Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on August 21, 2010

Eight names remain in the bracket for Sunday morning. Eight men will enter the battle enclosure where honor and prizes are won. Four, two, then one will remain. And Germany will have a new National champion. The planeswalker crown will pass on from the reigning National champion Sebastian Thaler to one of them.

We have seen a rise of talent and prowess to the top of the standings. While Germany's recent Pro Tour champion Simon Görtzen and the current Rookie of the Year Lino Burgold did not feature prominently in the final standings, two players repeated their Top 8 appearance from last year's tournament: Tobias Gräfensteiner and Florian Pils have proven their prowess once more.

Among the rest, Jörg Unfried, Dennis Johannsen and Daniel Gräfensteiner know how being under the lights feels, be it at Nationals or (in case of Gräfensteiner) at the Pro Tour. Their decks are a diverse mix of different strategies, although two Jund decks slipped through the cracks between all the new-fangled combo decks enabled by Zendikar and M11.

Join us when we meet again in Aschaffenburg to find out who will become Germany's National Champion 2010!


Saturday, 10:50 a.m. – An angelic presence at the artist's booth

by Hanno Terbuyken

Volkan Baga is one of the more recent additions to Magic's art portfolio. The 32-year-old artist mostly works within the confines of traditional oil painting and has a penchant for fantastic themes and pieces. He came to the Magic fold in 2006 and was the one to create the alternate artworks for Alpha's Moxen, to be given away as prizes at the Vintage Championship. His work can not only be found on Magic cards, but also on book and magazine covers. We posed five short questions to Volkan. Here are his answers.

What kind of Magic card would you like to create artwork for?

There is this expansion set that I especially liked and that did fulfill all of my wishes so far: Shards of Alara. It was the most beautiful set that I have worked on yet, because Wizards specifically asked for something picturesque. What I do like most is depictions of humans, particularly angels, my favorite subject matter.

How important is the artwork on the cards for the players that you meet?

It is important, sometimes even very important for them, I feel. There are many kinds of people coming to me, but mainly those who admire the artwork and respect the artist.

What are your favorite Magic artworks that you did?

Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Stoic Angel.

What is your favorite Magic artwork that another artist did?

I am a big fan of Donato Giancola. His work is very pictorial, too, and I had the pleasure to be his studio assistant for a while. I don't have single cards in mind, but a number of artists. Donato, of course, with his traditional artistic style. Then there are many artists who work digitally, like Michael Komarck, who I admire. And there's Justin Sweet, who does both, digital illustrations as well as traditional paintings.

Do you prefer painting creatures or abstract artworks like spells?

I prefer painting humans by far. But I have to say this: When I have painted many human figures in a row, I feel a desire to work on some sort of creature. It's a game of saturation for me. The same goes for illustrations with a positive feel: After one too many, I sometimes need to paint something more negative, something darker,.

Feature Match Round 9: Carsten Schäfer vs. Mike Hofmann

by Hanno Terbuyken

With the first round of the second draft in the books, the players at the top of the standings can already catch a whiff of top 8 air. But before rejoicing, they will have to take both their draft decks and their Standard decks through the paces once more. Two of these hopefuls on Saturday morning were Mike Hofmann with just a single loss and undefeated player Carsten Schäfer, who came to the table with a 7-0-1 record. The decks these two had drafted were nearly diametrally opposed. Whereas Schäfer relied on black-red, Hofmann set his hopes on a blue-green specialty.

Game 1:

Carsten Schäfer

Schäfer dominated the early turns, with Crystal Ball making sure that he wouldn't run out of useful things to do just yet. Reassembling Skeleton, Child of Night and Viscera Seer threatened to become a major attack force. However, Hofmann retaliated with Ice Cage and made good use of his Gargoyle Sentinel to drop Schäfer to 17 before Doomblade dismissed the Gargoyle.

Hofmann put the pressure on with water servant and Awakener Druid, taking Schäfer to 13 with the aid of an animated Forest. Schäfer had a Servant of his own, this one a Fire Servant, and Child of Nights Lifelink ability kept him level with Hofmann at 15 life each.

Schäfer scryed for action. He found Act of Treason, commandeered Hofmann's Water Servant and came in for a whooping nine points of damage. Hofmann, however, decided to put his Prized Unicorn in the way of Schäfer's Fire Servant and saved the Unicorn and killed the Servant with Giant Growth. That left the battlefield wild open for a retaliatory attack that Schäfer, on 13 life, promptly scooped to.

