This weekend the third annual European Championship tournament is scheduled to take place in Paris. The largest Magic event to be held here since Pro Tour: Paris, Euros are to be held in the scenic Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie, a 20 minute metro ride from the city center.
Top 8 players from each European country's Nationals as well as the top 150 previously uninvited players based on Composite rating will participate in this event.
On Friday, competitors will play two Mercadian block booster drafts. They will follow them up with six rounds of type 2 on Saturday. Top 8 finishers will use their type 2 decks to play it out for the title in a single elimination format. A total of $70,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the top 64 finishers.
There are several interesting things to watch out for when reading The Sideboard's extensive coverage this weekend.
First, of course, is the emergence of new Type 2 decks that will include Prophecy cards. Although APAC championships featured the same format, most players were disappointed with the level of "tech" top finishers in Asia displayed. It will be interesting to see whether Europeans might outdo the Asian players and present some new, interesting type 2 strategies. Since the format will not change between now and the World Championships, the tournament will be watched closely by Worlds competitors from other regions of the globe.
Another developing story is an emergence of a new powerhouse Pro Tour team called European Alliance. Combining talents of some top players from Germany, United Kingdom and Sweden (including such well known names as Kai Budde and Tony Dobson) this team has proved itself by placing three of its decks into the top 8 of Pro Tour: New York a few months ago. Since the team is based in Europe, all of its members were able to work together for this tournament.
Players who have joined international teams such as PTNY winner Sigurd Eskeland are at a slight disadvantage. Their teams might pressure them into saving the best decks for the World Championships about to take place only a few weeks from now.
Eskeland and other Norwegians will be looking to keep their winning streak alive - Norwegian players have claimed both European Champion titles so far. Sturla Bingen beat Jakub Slemr to win the first Championship and Nicolai Herzog won last year with his Stompy deck - the same deck he later used to make Top 8 at Worlds.
Players from Scandinavian countries, Germany, France and U.K. have dominated the European tournament scene in the past, but they are facing more and more competition from opponents arriving from Eastern and Southern Europe. Look for players from Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Israel and other countries to challenge those from Western Europe for the title.
In addition to the tournament itself, Sideboard staff came up with a few surprises to make the event even more fun for competitors and spectators. Sideboard fans will get a chance to duel against their favorite writers throughout the weekend. Sideboard will also sponsor a trivia contest similar to that run at Pro Tours by Mark Rosewater (so read up on the past Question Mark braintwisters to prepare).
Sideboard coverage this weekend will be brought to you by Vicky Korstanje, Kim Eikefet, Randy Buehler, Alex Shvartsman and Brian Hacker.