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Day 1 Blog Archive

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EVENT COVERAGE

  • Info: Undefeated Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Podcast 7:48 p.m. - And the Whistle Blows
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature Match: Round 8 – A Glimpse at Perfection
    Matthias Künzler vs. Sebastian Knörr
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 7 – Faerienough
    Shuuhei Nakamura vs. Michael Duke
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast 4:41 p.m. - Midway Through The Second Half
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog: 4:30 - Storytelling
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Horder’s Greed
    Raphael Levy vs. Manuel Bucher
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 4 - Mulldrifting
    Guillaume Wafo Tapa vs. Sean Fitzgerald
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast 1:26 p.m. - Early Doors
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog: 12:10 p.m. - The Planeswalkers Are Here
    by Tobias Henke
  • Blog: 11:25 - Quick Questions
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: 11:08 a.m. –'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog: 9:55 - Bestseller List
    by Tobias Henke
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Playerlist
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff

 
  • Blog: 9:55 - Bestseller List
    by Tobias Henke
  • The obvious question to ask the card dealers, especially at the first big event in a brand-new format: What are the bestselling cards today at the trade booth?

    First on the list and sold out lightning fast was Mirrorweave. Apparently, turning all your creatures into some sort of lord (and subsequently... sideways) will be quite a popular strategy. Also in high demand were Spectral Procession (to support the Weave) as well as Guttural Response (to fight it). All of the Shadowmoor Lieges sold great too.

    Unsurprisingly, Reflecting Pool and all of the new filter lands were popular, with Graven Cairns trailing behind due to its cameo appearance in Future Sight. Mutavault, on the other hand, didn't sell nearly as good. Also popular and to no one's surprise so, were Kinsbaile Borderguard, Vendilion Clique, and Cloudthresher.

    In the non-rare department Firespout is obviously all the craze, but-more innovative-Incremental Blight sold quite a few copies, ready to kill those pesky Persist creatures... and keep them dead.

    Well, we'll see how sales numbers translate into success stories...



     
  • May 31st, 11:08 a.m. - 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go
    by Rich Hagon
  • From the misery of L.A. to the glory of Birmingham (that's British irony right there boys and girls) it's time for another stop on the dizzying journey of Pro Magic around the globe. The British Grand Prix turns the spotlight on Block Constructed, and promises to deliver a wide variety of interesting strategies across 8 Swiss rounds on Day One, as 578 players will become 64 for Sunday play. Lightning-fast Aggro, 5-Colour Control and maybe even an infinite damage Combo combine to make for some slam bam Magic in the heart of good old Blighty. Tally ho!

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  • Blog: 11:25 - Quick Questions
    by Tobias Henke
  • ...and quick answers with:

    Tomoharu Saito
    What is the best deck?
    I don't know. Only had two days to test.

    So what are you playing?
    Faeries.

    Marijn Lybaert
    What are you playing?
    Faeries.

    Is it good?
    I guess. I didn't really have time to test.


    Raphael Levy
    What are you playing? Please no more Faeries!
    A weird five-color elemental deck...

    Any specialty involved?
    Horde of Notions!


    Manuel Bucher
    What are you playing?
    An updated version of the deck Wafo-Tapa and I played in Hollywood.

    The so-called "Ten Commandments"?
    Yes, but actually it's only six, at least in the maindeck. The green one sucks. We only have two of those in the sideboard.

    Any secret tech?
    [laughs] We got one Plumeveil in the deck, but in truth, that might just be the result of lack of sleep.


    Olivier Ruel
    What are you playing?
    Faeries.

    Is it good or didn't you test?
    Quite obviously... both!


    Andre Müller
    What are you playing?
    A black, red, and white sort of aggro-control deck. But actually, you should ask me about the best tribe in the format.

    Okay, what is it?
    Assassins! [Showing off his Scarblade Elite that allows his deck to get double duty out of his Nameless Inversions and Crib Swap.]


    Jan Ruess
    What is the best tribe in this Block format?
    Kithkin. I nearly would have played the same deck in Hollywood (except for three Sunlance), so yes, it is very good.

    Best card in the deck?
    Burrenton Forge-Tender. I had them in the sideboard in Hollywood and they won me quite a few games. This time there even is one in the main to combat all those Firespouts.


