Saturday, April 23 - 8:34 pm: Round Eight: Sam Stein vs. Craig Krempels
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 7:47 pm: Round Six: Jeroen Remie vs. Craig Krempels
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 6:29 pm: Round Five Feature Wrap-Up
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 3:44 pm: Round Four: Gerard Fabiano vs. Mark Zajdner
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 1:21 pm: Deck Tech: Building with Gadiel Szleifer - Staying on Target
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 12:02 pm: Feature Match Themes
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 11:30 am: PEST Control
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 11:09 am: Pulling Double Duty
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 10:44 am: First Pick
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23 - 10:22 am: Grand Prix Trial Winners
by Brian David-Marshall
Saturday, April 23: 10:22 am - Grand Prix Trial Winners
Technically the Grand Prix festivities kicked off last night when 115 players queued up to win three byes for this morning's action. The Grand Prix Trial was run with eight rounds of Swiss and byes going to the top 4 players based on the final standings. In the interests of everyone involved getting a little sleep there was no booster draft. It is a Wizards approved option for Grand Prix Trials where four sets of byes are being awarded. Professional Event Services patriarch Mike Guptil called the format 7plus1 referring to the seven rounds of Swiss that would normally be run before a cut to the Top 8. The additional round served to simulate the cut to a Top 8.
"As it was we didn't get out of here until 2AM," explained Guptil. That is still pretty good as far as most of these Trials go. Maybe the winners actually got a good night's sleep and will be refreshed enough to something with their hard fought prize.
It is interesting to note that despite many 'the sky is falling' protestations in the online Magic community there was not a single Umezawa's Jitte among the card pools of the happy winners. In fact, if you expand the search to include the Top 8 decks you would still not find a copy of Umezawa's multi-purpose kitchen tool. The top 4 decks seemed to be defined by the top common and uncommon cards in both sets with a smattering of powerful rares but none of the usual suspects. The top 2 decks had Glacial Ray and plenty of ways to abuse it while the third and fourth place decks revolved around Nezumi Graverobber and Nagao respectively.
1st Place Grand Prix Trial
2nd Place Grand Prix Trial
3rd Place Grand Prix Trial
4th Place Grand Prix Trial
Topdeck of the Weekend
Somewhere in the middle rounds last night of the Grand Prix it looked like Geddes Cooper's tournament was just about over. He had only Kabuto Moth that been enhanced to a 2/3 thanks to Otherworldly Journey, Honden of Infinite Rage, and seemingly infinite mana facing off against his opponent's Master Yamabushi, Frost Ogre, and Ember-Fist Zubera.
Geddes Cooper drew pure gold.
Geddes opponent, who had played Mr. Yamabushi the previous turn, untapped and attacked with everything. Geddes looked over the enemy position and was relieved to see that there were still only five lands on the other side of the table. He slammed a Silverstorm Samurai in the path of the bomb rare and drew a whoop of joy from the onlookers huddled around their table. "You have just played the only good Silverstorm Samurai in the history of Betrayers."
"I sided it in," Geddes grinned. "I just drew it. I had a one-outer and I drew it for once in my life."
Geddes still had to deal with the Frost Ogre but the top of his deck continued to be his best friend as it dished up Kami of Tattered Shoji and Pull Under as needed over the next two turns. Geddes emerged from that round victorious but fell in the later rounds without winning the extra byes.
Saturday, April 23: 10:44 am - First Pick
Artist Christopher Rush.
After some minor travel snags involving connecting flights, Grand Prix Detroit Guest of Honor Christopher Rush arrived safe and sound this morning to sign cards for his adoring fans. The first card he signed this weekend?
A Black Lotus.
Saturday, April 23: 11:09 am - Pulling Double Duty
Yes, I said supersquad.
Members of the TOGIT/Dutch/EverybodybuttheJapanese Supersquad take a break from playtesting Block Constructed to put their Sealed Decks thought their paces.
Saturday, April 23: 11:30 am - PEST Control
Toddler not included.
