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Lax Wins Canada's Largest GP

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The letter I!t's been a long time coming for Bostonian Ari Lax. The Gold-level pro has been seeking his first Grand Prix title for years, coming close in both Nashville back in 2010, and again in Providence earlier this year. Grand Prix Toronto marks his seventh Grand Prix Top 8, but more importantly, it also marks his first win.

Ari Lax navigated a field of 1603 players this weekend, in what became Canada's largest Grand Prix ever held. The field of over 1600 players cut down drastically going into Day Two, until only eight players remained. The Top 8 featured five players who have had multiple Grand Prix Top 8 finishes in 2013, including Hall of Fame member William "Huey" Jensen. However, it was Ari Lax who inevitably took down the whole tournament with an unconventional green-black deck that sported oddball stars such as Bronze Sable and the Loathsome Catoblepas.

Grand Prix Toronto also marks the end of the qualification season for Pro Tour Born of the Gods. Robert Smith, Rich Kraupa, Edgar Magalhaes, and Seth Manfield earned themselves airfare and an invitation to the big event in Valencia next year.

But for now, the weekend is about Ari Lax and his big victory. After years of close calls, it has been a long time coming.




Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
6 Ari Lax Ari Lax, 2-1
5 Ben Moir Ari Lax, 2-0
2 William Jensen William Jensen, 2-0 Ari Lax, 2-1
8 Edgar Magalhaes
4 Richard Kraupa Richard Kraupa, 2-1
1 Seth Manfield Greg Ogreenc, 2-1
3 Greg Ogreenc Greg Ogreenc, 2-1
7 Robert Smith









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EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Ari Lax $3,500
 2.  Greg Ogreenc $2,300
 3.  William Jensen $1,500
 4.  Richard Kraupa $1,500
 5.  Seth Manfield $1,000
 6.  Ben Moir $1,000
 7.  Robert Smith $1,000
 8.   Edgar Magalhaes $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Seth Manfield

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Chevy Chase, Maryland
    Occupation: Job Hunter / Magic Player


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Grand Prix Daytona Beach 2007 Champion, Grand Prix Kansas City 2013 Champion

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Prognostic Sphinx, Blue-Green, 9-0

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    2 Tymaret, the Murder Kings, Black-Red, 2-1

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Lightning Strike, Red-Blue, 2-0-1




    William Jensen

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
    Occupation: Gamer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Magic Hall of Fame Class of 2013

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Blue-Black, 8-1

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Keepsake Gorgon, Blue-Green-Black, 3-0

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Keepsake Gorgon, Blue-Black, 2-0-1




    Greg Ogreenc

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Occupation: Software Developer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Grand Prix Kansas City Top 8, Grand Prix Oklahoma City Top 32, lots of cashes in events

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Scholar of Athreos, Green-Black splash white, 8-1

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Whip of Erebos, Black-White, 2-0-1

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Titan's Strength, Mono-Red, 3-0




    Richard Kraupa

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario
    Occupation: Child and Youth Worker


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Ottawa PTQ Top 8

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Three Gods Willings, Green-White, 9-0

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Medomai the Ageless, Green-Blue splashing white, 1-2 :(

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Two Gods Willings, Blue-White, 3-0




    Ben Moir

    Age: 19
    Hometown: Ottawa, Ontatio
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 8 at Grand Prix Detroit 2013

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    March of the Returned, Four-Color Control, 9-0

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Polukranos, Eater of Worlds, Green-White-Black, 3-0

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Opaline Unicorn, Blue-Black, 1-2 :(




    Ari Lax

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Boston
    Occupation: Electrical Engineer


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Seventh Grand Prix Top 8, two Pro Tour Top 16 finishes, champion of Molder Beasts

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bow of Nylea, Green-White splashing blue, 8-1

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Ordeal of Thassa, Blue-White, 2-1

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Lightning Strike, White-Red, 3-0




    Robert Smith

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Grand Prix Seattle 2012 Champion

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bident of Thassa, Blue-Black, 8-1

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Arbor Colossus is ridiculous, Green-White, 2-1

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Double Anax and Cymede is disgusting (and the second one came seventh pick), Red-White, 3-0




    Edgar Magalhaes

    Age: 19
    Hometown: Burlington, Ontario
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    PTQ Top 8. I win FNMs once in a while too.