    Stuart Wright
    What are you playing?
    Five-color control.

    The so-called "Ten Commandments"?
    Uh... kind of. But different.



     
  • Blog: 12:10 p.m. - The Planeswalkers Are Here
    by Tobias Henke
  • ...and they have brought their father with them. The huge Planeswalker depictions decorate all the GPs this year:

    But only on a very special occassion do they bring the family. Artist Aleksi Briclot, who painted the fearsome five, is here this weekend to sign cards and give some of them an exclusive, customized artwork:

    While usually there are always two artists on duty (like the Sith, actually), this time he is all by himself. Nonetheless, no one seems to be disappointed. In fact, crowds and crowds of players are laying siege to his booth:



     
  • May 31st, 1:26 p.m. - Early Doors
    by Rich Hagon
  • How many soccer cliches can I get into the coverage? Well, it's a game of two halves and the next match could be crucial, as we navigate our way through the early-season clashes before the big guns join the action in the fourth round. Interviews with multiple Pro Tour winners, down and dirty with the dealers and our first feature match of the day make up our guide to the pace-setting first three rounds.

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  • Feature Match: Round 4 - Mulldrifting
    Guillaume Wafo Tapa vs. Sean Fitzgerald
    by Tobias Henke
  • Who better to watch for the fourth round, as the world's finest enter the fray for the first time on this weekend thanks to their three byes, than Constructed mastermind Guillaume Wafo-Tapa? Sitting across from him is Irishman Sean Fitzgerald.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, having all the answers.
    Guillaume won the die roll and after a moment's deliberation decided on a mulligan. He kept his six, while his opponent went with his opening seven. Wafo-Tapa started off with Reflecting Pool, Mystic Gate, and Island into an evoked Mulldrifter, whereas his opponent had Primal Beyond, Shimmering Grotto, Smokebraider, and a Mountain to allow him to put his own Mulldrifter into play instead of the graveyard.

    Subsequently, the Mulldrifter started to work on Wafo-Tapa's life total. A second Mulldrifter got countered by Cryptic Command, but a second Smokebraider stuck. This mana boost came to Fitzgerald's aid, when he could play two Nova Chasers on the next turn. One fell victim to a second Cryptic Command, but the other dutifully championed his Mulldrifter.

    Wafo-Tapa cleared the table with Austere Command, but could only watch in dismay, as the Mulldrifter came back to live, netting his owner yet another two cards. Fitzgerald put down Smokebraider number three and Elemental Harbinger, which went looking for Incandescent Soulstoke. Guillaume tried to stop the bleeding with Kitchen Finks, but that only traded with the Harbinger -- thank the lord, now 2/2 -- and Fitzgerald's Nameless Inversion.

    Shriekmaw from Wafo-Tapa got rid of the opposing Mulldrifter and his own finally came into play due to Makeshift Mannequin. A replacement Mulldrifter came down for the Irish player, but a second one got countered with the help of Broken Ambitions.

    Sean Fitzgerald, hard pressed for an answer.
    Fitzgerald's third Mulldrifter traded with the Mannequin'ed Mulldrifter and his fourth one came down, while Wafo-Tapa had yet another Makeshift Mannequin. For all the Mulldrifters entering and leaving play, this time Spitebellows took care of Wafo-Tapa's and Cloudthresher took down Fitzgerald's. Finally the sky was cleared.

    Soon after the Irishman ran out of options, and eventually succumbed to the relentless threshing provided by the green 7/7.

    Guillaume Wafo Tapa 1 - 0 Sean Fitzgerald

    Fitzgerald chose to play first... and the quickly chose to take a mulligan. Still unhappy with his six but taking the risk, he got off to a bad start with nothing but lands for his first three turns. Turn four finally saw Incandescent Soulstoke entering play, but that was quickly Shriekmaw'ed by the French.

    No fifth land for Fitzgerald meant he could only shake his head and then evoke the Mulldrifter in his hand. Even with the two extra cards, he had no play for the next three turns, while Wafo-Tapa build on his mana, and finally cast Cloudthresher, threatening a quick 2-0 finish.

