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Xmas comes early for Gerry T!

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As the myriad Christmas lights brighten up the various domed sections of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, this decadent place holds a secret. Here, almost 1,500 Magic players from across the globe met, clashed and spilled one another's blood for an entire weekend. Some blood was stained with the black of Phyrexia, some belonged to the defiant Mirran, and more still belonged to Wizards of the Coast gunslinger, Zac Hill. Artists Eric Deschamps and Daarken signed prints and chatted up the crowd and EDH generals continually hit the battlefield, while Megan and Kitt Holland delivered tasty cupcakes to whoever needed a good sugar rush.

After long days, long nights and round after round of Limited carnage, many surprises occurred, but none larger than Brad "FFfreaK" Nelson not even making it to Sunday competition. He still has a virtually insurmountable lead in the Player of the Year race going into Worlds in Chiba, but stranger things have happened. I mean, the Top 8 photo was taken on a kiddie train; that's stranger, right?

Gerry Thompson took down everyone in his way in the Top 8, got to bring home the Grand Prix trophy and a sizable check, while adding ten Pro Points to his lifetime total. Ari Lax's overlooked green monsters fought valiantly in the finals, but it was no match for Thompson's almost mono-blue forty.

While the crowds slowly dwindle and the giant convention center becomes empty once again, it's a great time to look back over the weekend, reflect on everything that happened and say, "Maybe I should have played that Golden Urn like all the pros were."

Safe Travels to all, Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate and I hope you're all ready for Chiba!




Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix–Nashville at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller, Ray Punzalan, and Jacob Van Lunen.

Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Conley L Woods   John C Kolos, 2-1        
8 John C Kolos   Gerry Thompson, 2-0
       
4 Martin Juza   Gerry Thompson, 2-0   Gerry Thompson, 2-1
5 Gerry Thompson    
       
2 Gerard Fabiano   Gerard Fabiano, 2-1
7 Kyle Stoll   Ari M Lax, 2-1
       
3 Josh W Utter-Leyton   Ari M Lax, 2-0
6 Ari M Lax    

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Bill Stark
    Finals
    Ari Lax vs. Gerry Thompson

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Semifinals: DINNOSAAUURRSS!!
    Ari Lax vs Gerard Fabiano

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals:
    Gerry Thompson vs Conrad Kolos

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Conley Wood vs. Conrad Kolos

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Ari Lax vs. Josh Utter-Leyton

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Quarterfinals: The Hits Just Keep on Coming
    Kyle Stoll vs. Gerard Fabiano

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2:
    Complete Day 2 Coverage


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1:
    Undefeated Decks

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1:
    Complete Day 1 Coverage

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info : Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Thompson, Gerry $3,500
 2.  Lax, Ari M $2,300
 3.  Fabiano, Gerard $1,500
 4.  Kolos, John C $1,500
 5.  Utter-leyton, Josh W $1,000
 6.  Woods, Conley L $1,000
 7.  Juza, Martin $1,000
 8.  Stoll, Kyle $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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Blue Bracket
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  • Top 8 - Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Ari Lax

    Name: Ari Lax
    Age: 20
    Occupation: Student

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record in Draft 1: 2-1
    Record in Draft 2: 2-0-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Acid Web Spider, Viridian Revel

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Green/not Blue

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Slice in Twain

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    Very good, lots of play decisions and build-around cards. People just need to hate poison to let this happen.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Phyrexian


    Conley Woods

    Name: Conley Woods
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Pro Magic player/Writer

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 1-0-2

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    True Conviction
    3x Shatter
    3x Turn to Slag
    2x Arrest

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Furnace Celebration or whatever is open

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Wurmcoil Engine

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    Good other than Infect, which is a bad limited mechanic.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Mirran


    Kyle Stoll

    Name: Kyle Stoll
    Age: 21
    Occupation: Data entry

    Record in Sealed: 10-0
    Record in Draft 1: 2-1
    Record in Draft 2: 1-1-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    2 Grasp of Darkness
    1 Arc Trail
    2 Necrotic Ooze – they were Molten-Tail Masticores with no drawback

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Metalcraft provides the most synergy.

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Contagion Engine, the card just auto-wins games, just goes in every deck.

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    It is fast, but it's important to draft decks, not cards.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Mirran! The symbol is much better.


    Conrad Kolos

    Name: Conrad Kolos
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Vagabond

    Record in Sealed: 8-2
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 2-0-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Sunblast Angel
    Revoke Existence
    Kuldotha Phoenix

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    None. "The packs are the boss."

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Molten-Tail Masticore

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    It's awesome. Skill-intensive, lots of interaction, combos, archetypes, etc. The bombs in Sealed are too good, but draft can be fast enough to help that.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    eh, I don't anything the storyline.


    Martin Juza

    Name: Martin Juza
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Professional Tourist

    Record in Sealed: 8-1-1
    Record in Draft 1: 2-0-1
    Record in Draft 2: 3-0

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Contagion Engine

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Open something sweet!

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Probably Hoard-Smelter Dragon.

