- Sunday 10.34am - Corrupting the Pure?
by Rich Hagon
More than one hour of Magic goodness awaits, as we kick off day two with the first M11 draft of the main event. We follow US Pro Sam Black pick by pick, as he puts together quite the sauciness. A potential clash with Hall of Famer Raphael Levy awaits, if both can navigate a tough table one. Four matches, pod one, the undefeateds - welcome to Sunday.
- Sunday, 11:11 p.m. – Draft Archetyping
by Tobias Henke
First thing this morning, it was time for draft. Players who yesterday had to make the best out of the cards they were dealt (and did so well enough to make it to day two) were now able to really influence what they were getting, what they would have to work with, what kind of deck they would end up with.
"The second pack, I first-picked Doom Blade and also saw an Act of Treason that'd probably be wheeling. It did, but then I never saw any more copies for the rest of the draft", he said and shrugged. "Sometimes, that's just what you get for drafting an archetype which depends on some key cards. The deck could've been better, but I think it's alright anyway."
Conley Woods appeared to be a lot happier with his draft. "I opened Garruk in the first booster, I took Assassinate next, and now I have this pretty sick black / green." Did he have certain expectations or color preferences going into the draft? "Nah, I usually just go with the flow."
Simon Görtzen started his draft with Crystal Ball over Fireball, which raised some eyebrows. "I just think Fireball is overrated. First pick, first pack I would always rather take Crystal Ball," said the Pro Tour–San Diego champ. "Among the top uncommons, Mind Control is obviously better than both, though." He ended up with a sweet mono-black deck which puts his first pick artifact to good use: he was in fact playing Phylactery Lich!
"I also need to play Demon's Horn to have enough artifacts for the Lich, but that's okay, as I really can use the extra life for my two Sign in Blood and Howling Banshee," the German said and flashed one of his rare smiles. "With three artifacts in total, running Phylactery Lich is very similar to splashing another color."
But possibly the sweetest deck in the first draft was this one:
Yeah, these are four Traumatizes, five Tome Scours, and one each of Temple Bell and Call to Mind. That's a turn-six kill waiting to happen: Traumatize on five, then another one plus Tome Scour – enough to empty any 40-card library. The deck's drafter had the only appropriate comment, which was a maniacal laughter only the best of the mad scientists can manage.
- Sunday, 11:47 a.m. – Good to be back, good to be Black.
by David Sutcliffe
As the curtain descended on day one of Grand Prix Gothenburg a very familiar name was in the top spot of the standings - a certain Monsieur Raphael Levy. Levy has been playing top level Magic for so long that it sometimes seems he must have been the one to give Richard Garfield the idea for the game in the first place, but by his own high standards the Frenchman has been going through something of a barren patch recently and his last Top8 came at Grand Prix Manila in 2008.
With an unbeaten record from the first day Levy has a great chance of breaking that hoodoo and is only six rounds of draft from the Top8. We barely mentioned his name yesterday, but we're going to rectify that straight away and follow Raphael's draft in a tough top pod that includes Swedish superstar Kenny Oberg, Akimasa Yamamoto of Japan, and American Sam Black.
P1: Doom Blade was preferred over Ember Hauler
P2: Assassinate was picked ahead of Pyroclasm as Levy focussed on black
P3: Gravedigger was shoulders above any other cards
P4: Dragonskull Summit was taken over Rotting Legion, keeping Levy's options open
P5: Chandra's Spitfire began Levy's foray into red, over Stabbing Pains
P6: Mind Rot edged out Nightwing Shade as the best black card
P7: Barony Vampire, a solid black creature
P9: Dark Tutelage
P10: Canyon Minotaur
P11: Celestial Purge
P12: Viscera Seer
P13: Sunpetal Grove
P14: Arc Runner
After the first booster it was clear that Raphael was fixed on black as his main color, and that seemed to have been his plan from the outset. He was picking up the beginnings of red as a secondary color, but with really only a Dragonskull Summit and Canyon Minotaur in that direction it was still possible that he could turn to blue.
P1: Diabolic Tutor was taken over a Deathmark, but it was a choice that Levy hesitated over til the last second.
P2: Corrupt - a no brainer for a black deck
P3: Doom Blade added yet more solid removal to Raph's deck.
P4: Assassinate #2
P5: Reassembling Skeleton
P6: Reassembling Skeleton #2
P7: Nightwing Shade was taken over Bog Raiders
P8: Duress was preferred to Preordain
P9: Preordain from this booster as Levy was given the exact same choice as in the last pick
P10: Duress #2 was unavoidable this time
P11: Ice Cage over Excommunicate
P12: Mind Rot was surely a gift coming as late as pick 12
P13: Viscera Seer
P14: Dryad's Favor
Well the second pack had done Raphael a world of good. With 10 black picks, 8 of which that were probably going to make his deck, Levy was no longer looking at a red or blue splash - he had every reason to remain on black and build a mono deck to maximse the power from his Corrupts and Nightwing Shades.
P1: Corrupt #2 would do nicely, thank you.
