Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on October 15, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast



Saturday, Oct 14: 10:25 a.m. - Talking to Tommi

Tommi looking at red-black…

The star power of the GP Athens field easily outshines the feeble sunlight that filters through the dirty glass panes of the stadium basement: Kenji Tsumura. Gabriel Nassif. Shuuhei Nakamura. Raphael Levy. But one star eclipses even the newly inducted French Hall-of-Famer and the Japanese reigning player of the year: Tommi Hovi is here, playing his first premier event since his Hall-of-Fame-induction last year. "It's a new format, so it doesn't matter that I haven't played in a while", said the taciturn Finn.

After Tommi had received his Time Spiral cards, he sorted through them and quickly put away Green and White. Green offered Spectral Force, Verdeloth the Ancient, the instant-speed monster Havenwood Wurm, two Gemhide Sliver and two Search for Tomorrow, but Tommi declined. He quickly identified Magus of the Disk, Griffin Guide, Castle Raptors, Jedit's Dragoons and two Flickering Spirit as the White playables, but set them aside, too. Casually dismissing Blue, Tommi flipped through his Red and Black cards and saw: Sudden Shock, Firemaw Kavu, Conflagrate, Flamecore Elemental. Strangling Soot, double Dark Withering, Nightshade Assassin and a timeshifted Faceless Butcher.

…but the cards may just be greener on the other side!

Tommi counted his cards and easily found 23 red-black playables. But he was not entirely happy about the deck, checking the rest of his cards again and again. When he had just 13 minutes left on the clock, Tommi had laid out a completely different deck: Green/Blue, with a double splash for Firemaw Kavu, Sudden Shock and Strangling Soot. With two Search for Tomorrow, a Prismatic Lens, a Chromatic Star and Foriysian Totem in his pool, a base green two-color deck with a mild splash was entirely possible. Green would provide the basic framework, acceleration and finishers: two Gemhide Sliver, Thallid Shell-Dweller, Verdeloth, Spectral Force. Blue would have to provide additional punch, with Tolarian Sentinel, Vesuvan Shapeshifter and the mid-game boost of Fathom Seer. Mystic Snake put the finishing touch on that version of Tommi's deck.

But the Finn still had six minutes on the clock, and kept switching between the red-black and the blue-green with two-color splash deck. In the end, he decided to go with the higher power and better consistency and registered the two-color deck. His high removal count should easily open the way for his two Skittering Monstrosities to push through. 17 lands plus Foriysian Totem will provide easy mana for the two-color power pile.

"I don't like red/black", explained Tommi after he had registered his deck. He had tried out the blue/green control build simply because: "Every time I draft red/black, it doesn't really work for me." The Hall-of-Famer has six or seven Time Spiral drafts under his belt. His experience led him to the stronger deck, and he looked confident to make day two with it easily. The sign of a true pro: Let the cards decide what to do, not your own preferences.

Saturday, Oct 14: 11:37 a.m. - Hat Ridiculeuse

No hat has seen more GP action than this one.

Watch out, Ben Goodman! Here comes a little Frenchman who stakes some serious claim to your online moniker. Anthony Dorle from Bordeaux has acquired his own ridiculous hat at GP Hasselt and carried it to every Grand Prix since: Dortmund, Barcelona, Cardiff, Torino, Toulouse and now Athens. Expect the 16-year-old road warrior to show up next season just as frequently, maybe with a new, even more ridiculous hat? We'll be keeping watch!

Saturday, Oct 14: 1:19 p.m. - Round 4 : Roel van Heeswijk vs. Kenji Tsumura

Game 1

Kenji Tsumura is the current reigning player of the year, while Roel van Heeswijk is one of the many strong Dutch players on the way to collective world domination. The two represent the countries that most players hold think will face in the team finals of next month's World Championships. So how did the battle go, and is it a portent of things to come?

Kenji won the die roll and chose to play first. He put some pressure on the board with Deathspore Thallid, Basal Sliver and a mystery morph, while Roel had just a Greenseeker and a suspended Durkwood Baloth. Roel had Ashcoat Bears and sacrificed his Greenseeker, but Kenji stumped Roel's development by revealing a Soul Collector as the morph. Ashcoat bear traded sides and Roel had no play, facing down eight damage with an empty board.