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    Sealed is rough because it's all about rares. Draft is awesome!

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Neither.


    Gerry Thompson

    Name: Gerry Thompson
    Age: No comment
    Occupation: Writer, StarCityGames.com, Grinder, Professional fan of MTGMom.com

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record in Draft 1: 2-1
    Record in Draft 2: 2-0-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Oxidda Scrapmelter (deck was REAAAAALLL bad).

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    U/R Metal, but I can draft whatever.

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Probably Scrapmelter; I'll rely on everyone else to ship the Volition Reins and Golden Urns.

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    Very skill intensive, both Mirrodin formats are awesome.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Phyrexian, I suppose.


    Josh Utter-Leyton

    Name: Josh Utter-Leyton
    Age: 24
    Occupation: Software Engineer

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 2-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Sunblast Angel, 2x Arc Trail

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Staying open.

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Contagion Engine.

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    The format is great, but I don't like what infect does to the format, and I wish there were fewer super swingy uncommon and rares.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    Phyrexian


    Gerard Capashen

    Name: Gerard Capashen
    Age: 27
    Occupation: GGsLive.com Pro/Pro story teller

    Record in Sealed: 9-1
    Record in Draft 1: 3-0
    Record in Draft 2: 1-1-1

    What were the best cards in your Sealed Pool?
    Strata Scythe, Spikeshot Elder, Precursor Golem.

    What is your preferred draft strategy?
    Stay away from poison.

    What is the card you MOST hope to open during the draft?
    Black Lotus (one can hope!).

    What are your overall perceptions of the Scars of Mirrodin draft format?
    I think it's skill intensive. This Top 8 is pretty good, and Juza won a GP already in this format.

    Are you a Phyrexian, or a Mirran?
    I roll with Gerrard Capashen. (We think that means Mirran. –Staff).



     
  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Conrad Kolos
    Grand Prix Nashville 2010 - Top 8

    Ari Lax
    Grand Prix Nashville 2010 - Top 8

    Josh Utter-Leyton
    Grand Prix Nashville 2010 - Top 8



     
  • Quarterfinals: The Hits Just Keep on Coming - Kyle Stoll vs. Gerard Fabiano

    by Marc Calderaro
  • Kyle Stoll

    Kyle Stoll is making his Top-8 debut. Though he competed at Pro Tour—San Juan thanks to a great Scapeshift deck winning him the Minneapolis PTQ. His inaugural Top-8 draft was a bit shaky, but there's some fun inside. Fifth-picking a Furnace Celebration after seeing mediocre packs he forced himself into the coolest archetype yet discovered in the Scars of Mirrodin draft format. He picked the best cards he could, and waited until deep into the packs to pick the less-than-stellar creatures that make up the archetype. Dross Hoppers come around fourteenth quite often. Though he wished for one more of the deck's namesake, a second Celebration never came around, the deck has some surprises up his sleeve.

    A man who needs little introduction is Jersey-native, Gerard Fabiano. GFab has a fan club, writes for a Magic website, won the heck out of Grand Prix—Philadelphia and finished Top 8 in US Nationals this year. His deck is a top-heavy, red-white deck full of some bombs in the five and six slots. Kuldotha Phoenix, Golem Artisan, Precuror Golem, Hoard-Smelter Dragon and some Barrage Ogres all help control the game once he gets up there. But without a mana Myr, he has to hope for Myrsmith, Perilous Myr and Kemba's Skyguard to transition him into the mid- and late-game.

    They talked about getting to the next Pro Tour before the match and Gerard told the new-comer to talk to him after about setting up travel plans. But pretenses dropped when the match got underway.

    Game 1

    They both shuffled up and kept their opening seven. Fabiano opened with is 23rd card, Oxidda Daredevil and a Kemba's Skyguard soon followed. Stoll started with his only Furnace Celebration right on time – turn three. A Contagion Clasp on the Daredevil and a Dross Hopper came close behind. "Wait, that's the worst card in the world, right?" Not in this deck, Gerard; not in this deck. Watch out, you may eat your words.

    GFab hit a turn-five Kuldotha Phoenix that made Stoll think. Like I said, five is the Magic number in Fabiano's deck. Fabiano attacked with Skyguard, an Auriok Replica and Kuldotha Phoenix. After Stoll Celebrated to and fro, it was 12-20. And now with an fairly empty board Stoll failed to follow up with a winner. He passed the turn back to Fabiano who attacked then cast a Barrage Ogre. Stoll sacrificed a Spellbomb and targeted the Phoenix with the Celebration in hopes of finding a second card to throw into the furnace. A Flesh Allergy might be useful in the future, but not yet. Stoll hoped to find it on his next turn, but Gerard dashed those hopes. He laid a Golem Artisan, tapped the two to give it haste and swung with his five-casting-cost team.

