- Feature Match: Round 9 - Gabriel Nassif vs. Amiel Tenenbaum
by Tobias Henke
- Podcast: 10:41 p.m. – What's 1471 - 128?
by Rich Hagon
- Feature Match: Round 8 - Guillaum Wafo-tapa vs. Márcio Carvalho
by André Coimbra
- Blog: 8:35pm - Judge Stories
by Tobias Henke
- Feature Match: Round 7 - Frank Karsten vs. Bram Meulders
by Tobias Henke
- Feature Match: Round 5 - Selim Creiche vs. Marijin Lybaert
by André Coimbra
- Podcast: 3:26 p.m. – Point Six Six Recurring
by Rich Hagon
- Blog: 15:50 - Shadowmoor Bestsellers
by Tobias Henke
- Podcast: 2:55 p.m. – Episode II
by Rich Hagon
- Blog: 2:45 p.m. - Good Play, Bad Play
by Tobias Henke
- Blog: 2:15 p.m. - Quick Questions
by André Coimbra
- Blog: 12:55 p.m. - Meet the Artists
by Tobias Henke
- Podcast: 12:55 p.m. – Welcome
by Rich Hagon
- Blog: 11:00 a.m. - Kenji's Lesson
By André Coimbra
- Blog: 10:55 p.m. - Picture Postcards from Brussels
by Tobias Henke
10:55 p.m. - Picture Postcards from Brussels
The Grand Prix is located on the old site of 1958 World Expo, the famous landmark of which is the Atomium:The amazing structure gleaming in the bright sunlight was a much better fit four years ago, when GP Brussels was dominated by Darksteel's artifact power.
That definitely looks like a Lorwyn setting, no?
Even Planeswalkers like going by bus.
And here is the gate to the gloomy world of Shadowmoor
Guarded by angel statues.
11:00 a.m. - Kenji's Lesson
When it comes to Sealed Deck, most players have a hard time building their decks, as there are so many options available and while anyone can fill a deck with lands, knowing how to build a good mana base is a skill that takes years to master. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to get a lesson on how to approach a Sealed Deck by Sensei Kenji Tsumura, who has been crushing the limited Grand Prixes in the past few years.
Some people need lots of practice to master a new format, but Kenji came to the tournament with only one sealed deck and two drafts under his belt. His first contact with the format was at a prerelease on Hiroshima and with only four players to compete for the boosters and bragging rights, Kenji easily won the tournament with the perfect score of 2-0.
Upon closer inspection, Kenji finds a Blue/White deck he could work with.After taking a careful look at the cards that were given to him, he looked a bit disappointed with his card pool, but he didn't come from the country of the rising sun to stay 30 minutes regretting his bad luck, and the Japanese player started putting the blue, white and colorless cards at the table using the following rules to sort them:
- Two rows of cards, the top one with creatures and the bottom one with the remaining spells.
- One column of cards for each converted mana cost, sorted from the lowest to the highest mana cost.
For the mana base Kenji told me that as he was only playing two colors, he distributed the land slots between Plains and Islands according to the ratio of blue and white mana requirements of his spells.
Kenji said that his pool was okay, but was not deep in black, red, or green cards and that is why his decision to go blue and white was so easy. In his opinion, the format is better than Lorwyn, as there are less bombs, but he was not very happy with the hybrid cards, as they make deck building easier for everyone, reducing the edge of the top players.
To finish this lesson with Kenji Tsumura, he left us with the advice that to get better at Sealed Deck there is nothing better than practicing it a lot.
May 3rd, 12:55 p.m. – Welcome
Welcome to GP Brussels, a gargantuan affair of almost 1500 competitors, ripping open Shadowmoor Starters and Booster Packs as nine rounds of Sealed Deck play lie in wait. With a field that large, can one of the 50 or so Big Names cut a swathe through the rank and file? Or will an unheralded talent take home the 8 Pro Points and $3,500 cash prize? Join Rich and Ben throughout the weekend to find out.
12:55 p.m. - Meet the Artists
No card without art-the artists bring the little pieces of cardboard to life and they're doing real magic at that. Right now hobby magicians from all over the world stand in line to have their cards signed.With all that appreciation, no wonder Martina Pilcerova's smiling. Meanwhile Anthony S. Waters is working hard to provide special illustrations and cardart alterations for his fans.
