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The British are Coming!

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It's been a long time since the UK has had any Magic achievements but this weekend they finally managed to defend a Grand Prix on their home turf for the first time in around 7 years. Now, with a Grand Prix title in Hasselt earlier this year, a second place finish at PT Honolulu and now a second Grand Prix title in Cardiff, UK Magic could be said to be enjoying a renaissance.

It was looking good as Quentin Martin, Martin Dingler and Julian Jardine all drafted their way into a top 8 that also included battle-hardened pro's such as Raphael Levy, Antoine Ruel and Bram Snepvangers. Dingler, also the highest placed amateur, had been drafting green fatties all day and stuck to the same plan on the final table. In the end it paid dividends as he ended up with a very solid green-white-black concoction.

Dingler's fat green men and reasonably consistent mana base were enough to overcome more exotic builds from first Quentin Martin, then Roel Heeswijk before Germany's Wesimo Al-Bacha's four color deck crucially failed to give him a green source of mana in the deciding game of the final.

Congratulations to Martin Dingler, champion of Grand Prix Cardiff.


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Bram Snepvangers[NDL]   Roel Heeswijk, 2-1        
8 Roel Heeswijk [NDL]   Martin Dingler, 2-0
       
4 Quentin Martin [ENG]   Martin Dingler, 2-1   Martin Dingler, 2-1
5 Martin Dingler [ENG]    
       
2 Antoine Ruel [FRA]   Julian Jardine, 2-0
7 Julian Jardine [SCO]   Wesimo Al-Bacha, 2-1
       
3 Wesimo Al-Bacha [DEU]   Wesimo Al-Bacha
6 Raphael Levy [FRA]    


EVENT COVERAGE FINAL TOP 8 STANDINGS

  • Blog - 11:57 p.m. - Finals: Martin Dingler vs. Wesimo Al-Bacha
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 11:41 p.m. - Semifinals: Julian Jardine vs. Wesimo Al-Bacha
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 11:32 p.m. - Semifinals: Roel van Heeswijk vs. Martin "Ding!" Dingler
    by Frank Karsten
  • Blog - 11:17 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Roel van Heeswijk vs. Bram Snepvangers
    by Wessel Oomens
  • Blog - 11:02 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Antoine Ruel vs. Julian Jardine
    by Frank Karsten
  • Blog - 10:51 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Quentin Martin vs. Martin Dingler
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 10:43 p.m. - Top 8 Draft Report
    by Frank Karsten & Wessel Oomens
  • Blog - 10:30 p.m. - The Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Round 12: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: What Time is it? Lots of Feature Matches, Dragons in Cardiff, and More!
    by Craig Jones
  • Round 9: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Day 1 Blog Archive: 8-0 Decks, On the Bubble, Frank Kartsen Sealed Deck, Top Pro Play, and More!
    by Craig Jones
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Martin Dingler $2,400
 2.  Wesimo Al-Bacha $1,700
 3.  Roel Heeswijk $1,200
 4.  Julian Jardine $1,000
 5.  Quentin Martin $800
 6.  Bram Snepvangers $800
 7.  Raphael Levy $800
 8.  Antoine Ruel $800
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BLOG

 
  • Sunday, March 26: 10:30 pm - The Top 8 Decklists










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  • Sunday, March 26: 10:43 pm - Top 8 Draft Report


  • The Final Table

    In this top 8 draft we decided to follow Antoine Ruel and Roel van Heeswijk who were seated next to each other just like in the last draft. Maybe this way we could discover some patterns. This time Antoine would be passing to Roel though.

    Antoine first booster offered him the a very interesting choice between Dream Leash, Mark of Eviction and Viashino Fangtail. This was mainly interesting as Roel opened a Mark of Eviction in the last draft and passed it to Antoine. Antoine took that as a signal since he thinks Mark is a first pick. Since Roel knew about this it the Fangtail seemed like a reasonable pick as Antoine would avoid giving mixed signals this way. However Antoine decided that Dream Leash was just much more powerful and picked the rare.
    Roel also had a hard pick for his first booster as he himself was going to send some mixed signals. He opened a booster with Disembowel and Dimir Guildmage and eventually opted for the removal spell.

    Roel then picked logically picked the Mark for his second pick.
    Antoine had to choose between Belltower Sphinx, Last Gasp and Master Warcraft. He didn't have to think long and took the Last Gasp. Antoine then got passed a booster with Moroii and Peel from Reality. Dimir seemed to be wide open on the right so Antoine happily took Moroii.

    However, this meant that he kept on sending mixed signals as Roel took Belltower Sphinx for his third pick and a Peel from Reality afterwards.