P2: Quag Sickness - the poor man's Corrupt
P3: Black Knight was a tough choice, taken over a second Gravedigger
P4: Reassembling Skeleton #3
P5: Bloodthrone Vampire
P6: Nightwing Shade again preferred to a Bog Raiders
P7: Bog Raiders
P8: Rotting Legion
P10: Giant Growth
P12: Child of Night
P13: Tome Scour
P14: Goldenglow Moth
Well. If black is what you want then black is what you get! If there was a concern for Levy it was perhaps the lack of a single standout card - no Grave Titan or Royal Assassin to fetch with his Diabolic Tutor. But the synergy in the deck was obvious, with three Reassembling Skeletons that would feed his Viscera Seers and Bloodthrone Vampire, and a host of solid removal.
His finished deck:
I caught up with Raph after he finished his build to see what he thought...
Are you happy?
Yes, pretty much. I don't really have good creatures, but my spells are strong. It didn't seem like anybody else was taking the black on the table and I got some good picks late - like I got passed a Doom Blade and a Corrupt, and Mind Rot came round very late. I didn't have many difficult choices to make - I think maybe the toughest choice was between a Gravedigger and a Black Knight. Normally I would probably take Gravedigger but I was worried that I didn't have good two drops and I didn't think I needed more control.
You’re missing a big rare or something, though.
I am, but I have two Corrupt. I think that I can kill the flyers, block on the ground and then Corrupt them to win, or the Nightwing Shades can do a lot of damage late game. The Diabolic Tutor will probably mostly get a Corrupt. I wasn't sure about if I should play 17 lands or 18 but decided in the end that I don't really have much card draw or card advantage - I got no Sign in Blood - so I think I had to cut a land. And I chose to leave Deathmark out as well. Usually I would main deck it, but I think I have enough removal already.
Did the table seem to be behaving itself, no odd picks coming round?
I think so. The only odd thing was that Preordain kept coming round late. I think it's a good card but they were circling the table with only 5 or 6 cards left. I'd be picking them higher if I was blue.
And lastly - we didn’t see you at all yesterday but you went 9-0. What was your sealed deck like?
It was a tough build! A good deck, but very difficult to build. I played 8 Forest, 4 Island, 4 Swamp - based in green for fixing and a couple of Cudgel Trolls, then blue for flyers and black for a Doom Blade and a Quag Sickness. I had two Cultivate so even though my mana base was spread between two splash colors the deck was pretty stable. When I'd finished making it, it was a good deck… but difficult to build. It's been a long time since I was at the top of the standings but things are going well.
- Round Ten Feature Match: It's my party and I'll Scry if I want to - Wilhelm Dubber (SWE) vs. Raphael Levy (FRA)
by David Sutcliffe
Just to prove that being one of the best players in the history of the game doesn't make you immune from the wiles of Lady Luck, Raphael Levy opened his first hand of seven cards with his mono-black draft deck and was forced to mulligan. Meanwhile his opponent, the Swede Wilhelm Dubber, seemed more than happy with his opening seven cards.
It was a slow opening from both players - Dubber made a Crystal Ball is turn 4 play, while Levy opened the game with a string of five swamps before he dared to put a creature on the battlefield; a Viscera Seer.
"Mmm! Very aggressive!" Dubber exclaimed, finding himself faced with a fifth turn 1/1.
In answer Dubber played a Scroll Thief, but now that his islands were tapped it gave Levy the opportunity to put a Rotting Legion into play, with the Viscera Seer held back to block the Scroll Thief a turn. Unfortunately for Levy, Dubber had a Stabbing Pain to clear the path for his Scroll Thief, and followed that up with an Æther Adept to fire the Rotting Legion back to Levy's hand. On his turn Levy put the Rotting Legion back into play and added a Reassembling Skeleton.
Dubber sent blue men into the red zone to deal two damage with the Adept, although Levy's Reassembling Skeleton got in front of the Scroll Thief, and played an Azure Drake. Punching back, Levy was finally able to get his Rotting Legion into the game and it attacked to level the life scores at 16-16, then played a Gravedigger to return his Viscera Seer to play, and reassembled his Skeleton. Despite Dubber's best efforts to battle through, Raphael Levy's men refused to stay dead!
Wilhelm Dubber attacked again with everything he had, dealing another 4 damage but Levy again refused to let the Scroll Thief through and this time his Gravedigger blocked it. An Assassinate from Dubber sent the Rotting Legion to Levy's graveyard, but on his next turn the French pro returned the favor to Assassinate the Swede's Azure Drake before playing a second Reassembling Skeleton. So far these two players had traded blow for blow, with the life scores at 13-12 in favor of Dubber and Levy's Viscera Seer allowing him to match the scrying of Dubber's Crystal Ball.
Dubber continued to match Levy stride for stride with a Gravedigger of his own, returning Azure Drake to hand, and then a turn later to play, but Levy had finally slowed the Swede's offense to a stall and he chose not to attack. That gave Levy the window he needed to begin abusing his combination of Viscera Seer and Reassembling Skeleton to Scry further into the future.
