December 16th, 11:03 a.m. – It's D-Day
by Rich Hagon
1340 players have become 128, and now they sit down to draft three packs of Lorwyn. Three rounds later they get to do it all again, and then the best of the best get a final try to turn treefolk, merfolk and more into solid gold, or as close to solid gold as the US dollar gets. We're joined by special guest analyst Ervin Tormos, bringing us fresh transatlantic perspective on the Draft format as Day Two gets under way.
Click here for the Podcast!
December 16th, 8:20 a.m.: Marijn Lybaert, Elvish Drafter
by Hanno Terbuyken
We left off yesterday evening with Marijn Lybaert, and it seemed only fitting to kickstart Sunday's tired early hours with the same 9-0 player. Watching Marijn draft was like a swimming lesson in a sea of green, with the occasional cuttlefish passing. That's not to say he drafted anything blue, of fishy. But the Belgian drowned in a sea of green.
It started in pack one, when Marijn shuffled Merrow Harbinger and Changeling Titan to the front of his first pick. Many pros betray an affection to blue cards, Faeries and Merfolk in particular, but the siren call of the azure depths didn't get through to Marijn. He picked Changeling Titan, then Eyeblight's Ending second, with Mudbutton Torchrunner failing to get Marijn's attention.
Marijn Lybaert reaching out for success.
A third pick Lys Alana Huntmaster scribbled "Elves!" all over Marijn's hands. And while the occasional blue Harbinger slyly waved at Marijn in passing, the Belgian was as green as a thicket of algae: Battlewand Oak, Fertile Ground, Lys Alana Scarblade as sixth pick, then Elvish Branchbender and as eighth card Hornet Harassers. Removal remained scarce during the whole draft, but Marijn had something better. A second Lys Alana Scarblade as tenth pick, followed by Warren-Scourge Elves and a late Fertile ground fortified his Elvish plans.
Marijn opened a weak pack two, and had to go to Jagged Scar Archers as his first pick, and his second pick, a very solid selection for a dedicated Elf deck. Still, the draft could have gone haywire, but instead, it went ballistic. Lys Alana Huntmaster #2 as fourth pick made sure that Marijn was not straying from the Elvish ways. The pack just had more Elves, like Nath's Elite, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Skeletal Changeling and a Battlewand Oak (not an Elf). The only pick that made Marijn think was pick three, Elvish Promenade over Incremental Growth.
Then, Marijn opened an extraordinarily weak third pack – for him, at least. He found Wort, Boggart Auntie, staring at him next to Nath's Elite and and Moonglove Extract. Marijn moved to take out the Goblin lady, but cautioned himself and remembered his complete lack of removal. So Moonglove Extract it was. "I needed the removal, and I didn't want to screw Jan over if he was in red", explained Marijn afterwards. He was feeding Jan Doise, a fellow Belgian, and preferred cooperative drafting.
Then came a second pick Warren Pilferes over Wren's Run Vanquisher and Elvish Branchbender. Another pick where Marijn commented: "I so regretted taking Warren Pilferers over the Branchbender – then it tabled!" Yes, it came back. Because Elves were not really in demand...
Pick three: Lys Alana Huntmaster #3.
Pick four: Leaf Gilder ("I wish I had more of these", Marijn said after the draft).
Pick five: Lys Alana Huntmaster #4.
Assorted Elves joined Marijn's swarm in the last picks, like Moonglove Winnower, Elvish Branchbender and the third Jagged-Scar Archers. What can you say? Even though Marijn had few mana fixers and even less removal, the four Huntmasters formed a more than solid backbone for this deck. Ultimately, Marijn ended up with 18 Elves, threatening to simply run his opponents over with a lot of creatures. He had picked one Hurly-Burly away, so it wouldn't devastate him, but that card can be a dreamcrusher against his deck.
"I guess I can't complain", said the Belgian. "I guess I could want some removal, but I have these", pointing at two Lys Alana Scarblades. The allegedly most popular tribe – Faeries – doesn't worry Marijn at all. He indicated his three Jagged-Scar Archers: "These are good against Faeries!" Very true. We'll see if the Belgian can keep up his run!
GP Stuttgart 2007, first draft
December 16th, 10:17 a.m.: Feature match round 11: Richard Hoaen (CAN) vs Marijn Lybaert (BEL)
by Hanno Terbuyken
Marijn: "Is your deck good?"
Rich: "It's okay. Yours?"
Marijn: "It should be good, but it didn't deliver in the first round."
