2006 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Posted in Event Coverage on November 30, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast

Once again our team of talented journalists are on hand at the 2006 World Championship of Magic to bring you an assortment of updates.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Blog Archive: Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday

  • 8:22 pm - News and Notes
    by Ted Knutson
  • 5:28 pm - Olle Ignites a Storm
    by Ted Knutson
  • 4:15 pm - Quotable Quotes
    by Ted Knutson
  • 3:26 pm - Perfect Plays, Part 1
    by Ted Knutson
  • 2:43 pm - A Hall of Fame 2007 Preview
    by Ted Knutson
  • 12:17 pm - Worlds Scene Bursting at the Seams
    by Ted Knutson

BLOG

Greetings and welcome to Worlds 2006. Here are the headlines you'll want to know at the start. 357 competitors from all over the world. 64 different countries represented, with 55 full 3-man teams. We're in the Louvre, in the dead center of Paris. An entire new Hall of Fame class was inducted this morning and every single one of them is playing in the main event. Side Events are positively overwhelming and the event manager is looking into renting extra space to host the crush of bodies. Buzz from the players says that all three formats this weekend look fantastic.

However, for those of you who find such dense text disconcerting to start your day, I give you an image of one of Bob Maher's beautiful baby daughters, who watched their papa's induction ceremony this morning:


Wednesday, November 29: 2:43 pm - A Hall of Fame 2007 Preview

by Ted Knutson

All five 2006 Hall of Fame inductees were present in the feature match area for Round 1, but perhaps the most intriguing match was between two likely Hall of Fame inductees from 2007 - Nicolai Herzog and "The Juggernaut" Kai Budde. Kai even noted that this match was "fair," since both players have been semi-retired for the last year, and therefore would not be at as great a disadvantage as they might have been facing other, more active competitors.

A fair fight

Nicolai quickly went up 1-0, despite the fact that Kai had a turn-three kill in hand on turn two. What he was not prepared for was to have Castigate wipe the engine right out of his hand, allowing Herzog's white and black weenies to kill Kai before he could recover. Game 2 went the other way, with Herzog stalling on three land for the entirety of the game. A lack of Castigate this time opened the door for multiple Seething Song s to dump out four Bogardan Hellkite s and a Hunted Dragon , letting Budde attack for the win a turn later despite heavy interference from multiple Martyrs of Sands. If Nicolai had drawn Persecute anywhere along the way, he might have gone on to an easy sweep.

The final game of this set was a bit embarrassing, as Herzog double-mulliganed and slowly peeled chunks from Kai's life total but was hardly what one would consider threatening. Unfortunately for the German Juggernaut, his deck only delivered fatties into his hand, preventing him from ever going off despite drawing any number of extra cards. In the end, Herzog's plinking managed to kill Kai just before the Norwegian would have died from his own Dark Confidant .


Wednesday, November 29: 3:26 pm - Perfect Plays, Part 1

by Ted Knutson
 

The Standard format here at Worlds is nothing short of amazing. Brian David-Marshall will have a full metagame breakdown later today, but crazy decks are everywhere, and the format - though it does sport a lot of Tron and Zoo decks - is diverse and very competitive. Perhaps the best part about it is that the decks seeing action here in Paris are making for some awesome plays from the World's best players. Here are a few we ran across in the early rounds.

Commandeer
  • Josh Ravitz was battling Shuuhei Nakamura in the feature match area, and the two were locked into a massive control battle. Ravitz patiently took his time, playing out lands and sculpting the perfect Demonfire ending… only to find the spell Commandeer ed and sent right back at him.

  • The Great One (Bob Maher Jr.) was also in the feature match area that round and left his opponent with 0 lands in play on turn 4… and still lost. This was the result of a suspended Lotus Bloom on turn 1 and then Rite of Flame , Rite of Flame , Rite of Flame , Dragonstorm . Afterwards, Bob pulled Randy Buehler aside and gave him his opinion about the silliness of such plays for the podcast.

  • You can expect to get a bit more detail about Andre Mueller's deck later this weekend, but for now just know that he's playing a very cool Life deck. 2004 World Champ Julien Nuijten played Mueller this past round, and Mueller put himself up to 300+ life, well beyond the range of Julien's aggressive cards… or so you would think. The reality is that at that point Nuijten finally drew his win condition and cast Biorhythm , dropping Mueller from 300 to 0 in an instant.