    But Fitzgerald was not to be defeated that easily. Makeshift Mannequin brought back his Mulldrifter, which in turn drew into Shriekmaw. Cloudthresher had to leave the party after attacking twice. With his clock gone, Wafo-Tapa had to take another route to victory. Laying down his eigth land, he tapped all of them for one very big Mind Spring. Card advantage supreme!

    Following, he had all the answers. More Shriekmaws, more counter magic, and also... a second Cloudthresher. Unfortunately, he didn't have the mana available to protect that from his opponent's second Shriekmaw.

    Next, interestingly enough, both players got Cloudthresher into play. But in fact, Wafo-Tapa simply decided not to pick a fight over his opponent's Thresher, when he was low on mana. Instead, he simply untapped and bounced it. One attack and a handshake later the score was...

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 2 - 0 Sean Fitzgerald



     
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Horder’s Greed
    Raphael Levy vs. Manuel Bucher
    by Tobias Henke
  • Raphael Levy of France is with a crazy elemental deck here today, while up and coming Swiss hopeful Manuel Bucher is playing the controllish Command deck. Both have access to all five colors.

    Levy won the die roll and came out lightning fast with a Smokebraider-powered Horde of Notions on turn three. The Swiss player, however, had the Broken Ambitions ready, and followed it up with Kitchen Finks. That in turn left him open to Levy’s follow-up -- the allmighty Reveillark. Next up, the French had Cloudthresher and when that died to Bucher’s Shriekmaw, Makeshift Mannequin put Horde of Notions into play. Oh my, what a line-up of colorful (and deadly) threats!

    When Levy used the Horde’s ability to play Cloudthresher, Bucher had Cryptic Command to counter the latter and kill the former, thanks to the Mannequin counter. But meanwhile the Reveillark took out large chunks out of Bucher’s lifetotal, and when Levy revealed yet another Makeshift Mannequin, Bucher shrugged and conceded.

    Raphael Levy 1 - 0 Manuel Bucher

    Levy once again opened with Smokebraider. While Bucher deployed Kitchen Finks, Bucher wailed, “Please, no Horde of Notions. Not again!” Indeed, Levy could only go for a Mulldrifter. But Levy still had more to follow: Incandescent Soulstoke came down and his Fulminator Mage was stopped dead by Broken Ambitions. His Shriekmaw on the next turn ran into a Cryptic Command that bounced the Soulstoke as well. Flamekin Harbinger, however, spelled trouble for the young Swiss, as it went looking for Reveillark. But first Levy went for Shriekmaw instead of running the white game breaker into yet another counterspell. And counter it Bucher did. The Incandescent Soulstoke came next and got countered as well.

    The game was turning into a race: Levy’s lone Mulldrifter against Bucher’s Kitchen Finks.

    Then Bucher played Primal Command, tutoring for a second Kitchen Finks and shuffling Levy’s graveyard into his library. In response Levy reanimated Incandescent Soulstoke via Makeshift Mannequin. Levy then put his Reveillark into play with the help of the Soulstoke’s ability, attacked Bucher for eight down to six, and played Shriekmaw to destroy his own Mulldrifter. When the Lark died at end of turn, Mulldrifter came back for a quick refill of Levy’s by now completely empty hand.

    Bucher was far behind on life, creatures, and options, specifically he had no choice but to keep up the offense. His second Primal Command gained him nine life, by means of yet another Kitchen Finks. Levy attacked with his Shriekmaw and put down a second one. Lifetotals were now fifteen to seven.

    When on his next turn Bucher cast Mind Shatter to make Levy discard his last card in hand, the French activated Soulstoke and revealed Reveillark to take the game and match.

    Raphael Levy 2 - 0 Manuel Bucher

    Afterwards, Bucher mused he might have sideboarded incorrectly, taking out his Firespouts that would have certainly won him this match. Levy also noted that he was not really happy with boarding Fulminator Mage, but even less with all the other options.



     
  • Blog: 4:30 p.m. - Storytelling
    by Tobias Henke
  • Put on the camp fire, kids. It’s time for a little storytelling...

