318 players came to New Orleans today to compete in an Extended format that was entirely unexplored. Since Worlds, Goblin Lackey, Frantic Search and Entomb were banned in an effort to slow the game down.
On the other hand, Mirrodin was printed.
Thanks to the mana acceleration of Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key and Thran Dynamo, the set's most powerful cards can come out much faster than in other formats, which tends to break them in half. On top of that, Goblin Welder and Tinker allow players to abuse cards such as Mindslaver, Goblin Charbelcher and Myr Incubator to insane lengths.
The result? The vibe in the convention center was surprisingly fitting. Some players chose to dress the part for Halloween, and as crazy as some of them looked, the stories from the games were even more attention grabbing. Stringing together Word of Commands or making tons of 1/1 tokens in the first few turns of the game may be frustrating, but it certainly makes for interesting feature matches. Between rounds, players were congregated together telling the latest war stories for a new format firmly entrenched in powerful, game swinging cards that can change everything in the blink of an eye.
This is not to say that today was all about artifacts. Emanuele Canavesi from Italy was the only player to go undefeated, and played Psychatog, a deck that has been dismissed in most formats for the past year or so. Right behind him is rising Canadian star Richard Hoaen, who played Gob-Vantage. Picking up where the Japanese Goblin deck from Worlds left off, this archetype uses the Recruiter/Ringleader combo, but in combination with Mirrodin's Goblin Charbelcher for a combo edge. In addition, he packed plenty of artifact removal in the sideboard in the form of Pulverize and Rack and Ruin. Right behind him in third is Jin Okamoto, also playing a version of Gob-Vantage, but with Seething Song to make the deck even more geared towards combo. Pro Tour - Yokohama Finalist and Rookie of the Year Masashi Oiso finished the day in ninth place, playing Tinker. One of last season's big stories, Mattias Jorstedt, is in position to make yet another Top 8, coming in eleventh place with Tinker.
Now that all the archetypes have been revealed and the decklists are on the internet, tomorrow will be centered around an environment that is obviously more familiar than it was when players first started shuffling their decks for round one. Check back to Sideboard.com tomorrow to find out how the tournament changes when all the information is available. Once the dust is settled, eight players will move onto Sunday and an opportunity to become a Pro Tour Champion.