Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on July 21, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast



It's always a tough choice, the first feature match of the day. We scanned the list of players to see if any of the more recent successful players were paired with each other and came up wanting. In the end we settled on last year's Grand Prix: Sydney Champion James Zhang, who had been paired with popular Brisbanian Tenielle Wood.

Zhang won the die roll with a resounding six to one, and things only got worse for Wood when she then elected to mulligan five. Powering out a turn three Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Zhang put Woods Lightning Angel Control deck even further on the back foot. He then followed it up with a Court Hussar and an end of turn Venser, Shaper Savant on one of Woods Hallowed Fountains. Wood tried to catch up with a Court Hussar of her own, but was soon on the receiving end of an Angel of Despair as well, confirming Zhangs deck choice as (Aethermage) Touch (Momentary) Blink Control. A Riftwing Cloudskate on another one of Woods lands and she was soon facing lethal damage without really being allowed into the game.

The tempo was reversed for Game 2, with Wood leading with a turn three Lightning Angel. Zhang could only suspend an early Cloudskate while fending off spells with a couple of Remands. Wood had remands of her own, which she used to delay Zhangs progress, all the while the Angel taking bites out of his life total. Woods second Lightning Angel was enchanted by a Take Possession with Zhang hanging on for dear life, but a third Angel quickly flew in to finish him off.

Wood again mulliganed in Game 3, and found her early Izzet Boilerworks returned to her hand by a Signet-fueled Riftwing Cloudskate, played by actually tapping two blue mana and three other. The Cloudskate joined a Dimir Cutpurse and they harried Wood while she struggled to set up shop with a Court Hussar. A suspended Aeon Chronicler and a Take Possession on the replayed Boiler Works and Woods was left with no outs. Zhang swung in with his team, "is it more than ten?" Wood asked. Spinal Tap fans will be happy to hear that it was actually eleven.

James Zhang defeats Tenielle Wood 2 - 1

Saturday, July 21: 11:43 a.m. - Round Two: James Pirie vs. Daniel Piechnick

by blisterguy

I should have known better than to cover Daniel Piechnick, the man plays Blue in pretty much any constructed event he can. I was hoping James Pirie would be playing an Aggro deck or something, but it soon became apparent that he had opted for Lightning Angel Control.

True to form, both players spent the early turns of the game developing their mana. Pirie made the first move with a Lightning Angel, which was met by a Condemn. His next Lightning Angel ran afoul of a Cancel before Piechnick made the most uncharacteristic move of tapping out on his turn to suspend an Aeon Chronicler for two. Pirie leapt at the opportunity to land a Numot, the Destroyer, only to lose it to Piechnicks Wrath of God in the downtime between suspending his Chronicler and playing it. He then added a pair of Epochrasites to the board, which provided insurance should his Chronicler fall to a Wrath from Pirie. In the end Piechnick played the Wrath to remove a Lightning Angel from the equation, and his now inflated Epochrasites soon made light work of Pirie with the help of an unexpected Calciderm.

Pirie lead Game 2 with a Riptide Pilferer, which was held at bay by an Epochrasite before it could cause much harm. Again Piechnick added a Calciderm to his attack force, and backed it up with a huge Debtors' Knell. Err, I mean it seemed like it was going to have huge impact on the game, not that it was bigger than a regular Magic Card or anything (cough). Anyway, Pirie elected to Suspend an Aeon Chronicler in an attempt to keep up with the Knell, but a Wrath from Piechnick meant that he could then keep his Calciderm coming back to cause mischief, and Impulse himself a card every turn with a deceased Court Hussar. Piechnick then added a Loxodon Warhammer to his side of the table. Pirie tried and failed to draw one of his Disenchants off the top, causing him to proclaim "my deck hates me!" Piechnick grinned "that's okay, my deck hates you too." Pirie made one last attempt to do something meaningful, only to have his Lightning AngelCancelled, and revived by the Debtors' Knell for the killing blow.

Daniel Piechnick defeats James Pirie 2 - 0

Saturday, July 21: 1:14 p.m. - Round Three: Tim He vs. Justin Cheung

by blisterguy

My dreams of featuring an Aggro deck, any Aggro deck on day one were shattered when reigning National Champ Tim He sat down to face fellow Sydneysider Justin Cheung.

Cheung lead with a Castigate after an unfortunate mulligan to five, which revealed that the champ was again playing the deck that garnered him the title last year, Solar Flare. Cheung tried to deny He his mana development by taking a Signet, as He only had one land in play and one in hand. He then tore another Signet off the top, and followed it up with a third land to bust out a Foresee, all but burying Cheung under a slew of cards while he languished on the same two lands he used to play the Castigate. An Angel of Despair from He sealed the deal.

