2009 Magic World Championships Blog: Day 2

Posted in Event Coverage on November 20, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

Welcome to the 2009 Magic World Championships! The crack reporting squad of Bill Stark, Rich Hagon, Dave Guskin, Tim Willoughby, and Craig Gibson are combing the halls of the Palazzo Dei Congressi for all the inside information.



Friday, 9:50 a.m. – Setting the Table, Friday Edition

by Rich Hagon

To put it mildly, Day One was everything we expected, and then some. Let’s try and sort some it out, shall we? As you’ll doubtless recall, there are five major issues to be resolved here this weekend:

Individual World Championship
Team World Championship
Magic Online World Championship
Player of the Year Race
Rookie of the Year Race

From the top...

Individual World Championship

The illustrious Table 1With Standard the format for Day One, it was entirely possible that an ultra-conservative group of players would collectively plump for running Jund, secure in the knowledge that it was unlikely to set the tables alight, but had game against pretty much everything. Rewards for ignoring the siren song of Cascade were plentiful, however. Take Joel Calafell for instance. Earlier this year, he ran a 43-land special (which became known as Seismic Swans) on his way to victory on home turf at Grand Prix–Barcelona. Here, he has fashioned a deck which simply looks at all the creatures in the format and basically mocks them savagely. Turbo Fog is his deck, and in many ways he didn’t so much BEAT the field as BYPASS it. He stands at 6-0.

Bram Snepvangers of the Netherlands has been around forever, and needed a good run here to maintain pro status. 6-0? That’ll do nicely then. His take on the format was to run the ultra-aggressive Boros Bushwhacker deck, packed with red and white goodies that blitz the opponent into submission. Then there’s Alexey Antonenko, here at his first ever Pro Tour, and representing the Ukraine in team competition. He manufactured a perfect start with Vampires, the mono-black deck that Zendikar has brought us.

Joining them for the opening draft of Day Two on the top table were 2007 Worlds team runner-up David Reitbauer of Austria, South Korea’s leading pro Cynic Kim, multiple-time Top 8 competitor Marijn Lybaert of Belgium, and Player of the Year contender Tomaharu Saito of Japan. These seven navigated their way to perfect records, which means that one player on 5-1 gets to play with this savagely good group. The lucky/unlucky 5-1? 2006 World Champion Makahito Mihara. I can truly say that I can’t think of a more stacked Table 1 for a very long time. Just incredible.

The 5-1 bracket stretches from Mihara through a ton of contenders. On the European side, we see Martin Juza, former Italy National Champion William Cavaglieri, Manuel Bucher, Austria’s Philip Summereder, Pro Tour–Valencia Champion Remi Fortier, and Sweden’s David Larsson. On the North American front, Adam Yurchick, Mat Marr, AJ Sacher, and Conley Woods will look to turn standout Standard into dominating Draft. Oh, and there’s the small matter of 2006 Player of the Year Shouta Yasooka waiting in the wings ....

Today: Rounds 7-12, comprising two pods of Zendikar Draft, with six rounds of Extended still to come tomorrow.

Team World Championship

Last week, I potentially foolishly suggested that a Brazilian team of Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Carlos Romao, and Aristides Camara, might not be good enough to make the Top 4 come Sunday. Paulo rigorously assured me that I was entirely incorrect, and yesterday they set about proving their point. In addition to 5-1 records from Aristides and Paulo, plus a healthy 4-2 from Carlos, the three combined to win both team matches last night, giving them a great cushion over their closest rivals. Nine points may not sound like a lot, but the fact is that in order for the second place team to catch them, they would require a 3-0 sweep of a round themselves, and an 0-3 from the Brazilians. Of course, we’re by no means done and dusted, but with no team rounds today, the standings are going to evolve more slowly than the “18 pointers” we saw yesterday.

Carolos Romao, Aristides Camara, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa of Brazil

Who is in second place? Germany. Surprisingly, their individual standings aren’t that exciting, with Lino Burgold and Sebastian Kuchenbecker both at 4-2, and their ace Sebastian Thaler on a break even 3-3. Nonetheless, they defeated Canada and Costa Rica to take maximum team points, and they have a strong case heading into Day Two.