The Canadian mastermind kicked off with Runed Stalactite and Squeaking Pie Sneak. Marijn curved out with his deck, accelerating into Lys Alana Huntmaster with Leaf Gilder and prepared to bury Hoaen under a barrage of Elves. Nath's Elite won a clash for Marijn and gave him Elven Promenade.
Rich: "Don't do that again."
The Belgian's attack sapped six, then ten life from Hoaen. At one life, Hoaen had ran out of blockers.
Rich Hoaen 0, Marijn Lybaert 1
Again, Marijn had acceleration (this time with Fertile Ground), and Rich Hoaen had Runed Stalactite. Marijn merely played Elvish Branchbender this time instead of one of his four Huntmasters. Rich Hoaen seemed to hope that he could stall the ground with Hrnet Harassers and start pecking through the air with Thieving Sprite, but Jagged-Scar Archers made that plan collapse. Instead, the Canadian used Peppersmoke to get rid of Skeletal Changeling at an opportune moment, and attacked on the ground. Hornet Harrassers with Runed Stalactite, Sneaking Pie Sneak and Thieving Sprite stood against Marijn's Archers, Elvish Branchbender and Nath's Elite (with a clash counter).
Marijn took it and went to 4. The Belgian seemed to have something up his sleeve, as he tried to work out how to deal the requisite 18 damage to Rich Hoaen. A Forest (thanks, Branchbender!) and the Elite took Hoaen to 9 and into kill range. Marijn had left enough blockers behind to survive one more turn, at just one life. But Rich Hoaen had different plans.
P.S.: Tarfire you.
Rich Hoaen 1, Marijn Lybaert 1
"You got pretty lucky there were no pro-Elves guys in the draft", Rich analyzed, while Marijn hypothesized: "I would have won that game if I had played first." The two players knew the value of having the first crack in Lorwyn draft. Rich commented that yesterday, he didn't care, but today, the first play would be a contested privilege.
Again, Rich Hoaen led with Squeaking Pie Sneak, killed by Moonglove Extract. Marijn wished he had kept the removal two turns later, as Rich presented Mudbutton Torchrunner and Tar Pitcher. Both kill nearly every creature in Marijn's deck, so the Belgian was not in an enviable position.
Torchrunner 2-for-1'ed Marijn as exected, and the Belgian had to build anew with Lys Alana Huntmaster. The second Huntmaster in his hand was hit by a Mournwhelk, the one in play caught Weed Strangle, but the third one stuck. Only by now, Rich Hoaen had Axegrinder Giant in play to waltz over Marijn. "There is no good block here", sighed the Belgian when Rich came to town with the the Giant and a new Mudbutton Torchrunner.
Marijn blocked the 'runner, lost his third Huntmaster and went to 6. He saw no way to escape the Giant. Scooping his lands up, Marijn shook his head: "I played bad."
Rich Hoaen 2, Marijn Lybaert 1
"Are you playing the two mana 1/1? The Scarred Vinebreeder? I think he's really good," Rich Hoaen advised. Marijn had to admit that he didn't have any, and mourned his deck's lack of punch in the face of opposing removal. With the Huntmasters gone, the Elf deck seemed to be not explosive enough to break through a ground stall.
December 16th, 11:47 a.m.: News and Notes
by Hanno Terbuyken
* Yesterday, head judge Riccardo Tessitori announced that 30 players had returned an illegal decklist. With almost 1340 players there, that is not nearly as much as it could have been.
* Ace podcaster Rich Hagon used his stand-up comedy roots to make up the Lorwyn movie trilogy: Lorwyn 1 – Mayhem in the Meadows, with the two sequels Lorwyn 2 – Massacre on the Moor and Lorwyn 3 – The Killing Fields.
* Two players managed to finish a match with a 3-2 record in yesterday's main event. How does that work, you might ask? Easy: One of them played Incendiary Command, chosing the Pyroclasm effect and the Winds of Change. Unfortunately, the two players treated it like a Wheel of Fortune, discarding their hands and both drawing a new hand of seven. That, of course, is drawing extra cards. Both players simultaneously received a game loss, bringing the match to a 2-2 result. But with enough time left in the round, the players still had to play to determine a winner, and the match ended 3-2.
* Ben Coleman, assistant podcaster, has been trying something new this weekend: "Inside the GP", it's called. Ben has been playing all weekend, bringing an inside look at how a GP works to the listeners out there. After round 12, he sports an X-3-1 record, much better than the two podcasters had expected. He'll keep on playing until he loses another match, and then return to his regular podcasting duties. Meanwhile, Ervin Tormos has been helping Rich Hagon out, providing his insight and draft coverage.