Mike Hofmann 1 – 0 Carsten Schäfer

Game 2:

Hofmann mulliganed on the draw and Schäfer had a dream start with turn two Child of Night and turn three Barony Vampire. Chandra's Outrage dispatched Hofmann's Gargoyle Sentinel, and quickly Hofmann was down to 11 life. Sword of Vengeance didn't prevent him falling to 6, and even on turn five, Hofmann failed to produce anything. Schäfer scryed with Crystal Ball, played Fire Servant, attacked unhindered and Hofmann fell to 1. He drew nothing of any value and shuffled up for game 3.

"Without creatures, even the most beautiful sword is useless," Hofmann sighed. Schäfer had demonstrated how much pressure a Limited deck can exert on an opponent if it simply draws everything on curve and cue. He simply left Hofmann no time to draw into anything.

Mike Hofmann 1 – 1 Carsten Schäfer

Game 3:

Mike Hofmann

Once again, Hofmann started with a mulligan, but this time – on the play – he was the first to drop some points of power, with Gargoyle Sentinel. Schäfer answered with Barony Vampire and Crystal Ball, while Hofmann had Water Servant and the board looked almost exactly like game one. This time, though, Schäfer had Assassinate und Combust to clear the board, which left Hofmann with no choice but to play a lonely Prized Unicorn next turn.

Schäfer summoned Vulshok Berserker to the battlefield and hastily attacked Hofmann from 17 down to 11. The double dip of removal had cost Hofmann five turns of development, and he was on the ropes, his hands shaking nervously as spectators gathered around the feature match area.

Cultivate gave Hofmann two Islands to pay for Cloud Elemental, but he fell to 5 regardless from Schäfer's next attack. Liliana's Specter joined Schäfer's ranks and Doomblade killed Hofmann's Elemental. Then, Hofmann drew Sword of Vengeance to enhance his lonely Prized Unicorn, hoping for that to draw him out of the quagmire. Schäfer wasn't about to let that happen: Act of Treason took the Unicorn away and Hofmann was left defenseless and dead.

Mike Hofmann 1 – 2 Carsten Schäfer

Saturday, 11:50 a.m. – Draft Signals: See How Things Go Wrong

by Hanno Terbuyken
Denis Sinner

Denis Sinner had a hard time in draft. Seated in draft pod two, his opponents were formidable. His draft emphasized how signalling can be a two-edged sword. Signalling is essentially the art of letting your draft neighbours know what you are drafting without explicitly telling them, because that would be against the rules.

So Denis kicked off with a first-pick Serra Angel and passed Blinding Mage and Assassinate to the left. Denis continued with Doom Blade, Corruption and – crucially – Cloud Crusader as fourth pick. What Denis could not know was that Dennis Johannsen, sitting to Sinner's right, had also started the draft in white, with Elite Vanguard as first pick, Knight Exemplar, and then Warlord Axe over the very same Cloud Crusader that Sinner would take as fourth pick.

Sinner took that as a signal that white was open for him, but did not receive any more significant white in pack two. However, in the second booster, Sinner continued with the white strain, getting Squadron Hawk, White Knight first and second. As third pick, he took Nether Horror and passed both Siege Mastodon and Honor of the Pure to Dennis Johannsen, but scooping up Day of Judgment as fifth pick.

So while Sinner had successfully cut off white to his left, Dennis Johannsen was still firmly entrenched in white. The result: In the third booster, Sinner only got the dregs of white that Johannsen had left over. Granted, that included a seventh pick Cloud Crusader, but Johannsen picked up Squadron Hawk, Serra Angel, Assault Griffin, Blinding Mage, Assault Griffin, Mighty Leap, and Elite Vanguard.

Arguably, Johannsen signalled badly in the first booster by letting the Cloud Crusader through, and Sinner can be said to have made a similar mistake by letting the Honor of the Pure through to Johannsen. It is the typical situation in a draft: Two players in the same colors right next to each other will always, often unknowingly, fight over the same cards. In this case, both decks got worse, so make sure to watch for those signals!

Saturday, 12:00 p.m. –

by Hanno Terbuyken
Michael Wiese

There are many ways to exit a Magic tournament. Being late in the morning for day two at Nationals is one of them, but even worse is a forced exit via Rules Avenue.

The draft is one of the times when players have even more chances to get themselves disqualified. Pro Tip: Keep your eyes to yourself! Because peeking into another player's picks is a really bad idea, as one Nationals player now knows quite well.