The Dutchman succumbed to the merciless Japanese.

With Roel on a precarious life total of 6, Rift Bolt took care of the Basal Sliver and Durkwood Baloth finally made it into play. Strangling Soot from Roel took care of his own Ashcoat Bear and flashbacked, killing Kenji's newly summoned Magus of the Mirror. It was not enough: Kenji attacked with his remaining team, took Roel to 2 and revealed Sudden Shock.

Roel van Heeswijk 0 - 1 Kenji Tsumura

Game 2

Both players kept their hands, but had no turn two play. Their turn three plays were worth the wait, though: Roel faced Flowstone Channeler, while Kenji had Blazing-Blade Askari, a very solid beatdown creature. Kenji's Sudden Shock took care of the Channeler, while Roel killed Magus of the Jar with Rift Bolt - a veritable back-and-forth of removal spells!

But the game swung in Kenji's favor when he aimed a mainphase Haunting Hymn at Roel's head. The Dutchman flashed Bogardan Rager into play, but Kenji had landed a solid jab on Roel's chin: Assassinate and Strangling Soot fell victim to the Echoes. Blazing-Blade Askari traded with Bogardan Ranger and Kenji brought Kaervek the Merciless into play, followed up by Dragon Whelp. Roel was playing from the top and could not match the Japanese's Onslaught.

On the heels of Kaervek comes Kenji's first victory of the day.

Still on 12 life, to Kenji's 16, Roel sacrificed Greenseeker to get a Swamp and flashbacked Strangling Soot to kill Dragon Whelp. That still left Kaervek to deal with, to which Roel could find no answer. Two turns later, he scooped up his cards with 30 minutes left on the clock.

Roel van Heeswijk 0 - 2 Kenji Tsumura

After the match, Roel commented that his deck was made up of pretty solid individual cards, but didn't work together as a deck. That is something to watch out for in Time Spiral limited: If your deck does not have some manner of interaction, you are at a disadvantage to those decks who do. And there are quite a couple of them out there!

Saturday, Oct 14: 2:14 p.m. - Rolling in the Pros

Portuguese pro Tiago Chan

Round 4 is just about to start, and that means that the plethora of pros who are here are about to storm the tournament! Among them is Portuguese pro Tiago Chan. He is pretty happy with his blue-black deck, featuring three Fathom Seer and two Looter Il-Kor, a card that has been mightily praised this weekend so far.

Shuuhei Nakamura is also entering the competition now, sporting a red/green deck with Flamecore Elemental, Rift Bolt and Stuffy Doll. He also maindecks Krosan Grip, as there are a lot of enchantments being played and the Totems are around. "It is a good deck, but not excellent", commented Shuuhei. He splashes black for Strangling Soot, by far the most splashed card this weekend. "I think I can go 3-2", said the Japanese, confident in his ability to make day 2.

The German, French and Dutch pros make up the highest percentage of name players in the tournament. Among them, black, red and blue look to be the favorite colors, with white and green bringing up the rear.

Saturday, Oct 14: 3:32 p.m. - Quick Questions with the Pros!

Quick Questions #1: Which Time Spiral Cards Do You Want To Open?

Antoine Ruel: Bram Snepvangers: Geoffrey Siron:
Disintegrate. Desolation Giant Disintegrate, maybe? No, wait, Stormbind!
Quentin Martin: Julien Nujiten: Shuuhei Nakamura:
Foil Psionic Blast? No, it's Sacred Mesa, really. Ixidron. It's not the best card, but it is one of my favorites and it's really, really good. Stormbind.

Saturday, Oct 14: 6:15 p.m. - Floor Stories From Day One

Gabriel Nassif mysteriously disappeared from the tournament pairings before round 5. His match had to be paired by hand, resulting in some confusion and a little extra time for his match. He lost that round. "Actually, I was kinda hoping for a bye," he joked.

