It's time once again for English Nationals - who will be playing for Union Jack in Yokohama this year?

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pairings, results, standings

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Saturday, August 6: 11:18 am - Drafting with Sam Gomersall

 

While doing the coverage for Pro Tour London, I must confess to having been a little disappointed to not be covering Geoffrey Siron's top eight draft. The now legendary virtually mono-red deck didn't lose a single game in the top eight, and while it is entertaining enough to go through it on the draft viewer that was debuted for the event, there is something special about being able to look at the reactions from the players themselves during the draft when things go a little bit crazy.

Luckily for me, it would appear that history repeats itself. Playing the part of Geoffrey Siron today was Sam Gomersall, a confirmed draftaholic and Pro Tour regular who is on many people's list for making a top eight finish this weekend. Often when people talk of playing mono red with flair, they refer to it as 'channelling Dan Paskins'. As Dan is here this weekend, I'm sure that he could not have been the one being channelled. Instead I suppose that he must have been channelling Siron.

Everything started innocuously enough, with a first pick Soratami Mirror Guard over Yamabushi's Flame, Candle's Glow and Horobi, Death's Wail. A second pick Soratami Rainshaper didn't exactly reinforce any thoughts that the deck would turn into a big red monster. A Ronin Houndmaster was the first move towards red for Sam and it was followed up with a Frostwielder. This was probably the most controversial pick in the entire draft for Sam, as he had to choose between little Frostie and Teller of Tales. While the Teller is clearly amazing, Sam reasoned that he was passing to Ollie Schneider, who he would likely be playing, and he didn't want to have to worry about a Frostwielder which would be able to kill the bulk of the blue fliers he wanted to be playing. Whether this reasoning was valid or not, it seemed to work out for Gomersall as the draft went on. His first pack was a pretty even split of red and blue cards, which weren't spectacular, but gave him a reasonable start at a curve of creatures.

It was in pack two that things began to go a little crazy. Torrent of Stone and a pair of First Volleys went straight into the playables pile for Sam, and he picked up a couple of Goblin Cohorts and a Ronin Cliffrider. Another Cohort came eighth, then two more came ninth and tenth. It would appear that everyone else at the table hadn't got the memo about how in an aggressive deck, Goblin Cohort can be pretty vicious, especially in multiples. Gomersall didn't immediately check his fifteenth card of the booster, and gave a surprised shrug when he recounted his Cohorts during the review period, and found that, yes, he had received five.

If the last pack had been sublime, then Saviors of Kamigawa proved to be ridiculous. A first pick Spiralling Embers was nice, but arguably the second pick one was nicer. A third pick Manriki-Gusari would prove to make all of those Cohorts into sizeable threats, and four the fourth pick, it was a third Spiralling Embers. I believe the word the pros use is 'mise'. For the fifth pick Sam got a Shinen of Flight's Wings. By now Sam's deck was getting pretty close to complete, and being rounded out by a Sokenzan Spellblade, Akki Underling, and a Burning Eye Zubera. The last card from the draft that made the cut for Sam? A copy of Orobu, Palace in the Clouds, which could always be returned to hand to make the Embers even better. Tight.

Sam predicted at least a 2-1 with his deck, and frankly it looks very possible.


Saturday, August 6: 12:07 pm - Round Five Neil Rigby vs. Quentin Martin

Neil Rigby vs. Quentin Martin

Quentin Martin is making a bit of a name for himself in Magic at the moment with his writing, and some impressive performances lately on the Grand Prix circuit. His opponent, Neil Rigby, has already done the whole Grand Prix thing himself, being one of the few Englishman to have top 8'd one twice, and was on last years National Team. Known as a creative deckbuilder, 'Riggers' is also no slouch at draft, and is widely regarded as 'the best player outside of London' by a great many of the London set (who should probably get out and meet more players up north, but may still not be wrong).

Neil rolled a 14 on the die and exclaimed that that was the highest he had rolled all day. Quentin responded with ditto when he rolled a 9, but was not exactly a winner.