Ben Coleman doing quite well on table 1, under the heedful eyes of GP teen Morgane Kelterbaum.
December 16th, 12:19 p.m: Taking names in the first draft
by Daniel Ullenius
What were some of the big names playing? Is blue really the favorite color of the upper echelon of Magic? We took a look to see what they had cooking.
Gabriel Nassif: U/W Merfolk
Nassif first picked a Sygg, River Guide in the first pack over an Oblivion Ring, a choice he admitted to regret when he ended up with a deck without very many good Merfolks. The deck will tries to go with the aggro-plan instead of the more common mode of "flip your adversaries libraries into their graveyards whilst gaining lots of life before anyone can do anything". Double Benthicore helped a lot with the beatdown, but Nassif was not satisfied with his deck, having not enough card quality.
Shuuhei Nakamura: B/U/w Merfolk/Faeries
The man from Japan drafted what is probably one of the best draft decks in the room. As if Wydwen, the Biting Gale was not flashy enough, Shuuhei also had three Sentinels of Glen Elandra. Together with the awesome stopping power of Guile plus Cryptic AND Profane Command it gives
Nakamura-san what can be described as a Limited version of the Sonic Boom-deck.
Raphael Levy: B/U Merfolks/Faeries
Raph decided to go black after picking up Dread as his first pick in the first booster. He then continued into blue when he got a Mistbind Clique and an Aethersnipe together with two Silvergill Adept, and the rest of the deck built itself.
In one game, Levy started with a turn two Adept, followed by a revealed Silvergill Douser. A Plover Knight from the opponent a couple of turns later was condescended by Broken Ambitions, and a Goldmeadow Harrier was denied by a Spellstutter Sprite. Raphael charged and passed the turn, and in his opponents upkeep, down came a 4/4 Flying Time Walk. And the Hall of Famer had Fallowsage and Aethersnipe in hand to deal with any mass removal. Good Game.
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa: G/W Kithkin/Elves
The resident genius went against the flow among the pros and drafted an aggressive white/green Kithkin/Elves deck that exchanged the power of bombs for the raw almost-constructed power provided by turn one Goldmeadow Stalwarts, turn two Wren's Run Vanquisher and a turn three Imperious Perfect. If having eight power on the table on turn three, with your opponent already being damaged, was not enough, the deck would continue to swarm the enemy with Jagged-Scar Archers and extremely synergistic Woodland Changelings, not to forget flying 3/3 First Strikers.
Andre Coimbra: G/R/b Treefolk
If Wafo-Tapa tried to go against the majority of pros with his Green/White aggro deck, then Portuguese pro Andre Coimbra must have tried harder. Green/red Treefolk is probably not the most common archetype, but when you get the entire Treefolk team, including a splashed Thorntooth Witch, you do not complain to much. However, the deck's synergy does not end there. With almost all of his creatures having 3 toughness or more, Ashling the Pilgrim and Incendiary Command will Wrath of God away his opponents board, while leaving Coimbra's men free to move in for the kill. And in case those two Plauge Winds wouldn't do the job, the Portuguese also had a midgame bomb in the enormous Cloudthresher.
December 16th, 12:21 a.m. – Twelve and Oh!
by Rich Hagon
The 128 players have no time to rest on their laurels. Being in the top 10% means nothing if you can't convert it into Pro Points, cash, or even better, both! In this show we bring you coverage of the first set of draft matches, plus the crucial second draft of the day. Only one player out of the 1340 who set out made it to the lofty heights of 12 undefeated matches, and it wasn't a Pro. Find out more, and click here immediately.
Click here for the Podcast!
December 16th, 2:20 p.m.: Feature match round 13: Raul Porojan (DEU) vs Vasicek Martin (SVK)
by Daniel Ullenius
Both players started of knowing that however won would be preparing for some Top-8-Magic. Raul Porojan played a Giant/Elemental deck with lots of Smokebraiders and Stinkdrinker Daredevils, whilst Vasicek Martin played a very similar deck, but with lots of synergistic Goblins.
Vasicek won the die roll and opted to play. Both players started off with Mountain openings, but the first play was from Vasicek who had Ashling the Pilgrim, which grew to a 4/4 pretty quickly. Raul followed up with Stinkdrinker Daredevil into an Axegrinder Giant, which put considerable pressure on Martin.
Raul Porojan on the way to his second GP Top 8.
Vasicek played a 3/2 Adderstaff Boggart and clashed Nameless Inversion against Porojans Swamp. Porojan charged ahead with the Axegrinder on the following turn, and the Giant drew blood. It turned out that the nightmare for Vasicek had only begun when Raul played an Hamletback Goliath.
