gppit13

Parker Makes Proud Return in Pittsburgh

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One of the Brockafellers has just made a comeback at Grand Prix Pittsburgh! Brock Parker has returned from years past to show the Magic world that the greats aren't ready to retire just yet. After earning his first Grand Prix Top 8 since 2003 in Columbus, Parker crafted the ultimate Orzhov deck, and it was through the Orzhov's extort mechanic that he won his final match against Alec Nezin by extorting all 20 points of life from his opponent in the final game!

This win at Grand Prix Pittsburgh is Parker's second Grand Prix victory, added to an impressive resume that includes six Grand Prix Top 8s and a victory at Pro Tour Boston in 2003, where he took down the tournament with teammates William Jensen and Matt Linde.

With Gatecrash explored inside and out, and Orzhov shining with the brutally powerful extort mechanic, players can look forward to how the Return to Ravnica Block will change as Dragon's Maze approaches. Which guild will rise above the rest as we approach Pro Tour Dragon's Maze?

But that's the future. For now, it's time to enjoy the moments that have taken place this weekend. Congratulations to Brock Parker, Grand Prix Pittsburgh champion!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Michael Derczo   Brock Parker, 2-1        
8 Brock Parker   Brock Parker, 2-1
       
4 Adam Carrasco   Gabby Izsak, 2-1   Brock Parker, 2-1
5 Gabby Izsak    
       
2 Chase Kovac   Alec Nezin, 2-0
7 Alec Nezin   Alec Nezin, 2-1
       
3 Matthew Falcioni   Eric Froehlich, 2-0
6 Eric Froehlich    







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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Brock Parker $3,500
 2.  Alec Nezin $2,300
 3.  Gabby Izsak $1,500
 4.  Eric Froehlich $1,500
 5.  Matthew Falcioni $1,000
 6.  Adam Carrasco $1,000
 7.  Michael Derczo $1,000
 8.  Chase Kovac $1,000
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  • Sunday, 8:30 p.m. – Drafting in the Top 8 with Eric Froehlich

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Eric Froehlich, professional poker player and ChannelFireball team member, has been on fire since Gatecrash has been legal. While his lifetime record was already very impressive, his record since February includes a Top 4 finish at Pro Tour Gatecrash and a Top 4 finish last week at Grand Prix San Diego. This week, he's been all Boros all the time in his previous two drafts, where he managed to earn a 2-1 record in each draft with decks that he considered mediocre.

    However, the one thing that has eluded him in his seven Grand Prix Top 8 finishes before this is a win. With a solid run all weekend in both the Sealed and Booster Draft rounds, Froehlich is intent to earn his first Grand Prix victory. And, given his run for a slot on the United States team at the World Magic Cup based on his pro points, it seems fitting to focus on his choices in this Top 8 draft.

    Froehlich started off the draft with Skyknight Legionnaire over Mystic Genesis and Slaughterhorn, a clear nod to the power of a hasty 2/2 flier for the Boros Legion. His next pick after that though showed his true preference for the draft, if it can come together: Orzhov Charm, a card he took over Arrows of Justice and Slaughterhorn.

    However, the third pack had nothing exciting outside of Wojek Halberdiers, which would go nicely with Froehlich's first pick. Skyknight Legionnaire fourth pick was also a clear signal: Boros was open. It was time to red-white cards.

    That signal, by the way? It wasn't necessarily the only one. Froehlich was visibly frustrated when a fifth pick Grisly Spectacle was staring back at him. However, it shared a pack with Boros Elite, a card that looked like it would be a fine inclusion in an already good looking Boros deck. Despite having an interest in Orzhov, Froehlich stayed on target, taking the one mana creature over the powerful removal spell.

    Court Street Denizen was the only real notable card to come after that, though Millennial Gargoyle and the expensive Debtor's Pulpit could potentially make the cut. Froehlich, having made his guild choice, made sure to ship reasonable but beatable cards such as Syndicate Enforcer late as a signal, intent on making sure the player to his left gets the memo that he should be Orzhov or Dimir.

    The second pack, however, offered little encouragement, as Froehlich took a Hellraiser Goblin first pick while passing Bomber Corps, Mindeye Drake, Ground Assault, and Executioner's Swing. The second pick brought with it another Court Street Denizen, followed by Wojek Halberdiers, Madcap Skills, and Martial Glory. Scorchwalker gave Froehlich a combat trick or a potential 5/1, which he favored over Burning-Tree Emissary in the same pack. Bomber Corps late gave him another two mana creature, but his two drop slot was looking a little light. Surely Boros was open, and he could pick up some more two mana creatures in the third pack.

    Right?

    Well...not exactly.

    The third pack yielded a first pick Boros Elite, the second pick gave him Holy Mantle, and then a tough decision came in the third pack. He had to choose between Armored Transport, which would go really well with his two Madcap Skills that he picked up in the second pack, or Massive Raid, which would give Froehlich his first removal spell. He opted to choose Massive Raid, but another came later, making him regret having to choose the removal earlier in the pack. No other two drops came, although he did find an Angelic Edict which could give him outs to potentially large threats.

