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  • Sunday, November 4, 8:45 a.m. – The Player of the Year Race, Revisited
    by Hanno Terbuyken


  • So it turns out that we were one GP off in the numbers we used for our Player of the Year consideration. In the table we used yesterday, GP Brisbane hadn't been factored in, but GP Bangkok had. So the revised numbers are:

    1. Tomoharu Saito (56)
    2. Shingou Kurihara (52)
    3. Kenji Tsumura (51)
    4. Guillaume Wafo-Tapa (48)
    5. Raphael Levy (44)
    6. Paul Cheon (41)
    7. Olivier Ruel (40)
    8. Mark Herberholz (38)
    9. Mike Hron (37)
    9. Shuhei Nakamura (37)

    These two level 6 mages are the top league in Magic, and also lead the recreational league of GP football.
    That doesn't invalidate anything we said or wrote, though. It only emphasizes Kenji's need to put up a respectable finish soon. With two GPs and Worlds left to go, he has every chance to catch up. But with Saito being on top of his game right now, Kenji will have a hard time to get him. Meanwhile, Shuuhei Nakamura has caught a cold and lost his first round of day one, but he just needs one point anyway to secure level 5 for next season.

    Also, we can exclusively reveal how pros relax during their bye rounds. Besides drafting, a number of them looked for a more active way to kill time. Next time you see Kenji Tsumura and Tiago Chan together, just toss them a ball and watch them go at it...



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 9:24 a.m. – Round 11: Shouta Yasooka vs Patrick Meissner
    by Hanno Terbuyken


  • Shouta Yasooka had brought his ingenious deck construction skills into play as he created his weapon of choice for this tournament. Shouta played the wide-spread green-black Planeswalker deck as base, but added his very own twist. To maximize his Garruk Wildspeakers, Shouta splashed red for Siege-Gang Commander, giving him the ability to trample ofer for a lot quite early. The mana requirements are not easy to fulfill, as Shouta needs both double green and double red mana, as well as dealing in cards that have a double-black mana cost, like the powerful Liliana Vess.

    On the other side, Patrick Meissner was with Skred Red. His game plan consisted mostly of throwing big Skred's at his own Stuffy Dolls, a plan that had served him well up until this point.

    Game 1

    "Hm... yours is bigger than mine."
    Shouta established a colorful mana base quickly and led with Masked Admirers. Patrick removed the pesky returning engine card with Incinerate and got stuck on two lands and a Coldsteel Heart, while Shouta played Liliana Vess, Garruk Wildspeaker and Call of the Herd. The game looked close to over for his German opponent.

    Dead // Gone dealt with the Call of the Herd token, but his Stalking Yeti was no match for Shouta's Shriekmaw and Tarmogoyf. Garruk was pumped, Liliana was gorged up on loyalty and kept eating Patrick's hand. When Siege-Gang Commander sauntered through the door, Patrick knew he was dead. A desperate Incinerate on the Commander could not stop Garruk from pumping the team to a massive Overrun victory.

    Shouta Yasooka 1 – 0 Patrick Meissner

    Game 2

    Patrick slapped himself in the face to drive off the drowsiness of an early morning, and was quick to keep his hand. But Shouta had the first action with Call of the Herd, slapping two foil Manga style elephant representatives into play. The German was not concerned, as he had Martyr of Ashes to kill the two 3/3 beaters. He progressed nicely along his deck's line of operation, with Stuffy Doll next on the list.

    A loaded Garruk, a gorged Liliana, and a number of sexy Manga Goblins spelled doom for Meissner.
    But Shouta had the correct answer: Siege-Gang Comander, sacrificing the Commander to deal two damage to Patrick. Then he played Profane Command to kill the Doll and return the Commander to play – bringing three more Goblins with it. Patrick knocked the Commander out with Incinerate, but still faced six Goblins with despair. He knew what was coming. Patrick needed another Martyr of Ashes or something similar, as the six power on the table threatened to make short work of his 14 life. Suspending Detritivore with three counters did nothing to remedy the current situation but wrote a nice big check on the future. But Patrick did not get the time to cash it in: Garruk Wildspeaker joined Shouta's team.

    Patrick slowly peeled off the top of his deck. Stuffy Doll – not good enough. A massive army of 4/4+ trampling Planeswalker powered monsters knocked Patrick Meissner to the curb in the sprint to the Top 8.

