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Grand Prix Portland
Day 2 Coverage

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  • Round 10 Feature Match - Michael Simon vs. David Gleicher

    by Steve Sadin

  • North American Grand Prix mainstays Michael Simon and David Gleicher are no strangers to the Modern format. Six months ago they both thrashed their way through the Swiss rounds at Grand Prix Chicago 2012 to make their way into the Top 8. And while they still have a lot of rounds left to play today, with perfect 9-0 records (and decks that they're very happy with), Simon and Gleicher have a good chance of meeting each other in the Top 8 of yet another Modern Grand Prix tonight.

    Game One

    Gleicher opened with a Thoughtseize taking a Demonic Dread, and leaving Simon with a Twisted Abomination, a Jungle Weaver and lands. A Tarmogoyf followed the next turn – but that would be the last spell that Gleicher would be able to cast for a couple of turns as a Fulminator Mage took out his only colored mana source.

    Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth turned Gavony Township and Vault of the Archangel into black sources - allowing Gleicher to play a Liliana of the Veil, which he immediately plus oned to cause both players to discard a card.

    Simon discarded a Beast Within, while Gleicher (who was fully aware of the fact that his opponent was playing Living End) discarded a Knight of the Reliquary.

    David Gleicher

    At the end of Gleicher's turn, Simon cycled a Twisted Abomination and a Monstrous Carabid. A Demonic Dread cascaded into a Living End – giving Simon 14 power worth of creatures, as well as a Fulminator Mage that knocked out Gleicher's sole color producing land.


    A couple of attack steps later, and Gleicher was looking for solutions in his sideboard.

    Michael Simon 1 – David Gleicher 0

    Game Two

    Gleicher began the second game with a pair of Deathrite Shamans – but no second land – while Simon spent his time cycling a Monstrous Carabid, and a Jungle Weaver at the end of Gleicher's turns.

    Only three turns into the game, Gleicher made a painful mistake. Instead of removing the Jungle Weaver with Deathrite Shaman at the end of his own turn - he said go.

    Simon untapped, played a third land, and deliberated for a bit before saying go.

    At the end of Simon's turn, Gleicher activated his Deathrite Shaman to remove the Jungle Weaver from Simon's graveyard.

    Michael Simon

    In response, Simon cast a Violent Outburst which cascaded into Living End – giving him 9 power worth of creatures, and wiping both of the Deathrite Shamans off of his opponents side of the board.

    A Birds of Paradise and a Celestial Purge bought Gleicher a bit of time, but without a way to deal with the Jungle Weaver it was only a matter of time before he signed the match result slip in Michael Simon's favor.

    Michael Simon 2 – David Gleicher 0




     

  • Sunday, 11:40 a.m. - Day One Undefeated Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Paul Rietzl
    GP Portland 2013, Day One 9-0






     

  • Round 11 Feature Match - Henry Romero vs. Michael Simon

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The two remaining undefeated players, Henry Romero and Michael Simon, quickly got settled in under the camera and promptly began shuffling their decks. While Simon chose to go with the underplayed but effective Living End, Romero sleeved up an innovative blue-white-red control deck that sported four copies of Lightning Angel, a creature that has been doing significant work in creature matchups all weekend.

    "Everybody is talking about your Lightning Angel," said Simon.

    "Eh, it's been fine. It's not the only reason I'm winning my matches," Romero said.

    Game 1

    Play started slowly, as neither player had big action other than some cycling. 2 life and a cycled Street Wraith prompted a reaction from Romero: "Oh, it's this deck."

    Some cycled giants found Simon a second land, but not a third, as he passed on the third turn with no hit land drop. Meanwhile, Romero continued to develop his land base, hoping to find lands, and a Lightning Helix was aimed at Simon, dropping the Living End player to 15.