    Antoine's fourth pick was Dimir Houseguard so at that point both players had 4 Dimir cards.

    In the next couple of boosters Antoine took of color Signets over playable Dimir cards (Roofstalker Wight and Perplex) indicating he likes to keep his options open and values mana acceleration highly.

    Roel rounded out the booster with some green cards like Shambling Shell, Siege Wurm and Elvish Skysweeper sensing that Antoine might also be drafting Dimir.

    Roel opened his second booster featuring Vinelasher Kudzu, Shambling Shell and Tattered Drake. He didn't think long as the Kudzu is clearly the best pick.
    Roel second picked a Vedalkan Dismisser, passing a Dimir House Guard. He then picked a Golgari Signet over Dimir Infiltrator.

    In the meantime Antoine opened Gleancrawler and Last Gasp. Although the rare fattie was very appealing he settled for his second Last Gasp.
    Then he made a very interesting pick as he took a off color Shambling Shell over a Tattered Drake, which this Fanatic can't agree with.
    Dimit House Guard followed and Antoine rounded out pack 2 with Dimir Infiltrator, Woebringer Demon, Boros Garrison and some more Signets.
    A fairly bad booster for Antoine since Roel picked all the Dimir cards in front of him.

    Roel added Compulsive Research, Civic Wayfinder, Lurking Informant and some mana fixing (Dimir Aquaduct and Farseek).

    Antoine wasn't sure which colors he was going to be although Dimir was a certainty with a random Shambling Shell tossed in for value.
    Roel was u/g for sure with a splash of black but he probably had to dip into red in order to get some picks in Guildpact.

    Top 8 Deckbuilding

    Antoine offered him the choice between Daggerclaw Imp, to keep his options open, Gelectrode or Izzet Chronarch, as red cards,or a Shrieking Grotesque in white. He opted for the flexible 3/1 flyer.
    His second pick was a no brainer as he got passed a Stratozepilid, the almost dragon.
    His thirst booster gave him a difficult choice. He good either pick Torch Drake, Train of Thought to go with his double Dimir Infiltrator, Wildsize to go with his Shambling Shell, or a Shrieking Grotesque. He took the latter.
    He then proceeded to pick an Izzet Signet over a Ghost Warden so it still wasn't clear what colors he really wanted. He also added a couple of mediocre cards to his pile (Orzhov Euthanist, Train of Thought, etc.) and his Izzet Signet pick proved to be right as he got rewarded with a ninth pick Izzet Chronarch.

    Roel was still struggling to find his true colors in Guildpact as he moved into red with a Gelectrode second pick and an Izzet Boilerworks 5th. Repeal, Train of Thought and Wildsize were nice consistent picks for Roel although he was a little disappointed that he couldn't get his hands on more Izzet cards.

    Both player seem to have good decks although again they were interfering with each other during the draft.


     

  • Sunday, March 26: 10:51 pm - Quarterfinals: Quentin Martin vs. Martin Dingler


  • Quentin Martin

    Sorry Raph, but I'm covering the two English guys. Quentin Martin is the more experienced with two previous Grand Prix top 8's. Martin Dingler is technically an amateur and as the only amateur in the top 8 is already guaranteed a healthy payout. I say technically an amateur. This marks one of the few remaining occasions he has to cash in on his amateur status as he has already qualified for Prague.

    This is actually the third time these players have met this weekend. Martin won in the battle of the Sealed Decks, Dingler got his revenge in the draft and then obligingly scooped to let Martin join him in the top 8.

    Martin's deck features a lot of power and the risky mana base that marks a lot of the powerful Ravnica draft decks. Dingler has been drafting fat green men all weekend and saw no reason to change now, adding black and white.

    Martin won the die roll and elected to kick off. He managed a second turn Dimir Guildmage, but then the fourth land didn't appear. Dingler capitalized with the fat green men he's been drafting all weekend. A Greater Mossdog was used to convoke out Root-Kin Ally and then he followed with a Transluminant.

    Martin found a slow land, a Dimir Signet, but then the flow of his deck improved and he found a Conclave Phalanx to stem the bleeding a little. Dingler sent in the boys regardless. Martin was tapped out and facing probably any number of combat tricks from the black, white and green mana.

    Martin thought for a while and then walked straight into Seeds of Strength.

    Ouch.

    He dropped Followed Footsteps on the Root-Kin Ally. It didn't help now, but would start to count if Martin stabilized. An attack against his empty board put him down to 4 life. Dingler cranked up the pressure with Siege Wurm.

    Martin again had to think. He had a copy of the Ally, courtesy of the Followed Footsteps, but needed to kill a creature and find another blocker.

