Saturday, October 30: 9:33 am - News and Notes
by Ted Knutson
When asked how many Japanese players I thought would be in the Top 8 this weekend, I said three -- a number practically unthinkable two years ago when Japan was a nation of a couple stars, but little depth. This has officially changed, as the Japanese are dominating the standings coming into Day 2. Aside from their two players sitting in the feature match area, they also have participants at tables 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8. We'll see where they all stand after another eight rounds of Swiss on Saturday, but these days there's little doubt as to the quality of Japanese Magic.
The matchup to start the day at table 1 is Pierre Canali's 8-0 Affinity list vs. Gadiel Szleifer and his 7-1 Reanimator deck. Gadiel won game 1 with an early Akroma that went unanswered. Game 2 looked to be more of the same, but Canali somehow fought through a turn-two Energy Fluxand a turn-three Akroma to win game 2. Canali was a whisker away from pulling out game 3 through a turn-one Rorix, but was one point short of killing Gadiel. The next card on the top of his library? Seal of Removal.
Manuel Bevand, whose "Kitty" deck we profiled as one of the rogues Friday, lost in his last round to finish at 4-4, bouncing him out of competition for Day 2. However, he did manage to finish in the top 128 players, giving him just enough Pro Tour points to hop on the gravy train.
Trivia: If you were trying to figure out what decks to expect at your next Friday Night Magic, you might start with our States Decklist Database, which catalogs every Top 8 deck from every state and provincial championship. Can you guess which set of decklists has had more views than any other this year? We'll give you the answer later Saturday.
As we noted in our blurb last night, there were an astounding nine different decks being played by the top 9 players coming into Day 2. The first deck to repeat was Mind's Desire, but can you guess what the second deck to repeat was? Blue-green Madness. Look for a full Day 2 archetype breakdown from Brian David-Marshall later Saturday.
Saturday, October 30: 10:49 am - The Kids in America
by Ted Knutson
While the American veterans have clearly been struggling to keep up with the rest of the world recently, a new crop of American youngsters has started dotting the landscape with their presence, and are seeing a surprising degree of success for how young they are. Here are a few dossiers for some U.S. teenagers you should keep an eye on.
Name: Gadiel Szleifer
Table Position for Round 9: 1
Bio: He gave up JSS in order to start competing on the Pro Tour at age 14, cashing in his first Pro Tour ever. Going into Worlds last year, Gadiel was near the top of the list for Rookie of the Year, but he wasn't qualified for the final tournament and finished 7th in the final rookie standings. While he hasn't had quite as many notable finishes as a certain other 15-year-old (oh, say... World Champion Julien Nuijten), he's definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Name: Jeff Garza
Table Position for Round 9: 17
Bio: Jeff Garza is the 2004 U.S. JSS Champion, who followed up his scholarship victory with back-to-back Top 8s at Grand Prix-Orlando and Grand Prix-New Jersey this summer, eventually taking the title in Jersey by smashing Brian Kibler in the finals. Garza is currently the hottest U.S. player around and is playing in his first Pro Tour
Name: Kyle Goodman
Table Position for Round 9: 38
Bio: Also fresh off the JSS circuit -- where he finished in the top 4 in both 2003 and 2004 -- Kyle Goodman has stepped up to the big leagues now that his eligibility to win thousands of dollars in scholarships has lapsed. While few people have heard of Kyle so far, he also made Day 2 in his first Pro Tour, an impressive feat for a player of any age.
Name: Mike McGee
Table Position for Round 9: 10
Bio: McGee first made headlines at U.S. Nationals in 2003, when he finished Day 1 undefeated and chose to stay in the main event as opposed to dropping to play in the JSS. He finished that tournament just out of the money in 22nd place, and has been on and off the Pro Tour since.
Name: Mitch Tamblyn
Deck: Blue-green Madness
Table Position for Round 9: 44
Bio: Mitch has been doing so well at premiere events for the last year that you often forget he's only 17. Tamblyn generally considers himself a Limited specialist, but with a Day 2 appearance here, he might have to start rethinking that label.
Saturday, October 30: 11:31 am - The Booth
by Ted Knutson
Sitting in the main walkway of the convention hall near the Feature Match area is a strange-looking enclosed box. Sitting inside this box Sunday morning, trapped like monkeys in a zoo, will be the live webcast commentary team of Randy Buehler, Mike Flores, and Osyp Lebedowicz.
Soon to be the home of some of Magic's top names
Aside from the natural inclination to want to segregate these three individuals from the public at large (for volume reasons alone some days), the question has to be asked: Why the new box, and why will it be in the middle of the convention hall instead of in the back, out of the way where it has been located in the past? I talked with Pro Tour Manager Witney Williams to find out more.