    After the match, Froehlich explained his frustration when he was making some of his picks.

    "The guild that was open was the guild that I wanted to draft," said Froehlich. He had a clear preference for Orzhov, especially since he believe Grisly Spectacle is one of the best cards that you can take, with only a few cards and rares being better than it.


    Eric Froehlich's been all Boros all the time today, and while his Top 8 deck has a few weak points, it is the best one he's drafted this weekend.

    With three copies of Boros Elite, two Skyknight Legionnaires, and two Madcap Skills, Froehlich's got the potential for some very fast starts. However, his lack of two mana creatures could hurt, with only two copies of Wojek Halberdiers and Bomber Corps at his disposal. He settled with seventeen lands, forgoing his Boros Guildgates in favor of always making a first-turn play. The Guildgates were regrettable choices, he noted, as he never wants them when he could play a turn one creature, and could have picked a potentially sideboard-worthy Zarichi Tiger over one of the picks.

    However, given the capabilities of his deck, it's possible that Froehlich's concerns and missed opportunities may not be a worry in the long run. One mana creatures that can attack as 3/3s can be rough when backed up with the right draws, and Froehlich noted that this was the best Boros deck he was able to draft all day.

    Will it serve him well in the remaining rounds of this tournament? We'll see soon!




     

  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Michael Derczo

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Piscataway, NJ
    Occupation: HR


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Nothing of note.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Gruul, Zhur-taa Swine (3 mana Lava Axe or a Golgari Longlegs - pig lifts weights).

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Boros with a light green splash, 9-1.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Gruul splashing Aurelia off of triple Verdant Haven and two Boros Guildgates, 3-0.Borzhov trainwreck, 1-1-1.

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    The Only Game in Town (TOGIT) in Somerville, NJ.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    Gruul, Boros, Orzhov, in that order - No.




    Alec Nezin

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Long Island
    Occupation: Research Associate


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Beating Frank Skarren and Peter Ingram on a weekly basis.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card in it?
    Orzhov, the cards with extort.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    BW, 10-0.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    UBw, 2-1.BWu, 1-0-2.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Mark's Comics, The Comic Book Depot, Frank Skarren's Basement.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    This is my prerelease, so I honestly don't know. Orzhov seems like the best guild, though.




    Brock Parker

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
    Occupation: Poker Player


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Won a team PT and GP.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecarash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Orzhov, Zarichi Tiger.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Borzhov with three rare Angels, 8-2.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Boros, 3-0.Orzhov, 2-0.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Online.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed during the season

    I used to love Boros and hate Simic. Now I hate Boros and don't hate Simic as much. I have always hated Gruul.




    Chase Kovac

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Orleans, MA
    Occupation:


    Occuption:
    Student, barrista

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    1-4'd my first PT.

    What is your favorite archetype from Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    I only did four drafts before this tournament, so I'm not sure... But Boros and Orzhov treat me well.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Boros, 9-1.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Gruul splash Assault Griffin, 2-1.Simic splash red, 2-0-1.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Magic Online, Dave Shiels's house, and Matt Costa's Kitchen table.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    I think red could be the best color. It has played many roles in my decks.




    Matthew Falcioni

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Carnegie, PA
    Occupation: Graduate Student (Go Pitt!)


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I 4-0'd a Momir Daily once.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Esper control. It's a close call between Psychic Strike and Death's Approach.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    UWB, 8-2.

    What colors did you play in yor Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    UWB, 3-0.Boros, 3-0.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Phantom of the Attic! (Nobleston Road)

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    Originally I thought Boros and Simic were tier one, but UWB feeels a lot better. Excellent common removal suite.




    Adam Carrasco

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Harrisburg, PA 17103
    Occupation: Cook


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Pro Tour Atlanta team trios, several PTQ Top 8s.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Esper extort, Syndic of Tithes.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what were your records with them?
    RWG, 9-1. Lost Round 2 with no byes.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    BUG in both, 3-0, 1-0-2.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Adventurer's Guild in Harrisburg.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    Aggro extort, not really.




    Eric Froehlich

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
    Occupation: Poker Player


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    3 PT Top 8s, 9 GP Top 8s, back-to-back-to-back Top 8s.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Orzhov, Kingpin's Pet.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    Orzhov, 9-1.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    Boros, 2-1.Boros, 2-0-1.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    At home with William "Baby Huey" Jensen. Get him into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    Not drafting Boros. Didn't pan out today.




    Gabby Izsak

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Bethesda, MD
    Occupation: Teacher


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    None.

    What is your favorite archetype in Gatecrash Draft, and what is your favorite card from this archetype?
    Gruul, Slaughterhorn.

    What colors did you play in your Sealed Deck, and what was your record with it?
    BW, 9-1.

    What colors did you play in your Draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    RG, 3-0.UGr, 2-1.

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Magic Online.

    What are your preferences in Gatecrash Limited?
    Have your preferences changed at all during the season

    I prefer either Gruul or Orzhov, although Dimir has grown on me lately.