'Riggers' had two Blademane Baku's to start the game, and a First Volley both killed Quentin's Elder Pine of Jukai and gave each of the red spirits a counter. A Pain Kami the next turn continued Rigby's spirit theme, while Quentin had a Gnarled Mass followed by a Ronin Cliffrider, who died to the Kami.

In the face of the continued threat of Blademane Bakus, and with rather a lot of land in play, Quentin went to the tank. He continued to try to race, with an attack, and a Matsu-Tribe Sniper to block. When he played Glacial Ray on Neil's freshly cast Shinen of Fury's Flame, it looked like he could have stabilised.

'I could still be dead you know, you could just nug me for six with some burn spell' quipped Quentin.

Riggers took an uncharacteristically long amount of time (a couple of turns) to find a response, but it was worth the wait. Devouring Greed for six? That was enough.

Almost immediately after Quentin had elected to play first, Neil chose to draw, and had the first action of the game, in a Blademane Baku on turn two. He followed up with Toshiro Umewaza, who traded with Kashi-Tribe Elite. An Ember-Fist Zubera then came out for Quentin, while Riggers held back with a Pain Kami and his Baku, which was merrily gaining counters. Quentin brought a Frost Ogre out to town, and Riggers fought back with an all out attack, and some badly sung pop songs - pointing out that Frost Ogre is the new Skizzik.

'He's Frizzik. F-class rather than S-class'

Ember Fist Zubera was the only blocker though, standing in the front of Pain Kami, and shooting Blademane Baku. Frizzik smashed back, and Elder Pine of Jukai came out for a little while, until First Volley said 'NO'. As Riggers was tapped out though, Quentin made the most of the opportunity to Barrel Down SokenzanPain Kami.

At this point Jonny Chapman walked over and pointed out that he had just lost to a player that couldn't count. Riggers did count the right number of mountains to return to his Barrel Down Sokenzan to kill Frizzik, before playing Shinen of Fury's Fire, the Skizzik Lite and attacking.

Hizuka the Ruthless was the play for Riggers the next turn, but when he tried to attack, the Ember-Fist Zubera that had been brought back by Elder Pine's soulshift killed him with help from Strength of Cedars. It got replaced by Blademane Baku.

At this point each player took a little bit of time to reload, and it was Quentin to first find a bullet in the form of No-Dachi, and a Traproot Kami to secure his defences. A Dripping-Tongue Zubera joined Quentin's side of the team but it just didn't matter.

'I hope he Greeds you out' remarked a still bitter Jonny, still failing to find his anti-bitterness pill.

Devouring Rage wasn't exactly Greed, but the effect was much the same, as he made another Shinen of Fury's Flame, attacked with everyone and finished Quentin off.

Neil Rigby wins 2-0.


Saturday, August 6: 12:41 pm - The Action in Round 3

Sam Gomersall vs. John Ormerod

The final round of standard for day one of the English Nationals saw the first real clash between The Palace and The Castle. The two big testing groups based around London have such similar names due to a quirk in the places that they live. While an Englishman's home is always his castle, this statement rings true rather more for some of London's top pros. The name 'The Palace' refers to Hampton Court Palace, the home of Ben Ronaldson, who as a Real Tennis instructor is privileged to have a royal residence to lay his head. For Sam Gomersall and the other players living at The Castle, things aren't quite as auspicious. His flat, which was recently invaded by surprising numbers of foreigners for PT London, is hardly a castle in the traditional sense, but it is in the bizarrely named London borough of Elephant and Castle. It's a good job that most of the guys are pretty slim, or they might have ended up as The Elephants.

Sam and John Ormerod faced off in a fight to see who would go into the draft portion with a perfect 3-0 record. Until that point John had not lost a single game, citing straightforward matches against mono blue decks as the secret to his success. As Sam's deck featured nothing but artifacts and blue spells, this trend looked that it might be set to continue.

Leading off with the ultimate in old school style, the Beta Plains, 'JohnO' took the early lead as he proceeded to attack uncontested with small white creatures. Sam took a little longer to develop than his opponent, and paid the price of 14 of his life for the privilege. With a full Urzatron though, his Memnarch seemed to be an appropriate tool to fight back, slowly but surely reversing the board position, while various counterspells stopped any further offence from Ormerod. The big artifact legend proved too much for John, and he eventually succumbed to a powerful counterattack.