"Looking for something?"
"Maybe", replied Levy, not wanting to give the game away, "I'll keep this one".
"Looking for that?"
"It's a start!"
Levy played a Nightwing Shade, but when it blocked Dubber's Azure Drake the next turn the Swede had a Diminish ready to send the Shade packing, Levy finding a Quag Sickness to silence the Drake on his next turn, but Dubber played his own Nightwing Shade. The Shade was able to attack for 2 more damage on the next turn and the Swede added a Rotting Legion to the table, threatening now to simply overwhelm Levy's defenses.
In return Levy continued to dig through his deck with the Viscera Seer, sending three swamps to the bottom of his deck before finding a Corrupt. He aimed the Corrupt directly at Dubber's head, swinging the life totals to 5-18 in his favor! Dubber threw down a second Rotting Legion and the table began to strain under the weight of power and toughness under the Swede's control. Unfortunately for all the Swede's might his forces were on the ground and Levy's Reassembling Skeletons could hold them off almost indefinitely. That gave Levy the time he needed to Diabolic Tutor for his second Corrupt and win the game.
Dubber (SWE) 0 - 1 Levy (FRA)
After the slow start of the first game, the second one began with a flurry of activity and yet more Scrying; Dubber bringing an Augury Owl and Crystal Ball to the table, while Levy seemed intent on repeating his victory by playing Viscera Seer and a Reassembling Skeleton. Dubber was under pressure to win this second game quickly, though, as the first game had dragged on for over half an hour and there was less that twenty minutes remaining. The Swede played a Phantom Beast, then Assassinated the Rotting Legion that Levy summoned to his defense. But however large that Phantom Beast was it neither flew nor trampled and Levy's Reassembling Skeleton would be able to keep it quiet, so the Finn was left to attack with his sole Augury Owl.
Levy had a Nightwing Shade, Dubber tried to Mind Control it but the Frenchman's Viscera Seer turned every cloud into a silver lining, and this time she removed the Nightwing Shade from the battlefield before Dubber could steal it, and then delivered a replacement Nightwing Shade from the top of Levy's deck to hand, with Levy adding a Bloodthrone Vampire as well.
It was Levy's turn to attack now. His Nightwing Shade and Bloodthrone Vampire surged into the red zone. Dubber's Phantom Beast stepped in front of the Vampire, but Levy sacrificed his Reassembling Skeleton three times to make the Vampire a 7/7 and destroy the Beast despite Dubber's Diminish. He followed up with a Corrupt aimed at Dubber's head, but this time the Swede was prepared with a Negate in hand, and the life totals remained 11-16 in the Swede's favor.
An Æther Adept returned Levy's Bloodthrone Vampire to hand, and Dubber played an Azure Drake. Levy replayed his Vampire, but Dubber stole more tempo with a second Æther Adept - this time for for Levy's Nightwing Shade - and he attacked again with his Azure Drake and Augury Owl, dropping Levy to 8 life.
The Frenchman hit back, fighting as much to survive the last few minutes of the game as he was to actually find a win for himself - a Quag Sickness consumed the Azure Drake and he replayed his Nightwing Shade. Levy's ground defenses had proven impenetrable, and it seemed that victory for Dubber would have to come from the air. Dubber's Crystal Ball revealed a Gravedigger and that returned a Cloud Elemental to play as the Swede again tried to find an aerial offense.
But that chance seemed to disappear over the horizon and Levy found his second Corrupt. That was aimed at Dubber's head and this time there was no Negate on hand, switching the life totals from 8-16 to 18-6!
"I think you win now", announced Dubber, seemingly resigned to his fate.
"You never know"
"You never do, but…"
The problem Dubber faced was that right as he needed to be attacking he was forced to hold his creatures back to ensure that neither Levy's Nightwing Shade or Bloodthrone vampire went unblocked, as either could end the game if they got through. The Swede went through the motions, scrying through his deck as far as he could in search of a miracle, but with Levy matching his scrying power every step of the way with Viscera Seer the Swede could not find an edge, and in his last extra turn Levy's Nightwing Shade slipped through the Swede's defenses to end the game in one final strike.
Dubber (SWE) 0 - 2 Levy (FRA)
As the two players mulled over the match it seemed clear that this had been a match about Scrying, with undoubtedly Levy's MVP being the Viscera Seer. In the second game it had been played on the first turn and survived to see Levy claim the match. It never taps so it can't be Assassinated. It's black so it can't be Doom Bladed, and with Dubber unable to find his Stabbing Pain in time the Viscera Seer fuelled Levy's eventual victory.
- Feature Match Round 12 – Hao-shan Huang vs. Janus Kofoed
by Tobias Henke
Word about Hao-shan Huang's deck had spread like wildfire during today's early rounds. The Taiwanese had drafted an awesome blue-red mill deck featuring not only four Traumatizes, but also five Tome Scours! Now he was 2-0 in his pod (9-2 overall) and was playing the draft final. His opponent Janus Kofoed was looking to put a stop to Huang's milling rampage, unfortunately he had to take three mulligans. The future looked bright for Huang.