     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff











  •  

  • Quarterfinals – Eric Froehlich (Boros) vs. Matthew Falcioni (Dimir splashing Green)

    by Jacob Van Lunen

  • Game 1

    Falcioni finished higher in the standings, giving him the opportunity to play first. Froehlich led things off with Boros Elite on the first turn. Falcioni didn't have a two drop and started getting hit by Froehlich's Elite. Froehlich quickly established a scary board with Wojek Halberdiers. Falcioni tried to regain some control of the vehicle with corpse blockade, but Skyknight Legionnaire came down for Froehlich and Falcioni felt the wrath of an optimal Boros draw; Falcioni blocked the Halberdiers, but took five anyway.

    Falcioni pondered his options. It was going to be difficult to overcome the near-perfect Boros draw from Froehlich. Duskmantle Guildmage came down and he passed the turn. Froehlich elected to just attack for two in the air with his Skyknight Legionnaire before passing the turn with Falcioni at 12.


    Matthew Falcioni

    Under a lot of pressure, Falcioni needed to find an answer because his current hand didn't have the necessary tools to beat Froehlich's board; Falcioni cast Urban Evolution, played an extra land, and passed the turn back to Froehlich.

    Eric wasted no time sending his whole team into the red zone. Duskmantle guildmage jumped in front of Boros Elite, and Corpse Blockade got in the way of Wojek Halberdiers. Corpse Blockade was activated to kill the Wojek Halberdiers, but Eric had another Boros Elite and Zarichi Tiger to further press his advantage.

    Falcioni tried to stabilize with Balustrade Spy, but Act of Treason from Froehlich was good enough to end this lightning fast game.

    Eric Froehlich 1 - Matthew Falcioni 0


    Eric Froehlich

    Game 2

    Falcioni made a friendly gesture by offering Froehlich pretzels between games. Froehlich politely declined as they presented decks. Falcioni chose to mulligan and Froehlich decided to keep his opening seven.

    Froehlich got off to a quick start with Boros Elite again. His deck is packing 3 copies of the powerhouse one drop, so it's not unreasonable or strange to see it on the first turn from him, especially on the draw. Wojek Halberdiers further advanced Eric's board presence, Falcioni tried to get back into the game with Gateway Shade, but Hellraiser Goblin came down on Froehlich's side and left Falciona on the backfoot against multiple Battalion triggers. Bomber Corps was next and Falcioni was in a pretty awkward spot when he was forced to block Froehlich's Wojek Halberdiers with his Gateway Shade. Froehlich's next attack was good enough to end the game.

    Eric Froehlich 2 - Matthew Falcioni 0




     

  • Quarterfinals – Brock Parker vs. Michael Derczo

    by Frank Karsten

  • This quarterfinals pitted together Michael Derczo, in his first Grand Prix Top 8, and Brock Parker, a member of the of the Pro Tour Boston 2003 winning team. Parker drafted an excellent Orzhov deck with a ton of extort creatures. Derczo's draft didn't go as well as he'd hoped.

    Derczo was one of four (!) players who had dabbled into Gruul cards. To be fair, there were only two actual Gruul drafters at the table (which might already be more than that guild can support), but two other drafters had snagged up Clan Defiance and Zhur-Taa Swine as well for a splash. Accordingly, Derczo had to fill out his deck not with broken mythic rares, but with 3 Armored Transport and an Ivy Lane Denizen that had only four other green creatures to trigger off. Not exactly ideal.

    Game 1

    Parker got to play first and wasted no time shipping his 7 cards. Derczo thought on his opening hand of 5 lands, Ivy Lane Denizen and Armored Transport for a while, before deciding to take a mulligan. After that, the game got underway with both players down to 6 cards.

    Parker was the first to get into the red zone, sending in his Gutter Skulk. Derczo opted not to block with his Skinbrand Goblin, trying to get to battalion for the Warmind Infantry that came down next. Getting through with that Warmind Infantry would be difficult, though, as Parker started to clog up the board with Basilica Guards and Zarichi Tiger.

    Some additional creatures and removal spells later, the board state was as follows: Derczo had Skinbrand Goblin, Warmind Infantry, and Armored Transport versus Parker's Gutter Skulk, Basilica Guards, and Knight of Obligation.


    Brock Parker

    This board state lead to the crucial play of the game. Trying to break through, Derczo swung with his entire team, triggering Warmind Infantry's battalion. Parker blocked Skinbrand Goblin with Knight of Obligation, blocked Armored Transport with Basilica Guards, and did not put anything in front of Warmind Infantry.

    After blockers but before combat damage, Derczo revealed why the battalion trigger was so crucial: he forced his 4/3 Warmind Infantry and Parker's 2/4 Knight of Obligation into a Pit Fight. Parker had the perfect answer, though: Orzhov Charm in response ensured not only that his Knight of Obligation survived but also that Derczo's Skinbrand Goblin, which was blocked by Knight of Obligation, did not live through combat.

