Saturday, June 17: 11:38 am - Saturday's Top Tables
by Brian David-Marshall
I am a little bleary-eyed this morning after a draft that dragged on way too long. My team had already won but my teammate Jon Becker and his opponent - our esteemed editor Greg Collins - decided to play the last match out for pride. Of course it went three games… stupid pride. Not only was I kept up waiting for the match to end but I had to listen to Jon grumble after we headed back to the room after Greg finally finished him off.
When I walked into the site this morning, the players were already seated for the first round. When I wrote my preview of the event I focused on how every single Team Pro Tour event has been won by the game's finest players. A quick look around the top tables presented little evidence that this would not be the case again in Charleston.
Ummm…wow! There were certainly any number of players who could easily step up the podium on Sunday to accept the big check while the veteran players in the audience nodded in approval.
Table one featured Shuhei Nakamura fighting alongside Pro Tour-Nagoya winner Shu Komuro and Ichirou Shimura at 7-0. Shuhei is looking for his fourth career Top 8 this weekend and his first-ever trophy check. Not only has Shuhei not won a Pro Tour, but he is the only player on his team not to have won a Grand Prix (although he does have seven of his team's fourteen GP Top 8 appearances).
Levy, Wiegersma, and Siron packed a lot of PT experience into one team.
The next table showcased the Euro-fusion team of Raphael Levy, Jelger Wiegersma, and Geoffrey Siron. The Average Homeboys are decidedly ahead of the curve when it comes to Top 8s. The team has two trophies - Siron in London and Wiegersma in Seattle - and seven PT Sunday appearances nineteen Grand Prix elimination appearances distributed among the squad.
Table four has another Pro Tour winner - a Block Constructed winner no less - in Ken Ho. Ken is playing alongside reigning U.S. Champion Antonio De Rosa and GP winner Alex Lieberman. De Rosa recently made his first Top 8 appearance in Prague and has been on a tremendous tear.
Those are just a few of the teams to keep an eye out for. I did not even mention the German team that was scuffling with Jelger's team in round one. Helmut Summersberger has been wreaking havoc on European Grand Prix and his teammate David Brucker - according to Teddy CardGame - keeps Kai hopeful about the future of German Magic.
Four Pro Tour winners, nine Grand Prix winners, a dozen Pro Tour Top 8s, and scores of Grand Prix Top 8s and you have the fixings for a star-studded Sunday this weekend.
Saturday, June 17: 1:05 pm - We Have a Winner!
by Brian David-Marshall
Alex Kim weathered a huge field - and a long night - to earn his Super FNM foil prizes.
A Super FNM winner, that is.
Alex Kim is a young Memphis player who recently ascended to the Pro level with his PTQ win and his Day One participation in Pro Tour-Charleston. He did not fare as well as he would have liked and found that he did not have to wake up early on Saturday. What else was there to do but play Friday Night Magic, right here in the event hall?
Technically it should have been called Saturday Morning Magic. With just under 120 players, it was actually larger than the PTQ earlier that day. It went seven rounds of Sealed Deck and topped off with an elimination bracket draft. At 4 a.m. Alex won the whole event and chose eight Wild Mongrels as his prize. He picked something else up along the way as well.
"I first-picked a Bird of Paradise in Ravnica and a Hallowed Fountain in Dissension," grinned the first-ever Super FNM champion. "I got Crime//Punishment too!"
Alex is pretty confident with the RGD Sealed Deck format: "Any Sealed Deck in this format has a lot of potential. There are so many fixers and you can so many things with them." Alex had two RGD events to choose from on Saturday and opted for an $800 cash prize amateur event over the PTQ for Kobe.
What about those two Pro Points he picked up for playing this weekend?
"Those don't get posted 'til tomorrow," winked Alex as he went off to enjoy his last hurrah as an amateur.