Huang had Scroll Thief on turn three, and Kofoed's Child of Night did nothing to stop the Merfolk from going about its thieving business. Meanwhile, Huang's Tome Scour milled the first five cards of Kofoed's library. Assassinate tried to stop the Thief but met Mana Leak. Huang also had Preordain, then Foresee, which found Temple Bell but still no Traumatize.
Kofoed made Azure Drake and Ice Cage on Scroll Thief. Huang had Unsummon to return, then recast his Scroll Thief and Call to Mind to return Foresee. Helped along by the Temple Bell, Kofoed cast Rise from the Grave on Harbor Serpent setting up an impressive clock. Azure Drake attacked to get Huang down to 10.
But Huang wasn't far from achieving his goal, complete depletion of Kofoed's library, either. Temple Bell moved one of the remaining 17 from libraray to hand, then Traumatize milled an additrional eight.
Azure Drake and Harbor Serpent brought Huang down to 3 life, and were joined on the battlefield by two more creatures. At the end of Kofoed's turn, his team consisted of: Child of Night, Harbor Serpent, Azure Drake, Alluring Siren, and Nether Horror.
Huang used Foresee to dig for answers. His Unsummon bounced the Harbor Snake, and his Fireball shot Child of Night as well as Alluring Siren. Only Nether Horror and Azure Drake were left. Their attack put Huang at 1 life, while Scroll Thief chumpblocked. At end of turn, Temple Bell made both players draw a card, leaving Kofoed with just five cards in library. One Tome Scour later, the score stood at...
Hao-shan Huang 1 – 0 Janus Kofoed
Water Servant came down for Kofoed, a formidable blocker, if it hadn't been for Huang's Unsummon. Scroll Thief attacked and got him an extra card, while Call to Mind retrieved the precious Unsummon. Kofoed didn't look happy. He simply replaced his Servant on the battlefield and passed the turn.
When Huang tapped mana, Kofoed figured he'd be casting Unsummon and wanted to pick up his Water Servant again, but no: actually it was time for Traumatize! 14 cards got milled into Kofoed's graveyard, among them a sideboarded Haunting Echoes of particular interest to Huang.
Azure Drake meant Kofoed now had two blockers, however, he desperately needed to get some damage in. Soon. Water Servant attacked and thus the Drake was bounced via Unsummon and Scroll Thief netted Huang another extra card. Kofoed summoned Nether Horror, but the 4/2 could only watch in... well, in horror, as Huang cast another Traumatize followed by Tome Scour to seal the deal.
Hao-shan Huang 2 – 0 Janus Kofoed
- Sunday 1.20pm - Traumatized
by Rich Hagon
If you've ever done an M11 draft, you know that, shortly before the basic land as the last pick, comes Tome Scour. Most players would rather not even make a pick than take this filthy one cost blue monstrosity. Once in a while - a long while - a deck comes together that defies all logic. Traumatize is rare. So is Traumatize. And Traumatize. Not to mention Traumatize. Add five Tome Scour, and you can see why we just HAD to feature Hao-shan Huang in the last round of the first draft. Add in the matchup betweeen Sam Black and Raphael Levy, and you have very good reason to stop reading. And start listening.
- Sunday, 12:34 p.m. – A Quick Look At the Player of the Year Race
by Tobias Henke
In the middle of this three-week stretch of high-level tournaments we figured we should take a look at the Player of the Year Race, and what changes this weekend might bring to it. After all, a total of 154 pro points will be given out by this very evening, divided among the top 64 competitors.
The two frontrunners in this year's race, however, didn't make it to day two. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (currently at 38 pro points) managed get just one match win past his three byes, while Tomoharu Saito (41 pro points) went 6-3. Brad Nelson didn't even make it to day one and Guillaume Matignon also crashed into the 7-2 hurdle.
Pro Tour–San Diego champion Simon Görtzen is currently tied for fourth place with Matignon, but he is still in the event and running strong: A record of 9-2 might yet translate into another Top 8. Considering that only ten pro points separate him from the leader of the POY race and that ten points is exactly what a first-place finish at a Grand Prix pays, this might prove to get interesting.
Next on the list of players actually competing this weekend are Japan's Katsuhiro Mori and up-and-coming Czech player Lucas Blohon. This season they both have accumulated 26 pro points up until now, and are in good shape to add some more. Even a top 16 finish would allow them to jump a couple of places in the race, from ninth to sixth.
All in all, barring a Top 8 from Görtzen, minor changes to the make-up of the POY race can be expected from this GP, but we have seen time and again that minor changes do actually add up and do make a difference, even at the very top of the race. For some major upsets to the race, check back next weekend for the full coverage of Pro Tour–Amsterdam!
- Sunday, 12.40p.m. - Northern Paladins
by David Sutcliffe
With 1,001 players in attendance Grand Prix Gothenburg marks the first Scandinavian Grand Prix to make it into four figures, but the Scandinavian Grand Prix have a long and proud history and have given us some great champions.
