2004 United States National Championship Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on June 18, 2004

By Wizards of the Coast

Magic Weekend Coverage Blog

At each event there are tons of little tidbits and great stories that don't warrant a full separate feature. They usually dominate the back room conversation but end up on the metaphoric cutting room floor. This time, magicthegathering.com columnist Brian David-Marshall is roaming the event snapping pictures, keeping his eyes and ears peeled, and sharing it all in our first ever Magic Weekend Coverage Blog.

Sunday, June 20: 5:42 pm

See you all some other time. They are doing the presentation for the JSS and that means we are just about done here. Thanks to everyone who wrote or IM'd me this weekend to say they liked this new blog feature. I had a blast doing it and I think it is going to become a regular component of event coverage.

Next up: Canadian Nationals with me and Josh Bennett!

Sunday, June 20: 5:35 pm

The first of two Standard tournaments in the new environment has wrapped up for the day. They ran five rounds of straight Swiss to determine the winner. There were two players with 4-1-1 records at the end of play and Jameson Jones and his Ravager Affinity deck with Cranial Plating won on the tiebreakers. Tony Pascasio finished second with an identical record playing (ahem) a green-white Astral Slide deck with Eternal Witness.

Jameson Jones

Download Arena Decklist

Tony Pascasio

Download Arena Decklist

The Shackles was clearly a card that just brought the sideboard up to fifteen cards. If anyone can come up with any other reason to have it there please let me know.

The next two decks were both Ravager Affinity played by Doug Prosak and Dylan Clinkenbeard. I will attempt to bring you those lists in my Wednesday column. I will also be bringing you the Top 8 decks from the Grand Prix Trial on Wednesday as well.

Sunday, June 20: 2:34 pm

It really does coat!

They are still playing the final round of the JSS Championships. In fact a little more than 1/3 of the field is still playing after two days of action. With a prize payout that goes to the Top 64 players, many of them are holding out hopes of finishing in that portion of the field. Do you think that might be a little nerve-wracking after putting in so much time? Get a load of what this kid needed to get through the final round.

Sunday, June 20: 5:00 pm

1994 World Champ Zak Dolan

Was that who I thought that was?

It sure was.

1994 World Champion Zak Dolan dropped by the tournament site to look around and say hello to Matt Place. We caught up with him just before they left and he surprised his wife by showing her his name on the World Championship trophy. Rumor has it that Zak may be popping his head in at Worlds as well.

While looking at the trophy and all the names on it Magic's first World Champion reminisced about his time as the most famous Magic player in the world. He looked at the 1995 inscription and was very generous about that year's champion. "Alexander Blumke was the absolute nicest guy in Magic. The only guy who might have been nicer is Richard Garfield."

Sunday, June 20: 4:40 pm

What a cute couple!Left: Mitch Towner, Right: Jeff Garza

The JSS has their new champion! We'll have to wait until the end of the round to make it official but Jeff Garza--a former TOGIT kid who recently moved to the TJ's Collectibles part of the world--drew in his final round to all but ensure his ascendancy to 2004 JSS Champion.

Jeff played a mono-green Tooth & Nail deck with Urza lands that he has been honing for months. He would not have played the deck in the new Standard due to all the blue decks he is expecting to populate the metagame. If he had to play it he would add Xantic Swarm to the board to deal with control decks. After the match he was congratulated by last year's winner Mitch Towner and they took time to pose for a photo. (That's Mitch on the left, Jeff on the right.)

Jeff Garza

Download Arena Decklist

Sunday, June 20: 4:05 pm

The early morning Standard event is winding its way toward a winner. I will bring you the winning list and hopefully talk to that person about the deck. There were twenty-five players in the tournament and it should be over pretty quickly. The most popular deck in the tournament was Mono-Red coming in a couple of different flavors ranging from Spark Elementally aggressive to more controlish Arc-Slogger builds.

The Highlander deck category is for decks that are obviously built by younger or more casual players and feature one and two copies of any card in the deck and are not really definable by any of the more usual classifications.

