Play on the second day of Grand Prix Barcelona has commenced. 539 teams, or a total of 1,617 players, had registered on Friday evening, but a mere 42 teams escaped the carnage of the first nine rounds with records of 7-2 or better. Those 42 teams have returned today for another five rounds, followed by the Top 4 playoffs for the best and most fortunate of them.
We already took an in-depth look at Born of the Gods/Theros Team Sealed yesterday, and all of this information does again come in handy today, because the format now is more of the same. That is, until the top-four teams sit down for two Team Booster Drafts at the very end.
Leading the scoreboard at the start of the day was the team-up of the number four-ranked player in the world Reid Duke, the number three-ranked player in the world Owen Turtenwald, and Hall of Famer William Jensen. They were the only team who managed a perfect record of 9-0. However, close behind in the standings placed certified pro players like Manuel Bucher and Christoph Huber or Andreas Ganz and Florian Koch or Christian Seibold and the Gräfensteiner brothers, all on 8-1. (18) Martin Jůza, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, and (9) Shuhei Nakamura made the cut with 7-1-1 while many others including Raphaël Lévy, Melissa DeTora, and (1) Jérémy Dezani made it with 7-2.
Who will get all the way to the top and who will fall by the wayside? Follow our coverage, both on video and on text, as we bring you all the stories straight from the battlefield of Grand Prix Barcelona 2014. Watch when some of the game's best and brightest provide insight into their deck-building and decision-making processes, when the action heats up, and when finally new champions are crowned.
- by Tobi HenkeRound 13 Feature MatchRaphaël Lévy, Melissa DeTora, (1) Jérémy Dezani vs. Tobias Gräfensteiner, Daniel Gräfensteiner, Christian Seibold
- by Oliver GehrmannSunday, 3:00 p.m.Number Crunching
- by Oliver GehrmannSunday, 2:00 p.m.Tell us about your best Blowout Plays!
- by Oliver GehrmannRound 12 Feature MatchRobbie Ferguson, Marek Pieprzyk and Roy Raftery vs. Christoph Huber, Manuel Bucher and Michel Casanova
- by Tobi HenkeRound 11 Feature Match(18) Martin Jůza, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, (9) Shuhei Nakamura vs. Ori Horev, Boaz Havron, Yaniv Perry
- by Oliver GehrmannSunday, 12:00 p.m.Shifting Strategies for Day 2
- by Oliver GehrmannRound 10 Feature MatchBo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu and Hua Chao Song vs. Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir and Zac Hill
- by Tobi HenkeSunday, 10:55 a.m.Deck Construction with Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir, and Zac Hill
- by Oliver GehrmannSunday, 9:30 a.m.Deck Construction with Bo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu and Hua Chao Song
- by Event Coverage StaffDay 1 Blog
- by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - Deck Construction with Bo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu and Hua Chao Song
The team of Bo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu and Hua Chao Song made it through the 9 rounds of Swiss yesterday, finishing with a 7 - 2 record. They can't really rely on their tie breakers since they're currently ranked 36th, so they'll need to put up a strong performance today to still have a chance at advancing to the Top 4.
They had a lot of mixed feelings when they first looked over the Sealed Pool they had been dealt for the second day. "I'm really not sure whether this is any good", Zhang Meng Qiu commented.
Song then distributed the cards among the three players, dealing Bo Li the red creatures and spells while he kept the white cards.
That left Meng Qiu with the blue and green cards which he started to lay out accordingly.
They agreed that the pool wasn't enough to support any mono deck, so they started to think about possible combinations. They were quick to cut black completely since it clearly was the weakest color. They thought that blue was the strongest color, so they tried combining it with both red and white, possibly splitting it across two decks to end up with three slightly above average decks rather than one amazing deck and two decks that would be really lacking.
With Coordinated Assault, Fall of the Hammer, Hammer of the Gods, Voyage's End and three copies of Deepwater Hypnotist and Crackling Triton each, the blue / red deck seemed to have access to a number of combat tricks and removal, but Qiu was quick to take one Deepwater Hypnotist for his own deck that would also be sporting green.
So that made it seem like they would be splitting blue across all three decks, combining it with white, red and green, respectively!
