The first round of the StarCityGames.com Invitational saw Gerald Freas and John Cuvelier squaring off against one another. Cuvelier was a consistent Top 8 finisher during the StarCityGames.com Open series regular season, and was hoping to cap that experience with another run to the final Top 8. His opponent wasn't going to let that happen without a fight, however.
The two had lands early on, Freas representing green-red Valakut while his opponent had only Islands, casting two Preordains before finding a Plains. Luminarch Ascension was the first non-land permanent to the battlefield, entering play for John's blue-white control deck. When his opponent attempted to keep it free of counters by activating and attacking with Raging Ravine, Cuvelier was ready with a Tectonic Edge to kill the creature-land.
Lightning Bolt allowed Freas to keep the Ascension on a single counter, but he began losing ground to his opponent who cast Wall of Omens to shore up his defenses, then Spreading Seas to shut down his opponent's Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Gerald had a plan, however, casting a Primeval Titan. When that was countered with Mana Leak, he was able to resolve a Summoning Trap for free. That found him a copy of the 6/6 anyway, and he used it to hunt up two replacement Valakuts. With a Khalni Heart Expedition on the battlefield he was threatening to turn the tides in his favor if John didn't have a big play to make up for the resolved Trap.
A second Spreading Seas allowed Cuvelier to answer another of his opponent's Valakuts, and Day of Judgment took out the Titan. After a turn had passed, John used a Tectonic Edge to take out his opponent's final on-board copy of Valakut, but in response Gerald used a Khalni Heart Expedition and Terramorphic Expanse to nail his opponent for 9 damage.
It was all for nothing, however, as Gerald cast a second Summoning Trap, catching John without any counterspells. That allowed him a second copy of Primeval Titan, which fetched him his final Valakut as well as a Mountain. That dropped John to 3 life, and when Gerald revealed another Mountain in his hand for his land drop that turn, Cuvelier conceded.
Gerald Freas 1, John Cuvelier 0
Before the second game had even begun, John Cuvelier had himself his first spell of the game: Leyline of Sanctity which had appeared in his opening hand. He followed that up with Spreading Seas for a first-turn Valakut from Gerald, then a Preordain to dig for some more action. And boy did it! None other than Jace, the Mind Sculptor hit the battlefield for John's deck, and he used it to fate seal his opponent.
Gerald fired back with a four-drop card advantage engine of his own: Oracle of Mul Daya. It netted him a free Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle from the top of his library, but Gideon Jura from John was a solid answer. Haymaker after haymaker hit for the two players, Freas answering Gideon with a Primeval Titan that sought up two more Valakuts.
Day of Judgment hit for John, wiping out his opponent's Oracle and Titan, and the control player felt the coast was clear enough to begin attacking with his Gideon. Gerald simply fired back by casting Avenger of Zendikar, using Ricochet Trap to "counter" his opponent's attempt at Mana Leak. He then played Terramorphic Expanse, threatening to pump his team +2/+2 on a whim. With eight Plant tokens generated in addition to the Avenger being a 5/5 itself, John needed a solution and fast.
To that end, he cast Spreading Seas on his own turn, then used his Jace to Brainstorm. Neither of those found him the solution he wanted, so he cast Preordain to clear the top of his library in order to try again. That didn't work either, and he was forced to increment his Gideon in the hopes of Fogging for a turn. The ploy worked, and a rampaging horde of green creatures walloped Jura for far more than lethal.
Cuvelier had a turn to find Day of Judgment or another Gideon Jura or he was dead. He drew for the turn, but didn't find either. That left him with Jace, and he used the zero loyalty ability to Brainstorm. However, he didn't play either card that could save him, passing instead, and when Gerald attacked the following turn John nodded his head and extended his hand.
Gerald Freas 2, John Cuvelier 0