Mono-Red: 5
Affinity: 4
Blue-white: 3
Tooth and Nail: 3
Ironworks: 2
Goblins: 1
Zombies: 1
Eternal Slide: 1
Green-Black: 1
Mono-white: 1
Highlander: 3

Sunday, June 20: 3:38 pm

The Block Constructed Grand Prix Trial for New Jersey is underway and there were thirty-eight participants. It is only into round four so it too soon to tell what is doing well but I do have a quick breakdown of what everyone played. Early reports of Krark-Clan Ironworks being everywhere appear to be exaggerated. It looks to be playing third lead to Affinity and Tooth and Nail.

Affinity: 9
Tooth and Nail: 8
Ironworks: 7
Big Red: 3
Mono-Green: 3
Black-Green: 2
Mono-Black: 2 Matrix Lattice: 2
Red-green: 1
Turbo Bringer: 1

Sunday, June 20: 2:34 pm

Following in the footsteps of such greats as Terry Bradshaw, Harry Caray, and Charles Barkley

Some choice commentary from Osyp Lebedowicz during the playoff match…

"I don't know how many of you are aware of this but Ben Zoz has won the last three Friday Night Magics he has played in."

"Billy Postlethwait plays Affinity like most other players play blue-white control."

"Billy Postlethwait is the Kai Budde of Affinity but sadly he is the Gary Wise of draft."

Sunday, June 20: 2:22 pm

They are coming down to the last three rounds of an exhausting sixteen round schedule. Next round there will be two players with thirty-six points and their round fifteen match will most likely determine the JSS Champion. Let's take a glance at the top of the standings after thirteen rounds and the pairings for the top four tables.

Rank Name (age bracket) Points Tiebreakers      
1 Browne, Kristian P [15+] 33 65.5325 70.9677 57.3619 13/11/0/0
2 Garza, Jeff [15+] 33 65.0888 74.1935 59.2702 13/11/0/0
3 Coggan, Brett [15+] 33 64.9753 62.8571 59.8232 13/11/0/0
4 Goodman, Kyle S [15+] 33 57.7346 69.697 54.5144 13/11/0/0
5 Barnett, Noah [15+] 30 69.3294 64.7059 61.8083 13/10/0/0
6 Beeton, James [15+] 30 63.8264 72.4138 58.2339 13/10/0/0
7 Ross, Andrew [14=] 30 63.0536 67.7419 58.3421 13/10/0/0
8 Putnam, Marshall [15+] 30 62.8304 62.8571 57.9862 13/10/0/0
9 Smith, Jesse [15+] 30 62.5247 66.6667 59.1308 13/10/0/0
10 Heine, James [15+] 30 62.1959 66.6667 56.7048 13/10/0/0
11 Watson, Jonathan [15+] 30 61.3412 73.3333 57.2409 13/10/0/0
12 Hague, Matt [15+] 30 61.144 64.5161 56.0986 13/10/0/0
13 Lecky, Alex [15+] 30 59.5661 66.6667 54.3474 13/10/0/0

Here's the shot from the top table:

The future of Magic.

Sunday, June 20: 1:52 pm

So we know that Bill Stead and Craig Krempels are going to be representing the United States at Worlds. A playoff match between Ben Zoz and Billy Postlethwait will determine the third team member. Ted Knutson gathered some predictions from people on site at the beginning of the day as to who would make the team. Let's see how they did:

Osyp Lebedowicz: Krempels, Postlethwait, & Stead
Gerard Fabiano: Postlethwait, Zoz, & Aitchison
Mitch Tamblyn: Stead, Humpherys, & Krempels
Gabe Walls: Postlethwait, Stead, & Krempels
Randy Buehler: Stead, Kibler, &Krempels
Paul Sottosanti: Melnikow, Zoz, & Kibler
Scott Larabee: Postlethwait, Zoz, & Aitchison
Mike Turian: Krempels, Stead, & Zoz

Only Mike Turian and Osyp have the chance to be right with all four of the players they named still having one more match to go. Krempels and Stead will fight it out for the title while Zoz and Postlethwait fight for the third slot in the playoff. Stay tuned.

