Sunday, Oct 15: 10:12 a.m. - Quick Questions Again!
What's the best Time Spiral Common in Draft?
Sunday, Oct 15: 11:07 a.m. - The Race For Points
by Hanno Terbuyken
Day two has just begun, and it's a day of decision for the many pro players looking for extra pro points. For example, Raphael Levy has publicly declared that he wants to reach Players Club level five at Worlds, and this weekend is yet another step towards that goal. With his current standing of 28 points (before this GP), he has high hopes of actually reaching his goal. Looking at Antoine Ruel, Raphael claimed that it would be easy: "You just need to Top 8 a Pro Tour!"
Bernardo de Costa Cabral
Every ten pro points, you level up in the Players Club. For level 5, you need 40 points, so Raphael has to pick up just 12 more - and four of those are locked in when he attends PT Kobe and Worlds. The same goes for Antoine Ruel, also trying to reach level 5. He has 25 pro points, and both French players will attend the remaining Grand Prix in Yamagata and New Jersey, and of course Worlds and PT Kobe.
Craig Jones, on 26 pro points, had this to say: "I'm locked for level 4, but if I can pick up four or five points from here and PT Kobe, I might go to New York. Level 5 is probably worth the expense!" Portugese pro Tiago Chan also tries to figure out if the math works out right: "When I was level 3, I tried to make mathematically sure that I would get to level 4 as fast as possible. I haven't really thought about level 5, but on monday I'll do the calculations for that." Tiago currently has 25 points.
It's not only the higher level the players aspire to, though. Bram Snepvangers has 17 points and is locked for level 3 with PT Kobe and Worlds. The Dutchman wasn't sure if he would actively try to get to level 4 this season. But Englishman Martin Dingler gave him a good reason to do it: "Every point I get now makes leveling up easier in the next season."
Travelling to Kobe and Paris is worth it just for the 4 guaranteed points. Bernardo de Costa Cabral, currently 11 points and a member of the Belgian national team: "I'm definitely going to try to pick up some extra team points in Paris." And German Rookie-race leader Sebastian Aljiaj is a virtual lock for level 4: He has 20 points now, and if he makes Top 8 at this GP, the four "safe" points might just push Sebastian up one step closer to the hallowed halls of Magic, the elusive Players Club level 6.
Sunday, Oct 15: 11:38 a.m. - Draft 1: Over The Rookie's Shoulders
by Maximilian Bracht
Hi, this is Maximilian Bracht. I'm going to do some coverage of a younger German fellow, Sebastian Aljiaj. He is a 19-year-old guy from Bavaria, the leader of the Rookie of the Year race and made level 3 in the Pro Players club today, after already qualifying for PT Kobe with a Top 8 finish at PT Charleston when he was teaming up with David Brucker and Helmut Summersberger. Additionally he is said to be the best German drafter (we had some testing seassions in Germany with some gravy trainers and PTQ-Kobe-winners and Sebastian won nearly all of them), so let's take a look how the draft was going for him...
In the first booster a Crookclaw Transmuter showed up for Sebastian and he took it, passing Dark Withering and a Triskelavus. His neighbour to the right, Bram Snepvangers, did open a Firemaw Kavu passing a pack with only Errant Ephemeron to Sebastian, so it seemed to be clear that blue would be open; there could MAYBE only be one blue uncommon to pick over the tough 4/4 guy in my opinion (with only one uncommons missing in the pack).
Sebastian didn't really pass any good cards to the left, but the draft for himself was going well. Bram was going for G/W/r, after recieving a later Greenseeker and a Tromp the Domains, so all blue and black was shipped over to Sebastian. He recieved a Tendrils of Corruption and a Gorgon Recluse and decided to go into black. After the first booster his blue based deck seemed quite solid, so did Bram´s but the deck of Sebastian's left neighbour only had two good cards with many nearly unplayable cards.
In the second pack a Master Breeder was taken over Void, Celestial Crusader and Snapback. The remaining picks in that pack seemed obvious for someone that already was deep in U/B. The last booster was quite amazing with revealing Ancestral Vision, Fledgling Mawcor, Strangling Soot and Fathom Seer. Sebasian took the Soot and was passed another. Luckily for him Bram needed a color fixer later in that pack and took a Gemhide Sliver over Stronghold Overseer. A semi-late Prismatic Lens gave him good opportunities for the following three rounds.
GP Athens Draft 1
Sunday, Oct 15: 11:50 a.m. - Drafting Like A Hall-of-Famer
by Gis Hoogendijk
Tommi Hovi opened his pick and quickly flicked through his pack, putting a Stormcloud Djinn to the front. The other card he seemed to vaguely consider was a Stonewood Invocation. The next pack offered the choice between a Mindless Automaton and Fledgling Mawcor, the pinger was put in his pile. A Sporesower Thallid wasn't a convincing argument for Tommi to settle on a second colour because there also was an Errant Ephemeron, which he gladly picked up. The next booster he needed decide on his second colour and he got a Momentary Blink followed by an Amrou Seekers that really helped him with that decision. He got a Wipe Away, Benalish Cavalry and some filler cards to round out the first pack.