In the time that it had taken for this game to come to a close, nearby another 'OAP' was playing a 'Good Player' as Dan Paskins had reached the middle of Game 2 against Stuart Wright. With his trademark little red men, Paskins had dispatched Wright in Game 1 in the face of little resistance. Burning a path and attacking for two never goes out of fashion it would seem. For Stuart's fight back, things were a little more complicated, but argueably much more powerful. With a grand total of three Eternal Witnesses over the course of the game, and a Revive to bring them back, Stuart was rocking card advantage all the way to the win column.

My notes from Game 3 were slightly shorter.

Paskins Turn 1: Mountain, Chrome Mox, Hearth Kami go
Wright Turn 1: Forest go.
Paskins Turn 2: Mountain, Zo-Zu the Punisher, attack, go.
Wright Turn 2: Land, Sakura Tribe Elder, go.
Paskins Turn 3: Magma Jet the Elder, who fetched a land in response, attack for four, play a second Hearth Kami.
Wright Turn 3: Scoopy scoopy, shaky shaky.

Looking back to the match between Gomersall and Ormerod, it appeared that John was looking to learn a lesson from Dan, with attacking for two being improved upon with attacking for three, with an army of flyers led by Leonin Skyhunters, and buffed up with a Glorious Anthem. Sam languished with an incomplete Urzatron and some rather impotent Steel Walls as a defence. As the air force took him down, he looked again to his sideboard in hope of an answer. It was on to Game 3.

The action started out pretty much according to plan for each player, with Sam setting up for bigger and better turns through the power of Urzatron, while John brought out an abundance of creatures and a Glorious Anthem. The pivotal card this game? Oblivion Stone. John attempted to Terashi's Grasp it immediately after it was played, before it could become too much of a threat, but Sam had the Echoing Truth to keep his powerful artifact safe to be played again. When it arrived for the second time it wiped out all of the valuable work that John had been doing, and leaving him with the advantage. He had a Triskelion to start hitting back himself, all the while drawing more cards. When his Sensei's Divining Top showed two Thirst For Knowledges and a Condescend he couldn't help but do a little shiver of surprise.

'That's never a good sign' pointed out Johnny Chapman, as if Ormerod had missed the tell.

Shortly after, Gomersall sealed the deal, winning 2-1 by attacking with Triskelion, burning for a bit with the Trike's counters, bouncing it with an Echoing Truth and doing it all over again.


Saturday, August 6: 1:09 pm - Drafting with Quentin Martin

Quentin Martin entered the second draft on a 3-3 record, with a bit of work to do. The unflappable Brit was battling against both the seven other players in his pod, and no small amount of sleep deprivation.

Luckily for him, he had what he proclaimed to be a draft with very few choices to make. His first pack first pick was Eight and a Half Tails, and from then on the white just seemed to keep on coming. Nagao over Glacial Ray is a pick that Martin deemed as not being anywhere near close, and the player to his left must surely have been happy with the third pick gift of the best common in the set. For the fourth pick there was a little scare, as a Kami of Ancient Law looked like the best pick. Quentin nearly put it in his pile, but went for a little flick through the other cards in the pack just to make sure. Luckily enough there was a Teller of Tales there smiling back at him. From this point things didn't really get greatly harder. A sixth pick Cage of Hands nearly caused the lethargic Martin to start a victory lap, something that happened three times more within the first pack. Picks 10, 11 and 12 were, respectively, Kami of Ancient Law, Blessed Breath, and the Kami of Ancient Law that had come in second place to Teller of Tales. I have elected not to bother with any exclamation marks, but feel free to add your own. Probably in multiples.

