gpmal12

Matteo Makes It in Malmo

  • Print

It's been a great weekend for Magic here in Malmo, Sweden. 921 players showed up to take part in the first Grand Prix of the 2012–2013 Professional Season and the first one to feature the brand-new Avacyn Restored Limited format. Nine rounds of Sealed Deck whittled the field down to 128, two drafts with three rounds each followed on Day 2, and at the end only eight players were left to battle it out for the title and the trophy in one final draft.

Going by previous accomplishments, Italy's Platinum pro Samuele Estratti was the clear favorite in this Top 8, but it was fellow Italian Matteo Versari who walked away a Grand Prix champion. He and his blue-green tempo deck with a splash of red first dispatched Estratti, then made short work of Spain's Pere Llimós Muntal, and finally, in the final, proved too much for Sweden's Oscar Almgren.

Over the course of the weekend we saw Avacyn Restored unfold in Sealed and Draft, we became privy to succesful strategies by some of the best players in the world, and witnessed close encounters between them. Thanks to GGs Live we even did all of that live on video, a first for a European Grand Prix.

It's been an amazing weekend, but this tournament has been decided. Congratulations to Matteo Versari winner of Grand Prix Malmo 2012!


Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
1 Jasper Grimmer Soren Larsen
2-1
4 Soren Larsen Oscar Almgren
2-1
3 Jon Westberg Oscar Almgren
2-0
Matteo Versari
2-1
2 Oscar Almgren
5 Matteo Versari Matteo Versari
2-1
6 Samuele Estratti Matteo Versari
2-0
8 David Hylander Pere Llimos Muntal
2-0
7 Pere Llimos Muntal









What's being said about us...
Join the Conversation


Live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Malmo provided by ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Rich Hagon, Nate Price, Frank Karsten, and Tim Willoughby. Watch archives of the matches at ggslive's YouTube channel.


EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
  1.   Matteo Versari $3,500
  2.   Oscar Almgren $2,300
  3.   Soren Larsen $1,500
  4.   Pere Llimos Muntal $1,500
  5.   Jasper Grimmer $1,000
  6.   Jon Westberg $1,000
  7.   Samuele Estratti $1,000
  8.   David Hylander $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

15
14
13
12
11
10
15
14
13
12
11
10
15
14
13
12
11
10

Green Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

Blue Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1


 

  • Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Søren Larsen

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Beating my brother at out kitchen table.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Mist Raven; W/U Flicker/Bounce; 8-1 after a first-round loss to Pere (awesome guy).

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Baneslayer Angel (Seraph of Dawn plus Tormentor's Trident); mono-white, splashing red for Gisela, Blade of Goldnight; 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bonfire of the Damned; W/U/R Control; 2-1.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    Wolfir Silverheart.



    Pere Llimos

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
    Occupation: Engineering student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Not anything worth mentioning.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    My record was 9-0, playing R/G with a splash of blue. I'd say the best card overall was Borderland Ranger, or maybe Peel from Reality.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I was playing W/G, not a very solid deck, but with three bombs. The boosters were quite bad. My record was 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    U/R, and Mist Raven was definitely the star. I got one win and two draws.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    Probably Tandem Lookout, I love to draw cards ... just joking, obviously THE BEAR, it's too good.



    Matteo Versari

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Livorno, Italy
    Occupation: Writer for MagicTitans.it


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    This is my first.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bonfire of the Damned; R/G splashing blue; 9-0.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Into the Void (times two); U/G splashing white; 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Demonic Taskmaster; B/G; 1-0-2.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    The Bear.



    David Hylander

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Malmo, Sweden (for two more weeks)
    Occupation: Journalist


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    A GP Top 64, in 2003 or 2004.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Divine Deflection. I had a G/W deck and went 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Into the Void. 3-0ed with a U/B deck.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Wolfir Silverheart, in a R/G deck. I won the first match and had two intentional draws into the Top 8.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    Deadeye Navigator for recreation, Wolfir Silverheart for business.



    Jon Westberg

    Age: 17
    Hometown: Västerås, Sweden
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Nothing special.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Wolfir Silverheart or Infinite Reflection; U/G/r; 7-2.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Probably Falkenrath Exterminator or Mist Raven; U/R; 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Goldnight Commander; W/R; 3-0.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    Trusted Forcemage.



