Posted in Event Coverage on October 29, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast


Friday | Saturday

Popular Magic columnist and international man of leisure Brian David-Marshall is roaming the halls of Pro Tour Los Angeles to bring you all the entertaining stories and tidbits straight from the tournament floor.

Got a story suggestion? Discuss 2005 Pro Tour Los Angeles on our message boards and post your suggestions, comments, and ideas and we'll do our best to satisfy your appetite!



Examining a hasty decklist…

There were some pretty gassy players in the Last Chance Qualifier on Thursday night, including The Ben Seck, WSOP bracelet-winner Eric Froelich, PTQ master Patrick Sullivan, and out own dearly departed Josh Bennett. Half of those players ended up having to get up early and play Friday.

Eric Froelich designed an Extended version of Battle of Wits for Gabe Walls and Sam Gomersall to play with during the main event and also had a Standard version for the LCQ. I guess he just likes to play card games with the biggest stack in front of him. He was paired with TBS in the first round and you just knew that the winner of the match would be going the distance. Ben's aggro blue-black could not handle the tutoring power of the 260-plus card stack.

Eric did emerge from the tournament with an invite but he would be playing short-stacked since he could not scrape together a third copy of the deck. At 4:30 a.m., he was just far too bleary to possibly make the translation from Standard to Extended and instead was handed a deck by one of his many friends in attendance - Balancing Tings. One small problem though…Eric has no idea how the deck works.

Hey Geordie! Guess who couldn't find the fourth Genju?

I wish I could tell you that in a Josh "David" Bennett vs. Patrick "PTQ Goliath" Sullivan footrace to the finish that OMC won the slot, but it would be foolish to bet against Patrick when there is a blue envelope to be won. Patrick played - sit down now, I don't want to surprise anyone - a mono-red deck that was designed to punish the mana-hungry control decks from Champs. The most interesting additions to his red army were Frenzied Goblin and Boros Guildmage. Hmmm…I wonder what deck Patrick will playing in the PT?

Josh was playing a Geordie Tait-designed Searing Meditation deck that came unassembled and with several parts missing (plus the instructions were in Canadian). Josh scrambled for cards and was able to get almost everything in place but was left with a couple of amusing last-minute substitutions.

Friday, October 28: 11:44 am - Doctoring the Feature Match Area

by Brian David-Marshall

Just following up on some of the players mentioned in the preview article…

Mike Flores was going to play blue-green threshold right up until the last minute but audibled into black-white Gladiator control. He won his first round against Dragonstorm and headed over to the feature match area in Round Two to scuffle with the king of threshold, Raphael Levy. Two early Hypnotic Specters were shredding Mike's hands when I turned away from Game 1 to pay some attention to the rest of the impressive Feature Match area roster.

Coverage regular Mike Flores made an appearance in the feature match pit as a player.

Gabe Walls peered over his 250-card deck at Eugene Harvey, who worked with Mike in preparing for this event. Eugene was running the BobFinity list - or TGA for The Great Affinity. The deck incorporates Dark Confidant, Erayo, and cheap hand destruction spells. It plays more like a black-blue aggro list than a traditional affinity build and it is more resilient against artifact hate that other builds.

Gabe led off with Duress and laughed at the Cabal Therapy in Eugene's hand. There are so many different cards that it almost impossible to put a player on having any specific card without seeing their hand first. Eugene just shrugged and named Battle of Wits. Gabe nearly fell out of his chair laughing as he showed off his hand of land, accelerants, and the eponymous enchantment.

"God, I had the perfect hand. Who names Battle there?"

Tsuyoshi Fujita and Itaru Ishida were also playing in the uncovered features. Ishida has led the development of the Japanese take on Dredge-a-Tog and many of the Japanese players chose that build for the weekend. Tsuyoshi worked solo for this Pro Tour and emerged from his laboratory with a modern take on PT Jank - the old red-white aggro deck that was alternately known as Richmond Gun. Tsuyoshi smashed Itaru with a sequence of creatures - Hounds, Savannah Lions, Grim Lavamancer, and Goblin Legionnaire as well as two Lightning Helixes.

Friday, October 28: 1:37 pm - 101 Uses for a deck

by Brian David-Marshall

Split the Wit four ways, please.

Have you ever played SameDeck between rounds of a tournament? You know, when you are sitting around with a friend and you play a fun game using one deck between the two of you?

After losing 2-1 against Eugene Harvey in the Round 2 feature matches, Gabe Walls hung around the Feature Match area with Julien Nuijten, Jelger Wiegersma, and Paul Rietzl. They divvied up the massive deck into four equal portions and played Two-Headed Giant. They did not make sure there was a Battle in each pile but if you had a tutor card you could look in any deck for it. They played as if Battle was an auto win if you untapped with it in play.

They actually drew a bigger crowd along the rail then Gabe and Eugene did for the main event. Of course, this looked like much more fun.

Friday, October 28: 2:23 pm - Zealous Bidding

by Brian David-Marshall

Greg Weiss ran an unusual deck in LA.