After drafting virtually mono-white in pack one, thanks to Chris Stocking feeding him very nicely, it was up to Quentin to return the favour in Betrayers of Kamigawa. A first pick Waxmane Baku was the clear pick for Quentin, and he got to help out Chris with a Horobi's Whisper, which it seemed likely he would be able to use, given how thoroughly black had been cut off in the first pack. A Genju of the Falls was the pick for Martin, and again he hooked up Stocking with another Whisper. Phantom Wings was fine as a third pick, and left an Ogre Marauder going to the right. Never had a display of comradeship at the draft table been more complete. When a second Waxmane Baku came fourth pick, it was as if the word 'Yaus!' had been telepathically communicated to me as it hit the drafted pile. Betrayers wasn't nearly as saucy as Champions, but one way or another, Quentin's deck was filling up with playables plenty fast enough. The end of the pack brought a pair of Teardrop Kamis to fill out the one drop potentially, and things were still looking good.

If there were to be a letdown in 'autodraft', it was Saviors of Kamigawa. In a moment of madness, somehow Hitsegu's Second Rite made it into Quentin's pile from an unspectacular pack, over the potentially useful Soratami Cloud Chariot. Could the fabled Quentin Martin Draft Implosion (which incidentally would be a great name for a band of some kind) be happening? The next few picks of Shinen of Flight's Wings and Hand of Honor seemed to suggest not, but then Ayumi, the Last Visitor made it onto Quentin's pile of cards. If he were hatedrafting then Sokenzen Spellblade might have been a better pick, but I think that the reasoning for the pick will remain a secret between Quentin and the voices in his head. Much of the rest of the draft was spent on track, picking up some copies of Cowed by Wisdom which would be useful in some matchups.

All in all there are two stories here - the frankly spectacular deck crafted by Quentin highlighting the power of cooperative drafting, and the novelty of some somewhat unorthodox picks.

Quentin predicts that he will meet Chris Stocking in the finals of the draft, as he seems convinced his deck should also be amazing.


Saturday, August 6: 2:19 pm - Paskins Vs the Blue Menace

Going into round six, Dan Paskins was 5-0, and leading the old school English magic players, with his red deck winning in Standard, and his red/green deck being undefeated thus far in the draft. As the spiritual leader of red players around the world, he had every intention to continue to smash wherever necessary, clearing a path with burn.

For this round though, he faced his greatest enemy, in the form of a blue deck. Mono blue is not typically something that could be considered a powerhouse in limited, but Crispin Moakler had piloted his deck to a 2-0 finish thus far, so it required a little bit of respect.

This respect clearly wasn't going to come from Paskins, who ranks Islands as significantly worse than all of the following: Mountain, Great Furnace, Barbarian Ring, Shinka, The Bloodstained Keep, Forgotten Cave… the list goes on, but if it taps for one red mana, then it will always beat out the humble island. Do not mention Volcanic Island or Shivan Reef though. They just confuse things.

In Game 1, in spite of all this though, it was the islands that prevailed, with Jushi Apprentice flipping and causing no end of bother for a Paskins draw that didn't include quite as many lands as he might have liked. With card drawing, counterspells and scary fliers, the blue deck looked that it might be able to fight the Paskins school of Magic.

Game 2 was a little closer. With each player trading blows, Dan on the ground and Crispin in the air, it wasn't clear who had the upper hand. Though big creatures smashing in had done nearly the whole job, the ground was beginning to fill up, and the last few points looked tough to achieve. Richard Moore observed that losing to the mono-blue deck would be Dan's ultimate nightmare. This seemed to stir him into action - prompting him to draw his win condition in this close game; Spiralling Embers. The story wasn't quite over though, as while Dan did have the right number of cards in hand to burn out his opponent with the burn spell, he was a little concerned about counterspells. Rather than dealing the finishing blow in his main phase, he passed the turn, and thought about playing the spell in response to Crispin tapping out for Sift Through the Sands. It was of course at this point that Dan realised that at sorcery speed, he was going to have to just go for it. For the entirety of Crispin's turn, he shaked like a boiling kettle, ready to unleash his fire, but unable to do so until his opponent passed.

When he finally got to play the Embers there were two sighs at the table. One of relief, one of despair.

