Popular Magic columnist and former Arnold-movie villain Josh Bennett is roaming the halls of Pro Tour Atlanta to bring you all the entertaining stories and tidbits straight from the tournament floor.
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Friday | Saturday
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 10:57 am - Early Morning Photo Medley
- 1:13 pm - Round 7 Action: Von Dutch vs. Shonichide Pon
- 1:27 pm - Doctor Hump
- 1:55 pm - More Photo Funnies
- 2:14 pm - A Bit of Prime Mockery
- 2:27 pm - Bad Attitudes
- 3:15 pm - Gojira ... no, Mothra!
- 3:42 pm - The Road to Philadelphia
- 6:41 pm - Odds and Ends
- 9:58 pm - G4 TV in the HOUSE
- 10:22 pm - Sweet Mamma Pajama, It's Gab Tsang!
The whimsy of the Pro Tour doesn't slow down just because it's 10 a.m. and the competitors are about as alert as the cast of a 1950's zombie movie. No sir, there's zaniness around every corner. Here's a peek.
Redefining the Mana Curve.
No one is shocked to see the media in a tizzy of that dreamy Osyp Lebedowicz.
Nicholas LaBarre works his own version of 'The Hustle'.
10:30 a.m. and already time to call it a day.
Correction: Ken Krouner does NOT room with Adam Chambers. The two were roommates at the palatial Krouner Estate, briefly, until a dispute over the affections of pop sensation Lindsay Lohan made cohabitation impossible. Magicthegathering.com regrets the error.
Saturday, March 12: 1:13 pm - Round 7 Action: Von Dutch vs. Shonichide Pon
While the undefeateds stole the spotlight for Round 7's Feature Match, two of the big names were slugging it out with the rest of the plebs. Both Von Dutch (Jeroen Remie, Jelger Wiegersma, Kamiel Cornelissen) and Shinichide Pon (Masashi Oiso, Katsuhiro Mori, Masahiko Morita) were sitting at 4-2, with a long day ahead of them. The story of their draft was short and bittersweet. The Japanese out-opened and out-drafted the Dutch. Both sides knew it as they sat down to fight it out.That's a lot of power sitting at one table.
Cornelissen/Morita was the first match out of the gates. Cornelissen curved out viciously with Isamaru, Samurai of the Pale Curtain and Kitsune Blademaster before Morita could come up with one of his own. Morita frantically tried to come up with an offense of his own.
Meanwhile, Wiegersma was busy mulliganing against Mori, who played a defensive game early before working his card advantage overtime with Sire of the Storm.
Remie renewed his commitment to drawing too many lands against Oiso. On turn four the best he could manage was an Orochi Sustainer, followed by an embarrassing "Go" on turn five. He tried to tangle with Oiso, but lands are no match for spells. He did manage to rip a Kodama's Might to dispatch Horobi, but had nothing to take down Iwamori, giving Oiso the first game.
Cornelissen took to the air against Morita with Floodbringer and Sire of the Storm. Morita's deck refused to fight, and Cornelissen was up a game. About that time Mori was showing Wiegersma a Hinder for his last ditch effort, putting the Japanese in the lead two games to one.Oiso, left, sees something he likes.
Remie's second game against Oiso started with a pair of Jukai Messengers, a Matsu-Tribe Sniper and a Taproot Kami. Oiso had only a Petalmane Baku and accepted his two a turn, waiting to develop his board. Skullmane Baku showed up to the party and took down the forestwalkers with the help of Torrent of Stone.
Morita tried his best not to look glum for his second game against the Iceman. Cornelissen started hitting with Samurai of the Pale Curtain and Soratami Rainshaper, and didn't particularly feel like stopping. Morita's Kabuto Moth got locked down with Mystic Restraints, then his Hundred-Talon Kami had to watch as Cornelissen played out Waxmane Baku to get the most out of his Consuming Vortex on the flier. If anyone needed an object lesson in tempo, they could do worse than to have watched this game.
