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Live Coverage of the 2004 Grand Prix Austin

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Entry
9:14 pm - Like a Broken Clock
8:37 pm - Round 8: David Williams vs. Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller
8:15 pm - Round 7: Jeff "Potter" Meyerson vs. Brent Kaskel
8:10 pm - What did you do wrong?
7:33 pm - Round Seven: Chad Koss vs. Gerry Thompson
6:06 pm - Round Six: Kate Stavola vs. Nathan Zamora
5:42 pm - Kibler 0-2 and Out
5:12 pm - Round Five: Ken Krouner vs. Jonathan Pechon
5:12 pm - Round Five: David Williams vs. Gerard Fabiano
4:28 pm - Round Four features: Brent Kaskel vs. Paul Rietzl
2:50 pm - Local Player Spotlight
2:19 pm - Friday Night Lights
1:44 pm - Round 3 Feature Match - Eric Froehlich vs. Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller
12:21 pm - Grand Prix Austin Resumes
10:53 am - What Would Kibler Do?
10:31 am - The Pro's Prerelease

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  • Saturday, October 9: 9:14 pm - Like a Broken Clock
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Twice a day, almost without fail, I hit the nail square on the head. In an earlier entry I mentioned that Mitch Tamblyn and Gerry Thompson were among the players I expected to do well this weekend. Both players earned Top 8 berths at limited Grand Prix last season and excel in new Limited environments.

    Tamblyn

    At the end of Day one both players found themselves at 7-1. They both lost in the final round and should be able to build on their day one success at the highly competitive Rochester Draft tables. Most good players prefer the rigorous skill testing of draft to the more luck-dependent Sealed Deck format.

    Mitch was actually hesitant about drafting because it was Rochester. Not because he had any doubts about his skills but rather out of embarrassment. "I am a good drafter but I pick some pretty strange cards. I hate having to make those picks out in the open but what can you do?"

    Here is a quick rundown of the earlier chart with how everyone finished on Day One. Anyone coming in below 64th did not make the cut. Day Two competitors are in bold.)

    Player Name Day One Finish
    William Jensen 137th
    Radoslaw Gromko 34th
    Preston Poulter 315th
    Paul Rietzl 74th
    Patrick Sullivan 87th
    Osyp Lebedowicz 21st
    Neil Reeves 36th
    Mitch Tamblyn 6th
    Michael Krumb 51st
    Mark Zajdner 44th
    Lan D. Ho DQ'd
    Ken Krouner 179th
    Kate Stavola 7th
    Josh Ravitz 35th
    Jonathan Sonne 12th
    Jonathan Pechon 42nd
    Jonathan Job 270th
    Harry Durnan 341st
    Gerry Thompson 5th
    Gerard Fabiano 48th
    Eric Froelich 247th
    David Williams 56th
    Craig Krempels 184th
    Carl Lobato 185th
    Brock Parker 8th
    Brian Kibler 181st
    Antonino DeRosa 33rd

     
  • Saturday, October 9: 8:37 pm - Round 8: David Williams vs. Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller
    by Mason Peatross
  • David, who we've discussed isn't very happy with his deck is playing for the chance to make day 2. Neither player is guaranteed day 2 with a win, but they both want the chance. David lost the coin flip despite the lovely silver coin he pulled from his pocket.

    Game 1

    This game was quick. Jim Bob opened with Honden of Infinite Rage, followed it up with Honden of Cleansing Fire and followed that up with Kodama's Reach and then Konda, Ridiculous Beat Stick. Yeah. So game 2 it is.

    Game 2

    David did extensive sideboarding after game 1, completely dropping a color and adding white and red to his deck. I'm assuming that he went digging for enchantment removal, possibly a Cage of Hands. David mulliganned twice - his first hand was all land and no creatures, his second hand had only one land. The third hand was a mix of land and spells so he was forced to keep it. Jim Bob's first play was a 4th turn Orochi Leafcaller. David was doing a little better with a Bloodthirsty Ogre and a Scuttling Death. Jim Bob laid out a Gibbering Kami and a Cruel Deceiver that fell on the next turn when the Scuttling Death came in. The Deceiver Blocked, Rend Spirit took out the Kami, and then the Death was sacrificed to kill the Leafcaller. A very good turn for David who added Painwracker Oni. Bloodthirsty Ogre was gaining counters all the while, taking out an Orochi Leafcaller. Jim Bob made a mistake by using Blind with Anger to steal the Ogre, hoping that he could use it's ability to kill the Demon. David let it resolve, knowing that when the Ogre crossed the board, it's ability would turn off because Jim Bob had no Demons. That was all she wrote for Jim Bob who just didn't draw any answers to the Oni.

    Game 3

    No extensive sideboarding before this game. David's confidence level was really easy to perceive here. Despite going under without a fight at all in Game 1, his stunning double mulligan victory in Game 2 put Sixkiller on his back foot. Jim Bob opted to draw, and led off with his trust Orochi Leafcaller. David put out a Kabuto Moth wing which started to hold down the fort. He added an Innocence Kami to his team, while Jim Bob looked to continue to fix his mana with a Sakura Tribe-Elder. Scuttling Death came out for David, starting to put the pressure on Jim Bob. However, he was not to be deterred and added a Moss Kami to hold down his side of the board after sacrificing his Elder to grab an additional land at the end of David's turn. The Kami was short lived, though - a Rend Spirit ended his life.

    Jim Bob had a lot of cards in his hand, but seemed unable to determine what the best possible play was. Eventually he used his own Rend Spirit to take out the Moth but a Devouring Greed from David finished the game.

