Live Coverage of 2005 Grand Prix Mexico City

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Don't call it a comeback, he's been here a year. It was exactly a year ago this weekend that Julien Nuijten catapulted from cocky little Dutch kid to World Champion and Magic star, and apparently he's making it a policy not to be beaten on Labor Day weekends -- Magic might as well proclaim it as Nuijten Day.

Julien wasn't the only story this weekend, though. The Top 8 here in Mexico City was once again a good one, featuring big names like Frank Karsten and Gerard Fabiano, as well as rising stars Billy Postlethewait and Rasmus "Big Oots" Sibast and the only two Venezuelans in the tournament (Daniel Fior and Maximiliano Liprandi), and a lone hometown hero in Edgar Leiva. Postlethewait actually dominated the tournament, going undefeated this weekend in contested matches, but he had to leave to catch his flight just as the Top 8 was about to begin (allowing Liprandi into the semifinals uncontested).

Joining Liprandi in the semis were Karsten (who downed Big Oots in an all-Euro grudge match), Leiva (who squeaked past Gerard Fabiano), and Nuijten (who crushed Daniel Fior's White Weenie deck). Nuijten was then pushed to his limits in two games against Fior's teammate Liprandi, winning the first at 2 life and the second at 1, while Karsten quickly gave way to Leiva's onslaught, setting up a World Champ vs. Hometown Hero finals. Sadly for the raucous Mexican crowd, Nuijten's draws in the finals were unbeatable and the only trophy from a Mexican Grand Prix would sadly be leaving home soil for the far shores of The Netherlands.

What about the format, you ask? Well, there were only three Gifts decks that made the Top 8, but once again when the dust settled Gifts Ungiven was standing on top of the podium, carrying a trophy and wearing a curly-haired smile. Congratulations to Julien Nuijten, the 2005 Grand Prix-Mexico City champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Billy Postlethwait   Maximiliano Liprandi, 2-0        
8 Maximiliano Liprandi   Julien Nuijten, 2-0
       
4 Daniel Fior   Julien Nuijten, 2-0   Julien Nuijten, 2-0
5 Julien Nuijten    
       
2 Frank Karsten   Frank Karsten, 2-0
7 Rasmus Sibast   Edgar Leiva, 2-0
       
3 Gerard Fabiano   Edgar Leiva, 2-1
6 Edgar Leiva    


EVENT COVERAGE FINAL TOP 8 STANDINGS
 1.  Julien Nuijten $2,400
 2.  Edgar Leiva $1,700
 3.  Frank Karsten $1,200
 4.  Maximiliano Liprandi $1,000
 5.  Billy Postlethwait $800
 6.  Gerard Fabiano $800
 7.  Daniel Fior $800
 8.  Rasmus Sibast $800
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  • Sunday, September 4: 10:44 am - Quick Interviews and More


  • Antonino De Rosa

    The buzz about Ravnica in the last couple weeks has gone from a couple of whispers to a rather loud roar, propelled in large part by the preview of one of the new Guild dual lands on magicthegathering.com. To say casual and pro players alike are excited about what the new set will bring is an understatement, but we decided to talk with a few of the pros and let them speak for themselves.

    What do you think of the new dual lands?

    Antonino De Rosa: They are good, really good. You can actually play any deck you want to in Extended with the Onslaught fetchlands.

    Frank Karsten and Julien Nuijten

    Julien: I think they are insane.

    Julien Nuijten and Frank Karsten
    Frank: The are really really good. I expect a lot of multicolored decks to appear in every format now. It'll be a lot of fun for deck designers - the new lands make it easier to splash and there will be many new options available. I even like that they are only releasing a few at a time, because it will cause the colors you can play to shift a little with each new set released.

    Olivier Ruel: They are terrible - two life is a fortune. Wait, actually I take that back. If you have a Lifegift, they are okay, and if you have double Lifegift and fetchlands, they become insane. I think I just broke Extended.