Remie watched the Skullmane take apart his offense, but he still had Soilshaper, and the forestwalkers had done a number on Oiso's life total. Oiso tried Horobi, but Burr Grafter was waiting on the top of Remie's deck, taking out the legend, returning a Taproot Kami, and thereby animating two lands for an attack. Oiso tried to manage things, but fell to five. Again Iwamori followed Horobi, but Remie had been saving Befoul for just such an occasion. Even better, he had ripped Genju of the Cedars and Oiso had left himself without blockers. He made a nervous face and adjusted his lifetotal to one. He untapped, and Mindblazed Remie, taking him down a notch. Torrent of Stone stalled the Genju for a turn. Finally, Oiso found a second Wicked Akuba to get around Taproot Kami, and one more trick let him punch through for the kill.
Shonichide Pon 1, Von Dutch 0
However, Cornelissen wasn't about to let things stay unbalanced. Morita had micromanaged his way back into the game thanks in part to Skullmane Baku, but Cornelissen was still pressing and had cards to spare. It's hard to call a board stabilized when you're at two. Cornelissen showed him a Blessed Breath in his hand, and the teams were tied.Remie's hand came first, with Wiegersma's to follow.
Shinichide Pon 1, Von Dutch 1
Wiegersma and Mori were in a close fight. Wiegersma had mulliganed again, but had managed to fight his way back into things. Of course, as Cornelissen took his match, things were looking dire for the Dutchman. He was one attack from death and his board was just Goblin Cohort and Kami of Fire's Roar. Mori had two Floating Dream Zubera's on the defensive. Wiegersma slid the top card of his library slowly towards him, saying a silent prayer. When he turned up Hearth Kami, he couldn't help but nod in the knowledge that he had taken the game. You see, the last card in his hand was Blind with Anger, conveniently Arcane. He turned on his Cohort and stole Sokenzan Bruiser, snatching victory from Mori. The lightning-born wonder blinked three times, then slapped his face to gear up for game 3.
Wiegersma got some early beats in thanks to Genju of the Fens and Battle Mad Ronin. Mori was unwilling to let go of his Frostling just yet. He summoned Soratami Mirror-Guard and then Ronin Cliffrider, bringing beats of his own. Wiegersma tried an Earthshaker, but Mori had Crushing Pain to dispatch it. He saved blockers for the Genju and sat on Hinder. Soon Wiegersma was extending the hand.
Shinichide Pon defeats Von Dutch 2-1
Saturday, March 12: 1:27 pm - Doctor Hump
The man of many names.
Here's one for all you science groupies:
Dave Humpherys (aka DaHump, aka Doctor Hump, aka Hump-Bot 2000, aka The Big Think, aka The Big 1-0-1, aka The Chronologist) gets his think on.
Overheard shouted at Meloku, the Clouded Mirror: "Why did I have to open you?!?!?!"
Saturday, March 12: 1:55 pm - More Photo Funnies
BDM shares a particularly cutting Mad Lib with fellow reporter Ted 'Fawn' Knutson.
I believe 'Bling Bling' is the correct term.
90% Badass. 10% Croissant.
Saturday, March 12: 2:14 pm - A Bit of Prime Mockery
"You might think you should take the Akuba for your black-red deck against your black-white opponent, but apparently you need to SLAM Sokenzan Bruiser for your sideboard and hope your opponent plays mountains." - Gabe Walls
"Worse, I had to D up the Akuba. You realise I could have splashed that Bruiser and it would have been amazing, right? I have THREE Sakura-Tribe Elders! You screwed us TWICE!" - Paul Rietzel
Suffice it to say, hopes were not high for "Dave's the Boss" in their upcoming matchup against "He's Not Our Dad" (Alana Burman, Eric "Danger" Taylor, Chris "StrWrsKid" McDaniel), one of the best-named teams in Day 2.
Saturday, March 12: 2:27 pm - Bad Attitudes
"He has EVERY BLACK LEGEND in the format."
"There is literally NO way I can win this match. What am I supposed to do against that?"
"THEY ALL COST TWO. Except for the Game Over Ninja, who comes out at instant speed for five."
"To be fair, the interaction between Graverobber and Ink-Eyes isn't favorable."
"Oh, right, if he draws any one of his legends I lose, so my only hope is that he draws two of them and gets confused."
Saturday, March 12: 3:15 pm - Gojira ... no, Mothra!
It might be too soon to remind you that the Japanese are stomping over the Pro Tour like so many foam-rubber monsters terrorizing a cozy seaside town. Still, it's worth pointing out that after eight rounds they were sitting in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the standings. The two sleeper teams One Spin (Tomohiro Kaji, Kenji Tsumura, Tomoharu Saito) and Gatas Brilhantes (Tomohide Sasagawa, Shu Komuro, Ichirou Shimura) are showing the old masters just how it's done.One Spin, foreground, and Gatas Brilhantes loom large in Atlanta.
