Posted in Event Coverage on June 20, 2004

By Wizards of the Coast

Magic Weekend Coverage Blog

At each event there are tons of little tidbits and great stories that don't warrant a full separate feature. They usually dominate the back room conversation but end up on the metaphoric cutting room floor. This time, magicthegathering.com columnist Brian David-Marshall is roaming the event snapping pictures, keeping his eyes and ears peeled, and sharing it all in our first ever Magic Weekend Coverage Blog.

Current Posts

Saturday, June 19: 8:03 pm

What you will be missing at home tomorrow…

Players attending Nationals will be entertained by the live commentary tomorrow but unlike at Pro Tour events it will not be streamed to the internet. Randy will be providing the play by play as usual but his color commentating sidekick is otherwise occupied. With Brian Kibler in the Top 8 Randy had to find another personality to replace him. He found personality and then some. Assisting him in the broadcast booth will be the outrageous tandem of Osyp Lebedowicz and Gabe Walls--what was Randy thinking? Those two could say anything--I can't wait!

While you won't be able to hear the commentary we will be bringing you all the traditional coverage, photos, and hopefully some more bloggery.

Saturday, June 19: 7:21 pm

It took a little while to sort it out with the first three rounds of constructed taking place yesterday and the final four separated by a day and seven rounds of limited. The results are pretty interesting. While there is only one Affinity deck of the Top 8 at Nationals it dominated the Standard portion of the event. Billy Postlethwait is the only Affinity player to make the Top 8 and he also led the Standard portion of the event with a 6-0-1 record to become the Standard Champion of the event--I'm sure that will be small comfort to him if he does not win the National Championship.

If Sameer Merchant ever learns anything about drafting he could become a force on the tournament scene. He took only one loss in the Standard rounds and finished second in that portion of the event with his trademark Elf and Nail deck. I will try and talk with him tomorrow about the deck and what he thinks happens to it at midnight tonight when Skullclamp is banned and Fifth Dawn rises.

The rest of the players with one loss were all playing either Affinity or Elf and Nail as well with the former dominating at almost four to one. Top 8 player Ben Zoz was next in the standings at 5-0-2 in the Standard portion with his March of the Machines deck.

Final Standard Standings (one loss or fewer):

Name Archetype Std Points Std TB
"Postlethwait, Billy" Affinity 19 48.71
"Merchant, Sameer" Elf and Nail 18 66.67
"Melnikow, Alex" Elf and Nail 18 63.1
"Pan, Phimus" Affinity 18 57.74
"Prosak, Adam" Affinity 18 56.85
"Mullen, Zachary" Affinity 18 54.07
"Majlaton, Alex" Affinity 18 52.28
"Dougherty, Robert" Affinity 18 49.6
"Tamblyn, Mitchell" Affinity 18 41.47
"Birklid, Steven" Elf and Nail 18 39.68

Saturday, June 19: 7:00 pm

It was a tale of two teams. There was much anticipation as Randy read the names of the Top 8 competitors for US Nationals. Everyone agreed that Alex Shvartsman and Craig Krempels were the likeliest players to be the odd man out.

The CMU/TOGIT crowd gathered round Krempels as he sat at the table with his head down dreading the news. Shvartsman was surrounded by red dragons and YMGs in the middle of the hall. He appeared much more confident than his TOGIT counterpart. Randy ran through the names and a cheer went up as each player found out where they finished. When he got to the final player advancing to tomorrow's action he milked it for all the drama it was worth and paused for what certainly felt like hours to Craig and Alex.

The TOGIT table leapt up and practically beat Craig to death patting him on the back when his name was announced. Alex looked stunned. It reminded me of the look the other four nominees try to muster when they are not called to the stage to receive the Academy Award.