Walking around in twos seems to be the latest fashion at this GP: Kenji and Shuuhei can be seen threading their way through the tables together, as well as Jelger Wiegersma and Anton Jonsson, Bram Snepvangers and Roel van Heeswijk, and of course the dynamic duo of moxradio, Richard Hagon and Dave Sutcliffe.

Thankfully, Maximilian just borrowed these sunglasses, so he can return them at the earliest possible moment.
  • Maximilian Bracht acquired a new hair-cut and some atrocious, totally out-of-fashion sunglasses. Also, he lost his round 6 match despite his opponent failing to kill him with Conflagrate when he could - twice. Maximilian's end result: 3-3 drop.

  • Gijs Hoogendijk, apprentice feature match reporter, didn't know many Time Spiral card names. After he covered a round 7 match, he had to sit down with a player's guide and figure out which cards hid under his own descriptions like "that blue morph tapping thingie".

  • Craig "Professor Topdeck" Jones did it again: Third game in his round 7 match, Craig was on the ropes. His opponent needed just one more untap to win the match and kick Craig out of contention for day 2. The catch: Craig's opponent was on three life, and what did Craig do? Exactly - he ripped Rift Bolt at the last possible moment, winning the game and the match! Note: Never be on three life against Craig Jones when you are in a winning position.

Saturday, Oct 14: 7:07 p.m. - Round 6: Endrek Trumps Evil Eye

Game 1

This round pitted Sam Gomersall, the best English Limited player, against Tuomo Nieminen. Tuomo is an old-timer from the past of Finnish Magic, with good finishes to his name. His last Top 8 was at Team-GP Bochum in the 03/04 season, where he teamed up with Anton Jonsson and Nicolai Herzog to take second place. Both players had 15 points, aiming to lock in their spot in day two as soon as possible.

Sam figures out how to stick a black Eye to Tuomo.

No mulligans, and Sam kicked off with a Pit Keeper while Tuomo had a suspended Search the Tomorrows. When it finally came into play, he used the extra mana to bring out Scarwood Treefolk. Sam seemed to be planning more for the long game, putting down the blue-black storage land and Foriysian Totem. Thallid Germinator on Tuomo's side came down and left the Finn with enough mana (one) to suspend a Rift Bolt.

Seeing the Rift Bolt coming, Sam was unwilling to put something else into play besides his Pit Keeper and Strangling Sooted Tuomo's Thallid Germinator instead. The Bolt came out of his Rift, hit the Keeper and the Treefolk cracked Sam to 14. Tuomo laid on more beats with the Swampwalking Wurmwood Dryad. Sam's answer: hard-cast Twisterd Abomination, evening out the board quite nicely.

Sam kept up the black with Evil Eye of Urborg, Tuomo kept up the green with Ashcoat Bears. Sam cracked back with his Eye, but a morphed-up Thelonite Hermit from Tuomo heavily pitched the board towards the Finn. Sam could do nothing but acknowledge: "That's very good!"

At 11 (Sam) to 7 (Tuomo) life, the Finn went for an alpha strike for 17 damage total. Sam activated Foriysian Totem. "I'll tell you when I'm done blocking, I'm really not sure what's going to happen here", said the Englishman as he figured out the best way to stay alive. Interestingly, Tuomo had failed to give the Dryad Swampwalk, so the animal fell to Sam's own Foriysian Totem. The attack would have taken the Englishman to 1, had he not had a Strangling Soot to take out an attacker. He went to 5 instead.

Tuomo's post-combat Penumbra Wurm did not block Sam's counter-attack with Evil Eye of Urborg. Tuomo went to 1, but like a true master he had Strangling Soot for Sam's blocker, taking Game 1 with the most-splashed card of the tournament.

Sam Gomersall 0 - 1 Tuomo Nieminen

Game 2

Again, the Englishman chose to play first. Identical mana-fixing with Prismatic Lens on both sides led to a morph for Sam and Scarwood Treefolk for Tuomo. The morph turned out to be Fathom Seer, giving Sam a Gush into Evil Eye of Urborg. The Eye took Tuomo to 12, and Sprite Noble from Sam did - nothing. Tuomo had Might Sliver and the Flash Bears, which promptly chumped Sam's Eye. That Evil Eye sure did a lot of work!

