The_Week_That_Was

Analyzing the fallout of the Triple Grand Prix weekend.

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Memo
To: Richard Hoaen
From: Kenji Tsumura
Re: Apprenticing with you prior to Pro Tour-Kobe
Date: 6/04/06
Don't worry about it. I'm set, thanks.

The letter W!hile making his run to last year's Player of the Year title, the only thing that stood in the way of Kenji routing the competition was the fact that he had to play individual Limited events. He had dominant finish after dominant finish with 60-card decks but could not even make Day Two of a Limited Pro Tour without the help of two wingmen (see his Top 4 finish at Pro Tour-Atlanta.).

Kenji lifts his first big Limited event prize check.
In all of his post-Worlds interviews, Kenji vowed to improve his Limited game for this season. It wasn't just Tsumura being humble, either. With three out of the five Pro Tour stops – Prague, Kobe, and Worlds in Paris – this season featuring individual Limited, it was just common sense if he wanted to be the first repeat Player of the Year since Kai (who was able to claim that honor for what seemed like an entire decade).

Rich Hoaen is one of the most consistent Limited performers in the history of the game and there was considerable talk about him going to Japan a few weeks in advance of Pro Tour-Kobe to mentor the Player of the Year in the ways of 40-card decks. Obviously the hard-working and humble Tsumura would never send such a memo as the fictional one above, but his win in Malaysia this weekend at Grand Prix-Kuala Lumpur certainly put the world Magic community on notice.

When I shared the results of the Malaysian tournament with my foreign correspondents in Toronto, Julien Nuijten and Frank Karsten all but surrendered. Their reaction seemed quite similar to the reaction many American players would have when they heard about yet another devastating finish by the German Juggernaut during the 2002 season. They actually looked deflated.

Much like Olivier Ruel's run at the Player of the Year title last season, Kenji used the Grand Prix win to catapult himself right back into the Player of the Year mix with six much-needed points. Kenji did not have a strong start to the season and was floundering back in the pack with only eight points coming into the weekend. Without taking into account the other 23 quarterfinalists from this past weekend of Grand Prix, Kenji jumped almost 30 places in the standings.

At the upcoming Pro Tour-Charleston, Kenji is filling the void in the Masters/Grand Prix-winning team P.S. 2 that was created by Masashiro Kuroda having to duck out due to his full-time job. Tsumura will join umpteen-time Grand Prix Top 8'er Masahiko Morita and reigning World Champion Katsuhiro Mori on one of the historically great teams in the game. Don't be surprised to see Kenji jump another 20 or 30 spots in two weeks.

Nico Bohny, left, bested the red-hot Antoine Ruel at Grand Prix-Torino.
Antoine Ruel also made some headway in the PoY standings this week. According to Malaysian reporter blisterguy, Kenji was constantly checking on the status of his rival from last year, Olivier Ruel, and was crushed to learn that Olivier missed the cut to Day Two. It's obvious that Olivier is a great player who will be a factor in the PoY race this year, but my money is on Antoine to finish strong and win the 2006 race.

Over the past three seasons, Antoine has been right in the mix of the race and is the most consistent performer. He finished fourth in 2004, 11th last season, and – with his five points from Sunday – jumped into a virtual tie for sixth (again pending other GP-driven fluctuations) in this year's race. He will still be 10 points behind his brother and should not expect to gain any ground on him in Charleston since they're teaming together (along with Frank Karsten).

At Grand Prix-Torino, Antoine could not get past Switzerland's Nico Bohny in the finals, though. Hopefully that single point won't come back to haunt him when the final results are tallied at year's end.

Speaking of hot streaks… Antonino DeRosa catapulted into the top five of the race with the third Grand Prix win of his career last weekend in Toronto. DeRosa has been on fire since he appeared on a player card with the release of Ravnica: City of Guilds. One of the criticisms of DeRosa being on a card was that his lifetime earnings were not nearly impressive enough to warrant highlighting. Since then he has more than doubled his career earnings, posted a pair of Grand Prix wins, won the U.S. National Championship, finished second in the team competition at Worlds, and reached the first Pro Tour Top 8 of a Pro Tour of his career.

De Rosa notched his third career GP win, and second in as many seasons.
Other players who made some significant headway in the Player of the Year race include Quentin Martin, Jelger Wiegersma, Ruud Warmenhoven, and Pierre Canali with their Top 8 performances. It was interesting that these European players accomplished this by splitting up the three GPs – even though one of those was in Europe! Ruud and Quentin are looking to star in Hostel 2 while trekking through Asia and their GP appearances were somewhat serendipitous.

Jelger came to North America specifically for the Grand Prix along with Karsten, Julien Nuijten, Rogier Maaten, Anton Jonsson, and Johan Sadeghpour. They were looking to duck the crowds in Torino, but the two events were much closer in attendance than anyone would have expected.

While it is fun to look at the storylines from the Grand Prix weekend, there is also a practical function to consider. With the PTQ season for Kobe in full swing, there are seven undefeated Sealed Deck decklists to contemplate from the weekend. Five of the seven even include the full card pools – I dropped the ball on my end, won't happen again – so you can see the block of marble these sculptors had to work with.

