Day 1 Coverage of Grand Prix Prague

Posted in Event Coverage on September 1, 2013

By Wizards of the Coast

Day one has finally come to an end at Grand Prix Prague. 1505 brave competitors showed up for the last chance to battle in Magic 2014 sealed deck. After nine rounds of sizzling swiss only five remain undefeated. Konrad Sokolowski, Alessandro Portaro, Maximilian Reichl, Tamas Horvath and hometown hero Martin Jůza have dominated a field full of Primeval Bountys, Jace, Memory Adepts and what seems like infinite copies of Opportunity. Tomorrow, the players who went 7-2 or better today will draft for a chance to reach the prestigious top 8. What will the last drafts of the format bring? Who will stand when all others have fallen? Stay tuned to the coverage of Grand Prix Prague to find out and watch Europe's finest sling their cards to take home the trophy!

Saturday, 9:30 a.m. — 20 Years of , 17 years of Core Set Limited

by Olle Råde

This year Magic celebrates it's 20 year anniversary. Everyone knows that. But what isn't as well covered is the origin of the first core set limited format, which was born a few years later.

In May 1996, roughly 17 years ago, the second Pro Tour was held in Los Angeles, which was also the first one use a limited format. With boosters from from 4th edition and Homelands it was also the very first high level limited event using cards from a core set.

My encounter with the format took place a few months later, in august 1996, almost exactly 17 years ago. The encounter? The 1996 World Championship, interestingly enough held at Wizards of the Coasts office in Seattle, where 125 players battled out in booster draft.

Aysen Bureaucrats

Although not a part of the national team, I qualified for World Championships by winning the third Pro Tour held earlier that year. At the very first core set limited event I drafted a blue-white deck with fast cheap creatures and as many flyers I could get my hands on. I remember playing with classic cards like Prodigal Sorcerer and Pearled Unicorn and two copies of the powerful enchantment Flood. The deck featured four copies of Homelands all-star Aysen Bureaucrats and it took me to a 5-1 record on my way to my first and only top 8 of a World Championship.

Although limited wasn't as fully explored then, one of the big stories of the draft was Swedish player Tomas Larsson first picking Disintegrate over Shivan Dragon, which Czech player Jakub Slemr happily picked up and ended up going undefeated and winning the limited portion of that tournament.

Fast forward 17 years and M14 saw it's first big event at Grand Prix Rimini earlier this summer. Over a thousand players enjoyed the format and the tournament serves as a great example of how both set construction and player skill has improved over the years. As core sets go the consensus among players is that it is one of the best ever. Top pro Ben Stark has even gone as far as calling it "the best non Modern Masters limited format of the past 5 years".

Shivan Dragon

While I don't expect too many players to be passing a Shivan Dragon as their first pick here in Prague it brings a special feeling that the dragon is back in M14. Since It is one of those all time classic cards that Magic players over the world has enjoyed playing with for the last 20 years. A good friend of mine has even gone so far as having Shivan Dragon tattooed on his shoulder. In Sweden we jokingly refer to him as The boy with the Shivan Dragon Tattoo.

All in all, I hope the players are as excited to play in the Grand Prix this weekend as I am covering it and you guys at home are following our coverage!

Saturday, 10:22 a.m. — A Look at Trial-Winning Decks

by Tobi Henke

As is tradition, the action started on Friday with a number of Grand Prix Trials, the last chance for players to earn byes for today's main event. While the winning decks from those tournaments hardly provide a complete picture, they do provide a little insight into what makes a good Sealed Deck. Two things that caught my eye in particular: One, it seems you should be playing Forests, eight or nine preferably. And two, the decks don't really rely all that much on rare or mythic rare cards. Sure, there are at least one or two in all of them, but there's also a surprising number of Gladecover Scouts...

