December 16th, 6:10 p.m.: Quarterfinal: Fried Meulders (BEL) vs Raul Porojan (DEU)
by Hanno Terbuyken
With Pestermite and Silvergill Douser, Fried was off to a better start than Raul. And the Belgian knew how to press his advantage further, with a timely Faerie Trickery taking out Raul's Neck Snap. Fried filled the air with Faeries, Raul sought his luck on the ground: Nath's Elite and Thorntooth Witch manned his fort.
Fried's air force took Raul to 11 without giving the German a chance to strike back. Raul merely had Lignify for Pestermite. That met Familiar's Ruse. A successful attack from Raul forced three measly damage through, but the counterstrike brought the German to six, facing mostly flying damage on the board with few blockers, because his Thorntooth Witch had been Aethersniped.
Fried Meulders of Belgium.
Even though Raul replayed his Witch, he lost Nath's Elite and Woodland Changeling in combat, thanks to Peppersmoke. Raul, now on 4, needed an out and found Elvish Harbinger for Nameless Inversion. Nameless Inversion took out a Faerie and Ringskipper, with the help of Thorntooth Witch, and the ensuing clash revealed Final Revels on Fried's library. He didn't even need it: Raul Porojan crumbled under flying pressure.
Fried Meulders 1, Raul Porojan 0
Changeling faced Changeling in the first turns of the game: One of the Aquamoeboid variety fought for Fried, one of the Woodland sort was on Raul's side. But where Fried had Moonglove Extract, Raul presented Briarhorn, and killed Sentinels of Glen Elendra with Nameless Inversion. The Extract took out Woodland Changeling, Glimmerdust Nap dealt with Briarhorn, and Fried wanted to finish this.
Unfortunately for the Belgian, Raul had Nath of the Gilt Leaf. It didn't stay long, falling victim to Whirlpool Whelm. Raul was confident to put it back on the table. Fried vetoed it with Broken Ambitions, a very fitting card name. Speaking of card names, Raul stayed with the Nath, only this time it was an Elite that joined his side. Nath's Elite, say hello to Aethersnipe!
Fried was successfully detaining Raul's efforts, but failed to do serious damage. With Oblivion Ring on Fried's Sentinel of Glen Elandra and a successful re-cast of Nath's Elite, Raul was on the offense again.
He lost his Nath's Elite in combat with Amoeboid Changeling and Aethersnipe. It didn't matter much, as Elvish Harbinger brought the German a Changeling Hero. Fried had Familiar's Ruse for it, but not for the following Battlewand Oak. The Belgian was under pressure, going to 5, and despite two Skeletal Changelings in one turn, Raul Porojan expected to take the game with Oakgnarl Warrior. His creatures were simply bigger than Fried's.
When the 5/7 monster vigilantly trampled into the red zone for the first time, Fried took some time to think. He let the Oak deal four damage to him, going to 1, and countered Raul's attempted Lys Alana Huntmaster with Spellstutter Faerie. Lignify on Fried's Dreamspoiler Witch didn't do much. Fried valiantly attacked Raul for one.
Peppersmoke on the vigilant Oak was a desperate attempt to draw a card, though futile. In the end, the big vigilant Oak proved too much for Fried.
Fried Meulders 1, Raul Porojan 1
Double Woodland Changeling opened the game for Raul, Fried took to the lofty heights again with Dreamspoiler Witch. Raul's attempt at an Oblivion Ring was foiled by Faerie Trickery, and Spellstutter Witch combined with her Dreamspoiling colleague to kill one of Raul's Changelings. Skeletal Changeling and Moonglove Extract filled Fried's side of the board, and it looked like the fast Belgian start might overpower Raul before he had a chance to bring in his heavy artillery.
Raul Porojan of Germany.
Then Raul found at least the ammunition: A Profane Command returned his dead Woodland Changeling and killed one of Fried's Faeries. Raul then cleared Fried's board almost entirely with Hurly-Burly, played Elvish Harbinger and sought out Nath of the Gilt Leaf. Fried had no play with a full hand, indicating some sort of trick, or maybe just a Flash creature?