"We clearly saw that he moved his head and saw the cards of his draft neighbour," explained head judge Michael Wiese. Two judges and the head judge concurred that this particular player was looking where he shouldn't have looked. "That is enough for a disqualification, because it is cheating." The full name for the infraction is Cheating – Hidden Information Violation.

While discovering secrets is fun, it is explicitly forbidden in Magic. What is supposed to stay unknown must stay unknown. But how can you pervent this, for example if your draft opponent holds his cards in a way that makes it impossible for you not to look?

Hopefully, you know the answer: Call a judge! "The judges are there to help you. Raise your hand, call "Judge!" and tell him that you don't want to see anything but your own cards," advises Michael Wiese.

And he has another helpful tip: Don't lie to a judge. That is one of the most common reasons for a disqualification. Whenever something happens and there is a judge call involved, stay truthful! "We (almost) always find out if someone has lied to us," is the judge's consensus, and let me tell you, I've seen it happen more than once. Even if you know you did something wrong: Call a judge and let them know. "The penalties are not as tough as players think," says Wiese.

Not everything you do wrong by accident will automatically lose you the game. Especially if your story is true. A lie goes around the world before truth even has her boots on – but the lie will land you smackdab in the middle of trouble, because you cannot steer where it goes. So stay honest – it makes your life easier, and your Magic tournaments far less likely to end prematurely!

Saturday, 1:35 p.m. – Draftviewer

by Tobias Henke

Something which might be interesting to everyone: The folks over at have covered one complete draft, all boosters and all pick of all players at the table. Among them Grand Prix–Prague champion Jan Schmidt, the runner-up from GP–Lyon Tobias Gräfensteiner, Worlds quarterfinalist Florian Pils, and PT–Berlin quarterfinalist Denis Sinner.

Here is the link:

There, you'll first find a schematic view of the draft table as seen from above. Clicking on one of the player names will then direct you to that player's draft. Below each pack, there is a left and a right arrow, which link to that very same pack, as the respective neighbor saw it before (or after). This way you can not only follow the draft from the perspective of one player, but also follow one booster pack around the table.

Feature Match Round 10 – Florian Pils vs. Jan Schmidt

by Tobias Henke

Both players are 1-1 in this draft and need a win to stay in contention for Top 8. Pils had draftet green-white with a splash of red, Schmidt was bringing a solid blue-black control deck to the feature match area.

Pils had Sacred Wolf as his first creature, Schmidt had Liliana's Specter. The creatures traded in combat, while Pils reloaded with a 3/3 Protean Hydra. Wall of Frost for Schmidt took care of the Hydra and his Quag Sickness dispatched Pils's Blinding Mage. But Pils wouldn't let go. He summoned Spined Wurm, then Serra Angel.

Florian Pils

"Infinite fatties," Schmidt complained.

"Infinite fatties," echoed Pils and smiled.

Schmidt tried to stop the bleeding. First, Harbor Serpent provided some fat for himself, then Diabolic Tutor came up with Corrupt, which shot down the Serra Angel.

The board was stable now, but whereas Pils was completely out of gas, Schmidt's deck only started rolling: a second Harbor Serpent, Foresee, and Royal Assassin elicited a sigh from Pils: "How am I supposed to ever get through this?"

Soon after, Schmidt's own offense showed up: a Cloud Elemental and another, and finally Nightwing Shade. The fliers quickly wrapped things up.

Florian Pils 0 – 1 Jan Schmidt

The second game started with Infantry Veteran for Pils and Augury Owl for Schmidt. Then a series of quick trades commenced: Awakener Druid (or rather the awakened Forest) traded with Assassinate, Spined Wurm met Cancel, Blinding Mage got stuck under Ice Cage, and Garruk's Packleader got Mana Leaked.

This exchange of cards left the board predominantly... well, empty. So, when finally Pils found a seventh land and cast Gaea's Revenge, the game was over in two turns.

Florian Pils 1 – 1 Jan Schmidt

Jan Schmidt

Unexpectedly, it was Schmidt who went for some early beatdown in the final game. Augury Owl and Liliana's Specter got in for a couple of damage. Pils had his first drop in the form of Garruk's Packleader on turn five. However, Serra Angel on turn six turned the game right around, and now Schmidt was on the back foot. Garruk's Companion drew Pils another card, while Schmidt used Diabolic Tutor in a desperate attempt to find something that was, apparently, not in his deck.

