Stuck behind a computer screen while the pros play Magic on the sunny beaches of Honolulu?
Fear not! Our illustrious team of snoops, sleuths, peepers and piña-colada-wielding reporters are out to bring you the latest buzz from the premier Pro Tour event of the 2006 season. As always we're inviting you to be part of 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 2006 Pro Tour Honolulu on our message boards and post your suggestions, comments, and ideas and we'll do our best to get you the insider scoop!
Looking for articles from Friday? Check out our Day 1 Archive.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A multitude of decks crossed oceans to make it to Honolulu. But what about the decks that actually performed well enough to make it to Day Two? Here's a look at the archetypes played by five or more players by overall count and the percentages of Day Two appearances. Of the decks with fewer than five Day One versions, Ninja Stompy had an impressive three out of four players make it to Day Two.
|Archetype||Day 1 Count||Day 2 Count||Percent|
|For Whom the Knell Tolls||19||7||36.84%|
|Boros Deck Wins||5||3||60.00%|
Saturday, March 4: 2:15 pm - The English Return!
Craig Jones has been the poster child for exceptional Day One starts and staggering Day Two collapses. He's been undefeated after Day One at two separate Pro Tours in the past and then utterly collapsed. The most recent of which was Los Angeles last year, where he blew the doors off the field on the first day and then whimpered home to a 30th-place finish at the end of the tournament.Jones doesn't want another Day Two collapse
That's why it was amusing Friday when he breathed a chipper sigh of relief at his 7-1 record to finish Day 1. "I ducked the curse this time - I lost one. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow."
As it turns out, he may be right - through two rounds of Swiss today, he's posted another two wins, giving him a 9-1 record and a bead on his first Top 8 appearance. Jones seems to be just one player in a resurgence of U.K. Constructed Magic. Teammate and countryman Stuart Wright is 8-2, playing the same Zoo deck, while Dave Grant, Andrew Donaldson, and Stewart Shinkins are all in Day Two as well, with Grant going 0-3 to start the weekend and then 5-0 just to get a chance to play on Saturday.
Both Jones and Wright displayed typical English modesty at how well they and their friends are doing ("We're crap. This won't last."), with Jones even going so far as asking Randy Buehler when his predicted round of collapse would be.
With all the Owl decks rising near the top of the standings, there might not be a collapse for the Zoo handlers - the matchup percentage is extremely in favor of the aggro deck, and Wright could be seen salivating at the thought of playing Antoine Ruel sometime in the next couple of rounds.
Saturday, March 4: 2:53 pm - Around the Event Hall
- Adam Prosak received a game win earlier Saturday when his opponent failed to de-sideboard after a previous match. The card the opponent failed to take out? One With Nothing. "Sudden Impact me with Twincast? I'm sorry, I don't have any cards in my hand…" (No, the coverage team can't believe this is true, either.)
Those who did not make Day Two must fish
- Kenji Tsumura gets to live like a rock star for the rest of the year, at least when he's traveling for the Pro Tour. The major perk of his unofficial "Level 7" status is that he gets a huge suite at whatever the staff hotel is for each Pro Tour. Unfortunately, the rest of the Japanese are so good that most of Kenji's friends also get free hotel rooms when they travel, so he can't exactly take full advantage of the perk by stuffing it full of Pro player barns. He can, however, choose to bring along a posse and house them for free, if he's interested. Look for Kenji to sport a fat grill and a wife beater sometime around Pro Tour-Charleston.
- Speaking of Japanese superstars, Shu Komuro and Shuhei Nakamura can be found lingering around the top of the standings Saturday. I asked the Limited Pro Tour winner if he was any good at Standard, and he held his nose and waved his hand in front of his face. Shuhei noted that Shu doesn't play nearly as much Constructed as many of the Japanese Pros, saying, "He is a slacker and I am just an average hitter." Yet somehow the Japanese seem almost unstoppable.
- The Day One undefeated curse may be in full effect once again, as Osyp Lebedowicz has dropped his first two matches of the day after being the only player to finish Day One with an unblemished record. Somewhere in the feature match area, I'm sure Craig Jones is laughing.
Saturday, March 4: 4:57 pm - Diezel Fuel
Michael Diezel is a 24-year old student from Leipzig, Germany who just happened to come up with one of the coolest decks at the tournament this weekend. The recipient of a PTQ plane ticket, this is Diezel's first Pro Tour, and none of the players in the field can quite figure out how to handle Ghost Husk. I talked to him for a bit just after he handed Antoine Ruel his third loss of the weekend, courtesy of tech card after tech card, and this is what he had to say:
Q: So what exactly is this deck?
