by Mark Wraith
Many Pro Players dislike the format of Sealed Deck. Without the ability to control the cards that you receive, even a top competitor can find it difficult or impossible to build a viable deck. Team Sealed takes away a lot of this luck, with a wider pool of cards to choose from, deck-building skills play a much more important role. Even this format has it's element of chance, sometimes a team will receive a whole color without enough strength to use in a deck, and it's always good to receive very powerful, game-breaking cards, such as Lin-Sivvi, Predator Flagship, and Volcanic Winds. Having these cards can help a team win matches that they would otherwise have lost.
These factors contributed to a number of top teams, containing well-known players, to lose in the first round of this weekend's Team Pro Tour New York. Team Antarctica, one of the most heavily fancied teams in the competition, went down to Rolled-Up Aces. Team Antarctica contains Jon Finkel, the top money winner on the Pro Circuit, and the current World Champion, along with the O'Mahoney-Schwartz brothers, Dan and Steve.
Zero Tolerance policy fared even less well. They lost to the Brothers Parker, who are among the youngest competitors in the tournament. These guys are actually brothers, but being only twelve, fifteen, and seventeen, you might expect there lack of experience to cost them against top level opposition. This proved not to be true against Zvi Mowshowitz, Alex Shvartsman, and Trevor Blackwell, who said "They actually played pretty well"
Team Juggernaut features three German 'Juggernauts' of the game, but Kai Budde, Dirk Barberowski, and Andre Konstanczer received very weak Sealed Decks, and went down 2-1 to Chris Pikula's team - Just for Men.
The well known English triumvirate of Warren Marsh, Ben Ronaldson, and John Ormerod contains some of the best-known deck-builders in the game, but their skills couldn't help them in round one as they lost to team 'Monster Rod'.
All of these teams would be hoping for much better things in the rounds to come, as it would be a big surprise not to see most of them contesting for the top slots on day two.