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BLOG ARCHIVE - Friday | Saturday

Popular Magic columnist Brian David-Marshall is roaming the halls of the 2005 U.S. Nationals to bring you all the entertaining stories and tidbits straight from the tournament floor.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 12:15 pm - JSS Championships and Croissant
  • 1:03 pm - Day One Perfects
  • 3:32 pm - Goodman on His Way to Great-man
  • 3:40 pm - A Visual Tour of the JSS
  • 4:27 pm - 52-Headed Giant
  • 5:08 pm - To Russia with love
  • 5:45 pm - Satisfaction
  • 6:04 pm - The Ultimate Penultimate (15 players vying for 8 spots)
  • 7:31 pm - Ver es Vanderbeek?
  • 7:45 pm - The Greatest Game
  • 8:13 pm - Speaking of the Game
  • 9:02 pm - Super Juniors
  • 9:17 pm - Overheard During the Greatest Game

  • BLOG

     
  • Saturday, August 13: 12:15 pm - JSS Championships and Croissant
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • As soon as the 300 blue-shirted JSS competitors sat down Saturday morning for the first round of the Junior Super Series Championship, all their parents were invited to a brunch to meet the Wizards of the Coast staff, Hall of Fame inductee Darwin Kastle, and Magic's creator Richard Garfield.

    Come to Nationals and you can face off against Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle and Magic inventor Richard Garfield.

    Darwin spoke to the assemblage and reminisced about the amazing opportunities that have been afforded him through Magic. He reflected on friendships, jobs, and even romances that he would not have had without the last decade of Magic. He also talked about what induction into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame meant to him.

    After Darwin, Richard was introduced to the crowd. His opening remarks painted a picture of a dedicated father beaming from the opportunity to expose his children to the wide world of gaming. He shared a story about attending Origins with his seven-year-old daughter earlier this summer. Apparently she could not believe how many people played the game her daddy created. He did confess that she grew bored watching him gun sling for 8-10 hours at a time and that she played Stadium Chess with one of the volunteers to pass the time.

    After his opening remarks, the floor was opened up to questions from the parents. Hands shot up in all directions and the parents kept firing questions at Richard for more than an hour - a very entertaining hour, as Richard has perfected a stammering, Bob Newhart comedic delivery that earned him generous and genuine laughter throughout.

    Parents wanted to know Richard's favorite games. Carcassone, Bridge, and Go were just a few off the top of his head, but the difficulty he had in answering the question spoke more eloquently to Richard's love of games than any words could have done. As for his favorite cards he named two. Wyluli Wolf was the first because Wyluli is an anagram for Lily Wu, his soon-to-be wife. The second was Shahrazad for its top-down flavor in capturing the essence of the Arabian Nights tale of the woman with the same name who continually bought additional days of life by stringing along a story that never ended with tales within tales.

    One parent asked Richard about how he felt about children being obsessed with Magic and looked for some guidelines regarding how much Magic would constitute a "healthy" amount and what would be inappropriate. Richard had to think for a minute, scratched his head and finally shrugged, "I don't know. I guess I will find out in about three years."

    The most interesting answer came when a parent asked what seemed like a real eye-roller - would there ever be a sixth color in Magic? Richard's answer was surprising.

    "Five years ago I would have said, 'Not a chance'…"

    He went on to describe how impressed he has been with R&D's ability to break the rules of Magic in new and surprising ways. While it is by no means something that is on the horizon, he felt that he has seen elegant and intriguing ways for a sixth color to become a reality. He could see it introduced and contained within a block the same way mechanics such as madness, morph, and ninja have been in past blocks.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 1:03 pm - Day One Perfects
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • While only Antonino De Rosa emerged from Day One with a perfect record, there were plenty of players with perfect records in one format or the other. With only three rounds of Standard on Friday, there was quite the logjam of Constructed players with 3-0 or 2-0-1 records. Among the Tooth and Nail, UrzaTron Blue, and Rats decks there were couple of archetypes that stood out. Justin Drew went 3-0 with the Proteus Belcher archetype that was last seen at Irish Nationals and the other was Neil Reeves with Mono-Blue Control - an archetype that has always been near and dear to his heart.

    "I love me some Jushi," leered Neil, rubbing his hands together at the prospect of drawing cards with the Jushi Apprentice in Constructed. "They told me I could play a deck with four Jayemdae Tomes that only cost two and only three to activate with something like 12 counterspells. I love it."