Germany’s Lino Burgold, Sebastian Thaler, and Sebastian Kuchenbecker

Three points further back sit the pre-tournament favorites, Japan. With two undoubted superstars on board in Yuuya Watanabe and reigning Player of the Year Shuhei Nakamura, it wouldn’t necessarily need much from third team member Yuuma Shiota to keep things competitive. Fact is, it was Shiota who posted the best Day One record of the three, at a still-modest 4-2, with his illustrious teammates at 3-3. As we’ll see, this has some interesting implications for the Player of the Year race. Meanwhile, the team picked themselves up to register back to back wins in the team portion, and it’s highly significant that the two main men now find themselves in draft pods full of players at 3-3. With all due respect, that’s a very different proposition from the table one we saw assembled earlier. Expect Watanabe and Nakamura to make big moves today.

The Japan team: Yuuma Shiota, Shuhei Nakamura, and Yuuya Watanabe

Today: Six rounds of Zendikar draft, no team rounds today.

Magic Online Championship

Late last night, the Online Champs got under way, with eight of the best digital cardslingers going toe to toe. Classic was the format of choice, and across three rounds the standings looked like this:

Anathik (Anssi Myllymäki) 3-0
Christian Février (David Guiffault) 2-1
yaya3 (Shouta Yasooka) 2-1
CharToYourFace (Federico Rivero) 2-1
jurda (Robert Jurkovic) 2-1
Orgg Ascetic (Justin Cheung) 1-2
tomy_vercety (Stefan Steiner) 0-3
Ivan_Kulbich_aka_Striped (Ivan Kulbich) 0-3

It was a busy old day for these eight, who also played in the individual event. Yasooka and Jurkovic pace the group at 5-1. Kulbich, Steiner, Guiffault, and Myllymaki have even records at 3-3, while Rivero and Cheung stand at 2-4. You can check out a stack of coverage from this event with Dave Guskin all weekend long.

Today: Once they’ve finished the main event, they return to the digital world, where three rounds of Zendikar draft await them.

Player of the Year Race

What’s that creaking sound? What’s that cracking sound? What’s that thumping sound? You ask, we answer: The creaking sound is the sound of the Player of the Year door slowly opening just a notch. The cracking sound is jaws hitting the floor at a certain score-line. And that thumping sound is the heartbeat of Yuuya Watanabe, leader in the Race, who put the brakes on just in time to salvage some measure of respectability on the day. From a horrendous 1-3, he won his last two critical rounds to find himself safely in mid-table. The trouble is, his three closest rivals suffered no such setbacks. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa had a terrific day at 5-1, with the Brazil team in first place. Martin Juza, starting the tournament 13 points adrift of Watanabe, also posted 5-1. Tomaharu Saito comes into day two undefeated with a perfect 6-0 record. He’s part of that stellar draft pod we talked about earlier.

About the only good news for Watanabe is that Shuhei Nakamura and Gabriel Nassif both share his 3-3 record, although he wants Nakamura to perform well for the team points. I suggested earlier that Watanabe could take advantage of a weaker 3-3 draft pod this morning. Make no mistake, he needs to.

Today: Six rounds of Zendikar draft, with six Extended still to come tomorrow.

Rookie of the Year Race

There hasn’t been a ton of movement in this race. Akimasa Yamamoto, who holds the slenderest of leads, evened out at 3-3, a mark shared with Shi Tian Lee. Of the main contenders, Lino Burgold had the best day, since he arrives with a 4-2 mark, and a third place in the team competition, which could net him crucial points. Brad Nelson also stands at 4-2, but realistically any one of these who makes Top 8 on Sunday will likely have done enough. It’s waaayyyy too early to call this one.

And so ....

It’s deep breath time once again, as we prepare to leap into five frenzied competitions, and you can follow it all right here on the home of Magic. Enjoy!

Friday, 10:47 a.m. – Undefeated Standard Decks

by Bill Stark

These are your undefeated decklists and players from the first day of competition here at Worlds. The format of the day was Standard.

Bram Snepvangers

Download Arena Decklist

Joel Calafell

Download Arena Decklist
Planeswalker (4)
4 Jace Beleren
Sorcery (7)
3 Day of Judgment 4 Time Warp
Artifact (8)
4 Howling Mine 4 Font of Mythos
Enchantment (2)
2 Sunspring Expedition
60 Cards

Oleksii Antonenko

Download Arena Decklist

David Reitbauer

Download Arena Decklist

Marijn Lybaert

Download Arena Decklist

Cynic Kim

Download Arena Decklist

Tomoharu Saito

Download Arena Decklist

Friday, 12:39 p.m. – The Dutch Vikings have Retired

by Gis Hoogendijk

Last year Jaap Brouwer
wrote a piece about me moving from active to Judge Emeritus status, so I guess now it’s my turn. The Dutch Vikings have officially retired.