    Another cycled Street Faith made that 13, and a cycled Pale Recluse found Simon his third land. A Lightning Bolt was pointed at Simon at the end of the turn, dropping him to 10. Simon played a fourth land and passed with three open, signaling Violent Outburst. Romero untapped and passed, and when Simon's Violent Outburst cascaded into Living End, Mana Leak stopped the Time Spiral spell from resolving.

    Michael Simon

    Simon untapped and cast Avalanche Riders, taking out Romero's Celestial Colonnade. It attacked in for 2, while Romero aimed another Bolt at Simon, dropping him to 7. Lightning Angel made that 4, and Scalding Tarn came down after, but Romero did not have an answer to Simon's second attempt at Living End. Romero fanned out Simon's creatures, counting out how much power was entering play. Avalanche Riders took out a Hallowed Fountain, and an outbursted attack put Romero to 17. Romero fetched up a Sacred Foundry at the end of the turn, dropping himself to 16.

    Romero drew an Aven Mindcensor and passed with four open. Avalanche Riders left Romero down another land and forced the Mindcensor out of the local player's hand. However, with 25 points worth of damage attacking in, Romero no longer had an out to deal the final 4 points of damage. He picked up his cards for the second game.

    Romero 0 - Simon 1

    Game 2

    Romero's first hand in the second game immediately got sent back. Simon's opening seven elicited a laugh, as he showed the camera his hand of four cascade spells and one land, promptly shipping it back. Both players kept their six card hands, and Romero kicked things off with Celestial Colonnade, while Simon had a Forest.

    Romero added a second land to the board and passed, while Simon cycled Deadshot Minotaur. Simon went to 18 to play Stomping Ground untapped, and he passed back. Romero played an Island and passed after that. Simon cycled Jungle Weaver, and when Simon drew for the turn, Romero was quick to state, "Halt."

    Henry Romero

    Vendilion Clique came down and removed the sole cascade spell, Violent Outburst, out of Simon's hand. Simon was left with Fulminator Mage, Deadshot Minotaur, Street Wraith, Avalanche Rider, Copperline Forge, and Overgrown Tomb. Simon drew for the Clique, finding playing and cracking Verdant Catacomb for Swamp. He cycled Street Wraith, then played Fulminator Mage to leave Romero stranded on two colors.

    The Vendilion Clique attacked Simon to 12, and the Living End player fell to 10 as he attempted Avalanche Riders. The Riders met Mana Leak, and another attack dropped Simon to 7, as Romero was still stuck on two lands. Simon continued to cycle, this time with another Deadshot Minotaur. Romero attacked in again, dropping Simon to 4, who plainscycled Pale Recluse at the end of the turn.

    Simon drew. "That's pretty good!" said Simon, paying three mana to play Gnaw to the Bone. Romero's eyes widened a bit and he let out a deep sigh. The Gnaw met Mana Leak, and Simon followed with an untapped Godless Shrine and a flashback of Gnaw, going to 16 life. Romero had an uphill battle ahead of him.

    The Clique continued to attack in, bringing Simon to 13, while Simon started playing his creatures the hard way, hard-casting Pale Recluse. A seventh land was added to the board, and Electrolyze dropped Simon to 11. Simon's attacks were halted by Simon's reach creature, and he passed back, while Simon set up for a big turn with a suspended Living End. At the end of the turn, Romero attempted Aven Mindcensor, and Simon responded with a cracked Verdant Catacombs for an untapped Blood Crypts, and a second Gnaw to the Bone put Simon to 22 life.

    Not seeing another way out, Romero started playing his creatures, added two Lightning Angels to the table, while Simon did the same with a Jungle Weaver and another Pale Recluse. Counterflux shut down the Living End when it fell off of suspend.

    Romero took his first point of damage from his own Arid Mesa, and Sword of Feast and Famine gave him a way to get through damage. It was equipped onto Lightning Angel, and an attack dropped Simon to 17. Suddenly, Simon looked to be without outs against Romero's equipped angel. A second Living End was suspended, but with Snapcaster Mage for Counterflux available to Romero, Simon had no way to resolve one of the few remaining copies of the Time Spiral spell.