The second pack had a Looter il-Kor staring at him which he kept at the top of his pack. He read Lim-Dûl the Necromancer, but he was not impressed and went for the shadow guy. He picked Ivory Giant second over Jedit's Dragoons and Slipstream Serpent. Back-to-back Fathom Seers gave his deck some card drawing. At this point there were not a whole lot of cards coming in his colours, as the person feeding him was also U/W. The second pack netted him a Spiketail Drakeling, Tolarian Sentinel and a Flickering Spirit, but in the end the packs were without any cards in his colours what so ever.
The final booster gave him a Willbender to get some old school flavour in his deck. He followed with his second Amrou Seekers and a Fortify to give him a combat trick. He also picked up a second Errant Doomsayer and another Momentary Blink to round out his deck:
GP Athens Draft 1
Sunday, Oct 15: 12:37 p.m. - Round 10: Flash Wurms Impeded by Heavy Breeding
by Hanno Terbuyken
The current leader in the Rookie of the Year race, Sebastian Aljiaij from Germany, met Dutch GP veteran Bram Snepvangers. Sebastian was especially content with his deck, saying that 3-0 was clearly in reach for him. The extra points he can pick up at this GP will bolster his Rookie lead, and he is looking for every extra pro point to ascend to Players Club level 4.
A relaxed rookie routing his opponent.
Bram won the die roll, chose to play and started off with a mulligan. He was fast to keep his second hand, and it had a suspended Durkwood Baloth on turn one, a strong opening indeed. Sebastian answered with a turn-two Errant Ephemeron, and the battle of the Suspenders was on! Take a counter off here, take a counter off there, was the tune of the match, while both players developed their mana and Bram lent out some dice to Sebastian.
Bram decided to put some juice into the match and attacked with the only non-land permanent on the board, his Greenseeker. Sebastian flashed Crookclaw Transmuter, but Bram had the instantly playable Temporal Isolation for the surprise blocker. The match started flowing: Sebastian had Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, Bram had his Baloth come into play and summoned Castle Raptors to his side.
When the Ephemeron, a seven-mana beast, came out of the rift on Sebastian's next turn, the German moved to sacrifice his Endrek Sahr and put seven Thrulls into play. Bram hesitated for a moment, read the Master Breeder and then realized that the trick actually worked. Sebastian ended up with a 4/4 flier, a dead Breader and seven 1/1 Thrulls, which could have provided a near infinite supply of chump blockers for the German.
They were not for long though, because Sebastian blocked Bram's oncoming Baloth with all Tokens and his Ephemeron! He apparently feared some kind of combat trick, but Bram was confdent with just killing five tokens. and putting his Baloth into his graveyard. Sebastian had an end-of-turn Snapback for his enchanted Crookclaw Transmuter, replayed it targetting Castel Raptors, and then used Strangling Soot to kill the defensive flier. His Ephemeron came through unimpeded and life totals evened out at 14 each.
Bram had similar firepower available: He pulled Firemaw Kavu and dispatched the Crookclaw on the way in, the Ephemeron on the way out. He chose not to kill Sebastian's new morph, which came in for two and stayed mysterious. Both players played very precisely in this match, deliberately tapping their mana and communicating clearly what their intents were.
Sebastian made a move to tap six mana, leaving open two Swamps, but instead shook his head and made yet another mystery man. Bram had no play other than thinning Forests out of his libraray with Greenseeker. But when Sebastian attacked, he was surprised by Green's best combat trick: Havenwood Wurm. The gigantic Flasher came into play and blocked Moprh #1, but fell victim to a Sudden Death from Sebastian. The unblocked morph and the last Thrull took Bram down to 4.
Sebastian, at 14 life, had still not unmorphed his face-down men. Bram said "go", thinking that Sebastian's token was still untapped, but when Sebastian corrected him, the Dutchman still declined to attack. His newly cast Mangara of Corondor fell victim to a flashbacked Strangling Soot, Sebastian unmorphed Brine Elemental and that was Game 1 for the German!
Sebastian went to shuffle up for game 2, but Bram reached for the result slip. The Dutchman believed he had been issued a game loss for being late at the feature match table! He was mistaken, as the judge present confirmed after checking the records, so on to the next game in the match.
Sebastian Aljiaij 1 - 0 Bram Snepvangers
The old-timer was blown out by the rash rookie rabble.
The Dutchman played first, but Sebastian had the first pressure of the match with a Skulking Knight. The 3/3 Flanker has received different evaluations over the weekend, but Sebastian said it's a solid creature and most early drops can't deal with it anyway, or the spells that kill it would do so regardless of the ability. Bram had Castle Raptors and Greenseeker, but when Sebastian made Endrek Sahr again and followed that up with Stronghold Overseer, Bram looked troubled.
