Day 2 Coverage of Grand Prix Moscow

Posted in Event Coverage on June 15, 2014

By Wizards of the Coast

It's been an exciting and surprisingly weekend at Grand Prix Moscow in the Elektrifikatsiya center. More than 500 Magicians showed up to prove their skills against some of Russia's finest players as well as some international competition that was trying to lock up Silver or in some cases even Platinum at one of the last Grand Prix of the season.

The familiar archetypes, most notably Black Devotion decks and Jund Monsters, put up strong numbers, proving once again that you need to have them on your radar when you're preparing for a Standard tournament. Their firm grip on the metagame left very little room for innovation, making it hard for creative deck builders to come up with something unique that could make a lasting impression in the Russian capital.

Two out of the three players that remain undefeated after eight rounds of Swiss, are not relying on these popular archetypes. At the very top of the standings, we find Susanne Bornelöv from Sweden, joined by the two local heroes Dmitriy Butakov and Denis Andrejchikov. Butakov has successfully made the transition from Magic Online to the card game and he is running a Bant Control deck. Andrejchikov relies on Boros Burn while Bornelöv went with G/B Devotion.

Also still in competition are (16) Lee Shi Tian, Alessandro Portaro, Antonino De Rosa and Tomoharu Saito who will all have to put up a strong performance to secure a spot in the Top 8.

Round 9 Feature Match – Susanne Bornelöv vs. Alexey Rogov

by Oliver Gehrmann

Sweden's Susanne Bornelöv has managed to win all of her games yesterday, leaving her with a perfect 8 - 0 record. Her G/B Devotion deck was working like a well-oiled machine and it hadn't failed her so far.

Susanne Bornelöv was sporting a perfect record yesterday!

Her round 9 opponent is Russia's Alexey Rogov, who was piloting a Jund monsters deck to a very strong 7 - 1 finish at the end of day 1.

It would be a first for both of these players to advance to the top 8 of a Grand Prix, so the tension was building very fast prior to the match. Rogov won the die roll and he opted to go first.

Bornelöv tried to cripple Rogov's deck with two Thoughtseize in the first game, revealing this hand after the first activation:

Rogov was off to a great start despite getting Thoughtseized!

Domri Rade got sent to the graveyard while Rogov added Scavenging Ooze to his Elvish Mystic.

The second Thoughtseize revealed a Ghor-Clan Rampager, making it obvious that Bornelöv would be under lots of pressure momentarily. Courser of Kruphix hit the graveyard this time.

Rogov was running low on cards, but with Elvish Mystic, Scavenging Ooze and now also Ghor-Clan Rampager on the field, that didn't seem to be too much of a problem.

Devour Flesh couldn't exactly stem the bleeding, with Bornelöv only sacrificing his Elvish Mystic. When the Russian started to use the effect of Scavenging Ooze the following turn and Bornelöv didn't find an out, she started accessing her sideboard for game 2.

Game 2 - Alexey Rogov 1 - 0 Susanne Bornelöv

Once again, Bornelöv found a Thoughtseize among the cards in her opening hand.

Sylvan Caryatid got sent to the graveyard.

Bornelöv had a second Thoughtseize (sending Elvish Mystic to the graveyard) and a Lifebane Zombie after that made this game look like a very one-sided affair, exiling Polukranos, World Eater. Rogov was now left with just one threat: Stormbreath Dragon, but he was lacking the mana to cast it.

He was able to stem the bleeding, courtesy of Abrupt Decay, but Bornelöv found a Gray Merchant of Asphodel to replace the Lifebane Zombie the removal had taken out.

Finally, Rogov had the necessary amount of mana to cast Stormbreath Dragon. Could it turn the tide in this game?

It couldn't, since Bornelöv used Hero's Downfall to deal with it.

Rogov needed a big draw; he must have prayed to the gods all night since his deck provided him with Xenagos, the Reveler! It got him a token.

Bornelöv was thinking long and hard how to deal with the Planeswalker; she sent Gray Merchant of Asphodel into it and it connected. It was still on the field, however.

