Rochester drafting is all about signals. The problem is that before Apocalypse, certain cards and colors meant one thing. Players were compelled to take allied colors. Not so anymore. If you take red behind a blue-white mage, you're not necessarily going to get the Tribal Flames you were hoping for.
It's double trouble if you stick to an arc of three allied colors only to find yourself cut off from the opposite color goodness. And so it seems that one of the keys to success is to decide your opposing colors early, and make sure they aren't the ones your right-hand neighbor is taking.
That was the strategy employed by a number of the 5-1's during Day 1. They would ignore cards outside an initial allied pair, and take splash cards from the one opposing color. If players aren't savvy to the post-Apocalypstic signals, this can case a lot of confusion at the draft table. Players downstream might shift colors too many times, forced to play the full five with an unstable mana base.
However, Latin America Championships might not be the best place to experiment. With USD$15,000 on the line and not a lot of time to practice, there's something to be said for going with what you know. That's exactly what the day's two perfect finishers did.
Former Mexican National Team Member and Magic Invitational Competitor Gerardo Godinez stuck to the tried and true, drafting green-white-red twice. Anticipating the moves of the players in front of him, Godinez latched on to the colors they ignored and mined them for as many cards as he could through Invasion and Planeshift. The idea being that if he needed only five cards for his deck from Apocalypse, then the one opposing color pair would deliver the goods. It paid off, big time.
Likewise for Argentinian National Champion Diego Ostrovich. In his second draft, he ended up leaving two Aggressive Urge in his board, so good were the red-white cards Apocalypse offered him. These two giants will square off in the seventh round, a Feature Match that's sure to draw a crowd.
After those two, the fifteen-point players go down to thirteenth place. They include such notables as Brazillian National Champion Marcos Tanaka, Chilean National Team Member Andres Camargo Alfaro, and Brazillian National Team Member Thomas Felsberg.
Last year's champion, Gustavo Chapela, had a very rough Day 1. He finished with the all-too symmetrical record of 2-2-2. Even with a perfect Day 2, he'd be one miracle short back-to-back Top 8's.
So it will be a knock-down drag-out battle for the Top 8 on Saturday. The players are in the unenviable position of having to fight through a Standard environment that's been analyzed and re-analyzed, with the best decks and counter-decks having been tweaked to near-perfection. Now they must crank up the prescience and determine the best deck to beat the field.