Day 2 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on November 20, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast



Sunday, November 20: 11:31 a.m. - Round 10: Rogier Maaten vs. Jonathan Rispal

Rogier Maaten

Both Rogier Maaten and Jonathan Rispal ran out yesterday with perfect 9-0 records. Now that "blue" and "green" flights are combined they finally get to face each other. On the surface its Affinity vs. 'Tog and Maaten could be considered favorite. However, Rispal's 'tog deck is a little different to mast as we're about to find out…

Maaten won the dice roll and elected to kick off.

The advantages of advance intelligence were clearly apparent as Maaten was able to come straight out of the gate with a Pithing Needle set on Psychatog. He followed that with an Arcbound Ravager and then an Arcbound Worker. Rispal's first attempt at disruption was a Memory Lapse on Maaten's Frogmite.

On his third turn Rispal showed that his 'Tog deck was a little more unusual than most as he cast Burning Wish to fetch Pyroclasm from his sideboard. I think he would have rather fetched something along the lines of Shatterstorm or Meltdown but we don't really have access to those kind of toys any more.

The Pyroclasm had little effect as all it did was transfer a 1/1 counter from an Arcbound Worker to a Frogmite. Rispal tried to buy a turn by Icing the 5/5 Ravager. Maaten simply transferred the counters to the Frogmite for lethal damage.

Maaten 1-0 Rispal

Yeah, that's Kataki and Psychatog together.

Now it gets interesting as Rispal can bring in Kataki from the board. Yes you did read correctly. Rispal's Psychatog deck has Kataki, War's Wage in its sideboard.

Because of this Maaten brought in a card that wouldn't normally be seen in this matchup: Darkblast. Rispal's Nightscape Familiar felt the collateral damage on the second turn.

A Remand slowed Maaten down a turn but his board looked menacing as by turn 4 he had Arcbound Worker, Myr Enforcer, Blinkmoth Nexus and Frogmite in play.

Rispal cast Fact or Fiction at end of turn and his next turn was a doozy as he dropped first Psychatog and then Kataki. The busted legend had little effect on this game though. Maaten paid the wage to keep everything apart from a land and then dredged back Darkblast to send the spirit away.

However the 'Tog did a good job of holding up the ground, limiting Maaten to just pecking away through the air with the Nexus. Rispal then managed to effectively deny Maaten two draw steps as the Dutch player dredged back Darkblast to deal with successive Nightscape Familiar. Meanwhile the French player sped away with two Fact or Fiction.

A Flametongue Kavu from Rispal (it's 'Tog Jim, but not as we know it) spat down a Myr Enforcer and now the Tog was free to attack.

Flametongue Kavu

A Worker blocked the first 'Tog attack but then Maaten let the second attack through. His maths were correct as although Rispal went all-in Maaten could burn a Chromatic Sphere and dredge back Darkblast to stay alive at a slender 1 life. It might have seemed like a premature move from the Frenchman to remove his hand and graveyard at this point and not kill his opponent, but it turned out to be correct as a Pithing Needle showed up a turn later.

Now we had an interesting game of topdeck magic. Rispal found a second 'tog and then Kataki, but Maaten was able to keep pace with a Ravager and then Ornithopter. If he could just find a Plating or more artifacts the Dutchman might be able to steal a win through the air.

It wasn't to be as a Fact or Fiction revealed a Fire to do that last point of damage.

Maaten 1-1 Rispal

Maaten busted out of the blocks with Ravager only for Rispal to immediately kill it with Chainer's Edict. Rispal spent a couple of turns on two land, his screw helped along with a Darkblast on his Familiar. Maaten seemed to be threat-light at the moment. He had a Pithing Needle to neuter 'tog but no creatures after a Fire took down his Worker.

Repulse and Remand delayed an Enforcer long enough for a Flametongue Kavu to deal with it and then the game went a little surreal. Maaten played two Enforcers in a row and Rispal fought back with Familiar and a second Flametongue Kavu. The Frenchman's 'tog deck is clearly not like other 'tog decks.

