With decisive victories in the semifinals and the finals, bolstered by Iroas, God of Victory himself, the Brazilian team of Guilherme Merjan, Tulio Jaudy, and Carlos Alexandre Dos Santos Esteves (better known to MTGO fans as _Batutinha) took the top prize at Grand Prix São Paulo last weekend. They bested superteams like Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa/Edel/Abe, who finished in 28th, and the American team of traveling grinders Bulnes/Berrios/Farnung who made the top 4 before falling to the eventual champions.
With the win by the boys from Brazil, the World Cup favorites also collectively get their thirteenth Grand Prix title, which still has them in eighth just behind Australia's 14 and a few more behind overall leader United States' 112. Interestingly, it's been over a month without an American GP champ... but we do have the defending Pro Tour champion, so that counts for something.
The format, Team Sealed, has proven to be one of the most popular. 315 teams, made up of 945 players, showed up in São Paulo to battle for the prize. Since the format's reintroduction, Team Sealed been one of Magic's best resurrection stories short of Jarad, Lich Lord. Combine the popularity of Theros block limited to the mix and you have a potent concoction that lead to the big turnout, bigger even than Grand Prix Buenos Aires a few months ago by about a hundred people. It seems people's devotion to Team Limited is strong!
One of the biggest differences between regular Sealed and Team Sealed is the prevalence of aggro decks... and the necessary answers to them. With so many more packs being opened per team, that many more Oreskos Sun Guides, Swordwise Centaurs and Deathbellow Raiders will be coming into the red zone early. Some of the Day 1 8-0 teams, such as Berthoud/Cortez/Perez, all had aggro decks of various types! That's a marked difference between this past PTQ season's format, where one might expect games to be a bit more sluggish.
This win is a crowning achievement for Merjan, Jaudy, and _Batutinha. Jaudy was unable to attend the last Pro Tour due to visa troubles and he does not yet know whether that invite will pass down. _Batutinha has been a force to be reckoned with for years on MTGO, and this next PT is another chance to move out of the ranks of online grinder and into the ranks of Magic pro, like Reid Duke and Brad Nelson before him. We'll have to see how these gentlemen fair in Portland, as Theros block limited will have long since cycled out of the minds of Magic players by that point.
Congratulations to Guilherme Merjan, Tulio Jaudy, and Carlos Alexandre Dos Santos Esteves, the 2014 champions of Grand Prix São Paulo!