Nearly 800 competitors showed up for their shot at the title on Day 1, but only 64 have earned the right to compete on Sunday. Some of the game's biggest names will be here, with Gabriel Nassif, Noah Boeken, and Gabe Walls all sliding through to play the draft rounds. Naturally, some of the bigger names fell by the wayside with the likes of Patrick Chapin and Luis Scott Vargas both sleeping in Sunday.
The big story throughout the day regarding deckbuilding circled around which strategy was best: small aggressive beatdown, or large Obelisk fueled bombs. The feature match area was littered all day long with successful attempts from both sides of the coin. The question for tomorrow is which strategy will reign supreme on the draft tables?
Fortunately for you, you'll be able to find out with constant updates right here on Magicthegathering.com. Check back on the best blogs and feature matches from Saturday, then join us tomorrow for the second day of competition at Grand Prix-Kansas City!
Blog: Saturday, 9:47 p.m. - Luis Scott Vargas' Sealed by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 9 - Scott Lipp vs. Patrick Chapin by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 8 - Noah Boeken vs. John Sittner by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 7:44 p.m. - wHat was tHat? by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 7 - Brandon Scheel vs. Owen Turtenwald by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 6 - Paul Cheon vs. Josh Wludyka by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 5:43 p.m. - Photo Essay 1 by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 5 - Gerry Thompson vs. Kyle Sanchez by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 4:05 p.m. - Avoiding Game Losses by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 4 - Gabriel Nassif vs. Shaheen Soorani by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. - Interview with Gabriel Nassif by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 12:57 a.m. - Building a Sealed Pool with Luis Scott Vargas by Bill Stark
Feature Match: Round 2 - Cedric Phillips vs. Shaun Mack by Bill Stark
Blog: Saturday, 9:36 a.m. - Quick Hits 1: What card are you hoping to open? by Bill Stark
Info: Fact Sheet by Event Coverage Staff
Blog - Saturday, 9:36 a.m.: Quick Hits 1: What card are you hoping to open?
Mike Jacobs: A Planeswalker.
Owen Turtenwald: Realm Razor.
Patrick Chapin: Flameblast Dragon.
Gerry Thompson: Branching Bolt.
Kyle Sanchez: Hellkite Overlord.
John Pelcak: Empyrial Archangel.
Billy Moreno: Battlegrace Angel.
Paul Cheon: The comes-into-play-tapped lands (as many as possible).
Blog - Saturday, 1:36, Round 2 Feature Match: Cedric Phillips vs. Shaun Mack
“I couldn’t be happier for having this deck with just one bye,” Cedric Phillips opined as he sat down to square off against Shaun Mack. The two players discussed the Worlds ratings cutoff, the possibility of going to Pro Tour-Berlin, and how many years they have left in school. “I’ve got ‘one year’ left,” Phillips said, using air quotes to set apart the phrase “one year.”
Laughing Mack replied “Yeah, I’ve had ‘one year left’ for a couple years now.”
Shaun Mack gives Cedric Phillips the sMackdown
After winning the die roll, Mack opted to draw instead of play first, a decision many pros have argued is the right call in Shards of Alara Sealed. Still, Shaun was the first player on the board with creatures making a third-turn Dragon Fodder and flipping two gold coins on the table to represent his Goblin tokens, then following up with Incurable Ogre. Cedric Phillips simply exhaled forcibly with a board of five lands spread across the colors red, black, blue, and white. He was already down to 8 after his opponent had made an alpha strike backed by Scourge Devil.
A second all-out attack from Shaun took Cedric to 3 and Phillips was forced to hunt for a miracle from the top of his deck. When he didn’t find one waiting for him, the players were on to the second game.
Shaun Mack: 1, Cedric Phillips: 0
“Well, that game did not go according to plan...” Phillips explained to his opponent as they shuffled. Shaun maintained a quiet composure after crushing the first game. While Cedric had seemed to have had plenty of mana during the first game, he had been short the green he needed to cast some of the spells in his hand and had a Fleshbag Marauder virtually blanked by Mack’s early Dragon Fodder. Cedric opted to draw and the two got under way.
Shaun opened on a mulligan, but if his deck was as aggressive as it was made out to be in the first game, being down a card would probably not spell the end of the world for him. He quickly made the missing draw back up by cycling a Ridge Rannet. His opponent, meanwhile, played his first creature of the match in the form of Blood Cultist.
It was Shaun Mack’s turn to play out lands with no creatures, but he eventually managed a Viscera Dragger that stared down a twin copy on Cedric’s side of the board. Unimpressed, Phillips bashed with his to put the totals 20-17 in his favor, then played a Carrion Thrash. Mack fired back by playing his Scourge Devil, allowing his (now) 4/3 Dragger to send Cedric to 16.
From that point on it was all Cedric. His medium-sized bodies started pounding in against Shaun’s board, with a Topan Ascetic and Sprouting Thrinax joining the team. Shaun missed a turn playing creatures then, surveying his options, decided to move to a third game.
Shaun Mack: 1, Cedric Phillips: 1
Cedric Phillips hams it up for the crowd “Those games were boring. Let’s have a good one. For the PEOPLE!” Cedric joked with his opponent. Reserved, Shaun simply smiled before moving to his sideboard to reconsider his options for the final game of the match.
“Man, you’re going back to the sideboard again?” Cedric teased. “What have you got in there?
Forced to start on the play, Cedric Phillips had to mulligan to six cards before keeping a hand that had, as he claimed loudly, “castables.” He wasn’t kidding as a Vithian Stinger hit his board on the third turn. Mack, possibly looking to ensure a land drop, cycled a Viscera Dragger.
The two players built up their boards, Mack devouring into a 4/4 Thorn-Thrash Viashino and Phillips adding Topan Ascetic and Carrion Thrash to his Vithian Stinger. Mack was behind on the board, but way ahead on cards in hand with a grip of a half dozen. Cedric, meanwhile, was on the offensive trying to aggressively work his opponent’s life total to take the match. Topan Ascetic and Carrion Thrash turned sideways to make the totals 16-10 in Phillips’ favor.
Cedric added to his board with a Skullmulcher, devouring his Topan Ascetic and Vithian Stinger. That meant he was tapped out, however, and Shaun Mack had a surprise Naturalize for an exposed Executioner’s Capsule Cedric had left on the board. What he didn’t have were more relevant creatures, adding two Druid of the Anima to the board instead.