Now…you may not find TWO VEDALKEN DISMISSERS and Rakdos Guildmage (!!!!!) in your card pool like the one Nan Tu sacrificed a goat to open in Kuala Lumpur, but there are definitely some things to take away from the card pools. For all the talk about squeezing all the good cards into your deck, there is plenty of good stuff sitting in the boards of the undefeated decks. Kenji chose not to bend his mana further for Moroii and Bram Snepvangers dodged the double black mana requirements of Keening Banshee.

For a more in-depth look at the art of Sealed Deck construction there are features with Rich Hoaen and Bernardo De Costa Cabral, both of whom made it through to Day Two with their respective builds. There are also draft features for those of you able to navigate the Swiss waters to the Top 8 drafts of your various PTQs. I know I will be poring over everything I can read on the format between the time of this writing and Saturday when I will be playing in one of the few PTQs I can make it to during the Kobe season.

Japanese Regionals Results

Sixty-card aficionados can rest easy with Japanese results continuing to roll in. The Chuubu and Osaka decks are in – thanks to Ron Foster and Keitia Mori for the ever-vigilant eye.

After seven rounds of straight Swiss in the Chuubu region, the top tables were chock full of tense agro matchups and the lower tables were littered with the control decks that had been mauled along the way. Tournament Organizer Jun Yanagisawa mentioned that the final rounds were exciting and full of tension since no one could ID in the later rounds due to the straight Swiss format. He was also quite pleased that the four finalists were all local Naganoans.




In Osaka five players qualified using straight Swiss results after seven rounds. If you happen to see me hanging around the tournament practice room on MTGO .there is a high percentage chance that I will be testing Jinpei Hassaku's third-place deck which combines the Urza pieces with Godo – unless I am running the red-green graft deck that finished fourth.


Kentaro Nonaka - Izettron




Toshio Suginaka Simic Tron

Super Friday Night Magic

Jake Theis, Assistant Brand Manager for Magic: The Gathering is going to sabotage my article for a second to bring you some exciting news regarding Pro Tour-Charleston.

Hello compadres! I'm interrupting your regular broadcast schedule to let you in on a cool little secret.

Do want to rub elbows with the Pros? Do you own the tables at your local FNM? Do you want to go to Pro Tour-Charleston, but not miss out on handing out your weekly FNM beatdowns?

I have the event just for you. I am proud to announce that live from Pro Tour-Charleston, Wizards of the Coast will be offering Super Friday Night Magic. It's like FNM, but on MLB home run-record-shattering steroids!

What the heck is Super FNM? It's a one-night only spectacle where participating stores in the Southeastern U.S. will host a giant combined event from the show-floor at the Pro Tour. And anyone can sign up to win! You don't even need a deck! Enough jibber jabber...let's get to the juicy details!

Super FNM Format: Ravnica Block Sealed Deck

Prizes:

  • Participation – 1 June FNM card per player (That's right, everyone wins!)
  • First Place – The winner's choice of eight (8) FNM prize cards chosen from the current 2006 FNM card pool. Free Entry into any one (1) Pro Tour-Charleston Side Event
  • Second Place – Four (4) FNM promos from the current 2006 FNM card pool.
  • Third Place – Three (3) additional June FNM cards

Plus, if you make the Top 8, your name will be etched in Magic history, as you are added to our Pro Tour coverage!

TOURNAMENT LOCATION:
Charleston Area Convention Center
Halls B & C
5001 Coliseum Drive
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418

Super FNM kicks off at 6:00 p.m. EST. Make sure to show off your home store colors, too. Beyond the sweet prizes, this is about pride! Show up and show us your stuff!

Special Thanks to All the Participating Stores:
Haven Cards 'n Comics Orangeburg SC
Underworld Games Asheville NC
Dueling Ground Myrtle Beach SC
The Tangled Web Spartanburg SC
Batters Up Trading Cards New Bern NC
The Gaming Pit Duluth GA
Galactic Quest Buford GA
Player One Games Alpharetta GA
Rob's Trade Caravan Port Richey FL
All Fun & Games Cary NC
Anime Alley Augusta GA
Comic Connection Margate FL
War Dogs Game Center Jacksonville FL
The War Room Duluth GA
Underground Games "Charlotte, NC " NC
Grand Slam Sports Cards Jacksonville NC
Galactic Comics & Games Statesboro GA
Karma Games Jefferson GA
Fun Express Madeira Beach FL
TBS Comics - Ft Walton Beach Ft Walton Beach FL
TBS Comics - Pensacola Pensacola FL
Above Board Games Fort Mill SC
DJ's Cards & Stuff High Point NC
Ominverse Hobbies Ft Meyers FL
Morningstar Games Savannah GA
MC Collectibles Bradenton FL

Firestarter: Foil Fridays

The winner of the special Friday Night Magic tournament can get any permutation of eight foils from the 2006 FNM season. That means you can get eight different cards or eight copies of Wild Mongrel (that would actually be nine copies, since you get one for signing up but…). What would be the best way to go? Chime in on the forums and share your opinions on the matter – playsets of Astral Slide and Goblin Warchief? A pack of eight dogs?

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