There wasn't too much of a debate, indicating that all players were in agreement that this was the only "right" way to build the decks. Cards like Nessian Wilds Ravager, Nemesis of Mortals and Archetype of Imagination and Tromokratis indicated that the blue / green deck was trying to wrap things up much later in the game, so the question seemed whether there was enough early game to even make it that far. Two copies of Snake of the Golden Grove certainly seemed like they would help accomplish that goal.
Hua Chao Song meanwhile had no trouble combining the white cards with the leftovers that his teammates handed over to him to build the foundation for an aggressive white / green deck.
He seemed to have a decent enough early game with two copies of Orekos Sun Guide, Leonin Snarecaster, and Akroan Skyguard each. If an opponent wouldn't find enough blockers during the first few turns, this deck seemed like it would easily be able to take advantage of that fact and wrap things up in lightning fashion.
All of this didn't sound too bad in theory, but the team was still afraid that the plan might not play out the way they wanted in practice. They now took a second look at the black cards, reconsidering whether to drop the color completely or not. In the end, they stuck with their first idea, dropping the color once again, this time for good, and they then started to register their respective decks.
The players were in agreement that they definitely made the most of their pool, with the rather unique approach of splitting one color across three decks. We'll now take a look over their shoulder when they will go up against the team of Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir and Zac Hill and check whether their strategy will prove successful.
Sunday, 10:55 a.m. – Deck Construction with Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir, and Zac Hill
American Zac Hill joined forces with Belgians Marijn Lybaert and Christophe Gregoir for this event, forming a team with quite the résumé. Lybaert has a whopping four Pro Tour Top 8s to his name, while Hill and Gregoir share a Top 8 from Honolulu in 2009. Back then they had been competitors, now they were teammates. Jointly, they managed a 7-2 record yesterday and were hoping to do a little better today to clinch one of the coveted spots in the Top 4. To do so, they would first need to build three strong decks however. How that went will be detailed here.
They started off by laying out white, black, and green, the most common main colors in this format. "The white looks good," stated Lybaert. The black didn't, but, as Hill, mentioned, "The red looks good too. It has two one-drops. We can build a blitz deck!"
White did a little better, adding four one-drops to the pool. "If we combine red and white, we'll have six one-drops and two Ordeals," Hill suggested. "Every color has an Ordeal," Gregoir pointed out. Soon they were eliminating color combinations. "Black-red just isn't a deck," Lybaert opined. "And blue-black can't work here, can it?" Gregoir looked at it and shook his head: "It has no win conditions."
Hill wasn't willing to discount black-red quite as quickly though. "We already have to Deathbellow Raiders and three more Minotaurs, so Kragma Warcaller is going to be pretty good in this. Here, let me try and build that." Thus, the first decks to be build were black-red, blue-green, and blue-white.
"Can't blue-black work?" Hill revisited the question. "It just feels with three Divinations there should be a blue control deck in here. Gregoir and Lybaert were adamant that blue-black could indeed never work, suggesting that it would have to splash for some finishers. "It just doesn't have the creatures. "Well, couldn't we go really deep then? Mono-blue splashing Chromanticore?" Hill half-joked, pointing at two Opaline Unicorns and Traveler's Amulet but quickly abandoning the idea.
For the time being, the players turned their attention to the white deck. "If needs be this could even be mono-white," said Lybaert. But it didn't have to. A blue splash for Stratus Walk, Voyage's End, and Battlewise Hoplite found its way into the deck. Next, they focused on blue-green with the end result, as summed up by Gregoir: "I'd rather have some of these green cards in the white deck." So the more aggressive green pump effects found a loving home in the white deck, something blue-green just couldn't offer.
As they finished work on what had now become a green-white deck, Lybaert looked through the gold cards and found Karametra, God of Harvests. "All I have ever read about the card is that it's extremely overrated, but if there ever were a time and deck to try it, this would be it," said Hill. "The deck has four nonpermanent spells," Gregoir added, and it was decided to give the God a chance.
Meanwhile, Gregoir finalized the blue-green deck, after dithering on the choice for a while, by cutting one Karametra's Acolyte. And finally, Hill needed help cutting one more from the black-red deck. "I believe it should be one of these two [Lash of the Whip, Sip of Hemlock], but if you think it better should be Thunderous Might, I'll cut that." A quick survey of all the different pump, targeting, and combat trick effects left Thunderous Might out in the cold, and that was it. They divided up all remaining cards for their sideboards and started filling out the deck registration forms.