The Dutchie had Temporal Isolation for the 5/5 Shadow flier and a Havenwood Wurm flashing in to block the next attack. Castle Raptors killed the Knight, Havenwood Wurm killed Endrek Sahr, but Sebastian had Crookclaw Transmuter with damage on the stack, giving him four more 1/1 Thrulls. Bram had already fallen to five life, and the little army of 1/1 Thrulls finished the Dutchie in short order.
Sebastian Aljiaij 2 - 0 Bram Snepvangers
After the match, Bram told me that he had kept a hand of Castle Raptors, Havenwood Wurm and five lands with all his colors. "It's not a very good hand, but solid, and the Wurm is very acceptable in your opening hand if you have five lands," commented Bram. But against the monster start Sebastian brought to the table in Game 2, the Dutchman had no fight.
Sunday, Oct 15: 1:22 p.m. - Round 11: Sexy Giant Takes Spanking, Japanese Style
by Frank Karsten
Hi, this is Frank Karsten reporting from the feature match area. Yesterday I got the best Sealed deck ever, proceeded to lose 2 matches nevertheless, eventually missing day 2 on tiebreakers by a hair. Quite rough, but you'll just have to accept those things happen and move on. I just entered the site a couple minutes ago and saw two giants sitting down in the feature match area: Shuuhei Nakamura (one of Japanese's best) and Jose Barbero (sexy).
The start of the match was delayed for a while because JoseB counted 41 cards in his deck. He eventually discovered a stray Grapeshot that should not be in there. They quickly found out that it should belong to JoseB's last round opponent. That guy actually got a game loss for deck misregistration last round against JoseB, and now he got a 39 card deck for this round. Unreal. Perhaps that player took the saying "Ship it to JoseBeeee!" a bit too literally.
Shuuhei had a white-blue deck, and Jose played red and black. Shuuhei had the first play in a morph, which Jose answered with Blazing Blade Askari. Jose did not dare to block Shuuhei's morph, even though that play might be questionable. White/Blue's common morphs are Coral Trickster, Slipstream Serpent, and Fantom Seer. If it's one of the former two, then a block should be right. If it's the latter, then you are actually happy if your opponent returns two lands back to his hand on turn four and gets a huge tempo downswing. After the game, Jose told me that he just wanted to be aggressive and attack, so that's why he didn't block. Fair enough.
Enough morph strategic talk, back to the game at hand. Shuuhei then played Watcher Sliver and didn't dare to block Jose's incoming flanker either, fearing a Grapeshot or something along those lines. JoseB then spent his next two turns on Flamecore Elemental's mana and echo cost, while Shuuhei developed his board with Essence Sliver and Cavalry Master in the meantime. Then Jose added a Coal Stoker to the board, sinking the mana into Blazing Blade Askari, and Shuuhei cast Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. However, no one appeared to attack for a while as the board went into creature stall mode.
Something finally happened when Shuuhei saw a way to break though the stall by attacking with his Cavalry Master - the only creature of his that could attack into Flamecore Elemental. Jose didn't block. On the subsequent turn, Jose took a stab at Shuuhei's hand of four cards with Mindstab, nagging Knight of the Holy Nimbus, Pentarch Paladin and Flickering Spirit. Shuuhei discarded so many good cards, that the last card in his hand was bound to be extremely good. And it was.
Psionic Sliver came down at end of turn (courtesy of Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir), which combo'ed very nicely with Watcher Sliver and Essence Sliver. Shuuhei tapped two of his Slivers, shooting down Flamecore Elemental, and gaining ten life (yes that's how Essence Sliver works). His Slivers didn't even die because of Watcher Sliver. Woooow. Soon enough, Jose's board was completely empty and he scooped it up.
Shuuhei 1 - JoseB 0
JoseB played first, but had to mulligan to 5. He made up for his lack of cards somewhat by by suspending Mindstab on turn 1. But it was all for naught, since this game was about to be a complete and utter blowout. Shuuhei had the ridiculous start of turn 2 Knight of the Holy Nimbus, turn 3 Griffin Guide. What? Are we playing Standard here? I'm only missing the turn 1 Savannah Lions in there. I am not even going to tell you about the spells Jose cast, because they were completely irrelevant as JoseB was drawing dead from the start. Nope, he did not beat a turn 3 indestructible 4/4 flyer.
Shuuhei 2 - JoseB 0
Sunday, Oct 15: 1:40 p.m. - Round 11: Marcio Carvalho vs. Sam Gomersall
by Maximilian Bracht
Sam Gomersall, bewildered Brit extraordinaire.
Sam's going first and is fine with his hand, but Marcio wasn't and hoped for six better cards. But he didn't look too happy with his new hand… and Sam just opened the game with Thelon of Havenwood. It was being destroyed by a freshly drawn Orcish Cannonade. Marcio's turn 2 drop was trading against some removal, and Marcio's 4-drop was later trading against Sam's five drop. Jasmine Boreal was trying to do some good job for Marcio, while both guys played a Wormwood Dryad. Sam summoned the almighty Jolrael with already 5 lands and one Lens in play. They were just attacking each other and stocking up their creature count a little bit…
Sam seemed to be thinking about discarding two cards and saccing one land to get rid of Jasmine at only eight life, but then it turned out that he was going to discard TWO Dark Withering, after which the board was in Sam's favour again. Sam just had to wait one more turn to have 2 hand cards again to use the overwhelming power of Jolrael to take the first game down.
