Friday | Saturday
Popular Magic columnist and notorious cookie thief Ted Knutson is roaming the halls of Pro Tour London to bring you all the entertaining stories and tidbits straight from the tournament floor.
Got a story suggestion? Discuss 2005 Pro Tour London on our message boards and post your suggestions, comments, and ideas and we'll do our best to satisfy your appetite!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 11:07 am - Getting Things Rolling
- 11:15 am - Tough Tables
- 11:42 am - Top 8 Predictions
- 1:32 pm - A Look Around the Venue
- 2:15 pm - Art So Real You Can Touch It
- 2:50 pm - News and Notes Volume 1
- 3:33 pm - So That's a Five-Drop?
- 4:40 pm - Random Chats with Eugenius
- 8:15 pm - Once More Around the Crowd
- 9:44 pm - Round 7 Roundup
- 10:02 pm - Final Notes
Ah London, home of 70 degree July weather, food products that look reasonably priced but actually cost twice as much as you expect them to, and this weekend's Booster Draft Pro Tour. I'm on blog duty to start things off and then senior citizen Brian David-Marshall will pick up my slack for Saturday's edition of all the Pro Tour gossip (*ahem* and strategy) that's fit to print. I figure we'll ease into things with some human-interest stories to start and work from there.
Jarno "The Baron" Harkonen is a man of many interests. His Top 8 appearance at Nagoya showed what he can do when he prepares for Magic tournaments, and his World Champion trophy in Karate shows that he's got a physical game to match the mental one. I asked him whether he thought he would see similar to success this weekend to what he achieved in Nagoya.
"No, I will need a bit more lucky this weekend," he said. "Instead of spending a lot of time playing Magic lately, I had to help out with my wedding and find a new apartment for my wife and I."
I asked him if London was part of his honeymoon and he had this to say: "Oh no. My wife is here in town visiting her friends and I'm here playing Magic, but this is definitely not part of our honeymoon."
We'll have more on Harkonen's fellow Finn Tomi Walamies and his new profession later in the blog, but the re-appearance of Limited master Nicolai Herzog is another storyline that we will be keeping a close eye on this weekend. Can Nicolai's streak of incredible Limited performances continue, even though he is admittedly quite rusty at the game? BDM thinks so and placed a gentlemen's wager with Richard Hoaen that Nicolai would end up doing better than Josh Ravitz this weekend, in spite of the fact that Ravitz practically lives on Magic Online and was probably one of the best-prepared players coming into London in terms of overall practice time.TOGIT's new look…will it stick?
The last interesting story this weekend is the apparent rift in the TOGIT team stemming from the fact that no members of the team play at TOGIT anymore and they are tired of the team name. Therefore Osyp and some of his brethren have devised a new team name of "Seven Kings" for the offshoot of the team. We're not really sure if this is another Osyp joke, or if Antonino De Rosa, Gerard Fabiano, John Fiorillo, Billy Postlethwait, Alex Lieberman, and Josh Ravitz will keep the team name for the future, but one anonymous pundit had this to say about the latest version of the New Jersey team: "It looks kind of like the cast of Mean Girls and one fat guy."
Friday, July 8: 11:15 am - Tough Tables
When you show up at a Booster Draft Pro Tour, you generally hope to be seated at a table with seven other guys you've never heard of. If that doesn't happen, you at least hope that you don't have more than two other outstanding drafters at your table. Unfortunately for pods 30 and 39, they have about the hardest pods you can imagine seeing at Day One of a Pro Tour.
1 Ryuichi Arita
2 Adrian Olivera
3 Tsuyoshi Fujita
4 James Sampford
5 Tomohiro Kaji
6 Jorge Padilla Chinas
7 Anton Jonsson
8 Antonino De Rosa
1 Raffaele Lo Moro
2 Eugene Harvey
3 Frank Karsten
4 Pascal Steinbach
5 Osyp Lebedowicz
6 Henrique Souza
7 Gadiel Szleifer
That sort of table is clearly not what you are looking for if you want an easy route to Day Two.