It seemed like they were playing the same decks, until Cheung played out a Graven Cairns, giving him every color but Green. Using the Red mana, Cheung suspended a Detritivore, threatening to give He's Orzhov Basilica something to complain about, but He used a Pull from Eternity to place it squarely in Cheungs Graveyard before it could get up to no good. A second Detritivore however, made short work of a pair of Basilicas, leading the way for Cheung to take control of the air with a Skeletal Vampire and an Akroma, Angel of Wrath. An Aeon Chronicler from He made a valiant effort to race, but it wasn't enough.

For the last game, both players bounced Castigates off Remands and each other's hands. Cheung nabbed a timely Haunting Hymn from He the turn before it could be played, only to have He rip another one off the top and decimate his hand with it. A pair of Chroniclers, a Foresee and a Tidings from He later, and they weren't even playing the same game. Cheung tried gamely to keep up by digging with a Compulsive Research but the champ had drawn too many cards and was too far ahead for anyone to catch him, and an Aeon Chronicler finished Cheung off quickly.

Tim He defeats Justin Cheung 2 - 1

Saturday, July 21: 3:03 p.m. - Round Four: Quick Questions

by blisterguy
Daniel Piechnick
3rd Place Australian National Champs 2006
Anthony Purdom
4th Place Australian National Champs 2006
Cameron Veigel
Finalist Australian National Champs 2006

What did you play in Standard?
Blue/White Midrange Control.
Because Rogue decks are good when you know how to play them and others don't. It started as a Blue/White Control deck that didn't work because all of the good counters are gone.
How did you go?
3 - 0. I only lost one game and that was when I mulliganed to four.
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
How did the draft go?
I forced Red, and passively drafted Green while people passed me bombs.

What did you play in Standard?
Solar Flare
I am a sucker for it (he played Solar Flare last year). It performed well in testing so I thought, why not?
How did you go?
0 - 3. (Laughs - note that he started 0 - 3 last year too)
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
I knew that I wanted Blue…
How did the draft go?
I started Blue and got passed Magus of the Disk 7th. It was like playing a (Magic Online) 4322 draft.

What did you play in Standard?
Angelfire (Blue/White/Red Control)
I like the cards in it (laughs). It seemed powerful in testing against the main decks we expected to face.
How did you go?
1 - 2. I didn't face the match ups we expected (laughs). I lost in three to combo in round one, and presented a 61 card deck in the second round (shrug)
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
Not draft Black. I like anything in Blue, White and Red, so any combination of that.
How did the draft go?
I passed a Lightning Axe in pack one, putting the guy next to me in Red as well as me, but I cut it off quite well after that. Other than that it went pretty good.

James Zhang
Winner Grand Prix Sydney 2006
Tim He
Winner Australian National Champs 2006
Anatoli Lightfoot
Finalist Grand Prix Sydney 2006

What did you play in Standard?
Blink Touch.
Someone told me about it a couple of days ago, and I saw it playing in the Grinders and thought it was pretty cool.
How did you go?
3 - 0.
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
Not really. Just pick a color and stick to it, and choose the second color based on what I'm passed.
How did the draft go?
The first two packs were fine, but the last one had nothing. It went okay.

What did you play in Standard?
Solar Flare.
It's pretty strong, seemed like it tested well (he played Solar Flare last year).
How did you go?
3 - 0.
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
Draft Red/Green.
How did the draft go?
Pretty Good.

What did you play in Standard?
It's good against everything except Dredge, and I didn't expect Dredge.
How did you go?
3 - 0.
Did you have a particular draft strategy you wanted to follow?
Not really, but I am more open to Black than most people, so I tend to end up with some of that.
How did the draft go?
Pretty well. I could have done with a couple more Thallids to go with my Deathspore Thallid maybe.

Saturday, July 21: 3:59 p.m. - Round Five: Tom Haddy vs. Tim He

by blisterguy

While most of us are here to see the Constructed News this weekend, we have to give nod to some of the draft action that will be going on here too. After all, no National Champ can be crowned who hasn't at least proved they can draft as well as play.

Speaking of National Champs, Tim He is again sitting at 4 - 0 and looking at making another run for the top 8, no doubt looking at repeating his victories in both 2006 and 2004. Standing in his way this round was Tom Haddy, and while I can't remember what he has achieved Magically here in Australia, I definitely recognize his face as someone who plays at a high enough level to earn respect from most.

Now I'm not going to lie, I'm a fan of the Mountains, and both players were making a move on my heart by playing out a bunch of them. Haddy had three in play at the end of his third turn, and He had even searched one out with an Edge of Autumn. However, He didn't get much further than that, stalling on four land. Haddy blasted aside a couple of He's minions before slamming the game home with a Boldwyr Intimidator.

In a perfect picture of contrast, Haddy happily chatted to all in earshot while sideboarding, "what have I got in here for you Tim?" he queried. Hes reply as always, was tight-lipped silence.

