Day 2 Coverage of Grand Prix–Auckland 2008

Posted in Event Coverage on December 5, 2008


  • 5:01p.m.: Round 13 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 4:14p.m.: Round 13 - Oliver Oks vs Nick Tung
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 2:35p.m.: Round 11 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 2:08p.m.: Round 11 - Olivier Ruel vs Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 1:32p.m.: Drafting with Dominic Lo and Justin Cheung
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 12:23p.m.: Round 10 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 11:50a.m.: Round 9 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 10:34a.m.: Round 8 - Shuuhei Nakamura vs Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 9:43a.m.: Drafting with Shuuhei Nakamura and Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 8:39a.m.: Day One Undefeated Decklists
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: If you missed Day One of the Auckland Grand Prix, you can find it all here!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff

Sunday, December 07: 8:39a.m. – Day One Undefeated Decklists

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Justin Cheung

Download Arena Decklist

Dominic Lo

Download Arena Decklist

Max Botkov

Download Arena Decklist

Tony Wootton

Download Arena Decklist

Sunday, December 07: 9:43a.m. – Drafting with Shuuhei Nakamura and Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Well-known Pro Players Shuuhei Nakamura and Luis Scott-Vargas sat down next to each other for the first draft of day two, each of them flanked by the two undefeated players from New Zealand, Max Botkov and Tony Wootton.

LSV’s first pick was a Magma Spray over Naya Battlemage, Bloodpyre Elemental and Manaplasm. Nakamura’s first pick was Esper Battlemage over Feral Hydra and Bloodpyre Elemental. Both players have previously shown a preference for Esper draft decks through actually drafting them, so Nakamura’s pick was a reasonably risky one, especially considering he the fact that he keeps stating he prefers Jund or Naya.

Pick two, LSV took an Oblivion Ring over Bull Cerodon, Soul’s Fire and Infest, while Nakamura picked up a Fleshbag Marauder. It seems that both players had silently and mutually agreed which of them were going to draft Esper. Until pick three, when LSV took an Agony Warp. To be fair, he didn’t have much choice, the remaining options were Necrogenesis and Executioner’s Capsule, which Nakamura naturally snatched up to go with the Infest he picked before it.

By the end of pack one, Nakamura was clearly in Blue/Black. He had a couple of potential White cards, but all things considered, he had a tight and focused 14 card grip to review. LSV was in five colors. He’d picked up a Savage Lands, but things looked messy, having rounded out the pack with Kiss of the Amesha, Cavern Thoctar, Waveskimmer Aven and a tasty 11th pick Bant Charm.

Pack two LSV again opened and drafted a Magma Spray, and managed to follow it with a Seaside Citadel, a Jungle Shrine and an Arcane Sanctum. He’d landed in five colors and hit the ground running. Nakamura continued to lower the curve of his Blue/Black deck with some unearth goodies, Screeching Kathari’s and Dregscape Zombies.

In the last pack, both players slapped their rares down onto their piles. To be fair, anything playable LSV opened he could take, and take a Battlegrace Angel he did, Nakamura took a Sharding Sphinx. The rest of the pack was reasonably uneventful in as much as Nakamura continued to receive Blue and Black stuff from LSV, who snapped up playables across the spectrum.

“Really nice!” was how Shuuhei Nakamura described his draft, and it was finally good to see that grin spread across his face after his less than stellar sealed deck last week in Taipei. I asked him about the first pick Esper Battlemage, and Nakamura said that he took it and prayed, knowing LSV’s predilection towards that shard and hoping that he would ship him the goods stuff anyway. 3 – 0? To which Nakamura replied, “I hope!”

“I don’t like drafting 5 color,” LSV explained, “but pick three (Agony Warp) was going to put me in Black along with Red and White, and that’s not a shard. Tony (Wootton) took his rare, so I had no signal to begin with.” He thought the deck worked out well enough, but had no idea how it would go. “It’s hard to tell, two out of my three possible opponents this round are (Guillaume) Wafo-Tapa or Shuuhei (Nakamura) so who knows? I could 3-0, but I could 2-1 or 1-2 as well.”

Sunday, December 07: 10:34p.m. – Round 8: Shuuhei Nakamura vs Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Somehow I always find that the two players who drafted next to each other end up playing in the first round of the draft. Even though random is indeed random, Shuuhei Nakamura and Luis Scott-Vargas had a one in three chance of being paired.