     
  • Sunday, September 4: 11:07 am - Quick Interviews and More


  • Olivier Ruel loves his Pooh!

    The Devirs representative for Latin America.

    A view from the field of battle here at the Grand Prix.

    You do *not* mess with the judges here.


     
  • Sunday, September 4: 11:34 pm - Round 9 - Billy Postlethwait vs. Gerard Fabiano


  • Gerard Fabiano

    After 8 rounds, two goofballs sit at the top of the standings, the only two players still bearing undefeated records. Gerard Fabiano has been around for some time, but has never quite broken into the limelight. He's the type of lifestyle pro that posts consistent results tournament after tournament, but never appears in an individual Pro Tour Top 8. Billy Postlethewait (or BillyP as his teammates call him), is a member of the 7 Kings, just like Fabiano. He made his first appearance on the scene with a fourth place finish at U.S. Nationals last year, but has struggled to make real headway since then and is often overshadowed by his more successful teammates. This weekend might just be his chance to continue what he started at U.S. Nats in 2004 though, earning enough Pro Tour points to keep him on the train next year while building his resume.

    Billy won the die roll and chose to play, with both players keeping their opening hands. Postlethwait stalled on four lands as Gerard built a small army of snakes, the third of which hit a Hinder, and Postlethwait had a Disrupting Shoal for Fabiano's Jitte as well. Billy cast Azami to try and replenish his hand, leaving him tapped out and unable to stop Kodama of the North Tree from hitting the board. He did, however, draw the land he needed to cast Keiga, earning a trade with the Kodama on the next turn. About that point Fabiano stalled dramatically while Billy continued to draw twice as many cards as Gerard. With Azami on the board getting jiggy, it was all over except the fat lady singing, and her hollerin' began about the time Meloku showed up. Fabiano continued to battle for about seven more turns, but that was more a result of Mono-Blue taking a while to kill than Gerard actually being in the game.

    Postlethewait 1 - Fabiano 0

    "Flores says this deck can't lose to Mono-Blue after sideboard. Except for maybe when he's playing it. I'm gonna win game 2, Billy. Game 3 though… I'm not sure."

    Fabiano got off to a better start in game 2 with an early Sakura-Tribe Elder, Sensei's Divining Top and a resolved Umezawa's Jitte. Meanwhile Billy kept a one-lander and drew his second and third a mere turn late, using Journeyer's Kite to make certain the flow kept coming, though doing so tied up his mana. Fabiano once again brought the slithery beatings, this time arming the Elders with a pointy stick that made the beatings more intense. Billy found himself wishing for a Pithing Needle to magically appear off the top of his deck, but when he was forced to cast Meloku instead and Fabiano Hindered it to the bottom, it was on to game 3.

    Postlethewait 1 - Fabiano 1

    "I told you I'd win game 2. Game 3… I dunno," said Fabiano, flashing Billy a smile. "Gonna be close game 3."

    "I keep," said BillyP. "Obviously. How good is your hand? I can read it on your face - three lands, perfect draw…"

    "It's not perfect," countered Postlethewait. "I wouldn't say perfect."

    Billy Postlethewaite

    Fabiano again had a decent start with a first-turn Top followed by Jushi Apprentice, an Elder, and Isao, Enlightened Bushi. Billy did very little, casting Journeyer's Kite to smooth his land draws and then Meloku on turn 5, only to see it bounce right back via Consuming Vortex from Fabiano. Billy then recast the flying legend on his turn, only to lose it to a twin from Fabiano. Billy finally found a Pithing Needle on his turn, locking down Fabiano's two Jushi Apprentices, and then went big, casting Keiga to try and dominate the air. Fabiano again had the legendary counterpart, giving up an Apprentice as part of the trade. Billy switched back to Meloku next, resolving it and then keeping it around for more than a turn. He also had a Hinder for Fabiano's Keiga, starting to pull ahead in the battle, though he was sitting at a moderately uncomfortable 8 life.