Happy with the decks? Lybaert made a sad face. "Two of the decks are good and I guess the third's pretty bad."
Round 10 Feature Match – Bo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu and Hua Chao Song vs. Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir and Zac Hill
While Deck Construction was underway, we'd been looking over the shoulders of both the teams of Bo Li, Zhang Meng Qiu, and Hua Chao Song as well as Marijn Lybaert, Christophe Gregoir, and Zac Hill. Since they're now playing each other, it's only fitting that we're going to cover this match as well. We had the following matches:
- Bo Li (G/B) vs. Marijn Lybaert (W)
- Zhang Meng Qiu (W/B) vs. Christophe Gregoir (B/G)
- Zac Hill (R/B) vs. Hua Chao Song (B/R)
At first, things had been looking very promising for Zac Hill. He had pulled ahead fast with a Deathbellow Raider that had been enchanted with an Ordeal of Erebos, however, Hua Chao Song found a Voyage's End to slow his opponent down.
At the same time, his Reckless Reveler and Coastline Chimera did also quite some damage and when he found a Nullify to deal with Hill's possible comeback Kragma Warcaller, Hill could never recover, letting out a big sigh and shortly after accessing his sideboard.
Hua Chao Song 1 - 0 Zac Hill
While the game between Christophe Gregoir and Zhang Meng Qiu looked somewhat promising for the Belgian / American team, they first had to deal with some more bad news. Marijn Lybaert was shuffling up and he opted not to say much about the first game. "Not good" was his only comment.
Bo Li 1 - 0 Marijn Lybaert
Now everyone was looking at Christophe Gregoir who had to win his game to make sure the Belgian / American team wouldn't fall behind completely.
Gregoir was clearly controlling the board in the second game against Zhang Meng Qiu. When a Nessian Demolok entered play and Zhang Meng Qiu opted against paying the Tribute, Gregoir took out one of his opponent's Islands, pulling even further ahead.
A Nyxborn Wolf enchanted Wavecrash Triton the following turn, allowing Gregoir to attack with all of his creatures nearly unopposed and when Meng Qiu drew blank, Gregoir started to shift the momentum slightly.
Christophe Gregoir 1 - 0 Zhang Meng Qiu
Once again, Zac Hill and Hua Chao Song traded blows on the third table. While Song was the first to make a play with Reckless Reveler, an Archetype of Aggression provided Hill with something to fight back.
Hill found a Dragon Mantle, Chao Song added a Kragma Butcher. An Ordeal of Purphoros put Hill seemingly far ahead, if only Chao Song wouldn't find an answer like he did in the game before in Voyage's End. Hill added Blood-Toll Harpy, making it 13 for Chao.
Still, Chao Song saw no reason to shift strategies; he was happy with the damage race and after he swung with both of his creatures, Hill was left with 11 life.
A Coastline Chimera would then give Chao Song something to block.
Hill however had Asphyxiate to deal with it, the following attacks dealt 9 and Chao Song was left with only 4 life! Chao Song drew...
and started to shuffle up since he didn't find a way to comeback after the removal had foiled his plans.
Hill 1 - 1 Chao Song
"Zac, is this good? 5 permanents on turn 3?", Lybaert inquired. Hill only laughed, feeling somewhat relieved that it appeared like Lybaert would also tie the scores in his match against Bo Li.
Li drew for his turn, he took another look at the field and he then shuffled up.
Lybaert 1 - 1 Li
Slowly, but steadily, the Belgian / American team started to turn things around.
On the table of Christophe Gregoir and Zhang Meng Qiu, Gregoir just added Kiora's Follower to his field that already sported Wavecrash Triton, Nessian Asp and Karametra's Acolyte. Once again, it seemed very one-sided, which wasn't too surprising since Meng Qiu had to mulligan down to 5 at the start of the match.
One turn later, he extended the hand.
Gregoir 2 - 0 Meng Qiu
The third game between Marijn Lybaert and Bo Li also seemed to have turned into a very one-sided affair with Lybaert sporting a big field with Akroan Skyguard, Soldier of the Pantheon, Vanguard of Brimaz and even more white creatures.