The main thing Jaap has brought to the program is professionalism. There are many things he did to improve that trait among judges, but there are three moments that stand out for me.

The first was in regards to event preparation. It was a tournament over a decade ago (could very well have been a PTQ for Mainz). We needed Fifth Edition starters and at about 10 p.m. on the Saturday evening Jaap decides to check the product...and there were boosters. Luckily we had the private phone number of one of the stores and were able to swing by and change the product.

The second moment was somewhere in 1999. We were chatting about judging and how to improve the program and Jaap mentioned the word “mentoring.” At the time I felt that was way too serious and that judging should be about having fun. Seeing where we are now, I was wrong and I am quite happy about that.

Another example is the preparation he put in to making Grand Prix–Amsterdam 2001 the best event for judges and players. It is probably the first event with a pre-event email, something which made for shorter judge meetings and more clear expectations all around.

Through the years Jaap has always been looking to find processes in the judge program to optimize and he would apply his learnings from his professional life. His willingness to help and his ready smile make him one of the best people to have on your judge staff.

Jaap still very much enjoys Magic and judging and I am sure we’ll see him around locally...Pro Tour–Amsterdam, anyone?

Friday, 12:58 p.m. – Fan-tache-tic

by Tim Willoughby

Rome is a city full of beautiful monuments. Some were erected in memory of particular events, others have their origins in religion, and still more are physical celebrations of the greatness of Rome itself.

Here in the tournament venue, there are a few more beautiful creations on display. At the front of the event hall, a trio of busts have been sculpted of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees; Frank Karsten, Kamiel Cornellison and Antoine Ruel. On top of this, though, there are some pretty exciting living sculptures growing ever more impressive on the upper lips of Mark Herberholz and his testing team.

Herberholz, Gabriel Nassif, and Johan Sadeghpour are all rocking some nice moustaches here in Rome.

“We had a testing list and had been working on decks for the event together. I found out about the November no shave thing for charity and thought it would be cool if we all showed up with moustaches to Worlds.”

And lo it was so. Movember is a charity aimed at raising awareness of men’s cancers. Prostate and testicular cancer are big killers, but don’t need to be if caught early. One of Movember’s big goals is to get men to know more about keeping safe, and to encourage them to get to the doctor if they have any concerns. Heezy and crew are part of a big collection of men around the world rocking a mo to let people know.

For more information about the event, check out www.movember.com. To check out the ‘staches here in Rome, just scroll on down.

Johan ‘Mo-han’ Sadegpour

Dave ‘Mo Money’ Williams

Gabriel ‘Mo Woman Mo Cry’ Nassif

Mark ‘Mr. Mo It All’ Herberholz

Tim ‘I just don’t mo what to do with myself’ Willoughby

Friday, 1:05 p.m. – Unlucky Sevens

by Tim Willoughby

Fortunately, Sam Black has had a good enough season for him to make it out to Worlds here in Rome.

Unfortunately for him, he did not pick up a single point on day one of the event.

Fortunately, Day Two of Worlds is a different format, meaning that he could make up for having a bad first day with some good drafts.

Unfortunately, he could not rely on his opponents at the bottom tables being weak drafters as they too had just switched formats.

Fortunately, through a combination of good opens and good passes, Sam ended up with a deck sporting the following rares: Grappling Hook; Emeria, the Sky Ruin; World Queller; Emeria Angel; Rampaging Baloths; Oracle of Mul Daya; and Sea Gate Loremaster. On top of this he had enough Allies for the Loremaster to be able to draw him quite a lot of cards.

Rampaging Baloths
Rite of Replication

Unfortunately, his opponent in Round 7 had one rare which was to make things very tough for Sam: Rite of Replication. In one game. Rite of Replication produced five copies of Sam’s Rampaging Baloths, which in turn started spitting out beast tokens at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, Sam had a combo himself that was pretty solid. Between Sea Gate Loremaster drawing him first six, then seven cards, Sam was able to Assemble Emeria, the Sky Ruin and World Queller, to create a one-sided The Abyss. On top of that, between Emeria Angel and his own Rampaging Baloths (facilitated by Oracle of Mul Daya), Sam was able to pump out creatures at a rate that was outpacing his opponent.