    We all know Mirrorweave plus Lieges is good. But how good exactly is still up for debate. In round three a player was actually run over, when he left one of three attackers unblocked and was sitting at sixteen points of life! In came Cloudgoat Ranger from under the attacking player’s Windbrisk Heights, Mirrorweave targeted Wilt-Leaf Liege -- yep, that’s sixteen damage all in one go!

    Imagine the variety! There are people here today, who in their first five rounds have played exactly five mirror matches. Faeries is bound to be succesful -- if only through sheer numbers of appearance.

    An interesting bad beat occurred in round five, when Helmut Summersberger faced off against Florian Pils. His starting hand included two Bitterblossoms. On the first turn he played Ponder, saw another Blossom and shuffled that away, only... to draw Bitterblossom number two and three right off the top! He lost that game with two dead Blossoms in his grip and two deadly Blossoms on the table which drained all of his life away. Bitter.

    This pair of players has yet another story to tell. Florian Pils of Germany could only get a flight this morning and would have been late for registration and the player meeting and didn’t have a deck yet. Only, with three byes he could be on time for his first round of actual play... So Austrian pro Summersberger offered to register Pils and submit a decklist for him -- the exact same 75 cards, which Pils then assembled with the help of a whole cast of other players. Imagine the look on his face when these two then had to square off in round five and Pils even defeated Summersberger. What a way to repay one’s debt.

    Still friends: Florian Pils, Helmut Summersberger



     
  • May 31st, 4:41 p.m. - Midway Through The Second Half
    by Rich Hagon
  • It's Rounds 4,5 and 6 here in Birmingham and the master tacticians are making their move. There are no easy games at this stage of the competition, and it turns out that the top tables are packed with Faeries. Hang on, I don't think I'm making this clear enough - the top tables are PACKED with Faeries. Like 50%....great match reports, metagame analysis and more!

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  • Feature Match: Round 7 – Faerienough
    Shuuhei Nakamura vs. Michael Duke
    by Tobias Henke
  • The Japanese top pro is running (flying?) Faeries, while local hero Michael Duke had opted for White Weenie. Both were still undefeated at this point.

    Duke won the die roll and chose to play first... but not yet. He had to mulligan twice. Nevertheless, he got off to a remarkably fast start, the like of which the feature match area had not seen so far this weekend. Goldmeadow Harrier, Wizened Cenn, Goldmeadow Harrier. Meanwhile Nakamura had Bitterblossom, and when the first token was declared to block the Wizened Cenn, Michael didn’t worry too much... until Scion of Oona came down to turn the chump into a trade.

    Meanwhile Michael’s lack of cards came back to hurt him. He was cut off from any reinforcements, whereas Nakamura’s Bitterblossom was spitting out a Faerie token every turn on automatic.

    Duke quickly scooped, when Nakamura added Vendilion Clique and Mistbind Clique to his side of the board, then turned all of that sideways...

    Michael Duke looking unhappy.
    Shuuhei Nakamura 1 - 0 Michael Duke

    Duke went first once more, but this time it was Nakamura’s turn to take a mulligan. He stopped at one, though, but did not look entirely happy with his six cards. Goldmeadow Stalwart was followed by Windbrisk Heights and then Spectral Procession, while on the other side of the board Shuuhei Nakamura led with a Swamp, followed by... well, he did have one Peppersmoke for one of the tokens, but never drew another land.

    Shuuhei Nakamura 1 - 1 Michael Duke

    As they shuffled for Game 3, the Englishman said, “Let’s hope, we gonna get at least one good game out of this match.” Nakamura could only agree.

    And indeed no mulligans were taken in the all-deciding third duel. Nakamura’s first play, however, was Bitterblossom on turn three, while Duke had Goldmeadow Stalwart, Knight of Meadowgrain, as well as Wispmare to get rid of the enchantment. When Duke attacked on his next turn, Nakamura’s Mutavault blocked Goldmeadow Stalwart. Duke tried to avoid the trade by means of Thistledown Liege, but the Japanese had Nameless Inversion for the Liege.

    Shuuhei Nakamura awaits destiny.
    Next, Wizened Cenn got countered by Cryptic Command which also returned the Knight of Meadowgrain to Duke’s hand. Nakamura was now at five life and desperately in need of blockers. All he could manage was another Mutavault which blocked Duke’s own Vault and survived with the help of a flashed Scion of Oona. Wispmare, however, got in for another two points of damage thanks to Rustic Clachan. And then Spectral Procession even produced three more attackers...