It is impossible to go to a Professional Event Services tournament without having to navigate a small army of children belonging to the staff, judges, and Mike and Denise Guptil. The PES staff clothes their kids in bright green T-shirts (as modeled by Halley Guptil) that label them as Professional Event Services Toddlers or PEST for short. The T-shirts also advise, "If found wandering please return to PES. Thank You."
Saturday, April 23: 12:02 pm - Feature Match Themes
Bob Wagner vs. Matt Johnson.
When the PES staff chose the features for round two they went with a theme. They chose two of the more…ummmm…errrr…let us call them deliberate players in the field today. Bob Wagner is a veteran of the both the PT and PTQ circuit and has likely gone to time on his matches more often that any player in the game's history. His opponent this round was Matt Johnson. The match concluded within the allotted time with Matt taking it down two games to none.
Vishu Doshi vs. Richard Germar.
On the other side of the divider Vishu Doshi was squaring off with Richard Germar. Vishu is young player who has been making a name for himself east of the Mississippi the past couple of seasons while also giving Bob's unofficial record a run for the money. Call him Cal Ripkin to Bob's Lou Gehrig. Their match pushed right up against the time limit with Richard pulling it out in the third and final game.
Saturday, April 23: 1:21 pm - Deck Tech: Building with Gadiel Szleifer - Staying on Target
No one seemed to know that Gadiel Szleifer was even in the room. It was actually pretty funny. By shedding what could easily be ten pounds of hair Gadiel's silhouette looked dramatically different. Without that trademark mop sticking out from under the bill of his cap and an almost-preppy polo shirt he barely resembled the surly looking kid who made the Top 8 of Pro Tour Columbus at the start of this PT season.
Gadiel Szleifer sports his new look.
It is always interesting to talk to Pros about their approach to building Sealed Decks since they rarely have to use that skill in their Magic pursuits. Team Sealed is a completely different animal from the individual variety and that is the only time Sealed Deck is used on the Pro Tour. Usually the only time they have to build a Sealed Deck is for a Grand Prix like this one. One would think that PTQ regulars would have a slight experience edge in that arena.
That is not the case with Gadiel. He has played in countless Sealed Deck qualifiers for the IPA tournaments on MTGO and felt pretty comfortable sifting 75 Kamigawa block cards down to 20-odd playables. His card pool did not offer him anything broken. There were none of the Jittes, Nagaos, Melokus, or Master Yamabushis that players fantasize about when they lay out their card pool.
"There are no bombs but it is solid," shrugged Szleifer confident that he still had the tools with which to win. He was playing 22 cards and 18 lands and sticking to two colors -- black and white -- despite having some cards most players would be tempted to splash for a third color. "I have these red cards…" Gadiel fanned out a selection of red cards that was headlined by Yamabushi's Flame, First Volley, and Frostling.
Gadiel chose to let black removal cards suffice in order to allow him to stick to two colors. He was featuring a couple of slower white cards in his six-hole including Silverstorm Samurai and Kami of the Palace Fields. While these cards will often sit on the bench in draft formats they certainly make the cut for Gadiel in the slower Sealed Deck format. "They're not great but I didn't have any big drops. I would much rather play a bad 6-drop than two 3-drops on turn 6."
Not even these direct damage threats could temp Gadiel to splash red.
While they might seem like ideal cuts to make to accommodate the two red removal spells, Gadiel disagreed. "I am a big fan of staying two colors. Plus I have three cards in each of my colors that require double colored mana. I'm also not lacking in removal."
With the phenomenal year that Gadiel has posted thus far -- Top 8 in Columbus, winning GP Chicago -- he had more than enough Pro Points to allow him to sit on the sidelines for the first three rounds of action. He only needed to play five rounds with the deck and liked his chances of advancing to Day Two. "I expect to go 4-1. I think the deck is good enough to go 5-0 but it could just as easily go 3-2. I would be satisfied with a 4-1."