Unfortunately, his opponent had an army of creatures that were simply bigger. On the critical turn, if Sam had had one more creature—or even 1 more life—he would have won, but he did not.

Fortunately for Sam, after seven rounds of losing, in Round 8 he scored some points for the first time in the event.

Unfortunately, that was because he had the bye, when he really wanted to play ....

Friday, 2:31 p.m. – On the Level

by Rich Hagon

Yesterday we looked at almost forty players, 10% of the field for whom positions in the main event would determine their Pro Club Level for next season. With nine rounds now in the books, marking the halfway point of Worlds 2009, it’s time to check in with those players, and see how they’re faring.

Level 4

Needing Top 200 – Shouta Yasooka, Carlos Romao, Antti Malin, Manuel Bucher, Ari Lax
Top 100 – Matthias Kunzler, Adam Yurchick, Mateusz Kopec
Top 64 – Mark Herberholz, Shu Komuro, Kenny Öberg
Top 24 – Marijn Lybaert, Arnost Zidek, Aaron Nicastri
Top 16 – Bram Snepvangers, Akira Asahara, Rasmus Sibast
Top 8 – Brandon Scheel, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

All five players who need just one extra pro point by finishing in the Top 200 are in good shape. Shouta Yasooka has it pretty much locked up at a princely 8-1, while all the others are on target, providing Antti Malin can reverse his 4-5 into a 5-4 second half. As part of the Brazilian team, Carlos Romao has added responsibilities, and sits at 5-4 going into the second draft.

Carlos Romao

Neither Matthias Kunzler nor Mateusz Kopec currently look likely to achieve the Top 100, but Adam Yurchick is going nicely at 6-3, with a really nice mono-red draft deck that’s full of all the things you’d want.

Adam Yurchick

While Herberholz and Öberg will struggle to make Top 64 from 3-6 and 4-5 respectively, Japanese player Shuu Komuro is currently in 45th with a 6-3 record.

Needing Top 24, Rookie of the Year Aaron Nicastri looks a long way short of safety at 3-6. Arnost Zidek still has work to do at 5-4, while Marijn Lybaert appears to be leaving nothing to chance. He is the last man in the building with a 100% record at 9-0, and although there’s still a long way to go, you can be sure he’s looking up towards the Top 8 rather than down towards the Top 32.

Aaron Nicastri

Another player looking very good right now is Bram Snepvangers. He needs Top 16 to stay on as a pro next year, and he sits in 3rd place overall at a mighty 8-1. Rasmus Sibast of Denmark is also on course for Top 16, as he has seven wins to his name at the halfway mark. Akira Asahara, who made the Top 8 of Worlds last year, seems less likely to hit the Top 16, despite his positive record at 5-4.

Making Top 8 is always an incredibly tough task, and neither Brandon Scheel nor Guillaume Wafo-Tapa seem likely to make it. Scheel is at 5-4, while Wafo-Tapa has a 6-3 record, and will be hoping to escape Limited back to the world of Constructed as soon as possible.

Brandon Scheel

Level 6

Top 100 – Lino Burgold
Top 64 – Sebastian Thaler
Top 32 – Michael Jacob
Top 32 – Tom Ross
Top 32 – Matteo Orsini-Jones

Although Lino Burgold is struggling with four individual wins, Germany continues to do well in the team competition, and that means he’s well on the way to the points he needs. At 5-4, Thaler is in touch, but has to pass the best part of a hundred players to reach the Top 64. Of the three who are looking for Top 32, former U.S. Champion Michael Jacob is best placed, currently in 96th at 6-3. That sounds a lot to make up, but by the end of Draft, that 96th could easily be 36th.

Lino Burgold

Level 7

Top 32 - Koutarou Ootsuka
Top 24 – Shingo Kurihara
Top 16 – Michal Hebky
Top 8 – Conley Woods
Top 8 – Olivier Ruel

With just two wins, Koutarou Ootsuka was quickly out of the running. All these targets are tough to reach, and only Conley Woods seems to be in with serious chances at this point. With just two losses, and in 24th place, previous experience suggests that a similar second half would indeed see him achieve his goal of becoming a pro and hitting the Top 8. There’s a ton of Magic left to play, but he’s a singularly determined individual, and he could definitely do it.