Cedric Phillips defeats Shaun Mack 2-1.
Blog - Saturday, 12:57 p.m.: Building a Sealed Pool with Luis Scott Vargas
Alongside Paul Cheon, California native Luis Scott Vargas represents one of the strongest factions of American Magic players. A former National Champion and a well respected player and writer, Luis’ resume is both extensive and filled with premier level finishes. He seemed a perfect fit to watch build his sealed deck using the new Shards of Alara format.
Luis seemed in very good shape as he opened his pool, revealing an Empyrial Archangel in his first pack, a Flameblast Dragon in his second, and a twin copy of the fiery flyer in his sealed. Alongside a plethora of removal and a beautiful mix of mana-fixing, Luis seemed well on his way to a strong run at the first day of competition. There was just one problem: Luis was looking at the pool he was to register, not play with.
Luis Scott Vargas works on his sealed deck. For those who don’t know, as premier level events Grand Prix Sealed Deck tournaments require players to first register a pool of cards, then build a deck with a second pool of cards that a different player has registered. This is done for a number of important reasons, but despite the significance can sometimes lead to a good-natured feeling of "buyer’s remorse" in which a player registers a very solid pool but has to give it back. When the judges came by to collect, Luis grinned and handed over the very solid pool. "That deck had everything!"
When he was finally handed his own pool to build with, Luis quickly separated the cards by color, leaving the gold cards in a separate pile of their own next to nonbasic lands and Obelisks. His next move was to separate out the weaker cards from his pile, though some of his picks were surprising. He quickly moved Jhessian Lookout into the "unplayable" pile, but left Spell Snip in for consideration. After some sorting, he seemed to remove white cards as a base color, scooping them up and setting them off to the side. As he re-examined the remainder of his pool, however, he was forced to reconsider, searching back through the white stack and pulling out some splashable goodness. Sanctum Gargoyle, Resounding Silence, and Metallurgeon were moved back for consideration.
Luis’ pool seemed like the middle bowl of porridge; it wasn’t broken, but it wasn’t underpowered either. He had a serious amount of mana fixing in the form of three Obelisks, a tri dual, and five Panoramas. A pair of Executioner’s Capsules and a copy of Courier’s Capsule provided some fuel for his Sanctum Gargoyle, and he had some powerful spells in the form of Covenant of Minds and Violent Ultimatum. He set about trying to craft the pool into a deck.
Before long he had separated out an Esper build that featured hits like Tower Gargoyle and the Sanctum Gargoyle package, as well as some early heat in the form of double Tidehollow Sculler and a Deft Duelist. But Vargas, pro that he his, wasn’t satisfied with a single option for building. Instead he opted to set aside his first creation to examine any other potential options that might be presented. It wasn’t long until he had found one.
Shuffling some cards around and looking at the other colors in the pool, Luis shaped an aggressive red-green build into being that dipped into each of the other three colors for some tiny assistance. An early game packed with Dragon Fodders and Rip-Clan Crashers would develop into Hissing Iguanars, then fatties like Cavern Thoctar and Spearbreaker Behemoth. The touch of blue, black, and white would provide him with some removal (Executioner’s Capsule) and keep him in the late game (Sanctum Gargoyle, Covenant of Minds).
So what build did Luis ultimately go with? Check back at the end of the day as we present his list and how he did, and see what you think you would build with his pool!
Blog - Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Interview with Gabriel Nassif
One of the names few expected to see present at Grand Prix-Kansas City this weekend was French superstar Gabriel Nassif. The reason it was so surprising to see him was because a sister Grand Prix was being held adjacent to Kansas City in his home town of Paris, France. Event coverage sat down with Gabe to ask him about his travels, Shards of Alara, and the upcoming Pro Tour-Berlin.
So what brings you to Grand Prix-Kansas City over Paris?
Gabriel: Well, I was in Michigan for a few weeks, visiting my girlfriend.
Were you up to anything else while there?
Gabriel: Yeah, I went out with Patrick Chapin a few times. I also did The Magic Show [hosted by Evan Erwin] and played some Extended.
So what are your thoughts on Shards of Alara?
Gabriel: It seems like a good set for Limited. There are some good cards for Constructed. It seems like a good set; everyone seems to be enjoying it. It's good.
How about your sealed pool?
Gabriel: My pool is good but I don't have many mana fixers. I'm probably off by a card or two. I have Sigil of Distinction, which might be the best card in the format. I haven't thought about it enough, but that card seems like the one you want to have in a sealed deck.
How much longer do you have in the U.S.?
Gabriel: I leave Wednesday. Mark Herberholz is coming to stay at my place the week before Pro Tour-Berlin, so he'll be along too.
Any closing thoughts on Extended?
Gabriel: [laughing] I haven't really started testing yet. It seems like most of the decks go 50/50 against each other. The format is really fast, but healthy. I don't think anyone can build something that has a huge edge on the format. We'll see...
Gabriel Nassif at Grand Prix-Kansas City.
Blog - Saturday, 3:45 p.m.: Round 4 Feature Match: Gabriel Nassif vs. Shaheen Soorani
"There are no rares in there," Shaheen Soorani jokingly whined about his deck as he sat down to square off against Gabriel Nassif. "You know, if you had lost in the last round of Worlds [Paris '06], I would have made Top 8, Soorani continued teasing his opponent.
Gabriel Nassif, a former Player of the Year and a name often murmured amongst lists of all-time greats, sat down to shuffle. His story on the weekend was an interesting one: he was attending Grand Prix-Kansas City all the way from France, even though there was an event happening at the exact same time in his hometown of Paris.
Shaheen Soorani came to play.Winning the die roll Shaheen made a somewhat surprising play, opting to go first. The early turns of the game were spent with both players building up their manabases until Nassif started missing land drops after hitting an Island, Forest, and Plains. Soorani wasted no time in going on the offensive with a Mosstodon and Steward of Valeron, further tilting the race in his favor after using a Welkin Guide to attack for an addition 3 in the air thanks to the comes-into-play effect of the Bird.