Saturday, April 23: 3:44 pm - Round Four: Gerard Fabiano vs. Mark Zajdner
Day One Sealed Deck
It is hard to resist a pairing of two of the more entertaining players on the Pro Tour. Both players are unrepentantly silly and are always willing to put on a show. This was the first round of action in which the three-bye crowd would have to actually play some Magic for a win. This was not good news for Zajdner who was -- as always -- very disappointed with the cards he had to work with. This time he did have a valid case. He was equally unhappy to find himself sitting at a feature match table.
"How could you do this to me BDM?!? I told you how bad my deck is!"
As the two players shuffled and argued about whether or not Zajdner's deck could actually be as bad a s advertised, Mark looked back over his should and cautioned the spectators. "Hey! If you are going to look at my hand you can't laugh at the cards I draw!" No promises were made but everyone agreed to do their best.
In Game 1 a Kodama's Reach powered out Moss Kami and Patron of the Moon for Mark while Gerard had Scourge of Numai and Heartless Hidetsugu. Mark had earlier used a Torrent of Stone on an Ogre Marauder to turn the damage effect from the Scourge back on and was grumbling at the sight of the rare red ogre.
Mark looked to restock his hand Honden of Seeing Winds while Gerard emptied his to play Thief of Hope and Skullsnatcher. Zajdner was drawing two a turn now. He attacked with his Moonfolk and bounced it to sneak out Mistblade Shinobi. Gerard had to decide when and if he wanted to use his Ogre. He continued doing the math and considered whether he wanted to use it before or after damage while Zajdner was in agony waiting for him to make a decision.
"Whoa! Speed of molasses here."
Gerard used the ability and the life race went to 5 to 4 (in Mark's favor) and Gerard would soon dip to 2 from the Scourge with no more Ogre to keep his ability in check.
Gerard rubbed his deck for luck and turned back to a young players watching their match, "Top deck or no?"
The kid shook his head and firmly declared, "No."
Gerard laid Pinecrest Ridge and chastised the onlooker, "That was very lucky." He attacked with everyone and was able to cast Unchecked Growth to make sure he got in for lethal damage. "You didn't think I was going to top deck?"
Zajdner, who thought he might actually pull that game off slumped back in his chair and shook his head at the poor prognosticator. "Of course he is going to top deck."
"I haven't top decked in a long time," smiled Fabiano. "It felt good."
"Real good," grumbled Mark.
"C'mon Mark if you had top decked I would feel happy for you."
Game 2 started off with a mulligan for Gerard -- Mark had elected to draw. Mark did not seem happy with his hand and Gerard tried to glean some information while he shuffled for his six card hand. "Are you going to mulligan?"
"I would tell you."
"If you go down to three cards I might mulligan."
Neither player did anything on the first two turns. There was a Ronin Warclub for Gerard who then stumbled on lands. Gnarled Mass, Frostwielder, and then Kumano's Pupils came down in succession for Zajdner -- the last with the nickname, "Big pukes."
Gerard had Takenuma Bleeder and it acquired the club. Mark attacked and shot down the Ogre with his pinger when it blocked. Mark followed up with Sosuke Summons and an Orochi Sustainer. Gerard could not keep up and the game ended in short order.
One of Mark's friends wandered over and could not believe there was any number other than a zero next to Mark's name on the scoreboard. "You won a game?"
"I should have won Game 1," frowned Mark. "He peeled. I really need you to mulligan to three. We'll still be friends if you mulligan to three right?
Gerard muttered sure while he thought about whether or not he should have kept his six card hand in Game 2.
Mark kept wishing for some bad luck on Gerard's part. "I reeeeeally hope you mulligan to three."
Gerard looked hurt, "Really?"
"You said we would still be friends."
Gerard announced he was going to draw and also announced that he would be keeping while Mark was still agonizing over his hand -- which had two lands, 4-drop, 7-drop, Hankyu, Commune with Nature, and a Honden. "The hell with it maybe I'll get lucky."
He Communed for Petalmane Baku and played it on turn two. There was nothing from Gerard until a turn three Bleeder. Mark frowned at the Swamp that Gerard had obviously just drawn and played. "Keeps a hand with no Swamps and gets blessed. Must be nice Gerard."
