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Day 2 Grand Prix Vienna Coverage

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The letter Y!esterday, 1463 players entered Day 1 of Grand Prix Vienna 2013 to show off their skills in Standard Constructed. It was a day of intense competition and great Magic. We saw the continued dominance of Mono Blue Devotion and Mono Black Devotion, and the revitalisation of Azorius Control and Esper. At the end of the day, six players were sitting on top of the standings with perfect 9-0 records: No. 13 Jeremy Dezani from France, Piotr Wald from Poland, Andreas Ganz from Switzerland, Marcin Staciwa from Poland, Dominik Prosek from the Czech Republic, and Marcello Calvetto from Italy.

Today, they and 199 others have earned the right to compete for the title of Grand Prix Vienna Champion. Join us here for more text and video coverage as we see who can successfully navigate through six more rounds of Standard to make it to the Top 8!











 

  • Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

    by Frank Karsten

  • Six players managed to escape yesterday's competition with pristine 9-0 records. Mono-blue was well-represented, with five out of six going for Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves. The deck of Andreas Ganz is more innovative: it's Mono Black Devotion at its core, but features a novel white splash.

    Jeremy Dezani
    Grand Prix Vienna Day 1 Undefeated




    Marcello Calvetto
    Grand Prix Vienna Day 1 Undefeated


    Marcin Staciwa
    Grand Prix Vienna Day 1 Undefeated


    Andreas Ganz
    Grand Prix Vienna Day 1 Undefeated




     

  • Round 10 Feature Match - Marcello Calvetto vs. (13) Jérémy Dezani

    by Tobi Henke

  • Frenchman Jérémy Dezani crashed onto the scene last year with a victory at Grand Prix Lyon, followed by two more GP Top 8 appearances this year (and preceded by a Top 8 in 2009). A promising start and he certainly delivered on the promise at the big stage when he won Pro Tour Theros in Dublin. There, he was playing the then-new Mono-Blue Devotion deck, and he stuck with it for this event, earning a 9-0 record so far. Going into the tournament, he was ranked number 13 in the world, a position he would likely improve upon here.

    9-0 was also the overnight score of the somewhat less known Italian player Marcello Calvetto, although he had made three Grand Prix Top 8s between 2008 and 2011. Calvetto, like Dezani, chose Mono-Blue Devotion, so the battle here was going to be a mirror match. Would proven mono-blue expert Dezani take the victory, or would Calvetto beat the champ at his own game?


    Marcello Calvetto

    Game 1

    In the early game it was all about building up an army. Calvetto assembled Cloudfin Raptor, Thassa, God of The Sea, and Master of Waves plus three tokens, whereas Dezani had Cloudfin Raptor, Nightveil Specter, and Jace, Architect of Thought, whom he used to find his own Master of Waves. Now the actual action started: Calvetto summoned a second Master of Waves and attacked with his tokens, killing Jace.

    Dezani fought back with another Cloudfin Raptor and Master of Waves creating six tokens, but Calvetto redoubled his efforts with Bident of Thassa, attacking with tokens and the finally active Thassa, God of the Sea.

    After blocks, the table was decidedly less crowded. For one thing, all Elemental tokens were gone and Dezani was left with just a 2/3 Cloudfin Raptor and his Nightveil Specter, whereas Calvetto still had his two copies of Master of Waves, a 3/4 Cloudfin Raptor, Thassa, God of the Sea, and the aforementioned Bident of Thassa, which he now used to force Dezani to attack. Before blocks, though, Dezani returned the opposing Cloudfin Raptor with Cyclonic Rift and, in his second main phase, cast his own 5/5 Thassa. Suddenly, the board state didn't look quite as bad for Dezani anymore. However, the players' lifetotals had Dezani at a severe disadvantage. Two attacks with unblockable Thassa and two unblockable Masters sealed the deal.

    Game 2

    Calvetto quickly boosted out three 2/3 fliers in the form of one Cloudfin Raptor and two Nightveil Specters, while Dezani held the fort with one 1/2 Cloudfin Raptor and Jace, Architect of Thought's +1 ability. Dezani tried to fight back with Master of Waves, but thanks to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Calvetto was able to cast Domestication on said Master (killing all of Dezani's Elementals) and Thassa, God of the Sea.