    Corollary to what I wrote earlier about David's deck being awful. His deck wasn't the dream sealed deck, but he played it well. Making day 2 would be based on his play ability and confidence in himself.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 8:15 pm - Round 7: Jeff "Potter" Meyerson vs. Brent Kaskel
    by Mason Peatross
  • Here's a quick update on a story we've been following all day. Local favorites Meyerson and Kaskel faced off this round - a loss eliminating either player, they both sit at 5-2. Jeff, known as Potter for his near resemblance to a certain J.K. Rowling character. Kaskel is close friends with Neil Reeves and David Williams and owes a lot to their tutelage. When I came over to the match, the match was pretty even but Kaskel took the game because his early attacks had reduced Potter to such a low life. Kaskel eventually used Unearthly Blizzard to sneak in the final damage. Game 2 was so quick that if you blinked, you missed it. Two quick Gutwrencher Onis from Potter put an unstoppable clock on Kaskel. Game 3 wasn't much better. Kaskel drew land after land and didn't put anthing resembling a fight. Sometimes Magic isn't about skill at all.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 8:10 pm - What did you do wrong?
    by Mason Peatross
  • I got a chance to speak with a handful of players about how their decks turned out after they had a chance to play them for couple of rounds. I sat down as some of the pros were berating Paul Rietzl for some deckbuilding mistakes he had made. He'd played red in his deck and upon further review (for those of you jonseing for some NFL) he had realized that he should have not just splashed black like he did, but rather just played black and white. His deck feature Yohei, which he said he never drew, and plenty of solid creatures. The black included some very synergystic creatures including a pair of Demons and some Ogres. The red was fine, with a pair of Pain Kami, but the cards that Paul was lamenting playing were Sideswipe which he deemed "unplayable" and Frostwielder which he had previously considered "very" good and had now downgraded to "just" good.

    The main commenter on Paul's deck choices was the very gregarious Osyp Lebedowicz who for sake of my typing fingers, I'm going to call Osyp. Maybe "O". Anyway, Osyp wasn't down on many of his deck choices - he said that he didn't have a lot of tough choices in deck construction, that the build had been fairly obvious. One card he lamented not playing was Devoted Retainer. I suspect that to the player who isn't of Osyp's caliber (like myself) wouldn't understand why a simple 1/1 creature for one mana would make you miss his presence. What I figure is that you have to worry about your mana curve and you need efficient cards (for their mana cost) that make your deck have the capability to keep moving even when you aren't casting huge monsters. The Devoted Retainer would be good on turn 1, but it's also a good way to spend an extra mana you have available. The Retainer will trade with a 2/2 creature, trumps any other 1/1, and can get in on gang blcks to take down big bad monsters. You have to look at what cards are efficient.

    But I digress. Osyp also said that the Long Forgetten Gohei was much better than he had expected it to be, and that was merely because of it's Glorious Anthem for spirits effect. One of the spirits that gets that effect is another card who worked out better for Osyp, and that was Kami of Old Stone. Osyp said that the Kami was amazing at holding the ground and buying you time to draw into your flyers and broken spells.

    I also spoke with Antonino de Rosa (who is another really nice guy) who wasn't very happy with his deck. At 5-1 he declared that half his deck was awful, and threw down a handful of decidedly mediocre blue cards on to the table. Some of the cards elicited arguments from the other players sitting around (Reitzl, Osyp, me) that the cards weren't necessarily bad, but that the supporting cast wasn't helping them out. For example, Counsel of the Soratami. Drawing two additional cards for 3 mana isn't a bad play, but if the two cards you draw are bad, you may feel that way about the Counsel. Antonino made a good point about the Thoughtbind he was playing - that when you're playing a counterspell in sealed deck or draft, you need to make sure that it will always work. The Thoughtbind won't counter a Dragon Spirit or Kumano, and is therefore not as good as you want it to be. When I ran it at the pre-release, it was almost always good for me, but I also had a Hinder and two Soratami Savants.

    David Williams wandered over as we were discussing the different decks that people were playing. I asked him how his deck was. "Awful."

    Sometimes that's how it works out, even for the best players. No matter how much skill you possess, you may not be able to overcome a sealed deck that has no removal and no creatures.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 7:33 pm - Round Seven: Chad Koss vs. Gerry Thompson
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • There is nothing scarier at the 6-0 table than facing off against an opponent with no byes. Gerry Thompson of the three bye crowd squared off this round against bye-less Chad Koss. Although Chad has been on the Pro Tour (he went 2-5 in Yokohama when Mattias Jorstedt won) he has not experienced similar success and found himself playing when round one rolled around today.

    It usually means the player who has won every round on the day has an extremely powerful deck while a player with three byes might be getting by with a weaker deck and a double helping of tournament savvy. Chad's deck was a powerhouse with three Kabuto Moths, double Samurai of the pale Curtain, and Soratami Savant among his goodies. He demolished Mike Krumb in the previous round and Gerry Thompson was well aware of the cards that Koss used to smash his friend.

    Gerry Thompson is what we like to call an "up and comer" most recently making the Top 8 of Grand Prix: Kansas City at this time last year when Mirrodin debuted. His rating earned him three byes this weekend although his performance has suffered some recently. He needs a strong finish this weekend to qualify for Nagoya on Pro Points if he doesn't actually make the Top 8. His deck was extremely solid across three colors mainly in black and white with a touch of red for Yamabushi's Flame and Glacial Ray.

    Game 1

    Gerry came out of the gates with a Nezumi Cutthroat--probably the best card in his deck against the blue-white Koss. He also had a turn four Nagao Bound by Honor and he got in for six after Koss took turns three and four to play a Moth and a Soratami Savant.

    Koss put a Cage of Hands around the Samurai and Gerry was content to gnaw for two with the Rat. Koss had second Moth and a Soratami Rainshaper on turn six. Gerry kept piling on the creatures every time Chad tapped out and could not use the Savant. He added Cursed Ronin and He Who Hungers.

    Chad looked for an answer in the Council of the Soratami, "Can I live through this next turn? This about sucks."

    Gerry offered a Lantern Kami and when it resolved he sacrificed it to coerce the Texan's hand. Koss cast Candle's Glow in response and lost a Kitsune Blademaster. Gerry chose not to attack until the next turn.

