ypically, non-Japanese players at Japanese Grand Prix tournaments are the exception, not the rule. Ruel has been on a whirlwind schedule of travel and Magic over the past month. Along with his brother and Sam Gomersall, he went to Grand Prix Madrid, Pro Tour Kobe, Grand Prix Hong Kong, and is ending his Asian Odyssey
here before going back to Europe for Grand Prix Birmingham next week. This Grand Prix season has given Ruel a tremendous amount of experience with this format, as this is his third Grand Prix in the Mirrodin
/Darksteel booster draft format. Thus far he's had trouble breaking through to the Top 8. In Madrid he needed to win one of his last two matches to make Top 8 but couldn't pull it off, and failed to win a final match in Hong Kong that would have advanced him to the Top 8 as well. On the third try, he's finally made it. Alex Shvartsman is the only foreigner to ever win a Japanese Grand Prix, and Ruel is looking to become the second.
Ruel looked through his first pack and immediately took Betrayal of Flesh, only glancing over the rest of the cards just to see what he was passing. None of the other playable cards were black, and he got to work cutting off the color, taking Pewter Golem and Irradiate second and third. Myr Enforcer came fourth, and Ruel went into a second color when he took Creeping Mold. This plan was changed rather quickly, however, as a Thirst of Knowledge was still sitting in the fifth pick pack. Ruel shook his head in annoyed disbelief, and drafted it. It seemed that he had the beginnings of a strong affinity deck, ending the second pack with Frogmite and Moriok Scavenger.
In the second pack, Ruel saw a Somber Hoverguard first, and set it aside, ready to put it into his deck. He shuffled through the rest, and saw a bomb staring back at him: Molder Slug. He quickly shifted it to the top of the pack, and looked through the rest out of curiosity- it just so happened that Grab the Reigns was in there too. He took the Slug and solidified himself back into green, taking Tel-Jilad Chosens with picks two and three. After that, the pack dried up rather quickly, and he had to settle for mediocre cards like Nim Replica. Darksteel wasn't terribly exciting either, although it didn't have to be. The most exciting card it gave Ruel was Murderous Spoils, and the rest was solid cards to round out the deck. Grimclaw Bats, Chittering Rats and a pair of Tanglewalkers improved the creature base.
TW: How do you think it went?
Ruel: Good! Opening the Slug was a very good idea (laughs)
TW: That was really funny, because I saw you looking through the pack. You were ready to take the Hoverguard, then you looked through the rest of the pack and went, "Oh! Molder Slug! Hey, Grab the Reigns too!"
Ruel: Yeah, Hoverguard looked like a good first pick, then it was like, "Oh. Okay, I took a Creeping Mold, sure I'll take the Slug."
TW: Were you planning to go blue before you took the Slug.
Ruel: Yeah, I had Thirst of Knowledge, and I really wanted to play it because it's a great card.
TW: Yeah I remember you got it much later than it usually goes, and you were shaking your head like "I can't believe this is still in the pack."
Ruel: I didn't receive any blue cards, so I was thinking, "Why is this still here?" Okay, that means they're not blue, so I have to go blue to have good cards in the first pack, at least. Then the Slug happened.
TW: Was it hard to switch gears, because you seemed to be drafting an affinity deck, then you opened the Slug and had to go the other way. But, it kind of worked out pretty well because you got two Tel-Jilad Chosen.
Ruel: If I have the Slug, I'm going to win. If I don't have the Slug, I'm still going to have an affinity deck to win!
TW: In the second pack, after your first few picks it seemed that things dried up really quickly. You had to settle for Nim Replicas, artifact lands and things like that. What do you think happened?
Ruel: I just wanted to take the cheapest cards I could find, because my deck was really expensive.
TW: Yeah, but there was nothing left in the pack for you after the fourth or fifth pick. Maybe it was because you passed some green in the first pack?
Ruel: I passed a lot of green in the first pack, so I figured not much would come and I tried to draft as many green cards as possible. I took two Tel-Jilad Chosen over two Consume Spirits, because I really wanted to go green, green, green…