TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Blog - 8:10 p.m.: Round 8: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs Raphael Levy
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
- Blog - 6:51 p.m.: Round 7: Catching Up with the Guys
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
- Blog - 5:16 p.m.: Round 6: Kenji Tsumura vs Masahiko Morita
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
- Blog - 3:49 p.m.: Round 5: Kazuya Mitamura vs André Coimbra
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
- Blog - 12:11 p.m.: Building a Sealed Deck
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
- Blog - 10:46 a.m.: Play the Game, See the World
by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
Saturday, October 27: 10:46 a.m. - Play the Game, See the World
Or in my case, write about it. I'm in the middle of it all at the moment. Last weekend I was in Brisbane, now after a week in Australia I'm in Bangkok and in two weeks time I'll be in Kitakyuushuu, Japan. All because I once picked up a card game called Magic: The Gathering.
For me, traveling is all about experiencing a snippet of the local culture, mostly because my employer will only allow me so much annual leave and it takes a great deal of time to get from New Zealand to well, anywhere that's not Australia. Since leaving home a week and a half ago, I've managed to gradually acclimatize myself via the warmth in Australia to the heat I thought I could expect here in Bangkok. As usual, the humidity and temperature is far more than poor old me can handle, and I'm ever so thankful these events are held inside. Seriously, just the effect the heat has on you counts as a cultural experience in itself. There are also the little differences. I'm pretty sure I have never seen a tissue box quite like this one anywhere in Australia or New Zealand before. Note that this box is no more than six inches long.
It's simple math people. Or is it simple people math? I get confused.
Outside of that, there are the preconceived notions of what you can expect when in Thailand. Not 30 seconds after breezing through immigration at Bangkok International Airport (for once, young-ish men traveling alone carrying minimal luggage get "randomly" checked for various reasons on a regular basis) I was being offered all that the Bangkok nightlife could offer. I think you know what I'm talking about, but if you don't, let's just say I won't be writing much about it here.
Armed with a pen, some paper (my trusty GP Brisbane life total pad) and my camera, I wandered off into the fray to see what the travel plans for some of the more well-known players were. Olivier Ruel and André Coimbra flew into Bangkok earlier this week from Brisbane, and have been soaking up the atmosphere since then. (with the humidity what it is, there's certainly no lack of it to soak up!) Both players are heading home for a day or two after this event before meeting up again in Poland to break out their Standard decks for GP Krakow. André's then due to head back home before venturing over to the States for GP Daytona Beach, whereas Olivier is popping over to Japan for GP Kitakyuushuu. (yeah, hi five!) Apparently whether or not he makes it to Daytona Beach comes down to his available air miles.
Tiago Chan, Olivier Ruel, André Coimbra and Raphael Levy drafting while they wait out their three byes. Flying out to Bangkok from the Magic Invitation in Germany, winner Tiago Chan is sticking mostly to the flight plan of his countryman, André Coimbra, flying home briefly before GP Krakow and eventually heading out to Dayton Beach. Tiago however, is leaving his options open in regards to Kitakyuushuu. Also fresh from the Invitational, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Willy Edel are also heading to GP Krakow, but don't have any plans to stop off at home on the way. They'll head home after Poland, before joining everyone else in Daytona Beach, but unlike the others, plan on staying in the US until the World Champs in December.
Raphael Levy, on the other hand, hasn't been home for the last two weeks, and won't be sleeping in his own bed again for another few weeks yet. From the Invitational he came to Bangkok, and from here will be flying directly to Krakow and then to Kitakyuushuu before heading over to Daytona Beach. "It's what you gotta do, right?" he shrugged, alluding to the Player of the Year Race. Right now he's 12 points behind the race leader Tomoharu Saitou (also here this weekend) and if he wants to have a chance at closing the gap between now and the World Champs in New York, this is just the kind of dedication required from Raphael.
It's a hard road ahead for these lads, but you gotta play to win, so stay tuned here at Magicthegathering.com over the next few months while we keep you informed of their progress!
Saturday, October 27: 12:11 p.m. - Building a Sealed Deck
André Coimbra putting most of his eggs in a single basketStep one of conquering a Limited Grand Prix is building your sealed deck. Some would have you believe that you are at the mercy of the cards you open, but others, those who no doubt achieve positive results in these formats, know better. While nagging some of the guys about their travel plans, I made sure to pick their brains on the Lorwyn Sealed Deck format.