    What was the best card in your Sealed deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Daxos of Meletis, Blue-White, 7-2

    What was the best card in your first Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Hythonia the Cruel, Green-Black splashing white, 3-0

    What was the best card in your second Draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Dragon Mantle, Red-White, 3-0




     

  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff












  •  

  • Quarterfinal - Rich Kraupa vs. Seth Manfield

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Story

    Rich Kraupa spent his qualifying season in a series of near-misses, only to earn an invitation to Pro Tour Born of the Gods the hard way with his Top 8 appearance here at Toronto. Two-Time Grand Prix Champion Seth Manfield also scored an invite to Valencia, which lets him defer his Silver Status invite to Pro Tour Journey into Nyx in Atlanta. Now it's time to battle for gold and glory.

    Richard Kraupa

    Kraupa has a stocked blue-black deck that can bury the opponent in card advantage. Manfield's red-green aggro deck hopes to end the game before that can happen.

    The Match

    Game one was a brutal lopsided affair. Kraupa's first play of Returned Phalanx fell to Lightning Strike, then he took four from Minotaur Skullcleaver. He played out a Triton Fortune Hunter, but Manfield suited up with Leafcrown Dryad and made it another four. Kraupa tried to fight back with Griptide, but Manfield just rebuilt his board and then served up Portent of Betrayal to put the game away.

    Game two was more Kraupa's speed. Manfield stumbled off the starting blocks, and after trading Sedge Scorpion for Fleshmad Steed he couldn't find another threat until Ill-Tempered Cyclops. When Manfield went for the monstrous, Kraupa was ready with Lash of the Whip. Disciple of Phenax made sure the path was clear, and then Kraupa started chaining enchantments on Triton Fortune Hunter. The game was soon his.

    Seth Manfield

    Manfield was back on the play and made the most of it. He got a quick six in with Arena Athlete and Minotaur Skullcleaver before Kraupa could get on the board. Kraupa summoned Triton Fortune Hunter, but was forced to block a second Skullcleaver and fell to just ten.

    However, Manfield had stalled on three mountains. Kraupa played Disciple of Phenax, stealing Destructive Revelry. Manfield untapped and drew. He swung in with his Skullcleaver but couldn't punish a block. He passed the turn without playing a card. Another Disciple from Kraupa laid his secrets bare: A hand full of green cards: Leafcrown Dryad, Feral Invocation, Savage Surge and Fade into Antiquity. A forest would make all the difference, but it was not to be. Kraupa bestowed a pair of Nimbus Naiads on a second Fortune Hunter, and soon he was on to the semifinals.

    The Aftermath

    Kraupa seemed almost apologetic about the conclusion to the match. Nobody likes a non-game, even when it ends in your favor. Manfield was gracious in defeat, shaking Kraupa's hand and wishing him luck in the Top 4.




     

  • Quarterfinal - Ari Lax vs. Ben Moir

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Ben Moir was one of five players in this Top 8 that has earned multiple Grand Prix Top 8 finishes this year. His last breakthrough performance was in Grand Prix Detroit earned him a Top 4 finish, and his Top 8 finish here ensures that he will be able to compete in more than just Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

    His opponent, Gold-level Pro Ari Lax, is seeking his first Grand Prix victory. He earned the silver trophy with his team in Providence earlier this year, but now, he wants the trophy to match his Professional Point status.

    The Games

    Lax kept a six card hand while Moir went to five. Lax had turn one Tormented Hero into a second-turn Ordeal of Nylea. Purphoros, God of the Forge from Moir came down on turn four for Moir, and it was far away from becoming a creature. Things continued to go from bad to worse for Moir when he had to chump block each turn...

    ...until he hit land #6 and cast Elspeth, Sun's Champion. She made three tokens, and Lax suddenly froze.

    Ben Moir

    Life totals sat with Moir at 5, and Lax at 7, with Lax taking some early damage while his Tormented Hero did some early beats. Lax's attacking 5/4 Tormented Hero and Erebos's Emissary took out two tokens, but Elspeth made some more on the next. In turn, those tokens could trade with Lax's creatures thanks to Purphoros's pump effect.