    He continued to nibble with the Rat and forced Chad to move the Cage of Hands over to the fear creature. Eventually, Gerry was able to get him low enough that when a Wicked Akuba snuck through and all-in attack from Gerry, he was able to finish him off with the Akuba's ability.

    Game 2

    Gerry sided in Hankyo but he didn't seem sure about it. He was considering bringing in a suite of green cards as well. He finally settled on just the equipment. "I have never played with this card before and I don't know if its good."

    Koss seemed impressed and asked about the Mountain he had seen in Game 1, "Your deck looked pretty good. Do you have any burn?"

    Gerry just shrugged.

    Koss smiled, "I guess we'll find out."

    Zubera from Chad. He played a Moth on turn three and Gerry did the same. Turn four saw a Soratami Savant hit play on Chad's side of the table.

    "I'll equip," sighed Gerry on turn four as he moved his bow to the Moth.

    Koss' draw was extremely aggressive and he was able to keep Gerry's spells from hitting the board with his Savant. The game quickly concluded with Gerry unable to mount any kind of defense with the Savant in play.

    Game 3

    Gerry led off with the Cutthroat. Chad came back with Silent-Chant Zubera.

    Gerry passed turn three without action and Chad played a Kabuto Moth. Gerry had the Nagao on turn four and Chad had to take six on the next turn despite playing a second (of his three) Moth. The Minnesota player added a Cursed Ronin.

    Chad put a Cage of Hands on the Rat and a Samurai of the Pale Curtain. When Gerry attacked, the Texan put his Samurai in the way of the Legend. There was some confusion when Gerry asked about the power and toughness of the 2/2 after blocking. The creature became a 5/7 after he pumped twice with the Moths. Gerry cast Blessed Breath giving his Rat protection from White--killing the Hands--and spliced Glacial Ray to kill a Moth.

    Gerry played his own Moth after combat and with his Rat freed from the prison, the blue-white deck was hard pressed to find a way to deal with the pesky vermin. Chad took his first loss on the day and Gerry Thompson went on to join the small pool of 7-0 players moving into the final round of play.

    Final result: Gerry Thompson - 2 Chad Koss - 1


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 6:06 pm - Round Six: Kate Stavola vs. Nathan Zamora
    by Mason Peatross
  • We mentioned Nathan in the local player spotlight, and he's not letting us down with a 5-0 record. He's qualified for his home town Pro Tour Houston but he's looking to better that performance. Kate Stavola is a two time Pro player from New Jersey, making appearances in San Diego and Seattle.

    Game 1

    Nathan opened game 1 with the double mulligan every player dreads. He didn't stumble too badly with just five cards though - he made turn 1-4 land drops to go with a turn 2 Sensei Golden-Leaf and a turn 4 Mothrider Samurai. Kate's Pain Kami made short work of the Sensei before it could get out of hand. The best she could follow it up with with was Kami of Fire's Roar. She also appeared to stumble on her mana development, missing her turn 4 land drop. She found a land on the fifth turn and dropped a Kabuto Moth. Nathan's Devoted Retainer and Samurai kept coming in though. A Ronin Houndmaster from Kate entered the Red Zone(tm) and helped retain a little creature parity for Kate. The game progressed slowly as each player pondered their attack phases - unwilling to make a mistake that would cost them the game. Nathan eventually showed that he had a third color when he laid a Mountain, but no red cards followed. Kate laid a second Pain Kami and sent in her entire team when it lost summoning sickness and with damage on the stack, Soulblast gave her Game 1.

    Game 2

    Nathan decided to draw in game 2 and appeared visually disconcerted about his draw. Knowing Nathan, I think it's quite possible that he's playing a mind game, which he can be adept at. Kate opened with an Akki Avalanchers and a Lantern Kami. When Nathan spent a lot of time thinking about his third turn play before dropping a land, it became evident that my guess was wrong, and that he was looking at a hand with no mana and plenty of options. His next draw phase didn't reveal any land either, and he used a Glacial Ray to kill the Lantern Kami. The next turn didn't reveal another land either, and Nathan's mood turned to a bit more jovial, as if he was consigned to his fate. On his third chance he finally drew his third land and used his Orochi Leafcaller to make white mana to play a Ghostly Prison. You would think that the Prison would help deter Kate's creatures, but she was more than willing to pay the 4 mana to send in her Ember-Fist Zubera and Kami of Fire's Roar. Nathan was able to make another play the next turn when he dropped a Kabuto Moth. Nathan drew another land, this time a Plains, but my peek into Kate's hand revealed that she had Soulblast and was simply lacking the third red mana to play it. At the end of turn, she dropped Uncontrollable Anger on her Kami and then used Unearthly Blizzard to make sure that Nathan couldn't block. But when you don't draw any lands for so long, your hand isn't empty and Nathan used Blind with Anger to grab Kate's Ember-Fist Zubera to block. He used the ability of the Zubera to kill the Akki Avalanchers, and then on his turn locked down the Kami with Cage of Hands. It seemed like Nathan was living the dream! A Kitsune Blademaster from Kate got a Glacial Ray to the face, and when she tried to save it with Indomitable Will he used his own Kami to destroy the enchantment. All his plays were for naught though - Kate drew that third mountain and a tapped out Nathan got Soulblasted to his first loss of the day.