Michal Hebky

Level 8

Top 200 – Kazuya Mitamura
Top 64 – Gaudenis Vidugiris
Top 32 – Brian Kibler
Top 8 – Tsuyoshi Ikeda

At 5-4, Pro Tour–Honolulu Champion Kazuya Mitamura is on target for the one extra point he needs to reach the highest levels of the game. At 4-5, Gaudenis is running out of time, realistically needing a 3-0 second draft to take him into contention. Also at 5-4, Ikeda doesn’t look like making back to back Top 8s, which leaves Brian Kibler. He currently sits in 67th place at 6-3, but if he can come out of draft with just one more loss, there’s a format with which he is intimately familiar—Extended—coming right around the corner on Day Three.

Brian Kibler

By my reckoning, anywhere between fifteen and twenty of these players could still achieve their goals, and for Marijn Lybaert, the eyes are widening all the time. Keep it right here, as the action heats up.

Friday, 2:36 p.m. – Friends in High Places

by Bill Stark

Tom Van de Logt, left, came to support his friend Kamiel Cornelissen--no matter what.The Hall of Fame ceremony is a cavalcade of honors, pomp and circumstance, and one of the highlights of the World Championships. As a side benefit of being inducted into the Hall, new members are eligible to bring a guest with them to the event to share with them in the celebration. For Kamiel Cornelissen, member of the 2009 class, that meant bringing one of his teammates from his days on the tour, fellow Dutchman and former World Champion Tom Van de Logt. Tom came to the event intent on playing all the Public Events he could, sharing in the spectacle with Kamiel. With his friend enshrined in the Hall, Tom had a burning desire to qualify for the Pro Tour once again.

On Thursday he decided to work on that goal by joining the Zendikar Sealed PTQ. With a solid pool and years of expertise from his time on the Pro Tour, Tom was soon off to a 7-1-1 start, exactly what he needed to Top 8 despite the fact it was one of his first times playing with the new set. Unfortunately for him, in addition to newly inducted Hall members getting to bring a guest to Worlds, they’re also invited to a special Hall of Fame dinner held Thursday night. Also invited? Their special guests.

Tom had a decision: skip the dinner honoring his friend so he could take a shot at returning to the Pro Tour to compete alongside him, or go support Kamiel and hope for another opportunity down the road? Tom didn’t even hesitate. “If [qualifying] was a sure thing, maybe, but there were still two rounds of draft, and I haven’t played the format that much so I’d have to read every card.”

He left to join Kamiel at the fancy restaurant selected to host the event, dropping before the Top 8 had even started. Tom joined Kamiel in honor of his friend’s fantastic achievement, and even got a somewhat happy endnote when he arrived on site Friday morning: “They gave me some boosters for doing well!”

With friends like those, it’s no wonder Kamiel was able to do so well on the Pro Tour. Here’s to hoping Tom finds his way back to the big time to one day game with his Hall of Fame friend again.

Friday, 3:22 p.m. – The Brothers’ Grim Discovery

by Rich Hagon

Getting paired up against a better player than you can be irritating, but for most of us it’s a fairly common experience. Getting paired up against your best friend is never good times, because even beating them leaves a sour taste in the mouth. So, you can imagine that brothers Brad Nelson and Corey Baumeister would be looking to avoid each other as Worlds continues here in Rome. Having spent quality time together in the Coliseum earlier in the week, the fantasy scenario sees them next hooking up somewhere around 3 p.m. Sunday, when the World Championship could be on the line.

With both brothers at 7-2 at the halfway mark, a repeat performance is likely needed to secure a Top 8 berth, and so finding themselves in the same draft pod this afternoon is less than ideal. We got a chance to sit with both brothers as they built the decks that could lead to a minor case of fratricide.

What does Brad think of his deck? “It isn’t great. I’m red-green, but it isn’t great red-green by any means. I passed a lot of deep black, but none of it was especially good. The thing is, I pretty much had to be green, as the players around me definitely weren’t. On the plus side, I have the nuts opening of Plated Geopede into Greenweaver Druid into Chandra Ablaze, and it’s pretty hard to lose from there.”

Plated Geopede
Chandra Ablaze

And Corey? “I want my last deck back! I’m red-black, which should be good, but all the packs seemed really weak. I saw zero Plated Geopedes, zero Surrakar Marauders, and so I’m weak in the two slot.”

As it happened, the brothers were seated well apart in the draft, but if fate had intervened, would they have co-operated at all? They have very different answers to this one.