But still, there's more…Wizards set up this special area for art exhibition. Can you name all the cards?
2:15 p.m. - Quick Questions
Curious to know what are the top cards for Sealed Deck? We asked some of the top pros what is in their opinion the best card of each rarity for Shadowmoor Sealed Deck.
Bernardo da Costa Cabral (Belgium)
Rasmus Sibast (Denmark)
2:45 p.m. - Good Play, Bad Play
Next up the unwary opponent played Windbrisk Raptor ... and of course, Mirrorweave again! While in this situation all creatures become copies of Windbrisk Raptor , the lifelink effect only is for attacking creatures. But in fact, it's not only one lifelink effect, but one for every Raptor on the attacking player's side. Four of the flying 5/7s attacked - they were blocked by the other player's Raptors, but still, eighty (!) points of life were gained in the process...
Outside of Magic there are good plays and bad plays as well. In the following picture you see one extremely happy Irish player and one extremely unhappy British coverage podcaster, turning his "Union Back" on us. (Apparently his airline has mislaid his luggage and thus forced him to be holding up - or down - the flag today.)
May 3rd, 2:55 p.m. – Episode II
There are so many ways in which not playing Magic can be good for you - at least, that's what the Pros will tell you at the start of a Grand Prix Saturday. For those less fortunate, nine rounds of tense Sealed action await, while the best in the business can compare notes, plan sideboard changes, build a deck or two for Pro Tour: Hollywood, or just enjoy the Belgian hospitality. Five took time out to give Ben their thoughts, and Ben took a microphone, so you can hear them too. Sweet.
15:50 - Bestsellers
Seeing as this weekend features Shadowmoor limited, single card sales are not quite as high as last in Vienna. Nevertheless, a quick session with the dealers revealed the following:
The bestselling Shadowmoor card by far is... Kitchen Finks ! No big story here - the cost-efficient 3/2 is just the perfect card to hose beatdown strategies. Or rather, it is the best two cards for that purpose, all in one. Other green-white hybrids are not far behind, Wilt-Leaf Liege being second on the list.
Next up is Painter's Servant , which is surrounded by some buzz about a possible turn-one kill in Legacy, when combined with Grindstone and fast mana. As a result the latter and especially Lion's Eye Diamond have recently risen in price quite a bit.
May 3rd, 3:26 p.m. – Point Six Six Recurring
6 of the 9 mammoth rounds are done here on Day One in Brussels, but it's now that the serious contenders have to make their move as they position themselves for the Draft day ahead tomorrow. At the top tables the competition intensifies as the best decks in the building congregate for a royal series of scraps that will see 128 players sitting down for a further examination of their Limited skills. Who leads the way with three to play? Click to find out.
Feature Match: Round 5 - Selim Creiche vs. Marijin Lybaert
If you have been following the GP coverage, you might be wondering why there was no feature match in the previous round. Usually Feature Match coverage starts in round four, doesn't it? And ineed, we had chosen the local Pro Tour champion Geoffrey Siron to play in the Feature Match area, but... he didn't show up! We couldn't get anyone to replace that match last round, so the only person happy with the situation turned out to be his opponent Kamiel Cornelissen, that got his fourth bye.
After the incident of the previous round, we decided to give another chance to the Belgian pros to prove their value on home ground and picked Marijin Lybaert to be representing them. His opponent, Selim Creiche, came from France in his own quest for fame and fortune.
We were just waiting for the Judge permission to start this great duel of Magic: The Gathering.
Selim Creiche means business.Selim Creiche won the die-roll and chose to draw an extra card in the first game of this match. Marijin Lybaert asked how many cards his opponent was playing and was surprised when he replied "41". Was Marijin Lybaert going to show some sort of "milling" strategy? You will have to read until the end to find out, but his commentary was "Weird strategies.... 41 cards and not choosing to start...".
The Belgian player got a fast start, with Somnomancer , Kitchen Finks and Spectral Procession as his early threats, while the French player had a third-turn Farhaven Elf to accelerate into a Grabapple Cohort. While the green 4/4 was holding the ground, the Flyers were dealing damage on the skies to Selim Creiche.