Jean Baptiste Aucler

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Matthias Bezenek

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Wim Waelkens

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Ulco Schoots

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Jakub Pobis

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Saturday, 11:00 a.m. — Sealed Deck Building with Sam Black

by Olle Råde

American pro player Sam Black was one of the more interesting names who showed up early to build his sealed deck. Despite having three byes. "I'm used to getting up early anyway, so might as well be here", he said about choosing not to opt for the sleep in, like most players with three byes.

Sam Black

The first thing that stood out in his pool of cards was a pair of excellent red rares. Namely Chandra, Pyromaster and Ogre Battledriver. Together with a Flames of the Firebrand a Young Pyromancer and a Maurading Maulhorn they created a solid base for a red deck. "Chandra and the Battledriver are both very powerful, and since my pool didn't have a lot of power I definitely wanted to play with those", said Sam Black.

The other color however, gave the 31-year-old trouble enough to create a wrinkle or two. He quickly dismissed white, summing it up as "a Serra Angel and a bunch of garbage", gave blue a few chances after ruling it out as "two Waters Servants, a Divination and nothing". In the end the choice stood between green and black.

Black (the color) had a few good cards, but was lacking in removal. With plenty of sacrifice effects it would have made for a great red/black deck based on Act of Treason to steal his opponents creatures and then sacrificing them. Only problem? His pool didn't have a single Act of Treason. "If I had just one Act I might have ended up red black, but since I don't that's really what in the end pushed me into red green", said Sam Black.

Finishing up his red green build, which added more powerful 4-drops in form of two Rumbling Baloths the last choices included playing a Dragon Hatchling or not. Another hard decision was how to build the mana base. The two baloths and a Witchstalker, along with a Howl of the Night Pack demanded a heavy green commitment, while a lot of the red spells did the same. Sam Black solved it by playing 18 lands with an equal number of Forests and Mountains. In the end he found his deck fine, but not great. When asked about his chances of making day two, or even better he quickly replied "I've definitely made day two with worse, but I don't think I will go undefeated".

"I guess these two make for a good combo", said Sam Black about Ogre Battledriver and Howl of the Night Pack.

Saturday, 12:05 p.m. — Sealed Deck Building Exercise

by Tobi Henke

1,505 competitors have already built their decks, but to all of our readers at home, here's a card pool for you! We picked this one for two reasons: One, the player who had to work with these cards said there were "so many directions one could go with it," and called the pool "tricky." And secondly, said player has multiple Top 8s to his name, including one win, all at Limited Grand Prix, so he probably knows what he's talking about.

We're not going to name the player just yet, so as to not spoil his fun by having the exact contents of his sealed pool spilled all over the internet for everyone to see. Later in the day, of course, we'll reveal both his identity and the 40 cards of his main deck.

Do you pick the same colors and choose the same strategy? Or can you build something even better? The comparison should prove interesting. So fire up our Sealed Deck Builder and try it!

Saturday, 1:00 p.m. — Local Magic Lingo

by Olle Råde

With players from all over Europe turning up at Grand Prix Prague the hall is a multiverse of languages. Other than Czech players are heard communicating in over a dozen of different tongues today. And it seems like they all have their local expressions when it comes to Magic or in game phenomenas. For example, who knows what a Doonal is? Or what the swedes refer to as Halonen potential? Or why the danes cheer when their friends lose by making mistakes?

Swedish player Marcus Angelin explains the Halonen potential as "when something in your deck has a really high pay off, but isn't necessarily optimal." An example would be running at least one creature that costs one mana and many that costs two to be able to curve out from the very first turn of the game. As it turns out plenty of decks in M14 limited has this, and the synergy of slivers is a perfect example of the Halonen potential.

Three dragons in the same deck with Scourge of Valkas, definitely Halonen potential.

In Israel, there is something called "doing a Danieli." Named after player Niv Danieli, who always builds two different decks at sealed deck Grand Prix, sleeves them both up and puts them in identical deck boxes. That way he can confuse his opponents by totally unnoticed switching decks between games.