Martin had a knife to his throat and decided to charge in with Adderstaff to see if Raul had forgotten about Nameless Inversion: The removal spell could have destroyed a blocking Hamletback. Porojan played it smart, did not block, and answered with a Shriekmaw the next turn, which put his opponent into scoop mode.
Raul Porojan 1, Vasicek Martin 0
Vasicek was on the play again, but decided to go to Paris before starting. He looked really unhappy when scanning his new six, but decided to keep. Both players started with two lands, but Raul had a Smokebraider on turn 2. Vasicek could not kill it, but instead of a crazy early elemental it attacked for one.
Martin started to gain some ground as he played Tar Pitcher and a Marsh Fitter, killing Smokebraider with a pitched token. Raul thought for a while, and then played an Elemental Harbinger, fetching Shriekmaw. Martin charged in to the red zone after a Caterwauling Boggart had joined his team, making them very difficult to block. The newly-drawn Shriekmaw from Raul killed the Tar Pitcher, who took the Shriekmaw with him. Warren Pilferers joined Vasicek's team, picked up the Tar Pitcher and swung for 8. Now it was Raul's turn to be under pressure, but Porojan took it cool and played Giant Harbinger for Ghostly Changeling.
Raul had bigger creatures, but Vascicek had an evil Boggart who made blocking a real hassle for Raul. A Hornet Harasser joined Martins team and killed the giant during combat, which put Raul on a very low 5 life. Elemental Harbinger for Martin got him a Nameless Inversion.
When all seemed lost for Raul, he played the Ghostly Changeling, followed by a Thundercloud Shaman. Weed Strangle killed the Giant, who had killed half of Vasicek's team, and the Changeling had to stand in the way of Vasicek's Pilferers.
Raul went into the think tank, and played a Warren Pilferers of his own, returning his Shriekmaw. The Pilferers died to an Inversion, and Martin swung for 4. The flier died to yet another Nameless Inversion, and on his turn Raul played his walking Terror, killing off Vasiceks newly summoned Tar Pitcher. However, when Vasicek found Eyeblight's Ending for the Shriekmaw on the top of his library, the game was over.
Vasicek Martin representing Slovakia at the top tables.
Raul Porojan 1, Vasicek Martin 1
Its not exiting if its not down to one game, right?
Raul kept his opening seven, while Martin was not content with his draw. The next six were more his cup of tea, and he kept.
The unusual start Mountain vs Mountain was followed by a turn one Elemental Harbinger for Martin, fetching him a Nameless Inversion. Raul gave the Inversion a target with Stinkdrinker Daredevil, and Vasicek missed a land drop on his turn. Raul started to build up pressure with Lowland Oaf, and next turn Warren Pilferers got him the Stinkdrinker back and he swung for 6.
Martin played a small but deadly Mudbutton Torchrunner, but that did not keep Raul from charging into the red zone. Mudbutton killed the Oaf, and an Axegrinder Giant join his team. Martin passed and killed the attacking, axe-wielding Giant with Eyeblight's Ending.
Raul built an army of elementals with Flamekin Brawler and Ceaseless Searblades. Vasicek thought for a while, and then played Boggart Loggers. Raul had the superior board position and charged with Pilferers and the Searblades. Vasicek took three like a man and Raul played his Stinkdrinker again. Martin fought with another Lowland Oaf of his own, but a discount Heartcage Giant from Raul ended the game and took him to the Top 8.
Raul Porojan 2, Vasicek Martin 1
December 16th, 2:53 p.m.: Draft feature with Shuuhei Nakamura
by André Coimbra
During the last seasons, Magic has been dominated by the Japanese players that have been attending lots of Grand Prix and posting solid scores at the Grand Prix circuit, as well as the Pro Tours. One of the faces of the Japanese dominance over our favorite game is one of Japan's finest: Shuuhei Nakamura. Today, at the first table in the second draft of Grand Prix Stuttgart, the Japanese player needed a 2-1 score to get a shot at the GP title and the chance to get a good start in the Player of the Year race. Before the draft, he talked about his preference for blue in this draft format, as he thinks it is the best color overall.