Final standings (italicized for emphasis):

1 Melnikow, Alex 33 56.84%
2 Stead, Bill 32 62.80%
3 Zoz, Ben 32 62.36%
4 Kibler, Brian 31 64.48%
5 Postlethwait, Billy 31 62.40%
6 Humpherys, David 31 62.07%
7 Aitchison, Michael 31 60.08%
8 Krempels, Craig 31 59.86%
9 Shvartsman, Alex 31 59.01%

Saturday, June 19: 6:02 pm

This just in…

Up to eleven players can end up with 10-3-1 records at the end of the final round of play. Three players cannot afford to draw but nobody is sure who they are. If they draw anyway it will mean that none of the 10-4 players who have been clinging to that dream can make it in.


1 Stead, Bill 31 63.2216 72.4138 59.0033 13/10/1/0
2 Zoz, Ben 31 63.1821 77.7778 57.7722 13/10/1/0
3 Kibler, Brian 30 65.9435 64.5161 61.882 13/10/0/0
4 Postlethwait, Billy 30 62.8698 65.625 59.3529 13/10/0/0
5 Humpherys, David 30 62.7219 70 59.233 13/10/0/0
6 Aitchison, Michael 30 59.6019 62.5 56.525 13/10/0/0
7 Shvartsman, Alex 30 59.5097 66.6667 56.7862 13/10/0/0
8 Krempels, Craig 30 59.3125 62.8571 56.467 13/10/0/0
9 Melnikow, Alex 30 56.4618 64.5161 54.7059 13/10/0/0
10 Reeves, Neil 30 50.2536 67.7419 49.8555 13/10/0/0
11 Goodson, Tony 29 60.4788 73.0769 56.386 13/9/2/0
12 Pan, Phimus 27 60.8699 67.8571 55.8284 13/9/0/0


1 Stead, Bill 31-30 Postlethwait, Billy
2 Zoz, Ben 31-30 Krempels, Craig
3 Kibler, Brian 30-30 Shvartsman, Alex
4 Humpherys, David 30-30 Aitchison, Michael
5 Melnikow, Alex 30-30 Reeves, Neil
6 Goodson, Tony 29-27 Pan, Phimus

Stead and Postlethwait took the draw without hesitation. Ben Zoz was paired down with Craig Krempels who was hoping for a concession. Ben offered to play or they could take the draw it was up to Craig. "You want me in your Top 8, trust me," pleaded Krempels but Ben wasn't going to scoop.

Surprisingly everyone else took the draw except for Neil Reeves and Alex Melnikow. Only Krempels grappled with the decision before ultimately deciding to take the draw. Despite the fact that he had lousy breakers Craig reluctantly took the draw and decided to hope things fell into place. The bottom of the pack was so close together anything could happen.

Phimus Pan could have conceded Tony Goodson into the Top 8 and has no chance of making it in himself but they played it out and Phimus took the match in two quick games.

Neil Reeves took a game loss for a deck registration error that he blamed on Gabe Walls insistence that he play with Nantuko Vigilante--a card he despises. They could not find them at first and they were registered on his list as Naturalizes. Gabe found the insects and demanded that Neil switch them before the tournament but he forgot to make the change on his deck sheet. When the judges informed him of the game loss he glowered, "Right now I hate Gabe Walls."

He lost the second game and Melnikow locked up a slot. It meant that there would be nine players vying for eight slots. There was one thirty-three point player, two thirty-two pointers, and six at thirty-one. The bottom of the thirty-one pack should be Krempels, Shvartsman, and Aitchison. Krempels needs a number things to happen for him to have a seat when the music stops playing. Neil losing his match was one of them but he is still the most likely ninth place candidate.

Saturday, June 19: 5:42 pm

I'm tellin' ya, it's all up HERE man!

Neil Reeves has been lurking in the standings with three losses for much of this tournament. He has surfaced very close to the final table and was one game up on Phimus Pan's Affinity deck after feeding his Clickslither a Commander and his Siege-Gang. Phimus had qualified for this event at the Southwest Regionals in New Mexico.

Game 2 was looking bad for Reeves who was at five. He fell to four to sacrifice a Wooded Foothills and played Clickslither and Sparksmith. He put his insect in the red zone with five goblins to feed to it. Pan put his 1/1 Ravager in the way and Neil quickly chomped down three goblins and waited for Phimus' next move.

