204 players will take part in two booster drafts of M14 today, with three rounds each, and after that, eight of them will be invited back for one final draft in the Top 8. Follow us, both on text and live video, as we follow some of the world's best players navigate today's drafts. We'll be here when Magic history is made and when a new champion is crowned. Join us!
Sunday, 10:15 a.m. — Drafting with Nicolai Herzog
The first pack saw Herzog dive into blue with a first pick Opportunity, second pick Divination and third pick Disperse. Basically the dream of anyone hoping to assemble the best deck of the table. The big decision in the first pack was which color Nico to add to the Blue. Deciding between a Mark of the Vampire and a Giant Growth he took a long time before settling on the aura.
"I'm not a big fan of Blue/Black, and it actually felt like I was getting cut from Black, but in the end the Blue was so deep that I don't think it mattered," said Herzog.
Luckily for him the Blue seemed to be flooding. Pack two added staples like Scroll Thief, Messenger Drake, Water Servant and a Cancel along with some solid Black cards like Gnawing Zombie and a Sengir Vampire.
Third pack yielded first and third picks Claustrophobia, where Herzog took the second one over a Liturgy of Blood, explaining that unless he has multiple Archaeomancers he prefers the aura. A second pick Clone over a Divination was the pick that gave him the most headache after the draft.
All in all his deck ended up very solid, and the Hall of Famer said he'd expect at least a 2-1 record. Let's see if he seizes the Opportunity to make another Grand Prix top 8!
Sunday, 10:55 a.m. — Quick Question: What's the Best Color (Combination) in Draft?
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. — Blue is the Color...
"Blue is my favorite color, but it might also be over drafted, so my deck didn't end up as strong as I had hoped for," explained Alessandro Portaro, who drafted Blue/Red in the first draft today after a second pick a Trained Condor and a third pick Domestication.
It's definitely a very strong color in sealed deck. And all six of the undefeated decks from day one played Blue. But is it as good in draft as in sealed? Czech pro Martin Jůza thinks so.
"Yes! It is by far the best color also in draft and it has almost twice as many playables as the other colors," he exclaims. (Also drafting Blue today after opening an Air Servant and getting a Water Servant seventh).
One of the stronger Blue/Black decks in the first draft today was in the hands of Swede Mats Törnros, who made top 8 at Grand Prix Gothenburg and, unsurprisingly, also favors Blue in Magic 2014 . "More people might be drafting Blue, so I wouldn't force it in draft. If you first pick a Messenger Drake and don't see more Blue you have to switch. But if I open an Opportunity or a Water Servant I will go for it," he said. His first pick today? Even better with a in Jace, Memory Adept.
Will the Blue mages succeed? And will The Rule be what people remember from the Magic 2014 draft format? As Grand Prix Prague continues towards a second draft and eventually a top 8 we will soon know.
Round 10 Feature Match — Tamas Horvath vs. Martin Jůza
Horvath had drafted a solid green-black deck, while Jůza again went with his trusted blue to build a control deck, though this time, instead of the more popular black, he had drafted white, lots of Angelic Walls and Celestial Flares. How that would work out was yet to be seen.
In game one, Horvath's deck didn't miss a beat, curving out with Kalonian Tusker and Undead Minotaur, followed by Predatory Sliver and Sporemound, whereas, after a pair of Islands, Jůza missed several land drops and discarded Charging Griffin. He fought valiantly and almost clawed his way back into the game with Claustrophobia, Water Servant, and Angelic Wall, but Horvath's Mark of the Vampire and Saproling tokens sealed the deal.
In the second game, Jůza's Angelic Wall wasn't really a good answer to either Deadly Recluse or Rootwalla, however Sensory Deprivation and Banisher Priest, respectively, were. Next, Jůza took to the air with Air Servant, and fought back Horvath's creatures, including a newly summoned Sporemound and Minotaur Abomination, with a couple of Celestial Flares and Archaeomancer. Jůza made good use of Celestial Flare by first blocking a token dead, then casting the spell at end of combat to kill a more valuable target, much to Horvath's dismay.
For a while it looked as if Air Servant would go all the way, but then Horvath cast an enormous Woodborn Behemoth and turned the tables. Jůza couldn't race the 8/8 trampler and neither could he chump it. In the end, he had to trade away Air Servant, Charging Griffin, and Banisher Priest, returning Rootwalla. The game was over in all but name at this point, and when Horvath added Nightwing Shade to his team post-combat, it was over for real.
Tamas Horvath had now broken Martin Jůza's winning streak and continued his own, advancing to 10-0. Still: "I made some mistakes," Horvath admitted after the match. "I was just lucky they didn't end up costing me."
Round 11 Feature Match — Raphaël Lévy vs. Roman Katriner
Roman Katriner of Switzerland
Roman Katriner was sporting a Green/Black deck with big monsters en masse, mana accelerants in form of Elvish Mystic and black removal to clear way for his creatures. Whereas Raphaël Lévy was on Green/White with three copies of Pacifism, a handful of white fliers and two copies of his personal favorite Soul Mender. "I love the Green/White archetype, but I think I may be lacking a few 2-drops," he commented on his deck.