    The two-card mythic combination was enough. Lax took a good look and proclaimed, "Yeah, I'm dead." Moir won a game that looks far out of his reach.

    As the two shuffled up for the second game, a little banter was shared.

    Moir: "Yeah..."

    Lax: "That did not feel good."

    Moir: "No..."

    The first two plays from Lax in the second game were Erebos's Emissary and Nessian Asp. Moir had a bit more with Two-Headed Cerberus, Satyr Rambler, Leonin Snarecaster, and Purphoros, God of the Forge, which was only one red symbol away from its devotion.

    Lax went in for an attack after giving his Nessian Asp with an Ordeal of Erebos. A chump block from Leonin Snarecaster secured Moir's life total for a race, but Time to Feed took care of the Two-Headed Cerberus before Moir could untap and try to mount an offense. The removal also shut down any chance of Purphoros becoming a creature. When Moir passed with two in hand on the next turn, a monstrosity activation allowed Lax to trigger his Ordeal of Erebos when he sent the Asp in, forcing Moir to bin the remaining two cards in his hand.

    After a few turns of chump blocking, Moir ran out of spells, and as a result, ran out of time.

    In the final game, Moir had a fast start with Priest of Iroas, a Flamespeaker Adept, and Purphoros's Emissary, along with Magma Jet to dispose of Lax's Leafcrown Dryad. However, Lax had some fine walls on the fourth and fifth turns with two Nessian Coursers. The Emissary attacked in, and Moir promptly lost his Adept and Satyr Rambler to a Savage Surge when he went for a double block.

    Ari Lax

    Another Savage Surge left Moir relying on Elspeth, Sun's Champion, which he cast to create some tokens. However, Lax had the trump with a bestowed Cavern Lampad, which allowed the now 5/5 Courser to take out the planeswalker. "Elspeth down!"

    Out of options and out of cards, Moir slowly succumbed to the intimidating Nessian Courser.

    Ari Lax wins 2-1 and advances to the Semifinals!




     

  • Quarterfinal - William Jensen vs. Edgar Magalhaes

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Story

    David and Goliath. William Jensen is a Hall of Famer and widely considered one of the Top 5 Limited players of all time. Edgar Magalhaes is an amateur taking his first steps into the professional world. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.

    William Jensen

    Magalhaes has drafted a Green-Black deck with a white splash. Jensen drafted his favorite deck in the format: Blue-Black Card Advantage. Mnemonic Wall seems to be his signature card for the format.

    The Match

    Magalhaes started the first game on the offensive. He played out turn-two Fleecemane Lion and then Agent of Horizons. Jensen summoned Blood-Toll Harpy and traded it off for the 3/2. Magalhaes had another copy at the ready. Jensen put up Sealock Monster as a roadblock. Magalhaes made his Fleecemane Lion monstrous. Still it looked like a comfortable spot for Jensen. Pharika's Cure took care of the second Agent and they both built up their forces.

    Edgar Magalhaes

    That all changed when Magalhaes tapped four and bestowed Hopeful Eidolon on his Lion. Jensen could hide behind his monstrous Sealock Monster, but Magalhaes would be gaining five life a turn. Victory by damage was soon out the window as an option. Jensen dug through his deck with Read the Bones, and came up with Returned Centaur. He used its ability to mill Magalhaes for four. Magalhaes played his last card, a Scholar of Athreos, but Jensen had Sip of Hemlock at the ready.

    But it wasn't going to be a cakewalk for Jensen. Magalhaes's next draw was a Lash of the Whip that took out the Sealock Monster after blocking. Now the Fleecemane Lion would act as The Abyss. Time was running out for Jensen. He spent his removal well, buying the maximum turns. He needed March of the Returned to get back his Returned Centaur and mill Magalhaes out. He drew it slowly... Insatiable Harpy! Enough to buy one more turn. It was all or nothing. He drew again. March of the Returned!