With Garruk's Packleader running hot, Schmidt was in big trouble already, but when Gaea's Revenge showed up once again, he wasn't anymore. He just picked up his cards.

Florian Pils 1 – 1 Jan Schmidt

Saturday, 3:34 p.m.: Quick Questions

by Hanno Terbuyken

What is your opinion on the current Standard format? And what is your favorite card from Magic 2011?

Michael Diezel (left):
Opinion on Standard: "On the positive side, there are a lot of decks to chose from. On the negative side, they all do the same thing: playing good cards instead of good synergies."
Favorite M11 card in Limited: Bloodthrone Vampire
Favorite M11 card in Constructed: Duress – "I am happy that it is in the metagame."

Jan Ruess (right):
Opinion on Standard: "The single cards are becoming too strong right now, but we've known worse Standard formats in the past."
Favorite M11 card in Limited: Preordain
Favorite M11 card in Constructed: Preordain

Florian Koch:
Opinion on Standard: "I think it's pretty cool, even though I received a massive beating yesterday. I didn't test enough. There are many different good decks in the format, which is nice."
Favorite M11 card in Limited: Cyclops Gladiator – "I know it's not the best card, but I keep drafting it."
Favorite M11 card in Constructed: Primeval Titan – "It is ridiculously broken."

Florian Pils:
Opinion on Standard: "I do kind of like it. There is a whole bunch of decks to play, which makes it exhausting to test. But it is way better than just Jund everywhere."
Favorite M11 card in Limited: Mind Control
Favorite M11 card in Constructed: Primeval Titan – "It is super-fun to play."

Simon Görtzen:
Opinion on Standard: *shrug* "It's a really open format, and right now it is not super relevant for me."
Favorite M11 card in Limited: Foresee
Favorite M11 card in Constructed: Primeval Titan

Feature Match Round 12 – Sebastian Thaler vs. Max Pritsch

by Tobias Henke

Both players were right at the edge of contention. With scores of 8-3, just one more loss ment certain elimination. Pritsch won the die-roll and had to mulligan. Thaler was happy with his draw and the reason soon became obvious, when he first shot down Pritsch's Birds of Paradise with Burst Lightning, then killed Fauna Shaman via Lightning Bolt, all the while Pondering through his options (and his deck, of course).

More Ponder and Preordain followed, while Pritsch was stuck on two lands. Still, Thaler was missing the centerpiece of his deck, Pyromancer Ascension, and couldn't really capitalize. Even with Foresee the former Rookie of the Year couldn't find the elusive enchantment.

By turn six, Pritsch had a third land and summoned Knight of the Reliquary. Another Lightning Bolt took care of that and a second Foresee finally foresaw Pyromancer Ascension. As they tend to do, the Pyromancer ascended, a Time Warp was copied and Pritsch decided to shuffle it up for game two.

Sebastian Thaler 1 – 0 Max Pritsch

Max Pritsch

In the second game, Pritsch's first play was Fauna Shaman, which Thaler sent back with Into the Roil and, when recast, sent to the grave with Lightning Bolt. Bloodbraid Elf stuck to the battlefield, as did the Cunning Sparkmage the Elf cascaded into. Another Fauna Shaman led to another Bloodbraid Elf led to another Cunning Sparkmage, and Thaler soon succumbed to the beats.

Sebastian Thaler 1 – 1 Max Pritsch

With a potential Top 8 berth on the line, both players kept solid seven-card hands. Thaler played first and gunned down Noble Hierarch with Spawning Breath, then took care of Fauna Shaman with Lightning Bolt. Next Pritsch summoned Qasali Pridemage, Destroyer of all things Pyromancer Ascension. (At this point the reporter took a little peek into Thaler's sideboard. Sure enough, all Ascensions were enjoying a breather on the sidelines.)

Sebastian Thaler

Pritsch made Bloodbraid Elf and, with its help, Knight of the Reliquary. Thaler cast Ponder and didn't like what he saw. He shuffled, drew a card, looked at it in astonishment, and cast the topdecked Polymorph. His measly Eldrazi Spawn turned into a mighty Progenitus.

Pritsch cast a second Knight of the Reliquary and a second Qasali Pridemage. Thaler attacked for ten and played Khalni Garden. Would Pritsch be able to squeeze through the 15 points of damage needed to kill Thaler? Another Bloodbraid Elf seemed to actually enable that, even more so when the cascade turned over Cunning Sparkmage. But when the Sparkmage ran into Mana Leak and one Bloodbraid Elf met Lightning Bolt, the Plant token was enough of an obstacle to leave the damage total at 13. Close, but no cigar.

