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Pinkster Pummels Paris!

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It was a strangely fast ending to a very long weekend. Wilco Pinkster crushed the last hope of keeping the trophy in France. Bastien Perez did his best but he was hardly more than a spectator in Wilco's final steps to Grand Prix glory. Pinkster, from The Netherlands, rode his Green-Red monstrosity to the title, winning the largest Grand Prix ever -- 1592 players -- after an incredibly long second day.

In the end, no matter how tired you are, nothing can keep a winner from smiling.


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Jean-Baptiste Gouesse   Bastien Perez, 2-0        
8 Bastien Perez   Bastien Perez, 2-0
       
4 Stephen Meyer   Wessel Oomens, 2-0   Wilco Pinkster, 2-0
5 Wessel Oomens    
       
2 Arnost Zidek   Wilco Pinkster, 2-1
7 Wilco Pinkster   Wilco Pinkster, 2-1
       
3 Giuseppe Reale   Raphael Levy, 2-1
6 Raphael Levy    


EVENT COVERAGE FINAL TOP 8 STANDINGS

  • Blog - 10:51 pm: Finals: Bastien Perez vs. Wilco Pinkster
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 10:17 pm: Semifinals: Raphael Levy vs. Wilco Pinkster
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 9:35 pm: Semifinals: Bastien Perez vs. Wessel Oomens
    by Bruno Ferreira
  • Blog - 9:10 pm: Quarterfinals: Raphael Levy vs. Giuseppe Reale
    by Bruno Ferreira
  • Blog - 8:40 pm: Quarterfinals: Stephan Meyer vs. Wessel Oomens
    by Bruno Ferreira
  • Blog - 7:57 pm: Round 15: Frederick Seguin vs. Quentin Martin
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 7:15 pm: Round 14: Bram Snepvangers vs. Rene Kraft
    by Peer Kroeger
  • Blog - 6:06 pm: Round 14: Ferran Vila vs. Amiel Tenenbaum
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 5:44 pm: Creatures?! Who needs creatures?!
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Draft Report: Draft 2 Table 1
    by Kai Budde
  • Blog - 4:51 pm: Round 13: Claudia Loroff vs. Mario Pascoli
    by Peer Kroeger
  • Blog - 2:33 pm: Cleaning the First Draft Tables
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Draft Report: Draft 1 Table 1
    by Kai Budde
  • Blog - 12:14 pm: A Walk on the Wild Side
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 11:27 am: Round 10: Raphael Levy vs. Quentin Martin
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 10:42 am: Round 10: Mattias Jorstedt vs. Jelger Wiegersma
    by Bruno Ferreira
  • Round 10: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog - 10:17 am: Day 1 Undefeated Decks
    by Rui Oliveira

  • Blog - 10:01 pm: They Never Sleep
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 9:33 pm: Round 9: Jelger Wiegersma vs. Alexandre Peset
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 6:22 pm: Everyone's a winner
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog - 5:48 pm: Round 6: Round 6: Daniel Zink vs. Raphael Levy
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 4:01 pm: Round 5: Bernardo da Costa Cabral vs. Eric Taylor
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 3:14 pm: Splitting the Favorites
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog - 1:55 pm: It's Paris, but not as you may know it
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 12:43 pm: How to Handle a 1500+ Player Tournament
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Blog - 11:22 am: Martina to the Rescue!
    by Rui Oliveira
  • Info: Day 1 Player List (division a)
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Player List (division b)
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown (division a)
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown (division b)
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Wilco Pinkster $2,400
 2.  Bastien Perez $1,700
 3.  Wessel Oomens $1,200
 4.  Raphael Levy $1,000
 5.  Giuseppe Reale $800
 6.  Arnost Zidek $800
 7.  Stephen Meyer $800
 8.  Jean-Baptiste Gouesse $800
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BLOG

 
  • Saturday, November 27: 11:22 am - Martina to the Rescue!
  • Initially Tony Szczudlo was scheduled to appear at the tournament for the
    usual marathon of card signing, print selling, hand shaking and posing for
    pictures that artists seem to love.

    Magic artist Martina Pilcerova

    So players dutifully dug up their cards to sign, among others:

    Krosan Verge
    Cabal Interrogator
    Sliver Overlord
    Forgotten Cave
    Predator's Strike

    Sadly, a crisis crept up and he regretfully had to cancel in very short
    notice. WotC Europe problem-solver Erwin Dielens (the bigwig at European
    tournaments) got on the phone and asked the artist for Grand Prix Helsinki
    to bail him out.

    Martina Pilcerova tried to juggle her deadlines but got no help. So she did
    what she had to do: she worked nonstop for two days and actually had the
    FedEx people waiting at her doorstep while she finished her last work. With
    everything done, she hopped on the table and managed to stay awake to make
    her connection in Prague.

    She's kind of new to the Magic scene, but she already has some popular cards
    in her portfolio:

    Cloudpost
    Darksteel Ingot
    Gilded Lotus
    Seething Song
    several Mirrodin basic lands and obviously... Pointy Finger of Doom!


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 12:43 pm - How to Handle a 1500+ Player Tournament
  • As you should know by now we have a record crowd today. The DCI crew has to handle over fifteen hundred players today. Although it might seem - and in fact is - a daunting task they are up to the challenge.

    David Vogin, left, and Gis Hoogendijk

    First of all, they came prepared. We have the rare sight of two two Red Shirt judges. The Red Shirt is normally reserved for the Head Judge but today we have two of them. Only one of them is the "real" Head Judge, David Vogin. Gis Hoogendijk, the extremelly tall Dutch Level 5 judge is the backup, so to speak. They'll handle all the coordination and rules questions for the whole crowd.

    To handle such a large tournament they had to break in two groups. Not two tournaments, just two groups. That means we have two scorekeepers (Jason Howlett and Barthélémy Moulinier), working back to back. Each of them handles a group (the Blue group and the Yellow group).


    The chairless

    So that part is covered. But the logistics of handling such a large crowd do have their quirks. For example, during deck construction the only two non-players with a chair were the scorekeepers. Let me make this clear: during deck construction, the rest of the staff, the sideboard writers and even the artist had no chairs (although Martina had some sort of sofa). Still... as you can again see in the picture it wasn't enough: some players had to register their decks while sitting on the floor.

    It seems everyone has a story to tell about this Grand Prix. Me, I just wish I had a chair, really.


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 1:55 pm - It's Paris, but not as you may know it


  • The modern architecture of La Defense

    When you think of Paris, you normally picture the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, Notre Dame and a series of classical buildings with a lot of history. After all, Paris is a city of culture and history. But... it's not all like that.

    As you might have glimpsed from the picture at the top of the coverage, this is not the Paris you imagined. This is La Defense. Last night we creeped out of the subway and... this wasn't what we expected. No classical buildings, no history. Just huge, modern, strange, cold buildings as far as we could see, sprouting from huge plazas.

    So this morning we strolled around take a few snapshots for you. It's not much, we don't really have a lot of time, but it will give an idea of how different La Defense is from the stereotypical image of Paris.


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 3:14 pm - Splitting the Favorites
  • Like we explained above the tournament was split in two groups. Yellow and Blue, named after the paper color used on the printers for each scorekeeper. The field is still very mixed this earlier and there isn't actually any physical place to set up a Feature Match area.

    So to keep things rolling we decided to do the scavenging for you. Here are some of the more well-known players you can find in each of the group. We're sorry if we missed someone, but it's a bit hard to go through such a large listing.

    Tomorrow, the hundred and twenty-eight players, will all be in the same group but today you get a chance to pick each group of "stars" you would rather have in your nine-round tournament.