Rogov came back with Xenagos, the Reveler.

Over the course of the following turns, Bornelöv tried to get rid of the Planeswalker with her Gray Merchant and Mutavault, but Rogov was able to use his tokens and his own Mutavault that traded with Bornelöv's copy to keep Xenagos on the field.

Rogov was hanging in the ropes, but as long as his Planeswalker could do its dirty work, there was no reason for him to complain. Finally, he found Domri Rade, but Abrupt Decay dealt with it momentarily.

Rogov's Domri Rade couldn't put in as much work as his other Planeswalker!

Bornelöv wasn't holding on to much more and when Rogov found Courser of Kruphix, he was able to pull ahead. He cast a land from the top of his deck and he then revealed Stormbreath Dragon. Bornelöv was suddenly staring down a huge clock!

She was desperately looking for answers, but her deck wouldn't provide her with them. Rogov was now up on 3 tokens and when he declared attacks, Bornelöv just said "That's it. Good luck for the next rounds!"

Alexey Rogov ends Susanne Bornlöv's victory streak!

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – Quick Question: What is the most overrated card in the format?

by Olle Råde
Marijn Lybaert: Probably Skullcrack. I just don't like it. When I have been playing burn it has simply been bad. You would think it's good at least in the mirror to respond to your opponents Warleader's Helix, but that never really happens.
Alessandro Portaro: Sylvan Caryatid. I've never liked it. And against Supreme Verdict it's a 2-mana do nothing card.
Tomoharu Saito: Divination. You can't afford to play it on turn three. And in the late game just drawing one extra card isn't good enough.
Lee Shi Tian: Pack Rat.
Patrick Dickmann: Pack Rat, it's got worse with the release of Bile Blight.

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – Leveling Up!

by Oliver Gehrmann

Usually, the focus of our event coverage is on the players and their epic conquest of making the cut for Day 2, the Top 8 or in some cases some particular Pro Points threshold that would secure them Silver, Gold or even Platinum Membership in the Pro Players Club. While this article is also about leveling up, we're approaching the topic from a very different direction.

You see, all of these events wouldn't be possible without the help of our dedicated volunteers that are investing just as much time as many of the players do to ensure a fair environment where we can eventually crown the Grand Prix champion.

I sat down with Daniel Kitachewsky who has been promoted to a level 4 judge this weekend to ask him about how his journey started. Without further ado, here's the full interview.

Daniel, when did you first decide to be a judge?

"I started playing competitively in 2004 and in 2005, I decided to become a judge. I wasn't happy with the job the judges did in our local store and I thought that I could do better and that's how it all started.

"Since I knew the rules pretty well, I thought it couldn't be that hard and well, it's enough to get you started."

So did you end up at a point where rules knowledge was no longer sufficient to level up?

"In 2006, I already became a Level 2 judge - up to that point, it's mostly about rules knowledge. After that, I started judging at a lot of Grand Prix and the Pro Tour.

"I got a few backlashes since I was perceived as very harsh. I was very strict with the rules and I never thought of the many other aspects of judging, like the interaction with people."

"So basically, I had to learn a little more diplomacy to better interact with players as well as other judges."

Can you give us an example?

"If a judge made a mistake back in 2006, I would go up to him and tell him - sometimes even in front of the players - that he just messed up. It's much better to pause the game and tell the players that they need to wait for a second. Then you take the judge away, talk to him in private and after you worked out what went wrong, you're having him fix the game state so he doesn't lose face in front of the players. It's much better this way."

Daniel Kitachewsky has leveled up this weekend!

What's the biggest difference between a lower and a higher level judge?

"As a level 3, you have to educate other judges. For this, you need to see their points of view and take into account that they have different backgrounds and experience levels. So it's a lot about diplomacy and there's often no "right" and "wrong". You have to come up with individual solutions that are tailored to the person in question."

What do you enjoy the most about juding?