    In our other feature match, we have local youngster Chad Koss. He's from Waco and has experienced a modicum of success in the Junior Super Series. Krumb is a very strong limited player and is always a threat to top 8 any event that he plays in.
    We join game 3 already in progress. The board is Koss with Soratami Savant and Samurai of the Pale Curtain. A Cruel Deceiver and Wicked Akuba were coming across the board to attack, but a spliced Consuming Vortex (on a Reach Through the Mists) sent the Akuba back to the hand of Krumb. Koss is at 9 when he plays a Hundred-Talon Kami to match the Venerable Kami that Krumb had to play. The extra something special about a spliced spell is the demoralizing effect it has on your opponent. It reminds me of Infernal Spawn of Evil from Unglued and the "It's Coming!" effect. Your opponent knows what they are in for, and what are they supposed to do about it? Krumb's flying blocking capabilites were disabled with the Consuming Vortex and a Cage of Hands. When Koss came over for the win, Krumb tapped out to play Blind with Anger, which exceptionally puzzlingly, Koss didn't counter the spell with the Savant. As soon as his turn was over, he realized his mistake, but sometimes your deck just saves you. The young and arrogant Chad Koss won.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 5:42 pm - Kibler 0-2 and Out
    by Mason Peatross
  • Early today we presented Brian Kibler's card pool and promised to include his decklist when he was done playing for the day. Well…

    Brian promptly lost the first two rounds he played this weekend and dropped from the tournament. "I am sure that I built it wrong but it didn't seem like I had any good options. If I had played green my curve would have started at four. I had to play three colors of creatures no matter what therefore I was going have atrocious mana no matter what.

    An interesting side note regarding Kibler. He is going to have to pass on Pro Tour Columbus because it conflicts with the final event in a LARP (Live Action Role Playing Game) that he has been taking part in for ten years.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 5:12 pm - Round Five: Ken Krouner vs. Jonathan Pechon
    by Mason Peatross


  • In this round we're featuring a couple of Texan players. On one side of the table is David Williams, on the other is Jonathan Pechon. Pechon has a couple of Grand Prix top 8 appearances and is a very solid, methodical player. He's best known for a near permanent scowl that belies his good nature. His opponent this round is "Kartin" Ken Krouner, known online as KK and for his series of popular articles about a variety of Magic related topics including the very popular series "Ask Ken". I have personal experience with the Ask Ken because a question I asked was featured. Jeffery Meyerson and I were having a debate about whether or not an Affinity hand was worth keeping or whether or not is should be mulliganned. Ken ruled in my favor.

    Game 1

    In game 1 Jonathan came out the gates pretty quick with a Hearth Kami that got in for a handful of damage. Minor dorks came in for each team, but nothing exciting. Some creature exchanges occured and a flurry of direct damage from Ken went a great way to clearing the board. Jonathan used a Crushing Pain to take care of a Mothride Samurai and that left Ken with a comfortable enough feeling to unload his game-breaker, Kumano, Master Yamabushi. Kumano, who some liken to Masticore or Arc-Slogger, is probably better than both. It didn't take long for Jon's side of the board to be empty and Ken to take the first game.

    Game 2

    Jonathan brought in Cranial Extraction, which is a nice way to handle your opponent's bomb (if you can cast the Extraction before they get the bomb down). Ken sideboarded out his blue cards and all his islands. I think he was unhappy with his initial build and didn't like the way his mana draws were working out. This game developed like a lot of Champions of Kamigawa games go - lots of creatures staring each other down. Jonathan definitely had the creature advantage, and my vantage point into Ken's hand showed that he was holding a grip of 3 lands with plenty on the board as well. A massive combat exchange saw the board clear except for Jon's Cursed Ronin. He was able to Soulshift back a Hearth Kami that had died in combat (a lesson for you kids out there - know your timing rules!). On his next attack the 2 damage Jon got through along with the Yamabushi's Flame in his hand squared the match up to a game a piece.

    Game 3

    In the rubber game (does anyone know what that means?), Jon declared a mulligan before taking the forbidden peek at the top of his deck and stating that he was happy with his decision. I know he wasn't going to be particularly happy with the game though, because MY forbidden peek at Ken's hand revealed Kumano peeking his face out. Ken's first play of the game came on turn 4 with a Kitsune Healer, the perfect compatriot to Kumano. The fox was short lived though dying to a Glacial Ray that had a Glacial Ray spliced on to it. Ken, unconcerned, laid out Kumano. I think Jonathan missed a land drop here - my guess is the Yamabushi's Flame along with the Glacial Ray we know is in his hand. When he misses the fifth land drop again, he audibly sighed and the scowl came back. Ken's Kami of the Palace Fields brought the Glacial Ray out of Jon's hand, and then he drew that land he needed... to play his OWN Kumano! However Ken still had a distinct advantage and he built up to pair of creatures on the board. A Gutwrencher Oni with no other support from Jonathan had him using Rend Flesh on one of Ken's dudes and casting Uncontrollable Anger all during his upkeep in response to the Oni's discard cost. Remember kids, know your timing rules. The Oni started to come crashing in and there wasn't really anything Ken could do to stem the flow of blood once the Demon took hold. Ken took the loss hard and dropped out of the tournament, he didn't want to have to get 3 wins in a row, figuring that he was in Austin in to have fun and that "being on the ropes for the rest of the day" wouldn't be fun.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 5:12 pm - Round Five: David Williams vs. Gerard Fabiano
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Dave Williams has eight Grand Prix Top 8 finishes under his belt but he had to groan when he recalled his recent GP performances. "It has been sooooo long since I made Day Two at a GP. I used to do so well." In addition to his Top 8's he has three ninths, two tenths, and an eleventh. Of course he has been successful in other tournaments of late which should salve the wounds quite nicely.

    Gerard Fabiano is a towel-wringing TOGIT member who has seen some success of his own including a Day Three Pro Tour performance. Like Dave, he was 3-1 coming into this round and a second loss would be a huge blow to take this early.

    Game 1

    The two players were embroiled in a long, drawn out Game 1 with both players putting down creatures without any real significant damage getting through. Dave started to break the stale mate with a No Dachi on Matsu Tribe Decoy--oh yeah--he also had Sosuke Son of Seshiro in play giving him a 4/3 first striking, basilisk, luring abomination.

    "What are you waiting for?" asked Dave as Gerard passed multiple turns without a play. He was waiting to find a second Swamp so he could play and turn on his Nezumi Graverobber. Instead he played a Orochi Hatchery with four counters. Dave smashed him down to eight on the next turn and waited for Gerard to do something--anything, "He takes five minutes wiping his hands every turn."