Wednesday, November 29: 4:15 pm - Quotable Quotes

by Ted Knutson
 

"You know how to tell which players are your Hall of Famers? All five of them were smart enough to take the inside seats away from the crowd in the feature match area." - Randy Buehler

BDM: "Win?"
Rich Hoaen: "Yeah… I cast Grozoth ."
BDM: "You're playing Grozoth ?!?"
Hoaen: "Meh, Muse Vessel ed his ass right out there."

"I mean, he is French. If he plays a white one-drop, and a green two-drop, you know he probably has a double-black card in hand." - Kai Budde

"I hate it when Kai sits next to me and watches my match." - Raphael Levy

"Yeah, he can read you even from over here." - Nicolai Herzog


Wednesday, November 29: 5:28 pm - Olle Ignites a Storm

by Ted Knutson
 

Olle Råde hasn't been seen in the Magic world since his induction into the Hall of Fame back in Yokohama, but he's here in Paris and is once again part of the field. I kept hearing stories about weird kills he'd been pulling off with his Standard deck, so I tracked him down and asked him what's up.

Ignite Memories

As to where he's been, Olle has been knee deep in work at Journalism school. He's recently transitioned to an internship as well, and his schedule has kept him away from competitive Magic. Since he was clearly playing an original deck, I asked him where it came from, especially if he hasn't played much lately. He said that he found it "somewhere on the internet" and thought it looked fun, so he tested it a bit and brought it with him to Paris. In theory, it looks somewhat like normal Dragonstorm decks in that it has a red mana engine and Lotus Bloom to kick up an early storm count, but Olle's deck also has Ancestral Vision s, Clockspinning , Grapeshot , and Ignite Memories . He said that he chose this version because it's a little bit faster than the Dragonstorm decks, and it's a bit more fun as well. Judging by his record it's not only fun but is also competitive, since Råde is currently 3-2 with his last loss coming to Gabriel Nassif in the feature match area.

Råde said that he got a third-turn kill earlier today via Lotus Bloom , some Rites of Flame, Grapeshot for six copies, Infernal Tutor , and then Ignite Memories for seven copies, but the play that first turned me on to Råde's clever deck came from Josh Ravitz. Ravitz was playing control against Råde and thought himself plenty safe at 21 life. He was wrong. Lotus Bloom , Clockspinning with buyback on two more Lotuses, another Clockspinning on Ancestral Memories, Rite of Flame , Rite of Flame , Grapeshot and a final Grapeshot killed Ravitz and left him grumbling about the loss rounds later.


Wednesday, November 29: 8:22 pm - News and Notes

by Ted Knutson
 

I'm running a little late here because of a Max Bracht judge ruling during the last round, so I'll wrap up with an avalanche of end-of-day notes and start Thursday with pretty pictures. Ready… here we go!

  • Olle Råde and his crazy storm deck finished the day at 4-2. That makes him tied for overall record with the top member of the 2006 HoF class, Raphael Levy. Rob Dougherty and Gary Wise both finished at a respectable 3-3, while Bob Maher and Dave Humpherys were somewhat worse than that on the day. (Okay fine, Da Hump was one of four players to post a big, fat bagel on Day 1, but don't tell him I told you. I love Da Hump.)

  • We told you earlier that there were a crush of bodies in Side Events, but I didn't have numbers yet to tell you quite how many people showed up. It turns out that 450 people arrived this morning and endured a two-hour opening ceremony interrupted wait before finding out that today's PTQ was capped at 256 players due to lack of space. The other 198 players were asked to come back on Saturday for their own, unscheduled PTQ, which will be run when we have more room. In addition to that, 8-player events started around noon and had run 60 events by 6:25 p.m. local time. Prizes to be given out this weekend include several uncut Urza's Saga sheets, multiple snowboards (presumably to be used at Pro Tour - Geneva in February), various and sundry iPods and digital cameras and countless numbers of booster packs. Special events will also include a $2000 Amateur Challenge and the European Junior Super Series Finals. Oh, and many of the pros are hoping that tomorrow's Extended PTQ will give them deck ideas before the main event Extended day on Friday.