Thanks again to all the stores that participated in Super Friday Night Magic here at Pro Tour-Charleston:
Haven Cards 'n Comics Orangeburg SC
Saturday, June 17: 1:16 pm - Faces in the Crowd
Underworld Games Asheville NC
Dueling Ground Myrtle Beach SC
The Tangled Web Spartanburg SC
Batters Up Trading Cards New Bern NC
The Gaming Pit Duluth GA
Galactic Quest Buford GA
Player One Games Alpharetta GA
Rob's Trade Caravan Port Richey FL
All Fun & Games Cary NC
Anime Alley Augusta GA
Comic Connection Margate FL
War Dogs Game Center Jacksonville FL
The War Room Duluth GA
Underground Games "Charlotte, NC " NC
Grand Slam Sports Cards Jacksonville NC
Galactic Comics & Games Statesboro GA
Karma Games Jefferson GA
Fun Express Madeira Beach FL
TBS Comics - Ft Walton Beach Ft Walton Beach FL
TBS Comics - Pensacola Pensacola FL
Above Board Games Fort Mill SC
DJ's Cards & Stuff High Point NC
Ominverse Hobbies Ft Meyers FL
Morningstar Games Savannah GA
MC Collectibles Bradenton FL
by Brian David-Marshall
While Team Pro Tours have traditionally been won by the top players in the game, the format has also been a great launching pad for many a future Pro Tour star. Olivier Ruel and his brother Antoine cut their Pro Tour teeth playing as Black Ops at the start of their career and Gabriel Nassif made his first Sunday appearance with Les Plus Class at Pro Tour-New York.
The format has traditionally given PTQ level players a taste of money and success. With that tantalizing experience lingering on their tongues comes the desire to achieve an individual money finish and the opportunity to learn from more experienced Pros. Local players are absorbed up into the Pro playtest groups in their area. And that, boys and girls, is how new Pros are born.
Yurchick, left, has moved from PTQ stalwart to PT regular.
I regularly pore over the PTQ Top 8 decklists page during constructed PTQ seasons, not only looking for deck tech but for repeat appearances of names. The first step to getting up to snuff on the Pro level is to regularly run roughshod on your local Magic scene.
Two names that I see all the time are Adam Yurchick and Nathan Waxer. Adam is an Ohio Valley player who is always in the Top 8 of Mike Guptil's events. Nathan is a Los Angeles native who has qualified for back to back Pro Tours at Cali PTQs by going through some stiff competition. He beat Justin Gary to earn a spot in Prague and his team took down Ben Rubin, PTR, and Ken Ho to get here this weekend. Nathan's continued mastery over Cali Pro teams was documented in Friday's blog.
Both Adam's and Nathan's teams were 6-1 at the end of Day One and started Saturday's action by squaring off with each of them sitting in the captain's chair that is sometimes known as the B seat. Adam's team won the match and advanced to play the two-time Pro Tour winning Average Homeboys led by Jelger Wiegersma. Jelger's team handed the Ohio players only their second loss of the tournament.
There was a neat little play in that match where Jelger used the reanimation side of Crime // Punishment to return Adam's Dream Leash to play, enchanting Adam's Simic Sky Swallower. That is not to say that the Euros rolled over them. On the contrary, there was a look of genuine relief on the Homeboys' faces after they got the match. Raphael Levy wished each of his opponents good luck in the ensuing rounds and seemed to regard them as worthy adversaries.
This was the fourth Pro Tour of Adam's young career. He is hoping that it will be his most successful.
"I played in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Charleston - all Constructed," confessed Yurchick. "Not the best at Limited. In Hawaii I was 6-2 on Day One and then went 3-5 on Day Two. I kind of blew it but that would be my biggest success."
He seems to take it all in stride though and tries to get as much out of his losses as he does the wins. "On the Pro Tour level players don't make as many mistakes. They have a better idea of what is going on with their deck, their opponent's deck, and everything in general. It is a lot more fun because it is more challenging. You learn a lot playing against players who are really good. I think that with every Pro Tour I have played in I learned a lot and I have continued to do better each time. You just learn something new with every match and if you keep on playing you will learn enough to do really well."
Adam is currently a Level 1 but is hoping to improve his frequent-flier status. He does not need to worry about getting to Level 2 in order to qualify for U.S. Nats, though. "I went 7-0-2 with my Magnivore deck at the Ohio Valley Regionals."
Of course he did.
Saturday, June 17: 2:40 pm - Grumpy Old Men
by Brian David-Marshall
"You know what this tournament needs?" Randy Buehler asked facetiously. "More old-school angles."
He was looking at Jack Stanton and Ken Ho as he said it, but it could just as easily have been Ben Rubin, Jin Okamoto, or Andrew Pacifico he was referring to…or he could have been talking about the match between two of the game's most esteemed theorists.