Creiche used Last Breath to remove one of the tokens and played Wasp Lancer with the hope of taking control over the skies. However, the Belgian pro had Curse of Chains ready for the only resistance that his opponent was offering to his fliers. The Curse of Chains was matched with Turn to Mist , but some turns later a second Curse of Chains "cursed" the flier again.
In the meantime some creatures were played on both sides, but nothing interesting happened apart from an attack with the French's 5/5, which was double blocked by Somnomancer and Kitchen Finks . After both players agreed that the damage could go to the stack, Creiche used Mercy Killing on his own creature to get five 1/1 token, while his opponent got Kitchen Finks back to play with a -1/-1 counter and two extra points of life, thanks to the new Persist ability! Selim Creiche went for an alpha strike, but after failing to kill his opponent, who had earlier gotten an edge on the life thanks to his Spectral Procession , he succumbed on the return attack.
Selim Creiche 0 Marijin Lybaert 1
Marijn Lybaert is unfazed.Even after losing a game to his opponent's fast start, Selim was sure about the edge he was getting with the extra card, so he chose to let his opponent play first again. The Belgian player got a similar start, with a second-turn Somnomancer and a third-turn Spectral Procession , but this time the French player had some early drops in the form of a second-turn Safehold Elite and turn-three Tatterkite . Marijin chose to leave one of his fliers to defend against Tatterkite and attacked with the others.
Selim saw a need of getting as much time as possible to play his big spells and blocked with Tatterkite , killing one Spirit in the process. Rustrazor Butcher joined the two spirits and they attacked together in the following turn. Gloomwidow's Feast destroyed one of the spirits, but thinking that a Spider would come to block the remaining one, Marijin Lybaert buried the last Spirit too. Selim Creiche explained that he was in fact not getting any Spider.
Crabapple Cohort didn't help the French player as it got "cursed" and a Wicker Warcrawler was his last "fattie". He started attacking with Wicker Warcrawler , but after some "chumpblocks" it was just 4/4 anymore. When it was going to die due to a double block, a Mercy Killing did the trick again and four token appeared on the French side of the table.
Next turn things heated up as Selim Creiche attacked with his whole team and his opponent went from 18 life down to 2, with just two creatures left to fight against four creatures on the other side of the table.
So is this the end of the game for the Belgian pro? Not yet, as a Cultbrand Cinder restored the balance on the table, but only seemingly. After all, one of the three creatures left of Marijin's army was Silkbind Faerie , which could be attacking every turn, while tapping the best creature on the other side of the table. Marijin Lybaert kept doing this for a couple of turns and at some point he tapped an additional creature, and dealt lethal damage.
Selim Creiche 0 Marijin Lybaert 2
Feature Match: Round 7 - Frank Karsten vs. Bram Meulders
Frank Karsten really needs no introduction: From the finals of the the 2005 world championships to running a much appreciated weekly column on magicthegtahering.com his list of previous achievements is pretty impressive. Now in is way is Bram Meulders whose own list of achievements does at the least include opening a very strong Sealed pool today. Both players are still undefeated.
Bram won the die-roll and chose to play first. Both players kept their opening hands and Bram started with double Plains into Safehold Sentry . With his own Plains Frank couldn't do more than play a lowly Somnomancer , not exactly the best creature on defense. When his third turn saw Bram make a Spectral Procession , the Somnomancer 's chances on offense looked dim as well. Frank could only play Mountain and cycle Crimson Wisps , before passing the turn right back to Bram, who increased his army by one Medicine Runner .
On his next turn however, Frank had his own Spectral Procession and spirits got rid of each other. Bram had Wicker Warcrawler , Frank replied with Curse of Chains . All the time the Safehold Elite could attack safely and had brought Frank down to seven already. Just when Frank seemed to come back into the game with some creatures of his own, Bram found Turn to Mist to free his Wicker Warcrawler from the Curse of Chains . His next attack decimated Frank's forces and two turns later it was game over...