    Constructed Undefeateds

    Name Archetype Record
    Chambers, Adam Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Cuenca, Nicolas Agro Red 3-0
    Cuvelier, John Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Dalton, Kirk Rock 3-0
    De Rosa, Antonino UrzaTron Blue 2-0-1
    Del Degan, Colin Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Drew, Justin Proteus Belcher 3-0
    Fabiano, Gerard UrzaTron Blue 3-0
    Fulgium, James Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Hall, Mike Rats 3-0
    Horowitz, Steve Agro Red 3-0
    Krempels, Craig UrzaTron Blue 3-0
    Lieberman, Alex UrzaTron Blue 3-0
    Manning, Christopher Death Cloud 2-0-1
    Negron, Joel Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Patnik, Michael White Weenie 3-0
    Qadir, Aadil Rats 3-0
    Reeves, Neil Monoblue Control 3-0
    Reynolds, Matthew Tooth and Nail 3-0
    Sharfman, David White Weenie 3-0
    Sonne, Jonathan UrzaTron Blue 3-0
    Sullivan, Patrick Agro Red 3-0
    Zittrower, Steven UrzaTron Blue 3-0

    If you think it is tough to 3-0 an eight-man draft table, you should try going 4-0 sometimes. With an extra round of Limited on Friday, that was just what you had to do in order to run your table. Ben Stark demolished his table with a ridiculous red-black deck - one of only 12 players to sweep a table.

    Draft 1 Undefeateds
    Stark, Ben
    Faber, Shaun
    Tran, Nam
    Day, Michael
    Vicini, Patrick
    Pelcak, John
    De Rosa, Antonino
    Thompson, Mike
    Levin, Eugene
    Smith, Justin
    Soorani, Shaheen
    Schneier, Joshua


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 3:32 pm - Goodman on His Way to Great-man
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Randy Buehler and I have spent a lot of time talking about different metrics by which you can gauge a player's success. Randy feels that the percentage of Top 64 finishes a player posts in their Pro career should be examined more closely. If so, Kyle Goodman is off to an impressive career in the early going.

    Kyle Goodman is just a year removed from the JSS.

    As I walked over to sit down and talk with Kyle Goodman, he was standing by the feature match area chatting with Gadiel Szleifer - a player who knows a thing or two about going from the JSS to the Pros - and Gadiel cut Kyle off and nudged him in my direction.

    "You gotta go do an interview…get used to them," advised Szleifer.

    At this time last year Kyle Goodman was one day into his last JSS Championship and an eventual second-place finish to Jeff Garza, one year after he had finished Top 4. Immediately after that event Kyle joined the pro ranks and attended Pro Tour-Columbus where he finished 10th. He skipped Nagoya and Atlanta and then put up a Top 64 finish in Philadelphia. He reached Level 2 status in the Players Club and that qualified him this week to play on the opposite side of the room from where he played last year.

    Going into the eleventh round of play, he found himself in a position to qualify for another crack at the Pro Tour. As the second wave of Constructed got under way, Kyle was paired up against Ben Stark and his agro red deck. Kyle was playing Rats and the small black rodents made short work of Ben and his hasty Sliths, nudging Kyle up in the standings with an 8-3 record.

    The Novi, Michigan resident was excited about the possibility of going to Japan for World Championships and estimated that he would need two more wins and a draw to be in a position to qualify for the event. He had confidence in his deck and liked his chances. "I saw some guys doing well with Rats on MTGO and I like the deck's matchups. It is somewhat unexpected too."

    If you look at the events that Kyle has played in - from the JSS to his two Pro Tours - you will notice that they are all Constructed events. Kyle has not had many chances to practice his Limited game although he did okay this weekend. After going 2-2 in his first pod he swept the second pod this morning to stack up a 5-2 record in Limited to accompany his 5-1 in Standard.

    "I am not much of a drafter. I only recently started drafting. JSS kids mainly worry about Standard," he said.

    Kyle was excited about the exotic locales for next year's Pro Tour and hopes to find himself qualified for Hawaii and beyond. Judging by his success so far he will not have a hard time reaching that goal, as long as being a senior in high school - with soccer and tennis obligations - doesn't get in the way.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 3:40 pm - A Visual Tour of the JSS
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • 299 JSS competitors take a lunch break. Lunch break?!?

    JSS Head Judge Jason Ness shows his serious side. Seriously, that is his serious side.

    Funny hats are sure way to make the coverage page…

    So is colorful hair…

    Or being a girl.

    Lunch break is over and it's back to the trenches.