Would anyone else get a word in edgewise?
Eric Taylor and Mike Flores have been in orbit around each other for as long as Magic has been around. They have battled on the PTQ scene for what seems like an eternity. Years ago, Mike lost a popularity poll on one of the old websites to EDT and it has driven Mike to strive for excellence in that area ever since.
On Saturday they met in Round 11 of Pro Tour-Charleston - with each player's team trying to dodge a potentially lethal fourth loss. Things were not looking good for Mike's team. He had just lost his match to EDT's Ponza-y deck. Steve Sadin looked like he was on the wrong side of the Muse Vessels in his battle with Mike Jacobs and was already down one game.
More than anything, these two old friends/rivals love to argue. Mike was gearing up for a doozy with EDT after the match loss in the A-seat.
"I can't understand how you played that turn so badly and still won," sighed Flores.
"How does it feel to be on the other end of Bad Player Flores, Mike?" cackled Taylor. "I played badly, you played well, and I won."
"Yeah but you could have played more optimally and given me no chance to get back into the game."
"I'm not arguing that point with you, Mike. You keep trying to get me to defend my play so you take a superior stance but I am not going to be drawn into it. I concede that I played badly and therefore I win the argument."
As Mike Jacobs finished off Sadin, his team won the match as well.
Saturday, June 17: 4:07 pm - Two Rounds to Go…
by Brian David-Marshall
While Jack Stanton leads the Atogs to the Promised Land, a couple of new faces have been making a push throughout the standings. Twice in earlier in blog entries we have made reference to Nathan Waxer's team. After beating fellow PTQ veteran Adam Yurchick in the first round of Saturday's action, Nathan, Zack Smith, and Nam Tran had split the next two sets of rounds. They were 9-3 going into the penultimate round of Swiss.
The two rounds they won were against a pair of teams with Pro Tour winners on them - Jelger Wiegersma's squad and Shu Komuro's. You may remember that we mentioned Nathan had a pretty solid record back in the Cali PTQs against local Pros. Those Pros were included Justin Gary and Ken Ho - Pro Tour winners both.
They were up against David Brucker, Helmut Summersberger, and Sebastian Aljiaj for round 13. The only thing that team has won is a fistful of Grand Prix. It could be a tough match-up for the scrappy young Americans.
Saturday, June 17: 4:57 pm - Your Playtesting Mileage May Vary
by Brian David-Marshall
I spoke with a few different teams this weekend about the testing they did leading up to the tournament. The lead time each took varied greatly. Some teams were working the format as soon as they started to get an inkling of Dissension, while others waited until the past couple of weeks to take a crash course in Ravnica Block Constructed.
Reeves did his share of smiling during testing, too.
Neil Reeves chose to use immersion therapy, although what he was immersed in remains hidden by the euphemistic use of quotation marks … although it could be a cautionary tale about teaming with Mark Herberholz and Sam Gomersall in Southern Comfort.
Here's what Neil had to say Friday:
"We put in a lot of work," Reeves said. "I went up to Detroit so we could buckle down and do some testing. The first night we were there we went to Playboy's Bar of the Month. We did a lot of 'testing' there. It was good solid 'testing.' Then the second night we went…back. But on the third night we just went to the bar across the street and did some 'testing'. On the fourth night we went back to the first place - Rick's. Those were four really productive nights.
"On the fifth night we went and got some food with some girls and then we went to Rick's. That was an off night. Not so much testing. You have to take a break every now and then. Then we had a barbeque at this girl's house and did some work - I like to call it 'testing.' That may have been the best night of testing since the bar tab wasn't $700 - I mean the 'testing' tab.
"I think we accomplished a lot in the five or six days I was up there. I went up there with a goal and I accomplished that goal. I feel good about it. I think we are going to finish about 12th. Maybe we finish 16th…and maybe we don't make Day Two but it is definitely one of those three. If we don't make Day Two we will probably go out and do some more 'testing' so we can be ready for next time."
They did make Day Two but were facing quite a climb back from 73rd to 16th place with three rounds of results unaccounted for. Sometimes you can just over prepare.
Saturday, June 17: 5:34 pm - Jack Stanton's Cows Come Home
by Brian David-Marshall
What is the secret to Jack Stanton's success this weekend? Well, if Alex Shvartsman is to be believed, it may have something to do with the oversized toy cows that Jack has been using as tokens this weekend.