Meanwhile, Raul's pecking attacks had taken Fried to 11. The Belgian had Whirlpool Whelm to undo Nath of the Gilt Leaf for a turn, but next time, it stuck and Raul wasted Fried's regenerating Skeletal Changeling with Nameless Inversion. The Belgian was clearly not expecting to win this game, judging by the way he threw his cards around.
He went to 6, to 4, to dead, and Raul Porojan advanced to the semifinals of GP Stuttgart!
Fried Meulders 1, Raul Porojan 2
December 16th, 6:10 p.m.: Quarterfinal: Robert van Meedevort (NLD) vs Patrizio Golia (ITA)
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Both players had drafted the popular Merfolk. Golia had drafted straight blue-white, while Medevoort was black, blue, and white with a splash of red for Brion Stoutarm. Card for card, Medevoorts deck seemed to be stronger, but his mana might play tricks on him.
The game started in true Merfolk fashion with lots and lots of tiny creatures. Amoeboid Changeling, Shapesharer, Fallowsage and Pestermite for Medevoort, and Stonybrook Angler, Silvergill Douser, and Fallowsage for Golia. Golia then seemed to have the upper hand with Inkfathom Divers and Sygg, River Guide. Or at least, that's what this reporter thought. When the Divers attacked, Medevoort made his Shapesharer into a copy of the Silvergill Douser, and used it to give the Divers -3/-0. This made Golia use his last white mana to give them protection from blue. As a response to that, Medevoort activated his Amoeboid Changeling to turn the Divers into shapeshifters, and used the Shapesharer to to make them copy Sygg, killing both in the process. A brilliant play by Medevoort!
Thoughtful: Robert van Meedevort.
But, as I figured out later while typing this, sadly it was also illegal: When the Shapesharer turned into the Silvergill Douser, he lost its own abilities, making it impossible to turn the Divers into Sygg later on. It was too late for the judges to step in, so the game continued.
Medevoort got his own Sygg, and Golia lost to the islandwalking army a few turns later. Head judge Riccardo Tessitore came to the table in between games and gave a Medevoort a warning for his misplay, but the score was nonetheless set.
Robert van Medevoort 1, Patrizio Golia 0
Game 2 was not nearly as exciting as Game 1. Medevoort's draw was just so much better than Golia's: Oona's Prowler, Pestermite, and Thieving Sprite were facing two Tideshaper Mystic. When Golia got Avian Changeling to fight back, Medevoort again showed us some tricks the Shapesharer can do. He had seen than his opponent held Triclopean Sight, so he attacked and waited until Golia announced he was playing the enchantment. Then, Meedevort used the Shapesharer to turn the Avian Changeling into a 1/1 Tideshaper Mystic, and played Peppersmoke to finish it off. Golia regained a little hope when he found his Sygg, but Shapesharer came to Medevoort's rescue one more time, copying it and killing both Sygg and itself. Golia scooped up his cards, and Medevoort advanced to the Semifinals.
Eager: Patrizio Golia.
Robert van Medevoort 2, Patrizio Golia 0
December 16th, 6:10 p.m.: Quarterfinal: Shuuhei Nakamura vs. Joel Calafell
by André Coimbra
Even before the match started, the Judge said to Shuuhei Nakamura: "Just so you know, your opponent is starting with a Game Loss for Illegal Sideboard." Shuuhei asked if his opponent had the choice to play or draw, having lost the first game? Some time ago, the player that made the infraction would not have had that choice, but the rules have changed since then, and Joel Calafell chose to draw.
Shuuhei Nakamura, beneficiary of typical Magic player's behaviour.
Joel Calafell, from Spain, is usually a smiley person, but his smile had already faded when he arrived to fight Shuei Nakamura, from Japan, for a seat in the semifinals and the chance to start at the top of the 2008 Player of the Year race.
Most players always choose to play first in draft matches, but Joel Calafell didn't think that way and allowed Shuuhei Nakamura to play the first land of the match. There was an interesting clash battle, as Calafell tried to kill a Stonybrook Angler and Nakamura protected him with Fistful of Force. Calafell won the clash of Fistful of Force, which didn't matter at all, but lost the Lash Out clash, not dealing 3 damage to Nakamura. When Calafell played Kithkin Healer it didn't seem to be very good, but it proved to be quite useful when Nakamura played Inkfathom Divers on his next turn, ready to Islandwalk.