Marcio Carvalho 0 - 1 Sam Gommersall
Marcio was getting a bad hand again but decided to keep it with only two mountains in a mainly green-white deck. Sam only kept one Swamp and had to discard two cards until drawing a Swamp, followed by a Lens and a Forest. Marcio had drawn his Lens, too, and his Keldon Halberdier who was suspended on turn 2 just hasted into the red zone. Scryb Ranger and a 2/2 Sliver were joining the lonely warrior on Marcio's side, while Sam seemed to be a bit stuck with only a 2/2 black Sliver and the 2/1 regenerate guy. Marcio was trying to mess it up a little bit by an attacking Scryb Ranger, not noticing that Sam's Sliver was be able to block it due Marcio's own Spinneret Sliver. Fair trade!
'Come on, get your wiggle on!'
Jasmine Boreal was going to join Marcio's team again. She was traded against Sam's Sliver in a big creature fight and Marcio was able to cast his Might Sliver without having any disadvantage right now. Sam was down to 4 life and Mario had three creatures with combined 12 points of power. Sam was able to cast two more small guys, one of them being a Gemhide Sliver and in the next turn Marcio just sent everything in, trading the two Slivers of him against three of Sam's monsters. Sam got a spider token and a Treefolk while Marcio topdecked the 3/1 Forestwalker to take Sam down to 1. Altough Sam got an active Jolrael on his side, he was forced to scoop them up.
Marcio Carvalho 1 - 1 Sam Gommersall
Marcio was going down to 6 again but this time his hand seemed to be pretty solid with a turn one suspended warrior followed by an Ashcoat Bear, trading with Sam's Basal Sliver. Finally the Halberdier became active but at that point of the game Sam already had a Faceless Butcher with a Treefolk under it. Marcio really seemed to like his Scryb Ranger after attacking it into a blocker again, this time into a Spider. At least he got two Wormwood Dryads out and Sam was unable to start the beatdown against this unfair first-striking guy. The only problem for Marcio was that he had just one Forest in play for both Dryads, so he was able to attack with only one of them each turn. Sam was already down to 8 life. Gemhide and Might Sliver joined Sam's team, but it didn't really look helpful: Marcio was still sitting down on about 15 life. Lightning Axe with a Fiery Temper for two mana on both Gemhide Sliver and to Sam's dome made Marcio win this game, while Sam was stuck on two Dark Witherings with only five mana.
Marcio Carvalho 2 - 1 Sam Gomersall
Sunday, Oct 15: 2:33 p.m. - Round 12: Ricardo Ramiao vs. Tiago Chan
by Hanno Terbuyken
It's a Portugese pile-up! Both Ricardo Ramiao and Tiago Chan from Portugal have 27 points and are looking to secure a spot in the Top 8. The winner of this match would have a great shot, while the loser had his work cut out for him in the last two rounds.
Ricardo opened with a mulligsn and a Thallid Shell-Dweller, while Tiago had the solid Flowstone Chaneller, held back by the Fungus wall. Tiago brought a veritable bomb in the right deck to the table: His Cavalry Master threatened to becamse a real nuisance once Tiao's red/white-deck got under way and found some flanking troopers.
ricardo had Scarwood Treefolk, big enough to hold off the smaller creatures. However, Tiago relentlessly put pressure on with Gustcloak Cavalier - already quite good, but in concert with the Cavalry Master a deadly duet. To prevent the a jolly tap-dance through the combat phase, ricardo had Sudden Shock on the Cavalier and bolstered his defense with Mogg War Marshal. Against Flankers, the Marshal and his little minions are rather ineffective, but ricardo's board went to pieces anyway when Tiago had double Coal Stoker followed by Orcish Cannonade in the same turn.
When Tiago fired a five-mana Conflagrate at ricardo's board and attacked, he looked confident. But ricardo was not without an ace up his sleeve: Hail Storm evened the board at Cavalry Master for Tiago versus a Goblin Token. Tiago proceeded to make Ib Halfheart and attacked, with his hopes high again. Raimro pulled out his second ace: Havenwood Wurm flashed up. Tiago contemplated using Lightning Axe on the animal, hoping that ricardo would maybe block the flanker. He didn't, and Ib Halfheart had to bite the dust along with the big Wurm.
But the big Wurm had been ricardo's last trump. Tiago's Cavalry Master did the dirty work, and Tiago finished ricardo with a Rift Bolt to the head.
Ricardo Ramiao 0 - 1 Tiago Chan
This time, on the draw again, it was Tiago's turn to travel to the French capital. Amrou Seekers from him marked the first ply of the match and promised an aggressive game. Cavalry Master came down again. ricardo surprised Tiago when he went aggressive with his Greenseeker, telegraphing a combat trick. Nevertheless, Tiago blocked and promptly lost his Cavalry Master to Might of Old Krosa. ricardo aimed for Treshold with Mystic Enforcer and offered another Timeshifted bomb with Jolrael, Empress of Beasts.