    Another Hinder for Fabiano's legend (this time a Meloku) kept Billy in the driver's seat. He quickly went on the offensive, returning five lands at the end of Fabiano's turn to smash for seven, and then four more on the next turn, hitting for 11, exactly enough to kill Fabiano.

    Postlethewaite 2 - Fabiano 1


     
  • Sunday, September 4: 12:37 pm - Round 11 - Zach Scales vs. Olivier Ruel


  • Zach Scales

    Zach Scales is a 22-year-old from California who showed up here this weekend with one bye and has played himself into Top 8 contention. When I asked him what he's doing here this weekend he said, "Hopefully winning this Grand Prix." That's a lot of confidence, especially considering who was sitting across from him. Olivier Ruel is one of the few Level 6 players in the world, and he's keen to take advantage of that status for as long as it lasts, feeding his travel bug as much as his new magazine gig allows. He's playing Gifts Ungiven this weekend with maindeck Godo, Bandit Warlord, but will have to overcome Scales's three-color Godo deck in order to keep himself in the running for the Top 8.

    Ruel started off with a mulligan into Sensei's Divining Top and a couple of lands, none of which were green. His first spell after the Top was a turn 4 Time of need for Kagemaro, First to Suffer. On turn 5 he simply cast Kodama's Reach to search out a Mountain and an Island. Scales's turn saw a fattie hit the board in the form of Kodama of the North Tree, and then the players traded Godos and Tatsumasas (nice plural on that one), so Kodama smashed for six. Kagemaro from Ruel got rid of the beater with no further beatings, and afterward Ruel added a Hana Kami to his team. The little recycler got busy on the next turn, plinking Scales for one.

    Scales chose Meloku as his next play and Ruel brought out the heavy lumber, casting Death Denied for Kagemaro and Godo, and then Godo to snag a Jitte. Sadly for Olivier, Scales seemed to be packing every card necessary to keep the French clown prince on the ropes, trading Jittes before Umezawa's stick could get any action. Another attack from Meloku and friends dropped Ruel to 6. Oli cast Gifts Ungiven at the end of turn, pausing for some time before choosing Meloku, Kokusho, Hideous Laughter, and Goryo's Vengeance from his deck. Scales gave Ruel the two legends and dared him to do something with them. Olivier started his turn with an attack, smashing with Hana Kami and Godo. Scales created two tokens and then Ruel used Sickening Shoal on Meloku, forcing Scales to create three more tokens before blockers. He then chose not to block at all, dropping to six. Ruel thought for a bit and then tried to cast a Meloku of his own, but Scales had the Hinder, putting him up a game.

    Scales 1 - Ruel 0

    Game 2 started with dueling mana snakes and then Scales did something I have never seen in all the Block Constructed I've covered - he played Reki, the History of Kamigawa. Ruel cast Kagemaro on his turn, only to see Scales add Umezawa's Jitte to his legendary team. Ruel attacked with the black spirit and Scales blocked, adding counters to his Jitte, but losing the green man in the process. Scales's answer was Meloku, but Ruel doubled back on those, casting Pithing Needles for both Jitte and Meloku, while Scales interestingly left counters on his Jitte. Kagemaro continued his relentless beatdown, eating another Elder as he went, while Scales tried to change the dynamic of the board, casting Godo and snagging Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang on the way in. Kagemaro wiped the board clean on Scales's next turn, but he reloaded with another Reki, attaching Tatsumasa to it on the next turn to bring the wood.

    Ruel then went through a very complicated Top/Gifts play that left him with Godo and Meloku in hand. Godo was countered by Hinder, and on the next turn it appeared that Oli forgot he had a Pithing Needle in play on Meloku. He cast the flier and Scales merely shrugged, causing Ruel's face to fall in realization - a rare obvious mistake from one of the best players in the world. From there winning was relatively simple for Scales - he created a new dragon from Tatsumasa at the end of Ruel's turn (the first died to Sickening Shoal), and then cast his own Meloku, clearing any aerial blockers from his path and earning the win.