    Jensen 1 - Magalhaes 0

    Magalhaes mulliganed for the second game and started slowly. His Agent of Horizons fell to Stymied Hopes from Jensen. Jensen untapped and played Burnished Hart, but had to take a turn off to search up lands because his hand was all spells. Magalhaes played out a few creatures but nothing too threatening. That is until the Fleecemane Lion reappeared. It went Monstrous before Jensen could remove it. Magalhaes had just two cards in hand, so Jensen went for Psychic Intrusion. They were both good ones: Reaper of the Wilds and Hopeful Eidolon. After what happened in the first game, Jensen was fine leaving him with the Eidolon.

    Would it be a replay of the game one? This time Jensen's big defensive creature was Shipbreaker Kraken, and Magalhaes was unable to break through. Jensen was scrying through his deck with the help of the stolen Reaper of the wilds. Soon he had March of the Returned and Mnemonic Wall to go with his Returned Centaur. Jensen was at a low life total, though, so it looked like there was a chance for Magalhaes's topdecked Scholar of Athreos to steal a win, but Jensen's deck served up Sip of Hemlock to shut the door.

    Jensen 2 - Magalhaes 0

    The Aftermath

    Shortly after the match, Sam Black came up to Jensen and asked how the match went. "Well, both games he had Fleecemane Lion, monstrous, with Hopeful Eidolon on it against my blue-black deck so, yeah I won."




     

  • Quarterfinal - Greg Ogreenc vs. Robert Smith

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Greg Ogreenc has had a couple of close calls at the Grand Prix level. While he made an early exit in the Quarterfinals of Grand Prix Kansas City back in July, the Milwaukee native has been tearing through the competition all weekend and has found himself in the elimination rounds of Grand Prix Toronto with a solid Green-Blue deck.

    His opponent, Grand Prix Seattle 20212 Champion Robert Smith, earned his invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Born of the Gods at the very least minute. He'll be returning to the Pro Tour early next year thanks to his Top 8 finish, but what he would really like is for his Red-White draft deck to earn him a second gold trophy.

    The Games

    The first play of the match came from Ogreenc with Omenspeaker. It was enchanted with Feral Invocation on the third turn. Smith's first play was Lagonna-Band Elder on the third turn, but it was outclassed by Ogreenc's two mana creature, but the Elder was followed with Heliod's Emissary, making attacks less beneficial for Ogreenc. The Emissary was bestowed with Observant Alseid, which held Ogreenc's board back temporarily. However, Ogreenc had Anthousa, Setessan Hero, and he had a Feral Invocation for it when Smith blocked with his bestowed Emissary.

    Greg Ogreenc

    The now lonely Observant Alseid attacked in with the Lagonna-Band Elder, prompting Divine Verdict when the enchanted Omenspeaker blocked. The attack dropped Ogreenc to 6, and Smith passed at 11 life. Anthousa attacked in, dropping Smith to 5, and Ogreenc followed with Reverent Hunter. When it was given a bestowed Nimbus Naiad on the next turn, Smith scooped them up.

    The second game featured a start with lots of action from Smith, who had Phalanx Leader, Leonin Snarecaster, and then Heliod, God of the Sun. Ogreenc's action was a little slower, but it had wings. Nimbus Naiad was Ogreenc's first play on the fourth turn and was followed by Precient Chimera.

    However, the Phalanx Leader did its job after Heliod made a token when it was bestowed with Observant Alseid, giving him a very vigiliant and very dangerous board. Ogeenc pressed on however with his flying creatures, opting to race. Gods Willing on Phalanx Leader during the next attack ensured a concession from Ogeenc.

    Ogreenc had first action in the third game with Omenspeaker, which shipped two cards to the bottom. He followed it with Agent of Horizons, which Smith met with Lagonna-Band Elder. Ogreenc made his Agent unblockable and sent it in, dropping Smith to 16. Smith sent in the Elder, and the race was on. He added Wingsteed Rider to his board post-combat. Smith did not block when Ogreenc sent his Agent in again, and Ogreenc followed the attack with Voyaging Satyr before passing back.

    Robert Smith

    Smith sent in his two creatures, dropping Ogreenc to 12 before casting another Lagonna-Band Elder. It blocked when Ogreenc sent in the Agent again, and the Wisconsinite followed up the combat with Vulpine Goliath before passing back. Another attack from Smith warranted a chump-block, dropping Ogreenc to 10 and leaving him without an Omenspeaker. Smith followed with Anax and Cymede and passed back. The Vulpine Goliath swung in, dropping Smith to 7. Ogreenc cast Precient Sphinx and passed with it and the Voyaging Satyr untapped.