    Jasper Grimmer

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Berlin, Germany
    Occupation: Working for magiccardmarket.eu


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    None.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    8-1; U/R. Tandem Lookout drew at least 30 cards in six rounds!

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    3-0; B/R. I had a playset of Blood Artists ...

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    2-1; G/W. Silverblade Paladin with every other creature.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    Probably the Tandem Lookut, he's just a machine.



    Samuele Estratti

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Pistoin, Italy
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 4 at Nationals 2007/2008, Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011 winner, Top 4 at Grand Prix Milan 2011, Top 12 at Pro Tour Dark Ascension.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    W/G/u; Restoration Angel; 9-0.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Two Jubilation Angels; W/G; 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Mist Raven; U/W; 1-0-2.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?
    The one with hexproof [Elgaud Shieldmate].



    Oscar Almgren

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
    Occupation: Administrator


    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    None :(

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    8-1. I played G/W with a good curve. Restoration Angel was my best card.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bonfire of the Damned! I played Boros and my record was 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I played Boros again. Goldnight Commander was my MVP.

    If you could be paired with any of the soulbound creatures in Avacyn Restored, which would you be paired with?




    • Top 8 Decklists
      by Frank Karsten





    Jon Westberg - Top 8
    Grand Prix Malmo 2012 (Draft)



    • Top 8 Drafting with Samuele Estratti
      by Frank Karsten

    For the Top 8, I followed Samuele Estratti, the Italian Pro Tour Philadelphia winner. Let's get to his draft!

    Pack 1

    So, Estratti started out with an excellent equipment and some red cards. His early picks were relatively straightforward, as Estratti was simply taking the best card in the pack all the time. As pack 1 progressed, Estratti discovered that black was open, and moved in. After pack 1, Estratti was looking at what was shaping up to be an excellent Black-Red deck.

    Looking to his neighbors during the review segment of the draft, I saw that both his left and red neighbors were taking black cards as well, but red was open from his right.

    Pack 2

    This pack was pretty bad for Estratti. At the very least much worse than his first pack. Basically, any time you have to take Predator's Gambit fifth and Scalding Devil sixth, you're not going to be very happy.

    Pack 3

    A third-pick Bonfire of the Damned was a rare gift for Estratti. He was very surprised to even see it in the pack; typically, it's a card worth splashing for even if you're not in red. But the Italian did not complain and immediately added it to his draft pile.

    Overall, Estratti has assembled a monster of a deck. He can have an impressive start with turn 2 Falkenrath Exterminator, turn 3 Fervent Cathar, winning the game from there on with a huge Falkenrath Exterminator. Besides that, he has an amazing late-game in Moonsilver Spear and Bonfire of the Damned.

    • Quarterfinals:
      Jon Westberg vs. Oscar Almgren
      by Tobi Henke

    With home-turf advantage, three Swedish players made it to the Top 8 at this Grand Prix, and at least one of them would advance to the semifinals. At the other end of the bracket David Hylander was paired against Spaniard Pere Llimos, in the all-Swedish quarterfinal over here it was Jon Westberg against Oscar Almgren, fighting for a shot at the fame and the glory, the larger cash prizes, and of course for the Pro Tour qualification that's awarded to the Top 4 players. Westberg had drafted green and blue, Almgren was on red and black.

    Both players had finished the Swiss rounds on 39 points, but Almgren ended up in second place to Westberg's third, so he got to choose to go first. Both kept their opening seven and it was on.

    Oscar Almgren

    Game 1

    Almgren had Lightning Mauler followed by Soulcage Fiend and came in for 5 damage all before Westberg had even made his first play. Westberg passed the turn with Island and two Forests untapped, and Almgren wisely chose to just attack with his 3/2, then added a Searchlight Geist to his team post-combat. At end of turn, Westberg cast the obvious Wolfir Avenger, and on his turn paired it with Elgaud Shieldmate. The Shieldmate and Soulcage Fiend traded, while Searchlight Geist put Westberg at 10 which soon turned to 7 thanks to the dying Fiend.

    However, Almgren was stuck on three lands and, for now, had no further plays, whereas Westberg made a Gloomwidow to finally clog up the board good and proper. Almgren cast Fervent Cathar, preventing any blocks by Wolfir Avenger, then attacked with Cathar and Lightning Mauler past the less than helpful Gloomwidow to put Westberg at 3.