    Scales 2 - Ruel 0


     
  • Sunday, September 4: 2:59 pm - The Final Moves


  • Maximiliano Liprandi

    Going into round 13 Billy Postlethewait, Gerard Fabiano, and Frank Karsten were locks for the Top 8, but the rest of the field was wide open, with five matches in play for the final four slots. That permutation quickly changed when Antonino De Rosa and Gabriel Martinez Sotelo drew so that Sotelo could guarantee himself qualification to Pro Tour-Los Angeles and so that De Rosa could catch his flight. At the same time that was happening, Gadiel Szleifer was scooping to friend and roommate Rasmus Sibast (also known as "Big Oots") in spite of the fact that Gadiel would also be in with a win, thus putting Sibast in the Top 8.


    Edgar Leiva

    This left three matches in play for the final three slots, all of which seemed to be "win and in" scenarios. Venezuelan Maximiliano Liprandi and his White Weenie deck squared off in a mirror match of both decks and country against Daniel Fior on table 3. Fior won the hard-fought battle 2-1.

    Meanwhile at table 4, Edgar Leiva, also playing White Weenie was battling Zach Scales and his three-color Godo beats deck. Leiva took an early lead inn game 1 and then capitalized on a particularly crappy draw from Scales to earn his spot in the Top 8, while Scales would likely have to satisfy himself with Top 16 money and an invitation to Los Angeles.


    Paul Rietzl

    Finally at table 7, U.S. National Team Member Jon Sonne faced Paul Rietzl, who had quietly been climbing the standings all day long simply by attacking for two. Rietzl ran over Sonne in game 1, but the old man struck back in game 2 on the back of Meloku to even things at one game a piece. Sonne's luck ran out in game 3, as he failed to draw any counterspells to back up a solid hand. Paul started by attacking for two with Isamaru, and kept adding two power men to the board, crushing Sonne under the weight of little beaters and a turn 5 Hokori, Dust Drinker.




     
  • Sunday, September 4: 4:34 pm - Top 8 Mini-Profiles


  • Daniel Fior

    Billy Postlethewait - Postlethewait was undefeated on the weekend before scooping a couple of friends into the Top 8, marking a dominating performance here in Mexico City. Sadly for this member of the 7 Kings, he had a 5PM flight to catch, and when dad Antonino De Rosa figured he was a long shot to make the Top 8 and drew in the last round to catch his own flight, Billy was faced with a decision: Buy a new flight and risk getting stuck in Miami on the way back because his ride left, or make it to the airport on time without playing a match in the Top 8. Billy chose the later as the more prudent financial option and hopped a cab to catch his flight as soon as he drew with Frank Karsten in round 13.

    *A correction to something we said earlier, this is BillyP's second Grand Prix Top 8, the first coming at Grand Prix Detroit this spring.

    Frank Karsten - This weekend marks back-to-back Grand Prix Top 8s for Karsten, as the quiet, red-headed Dutchie powerhouse continues to post result after result on the GP circuit.

    Rasmus 'Big Oots' Sibast

    Gerard Fabiano - Another 7 King, Fabiano made it to the Top 8 this weekend on the back of Mike Flores's Critical Mass deck and some very solid play.

    Julien Nuijten - The World Champ finished 9th last week in Salt Lake City, just missing a return to Top 8 form that many felt has been lacking since his victory in San Francisco. That changed this weekend, where Julien was a lock before the final round and continues the recent tradition of two Dutch players appearing in every Western Hemisphere Grand Prix (up from just one earlier in the season).

    Rasmus Sibast - Called "Big Oots" by pretty much everyone who knows him, this small child from Denmark is Taking Back Sunday's only European member. His first Grand Prix Top 8 appearance came at least partially via a scoop from roommate and teammate Gadiel Szleifer in Round 13.