Suddenly at 11 life and still continuing to miss land drops, Gabriel Nassif found himself backpedaling. His Kathari Screecher and Guardians of Akrasa weren't doing a great job of holding down the fort. He did find a fourth land in the form of another Island, and an Oblivion Ring to deal with Soorani's Mosstodon. Shaheen followed up with Algae Gharial, and used a Sigil Blessing to put Nassif even further behind as Gabriel opted to block a Steward of Valeron with his Guardians of Akrasa.
Looking to stem the bleeding, Gabriel played a Sigil of Distinction, which he then used to make his Kathari Screecher a 5/5. When Soorani didn't back down, adding a Bant Guildmage and Wild Nacatl to the board, Gabriel somberly looked at his life total of 4 and conceded the game.
Shaheen Soorani: 1, Gabriel Nassif: 0
"I was pretty sure you were going to attack there," Gabriel pointed out to his opponent, explaining why he had conceded instead of passing the final turn back to Shaheen in the hopes Soorani might just forget to kill the Frenchman. Shaheen smiled and nodded that he would not have forgotten his combat step.
The two players skimmed through their sideboards, looking for possible additions to give them an edge in the matchup. Nassif, who enjoyed seeing semifinals action at the 2007 World Championships, was the first to finish shuffling. His opponent, who managed to make it to the Top 8 of this year's U.S. Nationals, took a bit longer.
Gabriel quickly made himself out to be the aggressor in the second game, opening on a Knight of the Skyward Eye which was soon being pumped by a Sighted-Caste Sorcerer and a Guardians of Akrasa. Across the table, Soorani tried to accelerate into some action with a Druid of the Anima, but couldn't find any creatures to put on the board. Instead he had a Skeletonize to deal with the Knight. Not backing down, Nassif played a Sigiled Paladin, allowing his Sighted-Caste Sorcerer to send the score to 20-9 in his favor.
After a series of removal spells from Shaheen followed by a Wild Nacatl and Woolly Thoctar, it looked like Soorani had managed to stabilize. His opponent was staring down a 5/4 and a 3/3 with a single card in hand, though he had managed to play a Sigil of Distinction. That wasn't particularly helpful, however, as Shaheen played a Welkin Guide and sent the life totals to 11-9 Nassif. Backpedaling, the European player ripped back-to-back creatures to trade with Thoctar and prevent Soorani from getting in with anything besides his flier, the Welkin Guide. When a Jhessian Infiltrator came off the top for Nassif and picked up the Sigil, he was able to put his opponent on a two-turn clock spinning things back around on Soorani.
His stabilization was in jeopardy and he needed an answer to the Infiltrator, but when Gabriel attacked, Soorani revealed he had failed to draw anything and the players were on to a rubber game.
Shaheen Soorani: 1, Gabriel Nassif: 1
Focused on the final game, both players remained silent as they shuffled. Soorani opted to play as both he and his opponent had aggressive decks. He started on a Wild Nacatl, which quickly whittled Nassif down to 15 after Shaheen followed up his Forest with both a Mountain and Plains.
Gabriel Nassif looks to make his trip to the U.S. not one in vain.Not to be outdone, Gabriel made a second-turn Knight of the Skyward Eye which was quickly joined by two exalted creatures: an Akrasan Squire and a Sighted-Caste Sorcerer. That nearly evened the life totals at 16-15, and Soorani started missing creatures. A third exalted in the form of Outrider of Jhess from Nassif merited a comment from Soorani: "Jeez, I'm playing against a draft deck."
The game was a veritable exercise in knowing the red zone. Soorani found a Magma Spray to deal with the Outrider of Jhess while both players parried back and forth, attacking without blocking to preserve the creatures they had in play while still whittling their opponent's life totals down. The game stood 9-7 in Nassif's favor and Soorani went into the tank to determine the correct course of action for his turn. After thinking intently, he opted to attack with his Druid of the Anima, Steward of Valeron, and Wild Nacatl. It was then Nassif's turn to consider his options and whether he wanted to sacrifice an exalted creature to block. If his opponent had his Sigil Blessing, Nassif was dead, but if he didn't, Nassif could potentially win the following turn with a Forest (he was holding Resounding Roar).
The crowd leaned in to see what was happening, and Gabriel made his final decision: no block.
Soorani flipped over the Sigil Blessing, and Nassif conceded.
Shaheen Soorani: 2, Gabriel Nassif: 1
Blog - Saturday, 4:05 p.m., Avoiding Game Losses
Each new Limited season brings with it a number of things. Excitement over the new set, enjoyment over playing Sealed and Draft, and of course deck registration errors for mis-registering a sealed pool. No matter the event, it seems, some number of players wind up with penalties of some sort for not meticulously checking their sealed decks to make sure they've been registered correctly. But that's a fate that can be easily avoided. We spoke with Grand Prix-Kansas City head judge Jason Ness about the most common types of deck registration errors, and how players can avoid them.
On the topic of common errors, Jason explained "39 cards is the most common mistake by far." Numerous players, in their haste and excitement to battle with their decks, carelessly forget to mark the final card in their pool. The end result? A game loss during their first or second round. While that's a rough way to start a tournament, there is a second common mistake that also costs players games.
"We get a lot of people who register 0 basic lands." Ness said. Do players feel they can power through the tournament without using any mana sources? Not at all. In reality, most players honestly forget they need to register their lands, instead focusing on the actual cards from their sealed pool and forgetting the most important ones, the lands, that they add during or after construction.
So what's Jason's advice for players looking to avoid starting their Limited events off without game losses? "Check your decklists!" He said, furtively. "Most players make mistakes because they don't take enough time to double check their registration sheets." The most critical factor in helping players manage that? Keeping an eye on the deckbuilding time. By monitoring how far along you are in the thirty minutes provided for deckbuilding, you can ensure you have the last five to verify your decklist is correct.
Another solution to the problem? "Time permitting, have a friend verify your list for you." Ness pointed out. Be mindful of the time during deckbuilding, double check your list, and ask a friend to verify it as well. Three easy steps to make sure your Sealed Deck experiences start out unimpeded!
Grand Prix-Kansas City Head Judge Jason Ness.
Saturday, 4:54 pm: Round 5 Feature Match Gerry Thompson vs. Kyle Sanchez
"Should I drink this now?" Kyle Sanchez asked his opponent as they sat down to their match, motioning to an energy drink he had placed on the table.
