Day 2 at Grand Prix–Prague

Posted in Event Coverage on September 5, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

A full 199 players were qualified to play on Sunday, and 198 of them sat down early on Sunday morning for the first draft of the day. A lucky few, to precise: eight of them, would get the chance to do this two more times today to play for the win here at Grand Prix–Prague.

Magic 2010 has provided an environment that made some classic Magic moments happen even for the pros, most of whom have seen a lot of Magic come and go. While they are arguably chomping at the bit for Zendikar – and who isn't! – today they will have to concentrate in the unforgiving M10 draft environment. Every mistake could cost them dearly, every setback could be the end on Sunday's road to glory.

Of the undefeated players, Yuuya Watanabe is the one with the most to gain, as his fellow racers to the Player of the Year title have fallen by the wayside or start off Sunday with the handicap of two losses, like Martin Juza. Watch events unfold here on as Tobias Henke, Hanno Terbuyken and Rich Hagon with his podcast machine bring you all of Sunday's action, right down to the Top 8 playoffs!



Sunday, 9:50 a.m. – Drafting With Yuuya Watanabe

by Tobias Henke

Prague is famous for its nightlife, but the lucky few (198 in all seriousness) who made it into day two weren't able to enjoy any of it. 8:30 in the morning is drafting time here at the Grand Prix and players were eager to crack some packs. Among them was former Rookie of the Year and this year's Japanese Nationals runner-up Yuuya Watanabe.

Yuuya Watanabe

His first pack contained three solid removal spells spread over three colors, Pyroclasm, Pacifism, and Doom Blade, but Watanabe went for the rare instead. Magebane Armor allowed him to postpone color considerations altogether. When flipping through the cards for his second pick, he noted Honor of the Pure, but picking Assassinate left the pack without any more black.

The strongest cards available for pick three were White Knight, Stampeding Rhino, Wall of Frost, and Looming Shade. Watanabe stuck to black and went with the Shade. If communication was not banned during draft, there certainly would have been a sigh coming from him now, at the sight of his fourth pick options. Pacifism and Centaur Courser, nothing that even came close, not even to the Centaur Courser, and certainly no black cards at all. After some deliberation Watanabe chose Pacifism. Along came a Giant Spider as pick five, then Emerald Oryx for pick six. Things were not turning out nicely for Watanabe. He did get a second Looming Shade, but with three black cards in total, this 1/1 creature would be hard pressed to make an impact. Apart from that, Watanabe picked up Pithing Needle, Coat of Arms, Coral Merfolk, Mist Leopard, Dragon's Claw, and Spirit Link.

Mind Spring

Pack two held Deathmark, Rhox Pikemaster, Stampeding Rhino, and arguably the strongest card, though utterly off-color, Mind Spring. Watanabe took Mind Spring anyway. Up till now he was not really settled on any color at all, afterall. Next up was Assassinate, then Drudge Skeletons, followed by Dread Warlock, then Xathrid Demon, Warpath Ghoul, Looming Shade No. 3, Weakness, and Child of Night... Now, that's eight solid black cards in a row, firmly establishing black as Watanabe's main color. He had systematically cut everything black from the boosters when passing to the left, and now he was rewarded for his perseverance. The rest of the pack gave him two Bramble Creepers, Unsummon, and Disentomb.

First pick in the third pack was Assassinate. Then another hard decision: Chandra Nalaar or Tendrils of Corruption? Watanabe was not committed to any other color but black, and the fiery Planeswalker might have still made it to his deck. The Japanese pro was constantly flipping the two cards back and forth, but ultimately, he decided on Tendrils of Corruption. A fourth Assassinate was next, but that booster also held Goblin Artillery in red.

The stream of good red cards continued, but Watanabe was imperturbable, taking Black Knight over another Goblin Artillery, then Child of Night over Stone Giant, then Drudge Skeletons over Capricious Efreet. Seventh pick was Mind Rot, and that would be the last card to realistically make his deck: Sleep, Inferno Elemental, Act of Treason, Goblin Piker, Shatter, Bountiful Harvest, and Disorient finished up the draft.