    A Belfry Spirit seemed like the perfect answer. Maybe the ghost and bats could hold off Dingler and give the Footsteps time to bite. Dingler thought again and then sent with everything. Martin could probably block to stay alive, but it was difficult to see how it could be anything other than chump blocks to delay the inevitable.

    His copy of an Ally went in the way of the Siege Wurm. Between bats and spirit he could pump the Root-Kin to 7/7. This was smaller than the 8/8 Siege Wurm a second Seeds of Strength turned it into. Again Martin was left with an empty board. Dingler added a Screeching Griffin to his.

    Martin made a Terraformer and picked up another copy of Root-Kin Ally. Surely he was dead now.

    Nope. The Terraformer gave Martin a mountain. And that enabled him to cast Lightning Helix on a haunted Mossdog. The Mossdog dying gave Martin two more bats to block with and now he could actually inflict some damage on Dingler's forces. The Siege Wurm, Griffin and Transluminant toppled and Martin held on at 3 life. He followed with two more Transluminants and was reduced to chipping through the air for one.

    Could Martin actually turn this round? His army of Root-Kin Allies was growing. He added a Torch Drake. Dingler sent everything into the red zone and popped the Transluminants for 1/1 flying spirits.

    Martin now finally had a dominant board position, but precious little life. He had only one life point left and was facing three 1/1 fliers with no flying defence of his own. Could he, Houdini-like, summon another card from his library to pull off yet another escape.

    Nope, his library of tricks had finally run dry and Dingler finally got to cement a win he must have thought was in the bag turns ago.

    Dingler 1-0 Martin.

    Martin chose to go first and this time Dingler mulliganed. Martin appeared to have found all the mana fixing in the world as he made two Signets and a Karoo land. They ramped him up into a Graven Dominator that was far bigger than Dingler's Transluminant.

    "Can't let that live," Dingler said, axing it with Mortify.

    Martin followed it with Belfry Spirit and then showed his Timmy tendencies as Angel of Despair entered play, vindicating a Greater Mossdog.

    Martin's draw looked to be the stone cold nuts this game. Dingler tried to stay alive with an Ostiary Thrull only to see it fried by Lightning Helix.

    No coming back from that.

    Dingler 1-1 Martin

    Hmm, down to a decider between Martin's powerful, but a little shaky, deck and Dingler's black-green-white beat machine.

    Dingler mulliganed on the play but cracked out with a Selesnya Evangel. He didn't have a creature to follow, instead making a Selesnya Signet that enabled him to make a Boros Guildmage. He went to make a Saproling only for Martin to interrupt with:

    "Respond!"

    Lightning Helix flashed out from the Boros Signet he'd cast last turn and the Evangel and probably Dingler's game went down in flames.

    Martin found a Torch Drake and then used his mana acceleration to drop Ghosts of Innocent. With all damage halved my guess was this game was going to slow to a crawl.

    Not quite though. Dingler convoked out a Siege Wurm then Mortified the Ghosts. The Wurm was free to bash to its full five damage.

    Martin Dingler

    The game was interesting. Martin's Petahydrox and Torch Drake was racing Dingler's Siege Wurm, Screeching Griffin and Boros Guildmage. Martin's attack dropped Dingler to 8. He was at 13. Dingler attacked back for seven and then added a Transluminant.

    Boy, was this was going to the wire. Martin had nothing in hand but a deck chock-full of bombs. Consult the Necrosages racked up the tension even higher as it gave him two more cards. His Petahydrox and Drake was not enough to kill Dingler and not enough to hold the fort. Those two cards needed to be good. Martin had pulled off a whole calvacade of tricks to hang on and almost turn back an impossible situation in Game 1. He thought for a long time, counting up his mana.

    He summoned Terraformer and Halcyon Glaze. Dingler finally remembered his Boros Guildmage could bounce Martin's Petahydrox at end of turn. With that gone attacking for the win was a formality.

    Martin Dingler beats Quentin Martin 2-1.


     
  • Sunday, March 26: 11:02 pm - Quarterfinals: Antoine Ruel vs. Julian Jardine


  • Antoine Ruel

    Antoine is a well-known player who needs no introduction. He drafted a Dimir deck with an unusual triple splash. Julian is from Scotland. It is his first Grand Prix top 8, although he has been playing from the dawn of time. He is also a father of six. Fortunately, he can now feed them with his tournament winnings. Julian drafted White-Green-Red.

    Game 1

    Julian won the die roll and chose to play first. He made Mourning Thrull and Courier Hawk in his first couple turns and started to nibble away. Antoine also made a one-power guy in Dimir Infiltrator. Julian improved his offence with a bloodthirsthy Bloodscale Prowler, another Courier Hawk and a War-Torch Goblin. That's a lot of guys indeed!

