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
- 9:08 pm - News and Notes
by Ted Knutson
- 8:05 pm - More Pictures
by Ted Knutson
- 7:20 pm - Everybody's a Critic
by Ted Knutson
- 6:15 pm - Pure Energy
by Ted Knutson
- 5:40 pm - Catching Up with the Worlds Magic Online Qualifier
by Ted Knutson
- 3:50 pm - Teams Update
by Ted Knutson
- 1:33 pm - Old Gunslingers of the West
by Ted Knutson
- 11:41 am - A Sense of Place
by Ted Knutson
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Thursday, November 30: 3:50 pm - Teams Update
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.