    Dezani had his own Domestication to steal one Nightveil Specter and his own Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Next turn, Calvetto went for the blowout by overloading Cyclonic Rift. Dezani had the Dispel to stop it, then overloaded his own Cyclonic Rift—a sudden turn of events. Calvetto picked up his nonland permanents and, on second thoughts, picked up his lands too. With just ten minutes left on the clock, the players were off to the deciding game, considerably speeding up their pace to finish the match in time.


    (13) Jérémy Dezani

    Game 3

    Calvetto's Frostburn Weird met Dezani's Tidebinder Mage. On turn three, Calvetto cast Thassa, God of the Sea, while Dezani passed without play, then countered Nightveil Specter with Gainsay, before untapping and summoning Master of Waves, generating three tokens. Calvetto, on turn five, still didn't have a fourth land but cast Cloudfin Raptor plus another Frostburn Weird and attacked with Thassa.

    Dezani had another Tidebinder Mage to tap down Calvetto's second Weird as well, then cast, with the help of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Jace, Architect of Thought and Judge's Familiar, and attacked with tokens and Tidebinder Mage. Calvetto traded away his 1/2 Cloudfin Raptor for a token and took 6, falling to 10. He untapped, scried again with Thassa, and still didn't find a fourth land. He glumly looked at his board of Thassa, God of the Sea and two tapped Frostburn Weirds and passed the turn.

    When Dezani activated Jace, Architect of Thought's second ability revealing Gainsay, Calvetto offered his hand in concession.

    Marcello Calvetto 1-2 (13) Jérémy Dezani

    After the game, Dezani revealed the four Frostburn Weirds he had safely tucked away in his sideboard and told Calvetto: "You really need to know how to sideboard." For a second it appeared as if Calvetto wanted to argue the point but in the end he thought better of it and simply accepted the advice.




     

  • Sunday, 12:55 p.m. – Quick Question:
    What Deck Will Be Most Represented in the Top 8?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Martin Jůza: Mono-Blue or Mono-Black. One of those for sure. Let's say a Nightveil Specter deck.
    Valentin Mackl: Mono-Black. And at least one Mono-Blue, because I'm playing it.
    Simon Görtzen: Mono-Black.



     

  • Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

    by Frank Karsten

  • Day 2 of Grand Prix Vienna is underway, and I've looked through the Day 2 decklists to get a breakdown of the metagame. Here's how the field looks like today:

    Blue Devotion 23%
    Black Devotion 17%
    Esper Control 11%
    Red Devotion with a white splash 9%
    Blue-White Control 5%
    White Weenie with a red splash 5%
    Green Devotion with a red splash 4%
    Black Devotion with a green splash 4%
    Mono Red Aggro 4%
    Selesnya Aggro 4%
    Red Burn with a white splash 3%
    Black Control with a white splash 2%
    Junk Midrange 2%
    Jund Midrange 2%
    Green-Black Aggro 1%
    Blue Devotion with a white splash 1%
    Other 3%

    Mono-colored decks (usually based on the devotion mechanic, and possibly with a small splash) appear to be the way to go in Standard right now.




     

  • Sunday, 1:55 p.m. – Quick Question: How Do You Beat Mono-Blue with Your Deck?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Martin Jůza: Lots and lots of removal. And Pack Rat which Mono-Blue sometimes can't race.
    Valentin Mackl: Beat them? Join them! And I have a good sideboard for the mirror: four Gainsays, three Domestications, two Rapid Hybridizations.
    Simon Görtzen: Controlling the board with removal works fine unless they draw too many cheap creatures.



     

  • Round 13 Feature Match - Marcin Staciwa (Mono-Blue Devotion) vs. Robert Jurkovic (Mono-Blue Devotion)

    by Tobi Henke

  • "You have no loss, right?" asked veteran Slovak pro Robert Jurkovic when he sat down at the feature match table. "Yes," said a smiling Marcin Staciwa, the last undefeated player in the tournament, who clearly hadn't expected such a winning streak. "It's crazy!" Jurkovic entered the round with a respectable 11-1 score, no match for Staciwa's straight 12-0, but intent on leaving both players with the same 12-1 afterwards.

    The match-up here was one we've seen before, as both players brought Mono-Blue Devotion. There's just no way to avoid the mirror match this weekend, it appears, at least not at the top tables.


    Marcin Staciwa

    Game 1

    As always the first couple of turns were spent simply dropping creatures onto the battlefield. Staciwa had a pair of Cloudfin Raptors, Nightveil Specter, and Master of Waves, while Jurkovic cast Cloudfin Raptor, Judge's Familiar, Nightveil Specter, and Thassa, God of the Sea.