    Kyle Stoll 0 – 1 Gerard Fabiano

    Game 2

    Gerard Fabiano

    They again kept and threw cards back and forth furiously. Nihil Spellbomb and Dross Hopper for Stoll and Fabiano used his early Necropede to take out the Hopper. Fab's Auriok Replica was sent in with a +2/0 from Vulshok Heartstoker, while Stoll refueled his board with a Necrotic Ooze (currently with the power to hop) and Moriok Reaver. Stoll giddily Shattered the Artisan to turn on his Ooze in an amateur Artisan himself.

    Fabiano wanted to find a board-swinging like Precursor Golem, but Stoll found it for him. Revealing it off a Cerebral Eruption wiped the rest of Fabiano's board and brought him to 11. He sunk to 4 soon after.

    "Am I dead?" he asked.

    "Not quite yet. You at 4?"

    "Yeah."

    "Well, then now you're dead."

    Stoll sacrificed his Reaver to the Ooze's Hopper-granted ability and it flew over the replicated Golems to take Game 2.

    Kyle Stoll 1 – 1 Gerard Fabiano

    Game 3

    Again, fast keeps from both and a Furnace Celebration joined Nihil Spellbomb and Copper Myr on Stoll's third turn. Fabiano had a Culling Dais an a friendless Vulshok Heartstoker, adding Kemba's Skyguard soon after, taking him back up to 21. Gerard had keep a two-Mountain hand, and like the baller he is, immediately drew the double Plains for the 2/2 flyer. It ain't easy, folks.

    Stoll threatened further developments with a Sylvok Replica, then used it perfectly: He sacrificed it to destroy the Dais and used the trigger to toss Skyguard into the Celebration Furnace. Fabiano hit five mana (uh oh) and cast a Barage Ogre. He then attacked Stoll down to 11 the following turn before casting a Hoard-Smelter Dragon (uh-oh).

    Contagion Clasp, Grasp of Darkness and a Moriok Replica were all in Stoll's hand and he considered how best to take advantage of them along with the Nihil Spellbomb trigger to take care of Gerard's big dudes. Clasp and Grasp was his method of choice and he emptied his hand with the Replica. The Ogre tossed an Accorder's Shield at the Replica before Stoll could use it for cards and to stoke his fire. Adding insult to injury, a Kuldotha Phoenix followed, because with GFab, the hits just keep on coming. A Dross Hopper seemed tame in comparison, but Stoll used its activated ability to sacrifice his Copper Myr then cycled his Spellbomb to take out the fiery flyer.

    But what did I say about those hits and them coming and stuff? Fabiano untapped, cast Golem Artisan, paid for his haste and swung in for the win. Again.

    Kyle Stoll should be proud to get here, but the boy from Jersey just took him out.

    Kyle Stoll 1 – 2 Gerard Fabiano

    Gerard Fabiano advances to the semi-finals!



     
  • Quarterfinals – Ari Lax vs. Josh Utter-Leyton

    by Bill Stark
  • A young up and comer, Ari Lax found himself sitting once again on the Grand Prix Sunday stage. Across the table from him in the Quarterfinals? The seasoned veteran Josh "Wrapter" Utter-Leyton of ChannelFireball.com. A testing partner of big names like Brad Nelson, Conley Woods, and Luis Scott-Vargas, Josh was definitely one of the fiercest competitors in the Top 8.

    Ari Lax

    Utter-Leyton wasted no time casting an Iron Myr while his opponent had Lifesmith for his two-mana play to start the match off. A Trigon of Mending for Josh helped keep his life total up while Ari cast a Gold Myr and began attacking with his 'Smith. The young pro soon had a Viridian Revels on his side of the table, and used Gold Myr to accelerate out Alpha Tyrannax. When a Galvanic Blast took out his opponent's Iron Myr, it looked like the veteran pro, Josh, was going to have a tough time keeping his head about water.

    But it was not Josh's first time at the rodeo. He used Revoke Existence to deal with the Revel, but a Molder Beast meant he was going to be struggling still against the plethora of fatties headed his way. He had two Turn to Slags in his hand, but after doing some math he realized he was dead whether he used them or not. Rather than reveal the tricks remaining in his hand, he opted to pass. When Ari attacked for lethal he conceded, Lax unawares of the removal his opponent had in his deck.

    Ari Lax 1, Josh Utter-Leyton 0

    The second game started out a bit better for Josh who opened on a second-turn Glint Hawk Idol. A Strider Harness and Chrome Steed gave him metalcraft and a 4/4, but Ari was right behind. He used Gold Myr to accelerate out a Molder Beast, casting Vulshok Replica and Panic Spellbomb in the meanwhile.

    Josh Utter-Leyton

    Pushing ahead, Josh cast Auriok Edgewright, equipped it with Strider Harness, and attacked. Ari traded his Molder Beast for Chrome Steed, soaking up the hit from Edgewright and the Glint Hawk Idol. He fired back with a powerful counter, however: Steel Hellkite. Josh had both of his Turn to Slags in his hand once again, but he lacked any sources of red, meaning he'd need to draw back-to-back Mountains to have time to kill the powerful 5/5 flyer.