Most agreed that they would prefer to open strong Blue cards. Tiago Chan explained that he's always liked Blue in sealed, and I had to agree. With some of the best fliers available, backed by card drawing, Blue is often very attractive to players in the know. André Coimbra differed however when it comes to Lorwyn. "White has the strongest cards that work alone" he explained, citing that sometimes the Tribal synergies that you look for in Lorwyn don't give you the power you need to compete. André's sealed pool gave him some very strong Blue, but looked quite messy after that. He ended up dabbling in both Green and White for powerful Shapeshifters, Changeling Hero and Changeling Titan and was splashing a fourth color for Nameless Inversion. André admitted this was perhaps a little "greedy" with a grin.
Kenji Tsumura can hardly believe how bad his sealed pool is, but true to form, still seems to be enjoying himselfRaphael Levy argued in favor of trying to find something Tribal to work with, "many commons working together seems better than a few strong rares." However, he wasn't overly impressed with his pool, which had evidently given him the latter, not the former. "No synergy, just good cards" he complained. How often do you complain about "just" opening good cards? Tiago Chan felt the same about his pool, summing it up with a "no bombs, no synergy." Kenji Tsumura could only shriek "very bad!" when asked about his pool. I asked for proof, and the pint-sized previous Player of the Year scurried off to find his deck. He passed me a sub-par Blue/Green concoction, and I mistakenly believed he had passed me his sideboard first. I checked back in with Kenji a little later to see if his deck had won and games yet. He chuckled and claimed he had yet to win a game.
Olivier Ruel was much happier with his sealed pool this week.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's name takes up all the caption space we're allowed. Olivier Ruel admitted he had a thing for rares, and pretty much any color but Green. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa also shared a dislike for Green, and wasn't keen on elves either. Willy Edel had his eye squarely on Blue, especially Faeries, which seems to be a preference shared by most of the Pros I have spoken too. Unfortunately for Willy, he was left building a Red/White deck splashing for Black, and could only shake his head when asked about his prospects.
I'll see if I can't get updates from these guys later today on how they're going, and if they think they could or should have built their decks differently. That is of course, if I can still find them. The mall outside the venue is a ravenous beast, and almost swallowed me whole when I ventured out for chocolate earlier... but that's another story for another blog entry...
Willy Edel checks his card pool for any Blue cards he may have missed. Any at all...
Saturday, October 27: 3:49p.m. – Round 5: Kazuya Mitamura vs André Coimbra
André took Game 1 by overloading Kazuya with fatties. Guile and a Changeling Titan were eventually dealt with, but he followed them up with a Benthicore to finish it. Game 2 went to Kazuya, whose Boggart Loggers lead the way, forestwalking all over André with some support from fliers.
Just as Game 3 was getting underway, I took the opportunity to talk to both Willy Edel and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa about how their decks were going as well. Willy was now one and one after his byes, and admitted that maybe he should have taken more risks with his pool, branching out into a fourth color for power instead of staying two color and a splash for consistency. PV was up two matches and seemed pretty happy with his deck. "It was pre-built" he offered with a shrug, stating that there were only two playable colors and just enough good cards to fill the deck. "I wanted to play one less land, but there weren't any more cards to play so I'm playing 18."
By the time I was done chatting with PV and Willy (oh dear, that rhymes...) Kazuya had André well and truly on the back foot. A third turn Doran, the Siege Tower and fourth turn Treefolk Harbinger for Changeling Titan from Kazuya had André digging with Fallowsage and Springleaf Drum for an answer. However, his Austere Command failed to show and André was beaten down by Kazuya's monsters.
I asked André if he would have changed anything about his deck, and he replied only the mana balance and only slightly. He still felt playing four colors was the correct choice, just that turn three Doran is just too much of a kick in the teeth.
Kazuya Mitamura defeats André Coimbra 2-1
Saturday, October 27: 5:16 p.m. – Round 6: Kenji Tsumura vs Masahiko Morita
Despite telling me his deck couldn't win a game, Kenji somehow entered this round with no match loses to his name. It seems that his Black splash for Thorntooth Witch has really paid off, and continued to help him here, decimating Masahiko with the help of his two Battlewand Oaks and a Nameless Inversion (care of Merrow Harbinger) in Game 1.
However, Masahiko came back over the top in games two and three with Summon the School, being able to make an almost endless stream of Merfolk tokens unopposed. The third game was the most vicious, with Masahiko reaching eight mana and making four Merfolk a turn. Kenji could only laugh as he scooped up his cards.