A Divine Verdict for Bo Li's blocker indicated that Lybaert wouldn't give away this game anymore. While Bo Li tried to stem the bleeding with Oreskos Sun Guide, it wasn't enough to stop the onslaught of the many creatures that Lybaert had on the field, especially after a Nyxborn Wolf enchanted his Akroan Skyguard.
Lybaert 2 - 1 Bo Li
Zac Hill and Hua Chao Song, who had just finished shuffling, accessed their sideboards once again to return their decks to their original state. They didn't feel like continuing to play after the match between the teams had now been decided.
I spoke to Marijn Lybaert after the match and asked him how he felt after his team had fallen behind at first.
Lybaert: "I felt like my match-up was good even though I lost game 1. I wasn't feeling too confident regarding Zac (Hill), but Christophe (Gregoir) gave me a lot of hope that we could turn this around. When his opponent mulliganned down to 5 in the second game, I felt like we could now go on and win the match."
I also sat down with Zac Hill since I heard that the Belgians felt like he was "one of them". How did he feel about that?
Hill: "I playtested for like 6 Pro Tours with the Belgians, so yeah, I feel like I'm a part of the group.
If only I could play for them in the World Magic Cup..."
Do you guys go way back?
Hill: "I first met Marijn back at the Pro Tour Kobe in 2006 and ever since, we've been friends. At another Pro Tour, I scooped to him and he advanced to the Top 8, so I thought to myself: "Wow, this guy is legit." So ever since, we've been testing together and staying in touch and it's just developed into such a great friendship."
Hill went on: "One of the great things about Magic is that you get to know people from all over the World and they become great friends of yours. I fondly remember recording a video for Marijn's wedding and he told me how much he enjoyed it. That's the kind of friendship you can build because both of you are working towards a common goal, trying to become the best in a game like Magic. It's really not trivial and this is also not the exception to the rule; I've made quite a couple of friends because of Magic."
We'll definitely keep an eye on this unlikely alliance and continue watching them in the rounds to come.
Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - Shifting Strategies for Day 2
It's crunch time for many teams since they can't afford to take another loss. Otherwise, they won't have a chance of advancing to the Top 4, which is of course the number one goal of all the players that remain in competition today.
Since everyone has now been able to collect a ton of experience with the Theros / Born of the Gods Team Sealed format, I wanted to sit down with two teams and ask them whether their strategy has shifted over the course of day one or when they started day 2.
The first team on my list were Robbie Ferguson, Marek Pieprzyk and Roy Raftery. This is what Pieprzyk had to say when I asked him whether they have learned anything yesterday that affected their decision making process for today:
"Well, not necessarily; there was nothing we didn't know before since we've put in a lot of hours in to the playtesting process."
Raftery chimed in: "One thing I learned is that Retraction Helix is really good, much more so than I assumed. Boon of Erebos is another strong card; I thought it was good, but I was able to use it so many times both yesterday and today to deal the last crucial points of damage. So in a way, I still underestimated it slightly."
How did you guys design on the seating order for your team?
Pieprzyk: "They were too lazy to sign up our team, so I was able to dictate the order. No, in all honesty, I probably know the most about the format, so it made sense that I would be sitting in the middle."
Raftery added: "Yeah, he's got the most experience with Sealed. I've only done one Draft and one Pre-Release, so I didn't feel confident enough to sit in the middle."
Did you adapt your strategy for the second day in some way, like going for a riskier approach?
Pieprzyk: As long as we're not on the bubble, we will continue to try and avoid unnecessary risks so we can play as consistently as possible. Only if we take another loss, we'll start adapting strategies a bit and then we might go for some riskier plays."
Was there anything that you learned yesterday over the course of the tournament?
Cape: "The blue / black decks were worse than we thought. The average blue / black deck is worse than most of the other color combinations; so we now felt like it has to be really exceptional to be able to compete with the other colors. Obviously, we have been handed a pool that allows for an exceptional blue / black deck, so we built it, but it's still struggling a bit every now and then.
Did you also change your team strategy, like how you communicate with each other?
Mondon: "Yes, in a certain way. We learned that we tended to stop each other a little bit too much yesterday. Sometimes, we would wait for everyone to agree on a particular play or how to build a deck and this affected us in a negative way. We now decided to just trust each other's abilities more and only start interrupting each other when we really feel it's necessary. This has worked very well for us."
What about the Sealed Deck construction?