Mark played Hankyu and an Initiate of Blood which gave Gerard some pause. "Can that thing kill my Bleeder next turn?"
"I don't know...can it?"
Kami of Fire's Roar came out for Gerard and he laughed as Mark played the blue Honden. "Cry me a river, Mark."
Gerard bashed with his men and followed up with a Frost Ogre. Mark drew two cards but all he could do with the turn was equip his Petalmane Baku and pass the turn. Gerard was able to Glacial Ray the Initiate and make it so the Petalmane could not block. Mark took ten. He drew his two cards for the turn and conceded.
"Where is the closest garbage for these bad boys to go into?"
Gerard tried to stop him, "Not the rares. I might need some of those for Philly."
"Here," offered Mark as he pushed his rares to Gerard after ripping them in half. "Make sure you mark down that I drop."
Final result: Gerard Fabiano -2 Mark Zajdner - 1
Saturday, April 23: 6:29 pm - Round Five Feature Wrap-Up
Nathon Braymore and Gabe Walls.
Antonino DeRosa and Gabe Walls found themselves in an unexpected situation this weekend. For the first time in as long as either player could remember, neither one of them had the maximum number of byes for a Grand Prix. They each had to start playing in round three and it prompted a friendly wager between the two friends as to who would be the first of the pair to be seated in the feature match area. When both players were paired up against PES mainstays in the fifth round it seemed like a perfect time to feature them both. As an added bonus I would get to see how they tried to settle their wager.
Gabe Walls eyed me suspiciously as I walked over to the feature area. He laughed when I asked, "So who won the bet?" and knew that I had set them up. "He got us, Ant. He knew about the bet."
Gabe's opponent for the round was Nathon Braymore. Gabe scuffled for his second red mana for most of the game but was able to keep Nathon's mana tied up with a Phantom Winged Mistblade Shinobi. He had to shoot down a Lantern Kami with a Torrent of Stone to keep that plan in action. Nathon looked like he was able to stabilize at three life with a Glacial Ray, while it could not actually singe the Shinobi it was able to burn his pesky wings which was the most important factor. Gabe drew Teller of Tales a turn later and was able to finish Braymore off in the air. The second game went more smoothly for Walls who made short work of his opponent with his Teller of Tales doing most of the work.
On the other side of the table Antonino was down one game to Marshall Arthurs. Marshall had won three byes courtesy of the Trial last night and if you ever poke around on the PES webpage you can see his name appearing regularly on Top 8 lists from Trials to PTQs and everything in between. Ant shook his head as they shuffled for Game 2, "My deck is pretty bad. Not only is my deck three colors but I have these bad boys in the deck." While he had a handful of solid cards he also had a fair number of clunky cards such as the red and black Myojins he showed off along with the triple red Soulblast.
To add insult to injury Antonino had to play this bad deck starting the third round. "I can't remember the last time I did not have three byes for a GP. I don't know if I have ever played in a GP without three byes."
DeRosa is one of the more accomplished Grand Prix players in the world. Although he does not have the gaudy numbers of Alex Shvartsman, Kai Budde, or any of the Japanese GP monsters he has reached the elimination rounds six times. Last year in Kansas City he won a Limited GP but has seen a little dip in his results since then.
DeRosa evened up the game score despite never looking to be in control of the game thanks to Blood Rites, plenty of mana, and ample cannon fodder to get in the way of attacking creatures and launch themselves at Arthurs. For Game 3, Marshall chose to draw and both players seemed fine with their initial seven.
DeRosa led off with Blinding Powder but had no turn-two play. He laughed when Arthurs played Journeyer's Kite on turn two. "I have the perfect Solution for that card." He Stone Rained one of the lands on Marshall's board and set him back two turns before he could activate the Kite. DeRosa untapped to play a Nezumi Ronin but was missing a fourth land. There were no such issues for Arthurs despite the Stone Rain. He played a third land -- three different types, of course -- and put down Kitsune Blademaster.