The story of this draft could have been about how Shuuhei Nakamura got the blue deck he wanted so much. However, the first booster didn't provide any good blue cards at all, so our Pro Player got to choose between Moonglove Extract and Incandescent Soulstoke, trying to not get into any kind of non-blue tribal theme by taking the artifact. I think I saw his eyes shining when he happily second picked Surgespanner over Tar Pitcher and Briarhorn. On the third pick, he faced another interesting choice in a booster without any blue interesting cards, as he got to choose between Avian Changeling and Changeling Hero, picking Avian Changeling. There weren't many blue or black cards going around in the remains of the first booster, so Shuuhei chose to pick the best cards from the remaining three colors that were available at each pack. Most of them were white.
Amidst the press of press, Shuuhei Nakamura appeals to a higher power.
Surely if you get lots of white cards on the first booster, you don't mind to see Cloudgoat Ranger as your first pick of the second booster. That is exactly what happened to Shuuhei Nakamura, when he took only a split second to make his choice. Still on this booster, the Level 5 mage faced the choice of Goldmeadow Stalwart over Masked Admirers, showing that if he couldn't play blue, he would like to draft a fast white tempo deck, in order to try to beat the slower decks at the table. Rounding out this booster, he got some fast creatures and combat tricks in white and green, sticking with his tempo plan.
The third booster started just like the first one, giving Shuuhei a Moonglove Extract, which he took over Shapesharer. Following the Moonglove Extract came the hardest pick of the draft, as he had to choose between Avian Changeling, Epic Proportions and Changeling Hero – which is pretty much the same choice he got on the first booster, but with a Epic Proportions to make it harder. Once again, he took Avian Changeling, proving that if there was a reason to take it in the first booster, the same reason applies in the third booster.
On his third pick of the third booster, he saw another Shapesharer, but Kinsbaile Balloonist seemed better than splashing the blue card in his white/green deck. The last interesting choice came in the fourth pick, where he got to choose between a possible third Avian Changeling, Plover Knights or a splashable Doran. Any guesses? Surely he likes Avian Changeling a lot, but this time he took Plover Knights over it, in order to get some mid-game when the initial rush wouldn't be enough to win the game on the spot.
In the end, he built a solid fast white deck, featuring some green for combat purposes and utility creatures, as well as some aggressive creature drops with evasion. Is this a recipe for another Top 8 finish, or maybe even his third Grand Prix win? Keep an eye on the coverage to find out!
December 16th, 3:30 p.m. – Tighter than a Tight Thing
by Rich Hagon
Remember those 25 players who made it to 7-2 last night but still didn't get a chair at the Sunday dance? Well, as I write 15 players are battling it out for 8 spots at the top table, as the first Sunday Shootout of the new season comes into focus. Japan's Shuuhei Nakamura and Belgium's Fried Meulders are just two of the contenders who can't be safe despite a stellar 12-2 record. Can they make it in?
Click here for the Podcast!
December 16th, 2:40 p.m.: Feature match round 13: Robert van Meedevort (NLD) vs Marc Vogt (DEU)
by Hanno Terbuyken
Marc Vogt is the story of the tournament. The young German won 12 matches in a row, leading the Swiss and acing his first draft pod – all without byes! It was his first GP ever, and his march to 36 points was certainly impressive. After the second draft, he met Robert van Meedevort at the feature match table. The Dutchman is certainly no stranger to the limelight, being part of last year's title-winning Netherland's National team. He was in a win-and-in situation, because at 33 points, a win would give him enough leeway to eke out a Top 8 appearance.
Marc was quickly ahead on permanents, with Shapesharer, Pestermite and Elvish Harbinger. But Robert was ahead in terms of power: He dropped Nova Chaser, pumped and hasted it with Inner-Flame Acolyte and smashed for 12. Marc was tapped out and fell to 6, but had Shapesharer to defend and Cloudgoat Ranger to help him out. Paying for the Ranger left him tapped out, though, and Robert used that window of opportunity to trample over Marc's four creatures after frying the Cloudgoat Ranger.
Not a very happy looking Marc Vogt, although he still had every chance for Top 8.
The German prodigy fell to 1. Even though Robert lost the Nova Chaser, he sat on a comfortable 11 life. A turn later, Moonglove Extract from the Durchman finished off the German.
Robert van Meedevort 1, Marc Vogt 0
"This is the first time I've lost a Game 1 at this GP", said Marc, illustrating his 12-0 run. He was on the play to try and take yet another match, but had no permanent to stop Robert's Flamekin Brawler. Fire-Belly Changeling joined the Dutchman's team, and Marc finally joined the fray with Kinsbaile Balloonist.
Robert championed Nova Chaser again, going to 8 from the next attack but still looking good. He had Moonglove Extract to kill Marc's Imperial Perfect and smashed with the Chaser at the next possible opportunity. It dealt no damage: Marc had Aethersnipe to get rid of the Nova Chaser pro tem, as it were.