    Yellow Group (division a)

    Pro Player Country
    Chan, Tiago PRT
    Urban, Adam POL
    Nitter, Eivind NOR
    Maaten, Rogier NLD
    Nuijten, Julien NLD
    Snepvangers, Bram NLD
    Wiegersma, Jelger NLD
    Fiore, Stefano ITA
    Lo Moro, Raffaele ITA
    Pascoli, Mario ITA
    Bevand, Manuel FRA
    Courtois, Frederic FRA
    Haim, Christophe FRA
    Hernandez, Marc FRA
    Malherbaud, Pierre FRA
    Nassif, Gabriel FRA
    Niedrig, Benjamin FRA
    Peset, Alexandre FRA
    Ruel, Olivier FRA
    tenenbaum, amiel FRA
    Gomersall, Sam ENG
    Mueller, Andre DEU
    Bucher, Manuel CHE
    Carvalho, Bruno CHE
    Siron, Geoffrey BEL

    Blue Group (division b)

    Pro Player Country
    Taylor, Eric USA
    Jorstedt, Mattias SWE
    Mariani, Rui PRT
    Gromko, Radoslaw POL
    Oomens, Wessel NLD
    Warmenhoven, Ruud NLD
    Shinkins, Stewart IRL
    Canali, Pierre FRA
    Canu, Franck FRA
    Caumes, Benjamin FRA
    Hamon, Yann FRA
    Jeudon, Florent FRA
    Labarre, Nicolas FRA
    Lauriol, Sylvain FRA
    Levy, Raphael FRA
    Olivieri, Nicolas FRA
    Ruel, Antoine FRA
    Tuduri, Ricard ESP
    Vila, Ferran ESP
    Myrvig, Peter DNK
    Bode, Roland DEU
    Budde, Kai DEU
    Kraft, Rene DEU
    Loroff, Claudia DEU
    Zink, Daniel DEU
    Nahodil, Petr CZE
    Da Costa Cabral, Bernardo BEL
    Preyer, Thomas AUT

     
  • Saturday, November 27: 4:01 pm - Round 5: Bernardo da Costa Cabral vs. Eric Taylor
  • Eric Taylor you might know for his highly acclaimed theorizing and writing skills or because he once ate a hat because Kai Budde found a Morphling against Tomi Walamies in the finals of an Extended Pro Tour. His name is so widely known in Europe that as soon as the Feature Match was announced the crowd started gathering.

    Eric Taylor

    Bernardo Cabral has quietly established himself as one of the most respected players in the European Circuit, with several great results in both Grand Prix and Pro Tours. He's also the guy who once swept his way through six or seven rounds at Grand Prix Sao Paulo and then dropped because he had a plane to catch and was just playing because he happened to be in town that weekend.

    Game 1

    Taylor started out with a lesson to all players. He mulliganed, and checked the top of his deck to see if his next cards would have saved his shaky initial hand. Bernardo came out with turn three Brutal Deceiver, turn four Sosuke, Son of Seshiro. Taylor could only answer with Swallowing Plague to ice the Deceiver.

    Cabral smiled and played Orochi Hatchery for two counters.

    Eric: "Oooh, that's good for you."
    Bernardo: "I still need one more mana."

    Unfazed the American used Befoul on Sosuke.

    Bernardo: "So, you had the Befoul after all."

    Despite facing the threat of the Hatchery further down the line, Eric Taylor seemed to have wrestled some control of the table from Bernardo Cabral. He played the mighty Kumano, Master Yamabushi and Bernardo thought long and hard about what to do about it. He passed the turn and tried to pump out two blockers but Taylor tapped four mana to power his amazing legend through.

    Again the Belgian stopped to ponder his options and replayed his Brutal Deceiver. But it didn't really matter. Eric Taylor had Kumano and the mana to use it. The Hatchery was no match for it, especially when Frostwielder showed up as well.

    Bernardo was visibly out of the game and muttered a few choice words in French about his deck's inability to give him the goods. He pounded the deck one more time, with no results and scooped his cards. He had a black card to deal with the Kumano problem but he could never find a Swamp.

    Eric 1-0 Bernardo.

    Bernardo: "That's a good card."
    Eric: "It's stupid."
    Bernardo: "Yes, it's very unfair."
    Eric: "Well, they have to print something for Constructed, right? That always messes up the Limited formats."

    Game 2

    Again the Belgian came out fast with Orochi Sustainer and Eric Taylor used Distress to take Orochi Hatchery over Frostwielder and Honden of Infinite Rage before Bernardo could lay it down.

    Bernardo: "Are you sure you want to take that?"
    Eric: "I'm so used to the artifact block, that I get scared by anything."

    With two Red cards in hand Bernardo could only smile when he drew his second land color: a Swamp. On his fourth turn Eric Taylor played his first creature: Frostwielder. Cabral reached for his deck and found a Mountain.

    The Honden entered the game and quickly a second Mountain let Bernardo Cabral play his own Frostwielder. But Taylor wasn't scared. He used Yamabushi's Storm and his Frostwielder to kill the one across the table.

    It seemed Bernardo was about to grab control of the game. Taylor thought long and hard about it and played Earthshaker. Thankfully Cabral's deck coughed up a Crushing Pain to combo with the Honden to pack away the Red menace. A Befoul returned the favour by killing Feral Deceiver.

    It was the beginning of the end for Cabral. Taylor went on a rampage, returning his Earthshaker with Soulless Revival and playing a second Frostwielder. Bernardo handled one of them but Taylor's Black-Red was just too much for him to stop especially with a hand full of mana.

    Bernardo da Costa Cabral

    Solemnly Eric Taylor went through the motions turning a 19-10 score in Cabral's favour into a 6-6 score in his favour. Bernardo played a blocker but Taylor used the Earthshaker's ability to clear the way. At one the Belgian tried again and when Eric showed him he could use it again he concealed he revealed his mana-filled hand.

    Eric: "I'm sorry."
    Bernardo: "Your deck is good, no problem."
    Eric: The deck is good, but I have to play some crappy stuff because I have double Black and double Red."

    Final result:
    Eric 2-0 Bernardo.


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 5:48 pm - Round 6: Daniel Zink vs. Raphael Levy
  • The theme of this round is French veterans who often don't get all the credit they deserve. Or something like that. On the other Feature Match table we have Frederic Courtois against Quentin Martin, in his Superman t-shirt.

    Daniel Zink

    Both Levy and Courtois have been around Magic tables, and Feature Match areas, for more years than most players here today have played the game. Few players have managed to keep such a high level for so long. Levy's opponent is a former World Champion and member of the German National team.

    Game 1

    Levy came out with a turn two Floating Dream Zubera and Honden of the Infinite Rage out of three different basic lands while Zink played turn two Wicked Akuba and sent it in on his third turn for five damage, tapping out.

    Since the German clearly had no more cards to play, Levy dropped Cage of Hands on the Akuba and Pain Kami to prey on Daniel's predicament. The German came up with a Glacial Ray for the Pain Kami but until he found his first Plains he couldn't really move.

    When he did... he dropped Nagao, Bound by Honor. That convinced Raphael Levy to stop and think. Finally he decided to simply switch his Cage of Hands to the legend. But Zink was finally rolling. His Plains allowed him to pour out the White cards that had been stuck in his hand.

    Down came Kitsune Blademaster, but Levy used a spliced Glacial Ray to get rid of it. Next in line was Kami of Ancient Law. Daniel used it to free Nagao from Cage of Hands and sent into the imaginary Red Zone.

    The same Ray, this time not spliced, sent Nagao, Bound by Honor away on the next turn. With the table clearing up at an alarming pace, Daniel Zink's Wicked Akuba with six Swamps could be a large problem.

    Levy sent his Callous Deceiver in, dropping Zink to eight, and dropped River Kami. Zink tried to set up a blocking armada but between the Deceiver's ability and Sensei's Divining Top the damage kept sneaking in. To make matters worse Raphael found Innocence Kami.