Black Eyes don't always hurt: A relaxed Tuomo takes the match.

Nightshade Assassin failed to do anything but coming into play for Sam. Tuomo was pondering: How could he get rid of Urborg's most annoying Eye? Attacking with both Might Sliver and Scarwood Treefolk was not the way, as Sam double-blocked the Sliver and Tuomo used Strangling Soot to keep his guy alive. Sam fell to 11.

The counterattack of the Evil Eye (what a great creature type, by the way) took Tuomo to 6. The Finn went for a full-scale attack again, which Sam took to the chest down to 4 life. From there, the game went downhill fast for the English: Tuomo had Endrek Sahr and Basal Sliver, making three chump-blocking Thrulls in the process. "Not bad", commented Sam: "I'd give anything for Flight right now!"

Instead, Sam had Viscerid Lemures, whose Swampwalk would sure have come in handy if he had managed to stay alive. Tuomo, though, had a different course in mind, activated his Foriysian Totem and attacked for a lot of damage, enough to make Sam pick up his cards!

Sam Gomersall 0 - 2 Tuomo Nieminen

Both players commented on the ridiculousness of Endrek Sahr while they packed up. They agreed: "He's amazing, just put him down, play six-drop or whatever. Let him die, it doesn't matter." On the back of Endrek, Tuomo kept a perfect 18-point record and secured day two, while Sam stayed at his 15 points and has to win at least one more to get into safer waters.

Saturday, Oct 14: 8:01 p.m. - Round 7: Jelger Wiegersma vs. David Irvine

Jelger is feeling right at home on the European GP circuit. His opponent his been to multiple GP's in the US however it is only his second in Europe as he just started working in England.

A tired-looking Jelger takes his loss.

David won the coin toss and elected to start. It was Jelger with the first play, when he suspended a Duskrider Peregrine, which he followed up with a Spiketail Drakeling. David tried to destroy Jelger's lone plain with Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, but he sacrificed his drake. When the Duskriders suspension was finished Jelger could swing with it and the Cavalry master he had cast the turn before. David's Herd Gnarr decided not to block and go on the offense the following turn. Jelger took the damage, but made sure the gnarr was out of the equation by putting Eternity Snare on it. He attacked into a Keldon Halberdier with his creatures. The Halberdier got Thrilled by the Hunt, but Jelger had a Fortify to ensure his guys survived. A Benalish Cavalry gave Jelger another flanker and that was the game.

Jelger 1-0 David

David wanted to start again but had to wait while Jelger took a mulligan. This time David started with suspending a Durkwood Baloth. Jelger however suspended a second turn Ith, High Arcanist. A good ol' Uthden Troll showed up for David, which he followed up with a Sporesower Thallid. Jelger had played an Outrider en-Kor, and needed to think some because David was applying a lot of pressure. Fortifying the en-Kor got rid of the big Thallid. On his following turn Jelger made a Zealot il-Vec which would not help stem the bleeding but it was something. The 5/5 and the Troll attacked and David made an Outrider himself. Jelger suspended an Ephemeron and attacked, leaving Ith behind to block the troll and deal with the Baloth. David cast the Durkwood Tracker and Jelger made sure it would not deal any damage with Temporal Isolation. David cast Errant Doomsayers which put Jelger on the ropes as he was already down to 5 by now. David attacked with his team, Jelger blocked with his fresh Benalish Cavalry and his Ith, but it was not enough, a Fortify and a Thrill of the Hunt took him down.

Jelger 1-1 David

The American living in Great Britain takes out the Dutch.

The Dutchman started Game 3, Jelger started the action with a turn three Cloudchaser Kestrel and David made his trustworthy Troll. Jelger attacked and made a D'Avenant Healer, while David made the Sporesower Thallid again. Jelger double blocked the Thallid when it attacked, but it got thrilled ensuring it survived. Jelger fortified to make sure his guys lived but the game started slipping away. An Outrider en-Kor and Ironclaw Buzzardiers were on David's side of the board by now. Jelger hard-cast Errant Ephemeron to make attacking a bit harder for his opponent. David just played the Durkwood Tracker applying even more pressure, while Jelger had no play on his turn. The American wanted to make sure everything was ok before he finally went all in, activating his Thunder Totem. Jelger made his blocks and David had a Thrill to make sure Jelger lost his team while he still had six creatures in play. Jelger looked at his top card, but it was not enough so he scooped.

