by Kim Eikefet
"This is like being on vacation with two four-year olds screaming for ice cream all the time. They quarrel all the time!" Bjørn Petter Jocumsen (24) says and shakes his head. The current Norwegian National Champion teamed up with two of the other guys on this year's national team - Nicolai Herzog (22) and Eivind Nitter (21) - to form Team Outland, and while the two others quarreled, he had to be the team's voice of reason.
In spite of the quarreling, Team Outland went into day two as the ninth seed, undefeated but with two draws. Three rounds later they were still in contention for top 4, sporting a 5-1-3 record after losing only to last year's Team Champions, Your Move Games. "Our strategy is to give the blue and white to Nitter," Nicolai grins. The team is almost raving mad, they rant and laugh throughout the interview and crack jokes all the time. He is serious about the blue though. "Nitter has taken over Sturla Bingen's role. All blue cards are bad. As long as he gets the bad blue cards, he wins," Bjørn Petter adds.
Team Outland was formed before the Team Pro Tour. The players in Oslo figured that they could put together two teams that would qualify on Pro Tour points, and since Nicolai and Sigurd Eskeland had the most points, they had to be on different teams. Nicolai had fewer than Sigurd, so he teamed up with Eivind and Bjørn Petter who both could pitch in. The team name is the name of a gaming store in Oslo. "We were sponsored with one box of boosters. We were on sale," Nicolai laughs.
The three Norwegians went to New York hoping to make day two. At least according to Nicolai. "What?!" the others blurt out when he answers. "Top 8, dammit [profanity edited out]!" Eivind shouts. "Don't you think that I'm tired of going to the Pro Tours just to fizzle? We are going for top 4!" Bjørn Petter adds. In order to do that, they would have to sweep the tables the rest of the day. But at least they had practiced a lot for the tournament. "We drafted about 20 times against Sigurd's team, and we won," Eivind explains. "Noooo, we drafted badly. Sigurd said "dammit [profanity edited out], you are so bad, you suck". Then he got to taste it. We rolled over them," Nicolai smiles.
So the guys weren't surprised when they made day two. "We were more surprised that the other team didn't make it," Bjørn Petter admits. Both of the two teams have rather experience players though. Team Outland's most well-known player is definitely Nicolai Herzog. He got his Pro Tour breakthrough last year when, after winning the National Championship, he became the European Champion and then went on to make top 8 at Worlds. After that, he has had to top 13 finishes at Pro Tours, so he has shown that he is a stayer. Eivind is the rookie. He has only been to four previous Tours, but still, he has made day two every time. Bjørn Petter is the veteran. He has been to nine Tours, but he has never won money except from in the last Team PT. Now he hopes to change that.
Unfortunately, Lady Luck cracked jokes on them in the start of day two. During the first two drafts, Team Outland had three(!) Predator, Flagships - but the only thing the Flagships did was to kill their own creatures. "Flagship is on a list along with Crooked Scales. My opponent snagged my Flagship with a Thieves' Auction and I lost," Bjørn Petter sighs. In addition, the team had to overcome Eivind counterdrafting his own team, so when asked about the team's weakness, Nicolai just laughs and points to the tall, blonde guy. "But I can win with bad decks!" Eivind says to his defense, and the others agree that they have had several bad decks. However, they also agree that it is mostly because of themselves. So before the last two rounds, they decided to evaluate their strategy.
"It is a bit hard to play flawlessly over the course of two days when you've got a clock on your forehead," Bjørn Petter thinks. He also has his two quarreling teammates to worry about. "The only thing they are not supposed to do is to dwell on their mistakes, but that's what they do!" he complains. "I don't understand anything of what the others are doing. They are just totally lost all the time," Eivind replies. Eivind is the badass of Norwegian Magic, a reputation that he kind of likes. At Worlds, he wore handcuffs, but he had to give them back afterwards as they weren't his. Now he has a cool bracelet instead. "Maybe I'm really nice, but don't write that!" he says, not wanting to ruin his bad reputation.
But in spite of the differences, the team works - the players have different qualities and they never argue about who's playing which colour. Bjørn Petter doesn't know if they'll play together again after the Pro Tour though. "We'll see. If only the others didn't fight so much..."
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