    Not only was Daniel Zink at a precarious life total, in constant need to watch for a fatal attack, but the Honden of Infinite Rage was ticking away. At nine, he could not afford to ignore it for a while. He was clearly behind on the table.

    To solve the ticking problem Zink returned his Kami of Ancient Law and used it to blow up the Honden of Infinite Rage. Levy's Kami worked the table and another attacked dropped Daniel Zink to a mere four. Out came Harsh Deceiver to further mess the German's math.

    Raphael: "I hope you draw a good card."
    Daniel: "It's not good."
    Raphael: "Just in case you are wondering, I won't block with Innocence Kami."
    Daniel: "Too bad."

    The French survived the attack, trading two creatures for one and dropped a second Soratami Rainshaper to set up a final swing. Daniel drew one more card and shrugged.

    Raphael 1-0 Daniel.

    Game 2

    With twenty minutes left on the clock they sideboarded and shuffled in a hurry. Zink came out flying with turn two Wicked Akuba, turn three Kiku, Night's Flower, turn four Nagao, Bound by Honor. Levy chumped with Floating-Dream Zubera, played Kabuto Moth and River Kami.

    Finally Daniel Zink broke his curve, "merely" playing Kitsune Blademaster on turn five. Although still at fourteen Levy started to slow down his pace. He was in trouble and he knew it.

    Raphael: "By the way, I'll play first on the next game."

    The German laughed and sent his White creatures in. He passed the turn and at four Raphael Levy decided he might as well pack it in.

    Raphael 1-1 Daniel.

    Game 3

    As they shuffled up Quentin Martin dispatched Courtois 2-0 in drawn-out games. This time Raphael was the first to blink with turn three Soratami Rainshaper while Zink stumbled with his mana, missing the third drop and being forced to discard.

    Raphael Levy

    Not that Raphael Levy could apply a lot of pressure. His deck wasn't really built for speed. He did find Masako the Humorless and Hooded-Talon Kami before Daniel Zink found his third land (he now had a land of each of his colours). The German shrugged and played Ghostly Prison.

    Levy decided to press on with what he had. He attacked and Zink sent Masako packing before playing Cruel Deceiver and Mothrider Samurai. The Samurai convinced Levy to stay out of the Red Zone and he took the time to play out two more creatures.

    With Daniel at a mere four, it seemed the former World Champion had balanced the table. For a change Raphael Levy stopped to think about his next play for more than two seconds. He stared at the table and suddenly saw the way: he simply tapped out to send everyone in.

    Daniel scooped. The hesitation had been because Levy had Zink at five and could only see four damage sneaking while Zink was really at four and just waiting for the final strike to concede.

    Final result:
    Raphael 2-1 Daniel.


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 6:22 pm - Everyone's a winner
  • For a while now European Grand Prix have had a new feature. Anyone who shows up can sign in for a huge prize draw, from which Erwin Dielens, or someone of similar rank at WotC, draws ten names. The first eight get a free side event, which is quite good when you are midway through the first day of a Grand Prix. There was also a drawing for five free subscriptions of the French gaming magazine Lotus Noir.

    The crowd tenses as the drawing commences

    But the last two names get something special, and the draw always gets a large crowd and a huge round of applause. The first name gets a free snowboard with exclusive Magic art. Très cool, to quote the locals.

    And the final name... gets a chance to do it all again. Well, he gets a free trip, hotel and registration for the next European Grand Prix. Wherever you live and wherever it might be. WotC Europe will fly you in, get a top-notch room and sign you up for the event for free. Last year we used to call it "travelling like Kai" but since this year we finally got a new Player of the Year we will have to call it "travelling like Nassif".

    Here are the names of today's top two winners. Congratulations to both of them.

    Winner of the snowboard: Franck Becquet
    Winner of the "Next Grand Prix For Free": Gregory Prevot


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 9:33 pm - Round 9: Jelger Wiegersma vs. Alexandre Peset
  • It's been an amazingly long day, with a record crowd. It's almost 2AM and these guys are still playing Magic. On one of the tables we have two French battling out for the sole 9-0 in one of the groups. On the other, two well-known players also in very good shape for tomorrow.

    Jelger Wiegersma

    Alexandre Peset is a seriously rising star in France, having placed third in the Rookie of the Year award last year. Wiegersma is no rookie and has been a feared name in any type of premier event for several years, with Pro Tour Top 8s to his credit.

    Game 1

    The game promised to be fast with Peset playing a turn two creature and using Kodama's Reach to find his third colour before Jelger even blinked. The Dutch found his first Plains and dropped Kitsune Blademaster followed by Mothrider Samurai.

    Jelger: "Six mana... do you have a dragon?"
    Alexandre: "Yes, it's time for a dragon."

    He did't have one so he settled for Thief of Hope and a second Kodama's Reach. He now had seven lands in play to Jelger's four. Still the Dutch ruled the Red Zone. He attacked again with Blademaster and dropped Cursed Ronin.

    Despite Peset's attempts the damage seemed to flow his way, with the Ronin joining the Blademaster on Red Zone trips. The Frenchman's Gibbering Kami returned fire as best as it could as the creatures piled up on the table.

    The turns started dragging along, as the plot thickened and the long day seemed to be weighing on the players. At this point they had less than seven hours to go back to their hotels, rest and show up to draft. Peset had six creatures while Jelger had only four but the Dutch was the only one making constant attacks.

    The Ronin kept running into chump blockers but thanks to Cage of Hands on Peset's lone flyer the Mothrider Samurai was lord of the skies. Alexandre's army was huge but in the end the game came down to Jelger's better creatures. With a smaller field he managed to keep the French at bay and sneak damage through.

    Jelger: "One card in hand? What? Swamp?"
    Alexandre: "Maybe. Maybe."

    Finally Jelger Wiegersma dropped a second Thief of Hope to bring Peset to four and sent his whole crew in. The French checked the match and had no options in his hand. He scooped.

    Jelger 1-0 Alexandre.

    Game 2

    This time they both had second turn and third turn creatures, so the game was off to a fast start. Jelger had the perfect combination of Nezumi Cutthroat for some evasion damage and Kabuto Moth for protection and to mess up Peset's attacks and damage related removal.

    Once again Wiegersma nibbled away with his evasion creature while assembling a blocking team. Alexandre Peset stopped and stared at the table. He did it for a few minutes actually. He then stared at his hand, and shook his head like a pitcher waving away a catcher's signal. He was clearly unhappy with his options.

    Alexandre Peset

    With weariness clearly taking over him he sent his Ember-Fist Zubera in to die, and used it to shoot Jelger's Cutthroat. But the Dutch calmly used his Moth to save it. The Zubera in the graveyard now made a perfect target for Nezumi Graverobber.

    Night eyes the Desecrator was born. That clearly wasn't Peset's best play of the day. He shook his head and Jelger smiled. Even the best players can make mistakes, and the long day and somewhat irrelevance of the match surely had a part in the incident.

    They went through the motions for a few more turns including a highly amusing double Call to Glory combat, with Peset doing his best to survive as the Dutch smoothly brought his life total down. Soon he was down to one creature and was ready to scoop.

    Alexandre: "Your deck is a little better than mine."
    Jelger: "Yup, much better."

    Final result:
    Jelger 2-0 Alexandre.


     
  • Saturday, November 27: 10:01 pm - They Never Sleep
  • Well, the day is almost done. For the players it's finished but for the staff, there are still tables to move, things to set up for tomorrow. The judging staff is getting ready to have their meeting, but we pull them aside for the much deserved group picture. They all look alike in their zebra shirts and they all look tired but they've worked very hard to get things done.