Pressed for defense, Tiago played Coal Stoker and burned for three, going down to 14 life to ricardo's 16. ricardo discarded Mogg War Marshal and Conflagrate to his Empress of Beasts, animated three lands to take Tiago to five. Sudden Shock and a Thresholded attack with the now flying Mystic Enforcer took Tiago down.
Ricardo Ramiao 1 - 1 Tiago Chan
The two Portugese pals had just seven minutes left to finish Game 3 and shuffled up in a hurry, Tiago siding in one card. That was most likely another removal spell to help Tiago deal with ricardo's Timeshifted power cards.
Ricardo's decision wether to mulligan or not appeared to be a difficult one, but in the end he did take that trip to Paris without which no game in this match could proceed. He kept a one-land hand with Forest and Search for Tomorrow, and got lucky by topdecking the second land (Mountain). This enabled the red spells in his hand to become active, and the Search brought him his third color with a Plains.
Still, on three lands, Ricardo had no play. Tiago offereed Basalt Gargoyle, but Ricardo just waited unil Echo was paid to dispatch the creature with Sudden Shock. Mystic Enforcer gave him some potential punch, but Tiago had his own Timeshifted animal to set against the 3/3 with Treshold: Dragon Whelp.
Ricardo fired an Orcish cannonade at the little Dragon to draw a card and get closer to Treshold, and the Dragon dies in combat with Greenseeker. Tiago stared down Coal Stoker and Mystic Enforcer, having six mana in play. Did that mean he had an answer up his sleeve? It did, and none other than bogardan rager took out the Mystic Enforcer before giving his life to Ricardo's Assault.
Tiago went with Flamecore Elemental, but Ricardo again trumped him with Jolrael, Empress of Beasts. Verdant Embrace puped up Ricardo's Coal Stoker and Tiago went to 7, now hard-pressed for an answer. His full grip offered Rift Bolt to kill Jolrael and Pentarch Ward to make the Embrace fall off, enough for the moment to stave off the beats.
Tiago chained Coal Stoker into Amrou Seekers and Lightning Axe, killing Ricardo's Keldon Halberdiers. Time was called and Tiago had three turns to battle through Ricardo's defensive shield. Griffin Guide on Flamecore Elemental was good, and the new flier and the evasion on Amrou Seekers dealt 7 to Ricardo, now down to eight.
Ricardo cracked back with Coal Stoker, Flash Bears and a Saproling, trading for Tiago's ground beaters and dealing one damage with the little sprout. Realizing he would lose on exactly the last extra turn, Ricardo extended the hand, and Tiago took the match!
Ricardo Ramiao 1 - 2 Tiago Chan
Sunday, Oct 15: 2:52 p.m. - Round 12: Paint It Black
by Frank Karsten
When I was walking around the deck construction tables, Kenji's deck stood out. I noticed he drafted a mono black deck. This awesome feat deserved a feature match. He is now up against David Reitbauer from Austria, who also has quite a special deck. He is almost nearly mono-red with two Gauntlet of Power. We're in for a battle of colors.
David won the die roll and just played Mountains and an Ironclaw Buzzardiers on his first couple turns. Kenji suspended two Corpulent Corpses over the course of his first two turns (such Corpses) and then cast Trespasser il-Vec. The two three-drops exchanged some blows. Kenji's creature was hitting harder, but not for long. David cast Gauntlet of Power, not only beefing up his Ironclaw Buzzardiers, but also giving him an overload of mana. Next turn, he set out to use that mana and started with Firemaw Kavu. Kenji still hadn't played another creature in the meantime (he had a hand full of removal spells), so David just destroyed the Trespasser il-Vec.
However, David might have been better off keeping the Firemaw Kavu in his hand for a while, because it was bound to backfire against a black deck full of removal. David followed up the Kavu with a Ghostflame Sliver, but Kenji responded by playing Tendrils of Corruption (quite a good card in a mono black deck, by the way) on Firemaw Kavu, which had no choice but to take down Ironclaw Buzzardiers on its way out. Ouch. David ended his turn with Mogg War Marshall. So now David had 7 power worth of red guys on the table, as opposed to Kenji's Corpulent Corpse which just unsuspended and another one with one counter left.
David was much lower on life already, so Kenji might be able to win the race. A judge told Kenji that Ghostglame Sliver could not block Corpulent Corpse, so a corpse headed into the red zone. Kenji added Trespasser il-Vec to the board, but David still had some removal ready: Orcish Cannonade killed Trespasser il-Vec and Rift Bolt destroyed Coruplent Corpse. Kenji's Feebleness made Ghostflame Sliver less of a threat, and since David had no removal for the second Corpulent Corpse, Kenji appeared to win the damage race. The Phthisis he played to end the game wasn't even necessary.