Brad: “Yes, you can know the preferences of the guy beside you, and hope to be co-operative, but it often doesn’t work. I mean, you can assume that you’re going to avoid red and pass it, but then you open a Chandra and everything changes. For the most part, the advantages seem outweighed by the chance of it going horribly wrong. If you look at Pro Tour–Honolulu, both Brian Kibler and Paul Rietzl knew what each other would ideally look to do, and although you can sometimes end up with great decks, when it goes wrong, it’s really bad.”

Corey: “I think that would have been a big advantage. First of all, we’re very aware of what we each like to draft, but more importantly we have pretty different ideas on what’s good in the format. That means we wouldn’t really be competing for similar cards.”

So what if they do in fact face each other sometime over the next few rounds? “We’ll play it out for sure” says Corey. “If one of us goes 3-0 and the other is 2-1, that’ll be great. If I go 2-1 that’ll be great—I can’t wait to get back to 60 cards.”

And, with seniority, we’ll give the last word to big brother Brad.

“We both need a lot of pro points to hit up the next levels. If I had the choice between me hitting Level 6 and Corey missing out, or us both being Level 4, I’d take Level 4 every time.”

Friday, 4:00 p.m. – Draft Discussion and Disgust

by Dave Guskin

Martin Juza and Marijn Lybaert sat next to each other during Round 10, the fourth so far in Zendikar draft. Juza was 3-1 and Lybaert 4-0 in draft matches, and both were happy to sit down after the round and discuss their opinions of the format filled with traps and treasures.

Elemental Appeal

“It seems good. I like how you don’t just lose to rares,” Juza commented, referring to Zendikar‘s difference from many previous Limited formats, and in his opinion, Magic 2010 limited in particular. Lybaert agreed as he thumbed through his red-white deck containing many small aggressive creatures—one of the major reasons the higher-cost bombs are not as impactful in games of Zendikar.

“My first pack was mediocre, so I was fine forcing,” Lybaert explained as he showed his extremely red first pick, Elemental Appeal. Many pros have been forcing red and/or black, believing them to be much stronger than other colors. “I think that when there are good cards, you have to take those, but otherwise color preference is fine.”

Juza added, “I used to hate green. But now that everyone does, I think it’s fine.” The two then discussed the merits of various green cards. “The 1/3 with kicker is soooo bad,” Juza claimed about Oran-Rief Recluse, and Lybaert agreed. “If you don’t kick it, it’s terrible, and if you do, it’s not even that great. It’s never really good,” the Belgian said.

“I have been green exactly twice,” Juza said. “I think Oran-Rief Survivalist is really good. I had four of them in one of my decks. So yeah, get about three Oran-Rief Survivalists on average and you’ll be fine.”

Aggression is the name of the game to these two. “I don’t value defensive cards that highly, although this one is the exception.” Lybaert revealed his Makindi Shieldmate, a bit of a departure from the aggro bent of his Ally-populated deck. Juza was horrified by the Shieldmate and made retching noises to demonstrate how bad he felt it was. “That one is unplayable!” Both agreed, however, that Allies were worth it if you were seeing them in the mid-picks.

Friday, 4:49 p.m. – Let’s Make a Deal

by Dave Guskin

Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can get a feel for the pulse of a format by carefully watching the ebb and flow of card transactions. These take place all over the site in the form of trades, and often occur in large numbers at the various dealers in the hall – local and global stores, here to provide players those last minute cards for their decks.

Star City Games had a number of disruptive red cards heat up as people started searching for Extended cards in preparation for tomorrow’s competition: Molten Rain and Magus of the Moon. Death Cloud and Life from the Loam were popular sellers as well, perhaps heralding the return of a black-green midrange deck. Troll and Toad Europe found Sensei's Divining Top and Trinket Mage, a synergistic pairing, flying off the shelves. As one would expect, dealer Galactus had a hot one with recent gem Sword of the Meek. Strike Zone and Gaming Etc. found Dark Confidant maintained its place as a card in high demand.

Two more interesting stories heard from the dealers: if you were looking for Dark Depths this weekend, you were out of luck. All of them were cleaned out. Finally, with Zendikar adding new recruit Bloodghast to the Dredge team, and with European players extremely excited about Legacy, Undiscovered Paradise became a sleeper hit and bestseller.