    Romero pressed on with attacks, forcing Violent Outburst from Simon. Snapcaster Mage and Mana Leak stopped Living End #2, and an attack from the Lightning Angel untapped Romero's lands. Snapcaster Mage for Counterflux stopped Living End #3 that came off of suspend.

    Simon, despite having the ability to drag out the game with Gnaw to the Bone for a ton of life, had no way to bash through Romero's wall of creatures. He picked up his cards and the two players moved to the third game with thirteen minutes on the clock.

    Romero 1 - Simon 1

    Game 3

    Both players kept for the third game, as Simon had first action with a fetchland crack and a cycle of Monstrous Carabid. Simon added another land to the table, and Romero did the same while Simon cycled Pale Recluse for a Dryad Arbor. Simon and Romero had lands on the third turn, but after Simon cycled a Deadshot Minotaur, Romero paused play. He thought for a moment before letting Simon go into his next turn, signaling Vendilion Clique.

    Simon drew and passed, as Romero cracked Arid Mesa for a Mountain. Romero found no fourth land and discarded Lightning Angel, as the two players continued on, concerned about being the first to act. Simon wasn't casting spells, and only building up lands. Meanwhile, because of that, Romero couldn't dig for lands with his Remands. As Simon searched for a sixth land, the judge notified them that only five minutes remained on the clock.


    Romero, not finding any land beyond the third, discarded Lightning Bolt at the end of the turn. Simon finally pulled the trigger with Demonic Dread after playing a Dryad Arbor. The first Living End was Remanded, and a second Demonic Dread brought forth Living End #2, which resolved. Monstrous Carabid, Deadshot Minotaur, and Pale Recluse came back for Simon, while Snapcaster Mage and Lightning Angel came back for Romero.

    And with that, Romero promptly aimed three Paths to Exile at Simon's three creatures over the course of a turn, allowing his two newly reanimated creatures to start attacking in, dropping Simon to 13.

    Monstrous Carabid ate a Mana Leak, and Romero's creatures continued to attack in, dropping Simon to 8, and Rest in Peace acted as the final nail in the coffin. When Jungle Weaver ate a Remand, Simon offered the handshake.

    Romero 2 - Simon 1




     

  • Sunday, 12:47 p.m. - Deck Tech: Lightning Angel Beats with Henry Romero

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Blue-white-red is not an unknown archetype in Modern. It has seen plenty of play in the Modern events on Magic Online, and was piloted to a second place finish by Sammy Tukeman at Grand Prix San Diego. In a format full of two toughness creatures, courtesy of the popularity of Deathrite Shaman, cards like Electrolyze truly shine.

    Henry Romero is piloting a deck that may be familiar to most, but his success this weekend has come not only from his plethora of efficient removal, but rather from his choice of angels. Lightning Angel has been an all-star in the past, but never in Modern.

    Until now.

    Portland native Henry Romero has had big success this weekend with a new variation on the blue-white-red archetype. The key to his deck is the inclusion of Lightning Angel over Restoration Angel, giving him a speedier threat and a more defensive option against creature decks.

    Romero, a Portland native, has been playing Magic for about six years, but he didn't start looking at the professional scene until recently. He and his group spent about thirty hours in the last week preparing for this weekend. One of the fundamental metagame calls that he made with his blue-white-red control deck this weekend was not on the right number of burn spells, bur rather which angel he should be playing.

    With the absence of Eggs in the format, and most of the remaining combo decks relying on creatures to go off, Romero made an interesting decision. The usual slot that Restoration Angel typically occupies in this archetype was instead replaced with Lightning Angel.


    "With Lightning Angel, you can attack and block," he said, noting the importance of having a fast clock that lets you remain defensive. "Jund can't do much against it, you can sometimes ambush their Liliana of the Veil, and Lingering Souls can't block it well."

    Romero thought for a moment as he went on.

    "You really just want it to beat Jund."

