Even the most die-hard pro player likes an interesting anecdote. Over three hundred players throwing down a cornucopia of decks this weekend. That's a big opportunity for shenanigans. We've filtered through the stories circulating through the specatators. Here are a few cool ones.
Jinpei Hassaku drew his share of snickers when it was discovered that he was playing an Erratic Explosion - Draco deck. When he edged into Day 2 it was dismissed as a fluke. For crying out loud, his combo only does 16! The thing about the new format is, everybody takes pain their first few turns, so sixteen is usually enough. He gave an object lesson when he was facing lethal damage with nothing but five lands in play and one more in hand. He untapped, drew Brainstorm. The 'Storm served up Vampiric Tutor and Erratic Explosion. He tutored Draco to the top of his library, and sent sixteen to his opponent's dome. Hassaku would go on to finish twenty-fourth.
Speaking of Big Swings ...
Matt Ranks was squaring off against someone playing the Aluren combo deck. He started with an excellent opener of mountain, Goblin Lackey, already thinking of the beats he was going to lay down. That all changed when his opponent decided to play first-turn Eladamri's Vineyard. Ranks's eyes bugged. He untapped, dropped a pair of Goblin Piledrivers and then Lackeyed out Mogg Fanatic. When his opponent didn't have the Aluren kill at the ready, Ranks summoned a pair of Raging Goblins and swung in for twenty-six. All his opponent could do was shake his head and say "This is EXACTLY what happened last match!"
Okay, One More Beating
Ken Krouner faced Itaru Ishida in a round three Feature Match. He was worried about his chances because he was with Rock, and Ishida had spent his first two rounds dismantling Rock decks. Still, things were looking good for Krouner. Despite Ishida's using two Wishes to find Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge as well as Stroke of Genius to stock up on card advantage, he had no answer for Krouner's Treetop Village and Pernicious Deed took care of his Psychatog. At two life, he untapped with five land in play, thanks to a Thwart staving off a second Deed. He played his third Wish, and pulled out Corpse Dance. The sixth land came down and Krouner was suddenly very dead. Said Krouner "That is the coolest thing that's ever happened to me in a match I lost."
Welcome to the Big Leagues
Chris McGuire was playing in his first Pro Tour ever, and had to sit down round one against none other than Bob Maher, Jr. They exchanged a quick joke about how things must be rigged to match the rookies against the superstars, but it was soon down to business. Maher won the die roll, then played a land and Entombed Verdant Force. McGuire shrugged and asked if he was done. He was not. Maher dropped a Mox Diamond, pitching a land and cast Reanimate. Can you imagine being in your first pro match and being on the wrong end of a Verdant Force before you'd had a draw step?
More Fun from Beyond the Grave
Polish competitor Pawel Sierocinski was excited about this Pro Tour. Though his play group was isolated, they had a very good version of Reanimator, so things were looking good. Round one he sat down across from Osyp Lebedowicz. His draw was excellent. He Entombed Verdant Force and then untapped and played Exhume. Lebedowicz had a response: An Entomb of his own, getting Gilded Drake.
A Change of Tactics
Zvi Mowshowitz was playing Cogniv-Oath against Wessel Oomens and his Angry Hermit Part II deck. Oomens had summoned a Hermit Druid and was getting ready to combo-kill Mowshowitz. Mowshowitz Oathed up Cognivore and had Gilded Drake to cut that short. Suddenly, it was Oomens who was trying to Oath up a big fatty for the kill, and Mowshowitz who was activating Hermit Druid in a bid to make his monster big enough for a quick kill.
Deciding Not to Decide
John Larkin, playing blue-black Reanimator was playing Darwin Kastle with The Rock. Top 8 was on the line. He had Kastle on the ropes with a Verdant Force in play and Kastle's resources dangerously depleted. He just needed something to cement his victory. He played Vampiric Tutor with the intention of getting Memory Lapse. The problem was he'd put his Lapse in the sideboard. Not knowing what he'd need, he just went for another Tutor. A simple blunder, right? However, from the outside, it looked like some gigantic masterstroke. Kastle flashed back his Cabal Therapy, but naturally didn't name Tutor because Larkin had already done that. Instead he went for Exhume, a saftey net if Kastle removed his fatty. Larkin turned over the Vampiric Tutor he'd drawn, and threw a wink to the gaping crowd. In fact, the game went to a point where the card he needed was Entomb, and he was free to Tutor for it.
Morph on the Pro Tour
Kamiel Cornelissen had the honor of bringing Onslaught's signature mechanic to the big time. His Angry Hermit Part II deck had been frustrated by his opponent's disruption. He had a few lands in play, and drew Krosan Colossus, a card included in the deck to make sure Sutured Ghoul would get out of the grave big enough. He played it face down, but then ripped a few lands in sequence, and surprised his opponent by bashing the face for ten.