"I don't know," responded Gerry Thompson, "I guess you probably should have done it before last round."
Grand Prix-Denver champ Gerry ThompsonGerry, who won the recent Grand Prix-Denver, squared off against his fellow Starcitygames.com columnist. Sanchez, no slouch in his own right, has a Grand Prix Top 8 and a City Championship title under his belt. Losing the roll, Gerry was forced to play first and promptly mulliganed.
With an aggressive start, Sanchez quickly got onto the board with a Cylian Elf before following up with an Obelisk of Grixis. Across the table, Gerry Thompson missed back-to-back land drops, cycling a Jungle Weaver in an effort to find lands. When he hit a Forest and tapped out for an Obelisk of Jund, Sanchez was ready.
"Snip?" He asked, revealing a Spell Snip.
"Man," Gerry replied, "I got Snipped last round too!"
Kyle Sanchez was ahead on the board, but his forces weren't awe inspiring. His solid aggressive start with Cylian Elf on the second turn had only seen an Elvish Visionary manifest alongside. Still, an Esper Charm and Gift of the Gargantuan provided him plenty of cards, one of which was a revealed Bull Cerodon, and against Gerry's repressed mana development things looked good for the Texan. When he found the right mana to play the Bull, he sent the score to 20-14 in his favor. Looking to defend, Thompson found a Fatestitcher to keep his opponent's 5/5 tied up.
A few turns later, Kyle made a somewhat embarrassing mistake as he sacrificed a Jund Panorama, only to find he had no legal targets left in his deck.
"Are you out?" Gerry teased him. "Make sure you put that in the coverage!"
Sanchez had the last laugh, however, as a Kiss of the Amesha from Gerry Thompson was met by a second Spell Snip. When a Rakeclaw Gargantuan joined the board for Sanchez, Thompson was out of answers and was forced to concede the game.
Kyle Sanchez: 1, Gerry Thompson: 0
Gerry opted to draw for the second game while Sanchez was forced to mulligan to six. He quickly made the draw back up thanks to an Elvish Visionary, only to see the play matched by his opponent. The 1/1s traded in combat, and Gerry answered his opponent's Rakeclaw Gargantuan with a Fatestitcher and a highly sought after Sealed bomb: Flameblast Dragon. The Fireballing 5/5 was lights out for Sanchez, who needed an immediate answer or would find himself in a world of hurt.
He found exactly that with a Resounding Silence, using the instant to RFG Gerry's Dragon, though not before Thompson had Fireballed Sanchez' Rakeclaw Gargantuan. Not to be outdone, Sanchez found two fatties for his side of the board in a Bull Cerodon and Cavern Thoctar. With Fatestitcher active Thompson was able to contain half his opponent's team while getting in with a Bloodpyre Elemental and Druid of the Anima. The life totals stood 19-15 in Gerry's favor.
A Branching Bolt from Gerry T killed a Kyle Sanchez Kathari Screecher and dealt 3 to Bull Cerodon, but when Gerry then tried to use his Bloodpyre Elemental to finish the 5/5, Kyle had a Resounding Roar for the save. He then revealed the last card in his hand, a freshly drawn Oblivion Ring, to knock out a freshly played Tower Gargoyle from Gerry. Despite being down on mana and cards, Sanchez had managed to turn the game in his favor somehow.
Not to be outdone, Gerry used a series of Charms to deal with his opponent's antics, first Bant Charm to "kill" the Cerodon, then a Jund Charm to grow his own Druid of the Anima to 3/3. When Thompson ripped a Sharding Sphinx to add the insult to his previous injury, Kyle saw the writing on the wall and scooped 'em up.
Kyle Sanchez: 1, Gerry Thompson: 1
Kyle Sanchez tries to hold on against Gerry Thompson in the feature match area.Forced to start the final game on the play, Gerry domained quite nicely opening on an Island, Forest, and Mountain which he used to play Kathari Screecher, before making a turn-four Fatestitcher. Sanchez started a bit more slowly with four lands and an Obelisk of Jund.
The players continued developing their manabases, topping out with dueling Cavern Thoctars. Gerry's Kathari Screecher continued bashing in, putting the totals to 20-12 in his favor as his Cavern Thoctar traded with Kyle's. Sanchez sat with a field of plentiful mana sources (nine in all) against Gerry's Kathari Screecher, Elvish Visionary, and a topdecked Flameblast Dragon. When Gerry made an all-in attack, Fireballing his opponent to 3, Kyle used a Resounding Silence to RFG the Dragon. Short a blue, he was unable to cycle the instant however, and after some brief confusion over the life totals, Kyle realized he was dead on the board and conceded.
Gerry Thompson defeats Kyle Sanchez 2 games to 1.
Saturday, 5:43 p.m.: Photo Essay 1
As with any international Magic tournament, there are a great many fascinating sites to enjoy around the Overland Park Convention Center. Here are just a few spotted by this weekend's coverage reporters so far on Day 1.
A series of hats...
The result of a lost bet...
An attempt to conquer and pillage...
A hat so famous it actually has its own Facebook profile (true story!).
Yes it's made out of Grim Reminders.
Some things you don't see at many other events...
TO Steve Ferrell provides some unique scenery for his events.
A Grand Prix visitor brought some rarities for display: sealed boxes of Beta, The Dark, Arabian Nights, and Italian Legends.
...and some things that you do!
Guest artist Daarken.
Guest artist Dan Scott.
Ben Bleiweiss of Starcitygames.com.
Saturday, 6:07 p.m., Round 6 Feature Match Paul Cheon vs. Josh Wludyka
"Something doesn't feel right..." Paul Cheon informed his opponent after setting his own deck down from shuffling. "Better shuffle it a little bit more," he continued, picking it back up and giving it a few more riffles. Cheon is no stranger to the feature match lights with a National Championship title under his belt and the honor of becoming the first level 8 professional from the United States.
Michiganian Josh Wludyka takes on a former champ.Josh Wludyka (pronounced wuh-lude-kuh) may not be as familiar a face, but his pedigree is good. He plays with the same Livonia, Michigan crew that has produced such stars as Owen Turtenwald, Pat Chapin, and Mike Jacobs. He's well respected on the PTQ and Grand Prix circuit, and after starting on a mulligan came out of the gates with a Dragon Fodder and Hissing Iguanar.