    After that devastating 3-for-1, Parker had the game firmly in hand. Derczo tried to claw back with an Act of Treason on a freshly cast Angelic Skirmisher, but it was to no avail; Parker had already gotten too many extort triggers, and several additional triggers later, Derczo's life total had been whittled down to 0.

    Parker 1 - Derczo 0

    Game 2

    Derczo, on the play, came out of the gates blazingly fast with Burning-Tree Emissary and Skinbrand Goblin on his second turn. He quickly added two Ember Beasts to his team and started attacking.

    Parker, on the other side of the table, was stuck with a bunch of white cards in hand and only Swamps in sight. His Corpse Blockade managed to stem the bleeding somewhat, but it was not an answer to Derczo's onslaught. It did not take long for Parker to scoop up his cards.

    Parker 1 - Derczo 1

    Game 3

    Parker kept his opening 7, while Derczo went down to 5 cards. With only 2 Forest in play on his fourth turn, things were not looking good for the Gruul player.

    Parker was unable to take advantage of Derczo's stumble, however, as he could only muster Wright of Precinct Six, double Basilica Guards, and double Corpse Blockade. Not exactly the most aggressive creatures on the block.

    "Aaaall the 1/4s" ---Brock Parker

    A couple turns later, things were looking up for Derczo: he had found a Mountain, had killed Wright of Precinct Six with Mugging, and had added an Ember Beast and an Armored Transport to the battlefield. It would still be difficult to get through all those 1/4s, but

    Derczo felt he had to try something and sent in both of his creatures.

    Each was blocked by one Corpse Blockade. When Derczo boosted his Armored Transport with Skinbrand Goblin, Parker simply sacrificed the Corpose Blockade that was blocking it to give the other one deathtouch, thereby trading one Corpse Blockade for the Ember Beast and the Skinbrand Goblin.


    Michael Derczo

    Corpse Blockade's sacrifice ability came in handy once more when Derczo tried to destroy both of Parker's Basilica Guards with Homing Lightning. As the target was sacrificed and no longer around upon resolution, the removal spell fizzled.

    Parker's life total never got below 20 this game. In fact, it went up and up and up. Zarichi Tiger, Kingpin's Pet, Purge the Profane, the life gain never stopped. At some point, Parker was up to 35 life and Derczo could only shake his head. Rather than being able to use Gruul Charm's unblockable mode to steal the game, he had to settle for destroying Kingpin's Pet.

    Derczo never got close to breaking through Parker's barrage of 1/4s. A bunch of removal spells later, Parker had cleared the way for his ragtag team of Gutter Skulk and Knight Watch tokens, and swung in for lethal.

    Parker 2 - Derczo 1

    Brock Parker defeats Michael Derczo and advantages to the semifinals!




     

  • Semifinals – Eric Froehlich vs. Alec Nezin

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Eric Froehlich blasted past his Quarterfinals opponent, Matthew Falcioni, in two quick games, showing off just how fast his deck can be. His opponent in the Semifinals, however, was Alec Nezin, who had drafted a brutal Simic deck splashing a little red for some bloodrush action. The creatures in Nezin's deck were big, and could give the smaller power of Froehlich's Boros creatures some fits.

    However, we are talking about Froehlich, who had worked through harder circumstances. Could his Boros creature blast through Nezin's evolving creatures, or would green and blue giants triumph?

    Game 1

    Nezin led with Simic mana but no action until turn three when he played Crocanura. Froehlich's first play was Court Street Denizen, which was locked down by Hands of Binding. The Crocanura swung in, and Froehlich's Millennial Gargoyle was met with Spell Rupture.

    The Crocanura kept the Denizen locked down with an attack, and Zhur-Taa Swine gave Nezin some beef to speed up the effectiveness of his tricks. Froehlich disposed of the ciphered Crocanura with Angelic Edict, but Nezin had Elusive Krasis to threaten breaking through.

    Froehlich had a Zarichi Tiger next, and when Nezin's Swine swung in, the Tiger blocked and was buffed with Martial Glory. Nezin responded with Ætherize to return his own Swine and passed, while Froehlich had a second Court Street Denizen and Massive Raid for three to get rid of the Krasis before it would become troublesome.


    Froehlich fights through blue and green giants.

    Nezin replayed his Swine, a seventh land, and passed. Froehlich, now on the offensive, gave a Denizen Holy Mantle and started attacking. He kept Zarichi Tiger and Court Street Denizen back, passing with mana open to gain life with the Tiger.

    Nezin reloaded his hand with Urban Evolution, then followed with Lost Thoughts, ciphering onto his Swine. He decided to pass though, unwilling to trade his creature for Froehlich's while he had no mana for any bloodrush.

    Froehlich kept attacking with his buffed Denizen, dropping Nezin to 6. He passed with his two creatures untapped, and was quick to declare no blocks when the Swine came in. Nezin sighed, then played Gyre Sage and a second Elusive Krasis.

    However, in the face of two Court Street Denizens, blockers meant little. Boros Elite triggered Froehlich's Denizens, Nezin's blockers became tapped, and an attack from all three of Froehlich's creatures earned the concession for the first game.