"Right now, I'd say it's understanding different cultures. In the last 6 months, I was in charge of level 3 testing. This is something where you cannot treat every region in the world the same anymore.

"As soon as you're talking about organizing a community, there are a lot of regional differences; you have to take a different approach in the US when compared to the EU or Asia."

"To give you two very short and specific examples: In the west, there is a strong culture of giving feedback. You give people written evaluations and they will appreciate it.

"In Asia, this is mostly unacceptable. It is most important for people to keep face and if you're writing something that could "condemn them", this could in theory be used against them to make it obvious that they have committed a mistake. That is simply not possible, so you need to find other ways to deliver your feedback."

"The second example is very specific for Japan. There is a strong relationship between mentors and apprentices over there. In their culture, it is almost impossible for an apprentice to ever "overcome" the master.

"So that means that the leader of the program in a particular region over there always has to move up first, otherwise the whole program in that region won't move in any direction."

Why should someone else start to become a judge and how can they do that?

"It's a very different way of experiencing the game. In my opinion, it's super interesting and you can experience and learn so many different things - traveling, making friends, interacting with people, etc. - all of this is very rewarding."

"The how is easy - just talk to a judge, he will know about the available resources and point you in the right direction."

Thank you for the short interview, Daniel!

Round 10 Feature Match – Vladimir Lesnik vs. Niklas Ramquist

by Olle Råde

While only a few European players made the trip here this weekend, one group of Swedes did. Ramquist made the trip together with Susanne Bornelöv and a few other friends from Uppsala, and three of them are still playing on Day Two.

Ramquist made Top 8 at Grand Prix Warsaw earlier this year, proving his standard prowess. He's also piloted the Blue devotion deck he's running this weekend to the Top 4 of a 200-player standard championship in Sweden two weeks ago.

Niklas Ramquist

His opponent, Vladimir Lesnik, proved his knowledge of the format by winning a Grand Prix Trial on Friday night. He's running the same Jund Monsters list in the actual Grand Prix, which has a little twist to it featuring two copies of Reaper of the Wild.

In a matchup tested thoroughly by both players, odds were that Ramquist would be favored in the first game, but Lesnik might have the upper hand in games two and three. This is because the Jund deck sideboards a ton of removal spells, along with Mistcutter Hydra, a problematic card for the Mono-blue deck.

The Games


Unfortunately for the Swede, his advantage in the first game was diminished by being forced to mulligan to five cards, seeing no lands in his first two tries. He finally settled for a hand of Island, Island, Island, Mutavault, Cloudfin Raptor, hoping that his first few draw steps would fuel up his Island fed forces.

"Mulligans are unfortunate, but that's Magic, " he calmly commented his mulligans.

Lesnik started out things with a tapped Stomping Ground. Followed by Mutavault and a Scavenging Ooze. Niklas summoned his Cloudfin Raptor, but with no play on turn two he was unable to evolve it, and it looked lonely, watching Lesnik's creatures from above. Lesnik attacked with his Ooze and Mutavault, dropping Ramquist to 16. A good route for the Jund deck when it is unable to find its crucial mana accelerators Elvish Mystic or Sylvan Caryatid.

On his third turn Ramquist revealed why he had kept playing Islands, rather than the Mutavault in his opener, when he summoned Nightveil Spectre, making his Raptor a 1/2, attacked Lesnik to 19 and crossed his fingers as hard as he could for his Spectre to live.

Lesnik calmly took two damage to play an Overgrown Tomb untapped, took out Nightveil Spectre with Mizzium Mortars and attacked Ramquist to 12 with his Ooze and Mutavault.

Ramquist drew another land and did nothing on his turn but send in the lonely Raptor, barely scratching Lesnik, still at 16.

Lesnik couldn't find a fifth land for the two copies of Stormbreath Dragon in his had, but had a good alternative in Reaper of the Wild, while attacking with just his Scavenging Ooze, Ramquist now at 10.

Ramquist draw of a Judge's Familiar clearly wasn't what he was hoping for, but he cast it and probably began planning for Game Two already.