"We wanted to find a visual way to bring the Sunday webcast to the event floor, so our PR department had the idea that we should start hyping the webcast and the commentary on the show floor itself," Williams said. "We wanted people to be able to see Randy Buehler's excitement when talking about the matches and about Magic in general, so they got the idea that people should be able to see inside the booth, sort of like the booth shots of John Madden on Monday Night Football.
"The only problem with that idea is that it is vital that players can't hear anything at all of the coverage for the event, or they might be able to gain additional info that they wouldn't have otherwise. Therefore we got in touch with Multicaisses Inc. in Quebec about the Whisper Cube, which is the actual name for what everyone has just been calling 'The Booth.' It's the same type of booth used by international translators at the United Nations, and it should allow people to see our commentators and share what they are doing both audibly and visually, without interfering with what's going on in the feature matches.
"Right now this is only a test though. We'll see how things go this weekend and then decide whether we want to bring this idea back at the next Pro Tour stop."
Saturday, October 30: 12:20 pm - Dancing Machine
by Ted Knutson
While interviewing Day 1 leader Pierre Canali about his Affinity deck, BDM and Randy Buehler discovered that when he's not playing cards, Canali makes money as a Salsa Dace Instructor. Those who follow the Pro Tour, may remember that Pro Tour-Venice winner Osyp Lebedowicz frequently lists "Salsa Dance Champion" as one of his myriad accomplishments in life. After their discovery, Brian and Randy quickly tracked down Osyp and challenged him to appear in a dance-off for part of our video segments.
Columbus is a no-dancing zone
The TOGIT player quickly dismissed that idea, saying "I'm not going to dance on the internet with a man." His verdict on this wouldn't be swayed, not even when BDM suggested that a dance-off viewed on the internet might bring improve his social life, and bring Osyp fan mail from millions of eligible women who are just looking for a man who can move his hips in rhythm. His refusal to participate in the face of all these positives has lead the coverage staff to a single conclusion: Joe Black is yellow.
Saturday, October 30: 12:41 pm - Turian's Quilt
by Ted Knutson
Friday afternoon, Mike Turian's family drove to Columbus from Pittsburgh to see their sons and deliver a gift that they'd been working on for months. Lorie Turian and sister Sandie Heiss (yes, MagicTheGathering.com columnist Nate Heiss's mother) were busy this summer and fall, as they worked hard to finish the gift in time to deliver it here in Columbus.
That's a lot of Magic history
So what was the gift? Well, it's easier to show you than tell you.
Materials Required: 25 Pro Tour shirts, a bunch of pairs of jeans, one sewing machine (which broke near the end), and a lot of love.
Mike's mom said that it's nearly impossible to keep a secret in their family, but since Mike moved out to Seattle to intern at R&D, it got a lot easier. When they showed up here in Columbus with the quilt, the gift came as a complete surprise.
"He had absolutely no idea," said Lorie Turian. "We were originally thinking Mike could have fun and wear it as a cloak, but we weighed it, and it's a little more than nine pounds, so that wouldn't really work."
Maybe he can just find a nice place to hang it at his place in Seattle. Whatever the case, it's a really neat reminder of all those great years on the Pro Tour for one of Magic's truly good men.
Saturday, October 30: 1:17 pm - Tales from the LCQ
by Ted Knutson
After 11 rounds in the Pro Tour, Semion Bezrukov is sitting in 6th place, but he almost didn't make it here. On his way to Columbus from Washington D.C., the car he was riding in suffered a huge blowout, so they pulled off to the side of the road to change the tire, only to discover there was no spare. They called AAA to get some help, but were told they would have to wait a couple of hours before a truck would show up. About an hour later, some friends who were also on their way to Columbus drove by, and saw Semion and friend Brad Taulbee standing on the side of the road. They stopped, waited until the truck showed up to tow the vehicle away, and then drove the whole crew to the tournament site, showing up for the Last Chance Qualifier with only 10 minutes to spare.
Semion Bezurkov had luck on his side making it to Columbus
Semion was also gifted with some extra luck during the LCQ itself, as Mike Flores lost his match in a practically unloseable situation by making a huge play mistake, and Semion's opponent in the Top 8 apparently made a series of gaffes to give Semion and his Affinity deck the opportunity to pull the match out and make it into the main event. (Flores asked that we note he did manage to finish in 10th at the LCQ, even throwing away the match against Semion.) We'll have to wait until the end of the day to see how Semion takes advantage of his good fortune, but thus far he is the only one of the LCQ winners to make Day 2, and he has a very strong chance of picking up at least some money and maybe another Pro Tour spot before his weekend is over.
Bryn Kenney, who also made it into the Pro Tour through the LCQ, was the beneficiary of a different sort of "luck" during the Top 8 of the LCQ. Apparently Bryn cast Tooth and Nail during the deciding game of the match, fetching Darksteel Colossus and something else. Bryn, to the utter horror of the watching crowded, literally forgot about the Colossus -- he lost it underneath the sheet keeping his life score -- for five turns, missing out on 55 points of damage that easily would have finished his opponent. Fortunately for Bryn, his opponent never drew any gas during those five turns, and Bryn eventually drew his card, slammed Rude Awakening down on the table, and swung for the win, causing shouts of laughter to erupt from the crowd at his obvious buffoonery.
