Not in San Francisco for the Magic World Championships?
Fear not! Our illustrious team of snoops, sleuths, peepers and finks are on hand at the most important Magic event of the year sniffing out all the juicy tidbits of goings-on that would normally end up on the metaphoric cutting room floor. And this time we're involving you in the action. Are you rooting for a particular pro player and itching for an interview? Are you nursing an awesome story idea just waiting to get covered? Discuss the 2004 World Championships on our message boards and post your suggestions, comments, and ideas and we'll do our best to get you the insider scoop!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 5:20 pm - Bonus Feature Coverage
- 4:59 pm - No POY for Nicolai
- 2:50 pm - This Just In!
- 2:25 pm - Leaderboard
- 2:25 pm - Ask Ken Bonus Section!
- 1:57 pm - The One-Armed Scarwood Bandit
- 1:27 pm - Win and In!
- 1:02 pm - The Old Switcheroo
- 12:45 pm - Why Wait for Misetings?
- 12:22 pm - Play in Side Events. See the World
- 12:01 pm - Deck Tech: Aprils
- 11:48 am - Maybe Next Year
- 11:35 am - The DeRosa Protocols
- 10:47 am - What's the Line?
- Blog and Video Archive - Thursday
- Blog and Video Archive - Wednesday
Friday, September 3: 5:20 pm - Bonus Feature Coverage
While Julien Nuijten was assured a berth in the Top 8 with a win in the final round, the other three pairings in the Feature Match area were all hoping for the stars to align in their favor. All of the matches featured players with 36 points and it looked like only of them could make it in but it was not clear whom that would be. Only Tsuyoshi Fujita seemed assured a spot by virtue of his towering tiebreakers.
Geoffrey Siron of Belgium conceded to Raffaele LoMoro in their matchup, which brought on a chorus of grumbles since Siron is a member of the Belgian National team.
Antoine Ruel was playing against Lars Dam of Denmark. Their first game opened with Sylvok Explorers and Troll Ascetics on each side of the red zone. Antoine groaned. This was not the match he was hoping for when he signed onto the monogreen team. He stumbled on lands in the first game with a fistful of near-useless artifact destruction and Lars' Beacon of Creation swarmed the French player and forced him to reach for his sideboard.
In came the prophesied Tangles Asps and Bloodscent. Earlier in the day, Justin Gary had commented on what a great story it would make if Antoine rode into the Top 8 on the back of a Bloodscented Tangle Asp. He did not need it on the second game as a turn-four Beacon of Creation and double Echoing Courage proved to be all he needed to do a bazillion damage to the Danish player.
Game 3 turned on beacon advantage again, but this time for Lars. He cast two Beacons and that was all he needed to run up and over a Karstoderm and a Molder Slug. He died with Bloodscent languishing in his grip, and Lars signed the slip and had to wait for the other match to play out to see if he could squeak into Sunday's action.
Manuel Bevand was already up one game on the Japanese National Champion Tsuyoshi Fujita. Manuel, who went 6-0 on Wednesday with his Krark-Clan Ironworks deck, was playing the Cogs deck that made the Top 8 of Grand Prix-New Jersey a few weeks ago. He was almost certainly in the Top 8 with a win, although the reverse was not necessarily true of Tsuyoshi.
Tsuyoshi would be backing up a pretty bold claim he made at Grand Prix- Kuala Lumpur when he conceded to Masahiko Morita in the Top 8. He stated that he had already won Nationals and Bangkok, "And I will have Worlds!" He was obviously joking when he said it, but he has taken more that any Magic players fair share of ribbing about the comment at home.
Aaron Forsythe looked around the area as they shuffled up for Game 2 and was excited about the prospect of the Cogs deck making the Top 8.
Bevand took an early beating in Game 2 from a Slith Firewalker He tried to make a turn-four Salvagers to hold it at bay but the Japanese player shot two Electrostatic Bolts its way and the Firewalker kept on truckin'. He tried to keep Bevand off four land with a Molten Rain but the Frenchman was able to steady himself with an Aether Spellbomb, Pulse of the Field, and a Pristine Angel.
He was at 7 life and Fujita had Arc-Slogger. The French player cast Pulse of the Field and sent the turn back to Fujita with mana to cast it again. He allowed Fujita to untap though and he had no way to Pulse without allowing the Japanese player the window to kill him with Arc-Slogger. Had he just gained 8 life on his own turn he might have been able to pull out of the hole he was in, but by giving Fujita the opportunity to respond a third game became necessary.