Now you might wonder if these guys have the chops to stay the course to the final four. The big names in Japanese Magic definitely think so. Tsuyoshi Fujita says that one of the big intangibles working for these two teams is their youth. They still have a very real passion for the game, and playing it is fun to them. That positive attitude bleeds into their play and keeps their play tight.
Also consider this, of the six members of One Spin and Gatas Brilhantes, all but Tsumura live in the Tokyo area. That meant that they prepared for this Pro Tour with the man himself, Itaru Ishida. They tested Sealed and Draft relentlessly, eventually resting on a strategy where the B seat would play blue-white, the C seat would be red-black, and the A seat would be base green and function as a gate to bar good cards from reaching the opposition. Defensive drafting works much better when you can splash the cards you cut and wreck your opponent with them.
Sometimes it would just be Ishida, Kaji and Saito, but that wouldn't stop them from working on their games. Ishida would run all three drafts for one team, leaving Kaji and Saito to play the opposition. It's that kind of dedication to practice that's going to serve these players this weekend. Ishida is confident that they're the real thing.
By the way, if you haven't already cast a vote for Resident Genius, you might want to think about marking your 'X' for the man who sent two teams to the top of the Team Pro Tour standings.
Of course, Shonichide Pon (Masashi Oiso, Katsuhiro Mori, Masahiko Morita) aren't about to let the upstarts get away without a fight. They've also taken down their first two draft opponents to sit at 6-2. Could we be looking forward to an all-Japan finals?
Overheard: "I guess that's good news for PTQ players. Two of the best players in the world managed to defeat Umezawa's Jitte."
Saturday, March 12: 3:42 pm - The Road to Philadelphia
The tradition of the Saturday PTQ is going strong this weekend, with 176 hopefuls dusting off their Extended decks for another try at the brass ring. There are plenty of sad Day 1'ers trying to put on their game face after missing the mark at Team Sealed, including Ben Stark, Nicolas Labarre, Alex Shvartsman and Hans Joachim Hoh.
The field looks to be mostly made up of Goblins, Red Deck Wins, Mind's Desire, Affinity and Life. We'll bring you Top 8 decklists once we have them, but first more photos.Ted 'Clever Fellow' Knutson is dwarfed by awesome computing power.
Two rivals prepare the next dilemma.
Indoctrination is beginning extra early this year.
Visiting Artist Ben Thompson basks in his glories.
Visiting Artist Jim Nelson flips the biggest possible Nighteyes.
Saturday, March 12: 6:41 pm - Odds and Ends
Oomens (left), Maaten and Nuijten are carrying the Dutch banner.
Chicken Ranch have picked up where Von Dutch left off, and a win in Round 10 would secure their place on Sunday. The "other" Dutch team is composed of Julien Nuijten, Wessel Oomens and Rogier Maaten, and is a hell of a squad in their own right. It would be incorrect to dismiss them as "World Champion and Friends." Maaten was the 2003 Dutch National Champion, and just recently came second at Grand Prix-Eindhoven. Wessel Oomens has been tangentially associated with the Dutch Pro community since he Top 4'd Grand Prix-Amsterdam seven years ago, but he's only recently rededicated himself to things. His return was punctuated by a Top 4 at Grand Prix-Paris this year.
And then there's Nuijten. Fifteen years old and Magic's World Champion. As brash as they come. Yet ask anyone what they think of him as a player, and you'll invariably hear the response "He's very good," the word very drawn out the way gamers do when they're serious. Looks like the Dutch might snag back-to-back Team titles.
Not everything that happens at the Pro Tour makes it to the published webpage. Here's a sampling of stories that, for one reason or another, ended up on the cutting room floor.
- Frank Karsten Wheelchair Steeplechase
- The Max Fischer Players Present: The Color of Money
- Osyp Makes a Child Cry
- Top 3 Pro Tour-Atlanta Fistfights
- Battle of the Barns
- Think Positive with Josh Ravitz
Apparently Bill Stead needs a money finish more than he's let on. Just look at his Chuck Taylors.
Osyp Lebedowicz hit the nail on the head when he shoved Stead and let loose an outraged "What is WRONG with you? Are you some kind of hobo?!"
