Sunday, Sept. 9: 4:00 p.m. - Podcast: The End of the Swiss
by Rich Hagon
With every round winnowing the field like so much chaff, every mistake could be the last one you make at GP Firenze. We bring you the stories of those crucial final rounds, as we head down for the final table showdown.
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Sunday, Sept. 9: 4:03 p.m. - Podcast: Flawless Display
by Rich Hagon
As the sun sets here in the magnificent setting of Florence, the sun also sets on the Time Spiral Block Constructed Season. Although not all the Top 8 players are household names, the winner at least is someone we'll be hearing a lot more of. Join us for commentary on a pulsating quarter-final, one of the semis, and play-by-play on the final. And then we'll see you all again - in Valencia, or the Invitational, or Krakow, or......See you soon!
Click here to download! - 18.3Mb MP3
Sunday, Sept. 9: 4:04 p.m. - The Top 8 Player Profiles
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Name: Armin Birner
Name: Masami Kaneko
Comment: How Lucky!
Name: Ronald Guetl
Deck: blue-green aggro
Comment: It's nice to get the amateur money again
Name: André Coimbre
Deck: Maximus Prime v 2.0
Comment: I won a premier x2 on MTGO
Name: Marco Cammilluzzi
Comment: I've got no chance in top 8! :)
Name: Manuel Bucher
Comment: Guillaume B plays Liege of the Pit in sideboard - and went 4-3
Name: Rasmus Sibast
Comment: Visit Manamaze.com for draft walkthroughs from Dutch pros!
Name: Mido Kagawa
Deck: Yag Attac
Sunday, Sept. 9: 5:22 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Masami Kaneko vs. Ronald Guetl
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Masami Kaneko has 14 points in the current race. With the two points he will pick up in Valencia, the top 8 here secured him level 3 in the Pro Player Club for next year.
Ronald Guetl is an amateur, happy to play his first top 8. He made top 16 in Vienna some time ago, though.
Both players were playing blue-green. Their decks consisted mostly of creatures, so we were likely to see some kind of stand-off in this game. The bounce could play an important part, as could the flyers.
In the first game, Ronald couldn't really get anywhere. He did get two copies of Call of the Herd, which should put him ahead in the creature count, but the ground was clogged up, and Venser, Shaper Savant and Riftwing Cloudskate negated his card advantage. Masami used evasion to deal some damage, at first it was just a Looter il-Kor, but later a Cloudskate joined his forces. When Ronald got had lost enough life, Masami flashed two Psionic Blast, and they were off to Game 2.
In Game 2, Ronald happily kept a land-light draw, as he was the one with the Looter this time. They played pairs of creatures: More Merfolk Looters, Tarmogoyf, and Riftwing Cloudskate. They all pretty much traded with each other, and Ronald got ahead in the race with his Looter that dealt some damage and allowed him to filter cards. But Masami kept fighting back, and he stabilized at one life, with a Serrated Arrows in play. It now came to topdecking. Masami proved to be better at that, as he played creature after creature. On his final turn, Ronald chanted, "I am Craig Jones", and revealed the top card of his deck, hoping that it was Psionic Blast. It was Thornweald Archer, and he scooped his cards. For fun, he revealed the next card as well. Obviously, it was the Blast...
Masami Kaneko defeats Ronald Guetl, 2-0.
Sunday, Sept. 9: 5:51 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Manuel Bucher vs. Mido Kagawa
by Tobias Henke
Manuel is the reigning Swiss national champion, and has a Grand Prix-trophy from back in 2004 on his resume. Today he's looking to get another one. Sitting across from him is Mido Kagawa, a 19 year old player, that looks like just another one of those Japanese top Pros, travelling the world nowadays to play Magic and earn a living on the way. Actually, he's not, but simply living in Italy. He might even qualify as "local"-the crowd certainly is highly in his favor.
Lots of audience for the quarterfinals
The match-up is the much dreaded Teachings-mirror. We're certainly in for three long games with the lack of time limit in the Top 8.
Manuel wins the die roll and elects to go first. His first draw of seven is not quite good enough, but he looks quite happy with the following six. The first turns go by in the usual blur of mana sources being played, extra cards drawn and - in one case - two Academy Ruins leaving the game at once.
