Day 2 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on May 20, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast



Gadiel Szleifer

Gadiel Szliefer needs little introduction with three career Top 8 finishes on his Pro Tour resume including a win at Pro Tour Philadelphia. On the Grand Prix level he has the same numbers - three Top 8s with one win. He was definitely looking to pad the resume some this weekend after tearing through Day One with a Hulk Flash deck that he built for this tournament.

When Gadiel works on a constructed format that usually spells trouble for everyone else in the room. I asked him how much preparation he had coming into the event.

"I mean…I tested in my head a bunch," he said in classic Gadiel fashion.

Owen Turtenwald is an up-and-coming 18-year old Wisconsin player having the best tournament of his career with the Legacy staple Goblins. Owen prepared for this event with Jeff Rabovsky and regularly plays with Adrian Sullivan and other Wisconsin PT veterans.

Game 1

The game got off to fast start with Aether Vial and Piledriver from Turtenwald. Looking over Gadiel's shoulder it looked like he had all the ingredients for a turn two kill but could not pull up a land with a Brainstorm at the end of Owen's second turn. He Mystical Tutored for Brainstorm and despite a pretty scary start by Owen he was able to combo out on turn three.

Gempalm Incinerator

On Owen's final turn of the game he played out Gempalm Incinerator on the board with two other goblins in play which could have potentially disrupted Gadiel from going off. Owen explained that, "I didn't think he had the combo I hand and felt like I had to go for it - he was dead next turn."

Szleifer - 1 Turtenwald - 0

Game 2

Aether Vial was the leadoff play for Owen after his second mulligan in two games. Gadeil whiffed on Duress seeing only dudes and land. Owen tried to keep Gadiel's mana pinned down with Rishadan Port and Wasteland - he did not need to cast anything himself with Vial on the board. He needed to do something though as he was not exerting any pressure on Gadiel who was Tutoring and Brainstorming throughout.

Gadiel went off adding a Sylvan Safekeeper to the mix. He wanted to know if it was necessary to go through the motions after all, "I have Force of Will backup."

Owen asked him to go through with the game and when the Kiki-Jiki activation was on the stack he Vialed out a Goblin Matron - he had a Piledriver already in play - and fetched up Gempalm. Gadiel tried to save his creature with Safekeeper but that fizzled the ability of Kiki-Jiki. When the dust settled Gadiel had a midsized Carrion Feeder, no lands, and a Game 3 to play.

Gadiel chalked the play up to early morning bleariness and hoped it would not cost him the match but: "I'm not sure there was anything else I could have done. Maybe I could have waited a turn to see if I drew a Mystical Tutor for Cabal Therapy."

Szleifer - 1 Turtenwald - 1

Game 3

Owen Turtenwald

Gadiel's Duress on turn one revealed Tormod's Crypt, Pyroblast, Siege-Gang, Matron, and four lands. He took the artifact and braced for the Wasteland that was inevitably going to be aimed at his Underground Sea. Owen played Mogg Fanatic and lost his Pyroblast to Cabal Therapy the following turn. Owen offered up a Piledriver and Gadiel Brainstormed in response to find the Daze.

Owen got in for one and summoned Matron to find Gempalm. He had two Ports at this point but they were offline to pay for Matron. Gadiel went deep into his library with Lim-Dul's Vault at the end of the turn with a clear window open for him to win. At eleven he found a pocket of cards he needed with a Brainstorm in hand.

When he went off he made a point of having the Sylvan Safekeeper at the ready to protect his Carrion Feeder from the Mogg Fanatic but not in the way Olle intended when he designed the card. If Owen attempted to kill the Feeder in response to the first creature being sacrificed to it then Gadiel could sacrifice the Safekeeper to make it a 2/2 in response.

Szleifer - 2 Turtenwald - 1

Hulk Flash Gadiel Szleifer

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Goblins Owen Turtenwald

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Sunday, May 20: 12:34 p.m. - Round 11: Craig Jones vs. Adam Yurchick

by Craig Jones

Adam Yurchick

BDM: "You've got a feature match and can you write it up as well. For the main coverage."

Clones at the ready I guess then.

As it turned out I was pretty much just a reporter this round anyway as my mutant Fish-Hulk combo got molested by Goblins in two very short games.

Game 1 I can't possibly win as I'm fish. He made a first turn Lackey and used it to bust out a Siege-Gang Commander. My one land wasn't fighting that one.

Game 2 I'm Flash-Hulk and it's still fairly tricky as I don't have room to fit in as much tutoring or mana acceleration.

Don't stare directly into his shirt

I do have a potential turn two kill. But not against double Wasteland, double Tormod's Crypt and double Red Elemental Blast.

I made a mistake sideboarding here. Everyone pretty much expects the switch by now, so I should have left in two Serra Avenger and a Jotun Grunt. That way I could still Flash the Hulk into play and be left with a strong board position.

As it was trying to go off around Tormod's Crypt and dodge Blasts is too much against a creature clock.

Adam Yurchick beats Craig Jones 2-0.