    Smith thought for a minute before sending his team in. Before blockers, Ogreenc untapped an Island with Voyaging Satyr and cast Triton Tactics, triggering Precient Sphinx. The card he saw with the scry was left on top. He blocked Wingsteed Rider with Precient Sphinx, Lagonna-Band Elder with the now 6/8 Vulpine Goliath, and finally, the 1/5 Voyaging Satyr jumped in front of Anax and Cyamede. Smith's only follow-up was Dauntless Assault, which tageted both of Smith's heroic creatures.

    The resulting combat left Ogreenc alive, and when Ogreenc showed him a Nimbus Naiad to send the Vulpine Goliath into the air for a lethal attack, Smith offered the handshake.

    Greg Ogreenc wins 2-1 and advances to the Semifinals!




     

  • Semifinal - William Jensen vs. Ari Lax

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The Semifinals featured a match between two very well-known players. On one side was William "Huey" Jensen, Hall of Famer and Grand Prix Oakland 2013 champion. On the other side was Ari Lax, who found himself following in the footsteps of Owen Turtenwald as an incredibly talented player whose first Grand Prix victory has eluded up for years.

    Would Lax be able to get through Jensen's blue-black control draft deck with his unconventional green-black draft concoction, or would he be denied a shot at the trophy once again?

    The Games

    Lax led with Bronze Sable, and quickly gave it Ordeal of Nylea, attacking in for 3 against Jensen's empty board. Jensen got his first creature onto the battlefield on the fourth turn, which milled a Cavern Lampad, two Swamps, and a Time to Feed off of Lax's deck. The Sable attacked in again, and then again a turn later after receiving yet another Ordeal, this time Ordeal of Erebos, which made the attacking Sable a 6/5 and robbed Jensen of two Mnemonic Walls. Jensen had an Insatiable Harpy, but he was already sitting at 6 life when Lax added Erebos's Emissary to the table.

    William Jensen

    And 6 was too low to survive, as Mogis's Marauder gave the colorless creature intimidate, denying Jensen any shot at a first game comeback.

    In the second game, while Lax fixed his mana with Nylea's Presence on the second turn, Jensen settled for some card advantage via Read the Bones on the third turn. Lax got onto the board with Bronze Sable following that, and Jensen fired back with a Returned Centaur, milling Jensen four cards. The Bronze Sable, however, became larger than the Centaur thanks to a bestowed Leafcrown Dryad.

    Jensen, meanwhile, was content to cast Menmonic Wall, returning the Sip of Hemlock that he milled on the previous turn to his hand. Lax gained 4 with Nylea's Disciple after attacking again with the Sable (which the Wall blocked), but he quickly lost the artifact creature to the recurred Sip on the next turn.

    Lax retaliated with Ordeal of Erebos and Ordeal of Nylea, each cast on Leafcrown Dryad and Nylea's Disciple respectively. Jensen, meanwhile, cast Mnemonic Wall to get back Sip of Hemlock. Time to Feed, however, let Lax clear away Jensen's only blocker (as the Centaur attacked on the previous turn), dropping Jensen to 1 with attacks.

    Ari Lax

    Jensen held on, but despite his best efforts, thanks in part to a Sip of Hemlock on the Nylea's Disciple (which was enchanted with Ordeal of Nylea). Despite building up a board presence despite Lax's powerful start, a Sip of Hemlock a few turns later sealed the deal.

    Ari Lax wins 2-0 and advances to the Final!




     

  • Semifinal - Richard Kraupa vs. Greg Ogreenc

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Richard Kraupa has had quite the weekend. He not only finished nine rounds of Sealed Pack with an undefeated record, but he also managed to rebound after a rough first draft in order to lock up his slot in the Top 8. Now, he finds himself only two wins away from a Grand Prix trophy.

    And on top of all of this, it's only Kraupa's second Grand Prix. The relative newcomer has shown that he has some serious skills, and his blue-black deck is sporting three copies of Triton Fortune Hunter.