DeRosa sighed as he looked at the expensive cards in his hand and the absence of mana to cast them. Still without his fourth land, he played a Shinka Gatekeeper. Marshall made a Waxmane Baku. A fourth land showed up for DeRosa and he was able to play Nagao, Bound by Honor. Marshall made no play.
Ant equipped his Nagao with Blinding Powder and unattached it and moved it onto his Ronin. He sent both of his nigh invulnerable men into battle. Marshall had a Rend Flesh for the Nagao and took the damage from the Ronin.
Antonino DeRosa vs. Marshall Arthurs.
Marshall seemed to have nothing but lands and he passed his next turn without any action. He used his Waxmane Baku to keep the Ronin at bay on Ant's next turn and DeRosa added a Frost Ogre. Marshall used his Kite and Antonino reminded him of the Land tax rule -- whenever you thin your deck of lands the next card you draw always seems to be more land. Marshall sank a little bit in his chair as this proved to be true.
Finally, Marshall drew Hikari, twilight Guardian but he had taken twelve damage along the way. Antonino announced an attack and Marshall wanted to respond. Antonino shook his head and tapped six mana, "I hate suspense…Soulblast you for eleven."
He waited to see if there was a Shining Shoal in his future, and when there was not DeRosa sang the praises of Stone Rain. "Stone Rain in Sealed Deck is always clutch. It is good on the play and it is good on the draw."
Saturday, April 23: 7:47 pm - Round Six: Jeroen Remie vs. Craig Krempels
The Captain was here. The other one.
Craig Krempels may be the U.S. National Champion, but could there be a more American player in the room than Jeroen Remie in his Captain America jersey? I think not. The two players are actually working on the same side for the upcoming Pro Tour. Craig is one of the mainstays of the TOGIT team and Jeroen has brought his Dutch squad into the TOGIT fold. In addition to himself, Jeroen has included Julien Nuijten, Kamiel Cornelissen, Ruud Warmenhoven, and Jelger Wiegersma (who was also here playing this weekend) into the supersquad that has formed to tackle the block constructed format for PT Philly.
The two players joked about who should pick up the mantle of Magic's bad boy now that Gadiel Szleifer -- one table over -- had shed that reputation along with about ten or fifteen pounds of hair. Jeroen suggested that Craig pick it up to boost his sagging popularity. "In the North American Invitational vote you were the nut low, right?"
"I was beaten out by the likes of Jon Sonne and Gadiel Szleifer." Craig agreed as he scratched his chin. "Maybe if I lied more like Osyp."
The two players started the first game at a blistering pace. "If we play really fast he won't be able to keep up," they laughed as I tried to keep track of the developing boards. Jeroen was showing green-white with Split-Tail Miko while Craig played Brothers Yamazaki. Jeroen came back with Gnarled Mass.
Craig added Thief of Hope and Jeroen bragged as he put down Order of the Sacred Bell. "My guys are bigger than yours."
Krempels looked to stabilize with a Ronin Cliffrider and had to take a little bit of a beating as Jeroen bashed across with the green team. He made no play. When Craig sent in the Cliffrider and the Thief, Jeroen used the Miko to save itself. Craig killed the Order with Crushing Pain -- and triggered the Thief. He summoned an Initiate of Blood in his second main phase.
Jeroen Remie hates math.
Jeroen sent in the Mass and Craig fell to eight and added Burr Grafter. Craig sent in the Cliffrider and the Thief. Miko saved itself. Before blocks Craig used the Initiate to shoot the Burr Grafter. Jeroen sacrificed it and fell to seven. With only one creature left back to block Jeroen sent in the Gnarled Mass and the Miko showing Strength of Cedars. Jeroen seemed surprised when it resolved and Craig scooped up his cards. He had exactly enough lands in play to kill Krempels.
"The math worked out perfectly," chuckled Jeroen, who had not done any math at all.
"I am going to draw," announced Krempels -- a popular strategy so far this weekend. Jeroen kept and so did the U.S. Champ. Battle-Mad Ronin was the first play of the game from Craig. Matsu-Tribe Sniper followed on turn three from Remie. Krempels had Thief of Hope.