Stead was representing red for all his homies in lockdown.

Sunday, June 20: 1:44 pm

Bill Stead's success was attributed to his decision to wear the red Chuck Taylors. Bill is so thin it came as a real shock to me that he has quite the sweet tooth. "Cheesecake!" he yelped as he eyed the deserts. Then his attention was pulled to the next tray, "Is that Tiramisu? Seriously, these are my two favorite deserts in the whole world."

Sunday, June 20: 1:37 pm

Mmmmmm… Top 8 Lunch. One of the cool things about premiere events is the secret Top 8 lunch that is usually held after the quarterfinals. The first round of play flew by so fast today that it was held after the semi-final round. It was funny to watch Star City Games editor Ted Knutson and Brainburst Premium editor Brian Kibler (with magicthegathering.com editor Scott Johns looking on in amusement) circle Top 8 competitor Alex Melnikow like jackals around fresh kill.

Ted - "So, Alex…do you write?"

Brian - "So, Alex…do you write?"

Sunday, June 20: 12:27 pm

Possibly the most rare and feared monster ever!

Last night the feature match area was transformed from a gladiatorial pit to a theatrical stage as the almost everyone on the Wizards staff chipped in to produce the Live Action Game of the Year. It is a Magic duel between some lucky spectators and a Wizards representative with real people representing the cards in play with the aid of some props and costumes.

Traditionally the Wizards representative is Richard Garfield but he was unable to attend this year. His stand-in was more than up to the task. Skaff Elias has been involved in Magic longer than anybody but Richard Garfield. The two were friends at Penn and he helped playtest and shape the game since before Alpha ever saw print. He is also the man directly responsible for creating the Pro Tour.

It is a great show and a beloved event by everyone who attends US Nationals each year. A couple of neat tidbits about the game…

For one, I loved the giant red twenty-sided die that they use in the event. If there is a suspicious bulge in my luggage when I leave this weekend you will know what it is. The die is made of foam and the crowd roared when Skaff rolled for choice by bouncing the die off of a wall of spectators.

They say it's not the size that matters...

The decks were Mirrodin block vs. Onslaught block with the crowd playing the Onslaught deck. Whenever they needed someone to represent a morph creature they would select a young JSS player in the blue competitor T-shirt.

Skaff explained that playing the game live forces you to make different decisions than you would normally due to the props in play. "I Arrested a 1/1 creature in one game as opposed to a bigger creature. They had given the 1/1 a plastic hammer and whenever his did damage to me he would hit me with it--it actually kind of hurt so I Arrested him."

Skaff also took a game loss in the match. He explained with a grin, "I was mana-screwed and I had mulliganed to four. I was going to lose anyway and I wanted to keep things moving along so I picked a fight with Shelden. I winked at him when I disagreed with his ruling and challenged him to give me a game loss. I told him he wasn't man enough to give me a game loss."

Sunday, June 20: 12:20 pm

The sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar...

I was wandering through the site talking to Kibler about his loss to Postlethwait in the quarters. As we wandered over to take a peek at the Grand Prix Trial a tiny voice asked, "Kibler, what happened? How did you lose?"

Kibler looked down and saw a young JSS competitor in his blue shirt. He grinned and answered with a shrug and one-word answer, "Skullclamp." Nico Fiore nodded as if he had been there one or two times himself and patted Kibler on the back and let him know it would be okay.

Sunday, June 20: 11:55 am

The ring of power! Frodo!