Mondon: "The hour goes by so quick! It seems like enough time, but sometimes you need to start building your decks much earlier than we thought."
Cape: "Also, building your deck the right way is much more important than finding the right combinations. Just decide on a split and then try to make something out of the colors you're being dealt rather than switching them around a million times. That will only cost you time and often it won't lead to anything."
Alright, thank you guys and good luck for the remaining rounds today!
Round 11 Feature Match – (18) Martin Jůza, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, (9) Shuhei Nakamura vs. Ori Horev, Boaz Havron, Yaniv Perry
In this round, Israeli team Ori Horev, Boaz Havron, Yaniv Perry met the international all-stars Martin Jůza, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, and Shuhei Nakamura. After starting 0-1-1 into the tournament, the latter had won a straight seven matches yesterday to clinch their berth in Day 2. However, now at 7-2-1, they were again facing possible elimination from Top 4 contention. "Shuhei's 10-0," Jůza admitted. "We're just dragging him down."
In the first pairing to finish, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa playing blue-white met Boaz Havron playing red-white.
First, Damo da Rosa's Favored Hoplite and Elite Skirmisher were no match for Havron's Vanguard of Brimaz and Archetype of Courage. On top the Vanguard was given Nyxborn Rollicker, Dragon Mantle, and Ordeal of Heliod in exchange for three 1/1 tokens, and it was soon over.
For the second game Damo da Rosa kept five lands, Ornitharch and his own Ordeal of Heliod, just to encounter an even more aggressive opening from Havron: Firedrinker Satyr, Akroan Skyguard, Nyxborn Shieldmate. Damo da Rosa's Voyage's End bought some time, but when his first creature, the Ornitharch, was met by Magma Jet and Lightning Strike he had fallen way to far behind and never got back into the game.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 0-2 Boaz Havron
Next, Shuhei Nakamura and his black-green deck met Yaniv Perry and his blue-black.
Perry started surprisingly aggressive with Fleshmad Steeds, Blood-Toll Harpy, and Erebos's Emissary, but with the help of Sedge Scorpion, Karametra's Acolyte, Bow of Nylea, and Nessian Asp, Nakamura quickly took over the game and there was no comeback for Perry.
In game two then, it was Nakamura who took the role of aggressor or, more accurately, his Setessan Oathsworn did. It was targeted by Ordeal of Erebos (which was Annulled but still provided two counters), then by Mortal's Resolve, then got into a fight via Time to Feed. The 7/7 Oathsworn went all the way and was joined for the last few steps by Nessian Asp.
Thus, Nakamura had just won his eleventh consecutive match.
(9) Shuhei Nakamura 2-0 Yaniv Perry
Now it all came down to the pairing of Martin Jůza with red-white versus Ori Horev with green-black.
Jůza started off with Anax and Cymede and Borderland Minotaur but, facing Swordwise Centaur, Courser of Kruphix, and Graverobber Spider, wasn't yet able to get in any damage. He cast Oreskos Sun Guide and Flamespeaker Adept instead, and attacked with all five of creatures next turn. There were some blocks, Jůza cast Thunderous Might on Anax and Cymede, Horev responded with Lash of the Whip, and Jůza in turn responded with Battlewise Valor. The end result were two dead creatures and 13 damage for Horev, no losses whatsoever for Jůza. Almost needless to say that Horev did not recover.
The second game was a much longer and drawn-out affair, thanks in no small part to Horev's Akroan Horse. Initially, Jůza took a lot of damage from Horev's growing army of soldier tokens, partly because his creatures kept dying to things like Lash of the Whip and Sip of Hemlock. Finally, however, he managed to stabilize with Stoneshock Giant, Flamespeaker Adept, and Borderland Minotaur, and was able to create his own, somewhat larger, tokens via Hammer of Purphoros.
(18) Martin Jůza 2-0 Ori Horev
Round 12 Feature Match – Robbie Ferguson, Marek Pieprzyk and Roy Raftery vs. Christoph Huber, Manuel Bucher and Michel Casanova
With 27 points respectively, the teams of Robbie Ferguson, Marek Pieprzyk and Roy Raftery as well as Christoph Huber, Manuel Bucher and Michel Casanova definitely need another two wins to advance to the knock out portion of today's competition. We had the following matches:
- Robbie Ferguson (W/G) vs. Christoph Huber (R/G)
- Marek Pieprzyk (R/U) vs. Manuel Bucher (B/U)
- Roy Raftery (B/U) vs. Michel Casanova (W/U)
The first match was over in a hurry; Casanova pulled ahead with his white creatures coupled with a few enchantments before Raftery could find something to stop the opposing forces.