The third game started off with a second-turn Firewalker from the Japanese player -- he played monored in both constructed legs of this event. Wayfarer's Bauble allowed for a turn-three Salvagers on the other side. Tsuyoshi attacked Manuel's blue sources with two Molten Rains but no attacks across the next two turns. Manuel was able to keep his mana steady with a recurring Bauble and his Aether Spellbomb bounced the Slith. He grew it back to bounce an Arc-Slogger but rather than replay it, Tsuyoshi made a Duplicant of the Salvagers.
Manuel had another Salvagers and a Wayfarer's Bauble while Fujita replayed his Slogger and the white creature died to a combination of 10 cards RFG'd and an Electrostatic Bolt. Fujita got Bevand down to 10 and when the Frenchman tried to Pulse with the so-called "buyback" the Japanese player shot himself once with his own Slogger to leave them even at 14 when the Pulse resolved.
By now Bevand had the mana to play a Pristine Angel and also played a March of the Machines, but it was unclear as to who was in a better position. Fujita cast Oblivion Stone and Bevand attempted a Condescend just to look at his next two. Fujita could not use the Stone for two turns. It had summoning sickness under the March and he also waited a turn longer to put a fate counter on his Slogger.
Once the dust from that settled, Bevand had another Salvagers. Fujita had another Duplicant but the Frenchman punched him in the gut with an Annul. He fell to three in combat but Fujita could not finish him off with his Slogger because there were an agonizing nineteen remaining.
A reground Spellbomb took him up to eight and he also found an Aether Spellbomb in his bin to bounce the Arc-Slogger. They played that game over two turns and Aaron wondered what the right play was as he watched Manuel debate between the blue and white spellbombs. "I think you want to gain five here."
Manuel played the blue one and passed the turn.
Aaron -- "Gulp!"
But Fujita was at two from the steady pounding from a Salvagers and the French player who has never fished higher than 32nd at a Pro Tour before was able to bounce all of Fujita's blockers and swing in for what was most likely going to be his first ever Pro Tour Top 8.
Friday, September 3: 4:59 pm - No POY for Nicolai
Nicolai failed to even place in the Top 128 of this week's tournament. That means that Gabriel Nassif has already passed him and only Kamiel can possibly wrest the title from his hands. It would require the French team to have a disastrous 0-point performance tomorrow and Kamiel would need to be crowned Champion while Gabriel also failed to win his quarterfinal match.
I'm not calling Gabriel Nassif the Player of the Year, but unless Bill Buckner contributed any genetic material to the Nassif bloodlines, you can start printing up the T-shirts now.
Friday, September 3: 2:50 pm - This Just In!
Rickard has fallen back out of the Player of the Year Race. Nicolai is scuffling along at 2-2 today and hoping for the third point that Top 128 would earn him and that is not something he can count on. It would seem that Nassif was almost assured of passing the Norwegian leader with a good performance by the French National Team tomorrow. Except there is a dark horse in the running we did not anticipate.
Kamiel Cornelissen is the only player to be locked into the Top 8 at this point. (Aeo Paquette needs only a draw to make it as well.) If he wins the whole shebang he would earn thirty-two points and bring his total for the year up to eighty-four--enough to pass the current leader. Of course, Gabriel Nassif is almost locked for the Top 8 as well AND can earn anywhere from 0-6 points in that event. A Top 16 in the team event would add at least one point to whatever he will earn in the individual competition.
Friday, September 3: 2:37 pm - Leaderboard
They don't make a leaderboard big enough to accommodate the home team at this event. After an early surge into the middle column, the U.S. has slid back off as we enter the closing rounds. The teams on top mostly come from countries with a history of success in high-level Magic tournaments: France, Germany, and Japan all occupy second through fourth place. They are bracketed by a pair of surprising teams -- Belgium in first and South Korea in fifth.
There is also a lot more separation between the top and bottom of the board. Coming into Friday's action, first place and 21st place stood an either side of a manageable 10-point gap. The earth has shifted and it will take an Evel Knievel-style leap across the 23-point Snake Canyon that separates Belgium and Austria from the top and bottom of the board. (USA is about half a dozen points deeper than that.)
Friday, September 3: 2:25 pm - Ask Ken Bonus Section!
Dear Ken (via AIM),
How do you feel about Loxodon Warhammer these days?
