Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on January 29, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast



Take a look through the eyes of the registration staff.

Last night about 300 players showed up to register. The predictions for this weekend were in the region of 1000 players.

Morning registration is technically supposed to be between 8 and 9. But when you have 500 or so players all having the same idea of turning up to register about ten minutes to nine...

Well, you can understand why Grand Prix don't always start precisely on time. Pity the judging staff. They've got to take the details of all these people.

Another quality reminder to make sure you register for your tournaments early, or you'll have to shuffle for an hour before you get to play.

Saturday, January 28: 10:17 a.m. - The New Guy

by Craig Jones
Jörn Hajek, but we like to call him the new guy.

I'd like to introduce you to a new member of the event coverage team. As my usual compadre Rui Oliveira is busy with family duties it was decided we might need some backup just in case I get run over by a bus or something. So this weekend I'll also be joined by Jörn Hajek from Denmark. Astute followers of the European Grand Prix coverage may recognize his name as he's covered a few matches for me in the past.

This will be the first European Grand Prix in a while with two official coverage writers running around so hopefully they'll be plenty of material to follow. This of course assumes that the stress doesn't reduce him to a gibbering wreck at the end of the first day.

Saturday, January 28: 12:24 p.m. - Remember Me?

by Craig Jones

It's not often you get to see a former World Champion in action on the first round of a Grand Prix. Jakub Slemr gained the mantle way back in 1997. In recent times another card game, Bridge, has diverted the Czech player and this is the first time he's been at a Grand Prix since London back in 2002 (which he won).

I caught up with him after his first round match to ask him some questions. He told me the reason he was here was because he had some friends in Belgium and it seemed like a nice trip. He also mentioned that he really liked the new set. The artifact heavy sets hadn't really interested him but he was much more enthusiastic about the multi-colored element of Ravnica. He likes the gold cards and especially the new hybrid cards.

1997 Magic World Champion Jakub Slemr

I asked him how a set like Ravnica and Magic in general compares now to the Magic he was used to playing a few years back. His comments on Ravnica were that it seemed balanced and was fun to draft. He mentioned that he'd been drafting it a lot online recently.

I asked him what he thought of Pro Tour Prague and he replied that he was excited at the prospect of a Pro Tour in his home city and would be making every effort to qualify at the PTQ's.

Unfortunately for him the sealed deck gods had not been kind. Although his deck has a nice bomb rare in Sisters of Stone Death, he managed to open no removal and his deck is heavily three color. Mana problems had just cost him his first round match so it seems unlikely that Slemr will burst back onto the scene at this GP as he did back in London three years ago. Although Grand Prix Hasselt might not provide that invitation, I wouldn't be surprised to see Slemr's name down on the invitation list some time in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, January 28: 1:47 p.m. - Deckbuilding with Olivier Ruel

by Jörn Martin Hajek
Magic is A-OK with Olivier Ruel!

I came to the table five minutes into deck construction, but Olivier's deck was almost done. He told me he was a little disappointed when he saw his first two rares, Excruciator and Doubling Season, but when he saw the other three, Grave-Shell Scarab, Plague Boiler and Primordial Sage, he was quite happy. With these rares, it was rather obvious he had to play Golgari, and the Moldervine Cloak pushed him into that direction as well. After finding all the good black and green cards, he still was a little short, and as he had a little mana-fixing, he was looking for a splash-color. It came down to blue, with Snapping Drake and Vedalken Entrancer, and white, with Faith's Feathers and Pollenbright Wings. The different splashs would also allow him to activate either the Roofstalker Wight or the Transluminants. In the end, the Feathers seemed most important. All of this had happened in the five minutes before I got there, and all I actually saw him decide was whether he would be using Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Clinging Darkness, or Gaze of the Gorgon as his 40th card. He decided the Darkness was best, as he was sure he would win the late game, and this was the card that would help him get there.

Olivier was very confident that he would make day two with this deck, although he admitted that the high number of players would make a little luck a necessity as well. As he had early access to the Guildpact-set, he would have preferred to play with it today, and especially tomorrow in the draft. On the other hand, he liked that the prerelease-weekend added some extra players.

He went to the land station as one of the first players, while the masses around me were still trying to find out what all their cards did.

Olivier Ruel

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Saturday, January 28: 5:50 p.m. - Hidden Retreat

by Jörn Martin Hajek

As the European division of Wizards of the Coast is seated in Belgium, it was a lot easier for them to get in touch with the local media then it usually is. To accommodate the many members of the press, they have created a separate area for them. Here these hard-working people can relax while drinking a coffee or looking at a little part of WotC's product history, which is displayed around the room. It also offers a great place for photos of the whole Grand Prix area. But to get to this fabulous room, you will have to pass two grim-looking security guards first.

I gathered all my courage, and made sure that my press-batch was easily recognizable, as I walked towards the door. I avoided any eye-contact with the guardians, and sighed a breath of relief when they let me through unharmed. Inside, I took a few pictures, so that the common people may have a look at the glorious sights that are given to those of greater importance.

Well this looks nice!
This doesn't look so nice...
Getting closer as angels guide the way
A nice little retreat for the stressed-out VIP's
And now we can look down on the tournament and taunt the players with ridiculous French accents

Saturday, January 28: 7:19 p.m. - Any old cards …

by Craig Jones
Volunteers for Kika turning Magic into magic

Spare a thought for all those commons. They spend the entire day battling on behalf of their owners only to be discarded with the trash at the end of the day. Well this weekend there's a better home for those poor neglected cards. At the back of the room a couple of volunteers are collecting magic cards on behalf of the Dutch charity Kika. This roughly translates to Kids Cancer Free and as the name would suggest is for the benefit of kids with cancer.