    Froehlich 1 - Nezin 0

    Game 2

    Nezin's first play came in the form of Frilled Oculus, which held back Froehlich's first-turn Boros Elite. No two mana creature hurt Froehlich's start, as the Oculus came in with a pump for 3 on the next turn.

    Wojek Halberdiers came down a turn late for Froehlich, and Scab-Clan Charger on turn four combined with the Oculus kept Froehlich's forces at bay on the next turn as well. Skyknight Legionnaire, however, gave Froehlich a way to get damage through, as an attack put Nezin to 17. Adaptive Snapjaw from Nezin was a big, but fragile addition to his board, and came down after the Oculus was sent in with mana up.


    Nezin's Simic creatures can be very adaptive.

    Froehlich tanked for a moment before playing Boros Elite and Massive Raid for four on the Scab-Clan Charger. Froehlich then sent the team in, dropping Nezit to 9. Nezit's only follow-up was another Scab-Clan Charger and an attack with the now 7/3 Snapjaw, dropping Froehlich to 8. Angelic Edict cleared away the Charger, but a mid-combat Burst of Strength untapped the Snapjaw and allowed it to block a creature, keeping Nezit afloat.

    With the Snapjaw now an 8/4, Froehlich was dead to the counterattack, and the match moved to a third and final game.

    Froehlich 1 - Nezit 1

    Game 3

    Froehlich immediately shipped his first hand back for the third game. However, it was Nezin with the first play of the game with Frilled Oculus. Froehlich cast a Court Street Denizen on the third turn, while Nezin played another Frilled Oculus and stumbled on lands. Froehlich had a Scorchwalker on turn four, but no good attacks.

    Nezin found a third land to cast Elusive Krasis on his fourth turn, but that did not stop Froehlich from sending in his two creatures. Nezin blocked the Scorchwalker with an Oculus, which forced Martial Glory on both creatures from Froehlich, leaving Nezin short of an Oculus and 5 life.

    A fourth land and Scab-Clan Charger evolved the Elusive Krasis and gave Nezin some needed defense as he passed, unwilling to take anymore hits due to Froehlich's Court Street Denizen.

    Froehlich thought for a moment before deploying a Skyknight Legionnaire, sending Nezin to 13. Crocanura gave Nezin a blocker for the pesky flier, but a second Court Street Denizen from Froehlich came down, triggering the first and moving the Crocanura out of the way for a turn, as Nezin fell to 11.

    A second Crocanura continued to beef up Nezin's defenses, and this one stopped attacks for the time. Sage's Row Denizen evolved Nezin's creatures, and the Krasis started to crash in. When Froehlich tapped the two Crocanuras with a Boros Elite and two Denizens, but Burst of Strength untapped one of them, and the Skyknight went down.

    And when Prime Speaker Zegana followed that brutal turn, things started to look even more grim for Froehlich. The Krasis went in for 3, as Froehlich fell to 15, staring down a monstrous board.

    Froehlich had nothing on his turn, passing with all mana and creatures untapped. Nezin sent in the 4/4 Zagana with the 3/5 Crocanura and Elusive Krasis. Froehlich traded his Scorchwalker with Zegana, but as Nezin's board continued to grow, Froehlich's chances grew slim.

    Froehlich drew for his turn, played Wojek Halberdiers and passed. When Nezim flashed in a Shambleshark and sent in his team, Froehlich revealed the two Massive Raids and only one Mountain available, and offered the handshake.

    Alec Nezim wins 2-1 and advances to the Finals!




     

  • Semifinals – Brock Parker (Orzhov) vs. Gabby Izsak (Orzhov)

    by Jacob Van Lunen

  • Game 1

    Izsak chose to draw. The board clogged up quickly as both players raced one another with extort triggers. Parker had a timely Vizkopa Confessor that gave him full knowledge of Izsak's hand.

    Izsak decided to get aggressive with Shadow Slice on a Balustrade Spy. This combination brought Parker to a dangerously low life total, but ultimately Executioner's Swing was able to take care of the flyer before he succumbed to the five point swings.


    Gabby Izsak

    Zarichi Tiger from Parker ate Izsak's Smite. This gave Parker the opportunity to cast Treasury Thrull confident that his opponent was out of removal. (Thanks to Vizkopa Confessor)

    Izsak was able to use two cards to deal with the Treasury Thrull, but Parker already got back a Kingpin's Pet and had established an intimidating board including three permanents with extort. (Kingpin's Pet and a pair of Basilica Guards)

    Purge the Proface with extort triggers emptied Izsak's hand and Parker was able to attack and extort his way to victory without much resistance.

    Brock Parker 1 - Gabby Izsak 0


    Game 2

    Izsak chose to draw again. Izsak got off to a great start with a pair of Basilica Screechers and Syndicate Enforcer. Parker tried to edge his way into the game with Basilica Guards, but Izsak had Devour Flesh at the ready.

    Zarichi Tiger stuck for Parker, but his Treasury Thrull fell victim to Izsak's Grisly Spectacle, which also milled Angelic Skirmisher. Syndicate Enforcer traded with the Zarichi Tiger and the Screechers continued to attack and extort their way to victory.