    Randy Buehler addresses the troops. 'R&D needs you…'

    …to fill out a survey.'

    Parents, not Pros, get to lounge at U.S. Nationals…

    …while not checking the standings, of course.

    The man, the myth, the legend… Scrubbles.

    New York represent!


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 4:27 pm - 52-Headed Giant
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Pick a dominant head…

    There is plenty to do this weekend and plenty of players to do it all. One of the highlights of the Saturday side event schedule is an unsanctioned Two-Headed Giant tournament using the recently released floor rules. Twenty-six teams have signed up to play in the sealed deck event.

    Gabe Walls and Paul Rietzl wavered about signing up when they learned that each team had to designate one of the heads as the dominant head that would make all the decisions. It was a tough hurdle for them to clear and it almost scuttled their entry into the tournament until Walls remembered the time-honored solution to all such dilemmas:

    "Shotgun dominant head!"

    Messrs. Bernstein and Remie, we now pronounce you….a two-headed giant.

    That didn't stop Paul from grumbling during deck construction. When someone asked which head was the decision maker, he looked down at the green-red cards in front of him and the powerful blue-white cards in front of a giggling Gabe Walls.

    "If I was the dominant head I would obviously playing that deck."

    Other notable players teaming up for this event included Jeroen Remie/Adam Bernstein and Steve Sadin/Adam Horvath. Unlike past team formats, this event does not require a clever team name - although it does require some new software to run it.

    Reid Schmadeka was scorekeeping the event and had to get all MacGyver on the tournament to get it to go off. The new DCI Reporter software that is designed for the double entry of Two-Headed Giant teams is not going to be available until next weekend at GenCon when the first sanctioned events take place. In the meanwhile, Reid had to simply enter one player's last name into the first name field and the other player's name into the last name field.

    Schmadeka refuses to be bamboozled by Two-Headed Giant.



     
  • Saturday, August 13: 5:08 pm - To Russia with love
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Levin hopes to make it to Russia for the big event.

    Eugene Levin wants to go to the Russian Invitational. Levin, whose family left Belarus just after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been living in the United States with his family for more than a dozen years. He is hopeful that he will get a chance to go back and visit that part of the world as a member of the Pro contingent late this September when black-bordered Ninth Edition is released in Russian.

    The European office of the DCI is setting up the event which will pit 16 Pros from around the world against 16 of Russia's top players to promote the first release in the game's ninth language. Eugene has been wearing CCCP gear all weekend, including two different jackets and a bright red pair of sneakers, in the hopes of building up his brand equity for anyone from the European office who might be tuning in.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 5:45 pm - Satisfaction
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Nice grip…

    "I just played the most satisfying game of Magic in my entire life," beamed Patrick Sullivan after Round 12.

    Patrick was playing (of course) Red Deck Wins against a blue opponent and found his Furnace Whelp Vedalken Shackled to the wrong side of the red zone.

    "I wanted to draw burn spells," he said. "I assumed I was going to have to burn him out but all I kept drawing were useless cards."

    Or so Patrick thought. After drawing three straight Seething Songs he finally topdecked a Shatter. When his opponent tapped out end of turn to cast Thirst for Knowledge, Pat saw his opportunity and pounced. He Shattered the Shackles and got his flier back. His opponent took his turn and played a fresh Vedalken Shackles and attempted to take the Whelp back but Patrick pumped its power out of range with a Seething Song and countered the ability.

    "I untapped and killed him with the two Seething Songs. I did exactly 11."


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 6:04 pm - The Ultimate Penultimate (15 players vying for 8 spots)
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • "This round determines everything," announced Randy Buehler as the pairings for the next to final round churned from the scorekeeper's printer.

    Well, almost everything.

    It looked like 31 points was going to be the Magic number needed to make the Top 8. Neil Reeves hit that threshold last round with his draw with Alex Lieberman. Lieberman has 28 now and still needs to win either this round or the next. Reeves drew with Michael Patnik this round and pushed Patnik up to the benchmark.

    Lieberman drew a pairing with his good friend Antonino De Rosa which means one of them will be in Top 8 and the other will have to play in one of the few meaningful Round 14 matches.

    Jonathan Sonne's win over Shawn Iden all but locked up a Top 8 for him.

    Jonathan Sonne dispatched Shawn Iden this round and reached the 30-point level but still needs either a draw or a win next round. The only way he would be unlikely to get that draw is if he gets paired down - and the way things break, it could happen to someone.