And as the match featured something as rare as two non-Blue drafters it was interesting to see what it had in store.
Game one looked to be a classic rout of quick white fliers against big green ground creatures as Lévy was first on the board with a Griffin Sentinel, followed by a Charging Griffin and a Suntail Hawk. Katriner displayed why Black removal suits up so well with Green when he Doom Bladed the Griffin and took over the game with large beasts. In the end Raphael could only reveal his hand of lands as the green beasts (2 Rumbling Baloth, Witchstalker and Briarpack Alpha) pushed through for more than lethal.
Raphaël Lévy was using pictures of himself as tokens.
"How many cards in hand?"
The conversation was kept at a minimum during game two. Always a sign of a lot being on stake. After trading both blows and creatures with Hunt the Weak the crucial turn came when Raphaël Lévy had set up a near lethal Fortify with a few sliver tokens, a Griffin Sentinel and Siege Mastodon. Katriner however made smart blocks and had both an instant removal for one of the tokens followed up with a Mark of the Vampire on his lone surviving Rumbling Baloth.
He promptly attacked back for 6, gaining life in the process and played ...
... a Voracious Wurm, coming into play with 6 counters from the lifegain. Raphaël Lévy drew his card, and conceded.
"I couln't beat that with my draw," summarized Lévy.
Result: Roman Katriner beats Raphaël Lévy 2-0
Sunday, 2:14 p.m. — Quick Question: What are your first impressions of the cards that have been spoiled from ?
Sunday, 3:25 p.m. — A different Take on Blue with Jérémy Dezani
In the second draft he ended up with a deck that to about 80 per cent looks like a regular Blue/White deck. Lots of fliers, a few defensive creatures like Wall of Frost and Wall of Swords and the usual assortment of blue spells. But what really makes his deck stand out are the last few cards he chose to include: two(!) copies of Traumatize, a Millstone, two Tome Scour along with two Archaeomancer to go with them. "I had the choice between playing with a couple of not so good cards or play these combo cards and I chose combo," said the Frenchman.
His strategy going into the first match was clear. Make sure to win the die roll to give him time to cast his slower defensive creatures, while setting up the win either in the air or through decking his opponent. If he doesn't end up winning, at least he hopes he gets to see a lot of cards from his opponents deck, and adapt his deck accordingly after sideboarding. "My deck can still win with fliers, even if I don't deck my opponent, so I might sideboard into that," he said.
When approached about how he came up with this strategy and whether he had ever drafted this archetype before the answer was immediate. "Never," said Jérémy Dezani with a laugh.
Sunday, 3:55 p.m. — Take a Look!
Everyone loves the Black-Red sacrifice theme, of course...
...while mono-Red is considerably more rare.
As is the equally rare mono-Green.
Did someone say, "rare"? We have rares!
Milling with two copies of both Tome Scour and Traumatize, while killing everything with two copies of Planar Cleansing sounds like a good idea too.
And guess which Hall of Famer drafted three Striking Slivers and three Hive Stirrings to go along with his three Fortify (and one Battle Sliver).
Sunday, 4:55 p.m. — Drafting with Martin Jůza
The pack he opened included Pacifism, Doom Blade, and Liturgy of Blood as the top three cards, and while Jůza was clearly unhappy about taking a black card and passing another, he also wasn't going to pass on Doom Blade. The booster he was passed then offered a choice of Bubbling Cauldron, Enlarge, Deadly Recluse, Archaeomancer, and Flames of the Firebrand. After some deliberation—wistful looks at Archaeomancer possibly—he took the Flames. Next came Shock, again passing solid blue (Divination, Scroll Thief, Seacoast Drake), green (Rumbling Baloth), and white (Pacifism). Sticking to his colors was rewarded with a fourth-pick Quag Sickness, but for his fifth pick, Jůza drew a blank. The only black and red cards in the pack were Dragon Hatchling, Wild Guess, and Altar's Reap, so he took Kalonian Tusker instead.
Following that, his next pick proved particularly difficult: Deathgaze Cockatrice or Howl of the Night Pack? He flipped the cards back and forth, back and forth, almost until time ran out, then decided on the Cockatrice. Next up was Nightwing Shade (passing Giant Growth), then Cyclops Tyrant (passing Sporemound). Pack one ended with picks of Lay of the Land, Trollhide, Millstone, Wring Flesh, Wild Guess, and Shadowborn Apostle.
First pick out of his second pack was Pitchburn Devils over Rise of the Dark Realms and Child of Night, followed by Marauding Maulhorn over Tenacious Dead and Deathgaze Cockatrice. Pick three was a Sengir Vampire to which no other card in the booster even came close, pick four was Chandra's Phoenix. Next came Vampire Warlord over Festering Newt, then Wild Guess and Blood Bairn, both basically without any competition. Curiously, for his eighth pick, Jůza could decide between Divination, Messenger Drake, and, well, Canyon Minotaur as the sole card in his colors. He took the 3/3—but not happily so.