  • Today's boneheaded play goes to Roel van Heeswijk courtesy of Julien Nuijten. In a round earlier today, Roel put out the classic turn 0 Gemstone Caverns . Then for his turn 1 land, he played a second Gemstone Caverns , forgetting about the whole "Legendary" drawback. As Roel put it, "I was living the dream… and then I woke up."

  • Both Amiel Tenenbaum and Max Bracht were disqualified from the tournament on Day 1. Check the main page for a full write-up on these incidents from Scott Johns.

And finally, I leave you with today's moment of zen:

BLOG

Paris is rumored to be a Magical city full of romance and beauty, and while I have yet to experience the romantic aspects here (roommate Scott Johns and I prefer to cuddle at home with our wives instead), its beauty is without question. Though it lies well below below the actual Louvre itself, the tournament site here at Worlds might just be the coolest place we've ever been. Photographer Craig Gibson has been out and about within just a couple of miles of the site and came back with amazing pictures. Since words are sadly lacking in capturing just how impressive things are, I'll just play tour guide and let Craig's work do most of the talking.

A stunning introduction to Paris in November. While the Eiffel Tower dominates the area where it stands, the walk to the tower is also quite beautiful. This is an image from inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Evening at the Louvre Pyramid. The tournament venue is almost directly beneath your feet. A peek out the window at our hotel. The tournament venue is directly behind you (and down a couple dozen feet). There's a convenient subway entrance just out of view to the right. This is the area directly outside the entrance to the site (and one of the back entrances to the Louvre Museum itself), complete with happy holiday trees. Attention holiday shoppers, there is a blue tree special on expensive handbags down aisle 5. The inverted counterpart of the amazing IM Pei-designed pyramid. The venue entrance has often been home to groups of school children, peeking inside and wondering what strange things are going on within. A massive statue of Serra Angel towers over visitors as they walk into the foyer. Look for some video coverage of building this new traveling Serra (coming to a Pro Tour near you!) later in the weekend. And finally, the feature match area.

Thursday, November 30: 1:33 pm - Old Gunslingers of the West

by Ted Knutson
 

One of the perks that R&D offer Magic players who show up at Pro Tours is the opportunity to defeat them in battle. Magic gunslinging has been around since Mr. Colt invented the .45, as have some of the men pulling decks out of their holsters here, and the French crowds seem more than happy to throw down sixty cards and try and win some packs. I checked in with these dusty derring-doers to see what good stories and fun decks there were bringing to bear on the Parisian masses.

Mark Gottlieb

The former master of the House of Cards wanted to give a shout out to his zealous Legions by telling them, "Wombat flies at midnight! Strike! Strike! Strike!" Then the crazed look in his eyes disappeared and he revealed the most fun deck he brought with him this weekend, inspired by something the current master of House of Cards (Chris Millar) published recently.

Wrath of Norin

Download Arena Decklist
 

Aaron Forsythe

Forsythe said that most of R&D brought fun, competitive decks to the party, while the crowd typically plays decks from the top tier of the metagame. Aaron built a Legacy deck this weekend designed to reanimate dragons, something Kai Budde and millions of Timmies can agree is cool to do. The best set of draws includes a Dark Ritual into Buried Alive for Anger, Bladewing the Risen, and Nicol Bolas . Exhume on Bladewing and a smash with the dragons hits the opponent for 11 and empties their hand.

Aaron noted one match that was particularly fun against a guy named Chris, who apparently taught Gary Wise how to play Magic. Contrary to most challengers, Chris was playing a fun multiplayer coinflip deck and had Krark's Thumb and Game of Chaos on the table against Aaron's Auratog + Hatching Plans creation. Game of Chaos resolved and Chris won the first two flips, but then his luck ran out and Aaron won the next flip and decided to double the stakes one last time, seizing his 25% chance to close out the game then and there in entertaining fashion. As R&D's slogan T-shirts say, "We make the rules…" so obviously Aaron won that one.

It wasn't all glory for Magic's lead designer, as he did manage to lose a game in which he played a turn-three Spectral Force and turn-four Giant Solifuge to a girl playing a blue-white Skies deck of all things.