The first real threat is Manuel's Aeon Chronicler which hits once and then falls victim to a Damnation. Manuel follows it up with Triskelavus, and it seems as if Mido has got some problems dealing with that. He spends his turn casting Careful Consideration, while some tokens and the mother ship get him down to eleven. In response to a second Damnation, the Triskelavite are sacrificed, putting Kagawa on eight life.
Now, Manuel plays Haunting Hymn, which Mido tries to counter with Delay. Manuel has got a Pact of Negation for the Delay, but then Mido's Venser, Shaper Savant sticks and returns the big discard spell to Manuel's hand... from where it is in turn discarded together with three more cards, when Mido plays his own Haunting Hymn.
Both players are relatively low on cards, but have an Urza's Factory each to keep them busy. And soon Mido gets his Mystical Teachings-engine rolling-just in time to Delay a Triskelavus Manuel gets off his second Academy Ruins.
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Aeon Chronicler join Mido's side of the board, while two Shadowmage Infiltrator turn up on Manuel's. The Chronicler starts hitting and soon gets Manuel down to nine life, only one point ahead of Mido. The Finkels start hitting, and the extra cards include Manuel's second Triskelavus, which gets countered by a Cancel.
At end of turn Mido plays Triskelavus himself (thanks to Teferi's mysterious flash dance powers), not only turning the tide... but the match... into a win. Attacking with Teferi, Chronicler and Triskelavus gets seven damage through (one Assembly-Worker blocking on Manuel's side), and flying Mogg Fanatics do the rest.
Both players' sideboarding includes removing the Damnations from their decks, as well as some other creature removal. Instead they add the wild assortment of Pull from Eternity, Detritivore, Ancient Grudge and in Manuel's case Imp's Mischief.
In the second game both players keep their opening seven, and play Prismatic Lens on turn two. Manuel misses his fourth land drop, but gets Finkel onto the board. Instead of his fourth land, he even gets a second Shadowmage into play, which would leave him vulnerable to Damnation, if the black Wrath of God had not been safely tugged away into Mido's sideboard.
The Finkels keep attacking, bringing Mido down to thirteen, but still leaving their owner struggling with mana problems. A Teferi gets played, and then slaughtered (by the appropriately named Pact) without too much relevance. Another attack gets Mido to eleven, and another Teferi is played. Manuel is happy to play a Pact of Negation which he would have had to discard anyway. (Drawing three cards every turn does that to people.)
In the following turn Aeon Chronicler increases Mido's offense, and a third Shadowmage Infiltrator joins Manuel's team. Teferi hits the bin, but a second Aeon Chronicler looms threateningly. Pull from Eternity takes care of that, and still another Finkel gets played, but this time to chump-block the big, bad Aeon Chronicler. Life totals now are 6 to 7 in Manuel's favor.
While Mido's Aeon Chronicler dies to a timely Void, the 1/3 beat-sticks go all the way... 20 damage purely dealt by Shadowmage Infiltrator beatdown-a rare sight!
Mido chooses to start game 3 and keeps. Manuel has to mulligan once again... once. But his draws and land drops spell trouble for the Swiss. As his Coalition Relic gets Ancient Grudged he suddenly finds himself without a single source of blue mana!
He finally rips an island off the top and tries for a Shadowmage Infiltrator, which gets countered. Next turn Mido's Urza's Factory gets online, while Manuel is still sitting on five lands and no artifact mana source.
Manuel starts catching up on lands, but among those there's still no Factory. By now there are two Assembly-Workers, and Manuel's life-total is getting below the double digit mark. A Teferi is tutored up with Mystical Teachings to stop the bleeding, but Mido in turn uses his own Teachings to get Cancel.
Mido Kagawa, on his way to the semifinals
Although token beatdown puts Manuel at two life he's not done in yet. Void on zero and a transmuted Tolaria West getting his own Factory seem to even out the board position, but being on two life Manuel won't be able to make one more mistake.
He's literally with his back against the wall, and now the trap catches: Manuel plays Mystical Teachings searching for Ancient Grudge. With that he can get rid of two Assembly-Workers for the bargain price of seven mana total (as opposed to producing his own Factory-tokens). Well, at least that's what he thinks. A Delay is cast and suddenly the Flashback-spell is stuck in the removed-from-game-zone. That's not quite what the young Swiss had in mind and to the chorus of the applauding Italian crowd he can do nothing but to extent his hand.