The first Scandinavian Grand Prix was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in September 1997 and was dominated by Scandinavian players with all 8 of the Top8 coming from the region; Karsten Hoppe sealed the win for the home country by beating Sigurd Eskelund in the final. Magic returned to Scandinavia just six months later and gave us a second home country champion - this time the littlest Viking, Olle Rade claimed the prize for Sweden in Stockholm.
A year passed before Oslo in 1999, but the Scandinavians had to concede the crown to the German Jim Herrold, who won a Top8 that included the American Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz. The other O'Mahoney-Schwartz, Daniel, made the final when the Grand Prix returned to Copenhagen in 2000 but home pride was finally restored with Niels Jensen sealing it for the Danes despite the American's best efforts.
By the time the Grand Prix circuit rolled up to Finland for the first time, later that year in Helsinki, it was the beginning of the golden age for Dutch Magic and Noah Boeken used the event to make his breakthrough onto the international scene when he defeated home champion Erno Ekebom. The Grand Prix then moved on to Gothenburg but that was also won by a Dutchman - Jan Schreurs. A second Grand Prix for Oslo marked the end of a busy year for Scandinavian Magic, and also the return of a 'Scandinavian' champion. I say 'Scandinavian' because the winner was the American, Trey Van Cleave, who was living in Copenhagen at the time.
Hall of Famer Bob Maher Jr swept the field in Copenhagen a year later, managing to head a Top8 that included such heavyweights as Kai Budde and Dirk Baberowski. We became accustomed to seeing star-studded matchups at the Scandinavian Grand Prix and in Gothenburg 2003 it was another Hall of Famer -Jelger Wiegersma - who emerged victorious against the likes of Tommi Hovi, Ben Lindqvist, Sam Gomersall, and Kai Budde (again). In fact for a while it seemed like being in the Magic Hall of Fame was a prerequisite for winning a Grand Prix in these parts. Helsinki in 2004 fell to Olivier Ruel, and the reigning world champion, Dutch wunderkid Julien Njuiten, took away the prize in Copenhagen 2005.
Coming to the most recent Scandinavian events, then. The Grand Prix held at the slaughterhouse in Malmo in 2006 was won by yet another Dutchman, Wessel Oomans, but is perhaps best remembered as the tournament at which Magic legend Olivier Ruel was disqualified and banned from the game for a short while. Stockholm in 2007 was equally historic - it was the first premiere Magic event to be won by a Russian, with Nicolay Potovin taking the prize home from the a Time Spiral draft Top8.
The last Grand Prix held in Scandinavia was actually two years ago, in Copenhagen in 2008, and merits it's own spotlight. The Grand Prix was a standard tournament at the height of Faeries' dominance but saw the Swede David Larsson steal the glory back for Scandinavian players for the first time since Copenhagen 2000 (if you decide not to count Trey Van Cleave in 2001). Larsson's red burn deck emerged victorious from one of the most star-packed Top8s we have ever seen at a Grand Prix, featuring Tomoharu Saitou and Shuuhei Nakamura, Robert Van Medevoort, Jakub Jahoda, William Cavaglieri, Philipp Summereder, and Guillauime Wafo-Tapa!
That brings us right up to date, and with Pro Tour Amsterdam bringing so many global stars of Magic to Gothenburg this weekend we could well be set fair for a Top8 that would rival what we saw in Copenhagen two years ago. There's just three rounds to go and plenty of big stars left in contention… let's see what happens!
- Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – Drafting with Conley Woods
by Chapman "randomchap" Sim
Twelve rounds of competition has concluded and players are now moving into their second and final (with the exception of 8 players) draft pod of the day. Sitting at 11-1, Conley Woods was in a comfortable position to make the Top 8. Nestled between Nicolai Herzog (on his left) and Samuel Black (on his right), the table was laden with talent, since it also included Gregoir Christophe and Raphael Levy.
There was a Lightning Bolt lurking around but Woods wasted no time slamming down a Mind Control from his very first booster. Affectionately christened a "mythic uncommon" by many players, it is widely considered to be the best uncommon in the format. He followed that up with a White Knight and Azure Drake, but encountered a crossroad at his fourth pick. Seeing only Diminish as a relevant card, Woods decided to grab Quag Sickness and move into black. Nightwing Shade and Mind Rot soon joined his pile, solidifying Woods in both blue and black.
Woods was disgruntled to see Garruk Wildspeaker in his second booster and was forced to settle with an Azure Drake. His unhappiness swiftly vaporized once he realized that Nicolai Herzog had shipped him his second Mind Control. He also received a Æther Adept and Water Servant as his best blue cards this booster, but had to be content with some fillers Barony Vampire, Stabbing Pain and Rotting Legion and sideboard options (Negate, Wall of Frost).
Sword of Vengeance shimmered at the back of the booster (which Woods promptly picked up), but had to ship Nicolai Herzog his astounding third Serra Angel. After netting a second pick Doom Blade and third pick Howling Banshee, he was faced with a relatively tough decision for pick four. Offered the choices of Cancel, Augury Owl and Water Servant, he used up most of his time before eventually settling on a second copy of the powerful elemental. He had passed two copies of Gravedigger to take the "Sword and Blade" and it was nice to see a third copy at pick 6. After a 9th pick Cancel, he saw no other notable cards and his deck was pretty much set.