More desperate than desperado: Joel Calafell from Spain.
Nakamura used Stonybrook Angler to tap a creature and now that Stonybrook Angler was tapped, Calafell tapped it down with Glimmerdust Nap. However, Lorwyn has some good answers to those enchantments and Shuuhei Nakamura had one ready just for the moment, as he played Changeling Titan, using his Merfolk to Champion it. Flamekin Harbinger tutored for Calafell's Purity and Nakamura got his Merfolk Harbinger tutoring for Merrow Reejery. Calafell bounced Inkfathom Divers once with Whirlpool Whelm, losing the clash, and eventually lost to the Islandwalk creatures. He was quite behind on the race when he played Purity, and could not stop Shuuhei Nakamura from advancing to the semifinals.
Shuei Nakamura 2, Joel Calafell 0
December 16th, 7:20 p.m.: Semifinals 1: Jonathan Bergström vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
by André Coimbra
In this semifinal, Jonathan Bergström from Sweden played against Shuuhei Nakamura from Japan. Jonathan was playing a red-white Kithkin/Giant deck, while Shuuhei Nakamura was playing a multicolor good stuff deck with a tribal Merfolk theme. The game had been started early because Shuuhei had won his quarterfinal in lightning fashion, and this semifinal should prove to be no different. It was a lightning round of Magic!
The first game had a main battle about one card: Nakamura's Sower of Temptation. Nakamura got his opponent's Goldmeadow Harrier, but his opponent wasn't happy with the situation and was going to fight back. Bergström played Oblivion Ring on the Sower, getting his Goldmeadow Harrier back, but Nakamura had his own Oblivion Ring for his opponent's Oblivion Ring, which gave him both the Sower and the Harrier back. He equipped the Sower of Temptation with Runed Stalactite and Bergström couldn't deal with the 3/3 flyer.
The second game started with an attrition war, where Shuuhei Nakamura played creatures and his opponent dealt with them. Lash Out killed Fallowsage, Oblivion Ring removed Cloudcrown Oak and Goldmeadow Harrier was tapping Nakamura's creatures. However, again Sower of Temptation switched the control of Goldmeadow Harrier, and again, the Faerie was equipped with Runed Stalactite and dealt lethal damage, as the +1/+1 bonus kept it safe from Moonglove Extract all game.
Jonathan Bergstrom 0, Shuuhei Nakamura 2
December 16th, 7:20 p.m.: Semifinals 2: Robert van Medevoort (NLD) vs. Raul Porojan (DEU)
by Jörn Martin Hajek
Robert van Medevoort was playing a four-color merfolk deck, with lots of power and frightening mana, while GP Strasbourg finalist Raul Porojan focused on big creatures and lots of removal in his mainly black and green treefolk deck.
Medevoort had a fast start, with Judge of Currents, Pestermite, and Dreamspoiler Witches. Porojan only got to play a Battlewand Oak in his first four turns, but made up for it with powerful cards after that: Garruk Wildspeaker, Briarhorn, and Thorntooth Witch. Medevoort had the right responses to that, dealing flying damage to Garruk, and playing Weed Strangle on the Witch. He got a Cloudgate Ranger which threatened to wreck Porojan's life total. Porojan could deal with it the first time around, but when Medevoort targeted it with Footbottom Feast, Porojan started shuffling for Game 2, without even drawing another card.
Robert van Medevoort 1, Raul Porojan 0
Again, Porojan had a quite slow start, with only Woodland Changeling and Fertile Ground in the first four rounds. Medevoort used that time to play and attack with Sygg, River Guide, Amoebid Changeling, and Dreamspoiler Witches. But Porojan really got ahead when he played Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and Changeling Hero on consecutive turns. Medevoort started discarding, and even though he was ahead in life, the Changeling Hero meant that he would not be able to race Porojan. But there was one card in the deck that could deal with all problems. If you read about Medevoort's quarterfinals, you might know which one it is. Here is a hint: Changeling Hero is a Shapeshifter. Nath of the Gilt-Leaf is legendary. Medevoort topdecked his Shapesharer, invoked the Legend rule, and Porojan just shook his head and picked up his cards. Robert van Medevoort advanced to the finals of GP Stuttgart, to battle Shuuhei Nakamura for the title and the lead in the 2008 Player of the Year race!