    Westberg had another Elgaud Shieldmate and paired it with Wolfir Avenger. Almgren cast Havengul Vampire, Westberg returned both it and the Searchlight Geist to Almgren's hand via Into the Void, attacked with Gloomwidow, and cast a Scrapskin Drake after combat.

    Almgren summoned Hound of Griselbrand, paired it with Lightning Mauler, then attacked with all he got, namely those two and Fervent Cathar. Westberg's Wolfir Avenger killed Lightning Mauler and his Elgaud Shieldmate traded with the first incarnation of the Hound. Fervent Cathar got Westberg down to 1.

    The reincarnation of Hound of Griselbrand was taken care of by the regenerating Wolfir Avenger, but Almgren ended the game with Mental Agony.

    Jon Westberg 0-1 Oscar Almgren

    Jon Westberg

    Game 2

    Westberg had Alchemist's Apprentice on turn two, Almgren had Scalding Devil, and the two traded on Westberg's attack. He once again passed the turn with one blue and two green mana up, this time however there was no Wolfir Avenger at end of turn, but a Crippling Chill tapping Almgren's newly-summoned Soulcage Fiend.

    Westberg cast Lunar Mystic, Almgren made Heirs of Stromkirk, Westberg had Rotcrown Ghoul. Almgren played Lightning Mauler and Searchlight Geist, paired, and attacked with everything. He lost Soulcage Fiend to Westberg's Rotcrown Ghoul, but he got in 6 damage (9 counting the Fiend's ability) and his Heirs of Stromkirk started growing.

    Westberg, left with just Lunar Mystic on the battlefield, didn't have any answers in hand, and while Amass the Components might have dug up some solutions, its four-mana casting cost meant Westberg couldn't cast any this turn. He traded away his Lunar Mystic for Lightning Mauler, but took another 5 from Heirs and Searchlight Geist. Wolfir Avenger and Elgaud Shieldmate were no blockers either, and when Almgren revealed Scalding Devil to deliver the final 2 damage, Westberg nodded and extended his hand in concession.

    Jon Westberg 0-2 Oscar Almgren

    Congratulations to Oscar ALmgren for making it to the semifinals and to Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in October!

    • Quarterfinals
      Samuele Estratti vs. Matteo Versari
      by Tim Willoughby

    Samuele Estratti, the winner of Pro Tour Philadelphia has had quite a year of Magic. That Pro Tour win has secured him invites to the Magic World Cup as the Italian team leader, and to the Players Championship in August. He has posted deep finishes in Pro Tours since, so it was no surprise to see him at the top tables this weekend. What was slightly more surprising was the look on his face when he saw the pairing for his quarter-final. A look of disappointment flashed across his face, as he realised he would be playing his friend Matteo Versari, in his first Grand Prix top eight. While Estratti is well and truly on the Pro Tour these days, for his opponent this is a PTQ final, and it was clear that Estratti wasn't too happy to be the end boss for his friend.

    Game 1

    Versari led off with a Forest, and on turn two had the first play of the match in Wandering Wolf, off Forest and Mountain. Kruin Striker came from Estratti's red/black deck. A Scrapskin Drake was the next play from Versari, who was soon facing down quite a squad as Lightning Mauler came down and attacked in, before Ghoulflesh killed off Versari's Wolf.

    Undead Executioner came from Estratti, whose red/black deck seemed aggressive and powerful. Versari, meanwhile, was a little slower off the mark with threats. He had three colours to work with, and it wasn't clear if there were mana issues at play, but his red/blue/green deck put up very little resistance against the relentless aggression of Estratti's start. It was mere moments before Versari was picking up his cards to go to game two.

    Samuele Estratti 1 – 0 Matteo Versari

    Matteo Versari

    Game 2

    Game two again saw Versari playing a Wandering Wolf on turn two, while the first play of the game from Estratti was a Kessig Malcontents on his third turn. Alchemist's Apprentice came next from Versari, which would be a fine blocker for those Malcontents should they swing in.

    Mad Prophet joined Estratti's team, and swung in. Versari had a fine block though, in Alchemists Apprentice on the Malcontents, then a Terrifying Presence, to ensure that he got the best end of the combat. Versari briefly controlled a Geist Trappers, only for Estratti to off them with Human Frailty before committing Moonsilver Spear to the board.