Kenji Tsumura 1 - 0 David Reitbauer
David chose to play first again and had the first creature in Flowstone Channeler. Kenji had a slow hand, since his first play was a Mana Skimmer. Orcish Cannonade got rid of that, after which David put out his beloved Gauntlet of Power once again. He made a Tectonic Fiend and a Firemaw Kavu on his next turn, which dealt 2 damage to Kenji's freshly played Trespasser il-Vec. That guy madnessed out Gorgon Recluse before dying, which traded with Tectonic Fiend. When David attacked with Firemaw Kavu on his next turn, Kenji had Sudden Death to destroy it. You might think David was unhappy his creature was destroyed, but he actually was glad Kenji played that spell, since now could play Empty the Warrens for 4 tokens, which were all 2/2s thatnks to Gauntlet of Power.
After that the game was pretty much decided. David played another creature, as did Kenji, but Kenji could not even come close to dealing with the four Goblins backed up by Gauntlet of Power. His Sudden Spoiling bought him a turn, but it only delayed the problem and didn't solve it.
Kenji Tsumura 1 - 1 David Reitbauer
Kenji got to play first and started with Trespasser il-Vec. David had a mana curve of Ghostflame Sliver and a Flowstone Channeler. Kenji did not want his 3/1 to fall victim to it, so he cast Sudden Death to slay it and suspended Corpulent Corpse. David made another Flowstone Channeler, threatening to kill the 3/1 once more. Now Kenji was out of removal spells, so the tiny Japanese just played Sangrophage and passed the turn. David thought for a while and decided against activating his Flowstone Channeler right away, instead playing Gauntlet of Power.
Kenji made Gorgon Recluse with madness at end of turn and swung with all of his guys, discarding yet another Gorgon Reculse to his Trespasser il-Vec to give it shadow. David could not afford to go down to a very low life total, so he had to block Sangrophage with Flowstone Channler and went down to 9. David then made a Flame Elemental and passed. Kenji drew Phthisis and had a tough choice to make. He had five lands in play, so was it better to suspend it or to keep it in hand? To complicate matters even more, Kenji also had Trespasser il-Vec in play, which would happily eat up lands to gain shadow.
Kenji decided to suspend it, but after the match he admitted that was a mistake. After all, if he would draw into a land clump, he would probably lose by suspending it, since David would kill him before the impending doomsday clock would be played, but he would win if he would keep it in hand, because he'd be able to surprise David with a lethal Phthisis in 3 turns or so. On the other hand, if Kenji would draw into some creatures and spells, then that would likely give him enough time to find his 7th land and hardcast the Phthisis anyway.
So in both cases not suspending the Phthisis was probably better, but you never know how it's going to turn out. This game Kenji's decision came back to haunt him, since David drew Strangling Soot to clear the way for his creatures and started attacking. Kenji drew some lands and lost when Phtisis had one suspend counter left and David was at four life. Bad beats.
Kenji Tsumura 1 - 2 David Reitbauer
Sunday, Oct 15: 3:45 p.m. - Drafting With The Shuu
by Frank Karsten
For this draft I chose to sit behind Japanese's top player Shuuhei Nakamura and watch his picks.
The first round of boosters
Pick 1: Shuuhei quickly flipped to the back of the booster to see if he got a good Timeshifted or rare card. Unfortunately he glanced at Valor and Norin the Weary and had to look somewhere else. The best cards in the booster were Spiketail Drakeling, Stormcloud Djinn, and Clockwork Hydra. He decided on the latter, choosing to keep his option open by picking an artifact that would always make it into his deck, regardless of his colors.
Pick 2: Shuuhei wisely picked Amrou Scout over Grapeshot and Trespasser il-Vec. Not even close.
Pick 3: Shuuhei stuck on-color with his white cards, declining the allure of Durkwood Baloth and Premature Burial. Instead he picked Errant Doomsayers over Flickering Spirit, mainly because it's a rebel that would go well with his second pick.
Pick 4: Shuuhei did not have to think long before taking Celestial Crusader (a great fit for his deck so far) over the inferior Basalt Gargoyle and Penumbra Spider.
Pick 5: Staying with the white cards, Shuuhei took the extremely annoying Witch Hunter over Icatian Crier.
Pick 6:Watcher Sliver. The next best card in the pack was Flowstone Channeler.
Pick 7: There were no playable white cards in the booster, so Shuuhei flipped between Vampiric Sliver, Subterranean Shambler and Goblin Skycutter. He decided on the 2/3 that deals 1 damage, which I found strange because he already had a lot of 1-toughness guys himself. It would not be a good fit for his deck, so I would have picked one of the other cards there. This was the only pick of his draft that I disagreed with. Afterwards, Shuuhei told me that he believes Subterranean Shambler is underrated and that is also was more of a hate draft.
Pick 8:D'Avenant Healer over Bogardan Rager.