Paul Cheon was not to be outdone, making a Druid of the Anima and Elvish Visionary of his own. He wasn't willing to sacrifice his small creatures to deal with Josh's, however, and took some early damage. Meanwhile Wludyka was struggling with follow ups, missing a play on the fourth turn and disappointed to see Cheon make a Blood Cultist. The 1/1 would decimate Josh's board if left unanswered.
The two players worked to gain an advantage, Josh by making a Courier's Capsule and Goblin Assault, Paul by growing his Blood Cultist and using a Mycoloth to munch his Visionary and Druid of the Anima to make an 8/8. Wludyka wasn't impressed, using a Grixis Charm to bounce the creature and leaving his opponent with a 6/6 Blood Cultist. A Courier's Capsule yielded no immediate help for Wludyka and he passed the turn despite having access to six mana.
With the totals at 12-10 in Josh's favor, the Michigan resident tried to work out some type of advantage. He used a Bloodpyre Elemental to kill his opponent's freshly summoned Carrion Thrash, and made an obligatory bash with his 1/1 Goblin Assault token but was short any more permanent plays.
Cheon, however, did have one. He turned his Blood Cultist sideways and Josh moved to take 6. Paul paused, then cycled Resounding Roar. Josh double checked the card to make sure it granted +6/+6, verified his life total was 12, then conceded.
Paul Cheon: 1, Josh Wludyka: 0
Wludyka opted to play for the second game, his aggressive deck looking to take an early lead in the game and hold on long enough to tempo out opponents' more powerful late games. He didn't disappoint with a second-turn Dregscape Zombie, but missed a third-turn play. Cheon wasted no time in building into a Druid of the Anima and Jund Battlemage. When Wludyka missed having a play on turn four, things didn't look good for him.
Can former champ Paul Cheon beat back the newcomer?All too happy to take advantage of the situation, Paul played an Elvish Visionary. When Wludyka revealed a Bloodpyre Elemental to deal with Paul's Battlemage, Cheon simply shrugged and made a 1/1 Saproling in response. Things were not looking good for the young player from Michigan, and he found himself down in the count against Cheon 18-17.
Bone Splinters was the answer Wludyka managed when Cheon played his Mycoloth as a 6/6, but Paul was just fine following up with a second fatty in the form of Cavern Thoctar. Josh did not have an answer to that creature, and Paul was on the offensive, sending Josh to 8. Wludyka had no answers on his turn, and Paul berated himself.
"Man, I wish I knew all the answers in this format better!"
Unsure of what shenanigans Josh might be up to, Cheon sent the team in, threatening lethal. His opponent shrugged and flopped his hand on the board, revealing three lands and an Archdemon of Unx. Having no creatures left on the board to play with the 6/6, he was forced to extend his hand.
Paul Cheon defeats Josh Wludyka 2-0.
Saturday, 6:45 p.m., Round 7 Feature Match: Brandon Scheel vs. Owen Turtenwald
Two Midwestern stalwarts sat down to do battle for the seventh round of Day 1 with Iowan standout Brandon Scheel squaring off against Wisconsinite Owen Turtenwald. Scheel was on a hot streak early this season netting three 11th place performances in a row at Grand Prix and Pro Tour level events. His opponent, meanwhile, is best known for his motormouth skills and second place finish at Grand Prix-Columbus.
Can Owen Turtenwald relive past Grand Prix success?Both players opened on tri-duals with Scheel using his to Obelisk into a Mosstodon while Turtenwald made a Windwright Mage and a Scavenger Drake. The 5/3 Plant Elephant sent Owen to 15, and Scheel further developed his board with a Fatestitcher and a Knight of the Skyward Eye. Unintimidated, Owen bashed right back with the Drake and Mage, gaining a few lifepoints in the process thanks to the 2/2's lifegain, and adding to his board of evasive beaters by playing a Kathari Screecher.
Looking to make the race heavily tilted in his favor, Scheel bashed right back for 10 pumping his Skyward Eye alongside Mosstodon. He also had a backbreaking Branching Bolt which killed Owen's Drake and Windwright Mage and left Turtenwald reeling. Knowing he was dead the following turn, Owen had to sit back on his Screecher, and was unable to play any additional threats.
Brandon Scheel: 1, Owen Turtenwald: 0
Both players kicked off the second game by playing Obelisks, with Scheel putting his to best use by playing a Rakeclaw Gargantuan. Sighing loudly Turtenwald proclaimed "Yeah, you've got a five-drop on turn four again..." Owen simply played a Courier's Capsule and passed.
The life totals stood 20-14 in Scheel's favor after his Gargantuan crashed in with an extra point from exalted thanks to a Waveskimmer Aven. Not going quietly into the night, Owen used a mainphase Resounding Thunder to kill Brandon's 5/3, but still had the 2/4 flier to deal with. Turtenwald made Tidehollow Sculler to disrupt Brandon's future plans, but wound up doing almost more harm than good: Scheel revealed a land and two copies of Branching Bolt. The reveal was a blow to Turtenwald's psyche, but he didn't let it show, simply locking one of the instants away under his 2/2.
Will Brandon Scheel fight his way to another 11th place finish?Scheel stayed on the offensive, calmly attacking Owen to 8 with his Waveskimmer, then passing the turn. Slowly, it appeared, things were starting to shift in Owen's favor. His early Courier's Capsule had netted him a solid lead in cards against Brandon, and a Sanctum Gargoyle returning the Capsule added to the lead, though it allowed Brandon to get a two-for-one with his Branching Bolt. Scheel followed up with a Court Archers, a second exalted creature that allowed him to drop Owen to 4 and meant Turtenwald was dead if he didn't have an answer to the 2/4 Aven.
The Wisconsin native managed to find one in the form of Sanctum Gargoyle to return the previous Gargoyle, and a Windwright Mage with an artifact in his graveyard. That would keep him alive for a turn, if Scheel didn't have any shenanigans. Unfortunately for Owen, that's exactly what Brandon was up to. He used Branching Bolt to deal with the Windwright Mage, then revealed a Bant Charm to put his opponent's Gargoyle on the bottom, sneaking in the final points for the win.