Jonathan Rispal

The first Atog entered play, but it was the original artifact munching kind. Rispal matched with the younger brother, Psychatog, but it was fixed at a harmless 1/2 because of Pithing Needle.

The players traded blows with Enforcer and Flametongue Kavu. Maaten held the slight advantage with Darkblast and his Atog. A Ravager pushed him further ahead. Rispal had two Fire/Ice and could maybe buy enough time to win the race. However it was time he didn't have. Maaten managed to force an Enforcer through for 4 damage and then brought the game to an abrupt end with Shrapnel Blast.

Rispal's 'tog deck might be innovative and different but ultimately it was the same story of Affinity munching on 'tog.

Rogier Maaten beats Jonathan Rispal 2-1 to become the only remaining player with a perfect record.

Sunday, November 20: 12:52 p.m. - Day 1 Deck Breakdown (sort of)

Boros Deck Wins 16%
Psychatog 14%
Affinity 13%
Aggro Rock 8%
Madness Tog 7%
Control Rock 6%
Scepter-Chant 5%
Goblins 5%
Heartbeat Combo 4%
UG Madness 3%
Balancing Tings 2%
WW 1%
BWU Solution-type 1%
Mono-Black Control 1%
GW beats 1%
Tooth and Nail 1%
Wake 1%
Reanimator 1%
Slide 1%
RG beats 1%
Elves 1%
Opposition 1%
Rogue 6%

Note to self. Never attempt to classify nearly 1000 decklists again.

Classifying this number of decklists involves levels of tedium that even my stout minions Julien Nuijten and Frank Karsten couldn't withstand. Although occasionally you do come across a decklist that either makes you want to laugh or cry. Our favorite had to be the list that contained such one-off gem as Coiled Tinviper, Illusionary Forces and other such cards we couldn't even begin to remember what they did.

This is kind of a representative of the day one field. I say representative in that it is sort of accurate. Basically, for those that don't know, at a major tournament the decklists are collected by the judges at the player's meeting. A team of judges then checks these decklists and sorts them alphabetically so they can easily find them later in the day for the random deck checks. As day one was broken into two tournaments we had two boxes of decklists and … well you can guess where this is going. At about 11 o'clock last night I picked up the wrong box and was so tired I got through around five letters before I realized. So although this is not the definitive breakdown it does include over two thirds of the decklists (including some of them twice) and is about as close to a representative sample as you're going to get.

Once the tireless judging team has finished extracting the day two lists I'll bring you the relative success ratios. Which will once again be representative … sort of … maybe …

Sunday, November 20: 1:40 p.m. - Round 12: Bernardo da Costa Cabral vs. Omar Rohner

Bernardo da Costa Cabral

The current Spanish national champion was still playing and doing very well. Now he faced Bernardo da Costa Cabral, one of Belgium's level 3+ pros. Both players were playing a green/black build; Bernardo played an aggressive version of the deck, while Omar played a control deck with a splash for Loxodon Hierarch and Gifts Ungiven.

Game 1

Omar led off with Overgrown Tomb and Bernardo had a Duress, revealing two Sakura-Tribe Elders, Smother, Pernicious Deed, Gifts Ungiven and a land. He discarded the Smother and Omar played his Tribe Elder.

Dark Confidant was next for Bernardo, but Pernicious Deed made Bernardo keep his other creatures in hand. Another Duress took care of Omar's Gifts Ungiven, revealing Eternal Witness and Ravenous Baloth. The Witness came in and brought back Gifts, and the Deed blew Dark Confidant away.

Once again Bernardo Duressed away the Gifts, and made an elephant with Call of the Herd. Omar drew a sixth land and played his last two cards: the Baloth and a Tribe-Elder. Omar's Therapy on Umezawa's Jitte missed, and Bernardo made another elephant token and Elves of Deep Shadow.