    Gerard was able to buy some time by making four chump blocking tokens each turn to step in the way of Dave's team but he was against the ropes the whole time. Dave added an Orochi Ranger and a Gutwrencher Kami. The trampling Oni picked up the No Dachi and when Gerard fell to two after carefully arranging his cannon fodder, Dave was able to finish him off with Devouring Greed during his second main phase.

    Game 2

    Dave teased Gerard about his pace of play in the first game, "Now I need to play slower than you--or as slow as you played…" When Gerard protested, Dave smiled and told him not to worry about the pace of play. "I have only had two unintentional draws in my life. Both times I was stalled out savagely."

    Gerard had another slow draw with both players trading some early drops that built up to a Kami of Lunacy. Dave winced, "This is going to hurt, Gerard." He played a Nine-Ringed Bo and pinged the flier. Gerard looked through his graveyard for soul shift targets but Dave pointed out that the Kami was removed from the game, "Read the rest of the card."

    Dave played his own Nezumi Grave robber a turn later and was able to turn it on over the course of two turns. Gerard had no action and Dave won the game and the match.

    Final result: Dave Williams - 2 Gerard Fabiano - 1


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 4:28 pm - Round Four features: Brent Kaskel vs. Paul Rietzl
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Reitzl

    Despite having his higher education interfering with his opportunities to play Magic, Paul Rietzl had a good year last year with multiple GP Top 8 appearances and a solid Pro Tour season. His Pro Point total allowed him to be playing in his first round on the day. He was facing off against Brent Kaskel, a local player with a Limited rating high enough to merit three byes for this event. Brent's regular play group includes a couple of Texas players who have done pretty well for themselves, Neil Reeves and Dave Williams.

    Rietzl considered his own rating, "After Worlds, I don't know how many byes I would have based on rating."

    Paul took Game 1 despite a strong draw from Brent. Despite having Kodama's Might and Glacial Ray going he could deal with two Cage of Hands. Paul's Uncontrollable Anger also decided a critical battle that Brent needed to win.

    As they prepared for Game 2, Brent Kaskel reached into his book bag for his entire sideboard. "I am side boarding fourteen cards."

    Paul laughed as he slipped the Moonring Mirror into his deck. "I am siding in that card that beat Efro. I'll have to read it if I draw it."

    Game 2

    Brent opened up with Matsu-Tribe Decoy and Burr Grafter while Paul had a Ronin Houndmaster. He added a Kitsune Healer. Brent had Ghostly Prison and Hana Kami prompting Paul to read both cards. When Brent sent his creatures into the Healer, Paul was dubious. "Am I going to get spliced out of this tournament?"

    Brent had the Kodama's Might and killed the Healer. He chump blocked with Hana Kami and regrew the growth spell. Kaskel played a Lantern Kami and gave it Indomitable Will EOT to build a 2/3 flier. Paul only had the Ronin Houndmaster and decided to leave it back now that he had fallen to nine. Kaskel was content to peck away for two a turn.

    Paul had cast Cage of Hands on the Decoy and now he returned it to hold the flier at bay. Brent used Quiet Purity EOT after Paul had added a pro Spirit guy to the board. He was able to return the Cage in response but Brent was able to kill the white creature and drop Paul to one with some help from the Might. Paul replayed the Cage of Hands but Brent had a Kami of Ancient Law and was able to remove the enchantment and attack in the air for the final point.

    Kaskel

    Game 3

    Paul was excited by his openers and announced as much to the table. Brent was glum about his seven cards, "This hand sucks."

    "My hand is very good"

    "You're lying," announced Kaskel but still he shipped it back, "This is the same thing that happened the last time we played."

    Paul sat upright in his chair as he recalled the critical match the two played out at this past year's US Nationals, "I deserved that though. I played my heart out Game 2."

    Brent hated his next six but could not bring himself to go down to five, "I have to keep."

    Paul led off with Kitsune Diviner and Kami of Ancient Law. He played Oathkeeper, Takano's Daisho on the next turn while Brent missed his third land drop and passed the turn but a pout. Paul equipped his Diviner and swung in for five. Brent's Orochi Ranger stepped in the way of the Diviner and Craig smashed it with Uncontrollable Anger.

    Brent killed the enchantment with a Cleanfall--he had sided in white specifically to deal with Paul's enchantment heavy deck--but he couldn't mount anything to stand in the way as Paul played another Kami of Ancient Law while Brent could not cast any of the cards in his hand.

    Final result: Paul Rietzl - 2 Brent Kaskel - 1

    Neil Reeves vs. Craig Krempels

    Kremples

    Craig Kremples is the reigning US National Champion. Neil Reeves has had success at all levels of the game but in Texas he is an Event Horizons Champion. The two players were relaxed and joked around at the beginning of the match. Neil was fumbling for a word to describe his opponent, "I'm not sure if 'idiot' or bufoon is more appropriate…"

    "Idiot…"

    Craig and Neil both had slow draws and traded two drops until Neil tapped six mana.

    Craig rolled his eyes, "This has to be good for me…c'mon Dragon." When Neil played Uyo, Silent Prophet he actually slumped in his seat, "It's not a dragon…it is much, much better."

    Craig played an Earthshaker and Neil tried to encourage his opponent, "That guy is dragon-like."

    He added a Gibbering Kami and Craig put a Cage of Hands on the Uyo. Neil cracked back for four with a hasty Ronin Houndmaster. Craig played Uncontrollable Anger on his Earthshaker during Neil's EOT and sent it in for six but Neil called over a judge. "I'm not sure how this works…I used to be really good at this game and not such a bufoon."

    Neil had Consuming Vortex with Glacial Ray and he wasn't sure whether or not he could fork the Arcane spell and have all the spliced parts be copied as well--the judge informed him that he could--and when he Consuming Vortexed the Earthshaker and spliced Glacial Ray he did four damage to the reigning US Champion and prompted a quick scoop.