Robert van Medevoort 2, Raul Porojan 0
December 16th, 10:30 p.m. – Top 8 and Title Time
by Rich Hagon
Once again the game of Magic has provided a wonderful canvas for a weekend of tribal touchdowns, kithkin kickings, merfolk maulings, and additional alliterative allusions. Now it gets serious as only seven matches remain. Join Rich Hagon and new Level 1 Pro Ben Coleman (64th, you better believe it) as the drama unfolds, then have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in '08!
Click here for the Podcast!
December 16th, 8:13 p.m.: GP Stuttgart Finals: Robert van Meedevort (NLD) vs Shuuhei Nakamura (JPN)
by Hanno Terbuyken
Both of these players have two consecutive vowels in their names, and both of them have plenty of experience in the limelight: Robert as a member of the 2006 Team World Champions, and Shuuhei Nakamura as a former level 6 mage. It's a worthy cast to determine the first leader of the Player of the Year race 2008! The two Magic heavyweights shook hands and off they were.
Robert van Meedevort quickly announced to keep his hand, and Shuuhei followed suit. The Japanese also had the first play of the match with Stonybrook Angler, a good protective measure against the bomb-laden 40 cards Robert had. Judge of Currents and Fallowsage came into play for Robert. Curiously, Robert van Meedevort is the only player I've seen all weekend who places his lands above his other permanents, tapping them almost in the red zone.
Shuuhei had Inkfathom Divers and Sentinels of Glen Elendra, while Robert bolstered his board with Dreamspoiler Witch. Weed Strangle took out Shuuhei's Divers. Robert pondered and dropped the first bomb of his deck: Sygg, River Guide. Shuuhei answered with Cloudcrown Oak and Merrow Harbinger, fetching Fallowsage.
Shuuhei Nakamura was locked in an intense battle for the GP win and PoY lead.
Robert added an Island to his already colorful manabase and declared an attack with Sygg. Shuuhei took it, and lost his first life of the match: 18 to 14 were the scores in his favor. Shapesharer and Ghostly Changeling joined the party powered by Robert's disco manabase, Judge of Currents brought him back up to 13 (from a previous 11), and Shuuhei needed to find a way to break through Robert's defensive lines. The long game clearly favored the Dutchman, who was gaining life and copying creatures left and right.
Shuuhei had to let Shapesharer shenanigans happen, as the Sharer and Ghostly Changeling made quite a deadly combination. Shuuhei fell to 10 life and sought revenge with an offense. A joint strike from half his forces brought Robert to 11. Shuuhei had another ace up his metaphorical sleeve: He tapped two blue and two more to play Sower of Tempation.
Stealing Robert's Shapesharer, the Japanese turned the board in his favor despite Robert gaining life. The Shapesharer became a Sygg, River Guide, to invoke the Legend rule and send both cards to Robert's graveyard. The Dutchman refilled with Mournwhelk and Oona's Prowler, but he had no clue about the Changeling Titan Shuuhei had kept safely in his hand.
The Titan championed Sower of Temptation, quite a clever move. It didn't come to fruition, though. Shuuhei's fliers and Islandwalkers – Pestermite, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, and Merrow Harbinger – had dropped Robert to 5 already, and the Oblivion Ring Shuuhei drew wasn't even needed to take home Game 1 of the finals.
Robert van Meedevort 0, Shuuhei Nakamura 1
Again, Robert led with Judge of Currents. Shuuhei's hand was juicy, holding not just the Bog-Strider Ash he played, but also Sentinels of Glen Elendra, a Merrow Reejerey and a Merrow Harbinger, putting everything Shuuhei needed in his almost immediate reach.
The two players looking at their opponent's deck before the final match.
Robert didn't need to reach, though. Ghostly Changeling, and another Judge of Currents, followed by Sygg, River Guide, wanted to make Shuuhei's road to the title as stony as possible. The Japanese made Thorntooth Witch. Any Changeling he'd get with the Harbinger now would serve double duty as removal spell.