On his next turn, he attacked with his team, trading an elephant token for Eternal Witness and Tribe-Elder, running the other elephant into Ravenous Baloth, and dealing four damage in the process. Omar fell down to 11 and Bernardo summoned Phantom Centaur. Omar untapped, drew and played Pernicious Deed with four mana left to blow it up, but he chose not to and fell down to 5 in the next attack step, blocking Troll Ascetic with the Baloth. Deed was sacrificed on the next attack, Troll Ascetic was regenerated and Bernardo kept the pressure on with a flashbacked Call of the Herd. A third Deed took care of the token, but Troll stayed on the board. Bernardo replaced his token, but it got Putrefied. Another Troll Ascetic came down for Bernardo, and Omar used Living Wish to get Loxodon Hierarch, but it only delayed his demise.

Omar's sideboarding: +1 Loxodon Hierarch, +1 Naturalize, +3 Smother, -4 Cabal Therapy, -1 Duress

Bernardo: +1 Smother, +1 Pernicious Deed, -1 Wild Mongrel, -1 Chrome Mox

Game 2

Omar Rohner

Omar played first and Bernardo had to mulligan. His second hand wasn't much better as it had three equipment and only one land. He sent back another 0-lander and didn't bother to look at his four cards, and just kept. He didn't have any lands and a few turns later Genesis finished him off.

Game 3

Bernardo played first and Omar was the one to mulligan this time. Bernardo played a second-turn Birds of Paradise but it got Smothered, he followed it up with Troll Ascetic, Phantom Centaur and Wild Mongrel. Omar could only play Gifts Ungiven and offered the option of Ravenous Baloth, Loxodon Hierarch, Pernicious Deed and Eternal Witness. Bernardo quickly put the big creatures in the graveyard, and Omar played the Witness and got back Smother. When Bernardo Putrefied the Witness, he could attack for the win, even when Omar Smothered the Wild Mongrel.

End result: Bernardo da Costa Cabral beat Omar Rohner 2-1.

Sunday, November 20: 2:29 p.m. - Day 2 Deck Breakdown

Boros Deck Wins 25 21%
Affinity 21 21%
Psychatog 19 17%
Aggro Rock 13 22%
Control Rock 9 20%
Scepter/Chant 8 22%
Balancing Tings 6 33%
Mirari’s Wake 4 57%
Heartbeat Combo 4 11%
Goblins 3 9%
GW Beats 2 22%
UG Madness 2 10%
Mono Black Control 2 18%
WB Beats 2 (unknown)
RG Beats 1 20%
Madness Tog 1 2%
UW Solution 1 9%
Astral Slide 1 20%
UG Opposition 1 25%
CAL 1 (unknown)

Behind each decktype are two numbers. The first is the total number of players that made day 2 with that deck. The second number, in brackets, is the number of players that played the deck in day 2 divided by the number of players that played the deck in day 1. The decks that are unknown were those that were classified as rogue or missed on day one.

Big underperformers were Heartbeat Combo, Goblins, UG Madness, Madness Tog and UW Solution. And the rogue category of course, but that was to be expected.

The decks that performed the best were Balancing Tings and Mirari's Wake. Four out of seven Wake players made it to day 2, so maybe his archetype is much stronger than most people give credit for.

Sunday, November 20: 3:07 p.m. - Round 13: Olivier Ruel vs. Javier Dominguez

Javier Dominguez

We're about to head off into the last few rounds. Rogier Maaten has finally fallen and dropped a round. That leaves a three-way tie between him, Olivier Ruel and Javier Dominguez. It is the match between Ruel and Dominguez on table one we'll follow here.

Barring an English style collapse both players should be close to locks for top 8 as they only need a single win from three rounds. Dominguez is running the control rock deck splashing white and blue for Hierarch and Gifts that seems to have picked up some support both here and in Mexico. Olivier Ruel is running a very cool concoction that abuses Life from the Loam and cycling lands with Seismic Assault and Solitary Confinement.