Changeling Hero from Marc promised more permanent help, to give him a solid life buffer between Robert van Meedevort and the end of his winning streak. 12-15 in favor of Vogt were the life totals, and the German regained balance by dispatching Robert's new Imperious Perfect with Moonglove Extract.
Nova Chaser from Robert was held at bay by Marc's Stonybrook Angler, and then killed by Neck Snap. Marc produced Shapesharer and a Cloudgoat Ranger, and that was game. Or was it? robert tried to keep himself alive and kicking, but with now two Changeling Heroes facing him, the Dutchman needed a miracle. Robert managed to kill half of the Changeling duo, but Marc had a thirdChangeling Hero, and finally was game.
Robert van Meedevort 1, Marc Vogt 1
Robert tried to get early pressure on with Ethereal Whiskergill, taking Marc to 15. I got a glimpse of the German's hand, and the two Changeling Heroes there had apparently made him keep those seven.
The problems with Champions is, though, that you need creatures to champion. And Robert was burning every one of Marc's critters with Lash Out and Moonglove Extract, even winning the clash on Lash out. All the while, Robert's creatures were whittling away at Marc's life.
"Crack my knuckles, end your streak": Robert van Meedevort tried to stop the high flyer.
The German had his back against the wall. Smokebraider and Incandescent Soulstoke had relentlessly taken him to a very low life total. Marc had fewer creatures than Robert and could not stop the bleeding. On one life, the German died with three Changeling Heroes in his hand, and his winning streak was broken.
Robert van Meedevort 2, Marc Vogt 1
December 16th, 3:36 p.m.: Feature Match round 14: Fried Meulders (BEL) vs Raphael Levy (FRA)
by André Coimbra
Even when players travel overseas to play on the Grand Prix circuit, there are still some important matches played by players from the same continent. At Grand Prix Stuttgart, it was no different. The Belgian Fried Meulders played against Raphael Levy in a match where the defeated player would be out of Top 8 contention.
Meulders got a blistering start with a second turn Woodland Changeling, third turn Blind-Spot Giant. The only answer that Levy found for that start was an Evoked Aethersnipe on his third turn and then Glen Elendra Pranksters to block the Changeling Bear. As if one Woodland Changeling and one Blind-Spot Giant was not enough for Meulders, he played another one of each, putting more pressure on the table. Levy played Warren Pilferers to get his Aethersnipe back and killed one of the Woodland Changeling on his opponent's turn, when he got attacked with the full team.
Aethersnipe bounced a Giant again and Levy was ready to kill some of the opposing team with his big creature, but a Flamekin Spitfire on Meulders' second main phase ruined Levy's plans, giving him a big edge on the table. Raph played Thieving Sprite and his opponent discarded his only card: Changeling Hero, this being the last play before the French player conceded.
During sideboarding, Raphael Levy took a deep breath and commented: "That was a good draw".
Fried Meulders 1, Raphael Levy 0
The Belgian native repeated his first turns from Game 1, but this time Raphael Levy played an early Deeptread Merrow and a Thieving Sprite to slow Fried down. The Belgian used Lash Out and a Flamekin Spitfire which gave him a small edge. Levy played Glen Elendra Pranksters, as well as Inkfathom Divers, getting Warren Pilferers from the top four cards of his Library and switching to attack mode with his flier. To fight an evasion war, Meulders played Bog-Strider Ash and started attacking back.
Some people say that sometimes, defending is the best strategy to be offensive, and using that philosophy, the French player bounced the opposite Woodland Changeling with his Aethersnipe, making the Giant useless. Levy followed it up with an attack. What the Hall of Fame player missed was Crush Underfoot, which killed Aethersnipe on his end of turn and allowed Fried to get an attack in, taking Levy to 4 life.
Thieving Sprite discarded Changeling Hero and revealed card Elvish Harbinger. Flamekin Spitfire killed the small Faerie. When Fried Meulders attacked with his Giant, Levy blocked with his remaining Faerie, played Footbottom Feast and recovered all his creatures from the graveyard. That allowed him to cast his Aethersnipe again, after which Fried conceded.
Fried Meulders 1, Raphael Levy 1
Meulders decided to keep his initial seven cards, and when Levy was resolving his first mulligan, he asked if Meulder had the "god draw" again. If Meulders had answered that question, the answer would probably have been no. This time, Meulders played Fire-Belly Changeling instead of Woodland Changeling on his second turn, not having Forests to play green spells. The third turn gave Springleaf Drum to the Belgian player, allowing him to get some green mana, but chose to attack with Fire-Belly Changeling instead. That allowed Levy to play Glimmerdust Nap, as he was aware of the possibility of leaving Fried Meulders color screwed.