After the draft, Woods commented that he would have been happy to be in green, seeing how late the Spined Wurms and Yavimaya Wurms had been going. He had also been looking out for Foresee and Jace's Ingenuity but saw none of those card drawing spells. Ironically, he had shipped Sam Black his second Garruk Wildspeaker while Sam had taken a Foresee to splash in his nearly mono-green deck.
He had decided very early during the deckbuilding process that he absolutely wanted to play 18 lands in his powerful, but slightly slow control deck and was contemplating between Mind Rot and Negate as his 22nd card. He eventually settled on the discard spell and when questioned about his decision, he felt that Mind Rot would make his double Ice Cage's better, since players would be more inclined to discard combat tricks like Giant Growth rather than actual creatures. LSV conveniently pops by and reckons that he should have cut one of the two Ice Cages and run both the Negate and Mind Rot in the main, a plan which Woods intends to sideboard into.
Woods only needs a win from this draft to make the final draft table and expects no less than that from this draft. On the back of his double Mind Control, he should have no problems getting there. Good luck!
- Sunday 3.35pm - Elimination Time
by Rich Hagon
The penultimate round of Swiss is the time when you run out of road. Or, you put pedal to the metal, and power ahead to the top 8. In a feature match area that would grace many late rounds of a Pro Tour, Nicolai Herzog took on Christophe Gregoir, home hopes Tarjei Kvala and Kenny Oberg had to get past Marijn Lybaert and Marco Camilluzzi, while the monster clash featured French Hall of Famer Raphael Levy up against Conley Woods. Time to play for keeps.
- Sunday, 3:41 p.m. – Take A Look Around
by Tobias Henke
1001 players in the main tournament yesterday, 137 today. Notice the discrepancy? There are about 864 players who need something to do, which is not actual Grand Prix. Well, let's just take a quick look around the site, shall we?
- Feature Match Round 13 – Conley Woods v Sam Black
by Chapman "randomchap" Sim
Both players are clearly having a great day and are both in contention to make the top 8 at the largest Scandinavian Grand Prix. These two friends have found themselves seated next to each other during the draft pod and in a cruel twist of fate, they are now facing each other.
Conley Woods' draft had been covered previously and he was the happy wielder of a blue black deck containing double Mind Control and double Water Servant, topped off with a feisty Sword of Vengeance. Sam Black on the other hand had a close to mono-green monstrosity, featuring double Garruk Wildspeaker to go along with three of his 3/2 trampling companions and even the packleader itself, with a light touch of blue.
Woods won the die roll and decided to play first but Black was the one with the quicker draw. He used his turn one Llanowar Elves to power out a Cloud Elemental on turn two, as well as Sylvan Ranger and Garruk's Companion on turn three. Having no play until turn four, Woods could only afflict the 3/2 with Quag Sickness, to stem the bleeding.
Black's newly summoned Garruk's Packleader was stolen by Mind Control and Black could only muster Sacred Wolf. Woods summoned Water Servant and Barony Vampire, drawing two cards in the process, and decided to attack with his (previously Black's) card-drawing beast after he was done.
The Sacred Wolf and Sylvan Ranger stood in the Packleader's way and perished together, but Woods was far from being out of gas. He summoned an Azure Drake on the next turn, only to have its wings snared by a second Plummet. "Double Plummet maindeck? It looks like you really had a plan!", protested Woods. But all he had to do was resurrect the Azure Drake with his Gravedigger, while Black could only concede in the face of Wood's overwhelming forces.
At this time, the table judge mistakenly thought Sam Black had won and updated the score on the display panel in error, prompting Woods to bellow in anger. "Its a conspiracy, I want to talk to my lawyer."
Conley Woods wins Game One.
Upon seeing his hand, Black wasted no time in declaring that he would keep it.
After opening with a turn two Garruk's Companion and turn three Sacred Wolf, Woods blurted out what turned out to be true. "You have the Garruk to go with it, don't lie to me." Indeed, the Planeswalker made its appearance on turn four (generating a beast token), which Black later revealed to have drawn on his first turn instead of being in his initial seven.
Woods had no play until turn four but his Azure Drake could not hold the fort on its own when facing three three-power creatures with only 11 life left. A newly summoned Yavimaya Wurm showed up for Black, as he crossed his fingers, hoping that it would not meet Mind Control again. Woods did have the game-breaking enchantment in his hand, but no fifth land to cast it with. Even without using the ultimate ability from Garruk Wildspeaker, Black was still able to literally overrun Woods with his entire force on the very next turn.
Sam Black wins game two!
Trying to deny Black of yet another speedy start, Woods decided to play first. Black made sure he had one of his three companions on turn two, then followed that up by ramping his mana with a turn three Cultivate. Woods tried to jam up the ground with his Water Servant while Black reloaded his hand with Foresee, a card which Woods had wanted very much but Black had denied him.