    Antoine successfully stalled the ground beats with Dimir House Guard and made a Shrieking Grotesque, which traded with Mourning Thrull and a Nightguard Patrol in Julian's hand. Julian made Ordruun Commando and another Bloodscale Prowler, while Antoine played Petrahydrox and Orzhov Eutanist. The ground was getting a bit clogged now. Especially with the Dimir House Guard in sight, Julian did not want to attack on the ground, so he simply kept on swinging in the air with his pair of Courier Hawks. He tried to deal a bunch of extra damage with Rally the Righteous, but Antoine had a devastating Last Gasp at the ready. He traded 2-for-1, getting rid of an annoying flyer in the meantime. Antoine then seemed to be taking over the game with Woebringer Demon, but Julian had a trump left: Master Warcraft. He wisely decided to attack with 13 power worth of creatures and declared no blocks.

    Julian 1 - Antoine 0

    Game 2

    Antoine got to play first. Julian had the first guys, playing Wartorch Goblin on turn 1 and Gruul Guildmage on turn 2. Antoine destroyed the latter with Last Gasp and then fetched Moroii out of his deck with Dimir House Guard. Julian added a fat Bloodscale Prowler and Nightguard Patrol to his board. Antoine attacked with Moroii and the damage race was on.

    Julian Jardine

    Antoine swung the tide with an amazing Dream Leash, taking control of Bloodscale Prowler. Julian attacked Antoine down to 9 life and cast Boros Swiftblade. Antoine cast Vertigo Spawn and attacked with Moroii, putting Julian down to 12. Antoine simply had to pray Julian did not have much left in hand, at which point Moroii would win the damage race. His prayers were not answered; quite the contrary. Julian swung with his three guys; Antoine blocked Boros Swiftblade with Bloodscale Prowler and blocked Nightguard Patrol with Vertigo Spawn. With damage on the stack, Julian destroyed Moroii with Fiery Conclusion, sacrificing the dying Boros Swiftblade. War-Torch Goblin also destroyed Vertigo Spawn. Julian proceeded to cast a pair of Courier Hawks and passed the turn again.
    Antoine now had no non-land cards in play and only lands in his hand. He was suffering from a bad case of mana flood. Julian attacked with his board of nut-lows, but even tiny mediocre 1-power creatures can win the game if they aren't blocked. Antoine found Train of Thought, but his deck failed to come up with an answer. He found a Daggerclaw Imp instead, which can't block. Ironic? Perhaps. Anyway, Julian simply attacked two more times for the win. Antoine revealed a hand full of lands.

    Julian 2 - Antoine 0


     
  • Sunday, March 26: 10:30 pm - Quarterfinals: Roel van Heeswijk vs. Bram Snepvangers


  • Roel van Heeswijk

    Bram won the die roll and chose to draw. Apparently this meant that Roel could chose in which seat he was going to sit. Since both players have their Libraries on the right side this might prove to be a huge advantage.

    Game 1

    A Civic Wayfinder from Roel opened this dutch show and is joined by a hasty Gruul Scrapper next turn.

    In the meanwhile Bram just sat behind his Viashino Slasher and a Skarrg, the Rage Pits.
    Scrapper and Slasher traded and Roel passed the turn with 6 cards in hand and 5 mana available.

    Bram played his second spell of the match, a Barbarian Riftcutter, when Roel made a Gelectrode on his turn. Roel had a Concolute waiting for the Barbarian and a Vedalkan Dismisser for Bram his Streetbreaker Wurm.

    Bram decided that every turn you should play a bigger creature so on his next turn he summoned a Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. Roel was ready for this fattie as well though as he just tapped 9 lands and Disemboweled the fattie.

    Bram gained 4 life back with a Faith's Fetters on the Civic Wayfinder putting him back at 5 life, with still a Wurm in hand.

    Roel didn't seem impressed though as he played a Vinelasher Kudzu, an Island and a Train of Thought for 4. The latter netted Roel a Mark of Eviction and he wisely decided not to be greedy and put the enchantment on his own Dismisser but on Bram his Streetbreaker Wurm.

    This proved to be too much for Bram as the Vinelasher Kudzu grew into a 5/5 monster already. Both players traded Wildsizes but it didn't matter anymore.

    Game 2

    Again Bram decided to let Roel go first and this time he was rewarded as Roel had to mulligan.
    Roel quickly made up for his mulligan with an Izzet Boilerworks. He still was lacking green mana though and passes his first 3 turns doing nothing.