Nakamura screamed out of the gates with a Tidehollow Strix, that traded with one from LSV, and a Kathari Screecher. Meanwhile, LSV was amassing five colors of mana the easy way with a Seaside Citadel, an Arcane Sanctum and a Mountain, playing a turn five Battlegrace Angel. Nakamura slowed the bleeding for a turn by saving his blocker with a Call to Heel, while LSV drew ahead with a Covenant of Minds. LSV’s Fatestitcher looked bad for Nakamura, who was stuck on three lands. He made an Executioner’s Capsule, but was unable to crack it straight away, giving LSV room to remove it with an Oblivion Ring. Nakamura instead used an Agony Warp to take out the tapper, while LSV recouped the life he lost earlier with his Angel, dropping Nakamura to 9. A Waveskimmer Aven came down for LSV, which was taken out by a Fleshbag Marauder, Nakamura struggling to keep LSV below 20 while himself dropping to 4. When his next draw didn’t reveal a fourth land, he scooped up his cards with a nod.

LSV 1 – Nakamura 0

Nakamura again came out guns blazing, and this time with enough lands to make it count. LSV flipped out one attacker with a Bant Charm, before trying to stabilize with a Cloudheath Drake on 6 life, facing a pair of Kathari Screechers. Executioner’s Capsule took out that, a Cancel countered a Kiss of the Amesha and they were off to Game 3.

LSV 1 – Nakamura 1

On the play in Game 3, LSV wasn’t instantly steamrolled as be made a naked Sanctum Gargoyle to hide behind, but quickly lost that to a Fleshbag Marauder took that out. A Magma Spray took out a Kathari Screecher, but with the help of another Screecher, Nakamura in turn took down an Aven Wave skimmer with an Agony Warp. A Warp from LSV killed a Puppet Conjurer and fogged the Screecher, only to see Nakamura play a Sharding Sphinx. LSV tried to dig up some cards with Covenant of Minds, gaining five cards over three creatures, dropping to 11 in the process. The Sphinx began churning out Thopters while LSV made a Cavern Thoctar. Another Magma Spray took out the second Screecher, but Nakamura had far too many fliers for LSV to stop and took the match. All three games taking a total of 15 minutes to play out.

Shuuhei Nakamura defeats Luis Scott-Vargas 2 – 1

Sunday, December 07: 11:50a.m. – Round 9: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Do you prefer to force colors in Shards of Alara draft? Or go with the signals passed to you?

Luis Scott-Vargas. “Go with the signals, just taking the best card in each pack.”
Aaron Nicastri. “Signals.”
Paul Cheon. “Force Blue.”
Shuuhei Nakamura. “Very difficult question. Um, if I’m passed good single color cards, Vithian Stinger or Oblivion Ring, then I go with the signal that they don’t want Red or they don’t want White.”
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. “Force I guess.”
Gerry Thompson. “Signals.”

Sunday, December 07: 12:23p.m. – Round 10: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What is your favorite shard or color combination to draft in Shards of Alara?

Dominic Lo. “Red/Black/X. Either Jund or Grixis, mostly Jund.”
Shuuhei Nakamura. “Esper!”
Luis Scott-Vargas. “All five.”
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. “All five colors. Either Blue/White or Blue/Black base”
Olivier Ruel. “Esper or five color. They’re the only decks that can abuse the Sanctum Gargoyle and Capsules (Executioner’s Capsule and Courier’s Capsule) combo.”
Justin Cheung. “No favorite, just whatever comes.”

Sunday, December 07: 1:32p.m. – Drafting with Dominic Lo and Justin Cheung

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

After running the field in day one, Best Friends Forever Dominic Lo and Justin Cheung from Sydney, are still on top of the standings in first and second place. Luckily for me, they were sitting next to each other in the second draft of today.

Lo’s first pack seemed crammed full of the good stuff. After much deliberation, he decided on Rafiq of the Many over Tower Gargoyle. He followed that with a Fatestitcher, a Mosstodon and a Knight of the Skyward Eye. Little did he know that ahead of him, Cheung had first picked a Qasali Ambusher over the Fatestitcher. Thankfully for Lo, Cheung switched away when his second pick gave him a Sedris, the Traitor King. By the end of the first pack, Lo was solidly in Bant, while Cheung was in Grixis.

Pack two, Lo picked up an unimpressive Resounding Roar from a Jund heavy pack, passing a Predator Dragon (or a Blood Cultist) upstream to Cheung, who’d just taken a Crumbling Necropolis. Lo followed that up with a Sigiled Paladin, an Akrasan Squire and a Cloudheath Drake before the picks started to get a little iffy. Cheung was more than happy to follow up the Dragon with an Agony Warp and a Blister Beetle before eventually wheeling a Grixis Battlemage from the pack he first picked the Necropolis from. By the end of pack two, Lo was clearly trying to focus on White/Blue aggro, but kept getting Green cards to keep his deck loose and unfocused. Cheung was heavily in Red and Black, with a powerful Blue Splash. However, his only fixer so far was the Necropolis.