    Romero noted that with decks such as Jund becoming even more popular with the recent hit to Eggs, he wanted to have a threat that was very, very good against cards like Abrupt Decay. Blocking aggressive creatures while putting the opponent on a clock is always a plus, especially when your deck is backed up with multiple forms of burn to close games out of nowhere.

    That said, while Romero had access to a little countermagic, he needed a few ways to interact with combo better if he was going to tap out for things like Lightning Angel, rather than having the luxury of keeping mana open for threats like Restoration Angel instead.

    Enter Aven Mindcensor.

    The three mana Future Sight creature is capable of putting a huge dent in Scapeshift's plans, and as Romero noted to me, that was the only non-creature combo deck that was expected to make any waves in Modern. Access to Mindcensor gives him some insurance for making his combo matchups a little worse by playing Lightning Angel.

    Has the metagame call paid off? Definitely. Going into Round 13, Romero is sitting high with a 12-1 record, and the Portland native is only a few more good rounds away from locking up his first Grand Prix Top 8 in his hometown.




     

  • Round 12 Feature Match - Craig Wescoe vs. Martin Juza

    by Steve Sadin

  • With 44 Pro Points on the season, Juza is very much in the hunt for a Pro Point based qualification for this year's World Championship. And with a 9-2 record going into this round, he's on pace to pick up at least a couple of crucial points here in Portland - keeping him in a good position going into Pro Tour Dragon's Maze next weekend.

    Juza's opponent for this round, long time pro Craig Wescoe, is in a very different position. With 12 Pro Points on the season, he needs to get 3 more points to reach the Silver level in the Pro Players Club to lock up an invitation to the next Pro Tour that he wouldn't otherwise be qualified for.

    Game One

    Wescoe kicked things off with a Thoughtseize taking a Chord of Calling, and leaving Juza with Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Kitchen Finks, and lands.

    Auriok Champion, Raise the Alarm, and an Honor of the Pure gave Wescoe some pressure to work with – but when Juza (predictably) assembled 2/3rds of his combo by playing Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Kitchen Finks, it was clear that Wescoe would need to put things away in a hurry.

    Martin Juza

    A Path to Exile on Kitchen Finks simultaneously set Juza's combo back a bit while enabling an attack for 6 which left Juza on 14. However, that just wasn't enough for Wescoe.

    Juza was able to spend his next two turns playing a Cartel Aristocrat, and a Chord of Calling for Murderous Redcap – giving him all of the pieces that he needed to deal Wescoe infinite damage.

    Martin Juza 1 – Craig Wescoe 0

    Game Two

    Juza got off to a great start in the second game with a Deathrite Shaman, and a turn two Birthing Pod against an innocuous looking Raise the Alarm.

    On his third turn, Juza played a Melira, Sylvok Outcast and immediately sacrificed it to Birthing Pod. In response, Wescoe cast an Aven Mindcensor, seriously limiting the effectiveness of the pod – but Juza was nonetheless able to find a Kitchen Finks.

    Path to Exile made short work of the Kitchen Finks – while Juza had a Wall of Roots, and Orzhov Pontiff to wipe away Wescoe's board.

    Once his opponent's Aven Mindcensor was off the board, Juza sacrificed his Wall of Roots to Birthing Pod – but in response Wescoe played a replacement Aven Mindcensor (which prevented Juza from finding anything).

    Wescoe attacked Juza down to 6 before rebuilding his board by playing and flashing back a Lingering Souls.

    Craig Wescoe

    Not to be outdone, Juza cast a Cartel Aristocrat, sacrificed Orzhov Pontiff haunting his own Deathrite Shaman. Juza then sacrificed the Deathrite Shaman to Birthing Pod, wiping away Wescoe's board, and finding a Spellskite.

    Wescoe once again rebuilt his board by playing another Lingering Souls and flashing it back.

    Now out of board sweepers, Juza knew that he didn't have much time to assemble his combo. With that in mind, he cast an Eternal Witness, returned a land, and Birthing Podded it away to get a Murderous Redcap.