Order of the Scared Bell tolled for Jeroen and Craig could only muster an Ashen-Skin Zubera to hold the fort. The Order ate the Zubera and Jeroen pitched an uncastable Gnarled Mass -- he had all Mountains and just the one Forest. He followed with his own Ronin Cliffrider. Crushing Pain finished off the Bell.
Gibbering Kami came down for Krempels mostly to soulshift back the Zubera. Ronin attacked and Jeroen finished it off with his Sniper and added a Blademane Baku. Craig played Waning Moon and Ashen-Skin and despite being on the offensive Jeroen was down 23-10 at this point.
Craig continued to stem the flow of damage with chump blocks and soulshift until he managed to get a Frostwielder into play. Jeroen was almost out of gas and shook his head as Craig tapped five mana, "Cliffrider?"
With the combo of Ronin Cliffrider and Frostwielder in play, the tide shifted in Craig's favor. With nothing but lands coming for Jeroen, the Dutchman scooped.
Craig Krempels is the US National Champion and semi-pro arm wrestler.
The two friends punched their fists and wished each other luck for the third game. Jeroen kept his hand on the play but Craig had to throw back a one-lander. Craig took that opportunity to send out a little love, "I would like to give a shout-out to my boys back in Detroit…oh wait."
Sniper led off for Jeroen. He had the two green for turn three but this time Gnarled Mass was conspicuously absent. There was no play from Craig and Jeroen cast Kami of Fire's Roar into an empty board. Krempels Befouled the spirit and took one from the Sniper on Jeroen's turn. Ronin Cliffrider rode in for the Dutchman.
Craig played Okiba-Gang Shinobi right there out in the open where everyone could see it. Jeroen got in for two with the Ronin and fortified with Burr Grafter. The 2/2 promptly traded with the Okiba-Gang and Craig played his Ronin Cliffrider. He took three from Jeroen who put out an Orochi Ranger almost certainly with a trick up his Captain America-emblazoned sleeve.
When Krempels attacked with the Cliffrider Jeroen attempted to save his Ranger with Unchecked Growth. Craig had Crushing Pain again. Jeroen sighed as his deck seemed to be offering him nothing. Craig untapped and Eradicated the Cliffrider. He looked through the deck and handed it back. "I just left it in the order it was in."
Jeroen shuffled and laughed. "It would have been a good bluff if all the good stuff was on top."
Jeroen drew and played a topdecked Earthshaker. Craig was stunned and Jeroen looked guilty to have drawn just about the only card in his deck that could help him. "I'm sorry, that was dumb."
Craig made a 3/3 mountainwalker and lost his Cliffrider when Jeroen played a Blademane Baku. The Bruiser got to do three damage. Craig tried to mount a board with Cunning Bandit and Kami of the Waning Moon. Jeroen attacked with his Earthshaker and Craig opted not to block. Jeroen sheepishly showed him the Devouring Rage that added up to exactly the right amount of damage. "I am not too proud to admit that I am a very lucky man."
Did I mention that Gadiel Szleifer got a wicked awesome haircut?
Craig was flabbergasted. In both games that he lost, Jeroen had the exact cards he needed and was able to get in just the right amount of damage with not a point more than was necessary.
Gadiel was playing one table over and had just made short work of his opponent to post a 6-0 record that almost guaranteed him a place at the draft table tomorrow. He stood by his build and said that he never once reached for the extra red removal he left in his sideboard. The only cards he was boarding in wit any regularity were Psychic Spear and Mending Hands.
Saturday, April 23: 8:34 pm - Round Eight: Sam Stein vs. Craig Krempels
Craig Krempels has seen better days.
Reigning U.S. National Champion Craig Krempels was not having a good day. "Its been rough. My opponents have not played a good card against me yet. Last round my opponent mulliganed on the play and just smashed me."
"I lost to Jitte last round," Sam Stein, finalist in the 2003 JSS National Championships, offered in way of commiseration. Both players were 5-2 and needed a win this round in order to advance to the draft portion of the weekend. Both players won money drafting Champions in Nagoya -- Craig finished 14th and Sam 43rd -- but only one of them would get the chance to repeat that feat this weekend.