Sunday, May 20: 1:21 p.m. - Deck Tech: A Richard Feldman Joint

by Brian David-Marshall

Richard Feldman

I was pretty excited watching Richard Feldman's tear through the field yesterday as he ended up with an 8-0-1 record using a coverage reporter's best friend - deck tech! While the rest of the field seemed to be using established archetypes Richard, and partner in crime, Zac Hill were playing a deck which featured Skyshroud Poacher and Deranged Hermit. I decided to toss him in the Feature Match area for Round 12 - he lost round 11 - and see just what made this deck tick.

He was playing against Daniel Pham, who was playing Threashold. Pham slumped in his seat when Feldman led off with Leyline of the Void. Richard's next plays were Fyndhorn Elves, Duress, Elves of Deep Shadow, Ancient Tomb, Mesmeric Fiend, Chalice on one, and Jitte. Despite dismantling Daniel's hand Richard had been working with just Ancient Tomb for most of the game due to Wasteland. Richard fell to ten but had a sword wielding Fiend to close the game.

"I think it's worth it, I could be wrong."

"No lies, you got me on turn zero," laughed Daniel as he went for the enchantment removal in his board. Richard had another Leyline in Game 2. Richard's Mesmeric Fiend revealed two Pyroclasm and Force of Will. Daniel expected to lose the counterspell but Richard took the 'clasm.

Daniel Pham

Daniel was puzzled and shrugged: "I guess I will Pyroclasm."

"I guess I will activate my Pendelhaven"

"I guess I will lose."

Richard laid the deck out for me after the match and talked about why his green-black deck is most definitely not Rock.

"I would say it is more Trinity Green or Elves with black," mused Feldman. "It is not really focused so much on incremental card advantage like Rock is as much as it is focused on a couple of big threats backed up by disruption."

That still sounded like Rock to me but Richard explained that Rock usually revolves around one central threat and continually bangs away with that threat, recurring it with Genesis and/or Eternal Witness. Besides, he explained, the deck started out modeled on Trinity.

"As with most decks I have played recently," he elaborated after talking about wanting to play something that could beat the field. "Zac suggested a deck and I suggested a bunch of modifications. Originally it was mono-green and we were going to disrupt them with Port and Wasteland. But that was not good enough against Flash. We knew we would have a good match-up against Fish because we played too many must-counter spells. We decided to see if we could add Leyline to the deck and not lose to Fish and we were. It is the Glass Cannon strategy - we just scoop to Goblins - even though we have Plague in the board. Jon Sonne is in the draw bracket - I hope he lost."

We didn't get to see the Poacher or any of the other big threats in his match with Daniel. I asked how the Poacher had been treating him.

"The Poacher has been amazing…unreal. I searched up Viridian Shaman to kill Cheon's Shackles."

Another card that had been very strong for him and had contributed to his perfect record against Flash decks was Chalice of the Void. "Chalice for two is an overlooked strategy because not many decks have the mana to play it."

"I am very happy with this although I wish the sideboard was a little different," he concluded. "The Deeds are just too slow."


TrinityRock Richard Feldman

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Sunday, May 20: 2:32 p.m. - Round Thirteen Walkabout: Two Rounds to Go!

by Brian David-Marshall

With the Swiss rounds dwindling away I decided to cruise the top tables and see which decks were fighting for a Top 8 berth. The first table featured undefeated Gadiel Szleifer with Hulk Flash playing a mirror match against Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa. The match went three games with Gadiel's sideboarded Quirion Dryad serving the lethal damage. Gadiel was the first lock for the elimination rounds. At 11-2 Paulo remained very much in the picture as well.

Owen Turtenwald, Gadiel's first opponent from earlier today, all but locked up a Top 8 berth with his victory over U.S. Champ Paul Cheon. Paul Cheon's Bigger Fish could not stop Owen from overwhelming the champ with little red men. Cheon was left with an outside shot of Top 8 but was most likely looking for the extra Pro Points a potential Top 16 finish would offer after picking up his third loss to go along with one draw.

Billy Moreno picked up his third loss the round before this one but his deck was still fighting for a Top 8 berth in the hands of Top8Magic's own Steve Sadin. The deck was a tricked out Flash build complete with Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top. Steve was facing off against Richard Feldman of the Elves this round. Steve was able to win Game 3 despite Chalice for two. The Chalice hit the turn after Dark Confidant and Steve went on the offensive with Bob and Carrion Feeder.

Michael Bernat and Kyle Goodman were tussling at table 4. Goodman was playing Fish with Aether Vial that he opted for after he handed it to me on Friday to test with Billy Moreno. After watching me dismantle Hulk Flash in 9 out of 11 games - and I am awful, mind you - he decided to play the deck for real. Kyle advanced past Michael, who was playing an almost card for card copy of Gadiel's Flash deck.

JSS Champ Jeff Rabovsky and his Threshold deck squared off with Ryan Trepanier playing Goblins. Ryan has been trying his best to reach the Feature Match area all weekend. Hopefully this picture will assuage his hunger for awhile. With his win over Jeff, Ryan got one step closer to a Top 8 berth and all the coverage he could ever want.