Casanova 1 - 0 Raftery
His teammate Manuel Bucher on the other hand was standing with his back against the wall. His opponent Marek Pieprzyk was playing a very aggressive R/U deck and his field sported Rageblood Shaman, Borderland Minotaur and Kragma Butcher.
Bucher's creatures were simply too weak to simply stand a chance and he had to block his opponent's creatures several times with more than one of his own, which meant that he was losing board position and fast!
Two copies of Griptide didn't help either, further delaying the seemingly inevitable, especially since Pieprzyk found a Bolf of Keranos to take out another blocker. A turn later, Bucher started accessing his sideboard.
Pieprzyk 1 - 0 Bucher
Back to the first table, where Casanova's Daxos of Meletis dominated the game ever since it hit play and more so since Casanova cast an enchantment on it.
Raftery bought himself a lot of time with Lash of the Whip to take out another of Casanova's creatures, but eventually, the advantage generated by Daxos started to add up, proving to be a bit too much for Raftery.
That only seemed to change when a Keepsake Gorgon stopped Daxos for once and when he found Erebos's Emissary the following turn to enchant Siren of the Silent Song, it appeared like Raftery could eventually turn this around.
That was before Casanova cast two copies of Sudden Storm over the course of the following two turns, each time forcing his opponent to make unfavorable blocks to stop Daxos.
Raftery found yet another potential blocker, but a Retraction Helix took it out of the equasion for the time being, so Daxos could continue to do his dirty work. When Casanova found another another enchantment for it, he added insult to injury and Raftery immediately started to shuffle up and rearrange his chair so he could help his teammates.
Casanova 2 - 0 Raftery
Hunter's Prowess gave Christoph Huber exactly what he needed to leave his opponent with just 7 life. This was too much of a damage swing it appeared since Ferguson shuffled up shortly afterwards.
Huber 1 - 0 Ferguson
On the second table, it was Pieprzyk once again who was sitting in the driver's seat. This time, Bucher even needed three creatures to block an enchanted Kragma Butcher and he ended up losing two of them.
Bucher tried to hang in there with Gray Merchant of Asphodel and a Disciple of Phenax, but a Nyxborn Wolf that enchanted Kragma Butcher put Pieprzyk even further ahead. In a desperate effort, Bucher was forced to block the Kragma Butcher with three creatures of his own and he was left with only one after the dust had settled.
Pieprzyk then added Disciple of Phenax and Vulpine Goliath and if it weren't for a much-needed and timely Gild, that would have meant the end of the match. Still, Pieprzyk continued to bring the beatdown, inviting Snake of the Golden Grove to his party. It attacked unopposed the following turns and Bucher started to look at the table of his teammate Huber more and more frequently, indicating that he himself wasn't feeling too confident he could turn this around.
When his deck didn't provide him with an out, he immediately extended the hand.
Pieprzyk 2 - 0 Bucher
The following turn, Ferguson attacked with both of his creatures and he thought that a Dauntless Onslaught would be enough to allow for some favorable trades. However, Huber now had enough mana to trigger the effect of Ill-Tempered Cyclops, making sure he would get to keep this big threat while Ferguson lost his attacker.
After that, Huber used Nylea's Disciple to give himself a little more breathing room. A Time to Feed then took out his opponent's largest threat while Huber continued to attack. Ferguson tried to hang in there with Pheres-Band Tromper, but when Huber revealed a Pinnacle of Rage on his following turn, Ferguson knew it was over and he extended the hand.
Huber 2 - 0 Ferguson
A great comeback for Christoph Huber on the first table in the second game where he didn't lose his calm despite a big difference in life totals. Step by step, he started to turn things around, eventually leading his team to victory in this crucial match!
Sunday, 2:00 pm - Tell us about your best Blowout Plays!
With only 1 more round to be played in the Swiss portion of the tournament, I decided to head over to the top tables where some of the teams that remained in competition were trying to secure a spot in the Top 4 of today's competition.