Lesnik attacked with Scavenging Ooze and Reaper of the Wild, dropping Ramquist to four, and after combat cast not one, but two Sylvan Caryatid. This enabled him to cast Stormbreath Dragon next turn, in case Ramquist could come up with something crazy.

He didn't, however, and the Stormbreath Dragon joined an already unbeatable board position, and Ramquist packed up his cards.

"I only needed two more lands, and I would be able to have 10 in play," Niklas joked, not taking the game too hard, and realizing that with only five cards his chances had been slim to begin with.

Both players sideboarded confidently, proving their knowledge of both their opponent's decks, and how to prepare for it in sideboarding. Niklas opted to take out four Judge's Familiar and Jace, Architect of Thought, bringing in Dissolve, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Cyclonic Rift and an extra Rapid Hybridization. Vladimir took out his Xenagos, the Reveler, a Domri Rade and two Stormbreath Dragons, perhaps taunted by not being able to cast them on time in Game One. He brought in removal like Doom Blade and Golgari Charm along with Nylea's Disciple. He also opted to leave his three Mistcutter Hydra in the sideboard, explaining after the match that he only think they are good on the play.

Overgrown Tomb

"I'm actually gonna keep", Niklas said to start things off in the second game.

His Island, go, was met by Overgrown Tomb and Elvish Mystic from Lesnik. Ramquist did have a good answer though in (a Russian) Tidebinder Mage, locking down the Elf.

Lesnik had more gas though, in Sylvan Caryatid, threatening to start casting his huge creatures sooner than Ramquist and his Tidebinder were hoping for. The Swede added Thassa, God of the Sea.

Once again Lesnik seemed to be the man with all the answers, casting Dreadbore on the Tidebinder Mage.

Ramquist, who seemed to be playing with a lot of Russian cards for someone from Sweden, played another Tidebinder, once again locking down Elvish Mystic. Lesnik answered with a large creature in Ghor-Clan Rampager, while improving his next draw with a Temple of Abandon.

On his turn Ramquist set the pressure gauge to maximum when he cast Nightveil Spectre, adding enough devotion to turning on Thassa, God of the Sea, made his Tidebinder Mage unblockable and attacked with both that and Thassa, dropping Lesnik to 9.

Lesnik's response? An overloaded Mizzium Mortars, taking out Ramquist's creatures and devotion count. This turned Thassa off and left the Swede, once again, in a tough position.

Ramquist drew for his turn, cast a Frostburn Weird, and debated for a while whether to cast a Hall of Triumph or keep his mana up to be able to Dissolve a removal spell or another threat from Lesnik if he had either. He cast his Hall of Triumph, figuring it'd be better to be able to block the Ghor-Clan Rampager, even though he was at a healthy 16 life.

As it turned out it wouldn't have mattered though, as Lesnik had both a Dreadbore for the Weird, and a Polukranos, World Eater, to cement his board position, already halfway to signing the result slip with a victory.

Vladimir Lesnik

Niklas Ramquist saw the writing on the wall, and shortly after on the result slip as well. There really wasn't much he could do in either of the games to stop Vladimir Lesnik and his Jund Monsters.

"Maybe I shouldn't have cast that Hall of Triumph, but it didn't really matter if he had more gas," he contemplated his previous play.

"Yeah, I had perfect starts and perfect draws," Lesnik humbly replied.

Vladimir Lesnik beats Niklas Ramquist 2–0

Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – Day Two Metagame

by Olle Råde

Day 2 of Grand Prix Moscow has begun, and we've got a metagame breakdown of what the field looks like here on Sunday. 23 different decks are in the field, but the four archetypes make up roughly 60 per cent of it. Jund Monsters seems to have had its big break in Russia, and every fourth player today chose the deck as their weapon of choice.