    The fantastic judging staff

    David Vogin

    Jason Howlett
    Barthelemy Moulinier

    Gis Hoogendijk
    Blanchon Stephane
    Durand Mathieu
    Armen Stepanyan
    Charrie Cedric
    Ricardo Fonseca
    Gastaud Stephane
    Gabor Hegyi
    Tom Russel

    Jesper Nielsen
    Nouveau Cedric
    Stefani JC
    Stefano Candini
    Falk Gorres
    Omar Diez
    Loyre Christophe
    Lavergne David

    Adam Cetnerowski
    Johanna Knuutien
    Alric Nicolas
    Desprez Kevin
    Richard Drijvers
    Enrico Boccabianca
    Chelli Bruno
    Gallien David

    Riccardo Tessitori
    Lubos Lauer
    Bui Sandrine
    Henk Claassen
    Gourdon Thierry
    Michael Huellercremer
    Peuvion Cyril
    Daniel Zajac


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 10:17 am - Day 1 Undefeated Decks
  • Out of 1594 players, 8 managed to survive the nine rounds of the first day with no losses. Some of them might have picked up draws but no one left the table with no points. So here's what it takes to survive the first day of the largest Grand Prix ever with a full - or close to it - score.









     
  • Sunday, November 28: 10:42 am - Round 10: Mattias Jorstedt vs. Jelger Wiegersma
  • These are two well known players, both with several Pro Tour top 8s under their belts.

    Jelger Wiegersma

    Game 1

    In the first game Jelger had to mulligan twice, and by the fourth turn, when Mattias already had Sorotami Cloudskater, Villainous Ogre and Soratami Mirror-Mage, he was playing his second land… He conceded shortly after.

    Mattias 1-0 Jelger.

    Game 2

    Jelger started with Soratami Cloudskater, three Kami of Twisted Reflection and a Soratami Rainshapper, to Mattias' Floating Dream Zubera, Villainous Ogre, Soratami Mirror-Mage and Teller of Tales… The first turns see both players attacking with no blocks, just exchanging some damage. When by the sixth turn Mattias attacks with everything but the Zubera, Jelder manages to block so that, sacrificing one of his Kami, he kills every attacker without losing another creature. Jelger tries to cast another creature, but a Hinder canceled his plans.

    Mattias drops a Teller of Tales and a Nezumi Cutthroat so when a Gibbering Kami that could stop the rat appears it was immediately disabled by some Mystic Restraints. Jelger response was simple, he put a Mystic Restraints of his own on the Teller of Tales.

    Mattias Jorstedt

    But with a Sire of the Storm joining Mattias' side, things started to get out of control for Jelger, because for his opponent each spirit or arcane card meant another card and an untapped Teller. With both players at four life, Jelger tried to find a way out, but the card advantage and superior creatures Mattias had gave him no chance…

    Mattias 2-0 Jelger.



     
  • Sunday, November 28: 11:27 am - Round 10: Raphael Levy vs. Quentin Martin
  • To start the day we have a matched between two of undefeated players in the tournament. As usual in the first round of any Rochester draft the conversation revolved around the draft, what they should have done and what strange picks they saw. Martin took the time to announce rather loudly that he practiced really hard for this tournament at the Game's Club in London.

    Raphael Levy

    Quentin: "That's http://www.thegamesclub.org for the folks at home."

    Game 1

    That didn't seem to help his karma, as he sent his first hand back without thinking. His Green-Red deck came out with turn two Sakura-Tribe Elder and double Frostwielder while Levy started out with Kabuto Moth and played Mothrider Samurai before the second Frostwielder entered the game.

    Quentin: "This is such a good hand."
    Raphael: "I noticed."

    The French found a tougher blocker in the shape of River Kami but was clearly unhappy about Martin's sniping team. Raphael used Blessed Breath to save his Moth once, but Quentin Martin had no problems using Pani Kami to finish it.

    The River Kami and Mothrider Samurai stormed in to deal as much damage as possible before the Red squad took complete control of the table. They got Quentin Martin down to ten but by then the table was his. Between the two Frostwielders, Blood Rites and Sokezan Bruiser even Levy's Ghostly Prison wasn't enough to slow things down.

    Quentin: "I'm sorry. Well, actually I'm tired of apologizing. I did that all day yesterday."

    Quentin 1-0 Raphael.

    Game 2

    Again Levy wasn't too excited about his hand but he kept, and again Quentin sent his back. This time Levy came out with turn two Kami of Ancient Law, traded it for Ember-Fist Zubera and played another one.

    Martin played Pain Kami and gave it Uncontrollable Anger, but he could find no extra help. Accross the table Raphael Levy soon had Mothrider Samurai, Soratami Mirror-Guard and Kami of Ancient Law. When the Englishman finally found a good blocker Levy showed him Cage of Hands and dropped him to four. That led to seemingly fatal strike on the next turn.

    Quentin: "Do you have Blessed Breath?"
    Raphael: "Do I need it?"
    Quentin: "Yes. Blind with Anger?"

    He didn't have it. The Mothrider Samurai turned and blocked his old partner Soratami Mirror-Guard. Suddenly Levy's masterplan wasn't enough. The attack left Martin at two. He sat back and played Soratami Rainshaper.

    It was Quentin Martin's turn to quiet down and do some math. The Kami attacked one more time and Martin threw it at the Rainshaper. But it wasn't enough, Raphael Levy just needed to untap.

    Quentin 1-1 Raphael.

    Game 3

    Once again, Levy wasn't too happy but he kept it. Martin had the turn two Sakura-Tribe Elder and Levy was so eager to play his Kabuto Moth he tried to play on his second turn. He ended up dropping Sensei Golden-Tail. The Elder powered out a turn three Frostwielder followed by turn four Initiate of Blood.

    Quentin Martin

    Still, Levy wasn't out of it yet. he lost his Sensei but quickly had Kabuto Moth, River Kami and Isamaru, Hound of Konda and a Cage of Hands. The pingers started working on his creatures, with the tricky Moth leaving the game first.

    Levy sent Isamaru in and Martin called his bluff, blocking with Akki Coalflinger. As it turns out Raphael didn't have Indomitable Will. He only had Blessed Breath, which was good enough for a laugh.

    Quentin: "I need to think. I know I've won the game, but I don't want to mess it up."
    Raphael: "I'm sure you'll mess it up, don't worry."

    Initiate of Blood turned into Gouka, the Unjust and soon the only thing standing between Raphael Levy and a loss was his River Kami. Obviously, it wasn't even close to good enough.

    Final result:
    Quentin 2-1 Raphael.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 12:14 am - A Walk on the Wild Side


  • Side-Event Sillyness

    As in most second days of Grand Prix you can easily divide the room in two parts. On one side you have the Grand Prix competitors. They have a lot of space and are mostly quiet and organized. That's the quiet side of the tournament. All business, no wackiness.

    Then... there's the other side. The Side-Event area. As soon as the day begins the judges start bellowing for players to fill a Japanese draft. Then as the day goes on there's always someone running around trying to get the oracle text on something.

    The Side-Event is always a mismatch of traders, casual gamers, pros who missed the cut yesterday and want to draft, people trying to sign their cards with the artist and even some poor souls who just happen to wander in to check what all the commotion is.

    The Day 1 Standing File

    This time we have a special sight. Jason Howlett, master of all scorekeeping, spent most of the night patching up the two group system to come up with a full standing table for the tournament. So feast your eyes on the unreal sight of thirty-six pages of standings, for 1592 players. You can't really find anyone unless you know how many points they had but it's still getting a lot of attention.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 2:33 pm - Cleaning the First Draft Table

  • The second draft of the day just started and we have none other than Kai Budde looking over the shoulder of the drafters on table one and shaking his head in disgust at their picks (well, probably). Meanwhile, we dug up the players who won the first draft. In table 7, two players ended with 2-0-1 so we'll call them the "winners". Because of that, here - ordered by pod - are the seventeen players who survived the first draft in pristine condition and the colors they played.