After three rounds of play, one of my dark horse candidates to watch was sitting pretty at 3-0. Greg Weiss has long been the man behind the scenes for Jordan Berkowitz. He designed multiple decks that Jordan piloted to money finishes, including his Squee Confinement deck and some last-minute tweaks to the Beasts deck that Jordan rode to the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Venice.

Greg won one of the last East Coast qualifiers for this event and has been working with the ragtag outfit headed up by Lucas Glavin and Mouth Kambourakis. Before the event, most of Greg's team wished him well but shook their heads sadly when asked about his chances. Greg's deck of choice for the event was an offbeat creation called Elemental Bidding. Thorn Elementals, Living Hives, Silvos, and Flame-Kin Zealot all combine into a highly combustible, hasty army of trampling goodness off of Patriarch's Bidding.

Like many of the deck this weekend, Greg's creation is powered by dredge with Stinkweed Imp playing on both sides of the ball.

Friday, October 28: 4:09 pm - Greeting Cards

by Brian David-Marshall

Besides producing his excellent Podcast, Randy was wandering around the tournament site making sure each of the personalities pictured on the Player Cards received their complimentary copies of their own cards. He came upon Murray "The Mauler" Evans and Jeff Cunningham playtesting and making final tweaks to their lists during Thursday's registration.

The ranking Canadian

After recording a brief entry for the podcast with the two Canadians, Randy thanked them and deposited a thick stack of Murray's card on the table between them. Jeff just stared at them and shook his head.

"This is just horrible. I'm sorry, what I actually meant to say is, 'this is a travesty,'" Jeff half-joked. It was Jeff's belief that Murray bumped him out as the "token" Canadian to get a Player Card.

"They said I was 26th."

"They just said that to make you feel better," grinned Murray, happy to get a beat in on Jeff for a change. "I am pretty sure they would have chosen Rich Hoaen over you."

Jeff is enjoying a recent surge in popularity thanks to his immensely popular column about the good ol' days on the Pro Tour - easily one of the best things currently being written about Magic. Had he been writing the column - one of Randy's favorites - when the card selection process was taking place, Randy admitted that Jeff certainly would have made the grade.

Friday, October 28: 4:57 pm - Class Reunion at the Halfway Mark

by Brian David-Marshall

Seven of the top 10 Pros vying for the Player of the Year started their season in the Top 9 of Pro Tour Columbus (shown in bold).

Olivier Ruel France 59
Gadiel Szleifer U.S. 56
Masashi Oiso Japan 56
Kenji Tsumura Japan 55
Shu Komuro Japan 51
Shuuhei Nakamura Japan 49
Tsuyoshi Fujita Japan 46
Geoffrey Siron Belgium 44
Masahiko Morita Japan 42
Pierre Canali France 41

Extended seems to be a personal playground for these guys, as the top tables going into the fifth round were filthy with Columbus alums. Ryuchi Arita was at the head of the pack with an umblemished 4-0 record playing Scepter Chant. The next table featured Nick West at 3-0-1 with Domain Gifts. Olivier Ruel was also at 3-0-1 playing with Erayo Affinity. Shuhei Nakamura was right there at 3-1 with Fujita's red-white deck. Lurking just around the bend was Fujita with the same deck that is begging for a better name - maybe Richmond Shogun? - although Fujita calls it Boros Deck Wins.

Geoffrey Siron continued to make himself a force to be reckoned with at 3-1 with one of two copies of Golgari Madness - a Tog/Madness hybrid that exploits Golgari Grave Troll's dredgy goodness. After that the remaining alums were hanging on at 2-2: Pierre Canali with his Crazy Pedro four color build, Gadiel Szleifer with Goblins, and Masashi Oiso with Balancing Tings.

Friday, October 28: 5:22 pm - You Do The Math

by Brian David-Marshall

When I first looked at the Dredge-a-Tog lists I wasn't sure if they were faster or slower than Gush-a-Tog from last year. Watching Craig Jones pull off a couple of lethal turn-fours against Kamiel Cornelissen was more than enough to convince me that is much faster.

"The Tog is always lethal," marveled Jones as the math worked out in his favor once again. "No matter what it looks like… You can have three cards in hand and two in the graveyard… the Tog is still lethal."

He had three mana in play and dredged up Life in the Loam. Life fetched three lands - one of which went into play. The other two lands were cycled and dredged up Golgari Grave-Trolls each time. Add a Wonder into the dredgy goodness and you have all the ingredients for a turn-four kill.

Craig, hero to the working class coverage staff, was 6-0 and was hoping for a follow-up to his 13th place finish at Pro Tour-Philadelphia before he heads back to the coverage grind of the Grand Prix circuit.

Friday, October 28: 6:20 pm - The Real McCoy

by Brian David-Marshall

Singapore inimitable Nick Wong shuffled up for his Round 7 match with a 4-2 record. He needed one more win in order to be assured of a seat for Day Two. As I looked over his shoulder to see what deck he was playing, Nick grinned.

"I worked with Go Anan on this decklist. I am playing an actual Go Anan deck."

I asked him to show me the exciting tech but he slumped and fanned through a bunch of artifact lands.