Phimus thought for a long time and looked from the clock back to Neil. Reeves was not in a hurry and he told him to take his time. Finally Phimus announced that he had no effects and would take eight trample--in essence assigning the damage for Neil--and sacrificed his Ravager to put a counter on his tapped Frogmite. He looked for his deck to yield Shrapnel Blast for the win but it was not there. He extended the hand and Gabe Walls rushed over to congratulate his friend.

Gabe- "Do you know how good it is to have a 50/50 split with someone playing on Day Three?"

Neil- "If you find anyone who does give me a holler."

Neil could only shake his head and grin at the final sequence of play, "Did you hear what he said? 'I'll take eight.' That was the sweetest thing I have ever heard. If he waits for me to actually assign damage I have to assign enough to the Ravager so he can't save it and kill me with a Disciple or a Pyroclasm. He cost himself two, maybe three turns with that."

Saturday, June 19: 5:31 pm

Billy Postlethwait mentally prepares for the Lambeau Leaping.

Bonus feature coverage…

Gerry Thompson of Minnesota and Billy Postlethwait were sitting across from each in the feature match area at the start of round thirteen. Gerry was in a must-win situation at X-3-1 while Billy could possibly absorb a loss at X-3. He felt pretty confident that he could make it in with one win in either of his next two matches and get in at 10-4. "Kibler is the only person with better breakers than me."

When informed that Kibler had gotten a concession this round from an out-of-contention player, the Florida player rolled his eyes, "How lucky."

Both players were playing Ravager Affinity and Billy was up a game. The second game looked good for Thompson especially if he could draw a red source. He was holding Seething Song, Furnace Dragon, and Shrapnel Blast. Billy had red mana and the Seething Song but did not have a Furnace Dragon or a Shrapnel Blast.

Billy was facing off against an army of frogs and a Ravager on Gerry's side of the table with only a Disciple and Skullclamp to hold them off. He attacked for one and then reluctantly clamped the cleric to draw two cards and played a Ravager. Gerry untapped and tapped one mana to play an Arcbound Worker. Billy sighed with relief that it was not a Disciple. Gerry laughed, "I don't draw good cards."

Billy blocked the Ravager with his own and saved it with Welding Jar. During the end of the turn Billy did some math and decided to Shatter the Worker. He untapped and played a Disciple. A Shrapnel Blast and a few Ravager sacrifices later Billy was doing the Lambeau Leap into the waiting arms of his friends along the rail. He was a draw away from the Top 8 at US Nationals.

Gerry Thompson concentrates on the word 'red'.

Saturday, June 19: 4:42 pm

Bad beats from the tournament floor…

Junior TOGIT member Mike Reilly was playing his team's Elf and Nail deck against a mono-white control deck a round back. He was holding a Vernal Bloom in hand and had nothing in play that was going to stop his opponent's Eternal Dragon from killing him in one more turn. After his opponent made the penultimate attack he played and activated a Mindslaver. Mike Reilly's fate was sealed and there was absolutely nothing he could do to get himself out of the situation…

…except he didn't need to do anything. His opponent began to take Reilly's next turn and drew from his own deck instead of his opponent's on the Mindslaver turn. His opponent was given a game loss and Mike Reilly won from an impossible spot.

Vernal Bloom seems to be giving players fits. Patrick Sullivan was cursing because he could not draw his fifth land to play his Siege-Gang Commander. He was playing the Japanese goblin deck and had a Forest in play while his opponent had a Vernal Bloom on the table. He had five mana but he just didn't realize it!

Alex Melnikow was playing an Elf and Nail match vs. Tooth and Nail with his opponent on one life. His opponent was careful not to tap his City of Brass to entwine Tooth and Nail but did not keep a good enough accounting of how much mana was being generated by Vernal Blooms and ended up burning for two mana at the end of his turn.

Saturday, June 19: 4:31 pm

Word on the street is that 10-3-1 is almost assuredly going to make Day Three. 10-4 with good 'breakers should be good enough. There are only three players with ten wins at this point. Bill Stead is locked in at 10-1-1 currently. Dave Humpherys and Ben Zoz are all but locked in at 10-2. Humpherys beat a mana-hooped Brian Kibler. Brian, who considered his green-white to be the favorite over Dave's goblin deck, never cast a spell.