    Pod Player Colors
    7 Yves Sele White-Red
    5 Yoan Malmot Black-Green
    13 Yann Massicard Mono-Black
    15 Wim Gims White-Black
    12 Wessel Oomens Black-Red
    14 Tarjei Kvalo Blue-Black
    8 Stephan Meyer Blue-Green
    7 Raffaele Lo Moro White-Red
    16 Mathias Veron Black-Red
    3 Marcio Carvalho White-Black
    6 Ivan Floch Blue-Black
    1 Giuseppe Reale White-Green
    9 Frederick Seguin Black-White with a Blue splash
    11 Ferran Vila White-Black
    2 Bastien Perez White with a Black splash
    4 Arnost Zidek Green-Red
    10 Amiel Tenenbaum White-Red

     
  • Sunday, November 28: 4:51 pm - Round 13: Claudia Loroff vs. Mario Pascoli
  • Claudia is the winner of the only ever Female Invitational Tournament. She participated in a few pro tours, is the only woman to play in the German nationals (ever) and is a well known player around Germany. Mario is the reigning Italian national champion, plus he has a number of very good results in GPs and PTs on his account.

    Claudia Loroff, Peer Kroeger and Mario Pascoli

    Claudia was first and started with a mulligan. She kept her second hand though, only to have Mario send his hand back as well. Mario kept a hand with only one land but had a Sensei`s Divining Top to save his day. Claudia started with a Kitsune Riftwalker who met a Soratami Cloudskater on the other side. Although he had the Divining Top, Mario stalled on two lands for a turn, while Claudia played a Kusari-Gama. Mario dug deep into his library searching for land and finding some.

    Claudia was obviously lacking the lands of her second colour, black. After a few turns she finally found a swamp and played Scuttling Death. Mario summoned a Kami of the Ancient Law and passed his turn. Claudia traded the Death for Mario's two creatures and put a Nezumi Cutthroat on the table. A Soratami Seer entered play on Mario's side, but fearless Claudia sent her team into the red zone. The Seer traded with her Riftwalker - who was equipped - and a Wicked Akuba entered play at the side of the lady from Berlin.

    Mario played a Mothrider Samurai. Claudia equipped her fearsome rat and sent it in to tear chunks out of the Italian's life. But then, with huge amounts of mana on the table, Mario unleashed his bomb - the Myojin of Cleansing Fire! Claudia sent in her rat, pumped three times, and forced the counter from the gigantic legend. Mario then played a Soratami Savant that managed to counter a Reciprocate but was powerless against a Rend Flesh that killed it. Then Mario emptied his hand playing two more critters and Claudia only had an Ashen-Skin Zubera. She decided not to block the following attack only to have Mario show an Indomitable Will for the last point of damage.

    Mario 1 - Claudia 0

    In the second game Claudia took a mulligan again. She started with the black Zubera but Mario had a Kitsune Riftwalker against it. Claudia was mana-screwed but managed to remove the Riftwalker with a Reciprocate. Mario played a Mothrider Samurai and a Teller of Tales, while Claudia added a Cursed Ronin and a wicked Akuba to her side of the table. A second Reciprocate from her got countered by a Blessed Breath, but a Reciprocate from Mario was more successful and removed Claudia's Ronin. Claudia could only play a Kusari-Gama while the Italian Air-Force finished her off!

    Mario 2 - Claudia 0


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 5:44 pm - Creatures?! Who needs creatures?!
  • The talk of the tournament - at least during this second draft - is Quentin Martin's deck. As soon as the draft ended Kai Budde commented the deck was the best version of the Millstone archetype he had ever seen. That's enough endorsement to get a crowd around a match.

    So while the staff fixes a computer glitch that had people matched up against opponents from another pod we'll take a moment to go through Martin's list.


    The milling elements, and win conditions, are the three Dampen Thought. Ethereal Haze, Candles' Glow, Consuming Vortex, Psychic Puppetry help Quentin buy enough time to keep splicing Dampen Thought until his opponent's deck is no more. To help smooth things along he has a ton of card drawing and searching in Counsel of the Soratami, Peer Through Depths, Reach Through Mists and Sift Through Sands. To rub things in he has Long-Forgotten Gohei to cheapen the costs.

    According to Quentin, he was very unlucky in the first match with this deck but still has an outside shot at the top 8. We'll try to cover one of his matches if the opportunity arises, but for now we just wanted to be sure you got a look at the wacky deck. It might even translate well into Block Constructed after the next set.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 6:06 pm - Round 14: Ferran Vila vs. Amiel Tenenbaum
  • Vila and Amiel were one of our Feature Matches when the pairings came up but the judging staff had to call everyone back when they found out the program was pairing up people from different pods. I guess even the program gets tired after thirteen rounds and 1500+ players.

    Ferran Vila

    After a lengthly delay while the staff bravely battled the dreaded computer mixup, the pairings came out exactly the same for these two. Amiel took the chance to dust of his Spanish, learnt a while ago when he spent two months
    in Argentina.

    Game 1

    Amiel was quite vocal about how crappy his hand was before mulliganing. Vila wasn't too happy about his but he kept it. The French still came out with turn two Devoted Retainer, turn three Kabuto Moth and turn four Mothrider
    Samurai.

    Across the table Ferran had Villanous Ogre and two Kami of the Waning Moon. They basically ignored each other for a few turns, trading blows as fast as possible. The only interaction was Vila's Cage of Hands. Tenenbaum pressed on the best he could but with the game tied at eight Ferran Vila showed him Devouring Greed with enough spirits to take the game.

    Amiel: "Bueno."

    Ferran 1-0 Amiel.

    Game 2

    The French came out with Ronin Houndmaster and Kitsune Blademaster and Vila balanced things with Kitsune Diviner before they both settled down to play their respective armies.

    When the dust settled Tenenbaum's Kitsune Blademaster was the only creature entering the Red Zone. The French dropped Blood Rites but Kami of Ancient Law quickly took it away. Even at eight Ferran Vila seemed to be regaining control of the match.

    Soon he had five creatures to Amiel's three. Naturally the French took his own time to plan out his turns. He was down one game and things weren't looking up for him. He sneaked his Mothrider Samurai in to drop Vila to six and dropped Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho before passing the turn.

    It was Ferran's turn to take it slow. With Tenenbaum at ten he sent in his two Nezumi Ronins. He lost one to the Blademaster but evened the score at six. Amiel's Mothrider Samurai grabbed the Oathkeeper and flew in for the win.

    Ferran 1-1 Amiel.

    Amiel: "Could you please take three mulligans now? I don't think I can win
    if you only mulligan twice."

    Game 3

    Vila sent his first hand back but kept the second. Again Amiel came out fast with Devoted Retainer but Ferran quickly answered with Nezumi Ronin.

    Amiel: "Now, what do I do?"

    He played Ronin Blademaster and attacked with both of them while loudly complaining in Spanish about how bad his deck was. It might have been a bluff or not but Ferran Vila seemed totally unfazed by it.

    He let a couple of swings go without blocking and lost two creatures to Yamabushi's Storm before pressing Tenenbaum again with Struggle of Sanity taking two cards.

    Amiel: "Look! A topdeck!"

    He had just found Yamabushi's Flame and used it to remove Vila's remaining creature. His attack brought the Spanish to a mere three. It was Vila's turn to think long and hard about what to do. Playing Kitsune Healer, Kami of Ancient Law and Kami of the Waning Moon was the final option.

    Two of them gangblocked Ronin Houndmaster and Amiel upped the ante with Kitsune Blademaster. Vila played Hundred-Talon Kami to hopefully hold it back and sent the turn back.

    Amiel Tenenbaum

    Amiel Tenenbaum chanted "charge!" and sent everyone in. Vila worked his blocking assignments for a while and dropped to one. Amiel dropped another flyer: Kabuto Moth.