"Man, if you didn't have me that turn I would have won. I was sitting on Cruel Ultimatum..." Owen offered, before wishing his opponent good luck.
Brandon Scheel defeats Owen Turtenwald 2-0.
Saturday, 7:44 p.m., wHat was tHat?
Earlier this weekend a photo essay caught a unique creation: a hat made out of Grim Reminders with a centerpiece Call of the Herd (given away to all participants this weekend) for show. Intrigued by the creation, the coverage team caught up with the owner of the hat to ask him some questions.
Dan Campbell's innovative take on Magic. Dan Campbell is a college grad and gamer from Columbia, Missouri. He was happy to explain where his creations had come from. "I had a friend, Andrew Lee, who had a really ugly bucket hat [the kind often seen on fisherman]. He made the mistake of leaving it at my place one time, and I covered it in basic lands. Afterwards we kind of realized 'hey, that doesn't look that bad.'" From there things spiraled out of control, literally.
"My friends and I took to bringing themed items to Prereleases," Campbell explained. "For Coldsnap we brought a Snocone machine, and for Time Spiral we brought clocks set to run at odd intervals." When Planar Chaos was ready for release, Dan couldn't come up with something that could represent the set's name, so he picked up a load of the cards with the same name as the set and made a hat to take to his local store. "The response was pretty good," Dan said. "Some players were like 'wow, you have a silly hat,' while others said 'hey, that's really cool!'"
The hatrepreneur described how he created the hats. "I bought nine bucket hats for $10 as bases, and you use some duct tape and about 50 Magic cards to make one." By taping three cards placed end-to-end on top of one another ten times, then taping the center cards of each of those sections together, you create the base which fits around the actual bucket hat. The top spiral is created by spinning approximately ten cards together in a circular fashion, with a card underneath the pinnacle to ensure the hat is entirely covered in cards. The final touches are taping a single card in between the end sections of the original ten base sections to create a flare, and affixing a ring of cards for show around the outside of the piece. "I like to add an extra card in a sleeve to serve as a centerpiece to hold the whole thing together," Campbell added. "At Prereleases it's usually the promotional foil."
The final product.
So how many hats has Mr. Campbell produced? He estimated 6-7, though he had given most away to interested parties. "I've used Grim Reminder, Planar Chaos, Silhana Ledgewalker, Stinkweed Imp, Thoughtpicker Witch, and Rally the Righteous." The final card was of particular interest as the artist, Dan Scott, was a special guest at the Grand Prix. Campbell had actually managed to convince the artist to sign all 50 copies of Rally the Righteous for the hat, and Scott pitched in a special touch of his own by altering the art on the centerpiece Rally the Righteous to feature all the characters in the card wearing card hats of their own. What did the artist think of the project?
"He was pretty amused!" Said Campbell, grinning.
The Dan Scott altered Rally the Righteous.
Saturday, 8:23 p.m.; Round 8 Feature Match: Noah Boeken vs. John Sittner
"My last GP was...ah, I shouldn't tell you it was so long ago." Noah Boeken joked with the spectators and his opponent as they sat down to the eighth round of play. He had traveled to the event with Dave Williams, both avid Magic fans who spend many of their days in Las Vegas. Boeken cut his teeth as a world famous Magic pro before entering semi-retirement to pursue other avenues in life. His opponent, John Sittner, is a prominent Salt Lake City player who has long toiled just outside the spotlight needing a Top 8 to cement his reputation. For this match, at least, he won the die roll and opted to start on the play.
Noah Boeken looks to Kansas City for a return to Magic glory.That decision generally indicates an aggressive strategy, but it was Noah who came out of the gates first with a Steward of Valeron. John's first attempt at sticking a permanent was a three-mana artifact on his third turn, but if you guessed it was an Obelisk of some flavor you'd be wrong. Instead he made a Quietus Spike before finally finding a creature in the form of Akrasan Squire.
Boeken kept coming with his team, which had grown to a Rip-Clan Crasher and Druid of the Anima alongside his Steward of Valeron. Sittner traded his Squire for the Anima, but was clearly dismayed when his opponent followed up with Knight-Captain of Eos. Boeken's team was growing wildly out of hand, but John wasn't out of it just yet, adding an Eos resident to his own board in the form of Ranger of Eos, searching up Wild Nacatl.
Still, Boeken continued applying pressure. A Welkin Guide jumped his Knight-Captain and he sent his whole team in to the red zone. "Is it enough?" He inquired of Sittner.
"Well, it's not 12..."
"Yeah, it's not 12, but is it enough?" Boeken asked again, teasingly. Sighing, Sittner shuffled the cards in his hand around, checked his life total again, and looked resigned.
"Yeah, it's enough."
Noah Boeken: 1, John Sittner: 0
Hoping for a more aggressive start, Sittner opted to start the second game of the match on the play. Still, neither player had anything until John made a Court Archers to get his beat on. He followed it up with a Fatestitcher, and it looked like Noah Boeken was missing Forests from his manabase, stranding most of the cards in his hand from hitting play.
Looking to capitalize Sittner locked his opponent's only Plains down during Noah's upkeep with the Fatestitcher, and added another creature in the form of Wild Nacatl. Across the table Boeken finally managed to hit his Forest, quickly exploding with a Thorn-Thrash Viashino and Naya Battlemage. A Soul's Fire allowed him to deal with his opponent's Fatestitcher, and John Sittner had had the game turned around on him. It was his turn to be color screwed as he couldn't find a Plains, but just as it looked like he was going to be too far behind to catch up, he hit it off the top and made a Waveskimmer Aven.
The totals were 16-11 in John's favor, and Sittner managed to find himself a second copy of Waveskimmer Aven. Combined with his early game Court Archers, he could start getting through for quite a bit of damage with only a single attacker. Noah wasn't having any of it, however, using a Bloodpyre Elemental to deal with one of the 2/4s. He also made an Incurable Ogre leaving a Plains up to threaten a lot of damage. Naya Battlemage could lock down the other Waveskimmer, meaning John wouldn't be able to attack profitably.