    Josh had managed to work Ari's life down to 8 and had Glint Hawk Idol to potentially chump-block the Dragon. When he tried to make that play, however, Ari pulled the trigger on Panic Spellbomb. The Hellkite then blew up both the Edgewright and Glint Hawk Idol after connecting, and Josh was back to the top of his deck, praying for red mana. He didn't get it, but did come up with an Auriok Sunchaser. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have three artifacts on the battlefield to give it flying. Instead he cast Rusted Relic, using a Harness to give it haste and attacking. Ari chumped with a Myr, but when he cast Viridian Revel he was able to start drawing cards for blowing up his opponent's artifacts.

    The Dragon crashed in, taking out two Strider Harnesses, knocking Josh off metalcraft, and netting Lax two free cards. The advantage was too much for Josh, and when his deck once more failed to give him the red sources he needed to cast his removal in hand, Josh found his tournament prematurely over in a match that had lasted all of ten minutes.

    Ari Lax 2, Josh Utter-Leyton 0



     
  • Quarterfinals – Conley Wood vs. Conrad Kolos

    by Bill Stark
  • Headed into Grand Prix—Nashville, Conley Woods had publicly stated he wanted a big finish to help propel his final tally of Pro Points for the year. Well, with a Top 8 he got the finish he was looking for. His opponent in the Quarterfinals, Conrad Kolos, was having quite a year himself. A member of the U.S. National team, he was hoping the extra Pro Points he would be getting from the team competition at Worlds would combine with his performance in Nashville to mean big things for his Pro level in 2011.

    Conley Wood

    Kolos started aggressively with a Plague Stinger, but his opponent opened on Origin Spellbomb and Glint Hawk Idol. An Ichorclaw Myr soon joined forces with his Stinger, indicating he was playing the black-green infect deck many have deemed the most powerful in the Scars of Mirrodin draft format. Conrad began attacking with the artifact 1/1, too afraid to run his Stinger into his opponent's Glint Hawk Idol.

    Cystbearer for the infect player was answered by Chrome Steed from Woods, who appeared to be playing red-white metalcraft, also a powerful strategy in Scars limited. The Steed took out Ichorclaw Myr at the cost of three -1/-1 counters, and a Tel-Jilad Fallen from Conrad threatened tough times for Conley who was potentially unable to block the creature with protection from artifacts.

    Auriok Edgewright with metalcraft active turned the tides back in favor of Team Conley. The powerful double striker forced Conrad to keep his team at bay, unable to attack through for fear of being taken out at no gain by his opponent's blocker. Conley felt so confident in his board position that he equipped the Edgewright with Darksteel Axe a turn later and began serving with it. Kolos cast Heavy Arbalest and soon had it equipped to his infect creatures. It was a powerful card for his creatures, able to directly hand off -1/-1 counters to his opponent's creatures without having to go through the pain of attacking or blocking.

    The Arbalest slowed Conley down, forcing him to carefully consider combat each turn. He made a move with Auriok Sunchaser and his Auriok Edgewright, still equipped with Darksteel Axe, and sent Kolos into the tank to figure out the right blocks. He opted to block with Cystbearer, then before first strike damage activated the 2/3's Arbalest ability to make his opponent's creature tiny. That meant the Cystbearer was able to finish the Edgewright off, but Conrad fell to 3 from his opponent's flyer.

    A second Chrome Steed for Woods as well as a Kemba's Skyguard meant he could still keep his opponent on the back foot, and Conrad desperately tried to grind his way back to parity. He cast Blight Mamba and equipped his Arbalest for the third turn in a row, but when he passed back Conley found Turn to Slag to two-for-one the Cystbearer that had picked up the equipment. In response his opponent used the Arbalest to bump Conley's poison total up to five.

    The play put Conrad in a position to steal a win. With Blight Mamba and Tel-Jilad Fallen left on the battlefield, he had a slim out. The Tel-Jilad Defiance in his hand would allow him to give his Blight Mamba protection from artifacts meaning Conley would only have a single blocker (the rest of his creatures being artifacts) for Conrad's two potential attackers. If he managed to draw a land, Untamed Might, also in his hand, would pump whichever creature Conley didn't block for exactly enough to put Woods to 10 poison.

    Conrad drew, then drew again from his cantrip Defiance. He got there! He played the extra land, then turned his team sideways. Conley blocked his opponent's 3/1, but had to allow Blight Mamba through. "You got it?" The pro asked, worried about his fate.

    Conrad Kolos

    Conrad quietly tapped his mana and showed his opponent the X-spell.

    Conrad Kolos 1, Conley Woods 0

    A Darksteel Axe on Conley's first turn allowed him to cast a second-turn Glint Hawk while bouncing and re-casting the Axe. That meant on turn three he was attacking for 4 in the air. His opponent had cast Ichorclaw Myr and was busy trying to accrue poison counters on Woods. Auriok Edgewright and Auriok Sunchaser hit the board for Woods' aggressive deck, and Kolos found himself significantly out-creatured on the table.