Here are all the numbers:

Deck   Number of Players   Percentage  
Jund Monsters   22     25
Black Devotion   15     17
(with Green)   7     7,9
(no splash)   6     6,8
(with Red)   1     1,1
(with Blue)   1     1,1
RW Burn   7     7,9
UW Control   7     7,9
GWR Aggro   5     5,6
Blue Devotion   4     4,5
BW Midrange   4     4,5
UWB Control   4     4,5
GWR Hexproof   3     3,4
GB Graveyard   3     3,4
W Aggro   2     2,2
Rw Devotion   2     2,2
Gr Devotion   2     2,2
GW Aggro   2     2,2
BR Midrange   1     1,1
4 Color Midrange   1     1,1
RG Aggro   1     1,1
GWB Midrange   1     1,1
UWG Control   1     1,1
UB Notion Thief   1     1,1

Sunday, 12:15 p.m. – Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Oliver Gehrmann

Dmitriy Butakov - Bant Control

Download Arena Decklist

Denis Andrejchikov - Boros Burn

Download Arena Decklist

Susanne Bornelöv - G/B Devotion

Download Arena Decklist

Sunday, 12:30 p.m. – How excited are you about the two new sets that were just released? (Conspiracy and Vintage Masters)

by Olle Råde
Marijn Lybaert: I'm not that excited about Conspiracy and probably won't play much with it. Although it has some nice cards for Cube. Vintage Masters looks like a lot of fun though, it looks like Modern Masters, which was a lot of fun. And I like the fact that you can now play Vintage on Magic Online.
Alessandro Portaro: I haven't had time to play with Conspiracy yet. But my friends say it is a lot of fun. Vintage Masters I will try online, but I've only played Vintage once in my life and the cards seemed to be a bit too powerful for skill to matter as much as in other formats.
Tomoharu Saito: I'm excited! I'm happy for everything that makes Magic more exciting. I've heard that Two Headed Giant draft with Conspiracy is a lot of fun.
Lee Shi Tian: I think Conspiracy is really fun. I haven't played casual Magic in a long time, but I've played with Conspiracy! Vintage Masters also seems fun, although some cards seem almost too strong. I played a prerelease last night and lost right away when my opponent accelerated with a turn one Mana Vault.
Patrick Dickmann: I haven't had the chance to play with either yet. But I've seen people draft with Conspiracy at my local store. And I like that Vintage Masters gives more people access to Force of Will online, since it's a staple in Legacy.

Round 11 Feature Match – Alexey Shashov vs. Lee Shi Tian

by Oliver Gehrmann

We invited the former Grand Prix Champion Lee Shi Tian, who is currently ranked 16th in the Top 25, to our feature match table in round 11. He went with Mono-Black Devotion this weekend and so far it's serving him well, leaving him on a 8 - 1 record.

Lee Shi Tian is No. 16 in the World just now!

He would now have to go up against Russia's Alexey Shashov who is having quite a successful season as well, having already amassed 13 Pro Points, which leaves him only 5 points behind Dmitriy Butakov. He needed this victory to shorten the gap between him and his countryman and raise his hopes of leading the Russian team into the World Magic Cup. He went with an aggressive Naya deck.

Shashov took a mulligan while Shi Tian thought a little longer before he decided to keep his opening 7.

Alexey Shashov is playing the season of his life!

The first game was a furious exchange of blows with Shashov taking the gloves off first, inviting a Dryad Militant to his party. Shi Tian started fighting back with Pharika's Cure and he then shifted into high gear, casting Nightveil Spectre.

Shashov was desperately looking for something to hold it at bay, but he couldn't find a solution while Shi Tian added a second copy after the first connected, exiling a Loxodon Smiter.

Nightveil Specter was putting in serious work for Shi Tian in the first game!

Shashov drew, but he failed to find an out. Shi Tian added Gray Merchant of Asphodel and that already concluded the first game since Shashov still couldn't find an answer to the flying attackers!

Lee Shi Tian claims the lead!

The second game started in much slower fashion; both players opted not to make any plays until turn 3, where Shi Tian cast Nightveil Spectre again. Selesnya Charm got Shashov a token and he added Fabled Hero the turn after.