    Edgar Leiva - This 24-year-old from Mexico City is a medical doctor. He has attended Pro Tours in Seattle and San Diego previously and is excited to now be qualified for Los Angeles as well.

    Almost all of the Top 8.

    Daniel Fior - Fior is a 19-year-old Venezualan who attended Worlds in both 2003 and 2004. He piloted his White Weenie deck to his first Grand Prix Top 8 here this weekend.

    Maximiliano Liprandi - Another Venezualan (the only two in the tournament both made the Top 8) Liprandi lost in the Top 8, but got a nice little breakers bump to move past Paul Rieztl, who finished an unfortunate 9th. Liprandi is an amateur and is guaranteed a hefty payday regardless of how the Top 8 goes. Fortunately for him, he also came in as the 8th seed meaning Postlethwait's gift victory delivers Liprandi directly into the Semifnals, letting him pass go and collect considerably more than $200.



     
  • Sunday, September 4: 7:10 pm - Semifinals - Maximiliano Liprandi vs. Julien Nuijten


  • Maximiliano Liprandi

    Maximiliano Liprandi is an 18-year-old Venezuelan amateur who received a free trip to the semifinals when number one seed Billy Postlethewait had to leave to catch his flight. He was actually one of two Venezuelans to make the Top 8 - the only two in the tournament in fact. His opponent mashed an identical decklist in the quarterfinals and is ready to do so again here in the semis. World Champion Julien Nuijten is just 16, but his play lately has been far more mature than his years, and thus far this weekend he's been almost unstoppable. I was giving him a hard time about well, falling on hard times at Salt Lake City, but he proved me wrong by finishing ninth there and then bettering that again this weekend. Julien is playing Dutch Gifts and is hoping to set up an all Dutch finals here in Mexico City, provided he and Frank Karsten can both keep up their ends of the bargain.

    Liprandi got out to a quick start with Lantern Kami and Eight-and-a-Half-Tails bearing down on the World Champ as of turn 2. Nuijten cast Kodama's Reach on turn 3, and then Meloku on turn 5, while Liprandi took advantage of Nuijten being tapped out to play Hokori, Dust Drinker. Unfortunately for Liprandi, Meloku changed names and became more like He Who Bars the Way, stifling any further beatings simply by being a 2/4 flying wall. Nuijten continued to play lands, while for his part, Liprandi used an Otherworldly Journey to gain a full untap step and a counter on his Hokori in addition to equipping 8.5 with a Manriki-Gusari.

    Now that he had two three-toughness men, Liprandi was able to push through a bit of damage, dropping Julien to 13, as all the young Dutchman did was continue to lay lands. Suddenly Umezawa's Jitte appeared on Liprandi's side of the board, forcing Julien into action. Gifts Ungiven delivered Kagemaro, First to Suffer and Hana Kami to his hand, sending Sickening Shoal and Wear Away to Julien's graveyard. Meloku blocked the heavily equipped fox and died when a Jitte counter finished him off. Nuijten was non-plussed by this turn of events. A second Meloku resided in his hand, and he now was able to get Kagemaro into play with a Swamp chilling in case some sacrificial mutilation was deemed necessary.

    Liprandi went into full attack mode on his turn, sending his entire team into the fray. Nuijten chose not to block here, though the play was an interesting one. With one counter on the Jitte and three lands open, even if Kagemaro blocked, he would not be able to kill 8.5 provided Liprandi wanted to use the last of them. Therefore Julien let the damage through, dropping to 6 and waiting to see what happened. Liprandi forced his hand by trying to move the Jitte to Hokori, clearing the board of everything but the wily fox cleric. Liprandi then ended his turn, but not before casting a Lantern Kami to keep the pressure on.