    Skinrender for Kolos changed tempo quickly. He used the 3/3 to blow up his opponent's Hawk, adding a beefy body to help him block on the ground for free. That forced Conley to go on the defensive, casting a Myrsmith but passing, his deck out of gas. Ichorclaw Myr continued getting in for Conrad, with Conley too afraid to trade multiple creatures for the 1/1 in the red zone.

    A Glint Hawk Idol for Woods allowed him to hit metalcraft with some help from Myrsmith, and that meant his Edgewright and Sunchaser were fully active. He equipped Darksteel Axe to the Sunchaser and began attacking in the sky. Conrad cast Carrion Call, Plague Stinger, and Heavy Arbalest to help push the final points of infect damage through, but it was looking as though Conley might manage to stabilize.

    When Strata Scythe showed up for Woods, his odds of winning increased significantly. He cast it and attacked with Glint Hawk Idol and his Sunchaser. Kolos did a quick check of the life totals, both traditional and poison, then chump-blocked with his Plague Stinger. A turn later, Conrad traded his Ichorclaw Myr for his opponent's Auriok Edgewright after attacking, then he equipped an Insect token.

    "Man, Heavy Arbalest is insane for you," Conley commented.

    Conley attempted to equip Strata Scythe to his Sunchaser, but his opponent responded with a Heavy Arbalest activation targeting the creature. Woods was ready: he cast Soul Parry to counter, then showed the math that made his Auriok Sunchaser exactly lethal.

    The players headed to the third game.

    Conrad Kolos 1, Conley Woods 1

    A Plague Stinger from Conrad was countered by Origin Spellbomb into Glint Hawk from Conley Woods, an archetype-defining showdown for the Scars format. Conrad used an Untamed Might to attack his Stinger through the Hawk, keeping his 1/1 alive. "Got another one for you!" Conley said as he spent his third turn casting Kemba's Skyguard, another flyer to keep the Stinger contained.

    Corpse Cur, recurring nothing, hit for the infect player and the play meant Conrad had to keep his Stinger home for a turn. He didn't have to wait long to start attacking again, however, as he bravely sent his Cur to the red zone a turn later. Conley didn't seem impressed with the play, taking two poison and threatening an attack back. Before he could, Kolos cast a Sylvok Replica and immediately used it while his opponent was tapped out to blow up an Origin Spellbomb.

    A Soul Parry allowed Conley to take out the Corpse Cur a turn later, but Conrad regrew it with a second copy of the 2/2. If Woods wanted to win, he'd need to do so quickly. To that end he cast Darksteel Axe and Barbed Battlegear, allowing him to attack for 4 with an Auriok Sunchaser wearing Sylvok Lifestaff.

    As it had been for the entire match, the game's pace continued to go back and forth. A Bladed Pinions and Contagious Nim put Conrad right back into things and sent his opponent back into the tank, trying to figure out how he could pressure through with enough damage to win. He started by equipping his Sunchaser with his Barbed Battlegear and sending it sideways. The 8/2 was chumped by Plague Stinger, and post-combat Woods cast a Strata Scythe.

    "You have no cards in hand?" Conrad confirmed, Woods answering in the affirmative that all his tricks were all on the battlefield.

    He attacked with Corpse Cur and Contagious Nim to put Conley to eight poison counters. Post-combat he cast Corpse Cur to fetch back Plague Stinger, then cast the 1/1. His board was covered with creatures, including enough to protect him from an attack back. That meant the onus was on Woods to stay alive, and he cast the Chrome Steed he had drawn and passed, unable to attack.

    Conrad sent with the team and decimated his opponent's board. When the smoke cleared, Kolos had Plague Stinger and Contagious Nim while Conley had a 2/2 Chrome Steed and a board full of equipment. Post-combat Kolos had Cystbearer and it looked very grim for Conley's nine poison counters. He drew his card for the turn but found Turn to Slag, which was no help, and extended his hand.

    Conrad Kolos 2, Conley Woods 1



     
  • Semifinals – Gerry Thompson vs Conrad Kolos

    by Bill Stark
  • Already a Grand Prix champion once over, Gerry Thompson sat down to his Semifinals match against Conrad Kolos with one thing on his mind: getting enough Pro Points to ensure he was qualified for the World Championships in December. To pull that off, he'd need to sneak through into the Finals. His opponent was not in the same position as Conrad Kolos had managed to win a slot on the U.S. National Team, guaranteeing himself an invite to Worlds.

    Gerry Thompson

    Plague Stinger led the way for Conrad's black-green infect deck while his opponent opened on Vedalken Certarch followed by Golden Urn and Flight Spellbomb. A Trinket Mage for Gerry allowed him to find and cast Memnite, giving him metalcraft and allowing him to Certarch down his opponent's 1/1 flyer each turn. Kolos added Heavy Arbalest to the battlefield as a means of potentially answering the 1/1 blue creature.

    Stuck on three mana, Conrad began taking damage from his opponent's weenie creatures. The wily Thompson also began using his Certarch to tap down Kolos' only Forest during his upkeep, preventing him from having access to green mana during his turn. A second Forest finally found its way to the top of Conrad's library, and he played it before attacking with his Stinger. Doing so allowed him to cast Untamed Might for two, getting in for three total poison in a single turn.