"We gave up. We just played Affinity."

The deck was not without some interesting touches, though. Terrarion has been showing up in some of the more progressive Affinity builds. It allows you to cast Meddling Mage after boarding and it also draws you a card when you sacrifice it to Ravager.

Friday, October 28: 6:49 pm - Last Chance Decklists

by Brian David-Marshall

Sorry this took so long, but that's what happens in formats with Battle of Wits - you should have seen how long some of the deck checks ran over the weekend. As someone pointed out in the forums, there was a deck that at first pass looked like the Flores Blue decks from last week but is actually has a heavy black component. Three players reached the Top 8 playing the deck, and it qualified David Ochoa.

Dallin Atkinson - Qualified - BUG Aggro

Download Arena Decklist

Patrick Sullivan - Qualified - Red Deck Wins and Wins and Wins

Download Arena Decklist

David Ochoa - Qualified - Blue-black Jushi

Download Arena Decklist

Eric Froehlich - Qualified - Battle of Wits

Download Arena Decklist

Kenny Ignacio - Top 8 - BUG Aggro

Download Arena Decklist

Corey Paxton - Top 8 - Fungus Fire

Download Arena Decklist

Frederico Bastos - Top 8 - Blue-black Jushi

Download Arena Decklist

Paul Cheon - Top 8 - Black-blue Jushi

Download Arena Decklist

Friday, October 28: 9:17 pm - Bubble Bubble

by Brian David-Marshall

The Player of the Year was on the verge of Day One elimination.

There was plenty of star power illuminating the bubble matches in the last round of Day One. Everyone was looking for the necessary five wins in order to advance, although technically speaking they needed 15 points so it was possible to go undefeated with four wins and three draws. Frank Karsten and Kai Ikeda presumably ID'd in the last round to achieve their undefeated 15-point records.

Gabriel Nassif, Masashi Oiso, Adam Chambers, Craig Krempels, Carlos Romao, Tomohiro Kaji, Jose Barbero, Murray Evans, Pierre Canali, Paul Rietzl, and Dave Williams were just a few of the former Pro Tour winners, multiple Pro Tour Top 8ers, Player Card personalities, National Champions, World Champions and WSOP finalists who were scrabbling for their Day Two lives in Round 8 against less illustrious -- but no doubt up-and-coming -- competition. Nassif, Oiso, Chambers, Krempels, Romao, Kaji, Barbero, and Williams were all successful in their efforts.

Orim's Chant

One of the more interesting bubble matches was between Akira Asahara and Neil Reeves. Asahara was playing Balancing Tings as designed by Masashi Oiso. Reeves had beaten Oiso earlier in day with his Dredge-a-Tog list, largely on a read of an Oiso bluff. Oiso had tried to Orim's Chant Reeves in order to bait a counterspell. Reeves felt that Oiso had "the stone cold nothing" and he saved his hard counter for later in the match.

It turned out that Asahara and Reeves were in exactly this scenario at the beginning of this season in Columbus, when Asahara pulled an Akroma out of his Goblin deck to send Neil home. That was not to be the case this time as Reeves took a grueling Game 1 from the Tings player. In the second game he put Asahara on the same bluff that he read from Oiso earlier in the day and let the Japanese player cast Orim's Chant. Asahara did not have the combo but he did Burning Wish for Cranial Extraction and took out both of Neil's Togs that were sitting in his hand.

No matter for Neil. He could still win by beating down with a Genesis. It did not come down to that, though. A defensive Upheaval and a well-timed Mana Short meant that Asahara did not have enough time to win the second game. Neil got his revenge from Columbus 1-0.

Friday, October 28: 10:03 pm - Not On The Bubble But Worthy of Mention…

by Ted Knutson
Brain Freeze

One play in Round 8 that took place outside the feature match pit really deserved mention as one of the cooler plays of the day. Chris McDaniel (otherwise known as Star Wars Kid) was battling Ryo Ogura at table 12. McDaniel had managed to get his Mind's Desire combo off in Game 1 with little molestation, but Ogura struck back with an early and aggressive Psychatog in Game 2 to even things at one game a piece.

Game 3 came down to an extremely long turn for Star Wars Kid where Ogura was tapped out and McDaniel managed to cast Mind's Desire for five. The Desire gave him two lands, Fact or Fiction, Gifts Ungiven, and Early Harvest. The card-drawing spells finally delivered a needed Heartbeat of Spring, which let Chris cast the Early Harvest and then a Cunning Wish for Brain Freeze, flipping 33 cards into Ogura's graveyard. McDaniel had another Freeze in hand, but when he flipped through Ogura's graveyard, he noticed an unexpected complication to his plan in Krosan Reclamation. This would make certain that Ogura would not die because he could just put two cards back in his library during his upkeep.

McDaniel thought long and hard about what to do and finally cast two more spells before using his second Freeze, targeting Ogura with six copies and himself with nine copies, putting the entire contents of both decks in the graveyard. McDaniel then flashed back his Deep Analysis targeting Ogura, and moved on to 6-2 for the day.

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