Shashov was on to something, casting Fabled Hero!

When Ghor-Clan Rampager got sent to the graveyard for its effect to turn Fabled Hero into a real threat, Shi Tian attempted to get rid of the attacker with Hero's Downfall, however, Brave the Elements made sure Shashov's Hero wouldn't fall just yet.

Shi Tian's second attempt to deal with the Hero was much more successful; Bile Blight made short use of it. Another Hero's Downfall the turn after left Shashov with no field.

Shashov rebuilt with Ghor-Clan Rampager!

The Russian came back with Ghor-Clan Rampager.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel wasn't putting up too much of an opposition, Shi Tian then failed to find a target for Thoughtseize since Shashov used his only non-land card, Selesnya Charm, in response and when the Russian also added Voice of Resurgence on his following turn, Shi Tian shuffled up.

Shashov ties the score!

Wow; there weren't even 15 minutes off the clock and we had already seen the conclusion of two games. Everything would now be on the line in the deciding game, where Shi Tian would go first.

He kicked things off with Duress, sending Giant Growth to the graveyard.

Duress marked Shi Tian's opening in the deciding game!

Voice of Resurgence marked Shashov's opening play, but he wouldn't stay ahead on board for long; a Lifebane Zombie exiled Ghor-Clan Rampager.

Shi Tian applied more pressure with Nightveil Spectre and all the Russian could muster up was another Selesnya Charm to add a token. He added Dryad Militant, but that was still leaving him far behind.

Shi Tian was far ahead in the third game!

Shi Tian tapped his creatures, with Nightveil Spectre connecting for the first time this game.

When Shi Tian added Desecration Demon, Shashov had to think long and hard how to put up any form of an offensive effort. He added a Fleecemane Lion and sacrificed it right away again to make sure Desecration Demon wouldn't get to stop his attackers.

It wasn't enough for the Russian, though; Shi Tian cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel, he pointed at the many Swamps among the creatures he controlled and that concluded the game!

Gray Merchant of Asphodel wrapped things up for Lee Shi Tian!

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – Interesting Decks on Day Two

by Olle Råde and Frank Karsten

Standard might seem stale, and you might already have settled on what deck to play for the remainder of the season. But even in a field where 60 per cent chose to go with the four biggest decks there are some hidden gems lurking among the deck lists.

I stole Frank Karsten from his video commentary duties and scavenged through the pile of the 88 players still playing on Day Two. Here are some of the most interesting decks we found!

Four Color Midrange

Imagine a deck that plays Underworld Connections, Hero's Downfall and Pack Rat. Sounds like Mono Black devotion? Think again, as it also contains Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Obzedat, Ghost Council. Are we talking about an innovative Esper deck? Well, this particular deck also runs green for Abrupt Decay, Kiora, the Crashing Wave, Advent of the Wurm and, probably the best card in the deck – Sylvan Caryatid. Russian Efim Kashapov has us all puzzled with his very sweet looking four color midrange deck. Filled with sweet 1-offs and the pillars of pretty much every other deck in the format it has had his opponents guessing the contents of his deck this weekend. We approve!

Efim Kashapov – Four Color Midrange

Download Arena Decklist

Blue Black Notion Thief

The second deck that caught or eye is build around the synergy of Notion Thief and Whispering Madness, acting as both a Mindtwist on your opponent, and a Braingeyser on yourself. It can even come out of nowhere since Notion Thief has flash and can be cast at the end of your opponents turn. Strictly Blue/Black, the deck also contains format staples like Thoughtseize, Hero's Downfall and Pack Rat, which can be fueled up by Dictate of Kruphix. The deck sure looks unorthodox and since Oleg Dashkin made Day Two it seems like he came prepared for the decks he expected to face here in Moscow. We salute him and his sweet looking deck!