    Game 2

    "My mulligan is not as much of a mulligan against you as it is versus everybody else." Neil showed off Seizan Perverter of Truth and asked, "Do you know how bad this guy is?"

    Reeves

    Craig had another slow start while Neil played River Kaijin and Teller of Tales. The flier was imprisoned in a Cage of Hands and Craig played an Orochi Hatchery with X set at three. Neil played Uyo and a turn later showed him the makeshift Jilt and the Champ just conceded.

    Final result: Neil Reeves - 2 Craig Krempels - 0


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 2:50 pm - Local Player Spotlight
    by Mason Peatross
  • One of the interesting elements of any Grand Prix event is how the local players come out of the woodwork to compete with the big boys - the names you've heard of from the Pro Tour and previous Grand Prix events. However, just because you may not have heard the name before doesn't mean that the players should be discounted. We may find a local at the top of the standings tomorrow, so here's a little primer of some people to know from Texas.

    From Oklahoma our standout is Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller. He's a solid player with a succession of pretty decent performances, most notably a top 16 finish at Pro Tour New Orleans. In round 3 he met up with Eric Froehlich and took him down with Konda. Jeff Fink has been known to finish well in big events as well. Louisiana sent a couple of representatives, but only one of them stands out and it's Cannon Boling. Cannon doesn't spend as much time playing Magic as he used to, but his pur play skill could very well take him into the money.

    From the Dallas area there are quite a few notable players. David Williams and Neil Reeves both makes theirs home there and a local crew of players includes Brent Kaskel and Jeff Zandi. Kaskel is young and brash and full of himself - and that bravado is well deserved. He's won more than his fair share of tournaments and will be soon be a fixture on the Pro Tour if he has anything to say about it. Jeff Zandi, founder and leader of the Texas Guildmages is a regular fixture on the Pro tour, if not a gravy trainer. The Guildmages hold regular team meetings where much drafting is done, keeps Zandi's play skill sharp. Another associate of the Guildmages is Jonathan Pechon who has two Grand Prix top 8s. I would be surprised if he weren't in contention for prize money tomorrow. It's not uncommon to have a draft at Guildmaster HQ with multiple Grand Prix and Pro Tour top 8s.

    The Houston Magic scene has been decimated over the years as people have moved out of town, moved out of Magic, or just faded away. Michael Musser is one of the players still holding up the banner for Houston and I expect him to make day two, if not finish in the money. Jonathan Job, originally from Houston but now in school in Colorado could also be expected to do well. Another possible Houston stand out would be Nathan Zamora, who has some very respectable tournament finishes to his credit.

    Austin, home to the Grand Prix, is also home to one of the best Magic scenes in the state. There are multiple stand out players from Austin, most of them young up and comers. The most impressive to me is definitely Jeffery "Potter" Meyerson. Jeff has passed up several occasions to join the Pro Tour in order to maximize his Junior Super Series winnings. As soon as he reached the age barrier, he went straight to the top, playing in Pro Tour Seattle with his team "Two Redheads and a Stepchild". Another young player who I expect to see big things out of is Aaron Tobey - he consistently dominates the local drafts he plays in, and he's made multiple PTQ top 8s over the past couple of months. There are a stable of other occasional Pro Tour players like Steven Livingston and Jason Krysak that could all do well.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 2:19 pm - Friday Night Lights
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Eighty-five players showed up last night to vie for three byes in today's tournament. The Grand Prix Trial was run without a Rochester Draft finals and they added a seventh round of Swiss and the Top 4 players at the end of the additional round were awarded the three bye prize.

    Before the players could begin fighting their way through the field they had other issues to contend with. Right in the middle of deck construction the lights in the tournament hall suddenly went out and the room was plunged into darkness for a few minutes as the staff tried to identify the source of the problem (the light switches had been turned off). That did not deter several anxious players from continuing to register their cards by the lights given off by their cellular phones. The lights were soon turned back on and the tournament proceeded without a hitch.

    When all was said and done the byes were awarded to Sam Stein, Nick Hamon, Devin Manuel, and Mike Dvorak. Hopefully they managed to get a solid four hours of sleep before they had to stagger in this morning and register a sealed deck for the main event. Hopefully the lights weren't too bright for them this morning.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 1:44 pm - Round 3 Feature Match - Eric Froehlich vs. Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller
    by Mason Peatross
  • Eric Froehlich vs Gerald "Jim Bob" Sixkiller

    You've probably heard of Eric Froehlich before from his numerous Grand Prix top 8 appearances as well as his Pro Tour San Diego top 8 appearance. Jim Bob is a local legend - well legend may be a bit strong, but he's well known for solid play and his performance at Pro Tour New Orleans, where he finished in the top 16.

    Game 1

    Eric won the traditional "choose the higher number" (they used the game counters from the Feature Match board). Neither player mulliganned and Eric opted to play, dropping a Mountain. Jim Bob played a Forest and then a Swamp, showing his primary colors quickly. Jim Bob played an Orochi Sustainer and used it to ramp up his mana, playing a Gibbering Kami. Eric had played a Swamp to match his pair of mountains, and wasted no time and cast Rend Spirit to get rid of the flyer.

    When Eric missed his turn 4 and 5 land drops, Jim Bob compounded the problem by using Befoul to take out Eric's only Swamp. Eric did eventually draw a Forest and used it to get some of the momentum back by playing his own Orochi Sustainer. The Sustainer plus additional plucks of land allowed Eric to get back into the game, dropping a Feral Deceiver and a Rootrunner.

    Jim Bob played out a Moonring Mirror and used it's ability to replace his hand many times over during the course of the game. Erich seemed to be making a pretty good game of it despite his mana struggles he seemed to be making quite a go of it. However after Erich laid a fourth creature, Jim Bob dropped the bomb in Hideous Laughter, nearly sweeping Erich's board. Jim Bob's other advantage came from his multiple Shrines - the Honden of Infinite Rage and Honden of Cleansing Fire.