Niv Danieli with his two different decks in two identical deck boxes.

The Italians, always very verbal magic players, show their sense of humor by ironically calling someone who is about to lose to be caldo, which means hot. "In real life, a corpse is cold, so someone about to die in Magic would be cold, but we humorously call it hot," explains Samuele Estratti, referring to his friend Alessandro Lippi's deck today as "very hot."

Italians Alessandro Lippi and Samuele Estratti, happy even though their decks turned out to be pretty "caldo".

In England, when somebody who plays a deck with at least three colors in it and without mana fixing hits three different land types on turn three it's called a "Doonal," supposedly named after a player who tended to always end up with 5 color green decks in Invasion draft.

And last but not least the colorful Dane Michael Bonde explains why the danes cheer out chanting "Fryd" when they watch their friends lose a game by their own mistakes. "It makes people to step up their game when they know that you're watching them, because no one wants to lose and then have your friends cheer because of it, so in the end it actually helps people play better," he said.

Saturday, 1:22 p.m. — The General Consensus

by Tobi Henke

My colleagues and I may sometimes give the impression that the coverage team only ever talks to the pros. While we're clearly very much interested in the insights and opinions of the best players, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, while the action (like the weather) here in Prague was heating up this morning, I was outside enjoying the summer breeze and got talking with a group of players. The topic, of course, was M14 Sealed and it was interesting to hear what the general consensus about the format was.

"Green and blue are by far the best colors," everyone seemed to agree. "Black is great too, while white and red not so much." Ironically, though, one should apparently avoid pairing the two best colors. "Green and blue don't make for a very good deck. It's a trap!" Evidently, players were looking to pair either green or blue with black.

"Blue-Black Control may just be the best archetype," someone suggested, but the debate regarding the merits of green was still going. "Green has mana fixing." — "But blue has card drawing." — "Green has fatties." — "Blue's got fliers."

While the proponents of green and blue couldn't really agree, even among the green faction there was no doubt that blue had to be respected. "For example, I'd always play a Windstorm in my main deck," said one player. "Same goes for Plummet."


But that may have had more to do with the nature of the Sealed Deck format in general than it was a testament to the strength of blue in particular. "In draft, only some players will have fliers, whereas in Sealed everyone plays theirs, whether it's Messenger Drake, Sengir Vampire, Charging Griffin, or Shivan Dragon. They don't have to be blue for you to get a good use out of Plummet." Negate was mentioned as a similar example. "In Sealed, virtually everybody has a good target."

It seems that by now players know what to expect from M14 Sealed and are well-prepared to face it.

Round 4 Feature Match — Samuele Estratti vs. Till Riffert

by Tobi Henke

Samuele Estratti hardly needs any introduction. The Italian has never really left the spotlight after his triumph at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011, collecting Grand Prix Top 8s all over Europe ever since. His opponent now was Till Riffert, an up-and-coming player from Germany with a number of Pro Tour appearances and Grand Prix money finishes, still looking for his big break. Since, thanks to byes, this was the first round of actual play for both of them the stakes weren't as high as they might have been later on in the tournament. Rather the question was: Who would climb up the ladder and who would stumble on the very first step?

Samuele Estratti

Riffert had built a green-black deck, not overly focused on synergies but full of a lot of very solid cards—the classic good stuff. Estratti, on the other hand, came prepared with two decks, one aggressive red-green and one blue-black deck he used following the first game.

At first, Estratti started strong, with Predatory Sliver and Goblin Shortcutter, but had no follow-up, whereas Riffert's first play was Briarpack Alpha, which ate the Sliver. Stuck on two lands for the first five turns of the game, Estratti quickly found himself at a serious disadvantage in the battle between the two green decks. Riffert's fatties were simply bigger and entered the fray sooner, and with the help of Enlarge Riffert took game one easily.