    Shouta Yasooka 2 – 0 Patrick Meissner



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 10:24 a.m. – Pro Planeswalker Ponderings
    by Rich Hagon
  • The day began early here in Krakow, with round 10 getting underrway at 8am. In the early stages of day two it's all about hanging in there. Winning the event can come later. As the metagame starts to develop, the overwhelming winners here have been the new addition to Magic, the Planeswalkers. Ajani may not quite cut the mustard, but the other four have been tearing players apart all weekend. We explore the power of the Planeswalkers, plus all the early news as 128 strive for Pro Points.

  • Click here for the Podcast!


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  • Sunday, November 4: 11:21 a.m. – Deckbreakdown
    by Hanno Terbuyken


  • A handful of decks? A handful? You'd have to be horribly disfigured to fit 32 discernible deck types in two hands, let alone one. That's the number we arrived at after checking all 128 lists (and grouping the grand total of seven Blink decks in one category). Three decks managed double digits and together made up nearly a third of the field: Pickles (all of them pure blue), the U/B Mannequin deck and the green-black aggro control deck that people keep calling "Rock".

    The numbers:
    17 Mono-U Pickles
    13 Mannequin
    11 G/B "Rock" (including two with a red splash for burn)
    7 Teachings
    7 Mono-Red Aggro
    7 R/G Aggro
    7 U/W/x Blink
    6 Elves
    5 R/G Ramp
    5 Skred Red
    5 TarmoRack
    4 G/W Kithkin Aggro
    4 U/W (Snow) Control
    3 Merfolk
    3 U/R Sligh
    3 Sexy Planeswalker (black-green, one splashing for Siege-Gang Commander)
    2 U/B Madness
    2 Kavu Predator.dec
    2 Mono-Blue Control (no Pickles!)
    2 Mono-Black Control
    2 B/R Gravepact
    1 R/B Goblins
    1 Mono-Red aggro-control
    1 Suicide Black
    1 Scryb & Force
    1 U/G Faeries (yes, Scryb Ranger is a Faerie)
    1 R/G Fatty-Fatty-Boom-Boom
    1 Reanimator
    1 Doran.dec
    1 W/r Snow Control
    1 Mono-Green Aggro
    1 not classified

    Out of all those decklists, four stand out. The first is the one that Bruno Panara brought, and we could not figure out where to sort it. That's why it is "not classified": Is it Blink without Blink? Mannequin without Mannequin? Is it Pickles without Pickles? Take a look for yourself:

    Bruno Panara
    GP Krakow Day 2 // not classified



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 9:24 a.m. – Round 14: Jelger Wiegersma vs Klaus Jöns
    by Hanno Terbuyken


  • "If you lose, you can still win the next one." Jelger Wiegersma was not prepared to draw with Klaus Jöns, who needed just one more win, or two draws, to secure a Top 64 finish. Jöns still needed three more pro points to get his level 3 for the next season – one here, and two for showing up at Worlds. The match dramatically emphasized how important tournament results are even in the lower ranks. There is something on the line for everybody. Jelger has already secured level 3, provided he shows up at Worlds, but he was level 5 last season: A sharp drop for the recent Invitationalist.

    Game 1

    Klaus kicked off with two mulligans on the draw. He was playing a deck of his own design, a mono-black aggro deck reminiscent of Suicide Black. And true to that, the first two damage of the match were dealt by Klaus to himself, via Shadow Guildmage. Jelger opened on Llanowar Elves and two Boreal Druids, and followed up with Planeswalker lady Liliana Vess.

    Klaus had Dauthi Slayer against Jelger's Masked Admirers. With Liliana picking away at his hand, the German had to get rid of her eventually, and directed his Dhauti Slayer at the Planeswalker instead of Jelger. Klaus went to 11 from his now two Shadow Guildmages, but Klaus' creatures just weren't big enough. While he had managed to kill Liliana, Jelger had Tombstalker, Imperious Perfect, and returning Masked Admirers.

    On 6, Klaus decided on more offense to reduce Jelger's 17 life point by point. With one card in hand, he left himself open to a Tombstalker attack, but staved off dying by playing Psionic Blast on the Tombstalker and finishing it off with Shadow Guildmage. It came at great cost: the four damage Klaus took from that made it impossible for him to evade the next attack.

    Jelger Wiegersma 1 – 0 Klaus Jöns

    "Nice deck", said Jelger, who hadn't seen the mono-black weapon Klaus was toting before. "Without the mulligan to five, I could have won this," Klaus thought aloud and Jelger agreed. But keeping five solid cards is better than six lousy ones, so Klaus had had no chance.