Michael Diezel: It's a deck of my own creation. I worked on it by myself prior to the Pro Tour, and it seems to be very good. It's really a black-white aggro deck designed to play early creatures like Isamaru and Savannah Lions before casting Nantuko Husk on turn three. After that you can put Promise of Bunrei into play, and smash your opponent for a ton of damage via the Husk.
Q: The Husk went completely unnoticed this weekend by other players - how did you decide to put it in a deck?
MD: It's actually one of my favorite creatures. I made the Top 8 of German Nationals back in 1998 playing Phyrexian Ghouls in a deck, and the Husk is the same creature, so I was fooling around with ideas to exploit that card when I saw Promise of Bunrei. The black-white cards are generally very good anyway, but that combination seems to make my deck a lot more aggressive than the other black-white decks out there.
Q: Orzhov Pontiff also seems to be amazing in your deck…
MD: Yeah, it serves two roles. First, it lets you pump your token creatures, making the deck that much better at spitting out fast damage, but it also gives you creature control against the other aggressive decks, especially with a Husk on the board.
Q: What are the good matchups for the deck?
MD: The Promises make this deck very good against Wildfire, and it also seems quite good against the Red Aggro decks, since they can't keep creatures on the board.
Q: What are the bad matchups for the deck?
MD: The white-green-black decks with Jittes and fliers are pretty rough. I can just sacrifice blockers against Jitte attackers on the ground, but if a Specter picks up the Jitte and starts swinging you are in real trouble. Greater Good is also not a very good matchup.
Q: Can you explain some of your sideboard choices?
Saturday, March 4: 2:37 pm - Player Card Rankings
Gabe Walls is anything but conventional, and Masashi Oiso has a touch of whimsy to him as well, which is why it is unsurprising that they shuffled up a full set of player cards and then played "High Card Wins" in order to determine who would go first in their feature match. What is perhaps a bit more surprising, however, is where they ended up rating the players. Photographer Craig Gibson caught an image of the final ordering, with the top left card in the picture the highest-ranked card in the bunch, and the bottom right card counting as the lowest. Make of this what you will.
Saturday, March 4: 3:33 pm - The Race to the Finish
With two rounds left to go, the top of the standings looks like this:
|1||Jones, Craig [ENG]||37||66.07%|
|2||Lebedowicz, Osyp [USA]||34||64.45%|
|3||Ruel, Olivier [FRA]||33||63.77%|
|4||Bracht, Maximilian [DEU]||33||63.73%|
|5||Diezel, Michael [DEU]||33||63.26%|
|6||Al-Bacha, Wesimo [DEU]||33||61.22%|
|7||Arias Garcia, Jacob [ESP]||33||60.71%|
|8||Warmenhoven, Ruud [NLD]||33||58.50%|
|9||Goodman, Ben [USA]||33||57.48%|
|10||Herberholz, Mark [USA]||33||53.57%|
|11||Chan, Tiago [PRT]||32||55.73%|
|12||Yokoi, Masaki [JPN]||31||61.18%|
|13||Komuro, Shu [JPN]||30||63.43%|
|14||Damo da Rosa, Paulo Vi [BRA]||30||62.24%|
|15||Moreno, William [USA]||30||62.03%|
|16||Ruel, Antoine [FRA]||30||61.18%|
The only player who is a lock on that list is Craig Jones, who finally broke his Pro Tour jinx, and managed ride his Zoo deck and a host of favorable matchups to his first Top 8 appearance. It could not happen to a nicer, or more deserving guy. Directly behind Craig is American superstar Osyp Lebedowicz, French superstar Olivier Ruel, and then a host of fresh European and American faces. Note that you don't see a Japanese name on that list until you get down to 12th place.
A record of 12-3-1 will likely make you a lock for the Top 8, but because the top of the standings is so tight, with only tiebreakers separating places 3-10, it is unlikely that there will be that many draws from players at 33 points this round or next. Thus, you might just see someone lower down still manage to sneak in at 12-4.
Also important to note is that there are something like eight or nine different archetypes floating around the top tables, once again displaying the diversity of this new Standard format.
Saturday, March 4: 8:42 pm - Don't Be Fooled
As the sun sets here on Pro Tour Saturday, we wanted to pass along five facts you might not have known about specific cards seeing play here in Hawaii.
- Glare of Subdual can tap Howling Mine.
- Shining Shoal can redirect the damage being dealt to more than one creature by a single source.
- You do get to untap your Signets after your opponent casts Exhaustion against you.
- Kami of the Crescent Moon is a legendary creature.
- Promise of Bunrei tokens are colorless.