Saturday, October 30: 4:14 pm - What's Hot for Magic Collectors?
by Ted Knutson
Cranial Extraction is clearly the chase rare from Champions of Kamigawa (the set as a whole is awesome), but the demand for that card is mostly driven by PTQ and Friday Night Magic players gobbling up vendor supplies in order to play the hottest new decks. Apart from the competitive scene, there's an entirely different world of folks who follow the game and buy the cards just to own them. We call these people the collectors.
Can't tell the difference?
Since we're in Columbus, we wanted to take a look at some cards that blew up recently on the collector's scene: Alternate 4th Edition (also known as Cincinnati Summer Magic or Playing Card 4th). We talked to local collector David Weiss to find out a bit more about this unique strain of Magic cards and why it's suddenly one of the hot items to collect.
Apparently Alternate 4th was a test run of cards printed by the U.S. Playing Card company located in Cincinnati on playing card stock. The cards themselves look similar to regular Magic cards, except they have a glossy finish, and feel a bit more like playing cards than normal Magic cards. The real difference in the cards themselves becomes apparent when you shine a black light on the cards.
In the photos that we took, you can see a normal black-bordered Black Lotus from David's collection sitting next to an Alternate 4th Birds of Paradise, and under normal lighting, the cards just look like Magic cards. However, when you shine a blacklight on the cards, the difference becomes readily apparent. The real Magic card glows brightly under the blacklight, while the Alternate card absorbs the light and hardly glows at all.
Now you can!
The story as it has been told is that the cards were supposed to be destroyed and never see the light of day, but somehow an unknown quantity of product made it out into the public and has been spreading around collections in the midwest since then without many people knowing too much about it.
When asked why it's suddenly hot, David had this to say: "It's kind of like Summer Magic for people who don't have nearly as much money. It allows people to collect cards that have a much higher than normal rarity, without having to spend a couple thousand dollars on a single rare card like they do with Summer Magic. No one is quite sure just how rare the cards actually are, but most people think it's at least as rare as Alpha (and maybe more so), though that information only came to light recently.
"Right now the dealers are starting to get into it as well and prices are going up pretty quickly. It's just interesting that this only caught on recently, and now it's the hot new thing, even though 4th Edition itself has been out since 1995."
Saturday, October 30: 5:21 pm - A Saturday Swing through the Site
by Ted Knutson
The answer to the Trivia Question we asked in the first news and notes? The decklists for Alberta, Canada have had more hits than any other set in our database. Why? Because it's the first set of lists at the top of the page, of course.
Kyle Goodman, who we profiled earlier as one of "The Kids in America" started off the tournament 2-3 on Day 1 playing Aluren. Since that time, he has pulled off an incredible nine wins in a row, clawing himself into contention for a Top 8 slot along the way.
Notable Type 1 player Rich Shay is still battling for in the main event for money and a possible Pro Tour slot in Nagoya, Japan. Meanwhile in Bizarro world, Kai Budde is over in the side events area playing Tendrils combo in a small , sanctioned Type 1 tournament.
Brian David Marshall walked up to a very sad Justin Gary earlier today. Justin started the tournament on fire, but crashed out on Day 2. Since he was playing this weekend though, the web team had to replace Justin with Jon Becker, so Justin didn't have anything to do on Sunday.
"Why don't you play in the PTQ?" suggested Brian.
"Oh my God, I could actually play in that!" exclaimed Justin. "Rob (Dougherty) is playing in the PTQ today... if I play tomorrow, I'm not going to be able to make nearly as much fun of him as I was planning on."
Last but not least, we return to the story of dancing queen Osyp Lebedowicz, who you will remember turned down the opportunity to dance off against professional salsa instructor and possible Top 8 competitor Pierre Cavali. I decided to dig a little deeper into this story by asking newlyweds Kate Stavola and Patrick Sullivan about Osyp's dancing at their wedding last weekend (congrats, guys!).
"Originally, Osyp was tearing up the dance floor at the wedding by himself," declared Kate. "But eventually he began looking for a partner to match his swinging styles. First he asked Rachel, the owner of TOGIT to dance, but I think she was a little afraid that Osyp was too much for her to handle. Then Osyp moved on to Rachel's mom, and the two of them set the floor on fire. The two of them actually made the room a little steamy. The site of Osyp dancing with this one-armed Jewish grandmother was both hilarious and a little horrifying, but it's definitely something that I will remember for the rest of my life."
This might explain Osyp's reluctance to dance for an audience this weekend: after last weekend, our little dancing queen was all danced out.