    Grand Architect from Gerry drew a whistle from Conrad who found himself in a tight spot against his opponent's newly pumped team. He fell to 12 on the next attack while Thompson used his blue creatures to help him cast Kuldotha Forgemaster. Kolos tried to use a Carrion Call to help stem the bleeding, but his opponent's Architect-backed forces overwhelmed his underwhelming infect horde and Thompson emerged victorious in the first game.

    Gerry Thompson 1, Conrad Kolos 0

    Starting the second game off on a mulligan, Gerry Thompson found himself facing down the same two-drop he had in the first as Conrad cast a Plague Stinger, the first creature of the second game. Gerry had a Memnite a turn later, then Trinket Mage after Kolos cast a Cystbearer.

    The Mage/Memnite combo soon took down Cystbearer, but the infect player just cast a second copy of the 2/3, all the while getting in through the skies with Plague Stinger. A Bonds of Quicksilver locked down the 1/1, but Conrad kept the creatures coming casting a Corpse Cur to get back his dead Cystbearer while attacking with the one on the battlefield. Thompson was on four poison counters, and looked to be at more soon.

    Sword of Body and Mind for Gerry allowed him to attempt to crawl back into things, his Trinket Mage picking up the equipment and getting to the red zone. The first attack cost Conrad his Corpse Cur, and he fired back with a second to loop the first back to his hand. The 2/2 infect Gravediggers had really been causing problems for Thompson, who couldn't get ahead because he couldn't keep his opponent's creatures permanently off the battlefield.

    A Flight Spellbomb allowed the Sword-bearing Mage to connect, netting Gerry a 2/2 Wolf and a mill of ten cards from his opponent. Following the attack Gerry cast a Kuldotha Forgemaster. The turn meant he had enough blockers to handle both of his opponent's on-board threats, but doing so would likely cost him one or more of the creatures and he knew Kolos still had a Corpse Cur in his hand from the previous turn.

    Conrad did indeed cast the 2/2 Cur, returning a copy of the card from his graveyard that had been milled by his opponent's attack. A turn later he had Tel-Jilad Fallen, but Gerry managed to cast a Chimeric Mass and Soliton. That gave him enough artifacts to active his Kuldotha Forgemaster, which he did. The artifact he fetched up to put onto the battlefield? Heavy Arbalest. The equipment was a powerful combo with his 3/4 Soliton, able to begin mowing down his opponent's creatures save for the Fallen.

    Conrad Kolos

    Thompson wasted no time doing exactly that, blowing up both Corpse Curs. Kolos worked on finding a solution to the combo, but an Instill Infection only got him 25% of the way there. To make matters worse, the very next turn Thompson cast Volition Reins to steal his 3/1 Fallen and Conrad found himself way behind. Did his deck have it in itself to get him out of the jam?

    It didn't. The untapping/Arbalest contained Conrad's team, then turned its sights on him. Without a removal spell for either half of the combo, Kolos' tournament came to an end.

    Gerry Thompson 2, Conrad Kolos 0

    After the game, Conrad revealed the top card of his library: Skinrender. The 3/3 would have saved him.

    "Man! It's always there when you think to look…" Conrad complained with a grin.



     
  • Semifinals: DINNOSAAUURRSS!! – Ari Lax vs Gerard Fabiano

    by Marc Calderaro
  • As Gerry Thompson shambled by Ari Lax he loudly grumbled, "DINOSAUURSS." Lax laughed. He'd drafted the same large-green-monster deck both drafts and even played the archetype in Sealed. "Play Viridian Revel; Smash their guys." Seems simple enough. However, if any deck could match him in RAWWR-factor, it's Gerard Fabiano's. His red-white concoction had large goodies – a Phoenix, Dragon and 9-power-for-5-mana Golem – his deck could also pack a wallop. Both the combatants had close to 30 minutes to relax before they fought – they finished off their Quarterfinal opponents quickly. They sat down calmly and studied each other decks.

    "Is your deck all just tricks and bombs?!" said Lax.

    "And the 2/1 guy can give Haste," Fabiano responded, referring to the Oxidda Scrapmelter. "So you can't kill a Hoard-Smelter Dragon?"

    "Last time I checked 6/5 is bigger than 5/5, right?" The two continued in this fashion well into the match.

    Game 1

    A Kemba's Skyguard died to a quick Galvanic Blast, and Lax smiled as still had a Gold Myr alone on the board. Fabiano's Strider Harness follow-up wasn't incredible against a turn-four Molder Beast. "And so it begins," Lax said as his Beast attacked. Post-combat he cast an even-bigger Alpha Tyrranax. It was 20-16 in Lax's favor. DINNOSSAAUURRSS!

    Random Tokens!