    Attacks from Versari took Estratti to 10, and a Nettle Swine soon followed, but that Moonsilver Spear looked likely to become a dominant force in the game in short order. It was worth throwing Mad Prophet into the graveyard in a suicide attack just to get the trigger and 4/4 Angel that came with it.

    The angel traded off with Nettle Swine, in a block that left Estratti without creatures, but with some life to play with. He tapped out the next turn, for a pair of copies of Hanweir Lancer, paired up. Versari sacrificed his Alchemist's Apprentice, looking for answers. The best he could do was to equip his Wandering Wolf with Angelic Armaments, letting him fly in for four, taking Estratti to six. Racing Moonsilver Spear is a tricky proposition, but Timberland Guide made sure that Wandering Wolf was just big enough to swing through unopposed. Estratti was on one, and needed to deal with the wolf, or deal 13 damage to finish the game.

    Lightning Mauler and Undead Exterminator definitely made the race close, but Estratti could only get Versari to three, which would not be good enough.

    Samuele Estratti 1 – 1 Matteo Versari

    Samuele Estratti

    Game 3

    The match had come down to the rubber game. If Versari won this one, not only would he advance to the semi-finals, but would also qualify for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle later in the year. If Estratti won, he'd be that much closer to getting another trophy for the cabinet, and valuable pro points at the start of the 2012/2013 season.

    Estratti started on a mulligan, and didn't have a super fast start with his six either. The first play from either player was Kessig Malcontents from Estratti on turn three. Versari elected not to trade a Scrapskin Drake for the Malcontents, and was content to try racing, aided by the tempo-riffic Mist Drake, which first bounced Corpse Traders, and then traded with the 3/1 Malcontents.

    Gest Trappers seemed a good answer for Corpse Traders, though perhaps not for Gang of Devils, which would potentially wreak havoc in combat. Versari was certainly not out of things though. Pathbreaker Wurm paired up with Geist Trappers, creating quite the strike force. Estratti was on defence, and played an Undead Executioner, happy to bide his time.

    Scrapskin Drake got stuck in, and was soon joined by a twin, along with Alchemist's Apprentice from Versari. Estratti was staring down an air force, and went looking for answers with a Mad Prophet, discarding Fervent Cathar. Ghoulbite and Pillar of Flame took down one Scrapskin Drake, but Estratti was still facing down some big attacks.

    Versari had a power play of his own though, in Infinite Reflection on Gang of Devils. Versari swung for the fences. Estratti looked at his board, then looked at the team of Devils on the other side of things. He had no good blocks and extended his hand.

    Matteo Versari defeats Samuele Estratti 2-1, advancing to the semi-finals and qualifying for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica!

    • Semifinals
      Pere Llimós Muntal vs. Matteo Versari
      by Tim Willoughby

    For the semi-finals, Pere Llimós Muntal found himself playing against Matteo Versari for the third time on Sunday. They had been in the same pod for both drafts, and while Llimós had been the victor on the first occasion, the Spaniard had not been able to repeat his performance in the last round of the Swiss. Ultimately, this would be the most important match of the three for both players, though they were each clearly buoyed by their quarter-finals wins, which meant they would be going to Pro Tour Return to Ravnica.

    Game 1

    Having finished higher in the Swiss part of the competition, Versari would go first, and led with a Forest. It was Llimós who had the first play of the game though, in Nephalia Smuggler. A Wingcrafter came next for the Spaniard, while Versari cast an Alchemist's Apprentice.

    The Apprentice couldn't block when Wingcrafter took to the skies, bonded up with Trusted Forcemage. While Versari had done a good job with his air force in the quarterfinals, he was the wrong side of five power of flyers in the first game of the semi's.

    Versari's ground and pound option was Nettle Swine. He attacked with it and then used Alchemists's Apprentice to dig up something. Versari found an Angelic Armaments, and cast it, along with a Timberland Guide which pumped itself.

    Pere Llimós Muntal

    Llimós plan was at this point straight-forward. He attacked in the air to take Versari down to single digits, before casting an un-paired Nightshade Peddler. Versari tried to gain a board advantage with Mist Raven, but saw its bounce ability stopped by Ghostly Flicker and Eaten by Spiders deal with the bird itself.

    It seemed that Llimós had it all sewn up, but Versari had some tricks too. Terrifying Presence stopped an attack from Llimós, and a Joint Assault was just enough to let the Italian win the race, leaving Llimós to wonder how his winning moves had turned around so swiftly.