Thoughts whether blue was the color he should have been in were quickly dispeled though, when Child of Night tabled and he got Tenacious Dead tenth. Millstone, Accorder's Shield, and two Tome Scours wrapped up pack two.
Pack three, pick one came down to Shock, Gnawing Zombie, Act of Treason, or Goblin Diplomats. Jůza spent some time considering the Diplomats but in the end decided to go with Act of Treason. Then he stared at the Kalonian Hydra he was passed, and passed it on as well, in favor of Chandra's Outrage.
Pick three was a disappointing Altar's Reap, followed by Festering Newt and Fleshpulper Giant. Just when it seemed as if black was drying up, though, his sixth pick came along and could have been either Deathgaze Cockatrice or Liturgy of Blood and was in fact Blood Bairn. However, that was apparently not a trend but a fluke: Jůza's seventh pick was Shiv's Embrace, eighth was Cancel, and ninth was Negate. The final cards he picked up then were Vampire Warlord, Lava Axe, Canyon Minotaur, Gladecover Scout, and Groundshake Sliver.
Round 13 Feature Match — Jérémy Dezani vs. Wenzel Krautmann
Krautmann, echoing his win at Grand Prix Warsaw with an aggressive red-green deck in Standard, had drafted an aggressive red-green deck. (Echoing, see?) Jérémy Dezani, meanwhile, had brewed a curious mill deck in blue and white.
Krautmann started off fast, putting four creatures onto the battlefield by turn three, thanks to the combination of Young Pyromancer and Molten Birth. Molten Birth returned to his hand once and provided further tokens, while Dezani's Tome Scour and Millstone appeared to be in no position to race this. He tried to at least slow down the onslaught with Sensory Deprivation and Wall of Frost, but Krautmann's Academy Raider with Lightning Talons spelled more trouble. When Dezani's Disperse was countered by Krautmann's Ranger's Guile, game one was decided.
In game two, Krautmann opened with Scavenging Ooze, Rootwalla, and another Rootwalla, while Dezani cast Soulmender, Sentinel Sliver, and Warden of Evos Isle. A simple comparison of those creatures might already suggest that Dezani was in dire straits here, and it certainly didn't help that he only drew his third land on turn four ... and lost it a turn later to Krautmann's sideboarded Demolish ... and that Dezani never drew another. As long as he had it, Dezani did put his land to good use though, summoning Seraph of the Sword (at discount thanks to Waden of Evos Isle) which kept Krautmann's creatures at bay. Unfortunately, Plummet destroyed the Angel and with it all hope for Dezani.
When Dezani extended his hand in concession, Krautmann apologized. "In the first game, his draw matched up horribly with mine, especially with all of my tokens," Krautmann explained. "And the second game was worse even! He had terrible luck while I was insanely lucky to draw both Demolish and Plummet. I think I would have won with either of those cards; having both was overkill, really."
Round 14 Feature Match — Mats Törnros vs. Simon Ritzka
Törnros was on Blue/White with five(!) copies of Pacifism, but was really lacking in the good creature department. Ritzka was on Blue/Red, with red removal like Chandra's Outrage and two silver bullets in Ogre Battledriver and Awaken the Ancient.
"I think I have to keep this", exclaimed Ritzka after mulliganing to 6 in game one. His first play of the game was a Dragon Egg while he ironically exclaimed "Let's get aggressive".
Mats on the other hand curved Phantom Warrior into Dawnstride Paladin.
"Some of your cards are very, very good, but some ... not as good. But I'm not judging you," laughed Ritzka.
Törnros's Pacifisms were all over the battlefield.
The Phantom Warrior attacked for about 8 turns, was joined by an Air Servant and Ritzka was in trouble. "I guess I need a miracle", he said as he cast a Quicken when facing lethal from Törnros. Unfortunately there was none on top of his deck and they were off to game two.
"Let's hope for a game three without either of us getting screwed," said Ritzka hopefully.
And he got what he asked for. The decider turned out to be quite a grind. Creature enchantments were hitting creatures like never before and even a Merfolk Spy was taken out by Törnros Pacifism. Card drawing was matched eye for an eye and when the smoke cleared it was a race between Törnros's Pillarfield Ox and Siege Mastodon versus Ritzka's mountain enchanted with Awaken the Ancient and Cyclops Tyrant.
Törnros added a Capashen Knight to his board, threatening lethal the next turn. Ritzka quickly drew for his turn, attacked with everything and prompted Mats that he had to block. The attack however was only for 11, but Mats was at 14. A fatal mistake by the German? A miscount or a bluff?
If Mats just took it, he could attack back for the win.
"Is it a bluff?" asked Törnros. Finally deciding that it seemed like a miscount by Ritzka and chose not to block.
"Suddenly I can't count, I just don't deserve to win when I play like this", said Simon Ritzka sadly, extended his hand and wished Mats good luck in the last round for a win and in to the top 8.