Bill Stark is joining the event coverage team in San Deigo and was SUPPOSED to be helping me out today if he did not do well. Sadly for me Bill continues to win with his Mono Black agro deck taking out fellow Iowan Tim Galbiati.

Paul Nicolo was trying to return Threshold to its former glory and was able to pilot it past Allen Jackson's Zoo deck to keep the dream alive.

Finally, at table eight, there was still more diversity of the format on display. Michael Belfatto was playing a Black-White agro deck and took out Markus Seine's Scepter Chant deck to reach the fingers-crossed 31 point level.

Sunday, May 20: 3:27 p.m. - Deck Tech: Almost But Not Quite

by Brian David-Marshall

Two players who were surfing on the bubble of Top 8 contention were Paul Cheon and Ian DeGraff and both were playing interesting decks that were worthy of highlight even if they missed the mark - although not necessarily for the same reason.

Ian DeGraff is the head of Team ICBM one of the Big Two of Vintage squads. He decided to play Slivers for this event and was up late on Friday poring over the 64 cards that were in contention for his 60 deck slots. He went to sleep undecided and woke up scurrying to fill out the list and somehow included all 64 cards - presumably because they laid out neatly into piles of four.

What would you pick to Duress?

That hasn't slowed him down though and he still had an outside shot at the Top 8 before losing in the penultimate Swiss round to Paul Cheon. One could only imagine his performance would have been much better with an appropriately trimmed list. If you can figure out the four cuts that baffled Ian you might want to consider most of this list for Legacy.

Top64 Slivers Ian DeGraff

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Paul Cheon

Paul Cheon lived to fight on for another round with his Bigger Fish deck which was designed to beat both Flash and the Fish decks designed to beat it.

Bigger Fish Paul Cheon

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Sunday, May 20: 4:12 p.m. - Round 15: Bill Stark vs. Paul Cheon

by Brian David-Marshall

Paul Cheon

It looked like a win and in scenario for Cheon after his win over DeGraff in the previous round and he seemed to know he was going to be heading for the Feature Match area once again. His opponent was Bill Stark who thought he was going to be able to draw into the Top 8 this round but when his name came over the PA system he knew that it was not to be.

"I did not want to hear my name called," Stark frowned. It means I have to play."

Tim Aten came over to the Feature Match area and looked at Bill Stark's set-up which included multi-tasking business cards that served as zombie tokens or a writer recruiting tool for the strategy website he edits. He also had a PTQ Top 8 pin sitting among the paraphernalia.

"Ask him what he uses that for," prodded a gleeful Tim Aten.

Bill had his game face on and did not want to reveal any information about his deck: "I'll tell you after the match."

Tim could not wait that long and whispered that Bill used the token as a deck reminder for his upkeep. Bill was playing an aggressive black deck with Carnophages and he wanted to make sure he did not forget to pay.

"He says that's bush but I say it is just smart," shrugged Bill.

Game 1

Bill led off the game with Unmask and Paul Cheon gave the card a quick reading.


"Why does everyone have to read that card?"

"I don't play Legacy."

"It's an Extended card."

"I started playing in Torment."

Paul hid some cards on top of his deck and Bill took Daze. He then proceeded to Dark Ritual out Order of the Ebon Hand and Carnophage, placing his Top 8 pin on his deck to remind him to pay his upkeep.

Meddling Mage from Cheon named Order but it was just trotted out there to trade with the Carnophage. Bill Hymned the Champ and Cheon's hand was empty when he played Jotun Grunt on turn three. Bill thought about keeping the pro-white Order back to block but after a quick graveyard count decided against it. The top of his deck yielded a second Order and Cheon could not even crack back.

Meanwhile Bill kept Cheon's cards in hand to zero with a succession of Hymns. Bill, who will be joining the coverage team in San Diego wondered about how to approach this scenario if he was writing about it. "When doing coverage is something like, 'He had more Hymns than the Catholic Church' funny, or no?"

Personally I would opt for "More Hymns than the Harlem's Boys Choir" but that's just me. Bill will have to find his own coverage voice.

Stark - 1 Cheon - 0

Game 2

Bill Stark

Bill's turn one Duress saw Engineered Explosives, Shackles, land, Serra Avenger, and Dark Confidant. Only two were eligible to be booted from the hand and Bill chose the Shackles. Dark Confidant came down and Bill placed Order of the Ebon Hand in its path. Cheon chose not to attack and did not block either. Hymn drew a Brainstorm and a sigh from Bill as he did not take out the Serra Avenger or the Explosives. He followed up with Carnophage and his Top 8 pin.

The next turn yielded both Serra Avenger and Engineered Explosives but that could not stop the Order from getting in for four. Shackles showed up on top of the deck for Paul and suddenly he had an answer for the pro-white Knight.

That was until Bill drew his Jitte. Cheon put the Confidant in the way but Bill had gave it first strike and two counters. Cheon's out at this point was to draw a Jitte but that did not happen and Bill took the match.

"Congratulations and good luck in the Top 8," said Cheon, proving he is as gracious in defeat as he has been in victory.

Stark - 2 Cheon - 0

MonoBlackAggro Bill Stark

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