Mido Kagawa wins 2-0 and advances to the semifinals, where he'll face Masami Kaneko.
Sunday, Sept. 9: 6:17 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Armin Birner vs. André Coimbra
by Mathias Passin
Armin Birner plays his second lifetime GP Top 8. His blue-black-red Relic Control Deck performed 7-1-1 on day one with just one bye, followed by a 4-0-2 on Day 2, with an intentional draw in the last round. He finished 10th in the Austrian National Championship some weeks ago.
His opponent is Level 4 Pro André Coimbra from Portugal with his unconventional red-green Wild Pair Deck called "Maximus Prime V2.0" that performed 7-2 on day 1 - with 3 byes! However, it stayed undefeated on day 2, leading André to a 5-0-1 record.
Reading André's deck list, Armin supposes the Wild Pair deck to be a hard match-up. "This is your best match-up, right?" he asks his opponent. André just smiles and nods. It's no surprise he finished that good: One third of the day 2 decks where blue-black Relic Control decks with different splashes.
Armin wins the roll and the players wish each other good luck. Armin picks up a hand with Prismatic Lens, Coalition Relic, Shadowmage Infiltrator and Void but just one land. He brainstorms for a long time, then finally decides to take a mulligan. The land was on top of his deck... André would have taken a mulligan as well: "If you don't draw a land on the first turn, you probably lose." "I probably lose anyway!" His next six cards are fine, André keeps his seven as well and Armin kicks off with Terramorphic Expanse finding Island and River of Tears followed by a Coalition Relic on turn 3. André suspends Search for Tomorrow on turn one and can play a strong Mwonvuli Acid Moss on turn 3. Thanks to his Relic Armin can play a Void for 6 on his turn and sees Relic, a land and 2 Avalanche Riders (Doh!) on André's hand. He can't play a land and misses his land drop the next turn as well, after another one of his lands is destroyed by one of the Riders. André pays echo, but Armin uses Strangling Soot to prevent the timeshifted nomad from doing more damage. As André can't play a land this turn either, he needs to be content with a Primal Forcemage. Armin finds another land and plays Foresee. A Haunting Hymn is scryed to the bottom, but Coalition Relic, Damnation and a land stay on top to be his draws on this and the next turn.
André's Wild Pair should cause some problems to the blue-black-red player, that can use Damnation on the lone Forcemage. Avalanche Riders destroying Urborg find a Grinning Ignus, which is bounced to André's hand immediately just to be cast again, finding another Avalanche Riders. This funny game is repeated with another Rider and a Radha. The hasty Riders attack for 6 damage. Armin puts a counter on his Relic and can play another land and a Damnation to clear the Board. He passes with Urborg, Academy ruins and Coalition Relic in play. André plays another Mwonvuli Acid-Moss destroying Urborg. A Wall of Roots gets a counter before the triggered ability of Wild Pair resolves so he can find another Ignus and bounce and replay it so find a Radha. Armin has no land on his turn and scoops his two remaining permanents up to proceed to game 2.
André Coimbra 1 : 0 Armin Birner
Armin boards in Dismal Failure, 2 Aeon Chronicler, 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Extirpate, 1 Disenchant and a Pact of Negation for 2 Damnation, Detritivore, Pull from Eternity, Triskelavus and a Mystical Teachings.
André replaces 3 Wild Pair, 3 Ignus and the Primal Forcemage with 4 Spectral Forces and 3 Molten Disaster from his Sideboard.
Armin keeps his seven of Prismatic Lens, Foresee, Teachings and four lands. André again has the first play with a suspended Search for Tomorrow on turn 2. Armin plays a Foresee revealing four non-land cards to him. After a while he decides to put Damnation under his library and to draw Careful Consideration and Dismal Failure. André follows up with an Ignus allowing him to attack for two damage on his next turn, bounce it to his hand and use the Mana to play Wall of Roots and another Acid-Moss. However, Armin can counter it with Dismal Failure. André discards Grinning Ignus and passes the turn with four remaining cards in his hand.