Switching decks, Estratti opened on three Swamps and Child of Night for the second game, but again further lands proved elusive. Meanwhile, Riffert first summoned Sengir Vampire, then Rumbling Baloth and Corpse Hauler, then Witchstalker. Estratti took his misfortune in stride. When his opponent revealed the Enlarge for lethal damage, he extended his hand in concession and revealed a grip full of good, but unfortunately useless, blue cards.

Till Riffert

"I kept risky hands in both games," Riffert admitted after the match, "and I was quite lucky that he couldn't capitalize on my slow start because of his mana screw." Riffert shrugged. "Sometimes there just isn't any more to it."

Round 5 Feature Match — Lukas Jaklovsky vs. Alessandro Portaro

by Olle Råde

The Players

Round five at Grand Prix Prague saw two seasoned European players duke it out for 5-0 and the privilege of being one foot into the second day of competition. 24-year-old Italian Alessandro Portaro made the top 8 of Grand Prix Turin in 2012 and has been seen at pretty much every Grand Prix ever since whereas Lukas Jaklovsky made the top 8 of the 2010 World Championship and according to some is one of the best limited players in Europe.

The Decks

Before Jaklovsky showed up Alessandro Portaro explained how his deck was a bit out of the ordinary, flashing two copies of Path of Bravery and two of Suntail Hawk. As Lukas Jaklovsky sat down he simply answered the question to whether his deck was good with a silent nod.

The Games

Game one started out with the classic discussion of whether to play or draw first. Alessandro chose to play, prompting an "I wouldnt know what to chose anyway" from Jaklovsky. The Slovak was however first on the table with a Manaweft Sliver that Portaro in about 0,5 seconds later removed with a Banisher Priest.

Lukas Jaklovsky

Jaklovsky could only frown as he didn't hit his third land drop, but went for a Deadly Recluse, hoping to somewhat hold the fort until his deck could deliver. In a furious tempo however, Portaro was able to summon several creatures before he found it and a Time Ebb from the Italian sent him shuffling for game two.

The second round of the battle between the two "sort of large European countries with lots of good Magic players" once again saw a second turn Manaweft Sliver from Jaklosky. However this time it stayed in play and the stars were out for a much closer game.

A Rumbling Baloth put Jaklosky ahead on the board, until it was removed by Alessandros old friend the Banishing Priest. Portaro cast a Warden of Evos Isle while Jaklovsky sighed, once again a little troubled with his deck, and after carefully considering his options went for a Wild Guess into ... nothing.

Master of Diversion for Portaro was met with another sigh from Jaklovsky. Who hoped to start his comeback with a Shock for the Priest followed up with an Advocate of the Beast to go nicely with the baloth.

Portaro however, had other plans and flashed in a Nephalia Seakite, cast Pacifism on the baloth and looked to be in control of things. At least until five wolves from Jakloskys Howl of the Night Pack showed up to put the game in a right race.

Alessandro Portaro

Portaros two fliers dropped Lukas to a precarious 6 life. An attack for 12(!) with the wolves + advocate brightened Jakloskys hope, after another flashed in Seakite he could only scoop up his cards, extend the hand and wish his nemesis a good luck for the rest of the tournament.

"Fast games, less work for the coverage team", said Alessandro Portaro with a 5-0 smile on his face.

Saturday, 5:30 p.m. — Meet Mikael Johansson

by Olle Råde

With so many countries represented at Grand Prix Prague one can't help but wonder which is the smallest one here, and which country has the fewest amount of players today?

Wonder no more. Meet Mikael Johansson, the only player from the Aland Islands!

Mikael Johansson

Although according to the DCI a part of Finland, the Aland Islands is actually independent, and has the same status as for example the "Portuguese" islands of the Azores, or the "Danish" Faraoe Islands. With a population of just 28,000, Mikael Johansson estimates the amount of Magic players to barely be a handful."These days I would say 20 people play regularly. There used to be more back in the 1990s, but today I am the only one who travels to Grand Prix," he said.