    His opponent, Greg Ogreenc, had a different kind of second-time experience. This weekend marks the Wisconsinite's second Grand Prix Top 8 finish. After getting through a difficult Quarterfinal match against Grand Prix Seattle 2012 Champion Robert Smith, Ogreenc is only two wins away from claiming the title for himself with his blue-green deck.

    The Games

    The first play of the game for Kraupa was Erebos's Emissary on the fourth turn. Ogreenc had Opaline Unicorn, which fueled Kerametra's Acolyte a turn later, which then in turn let Ogreenc cast Centaur Battlemaster despite missing a land drop. Kraupa had Triton Fortune Hunter on the next turn, but the Battlemaster received Feral Invocation, allowing Ogreenc to attack in for 8.

    Greg Ogreenc

    Ogreenc continued the big turn with a post-combat Reverent Hunter (thanks in part to Kerametra's Acolyte producing a ton of mana), which came in with five +1/+1 counters.

    Kraupa had a solid defensive play though with Baleful Eidon bestowed upon his Triton Fortune Hunter, drawing Kraupa a card. Unable to get over the deathtouch heroic creature, Ogreenc grew his Battlemaster even more with Fate Foretold, and then added a second Opaline Unicorn to the table. Kraupa had his own copy of the two mana blue enchantment, drawing two cards thanks to his Triton Fortune Hunter. Griptide took care of Ogreenc's very larger Centaur Battlemaster, and Kraupa sent in the Emissary. A triple block caused Kraupa to pitch Fledhbane Steed and Erebos, God of the Dead, and a Bone of Erebos ensured the enchantment creature would survive as well as take out Ogreenc's Reverent Hunter (along with a Unicorn).

    With his board scaled back tremendously, Ogreenc was back pedaling. Shipwreck Singer made things worse when Kraupa cast it, as it would force Ogreenc to lose creatures to his Triton Fortune Hunter.

    A few turns later, and Ogreenc was behind on the board, behind on cards, and behind on life. With Kraupa's Shipwreck Singer forcing Ogreenc's few remaining defenses to attack into a losing race, it was not long before Ogreenc found himself shuffling up for the second game.

    Richard Kraupa

    Ogreenc led off fast with a second-turn Voyaging Satyr, which allowed him to power out a...small attack for 1. Ogreenc followed with Opaline Unicorn and passed, while Kraupa had a third-turn Triton Fortune Hunter. The mana acceleration allowed for Ogreenc to deploy an early Precient Sphinx, but Griptide sent the flying creature to the top and allowed Triton Fortune Hunter to attack in for 2. The Opaline Unicorn galloped in for a point of damage before Ogreenc re-cast the Precient Sphinx. Stalled on mana, Kraupa added Shipwreck Singer and passed back with two open.

    Ogreenc sent the Precient Sphinx and the Opaline Unicorn in, and before damage, Feral Invocation made the Precient Sphinx into a 5/6 attacker, dropping Kraupa to 12. Time to Feed let Ogreenc take out the Shipwreck Singer. "One card in hand?" Kraupa asked before casting Dsiciple of Phenax, which rid Ogreenc of his in-hand Reverent Hunter.

    Ogreenc drew and found Aqueous Form, which allowed him to maintain a two-turn clock. Kraupa sent in his Disciple and Triton Fortune Hunter, drawing a card and gaining 5 life when Ogreenc blocked the Disciple with Voyaging Satyr after Cuthroat Maneuver. A bestowed Nimbus Naiad on Triton Fortune Hunter bought Kraupa another turn,but the unblockable Opaline Unicorn ticked away turn after turn. Eventually, Kraupa ran out of flying blockers, and he moved to the third game.

    Kraupa led with a second-turn Fleshbane Steed and was joined on turn three by Shipwreck Singer. Ogreenc, meanwhile, had a second-turn Voyaging Satyr, only this time, it was unable to attack in when Ogreenc had a third-turn Opaline Unicorn. Returned Phalanx was Kraupa's only follow-up, and it paled in comparison to Ogreenc's fourth turn Anthousa, Setessan Hero. Kraupa drew and then passed the turn with five open.