Feature Match Round 10: Yuuya Watanabe [JPN] vs. Lukas Tajak [DEU]

by Hanno Terbuyken

Both players had entered the feature match arena with no losses. One of them would have to endure defeat for the first time in the tournament. The German Lukas Tajak and the Japanese Yuuya Watanabe had sat opposite each other during the draft. Tajak already knew that Watanabe had at least a Chandra Nalaar, but didn't have an inkling about how the rest of Yuuya's deck looked.

Game 1

Yuuya Watanabe

Watanabe won the die roll and decided to play first, showing Swamps and Islands and no sign of red. Tajak led with Merfolk Looter and Seismic Strike from his blue-red deck to kill Watanabe's Dread Warlock, but the Japanese retaliated with Assassinate. Tajak refilled with Divination, a card that most players here like a whole lot.

Pyroclasm from Tajak tried to handle Warpath Ghoul on Watanabe's side, but the Japanese had the Unsummon to fizzle the sweeper. Magebane Armor spelled problems for Tajak, though he had all the means in the world to find an answer with his second Merfolk Looter of the game.

Ice Cage was not the solution Tajak was looking for with Watanabe having the Armor to simply destroy it. But the enchantment gave Tajak time, time that he needed to get to the meat of his deck, even though Watanabe quickly killed the second Merfolk Looter, too.

The players had quickly sorted out their respective roles in the game. Watanabe had a defensive line-up of Drudge Skeleton and Warpath Ghoul plus a Magebane Armor that jumped around between the two. Tajak was the aggressor, with two Berserkers of Blood Ridge and Dragon Whelp – and actual more cards in hand.

Having the flier meant that Tajak could take Watanabe to 9, then Act of Treason from Tajak took Watanabe's equipped Warpath Ghoul. The Japanese had no defense left and scooped up his cards.

Yuuya Watanabe 0 – 1 Lukas Tajak

Game 2

Lukas Tajak

Yuuya decided to play first. Tajak mulliganed and missed his second and third land drop. Yuuya had Looming Shade and Black Knight against an empty board and threatened to goldfish Tajak to death. On 13 life already, Tajak laid his second land and Pyroclasm'ed away the Black Knight in a desperate attempt not to die. That Pyroclasm was probably the reason Tajak had kept his six-card hand, but Watanabe had left enough mana up to keep the Looming Shade alive, so Tajak had no slice, no dice and not the sliver of a chance in this game.

Yuuya Watanabe 1 – 1 Lukas Tajak

Game 3

No mulligans this time. Watanabe curved with Drudge Skeletons, Warpath Ghoul and Magebane Armor, though Tajak had drawn sideboard tech in Shatter, immediately handling the Armor. But while Watanabe plunked down land after land up to six, Tajak was once again stuck. Three lands were just enough for Alluring Siren and Viashino Spearhunter. They were no match for Watanabe's Tendrils of Corruption. Tajak's next attempt at a creature, Stone Giant, was Unsummed by Watanabe while Tajak's life shrunk in six-point increments from an assorted host of attackers, including Looming Shade, all the way down to zero.

Yuuya Watanabe 2 – 1 Lukas Tajak

Talking to Tobias Henke, who watched Watanabe's draft, revealed that Watanabe had drafted just two blue cards in total: Unsummon, and Mind Spring. Apparently, he had followed the advice of most pros for M10 draft: Stick to one color if you can, or build a rock-solid two-color deck.

Sunday, 10:15 a.m. – Judge This!

by Tobias Henke

So, what card provoked most rules questions throughout the tournament so far? Why, it's none other than the infamous Harm's Way, the little card that could. The problem is that it can actually do more than most players assume from just looking at it. If, for example, your opponent casts Earthquake (X=3) you really can redirect one point of damage it would deal to your Centaur Courser as well as one damage it would deal to you (or one damage each that would be dealt to two of your Centaur Coursers, saving both). Thanks to Rules Manager Mark Gottlieb, Harm's Way now will receive a new wording, slightly altered for clarity: "The next 2 damage that a source of your choice would deal to you and/or permanents you control this turn is dealt to target creature or player instead."

