Friday, December 7: 10:18 a.m. – Drafting at the Top Table!
by Tim Willoughby
I'm sure that there are plenty of us who would love to be drafting at the top table on day two of the World Championships here in New York. If you want to get a feel for how a Pro-level draft works, then you should swing on over to the Draft Viewer, where you get to take any of the eight seats and see exactly the cards that that player did over the course of the draft.
Do you draft like Mori? If you were in Gabe Walls's shoes what (apart from getting out of his shoes!) would you do? Try it out by clicking here
Friday, December 7: 10:40 a.m. – Stacked Up at 5-3
by Josh Bennett
Players this weekend have to overcome a field of 387 players over sixteen rounds, and if Honolulu is any indication, some 12-4s will make it through to Sunday. That means that yesterday's 5-3's will have to put on their best game, both in Draft and Legacy. Unfortunately, the fifteen-point field is saturated with talent.
You want Hall of Fame members? We have five for you: Mowshowitz, Dougherty, Levy, Kastle, and The Great One. Not enough masters? You can add in Paul Cheon, Antonino De Rosa, and Mark Herberholz. Oh, and there's a Kenji. Somehow, there's always a Kenji.
Though the hunt is thick, it reaches peak brutality at table 12: a whopping THREE of the Hall of Fame members (Dougherty, Kastle, and Levy), and if that weren't enough intimidation, throw Masashi Oiso into the mix. Whoever escapes that pod will likely face "easier" competition as they make the last lunge at the Top 8.
Friday, December 7: 11:25 a.m. – More Wake Mirrors
by Tim Willoughby
Mirari’s Wake was a tournament-defining card when it came out in Judgement to finish off an Odyssey block that had been dominated by Blue-Green Madness and Mono-Black Control. If you weren’t playing back then, didn’t get Wake, or are simply a sucker for an alternate-art foil, then check out the new Pro Tour promo card, being given away for the first time this weekend to any player to show up to the desk and provide their DCI number.
I’ve got mine… now it’s just time to build the deck…
Friday, December 7: 12:03 p.m. – A Sides Aside
by Tim Willoughby
While the main event here at the World Championships rumbles on, there is plenty for everyone to do even if they aren't qualified to compete for the world title. Since early Thursday morning, players have been competing a whole host of events, from drafts and 8-man Constructed queues to PTQs and special tournaments that have lured players in not just with their prize pools of fancy gadgetry but with the opportunity to win the Magic-branded 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser available in the aptly titled "Win a Car" tournament held here in New York. I'm pretty sure that by English standards, the "car" is more like a small house, but however you look at it, it's a pretty cool extra reward for playing your best Magic.
Thus far, there have been 3 events classified as "Vroom!" events, in Sealed Deck, Legacy, and Two Headed Giant formats, earning eight lucky players slots in the exclusive 32-player finals. Tomorrow there is the North-East Standard challenge, which will qualify another eight players, and there are still some events today drawing people in attracted by trophies of the four-wheeled variety.
The view from the besieged Side Events booth
There are some big names that have been seen around the side events area thus far. Winners of PT–LA 1998 (Dave Price) and 2001 (Mike Pustilnik), have both been spotted at the side events stage, and MikeyP was quick to confirm that he would be around all weekend playing in PTQs and other events as long as they were running. As I was at the side events stage today I was met by a cheery looking Shingo Kurihara, who having lost out in the main event was signing up for some 2HG. He simply grinned at me and said the word "Car!" (exclamation point very much included).
There is definitely plenty of excitement about the idea of driving the trophy home, and it has brought all sorts of names from around the history of the game back to our World Championships.
As Mark Rosewater put it "The World Championships 2007 are to the Pro Tour as Time Spiral is to Magic."
Friday, December 7: 3:25 p.m. – A Glance at Legacy!
by Josh Bennett
Legacy was the biggest unknown coming into this World Championships, and the pros seem to have risen to the challenge and dedicated a lot of playtesting to it. Of course, different playtesters have come to different results, and the field is wide open. There are various mixes of blue cards, Tarmogoyfs, Thoughtseizes, and Dark Confidant. There's a strong contingent of Enchantress players, some Counterbalance, and blue-green threshold and non-threshold. The Manabond deck is also making a splash. The idea of a turn-one kill has proven irresistable to many players, who have dug out their Goblin Charbelchers. More than a few have found there to be many more Force of Wills in attendance than they had hoped. A glum look, an empty hand, and a board of Lion's Eye Diamond tells the whole story.
Osamu Fujita is playing an extreme take on the Smokestack control deck. In addition to the usual suite of Trinisphere, Smokestack, and Crucible of Worlds, he has the full eight Armageddons (some labeled Ravages of War to prevent disqualification), Pendrell Mists, and just two win conditions: A single Mishra's Factory and Academy Ruins.
Walking past one table, a player had out three Chalice of the Void, on zero, one, and two. This would be fine, if his opponent wasn't with Affinity and playing out free Frogmites and Myr Enforcers.