    Pere Llimós Muntal 0 – 1 Matteo Versari

    Game 2

    After a little thought, Llimós decided to take a mulligan on his seven, while Versari seemed confident in keeping his. Not what you want to hear when you are a game down in the top 8 of a Grand Prix.

    For the second game running, Llimós had a turn one Nephalia Smuggler. This time though his next play didn't come until turn three; a Trusted Forcemage that paired up with the smuggler to let it attack past Alchemist's Apprentice for two. Versari cast a Scrapskin Drake which wouldn't be up to much on defence, but would let him start to get stuck in himself.

    Wary of his life total, Versari did end up blocking Trusted Forcemage on the following turn, sacrificing his wizard to draw a card before damage was dealt. Llimós was a little short on mana, but still had action, in a Peel from Reality, which bounced Scrapskin Drake and Nephalia Smuggler, with the latter being swiftly replayed.

    Matteo Versari

    It was Nettle Swine, not the drake which came down on turn four. When the 2/3 flyer did get recast, it hit a Geist Snatch rather than the battlefield. The spirit that Geist Snatch created got stuck in, and was soon joined by Gryff Vanguard as part of Llimós' flying squad.

    Nettle Swine swung for Versari, before being joined by the huge Vorstclaw. A second Peel from Reality came from Llimós. This time Vorstclaw was the target on Versari's side of the board, while Llimós was happy to bounce and replay his Nephalia Smuggler again.

    Attacks put Versari on eight. He recast his Vorstclaw, but had no other play, and dropped to four as Llimós swung in with his flyers. Wary of losing a tight race to some tricks, Llimós chose to keep his mana up and wait to see what the Italian was going to show him.

    Timberland Guide made Nettle Swine a little bigger, before it and Vorstclaw got stuck into the red zone. Llimós was on 16 life, but facing 12 damage from this one attack. He blocked Vorstclaw and let his Trusted Pathmage die, before using Nephalia Smuggler on Gryff Vanguard to draw a card. A Latch Seeker came after combat from Versari, who was still facing a lethal attack.

    Right on time, Versari again had Terrifying Presence to survive attacks. He also had exactly the right thing to cast on Latch SeekerInfinite Reflection, to make an unblockable team that would swing for enough to end things.

    Matteo Versari wins 2-0, advancing to the finals of GP Malmo 2012!

    • Semifinals
      Soren Larsen vs. Almgren
      by Frank Karsten

    Having won their respective quarterfinals and the coveted qualification for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica that goes with it, Soren Larsen from Denmark and Oscar Almgren from Sweden shuffled up their decks and got down to the match at hand. Larsen had drafted a green-white deck, while Almgren brought a red-black deck to the table.

    Game 1

    We started out slowly, with no two-drops for either of the players. Larsen led with Devout Chaplain and Seraph of Dawn, while Almgren made Heirs of Stromkirk and used Death Wind to kill Seraph of Dawn.

    Shortly after, Heirs of Stromkirk came down for Almgren, and Farbog Explorer came down for Larsen. The Swampwalker was unblockable for the Red-Black Almgren, and the Intimidate creature could not be blocked by any of Larsen's green or white creatures either.

    A short while later, Almgren made Havengul Vampire, but it did not last long. When Almgren attacked with it, Larsen played Cloudshift on his Farbog Explorer (which had attacked on the preceding turn) to ambush Almgren's Vampire out of the blue.

    Almgren's other Vampire, in the meanwhile, was still growing larger, and larger, and larger. His intimidating Havengul Vampire was easily winning the damage race against Larsen's Farbog Explorer, which did not gain +1/+1 counters every time it dealt damage.

    Unable to find an answer to a massive Intimidate creature, Larsen succumbed to Heirs of Stromkirk a few turns later.

    Oscar Almgren 1 - Soren Larsen 0

    Soren Larsen

    Game 2

    Larsen got to play first this time around, but had to mulligan down to 5 in search of a keepable hand. A Borderland Ranger allowed him to recoup some of the cards he lost due to his mulligans, and the Seraph of Dawn that he played on the following turn is easily worth two cards. Could Larsen recover from his mulligan to 5 on the play after all?