    Vila needed to handle both flyers on the next turn, and he knew from the Struggle of Sanity that Amiel had Frostwielder in hand but only one Mountain on the table.

    Amiel: "I'll get you eventually."
    Ferran: "It won't be long, I'm sure."

    It wasn't. He conceded on the next turn.

    Final result:
    Amiel 2-1 Ferran.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 7:15 pm - Round 14: Bram Snepvangers vs. Rene Kraft
  • It was all or nothing for the two well-known players. Whoever won this round and the next was in the Top Eight - whoever lost was not! The round started with a long delay of about two hours caused by a software problem. Nevertheless the players were eager to get it on and played in a very fast speed - which felt somewhat weird as both players happen to be very quiet and calm players.

    Bram started with a Hearth Kami which dealt some damage before Rene played a Lantern Kami. Bram had no other play for a couple of turns before he summoned a Soul of Magma. But Rene couldn't take advantage of the Dutch's player slow start as he had no other play than an Ashen-Skin Zubera.

    Bram added a Kabuto Moth to his side of the table, trying to kill the Lantern Kami with the Soul of Magma in the process, but Rene had a Blessed Breath to save it. A Hearth Kami in the next round tried the same trick, but again Rene had a Breath to let the small flier live. At that point Rene finally got another creature he could play - a second black Zubera. Bram's play was more impressive, as he added yet another Soul of Magma to his side of the table, dealing a point to the Lantern Kami again. This time Rene accepted the fate of his small flier and put it in the graveyard.

    It did not look good for the German with a massive force on the opposing side of the table, so he summoned He Who Hungers to help him out. Bram sent his team into the red zone, keeping only the Moth back to pump up one of the attackers. Rene blocked, and as the dust settled he took a few points of damage, lost two of his creatures and Soulshift brought him back a Zubera. Bram had lost no creature, as he had used Otherworldly Journey to save one of his spirits. Rene tried to cast another blocker but Bram - with no cards left in hand - showed some good top-decking-skills and drew a Cage of Hands that made Rene concede.

    Bram 1 - Rene 0

    Rene started with a Kitsune Diviner and Eight and-a-half Tails. Bram had his first play with a Honden of Infinite Rage but Rene's legend kept on marching in the red zone. Ashen-Skin Zubera and Konda's Hatamoto entered play for Rene while Bram played Initiate of Blood, after his Honden took out the Diviner.

    Next turn Bram played a Soul of Magma, but Rene kept on using his legend and the Hatamoto to attack. The turn after Bram played yet another Soul of Magma like he had done in the first game. Rene kept on attacking and played nothing but lands. Bram played an Ember-Fist Zubera, shooting with the souls in the process, and forced Rene to do some Eight-Tails-magic that way. But Bram timed it well and used the Initiate of Blood to kill the Hatamoto, flipping him in the process, to become Goka the Unjust. A Hearth Kami tried to have the Souls take out the white legend afterwards but Rene had the Blessed Breath to save him.

    Bram Snepvangers

    Things were looking grim for the German, as Bram played Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho and equipped the red Zubera with it. Bram still didn't attack, as Rene held the ground with his lonely legend and the Zubera. They stared down five creatures plus Honden on the opposite side. Finally Bram dared to attack with Goka and his equipped Zubera, forcing four points of damage through. He repeated that the next turn and it was obvious that Rene had only one more turn to swing the tide. He calmly played Horobi, Death's Wail and used Eight Tails to kill four of Bram's five creatures turning them white! Strong play! But Bram's Honden and his dying Zubera took revenge, and as the dust settled, Bram was left with an equipped Hearth Kami and a freshly played Innocence Kami while Rene had nothing left.

    Rene summoned a fresh Ashen-Skin Zubera and He Who Hungers, but it was too late. In his turn Bram used the Kami to tap one of Rene's blockers, rippled the other away with an Otherworldly Journey and took the game in the attack! Rene died with the white Honden in his hand, without ever having had the opportunity to play it.

    Bram 2 - Rene 0


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 7:57 pm - Round 15: Frederick Seguin vs. Quentin Martin
  • With the problems in the pairings the judges were forced to do it the old-fashioned way: they sat the players back at their pods and figured out the pairings. Throughout it all the players were very patient and understanding. We decided to take a peek at Quentin Martin's millstone deck. Seguin's deck is no slouch as well. He has two Dragons and a series of strong cards in his Blue-Green-Red build.

    Quentin Martin

    Frederick: "Interesting draft. I learned a lot."
    Quentin: "I remember your deck. Two dragons. Ouch. Good deck."

    Frederick: "I'll start."
    Quentin: "Are you sure? Do you really want to give my deck an extra card?
    Sure?"

    Game 1

    Seguin came out fast with Soratami Cloudskater on turn two and tried a turn three creature but Quentin had the counter. The Englishman fired a Reach Through Mists and took the chance to splice Dampen Thought.

    The French used Kodama's Might to power up one of his lands but Martin had Consuming Vortex to bounce the Cloudskater and splice Thought once again. Seguin's graveyard was piling up. The Cloudskater came back and Soilshaper attacked.

    This time Martin spliced Dampen Thought and Candles' Glow onto Reach Through Mists. Seguin could feel the game running away from him, as the crowd gathered to watch Quentin went into overdrive. Soon he had TWO Dampen Thoughts working Seguin's library. Obviously there was little the Frenchman could do, with his opponent at an amazing eighteen.

    He conceded. Quentin Martin had taken the first game on turn six.

    Quentin 1-0 Frederick.

    Frederick: "Nice deck."
    Quentin: "Yours is great. Two dragons. It would be amazing in any different matchup."

    Game 2

    Again Frederick Seguin had a turn two creature and this time the turn three creature stuck as well. Martin stopped noting his opponent life total, instead noting the cards left on his deck. On his third turn he started splicing Dampen Thoughts on cards.

    First on Reach Through Mists, then Consuming Vortex... the Dampen Thought just kept on hitching free rides and taking large chunks out of Seguin's library. Martin took a break to play Petals of Insight without splicing anything.

    But he seemed to have ran out of bounce. Frederick Seguin got two Teller of Tales on the table and even attacked with both. That would bring Quentin to two unless he had tricks. A Consuming Vortex with spliced Candles' Glow and Dampen Thoughts later and he was back at a safe eleven.

    Still the game was going much slowly than the first. Seguin had four creatures down and still quite a large library. Quentin Martin actually had to think for a full minute on his turn for a change.

    Quentin: "I need to think. I have a feeling you have a counter in your hand."
    Frederick: "No, no."

    Frederick Seguin

    He gave the turn back to Frederick and went for it on his upkeep. Reach Through Mists towing Candles' Glow and Dampen Thought. Seguin used Soratami Cloudskater to dig for the elusive counter but could not find it. He fell down to nine cards in his library before his draw phase.

    He got a free swing at Quentin dropping him to ten and passed the turn. The Englishman unleashed the full force of the archetype he helped shape at #mtguk. Peer Through Depths with Candles' Glow and Dampen Thought. Seguin slapped his deck for the counter one more time. He missed. The counter was
    the next card.

    Quentin: "You have no chance in this match. I feel bad. You have a great deck and you have no chance."
    Frederick: "That's Magic."

    Final result:
    Quentin 2-0 Frederick.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 8:40 pm - Quarterfinals: Stephan Meyer vs. Wessel Oomens


  • Stephan Meyer

    Wessel began the game with Kami of the Ancient Law, Bloodthirsty Ogre, Kitsune Diviner and an Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho, that he had no time to equip, while all Stephan had was a Matsu-Tribe Decoy.