Oleg Dashkin – Blue Black Notion Thief

Download Arena Decklist

Green Black Graveyard

We've seen Green/Black graveyard decks before, but Yorke's version has several interesting card choices that set it apart. Notably, he has 4 copies of Strength from the Fallen, which allow him to leverage the creatures in his graveyard for relevant boosts to the creatures on the battlefield. To trigger constellation, he has included some enchantments from Journey into Nyx: Nyx Weaver and Master of the Feast. Nyx Weaver's ability has great synergy with all the graveyard-dependent cards, and Master of the Feast becomes deadly in combination with Nighthowler. Attacking with a 20/20 flyer is not out of the question for this deck!

Chris Yorke Green Black Graveyard

Download Arena Decklist

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. – Pulling the Plug

by Oliver Gehrmann

Even if you happened to be a regular follower of our official coverage, you might have mistaken Dmitriy Butakov's Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Valencia as his "breakout performance". It was anything but that since Butakov had already taken down the Magic Online Championship earlier that year. So even after someone pulled the plug from his PC, he continued to show great skills, demonstrating that it is possible to make the transition from online to the card game.

I wanted to know how hard it was for him to adapt to the different environment and learn a little more about the unique challenges of that transition.

You are notorious for putting hundreds of hours into Magic Online . How do you keep your motivation high after having played so many games and are you the most active player in the world?

"I know the most active player - and it isn't me."

"Regarding the other question, truth be told, it's not always exciting, but I see it as my job. I generate 90% of my income this way. There aren't any other jobs that are tempting me at the moment, so this is my best option by far. And I do have fun a lot of the time."

What is the largest amount of qualifying points you have amassed over one season of Magic Online ?

"138, I think."

That's just crazy... what are your favorite formats and decks?

"It's a luxury for me to have a favorite format. I play all of the formats and I always choose the deck I'm most comfortable with (and that has a good chance of securing me quite a few wins). I never play Limited, though, since it's so hard to grind in this format."

Alright, but if we break it down, what would your list look like?

"In Legacy, I prefer Shardless BUG - it's very interactive and it offers quite a few interesting plays."

"In Standard... well, generally speaking, I prefer controlish decks. So I will often pick either Esper or Bant for this format."

"In Modern, I love Gifts Rock, but it's very hard to play several tables at once with the deck, which is making it a bad choice for me. But if I play less than 3 events at the same time, I'll most likely play it. If I play 4 tables at a time, I'll be playing Scapeshift."

"Oh, and I'm really looking forward to Vintage on Magic Online! It's gonna give me something new to do."

Dmitryi Butakov is taking the Magic world by storm!

What are the key differences between playing online and in a tournament like a Grand Prix?

"People talk a lot about psychology, but I think they overestimate it. When my opponent is scratching his ear, I don't try to read anything into it; there is plenty of information on the board, so I wouldn't know why I should try to read my opponent as well."

Do you prefer playing online or in person?

"It doesn't make too much of a difference to me."

You seem to be aiming for Silver at the moment. What are your plans for the future, will you try to become a regular on the Pro Tour?

"I will be in Portland, so I already locked up Silver. I have a slight chance to lock up Gold and I'll definitely try, but I'm not depending on it. As long as I have invitations, I will continue to visit all of the Pro Tours. It's a bit hard travelling to the Grand Prix from Siberia, but I'm willing to put more effort into it and seeing more of Europe."

"And next year, hopefully, I can also attend an event in Brazil. Even though the temperatures will most likely kill me."

What does your preparation for an important event look like? Do you test with other Russians or do you have friends from around the world you're testing with online?

"The more you play, the better you are prepared. So I just put in lots of hours online and try to figure out the best decks."

Do you do that all by yourself or do you discuss strategy with other players?

"For discussions about cards and strategies to be effective, you have to have the same level of skill. I don't know a lot of other players that put in as many hours as I do, so I don't see the point in talking to them. I just try to figure out the best strategies myself."

Quite a few interesting points that Dmitriy Butakov was making in this interview. Do you agree that you're better off alone or would you always try to improve your game by discussing ideas and strategies with your friends? Let us know on Twitter @magicprotour.

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