Mikael has played Magic since 1995, but he took a leave of absence when Invasion was released in 2000, to make his comeback at Grand Prix Gothenburg ten years later. He prefers constructed eternal formats, but actually made his first Grand Prix day two in London in February. Today he lives in Sweden, but his heart is still with the Aland Islands and the Magic players living there. "The possibilities on Aland to playtest for any tournament are close to none, but two guys from Aland actually played in the Pro Tour in the 1990s and one made the top 8 of Grand Prix Stockholm in 1997," he said.

Although Mikael Johansson travels to Grand Prix mostly for the pleasure of meeting Magic friends from all over Europe, he is somewhat troubled over being the only player from the Aland Islands.

"Since we from Aland don't speak finnish we mostly socialize with the Swedes, but of course it would be nice if more people from my home country started traveling to Grand Prix", he said.

He also dreams of sometime making the top 8 of a Grand Prix, but thinks his chances of winning one would be a lot better if there were tournaments exclusively for small island nations. Just like in the Island Games, where nations like Malta, Minorca, Jersey, the Shetland Islands and Saint Helena battle in their own mini olympic.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Aland has the best Magic players of any nation", said Mikael Johansson as he shuffled up his deck to prepare for the next round here in Prague.

Saturday, 5:55 p.m. — Talking with Wenzel Krautmann

by Tobi Henke

Just three weeks ago, Wenzel Krautmann won Grand Prix Warsaw. The format then was Standard, but as evidenced by his finals appearance at Grand Prix Moscow last year, he can play Limited too. This weekend, he's back for some more Core Set Magic and so far he's been doing quite well, starting 6-0 into the tournament.

"M14 is an awesome design," Krautmann said. "The set's rather elegant in its simplicity, perfect for newer players, for example. Sealed may be a little too simple for my taste, but then again, it is a Core Set and it accomplishes exactly what it's set up to do. In Sealed it's not that difficult to realize what the good cards are. Creatures like Rumbling Baloth and Rootwalla are pretty obvious about it, and it's not hard to figure out Opportunity.

Wenzel Krautmann

"Where it really gets interesting, though, is Booster Draft. There's the black-red sacrifice theme and enchantment synergies and Slivers and lifegain combos with Angelic Accord and all matter of things to gain an edge. You can even mix up some of them. In Sealed all I ever got was two Blightcasters with six enchantments. Come to think of it, that's actually not bad either," Krautmann added with a smile. "Overall, I'm pretty happy with M14.

"I'm also happy with my deck today. I was lucky enough to get this amazing blue-green deck with all the best cards. And I'm having so much fun. That's the most important thing to me: When playing Magic, I want to have fun."

Saturday, 6:22 p.m. — Quick Question: After Your Initial Impression, Which Card Went Down the Most in Your Evaluation?

by Tobi Henke
Martin Jůza: Trained Condor or Wring Flesh. Wring Flesh would be a solid playable in almost all formats, but here it just doesn't kill anything important.
Frank Karsten: Trained Condor.
Wenzel Krautmann: Elvish Mystic. In the beginning I would play as many as I could get, nowadays I don't like having more than one.
Sam Black: Trained Condor.
Thomas Holzinger: Trained Condor. It gets stopped by too much, so many 1/3 fliers.

ound 7 Feature Match — Lukas Tajak vs. Raphaël Lévy

by Olle Råde

The Players

Round 7 saw a gut wrenching showdown between Hall of Famer and recent World Magic Cup winner Raphaël Lévy and relatively unknown German Lukas Tajak. Lévy is a player who has played in every Pro Tour since 1997, won several Grand Prix and has more pro points than even Kai Budde. Sporting a brand new haircut he looked eager to take on the Nürnberger who admitted to having a bare 20 lifetime pro points.

French Hall of famer Raphaël Lévy, sporting a brand new haircut.