Ben Zoz, who qualified via DCI rating, is playing March of the Machines. He beat Alex's Big Red in a round twelve feature match to clinch his spot. Alex and Kibler each believe that their tiebreakers are good enough that they only need one more win to clinch a spot.

Saturday, June 19: 4:17 pm

Is it really? Can it be?

Quinton Hoover is way awesome.

A real live Quinton Hoover has been sighted at Nationals--although it is pretty hard to catch a glimpse of him behind his throng of fans waiting for a chance to get something signed. Quinton is responsible for some of the most popular images in Magic's history from the tantalizing Earthbind to one his most famous pieces of all time from the original set--Wrath of God. Let's not forget Ball lighting and Illusions of Grandeur while we are at it.

Quinton did not have any of his famous originals with him but he did have postcards and prints. He also had copies of an art portfolio he did in collaboration with legendary horror artist Bernie Wrightson. He was also selling copies of a comic book that features his sequential illustration that also has a story by Wrightson--pretty heady company.

Quinton said that the cards he is asked to sign more than any other is clearly Wrath of God and Ball Lighting with nothing else even approaching their volume.

Saturday, June 19: 4:15 pm

It looks like Zvi just got eliminated from likely Top 8 contention. He was playing against Affinity and sacrificed his board to power out a Furnace Dragon. He played an unimprinted Mox and sacrificed two Piledirvers and a Prospector, tapping out to boot. He had put his opponent on a different card for two mana than the one that ruined his day, "I put you on Shrapnel Blast. I didn't think people played with Mana Leak anymore."

Billy Postlethwait smiled and shrugged, "It was amazing for me at Regionals. I love the card."

Darrell Riche is exhausted from signing cards!

Saturday, June 19: 4:02 pm

The second wave of artists have shown up for signings. Darrell Riche sat down to face a serpentine line of fans waiting to get their favorite Magic cards signed. From Nostalgic Dreams to Rorix Bladewing to a factory's worth of cogs from Fifth Dawn. Darrell brought an impressive array of originals with him including Rorix and Fangren Hunter. Prices seem to range from $600 up to about $1,000 for Rorix and a couple of larger pieces. There are also plenty of prints and artists proofs.

Saturday, June 19: 3:40 pm

For those that were wondering what happened to Josh Wiitanen yesterday, he was disqualified without prize for looking at opponents' cards during booster draft.

Saturday, June 19: 3:24 pm

This is what it looks like when your tournament deck goes missing.

A great story came out of the JSS half of the room. Roving reporter Sheldon Menery brought to our attention the story of Alan Olsen. Alan was playing in the JSS Championships and was off to an early 4-0 start with his Goblin Bidding deck. As his fourth match concluded he found that his deck had disappeared. He was upset at having lost his valuable deck and completely distraught at the idea of not being able to fulfill his dream of winning the Championship with the fifth round looming.

He ran around the room looking for his deck when he came to young Adam Boyd who had been playing at his table during round four. Adam had not seen what happened to Alan's deck but did have a similar build of Goblin Bidding that his friend Tanner Gates had intended to play. The decks were different enough in regards to specific cards that they had to scramble to replicate Olsen's starting decklist and sideboard but it was a big headstart. Collin Baird of Pair-o-Dice Games helped track down the final pieces of the puzzle and they had everything pulled together just in the nick of time as round five pairings were posted.

Huge props to Adam Boyd......and Tanner Gates (and Collin Baird - not pictured) for saving Alan Olsen's day!

Saturday, June 19: 2:43 pm

The final four rounds of Standard are underway. Mike Hall has emerged as the Draft Champion and we are beginning to get a clearer picture of what the final table is going to look like but with so much Standard left to play the race to be the Constructed Champion is still wide open. Here are all the players with perfect constructed records.