Additionally, there's one nifty trick involving Fireball, Illusionary Servant, and one other creature, let's say Runeclaw Bear.


Illusionary Servant

For example, you could play Fireball (X=2), pay one additional mana to target Runeclaw Bearand Illusionary Servant. Then, before Fireball resolves, the Illusion will go away, leaving all the damage to be divided between Runeclaw Bear and... oh wait, there only is Runeclaw Bear left to be grilled, and it sure will be barbecued good and proper.

And here they are, to help out with all these tricky rules question, the judges of Grand Prix - Prague 2009, watched over by Head Judges Kevin Desperez and Frank Wareman (in red shirts) and Planeswalker Liliana Vess (in fancy dress):

Podcast - Check In

by Rich Hagon

Prepare for lift off as Day Two of Grand Prix Prague gets under way. Our opening show features interviews with Manuel Bucher, Nico Bohny, Michal Hebky, Kenny Oberg, Mario Pascoli, Arjan van Leeuwen and Matej Zatlkaj, plus Feature Match action with Hannes Kerem, Jan Schmidt, Ognjen Cividini, Rich Parker, Lukas Tajak, Yuuya Watanabe, Sam Black and Mateusz Kopec. You have fifty minutes - you may begin.

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Feature Match Round 11 - Christian Hüttenberger [DEU] vs. Kenny Öberg [SWE]

by Tobias Henke

Christian HüttenbergerSweden's Kenny Öberg won the die-roll and decided to draw first, which Christian Hüttenberger of Germany made good use of with a couple of early creatures: Coral Merfolk and Sage Owl, the latter of which traded against Öberg's Child of Night. Öberg cast Drudge Skeletons to put an end to Hüttenberger's advances in the red zone, but the German switched over to unblockable beatings with Merfolk Sovereign. Öberg had his own Lord with Cemetery Reaper, but Hüttenberger took to the air with Snapping Drake.

Under attack from two unblockable three-power creatures life was spinning down quickly for the Swedish. At six life, Öberg finally found a Doom Blade to take out Merfolk Sovereign, but Snapping Drake put him at three, while Hüttenberger added Phantom Warrior to the battlefield. Öberg drew his next card and conceded.

Christian Hüttenberger 1 – 0 Kenny Öberg

Despite this result, Öberg once again made Hüttenberger play first. This time, though, no one was off to a quick start, with the first creature being Hüttenberger's Viashino Spearhunter on turn three, while Öberg removed Seismic Strike from Hüttenberger's hand with Duress. Hüttenberger dropped Snapping Drake, Öberg had Bog Wraith. Öberg rebounded with Ant Queen, revealing the three-colored nature of his deck and, presumably, the reason for continuously drawing first. Hüttenberger had Wall of Frost and Merfolk Looter, but no insecticide for the 5/5 Ant.

Still, he was dealing damage through the air while holding the fort with Wall of Frost. Also, he summoned Goblin Artillery, further speeding up the pace of the game. In the face of this, Öberg figured that insect production would probably be too slow, so he went for massive instant token production with Captain of the Watch. Despite Merfolk Looter, Hüttenberger ran out of gas, while Öberg continued to drop more power onto the battlefield in the form of Stampeding Rhino. Hüttenberger summoned Merfolk Sovereign to his aid, but on the defense the king of Merfolk doesn't provide much help, really. On his next turn, Öberg smashed in with his team one final time. Wall of Frost blocked Stampeding Rhino, and Öberg had Doom Blade to kill the Wall, so that trample allowed for the Rhino to connect with Hüttenberger's lifetotal.

Christian Hüttenberger 1 – 1 Kenny Öberg

“I play first,” Hüttenberger declared.
“So we agree on this,” Öberg quipped.

Kenny ÖbergHüttenberger led with Coral Merfolk, followed by Merfolk Looter, while Öberg went without play for the first two turns, but then came back strong with Palace Guard. Hüttenberger stopped attacking, for now, instead just activated his Looter and cast Snapping Drake. Öberg had Entangling Vines to entangle the Looter, but Hüttenberger redoubled with Berserkers of Blood Ridge, which next turn traded with Öberg's freshly-cast Stampeding Rhino

Hüttenberger made a second Snapping Drake, but Öberg finally had an answer in Giant Spider. A replacement Merfolk Looter came down for the German, Siege Mastodon for Öberg. Siesmic Strike tried to take out the spider, but Giant Growth saved the day for the Swedish.