    Bram had his trademark start with a Signet and a Viashino Slasher which didn't really put a lot of pressure on the colorscrewed Roel. So Roel played a Train of Thought for 2.

    A turn 4 Streetbreaker Wurm from Bram seemed to be more of a problem for Roel but at least he found his Forest now.

    A Vedalkan Dismisser slowed Bram down a little bit but things were starting to look even worse when Bram destroyed the Izzet Boilerworks with a Barbarian Riftcutter.

    Streetbreaker Wurm got replayed and Roel could only muster a Golgari Signet leaving 3 mana open and by doing so threatening a Wildsize. A good threat as Bram decided to keep his Wurm at bay for the turn.

    In Bram's end step Roel played a Peel from Reality buying himself some more time for a Siege Wurm with the prospect of replaying his Vedalkan Dismisser later on.

    He did so next turn bouncing the Streetbreaker Wurm for the third time this game. This also made room for the Siege wurm to attack putting Bram at 15.

    Bram his Viashino Fangtail got double blocked by a Lurking Informant and the Dismisser but Bram payed 4 to play Pyromatics on the Dismisser, killed the Informant and summoned the Wurm again. A Faith's Fetters later from Bram we are moving on to a deciding game.

    Game 3

    Roel still opted to go first and again had to mulligan his opening 7.
    His second hand featured 3 Islands, a Voyager Staff, Golgari Signet and the very important Mark of Eviction.

    Roel got the goodies as he drew a Compulsive Research and a Train of Thought, which should be able to make up for his mulligan.

    Bram Snepvangers

    Bram accelerated into a turn 3 Screeching Griffin with the help of a Signet. The Griffin immediately received a Mark of Eviction and Roel also added a Shambling Shell to his board.

    Roel played a Train of Thought for 3 and Bram summoned a Wojek Embermage. Embermage, which took out the Shell. A Conclave Equenaut is added to Bram's side of the board and things didn't look all that well for Roel.

    Siege Wurm wurm seemed to be a nice comeback though but Bram came back with an Oathworn Giant. Roel on his turn is ready with a Vedalkan Dismisser bouncing the Giant. Roel immediately used his Voyager Staff, removing the Dismisser from play, bouncing the Equenaut as well once in came back into play at the end of the turn.

    Bram still tried to put up a fight after his board just got bounced and summons a Divebomber Griffin.

    Things got extremely ugly when Bram tried to kill the Siege Wurm by double blocking with his Divebomber Griffin and the Embermage. Roel had the Peel from Reality again which was enough for Bram to concede whishing his friend good luck in the semi final.

    Roel van Heeswijk beats Bram Snepvangers 2-1


     
  • Sunday, March 26: 11:32 pm - Semifinals: Roel van Heeswijk vs. Martin "Ding!" Dingler


  • Roel van Heeswijk

    The players got to see each other's decks before the match, so they simply laid them out on the table. Roel was happy to see the tricks in Martin's BGW deck, like Seeds of Strength and Mortify. Martin simply noted "I don't really understand blue cards, so I can't really comment. The numbers in the corner seem a bit small!" as he looked over Roel's deck.

    Game 1

    Martin won the die roll and chose to play first, but had to start with a mulligan. He played Mourning Thrull and Ghost Warden in his first couple of turns, while Roel made a Vinelasher Kudzu. On turn three Roel attacked, tapped a blue mana, and started thinking.

    Martin: "Mark of Eviction on Vinelasher Kudzu? Seems like a strong play!"
    Roel: "Nah. But it's tough already!"
    Martin: "That's what you get for playing blue; too many decisions!"

    Roel eventually chose to put the enchantment on Ghost Warden instead. Martin just attacked for two and passed the turn without another play. The Mark bounced and then Roel put it on Mourning Thrull. Martin played Pillory of the Sleepless on the Kudzo and replayed his guys. Roel made an unimpressive Gruul Scrapper and Martin cast Transluminant.

    Mark of Eviction bounced one of Martin's guys once more, until he was fed up with it and used Mortify to destroy the enchantment. Martin now had the better board, doing a four point life swing every turn with Mourning Thrull and Ghost Warden. However, the Englishman only had 1 card left in hand, as opposed to Roel's five.

    Roel thought for a while on his turn and eventually passed without a play. With that many cards in hand, he was bound to be planning for a trick of some kind in Martin's turn. Martin attacked with Transluminant and Mourning Thrull. Roel blocked the 2/2 with his 3/2 and sure enough, he used Wildsize to save his creature. Transluminant turned into a Spirit token and Martin made a "backup Trannie" (his words, not mine). At end of turn, Roel played Peel from Reality on the Transluminant token and his own Vinelasher Kudzu that was enchanted by Pillory of the Sleepless.