    An Order of the Sacred Bell and a Hundred-Talon Kami brought some respite to Stephan, but a Gutwrencher Oni quickly appeared to threaten him. Then chaos ensued. Wessel summoned a Horobi, Death's Wail and destroyed all of Stephan's creatures but the Order, just using the abilities from his army… but it was Stephan that took the most out of the Horobi… with an Indomitable Will the demon was gone, then a Kodama's Might spliced onto a Kodama's Reach killed the Kami of Ancient Law, while the Might itself got rid of the Horobi and a Yamabushi's Storm got rid of the rest.
    Wessel played a Nezumi Graverobber and equipped the Oathkeeper onto it, then used it to block and trade with the Order.

    The next creature to enter the game was a Nezumi Cutthroat from Wessel that Stephan couldn't control or keep up with…

    Wessel Oomens

    Stephan 0-1 Wessel

    This game saw an extremely fast start from Wessel. Kitsuno Diviner, Kami of the Ancient Law and Bloodthirsty Ogre came into play unopposed, and Stephan's only answer, Rootrunner, was kept tapped by the diviner. His last chance was a Kabuto Moth, but not even a Blessed Breath could save it…

    Stephan 0-2 Wessel


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 9:10 pm - Quarterfinals: Raphael Levy vs. Giuseppe Reale
  • France's biggest name in the Top 8, Raphael Levy, is no stranger to winning Grand Prix. He won one in France (Lyon, if I recall correctly) so long ago it was still in the last millennium. Reale is an amateur player who definitely shed that label by finishing at the top of the standings.

    Game 1

    Guiseppe Reale

    Levy came out perfectly with a turn two creature quickly backed up by Kabuto Moth while Giuseppe was busy buying cards like a madman. That certainly paid off for the Italian as on his sixth turn he unleashed a bomb: Keiga, the Tide Star.

    Raphael muttered to his deck about his lack of Green mana and was finally rewarded with a Forest as Giuseppe Reale laid out his Uyo, Silent Prophet.

    Raphael: "Whatever."

    A Cage of Hands locked the Uyo and Giuseppe chumped one of Raphael's creatures to go down to fourteen. His plan consisted mostly of turning Keiga sideways in the Red Zone and keeping Levy's horde under control. Raphael was more than eager to race the Blue dragon and kept sending his whole crew into the Red Zone.

    The dragon was relentless and soon Raphael Levy was at three. He still sent his team in, bringing the Italian to six. He passed the turn with Kabuto Moth ready to chump Keiga. Giuseppe took his own sweet time to figure the math out... and the dragon swooped in. The Moth took one for the team.

    It was Giuseppe's turn to lay down a blocker and pass the turn, hoping Levy had no tricks to sneak six damage past his Blue defence squad. At the end of turn Levy used Otherworldly Journey on one of Reale's creatures and pounded his deck.

    Raphael: "Allez! Allez!"

    He wasn't happy about it. He played Sosuke, Son of Seshiro and sent his team in just in case. Giuseppe assigned blockers and Raphael Levy scooped his cards.

    Giuseppe 1-0 Raphael.

    Game 2

    Humble Budoka roamed the table alone until Reale came up with River Kami to keep it under control. A timely Serpent Skin saved Levy's next creature and a pattern settled in. Levy's aim was to rush ahead as hard as possible. He tried to deal damage to Reale at full speed. The Italian focused on staying alive at all costs, probably hoping for his more expensive bombs and the card drawing spells.

    Everytime Levy seemed to have the table unbalanced in his favor, Giuseppe found some blockers to play, but still Raphael's Green-White army pressed on. Soon Reale was at five and shaking his head.

    At eight mana he surveyed the table and laid down another blocker. Levy drew and now had only lands in hand. Without blinking he pressed his army in. This time he actually lost a creature in the Red Zone as Giuseppe Reale blocked two creatures and bounced the third one.

    Levy replayed his Samurai of the Pale Curtain and could only watch as Reale used yet another card drawing spell. Finally happy with the way the table looked Giuseppe Reale sent one of his two creatures in. That proved a crucial mistake.

    Raphael's deck thought the French had suffered enough. It stopped coughing up lands and actually provided a good card: Cage of Hands. Levy eagerly locked the lone blocker and sent his two creatures in. Just enough to seal the deal.

    Giuseppe 1-1 Raphael.

    Game 3

    This time Giuseppe was the first to blink, with a turn two Hearth Kami followed by Frostwielder. Levy mustered a turn three Kabuto Moth and Mothrider Samurai. Giuseppe tried to keep things in check with Soratami Mirror-Guard but Levy was in no mood to slow down. He used Yamabushi's Storm to wipe out two creatures and sent the Samurai in.

    Raphael Levy

    Again Giuseppe dropped a Mirror-Guard. Again, Levy worked around it. This time he gave his Samurai Lure and let him ice the Mirror-Guard. This left Giuseppe with only the Frostwielder in play, facing four creatures. For the second time in this match Raphael's pressure seemed to be breaking through Giuseppe Reale's resistance.

    When the Italian had no play on the following turn the French crowd got noisy. The next swing dragged the Italian to nine. He found Callous Deceiver and let Levy have another crack at the Red Zone.

    In a hurry the French locked the Deceiver in a Cage of Hands and sent his crew in. Giuseppe peeked with the Deceiver and tumbled down to two. He knew his top card was a land and could only concede.

    Final result:
    Raphael 2-1 Giuseppe.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 9:35 pm - Semifinals: Bastien Perez vs. Wessel Oomens


  • Wessel Oomens

    Wessel played first, starting with Nezumi Graverobber and Bloodthirsty Ogre to Bastien's Floating Dream Zubera and Thief of Hope. The Ogre and Zubera died in combat and Wessel used the opportunity to turn the Graverobber into a Desecrator. A Spirit Rend got rid of the thief and the rat was able to attack unopposed.

    Stephan brought a couple of Teller of Tales to play, while his opponent's rat raised the dead. When with a Befoul he took out a recently cast Kitsume Healer, Wessel could no longer race with the flyers and soon conceded.

    Bastien 1-0 Wessel

    In Game 2, Wessel had a breathtaking samurai beginning, with Devoted Retainer, Kitsume Blademaster and Nagao, Bound by Honor. Bastien's Kami of the Waning Moon and Nezumi Ronin tried join forces and take out the legend, but a Rend Flesh thwarted their plans. Only a Befoul on Nagao stopped the major bleeding but still the blademaster kept taking bits out of Bastien's life. A Honden of Cleansing Fire from Wessel made matters worse, increasing the difference between the two players. Still Bastien didn't lower his arms, he played a Teller of Tales, then another, followed by Gibbering Kami and Kami of the Twisted Reflection, always attacking with the Tellers and untapping them with their ability. When at three life, Bastien finally put all his creatures in the blademaster's path, eventually sacking the blue Kami to save the Teller that was going to die.

    Bastien Perez

    Wessel uses Blood Speaker to get Gutwrencher Oni into play, and replays the ogre.
    Bastien kept attacking and untapping the Tellers, now with a Waking Nightmare followed by Nezumi Ronin. He then blocks the demon with his black creatures, going down to one life. But that life was enough to be able to attack once more and advance do the final…

    Bastien 2-0 Wessel


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 10:17 pm - Semifinals: Raphael Levy vs. Wilco Pinkster
  • Game 1

    Levy sent his first hand back but still came out with turn two Samurai of the Pale Curtain. He missed his turn three drop and then unloaded Sosuke, Son of Seshiro. Meanwhile Wilco dropped Pain Kami, Burr Grafter and Venerable Kami.

    Wilco Pinkster

    Sosuke entered the Red Zone once and then the game settled down. Wilco's Pain Kami promised a two-for-one block and the Dutch didn't seem too eager to walk into Levy's creatures as well. Eventually Raphael equipped his Samurai with Serpent Skin and sent him into the Pain Kami.

    The Kami took one for the team and iced Sosuke on the way out. Locked in a mana flood, the French seemed unable to find any other creature to play wile Pinkster carefully rebuilt his army every turn. Still the Dutch was not in a hurry. He slowly thought every move through.