    Meletis Charlatan came down as bait for Gainsay, and Kraupa was happy to oblige. This allowed Aqueous Form to resolve on Anthousa, and Ogreenc attacked in for 4. Shipwreck Singer was able to make the damage a little less on following turns, and Kraupa got in damage when he could, but Precient Sphinx gave Ogreenc another very real threat. Kraupa countered back with a bestowed Nimbus Naiad on Returned Phalanx, but he still lacked an answer to the unblockable Anthousa.

    When nothing came to deal with the imminent clock, Kraupa offered the handshake.

    Greg Ogreenc wins 2-1 and advances to the Final match!




     

  • Final - Greg Ogreenc vs. Ari Lax

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Story

    Despite three previous Grand Prix Top 8's this season, Ari Lax has never taken home the title. This is his chance to shake the monkey off his back. Ogreenc is a longtime player from Milwaukee looking to make a name for himself after Top 8'ing Grand Prix Kansas City earlier this year.

    Ogreenc is playing a blue-green deck that tries to win with evasive enchanted creatures. Lax's deck is black-green, and looks like the Island of Misfit Toys. The crown jewel is Loathsome Catoblepas. While they shuffled up for the match he and the crowd shared a laugh over his deck's idiosyncracies.

    The Match

    Lax had to send back his opening seven, and as he shuffled up a new six he said wistfully "Take me home, Bronze Sable." Ogreenc got on the board first with Sedge Scorpion and Agent of Horizons. Lax played out Nessian Courser but declined to block when Ogreenc attacked with both his creatures. Ogreenc made it six damage with Feral Invocation, leaving Lax at twelve.

    Ari Lax

    Lax hit back for three with his Courser and played Cavern Lampad. Time to Feed cleared it out of the way, and Lax was suddenly at six. Lax attacked again and pinned his hopes to Erebos's Emissary. Ogreenc showed him the Voyage's End to take the first game.

    Ogreenc 1 - Lax 0

    "Listen. If I win this, I want us both to know that I did not deserve it." - Ari Lax

    Now it was Ogreenc's turn to start with six cards. Lax opened with Tormented Hero and it got in for four damage while the two played lands. Ogreenc summoned Opaline Unicorn, but Lax was ready with Artisan's Sorrow. Ogreenc played his fourth land but still made no play. Tentatively, Lax put out his Nessian Asp, and it resolved.

    Greg Ogreenc

    Ogreenc just couldn't muster much of a defence. He played out a 2/2 Reverent Hunter and gave it Fate Foretold. Lax's Asp dropped him to just eight life, and was joined by a very scary Vulpine Goliath. Ogreenc played his six land and thought hard. Lax did his best not to get impatient. When Ogreenc shipped the turn back without a play, Lax shrugged and tapped six for Sip of Hemlock. It resolved, and he turned his creatures sideways. Ogreenc scooped up his cards.

    Ogreenc 1 - Lax 1

    Ogreenc had a slow start again in the final game. Lax was first on the board with Bronze Sable, and after Ogreenc played Opaline Unicorn, Lax hit for two and summoned Nessian Courser. Ogreenc attacked with his Unicorn and after Lax refused to block, played the expected Feral Invocation. Lax showed no fear of the single untapped island, attacking right back with both his creatures. Ogreenc did not have the Triton Tactics. Lax added Cavern Lampad to his board and passed.

    Now Ogreenc went deep into the tank. He decided his best line was to tap out for Vulpine Goliath. Lax hit again with Nessian Courser and Cavern Lampad, but Ogreenc couldn't risk running into a trick. He fell to 8. Lax tapped out For Nessian Asp. Nylea's Disciple gave Ogreenc back some life, and he sent in his Goliath. After it went unblocked, Time to Feed killed the Asp and put Ogreenc back up to sixteen. Lax fired back with Lampad and Courser. Now Ogreenc was ready to block. Savage Surge traded for his Disciple, and then Lax showed his own Time to Feed, getting the Vulpine Goliath off the board. It was a 3-for-2, but the Goliath had to go. The life totals were 14 all.