The idea of collecting unwanted cards originated through the Dutch website and so far the charity has picked up around 30,000 cards. At the tournament today they've already picked up in the region of 3 - 4,000 cards. And it's not all commons as well. Generous players have donated such goodies as a DCI Ball Lightning, a foil Oblivion Stone and one French player has donated around 120 rares. A number of players have promised to donate their tournament decks once the day is over and traders Troll and Toad and the artists on site have also pledged to chip something in before the tournament is over. Overall Kika is hoping to pick up around 10 - 20,000 cards to help out their cause for the weekend.

Saturday, January 28: 8:43 p.m. - Scandinavian Slump

by Craig Jones

There was a time when the guys from the far north of Europe were the dominant force in Magic. Olle Råde and Tommi Hovi were both entrants to the Hall of Fame this year and other names such as Nicolai Herzog, Mattias Jorstedt and Anton Jonsson have set the Pro Tour alight at various points in their careers.

Nicolai Herzog is back (in black.. and grey)

Of late the Grand Prix have been a little light on the Scandinavian contingent so it was good to see Nicolai Herzog back on the scene. I asked if we would be seeing more of him back on the world stage or would it just be for the limited events (it's no secret that Herzog hates constructed magic). Nicolai said he'd keep on trying to Q for PT Prague but it wasn't to be this weekend. In fact it's tales of woe all round the table. Johan Sadeghpour's sealed deck is a candidate for worst Ravnica sealed deck ever and he was out with three losses. Herzog's deck was better but not by much and he'd also picked up the third loss that spells doom. Anton Jonsson was hanging in but only just as he'd picked up two losses and a draw. As mentioned before his deck flatters to deceive. It looked good when he was goldfishing hands that reeled off Brainspoil, Putrefy, Putrefy, Lightning Helix, but when the deck only has about three significant creatures all that yummy removal gets blown on an opponent's tenth best monster.

I asked them what the future held for Scandinavian magic. The reply I got was all doom and gloom and mutterings of poker and World of Warcraft. I reckon it's probably just that winter darkness thing. Apparently there is a strong contingent from Trondheim here and Scandinavia has such a strong pedigree in the game to see them down for too long.

Saturday, January 28: 10:51 p.m. - Boys in the Bubble

by Jörn Martin Hajek

Before the last round in the green group, it looked as if 21 points were needed for day two. Five Pros had 18 or 19 points and needed to win their last game to advance.

Pierre Canali squeezes in another victory

Pierre Canali was playing Lionel Perin in an all-French match. Canali's main road to victory was his Glare of Subdual, which he could either draw, or transmute from his deck with Dimir House Guard. He was trailing 0-1 very fast, however, at the end the power of the Glare came through, and Canali used his token masses to win.

On table 27, Bernardo de Costa Cabral was up against Dara Butler from Ireland, and quickly won 2-0.

Jelger Wiegersma had the good old Vedalken Entrancer + Mark of Eviction against Marc Le Campion, but Le Campion had a lot of auras in his hand, and the game dragged on for quite a while. At some point, there was a rules question regarding the interaction between Moonlight Bargain and Wizened Snitches. Two floor judges couldn't really agree on what would happen, so head judge Gijs was brought in. He was about to rule that all cards would be shown, before he noticed that the cards actually are just looked at and not drawn, which means that only the one on top is visible. In the end, Jelger got a little advantage, and got ahead 1-0. In Game 2, Le Campion made the best use of Doubling Season I have ever seen in this format, but sadly for him this only lead to him losing to Netherborn Phalanx.

Bernardo de Costa Cabral is out in front

Rogier Maaten was playing Martin Tramm from Germany. He quickly lost game 1, but in Game 2 Tramm was a little short on mana, and Maaten tried to use Lurking Informant to make sure it stayed that way. It didn't, however, and Tramm kicked Maaten out of the tournament.

The last one was Frank Karsten, who played Claus Kropp. Both players played quite slowly, and Kropp made a few minor errors here and there that prolonged the game. At the end, they didn't have time to finish the last game. Karsten asked for a concession, but Kropp wanted the draw. In the end, it didn't matter, as Karsten was one of the lucky 19's that made it, while Kropp got the 65th place and won't advance.

In the blue group, things were much clearer for the name players - before the last round, most of them either made it already, or didn't have any chance. Only Ruud Warmenhoven and Julien Nuijten still weren't sure, but even a win wouldn't guarantee day two for Nuijten.

Frank Karsten squeeked into Day 2

Nuijten won his game, in great part thanks to Pollenbright Wings on a Greater Mossdog, which produced a whole lot of Pro-Tour-Player-Card-Tokens, many of them featuring Nuijten himself.

Warmenhoven was paired against fellow countryman Robert Smink, and after a hard-fought battle, they were faced with a draw. They discussed a little whether it made sense for one of them to concede, but in the end, they stuck to the result:

The three Dutchmen, Nuijten, Warmenhoven and Smink all spend another 20 minutes waiting for the other games to finish and the standings to be posted. In the end, Nuijten and Warenhoven made it, while Smink got to sleep in on Sunday.

Saturday, January 28: 11:33 p.m. - The Undefeated Day 1 Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Thomas Preyer

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Tiago Chan

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Dennis Andreason

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