    Either through an error of judgement, misunderstanding of the timing rules, or perhaps just in an attempt to get something by Jim Bob, Eric made an unusual play. He used Pull Under to kill Jim Bob's Gutwrencher Oni and used the Earthshaker in an attempt to kill the Villainous Ogre that combos so well with the Demon. Jim Bob understood that he could regenerate before his Gutwrencher Oni went away and did so. The Ogre lived to fight another day.

    Jim Bob continued to ride the advantage of his Mirror, switching hands nearly every turn. Eric had his own Shrine, but the Honden of Night's Reach wasn't doing much to keep him in the game. Despite an Earthshaker on the board, Eric wasn't able to overcome the string of upkeep effects that Jim Bob had accumulated, and scooped his cards to the overwhelming advantage.

    1-0 Sixkiller

    Game 2

    Jim Bob opened up with a very similar set of cards in game 2. His Kodama's Reach got all of his 4 colors online, and then he laid out the Moonring Mirror. He sacrificed his Sakura-Tribe Elder to get up to two plains and seven total mana and played out Konda, Lord of Eiganjo. Eric has a great poker face, but I know that he groaned in his mind. Konda is ridiculous, especially on the 5th turn of the game.

    Earthshaker made a return appearance and Eric didn't draw anything to go along with it and fell to Konda's might.


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 12:21 pm - Grand Prix Austin Resumes
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • When you are doing the early handicapping for a major event you commonly look to players with past successes. While there are almost always a handful of amateurs popping up in the Top 8 it is difficult to know who those players will be. The idea that Brian Kibler, William Jensen, or David Williams might make the Top 8 is not as difficult to grasp--after all, each of those players have an impressive eight such appearances.

    We (and by 'we', I mean I had Mason do it) pored over the Pro Tour Top 8 and Grand Prix Top 8 pages in the Magicthegathering.com Tournament Center to find everyone in the weekend's tournament with at least a Grand Prix Top 8 on their Magic resume. There were 24 different players with a Grand Prix Top 8 with a combined 63 appearances between them. The numbers dropped off for Pro Tour Top 8s with only 11 players having breathed in that rarified air with a combined 15 Sunday appearances.

    Player Name Grand Prix Top 8s Pro Tour Top 8s
    William Jensen 8 4
    Radoslaw Gromko 1 0
    Preston Poulter 2 0
    Paul Rietzl 2 0
    Patrick Sullivan 2 0
    Osyp Lebedowicz 2 2
    Neil Reeves 1 2
    Mitch Tamblyn 1 0
    Michael Krumb 1 0
    Mark Zajdner 1 0
    Lan D. Ho 2 0
    Ken Krouner 1 1
    Kate Stavola 1 0
    Josh Ravitz 1 0
    Jonathan Sonne 1 0
    Jonathan Pechon 2 0
    Jonathan Job 1 0
    Harry Durnan 1 0
    Gerry Thompson 1 0
    Gerard Fabiano 1 1
    Eric Froelich 3 1
    David Williams 8 1
    Craig Krempels 2 0
    Carl Lobato 1 0
    Brock Parker 5 1
    Brian Kibler 8 1
    Antonino DeRosa 6 0

    If you have ever wondered what criteria is used to select feature matches you need only look to the table above. These will be the names you are most likely to find at the feature tables. Whether they have lengthy resumes like Williams, Kibler, and Jensen, are fresh out of school with a thin resume but enormous potential like Gerry Thompson and Mitch Tamblyn, or have out of date resumes in need of a new entry like Preston Poulter and Lan D. Ho; these are the players you expect to find at the final Rochester Draft tomorrow…

    …until some upstart earns his stripes and takes his or place on the list winning some amateur dollars to boot!


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 10:53 am - What Would Kibler Do?
    by Mason Peatross
  • I sat down with Brian Kibler for sealed deck construction . Brian immediately let me know that despite one draft at the Champions of Kamigawa pre-release, this was his first real experience with the cards - many of which he had to read twice to confirm whether or not they would make the cut in his deck. He quickly dismissed Blue as "unplayable", something of a consensus of the pros that have made it out today. His other four colors seemed to offer at least something solid to the deck, and the only one that Brian said he knew he had to play was white, and his star player was Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. He also had a pair of other excellent two-mana creatures in Sensei Golden-Tail and Kami of Ancient Law.

    The tough decisions came when finding a second - and third - color for his deck. Red offered the exceptional Blind with Anger and Glacial Ray, along with some decent creatures including Ronin Houndmaster and Brutal Deceiver. Green had a better creature base but without any mana fixing creatures or spells, but did have Strength of Cedars. Black was very light on creatures but attempted to make up for that deficiency with a Pull Under, Rend Flesh and Rend Spirit.

    Brian had a difficult time making a decision about what to play, and what he kept coming back to was the lack of creature depth without playing sub-optimal creatures like Harsh Deceiver. Playing sealed deck forces you to sometimes have to make tough decisions about bad cards that make your deck. With eight Grand Prixs under his belt, Brian is uniquely qualified to make those decisions. Green hit the same stack as blue and Brian declared it "a bunch of four drops" without much else. Black offered a bunch of removal to the deck along with Nezumi Shortfang who may end up "racking" up a few victories. White was almost never doubted, and the red really filled out the creatures that Brian needed.

    Here's what Brian was given. We'll post his decklist at the end of the day, giving you a chance to see what you would build.