    Game 2

    Klaus Jöns was clawing for the second-to-last straw to get his one point.
    A one-land hand prompted an angry face and a headshake from Klaus. He really wanted that one Pro Point from a Top 64 finish. A disqualification had prevented him from getting those points at Pro Tour Valencia, and it came back to haunt him now. If he could keep up his game under all that mental anguish, he stood a good chance in this match. His sideboarded Deathmarks were promising, but a mulligan to six slimmed his chances.

    And one of them showed up early to kill Jelger's Wren's Run Vanquisher. But Jelger dropped his turn-three bomb: Nath of the Gilt-Leaf. Klaus: "How many do you play? Aargh!" Jelger: "A few." Klaus felt a Bad Moon rising and saw trouble on the way, when Jelger dropped Garruk Wildspeaker. "Good draw," Klaus bitterly commented. He wasn't ready to give up yet. Oona's Prowler and Nekrataal attacked Garruk, and Jelger blocked to save his cardboard comrade.

    Dutchman Jelger Wiegersma piloted his Elves against Jöns' pitch-black deck.
    Only then did Klaus show that he had another Deathmark to kill Naht of the Gilt-Leaf. Klaus kept going for Garruk, killed it and knocked the top of his deck. Jelger was well equipped with Treetop Vilalage and two 3/3 tokens, and both players played draw-go for a few turns. Jelger found a second Treetop Village and attacked. Klaus was at 12, Jelger at 11 life.

    Klaus blocked and lost his Oona's Prowler. Jelger passed the turn, with now lethal damage on the board. Klaus drew the top card of his deck, rocked back, leaned forward, and cursed. He had not found even one of his many removal spells, and he could do nothing to stop the impending death.

    Jelger Wiegersma 2 – 0 Klaus Jöns

    "I really need that point," Klaus said. "It's my fault that I don't have it!" He was angry with himself. He felt like he had his back to the wall, now needing a win in the last round. "It was a good match-up, but my draw held no luck," Klaus summarized.



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 11:47 a.m. – Learning about Land and other Stories
    by Rich Hagon
  • Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, Forest. I guess you know what these do. In this show, we see a match where at least four match-affecting decisions came down to the land in play, and the lands were anything but basic. We bring you the story of the closing rounds, leaving us perched on the brink of a Top 8 that could contain as many as four Frechmen. C'est magnifique!

  • Click here for the Podcast!


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  • Sunday, November 4: 12:24 p.m. – Round 15: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs Olivier Ruel
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • A seat among the final eight was on the line in this match between two high-profile players. Win and in, loser gets nothing, that was the tone of the round 15 match. "Oh", said Olivier, while PVDdR resolved his second mulligan, "what about a split? The loser gives the winner a draft set so he can draft!" And they shook hands on it.

    Game 1

    Profane thoughts lead to Profane Commands for Olivier Ruel.
    Paulo looked at his five-card hand and did not agree with what he saw. The four he finally kept seemed fine, with enough land for Paulo to actually play some Magic. Olivier drew first blood with Epochrasite and Faerie Conclave and tried Profane Command on Paulo's Shadowmage Infiltrator, but the Brazilian had Rune Snag to stop the powerful utterance. Finkel fell victim to the Mouth of Ronom, and quick as lightning, Paulo was down to 11 from Epochrasite beats with little defense save for a second Infiltrator.

    With Paulo at 5 life, Olivier turned two Epochrasites (one big, one small) and his Faerie Conclave sideways. Paulo decided to block and remove the small Epochrasite, going to 1 life. He knew that his only out was would have to be on top of his deck: a land, or Strangling Soot. His excessive mulligans had left the Brazilian with just three lands in play, and a hand full of good cards, among them Damnation. When his top card failed to be a land but became a second black Wrath, Paulo accepted defeat.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0 – 1 Olivier Ruel

    Game 2

    This time, it was Olivier's turn to mulligan, but merely once. Epochrasite hit a Rune Snag, and Mulldrifter drew two cards without hanging around. Olivier kept his creatures safe and seized away Nameless Inversion from a hand that also had Damnation, Psionic Blast, Tombstalker, Careful Consideration and Shadowmage Infiltrator. Knowing that his creatures were secure for now, Olivier returned a second Epochrasite with Makeshift Mannequin.