Pick 9: Now Shuuhei got the booster he opened back and looked at Fortify and Stormcloud Djinn. The fact that the blue flyer was still in the pack was an indication that the color was underdrafted. Since Shuuhei hadn't really decided on a second color besides white yet, he happily jumped in and took the blue card.
Pick 10:Detainment Spell over Foriysian Interceptor.
Pick 11:Gaze of Justice over Assembly Worker.
Pick 12:Cancel over Jedit's Dragoons.
Pick 13: Venser Sliver.
Pick 14:Mystical Teachings
Pick 15:Divine Congregation
The second round of boosters
Frank Karsten watches Shuuhei Nakamura build his deck.
Pick 1: Shuuhei once again quickly flipped to the back of the booster to see if he got a good Timeshifted or rare card. Unfortunately he got Sedge Sliver and Essence Sliver. He was not red/black, and Essence Sliver is weaker than Castle Raptors, which was also in the pack and he took that flyer.
Pick 2: Shuuhei looked at Firemaw Kavu and Looter il-Kor. He was basically mono-white with 1-2 blue cards and a notion that blue was likely underdrafted at the table now. So what do you pick? Shuuhei selected Firemaw Kavu, which is strong enough to warrant a second look into red-white. I agree with him there.
Pick 3: Argh. Now we get Amrou Scout and Riftwing Cloudskate. If Shuuhei wanted to play white-red and his Firemaw Kavu, he'd have to select Amrou Scout. However, Riftwing Cloudskate is the better card. After some deliberation, he took the 2/2 flyer, which I can agree with. You can expect more blue goodies, whereas judging the lack of red cards by the first booster there would be no guarantee of getting any more good red cards anymore.
Pick 4:Ivory Giant over Slipstream Serpent in a weak booster.
Pick 5:Telekinetic Sliver over Walk the Aeons. Thanks to the foils taking the slot of a common, sometimes you'll have to decide between two rares now. Awkward.
Pick 6:Subterranean Shambler over blanks.
Pick 7:Amrou Scout, by far the best card in the booster.
Pick 8:Orgg over Coral Trickster. Shuhhei decided to keep his options open and took a reasonably good red card over a blue card that would probably end up in his sideboard anyway.
Pick 9:Tolarian Sentinel over Bogardan Rager, Venser Sliver, and Eternity Snare.
Pick 10:Sidewinder Sliver over Fool's Demise.
Pick 11: Fantom Seer over D'Avenant Healer. What is Fantom Seer still doing in the booster so late?
Pick 12:Spirit Loop over Orcish Librarian. Shuuhei doesn't like to eat books for lunch.
Pick 13:Gaze of Justice.
Pick 14:Truth or Tale.
Pick 15:Screeching Sliver.
The third round of boosters
Pick 1: Shuuhei saw Sengir Nosferatu, but wisely decided not to dive into another color. Instead, he took Defiant Vanguard over Amrou Scout. Such rebels.
Pick 2:Spiketail Drakeling over Cavalry Master (and to a lesser extent Gustcloak Cavalier and Fortify). I think it's a close pick, but the 2/2 flyer is better because of mana curve reasons and because Shuuhei didn't have any other flankers yet.
Pick 3:Zealot il-Vec over Crookclaw Transmuter, because it is a rebel.
Pick 4:Errant Ephemeron - according to Shuuhei the best common - over Willbender.
Pick 5:Icatian Crier over Cancel. It's a good combo with the Celestial Crusader he already took a while ago.
Pick 6:Mangara of Corondor over Temporal Eddy.
Pick 7: Coreal Trickster over potential hate drafts of Shadow Guildmage or Subterranean Shambler.
Pick 8:Urza's Factory over Children of Korlis.
Pick 9:D'Avenant Healer.
Pick 10:Momentary Blink (a great combo with Mangara of Corondor if you stack it correctly) over Gustcloak Cavalier.
Pick 11:Eternity Snare.
Pick 12:Truth or Tale.
Pick 13:Foriysian Interceptor.
Pick 15:Chameleon Blur.
Shuuhei methodologically first sorted the cards on color and registered them. Afterwards, he started building. His first 21 cards were fairly straightforward, but then he had to make some tough choices. He decided against splashing Firemaw Kavu because he had no mana fixing at all. He also decided against Telekinetic Sliver because he only had one Sliver himself and it could backfire against an opposing Sliver deck. Gaze of Justice and Ivory Giant had the problem that he didn't have enough white creatures, so those didn't make it into the deck either. Detainment Spell and Forsian Interceptor are also quite bad and just don't do enough. So eventually the choice came down to Coral Trickster, Icatian Crier or Urza's Factory as an 18th land, and he chose the latter, which seems like the best card. This was his final deck:
GP Athens Draft 2
Sunday, Oct 15: 4:24 p.m. - The Rookie's Second Draft
by Maximilian Bracht
Sebastian Aljiaj (left) and fellow German Aaron Brackmann building their decks for the final rounds.
Hi, this is Maximilian Bracht, continuing the draft coverage of Sebastian Aljiaj! Sebastian 3-0'd his first pod with his good U/B-deck, so let's see how he'll be doing in Pod 1 with plenty of other pros like Antoine Ruél, Kenji Tsumura or David Brucker.