    Well, Almgren's first creatures (Crypt Creeper and Soulcage Fiend) were no match for Larsen's Seraph of Dawn, but when Almgren played Heirs of Stromkirk on turn 4 again, Larsen let out an exasperating sigh.

    On his fifth turn, Almgren played Harvester of Souls, and attacked with his team. During combat, it was discovered that Almgren only had five lands in play and should not have been able to cast the 5/5. The table judge backed up the game to the state just before the illegal play had been made, issued a warning, and put Harvester of Souls back in Almgren's hand.

    Almgren played Driver of Dead instead, and attacked with all of his creatures nevertheless. Larsen blocked the Soulcage Fiend with his Borderland Ranger, using Cloudshift before damage to flicker it and search for his 6th land. He revealed why he needed that land on the following turn, as he played Soul of the Harvest.

    The top of Larsen's deck provided him with a string of creatures: Devout Chaplain, Angelic Wall. Play a creature, draw more creatures! Nightshade Peddler, Thraben Valiant. Play a creature, draw a card. Still, all those Soul of the Harvest draw-triggers did not provide an answer to Heirs of Stromkirk though. Seraph of Dawn was giving Larsen a lot of life and a lot of time, but the Vampire was already up to a 5/5 and growing every turn.

    The top of Larsen's deck provided him with Gryff Vanguard, which gave him even more cards ... one of which was Defang. Finally, an answer to the Vampire!

    Almgren now had to come up with another way to win the game. He had a Searchlight Geist and Harvester of Souls as notable creatures on the board, but these were certainly outclassed by Seraph of Dawn and Soul of the Harvest. When Cathars' Crusade came down for Larsen, the writing was on the wall.

    Farbog Explorer: draw a card, and trigger Cathar's Crusade. Griff Vanguard: draw a card, draw another card, and a second set of +1/+1 counters. With Soul of the Harvest and Cathars' Crusade on the battlefield, every creature caused mayhem. Soon enough, the steady stream of +1/+1 counters was enough to convince Almgren to move on the third and decisive game.

    Oscar Almgren 1 - Soren Larsen 1

    Oscar Almgren

    Game 3

    Almgren came out of the gates very quickly, with Lightning Mauler and Kessig Malcontents putting Larsen down to 13 life as early as turn 3. Larsen did not have a play on his third turn, and had to look on as Almgren put him down to 8 life and added Evernight Shade to the board.

    "You weren't that aggressive in the other two games," Soren despondently remarked.

    The first play of the game for Soren was Midvast Protector, which had to block Kessig Malcontents on the next attack. Blocking the 2/1 Lighning Mauler with his 2/3 was not an option, as Almgren already found four Swamps for his Shade. Soren, at 8 life, could not allow a potentially 5-power Shade and a 3-power Malcontents to hit him.

    Although he managed to survive for another turn by making the right block, it was already too late. Kruin Striker came down for Almgren on the next turn, bonding with Lightning Mauler, and the blisteringly fast group of red and black creatures rumbled in for the kill.

    Oscar Almgren 2 - Soren Larsen 1

    Oscar Almgren advances to the finals!

    • Finals
      Matteo Versari vs. Oscar Almgren
      by Tim Willoughby

    Matteo Versari had a little bit of a wait for his finals match to start. He had blitzed through both the quarter and semi-finals by the time that the other side of the bracket was on to its semis. For the finals his blue/green splash red deck would be up against another aggressive deck, the red/black concoction of Oscar Almgren of Sweden.

    Game 1

    Versari was on the play, but didn't have anything early on to get stuck in with; which was unfortunate due to the fact that Almgren was stuck on just two copies of Swamp, and as such unable to do much. In short order Almgren was discarding at the end of turn, and all Versari had to show for his game was Elgaud Shiedmate.

    A Searchlight Geist came down when Almgren finally found a third land, but he was still mono-black, and could only look on as Versari's Shieldmate paired up with Latch Seeker, creating an Invisible Stalker of sorts.

    Soulcage Fiend from Almgren (and finally a Mountain) began to show the true aggressive nature of the Swede's deck, but he was in a losing race. Oscar dropped to 13 on attacks, before seeing both an Alchemist's Apprentice and a Scrapskin Drake from the Italian.

    Almgren attacked, killing off Alchemist's Apprentice but not getting any damage through, and cast Hound of Griselbrand. Versari attacked Almgren to 8 in return, before playing Spectral Prison on Soulcage Fiend.