Friday, July 8: 11:42 am - Top 8 Predictions
It's a little early in the weekend to know which players are actually going to appear in this weekend's Top 8, but that didn't stop the pundits from giving their opinions about who will end up drafting on Sunday under the bright lights. The rules for this one is that you only had to give four names you believed would Top 8, though BDM went for the extra credit and filled in the full eight.
Keita Mori Akira Asahara
Local yokel Tim Willoughby Nicolai Herzog
Friday, July 8: 1:32 pm - A Look Around the Venue
Friday, July 8: 2:15 pm - Art So Real You Can Touch It
One of the really cool things about attending Pro Tours is that you get to see different varieties of Magic art than you normally see with just the cards themselves. Visiting the Pro Tour-London site this weekend are Puzzle Productions, the company responsible for the super-cool Magic figurines you see on display below.
There are five of the figurines on display and available for purchase currently, all from Kamigawa block. The largest of the figures in terms of physical presence are Kodama of the North Tree and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, but Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Meloku, and Ink-Eyes are all pretty kick ass as well. Figures are available for some seemingly innocuous price in pounds that actually costs a small fortune, or $59.99 in the United States.
Director Darren Martin also informed us that there will be at least three more figurines from 9th Edition coming later this year, including Elvish Champion and Serra Angel, plus one “skeletal dragony thing” that has yet to be revealed as part of the set on MagictheGathering.com. The figures themselves are impressive enough to tempt even normally intractable people like me who aren't interested in sculptures, but I brought my wife along on this trip and she has already vetoed any possible purchases of this vein.Ink-Eyes, Servant of OniMeloku the Clouded MirrorKodama of the North TreeKiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerEight-and-a-Half-Tails
Friday, July 8: 2:50 pm - News and Notes Volume 1
Apparently when I choose a player to make a Top 8 appearance, it signals an immediate 0-2 plunge in their records. Jeroen Remie? Started 0-2. Osyp Lebedowicz? Started 0-2. Limited Metronome Anton Jonsson? Yep, 0-2. Masashi Oiso is 3-0, but every other one of my picks are currently sitting at 1-2 and Lebedowicz's only win came via a pairing with Mr. Bye. I tried to talk with Osyp about his morning, but he wasn't having any of it, instead choosing to guarantee that he would 3-0 his next two pods and put himself back into Top 8 contention. "Wait, don't print that… I'll look really dumb if I lose right away in round 4. Then again, that's a pretty good incentive not to lose."
Nicolai Herzog and Gabriel Nassif are both 3-0 after the first draft, as is Richie Hoaen, whom I can't believe I left off my Top 8 predictions.3-0, here I come!
"I played in three drafts yesterday at the LCQ site that cost me one pound each, and effectively doubled my preparation for this event." - Pro Tour-Atlanta winner David Rood, commenting on the £1 drafts set up by the Wizards' United Kingdom office and Jason Howlett from The Gamers Club.
Round 2 marked Patrick Sullivan's first individual Pro Tour feature match. I expressed doubt that this was possible, but Patrick explained it thusly: "Well, I've never made Day Two of an individual Pro Tour, and I rarely play really good players since I lose so much. It's a good thing I got this feature match in now. You saw they took away the Team Limited Pro Tour, right? I may never be back on the Gravy Train again."
Sixty-two Americans showed up in London this weekend to get their game on, which is probably a bit below par, but the next highest nationality at the tournament this weekend was an astounding 35 Japanese players, perhaps the largest turnout of Japanese players to a non-Asia Pro Tour ever.
Sebastien Roux was disqualified from the tournament after the first draft for getting a case of the dirty peeks on neighbor Carl Crook's cards.
Friday, July 8: 3:33 pm - So That's a Five-Drop?
Nicolai Herzog is astounding. He took almost 10 months off from the game after Worlds last year, reportedly did very little practice for this event, and then immediately posted a 3-0 record at his first draft table. This draft, however, may not have gone quite so well for the Norwegian. When I was walking up to his table, I saw him sorting the cards from his deck. My jaw dropped right about the time he threw Genju of the Realm down in the five-mana slot, causing me to look twice at the rest of what he had drafted.