    Juza may only have been one card away from assembling his combo at that point, but that wasn't good enough as Intangible Virtue, and Zealous Persecution were more than enough for Wescoe to take the second game.

    Martin Juza 1 – Craig Wescoe 1

    Game Three

    Both players got off to relatively slow starts in the deciding game with Wescoe opening with an Honor of the Pure, and a Lingering Souls, while Juza played a Cartel Aristocrat, and a Murderous Redcap.

    But what Wescoe's draw lacked in speed, it made up for in disruption. A Thoughtseize stripped away Juza's Reveillark, and a flashed back Lingering Souls cranked up the pressure.

    Birthing Pod turned a Wall of Roots into a Harmonic Sliver which destroyed Wescoe's Honor of the Pure and bought Juza some more room to maneuver. However, a Path to Exile, a Relic of Progenitus, and a Sundering Growth destroying Birthing Pod allowed Wescoe to remain very much in the driver's seat.


    But even with his combo seemingly out of reach, Juza recognized that he had a chance to win a race thanks to the extensive amount of damage that Wescoe inflicted upon himself with his lands and his Thoughtseize.

    So after a couple of attacks, and a well-timed Dismember, Wescoe was on a mere 4 life.

    After quickly examining Juza's graveyard, Wescoe attacked Juza to 5 with his flying army before playing another Lingering Souls and saying go (leaving himself the mana that he needed to sacrifice his Relic of Progenitus should the need arise).

    Without any relevant spells, all that Juza could do was attack Wescoe to 2 – allowing Wescoe to take the match a turn later thanks to the extra damage that his Zealous Persecution provided.

    Martin Juza 1 – Craig Wescoe 2




     

  • Round 14 Feature Match - Jon Finkel vs. Orie Guo

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Jon Finkel may be known as one of, if not the best Magic player in history, but he's also known as a lover of all things Storm. Despite the banning of Seething Song, Finkel's testing showed that Storm still had some fairly fast draws. Not wanting to deviate from the Modern deck that he has been playing for the whole season, it wasn't surprising to see that he sleeved up some Pyretic Rituals and Past in Flames for this weekend.

    His opponent, Orie Guo, had a couple of ways to interact with Finkel's deck. His blue-white-red control deck had a combination of counterspells and flash creatures that could prove to be a problem for Finkel this match. Would Storm triumph, or would Vendilion Clique and pals succeed instead?

    Game 1

    Finkel was content with his seven, but Guo was quick to ship his hand back. Finkel kicked things off with Misty Rainforest finding Island, followed by Serum Visions. He followed with the scry 2, and left one card on top. Guo's turn was a little faster with a tapped Celestial Colonnade.

    Jon Finkel

    Finkel followed with a free Gitaxian Probe, going to 17. Untapped Steam Vents made that 15, and when Guo only had Eiganjo Castle on the second turn, Finkel cast an end-of-turn Desperate Ravings, which drew Finkel two and randomly discarded a Sleight of Hand.

    Finkel played Scalding Tarn and passed with three open, while Guo deployed a threat with Snapcaster Mage. An attack dropped Finkel to 13. Guo asked how many cards were in Finkel's hand, and shrugged as he slammed down Geist of Saint Traft. Finkel flashed back Desperate Ravings, randomly discarding Shivan Reef.

    And as Finkel paid 2 for Gitaxian Probe, Finkel busted out the six-sided dice and started keeping track of his spells.

    First up was Gitaxian Probe.


    Second up was Serum Visions.




    Pyretic Ritual was four.


    Desperate Ritual with a splice was five.


    Desperate Ritual and Increasing Vengeance was six and seven.


    Finally, Finkel finished up with Grapeshot (eight spells), and Past in Flames with plenty of red mana left, letting Finkel flashback Grapeshot for lethal.