    While the double strike on Hound of Griselbrand is fearsome, it wasn't going to tempt Versari into blocking to save some life. The Italian took the hit on the chin, and simply nodded as Kruin Striker was added to his opponent's side of the board.

    The inexorable assault of Latch Seeker continued, while its buddy Scrapskin Drake traded with Searchlight Geist. Just one five more damage to deal. Almgren pondered his options carefully. He cast Kessig Malcontents, hitting Versari down to 12 with the ability, before casting Bloodflow Connoisseur, and attacking Versari down to four. Suddenly the game looked close – Versari had no intention of letting it be. The Italian untapped and attacked with Latch Seeker, casting Joint Assault on it to let it deal the final five points needed to lock up game one.

    Matteo Versari 1 – 0 Oscar Almgren

    Oscar Almgren

    Game 2

    On the play for game 2, Almgren still didn't have the first play, as an Ulvenwald Tracker came down on the very first turn for Versari. The powerful one drop (nicknamed Tyler Durden for initiating Fight Club) would prove a powerful source of removal if he stuck around and got some buddies.

    Soulcage Fiend was the first play for Almgren, which was big enough to initially win any fights. All Versari had was an Alchemist's Apprentice to play speed bump, drawing him a card in the process. Almgren followed up with Kessig Malcontents, to hit the Italian for a point.

    Versari had another Alchemist's Apprentice, which did the nice trick of blocking Soulcage Fiend, before fighting the Kessig Malcontents. Versari, even in the face of an aggressive red/black deck, was doing a good job of protecting his life total.

    In Heirs of Falkenrath, it seemed that Almgren had found an unblockable attacker, only for Versari to play the one red creature in his deck, a Mad Prophet, which traded for the vampire, but not before improving the quality of Versari's had just a little.

    Almgren seemed unperturbed. His offence was rolling, and he had a Hound of Griselbrand as his next creature. Versari's next was Scrapskin Drake, which would be able to fight the hound profitably at some point, or indeed fight the second Heirs of Falkenrath which Almgren played.

    Versari's answer to the hound was to use a Spectral Prison, leaving him free to attack for two in the air before letting his drake deal with the vampire. The life totals were still well in Almgren's favour, with Soulcage Fiend getting stuck in quite a bit, but he was still alive.

    Bloodflow Connoisseur posed a little bit of a problem from Almgren. The vampire would be able to kill off the Hound of Griselbrand under Spectral Prison, such that undying could bring it back, and would also let him use Soulcage Fiend as a 3 point burn spell at some point. With his life total low, this was a rough spot to be in.

    After a little thought, Versari cast Mist Raven targeting the Soulcage Fiend, forcing Almgren to pull the trigger if he was going to use the creature as a burn spell. Oscar was quick to do so. Versari was now on just 3 to Almgren's 14 life.

    Versari used his last mana to cast Guise of Fire on the Connoisseur, but it wasn't enough. There was an Undead Executioner to get eaten by the vampire, which was enough to in turn kill off Mist Raven, clearing a path for a lethal attack. The Grand Prix would come down to one final game.

    Matteo Versari 1 – 1 Oscar Almgren

    Matteo Versari

    Game 3

    For the deciding game of the match, Matteo Versari would be on the play – potentially a very valuable advantage, as Almgren's deck had shown it could be very aggressive when required. This advantage was compounded by a mulligan from the Swede. The six card hand had just a single Mountain. Almgren looked at the rest. There was a Lightning Mauler in there which could be just what he needed. He kept.

    Versari, on the play, had a Wandering Wolf, and Versari, on the draw, found the second land he needed just in time. Kruin Striker came down on turn two from Almgren, but didn't hang around for long, with a Guise of Fire to kill it.

    Suddenly the keep was looking a little dicier. Versari ran in with his Wandering Wolf and an Alchemist's Apprentice. Almgren had played his Lightning Mauler, but didn't dare block, as he would need the haste it could grant to race. What he needed more pressingly was land though, and that just wasn't coming. The best Almgren could do was a Scalding Devil. A crowd as replete with Italians as it was Swedes held their breath.

    When Versari attacked in again with his wolf, Almgren felt compelled to block with his Mauler. He was punished with a Joint Assault on the wolf. A third land finally came, and with it a Bloodflow Connoisseur. Timberland Guide was there to pump Wandering Wolf though, meaning that Versari could continue his attacks, putting the Swede down to 12.