First, I got a hold of Marijn Lybaert who you might have watched on the Magic Twitch channel where he went up against Bo Li. If you didn't watch it live, here's this very special episode of Frank's quiz for those of you who didn't follow the stream:
How do you end up with a 6 / 10 creature on turn 3 in Theros / Born of the Gods Sealed?
If you can't wrap your mind around it, here's how Lybaert pulled off this stunt:
He started with a Loyal Pegasus on his own turn 1.
He followed it up with Hero of Iroas on his turn 2.
After he cast the first, he drew into Ordeal of Heliod, so he could also play that.
When he attacked with the already huge Hero of Iroas, it gained yet another +1/+1 counter, thanks to the effect of the Ordeal. This now made it a 6 / 10 creature!
His opponent Bo Li shuffled up at this point, but if Lybaert would have had a little more time, he would have followed up all of these plays with Ordeal of Nylea. Thankfully, Bo Li didn't have to suffer through that.
Alright, here's another blowout story, this time from the "honorary Belgian" Zac Hill: "Just now, in my first game, I blew my opponent out with 2 Akroan Crusader, making infinite 1 / 1 tokens with Ordeal of Purphoros and a couple of combat tricks to trigger its Heroic effect over and over again."
He had sided into a number of low cost creatures so he would stand a chance against all the pressure that I could build up early.
"I guess he must have felt like he was on a rollercoaster ride, never knowing what to expect!"
Here's a last one and we'll keep it very short this time.
Sunday, 3:00 p.m. - Number Crunching
After 13 rounds of Swiss, we are left with only six teams that have more than 30 points. Here are their records on both day 1 and day 2:
- Manuel amp; Christian Hauck and Stephan Schwarz (34 points)
- Day 1: 8-1
- Day 2: 3-0-1
- Armel Richard, Dominic Bosvin, Vincent Pinet (34)
- Day 1: 8-1
- Day 2: 3-0-1
- Olivier Duport, Wilson Lam and Louis Ballivet (33)
- Day 1: 8-1
- Day 2: 3-1
- Tobias amp; Daniel Gräfensteiner and Christian Seibold (33)
- Day 1: 8-1
- Day 2: 3-1
- Owen Turtenwald, William Jensen amp; Reid Duke (33) -
- Day 1: 9-0
- Day 2: 2-2
- Christophe Rolin, Olivier Barry amp; Edouard Merieux (31)
- Day 1: 7-1-1
- Day 2: 3-1
If you think about this a little longer, you'll come across a very interesting fact: Not a single team mastered to win all of their 4 rounds today!
Explanation: The minimum threshold to make day two is a 7-2 record. If a team would have managed a 4-0 record today, this would have resulted in an 11-2 record overall, which in turn translates to 33 points. However, we looked at all the teams with more than 30 points and not a single one of them has scored a perfect record today.
At first, this made me wonder whether we had a couple of draws that would have allowed for this curiosity that seems like something that's not supposed to happen. I went as far as sitting down with the scorekeeper for a few more minutes (who at first also felt like this shouldn't be possible) and running some more maths until it finally dawned on us what happened:
A team that starts the second day with a 3-0 record isn't necessarily getting paired against another team that's started 3-0 today. This is because the tournament software will pair them against another team that matches their overall record (which makes plenty of sense).
To give you an example: Let's say a team went 8-1 yesterday and they amassed another 2 wins today in the first 3 rounds, leaving them on an overall record of 10-2.
Another team that won all of their matches today just barely made the cut yesterday with a 7-2, so now their overall record is also 10-2. If those 2 teams now go up against each other and they either draw or the first team (the one with the 2-1 record for day two) wins, the win streak of the up-to-this-point undefeated team (for today) would have ended.
I hope all of this wasn't too confusing and you'll enjoy the bottom line which is that anything can happen in a tournament, you should never expect that you've already made it until you've actually made it!
On that very same note, here's a little more food for thought:
The team of Manuel amp; Christian Hauck as well as Stephan Schwarz and the team of Olivier Duport, Wilson Lam and Louis Ballivet decided to draw this round. This now leaves the Hauck / Schwarz team with 35 points while Duport, Lam and Ballivet have 34 points.
