Friday, December 1: 11:03 am - Protracted Plays and Filthy Felines
by Brian David-Marshall
Poor Frank Karsten…
Frank just can't win for winning this weekend. Frank ended Day Two of World Championships with a record akin to the power and toughness of a thresholded Mystic Enforcer. He managed to enhance that record in Round 1 (call him a thresholded Enforcer with a Tooth of Chiss-Goria aimed at it) but was actually a loser in a much larger competition.
On Thursday Frank informed me that he would be playing Boros for the Extended portion of the event so he could join in on the Dutch Sudden Shock Slow Roll Competition. Many of the top Dutch players were running Boros with the new split second burn spell and were all vying to pull off the most dramatic slow roll of the card in the tournament. For those of you not familiar with the slow roll, it is when you have the kill card in hand but you let your opponent continue to play without knowing that they are actually dead and you kill them at the last possible minute.
This can be a dangerous tactic (aside from making your opponent want to come over the table and throttle you) since you could be giving your opponent a chance to find a way out. Not an issue with Sudden Shock, though, since there is (virtually) nothing they can do if you have them within kill range. You could let the Mind's Desire player draw their whole deck while they were at two and at any time finish them off with the uncounterable bolt.
I came over to a rather glum looking Karsten at the end of Round 13 and assumed he had lost the match, but it turned out that he had actually won a rather tight three game set with Affinity. "I am the only player who could go to time in a Boros on Affinity matchup," laughed Karsten as he was describing the source of his dismay, which was of course the slow roll contest.
"I had it," he explained. "But he was at four and I had Barbarian Ring in play and Sudden Shock in my hand. The problem was that I only had six cards in my graveyard. I had to use the Sudden Shock to get threshold so I could finish him with the Ring. He was playing Shrapnel Blast so he could have killed me if he had it."
Karsten may have fallen behind in the Slow Roll Contest, but he was the early leader in another competition that he was unaware of - the Karmic Slow Roll Bad Beat Competition that those of us in the backroom will be tracking. While the Dutchies are all doing this in good fun and there is no malice involved (the idea, I believe, is to Slow Roll each other mostly), it can only end with the participating players having Karma bite them on their 'toughness.'
Slow Roll Hall of Fame
Upon hearing of the Slow Roll contest last night, Hall of Fame inductee Gary Wise shared a story - that came via his pal Dirk Baberowski and has apparently been chronicled elsewhere by Teddy CardGame - of the game's greatest slow roll of all time. I doubt it can be topped.
"At Pro Tour - Chicago 1998, Martin Cedercrantz needed one more win to lock up a Top 8 berth. His opponent was tapped out and Martin had lethal burn in hand to win the match. He called for a judge and asked to use the restroom. He was excused from the table and went to bathroom but did not use the facilities in a "traditional" sense. He patted down his hair, smoothed his goatee, took a drink of water from the tap, and waited a few moments before returning to the table and sliding the lethal card across the table to his opponent."
"Total [expletive deleted]," recalled Gary, who actually had a personal stake in the story. "He played me in the last round of that tournament and knocked me out of Top 8 contention."
Got a Dirty Kitty?
Extended is underway, and there is a buzz in the room as new tech unfolds at every other table. One of the more exciting builds is a deck that Billy Moreno created for himself, Josh Ravitz, and Osyp Lebedowicz to play this week. The deck is based off of the DougP Goblin deck that was posted in the forums of my Top8Magic.com website and has been tearing up the MTGO queues.
Billy's major innovations to the deck include adding green for Fecundity and dumping the clunky Goblin Ringleader in favor of a suite of ten Dark Rituals, including the rarely seen Brightstone Ritual. After a couple of near-leaks in the MTGO casual rooms, Billy did an exceptional job of keeping the deck under wraps. I was commenting on how well he had secured the tech on Randy's podcast when Ben Stark came up to us with the deck in hand and a request for a quick primer on how to play it. (Ben had gotten the deck from Gabe Walls who had gotten it from Billy.)
You may not be familiar with Ben, but he is one of the more gifted players to ever play the game of Magic with an uncanny learning curve. The deck - which still needed a name - is far from easy to play, and watching a player as talented as Ben struggle with his first round opponent illustrated underscored that point.
His opponent was playing Eternal Slide and had tapped out. Ben did not have Fecundity but had just about everything else in hand to possibly kill his opponent that turn. He was doing the math, which involved Rite of Flames, Goblin Matrons, Empty the Warrens, and an ultimate decision to make that involved culminating that chain of events with either a Piledriver or a Sharpshooter.
"I was either one point short or one point over killing him that turn," recalled a sheepish Ben, who ended up getting a slow-play warning from the judge while he agonized over his decision, using several sheets of paper to work out the complicated math that involved each and every one of the seven cards in his hand. Ben figured it out in the end and finished his opponent off with the Sharpshooter plan after concluding that the Piledriver option left him one short.
But until he got there, Scott Johns and I were stifling laughter as we watched him squirm his way through the turn. We searched desperately for the correct description of the sequence, comparing it at first to a raccoon riding a bicycle. Scott came up with the best description though:
"It is like watching a monkey wash a cat," he declared. "It looks like something a human would do, but it's just wrong."