    Things looked like they might be turning around when Parker found Kingpin's Pet, but Izsak had Arrows of Justice at the ready.

    Parker needed an extra turn or two to stabilize, but Shadow Slice with extort triggers was enough to end the game quickly and quietly.

    Brock Parker 1 - Gabby Izsak 1

    Game 3

    Izsak went down to six cards at the beginning, but his Basilica Screecher was the first play of the game. Parker wasted no time casting Devour Flesh.


    Brock Parker

    Parker proceeded to curve out quite nicely with Kingpin's Pet into Knight of Obligation. Izsak struggled to find blockers, but all he seemed able to do was play land.

    Izsak finally found a Guardian of Gateless but Parker had Angelic Edict to secure his spot in the finals.

    Brock Parker 2 - Gabby Izsak 1




     

  • Finals – Alec Nezin vs. Brock Parker

    by Nate Price

  • It has been a very long time since I've seen Brock Parker's name in type during the Top 8 of a Grand Prix, nearly a decade, in fact. Way back in 2004, Parker was eliminated in the Quarterfinals of Grand Prix Boston, six months after he and his teammates Matt Linde and William "Huey" Jensen took down the title at Pro Tour Boston. Now, nearly a decade later, he has made his made his way back to the top. One man stood between him and his first individual title: Alec Nezin, who was using this Grand Prix as his prerelease, and crushing along the way.

    One of the most interesting things about this finals match was the fact that all five colors of Magic were represented between the two decks. While red is a minor splash for Nezin, the Zhur-Taa Swine he is splashing for was instrumental in his reaching the finals, allowing him to win crucial games over both Chase Kovac in the Quarterfinals and Eric Froehlich in the Semis. In addition to representing all colors, this was a match between the darling of the Gatecrash Limited environment, Orzhov, against the highly maligned Simic. While opinions on Simic have certainly improved over the previous month, players still seemed to avoid blue cards unless they were also black, and green cards unless the were also red. And likely white.

    In any case, the early leanings on this match seemed in Parker's favor. His heavy-extort deck was very well-positioned against Nezin's more defensively-oriented Simic deck. His ceratures certainly had the ability to get out of hand, with a fair amount of evolve, including two Elusive Krasis, but Parker's ability to grind out life totals with extort and a reasonable amount of removal seemed better suited to win in a long match.

    Parker was the first on the board with a Gutter Skulk. Nezin immediately slammed a roadblock in the way, one of his two Frilled Occuluses. Occuli. Whatever. In any case, the 1/3 was a big barrier for the Rat to get through, and Parker just left it home on the following turn. Willing to leave a window open, Nezin decided to attack with the Occulus. Parker put his Skulk in the way, stone-faced, daring Nezin to pump it.

    "Okay," Nezin said, content for the two creatures to bounce. After combat, he passed the turn to Parker with three lands untapped.

    Parker was a bit slow on his draw, but Nezin wasn't punishing him any. A Last Thoughts was enough to draw one card, but he still wasn't ready to get through with his Occulus, leaving it home on defense. When Parker played a Guardian of the Gateless, his first play since the turn-two Rat, Nezin finally put the Occulus to work, pumping it and killing the Angel with a Pit Fight. After another empty turn from the seemingly mana-screwed Parker, Nezin made a Deathcult Rogue.


    Alec Nezin

    Parker found a third spell on the following turn, but his Millennial Gargoyle was in no position to do any attacking just yet. Parker was first going to have to get things a bit more under control First, he used an Executioner's Swing to kill the Deathcult Rogue after getting hit for two. The following turn brought an Angelic Edict fot the Occulus. Nezin was without a board.

    Ready to attack for the first time, Parker was frustrated by an Ætherize which reset the board, forcing him to replay out his creatures. It was merely a stalling tactic, however, as Nezin had no board presence to back it up.

    The next couple turns brought a gradual rebuilding for both players. Parker makde a Dutiful Thrull, Basilica Guards, and Knight Watch to fill his board. Nezin's contributions were far more potent. Scab-Clan Charger allowed him to draw three cards from Prime Speaker Zegana, drawing into an Elusive Krasis, Frilled Occulus, and Sage's Row Denizen. His found a second Krasis soon after, as well as a Mindeye Drake that might as well have been unblockable for the time being. Parker's only air creature was the lonely Millennial Gargoyle. A Zarichi Tiger from Parker topped things off, resulting in an incredibly cluttered board.

    At this point, the game became a very grindy affair. Nezin would attack with his three-power worth of unblockable Krasis and his flier, Parker would gain two life with the Tiger. As Parker's life dipped to 10, things swung incredibly in his favor. Angelic Skirmisher gave his team lifelink, allowing the Milennial Gargoyle to swing over for a four-point life swing. On the following turn, Nezin was forced to leave his 2/5 flier back home, only sending in for three unblockable damage. Parker was at 9, Nezin at 10.