Both players led off with Birds of Paradise. Dominguez added a second and a potentially very useful Withered Wretch. Ruel didn't have a second Bird but he did have a Dark Confidant. Dominguez continued to ramp up a good draw as his Rock deck busted out a turn 3 Loxodon Hierarch.

Ruel closed his eyes and revealed the top card of library. Bob bolted him in return for putting a Seismic Assault in hand. Ruel couldn't cast it yet and Dominguez didn't give him an opportunity to cast it on the following turn as he plucked it out of Ruel's hand with Cabal Therapy. A Putrefy took out Dark Confidant and the Spaniard looked to be in a very strong position.

Ruel's hand was currently 3 land and a Solitary Confinement. He tried to find some gas with a Sensei's Divining Top. A Flashback Therapy took out the Confinement. A Putrefy was fetched back with Eternal Witness.


Ruel used the Top with sac lands to try and find an answer. He was facing lethal damage in the next attack. More cycling, more Top effects. After all the manipulation the best Ruel could do was to flip the Top and put a second Bird of Paradise into play so that he didn't die to Dominguez's Putrefy.

It brought him an extra turn, but there was still nothing forthcoming from the top of his library.

Ruel boarded out 3 Confinement a Top and an Elder and put in 2 Putrefy, 2 Loxodon Hierarch and a Duress.

Dominguez boarded out all four of his Putrefy and a Carven Caryatid to bring in 4 Duress and another Hierarch.

Dominguez 1-0 Ruel

Ruel mulliganed but still found a first turn Bird of Paradise. He ramped up his mana further with a Tribe Elder. Dominguez again had the turn 1 Birds of Paradise, turn 2 Withered Wretch start. He missed a land drop though.

The next turn Ruel demolished his opponent's hand with two Duress and a Cabal Therapy. Ruel had no hand while Dominguez had two rather limp Cabal Therapy's. It was down to playing off the top. Dominguez only had one land but he did have a Withered Wretch in play.

A few turns later and Ruel was cycling lands like a demon and drawing cards off Bob but not really finding anything. Dominguez had found both land and a Ravenous Baloth. Bob traded off with the Wretch but it seemed like Ruel was going to die to the big beast.

A turn before it looked like the end was nigh Ruel finally found the card he was after. He dropped Seismic Assault and cast Life from the Loam. The Baloth and then Dominguez fell to a hail of land. Ruel admitted afterwards he'd needed to draw both cards in two and had hit with both.

How lucky.

Dominguez 1-1 Ruel

Haunting Echoes

Dominguez again managed to drop a first turn Bird of Paradise while this time Ruel missed. On his second turn Dominguez had a Witness, fetching back just a sac land. The Spaniard passed his next turn with four mana open. Either his hand was weak or he was waiting to cast Gifts.

Ruel went for the Therapy, prompting Gifts to be cast in response. The double instant tutor gave Ruel the choice of Witness, Therapy, Withered Wretch and the back breaking Haunting Echoes. Ruel gave him the Echoes and Wretch and then took them both away with successive Therapies.

Dominguez flashed back the Therapy, but missed. He saw a scary hand of Dark Confidant, Life from the Loam, Loxodon Hierarch and the plains to cast it.

Ravenous Baloth Mk2 entered play on Ruel's side and he started swinging with the Elephant. Dominguez had a Deed so Ruel would need a little more.

For possibly the first time ever the second ability of the Hierarch was relevant as Ruel summoned Bob Confidant with GW open to regenerate it should Dominguez pop the Deed.

It looked like the Frenchman was slowly taking control of the game. Life from the Loam refilled his hand with land and a Tribe Elder appeared, in this case to add its meager contribution to the beats.

Dominguez popped the Deed but was now down to land and a single Bird of Paradise in hand. He was still at 17 life while Bob Confidant had dropped Ruel to 11 life.

A ripped Withered Wretch allowed Dominguez to bust up the Life engine but it was the beatdown that was becoming more of a concern. Ruel summoned another Loxodon Hierarch.