Meulders missed a land drop and Levy played Dreamspoiler Witches. However, on the next turn Meulders got a Forest and played Changeling Berserker, which replaced the Changeling creature and attacked. Levy chumpblocked with his flying creature and got it back on the next turn with Warren Pilferers. That ended up trading with Changeling Berseker, but two Bog-Strider Ash gave the edge on the table to Fried Meulders. Incendiary Command finished his job of making Top 8 at GP Stuttgart.
Fried Meulders 2, Raphael Levy 1
December 16th, 4:45 p.m.: The Final Round
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Going into the final round, four players were guaranteed to play in the Top 8: Jonathan Bergström, Robert van Medevoort, Raul Porojan, and Marc Vogt all had 37 points. As they were paired amongst each other, they could draw to reach the magic number of 38. Behind them, eleven players were fighting for the last four spots. Italy's Patrizia Golia would face veteran Menno Dolstra of the Netherlands; Joel Calafell from Spain was up against Belgium's Jan Doise; and local hero Aaron Boehmler would have to defeat another Belgian player, Fried Meulders. These six all had 36 points before the last round, which meant that with a win they would be in, and a loss would eliminate them from the tournament. Provided that all games would come to a conclusion, these three would account for three of the last four seats in the play-offs.
Aaron Boehmler, local hero, did not manage to be the third German in the Top 8.
Martin Vasicek from Slovakia also had 36 points, and if he would win his game against Shuuhei Nakamura, he would take the last spot. However, if Nakamura, who had 34 points going into this round, would win, he would give a chance to him and three other players on 34 points to make it, so Roman Steinert, Tomoharu Saitou, and Kenny Öberg would be rooting for him.
Patrizio Golia had drafted a red-green deck with a splash of white for Brion Stoutarm. His deck also featured Chandra Nalaar. One of these two spoilers in each of the games was all he needed to defeat Menno Dolstra's white-green Kithkin deck.
Jan Doise also had Chandra on his team, but his black-red-green deck would have a much harder time against Joel Calafell's unlikely alliance of blue faeries and red giants. Doise was already down one game, had to take a mulligan, and then saw himself forced to keep a hand with forests and red cards. He was behind from the start, but fought his way back, and when Chandra made her appearance, it seemed like he could turn the tide. But a Fathom Trawl gave Calafell Wings of Velis Vel, which was enough to push the last points through.
Fried Meulders was playing a red-green giants deck, splashing for Changeling Hero. In the end, his creatures proved too big for Aaron Boehmlers Kithkin, already decimated after an Incendiary Command.
Shuuhei Nakamura had drafted mono-white Kithkin as well, but he proved to be much more successful than Aaron Boehmler. He was the first one to finish his match, beating amateur Martin Vasicek in two quick games. He had the best opponent's score of the players on 34 points, and could claim the last place in the top 8.
December 16th, 6:10 p.m.: Drafting with Robert van Medevoort
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Robert van Medevoort had an easy 15th round. He could just draw with his opponent and then prepare for the top 8 draft. He would be facing Patrizio Golia from Italy in the quarterfinals.
Before the draft, podcasting colleague Ben Coleman had announced that he was sure that Medevoort would be drafting Merfolk. Some people like to read the signals before committing to a deck, but Medevoort seemed to like Merfolk enough to force them.
His first pick reflected that: His choices were Moonglove Extract, Dreamspoiler Witches, Fallowsage, Shapesharer, and Sentinels of Glen Elendra. He went with the Shapesharer – a Merfolk, and potentially the biggest one he would get. For his next pack, he would again have a choice between Fallowsage and Moonglove Extract, and went with the Merfolk.
Somebody less set on a certain strategy might have just taken the two Extracts, keeping all options open. But on the other hand, the advantage of choosing your path right away is the possibility to take the stronger picks.
But there are disadvantages as well. Take the next booster: It had Marsh Flitter and Weed Strangle, but he had to consider actually taking the much less powerful Broken Ambitions or Springleaf Drum. In the end, he took the Weed Strangle anyway. Next up was a Judge of Currents, which he picked up happily. But then he had to go black again, when no quality blue or white cards showed up: Thieving Sprite and Peppersmoke were his next picks.
The rest of the first pack was uneventful. Medevoort's deck was leaning more towards Faeries then towards the Merfolk he had wanted in the first place.