Lo’s fortunes finally returned in the last pack, opening and wasting no time in drafting an Oblivion Ring. There were a few lame picks after that, but he rounded out the pack with a Knight of the Skyward Eye, a Kathari Screecher and another Squire. Cheung opened slowly with a Kederekt Creeper, but slammed a Resounding Thunder, another Agony Warp, another Blister Beetle and a Grixis Charm onto his pile after that.

Things had clearly gone better for Cheung than Lo, who wasn’t happy with his draft. “I think it’s bad. I tried to stay in White/Blue, but it wasn’t working. I think I can mise a win.” When I asked Lo about his first pick, he admitted the Tower Gargoyle might have been a better pick, but that Rafiq was definitely a bomb in it’s own right.

Cheung was definitely happy with his draft. “Yeah, it’s pretty good. I got there in the end,” he explained with a grin. “I can definitely do it, I hope I can, anyway.”

Sunday, December 07: 2:08p.m. - Round 11: Olivier Ruel vs Shuuhei Nakamura

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Apparently whenever Olivier Ruel and Shuuhei Nakamura play each other, one of them ends up making a limited top 8. Before we got under way, Ruel remembered to make one of his (practically) trademarked shout-outs.

"I'd like to say 'hi' to my mum, who I like very much!"
"You said that about Antoine (his brother, Ranger of Eos) yesterday," I pointed out.
"Yeah but it's true about my mum," Olivier replied with a sly chuckle.

Ruel won the roll and elected to play. After looking at the first three cards of his opening hand, he kept burst out laughing, and kept after seeing six of them. Nakamura mulliganed to five, and took 1 from a turn two Bloodthorn Taunter from Ruel. Ruel knocked on the top of his deck on turn three, and shuddered when it didn't yield a third land. His next draw gave him a Rip-Clan Crasher at least, and together they kept nibbling at Nakamura who was only playing out land.

A Fatestitcher finally came down for Nakamura around the same time as Ruel's third land, and an Agony Warp killed the Crasher. Ruel found another land and made a Manaplasm, which the Stitcher locked down when it was followed up with a Hissing Iguana. Nakamura Resounding Wave'd the Manaplasm, before playing a Vectis Silencers. With Nakamura on 9 life, Ruel killed it with a Bloodpyre Elemental and got in for 4 more. When Ruel then dropped a Cavern Thoctar on his following turn, Nakamura had had enough.

Ruel 1 - Nakamura 0

This time Ruel mulliganed to six. He peeled his cards off the table one at a time and none of the first five were lands. He called "Jungle Shrine!" as he turned over the last card, triumphantly revealing it with a grin. "Keep!" he announced, beaming from ear to ear.

Ruel ripped a land off the top and got in there with a Rip-Clan Crasher. Nakamura made an Island and a Swamp and watched as Ruel drew another land off the top, playing a Knight of the Skyward Eye. When Nakamura missed his fourth land drop, but at least made a Windwright Mage, Ruel simply played a fourth land (off the top, of course) and Excommunicated the Mage back to the top of the library.

(Nice draws, Olivier, nice draws.)

Nakamura replayed it, so Ruel naturally played a fifth land and took it out with a Bloodpyre Elemental. His next turn, Nakamura still without a fourth land, played an Esper Battlemage, which traded with the Crasher. Ruel played a sixth land and a Cavern Thoctar, flashing a Welkin Guide at his Nakamura, who could only laugh as he scooped up his cards a mere 12 minutes after the round had started.

Olivier Ruel defeats Shuuhei Nakamura 2 - 1

Sunday, December 07: 2:35p.m. - Round 11: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What is the best deck in Extended right now?

Paul Cheon. "Elves, it's too good."
Shuuhei Nakamura. "Elves, but it's not too overpowered. Worth maybe seven or eight sideboard slots."
Olivier Ruel. "I have no idea. Probably a control deck that can beat Elves and Zoo."
Aaron Nicastri. "Elves or Faeries."
Gerry Thompson. "Elves, but it won't win."
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. "I would not say Elves. It was but now everybody knows about it, it's quite easy to beat. I don't think there's a best deck."