    The Origin Spellbomb token didn't have a huge butt, however Fab's Accorder's Shield grew Barrage Ogre's to a hearty 6. But a hasty Revoke Existence shrunk the butt back to regular Ogre size before Lax swung with the green beats, I mean beasts. A Myr blocked the Trampler and Gerard took 10 to go down to six. The Ogre then threw the Harness as hard as he could at the Molder Beast to finish him off.

    Sadly, Fabiano's Kuldotha Phoenix didn't look all that impressive – Fabiano was far in the hole and against Lax's 6/5 ground-pounding dinosaur, it was going to get eaten for breakfast. Soon, a Lifesmith joined the 'nax in combat. Gerard fooled around with his cards, openly talking about Untamed Might. "Do you have that card? If you don't have that card, just imagine how good it would be. I mean, this game's probably going to go to you, right?" Fabiano deftly observed that his opponent was responding nervously, so he tried press him and glean as much info as he could.

    Eventually Fabiano double-blocked the Alpha Tyrranax, and Lax didn't flash the Might. Though, after the Lifesmith damage, Ari simply cast and sacrificed a Vulshok Replica to deal the final points.

    As Gerard sideboarded, he pointed to a card, swiveled it back and forth and said, "Do you know what card this is?"

    "I know, but I'm not going to tell you." Lax didn't know; but I did. It was a Seize the Initiative. I don't think Lax would've guessed that. He hadn't written down cards from Fabiano's sideboard at the match's beginning.

    Gerard tossed a die around in his hand. "Ok, if I get an even, you get to go first." Lax puzzled Fabiano's remark, and sure enough, Gerard rolled an 6. "You're going first." Ari Lax looked suspicious. "So who are you, Harvey Dent?"

    "He had a coin, dude."

    Ari Lax 1 – 0 Gerard Fabiano

    Game 2

    Gerard continued to play with his opponent in-game to the point where I could barely write I was laughing so hard. He tossed his hard around on the table, spread some cards about while keeping random others in his hand and just generally created havoc.

    "Wait, which ones are those?" Ari pointed at the cards on the table.

    "They're all in my hand," he mused. "Hey, how are you going to cast Molder Beast turn four without your Myr?"

    Molder Beasts!

    A Kemba's Skyguard with a Strider Harness dealt the first blow. Revoke Existence took out the Harness and after dropping Lax to 15, Gerard refueled with a Necropede and a Culling Dais. He then dropped Lax to 13. Next, the Hoard-Smelter Dragon that Lax couldn't kill, so he tried a race with the Tyrranax. But things looked grim. The totals were 6-22, and a single dinosaur didn't look like it would turn the tides. But that's when the surprise sideboard came down – Wing Puncture. And with one mana, Lax's dinosaur did turn the tides and Ari was back in the game.

    But his joy was fleeting. The board was Darksteel Sentinel, Kemba's Skyguard and a Dais with a counter for Gerard. And though Lax's Vulshok Replica blocked the Sentinel and sacrificed it to deal at least some damage to Fabiano, when the Golem Artisan came down, Lax had to give it up.

    Ari Lax 1 – 1 Gerard Fabiano

    Game 3

    Now Gerard sat in silence. He had heckled his way into drawing his bombs; we'll see if he could do it again. "All right. Good luck. Have fun." Fabiano said straight-faced and professional. They both kept and got down to business.

    Auriok Replica faced off against Lax's Lifesmith and a three-life-gaining Copper Myr the following turn. Lax offered a smith to trade for the Replica and Fabiano gladly accepted. Fab's sideboarded Seize the Initiative was in his hand as was a Melt Terrain which took out Lax's only red source.

    Vulshok Replica and Copper Myr soon attacked Fabiano, and his Dispense Justice caught the Replica before Lax followed with a Tumble Magnet. Barrage Ogre from Gerard looked cool when it came down, but Viridian Revel threatened to ruin his day. Gerard was non-nonplussed and Harnessed his Orge, attacking the totals to 17-18. Though the Horde-Smelter came right on time, so did the team-up of Molder Beast and Wing Puncture. Gerard looked to be on the ropes.

    Fabiano tried to eek out every advantage he could, constantly asking how many cards were Lax's grip and hiding his shaking hand under the table. He calmly cast an un-kicked Blade-Tribe Berserkers. Lax cycled his Panic Spellbomb, pumping his Molder Beast, and he assuredly cast a Bellowing Tanglewurm, staring down Fabiano as he played it.

    "Cards?"

    "One. Attack with Molder Beast." Lax remained stern.

    The game grew silent as Ari passed the turn up 17-5, slapping his face repeatedly. Fabiano revealed his desperation by sacrificing Berserkers to the Dais then the artifact soon after. He drew for his turn slowly, stared at his hand of Perilous Myr, Seize the Initiative, Revoke Existence and land, and he thought. Perilous Myr came down (Magnet tapped the Ogre in response), and he revoked the Magnet soon after.

    On his turn, yet another beast graced Fabiano with his presence and it was too much. Gerard started drawing cards off the top and said, "Good game."

    Good luck to Ari Lax in the finals!