Can John Sittner finally get his breakthrough performance?The follow-up play for Noah was a Welkin Guide that sent his Incurable Ogre skywards and bashed John to 9 life, though it left Boeken tapped out. That meant Sittner could return with an attack of his own if he wanted, though it would mean he had fewer blockers against a very aggressive opponent. Sittner had other plans, however, making a Welkin Guide of his own and sending Court Archers in for 7 damage once the Guide and all exalted effects had been factored in. Checking his life total of 11 and concerned about the amount of damage, Noah chumped with his copy of the Guide.
With a lead on flying creatures, it was John's turn to go back on the offensive, pressuring his opponent through a combination of evasion and exalted. Boeken fell to just 6 life and was disappointed to hear his opponent answer "Five," when he asked him how many cards were in his hand. A second Welkin Guide from Boeken sent the Incurable Ogre skyward once more, but Sittner had the riposte in the form of Resounding Silence. When John bashed back, Noah went into the tank determining whether he wanted to block or not. The attack was enough to drop him to 1 if it went through, but sacrificing his only flier to fog was a hefty price to pay. Boeken finally decided to take the damage, but Sittner revealed a Sigil Blessing and the pair moved on to the third game.
Noah Boeken: 1, John Sittner: 1
"I don't care how I win!" Noah Boeken exclaimed as Sittner declared a mulligan for the second game. "Man, I just want to draft tomorrow!"
John didn't let his opponent's good-natured teasing affect him, but was clearly disappointed to have to send his second grip back too. "Well, I won on my other mulligan to five today," he exclaimed.
A Noah Boeken Hissing Iguanar stared down a Sittner Akrasan Squire until Boeken decided to go aggro and used a Resounding Thunder to kill his opponent's 1/1, leaving the totals at 20-16 in Noah's favor. John feverishly dug to make up for his early loss in card advantage, cycling a Jungle Weaver to find land drops and early action. Find it he did, answering his opponent's Knight-Captain of Eos with a Waveskimmer Aven, but Noah didn't seem fazed. He sent the entire team in anyway, dropping John to 14 and trading his Knight-Captain and Skeletonize for his opponet's Waveskimmer.
In a repeat of the first game, Sittner followed up his opponent's Eos captain with his own Ranger of Eos, searching up a 2/2 Wild Nacatl. For the second time in the match Noah found himself stunted on green mana, but finally found a Forest as his sixth land drop. That gave him Naya Battlemage to put up some defense against Sittner's growing forces, which had seen a Court Archers and Welkin Guide join the fight. The Guide's comes-into-play bonus sent Boeken to 9.
Still, the European player wasn't out of it just yet. He used a Topan Ascetic and Naya Battlemage to lock his opponent down, with the Battlemage tying up Welkin Guide while the Ascetic, combined with three 1/1 tokens, kept the ground pounders at bay. Trying to grind out the final few points before his opponent wrested control of the game away from him, Sittner found a Jhessian Infiltrator to break his opponent's lock.
Noah started throwing every threat he could draw onto the board, with Incurable Ogre and Cylian Elf joining his plethora of other attackers. Still, he was on a three turn clock thanks to Sittner's pair of 2/2 evasive creatures and the exalted ability of Court Archers. When John moved to his combat step, Noah tapped his opponent's Welkin Guide, but was still forced to fall to 6 from the Jhessian Infiltrator.
The board state bogs down in Game 3.The race was tight, though Sittner was definitely ahead. When he ripped a Knight-Captain of Eos of his own, Boeken was clearly horrified. "Wow, you just ripped that off the top?" He chided.
"Yup. Ripped it off the top."
The fog-machine could tie up the game indefinitely and Noah revealed why it had been such a fortuitous draw for Sittner: at the end of the turn he made Naya Charm killing Jhessian Infiltrator. Had John not drawn the Knight-Captain, Boeken could have tapped his opponent's team and swung for more than enough to drop John to 0. Still, the instant had locked the game back up for Noah, who had a lead on creatures and made matters worse for John by playing a Vithian Stinger.
Oblivion Ring targeting Welkin Guide was next for Noah, with a Woolly Thoctar as an encore. All of a sudden the scrappy Salt Lake City resident was getting further and further behind in a game in which he had nearly managed a dynamic come back. One by one his creatures were eliminated from pings and chump blocking, and Noah was free to start sending his 5/4 into the red zone. That sent John to 9, and he was reduced to the top of his deck to find an answer. Guardians of Akrasa wasn't it, but it would help buy him some time.
After using up his chump blockers, however, John couldn't turn things back to his favor. After a few draws yielded no help, Noah's overwhelming forces were finally able to finish Sittner off.
Noah Boeken defeats John Sittner 2 games to 1.
"It's good to play a GP again." Exclaimed Noah as the match drew to a close.
Saturday, 9:08 p.m.: Round 9 Feature Match: Scott Lipp vs. Patrick Chapin
"Everyone at X-2 with three byes makes Day 2," Patrick Chapin explained to an inquisitive bystander as he sat down to play his final round of the day. Sitting across from him was Scott Lipp, looking to play the role of dreamcrusher (though to be fair, from Scott's shoes that's exactly what Patrick was trying to do as well). Chapin, a renowned deckbuilder with enough Top 8s to make him eligible for the Pro Tour Hall of Fame, is a noted columnist as well as a Worlds 2007 finalist. His opponent enters the round less well known, but with the benefit of being paired against a name player for the final match of the day. With both players at 6-2, they needed this match to have a shot at showing up to play on Sunday.
Lipp was first on the board with a Deft Duelist, while Chapin lagged behind playing Naya Battlemage. When Scott added an Akrasan Squire to the board as well, he clearly indicated a preference for being the beatdown, dropping his opponent to 17. A Courier's Capsule promised to help keep his hand juiced into the late game.
Renowned deckbuilder Patrick Chapin.The two players parried back and forth, with Patrick developing on the back of a Dragon Fodder and Lipp continuing to get in with his Deft Duelist. Double copies of Tidehollow Sculler for Scott nailed a Skeletal Kathari from Chapin, and forced Patrick to use an Oblivion Ring to deal with one of the 2/2s. Lipp continued on the beatdown path, adding Kathari Screecher to his board (Chapin locked it down with Naya Battlemage), then played a Tezzeret, the Seeker which promptly search up a Tidehollow Strix. Patrick Chapin had fallen behind in the game, but he wasn't out.
