hat do Japan and the Netherlands have in common? Aside from the fact that I can make lowbrow innuendos from both the Netherlands and Nippon, not a lot. Apart from the fact that they are both apparently ridiculous at Champions/Betrayers/Saviors
A total of 107 players made it through to Day Two of Pro Tour-London, and based on the statistics, if you are looking for the best places to sharpen up your draft skills, either Japan or the Netherlands are the places to be. Forty-five percent of the 35 Japanese players made it through to Day Two, and they weren't just scraping in either. A full quarter of the top 16 hail from the Land of the Rising Sun, and seem set on making sure the sun sets on US hopes of dominating Pro Tour stops any time soon. Nine of the 14 Dutch players are in similar shape, with plenty of players pushing for the top spots.
Of course with the advent of Magic Online the world has become a much smaller place. Gone are the days where if one faces a player from outside one of the "big" Magic nations, one could expect an easy match. Around the globe players can and do take the opportunity to draft as much as they choose to without having to rely on a local scene to support their habit.
Of course if you are looking for an example of players who have reaped the benefits of Magic Online, look no further than the likes of Richard Hoaen and Sam Gomersall. These two players have drafted more than virtually anybody else in the world by virtue of the facility they have to do so online, and the fact that they live to draft. In fact, it is sometimes unclear where Sam's priorities lie in terms of eating, sleeping and drafting. Drafting is definitely No. 1, it's just a question of which disrupts his drafting more, the food or the rest. Both he and Hoaen have reached the point where much of their drafting seems almost instinctive, and as such are able to approach a competition such as this Pro Tour with a sort of quiet confidence that is unnerving to be up against, not least because it can be backed up with results.
Where are the big winners coming from for this Pro Tour? While nations such as Japan and the Netherlands are definitely making their mark, the citizens of the intraweb seem to really be the ones to watch out for. Just be thankful they don't get their own national squad at Worlds.