    Parker attacked with his 4/4, lifelinking Skirmisher. Nezin blocked with his Mindeye Drake, allowing Parker to clear it away with an Arrows of Justice. This left Nezin completely defenseless. Now at the mercy of Parker's lifelinking army, his time in the game appeared to be growing short.

    His deck gave him a saving grace in Hands of Binding, allowing him to keep Parker's fliers locked down for a turn, and then the Skirmisher every turn thereafter. Still, while the Skirmisher was still giving his team lifelink every combat. This gave him the ability to stay high, while whittling away Nezin's life.

    As Nezin made a Shambleshark, milling Parker for two cards, the possibilitiy of Nezin winning via decking became very real. His freshly evolved Krasis kept attacking for four, but Parker kept himself healthy with a lifelinking Gargoyle and the Zarichi Tiger. Nezin was down to 7, but Parker was down to about ten cards in his deck.

    Parker attacked Nezin down to 5, a far cry behind his own 15. A Vizkopa Confessor allowed an extort, dropping Nezin even lower. Nezin tried to stop it with a Spell Rupture, but Parker had the ability to pay for it. He paid 2 life, a paltry sum compared with his now burgeoning life total. Still, Nezin attacked for four, dropping Parker to 10. Despite these efforts, it seemed clear that this was a race of Parker's library versus the few remaining life points Nezin had.

    A Crocanura came down to protect Nezin's life total, but Parker was able to find a great answer. Kingpin's Pet not only provided him a second attacker, but gave him two extort triggers to drop Nezin down to his final two points of life.

    Nezin was in dire straights. An Urban Evolution gave him three more chances to draw something sweet, but it appeared that he didn't find anything of value. He simply cast a Scab-Clan Charger and a second land. With three lands left untapped, he passed the turn back to Parker.

    "You're at two, right," Parker asked to confirm that he had a lethal attack.

    "Yep."

    "Ok. Give everyone lifelink and attack with my two fliers," Parker said as he turned his Gargoyle and Pet sideways. Nezin scooped up his cards.

    "Who says these games end on turn six," Dave Williams laughed from the seat next to Parker.

    "I know, right," Parker laughed along with him.

    "This is like Masques block," Williams added with a smile.

    Alec Nezin 0 - Brock Parker 1

    After winning a tight Game 1, Parker found himself on the unfortunate end of a mulligan to five cards. He didn't have a creature to add to the board until the trusty Millennial Gargoyle on turn four, but Nezin didn't have much either. His one creature, a Crocanura, was immediately dispatched with an Orzhov charm. Nezin's next play wasn't until turn five, when an Urban Evolution allowed him to further the advantage he'd gained after Parker's mulligans, as well as putting him further ahead on lands. The latter advantage he put to great use with a Sylvan Primordial, killing Parker's Orzhov Guildgate.

    "Really..." Parker didn't seem amused. He seemed even less so when Prime Speaker Zegana came into play as a 7/7, drawing Nezin a brand new hand of cards.

    Parker had been able to add some more creatures to his side, a Knight of Obligation and a Guardian of the Gateless, but they were significantly outclassed. Nezin began attacking with his massive beasts, and it seemed unlikely that Parker could do anything to get back into this game. I mean, he started down a billion cards and Nezin went ahead and drew a billion more.

    "How many cards in hand," Nezin asked as Parker surveyed the board.

    "Three," Parker flashed.

    "I've drawn seven cards and your mulligan to five is keeping up..."

    "Keeping up?! Don't patronize me," Parker retorted wryly, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

    Parker added his stud of a Zarichi Tiger to the board, but it was going to need to do a ton of work, and in very little time to make an actual impact. Especially since Nezin wasn't jsut sitting inactive. With his freshly drawn mint of cards, he added a Sage's Row Denizen and a Deathcult Rogue to his team, taking care to remember the mill trigger that he had missed a couple of times before.

    As Nezin sent in his giant creatures and Rogue, Parker soon decided to throw most of his men at the Primordial, chumping the Speaker and falling to 3. The game had effectively ended four or so turns earlier, but Nezin attacked over to close things out on the following turn.

    Alec Nezin 1 - Brock Parker 1

    Parker started off conspicuously with three Plains, leading into a Basilica Guard. A second Guard on the following turn off of those same three Plains gave a clear indication of what his hand looked like. Nezin began to build his board with a Crocanura and a Scab-Clan Charger, but they were not the best form of offense against a team of 1/4s.

    Parker found his Swamp on the following turn, enabling a Gutter Skulk and a pair of extort triggers. It also allowed him to try a Wight of Precinct Six on the following turn, but a Spell Rupture kept it from the table.

    While Parker's offense came mostly through extort at this point, Nezin wasn't amassing much of an offense either. His fifth turn brought an Urban Evolution, drawing three cards and putting a pair of lands into play. This allowed him to cast Prime Speaker Zegana for much less than seven cards on the following turn. After that, he found himself his first source of offense, an Elusive Krasis, but Parker was starting with a big head start.