"I'm never going to trust you again. DIVORCE!", joked Woods.
Scroll Thief soon made an appearance, but Black dropped Garruk Wildspeaker and Runeclaw Bear. Currently tapped out, Black declined to create a beast token, choosing to untap two lands for the Negate in his hand. Now facing an impending Overrun, Woods had to think. He sent in Water Servant to kill Garruk and Scroll Thief tried to attack Black. He chumped the elemental with his vanilla bear while the Garruk's Companion mangled the Scroll Thief to death.
"I'll attempt to complete the tribe", declared Black as he tried to resolve a Garruk's Packleader.
"I'll attempt to keep you from completing the tribe!" replied Woods, aiming Cancel at it, but Black foiled his plans with a sideboarded Autumn's Veil. Doom Blade tried to dismantle the team once again, meeting Negate.
Garruk Wildspeaker was now a 3/3 beast generating and card-drawing engine. Black created a token, and drew a card. He dropped Sacred Wolf, drew another, and then Spined Wurm drew him his fourth card of the turn.
Deadpanned Woods: "Nice Turn Bro!"
Giving as good as he got, Black responded, "Yeah, set it up for a long time."
With only Water Servant, wielding Sword of Vengeance, Woods seemed like he was being crushed by overwhelming forces. The overrun-effect assured his death next turn, so he had to attack Garruk with his mighty Water Servant. Black sent his whole team to block it, and only Spined Wurm survived that combat, only to be banished by an Ice Cage. Black was still not out of steam, dropping Greater Basilisk, drawing a card. Garruk made a token, drawing another card.
"Garruk's not supposed to be Jace", complained Woods.
Clearly frustrated with the Howling Banshee in his hand, he had no choice but to drop it, bringing himself down to 6 life and Black to 17. But he was dead on the table facing upwards of five creatures versus his only one.
Sam Black wins 2-1!
- Feature Match Round 14 – Christophe Gregoir vs. Nicolai Herzog
by Tobias Henke
Hall of Famer Nicolai Herzog was just one point away from clinching a Top 8 berth. Too bad his opponent, Christophe Gregoir, was unable to draw. The Pro Tour–Honolulu quarterfinalist still needed one more win before he was in.
Gregoir cast Scroll Thief and Herzog made White Knight to keep it from attacking. When Gregoir summoned a blue three-drop, Herzog assumed Æther Adept and already went to put White Knight into his hand, but in fact it was Merfolk Sovereign. "Oh, even worse!" Herzog commented. The now 2/4 Scroll Thief got in for 2 damage and one extra card. Herzog attacked with his team and Excommunicated the Scroll Thief. Gregoir had Foresee, attacked with his Sovereign and cast Elixir of Immortality. His Steel Overseer was due to grow to 4/4 as well, so now Herzog was, despite his Infantry Veteran, forced to hold back with White Knight. His Squadron Hawk got in for 2, though, and he summoned Assault Griffin to keep up the pressure.
Gregoir attacked with the 4/4 Overseer and summoned Scroll Thief as well as Augury Owl. Herzog once again attacked with his two fliers. The 3/2 was chumpblocked by Augury Owl and the Hawk got in for another 2 thanks to Infantry Veteran to put Gregoir at 9. Postcombat Herzog made Cloud Crusader. The Crusader received Ice Cage and Gregoir went on the offense with his 4/4 artifact creature and the 2/4 Scroll Thief. Herzog went down to 6, while Gregoir summoned Phantom Beast.
On his turn, Herzog pondered his options, before once again attacking with his two fliers. Only this time his Infantry Veteran stayed on guard in case the opposing Phantom Beast dared to venture into the red zone. Gregoir went down to 5 and Herzog summoned Serra Angel.
Merfolk Sovereign made Scroll Thief unblockable and Gregoir drew even more extra cards when he cast Jace Beleren. But when Herzog had Holy Strength to have his Cloud Crusader break free from its Ice Cage, even Gregoir's Elixir of Immortality couldn't save him anymore. Ten power worth of fliers were sent into combat, and brought back the game.
Christophe Gregoir 0 – 1 Nicolai Herzog
Gregoir chose to play first but had to mulligan twice. "Do you want to draw?" he asked. Herzog declined the offer.
Herzog had the first play in War Priest of Thune, which traded with Gregoir's Merfolk Sovereign. Herzog summoned Squadron Hawk as a replacement but had already drawn the second one. Gregoir made Jace Beleren and set out to recoup some of the cards lost to mulligans. On turn four, Herzog made Sword of Vengeance and Infantry Veteran and killed the Planeswalker. But things weren't looking as good anymore when Gregoir summoned Scroll Thief and countered Serra Angel via Mana Leak. Next, Gregoir cast Air Servant so even the Squadron Hawks wouldn't be able to be of much use, at least for now. He just chumped Scroll Thief with one of them.