I asked Kenji if there were any way of salvaging his deck, and he reiterated its worthlessness with a vigorous shake of the head and a grin. His sideboarding consisted of taking out a Forest and a Runed Stalactite for an Island and a Paperfin Rascal, which is a much better name for a card in my opinion, so clearly the correct choice.
(Disclaimer: choosing cards for your sealed deck based solely on their names is not a good idea if you want make day two or the playoffs or whatever)
I asked Kenji if he thought he could pull through and win the next two rounds, and the man of few words (of English at least) shook his head again, holding up a finger on each hand. Well, at least one and one should be okay.
Masahiko Morita defeats Kenji Tsumura 2-1
Saturday, October 27: 6:51 p.m. – Round 7: Catching Up with the Guys
Just before round seven got underway, I quickly scampered about the hall (and it's a big hall) in search of our selected heroes. I say selected because there are many, many other players worth following this weekend, but one man can only do so much!
Tiago Chan, Raphael Levy and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa are all 6-0 now. Tiago echoing PV's sentiments about not being able to build his deck any other way, but clearly not overly concerned about it either. Actually, speaking of Tiago Chan, here is a picture of him and previous Invitational winner Terry Soh. Apparently for winning, not only do you get to design and appear on your own Magic card, you also get a complimentary stylist. In this case, the same complimentary stylist.
Anyway, André Coimbra is 5-1, and still looking to make subtle changes to his deck, now adding Lignify while sideboarding, but still happy with his four colors. Willy Edel and Olivier Ruel are now both clinging to contention on 4-2. Willy pretty much resigned to his fate with a glum look, and Olivier is endlessly goldfishing his deck between rounds (something he seems to do when nervous about any deck he is playing) and trying to determine where and how the wheels are falling off.
Tomoharu Saitou is not convinced his deck is built correctly, but is still sitting on 6-1.And news just to hand, PV has advanced to 7-0, beating Tomoharu Saitou in two over on the feature match table. I headed over for a quick chat with the Player of the Year Race leader about his deck. Green/Black with a splash of white for Neck Snap, Crib Swap and a pair of Oblivion Rings. Tomoharu had the option of going instead for Green/White, splashing Black, which would have netted him some reasonable Kithkin bears and a Thoughtweft Trio, but he went with the heavy Black for Dread instead, citing a pair of Boggart Loggers as the decider for him.
Saturday, October 27: 8:10 p.m. – Round 8: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs Raphael Levy
Coming into the final round, three of our traveling pros were 7-0 and two of them were even paired against each other, so there was certainly no question as to who was going to be herded over to the feature match area.
By the time I got to the table, things were not looking good for Raphael, already on the receiving end of a Cairn Wanderer thanks to PV's Faerie Harbinger. Raphael joined the race with an Incremental Growth on his Masked Admirers and Springjack Knight, with the final counter landing on PV's Silvergill Douser, being the least likely to use it. He followed it up with an Epic Proportions on the Springjack, helping keep up with the race, only to have PV untap and crush it with a Shriekmaw. The Admirers continued to swing back, but the Shriekmaw also being an evasive foe tipped the scales in the favor of the Brazilian.
Raphael sideboarded a great number of cards, clearly implying a switch of colors - and when he played out an Island instead of a Forest, everyone's suspicions were confirmed. He did, however, stop playing lands after his third, while PV continued to develop his airforce. Raphael landed a pair of Whispmares to buy him time, but PV continued to push damage through with the help of his Silvergill Douser. A fourth land from the Frenchman allowed him back into the game, while his Stonybrook Angler and Gold Meadow Harrier tried unsuccessfully to hold PV's ever expanding army at bay.
"Noo stop!" Raphael cried as PV went for another spell. He was now battling through the lifegain provided by Raphael's Judge of Currents. "You'll get me eventually" he laughed "...maybe." Finally in possession of six lands, Raphael was spending his excess mana on tapping his Angler to untap itself, further fueling the Judge and hoping to buy enough time to find his Austere Command. But it was not to be, and PV's flyers never let up their attack, taking the match in two.
I asked Raphael about his transformational sideboard, which had been used in more rounds than just this one. "The Green is just too slow against cheap flyers" he explained "and 2/1 islandwalkers (Deeptread Merrow) are pretty good too."
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa defeats Raphael Levy 2-0