    Nuijten finally got a full untap and cast Meloku plus Hana Kami, sacrificing the Kami to get back Wear Away, which then dispatched the Jitte. Liprandi's next attack left Nuijten at 3, and the Venezuelan attempted to end things by throwing down another Hokori. Incredibly, Julien was not done. With Meloku and an illusion untapped for Julien and Liprandi now tapped out, Maximiliano could not field an effective attack without losing too much of his team. His luck ran out on the next turn when Nuijten finally drew a Sickening Shoal, which he used during Liprandi's turn to get rid of the spirit and earn another untap step before the Venezuelan. With actual mana, Nuijten wass able to summon a real army to work for him, winding up with a Sakura-Tribe Elder, Meloku, an illusion, and Ink-Eyes for Liprandi to and bypass.

    The pace of play became excruciatingly slow at this point - neither player wanted to make a mistake that would put then in an 0-1 hole. Sickening Shoal got rid of the last of Liprandi's team, but he summoned another 8.5 to keep Nuijten on the ropes. While Julien was using Top to see Gifts Ungiven on the top of his deck, the crowd erupted in a huge cheer when Edgar Leiva defeated Frank Karsten to keep Mexico's last hope alive. Shizo. Death's Storehouse let Ink-Eyes through to reanimate an 8.5 and keep Liprandi's men off the board. Maximiliano looked at one more card before conceding that he was defeated, sending the match to game 2. If Julien hadn't played Shizo and attacked with Ink-Eyes, he would have lost on the next turn.

    Nuijten 1 - Liprandi 0

    Liprandi got off to another quick start in game 2, casting Isamaru, Hand of Honor, and Lantern Kami on the first three turns, after which he was wrecked by Hideous Laughter. Liprandi just shrugged it off, throwing Hand of Honor and Isamari back on the board, plus a Pithing Needle naming Kagemaro. The aforementioned spirit hit play on Nuijten's turn and stopped any puppy beatings from taking place, while the Hand was able to squeeze past and drop Julien to 7, after which Liprandi cast his third Hand of the game. Over on Julien's side of the board, the situation was rapidly deteriorating. He held three Sickening Shoals and a Soulless Revival in hand, but at the moment had no way of dealing with the riders on the storm and their protection from black.

    Julian Nuijten

    Sickening Shoal splicing Soulless Revival targeting Isamaru and a dead Elder was partly foiled by Blessed Breath, and Julien dropped to 1 on Liprandi's next attack, further hampered by the fresh presence of Hokori, though honestly that just gave him a target for his Sickening Shoals. He was able to Gifts Ungiven for Wear Away, Rending Vines, Hideous Laughter and Ink-Eyes at the end of Liprandi's turn, receiving Rending Vines and Inky as his two cards. As predicted, Hokori went away on Liprandi's end step. Rending Vines got rid of the Needle, Kagemaro did his thing. Another Gifts Ungiven and a few attacks later, Julien Nuijten was off to the finals to face the home town hero.

    Just to note, Nuijten won game 1 at 2 life and game 2 at one life, exploiting razor thin margins for error to turn both games from losses into wins.

    Nuijten 2 - Liprandi 0


     
  • Sunday, September 4: 8:22 pm - Finals: Julien Nuijten vs. Edgar Leiva


  • The crowd was hyped.

    At the time the players arrived to battle for the Grand Prix--Mexico title, a huge crowd had already gathered around the table. There were no familiar American or European faces in there. About 50 Mexicans cheered for Edgar Leiva, playing White Weenie. World Champion Julien Nuijten had to pose for pictures and sign Magic cards along the way, but he eventually made his way to the table and started shuffling his Gifts deck. This matchup should favor Julien, but who knows what might happen; all spectators want hometown favorite Edgar to win. They showed that off with a huge cheer before the match even began. The head judge had to calm them down, demanding silence from the enthusiastic Mexians.