Paul Sottosanti

The tallest member of R&D said that he brought a Momentary Blink deck, Gauntlet of Power Red, and Blue/White Locket Control as his main decks. Those with good memories will remember that last year at Worlds, Paul brought John Rizzo's Friggorid deck with him to sling with and that deck turned out to be far more powerful than anyone suspected. Paul noted that he's been having fun in Pairs and thus far this weekend he is 0-3 against women and small children. I was going to give you a peek at Paul's Locket deck, but Forsythe told me BDM's version was just better, so I'll give you that instead:

MLC-Mono-Locket Control

Download Arena Decklist

Mark Rosewater

Finally we have MaRo, who has (shockingly) been cleaning house in the corral. (Welcome to the land of mixed metaphors…) He's 10-1 thus far on the weekend playing a Black Weenie deck, and managed to be the only R&D member to beat one small savage miser. Asked for a comment on his play, the always verbose Rosewater said, "Crushing hopes and dreams of small children, that's my goal this weekend." Here's Rosewater's Black Weenie (designed by Aaron Forsythe), in all its glory:

Black Weenie

Download Arena Decklist

Thursday, November 30: 3:50 pm - Teams Update

by Ted Knutson
 

Halfway through the event, the race for the team title is starting to take shape. Gasps of surprise abounded when Japan was revealed to be in the lead through 9 rounds (note the sarcasm font). At 60 points, Katayama, Mori, and Yamamoto have a six point lead on both the Brazilian squad (lead by Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa) and the Portuguese. In fourth place is Israel, and then come the powerhouse teams making runs in Limited with the United States in fifth, The Netherlands in sixth, and France lurking in eighth. As we have noted previously in coverage, two members of the German National Team were disqualified on Day 1, putting one of the favorites of the event out of the race before Round 7 had even begun. Since that time National Team members from Mexico and South Korea have also been disqualified, dropping those two countries from contention as well. As for teams that might be seen as underperforming, the English can be found down in 47th place with one draft left to go, meaning things are likely to get worse before they get better. Thankfully, the English are used to that sort of thing…


Thursday, November 30: 5:40 pm - Catching Up with the Worlds Online Qualifier

by Ted Knutson

Felix Leong won a trip and a slot to Worlds via Magic Online.

I managed to catch up with an ecstatic Felix Leong after draft number one today to find out just what he thought about Paris and the World Championships. The 23-year-old Singapore resident was the winner of the Magic Online Worlds Qualifier back in October, and as a result received a free trip to the Magic World Championships for himself and a companion, plus an invitation to play in the main event.

Leong arrived here a day early to settle in and do some sightseeing, and was delighted to discover that the city is "very beautiful." He was able to see Notre Dame on a rainy Tuesday, and plans to go with his brother to see the Eiffel Tower, EuroDisney, and pop upstairs to check out the Louvre on Saturday when his services will no longer be required. This isn't Leong's first Pro Tour, it's his second - he played at Pro Tour - Los Angeles waaaay back in 1998 on the Queen Mary. Since that time he's graduated school and just finished his mandatory civil service for the government, but says he has been working on Magic professionally for the last three months.

As for the tournament, Felix didn't quite do as well as he had hoped on Day 1, going 2-4 while playing a relatively standard Zoo deck. Since that time, he has gone 4-0 in draft, and is hoping to drag himself back into a big payday and an invitation to the next Pro Tour in Geneva. Leong seems to be at his best when the chips are down, since in the Online Qualifier he started 0-1 and then had to run off ten straight to win the slot, so it's possible he'll be crushing some dreams as the weekend continues.


Thursday, November 30: 6:15 pm - Pure Energy

by Ted Knutson
 

Numerous players received penalties for deck misregistration after Draft 2, and more than a few of those were names that you might have heard of. The topic came up among the judges as to just why this occurred, and I had to explain something the great and wise potato Mike Turian once told me when I told him just how hard and exhausting I thought event coverage was.