Apparently Nicolai ended up drafting five-color green, and not a particularly good version of the deck either. He has six mana-fixers and four removal spells, but as the kids from Albany would say, everything else in the deck is bunz. When asked if he could repeat his 3-0 performance with this new deck, Nicolai said, "I don't think I'll do so well with this one. I'm pretty sure I can squeak out at least one win, which is all I need to make Day Two, but the deck is really inconsistent." He then got mauled by Quentin Martin's red-black deck, earning his first loss on the day.
Friday, July 8: 4:40 pm - Random Chats with Eugenius
Honest Q: What's your record?Genius, or Evil Genius…you decide.
Surprised Q: Did you practice at all for this format?
A: I never really practice for booster draft.
Not Really a Q: You have so much natural talent it's scary. It's too bad piano playing costs you so much Magic time.
A: Today mostly has been about the rares. I got Jugan and Jitte at my first draft table and then Kumano plus Undying Flame for my second deck. Undying Flame is nuts - it's won me three games in two rounds so far.
Flattering Conversation Bridge: Nice. Still…
A: Yeah, okay the talent helps, but the rares really have done most of the work.
Friday, July 8: 8:15 pm - Once More Around the Crowd
Friday, July 8: 9:44 pm - Round 7 Roundup
The true feature match for this round was a hot one (Oiso vs. Siron), but with two other undefeated matches going on plus a third featuring Antoine Ruel vs. Bram Snepvangers, we decided to supplement the normal match coverage with some quick and dirty recaps here.Tokens were everywhere on Eugene's side of the board.
Gabriel Nassif (5-0-1) vs. Eugene Harvey (6-0) Harvey took an early lead by earning a two-for-one with a very large Shinen of Life's Roar, courtesy of Inner Calm, Outer Strength, but Nassif managed to stay in things with a Barrel-Down Sokenzan on Harvey's Stampeding Serow while Sokenzan Spellblade locked down the board. Unfortunately for Nassif, Harvey never ran out of pump spells for his Shinen, adding insult to injury by casting Roar of Jukai to put away Game 1.
In Game 2, Nassif was behind the whole time, with no play until turn four, while Eugene kept playing broken stuff like Waxmane Baku, Faithful Squire, and sealing the deal with a very impressive Charge Across the Araba, earning a trademark roll of the eyes from the man no one calls "Lillian."
Johan Sadegphour (6-0) vs. Arnost Zidek (6-0)
This feature match of two guys you probably never heard of pitted two men who had yet to take a loss on the day. Sadegphour is actually one of Anton Jonsson's Swedish playtest partners, and spends more than a healthy amount of time practicing on Magic Online. Zidek has a Grand Prix Top 8 appearance in Paris earlier this year on his resume, listed right below his contract assassination work for a Basque Separatist organization.
Zidek got out to a very fast start with Nezumi Cutthroat, Ogre Marauder, and O-Naginata, while Johan tried to play a defensive game with Split-Tail Miko. The Swede fought valiantly but was eventually overcome by his inability to draw action.Round 7 was not a happy time for Antoine.
Game 2 looked to be the exact reverse of Game 1, as it was now Sadegphour that had the hot start with some early pressure before he wrecked Zidek's hand. That wasn't enough to earn him the win though, as Zidek kept topdecking more men while Johan drew nothing of note, and not even Nagao wielding a Ronin Warhammer could save him.
Antoine Ruel (5-1) vs. Bram Snepvangers (5-1)
This match was relatively simple - Bram won Game 1 with a very broken Kiri-Onna plus some fat, and then did exactly the same thing to Antoine in Game 2, except Bram added a host of removal to the table this game, while Antoine could do little more than look on in disgust at the proceedings.
Friday, July 8: 10:02 pm - Final Notes
We leave you Friday with two brief stories, one from Round 1, and one from Round 6. The first is a quote from Jeroen Remie discussing the venue: "I'm quite disappointed that all the trash cans around here have lids on them," said the jolly Dutch giant, referring obliquely to the older pros' habit of placing World Champion Julien Nuijten in trashcans when the boy's arrogance gets to be too much. "I'm sure we'll get him in there eventually, but it might take a little effort than usual."
The other item is a photo of Mark Herberholz, who is either re-enacting Oliver Twist in celebration of his presence here in England, or he's passing around his hat begging for drinking money after starting the day 3-0 and completely scrubbing his second draft 0-3 to end any chance he had at making Day 2.