Armin can draw even more cards with a Consideration discarding a Terramorphic Expanse and Coalition Relic. He plays another Expanse and passes with six cards in his hand.
André misses his land drop, but can still play a Spectral Force with his four lands plus Wall of Roots. Both Creatures are destroyed by a Damnation that gets followed up with Shadowmage Infiltrator on the same turn. André can just play another Acid-Moss. A Void for 6 reveals Avalanche Riders, Radha, Acid-Moss and a Relic on André's hand, while the Infiltrator gets some new cards for Armin. All four cards are played in André's next two turns, destroying Urborg and a Mountain. Armin teaches for a Strangling Soot killing Radha and suspends a Chronicler for 1, André refuses to pay echo for the Rider, playing a new one and a Relic instead. Infiltrator and Chronicler hit for 6 on the next turn so the life totals are 11 to 14 in the Austrian's favor. André pays echo this time and tries to race with the Rider. Armin just takes two points of damage and kills another Radha with flashback Strangling Soot. The following attack takes down André to four and soon after that he picks up his cards for the deciding 3rd game.
André Coimbra 1 : 1 Armin Birner
Armin boards in one of his Damnations again, taking out Haunting Hymn, as it's much too slow on the draw. André goes with his Wild Pairs again, taking out the Spectral Forces.
Both players keep their hands immediately and André suspends Search for Tomorrow on turn 1 followed by Radha on turn 2. Armin can play a Lens on his turn, but loses one land to Mwonvuli Acid Moss. Soot for Radha doesn't prevent his Island from being destroyed by Avalanche Riders, but a Coalition Relic provides him with still enough mana to act. André doesn't pay echo and puts down a Relic and a new Radha instead. Armin plays a Void for six, hitting a Wild Pair in André's hand this time. He's quite lucky with André not drawing a land, as he could play the Hellkite in his hand in his Combat Phase with two red mana from Radha. Just attacking for two and playing Wall of Roots is not an equally impressing play. However, as Armin can only play a Foresee on his turn, André can attack again the next turn to play the Bogardan Hellkite at the end of combat, so Armin takes another five damage and goes down to nine life points, but rising back to 17 again with an Urborg and Tendrils for the Hellkite in his turn. The next turn he uses Mystical Teachings to find an Extirpate for Wild Pair, revealing just a Wall of Roots and a mountain in André's hand. It will get very hard for André to win this game from now on, as all his card advantage is provided by the six mana Enchantments in the removed-from-game-zone. Shadowmage Infiltrator can stop Radha from attacking for one turn, until he goes over to attack himself. However, Armin suspends a Chronicler with one counter before he realizes that he didn't draw a card! Since the Infiltrator's ability is a may ability, he doesn't get his card.
André draws Avalanche Riders from the top of his deck, destroys Urborg and attacks for four, leaving Armin at six life. The Chronicler comes into play and Armin thinks about his attack for a while. Finally, just the Infiltrator attacks, drawing a card this time. The Chronicler stays in the defense to block. The Rider's Echo cost is paid, Wall of Roots joins the team and André passes without attacking. Armin flashbacks Strangling Soot for the Riders at the end of the turn and attacks with both creatures. Wall of Roots chumps the Chronicler, Infiltrator takes André to 16 and draws another card.
André rips a Molten Disaster from the top of his deck that does just enough damage to bring Armin to zero life and to win the game!
André Coimbra wins 2:1 and proceeds to the semifinals of Grand Prix Florence!
Sunday, Sept. 9: 6:33 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Rasmus Sibast vs. Marco Cammillucci
by Frank Karsten
This is not the first Top 8 for Rasmus Sibast, who is the more established player in this match. Denmark's own Big Oots is playing Blue-Black Teachings with Void. He clearly wanted to win the long game in the mirror match, as he plays two Academy Ruins and has lots of copies of Pull from Eternity and Detritivore to win that war. Those cards won't help him in this match-up, though. His opponent is Marco Cammilluzzi, who plays Red/Green beatdown with Haze of Rage. The deck saw the light of day in San Francisco two weeks ago, as Kenji Tsumura wanted to play a 'fun' deck in Grand Prix. The deck was then tweaked by Mario Pascoli, Antonino de Rosa, and Luca Chiera. Marco said he didn't like his chances in the Top 8, but that may just have been modesty of a Top 8 rookie. After all, he was 6-0 against Blue-Black Teachings decks in the tournament so far. I had even seen him get a turn 4 kill, with a turn 2 Mogg War Marshal leading into two Summoner's Pacts for Uktabi Drakes and the lethal Haze of Rage on the fourth turn. His deck certainly can get some crazy draws.
