more obvious than in the display of friendship between Artur Villela and Jose Francisco da Silva in the finals. Knowing that they had both locked up their trips to Pro Tour Dragon Maze in May, Villela didn't even wait to sit at the table before he gave da Silva a giant hug and congratulated him on making Gold. Da Silva didn't know what to say as it sunk in that his friend had just conceded the Grand Prix title to him in order to help him lock up his status for next year. The entire building erupted in a cacophany of cheers, even coming from those who lost in the semifinals, as they realized what was happening. It was one of the more impressive scenes of sportsmanship and friendship that I have seen in Magic.

    So maybe it's a little bit cheesy. But after what I've seen, friend, it's worth it.









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