Frank Karsten 0 - 1 Bram Meulders
Frank elected to go first and again Shadowmoor's comparatively high mana stability resulted in no mulligans for no one. First play was Ballynock Cohort on Frank's turn three, but that was taken care of by Bram's Last Breath . Frank followed it up with Kithkin Rabble - easily topped by first Bram's Raven's Run Dragoon and then even Wilt-Leaf Liege . Valleymaker came down for Frank, tried to make a difference, and horribly failed at that - Bram had yet another good card up his sleeve: Oversoul of Dusk , now a 7/7 creature with protection from... let's just say with protection and leave it at that.
Frank really neded Curse of Chains soon. He had Burn Trail and sacrificed one mountain to his Valleymaker to ged rid of the Liege, but he was still facing the all-protected 5/5. Even worse, Bram had yet another fatty in the form of Wicker Warcrawler . His deck was running and it was running well.
Frank went deep into the think-tank now. He came up with Grief Tyrant , but Bram simply tapped the latter with Niveous Wisps and removed Valleymaker with Turn to Mist . Then he attacked for what seemed like a hundred damage and took the game and match.
Bram Meulders wins 2-0.
8:35pm - Judge Stories
The timing in another incident was not as good. On his second turn a player tried to play Briarberry Cohort ... But accidentally he put down Isleback Spawn -quite the good play on turn two! Neither he nor his opponent realized the mistake and when they finally called over a judge two turns later, it was determined that the player did not intentionally pick the wrong card and that the gamestate would remain uncorrected.
In the meantime our Feature Match for round four had been ruined. We picked Dutch pro Kamiel Cornelissen against Belgium's own Geoffrey Siron. The latter, however, simply didn't want to play with his deck at all - but couldn't drop out of the tournament before, because the Universal Tournament Rules state that a player has to at least take part in one round of any tournament he registers for. "Taking part" in this case meant one quick handshake and checking the box for dropping. Suddenly poor André Coimbra was all alone the Feature Match area...
Feature Match: Round 8 - Guillaum Wafo-tapa vs. Márcio Carvalho
John "Johnny Magic" Finkel might have won Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur, but there were seven other talented players in that top8 and at GP Brussels we got a duel between two of them: Guillaume Wafo-tapa, from France, and Márcio Carvalho, from Portugal.
Márcio won the die-roll and chose to play first. The Portuguese player was happy with his seven cards but the French player sent his hand "back to Paris". Márcio started the match with Briarberry Cohort and Faerie Macabre . Guillaume tried to stop the black creature with Prison Term , but Márcio had Turn to Mist to "blink" his creature, putting the enchantment in the graveyard. Guillaume laid Wanderbrine Rootcutters and Márcio Merrow Wavebreakers . The French player attacked and played Safehold Elite , enchanting the creature with Steel of the Godhead , but Márcio had Biting Tether ready for it and two turns later the Pro Tour champion conceded.
Guillaum Wafo-tapa 0 Márcio Carvalho 1
The French player chose to play first in the second game and this time there was no need to take a mulligan. Guillaum started with Mistmeadow Skulk , while Márcio played Briarberry Cohort and Leech Bonder . The French player sent Wanderbrine Rootcutters to the table, but it died on Márcio's turn, blocking an attacking Leech Bonder , that also died in the fight. ( Leech Bonder made both creatures 2/2.)
Márcio was getting some damage in with fliers, but Guillaume had Márcio's team killed by Incremental Blight . Guillaume gained lots of life attacking with his Mistmeadow Skulk , finishing the game with more than the initial life, and a Twilight Shepherd , that Márcio could never really stop was enough to allow the spectators to watch another game between those two masters of the game.
Guillaum Wafo-tapa 1 Márcio Carvalho 1
In the third game, Márcio chose to play first and that might be the correct option for this format as evidenced by both players choosing this option on the three games. Guillaume Wafo-tapa drew a card from Elsewhere Flask , which works as a "mana fixer" and a "cantrip", helping him to play his color intensive spells, as well as increasing the chances of drawing the best cards of the deck. Guillaume got Sickle Riper into play. Márcio played Kinscaer harpoonist, which got tapped at his end of the turn by Niveous Wisps , showing once again how highly the French player values "cantrips" in the Sealed Deck format.