Sunday, December 07: 4:14p.m. - Round 13: Oliver Oks vs Nick Tung

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Coming into the last round, six players can intentionally draw into the top 8, and four players are left fighting over the last two spots. That's remarkably tidy as far as final rounds of a Grand Prix go, all things considered. This round we picked out New Zealand's Nick Tung, who came 5th at the New Zealand National Champs earlier this year, and Oliver Oks, an Australian ex-pat who's recently returned from living in Japan for a few years.

Oks started out with a Savage Lands, and diversifying his options with an Obelisk of Grixis before taking a Hell's Thunder to the face. Oks then made a turn four Dreg Reaver, which squared off against an Incurable Ogre. The Ogre swung in and traded with a Cylian Elf, inflating Tung's brand new Rockslide Elemental. When the Elemental tried to block and take out the Reaver, Oks trumped the first strike with a Resounding Roar. Tung then made a Corpse Connoisseur, burying an Undead Leotau. Oks could only play an eighth land and pass the turn back, not wanting to trade his Reaver for the Connoisseur. Tung tried to kill the 4/3 off with a Magma Spray and a Blister Beetle, but Oks had held another Resounding Roar in reserve, but unfortunately no White mana to cycle it. When Tung made a Blood Cultist and finally sent in his Connoisseur, Oks took the trade, and replaced the Reaver on his turn with a Drumhunter.

Tung attacked with the Beetle and the unearthed Thunder, and played a Goblin Deathraiders. Oks could only make another Obelisk and pass the turn back. Tung unearthed the Connoisseur, burying a Kathari Screecher and attacked. The Drumhunter trading with the Dreathraiders. Sitting on 6 life with a wealth of mana and nothing to do with it, Oks reached for his sideboard.

Tung 1 - Oks 0

Tung mulliganed Game 2, and it was his turn to be on the receiving end of a hasty beater, a turn two Rip-Clan Crasher from Oks, who followed that up with a Vithian Stinger. Tung played a Kathari Screecher, and offered the trade when Oks sent in his Crasher. This time, Oks didn't have a Resounding Roar, instead summoning some Dragon Fodder. Tung lapsed into thought, before passing the turn with four mana and no play. Oks' Fodder got in for 2, and he played a Quietus Spike. At the end Oks' turn, a Resounding Thunder took out the Stinger. Tung untapped and made a Dreg Reaver. One of the Fodder suited up in the Spike and swung in. Tung considered it and let the token through, losing half of his life and ending up on 5. The Reaver swung back, and Tung backed it up with a Dregscape Zombie and a Rockslide Elemental. Oks could not only draw his card for the turn and pass.

The Reaver and the Zombie attacked, the 4/3 trading with the equipped Goblin. Tung played an Undead Leotau, but Oks made a Vein Drinker. Low on life, Tung didn't have long to deal with it, and sent his team in. Oks chumped the Leotau with his Goblin and the Vampire ate the Dregscape. Oks unearthed the Stinger, equipped it and shot the Rockslide Elemental, killing it, and then passed back the turn. Having missed the Vampire's trigger when it ate the Dregscape, Oks couldn't swing back for the win and passed the turn. Tung swung in again with his Leotau, this time it was unblocked and dropped Oks to 7. Oks equipped his Vampire with the Spike and passed the turn back again without an attack, either worried about what was in Tung's hand (one card) or unaware that attacking would kill his opponent. Tung unearthed the Screecher and the Dregscape Zombie and sent in his undead army. The Vein Drinker blocked the Screecher, and Tung pumped the Leotau. In response, Oks Resounding Roar'd his Vampire, and then used it to take down the Leotau. Tung finished the Vampire off with a Magma Spray, Oks dropping to 5 from the unblocked Dregscape. Now with the board cleared, Oks could only pass the turn back without play. Tung unearthed his Leotau and attacked for the win, Oks revealing a hand with Violent Ultimatum, Prince of Thralls and a Grixis Charm, having been unable to play any of them. Cheering erupted from Tung's supporters, and once that had died down, Oks' friends could be heard explaining animatedly just how many turns he had missed where he could have attacked for the win.

Nick Tung defeats Oliver Tung 2 - 0

Sunday, December 07: 5:01p.m. - Round 13: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

First pick, first pack?

Luis Scott-Vargas. "Agony Warp, easy."
Olivier Ruel. "Kederekt Leviathan. Over any common or uncommon!"
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. "Is this a real pack? Or did Olivier (Ruel) put this rare in? I'll pick that too, because he did (laughs.)"
Justin Cheung. "Agony Warp."
Dominic Lo. "Seaside Citadel, just because Juzza (Justin Cheung) said Warp."
Gerry Thompson. "Agony Warp. But I'd be happier if it wasn't there, so I could take the Wild Nacatl."

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