Marco got to play first. He led Llanowar Reborn into a 3/3 Kavu Predator and followed it up with a Thornweald Archer and Mogg War Marshal. Rasmus just took the damage for a couple of turns and spent his time putting counters on his Molten Slagheap and two Coalition Relics. A Careful Consideration provided him with Void, but he was already down to five life. The Void for two cleared the board, leaving his opponent with two Goblin tokens and a Uktabi Drake and Summoner's Pact in his hand.
The next attack brought Rasmus down to three, and Marco added Thornweald Archer to the board (he did not have a second green mana in play to pay for the upkeep of Drake or Pact). Another Consideration did not give Rasmus a Void or Damnation; only some rather awkward answers. He played Tendrils of Corruption (for one, only a Swamp in play, no Urborg) on Thornweald Archer and had to play Pact of Negation on Uktabi Drake to stay alive. The Shadowmage Infiltrator he could muster on his next turn could stop the Goblin tokens, but Summoner's Pact for Uktabi Drake still did the last two damage.
Marco 1 - Rasmus 0
Marco put in almost his entire sideboard, replacing chaff like Thornweald Archer (if your opponent does not run Tarmogoyf, it is not that good) with superior creatures like Heartwood Storyteller and Greater Gargadon. Rasmus added some cheap removal spells to his deck, instead of late game cards like Detritivore, Haunting Hymn, and Pull from Eternity.
Rasmus played first. Once again, he had to take out some dice for his Molten Slagheaps and Coalition Relic. Marco suspended Greater Gargadon and made a 1/2 Kobold with the help of Llanowar Reborn plus Kher Keep and by stacking dices on top of each other. Rasmus, under not much pressure, started chaining Mystical Teachings into each other, and searched Spell Burst along the way.
Marco was stuck on three lands and any spell he would play would be countered by Spell Burst with buyback, so he just make Kobold tokens and was probably plotting a big turn ahead with the Haze of Rage in his hand and his suspended Gargadon. Rasmus would not fall for that, though, and cleared a couple Kobold tokens with Damnation before a storm could get out of hand (and also ensuring the 1-power token would not get him lower than 16 life). Marco, unable to draw lands, then had to start discarding, while Rasmus drew more cards with Foresee and Careful Consideration, charged up some lands, and frankly didn't do much either. But he didn't have to; he had his opponent Spell Burst locked and just had to watch out for a big Haze of Rage turn.
And eventually that time came. With the Gargadon at one counter along with four 0/1 Kobolds and five lands in play, Marco went for it. He started with Summoner's Pact and got Uktabi Drake. He played it and Rasmus let it resolve, knowing that countering it would only give more Haze of Rage copies. Marco then played Haze of Rage (+1/+0 times three) and it resolved as well. With his last two mana, Marco then cast another Haze of Rage and Rasmus went into the think tank. He did the math and eventually allowed all copies to resolve. Marco then declined to put in his Gargadon prior to his attack, smelling a Tendrils of Corruption from Rasmus (who had Urborg in play, and clearly wanted to do something else with his mana than Spell Burst), and just attacked with his four tokens and the Drake. Rasmus played Tendrils on the flyer, and Marco sacrificed it to his Gargadon so that Rasmus would not gain life. But that forced him to remove the last counter and play the Gargadon (it was countered by Pact of Negation). Now the coast was clear for Rasmus to flashback Mystical Teachings for another Tendrils of Corruption, which ensured a massive life swing. A Slaughter Pact also killed a token so that Rasmus was still at a healthy 13 life after the attack.