Guillaume followed up with Wanderbrine Rootcutters , while Márcio played Cinderhaze Wretch .. Murderous Redcap killed Cinderhaze Wretch and Márcio played Watching Scar ecrow. Incremental Blight killed two elements of Márcio's team and a few turns later the Pro Tour champion defeated the Grand Prix champion with a lethal Corrupt .
Guillaume Wafo-tapa 2 Márcio Carvalho 1
Overall this was a very good match and even at this level of play all the basic concepts of Magic were applied: card advantage, evasion, spot removal and mass removal.
May 3rd, 10:41 p.m. – What's 1471 - 128?
1343, apparently. And that's the number of players that won't be turning cards sideways in the main event Draft sessions tomorrow. Backed by some truly awesome decks, some of the most successful players in the world have found themselves atop the standings overnight. But with 127 competitors still to vanquish, can they stay ahead? Join us tomorrow for all the Draft action from the Brussels Expo.
Feature Match: Round 9 - Gabriel Nassif vs. Amiel Tenenbaum
Both players are still undefeated and of course want to end the day with immaculate records.
Amiel won the die-roll, but had to mulligan a hand that contained two lands and a couple of five and six-mana spells. He kept his six though, and the festivities could start. Nassif started with Elvish Hexhunter , followed by Safehold Elite and Briarberry Cohort , while Tenenbaum could not really put his turn-two Devoted Druid to good use, when the only thing he did on turn three was to play a Hungry Spriggan .
All of Gabriel's creatures attacked and brought Amiel's lifetotal down to 13. He also played Last Breath on the druid in case there were some six-drops in Amiel's hand.
Hungry Spriggan dealt four damage and was joined by Watchwing Scarecrow , an interesting creature in Amiel's red-green deck. However, the simple 2/4 did accomplish the job of stopping Nassif's army of small creatures. And Blazethorn Sacrecrow gave Amiel a new good attacker, when his Spriggan was shrinked to irrelevance by Torpor Dust .
Nassif came back with Twilight Shepherd , Amiel cast Wort, the Raidmother - potentially threatening some dangerous Burn Trail ? But no, the Goblin matriarch just sat there and watched, while Nassif's Shepherd and Briarberry Cohort attacked twice - for the win.
Gabriel Nassif 1 - 0 Amiel Tenenbaum
Some extensive sideboarding took part in between games, nearly all of it on Tenenbaum's side of the table. Apparently, he was "doing the chameleon" - changing colors.
Amiel chose to play first yet again and this time his now blue-red deck gave him everything to make for a good opening: Briarberry Cohort on turn two, followed by Silkbind Faerie on the next... Nassif was down to 18 and facing two creatures, before he could even play his first, a Kinscaer Harpoonist that immeadiately traded with Amiel's Cohort.
Watchwing Scarecrow more than made up for the loss of the Briarberry Cohort , and Nassif's Wicker Warcrawler didn't look too impressive with the Silkbind Faeriue's tap-ability. Meanwhile Amiel cast yet another Briarberry Cohort and Curse of Chains on the Warcrawler, and Boggart Arsonists ... Yes, this was a whole new deck and indeed, this time it was good!
Nassif tried to stabilize with Barrenton Medic and Glamer Spinners , and then later on Mistmeadow Witch and his own Briarberry Cohort came close to pulling that off, but no, Amiel's Knollspine Invocation finished him off.
Gabriel Nassif 1 - 1 Amiel Tenenbaum
Nassif played first and had the first play in Elvish Hexhunter , while Amiel's deck gave him Boggart Arsonists on turn three. Next up Nassif cast Thistledown Liege , but at least for now Tenenbaum's Swans of Bryn Argoll certainly trumped that.
Liege and Hexhunter attacked, the former was blocked by the Swans and then pumped by Nassif's Barkshell Blessing , netting Nassif an additional three cards and saving his Liege. Gabriel followed it up with Biarberry Cohort and Curse of Chains on the Swans.
Now, Twilight Shepherd raced against Boggart Arsonists - a race, of course, that's highly in favor of the flying, vigilant 5/5. When Kinscare Harpoonist came down for Nassif as well, that was the decision:
Gabriel Nassif defeats Amiel Tenenbaum 2 - 1.