Current Mood: Pity Me Because I Hate You
Current Music: Dying Under this Oath of Romance - Gone Now and Never Coming Back (thanks Brinkman!)
Saturday, March 12: 9:58 pm - G4 TV in the HOUSE
You might not remember, but back in "tha day" ESPN wanted to get professional Magic out into living rooms across America. The results were less than glorious. Since then, opportunities to enter the televisual medium have been scarce. Powerful scarce.David, left, and Tom saw their fill of the Pro Tour in Atlanta.
It's high time that changed, and to that end G4 sent its roving segment producers Tom Rowles and David Prager to do things up right. The fruits of their labours will be shown on G4's marquee show: ScreenSavers. Originally devoutly tech-driven (one episode featured a race to overclock a Sega so that Sonic would run without slowdown), ScreenSavers has evolved into an exploration of all facets of gamer culture. Rowles only half-jokingly likens it to The Man Show.
Their goal this weekend is a snapshot of the Pro Tour experience, as seen through the eyes of the members of NFC (Lebedowicz, Fiorillo, Fabiano). They're less concerned with the mechanics of the game, and more with what being a Pro Tour player is like. With Osyp in the spotlight, there'll be no shortage of hilarity.
So check your local listings and tune in. All signs point to awesome.
Saturday, March 12: 10:22 pm - Sweet Mamma Pajama, It's Gab Tsang!
I'm a huge Gab Tsang fan. I mean, it's not like it's a secret. He might tell you otherwise. There was an incident regarding a careless turn of phrase in the coverage of the most recent Canadian Nationals. I still maintain that when you stop playing Magic for two years, you can be called a "former great." Anyways, he's gotten his revenge on me this weekend. The jerk.Gab's back at it!
Now, before I get too carried away, I want to talk about Rood and Nassif.
David Rood: Nicest of guys. Snappy dresser. Ex-2020 man. Photogenic in a vaguely sinister way. Likes gaming. Loves winning.
Gabriel Nassif: The Hat himself. An undisputed Master of the highest order. Loved by every single gamer. Player of the Year. Did I mention he's a master?
These two guys are awesome. To the fifth.
Now, Gab Tsang. Do you realize it's been 7 1/2 YEARS between Sunday appearances for him? You want to talk about Great Old Ones, Tsang is IT. He's actually been around forever. Well, not entirely, but long enough that people remember him from the Pro Tour Atlanta Team Challenge, the first ever professional Team Magic event, held in 1996.
"Amazingly, that's before my time," he admitted.
Tsang is the living expression of the golden age of Canadian Magic. He comes from the time of Terry Borer and Paul McCabe, when two canucks in the Top 8 was the rule rather than the exception. When I first started going to PTQs in Toronto, Gab Tsang was the guy people pointed at and whispered about. In a good way, I mean. He was a legend.
And his game hasn't grown dull despite giving it less priority in his life. If you asked Gab Tsang how he was doing this weekend, or how his draft went, or if he thought he'd make Sunday, he'd just laugh and say something dismissive. He was here to have fun, and he was having it. But none of that carefree attitude disheveled his play. At the table he showed that same depth of thought and exactitude of play that are his hallmarks.
In the last round against Tomohide Sasagawa, he was saddled with an abundance of swamps and only one island, stranding his Teller of Tales in hand. His board was a lone Soratami Mirror-Guard. Aaron Forsythe and BDM stepped out of the play area to talk about his situation. Forsythe said that few people would see the play of washing an extra blue mana by using the Mirror-Guard's ability on one of his opponent's creatures and replaying his one island. BDM looked back and saw Tsang doing exactly that.
He's the man. Like Rufus.
I don't think anyone but Yellowhat could have dragged Gab Tsang and David Rood away from Sargeras. After all, the only selling point left to these semi-retired pros were the good times involved in a weekend of gaming, and who better to pass the time with than Gab Nassif? You already want him on your side draft team. The logical conclusion of the good times argument has already been reached by Dirk Baberowski, who came to the Pro Tour and didn't play. Rood himself said that this Sunday doesn't change his attitude toward the Pro Tour.
As for the rest of the Top 4, I know, I know. They worked very hard this weekend, showed that they have the right stuff, blah blah blah blah blah. They get all the coverage Sunday to cheer them on.
One last photo:A gruesome warning.