Sebastian Thaler 2 – 1 Max Pritsch

Saturday, 5:20 p.m. – Combo, Schmombo

by Tobias Henke

Combo is out and about in full force at German Nationals. There is Runeflare Trap, Polymorph, Pyromancer Ascension, and even a new twist on Time Sieve. No one went particularly well with the deck, but one player did provide this screenshot of an actual turn-three kill from Magic Online! All thanks to the long disregarded Etherium Sculptor, which plays a prominent role in both Time Sieve decks in attendance.

Off to the more succesful lists. Currently, Carlo Mazzurco is 9-3 with Runeflare Trap.

Carlo Mazzurco

Download Arena Decklist
Carlo Mazzurco

Mazzurco was convinced to play the deck after talking about it on the phone with Sebastian Thaler. The very next weekend, he even made the Top 8 of a Pro Tour Qualifier. "The deck is not that good anymore with the recent changes in the metagame," Mazzurco said, adding, "but still good!"

The deck is similar to the Owling Mine decks of old. Howling Mine, Jace Beleren, and Font of Mythos draw cards, Unsummon, Into the Roil, Mana Leak, and Lightning Bolt are effective weapons to control the tempo of the game, and finally Runeflare Trap and Twincast deal lethal damage in record time.

"Basically, any slow deck that cannot quickly empty its hand is a good match-up. Mono Red is terrible, and the new Jund which runs Thought Hemorrhage in the sideboard is something I'd rather not play against," said Mazzurco about his chances. "Oh, and the match-up against Pyromancer Ascension is really, really tricky. I can't even say, which deck is supposed to win here."

Feature Match Round 13 – Daniel Gräfensteiner vs. Carlo Mazzurco

by Hanno Terbuyken

This is it! Everything is on the line on the final stretch to Nationals Sunday. Daniel Gräfensteiner is one half of the pair of brothers that has been on a romp for a good while now, with Daniel's Top 8 appearance in Pro Tour: San Diego gracing the brother's success. Carlo Mazzurco is an old hand at the game, with top 8 experience on the national level, but never making the leap to the international stage. Both players were on 27 points, with a 9-3 record, and playing for a sunday seat.

Game 1:

After an uneventful deck-check, both players decided to mulligan their opening hands. Gräfensteiner kicked off the game with a fetchland to find one of the beautiful Zendikar full-art Islands that are all the rage with players these days. Mazzurco, on the other hand, preferred the old-school full-art lands that made Unhinged such a commercial hit.

And here's the thing about this match. Mazzurco had the Runeflare Trap combo deck with him, Gräfensteiner the Pyromancer Ascension deck with transformational Polymorph sideboard that had served a number of people well. Few would argue that this match-up is unexciting, but a play-by-play write-up of that many small spells truly becomes boring after the third Into The Roil.

Luckily, every match has a few turning points. So here's the cliff notes version of Game 1:

BAM! Dead.

Well, no. That's a lie. (But it sounds good. So there.) Gräfensteiner played a handful of cantrips, the likes of Ponder and Preordain. Both players tried to get key cards in play, but Mazzurco managed to keep Gräfensteiner's Pyromancer Ascension off the table or without enough counters. Gräfensteiner, in turn, kept Jace Beleren off the battlefield.

Mazzurco threw the burn spells in his deck at Gräfensteiner's head until he had him at 12 life. With Temple Bell and – finally – Jace Beleren in play, Mazzurco's Time Warp stuck. Two Howling Mines ensured that Gräfensteiner would be reliably vulnerable to Runeflare Trap, and an additional Temple Bell ensured that the inevitable Runeflare Traps would hit home hard enough.

Daniel Gräfensteiner 0 – 1 Carlo Mazzurco

Carlo Mazzurco

Game 2:

Once more into the breach, old boys! Gräfensteiner kicked things off very much like in the first game: Fetchland for Island, Ponder, then See Beyond on turn two, Preordain on turn three, which met Mana Leak. As Gräfensteiner had not yet played a land, Mazzurco hoped for a little mana disruption, but in vain: Gräfensteiner had Khalni Garden.

Gräfensteiner spent his turns looking at cards from his library through the likes of more Preordains and Ponders, looking for that crucial Pyromancer Ascension – or the missing red mana. Instead, he revealed Polymorph (targeting the token from Khalni Garden), which Mazzurco attempted to Mana Leak. Gräfensteiner had Dispel for the Leak, and as the fourth-to-last card of his library, into play came Emrakul, the Aeons Torn!