Marco had gone pretty much all-in on that turn, but the game was not over yet. He still had some goodies left in hand. While Rasmus started attacking with Shadowmage Infiltrators, Marco mustered another big turn with Summoner's Pact, two Uktabi Drakes, and a Haze of Rage. Rasmus had to buyback and waste his Spell Burst (he couldn't buyback it the second time) on two Haze of Rage copies to stay alive at three life. Then Rasmus started making Urza's Factory tokens, and Voided the remains of his opponent's hand, and it looked like Oots would win this game after all. But Marco topdecked Stormbind, and Rasmus did not have a counter in hand left and Big Oots was already too low on life to race Stormbind with Urza's Factory. While most players may then have just recklessly activated Stormbind twice to deal the final points of damage, Marco patiently kept his cool and did not do that. He was not slow-rolling; he was playing around Rasmus' only out: Tendrils of Corruption on an Urza's Factory token. Marco showed why he made Top 8 by always keeping two mana and a card in hand while he was activating Stormbind on Rasmus' life total, so that if Rasmus would play Tendrils on a token, he could respond by shooting it to negate the life gain. Two turns later, the game was over.
A well-deserved big round of applause ensured for Italy's hometown hero when Rasmus extended the hand.
Marco 2 - Rasmus 0
Sunday, Sept. 9: 7:45 p.m. - Semifinals: Marco Cammillucci vs. Andre Coimbra
by Frank Karsten
This match is a battle between two red-green decks, but apart from the colors they play, the decks are completely different. Andre Coimbra from Portugal is playing a red-green combo build of his own making, featuring Grinning Ignus as an engine for his Wild Pair and Dragonstorms. Marco Cammillucci from Italy is playing a red-green aggro deck, featuring Summoner's Pact and Haze of Rage.
Marco: You have a really strange deck.
Andre: You too!
Andre got to play first and had a good draw. Wall of Roots and Coalition Relic accelerated him into a turn 4 Wild Pair. Marco, in the meantime, applied the beats with Thornweald Archer and Kavu Predator.
Andre then cast Radha, Heir to Keld and searched Grinning Ignus out of his deck with Wild Pair. Ignus returned and was recast for Avalanche Riders, and then again for another Avalanche Riders to destroy all of Marco's red mana. The next turn all hell went loose. Another Wild Pair came down and Ignus flipped up and down to get two more Avalanche Riders and a couple backup Ignusses or Igni, or whatever the plural may be. The next turn Ignus plus Wild Pair searched for Primal Forcemage and then Andre could start getting Bogardan Hellkites (as the Ignus was 5/5 due to Forcemage). Marco, unable to keep up with that madness, scooped up his cards.
Andre 1 - Marco 0
Marco started off with a mulligan, while Andre kept his opening seven. Marco played Llanowar Reborns on his first, second, and third turn, and used them to make a 5/4 Uktabi Drake on turn 3. He paid the echo and another Drake came down on turn 4 (with Grove of the Burnwillows), taking Andre down to nine life. Andre made multiple Coalition Relics in the meantime, aiming for a turn 5 Bogardan Hellkite. But it would come too late. Marco made a third Uktabi Drake, and attacked for exactly enough damage. Wow…amazing. Just Drakes and graft counters is all it took for a turn 5 kill.
Andre 1 - Marco 1
Andre started off with an opening hand containing two lands and two Search for Tomorrow amongst other cards. Together with Grinning Ignus, this gave him a turn 4 Wild Pair. Marco suspended a Greater Gargadon on turn 1, made Kavu Predator on turn 2, and Uktabi Drake on turn 3. He could not pay the echo with his two Mountains and Grove of the Burnwillows, and instead played Fatal Frenzy on his Kavu Predator to deal lots of damage. This put Andre down to a low life total, but now the coast was clear for the Portugese to play his Grinning Ignus and bounce it up a couple times. Using Wild Pair, he searched a second Ignus (security against potential burn) and two Avalanche Riders out of his deck (in order to prevent Marco from potentially unsuspending Greater Gargadon and playing Fatal Frenzy on it next turn). Another Avalanche Riders took out a land, and then a Dragonstorm fetched multiple Bogardan Hellkites. Marco got his Gargadon in play, but Andre chumped it with Avalanche Riders and attacked for the kill with his Dragons.
Andre 2 - Marco 1
Sunday, Sept. 9: 8:08 p.m. - Semifinals: Mido Kagawa vs. Masami Kaneko
by Sebastian Abresch
Things are off for the semi finals, Mido Kagawa from Italy with his blue-black control machine vs. Masami Kaneko from Japan, playing a green-blue creation featuring many control beating spells like Mystic Snake and Delay. We will see which one will be ahead.