Stay out of the way of Jack's cows.
"Jack Lewis Stanton is perhaps best known for his quality plastic cows which used to travel with him to each event," Alex explained. "He has a large collection of various cows and/or bulls that he not only uses for tokens but lends to other players when they play in the Top 8. Mike Long has used the cows in the Top 8 and Justin Gary has used them as well…"
"He did lend me cows," admitted Justin, who was standing nearby Alex's dealer's table. "I didn't actually want them. I then lost the cows and he has never let me forget it."
"You actually didn't lose them," exclaimed Alex. "He actually made you give those cows back to me. I finally gave them back to him this weekend. It is obviously because of the cows that he is playing so well this weekend. It's been three years by the way. He has reminded me about those cows once a week. Justin gave me them when he left New York which was quite a while ago at this point."
Saturday, June 17: 8:37 pm - Playtesting for GenCon
by Brian David-Marshall
If you were fortunate enough to be here in Charleston this weekend, you would have noticed a long line of players learning how to play a brand new game from Wizards of the Coast. They weren't shuffling up cards or playing with anything remotely two-dimensional. Rather, they were moving around fully painted miniatures around a grid trying to master Dreamblade.
I caught up with DCI Program Manager Scott Larabee to get the scoop on the new game.
BDM: What is Dreamblade and why are Magic players going to be interested in it?
Scott: Dreamblade is new game that Wizards of the Coast in releasing in August at GenCon. It is the first miniature game in the gaming industry to feature very high-level organized play with cash prizes. The professional Magic community might just be interested in that.
BDM moves in for the kill.
There are going to be three tiers to the system: There is a Championship at the end of every year that is going to be a $50,000 tournament. There is a series of eleven events during the year that each have $10,000 in prizes. Then there are going to be twenty $1K events every month. They are kind of the equivalent of a PTQ except that if you win them you get $500, 2nd gets $300, and 3rd/4th gets $100.
BDM: And those qualify for you for the Championship?
Scott: Kind of… We are not using an ELO rating system like we use for Magic. We are using a point accumulation system. Every match you play of Dreamblade will earn you points. If you get a win or a bye you get two points. If you get a loss or a draw you get one point. These things just stack up every year. It takes 1000 points to get to the end of year Championship - coincidentally you get 1000 points for winning a 1K but it is not technically a qualifier. If you finish in the top 10 of a 10K event you get at least 1000 points.
The incentive to keep people playing once they are qualified for this event is our rewards program which is participation based in that you get your swag when you show up for events. For example you would go to a 1K and they would look up how many points you have, and depending on what level you have you will get stuff right then. You don't have to wait for it to come in the mail. When you show up at a 10K you will get better stuff. The same for the Championship. The stuff has yet to be announced but we have some pretty cool items.
BDM: What is the game like?
Scott: It is not your typical miniatures game. There is no line of sight, there is no measuring off distances, and it's played on a grid that looks a little like a chess board. When you move you just go from one square to the other so the movement and combat are very easy. It is a very tactical game in that you are more concerned with trying to control areas of the board than killing your opponent's creatures.
It is definitely collectible and it is sold in starters and boosters. Starters have 16 figures and boosters have seven. The interesting thing is that when you build your warband - kind of like your deck - you can only use 16 figures, no more and no less. There is no point cost to each one, just any 16 you want. There are no faction rules - you don't have to worry about having all the figures of the same race.
BDM: Whoare the people responsible for the design of the game?
Scott: The original game design is done by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet and the current design team is Henry Stern, Mike Donais, and Andrew Finch; all names that should be familiar to Magic fans.
BDM: When is the game going to launch and how soon until there are cash tournaments?
Scott: We are launching the game at GenCon with a $20,000 Sealed Deck release event. You will get a starter and a booster and play a bunch of rounds over two days and we will give away $20,000 over the first two days it is released. You can go to dreamblademinis.com and download a virtual starter, booster, and a board and start playing right now. You print them out and fold them up and they look just like flat versions of the actual minis. The rules are right up there too so you can learn the game now and be prepared for when you are going to GenCon.
Saturday, June 17: 9:09 pm - Parting Thought
by Brian David-Marshall
As the day ends, we leave you with the best beards from this, the largest Pro Tour in Magic history.