The Decks

Raph's Blue/Green deck featured two copies of what many consider to be the best uncommon/rare in the format in Opportunity along with a solid array of creatures and some spicy rares like Megantic Sliver and Domestication. Lukas Tajak was also running Blue, but chose Red as his compliment for removal spells like Chandra's Outrage and the oh so annoying rare Goblin Diplomats.

The Games

If this was a Hollywood movie, the underdog Tajak might have stood a better chance since they seem to win a lot more there than in Magic. The first game was a clean sweep after Tajak was forced to mulligan twice and Lévy's fast stream of Seacoast Drake, Woodborn Behemoth, and Rumbling Baloth quickly overran the German.

In between games Lévy, humble as always, informed his opponent that he should make sure to sleeve up his potential sideboard cards not to give away information in between games. "It takes so much time when you sideboard, and now I know that you are changing a lot of cards," he said.

Lukas Tajak, who chose a cap as his headwear of choice.

Game two was a battle of discards. First out was Lévy on turn three, second was Tajak, stuck on 4 Mountains on turn five. A discarded Blood Bairn quickly displayed what his sideboard plan was all about. Out with the Blue, in with the Black.

Meanwhile Lévy kept casting creatures while Tajak only managed a Bubbling Cauldron until he finally found a swamp. Tajak only seemed to be able to get chump blockers on the board and sacrificing them for life until he found a second swamp to cast Liturgy of Blood on Lévy's Messenger Drake and follow it up with a Grim Return, stealing the Drake.

"Very nice," Lévy commented.

It was all too little, too late though as Lévy had a trick up his own sleeve, having his Deadly Recluse weakly hunt the stolen drake, sealing up the deal.

The handshake does seal the contract.

After the match, Lukas Tajak shared his thoughts behind his switch of colors.

"Since he had Domestication I figured the sac outlets would be good, and that I somehow could battle his Opportunities with Duress. My main build isn't very good in the control mirror, but in the end the switch didn't end up mattering."

Saturday, 7:11 p.m. — Sealed Deck Building Exercise: Conclusion

by Tobi Henke

Earlier today we showed you a sealed pool and asked you to build a 40-card deck, but even earlier today Florian Koch was faced with that very same task, and for him this could well have decided the outcome of the tournament.

"In this format, I always look at the blue cards first, but this time blue had like three good cards, and the rest was borderline playable, with lots of double casting-cost cards as an added disadvantage," Koch said about his deck-building process. "White, on the other hand, was surprisingly solid, and almost all of it aggressive. I believe, more than anything, white in M14 suffers from the problem that half of the cards want you to be aggressive and the other half are very defensive," Koch explained.

Florian Koch

"Black in this pool is deep enough. It could work, and without black I wouldn't have any removal, so I was really tempted. In the end, though, I didn't like the lack of creatures and the late game wasn't that good either. Red had a great number of playables, in theory at least, but nothing really convincing. No synergies with Act of Treason, for example, and too few Slivers to make them any good. Also lots of duplicates that you really don't want to run two of. So that left me with green-white."

Take a look at the deck Koch built and piloted to a 6-0 start:

Florian Koch

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"Green didn't have that many cards, but good cards at least," said Koch.

"I also considered the enchantment approach with Ajani's Chosen and Oath of the Ancient Wood. Then I would have gone five colors with Verdant Haven, Darksteel Ingot, and Shimmering Grotto, and tried to fit in Shiv's Embrace, Barrage of Expendables, Illusionary Armor, Sensory Deprivation, and Claustrophobia. But apart from ruining the mana base, those enchantments don't even have any good synergy with the resulting deck, except for the obvious Chosen and Oath," Koch explained. "Most of the cards in the green-white deck only really deliver on their potential in a straight two-color deck, so I took the rather unusual route of building a true aggressive deck."

A good choice, it seems, considering he just got back from his round-seven feature match, all smiles and still very much undefeated.


