by Kim Eikefet
Kai Budde has just gone through a rough period Magic-wise. His season was definitely not top notch, and at one point he was quite disappointed that he found himself unable to make the Top 16 in an event. At one point, he was 0-8 in the Magic Invitational, but then the tides seemed to turn for the "German Juggernaut." He went on to go 7-8 in the Invitational, then he made the Top 8 in Florence, and now, he has won his second Pro Tour after going 14-2-1 in Chicago. "I definitely appreciate it more now that I've had this bad season," Kai admits.
After working his way into the playoff, which included not getting to draw in from 31 points, Budde felt that the odds in the Top 8 were against him. His quarterfinals match against what he figured was his best matchup, was also really close, but Budde finally beat Jay Elarar three games to two. Then he went on to beat perhaps the favorite of the playoff, Brian Kibler, before sweeping in the finals against Kamiel Cornelissen. "I thought I had my worst matchup in the finals, and then I swept. But I think he sideboarded incorrectly. He sideboarded out the Absorbs, and then he only had four Counterspells to stop my Armageddons," Kai says.
Before going onstage to play against Cornelissen, he playtested the matchup for about ten minutes. "It was about even, but Mattias Jorstedt told me to go for the Geddons after sideboarding," Kai reveals. That strategy turned out to work perfectly. Budde won the first game after he managed to draw more lands than the Dutchman, and in the other games, he went for some early beatdown with Steadfast Guards. The German even sideboarded out his own Rebel Informer, a choice that was questioned by the two commentators Randy Buehler and Chris Pikula. "I don't like Informer against him as he has five Wraths. I just played a couple of 2/2s, beat him, and then Geddoned. He had virtually no blockers," Kai explains.
Kai's Rishadan Ports were also crucial. He drew six Ports over the course of two games, and so he was able to shut down Cornelissen's white mana sources so that he couldn't cast Wrath of God or blue mana sources so that he couldn't cast Counterspells.
In the finals, Kai was really calm and focused, and he seemed to be in perfect control of his game. Then again, the German playtested a lot before the Pro Tour. "I do play a lot, I play a couple of hours every day. But I don't wake up at ten and start building decks," he laughs, "that's not necessary." Instead, he worked along with the rest of the English/German team, and the deck he ended up playing was designed by 2000 Pro Tour New York runner-up Warren Marsh. Although the team may be dissolved now after the Pro Tour, Budde doesn't have any plans on changing the way he works. "I'm not going to be a professional player or something," he smiles. "But I'll still play a lot."
Kamiel Cornelissen doesn't feel like changing anything either. "I think I'll attend each Pro Tour from now on, but I won't start playing professionally. I'll just test a little before each Pro Tour," he says. The 19-year old math student was very happy with finishing second though. "When I made Top 8, I didn't think I had really good chances against Finkel, but then I beat him and I even won the round after that," Kamiel smiles.
After his victory, Budde walked away with $30,000 and enough Pro Tour points to get back on the Masters Series. Cornelissen won $20,000 and he also qualified for the Masters Series. "My goal is to try and stay q'd for Masters. Then I'll just try to keep playing in each Pro Tour, and I'll see how well I do," Kamiel says. The modest Dutchman doesn't even want to be famous, he just wants to finish his studies and do some other things than Magic.
Budde is also rather modest when it comes to his future goals in Magic. After getting even with Tommi Hovi and Jon Finkel as for Pro Tour victories, doesn't expect to get lucky in a couple of months. But in spite of that, and in spite of him having won two Pro Tours and three Grand Prix tournaments, he doesn't find it hard to want to keep playing: "I like the game, I like the people and I like travelling. And the money I just won, will go a long way," he smiles.