1 - "Merchant, Sameer" - 9
2 - "Aitchison, Michael" - 9
3 - "Pan, Phimus" - 9
4 - "Lipp, Scott" - 9
5 - "Boehm, Greg" - 9
6 - "Long, Ryan" - 9
7 - "Solis, David" - 9
8 - "Felter, Kyle" - 9
9 - "Humpherys, David" - 9
10 - "Shvartsman, Alex" - 9
11 - "Majlaton, Alex" - 9 12 - "Postlethwait, William - 9
13 - "Rust, Frederic" - 9
14 - "Famiglietti, Lou" - 9
15 - "Marsh, Corwin" - 9
16 - "Tamblyn, Mitchell" - 9
17 - "Bonham, Nick" - 9
18 - "Kibler, Brian" - 9
19 - "Stead, Bill" - 9
20 - "Austin, Dal" - 9
21 - "Gregg, tony" - 9
22 - "Zoz, Ben" - 9

After getting off to a strong start, Sameer Merchant's apprehensions about the Limited portion of Nationals were borne out. He went on to a 2-5 showing over the next seven rounds and knocked himself out of contention for Sunday. He can still salvage the weekend with a perfect constructed run and win the Standard Championship.

Saturday, June 19: 2:26 pm

Here is a look at the top of the standings for just the Draft portion of Nationals including all the players with a 6-1 record or better.

1 - "Hall, Mike" - 21
2 - "Thompson, Gerry" - 18
3 - "Stead, Bill" - 18
3 - "Swarowski, Peter" - 18
4 - "Goodson, Tony" - 18
5 - "Mowshowitz, Zvi" - 18
6 - "Cassidy, Jonathan" - 18
7 - "Shay, Richard" - 18
8 - "Cannistraro, Michael" - 18
9 - "Sullivan, Patrick" - 18
10 - "Humpherys, David" - 18
11 - "Reeves, Neil" - 18

Saturday, June 19: 2:20 pm

We're coming into the home stretch with only four rounds of Standard standing in the way of us hitting yet another of Kansas City's fine eateries. Decklists will be posted after the last round is over and Ted Knutson is hard at work on breaking down the archetypes. Tim Aten toiled for us all weekend to get them into the computer and Rune Horvik is busy half a world away so we can bring you the card by card breakdowns that everyone played.

Saturday, June 19: 1:43 pm

People thought Zvi was insane yesterday when he took Leonin Bola over Fireball. They were ready to commit him after this morning's draft when he took Silver My over Leonin Sun Standard and were signing the commitment papers when he took Pyrite Spellbomb over Viridian Longbow. Whether or not it was the right pick or simply that Zvi can outplay his opponents regardless of the cards he drafts he has swept this pod putting him at 6-1 during the draft portion and 8-2 overall. He stands an excellent shot at making the final table with that record.

Mike Hall is the US Nationals Draft Champion.

Saturday, June 19: 1:39 am

The last round of draft is winding down and there is only one player with a perfect 7-0 record in the draft portion. Mike Hall ground into Nationals in one of the Constructed grinders and promptly dropped two of his first three matches in the very same format. He then proceeded to go on a tear and has emerged as the US Nationals Draft Champion.

Saturday, June 19: 1:20 pm

Chris Rush shows why he's a fan favorite.

Crowds were gathered around Dave Dorman and Christopher Rush as they signed Magic cards. Both players have contributed some of the game's most famous pieces of art and players and collectors clamored to get their favorite cards signed. Christopher did not have any original artwork or prints with him--only artist proofs--but announced he would be fully recovered from his recent move by the time Worlds rolls around and will have proofs and some originals on hand in San Francisco.

Dave Dorman on the other hand had plenty of original artwork for sale. You could pick up the original for Shrapnel Blast or Fireball for $500 and a number of other pieces for as little as $400. He also had art prints and artist proofs for sale not to mention an apparently unending well of patience. When asked how many cards he was willing to sign at any one time he held up two fingers to demonstrate the maximum height, "I will not sign more cards than can fit in a three inch pile."

Apparently there is going to be a rare Quentin Hoover sighting later this afternoon as well.

Saturday, June 19: 1:11 pm

It's like Where's Waldo in here!

Holy cow!