The French have turned up with hate-filled package based around Blood Moons and the Magus thereof. Dubbed Dragon Stompy, it powers out punishing spells and big monsters on the back of acceleration like Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, Chrome Mox, and Seething Song.
With such a diverse field, it looks like versatility will be the order of the day. Those decks that can adapt to a variety of situations will find themselves on top.
Friday, December 7: 4:40 p.m. – Player of the Year Updates
by Tim Willoughby
This year's Player of the Year race is now looking likely to become a sprint finish. Going into the World Championships, all eyes were on Tomoharu Saito. With a seven-point lead on Kenji Tsumura, garnered over a series of strong Grand Prix finishes, Saito went in with the title to lose. If he finished high enough, there would simply be nothing that any of the competition could do to stop him finishing on top.
While Saito was the favourite, there were plenty still in with a chance. Typically this chance would involve a Top 8 finish, where the Pro Points payout becomes high enough to catch up on Saito's lead. Kenji Tsumura has had his sights set on capturing a second Player of the Year for some time, and when I bumped into him on Thursday, he had already launched into the mantra of P – O – Y.
What is interesting is that with just four rounds left to go, Raphael Levy, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, and Kenji Tsumura are all within reaching distance of Top 8, while Saito picked up a draw that almost certainly means he now cannot make it. Levy needs to win the whole show at this point to push for the title, and even then could be overtaken should other contenders do well in the Top 8 too. Saito could still make life difficult if he only just misses Top 8, and between Kenji and Wafo-Tapa, it is just too close to call.
The race for the Top 8 is on, and with it, everything hangs in the balance for Player of the Year. The title could be decided in the next few rounds, or we could face an even more exciting prospect: a Worlds Top 8 with the POY race still in the balance.
Friday, December 7: 4:50 p.m. – The Win to Drive
by Bill Stark
As has been previously reported this weekend, the side events section of the 2007 Magic World Championships has been virtually overrun with players trying to win any number of prizes. GPS navigational systems, iPods, iPhones, special outdated card sets, foil cards... the list of amazing prizes goes on and on but the biggest of them all is, of course, The Car. In fact, the allure of winning the Toyota FJ Cruiser was so enticing that some pros who had struggled in the main event opted to drop from the tournament in order to team up with a partner to tackle the Two-Headed Giant qualifier that would garner both of them spots in the main event for the Cruiser.
Two such players were Gerard Fabiano and Brett Blackman. Fabiano, a famed member of the TOGIT crew with a Pro Tour Top 8 in a team environment to his credit (Pro Tour–Boston), had managed a 3-5-1 record before conceding to a friend and dropping. Blackman, who recently finished 4th at this season's Grand Prix-San Francisco, managed 4-6 before he ended his Championship run. When asked how the two knew each other Gerard summed things up pretty well by saying "What's your name? I call him Brent Blackman, but I don't know if that's his real name."
A few old school teams also opted to give the Two-Headed Giant format a try, including New York mainstay and Pro Tour Hall of Fame candidate Mike Pustilnik. He and his teammate Tim Gillam had known each other for some six or seven years, though Gillam's resume wasn't quite as good as the Pro Tour and Masters Champion Pustilnik. Though it was their first time playing the Two-Headed Giant format the two seemed up on their pool. "We think it's good," said MikeyP, adding "We have some bombs like Cryptic Command." When asked whether they'd take the car or the cash if they managed to win both their qualifier and the car tournament, both responded "cash" without hesitation.
A second old school New York team featured pseudo-pros Paul Jordan and Magicthegathering.com's own Mike Flores. Both have been playing on the East coast for years, though neither was qualified for the World Championships this weekend. Their seven-year friendship didn't mean they believed whatever the other said without question. "What do you think of this card?" Flores asked the peanut gallery, holding up Forced Fruition from his team's pool. "Paul says it's awesome and if you play it you can't lose..." Unsure of whether it was right to include the enchantment or not, both expressed concern over the strength of their card pool. Fortunately for them, even if they do poorly in one qualifier they'll have more opportunities for others throughout the weekend.
Mike Flores and Paul Jordan
In addition to old school teams trying Two-Headed Giant on for size there were a few new school teams looking to get in on the car action. None other than Pro Tour-San Diego champion Jacob Van Lunen was entered in the tournament, though his partner wasn't co-San Diego champion Chris Lachmann (still in the main tournament) but Dayton, Ohio native James Wheeler. When asked how the two knew each other Jacob said "Through Ervin [Tormos]. He's staying at my house this weekend." They admitted that they hadn't met each other until the beginning of the World Championships, but they didn't feel that was going to affect their chances. "We'll do well," Jacob said, as teammate Wheeler added, "Yeah, our pool has some good synergy."