And now the deck has a name:
Dirty Kitty – Extended
Billy Moreno – 2006 Magic World Championship
Friday, December 1: 2:15 pm - Fantasy Draft First Pick
by Brian David-Marshall
Oh you thought I meant a Pro Player Fantasy Pick? No this is the first pick in the Spectator Fantasy Draft. Just about everyone seemed to be crushed into the Feature Match area to watch the battle between Tiago Chan and local hero Jonathan Rispal. The towering dude in the hat is clearly the lottery pick for that draft - he has tremendous wing and attention span, as the analysts might say.
There has been a culture war over the name for the deck Rispal was playing. Designed by Sylvain Lauriol, the deck is called Omelette aux Lotus by the French players. Back in the largely English speaking coverage cage there were some other ideas for the combo deck that relies on cycling through all its cards with the Odyssey block eggs, Chromatic Star, andConjurer's Bauble, and then recurs a Pyrite Spellbomb with Second Sunrise and Lotus Blooms - the Loti come right back into play with Second Sunrise! The deck has been a clear favorite among the spectators - at least the ones that can get close enough to the action to see it - or up high enough.
Our choice for the deck's name has been:
Jonathan Rispal - 2006 Magic World Championships - Extended
Friday, December 1: 3:41 pm - Shota Shrugged
by Brian David-Marshall
Don't look down…
Coming into World Championships it looked like a sure thing that Shoto Yasooka would run away from the Player of the Year pack. The Japanese 60-card master had a fat lead and two Constructed formats to run rampant in, but that is not how things have played out.
After a 2-4 start in Standard, Shota climbed right back into the tournament with a 6-0 run through the draft portion. But after three rounds of Extended he had reverted to Day One form - worse, actually - with an 0-3 start. Suddenly the door was open for some dark horses to make a run at the title.
The current top seed in this tournament, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa started Wednesday's action a full 23 points back of Shota but has closed that gap considerably over the past three days. With Shota unlikely to manage more than three total points, Paulo would need at least 26 points to tie and 27 to overtake the lead. Even if Paulo won Worlds it would leave him a point shy of the tie but as the Captain of the Brazilian National team there are an additional six points in play for Damo da Rosa on top of the 20 or 25 he could get for making the Finals or winning the whole shebang. At the very least he has put himself in a great position to reach Level 5 with a Top 8 and modest finish in the team battle.
Tiago Chan has fewer options for overtaking the lead. It will take nothing short of a win for Tiago to get there. Currently in thirteenth place in the tournament, Willy Edel's chances are even thinner. With nothing short of a win - which would break his two-Pro Tour streak of Finals losses - Edel can tie Shota for the lead, forcing the long-awaited PoY playoff in Geneva. If Shota can manage to creep back into the Top 100 then he could cross Edel off his list of pursuers.
We could see two new Brazilian members of the Level 5 club, which is amazing since neither player has racked up their points by attending any Grand Prix events. That pattern of behavior is likely to change in 2007.
Friday, December 1: 4:36 pm - Excess Baggage
by Brian David-Marshall
I spoke with Tiago Chan as he awaited the start of Round 17. The Portuguese player only needed one draw over the remaining two rounds in order to secure a Top 8 berth for this tournament. Unfortunately for Tiago he also had to secure a berth of another kind for the remainder of his stay in Paris.
The players on the Portuguese National team were provided a hotel room by their local distributor. Also staying in those rooms were several reporters providing Portuguese coverage of this event. Tiago and several of his teammates chose to stay in that hotel as well in order to be close to their countrymen. If you have ever been to one of these events before, then you can imagine how crowded these rooms were to begin with.
Tiago already had well over the recommended number of roommates when he left for the venue this morning, and he had to wind his way over and around a complex maze of people and luggage. The players in the distributor-provided room were also trying to sleep in but were frustrated in their efforts by a snoring roommate. They then decided to move into Tiago's room - without his knowledge. To make the overcrowding matters worse, the players helped themselves to cots that were in hall as they attempted to jam themselves into the room.
Somewhere in the last round, Tiago found out that he and all the Portuguese players in the two rooms had been kicked out of the hotel by an irate manager when he was greeted by the site of his roommates lugging all their luggage into the venue.
Tiago Chan may end up sleeping on the floor.
"I am trying not to worry about it right now," sighed Tiago. "All I want to do is get my draw."
Tiago was one of 94 players wielding Boros decks in Extended. He almost chose a metagamed version of the deck that was designed to win the mirror but played a more straightforward version. He was 3-1 with that build with nary a mirror match to be had thus far. Why the last minute switch?
"Frank Karsten told me to play this deck," explained Tiago. "I have blind trust in Frank's decisions. There is no player better prepared for any Pro Tour - Limited or Constructed - than Frank."
Boros Deck Wins – Extended, 2006 Magic World Championship
Designed by Frank Karsten, Billy Moreno, Quentin Martin, Wessel Oomens, …
Maybe Frank can tell him where to stay this evening as well.