    Roel proceeded to cast Gruul Nodorog. Martin slammed Pollenbright Wings on his Transluminant, pumped it with Ghost Warden and made tokens. Brian Kibler, Tsuyoshi Fujita, and Jeroen Remie, to be precise. They were sleeved too, for some bizarre reason. Anyway, Roel had the perfect answer to the enchantment in Vedalken Dismisser, but fell down to 3 life on the next attack. It's incredible how much damage a seemingly innocent Mourning Thrull can deal in a game. Roel had to answer it, and quickly! He was embarrassed to play a measly Stasis Cell on the Mourning Thrull, but it had to be done.

    Martin turned his Transluminant into a 1/1 flyer, allowing him to continue hitting in the air. Roel fell down to one and tried to dig for answers with Compulsive Research. He failed.

    Stupid one-power flyers (Martin) 1 - Roel 0

    Game 2

    Roel chose to play first. A Farseek and Civic Wayfinder fetched all the mana he needed, while Martin used a Signet to accelerate himself into a turn 3 Greater Mossdog. Roel then attacked his 2/2 into the opposing 3/3. Martin thought and said, "Definitely something fishy going on here. I'll take it!"

    Roel played Golgari Brownscale afterwards, while Martin convoked Root-Kin Ally on his turn. Martin continued to play around Wildsize by opting to take 4 damage instead of blocking. Roel added Gruul Nodorog to his board, while Martin outclassed him again with a Siege Wurm. Every turn so far, Martin had fatter creatures than Roel in play, but Roel probably had a combat trick in his hand to make up for that. Right? Roel went in the think tank and eventually just said "go". No attack, no play, nothing. Martin wasn't sure what was going on exactly, but he surely was weary of strange tricks. He attached Pillory of the Sleepless to the 4/4, which was countered with Convolute. Martin cast Selesnya Evangel, which did resolve.

    Martin Dingler

    Roel then did some calculations and transmuted Eteral Usher for Vedalken Dismisser. He probably felt that playing the unblockable-making card would not win him a race and he also had to keep up mana for all the combat tricks in his hand! Martin cast Boros Guildmage and passed the turn. Roel played Disembowel on Selesnya Evangel, who made a token before dying. On his turn, Roel interestingly used his mana on Vinelasher Kudzu rather than on the Dismisser.

    Martin attacked with Siege Wurm and Roel started to think some more. Martin looked bored. After a while, he decided to triple block it with Golgari Brownscale, Civic Wayfinder and Gruul Nodorog. Martin saw a trick coming and therefore opted not to use the first strike ability of Boros Guildmage. Martin assigned damage to the 2/2 and the 2/3. Roel used Wildsize to save his 2/3. Martin laughed and ironically said "Pff. Never guessed that you had that!" Martin then convoked out Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, clearly seeming to have the better board position right now. Roel activated his Gruul Nodorog and Martin blocked it with a 5/5 Root-Kin Ally and Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. Chump attack? Not really. Roel played Orzhov Eutanist afterwards, destroying Root-Kin Ally. Nevertheless, it still didn't look good for Roel.

    Martin added a Siege Wurm and Roel had no good answers to the first striking fatties, courtesy of Boros Guildmage. He struggled and tried, but Vedalken Dismisser was not a permanent answer. Roel could never come up with a good block anymore. A couple attacks later, Martin's monsters had overpowered the blue card advantage cards.

    Martin 2 - Roel 0


     
  • Sunday, March 26: 11:41 pm - Semifinals: Julian Jardine vs. Wesimo Al-Bachas


  • Julian Jardine

    Well I managed to call the quarter-finals wrong yet again and so instead of the all-French clash I was expected Julian Jardine and Wesimo Al-Bacha snuck through. Both are running what seem to be Boros based decks.

    Jardine still gives the host nation some hopes as he possesses Welsh ancestry although he hails from Scotland nowadays.

    Wesimo Al-Bacha is one of a new breed of German players that are only now just emerging into the gaps left by the big beasts such as Budde and Baberowski. I've also had it pointed out to me that I may have been unduly harsh to Al-Bacha during his 12th round feature match and so this semi-final will be carefully vetted by Maximilian Bracht and crew for possible bias.

    Al-Bacha won the die roll and immediately kicked off with a mulligan. Jardine also had the mulligan to keep it fair.

    Al-Bacha's deck tripped on land but a Signet got him to three mana. A Selesnya Sanctuary then got him going again.

    Jardine started fast with a Gruul Guildmage and Slasher, but then stalled up against Al-Bacha's Sell-Sword Brute and Ghost Warden. A Selesnya Guildmage showed up to give him some options.