    There was a brief judge call over a confusion in the life totals. Ogreenc was sure that Lax had missed his life gain trigger on Time to Feed, but the table judge assured him that he had verbally confirmed the life change. After a brief consult with the Head Judge, the match proceeded. And Lax couldn't wait, because the time had finally come. After Ogreenc hit played Aqueous Form and hit for three, Lax was free to tap six and slam the Loathsome Catoblepas with a yell of triumph. Everyone laughed, even Ogreenc. He knew the writing was on the wall. Two attacks later, Lax was the champion.

    Congratulations to Ari Lax, Grand Prix Toronto 2013 Champion!




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Mike Rosenberg and Josh Bennett



  • 5.) Voyage's End

    Theros sealed deck is set apart from other formats by its removal. While you are given plenty of options to deal with small creatures, if you want to get rid of something big your answer is going to be situational or expensive. That is, unless you're a blue mage. Then you get two great answers at common. Now it's true, Griptide and Voyage's End do not kill creatures, but they still do a lot work. They reset supercharged Heroic or Monstrous creatures, force bestowed Eidolons and Emissaries to fight for themselves, and mix up combat at instant speed. Best of all, Voyage's End lets you scry, an ability that is often undervalued.




    4.) Sip of Hemlock

    Theros is a format that has many combat tricks, but few forms of hard removal. Lightning Strike, Griptide, and Lash of the Whip serve their purposes, with Griptide perhaps doing the most heavy lifting out of all of these, but sometimes you just need an indiscriminate form of creature removal.

    That's where Sip of Hemlock comes in. The six mana removal spell is expensive, but it does one thing, and one thing very well. This effect is crucial in Sealed Pack, where monstrosity oftentimes dominates the board and Nessian Asps can help their controllers run away with games. Sip offers a straight-forward approach to taking out creatures that get out of hand.

    This also applies to Booster Draft, where a creature can get large even if it doesn't have monstrosity. Heroic creatures, or creatures that have received a big benefit from one of the Ordeals can all get very big, and Sip ensures that they will die. Size does not matter.





    3.) Ordeal of Erebos

    The number three slot on our Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Toronto is not quite accurate. Number three represents not just one Ordeal, but all five Ordeals. Ordeal of Erebos in particular stands out as one of the key cards in Grand Prix Toronto Champion Ari Lax's deck, where it did some serious work in putting games out of his opponent's reach.

    However, the Ordeals in general have proven to be key cards in this draft format. With an early creature on the first or second turn, an Ordeal, no matter the color, can easily put games away. Even if the enchantment is dealt with before its effect triggers, the +1/+1 counters that a creature acquires with each attack oftentimes grows smaller creatures to a large enough size that mid-sized or larger creatures must trade with them, paving the road for whatever follows to mop of a match.

    One thing has become clear over the past few weeks: if you intend to consistently win games in Theros Booster Draft, then you must be prepared for these two mana enchantments.







    2.) Aqueous Form

    The unassuming one mana enchantment does a lot of work for its cost. It's a cheap way to trigger heroic powers, it ensures that you will have a form of combat damage that the opponent will be limited in interacting with, and it even lets you ensure that your draws are smoother.

    More importantly, when backed up with great blockers and a few tricks, Aqueous Form can also be a path to victory when you cannot out-match an opponent by sheer attrition. This is the plant that finalist Greg Ogreenc committed to in his Semifinal match against Richard Kraupa. When staring down three copies of Triton Fortune Hunter, it became clear to Ogreenc that he would need to take a more aggressive approach if he wanted to win.

    And so, he did. Aqueous Form played a pivotal role in getting Ogreenc through both the second and third games against his blue-black opponent, as the one mana enchantment succeeded in getting Ogreenc's powerful creatures through Kraupa's battlefield of solid blockers.







    1.) Time to Feed

    Both finalists had copies of this dangerous little card in their decks. It's tailor-made for races. Not only do you get a life boost, but punching a hole in defences that are already stretched thin can mean big damage. In the first game of the finals, the one-two punch of Time to Feed and Voyage's End left Ari Lax dead on turn six. Then in the tense third game Ogreenc devoured Lax's Nessian Asp with Vulpine Goliath. Lax, however, had the last laugh. His own Time to Feed wiped out the big threat, and though he lost a creature to do it, it left Ogreenc unable to stop the tide of creatures.




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