I thought that Magic Weekend was crowded and that was before I turned the corner to where everyone NOT playing in Nationals and the JSS Championships was playing. There has to be more than a thousand people here playing Magic, trading Magic, or watching people play and trade Magic. It's crazy. I ventured around the corner to confirm that we will be able to secure deck lists from two separate Standard events tomorrow in the post-Skullclamp/hello Fifth Dawn environment. I will try and bring you highlights and some deck lists as they roll in.

I will also have all the deck lists from the block constructed Trial for GP New Jersey--I will go into them in detail on Wednesday in my column. Apparently Mono-green with Tanglewalkers and Big Red were doing well in last night's Trial but I have not been able to pin down the details yet.

Saturday, June 19: 12:07 pm

I sat down with JSS Head Judge Jason Ness to talk about the logistics of running a 313 person tournament when all the competitors are aged fifteen or younger. I also asked him the origins of the term "mana booted". "It is mana-hooped. Just like mana-screwed except I can't say 'screwed' at the JSS," he explained. "Mana-hooped is a common term where I come from in Calgary."

Danger Sense! Tingling!

The tournaments that Jason Ness is used to judging in Calgary are considerably smaller than what he has to deal with today. "My largest events are like one hundred and eighty. This is significantly more players and the logistics of moving those people around is very challenging. From a tournament perspective it is no different than any other REL 3 event."

"Personally I find the kids easier to handle than the older players. The older players feel like they know how things work and are quick to tell you so. The younger players are much more willing to listen--"

Renee Roub jumped in to comment on the politeness of the younger players, "They say 'Thank you' at registration." From the look on her face as she said this you could tell that this was a surprise to Renee. She is really nice people--be good to her when you show up for a Pro Tour.

Another judge also quipped, "They are very polite. They wait until you have made your entire ruling without interrupting you and then ask for the Head Judge when you are done."

Jason got the round started and then continued to talk about his players. "By and large this group is capable of playing at a PTQ level and standing up with anyone. There is no reason they should feel any less as players because of their age."

Saturday, June 19: 11:53 am

Toronto. Represent.

The JSS Championships are underway and there are kids everywhere in the hall. There are over three hundred competitors and that number is not going to get pared down anytime soon. There was policy change for the JSS Championships this year based on feedback and questions from parents at past events. The players will be playing sixteen rounds of straight Swiss over the tow day event with no cut and no Top 8. The winners will be determined by Swiss standings. As I waded through the mass of teenage humanity to get to the podium I was waylaid at every step by kids wanting their pictures taken for the web coverage especially the Toronto Crew.

I can feel your heart!

Saturday, June 19: 11:44 am

JSSers Ben Jackson and John Nelson made a pilgrimage to Nationals just to touch their idol. Osyp was pretty impressed with the two kids and proclaimed them the future of Magic. I asked him if the kids were good enough to make it to the Pro Tour and Osyp laughed, "I don't know. I wasn't talking about Magic just the way they hit on the ladies last night in the side event area.

Saturday, June 19: 11:34 am

Gerard Fabiano explained a burst of laughter during the draft portion. There was a bit of downtime when a number of players dropped without notifying the scorekeeper. This led to a handful of corrupted pods and they had to do a reseating. Tired of waiting for them to manually confirm the new pods, Gerard asked his table to introduce themselves.

"Seth Burn kicked things off with, 'I'm Jon Finkel from New Jersey,' and nobody laughed--of course. Then it goes around the table with people saying who they are until it gets this one kid and he stands up and shouted out, "I'm Baby Jesus from the MODO…1800."

Saturday, June 19: 11:13 am

Morgan Douglass drafted a ridiculous deck with trip Arcbound Worker, Energy Chamber, Mirrodin's Core and Ion Storm. He also has Clockwork Dragon and Solarion for more countery goodness. His fantasy is to get sixty-four counters on his Solarion and attack with it and his Fangren Pathcutter so he can trample his way to victory. He will have to wait a turn as he was awarded a bye for the first round of play today.

Saturday, June 19: 11:03 am

Did someone say 'soccer riot'?