Soilshaper was the lead off for Sam and a Nezumi Ronin followed for Craig. Stein followed up with Dripping-Tongue Zubera and sent a Forest to trade with the Ronin. Craig obliged. He untapped and played Kami of the Waning Moon. Stein sent his pair of 2-drops into battle and Craig traded his flier for the Soilshaper. Waxmane Baku followed for Stein.
Krempels summoned a Thief of Hope and it was dispatched with Rend Spirit. Craig untapped and Eradicated the Waxmane. He was stunned as he looked through his opponent's deck and found a second Waxmane although that was not what shocked him, "This is actually the world's worst mana. Better lucky than good I guess."
"I didn't have a choice."
Dripping-Tongue got his beat on and was joined by Humble Budoka. Craig made a Frostwielder. Sam attacked with both of his slight green men and Frostwielder stepped in the way of the Zubera. Sam let it bounce and played Gutwrencher Oni. Craig knew there was a Unchecked Growth in hand and had to use Torrent of Stone on the Demon during his own turn with his opponent tapped out.
Sam Stein has a promising future.
When Stein untapped and played Kokushu, the Evening Star Craig threw his hands up in disgust -- and defeat.
"I will draw," announced Krempels perhaps recalling the treacherous mana he saw after last game's Eradicate. Sam Stein promptly mulliganed and Craig consoled him. "Don't worry it won't matter. It hasn't the whole tournament."
Stein kicked things off on turn two with a Nezumi Cutthroat but had no follow-up action on turn three. Krempels played a Cunning Bandit. The Rat got in for two more but Sam was out land and could not play anything else in his hand.
Craig turned on his Bandit with a Frostling and Kami of the Waning Moon. The Kami blocked the rat and Sam who was scuffling for lands was further set back when Krempels Befouled his only Swamp, leaving him with three Plains. The game was over quickly thereafter.
"I will let you go first since I am such a nice guy," offered the mana-challenged Sam. Skullsnatcher and Humble Budoka came down on either side of the table and collided in the red zone a turn later. Cunning Bandit was summoned by the champ and a Waxmane Baku came down for Stein. Krempels offered his Bandit up for trade in combat but Stein refused and took two. Krempels forged a Neko-Te.
There was no play from Stein except to get in for two with his Waxmane. Craig cracked back for two with his Cunning Bandit and dropped the bomb -- Ronin Cliffrider. Sam chose to Reciprocate the Bandit despite the fact that the Cliffrider would be a lock if it acquired the equipment. Craig sent it in for two unadorned and summoned a mountainwalker.
Sam Stein had no play and passed the turn. Craig equipped the Cliffrider and sent it in. He announced its effect and Stein seemed to not understand how it worked. He wanted to block the Bruiser but his Waxmane got locked down when it took one from the Cliffrider's ability.
Sam put the damage on the stack and then used Shining Shoal to kill the Cliffrider. Craig followed up with Brutal Deceiver. Sam still had no played on his next turn. Craig equipped the Deceiver and Sam tapped it with his Waxmane. He took three from the Bruiser. Brothers Yamizaki joined the party.
James Norris, no relation to Chuck.
Burr Grafter allowed Sam to tap the Deceiver and block the Bruiser. He was able to kill it with a boost from Unchecked Growth. Krempels returned the favor with Crushing Pain. Kami of the Waning Moon came down. Sam untapped and did a five point Swallowing Plague on the Deceiver to stay in the game.
He tried to keep Craig's mounting army at bay with his Waxmane and a trickle of spirits and arcane but Krempels soon overwhelmed him and earned the right to crack some packs at 8:45 a.m. Sunday.
Grand Prix Austin finalist Eugene Levin was locked in a match with James Norris to determine which one of them would advance to the draft. Norris who won a Grand Prix Trial in Roanoke to earn his tiebreakers took down the match and sent the finalist from Austin away frustrated in his attempt to top that feat.