The Grand Prix Trial for New Jersey is getting ready to kick off. The format is block constructed. Remember, today is the first day that Fifth Dawn is legal and the banning of Skullclamp goes into effect. I watched a few people building their decks and I was surprised that almost nobody was playing Ironworks decks…

All right I'm kidding. A quick look at the field seems to be heavily leaning toward Ironworks--it seems to be everywhere. We'll see what happens…

Sunday, June 20: 11:42 am

A quick peek at the top of the JSS standings after eleven rounds…

Rank Name (age bracket) Points Tiebreakers      
1 Barnett, Noah [15+] 30 66.8044 71.4286 60.7268 11/10/0/0
2 Browne, Kristian P [15+] 30 66.6667 74.0741 57.371 11/10/0/0
3 Ross, Andrew [14=] 27 65.0138 69.2308 59.7108 11/9/0/0
4 Coggan, Brett [15+] 27 65.0069 62.069 59.9175 11/9/0/0
5 Garza, Jeff [15+] 27 63.6364 73.0769 57.3359 11/9/0/0
6 Smith, Jesse [15+] 27 61.4325 70.3704 58.0308 11/9/0/0
7 Beeton, James [15+] 27 60.6612 76 55.6772 11/9/0/0
8 Goodman, Kyle S [15+] 27 58.4416 70.3704 55.3001 11/9/0/0
9 Hague, Matt [15+] 27 58.4022 69.2308 54.0802 11/9/0/0
10 Huang, Don [15+] 25 59.9174 68 57.1645 11/8/1/0
11 Meyerson, Jeffrey [15+] 24 67.2176 63.3333 60.4864 11/8/0/0
12 Kimbrell, Matthew [13=] 24 64.1873 62.963 57.1586 11/8/0/0
13 McMath, Tim [15+] 24 64.1873 62.069 57.5965 11/8/0/0
14 Leichtling, Daniel [15+] 24 63.9118 62.069 57.8647 11/8/0/0
15 Putnam, Marshall [15+] 24 62.562 62.069 57.7013 11/8/0/0
16 Heine, James [15+] 24 62.1671 62.069 56.3927 11/8/0/0
17 Lecky, Alex [15+] 24 61.4325 66.6667 55.083 11/8/0/0
18 Sharfman, David [14=] 24 61.4325 62.069 58.8552 11/8/0/0
19 Arnold, Tommy [14=] 24 61.4325 62.069 55.9085 11/8/0/0
20 Goolsby, Curtis [15+] 24 60.0551 62.963 56.073 11/8/0/0
21 Watson, Jonathan [15+] 24 59.7796 69.2308 56.63 11/8/0/0
22 Ling, Justin [14=] 24 58.6777 66.6667 54.9134 11/8/0/0
23 Landale, Tim [14=] 24 57.7686 58.6207 54.4811 11/8/0/0
24 Mijanovich, Burns [14=] 24 57.6364 66.6667 55.9701 10/7/0/1
25 Izzo, Anthony [13=] 24 57.0799 67.8571 53.5231 11/8/0/0
26 Johnston, Ryan [15+] 24 56.2534 66.6667 53.5878 11/8/0/0
27 Stuart, Jim [15+] 24 55.6749 65.3846 51.9984 11/8/0/0
28 Cantrell, Nick [15+] 24 55.6474 69.2308 53.1272 11/8/0/0
29 Tietze, Max B [15+] 24 54.1322 60.7143 51.9476 11/8/0/0
30 Cordell, Kona [15+] 24 53.4435 69.2308 51.6601 11/8/0/0
31 Blackman, Brett [14=] 24 49.5868 62.963 50.0394 11/8/0/0
Noah Barnett is blazin' up the JSS!

The pack is lead by Noah Barnett and Kristian Browne who both have ten wins and only one loss. There are no undefeated players remaining in the event. This is Noah Barnett's second appearance in the blog. He showed up on Friday around the third round. He took a loss and announced that he would not be staying in Nationals for Saturday. Seems like it was the right decision for him.

We'll try and keep you posted as the tournament continues throughout the day. Maybe even some deck lists…or at the very least an update with what all the top players were playing.

Sunday, June 20: 11:40 am

The semi-finals are underway and I have been freed up to do a little blogging. I am going to try and look at some of the new Standard tech that is kicking around, Day Two of the JSS, and hopefully some block constructed action.

Hey it's Father's Day…call your Dad!


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