    The real action started now. Staciwa's Frostburn Weird gave both his Raptors a third +1/+1 counter and then he attacked with all of his creatures save Master of Waves and Nightveil Specter. Staciwa lost two tokens and a Cloudfin Raptor, but Jurkovic lost Judge's Familiar and 11 life falling to 8.

    To add insult to injury, Staciwa overloaded Cyclonic Rift with the help of Nykthos Shrine to Nyx on his next turn. Thanks to Mutavault and his own Cyclonic Rift (not overloaded unfortunately) Jurkovic survived the ensuing attack on 3. He still lost to the recast Master of Waves two turns later.

    Game 2

    This was a quick affair. Jurkovic started with Cloudfin Raptor, Thassa, God of the Sea, and Domesticate on the Nightveil Specter that had been Staciwa's first play of the game. Staciwa's Master of Waves with his one lonely Elemental token wasn't nearly enough to stem the tide. Jurkovic added his own Nightveil Specter to the stolen one, attacked with everything, including Thassa and Mutavault, and soon Staciwa shuffled up his cards for game three.


    Robert Jurkovic

    Game 3

    It was clear Staciwa had a counter-heavy draw here as he passed turn after turn without play. After his turn-one Cloudfin Raptor, Jurkovic succesfully baited a Gainsay with Tidebinder Mage, then resolved a second Tidebinder Mage while himself countering Staciwa's Master of Waves. A second Master of Waves resolved but was stolen via Domestication and things looked dim for Staciwa, even though he had a third Master of Waves and finally was allowed to keep it.

    All of these trades had severely depleted the players' resources and soon both were down to one card in hand. However, Jurkovic had Jace, Architect of Thought and used him to get Rapid Hybridization and Tidebinder Mage. Staciwa's Master of Waves was turned into a 3/3 Frog Lizard and that was tapped with Tidebinder Mage. Next, Jace came up with Nightveil Specter and while the cards kept flowing for Jurkovic, the only thing in flux on Staciwa's side was his lifetotal. It kept falling and falling until he conceded.

    Marcin Staciwa 1-2 Robert Jurkovic

    "So what score do you think makes Top 8?" Staciwa asked sheepishly.

    "You probably need X-2."

    "So one more win ..."

    "Good luck!"




     

  • Sunday, 2:15 p.m. – Quick Question #3:
    How Do You Beat Mono-Black with Your Deck?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Martin Jůza: Draw better I guess. Also people often sideboard incorrectly. For example they leave in the expensive Desecration Demon when it just trades for a one mana spell [Dark Betrayal] anyway. But in the end it's pretty much all about Thoughtseize followed by Underworld Connections. Whoever can stick Connections usually wins.
    Valentin Mackl: Hoping I win the die roll. The match-up is slightly negative. Board out everything that dies to Pharika's Cure and bring in Rapid Hybridization for Pack Rat.



     

  • Sunday, 2:45 p.m. - Interesting Day 2 Decklists

    by Frank Karsten

  • As I went through the Day 2 decklists earlier today, there were several decks that looked particularly interesting to me. None of their pilots are currently in contention for a Top 16 finish, but they are something different and could be fun to try out at a local Friday Night Magic. Here are the lists.


    I love how this deck can use Commune with the Gods to fill up the graveyard, thereby turning on Deathrite Shaman and Whip of Erebos. The deck also has plenty of utility enchantments for Commune with the Gods to find: besides the aforementioned Whip of Erebos, there is also Bow of Nylea and Primeval Bounty. I also want to point out Gaze of Granite as an excellent answer to an onslaught of Pack Rat tokens.




    Voice of Resurgence, Advent of the Wurm, Selesnya Charm...this looked like a regular Selesnya deck to me at first. And then I saw the high end. This deck can use Sylvan Caryatid to ramp into a quick Archangel of Thune, which together with Pit Fight can lead to some devastating blowouts. Not only can does it allow you to kill an opposing creature, but a fighting Archangel of Thune also results in a lifelink trigger, boosting all of your creatures at instant speed.




    After Invisible Stalker and Geist of Saint Traft rotated out of Standard, I thought we had seen the last of Hexproof decks. Julien de Graat had other ideas. There are still a few hexproof creatures around, and beefing them up with Deviant Glee and Ethereal Armor can still be a potent strategy against opponents who rely on Ultimate Price and Hero's Downfall. The land count in this deck seems dangerously low, but the idea is interesting.