Patrick used an attack on Tezzeret to kill Scott's remaining Tidehollow Sculler, earning Chapin back his Skeletal Kathari. His follow-up Carrion Thrash meant Scott Lipp would be keeping his Deft Duelist home, but Scott still managed to swing with his fliers to drop Patrick to 7. Lipp also used his final Tezzeret counter to search up Executioner's Capsule, blowing up Pat's Battlemage.
Patrick took his turn to quickly make Skeletal Kathari and ship it back, but when Scott managed a second Tidehollow Strix and a Bone Splinters to destroy Chapin's only flying blocker, Patrick quickly succumbed.
Scott Lipp: 1, Patrick Chapin: 0
As the two players got down to business for the second game, Pat Chapin opted to draw.
"Now why would you do something like that?" Scott Lipp asked his opponent.
"You did, so I guess you must know something about this format," was the response.
Both players got under way with two-drops for the second game, Patrick in the form of Druid of the Anima and Steward of Valeron, Scott with Deft Duelist and Tidehollow Sculler. He had a techy play for his Sculler, putting the comes-into-play ability on the stack, then using Call to Heel to bounce it back to his hand. That permanently removed a card in Patrick's hand from the game, and netted Lipp a free card draw. He would also get to steal a second card from Patrick on the return swing with his Sculler.
Down a Skeletal Kathari from the play, Patrick looked to get back into things. He had plenty of mana thanks to his mana bears and four land drops, but he was missing relevant action, sitting on a hand of mostly removal. Lipp continued to work on getting into the red zone by playing a Tidehollow Strix, but Chapin had Magma Spray for the 2/1. Feeling the coast was clear, Lipp re-made his Tidehollow Sculler, nabbing a second Magma Spray from his opponent's hand but seeing Resounding Silence and Excommunicate.
Chapin was finally getting things going. He ripped a Wolly Thoctar and set his opponent back with Excommunicate on the Sculler. That inevitably led to a huge bash, which set the totals to 20-13 in Patrick's favor. Scott wasn't out of things just yet, even if he was struggling on just four lands. He used an Esper Charm to force Patrick to discard the rest of his hand, still leaving him with the Tidehollow Sculler in hand thanks to Excommunicate.
Lipp used a Resounding Wave to bounce his opponent's 5/4, then attempted to lock it out by playing his Sculler for the third time in the game. He was shocked to find a Hellkite Overlord staring back at him, however, forcing him to leave Patrick with the Thoctar. Unable to keep his defenses up, however, he was forced to double block Pat's Thoctar, costing him his Sculler and giving Pat the Hellkite Overlord back.
When Chapin attempted to play the 8/8, however, Lipp revealed the tricky plan he had plotted the entire time: Gather Specimens to steal the 8/8 to his side of the board. It missed an attack as Patrick used his Naya Battlemage to tap the Overlord down, but Lipp had Executioner's Capsule to end that, and the game had shifted dramatically. Scott Lipp had gone from down and out, to very nearly in the virtual lead.
Not to be outdone, Patrick used Blister Beetle to kill Scott's Tidehollow Strix, but Lipp had a second Resounding Wave to bounce the 2/1. He wasn't out of the woods just yet, however, and needed to have a trick if Patrick made an all-in attack. With just three blockers, Scott was dead on board. Still, if he did manage a solution, Patrick was likely dead. Trying to get a read, Patrick eventually sent the team in and Scott nodded.
Scott Lipp: 1, Patrick Chapin: 1
With just 12 minutes on the clock, both players opened the final game of their match on mulligans. Unfortunately for Scott Lipp, he was forced to ship his second hand back for a set of five. His turn-two bear in the form of Tidehollow Sculler was met with chagrin as Patrick revealed a hand devoid of any additional land, but packed with two-drops and removal. Scott was forced to take Naturalize so Patrick would have to use Oblivion Ring on the Sculler. Lipp then played Grixis Battlemage.
Scott Lipp tries to make good in the final round.Patrick built up his manabase with two copies of Druid of the Anima, ultimately allowing him to power out a Carrion Thrasher. He lost the entire team, however, when Scott got Chapin to block his Sculler with the 4/4, then had a post-combat Infest. That wiped his board as well, but stranded Chapin with just three mana sources. Lipp, meanwhile, seemed flooded with seven total lands on the board. His next threat was Tidehollow Strix, but Patrick quickly made the Blister Beetle Lipp knew he had been holding all game to kill the 2/1. In response Scott played Call to Heel, but Patrick trumped with Naturalize. By the time the stack ended, all four cards had gone to the graveyard.
Lipp's next powerhouse was Tezzeret that searched up Courier's Capsule, but Chapin just used his Oblivion Ring to deal with the planeswalker. As Scott untapped to begin his turn, time was called in the background and the match looked like it might be shaping up to be a draw. That was, it did until Lipp played a Kederekt Leviathan. That earned him his Tezzeret back, which searched up Tidehollow Sculler and stranded Chapin's Resounding Silence. Pat's hand was still pretty juicy with Rockcaster Platoon, Oblivion Ring, Hellkite Overlord, and a host of other powerful spells, but he was short some of the specific mana requirements to play them. The additional turns ticked by.
Chapin used Oblivion Ring on Sculler to get his Silence back, but Lipp nonchalantly Esper Charmed to destroy the enchantment, then attacked for 5 with Leviathan to put his opponent to just 5. After tutoring up an Executioner's Capsule, it looked like Lipp might be able to walk with the match after all. Patrick found the mana he needed to hit his Hellkite Overlord, but it left him tapped out and his opponent was quick to reveal a Resounding Wave to bounce the 8/8 and swing for the win.
Scott Lipp defeats Patrick Chapin 2-1 to advance to Day 2.
Saturday, 9:47 p.m.: Luis Scott Vargas' Sealed
Earlier today we looked at how Luis Scott Vargas built his sealed deck for the event. After nine rounds, we caught back up with him to see how he did. First, here's the list he wound up playing:
When speaking Luis he was quick to fault his build. "I went with the Esper version, but sideboarded all day long in the the RGb with no Obelisks. That deck was SO much better, but I don't think I won a Game 1 all day." Ultimately the pool was good enough for a 5-3 finish, but unfortunately that means Luis will be watching his friends play on the second day of competition.
Fortunately for you, you can do the exact same, so keep your browser tuned here tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion of Grand Prix-Kansas City!