Boldwyr Intimidator

Haddy came out of the gates blazing in Game 2, looking to pack the match away early with a pair of Keldon Marauders threatening to take He out before he could even present his deck after shuffling. Okay well maybe not that fast, but pretty fast anyway. Matching his demeanor, He quietly took the Marauders on the chin while using a Gemhide Sliver to accelerate up to a Magus of the Arena. Meanwhile, Haddy was stuck on three land and not liking the look of the Magus. The champ wasted no time finishing off the game with his 5/5 monster, suiting it up with an Undying Rage to take it out of potential Lava Axe range, tying the match at one apiece.

Both players began the last game trading small men for removal spells, until their munitions supply ran out, leaving He swinging with a StingScourger and an Essence Warden and Hardy a Burning Blade Askari. Hes Essence Warden was helping him stay ahead of the race, so when he finally found his Magus of the Arena, things were looking grim for Haddy. A StingScourger held it back for a turn, before chump blocking it at the next available opportunity. Haddy then put a stop to all of this Magus nonsense with a Shivan Meteor overkilling it my a considerable margin. To be fair though, Shivan Meteor overkills most things it comes in contact with, but there you go. Haddy then followed it up with his 5/5 of choice, the Boldwyr Intimidator. Quickly weighing up his options in the face of the Intimidator and not needing a great deal of damage to finish Haddy off, He pointed a Riddle of Lightning directly at his opponents face. The champ looked at the top three cards of his library, before flipping over land, land and Fury Sliver, dealing six to Haddy and winning the match.

Tim He defeats Tom Haddy 2 - 1

Saturday, July 21: 3:59 p.m. - Round Six: Standard Metagame Breakdown

by blisterguy

While the players were continuing to play their draft decks against each other, I buried my head in the wee folder thing the judges were hiding the constructed decks lists in to come up with some preliminary numbers for you all. You know, I've always wanted to use the words "preliminary numbers", if you give me a minute I'm just going to sit here with a wee smile on my face for a minute.

(one minute passes)

Right, where was I? The Metagame Breakdown, yes of course. We'll refine the data later tomorrow once we know what the undefeated Standard Decks are, and get them up around the same time get post the top 8 decks.

Gruul Aggro 18
Angelfire Control 18
Selesnya Aggro 12
Blink Touch 8
Solar Flare 8
Korlash Control 7
Rakdos Aggro 6
Project X 4
Perilous Storm 4
Orzhov Aggro 4
Assault Loam 4
Dralnu Du Louvre 4
Golgari Aggro 3
Selesnya Blink 2
Boros Aggro 2
Enduring Renewal Combo 2
Mono Blue Pickles 2
Boros Blink 2
NarcoBridge 2
Azorius Aggro Control 2
Hierarch Aggro Control 1
4Color Control 1
Zoo 1
Simic Pickles 1
Orzhov Martyr Control 1
Mono Green Aggro 1
Green/Red/Black Aggro 1

Saturday, July 21: 3:59 p.m. - Round Seven: James Zhang vs. Anatoli Lightfoot

by blisterguy

To round out day one, there were two players left undefeated, James Zhang and Anatoli Lightfoot. The same two players in fact, who faced off in the finals of Grand Prix: Sydney at the end of last year. Some might say that speaks well of the skill these guys possess, others maybe of the formats themselves. Either way, it will no doubt be a good match to watch.

In the draft, Zhang was slightly upstream of Lightfoot, taking a Castle Raptors and a Temporal Isolation to put him in White. Lightfoot first picked a Sporesower Thallid, but soon moved into Red for a third and fifth pick Grapeshot, a sixth pick Empty the Warrens, and Black for a fourth pick Urborg Syphon-Mage. Zhang meanwhile, was wavering around Black and Green for his second color, trying to get a read on the signals coming his way. It was a fifth pick Sporesower Thallid that convinced him to go with Green.

Both players traded blows to start the match, with Lightfoots Shivan Sand-Mage backed up by a Rathi Trapper tending Zhang to defend a little more than he would have liked. Unable to stop a Skirk Shaman from taking him down to single figures while the Trapper kept things complicated, Zhang was soon left reaching for his sideboard.

Zhang rallied in Game 2, suspending a Shade of Trokair early and following it up with his Sporesower Thallid. Lightfoot turned the tide with back to back combat tricks to leave Zhang with an empty board. Zhang played out a Narcatl War-Pride, only to have it locked out by Lightfoots Rathi Trapper. A Riftmarked Knight allowed Zhang to start denting Lightfoots life total, but he just came straight back over with the plucky Skirk Shaman again. Zhang tried to stabilize with a pair of Saltfield Recluses, but Lightfoot removed one, powering up the hellbent on his sideboarded Cutthroat il-Dal to finish Zhang off, giving Lightfoot the revenge he was no doubt looking for after his second place finish to Zhang in Sydney last year.

Anatoli Lightfoot defeats James Zhang 2 - 0

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