    Raphael: "Something! I drew something!"
    Wilco: "Something!"

    It was simply a Kami of Ancient Law but it sure was better than another land. Wilco Pinkster responded by sending his whole free crew in. Levy smiled and joked as he tried to squeeze some sort of advantage out of a desperate block.

    Pinkster tried to use Strength of Cedars on one of the unblocked creatures and Levy showed him the crucial Otherworldly Journey. Suddenly Raphael Levy wasn't so dead after all and his block actually killed a creature.

    Raphael: "I liked that attack."
    Wilco: "I don't. How lucky."
    Raphael: "Who? Me?"

    But he wasn't out of trouble yet. His Samurai of the Pale Curtain attacked and Isamaru, Hound of Konda came into play. Cage of Hands also returned to lock a different creature. Hanabi Blast took out Isamaru.

    Raphael: "No, not the dog. And stop playing creatures please."

    Again the French stared down at a table where he had a single creature, Samurai of the Pale Curtain and his opponent had five. He sent the Samurai in and dropped Order of the Sacred Bell to hold the fort. Wilco used Glacial Ray to get it out of the way with the help of Soul of Magma and sent Raphael tumbling down to five.

    This finally convinced Levy to hold the Samurai of the Pale Curtain back. But it wasn't enough. Wilco attacked with everyone and pointed Kodama's Might at an unblockable creature.

    Raphael: "Good job."

    Wilco 1-0 Raphael.

    Game 2

    The French opened with turn two Orochi Sustainer, turn three Sosuke, Son of Seshiro and Wilco answered with Brother Yamazaki.

    Raphael: "Are you going to block?"
    Wilco: "I'm not sure."
    Raphael: "I'm playing Lure, you ARE going to block."
    Wilco: "I really don't want to."
    Raphael: "But you will."

    Sure enough, he had to block the Lured Sosuke. That cleared the table and Levy quickly filled it with creatures.

    Wilco: "Nice draw."
    Raphael: "Very, very nice draw."

    Pinkster used Glacial Ray twice to send the problem away but by then Levy had five creatures roaring into the Red Zone. The Dutch tried to slow the bleeding with Soul of Magma and Dripping-Tongue Zubera but he knew it was too little, too late. Levy sent his crew in and the Dutch packed his cards.

    Wilco 1-1 Raphael.

    Game 3

    They both kept their decisive hands and Raphael started with Isamaru, Hound of Konda on his first turn. Wilco put a stop to it right away with Glacial Ray.

    Raphael: "Poor puppy."

    The Dutch stumbled in his mana on the third turn but quickly bounced back dropping creatures on the next two turns. Raphael dropped Mothrider Samurai and used Cage of Hands to lock down Feral Deceiver. The Dutch was now stuck at four mana but still pumping out creatures.

    Levy found Sakura-Tribe Elder to chump, Innocence Kami and a second Mothrider Samurai to pressure. Wilco tried to ice the Kami with Yamabushi's Flame before it could get online but Levy had Otherworldly Journey waiting for it. Wilco's crew came in and Kodama's Might made sure one of the Samurais died.

    The Kami and remaining Samurai struck back, dropping Wilco to nine, and Levy agonized over his next play. With the game so close he couldn't afford a mistake. Accross the table Pinkster had been locked at four mana for several turns but was still keeping the game balanced.

    Raphael: "I'm sorry. It's pretty late. It's hard to think."
    Wilco: "I know, no problem."
    Raphael: "What to do? What to do?"

    Finally the French made up his mind and sat up. Iname, Life Aspect entered the fray, untapping Innocence Kami.

    Wilco: "Now, that's fat."

    Again Wilco's deck refused to yield the fifth land. It was his turn to think. He played Ronin Houndmaster and sent it into the Red Zone all alone. Raphael wondered if he should call the bluff and risk Kodama's Might.

    Raphael: "I'm sorry, my brain is not working any more."

    He finally decided to take the two damage, down to eight life. On the following turn, his Innocence Kami tapped a blocker and he pounded Wilco down to five before playing another Spirit to untap his mighty tapper.

    By now it was no surprise to see Wilco Pinkster miss a land drop. He announced his attack and Levy decided not to use His Innocence Kami. Order of the Sacred Bell strolled into the Red Zone. At eight Levy didn't have a lot of room to work with and fearing burn and Kodama's Might he double blocked it and trade. Wilco played Kami of Fire's Roar which didn't please the French at all.

    Raphael Levy

    Raphael: "End of turn, I'll tap someone."
    Wilco: "Obviously."
    Raphael: "I just need to figure out who."

    He cursed a bit more and settled on tapping Burr Grafter. He untapped and again started muttering in French. Finally his Mothrider Samurai swept in to drop Pinkster to three.

    Wilco: "Are you sure?"
    Raphael: "I'm doing my best."

    The Dutch got another turn. He played a Spirit and told Iname to stay put for a turn.

    Raphael: "You have Hanabi Blast. I just figure I messed up."
    Wilco: "I hope so."

    Indeed the Dutch had the direct damage to finish it. According to Raphael Levy he should have sent Iname in on the first place because it gave him his Spirits back allowing him to add another blocker and untap his Innocence Kami.

    Final result:
    Wilco 2-1 Raphael.


     
  • Sunday, November 28: 10:51 pm - Finals: Bastien Perez vs. Wilco Pinkster
  • So here we are, in the finals of the last European Grand Prix of the season. It also happens to be the largest ever. It's up to Bastien to make sure the title stays home. It's the classic battle between Blue-Black and Green-Red.

    The awards ceremony

    Game 1

    Perez had turn two Soratami Cloudskater but couldn't find his fourth land or black mana. He fished for it with Cloudskater and found it on the next turn. That allowed him to play Nezumi Ronin and start developing his game.

    By then Wilco was hitting his full stride. He had Kami of Fire's Roar, Kami of the Hunt and Pain Kami on the table. Obviously Bastien started taking his turns a lot more slowly. His Cloudskater attacked and Teller of Tales came in to hold the fort.

    The Pain Kami sent the Ronin packing and Kodama's Might made sure the Teller would not block anyone. Perez was now at a single life point! The best he could do was to add another blocker. It wasn't even nearly enough. Wilco Pinkster played a Spirit and an Arcane on the next turn convincing Bastien Perez' creatures to stay out of his way for the final point.

    Someone in the crowd: "Jesus!"
    Wilco (to the crowd): "Do you like the deck?"

    Wilco 1-0 Bastien.

    Game 2

    Some of the French public started to wander off as they shuffled in silence. This time they both started slowly with Wilco's turn three Kami of the Hunt being the first creature. Bastien answered with Gibbering Kami.

    Wilco used Kodama's Reach to develop his mana and attacked. Perez answered back and tapped out to play the first of two Teller of Tales. Pinkster dropped Soul of Magma and after thinking for a few minutes Bastien killed it with Befoul and played Soratami Cloudskater.

    Down to one creature the Dutch bounced back with a vengeance slicing Kodama's Might and Glacial Ray on Blind with Anger to kill the Cloudskater and push Bastien Perez from fourteen to... six. The French was unfazed. He knew Wilco only had one creature in play and by now he had four. The Ray in Pinkster's hand was a problem but not deadly yet.

    Wilco Pinkster wins!

    The Teller of Tales struck once bringing Wilco to eight and the Dutch couldn't find way to strike back merely playing Dripping-Tongue Zubera. Perez's flyers brought him down to three. Wilco leaned forward and began his final move.

    Wilco: "End of turn splice Glacial Ray on this, then Glacial Ray, upkeep Hanabi Blast."

    Perez smiled and extended his hand.

    Final result: Wilco Pinkster is the winner of the largest Grand Prix ever!


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