Sheldon Menery just dropped by to share a list of funny/interesting Standard deck names from the JSS Championships that are going on across the hall.

The Running of the Squirrels - Teddy Vitro
Jason's Deck of Rainbows & Happiness - Jason Putnam
Product Placement with Taco Bell - Elliot Woo Slagwurm Orchestra VI: The Last Crusade - Daniel Smoike
I Think I'm Turning Japanese - Kit Dawson
Big Green Noses - Matt Foxman
The Magical Bob - Donald Howarth
Tog Gone Wrong - Sam Kuerswicz
Last Minute Wins - Michael Le

And the number one Standard deck name from the JSS is…

Elf and N00b - Ben Lucas and Andrew Ross

Saturday, June 19: 10:13 am

"I am giving up way too much tech in my draft article. What am I going to do with it otherwise? But it just feels wrong," sighed Paul Sottosanti as he wrote about Morgan Douglass' Ion Storm monstrosity for a feature article.

Saturday, June 19: 10:11 am

Contrary to other reports there was technically an undefeated player yesterday. Alex Shvartsman did not lose a single match he played in yesterday. He did take a match loss for only registering thirty-nine cards on his draft decklist though and as a result he fell into the 6-1 logjam.

His draft deck today looks like he is no danger of losing anytime soon. His two Trinket Mages can search out either Skullclamp or Leonin Bola as well as other goodies. His Veldalken Mastermind combos with the Mages and his Looming Hoverguard and he's sporting a bounty of great creatures.

Saturday, June 19: 10:02 am

Bonus draft coverage…
I watched Zvi draft with an eye toward his first picks. He generated a squall of controversy last night when word got out that he picked Leonin Bola over Fireball. "There were some people making fun of the extreme of my position."

Leonin Bola's hide in fear.

Zvi was sandwiched between David Solis on his right and Mitch Tamblyn to his left. Zvi picked up his first pack and showed me Leonin Sun Standard, Slith Ascendant, and Skyhunter Patrol and then promptly banished them to the back of the pack. The cards he deliberated over were Silver Myr, Goblin Replica, and Great Furnace. He took the mana-dude. Solis took a first pick Tel-Jilad Archers.

Zvi took a Pyrite Spellbomb out of the second pack over Terror, Longbow, and Granite Shard. Solis took a Leonin Skyhunter second over a Slith Ascendant. Mitch Tamblyn was firmly established in red-white by the third pick after getting Sun Standard and then Granite Shard from Zvi in consecutive packs.

Zvi was in trouble from his right. Despite leading off with the Tel-Jilad Archers, Solis passed Zvi a fourth pick Fangren Hunter. He had taken a Hematite Golem over it. Zvi was going to be in for an unpredictable draft form his right although he was thrilled to get a fifth pick Myr Enforcer.

Zvi sported a big frown as he pored over his Darksteel pack looking for a Leonin Bola but found only a Hoverguard Observer. He brightened considerably when he found a Bola awaiting him in pack two. Tamblyn had taken Specter's Shroud over it. The remainder of Zvi's draft was unexciting with his only real choices coming in back to back packs when he had to choose between Quicksilver Behemoths and Darksteel Ingots--he took the fatty each time.

Zvi took Syndod Centurion over Relic Barrier and Condescend with his first pick. His next two picks were Trinket Mages over Suntouched Myr. Despite his red cards from Darksteel Zvi opted for Pentad Prism over Magma Giant and landed a Thought Courier with his next pick. Solis had wandered into blue by this point and was taking Advanced Hoverguards, Condescends, and Thought Couriers.

Zvi's deck looked reasonable but not amazing, unlike the red/white deck he mostly passed to Mitch Tamblyn (whose Leonin Sun Standard/Granite Shard deck looks like the favorite to sweep the table).

Saturday, June 19: 9:07 am

JSS announcements were being made by Head Judge Jason Ness. Ness was making announcements in a Governor Arnold voice. Apparently it was not popular with the kids though. Another Ness announcement in his regular voice: "Everyone knows that being nice and friendly means you have a 75% better chance of not getting booted by mana. It is a scientific fact."

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