    A lone Slasher headed off into the red zone and the crowd was on their feet. No really, those Germans will get excited about anything. The net result was Al-Bacha blocked it with his equally bad red monster (the Brute) and both critters hit the graveyard.

    Al-Bacha attacked back with a Screeching Griffin and made a Voyager Staff. After the quarter-final match it seemed like both decks were a little bit on the scruffy side. But hey, you have to make do with what you get and both players had managed to advance further than Quentin Martin's bombtastic deck.

    Al-Bacha got in another hit with the Griffin and then made a Viashino Fangtail. That looked pretty bad for Jardine. He made a Nightguard Patrol that was just fodder for a tail lash from the Fangtail. Stuck on the back foot I was unsure how Jardine could kickstart his aggressive Boros deck into action. It got worse as Al-Bacha found Bottled Cloister.

    The Scotsman now had eight mana, enough to double activate either Guildmage, but none of it produced green and he only had four creatures. A Swiftblade and Patrol sauntered into the red zone. Al-Bacha's hand was under the Cloister, but his on-board tricks of Staff and Fangtail were still formidable. The Fangtail got in the way of the Swiftblade. Jardine threw the Patrol at the Fangtail and Al-Bacha saved it with the Staff.

    At this point I got a look at Jardine's hand and realized he was trying to set up a devastating Rally the Righteous to reduce Al-Bacha to nothing from out of nowhere. He might have felt a glimmer of hope when Al-Bacha attacked with everything to drop him to seven. That evaporated when the German cast To Arms and had everything back on defense.

    A Shrieking Grotesque took the Rally from Jardine's hand and finally nailed his hopes dead and did unrepeatable things to the corpse.

    Al-Bacha 1-0 Jardine

    Jardine had to mulligan, but found some aggression with Scorched Rusalka. Unfortunately for Jules, Al-Bacha had found the Voyager Staff that had been so irritating in the first game.

    At this point my battery died and two slush puppies in a row did rather unfriendly things to my digestive system.

    Wesimo Al-Bachas

    As Al-Bacha had not found a second land it felt fair to retire and let him take his beatings in peace.

    Al-Bacha 1-1 Jardine

    As my computer was sidelined on the bench I could only summarize the third game. It seemed pretty even as Al-Bacha raced Jardine's Courier Hawk with Goblin Spelunkers. Jardine escalated with Bloodscale Prowler only for Al-Bacha trade it off with Shrieking Grotesque.

    The German then went big with Streetbreaker Wurm. Jardine thought he could handle it with an Ordruun Commando. Boros Fury-Shield scuppered that plan.

    Jardine dropped a second Minotaur and then a War-Torch Goblin. Unfortunately Al-Bacha found one of his sideboard cards, a Rain of Embers. Against Jardine's army of 1 toughness that was pretty much game.

    Wesimo Al-Bacha beats Julian Jardine 2-1.


     
  • Sunday, March 26: 11:57 pm - Finals: Martin Dingler vs. Wesimo Al-Bacha


  • And now we're into the final game and shock horror we have a British player still in and fighting for the title.

    Martin Dingler has gone green in all of his drafts and ended up with a fairly monstrous green-white-black deck for the final top 8 draft. His opponent Wesimo Al-Bacha of Germany has a Boros concoction that might not be in the same power level, but it's managed to drag him this far.

    I joined the final a few turns in. Al-Bacha had stripped a Boros Guildmage from Dingler's hand with Shrieking Grotesque and the German player was slowly winning the damage race. Dingler had a Selesnya Evangel, but hadn't really had a chance to get the Saproling forces rolling. He convoked out a Root-Kin Ally with the help of a Ghost Warden and Transluminant.

    Al-Bacha had a Trumpeter to keep the Root-Kin occupied. Rather more crucially he had a Bottled Cloister and was slowly drawing Dingler out of the match. His fliers gave him a head start in the race but Dingler was coming back hard with the green fatties. A Gleancrawler gave the Trumpeter a more pressing target to keep at bay.

    The Gleancrawler also finally gave Dingler and aerial option as he could sacrifice two Transluminants a turn repeatedly.

    This left the game rather interestingly poised with both players now down to 10 life. Al-Bacha had a grotesque card drawing engine in the Bottled Cloister, but Dingler was also pulling off some fairly nice tricks with his Gleancrawler.

    Al-Bacha added a Conclave Equenaut and this time passed the turn with no attacks.

    Back to his turn Dingler brought back the amazing repeating Transluminants and then sent a Root-Kin Ally into the red zone. With the amount of tokens on Dingler's side of the board that could hit for a lot. It was chumping time and the Mourning Thrull was first to go.