    Game 1

    Edgar won the die roll and naturally chose to play first. Both players had to mulligan, but their 6 card hands were fine. Edgar's had the turn 1 Isamaru, but unfortunately he didn´t find his second land before turn 3. He used that mana to play his second creature in Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Julien had the typical Gifts start: Sensei´s Divining Top and 2 Sakura-Tribe Elders. You know, the usual. When Julien tried to get rid of Isamuru by means of a double block, Edgar had a Shining Shoal ready.

    Next up was an Umezawa´s Jitte. Edgar equipped it to his Isamaru next turn, still being stuck on two lands. Julien answered that attack with a Gifts Ungiven. Edgar chose to put Wear Away and Kagemaro in the graveyard, so Julien got Sickening Shoal and Exile into Darkness in his hand. After pondering for a while, Julien chose not to use that Sickening Shoal to prevent Jitte from getting counters because the only black cards he had in his hand were Exile into Darkness and Goryo´s Vengeance. He didn´t want to lose those. With great cards in hand and 6 lands and a Top in play, Julien was looking in great shape.
    On his turn, he just played a Kodama´s Reach and passed the turn, ready to wreck Edgar with Goryo´s Vengeance. That´s exactly what happened. Edgar played a land, cast Manriki-Gusari, equipped it to his Isamaru and attacked. Julien reanimated his Kagemaro, blocked the heavily equipped Isamaru and sacrificed it with damage on the stack. That left Edgar with only two equipment in play and no beaters. Julien then put the nail in the coffin with Ink-Eyes. Two Exile into Darknesses later, the players were on to game 2.

    Edgar Leiva

    Julien 1 - Edgar 0

    The Mexican crowd showed to be very sportsmanlike, as huge applause erupted from it even though Julien won.

    Game 2

    Edgar kept his 7 carder, but Julien again went down to 6. Edgar was off to fast start, playing Isamaru, Samurai of the Pale Curtain and Manriki-Gusari (which was equipped to Isamaru right away) on the first three turns. Julien had Sensei´s Divining Top and Kodama´s Reach in the meantime.

    On his fourth turn, Edgar just attacked with his men and passed. He had creatures in his hand, but didn´t want to commit more to the board, clearly afraid of a mass removal spell like Hideous Laughter or Kagemaro. Julien had the latter and it took down Samurai of the Pale Curtain on the next attack. Edgar was then torn between two options. He could either cast more creatures to put on pressure on Julien, knowing that they would all get swept away by Kagemaro. Or he could keep his creatures in his hand, thereby not opening him up to Kagemaro, but it would give Julien too much time to find his key cards to take over the game. Edgar eventually opted to put Hand of Honor and Lantern Kami in play.

    Julien pushed his advantage by playing Gifts Ungiven for Goryo´s Vengeance, Exile into Darkness, Ink-Eyes and Pithing Needle. He got Exile and Needle in his hand.
    Julien popped his Kagemaro in Edgar´s upkeep. The Mexican saved his hand of Honor with Otherworldly Journey, but Julien shrugged it off as he simply used Death Denied at end of turn to get back his Kagemaro, Ink-Eyes and Sakura-Tribe Elder. That gave Julien another board sweeper and a win condition. Kagemaro blew up the world again and then Ink-Eyes hit play. Exile into Darkness got rid of potential blockers and a couple attacks later, Edgar extended his hand. Juliens great draws meant that Edgar couldn´t keep the trophy in his home country.

    The Grand Prix Mexico City and World Champion takes a victory lap!

    Julien 2 - Edgar 0

    Julien Nuijten is the Grand Prix--Mexico champion! He crowdsurfed to celebrate his victory and then had to spend the next hour to sign cards, pose for pictures with his adoring fans. The Mexicans love a winner. It was crazy, the fans just kept on coming. The Mexicans surely want to get the most out of their only chance to see him.

    "That was the last picture! I've already done so many! Please go to Edgar!"

    After some encouragement from the magicthegathering.com staff, he eventually sat down and faced the ever-growing horde of Mexicans who wanted to get autographs again. Mexico was a fascinating experience.

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