Carlos Romão defeated Autumn Burchett 2-1 on Saturday to win the Pearl Division in the Magic Pro League’s Core Split. As the division winner, Romão will advance directly into Day 2 of Mythic Championship V in October.

Romão finished the Pearl Division’s round robin portion with a record of 5-2 with Orzhov Vampires. He had the choice to switch decks for the Top 4 double-elimination bracket but decided to stick with Orzhov Vampires.

Top 4 bracket for the Pearl Division in the MPL’s Core Split

As the second seed, he started the Top 4 in the upper bracket, meaning he only had to defeat the top-seeded Márcio Carvalho in an Orzhov Vampires mirror to move onto the Pearl Division’s Grand Finals. Romão won the match 2-0, showing off how powerful Vona, Butcher of Magan is in the mirror.

Burchett, on the other hand, had a more difficult road to the finals since they finished the round robin portion at 4-3 and in fourth place, putting them in the lower bracket for the Top 4. Burchett, who changed to Mono-Red for the Top 4 after playing Orzhov Vampires in the round robin rounds, had their first match against the third seed Andrew Cuneo, who was playing Boros Feather. Burchett had a rough start to the match and lost Game 1 to mana screw but they were able to come back during the sideboarded games and take down the match.

Their second match was against Márcio Carvalho, who had dropped to the lower bracket after losing to Carlos Romão. The Mono-Red deck generally has a positive matchup vs the Vampire deck, which is presumably why Burchett chose the deck. Everything went right for them and they defeated Carvalho 2-0, advancing to face Carlos Romão in the Grand Finals.

The Pearl Division Grand Finals

Game 1 of the Grand Finals began with Romão on a mull to six and a Turn 1 Knight of the Ebon Legion. Burchett played a Turn 1 Ghitu Lavarunner followed up by an Ember Hauler on their next turn. A pumped-up Knight killed the Lavarunner in combat and Burchett sacrificed their Ember Hauler finish off the Knight while Romão was tapped out.

On their turn, Burchett untapped and played a second Ember Hauler while Romão responded with a Legion’s Landing plus a Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and used Sorin’s +1 to sacrifice the Vampire token and kill Burchett’s second Ember Hauler. Burchett got back on the board with a Goblin Chainwhirler and a Fanatical Firebrand and sent the Firebrand to start whittling away at Sorin.

Romão then played a Vicious Conquistador and immediately sacrificed it to Sorin’s +1 to get the Chainwhirler off the table. Burchett continued to pressure the Sorin by attacking with the Firebrand and then playing another Ghitu Lavarunner and a Goblin Chainwhirler.

Romão deployed one of the best cards in the matchup, his one-of Vona, Butcher of Magan, and started to use Sorin’s other +1 to make the Vampire bigger. Burchett also played the best card in their deck, Experimental Frenzy, but Romão had the on-board answer and used Vona’s activated ability on his turn to destroy the Frenzy. Vona, which is already a large creature, also has lifelink, one of the most powerful abilities against a Red deck. She eventually became a 7/7 while destroying non-land permanents every turn, and Burchett’s Mono-Red deck just couldn’t keep up.

Vona, Butcher of Magan by Volkan Baga

Given the nature of a double-elimination bracket, Romão only had to win one more game in order to become the Pearl Division winner. Burchett, on the other hand, would not only have to win two games in a row to take the match but the would also have to win a second match in order to win the division.

In Game 2, Burchett started with a Fanatical Firebrand while Romão played a Legion’s Landing on his first turn. Autumn followed up with a Runaway Steam-Kin while Romão got aggressive and attacked with the Vampire token to try and get some damage in while gaining some life thanks to the token’s lifelink ability. But Burchett sacrificed Firebrand is sacrificed to kill the attacking token so Romão wouldn’t gain the one life.

Burchett untapped and played an Ember Hauler, putting a counter on Steamkin, and attacked with the Steamkin. Romão only played a land on his turn and passed, holding up Mortify, which targets the Steamkin. But thanks to the Ember Hauler attacking and dealing damage to Romão, Burchett played a Light up the Stage, revealing a second Light up the Stage and a Lava Coil, with the second Light up the Stage finding a land and a Fanatical Firebrand, both of which they could play. After casting three spells and drawing four cards in a single turn, Burchett was in an excellent position to take Game 2.

Romão could only play a land and pass the turn once again, not wanting the Sanctum Seeker in his hand to die to the revealed Lava Coil and falling further behind in the process. Burchett attacked with all their creatures and then followed up with an Experimental Frenzy, potentially putting the game away, but Romão had second Mortify in hand to take care of Burchett’s powerful enchantment. With the revealed Lava Coil now exiled, Romão played out his Sanctum Seeker, but Burchett had another Lava Coil in hand the whole time, allowing them to kill the Sanctum Seeker and attack to keep the pressure on Romão, eventually burning him out.

Light up the Stage by Dmitry Burmak

Romão again mulliganed to six in Game 3, while Burchett kept seven—but with four lands. Romão opened with a tapland while Burchett began with a Fanatical Firebrand. Romão played an off-curve Knight of Ebon Legion on Turn 2, as well as a Vicious Conquistador. Burchett played a Runaway Steamkin on their Turn 2 but was unable to attack and passed the turn.

Carlos untapped and targeted the Steamkin with Legion’s End, an excellent addition to the Vampires deck from Core Set 2020. Burchett then killed the Knight with Goblin Chainwhirler doing one damage and using the Firebrand to finish the job.

But Romão played Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and Vicious Conquistador on his next turn, and, instead of sacrificing the Vampire to kill the Chainwhirler as expected, he used Sorin’s the other +1 ability to make the Vampire larger. Burchett began pressuring the Sorin, forcing them to cast Light up the Stage for its full mana cost, which only revealed two Mountains.

Romão drew a Ravenous Chupacabra, which came out of his sideboard, and killed the Chainwhirler, allowing Sorin is plus again on Conquistador and start attacking. Burchett cast an Experimental Frenzy on their turn, but the top of their library couldn’t deliver. Romão continued to beat down and won Game 3 on the back of a large Vicious Conquistador, making him the Pearl Division winner.

The Magic Pro League’s Emerald Division is up next in the Core Split. They will play their round robin matches on August 12-14, with the Top 4 bracket airing on MPL Weekly at on August 17.


Carlos Romão's Standard Orzhov Vampires

Creatures (25)
Adanto Vanguard
Champion of Dusk
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Legion Lieutenant
Vicious Conquistador
Skymarcher Aspirant
Sanctum Seeker
Vona, Butcher of Magan

Spells (4)
Legion’s End

Enchantments (4)
Legion’s Landing

Planeswalkers (5)
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Lands (22)
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel

Sideboard (15)
Legion’s End
Noxious Grasp
Gideon Blackblade
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Ravenous Chupacabra

Autumn Burchett's Standard Mono-Red Aggro

Creatures (20)
Fanatical Firebrand
Ghitu Lavarunner
Ember Hauler
Goblin Chainwhirler
Runaway Steam-Kin

Spells (14)
Light Up the Stage
Skewer the Critics
Lightning Strike

Enchantments (4)
Experimental Frenzy

Planeswalkers (2)
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Lands (20)
20 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Lava Coil
Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
Chandra’s Spitfire

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