    Also grappling for possession of 30 points were Adam Fox, who was trying to crush the dreams of former JSS wunderkind Kyle Goodman, while Michael Jacob and Taylor Webb fought one table over.

    Josh Ravitz could not have asked for a better matchup in his penultimate round with his Flores Red deck going up against White Weenie in the hands of Morgan Douglass. Josh has the Culling Scales/Divining Top combo for Games 2 and 3 and has left a legion of white weenies littering the road as he drives for the Top 8. He won the match and now needs to be paired against another 30-pointer to get there.

    There were a couple of wild-card matches that would require two wins to reach the Top 8 and which could play spoiler to anyone of the 30-point player's chances. John Pelcak and Chris Manning were fighting at table 7 with 25 points apiece while Eugene Levin and his 24 points looked to play spoiler to Steven Zittrower's 25-point dream.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 7:31 pm - Ver es Vanderbeek?
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Where's Vanderbeek?

    All day long, the JSS kids have been looking up from their Tooth-on-Tooth mirror matches and pointing across the room at a tall figure wandering about the Feature Match area, the draft tables, and basically anywhere they can find him.

    Aaron Vanderbeek was wearing a red-and-white striped polo shirt which, combined with his height and lack of width (if the shirt got wet he might tip the scales at 105), conjured up images of Where's Waldo for the JSS crowd and they have been playing an ersatz live version of it all day.

    Can you find Vanderbeek? Sure, sure you can find him in this picture, but what about in another photo somewhere in the coverage?


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 7:45 pm - The Greatest Game
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Crab counters? What's next…a Homarid-themed deck?

    Recent Hall of Fame inductee Darwin Kastle and Richard Garfield will be entertaining young and old alike Saturday night for The Greatest Game. Using giant cards and a red carpet-like play mat (you can see it in the opening picture from this weekend), Garfield will take on one lucky winner (coached by Kastle) in a game with the enormous cards. Of course it will require a separate person to manipulate each of the giant cards, so almost everyone will get in on the action.

    And what will they use for counters should they become necessary (say for the Clockwork Beast that is looming over the PTQ area)? The always resourceful Renee Roub picked up stuffed crabs to serve that function. What better way to celebrate being in Baltimore than with more crabs?


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 8:13 pm - Speaking of the Game
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Get your discard ready…

    Fifty players signed up for the Legacy format Grand Prix-Philadelphia Trial on Saturday evening. I will try to bring you the winning decklists in my column later this week, but for those of you worrying about the high cost of dual lands, Andrew Stokinger says not to fret. He played in the event with a deck called "The Game" that he copied off the internet. The deck requires only a single Bayou and little in the way of high-priced artillery.

    You basically rip apart your opponent's hand with all the discard known to man and then sacrifice a Gamekeeper with a flashbacked Cabal Therapy to "oath" up your Darksteel Colossus.

    Don't forget to check back on Friday for the Top 8 decklists and we'll see if "The Game" has any game to speak of.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 9:02 pm - Super Juniors
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Justin Ling stood atop the JSS field Saturday at 8-0-1.

    Day One of the Junior Super Series is in the books and after nine rounds of play, 139 competitors are advancing to Day Two with at least five wins. There were no players with perfect 9-0 records. The best player at the end of the day was Justin Ling at 8-0-1. Justin was playing a Tooth and Nail deck designed by Jeff Cunningham. If Justin's name seems familiar to you at all it is because he finished 23rd in this event last year and was the highest finishing player in the 14-year old division.

    There were four players with 8-1 records. Harrison Greenberg was playing Monoblue Tron and had the best tiebreakers in his strata of the standings. Another familiar name sat in third place. Anthony Izzo won the 13-and-younger division last year with a 17th-place finish. He was heading the 14-year-old pack in this event with Aggro Red.

    Brett Blackman, who finished 44th at last year's tournament, was looking to improve on the finish this year and had shaved 40 places off of last year's finish at the end of Saturday - he was playing Medium Green. Finally, Sean Inoue with another Tooth deck was the remaining 8-1 player.

    Players who did not pick up the requisite 15 points needed to advance (five match wins) were invited to participate in the Juniors MP3 Tournament for free on Sunday, with more than $1,500 in prizes.


     
  • Saturday, August 13: 9:17 pm - Overheard During the Greatest Game
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • "Is there a Dutch national Champion in the house?"

    When they were drawing raffle tickets for a player to square off with Richard Garfield using oversized Magic cards, Sheldon Menery read off the name, "Jeroen Remie." Jeroen had left for dinner and they went back into the hat to draw another name.

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