    It didn't stay long, thanks to Psionic Blast from Paulo. While the Brazilian was drawing cards and dealing damage with Shadowmage Infiltrators, Olivier had yet another Thoughtseize to take away Cryptic Command. He played Shadowmage Infiltrator of his own, but already being down to eight life didn't make his life easier. When Paulo stranded the Epochrasites mid-countdown with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Olivier saw his chances in the tit-for-tat-race locked up and conceded.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – 1 Olivier Ruel

    Game 3

    No mulligans! What a surprise. Far less surprising was Oli's turn one play, Epochrasite. Mulldrifter followed once, then Makeshift Mannequin wanted to return the card-drawer to play. That prompted Paulo's first spell in the game, a Rune Snag. Olivier had another Mannequin a turn later. Mulldrifter and Epochrasite nudged Paulo to 14 life, but the Brazilian was biding his time: Teferi and Damnation in his hand made things look better from the inside than from the outside for the Brazilian.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa wanted to pick up points, now all he has is disap-point-ment.
    Paulo was not letting Olivier get ahead. The Frenchman tried Shadowmage Infiltrator, but a Cryptic Command from Paulo stopped any nonsense. Shriekmaw dealt with Paulo's Teferi, Thoughtseize took Strangling Soot, and suddenly Paulo was down to two Damnations for defense, useless against Olivier's Faerie Conclaves and the ever-returning Epochrasites.

    Damnation #1 killed Epochrasite and Riftwing Cloudskate, but Olivier still took Paulo to 8 life – thank you, Faerie Conclave! –, played Shriekmaw and sighed. With the help of Prismatic Lens, Paulo flashbacked Strangling Soot to kill the Conclave. But Olivier was still far ahead in terms of damage, and finally managed to eke out the win with Profane Command to Paulo's head.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 1 – 2 Olivier Ruel



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 6:39 p.m. – A Belated Deck Feature
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • So you wonder where all the afternoon content is? I spent a lot of time with the deck breakdown, and then the Top 8 began their steamrolling progress. Everything you want is coming your way, but first, I had to empty my notepad to bring you three decks that we found worth highlighting.

    First up is Jan-Moritz Merkel from Germany, PT Kobe winner. He had a red deck that was neither aggro nor resembled the Skred Red control decks with their Stuffy Dolls. Jaymo himself describes it as playing somewhere between aggro and control. "Typically, I am stalling the board with Mogg War Marshal and Epochrasite, and then I just ping my opponents to death with Chandra." His nightmare match-up is R/G mana ramp, says Jaymo, and against control like Teachings, he has to go the aggro route. Jaymo had built the first version of the deck for German Nationals and updated it with the obvious Planeswalker. The deck had carried him to a 11-3 record by round 14.

    Jan-Moritz Merkel -- Mono-Red
    GP Krakow Day 2

    Next up: Blue-red Sligh. Russian level 3 pro Nikolay Potovin was one of three Russians to pilot the deck they called "CSKA", developed by a group around Nikolay and his friend Eldar Tagi-Zade. It's the name of a famous club that has red and blue as its colors. "Our friend Alexander told me that the deck could be good," explained Nikolay. "We were both crazy about Sower of Temptation. In the first version, we had Pongify and Perilous Research, but we didn't have much room in the deck. I preferred the Sligh version, where blue gives you some good option, like Psionic Blast and Looter il-Kor." It also enables Jace Beleren, which Nikolay calls "awesome".

    Nikolay went on to explain that even though many people laugh about the Looter, they stop laughing once it kills them. He and his small group viewed the Lorwyn Standard metagame as rock/paper/scissors, with the positions being filled by Tarmogoyf, Phyrexian Ironfoot and Shriekmaw. "We chose Ironfoot," he simply said, valuing the blue contribution over possible Tarmogoyf love. By round 14, the deck had posted a combined 30-10-2 record over the three players who played it.

    Nikolay Potovin – U/R Sligh
    GP Krakow Day 2

    Last up on the list of the things that you should pay attention to, is Shouta Yasooka's version of "Sexy Planeswalker", the B/G Planeswalker deck with Garruk Wildspeaker and Liliana Vess. Shouta's deck met a lot of skepticism when players saw that he had mana requirements of GG, BB and RR. But Shouta simply shrugged. The deck carried him to a Top 64 finish (43rd place). The catch: Shouta added a full set of Siege-Gang Commander to a deck that originally had no red cards in it. "Commander is just a very good card," said Shouta, and red also gave him access to Boom // Bust and Pyroclasm in the sideboard. And the allure of Garruk, then Siege-Gang Commander, and smash, is hard to shake off.



     
  • Sunday, November 4: 7:47 p.m. – A Long And Winding Road
    by Rich Hagon
  • Players travel many miles to reach these Grand Prix events. Sometimes it's 100 miles, sometimes 1000 miles, and sometimes 10000 miles. Join us for the story of the Top 8 as travellers from around the world converge on the final tables. A truly worthy champion came through an epic semi-final and a personal journey of self-belief to take the title. Hear it all, only on magicthegathering.com

  • Click here for the Podcast!
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