    Almgren passed without plays the following turn. He went to 9 from attacks, and saw the Elgaud Shieldmate that had spelled his doom in game one. It did not pair up, signalling perhaps a strong creature from Versari the following turn as well.

    Searchlight Geist helped Almgren's position only a little. He would gladly have traded it for another land to cast something more powerful. Attacks came from Versari, who already had Almgren on 9. Alchemist's Apprentice and a 1/1 Timberland Guide didn't get through for much damage, but that was fine – Verari was well ahead, and had a Pathbreaker Wurm to pair with Elgaud Shieldmate threatening a deathblow.

    Almgren had nothing for his turn, while Versari had yet another threat in Mad Prophet. He swung in with his team and that was it. Almgren extended his hand. It was all over.

    Matteo Versari wins 2-1 to claim the title of Grand Prix Malmo 2012 Champion!

    • The Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Malmo 2012
      by Tobi Henke

    Mist Raven

    Hailed by many as Avacyn Restored's mightiest common, this Bird combines an astonishing number of features for such a simple-looking card. First of all, bounce works best in tempo decks. Evasion also works well in tempo decks. And finally, not having to divide one's time between casting bounce and creatures—but getting both in one neat package—is what really puts Mist Raven over the top. Mist Raven was the cornerstone of many tempo-oriented strategies this weekend, whether blue-white fliers or blue-green soulbonders. But there's another side to this card as well: as if its power in aggressive strategies wasn't already enough, it can play combo, too! Combine it with Deadeye Navigator or Nephalia Smuggler to reuse its ability over and over, or even with something as simple as Peel from Reality, Cloudshift, or Ghostly Flicker for at least some additional gain.



    Wolfir Avenger

    I can't count the number of games I have seen this weekend which were all but decided by a well-placed Wolfir Avenger, sometimes as early as turn three. This flashy surprise blocker doesn't only have a decent body which allows it to kill a lot of the small creatures in the format and live, but also regenerates to survive anything larger. The usual MO seems to be: opponent casts some small creatures, is happy to have the early advantage, attacks maybe a little too recklessly, loses one creature to the Avenger, then can't get past anymore, and subsequently loses to the bigger (and/or soulbound) creatures in green. As such, Wolfir Avenger played an important part in many of the more midgame-oriented green decks, especially red-green.



    Thatcher Revolt

    Three creatures at once? With haste? Humans, too? Granted, they die at end of turn, but there are so many cards in Avacyn Restored which interact with a sudden influx of humanity. Even just staying in red, there's Vigilante Justice, Kruin Striker, Riot Ringleader, and Havengul Vampire, white adds Goldnight Commander and possibly Cathars' Crusade, green has Champion of Lambholt, and black will happily abuse the puny Humans with Blood Artist, Bloodflow Connoisseur, and Bone Splinters. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa pointed out he often sees Thatcher Revolt in decks where it really doesn't belong. But in the right deck it's not only good, but a beating.



    Infinite Reflection

    Despite the less than enthusiastic reception it received when Limited specialists saw the six mana enchantment for the first time, Infinite Reflection actually turned out to be the go-to card for wacky combos in Avacyn Restored Sealed and Draft. One of the biggest stories making the rounds on Saturday was of a player who controlled three soulbound creatures paired with three others, then turned all of those into copies of Wolfir Silverheart and thus into veritable 12/12 monsters. And the card continued to show up, during the draft rounds, and even all the way into the Top 8: Matteo Versari won his quarterfinal against Pro Tour champion Samuele Estratti when he cast Infinite Reflection on Gang of Devils, he won his semifinal by casting it on his own Latch Seeker.



    Terrifying Presence

    It may look just like any other combat trick, but Terrifying Presence is so much more. With a name like this, it should have been clear the card would make its presence felt, and terrifyingly so. Still it took players a while to figure out the huge tempo swing brought about by a selective Fog effect. Some players at least. Thomas Holzinger picked it as the most underrated card in all of Avacyn Restored, and in Matteo Versari's Top 8 winning deck the instant was working overtime. Due to the lack of removal in those colors, succesful blue-green decks in particular need to play a tempo game, and Terrifying Presence fits right in. None of your creatures deal damage and I get to kill one of yours—that's terrifying, isn't it?

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