BDM in SF
Ask Ken: warhammer got a lot better
Ask Ken: I think it is first pickable now
Ask Ken: the best part is ppl still seize up when you play it against them and throw the game away
Ask Ken: so you get the reason it was good before and the reasons it is good now
Ask Ken: increased land counts, decreased removal
Ask Ken: sawtooth thresher
Ask Ken: sawtooth thresher is the answer to a lot of questions about this format I've found
Friday, September 3: 1:57 pm - The One-Armed Scarwood Bandit
Jake Smith broke his left arm just prior to the start of Worlds and has had to play all week without the use of one of his hands. This has made playing each round impossible without the assistance of a judge to shuffle his deck. Mulligans were especially rough on the judge staff -- at least he was not playing with Myr Mindservant.
He did not have the benefit of a cast for the first day of competition. It was a non-displaced distal radius fracture and he was not aware that he had suffered a break. He merely cradled the useless arm and played Day 1 in pain. He went to the hospital that night with Nicolai Herzog, and the fact that his friend stayed with him through the night might have had some bearing on Herzog's disappointing Day 2 performance.
Smith has long since dropped from the tournament and he finally found a way to play Magic without any assistance from the guys in the striped shirts. There are four computers set up for competitors to play Magic Online, but Jake has been monopolizing one all day drafting.
As to how he broke the arm … well, let's just say that players with sufficient identification to prove that they were older than 21 were able to consume different beverages than say…Cole Swannack. When Ed Ross and Smith consume such beverages, the two pals like to fight -- all in good fun -- and they did so on the way back to their hotel that night. Ed decided he had his fill of the hijinx and announced that he was done fighting. Jake attempted to provoke him with a blow to the face, and then while Ed tried to figure out why he had been hit, Jake hit him again. Ed tried to fend him off with a well-aimed a kick at Jake's shins.
Jake tried to block with his forearm and that's how he got the lame wing. Good times. Good times.
Friday, September 3: 1:27 pm - Win and In!
Aeo Paquette won his third-round matchup to lock up a berth in the Top 8. This is only the second Pro Tour for the young Canadian player. It is also his second Top 8 after his debut performance in Amsterdam. This kid is good -- we're talking Kamiel-good. His combined record on the tour going into round 16 is 25-6.
He stands an excellent chance of displacing Alexandre Peset in the Rookie-of-the-Year race with a guaranteed 12 points coming his way and the possibility of much more than that with each win once elimination time comes. Peset is way back in the pack of the individual event but has the team event Saturday.
Friday, September 3: 1:02 pm - The Old Switcheroo
Antoine Ruel was not happy with his choice of deck for Friday's event.
"I was playing Tooth and Nail, which was really awful in the position I was in today," he said. "I needed to go 3-2 so I needed a deck that could beat Affinity three times."
Enter countryman Sebastian Roux. Sebastian was playing a monogreen deck but was not going to be able to finish in the money. The two players were sitting down for the player meeting and Antoine lamented his deck choice to Roux. Roux's deck was supposed to be robust against Affinity and he did not care what deck he was playing and the two agreed to switch decks.
They actually crossed each other's names off the deck sheets and wrote their own above it. The funny thing is Antoine barely had any idea what was in Roux's deck prior to round 1 on Friday. One has to wonder if he would have been eager to make the swap if he perused the sideboard first…
Ruel started out 1-2 in the first three rounds Friday. He beat Affinity but lost to Cogs and red-green. Hopefully for him, there will be at least two more Affinity decks on the horizon.
Friday, September 3: 12:45 pm - Why Wait for Misetings?
Picture-taker extraordinaire Craig Gibson has also demonstrated a little prowess with Photoshop and has merged the Zink twins, Daniel and Sebastian, with the card previewed in Mike Flores' column this week. Enjoy.
Friday, September 3: 12:22 pm - Play in Side Events. See the World
Magicthegathering.com has a regular cycle of cards each week on the right side of the page. There is usually a theme running through the cards. If it is a theme week it is easy to figure it out, but sometimes you have to puzzle it out. For example, an upcoming cycle of cards will feature cards that get better after the release of Champions of Kamigawa.
Perhaps trying to weave those patterns into the website has given Scott Johns a keener eye for ferreting them out in other things. He found an international theme while looking at the five-day Grand Prix Trial schedule for this week.
Wednesday: Grand Prix-Helsinki Trial
Thursday: Grand Prix-Porto Alegre Trial
Friday: Grand Prix-Vienna Trial
Saturday: Grand Prix-Austin Trial
Sunday: Grand Prix-Paris Trial
All of the events are Mirrodin sealed, cutting to a Top 8 Rochester draft.