One Æther Adept and another meant that Scroll Thief could get through again and again. Herzog was into deep trouble. He had one serious attempt at a comeback, though, with Chandra's Outrage aimed at the Air Servant followed by a second Serra Angel. Gregoir cast Mind Control and started to go grab some Angel, but Herzog simply picked it up and shuffled it into his deck along with all his other cards.
Christophe Gregoir 1 – 1 Nicolai Herzog
"How did you manage to pull that game around?" asked Herzog in disbelief. "Now I would take the draw."
"Now I want to play again", said Gregoir.
"Why didn't I take the draw, when that guarantees I'm in?" Herzog asked aloud.
"I was wondering about that too."
"Nice play," Herzog said to himself.
Herzog's summoned Fiery Hellhound and traded that away to Scroll Thief and Augury Owl, while Gregoir made Cloud Elemental and Steel Overseer. These two were capable of keeping Herzog's White Knight and Cloud Crusader at bay. But the Hall of Famer had another Fiery Hellhound, while Gregoir had... well, a lot of land, and some mystery cards in hand. One of them turned out to be Negate when Herzog tried for Pacifism on the Steel Overseer.
Æther Adept reversed that by bouncing the Veteran but two turns later the Veteran was back in action.
If needs be, Prodigal Pyromancer from Herzog would even be able to act as a sort of replacement Infantry Veteran, allowing his two-power first strikers to kill three-toughness blockers in combat just the same. Gregoir figured the Pyromancer would be much better on his side and took it there via Mind Control. While the Pyromancer was still summoning sick on Gregoir's side the Infantry Veteran allowed Herzog one more attack, which brought Gregoir to 2.
The game was possibly the most exciting and intense one I had seen throughout the weekend so far. The crowd was getting restless as well. The Cloud Crusader and Cloud Elemental were staring each other down, unable to make any sensible move. Just when the tension started to get unbearable, came the release: Herzog ripped Combust, shot down the Elemental, and took the game and match. Congratulations on making the Top 8!
Christophe Gregoir 1 – 2 Nicolai Herzog
- Sunday, 4.15p.m. - Ordinary players. Extraordinary opponents.
by David Sutcliffe
The coverage spotlight frequently descends on the biggest names in Magic, and in the decisive final round of day two there would be two of the most experienced players in Magic history featured in the coverage. But neither Raphael Levy nor Bram Snepvangers were the focus this time:- cruel luck had dealt both players out of Top8 contention with 33 points each, but they had both been paired up against players who could potentially make it into the Top8 draft. Bram would face the Finn Markku Rikola on 35 points, while Raph Levy would have to fend off Kim Lund, the Norwegian with 34 points. With the bar for qualification set at 37 points they could both potentially make it in.
Kim Lund faced the toughest task, not only did he need to beat Raphael Levy but he probably also needed to see Bram Snepvangers pin Rikola back on 35 points. As it transpired the size of the task ahead of Lund quickly overwhelmed him. Having started the day on 9-0 but ending it out of Top8 contention, Levy was in no mood for compromises and swiftly set about demolishing his opponent in two very quick and brutal games, his Green/Black defying his verdict that it was "average" to win the match 2-0.
With Lund immediately out of contention it fell to Markku Rikola to try and upset the Top8 plans of one of the players ahead of him - his win would take him to 38 points and he would certainly leapfrog one of the players who had IDed from 36 points on the top four tables. In the first game Rikkola overcame a brutal mana screw, using Fauna Shaman to search through his deck for the tools he needed to survive - firstly in the shape of a pair of Sylvan Rangers to fix is mana, then finally pulling out his big bombs - an Inferno Titan and Miotic Ooze. Snepvangers had seemed on the verge of victory until the Inferno Titan arrived, and it was that Mythic which transformed the game to hand Rikkola a lead.
That lead lasted approximately seven turns. Bram let rip with a savage assault of Silvercoat Lion, Assault Griffin, Cudgel Troll and Awakener Druid. Despite his best efforts Rikkola's lead disintegrated and the match was tied at 1-1. The pressure was now very real, and the unknown Finn was just one game from Top8 of a Grand Prix with only a possible future Hall of Famer in his way… but the deciding game ended with a little of a damp squib. Bram was forced to mulligan away a weak hand (Silvercoat Lion, Runeclaw Bear, 5 lands) and received something back that wasn't much better (Pacifism, Excommunicate, 4 lands). A Blinding Mage made some effort at holding Rikkola back but it was just too little and the Finn barged his way into the Top8.
"I think that first game was probably the best game I ever played!" he exclaimed, "getting out of mana screw like that and then using Fauna Shaman and making every play correctly for five turns to stay alive…"
Deservedly, the Finn was in, but cruelly that would deny one of the players who had chosen to draw ahead of him, and the player to be cruelly leapfrogged into 9th place by Rikkola was the American, Conley Woods, who had experienced a similar disappointment on missing out of the Top8 at US Nationals last weekend. 9th in the cruellest spot to finish but Woods is a player who can take that sort of disappointment better than most. Besides, he has the Pro Tour to look forward to…
But that's next weekend. Right now we have a Top8 draft. Lets get to it!