Both players shuffle excessively, Kaneko wins the die roll and chooses to play, naturally. Both keep their opening seven.
Kaneko starts fast with Looter il-Kor on his second turn, aiming to get some card quality advantage over Kagawa. A 3/3 Riftsweeper joins the little force, meanwhile Kagawa just keeps developing his mana with Prismatic Lens. Sweeper and Looter beat him to 15, suspended Riftwing Cloudskate announces some bouncing action.
Of course, Kagawa has the Damnation for Kaneko's two guys, who draws a card off Horizon Canopy and has to ship his turn without playing any beater. Kagawa draws cards off Careful Consideration, expanding his advantage. Another Canopy for Kaneko still doesn't find anything… but maybe he's just waiting for his Cloudskate to tick down. Kagawa casts his second Consideration and wants to counter Cloudskate with Delay, which is itself countered by a Mystic Snake. Grafted Riftwing beats for 3.
After drawing endless cards, Kagawa of course has a second Damnation for the guys, a hardcast Riftwing Cloudskates from Kaneko meets Cancel. The control player then tries to win the game with Triskelavus, which gets destroyed by Pongify, but not without releasing one Triskelavite. Kaneko draws his next card, again finding no pressure, and goes for Game 2.
Kagawa 1 - 0 Kaneko
Kaneko keeps, Kagawa also. Again, there's the Looter il-Kor on turn two going for damage and card advantage, soon joined by a morph. Kagawa just plays Coalition Relic and passes. His Consideration goes uncountered. Mystery morphed creature and Looter beat Kagawa to 13, who wants to play a morph himself in the next turn. It meets Mystic Snake and shows itself as - surprise - Vesuvan Shapeshifter. A tapped out Kaneko can't counter Slaughter Pact, destroying his freshly cast Snake.
Pact is paid and turn is shipped without no play, an end of turn Venser, Shaper Savant from Kaneko meets himself and dies after bouncing Relic. Nevertheless, beats from morph continue and Kaneko casts a second one, leaving only Island open. Void clears the board off of zero casting cost critters, Kaneko recharges with double Looter il-Kor, which eat a Damnation. No play for Kaneko after that, bad sign…
Really? Kaneko casts Teferi end of turn, but it gets countered by Spell Burst - with buyback! Things are looking cruel for the Japanese. He tries a morphed Brine Elemental, which picks Spell Burst from Kagawa's hand, this time without buyback. The black-blue control mage casts Triskelavus, Kaneko kills it with Psionic Blast, leaving one lonely Triskelavite on the table. It beats Kaneko down to 15 with Kagawa stabilizing at 8 life now… but Masami is also able to force a morph with Delay countering Spell Burst No. 2. Void kills morph (Shapeshifter) and reveals Mystic Snake and Psionic Blast, which is quite OK for Kaneko. He draws and finds a beater with grafted Looter il-Kor, which takes Kagawa to 6 life… still having Psionic Blast for the last couple of damage. Kagawa's Damnation get's countered by Mystic Snake and that's where he scoops up his cards.
Kagawa 1 - 1 Kaneko
Again, both players keep their starting hands, Kaneko has the first real action by suspending Riftwing Cloudskate on turn two, adding Looter a turn later. Strangling Soot takes care of this, Kaneko tries it with a Tarmogoyf, being 3/4 and then 4/5 off graft. Void meets Delay, Cloudskate bounces Kagawa's storage land. He takes six to the dome.
Kaneko goes for more mana denial by bouncing a second land with Vesuvan Shapeshifter copying the comes into play-trigger of Cloudskate. This leaves Kagawa without the possibility to cast Damnation (only one black mana), if he doesn't draw Urborg. Indeed he does not and takes heavy beats to 3 life. On his last possible turn, his Damnation meets Mystic Snake - and that's enough for Masami Kaneko to advance to the finals of Grand Prix Florence 2007!