Robert was at a steadily climbing life total, already up to 24 against Shuuhei's 15. Bog-Strider Ash and Sentinels of Glen Elendra brought Robert back to his starting life total. Shuuhei played the Reejerey from his hand and the Harbinger, getting not a Changeling but Inkfathom Divers instead. He needed a surefire way to keep up against Robert's steady stream of life, and the Islandwalker looked like a fitting tool to do it.
Shuuhei sucked air through his front teeth in a thoughtful gesture as Robert added Cloudgoat Ranger and his three Goats to the board. An attack sent Robert to 17, but Shuuhei fought an uphill battle that he was unlikely to win. Already at 13, Shuuhei now had Oona's Prowler to deal with in addition to everything else.
Attacking with Inkfathom Divers, Bog-Strider Ash and Merrow Harbinger dealt nine evasion-fueled damage to Robert. Shuuhei played Cloudcrown Oak, triggered his Thorntooth Witch and removed Cloudgoat Ranger. Robert was gaining 4 life a turn, but Shuuhei was subtracting 9. As long as he kept his flank protected, he could eventually drag this game to the safe zone.
However, it was Robert's turn to be the aggressor. Sygg and Ghostly Changeling attacked. Shuuhei blicked with Cloudcrown Oak, Merrow Reejerey, and Thornthooth Witch, making it unfeasible for Meedevort to give his Changeling protection of any sorts with Sygg?. The Changeling traded with Reejerey, and Shuuhei cracked back for 7. Robert was now at 11, Shuuhei at 9.
A convoluted head-to-head, that's what this second game was. Robert crashed with Judge of Currents, Judge of Currents, and Sygg. Shuuhei added up: He had to block, and at best kill the Judges. But Sygg protected his brethren from the blockers. The stakes rose as Shuuhei attacked for a huge 9 points of damage. Without the lifegain, Robert would already have been dead, The Dutchman went to eight, now facing lethal damage on the board.
Stonybrook Angler bolstered Shuuhei's defense against a sudden death from 7 life. Neither player gave an inch if they could avoid it. The inches Shuuhei measured seemed slightly longer, though, as the Japanese was seemingly in control of the situation – and making Robert think.
Robert attacked with double Judge of Currents and Sygg, gaining six life, back up to 14. Shuuhei took the Sygg, down to 5. Shuuhei blocked both Judges, and the one that was stopped by a green and a blue creature should have been safe through Sygg. Robert had been ready to let the other one go, but the table judge intervened: Robert had announced Protection from Blue first, and thus the Sygg couldn't target that Judge of Currents anymore to give it Protection from Green, too!
The Dutchman had Profane Command in his deck, but did not see it in the final match.
The ruling stood, as you have to clearly announce when you put respond to your own abilities. Robert could have stacked his protection activations correctly, but he didn't announce it that way. o both Judges died, Robert lost his protective wall of lifegain, and Shuuhei Nakamura was the first leader of the 2008 Player of the Year race!
Robert van Meedevort 0, Shuuhei Nakamura 2
After the match, Shuuhei received high fives from his fellow pro players: Ervin Tormos, Jelger Wiegersma, Raphael Levy and Richard Hoaen. The level five pro from Japan took a well-deserved lead in the 2008 Player of the Year race. Will the two-point lead be good until the very end? We do not know, but we know one thing: Shuuhei Nakamura was happy about his win at GP Stuttgart 2007!
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!
December 16th, Midnight: A personal good-bye
by Hanno Terbuyken
I have one last personal thing to say: Thanks for reading. Because I have to turn my attention to finishing my studies, I cannot cover any Grand Prix between March and November 2008. I may be at one or the other event just to say hello and to sling some cards, and maybe help out with the coverage. But as the lead writer, expect to see my name in 2009 again. I leave you with a picture of me, as I write this: As always, the last person to leave the hall, left alone in an empty venue, bereft of all the Magic decoration.
Yes, the little dot in the middle of the picture, with the laptop at the table, that’s me. See you maybe next year, but for sure in 2009!