Jelger 1-2 David

Saturday, Oct 14: 8:52 p.m. - Round 8: A Salsa Dance For The Hall Of Fame

The dancers on the stage of the last round: Two Frenchmen, Pierre Canali and Raphael Levy. Pierre went into this match with 19 points and is safely through to day 2. Raphael had 18 points and a strong opponent win percentage that might carry him to day even with a loss. The two friends decided to play anyway, and it was on, the Hall-of-Famer versus the Salsa instructor!

Game 1

According to Pierre Canali, this pose is called 'A lá Max Bracht'.

Looking at his opening hand, Raphael showed all signs a difficult decision, but kept the hand. Looter il-Kor in his opening hand had influenced his decision highly, but Pierre showed Desert and all dreams of heavy Looting were gone. Pierre hit Raphael with a Psychotic Episode, seeing three Mountains, an Island and Nicol Bolas! Fathom Seer was the card on Raphael's library, but it was the Elder Dragon Legend that had to go all the way down to the bottom of the library.

Raphael successfully cast and un-morphed his Fathom Seer. Pierre comfortably sat behind two Swamps, one Forest and a Desert, while Search for Tomorrows brought him another Forest. I wasn't able to understand their French banter, but it certainly entertained Geoffrey Siron, who was closely watching the match.

Raphael attacked into the Desert and saved his Looter il-Kor with a surprise Voidmage Husher, at least for a turn. Pierre, undeterred, had Spectral Force. Raphael could only muster a mystery morph, while the Force took him to 12. Pierre set up defense with Clockwork Hydra, and Raphael unmorphed Vesuvan Shapeshifter at end of turn - a nice trick, because copying his Fathom Seer netted him two cards without a drawback. And that could even go ahead every turn, for the low prize of 1U.

Raphael attacked Voidmage Husher and Looter into Clockwork Hydra, losing the Looter in the process to a ping. He had Feeblement for the Hydra, though, and was able to retrieve Husher to his hand - another nifty interaction in Raphael's deck.

The face-down Shapeshifter spelled problems for Pierre, but he aimed his Rift Bolt at the Fathom Seer that the Shapeshifter was copying. Two more cards for Raphael and the Seer hit dirt, while Pierre brought Urborg Syphon-Mage to the table. When Pierre smashed with Ashcoat Bears and Spectral Force, Raphael copied the Force and the Shapeshifter traded with the Elemental Spirit.

Orcish Artillery killed the Syphon-Mage and took Raphael down to 5. He filled his empty board with Lim-Dul, a more than adequate condition to win this game. Raphael also had Pardic Dragon! While Pierre mustered Pit Keeper with Fire Whip and returned his Spectral Force to play, he found no outs against the flier. After playing enough blockers to stay alive and Grapeshotting the Pit Keeper, Raphael flew over for a couple of winning hits.

Pierre Canali 0 - 1 Raphael Levy

Geoffrey Siron, commenting on the game, pointed out that Raphael caught a needless ping from the Fire Whip, because Raphael could and should have Grapeshot Pierre's Fire Whip'ed Pit Keeper earlier. "Hall of Fame player", commented Geoffrey, jesting back and forth with the two Frenchmen.

Game 2

Game 2 began similar to last game, with Raphael getting an early Looter and Pierre skillfully answering blue's best common with Desert. Strangling Soot took care of Looter #1. Firewhip on Pit Keeper killed the other, flashbacked Strangling Soot killed Raphael's last creature Viscerid Deepwalker, and Sporesower Thallid from Pierre made Raphael scoop faster than I could type.

Pierre Canali 1 - 1 Raphael Levy

Game 3

Finally, a different opening! Pierre had Deathspore Thallid and Raphael cycled Twisted Abomination for a Swamp. Then again, it wasn't so different, as Raphael showed Looter on his third turn. Pierre enhanced his Thallid Army with Thallid Germinator. Raphael looted away his Nicol Bolas and played Offense with Blazing-Blade Askari, only to have it killed by Premature Burial.