Hellooooooo…

I'm paraphrasing here, but Mike essentially said, "Look, I've done both, and the most exhausting thing I have ever done to play Magic all day at the Pro Tour. The level of concentration required to maintain focus and play your best is enormous, and maintaining that over the course of six or eight rounds is nearly impossible. Drafting is that much tougher, because you have to change your focus from not only playing your deck but also drafting a new one two or three times a day. The toughest thing to do in Magic, however, is be a National Team member at Worlds. First of all, everyone plays one more day than a normal Pro Tour at Worlds, which is grueling. Then, after you should be done with everything, National Team members then have to go draft and play the most challenging format of all in Team Rochester."

Both Turian and multi-time Finnish National Champion Tomi Walamies have told me that Saturday at Worlds is the hardest Magic event you can participate in, and have gone so far as to say it's difficult to function well the Sunday after because of the strain it puts on bodies and minds.

So those random, silly, careless decklist errors made by some of the game's best players who you think would know better than to let something like that slip by? It certainly costs them, but it's exceedingly likely they had their minds on different, equally important things in Magic's hardest tournament.


Thursday, November 30: 7:20 pm - Everybody's a Critic

by Ted Knutson
 

Space here in the Louvre is at a premium, partly because of the layout of the event and the number of players and fans present, and partly because the other half of the venue must be shared this evening with a holiday party of French urologists. Apparently both parties had seen each other's site plans ahead of time and approved them for use. However, something was different this morning and there was a "problem." For whatever reason, someone with the urologists decided that the giant Serra Angel - which had been originally approved - was an eyesore and needed to disappear from the scene for the soiree. Obviously since it took a considerable amount of time to put Serra together and because she's not exactly a mobile statue, making Serra "disappear" was an issue for Wizards staff.

Some plywood and drapes, and you have yourself a room bigger than many Paris apartments!

Negotiations ensued, and it was eventually decided that if Serra was covered by a giant scaffolding of plywood and drapery, the urologists would no longer be offended. These were the results, complete with a statement from some of the French players about art and freedom.


Thursday, November 30: 8:05 pm - More Pictures

by Ted Knutson

Don't tell these guys, but the 2007 class will receive Gauntlets of Power at their induction.
This man's face is being devoured by ravenous fur.
You can't tell, but Smiley here has 37 cards in hand.
Fan favorite Gabe Walls flashes his sense of style.
The glow you see is not lighting, but actually the heat generated from thinking about which feature match to pick next.
Judge shadow Jason Ness rocks the mike like a vandal.
The ethereal and incredibly talented Aleksi Briclot.
The French Magic Academy.

Thursday, November 30: 9:08 pm - News and Notes

by Ted Knutson
 
  • Grand Prix payouts have been increased dramatically for the 2007 season, with a total purse of $30,000. Check back Friday for more complete details on the GP changes for next season.

Przemyslaw Wolowiec is on an amazing run after arriving late on Wednesday.
  • Przemyslaw Wolowiec really loves Magic. The Magic Online E3 contest winner was qualified to play in Worlds, but his flight from Poland was canceled due to foul weather. Dismayed but undeterred, he then scrambled into his car and drove 16 hours overnight to get to Paris. Realizing that he would not make it in time for the start of the event, he called ahead to the tournament organizers, knowing that he would get a match loss for each round that he missed. Wolowiec showed up eleven minutes into Round 2 on Day One, giving him two match losses to start the event. However, since that time he has gone 8-2 and heads into the Extended day with an 8-4 record and a shot and making some real money. It's hard not to root for a guy whose desire just to play Magic is that strong.

  • Julien Nuijten: "Magic is so hard - how do you win seven Pro Tours?"
    Kai Budde: "Play creatures, attack with creatures… oh, and don't play any stupid Spiders."

  • Welsh National Team member Nicholas Lovett went out for pizza with friends last night and received a nasty surprise in the form of food poisoning. He was up all night with the obvious distasteful symptoms, got about two hours of fitful sleep and was still feeling miserable when the first draft started this morning. Despite the pain and suffering, Lovett kept it together and posted a 3-3 record Friday, leaving him in 13th place for the tournament heading into the Extended day.

  • Player of the Year leader Shouta Yasooka sits in 60th place after 12 rounds. The only three contenders to the title ahead of him at the end Day Two were Tiago Chan in second, Tomoharu Saito in 34th, and Rich Hoaen in 43rd. If Yasooka merely gets a Top 64, Saito would need at least a Top 4 to have a chance and Chan would need a win.

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