    Finkel 1 - Guo 0

    "That's a pretty good deck choice," said Guo, referring to Finkel's choice of playing Storm. Finkel noted that while the deck was weaker without Seething Song, it was still goldfishing (playing out the game against a nonexistent opponent) pretty fast despite the loss of one of its rituals.

    Game 2

    Mulligans reversed in the second game, as Guo kept his seven but Finkel dropped down to six. However, Finkel's six wasn't good enough either, and he announced that he'd go to five cards.

    Guo led with back-to-back Celestial Colonnades, while Finkel used Misty Rainforest to find Steam Vents. Scalding Tarn found an Island. Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, and Empty the Warrens got Finkel six goblins, and the race was on.

    Guo then played a roadblock/threat in the form of Geist of Saint Traft. "That's a bit awkward," Finkel noted.

    Finkel used Sleight of Hand on the next turn, counted, then took one of the cards to add to his hand. He passed with six goblins back, as Guo played another land and passed, his Geist held back by Finkel's goblin army. Finkel used Peer Through Depths to find Desperate Ravings, and Serum Visions continued to dig Finkel towards more action. The scry 2 left both cards on top. Desperate Ravings drew Finkel two and caused him to discard Pyretic Ritual.

    But things got rougher when Guo played an end-of-turn Vendilion Clique, revealing Gitaxian Probe and Manamorphose. Guo let Finkel keep both cards, and the legendary creature attacked Finkel to 14. Guo passed, still holding back Geist.

    Orie Guo

    Finkel cast Sleight of Hand. Finding nothing he wanted to lead off with, he passed with three open. Guo fetched a land with his Arid Mesa, and Lightning Helix dropped Finkel to 11.

    When Guo woke up a Celestial Colonnade and attacked with everything, Finkel conceded to the 11 points of flying attackers that were headed towards him.

    Game 3

    Finkel led off with another mulligan to six, while Guo kept his hand. Finkel took one look at his six card hand and shrugged. "I'll mulligan again," he said.

    Finkel's five card hand was enough, and Finkel led with Gitaxian Probe, revealing Runed Halo, Celestial Colonnade, Vendilion Clique, Sulfur Falls, Electrolyze, Wrath of God, and Remand. Scalding Tarn into Steam Vents brought Finkel to 15, and Serum Visions drew Finkel a card. Finkel put both of the cards seen with scry 2 onto the bottom.

    Guo's first turn was a little simpler: Celestial Colonnade, and a pass.

    Finkel played Serum Visions, then paused for a minute when he looked at the two cards on top of his deck. He agonized over the decision for a little, but finally settled on leaving one of the cards on top. Guo played tapped Sulfur Falls and passed, while Finkel attempted Goblin Electromancer. Guo revealed that he had top-decked Mana Tithe,

    Guo didn't find a third land, but Finkel was stuck on two as well. The two players played a little draw-go, with Guo forced to discard Wrath of God. Finkel again had nothing, and Guo deployed a Snapcaster Mage tto start beating down. The first attack dropped Finkel to 13, and Guo played Arid Mesa before passing. When Finkel drew, Guo fired off with Vendilion Clique.

    The Clique revealed: Desperate Ravings, Past in Flames, Manamorphose, Desperate Ritual, Increasing Vengeance, Goblin Electromancer, and Empty the Warrens. The combination of cards made the choice difficult, as Guo debated over the correct card to Clique away.

    After thinking about it for a minute, Guo settled on Desperate Ritual.

    "Was that right?" Guo asked as Finkel drew for Vendilion Clique. Finkel cycled Mamamorphose for a card and Izzet Mana. That found Serum Visions, and the scry left Finkel with one card on top. Finkel, however, had no follow-up, as things started to look grim for the Storm player.

    Attacks dropped Finkel to 8, and Guo passed play back with four mana open and a Counterflux in hand. Finkel cast Mamamorphose for a blue and a red mana, and then Grapeshot to take out Finkel's creatures. That warranted an overloaded Counterflux. When Finkel found nothing of value on the next turn, Finkel offered the handshake.

    Finkel 1 - Guo 2




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