    The little kid in me rejoiced upon seeing 3 Worldspine Wurm in a Day 2 deck. Of course, 11 mana is a lot. But Garruk, Caller of Beasts can dump them in play early on, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nix can potentially produce the mana to hardcast them. It may be a bit ambitious, but it's certainly exciting.



    Alessandro Portaro
    Grand Prix Vienna - Standard


    There are two remarkable tweaks in this Esper list. First, four maindeck Nightveil Specter. Apparently, even without any devotion synergies, its potential to provide a steady stream of cards is powerful enough to warrant maindeck inclusion. Second, three maindeck Last Breath. It's cheap, it's efficient, and in contrast to Ultimate Price and Doom Blade it can actually target Nightveil Specter, which remains one of the most important cards in the format.




    This is not your average White Weenie deck that is merely trying to kill you as fast as possible. This deck also features a powerful mid game, as it can use Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to power out a lot of tokens with Heliod, God of the Sun, or a game-ending Aurelia's Fury.




    After Doomed Traveler and Blood Artist rotated out of Standard, I expected we would never see another Aristocrat deck, but Carlo Tampieri made Day 2 with this innovative approach. If you assemble the combo of Voice of Resurgence + Gift of Immortality along with a sacrifice outlet such as Cartel Aristocrat, you can churn out Elemental tokens at an impressive pace. It may be easily disruptable, but it is very powerful if you can get it to work.




     

  • Sunday, 2:55 p.m. – The New Black (-White)

    by Tobi Henke

  • Andreas Ganz was the only undefeated player yesterday who didn't reach his 9-0 score on the back of Mono-Blue Devotion, so it was an obvious choice to take a closer look at his deck. Here it is in all ist glory:

    Andreas Ganz
    Grand Prix Vienna - Standard


    While Ganz was busy playing for a potential Top 8 in the feature match area I talked to Grand Prix champion Florian Koch about the origins, strengths, and weaknesses of the deck. Koch was part of an Austrian/Swiss/German team along with Simon Görtzen and Patrick Tomelitsch who came up with the deck.


    Andreas Ganz

    "When I first floated the idea for Black-White on our Facebook group, I honestly didn't expect much to come of it. I just knew about the version of Mono-Black with the green splash but never liked it because it was lacking the on-color Temple," said Koch. "Getting the full use out of Temple of Silence was the first aim, but we soon realized white had additional advantages. For example, an early version used Obzedat, Ghost Council and Whip of Erebos to absolutely destroy Esper."

    Koch explained that he considers the match-up against Esper slightly unfavorable for the regular mono-black deck. "The black player has to be the aggressor and always needs to anticipate the answers that he needs to play around. It's really difficult. With white in the deck, the match-up improves by a lot. Sin Collector for instance is really good here."

    At this point in the testing process the team was worried about a rise in popularity of red aggressive decks. "Here the team basically split into two camps," Koch said. "One half decided to run more white to be able to sideboard Fiendslayer Paladin and kept Obzedat, Ghost Council in the main deck; the other half turned to Blood Baron of Vizkopa and went back to Pharika's Cure for the sideboard."

    A card Koch made special note of was Last Breath. "It wasn't obvious to us at first, but Last Breath is positioned amazingly well in the current metagame. It kills Nightveil Specters, early Pack Rats, and Master of Waves, something no other two-mana removal spell does. Last Breath is almost a break-out card for this tournament, I'd say. Several Esper and Blue-White Control decks at the top run the card as well. Lots of people who didn't just copy their list of the net realized the potential here."


    Florian Koch

    There are certain disadvantages to this black-white deck when compared to the stock mono-black lists. "You give up Nightveil Specter which is great in the mirror but simply not that good in general. Losing Gray Merchant, however, is kind of sad," Koch admitted. "Blood Baron of Vizkopa is better in most match-ups, I think, but Gray Merchant of Asphodel gives the deck a completely different angle to attack from, which we lack."




     

  • Sunday, 3:00 p.m. - Quick Questions #4:
    What Was the Most Surprising Deck You Saw This Weekend?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Martin Jůza: I played against Hexproof in round four. It's not a surprise deck as such but it will probably catch people off guard. Also Cifka's take on Blue-White.
    Valentin Mackl: Red-White-Black Burn (as featured in yesterday's coverage). I totally screwed up my sideboarding against that deck. I didn't know what to do!
    Simon Görtzen: Blue-Green Devotion with Prophet of Kruphix, Garruk, Caller of Beasts, Prime Speaker Zegana ...



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