For the final game, with just ten minutes left, it was all about the beatdown for Dan. He seemed a little disheartened to have to play a Forest on turn one, but the Commune With Nature that it facilitated did showed four cards including 2 Mountains and a Ronin Houndmaster though, it was deemed fine. Turn two brought a Sakura Tribe Elder, and from then on it was all about the red creatures and the beatdown. In spite of the best efforts from Crispin, making tricksy ninjas and big flyers, Kami of the Fire's Roar and plenty of spirits meant that the ground and pound of Paskins was plenty good enough. In fitting fashion it was a Barrel Down Sokenzan killing the final blocker that finally won Paskins the match, leaving him to go into the second draft undefeated.


Saturday, August 6: 3:21 pm - Smasharoo!

The Play of The Day award for day one of the English Nationals has to go to Andrew Clayton. In the very last round, on Game 3, he was in a lot of trouble. His green white deck was having no end of bother dealing with the many flyers of his opponent. With ten lands in play, all Clayton had to show in terms of threats on board were a Moonlit Strider and an Aruba Mothrider. Not really enough compared with his opponent's board of beefy blue flyers. His opponent still on 19, things looked grim for Clayton.

The comeback started with a fairly innocuous sacrifice of Moonlit Strider to give the 1/1 protection from blue. His opponent didn't feel too worried when it attacked unopposed. Strength of Cedars for ten was enough to give him a few palpitations, and a Plow Through Reito returning eight plains was enough to finish him off.

Respect the little guys, because every now and again, they'll turn out to be stronger than they might look


Saturday, August 6: 4:30 pm - Updates on the grid

The rivalry within Dan Paskins' 'OAPs vs Good Players' grid continues. I tracked Dan down at the end of round eight to get the exact details, and they are as follows. Each team had six players, and it was decided early on that they would have a single substitute.

The OAPs - a collection of players who have been on the UK Magic scene for a while, and are slightly less active now, contains some impressive names, any of whom would represent a formidable opponent, regardless of how much they had practiced, and at nationals, you know they have practiced a lot. After substitutions, here is how they were doing in round eight.

Neil Rigby - 24 points

On a 7-1 record, Neil can probably start thinking about drawing into the top eight with just a single more win. The token Northener of Dan's grid, Riggers is known for his creative deckbuilding, which earned him a slot on last years national team. He also went undefeated in the draft portion of the event, showing that there really is no chink in his armour. He was also keen to point out that he is the only player here this weekend to make top 8 at multiple GPs. Neil is a triple threat, having skills in both limited and constructed, along with a disarming sense of humour that means that even while you are losing, you are probably having fun.

Ollie Schneider - 21 points

Ollie is something of an institution at English Nationals. While his job doesn't allow him much time to go to events through much of the rest of the year, he has a nasty habit of showing up to Nationals and winning the whole thing. He is trying to score his third National title this year, and with his combination of strong play and a strong personality, he seems well equipped to do so.

Dan Paskins - 21 points

Dan's typical plan for English Nationals involves asking John Ormerod what the best red deck is this year, and then proceeding to burn his way through the field. Both a writer and a player, his unassuming style belies the fact that he is planning to burn out every player in the field. Whenever anyone plays a red deck well, some writer tends to find a way to suggest that they are channelling Dan Paskins, so strong is his devotion to laying Mountains and attacking for two.

With this in mind, the latest incarnation of Dan as a card should probably go something like this.

Dan Paskins - Fire Mage
R

You may only have one Dan Paskins in your deck.

Channel, Sacrifice two Mountains: Dan Paskins deals 4 damage to target creatur or player.

John Ormerod - 18 points

JohnO is a deckbuilding genius who has been behind more crazily good decks than my mind can comfortably comprehend. Trinity Green is a personal favourite, and The Solution won itself a Pro Tour. It is fair to suppose that whatever John tells you to play is probably the deck that you want to play. All you have to do is get yourself in a position where he will do so. The current national champion, John maintains his position as one of the great thinkers and players of the game, showing uncharacteristic thought in such small things as working out which way round he put's players' initials in the life total column. If he were playing Ben Ronaldson, he would go with J then B, but against Dan Paskins, he would be more of a DJ man. You know that when your opponent has time to think about such small things, they are either very good at this game, such that the rest of the thinking is easy, or very very bad. John is definitely the former.