    Brock Parker

    Parker had driven his life up to 26 casting a Dutiful Thrull before Nezin began to attack. The Krasis grew to a 2/6 thanks to a Shambleshark and a Mindeye Drake, giving him a steady stream of damage. Still holding four cards in his hand, Nezin looked to have turned a corner. PArker wasn't that far out of it, though. With a grip full of cards himself, he surely had an answer or two for Nezin's attempts to get at his life total.

    With a peel of a second Swamp from his deck, Parker found what he had been looking for: a way to cast his Angelic Skirmisher. While a 2/5 Crocanura and Mindeye Drake prevented the Skirmisher from attacking, Parker would have a nearly unlimited capability to increase his life total. This was increasingly true as Parker continued to add creatures to his board, beginning with two Knight tokens from a Knight Watch.

    Nezin found yet another Crocanura, setting up that impressive defensive front his deck was capable of. While Parker wasn't able to get through with his creatures, extort gave him all the reach he needed. A Vizkopa Confessor gave him access to a third extort trigger, as well as knocking a Scatter Arc from a hand of two lands and another Scab-Clan Charger. This cost him four life, dropping 20 to Nezin's 10.

    Nezin began to send more attackers. An Adaptive Snapjaw further evolved the Elusive Krasis, and the 3/7 joined a Mindeye Drake int he red zone. Parker dropped to 15, still a far cry from being in danger. When he cleared out Nezin's hand with a Purge the Profane on the following turn, leaving him the Charger as his only card, he swung the life totals to 20-7.

    Nezin added a Last Thoughts to his Krasis, giving him a stream of cards in addition to damage, but his window to actually kill Parker before the extort triggers became lethal was growing short. The same two creatures again attacked Parker to 15, and Nezin passed the turn with a pair of cards in hand and a boatload of mana available.

    Once again, as in the first game, the board had become clogged with creatures far more sutied for protecting rather than attacking. Parker had managed to do all sixteen damage thus far to Nezin with only extort triggers, and things got tense as he closed in on the home stretch. When he drew, tapped his eight lands, and aimed an Angelic Edict at the Krasis, the tension seemed to drain away. His victory seemed almost assured.

    With one lat-ditch effort, Nezin sent every creature but his two Crocanura. Angelic Skirmisher gave Parker's team first strike, and he thought with his head in his hand as he lined up his blockers, leaving only the Mindeye Drake free. After the dust cleared, Parker had lost his Thrull, while Nezin lost his Snapjaw and the Charger he had been holding most of the game. Parker made a Treasury Thrull on his turn, using two more extort triggers to regain the life he had lost while simultaneously putting Nezin one turn from dead.

    Nezin tried yet again, this time bringing the whole team. Parker's squad once again gained first strike, and he lined up his blockers to once again only let the Drake through. This gave each blocker a single attacker. Again, only the Drake hit home. Parker had a slew of options of how to finish things off, from returning a creature with Treasury Thrull to extorting off of a spell in his hand. His final decision was to attack, Arrows of Justice his own creature, and extort for the final points of Nezin's life. Parker had managed to take down the final game of the match taking every point of life with extort.

    "No byes. A GP Winner with no byes," Dave Williams cheered as Parker stood up from the table.

    "He played, like, 31 matches this weekend," Eric Froehlich smiled with a shake of his head.

    It took every single round of play for Parker to reach his title, but the reward was well worth it as he walked off, surrounded by friends, to pick up his first individual Grand Prix trophy.


    The handshake.



     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Pittsburgh

    by Jacob Van Lunen



  • 5. Angelic Skirmisher

    Angelic Skirmisher is one of the best six drops available for Orzhov and Boros Limited decks. Brock Parker's Orzhov deck was able to ride the Angel to victory in the finals where its trigger gained him well over ten life despite it being permanently tapped down by Hands of Binding. The ability to grant his entire team First Strike on his opponent's turn allowed him to draw the game out long enough to eventually close the game with a few evasive bodies and extort triggers.









    4. Prime Speaker Zegana

    Alec Nezin's Simic deck made excellent use of Prime Speaker Zegana throughout the top 8. In the finals, a Sylvan Primordial into Prime Speaker Zegana allowed Nezin to draw a back breaking seven cards.

















    3. Grisly Spectacle

    Virtually every pro agreed when asked what their common of choice for Gatecrash Limited was. Grisly Spectacle is an all-encompassing instant-speed spot removal spell that increases the power level of other Black commons and uncommons like Death's Approach and Wight of Precinct Six. The survey is in and Grisly Spectacle is about as premium as it gets in Gatecrash Limited.





    2. Burst of Strength

    The underplayed Green instant was seen swinging games throughout the weekend. Alec Nezin used the card to great effect in his top 8 Simic draft deck. A timely Burst of Strength on Adaptive Snapjaw in the Semifinals both protected him from Eric Froehlich's would-be lethal attack and gave him exactly lethal damage the following turn.









    1. Zarichi Tiger

    It's easy to dismiss Zarichi Tiger as an unplayable, but the card made the cut in some of the most successful decks in this 1626 person event. Brock Parker's top 8 Orzhov deck used Zarichi Tiger to bait removal spells and win seemingly unwinnable races throughout the top 8.












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