Dominguez hit his deck. But only found a Therapy. The Therapy prompted a Putrefy on the Withered Wretch and Dominguez hit an Eternal Witness instead.

They went into extra turns with Ruel trying to push through the last few points of damage. It looked like a formality. Ruel had an elephant, Bob and a Tribe Elder. Dominguez chumped the elephant in one of the turns with a Wretch from off the top.

Olivier Ruel

Then Ruel made a rare balls up in extra turns. He summoned a Witness to fetch Burning Wish and cast the Wish to fetch Cranial Extraction. The intention was to Extract out Pernicious Deed as it was the only card that might possibly save Dominguez on the last turn. Unfortunately Ruel had no land left to fetch with a sac land and so didn't have the mana to cast it. He summoned another Dark Confidant instead.

Dominguez drew his card and although it wasn't Pernicious Deed it was a potential savior Ruel had forgotten about. Loxodon Hierarch gave Dominguez just enough life to survive provided it survived to block. Ruel needed to find a way to kill it and had just burnt his Wish on an Extraction instead of Chainer's Edict. Two Bobs failed to find an elephant gun and so Javier Dominguez managed to just hang on for the draw.

Oliver Ruel and Javier Dominguez draw 1-1.

Sunday, November 20: 3:41 p.m. - No draws

The top tables are drawing huge crowds.

Well well. This is interesting. The penultimate round of a Grand Prix and not a single player is one hundred per cent safely in.

The early tournament leader Rogier Maaten has choked down two losses in a row and is still battling for that elusive one victory he needs. He's slumped to fifth in the standings, but is only one point behind the four way tie for first. On the top table Gonzalo Domingo squared off against Javier Dominguez in a clash that ensures at least one player from the host nation. Gonzalo Domingo came out on top and will get to play for ranking points against Olivier Ruel in the last round as the Frenchman was successful against Guillam Wafo-tapa's Wake deck.

On table three Maten could finally breathe a sigh of relief as he got the win he needed against Rafael Vidal.

Jonathan Rispal, left, vs. Stuart Wright

Table four was interesting. English hope Stuart Wright with a conventional dredge-a-tog deck was playing against Jonathan Rispal's unconventional 'tog deck. In a twist these players actually played in the final of a recent PTQ in Newport of all places. It's even the same matchup. On that occasion Rispal was successful and it was the same here. Wright took the second game despite having his 'tog's extracted but in Game 3 I arrived to see him tapped out with Fire/Ice to make room for Meloku to enter play for the bargain basement price of 3 mana (courtesy of two Nightscape Familiar). Wright's 'tog was countered and that was all she wrote. Rispal picks up the fourth slot in the top 8 and Wright will have to try and get a win in the last round.

Sunday, November 20: 4:20 p.m. - Round 15: Guilliaume Wafo-Tapa vs. Geoffrey Siron

Guilliaume Wafo-Tapa, left, vs. Geoffrey Siron

Game 1

Geoffrey played first and Guillaume had to mulligan. Geoff came out quickly with Llanowar Elves and Call of the Herd. Cabal Therapy on his next turn got countered by Evasive Action, but Wild Mongrel resolved. Guillaume played Krosan Verge, the second card Geoffrey had to pick up and read. Geoff hit a flashbacked Therapy for Wrath of God and saw Deep Analysis and Mirari's Wake. When he played and equipped Sword of Fire and Ice, Guillaume picked up his cards and went to game 2.

Geoffrey: -4 Putrefy, -1 Umezawa's Jitte, +1 Pernicious Deed, +4 Naturalize
Guillaume: -1 Renewed Faith, +1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Game 2

Guillaume played first and both players kept their hands. Geoffrey's first-turn Duress revealed 2 Fire/Ice, Evasive Action, Cunning Wish and two lands. Evasive Action was discarded, and Guillaume Iced Geoffrey's swamp in his upkeep. Geoffrey had Cabal Therapy, named Fire/Ice, and revealed a land and Deep Analysis as new cards. On the next turn he resolved Dark Confidant, but Guillaume had Cunning Wish to Purge the Confidant. This allowed Geoffrey to resolve Call of the Herd, which he used the next turn to flashback Cabal Therapy hitting Deep Analysis. He saw a land and Wrath of God, played Withered Wretch and took out the Analysis. Guillaume searched for a bunch of lands with two Krosan Verge, and destroyed the Wretch with Wrath of God. Call of the Herd was flashbacked on the next turn and attacked once before another Wrath of God cleared the elephant and Birds of Paradise.