Ben Ronaldson - 15 points

Between Ben and John, there has at times been a rather biblical quality to the look of players that test at Hampton Court Palace, Ben's home. John has long since shaved off his beard, but Ben is still here, looking as intense in his play as ever, and doing pretty well for himself. Another former national champion Ben is known as a constructed player, preferring the situation of having almost perfect knowledge of what is going on through lots of testing, but he is also more than capable in limited.

Chris Clapton - 14 points

Rounding out the team is Chris, who is another creative deckbuilder who has qualified for the national team with something a little different and interesting in the past. Like many of the other 'old school' players, he is better known for his mastery of contsructed play, and creating control decks that are well suited to the metagame, but similarly, he is also a very adept drafter.

The Good Players

Less of a team, more of a collection of the cream of new young English Magic, the Good Players are largely London based, and all names to look out for on the Pro Tour, both now and in the future.

Nick West - 22 points

'Westy' made top eight at last years nationals before breaking onto the Pro Tour in a big way with a top eight finish at Pro Tour Columbus, and is known for being a frequent diligent tester, who has tasted success and wants more. With seven wins it seems likely that Nick will get another shot at making the worlds team this year.

Sam Gomersall - 22 points

Sam is often referred to as 'the English Pro' these days, and if you believe the hype, drafts more on Magic Online than anyone else on the planet. He definitely drafts a quite absurd amount, and all that practice has taken his game to an almost instincitve level. I wouldn't be surprised if Sam could play Magic in his sleep, or indeed if he viewed sleep as an unfortunate bind that stopped him drafting. As to him being the only pro, he has the issue that the rest of the Good Players are rapidly reaching a similar level of goodness - with a real chance to compete at the highest level.

Richard Moore - 21 points

While he isn't doing quite as well as the OAPs substitute, Richard Moore has more than earned his title as a 'good player' for this weekend, having not lost a match since being brought in. Living with Sam Gomersall, Richard is not as frantic a drafter as Sam, but that isn't really saying anything, as nobody is. He does have the opportunity to test with world class opponents without having to leave home, indeed often without having to leave his room. With a single top eight finish in Grand Prix Birmingham, Rich has only just given up his amateur status, but expect good things from him very soon, as having just passed his degree, he all of a sudden has a lot more time to compete at every level.

Stuart Wright - 18 points

If Sam Gomersall drafts more than anyone in the world, then its entirely possible that Stuart plays more constructed online than anyone. While the Hampton Court Palace set were all about the live testing, Stuart is a child of Magic Online, and has the tan to show for it. He constructs with the best, and then practices enough to be able to outplay most, making him a real threat on the other side of the table.

Dave Grant - 18 points

Dave Grant is a bit of a player favourite, and despite being an accountant, he is definitely not boring. In his testing for PT London, Dave paid Sam Gomersall in food in order to be taught how to draft. This was not chicken taken out of the sink either. Such luxurious treatment appears to have been rewarded, as Dave's performance is looking impressive, and he is holding up his place on the grid well.

Quentin Martin - 15

Quentin is somehow the weak link on the Good Players team so far this weekend in spite of some good drafting, and a constructed deck, Tron, which is a powerful choice for the metagame. A limited specialist, Quentin is known for his writing and drafting primarily, but he is also wickedly effective in constructed with a good control deck and a little sleep. After working on the design of Wake with Sam Gomersall, which included countless mirrors, he definitely has the endurance for this sort of event.


Saturday, August 6: 5:05 pm - Q's Blog

I've just been the lucky receiver of one ---BYE---, so I'm filling in to allow Mr.Willoughby a little respite and continue the blog for a round. Neil Rigby of northern fame has recently replaced Pete Norris of the OAPs and has been paired against the captain of the Good Players, the ever eccentric Stuart Wright. Alongside them Tom Harle, runner-up a few years ago is battling versus the prodigy Richard Moore. These two were the lucky winners of the deck check this round so hopefully, I'll be able to cover both matches.