    White:
    1 Cage of Hands
    2 Devoted Retainer
    1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
    1 Harsh Deceiver
    1 Honden of Cleansing Fire
    1 Kabuto Moth
    1 Kami of Ancient Law
    1 Kitsune Healer
    1 Kitsune Riftwalker
    1 Lantern Kami
    1 Sensei Golden-Tail
    1 Silent-Chant Zubera
    1 Terashi's Cry

    Blue:
    2 Callous Deceiver
    1 Counsel of the Soratami
    1 Field of Reality
    1 Guardian of Solitude
    1 Hinder
    1 Kami of Twisted Reflection
    1 Lifted by Clouds
    1 Mystic Restraints
    1 Peer Through Mists
    1 Reach Through Mists
    1 River Kaijin
    1 Soratami Mirror-Guard

    Black:
    1 Dance of Shadows
    1 Deathcurse Ogre
    1 Devouring Greed
    1 Gibbering Kami
    1 Honden of Night's Reach
    2 Kami of the Waning Moon
    1 Nezumi Shortfang
    1 Numai Outcast
    1 Pull Under
    1 Ragged Veins
    1 Rend Flesh
    1 Rend Spirit
    1 Soulless Revival
    1 Waking Nightmare

    Red:
    1 Akki Coalflinger
    1 Battle-Mad Ronin
    1 Ben-Ben, Akki Hermit
    1 Blind with Anger
    1 Blood Rites
    1 Brutal Deceiver
    1 Ember-Fist Zubera
    1 Glacial Ray
    1 Kumano's Pupils
    1 Mana Seism
    1 Ore Gorger
    1 Ronin Houndmaster
    1 Soul of Magma
    2 Unearthly Blizzard
    1 Yamabushi's Storrm

    Green:
    1 Burr Grafter
    3 Commune with Nature
    1 Dripping-Tongue Zubera
    1 Feral Deceiver
    1 Hana Kami
    1 Kami of the Hunt
    1 Kashi-Tribe Warriors
    1 Kodama's Might
    1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy
    1 Order of the Sacred Bell
    1 Orochi Leafcaller
    1 Rootrunner
    1 Strength of Cedars
    1 Thousand-legged Kami

    Land:
    Boseiju, Who Shelters All


     
  • Saturday, October 9: 10:31 am - The Pro's Prerelease.
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • The first Limited Grand Prix after the release of a new block is often referred to as the Pro's Prerelease. Many of the top players have only had limited access to the new cards since the initial release of the new set. It is not unusual to see them taking advice from less experienced players regarding hidden gems in Champions.

    Of course not all the Pros are playing at a disadvantage. The TOGIT squad has been doing what they do best--drafting, drafting, drafting. Most of the players from Somerville, NJ already have pretty strong opinions about the new set and have even *gasp*choke* playtested the cards in the new constructed formats.

    William Jensen: "Osyp! Have you been testing Extended?"

    Osyp Lebedowicz: "Of course…"

    William Jensen: "You would!"

    I wandered around the room asking various Pros about their card pools and what cards in particular stood out for them about their deck.

    Kate Stavola: "The Dragonfang equipment card. It is the only equipment card I really like in the set. My deck is actually pretty aggressive and the nice thing about Tatsumasa, Takeno's Daisho is you don't have to build your deck around it. As long as you have the card and some lands you can play it.

    Antonino DeRosa: Blind with Anger. I am probably splashing it. I don't think people really play around an uncommon--and Ray of Command is always good. I have a big problem with creatures right now so I have to play two colors that are not too good because they have creatures. I have not decided yet but I don't have enough playables so….Hanabi Blast and four Mountains. Hopefully I can make day two. I have a lot of bad cards so I don't know. Myojin of Cleansing Fire is only eight mana and if I cast it I should win.

    David Williams: Nezumi Graverobber seems good and this guy too, Ryusei, the Falling Star.

    Patrick Sullivan: Yosei , the Morning Star and two copies of Devouring Greed. I think Greed is the best common in the set after Glacial Ray. Spirits are generally more aggressive but its tough to punch through the quality creatures in the mid-game. But there isn't that much removal so your guys tend to stick around on the board. It can be an easy way to deal ten or twelve damage. It can do some things that Fireball could not do in those games. Obviously it is a lot more narrow than some commons but its effect is more powerful than any common in the set when maximized.

    Paul Reitzl: This guy, Yosei, the Morning Star. I can't believe we get 2/2s with abilities. I don't really know though since I am reading many of these cards for the first time. The deck is okay but if everyone has a dragon it could be a problem…I have Cage of Hands and the spirit tapper to deal with it though. I am going to be doing a lot of side boarding that is for sure. Moonring Mirror could be a bomb. I have no idea--I didn't read it. I don't read rares when I am prereleasing.

    Ken Krouner: Kumano, Master Yamabushi. It is the best card in the set so it has to be the best card in my deck, right? My deck looks great except my mana looks real bad. I got two Soratami Savants that I feel like I have to play. I think it is one of the best cards in the set so I couldn't leave it in the sideboard but it is double blue and they are two of the only blue cards in my deck. The other two are Reach Through Mists. I am running four Islands to support those four cards. Luckily none of my white is double white except for the pro-Spirit/pro-Arcane guy. I have Glacial Ray which makes the Reach Through Mists better and I figure if only find one blue the Reach Through Mists will get me closer to my next Island. I am playing eighteen land and two card drawers but I still think my deck is powerful. If I can avoid mana troubles I should do well. It is nice when you open your deck and the person who registered it wrote, "Day two, baby!" I don't think he looked too closely at the mana though.

    Osyp Lebedowicz: Probably the Hideous Laughter or maybe Hikari, Twilight Guardian--Eight and a Half Tails is pretty good too I guess. I am straight black-white but I only have thirteen creatures. I have two Cage of Hands, Rend Spirit, and the Infest so…

    Craig Krempels: My deck is not very good. Glacial Ray is the best card. It's not awful and I can day two with it but its not the card pool you are looking to see when you open a Sealed Deck. I would have liked better bombs. When you are expecting to win on turn fourteen with the Hatchery….

    Mark Zadjner: "There are not too many good cards in my deck. A lot of people have looked at it and told me it is pretty good but it is green-white so I am not too happy. I don't even know what my best card is…Lure? How good is Lure. I never open good sealed decks.


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