Pierre found his Desert and wasted the Looter. That left Raphael on an empty board and the Salsa instructor cracked for an unimpeded three damage, suspending Durkwood Baloth post-combat. His lands were two Swamps, a Forest, a Mountain and the Desert - unlikely that he would have been able to cast the Baloth before it came out of the rift, so suspending it made sense. Raphael killed Germinator with Sudden Death, made a mystery morph and was hit by Psychotic Episode again! This time, Pierre got the Vesuvan Shapeshifter, noting that Raph had Brine Elemental in his hand and Prismatic Lens on his library.

Raphael Levy clearly enjoyed the match, and is happy about day 2.

Raph's morph turned out to be the expected Fathom Seer, and Brine Elemental came hard-cast. Pierre still had the upper hand with Spectral Force. Raphael seemed desperate for an answer, playing and un-morphing yet another Fathom Seer. He only found Feeblement, killing Deathspore Thallid.

With Raphael at 15 and Pierre at 18, the Salsa instructor made his Spectral Force dance quickstep on Raphael's life total, taking him to 7. The counterattack wasn't good enough to kill Pierre before his Durkwood Baloth would come into play. Raphael thought long and hard about attacking with Brine Elemental and Viscerid Deepwalker, but in the end only the Elemental came in (and was chump-blocked by Pierre's lonely Saproling).

Time was called and the two Frenchman had five turns left to break the ground stall (Pierre: 11 life, Raphael: 7). In the end, an unintentional draw came out of the prolonged, nearly epic but ultimately useless match - they could have ID'd and both made day 2, but that would have been far less entertaining.

Pierre Canali vs Raphael Levy: 1-1-1

Saturday, Oct 14: 10:00 p.m. - Quick Questions #2

Who Will Win at Worlds?

Antoine Ruel: Bram Snepvangers: Geoffrey Siron:
The Netherlands. They have the best and the nicest team! I haven't really checked the Nationals results… probably Japan. Netherlands.
Quentin Martin: Julien Nujiten: Shuuhei Nakamura:
*asks Kenji who is on the Japanese team* Ah, whatever, the Netherlands! I haven't seen all the teams, but I think we have a pretty good chance. *thinks, looks at Julien* The Dutchies, but Japan will probably take the other title!

Saturday, Oct 14: 11:24 p.m. - Looking Back At Day One

After a turbulent day, four players managed to ride on the edge of the Time Spiral and go undefeated in the Sealed portion of GP Athens. We weren't able to keep you, dear reader at home, up to date because the internet connection on site broke down. Hopefully, you didn't even notice, and you certainly won't if you are reading this after Sunday, Oct 15th! However, whether you are reading now or later, here's what Aaron Brackmann, leader of the standings with 24 points and the best opponent score in his group had to say.

The German had a bad feeling about his deck, and the 8-0 record came as a small but happy surprise to him. Originally, Aaron thought: "I knew I had a fast deck, but it was just mediocre." Luck favored the German especially in round 7, where he was facing a player whose goodies-deck centered around Akroma. Color-screw on his opponent's side let Aaron finish even that match undefeated. "I only won round 6 because my opponent let me play first two times," explained Aaron.

His deck was extremely aggressive early on, with a mana curve that topped out at four. He also had Magus of the Scroll to sink late-game mana and to dominate an opposing creature force, if necessary. With 8 straight match wins, Aaron is joined by fellow German David Brucker, alleged Englishman Simon Bouton (no idea if his country code is correct) and Greek local Evangelos Papatsarouchas, who beat Shuuhei Nakamura along the way.

A surprise came from the English, who managed to put six players in day two, a record last reached at English Nationals. Join us Sunday on and, where we well strive to bring you all the coverage you need!

Evangelos Papatsarouchas

Download Arena Decklist

Simon Bouton

Download Arena Decklist

Aaron Brackmann

Download Arena Decklist

David Brucker

Download Arena Decklist

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