    Ari Lax 2 – 1 Gerard Fabiano



     
  • Finals – Ari Lax vs. Gerry Thompson

    by Bill Stark
  • For approximately 1,498 players, Grand Prix—Nashville was over, their victory hopes dashed over the course of the weekend by the cruel hand of defeat. For two players, however, there was still a match to be played. The two players? Ari Lax and Gerry Thompson, both North American pros who had battled through an exhausting 18 rounds of competition to find themselves squaring off against one another in the very last round of competition. Gerry's mostly blue weenie deck was powered by Grand Architect and had a metalcraft theme while his opponent's deck centered around Viridian Revel and "dinosaurs," expensive green fatties like Molder Beast and Alpha Tyrannax.

    Vedalken Certarch led the way for Gerry, who used it to get into the red zone as his opponent cast nothing over the first few turns. Wall of Tanglecord, then Trinket Mage for Chimeric Mass continued to grow Thompson's army and Lax finally made an effort to interfere by using Galvanic Blast to blow up the Certarch, then casting a creature of his own: Lifesmith.

    Ari Lax

    Auriok Replica soon joined Ari's team, but he traded both that and his Lifesmith for a 4/4 Chimeric Mass. Gerry reloaded with a second Trinket Mage to find Flight Spellbomb, then when Lax cast Molder Beast Thompson fired back with Sword of Body and Mind. Between the equipment and the Spellbomb Gerry was able to attack Ari to 11 unblocked while milling ten of his cards and getting a free 2/2 Wolf.

    Vulshok Replica bought Ari a chump block, but Rusted Relic for Gerry put him further ahead. When Ari cast Steel Hellkite with Gerry on two Islands in his hand, Lax seemed to have brought things to even. When his opponent topdecked Volition Reins to steal the 5/5, however, all that changed.

    "We've seen enough here," Ari said stoically, scooping up his cards and shuffling for the second game rather than suffer the ignominy of losing to his own Dragon.

    Gerry Thompson 1, Ari Lax 0

    Gold Myr allowed Ari to accelerate into Tangle Angler in the second game, followed by Vulshok Replica a turn later. When Thompson cast his first creature of the game, Oxidda Scrapmelter, Lax lost his Myr. "You forgot to play a land there, buddy!" Thompson teased his opponent as after losing the 1/1 mana source Ari did indeed miss on making his land drops.

    With Ari handicapped, Gerry worked on building his forces casting Soliton to go with his 3/3 Scrapmelter, then adding Rusted Relic and Copper Myr. Ari was down but not out, and used Shatter to kill the Soliton. Doing so turned off his opponent's metalcraft and Lax used Tangle Angler to wipe out the Copper Myr from Gerry's side of the battlefield. Finding a fourth mana, Ari was even able to cast an Auriok Replica.

    Gerry began attacking despite the fact his opponent had three creatures with which he could attack. When Ari did just that, moving all-in with each of his creatures, Thompson revealed why flashing a Darksteel Sentinel to the battlefield. The 3/3 was forced to step in front of the Angler and Thompson fell to 12. With the turn back, Gerry cast Mindslaver, then moved to attack. Ari stopped him to tap something with Tumble Magnet, which he had cast the turn before. Realizing his opponent was tapped out, Ari said "I've got you." He revealed Galvanic Blast in his hand, then walked through an attack that would put his opponent low enough to be burnt out by the Blast and a sacrifice from Vulshok Replica. Gerry double checked the math, then conceded in the midst of his own turn.

    Gerry Thompson 1, Ari Lax 1

    The entire fate of Grand Prix—Nashville came down to one final game between Ari Lax and Gerry Thompson. They started slowly with Lax on Leaden Myr while his opponent had Vedalken Certarch and Wall of Tanglecord. Tumble Magnet for Lax further slowed the pace of the game, but a Molder Beast out of the green-red player gave him a significant threat he might finally be able to get in with.

    Gerry Thompson

    Thompson cast Trinket Mage to call forth Chimeric Mass, but before casting it he cast Grand Architect instead. At one artifact, Gerry needed two more to get metalcraft and turn his Vedalken Certarch on. While waiting, he used the Architect to power out Soliton thanks to the mana boost it gave each of his blue creatures. Ari's Molder Beast managed to get in for 4 through Wall of Tanglecord with some help from Untamed Might, but he expressed concern his opponent might be holding Mindslaver. Gerry was, but he kept a straight face and gave no hint of the fact.

    With Grand Architect Gerry was able to cast a Chimeric Mass for a whopping nine charge counters while Ari could only muster a Tangle Angler. Gerry then used Grand Architect to turn his Soliton into a blue creature, a combo that allowed him to then turn each blue mana he had into two colorless mana via the Architect's second ability and the 3/4s untap ability. That allowed him to cast and activate Mindslaver.

    Ari checked the math, then looked at the table. He couldn't survive the powerful mythic and accepted he was dead. "I can't win," he pointed out, extending his hand.

    Gerry Thompson is the Grand Prix—Nashville champion!

    Gerry Thompson 2, Ari Lax 1

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