Game 1 is defined by Riggers' Azami, Lady of Scrolls, he draws and lays a freshly drawn Razorjaw Demon, earning a contemptious "Is that all you can find with your deck?" from Stuart whose game plan is all about his Faerie Squadron. Neil keeps digging and finding removal in the form of a Horobi's Whisper for the Shinen and a Mystic Restraints for Wright's only other annoying permanent, a Kitsune Diviner.

Stu tries to stay in it with a Shimmering Glasskite but he's running out of cards and the clogged ground is tilting ever steadily in Neil's favour. A few draws later and the good player scoops it up.

Both players apologise for the lack of witty one liners, something Mr.Rigby is infamous for.

In the break between games, Tom Harle and Richard Moore have been handed back their decks with no problems and they're off. An "Oi Quentin!" from Rigby as he finds out he's been briefly deserted in favour of these two youngsters is the funniest quip from him so far.

Tom has a solid UG deck whilst Richard is piloting the ever popular UW archetype. Tom tries to defend his Oboro Breezecaller from my disdain but his pleas are met by a stony disapproving look from Sam Gomersall. Not much is actually happening in their game, Tom has an Okiba Nightwatch that will always be big thanks to the bad Breezecaller of Badland and Richard has some piddley fliers and a Strider and is looking in trouble unless he can draw some gas to go with his lone card in hand. He rips a Waxmane Baku and looks to come back into this game. Tom ponders Richard's lone blocker and lone card in hand before attacking with the Nightwatch. "Is that an Ethereal Haze you've got there? Don't tell me it's a Haze? I guess you're bad enough to play a Haze!" Tom ridicules Richard who them reveals the Vortex. Tom isn't done though. A bit of maths, some Breezecaller activations and two Inner Calm Outer Strengthes later and they were shuffling up for Game 2.

Back to the matchup between the OAPs and the Good Players, Game 2 was taken whilst Rigby was struggling with far too many land. In the decider, Stuart has a weenie hoard featuring a Lantern Kami, a Floodbringer, a Kami of Ancient Law and a Teardrop Kami. Neil Rigby has slightly better card on the table - a Soratami Mirror Guard and a hand shredding Ghostlit Stalker with a River Kaijin and Soratami Seer holding the fort. A newly peeled Split Tail Miko is Mystically Restrained. A turn later the Ninja of Deep Hours that was obviously hiding in Stu's deck makes an appearance but his deck is just coughing up land. The Floodbringer is keeping Neil's new Genju of Blueness at bay but the Greed in Neil's hand gives him the victory and the match.

Upon returning to the other match, a big big flood from Tom has given Richard the equaliser. Tom takes a bit of Mulligan root and the game is afoot. A Koala and Loamdweller knock each other out but Richard's two following creatures, a Niki-Onna and a Faithful Squire are too much for Tom's Orachi Sustainer and Breezecaller but he makes a Sakashima the Imposter on the Faithful Squire to complicate things. Time is wasted whilst the judges try and work out what happens if both the Squire and Squire copy flip, regarding names, abilities and the legend rule. But as Richard said, "Who gives a flip?"

More time passes, no head judge in sight. Tom yawns, Richard pick at his ear, more cars whiz past. Paint dries.

A motorbike roars by. No one cares.

Ooooh a ruling. The copy will flip into Kaiso, Memory of Loyalty and the legend rule will apply, killing both copies. The game continues. Tom's copy attacks and an Inner Calm Outer Strength is used to put a counter on the copy and take Richard to a mighty sixteen. Ricahrd returns the favour with a Plow through Reito, taking out the Breezecaller at the same time and getting that always important counter.

Richard courteously gives Tom's copy flying before returning it to his hand. Harle's turn is spent recruiting a Nightsoil Kami whilst Mooro rips his Waxmane Baku, returning the Niki-Onna to hand before coming back into play, then flipping his Squire with three games changing counters.

Tom's Imposter returns copying his Nighsoil Kami, "I like big men." He winks at Pete Norris, the spectator caused all of the ealier confusion with the judges. It's not enough. The Squire and Baku dominate for a few turns and that's game folks.

Time for me to go live the 3-0 tiebreak dream, so I'll hand you back to Tim.

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