The final team came a little further than the American groups, traveling to New York all the way from Japan. Shingo Kurihara and Chikara Nakajima hadn't done so well in the main event, both finishing 3-6, but they had managed to get 7th together as a team earlier in the season at San Diego. Both players have a Grand Prix Top 8 as well as a Pro Tour Top 8 on their resumes and are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately the distance to their home would prevent them from being able to actually win the car, instead having to opt to take the $20,000 cash prize instead. When asked whether they'd prefer the $20,000 or the car they enthusiastically motioned to the FJ Cruiser.
Shingo Kurihara and Chikara Nakajima
Check back later this weekend as the coverage team brings you the results of the tournament for the FJ Cruiser and find out whether any of the pros manage to earn the top honors or whether a new face will appear this weekend at the 2007 World Championships.
Friday, December 7: 6:13 p.m. – Quick Hits with Dave Price
by Bill Stark
Younger fans of the game may not recognize the name Dave Price but for those who've been around longer than Magic Online they'll remember Dave as the man who taught the world how to beat down. Once called the King of Qualifiers for attending a shocking number of Pro Tours consecutively having to win a PTQ each time in order to do so, Dave took quite a while to finish high enough to keep a spot on the gravy train. Then again, the wait might have been worth it as he got there in style winning Pro Tour–Los Angeles on the Queen Mary in 1998 playing a mono-red deck that would become his calling card. In later years as Dave's professional life got in the way of his ability to travel to every major Magic event, his continued efforts as a writer kept fans putting him into the Invitational year after year. As Josh Bennett reported earlier, the man who said "There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers" is in the house this very weekend and we got the chance to catch up on where he's been, what he's doing now, and what role Magic is playing in his life.
Bill: Dave, what have you been doing with yourself since you took some time off from Magic?
David Price in the aftermath of his Top 4 at the 2000 Magic Invitational in Sydney
Dave: I've been making a living as a professional gambler. I live in New York City, which is why I'm here today. It's close by.
Bill: Is that the only reason, or are you here to support some friends who are playing?
Dave: Oh, absolutely I'm here to support Jon Finkel and Bob Maher and a lot of the guys from the old days.
Bill: Do you any plans on playing yourself this weekend?
Dave: I played a little bit for fun, but I don't have any plans to return to competitive play. I was toying with the idea of hitting a foreign Grand Prix, mostly for the traveling. We'll see how it goes.
Bill: You mentioned Bob and Jon both of whom have rejoined the Pro Tour thanks to their Hall of Fame inductions. You're eligible for the Hall of Fame. Do you have any aspirations to join them in that arena?
Dave: I would love to be voted into the Hall of Fame but I honestly don't know where my chances are. There's a lot of good players up there who've made great contributions to the game.
Bill: Do you think you'd utilize the opportunity to play some Pro Tours domestically or maybe overseas if you were selected?
Bill: What events did you play this weekend?
Dave: I played a Sealed Deck tournament for an artist's proof.
Bill: How'd that go?
Dave: *laughing* Oh it didn't go that well. I took a loss; you had to go undefeated to win so when I took a loss I dropped out.
Bill: Does the game feel different since the last time you played?
Dave: It's still the same game. I mean, I had to do a little bit more reading of the cards and play a little slower.
Bill: Do you still enjoy it?
Dave: I do, yeah.
Bill: If they reprinted Jackal Pup do you think you'd come back whether you were Qed or not?
Dave: Well... (laughs) I'd try it and see. You reprint a red Jackal Pup... Ah, that'd be nice. I like a good red beatdown deck... Friday, December 7: 8:11 p.m. – WUBRG in Legacy
by Bill Stark
The word going into this year's World Championships was that the impending presence of Legacy as one of the formats in the tournament had thrown the professional community for a loop. Unable to test using Magic Online, as most of the world's top professional groups do, players felt they had no idea what decks were good or what they were going to play. Even as the final three rounds of draft wound down and players were gearing up to actually play the format, many pros still didn't have decks, but that didn't mean they weren't trying.
One group with an... "innovative" twist on the format was a group of Americans from the Midwest who normally specialize in Limited and more commonly played Constructed formats. Their take on things? Well...it's best to just see for yourself:
Created by Mike Hron, Gabe Walls, and almost forced upon Chris McDaniels (a.k.a. "Star Wars Kid") for the actual tournament the deck's game plan is simple: use the cards (any card that costs all five colors) and/or the high casting cost legends to play the best alternative-cost spells the game has ever known. Playing spells with lands? Not this time, as the only lands the deck uses are 4 Maze of Ith to control the ground. Cave In serves as a Wrath of God against decks like Goblins, while Force of Will, Misdirection, and Unmask give the deck a certain level of disruption. The end game is usually on the backs of a Vine Dryad or Nether Spirit gone mad with Blazing Shoal + Dragon Tyrant.
But is the deck competitive? None of the pros wanted to stake their World Championships tournament on such a risky idea particularly with a lack of testing under their belts and opted to play other decks instead. What would have happened had they had just a few more days to test for the event? We may never know, but at least you can find out for yourself at your own local tournaments...