Saturday, 7:22 p.m. — Quick Question: After Your Initial Impression, Which Card Went Up the Most in Your Evaluation?

by Tobi Henke

Martin Jůza: Scroll Thief was basically unplayable during the bloodthirst era, now it's good. Also, all kinds of counterspells. For example, I'm happy to have multiple Cancels, which itself was very much unplayable in Zendikar.

Frank Karsten: Act of Treason. The more I play with the red-black sacrifice deck, the more I like it.
Wenzel Krautmann: Disperse. It just does so much cool stuff.
Thomas Holzinger: Sensory Deprivation, because of the stronger focus on control when playing blue.

Round 8 Feature Match — Florian Koch vs. Frank Karsten

by Tobi Henke

Frank Karsten, the Dutch Hall of Famer, recently decided to take Magic a little more seriously than in the past couple of years and meant business. With their perfect 7-0 records, both players had already passed the Sealed-Deck hurdle; now it was time to move into an even better position for day two.

We've featured Koch's Green-White beatdown deck extensively before. In fact, it was the subject of our sealed deck exercise today. Interestingly enough, Karsten had also built a White-based aggro deck, pairing the color with Red.

Florian Koch

And indeed, it was Karsten who deployed the first two creatures: Young Pyromancer and Master of Diversion, soon joined by Griffin Sentinel. Koch's Hive Stirrings on turn three couldn't quite match up with that, and his Rumbling Baloth was stopped cold with Pacifism. Sporemound finally provided enough blockers to halt Karsten's offense, and soon Koch's own Master of Diversion and Ajani, Caller of the Pride turned things around. After two activations of Ajani Goldmane's first ability, Koch got in 4 damage with Master of Diversion, and on the next attack activated Ajani Goldmane's second ability and smashed with all of his creatures including several tokens. With the help of Fortify he dealt well in excess of 16 damage.

In game two Kartsten again had the first creature in Academy Raider and enchanted it with Lightning Talons on turn four. Koch's Green-White deck had but one answer to the unblockable 4-power first striker and Celestial Flare was nowhere to be found. Instead he tried to race with Rootwalla, Charging Griffin, and Hive Stirrings, trying to set up another Fortify blow-out, but Karsten's Pacifism, Young Pyromancer, and Chandra's Outrage were quite enough to prevent that.

Frank Karsten

The final game of the match began at a much more sedate pace, with Griffin Sentinel for Koch and Academy Raider for Karsten. This time, Celestial Flare immediately killed the red intimidator, which was replaced by Capashen Knight, and no more creatures were cast until Koch's Sporemound. Over the next couple of turns, both players tried to build an army to overwhelm the other, Koch with Hive Stirrings, tokens from Sporemound, and Rumbling Baloth, Karsten with Master of Diversion, Fiendslayer Paladin, and his own Griffin Sentinel. But Karsten had Pacifism and Shock (killing the opposing Griffin Sentinel, which had blocked), stabilizing just outside the range of any Fortify shenanigans. His Cyclops Tyrant provided a clock and he was pulling further and further ahead. Close to the end of the game, which by now had gone well into extra time, Koch provided a final scare with Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Fortify, but even this attack wasn't enough to kill Karsten, who returned the favor, albeit more succesfully, with a lethal Volcanic Geyser.

Lesson learned: Don't get in the way of Frank Karsten when he means business.


Saturday, 9:22 p.m. — Quick Question: After Your Initial Impression, Which Card Went Down the Most in Your Evaluation?

by Tobi Henke
Martin Jůza: Mono-blue!
Frank Karsten: Yes, mono-blue. I have to agree.
Wenzel Krautmann: Blue-green. Those colors simply have the best cards and the combination is fine too.
Sam Black: Either blue-black or blue-green.
Thomas Holzinger: With green you can almost alyways get an awesome deck.

Saturday, 9:40 p.m. — Undefeated Deck Lists

by Olle Råde

Konrad Sokolowski

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Alessandro Portaro

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Martin Jùza

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Maximilian Reichl

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Tamas Horvath

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