    Things were looking dim for the Japanese. The loss of his first Mutavault really put a stint to his mana development. He barely had enough mana to cast Cryptic Command on the next attack to save him and bounce Wispmare. When in response Duke pointed Mirrorweave at Scion of Oona, countering the Command because of no legal targets, Nakamura could only go for the handshake.

    Shuuhei Nakamura 1 - 2 Michael Duke



     
  • Feature Match: Round 8 – A Glimpse at Perfection
    Matthias Künzler vs. Sebastian Knörr
    by Tobias Henke
  • These players are two of only a handful of undefeated players and are looking to keep that record straight. The German Sebastian Knörr (having one draw) is running the “Ten Commandments”, while Matthias Künzler of Switzerland (7-0) is with Faeries.

    Künzler won the die roll, but had to mulligan. Still he played two Ponder before even laying a second land. At least he got a third-turn Bitterblossom and fourth-turn Scion of Oona out of all that library manipulation (as well as enough lands -- apparently, his lack of lands was a bluff). The Scion, however, fell victim to Cryptic Command.

    Künzler didn’t have any follow-up. As it turned out, he was actually rather mana flooded. In came Garruk Wildspeaker on the German side of the board, and when Künzler tried to play Mistbind Clique, it was met with Cloudthresher in response. Again no play for Künzler.

    Oona, Queen of the Fae herself entered play... but not for long, as two Nameless Inversion took care of that problem. Meanwhile Cloudthresher didn’t dare to attack because of the Mistbind Clique and Künzler’s second Bitterblossom (the first one being championed by said Clique).

    Künzler's clock counts down.
    Firespout number one got countered by Cryptic Command, Firespout number two got countered by Spellstutter Sprite, and Firespout number three finally hit. Now Knörr bravely moved into the red zone. Together with another Nameless Inversion Mistbind Clique took down Cloudthresher, returning the second Bitterblossom to play. But to no avail, as Knörr had Austere Command ready. Meanwhile Kitchen Finks had entered play on Knörr’s side and now Künzler, who had already lost quite a few points of life to his stingy Blossoms, suddenly was on a serious clock.

    It ticked and ticked, and then his time ran out...

    Matthias Künzler 0 - 1 Sebastian Knörr

    The Swiss began this game, but Knörr had the first play with Leaf Gilder. Künzler’s Vendilion Clique revealed a total of three Cloudthreshers in the German player’s hand, but only two more lands for a total of four. “Interesting”, Künzler commented.

    He devised the devilish plan of not allowing Knörr to ever get to six mana, taking out the Leaf Gilder with Nameless Inversion and subsequently attacking his mana with two Mistbind Cliques. It worked out in the end, but only because Knörr never even found a sixth land.

    Mana-dry Knörr can't catch a break.
    Matthias Künzler 1 - 1 Sebastian Knörr

    Knörr started with a mulligan, followed by his opponent taking one as well. Then they were off to the deciding duel. Thoughtseize by Künzler revealed that Knörr’s opening hand did only include two lands and -- at least up to now -- one Fertile Ground, which was seized. The German was seriously mana screwed, and his attempt to evoke Mulldrifter was thwarted by Broken Ambitions. Next his Kitchen Finks was countered by yet another Broken Ambitions, but this time the clash revealed a fourth land on top of the German player’s library! Imagine the excitement surrounding the clash card on top Künzler’s deck, which turned out to be... not a land! Thus, the Gernman was once more denied his chance at a fourth land.

    Künzler played a couple of Faeries and eventually Knörr succumbed to the flying beats -- still with three lands in play.

    Matthias Künzler defeats Sebastian Knörr 2 - 0 and completes the 8-0 record.



     
  • May 31st, 7:48 p.m. - And the Whistle Blows
    by Rich Hagon
  • At the end of the first leg, over 500 players have been eliminated. Now 64 remain to face six more rounds of Sunday action before the Top 8 showdown. With an enticing blend of homegrown talent and foreign powerhouses, look for more top-notch action as the Kithkin and Fae continue their weekend-long battle for top-of-the-league status.

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