Pack two saw him go back and forth between Merfolk and Faeries. It seemed like he would always get a good white card which would really draw him back to Merfolk, just to get passed a pick that only contained black cards. He started with Cloudgoat Ranger, but had to take Dreamspoiler Witches as second pick. Then it was Sygg, River Guide, followed by Footbottom Feast. He managed two pick up two more Merfolk, Amoeboid Changeling and Judge of Currents, but at the end of pack two he only had around 15 playables, spread over the three colors.
The last round gave him some much needed power, but had him dip into a fourth color as well: Brion Stoutarm joined the team, picked over Merrow Harbinger and Pestermite. Profane Command then made sure he could abandon neither white nor black. Medevoort spent the rest of the time picking up some essential mana-fixing.
In the end, he played a base-black deck, with five or six cards in both blue and white, and a tiny red splash for Brion. At this point, it was hard to say whether deciding on a strategy beforehand actually paid off. We will have to see how he does. As he said himself, he could easily win this if he drew only from the good half of the deck. But he could just as easily die horribly to mana problems.
December 16th, 6:20 p.m.: Draft report Joel Calafell
by André Coimbra
Joel Calafell might be playing his first Grand Prix Top8, but he used to be one of the play testing partners of his countryman Javier Dominguez and one of the designers responsible for the popular Cephalid Breakfast. For this draft he wasn't planning to draft any specific archetype, instead, he was looking to see what was underdrafted and try to draft that.
He started his draft by opening a booster with Galepowder Mage, followed by a Mulldrifter that came directly from his right. While his next picks were not hot, somehow he managed to get a 5th pick Pestermite, which is usually considered by the Pros a first pick quality card. Getting mostly white and blue cards in this booster left him with a hard choice when he had to choose between Hillcomber Giant and Vivid Meadow. Mana fixing might be an important issue in Lorwyn drafts, but, as he was only with two colors at the moment and didn't have any plans for splashing, he opted to pick the Giant, as it provided a tool to fight the red decks and a way to improve his Kithkin Greatheart.
If Joel was happy to get to fifth pick Pestermite on the first booster, he wasn't less happy to first pick it in the second booster, taking it over Neck Snap. For his second pick he had a hard time deciding between Kithkin Greatheart and Lash Out. Lash Out is better than Kithkin Greatheart, but he already had one and a giant he was going to play. He ended up taking Lash Out. The third pick gave him an another interesting choice, as he took Neck Snap over Sentinels of Glen Elendra, demonstrated that Pestermite is higher on his picklist than the Sentinels. His colors dried out after that, but he still was able to get some mana fixing in order to splash his Lash Out.
In the third booster he opened Kithkin Harbinger, Profane Command, Sentinels of Glen Elendra and Kinsbaile Balloonist. He took the Kithkin Harbinger, as it allowed him to tutor for his best card so far: Glenpowder Mage. For his second pick of the third booster, he was lucky enough to be passed a Purity, which he took quite fast. After that he got so more fixers, some more playable cards for his deck, but nothing really interesting.
Joel Calafell was happy with his deck and he needed to be, as he was going to face the player at the table with the most achievements in his Quarterfinal match: Shuuhei Nakamura.
December 16th, 10:50 p.m.: Tying up the lose ends
by Hanno Terbuyken
Another GP has gone by, the last one of the year, and the first one of the new season. And again, I did not have enough time during the day to bring you all the stories. For example, I did not tell you anything about the two artists on site, Wayne England and Mark Tedin. Especially Mark Tedin had endless lines of people queuing up, to get their old classics signed. Sol Ring, Mana Drain, City of Brass, Mana Vault, the list is impressive.
Mark Tedin and Wayne England
Also, you didn’t read anything about the numerous side events that happened. The side event team ran 93 8-man draft queues on Saturday, and 109 8-man drafts on Sunday. The second day of the GP also saw a Grand Prix Trial happen, with 48 players grabbing their Extended decks. A 2HG event with 93 teams. A Legacy tournament with 86 players. A Vintage tourney with 28 players. And a special draft event: Germany’s biggest Magic website, www.planetmtg.de, had given away 16 seats in a draft event extraordinaire. Wizards Germany had sponsored 16 draft sets made of 10th Edition cards, each with one booster of Commons only, one booster of Uncommons only, and one booster pack consisting of Rares only. Yes, that’s right: Each player had the guarantee of 15 rares, and the decks were pretty ridiculous.
I think that pretty much covers it. Join the magicthegathering.com coverage team next year, when the 2008 season gets into full swing, and merry christmas and a happy new year to all of you!