Sebastian opened a very strong first pack which contained Ancestral Vision, Fathom Seer and Sulfurous Blast, which was his first pick. His Austrian neighbour to the right opened a decent pack, including Jaya Ballard, Strangling Soot, Careful Consideration and another Fathom Seer. He decided that Strangling Soot was the better pick for him, so Jaya stayed in the pack for Sebastian. Shortly after that he was passed a Tendrils of Corruption, followed by a Greater Gargodon - some solid blue-red cards, but no more black ones.
The next booster revealed a Ghost Ship for Sebastian, shipping Orcish Cannonade and Spiketail Drakeling to his right. His second pick was a Viscered Deepwalker over Candles of Leng, followed by a Snapback over an Orcish Cannonade. I don't really understand why he hates the Cannonade so much, because I like it, but that's probably why I'm doing coverage today and not vice versa! ;(
In the last booster Sebastian just completed his deck with cards like two Fathom Seer, Careful Consideration, a second Prismatic Lens and a Grapeshot.
This is his decklist:
GP Athens Draft 2
The rookie just needs a 2-1 with his deck to secure a Top 8 spot, and I think that is definitely possible.
Sunday, Oct 15: 4:59 p.m. - Round 14: Sebastian Aljiaj vs. Kenji Tsumura
by Maximilian Bracht
Kenji was going first and kept his hand, so did Sebastian. He suspended the Gargadon on turn 1 while Kenji played a Sangrophage, followed by an Trespasser il-Vec. Sebastian summoned Jaya, which didn't get removed by Kenji's mono-black deck. Two mana open and a morph on Sebastian's side looked good until he wanted to pass his turn. A Gorgon Recluse entered the table and Kenji topdecked Sudden Death in his drawstep. Guess what happened: When Sebastian was down to 3 he gushed, but that didn't help.
Sebastian Aljiaj 0 - 1 Kenji Tsumura
Sebastian boarded in some cards, but I wasn´t able to see them. He decided to go first. Kenji was the one who wasn't keeping his hand this time, going to six cards. No suspend during the first two tuns and no drops for Kenji, surprising. On the third turn both players summoned a creature, a morph on Sebastian's side and an Urborg Syphon-Mage on Kenji's. Sebastian attacked for two, summoned the Askari and finally was able to suspend something, the heavy 9/7 beast.
Kenji said go with 5 mana open and was probably setting up a trap for Sebastian to run into it. Thats what happened; Kenji discarded Nightshade Assassin and revealed two black cards to kill the Askari. Sebastian forgot to sacrifice his Askari but pumped his morph with a Rager and brought Kenji down to 10. Kenji blocked Sebastians morph with his first-striker, Sebastian gushed, brought Kenji down to 7 and Feebleness was flashed by Kenji to kill the 1/3 guy. Sebastian just played another morph.
Sebastian's creatures died in combat against an insane trick called Sudden Spoiling out of Kenji's deck. Two time counters left on the Beast. He Pyroclasm'd Kenji's board and sacced 7 lands. Sebastian got hit by Tendrils of Corruption for 7, but some turns later he was able to take the game due to his card advantage.
Sebastian Aljiaj 1 - 1 Kenji Tsumura
Kenji boarded in Skulking Knight and decided to start the last game of this exciting match. Kenji would only be able to make top 16 with a win, but for Sebastian the win would mean another Grand Prix Top 8.
Kenji suspended a Corpse on turn 2 and contiued the beatdown with a Trespasser il-Vec. Sebastian's Viashino Bladescout traded against Febleeness and Phthisis was suspended. Kenji summoned a Sangrophage while Sebastian did a morph. Kenji passed his turn without casting anything and his opponent was just going for a Careful Consideration and suspended his B.F.M. (Greater Gargadon) afterwards. Finally Kenji's Corpse was able to attack and Sebastian went down to 17 while Kenji was down to 16, all thanks to his own creatures.
Sebastian attacked into two of Kenji's guys and Kenji blocked both, getting 2-for-1'ed by the Serpent Sebastian revealed. Phthisis had one counter left, the B.F.M. seven still. On his turn Sebastian just did a Pyroclasm on Kenji's board. Kenji targeted the Aetherflame Wall with the Phthisis in his upkeep, making Greater Gargadon one turn faster. Kenji traded 1:2 against the beast to get rid of it - Sebastian sacced some lands - and Kenji recast a Gorgon Recluse.
Sebastian added a morph to his previously cast Jaya, and Kenji had nearly nothing left apart from the 2/4 guy. His freshly drawn Corpulent Corpse is not the best guy to face an active Jaya, so he passed. A 3-power flier flashed on the board, Kenji took three damage and the Serpent traded with the Gorgon. So one turn later Sebastian was the winner and finally he made Top 8. Congratulations!
Sebastian Aljiaj 2 - 1 Kenji Tsumura, and Sebastian makes it to the Top 8!