    Al-Bacha drew a couple of cards and then scooped in the face of the brokenness happening on the other side of the table.

    Dingler 1-0 Wesimo Al-Bacha.

    Al-Bacha made Dingler go first for the second and immediately found himself under Caregiver beats. Yep, Caregiver. After a brief pause to drop a Rot Farm Dingler resumed the beats with Transluminant. Al-Bacha attempted to keep pace with Ghost Warden and Shrieking Grotesque, but then fell foul of a Seeds of Strength.

    The game was playing out very much the same as the last one. Al-Bacha had found his Bottled Cloister to sort out his long term card advantage, but in the mean time found himself behind on the board as a Root-Kin Ally entered play.

    Dingler had only one card in hand. A second Shrieking Grotesque, this time enhanced with an Orzhov Signet, left him down to the top of his library. The board still looked good though for the Englishman. The Root-Kin came in again and Al-Bacha had no safe block so he was forced to drop down to 7.

    Martin Dingler

    Al-Bacha swung back with two Grotesques, but it only left Dingler at a healthy 14. He untapped them with To Arms and added a Thundersong Trumpeter.

    Dingler swung with his team and Al-Bacha walked straight into a brutal second Seeds of Strength that sent both the Grotesques to the 'yard and left Al-Bacha on the critical list with just three life.

    His Cloister found him just a Spelunker and Mourning Thrull. That might be enough as the Trumpeter was available to tie up the Root-Kin and he was able to survive the next attack (at a terminal 1 life) and keep his Thrull.

    Now it seemed like the Cloister was starting to bite. Dingler had finally run out of gas and a Last Gasp was enough to take down the Root-Kin.

    For a moment it seemed like Dingler had a window. Al-Bacha attacked with the Spelunker and Mourning Thrull. This left just the Thundersong Trumpeter on defense and Dingler was waiting with Mortify. The Voyager Staff saved it, but the Trumpeter was still out of the game when the turn went to Dingler.

    But, before the cards went under the Cloister, Al-Bacha cast Withstand. The next three points of damage Dingler could inflict would be negated.

    Then the window slammed shut with a crash. A Seeds of Strength on the Mourning Thrull followed by Blind Hunter put the German's life total up to safe levels and eventually the rampant card advantage from the Cloister was enough to level the match.

    Dingler 1-1 Al-Bacha.

    For the decider Dingler chose to go first and kept his hand with a determined "Keep".

    And then my computer battery died again.

    Okay so here we are from my notes.

    Al-Bacha had to mulligan but again had a first turn Voyager Staff. How many of those things was he running?

    I should say the same about Dingler's Root-Kin Ally. Personally I always like to bash that card but it's been golden for Dingler throughout the top 8. A Grotesque netted a Pillory of the Sleepless I was surprised at this but then remembered the Voyager Staff.

    Al-Bacha was scuffing about for land. He found a Signet but missed having four mana for a turn. When he found it he failed to make Bottled Cloister.

    Dingler was biffing with the Root-Kin Ally and as he had a Caregiver and Ghost Warden in support Al-Bacha had no choice except take 5 a turn.

    A 2nd Grotesque only hit land but still gave Al-Bacha no way to block the Ally as it cracked in for another five. An Ostiary Thrull added to Dingler's commanding position.

    Wesimo Al-Bacha

    The German finally found a Clinging Darkness to stop the walking tree, or at least slow it down. Dingler's next turn was very odd as he attacked with all four of his team: a Caregiver, Ghost Warden, Transluminant and Ostiary Thrull. Then it all made sense as a Seeds of Strength wrecked Al-Bacha. He blew the Staff to save his Grotesque. Al-Bacha went for four.

    Last Gasp took out the Thrull and gave the German a glimmer of hope. It looked desperate for Al-Bacha as a Warden supported Tranluminant dropped him to 1 life.

    Like the last game he refused to lie down as Blind Hunter clawed some life back both through coming into play and its haunt effect.

    Al-Bacha was getting more and more frustrated with his draws as the game progressed. He threw a Boros Signet onto the ground in disgust. He was forced into another chump block. The next card was a useless mountain and Al-Bacha finally extended his hand.

    He'd been desperate for green mana, completely unable to cast the Loxodon Hierarch, Streetbreaker Wurm and Seeds of Strength in his hand.

    No matter, Dingler had won. After waiting for over seven years the UK finally got to defend a Grand Prix on their home turf.

    Martin Dingler beat Wesimo Al-Bacha 2-1 and is the winner of Grand Prix Cardiff.

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