There is a certain chance, depending on the outcomes of the other matches, that Duport, Lam and Ballivet will be locked out of the Top 4, depending on tie-breakers. They must have felt very confident that their tie-breakers will get them there in case everything else goes wrong, but just imagine what it would feel like for them to think they just drew into the Top 4 when in fact they have put it all on the line?!
In just a few minutes, we will know for certain who will advance to the Top 4, so stay tuned until then and if you happen to be rooting for them, keep your fingers crossed for Olivier Duport, Wilson Lam and Louis Ballivet!
Round 13 Feature Match – Raphaël Lévy, Melissa DeTora, (1) Jérémy Dezani vs. Tobias Gräfensteiner, Daniel Gräfensteiner, Christian Seibold
With scores of 10-2, both of these teams were one win, possibly two, away from clinching a Top 4 berth. The team-up of number one-ranked player Jérémy Dezani, Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy, and Pro Tour Gatecrash Top 8 competitor Melissa DeTora was clearly the favorite here, however their opposition were no slouches either. Daniel Gräfensteiner had made it to the Top 8 of a Pro Tour in 2010, the same year his brother Tobias reached the finals of a Grand Prix, and more recently, in fact just last week, Christian Seibold made it to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Born of the Gods.
Interestingly, both teams had built the same basic set-up of decks. Raphaël Lévy and Daniel Gräfensteiner were piloting blue-green, even though Gräfensteiner's was somewhat more aggressive and based on heroic. Jérémy Dezani and Tobias Gräfensteiner both had red-white heroic decks, and Melissa DeTora and Christian Seibold both came equipped with blue-black. Nevertheless, the actual games here wouldn't feature any mirror matches, since the teams had put their corresponding decks at different positions.
Instead, to start things off, there was the pairing of Raphaël Lévy (UG) versus Tobias Gräfensteiner (RW).
This Gräfensteiner opened on Favored Hoplite, then added, on consecutive turns, Ordeal of Heliod, Akroan Skyguard, and Eidolon of Countless Battles. Lévy could just shake his head in the face of such power.
For the second game, Gräfensteiner again opened strong with Favored Hoplite and Akroan Skyguard but stumbled over mana issues. With his opponent stuck on two lands for most of the remainder of the game, Lévy was able to cast Nessian Asp and turn it 8/9 and that rode to victory boosted by Nylea's Emissary.
In the third, Lévy then had all the answers to Gräfensteiner's considerably slower draw: Fated Intervention for Kragma Butcher, Fade into Antiquity for Heliod's Emissary, Shredding Winds for Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. While Gräfensteiner hit a string of lands, Lévy followed it up with Snake of the Golden Grove and boosted it with Thassa's Emissary to take the win.
Raphaël Lévy 2-1 Tobias Gräfensteiner
Then there was the pairing of Melissa DeTora (UB) versus Tobias Gräfensteiner (UG).
In the second game, however, DeTora's deck showed a surprising turn of speed with Nyxborn Eidlon, Blood-Toll Harpy, Weight of the Underworld for her opponent's Setessan Oathsworn. Shrike Harpy and Shipwreck Singer added further pressure. Gräfensteiner may have been able to recover with the help of Centaur Battlemaster and Time to Feed, but DeTora had Asphyxiate before he could combine the two cards.
Melissa DeTora 1-2 Tobias Gräfensteiner
And finally, Jérémy Dezani (RW) faced Christian Seibold (UB)
Dezani swarmed the board with Akroan Crusader, Favored Hoplite, Traveling Philosopher, Chosen by Heliod, and Nyxborn Shieldmate early, but Seibold had Baleful Eidolon and Griptide to hold the fort. After the amazing start, Dezani appeared to be out of gas, whereas Seibold had only just begun. Shipwreck Singer, Prescient Chimera, and Aerie Worshippers soon took over the game.
The second game played out very similar to the first. Dezani's initial rush brought Seibold to 4, then he stabilized with the help of Bile Blight and the once again amazing Shipwreck Singer. Dezani made a little headway on the board with Dauntless Onslaught, though that was as far as he got. Fabled Hero made it interesting once more but was shortlived, and a couple of turns later Seibold felt the need to tap out with Shipwreck Singer to force Dezani's Wingsteed Rider to attack and die. If Dezani had had anything then, the game would have been wide open again. Alas, he didn't and Seibold's bigger creatures took over and took the game and match.
(1) Jérémy Dezani 0-2 Christian Seibold