Mazzurco tapped his five mana for Time Warp, a very expensive cantrip at this point, but he needed something... or else! Time Warp yielded nothing, so else happened.

Daniel Gräfensteiner 1 – 1 Carlo Mazzurco

Daniel Gräfensteiner

Game 3:

This time, Mazzurco had the advantage of going first – and the disadvantage of a mulligan. Twice. Gräfensteiner's cavalcade of card drawing continued with Ponder, but this time, a turn-two Pyromancer Ascension played right into Gräfensteiner's plans.

Mazzurco, meanwhile, hoped to make up his mulligans with Temple Bell and Jace Beleren. Spawning Breath from Gräfensteiner took Mazzurco to 18, and gave Gräfensteiner a Spawn token as a target for – once again – Polymorph. Mazzurco had nothing to stop Emrakul coming into play. Annihilator 6 would destroy his entire board, but life-wise, Mazzurco could buffer one attack. However, when he passed the turn and Gräfensteiner turned the Eldrazi sideways, Mazzurco extended the hand. Daniel Gräfensteiner was through to the Top 8!

Daniel Gräfensteiner 2 – 1 Carlo Mazzurco

Saturday, 6:30 p.m. – Is It Izzet? Again?

by Tobias Henke
Tobias Gräfensteiner

Well, yes, it is. Runeflare Trap is not the only blue-red combo deck running around. The trio of Sebastian Thaler, Tobi & Daniel Gräfensteiner came up with a new list for Pyromancer Ascension, which was rocking the top tables all weekend (and will continue to do so tomorrow).

Tobias Gräfensteiner took a few minutes to explain what's special about their version: "Ascension became more and more popular over the last couple of week, and things like Qasali Pridemage and Celestial Purge started to show up in sideboards in ever increasing numbers. So we needed an alternative route to victory: Polymorph."

"We put three Khalni Gardens in the maindeck and additional four Spawning Breaths in the sideboard to have enough targets for Polymorph," said Tobi. "Spawning Breath is easily the best token producer: it kills Cunning Sparkmage; together with Khalni Garden one can actually cast Polymorph on turn three; and it's an instant, so you can completely take some people by surprise when you make the token end of turn and then follow it up with Polymorph."

Tobias Gräfensteiner

Download Arena Decklist

Saturday, 7:33 p.m. - Day Two Wrap-Up

by Hanno Terbuyken

Ah, the world and woes of coverage reporters. It is hard to convey how hectic the closing round of a day can be. There is the round 13 feature match to cover, then the players who are already safe in the Top 8 must be rounded up, Top 8 photos and Top 8 profiles need to be done, the decklists for the Top 8 need to be typed up and printed... for us coverage reporters, the last two rounds of the swiss are a Top 8 extravaganza.

And then the internet breaks down. Honestly? I cannot remember a single Nationals where we didn't have internet trouble on Saturday night. It is the curse of the coverage cruise.

When the internet was back, we had a Top 8 that is by all accounts a high-caliber line-up. Between Dennis Johannsen, Christian Hauck, Tobias Gräfensteiner, Florian Pils, Jörg Unfried, Daniel Gräfensteiner, Tobias Dreger and Sebastian Potyka, Germany can be sure to be represented well once Worlds in Chiba rolls around.

But of course, one man's gain is another man's loss. Sebastian Thaler for example had to face a hard defeat at the hand of fellow Nationals veteran Jörg Unfried. His Ascension-Polymorph hybrid with Progrenitus as sideboard tech. Carsten Schäfer, who held on to the top spot for a couple of rounds, fell out of grace and out of contention when Standard rolled around for the second time. Nationals dinosaur Carlo Mazzurco, GP champion Jan Schmidt and two-time GP Top 8 player Raul Porojan all three just missed the Top 16 by a hair.

Interestingly enough, though Fauna Shaman and Primeval Titan seemed all the rage before, only two decks sporting either one of them made it to the Top 8. Two copies of Jund and two copies of Ascension also made it, the latter piloted by the Gräfensteiner brothers. When the sun rises over Aschaffenburg on Saturday morning, we will see the Brother's War unfold in the quarterfinals. Will archenemy Jund be toppled by one of the newcomer decks? Will Valakut or Polymorph explode all over the slower decks? We'll see. The format is diverse and powerful, and that power and diversity will carry one player to Nationals glory on Sunday.

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