Friday, 6:55 p.m. – The Most Fun You Can Have in Public

by Tim Willoughby

The World Championships here in Rome are pretty exciting. For anyone competing for the title of World Champion, with a hefty cheque and a sweet trophy to go with it, there is little doubt that this is pretty much the pinnacle. If you’re not qualified for the World Championships, though, there is still a whole heap of Magic to be played, and I swung by the Public Events station to get a better idea of just how much has been going on already this weekend.

Wednesday has been recorded in public events history as “Crazy Day.” This should not be confused with “Crazy Hat Day,” which might very well be used to describe every day of public events at this show. Wednesday was the day where Draft and Constructed events were run at rock bottom prices, to welcome the world to Worlds. Plenty of players in the championships made the most of this, along with many lucky individuals who got to draft with Pros and try out Standard with the best in the world. Over the six hours they were accepting sign-ups, nearly 200 events fired. That is a little more than one every two minutes.

Since then there have been a pair of PTQs (with more to come). These sported some familiar faces including Antonino De Rosa and Tom Van de Logt, a former World Champion who made Top 8 yesterday—only to drop, as it was that important to him to make it to the celebration dinner for his friends who had made the Hall of Fame that very day.

Friday Night Magic just started here, and with well over a hundred people it looks to be a doozy. With cards in Italian for the locals and in English for those who, like me, aren’t so great with languages, it is open to all, and all seem to be having a ball. Some have opened some pretty saucy cards, but for many the main thing is just the opportunity to round out the end of their week with a tonne of Magic.

Finally there are the wacky drafts. Jason Howlett, who is running public events and turned 40 just yesterday, seemed particularly keen on these. Old Man Howlett has been hoarding all sorts of old boosters, and here at Worlds players can sign up for drafts that could feature a vast array of different sets, including such winners as Invasion and even Urza’s Saga. These are very much an “as product allows: deal, but there will be plenty of players pleasantly surprised by the sets on offer.

From the start of the show here in Rome, one of the really cool things for me has been how many people have shown up with friends to check out Worlds, and Rome itself. They know that this is a time that on top of having a holiday in an amazing city, they can play the game they love when they get there just as much as they could ever want.

Friday, 7:32 p.m. – Undefeated Drafters

by Nate Price

Four players managed to draft, dip, duck, dive, and draft their way to a perfect 6-0 record at the end of the second day of play here in Rome. Brandon Scheel and Ari Lax, from the United States; André Coimbra, from Portugal; and Robert van Medevoort, from the Netherlands, all took their two decks and mowed down the competition. Their draft strategies held a twinge of familiarity.

Players have been split between their opinions of the black-red archetype in this format as of late. They unanimously agree that it’s the strongest color combination. Unfortunately, this also makes it the most overdrafted. This has caused many players to eschew the powerful colors to seek out a less represented combination in order to increase their overall card quality. Here at Worlds, it appears that this shift has opened the door just wide enough for some terribly powerful black-red decks to escape. Van Medevoort and Lax both used little black and red creatures backed up by removal to secure their undefeated records.

Scheel and Coimbra took a slightly different approach. Coimbra started with a typical black-green build for his first draft. For his second, he followed the deck-type du jour of the weekend: monocolored. Scheel had moved in on this for both of his drafts, and the three mono-black decks he and Coimbre came up with, despite seemingly playing “less than amazing” cards, like Vampire’s Bite, showcased how powerful certain cards, like Crypt Ripper, can be in a monocolored deck.

Vampire's Bite
Crypt Ripper

Four undefeated players. Eight undefeated decks. Eight decks featuring black. Clearly, being “overdrafted” didn’t prevent black from proving just how powerful it is in Zendikar Limited.

Friday, 7:40 p.m. – A PTQ Glimpse at Extended

by Andrea Vitali

While on the main floor of the Palazzo dei Congressi Worlds competitors are fighting to grab a spot in the Top 8, one floor up 207 players are playing to qualify for Pro Tour–San Juan, which will be played in Puerto Rico on May 28-30. After seven rounds we finally have the Top 8 decklists. Those lists will be so much appreciated by the pro players who don’t know what to play Saturday, or at least to see some mysterious tech they aren’t aware off.

Tezzeret and friends.Francesco BardiAndrea Giarola

Jorge Rodriguez - Dredge

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Andrea Giarola - Thopter Combo

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Pinazo Jorge - Scapeshift

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Cano Vega - Affinity

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Marco Trani - Scapeshift

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Francesco Bardi - Zoo

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Paolo Bini - Doran

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