Kagawa 1 - 2 Kaneko
Sunday, Sept. 9: 9:03 p.m. - Finals: Andre Coimbra vs. Masami Kaneko
by Frank Karsten
And we are down to just two players here in sunny Firenze: Andre Coimbra from Portugal (playing a red/green combo deck with Grinning Ignus to power out Dragonstorm and Wild Pair) and Masami Kaneko from Japan (playing a blue/green aggro deck with all the usual suspects like Tarmogoyf and Mystic Snake). That's right; not a single Blue-Black Teachings deck made it to the finals, so instead we are up for fast-paced games full of creatures.
Masami won the die roll and both players kept their opening hands. Masami suspended a Riftwing Cloudskate on turn 2, and made a 3/3 Looter il-Kor on his third turn using two Llanowar Reborns. Andre, in the meantime, played a couple of mana creatures: Radha, Heir to Keld, Wall of Roots, and Grinning Ignus.
The Looter hit and discarded a Pendelhaven. Masami then played another Llanowar Reborn and passed without playing anything. Andre then tried to figure out what his opponent could have in his hand. Masami had an Island and two Llanowar Reborns in play, so he could have easily cast almost any creature in his deck. Since he did not play one, it was very likely he would be sitting on Delays or Mystic Snakes. Therefore, Andre did not want to commit a big spell yet, and instead baited with Avalanche Riders. Masami let it resolve and lost his Island. He was now down to thee Llanowar Reborns for lands.
However, Riftwing Cloudskate got out of the suspend zone and swung the tide by bouncing Grinning Ignus. Masami then hit for six with his evasive creatures, made an Island, and passed again. Andre attacked with Radha on his turn, got two red mana out of it, and played Bogardan Hellkite. However, Masami had the Delay at the ready after all. The next attack made the life totals five for Coimbra and twelve for Kaneko. Masami added Looter il-Kor and Riftsweeper (always a good combo with Delay) to his board. Andre did not have another Hellkite or Dragonstorm to stop the evasive beatdown. Looter and Cloudskate attacked for the final points of damage on the next turn.
Masami 1 - Andre 0
Andre had to start off with a mulligan, but his six carder was nice enough. Turn one Search for Tomorrow, turn two Wall of Roots, and turn 3 Coalition Relic plus Radha, Heir to Keld. Well, if you would look up 'mana acceleration' in the dictionary, you might find this as an example. Masami simply played a morph on his turn three. Andre attacked with Radha and made Bogardan Hellkite, dividing two damage to the morph and three to Masami. Masami then merely played a land and passed. Andre attacked with his creatures and cast another Hellkite.
That is an unreal start. How can you stand up against that? Imagine your opponent already has access to eight mana and casts Bogardan Hellkites on turns four and five, while all you have is four lands in play. While most players may have thrown in the towel at that point, Masami was not outdone yet.
He Delayed the second Hellkite and cast Pongify on the other one. I guess using three mana worth of spells to take out sixteen mana worth of opposing cards can work. Andre was out of gas after that, and Masami started working his way back into the game. A Serrated Arrows came down to destroy Radha, and Mystic Snake took out the Hellkite when it came out of the suspend zone that Delay put it in. Then Riftwing Cloudskate took out the Ape that Pongify had left behind.
So after a great start with turn 4 and turn 5 Bogardan Hellkites, it looked like the tides had turned for Coimbra. Masami had dealt with all of his threats and now started to play threats himself. He added a Looter il-Kor and a 5/6 Tarmogoyf and started attacking, trying to win before Andre would draw another big mana card. Andre was hoping for a Molten Disaster or Dragonstorm, but his draw steps provided him with nothing but lands and mana creatures. He got a Wall of Roots, Grinning Ignus, and Radha, Heir to Keld in play, but those could not block any of Masami's creatures and live. Andre desperately needed something, but his deck did not cooperate. Another Tarmogoyf and a morph (Vesuvan Shapeshifter) came down for Masami, and he had found two Delays with his Looter already. Andre started chump blocking in the hopes of drawing Dragonstorm or Molten Disaster, but it was to no avail. His deck coughed up Jaya Ballard, which was simply met with Delay. The blue and green creatures came in for the kill shortly after.
Masami 2 - Andre 0
Congratulations to Masami Kaneko, your 2007 Grand Prix Florence Champion!
Sunday, Sept. 9: 9:28 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8
GP Florence 2007 Top 8