Geoffrey tried Troll Ascetic and Wild Mongrel, but the Troll ran into Evasive Action. Guillaume played Compulsion to find some better cards, but Geoffrey had Naturalize. Wild Mongrel tried to attack for three, discarding a forest, but Guillaume destroyed it with Cunning Wish for Smother. He followed it up with Deep Analysis, and things started to look better for the French player. Geoffrey used Birds and Therapy to leave only Renewed Faith in Guillaume's hand, but he'd found already found a Compulsion to draw into some better spells. Geoffrey had no plays for a few turns, and Decree of Justice for six soldiers and Mirari's Wake were enough to finish Geoffrey off.

Additional sideboarding:
Geoffrey: -1 Birds of Paradise, +1 Umezawa's Jitte
Guillaume: -3 Mana Leak, +2 Purge, +1 Renewed Faith

Game 3

Geoffre Siron

Geoffrey played first and both players kept their openers. Geoff had another quick start with Birds of Paradise, Dark Confidant and Troll Ascetic. Guillaume had Evasive Action for the Troll, and played a third land, an untapped Sacred Foundry, indicating that he had a Cunning Wish. He did, but Geoffrey had Cabal Therapy and hit the Cunning Wish. He saw a hand of island, Wrath of God, Decree of Justice and two Deep Analysis, and chose to knock out the Analysis's by flashing back the Therapy with Birds. Guillaume flashed both Analysis's back, and fell to eight life. Bob Confidant put him down to six, but Geoffrey just passed the turn without playing any spells, knowing that Guillaume had Wrath of God.

Guillaume tried to find a fifth land by cycling Decree of Justice in his main phase but he didn't and had to discard Wrath of God. Geoffrey resolved Troll Ascetic, and the soldier kept the Confidant on defense. Guillaume still didn't have a fifth land, but he had Purge for the Confidant and Compulsion, which got Naturalized straight away. Geoffrey Duressed away Wrath of God, and now there was confusion whether or not he'd played a land yet. The seventh land didn't really matter though, he only needed six to put his hand out on the board: Withered Wretch, Llanowar Elves and Dark Confidant. Guillaume couldn't find any solutions and died in Geoff's next attack step.

Sunday, November 20: 4:52 p.m. - Last Round Action

The action is crazy in the last round!

And its all very tight. In fact the title could almost be No draws II. Olivier Ruel and Gonzalo Domingo are in win, lose or draw and could have just played for the ranking points. Instead they took the opportunity to put their feet up for an hour. This was the only match that had that luxury.

Although both Rogier Maaten and Jonathan Rispal were in their opponents were paired up and had to play. Below them on table four Geoffrey Siron had managed to recover from the shakiest of starts to earn himself a straight knockout match against Guillaum Wafo-tapa. This is covered elsewhere by Julien Nuijten. Below that there were five tables that could produce a player on 36 points or better. If both Maaten and Rispal lost a lot of those players would be disappointed.

As it happened Maaten and Rispal both played dream-crushers. This was especially hard for Javier Dominguez as he'd needed just one win after round 12 and had only picked up a single point.

On table five Stuart Wright followed the typical English pattern as his 'Tog deck fell at the last hurdle to Sergi Herrero's Affinity Deck. After Siron's win over Wafo-tapa there were now just two places available. Both Marcio Carvalho and Jacob Arias Garcia squeaked in with Boros Deck Wins while João André was the unlucky guy in ninth

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