Friday, September 3: 12:01 pm - Deck Tech: Aprils
Tired of Molder Slugs that just aren't fast enough to kill Affinity?
Tomohiro Kaji and Masami Ibamoto teamed up with Hisaya Tanaka to create a new blue-green deck for this block portion of the tournament that has just the answer. Pentad Prism.
They are all playing a blue-green deck that they have dubbed Aprils -- the name is inspired by one of their favorite bands -- and it has abundant main deck hate for the Affinity archetype with Annuls, Oxidizes, March of the Machines, and Molder Slugs. They are able to "ritual out" the Molder Slug as early as turn three with the help of the Prism.
Kaji faced off against Ukrainian team member Sergey Kuznetson in the second round of action Friday. Sergey was with Affinity. While Kaji was not on the Japanese team, he could help his country's cause by knocking off one of the front-running Ukrainians. He could also help his dwindling chances in the Rookie- of-the-Year race. (While leader Alexandre Peset will not earn more than the minimum amount of points for his individual performance, he will get to pad his lead in the team competition Saturday.)
The two players split the first two games of their match, but Kaji took the third game when he Annuled three straight spells, hit two different artifacts with an Echoing Truth and Viridian Shaman, and then traded the elf for a Frogmite in combat. March of the Machines and another Echoing Courage left Sergey without permanents.
Ibamoto also won his Affinity match when he got turn three Molder Slug in two straight games.
Friday, September 3: 11:48 am - Maybe Next Year
Despite the fact that the draft portion of Worlds only takes place over one day of competition, setting up for that event demands that space for round tables and chairs is set aside all weekend that are not used for anything else.
I have an idea of how we could put those rounds to good use at next year's tournament (actually two good ideas, but the other one will never fly). I propose that on Saturday, while the teams are drafting on the rectangular tables and everyone else is just hanging around we could use those tables to host the Multiplayer Magic World Championships. Players would be seated in eight-player groups and they would play until one man was left standing. The winner from each table would then advance to another table, and so on, until we crowned a Multi Player Champion.
They could fly in Anthony Alongi to preside over all the goings on and maybe even set the ground rules for such a thing. I think it would be a blast and it would be great to see a different cross-section of the Magic community show up at these events.
Just imagine being able to fill these tables up with multiplayer games.
Friday, September 3: 11:35 am - The DeRosa Protocols
Thursday during the draftivities, Seth Burn felt he had drafted a rock solid red-white equipment deck. He had a Bonesplitter, two Leonin Bola, two Horned Helm, and Viridian Longbow. His deck did not perform up to snuff in the first round and he found it to be lacking in Game 1 of the second round as well. He made a radical decision that he credits with him ending up in the mid-20s coming into Friday's action.
Seth sided out the much-vaunted Viridian Longbow in favor of Antonino DeRosa's favorite card -- Goblin Striker. He won that match with the Striker pulling more than his share of the load. He also won his third match in similar side boarded fashion. No word on whether or not he was going to include Strikers in his deck today.
Friday, September 3: 10:47 am - What's the Line?
"I hope you took the under," announced Randy Buehler after a quick pass of the Round 13 feature match area.
During the commute to the site Friday morning, there was much debate about what percentage of the field Affinity would take up. The over/under line, which was initially set at 60 percent, had finally settled into a more conservative 50 percent.
If you just went by the feature match pairings it would like 25 percent of the field, with only Kamiel Cornelissen and Craig Krempels slugging out the mirror match (Kamiel won to get off to a 12-1 start to his week). Richard Osterberg was playing Big Red -- his exact deck from Pro Tour-Kobe -- against Yuri Kolomeyko of the Jamaican Bobsled-esqe Ukrainian Team who had blue-green. Osterberg won. Poker stud David Williams was playing mono-green vs. former Week in Reviewer Jeff Cunningham's Tooth and Nail. Williams came out on the losing end there while Manuel Bevand continued to tear it up with Jan Holland's Cog deck from Grand Prix-New Jersey against Antoine Ruel -- more on him shortly -- and his green deck.
"Hey, it is a blue-white deck with Angels and counterspells. It is old school -- like me!" exclaimed Bevand.
The rest of the field was tilted more heavily toward Affinity, although the under remained the correct bet. Of the 280 players remaining in the tournament, a whopping 119 of them played Affinity -- or 43 percent of the field.