Hüttenberger found and cast Goblin Artillery, which later killed the Giant Spider, when it blocked a Snapping Drake. The other Snapping Drake, however, came through to put Öberg at nine life.

Then Hüttenberger cast Time Warp, which in turn (in his extra turn) allowed him to activate Merfolk Looter again, swing in for another three damage, and summon Dragon Whelp. This was a brutal turn (or in this case two) and left Öberg devastated beyond any possibility for recovery.

Christian Hüttenberger 2 – 1 Kenny Öberg

Sunday, 11:40 a.m. – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

by Hanno Terbuyken

Elina KilappaJust years ago, seeing a girl playing in just about any Magic tournament turned all heads, mostly male. But not anymore. Female players are at every European GP, and while they don't do terribly well, it's not surprising anymore to get paired against one of them. It is not unreasonable to assume that the likes of Michelle Bush, Cathy Nicoloff, Kate Stavola, Kim Eikefjord, and Melissa DeToro will see some worthy successorines on the big show.

Two of those may just come out of Grand Prix Prague. It has been a while since we saw a female player playing in the main event on a Sunday, but here it has happened twice. One of the two is Elina Kilappa from Finland. The 28-year old math teacher came to Prague with nine guys, “as an extra,” she said: “I was supposed to go sightseeing today.” Instead, she relegated all her male travel companions to the Legacy event going on across the hall and made day two as the only one in her group. This is her fifth Grand Prix, but she never made the jump. “This is my first time drafting with a time limit,” Elina explained.

She passed day one with a 7-2 record, playing a green-white deck with a black splash for removal. “All the boys were saying I was playing the wrong colors for my pool – but I can't play blue!” So she didn't, despite having Djinn of Wishes and other assorted blue cards in her sideboard. Her secret for making day two? “I had no pressure, I just had fun!” Elina's goal for today: “One win, that would be nice!”

Louise JohanssonThe other girl in day two is Louise Johansson, from Denmark. She also succeded beyond expectations, landing a 7-1-1 record and outperforming her boyfriend, who didn't make day two. “It feels really good!” said the 27-year old, pointing out that this was just her second Grand Prix ever. She started playing Magic just after Shadowmoor came out. “I met my boyfriend who played Magic, tried it, and got hooked.” And Magic has been good to her today: Her Sealed deck contained Baneslayer Angel, Mind Control, Sleep and Harm's Way. When Louise is not playing Magic, she works in a nursing home or cares about her two horses.

“Magic is a lot of things,” Louise went on to explain: “It is the excitement that I like most. It is never boring: If you don't like a deck, you just make a new one. There are always new things to learn, and you never get good enough.” Louise's plan originally was to come here “to learn, to have fun and to play one or two drafts.” That those drafts would be the first and second draft of day two at Grand Prix Prague, she wouldn't have guessed beforehand.

Quick Questions - You Better Learn To Draft

by Hanno Terbuyken

What is more important in M10 draft: Drafting well, or playing well?

Shuuhei Nakamura Olivier Ruel Manuel Bucher
"Drafting, and make sure you take an unpopular color!" "The most complex card in my Sealed deck was Wall of Frost, so drafting." If you draft a good deck, you're fine."
Marijn Lybaert Martin Juza Jan Ruess
"Drafting." "Drafting." "Drafting."

Sunday, 1:15 p.m. – Chasing Planes

by Tobias Henke

This weekend, there's not only this Grand Prix in Prague, also Planechase Release Events are taking place all over the world, or rather: all over the Multiverse. And to be sure, players here in Prague want to join in the fun as well.

The much coveted Planechase product, as it is on display at the trader's booth.

Casual games of Planechase are popping up everywhere around the hall... and receive a lot of attention from curious on-lookers.

While technically correct, the term “multiplayer” usually does not refer to games with two players... but don't tell them!

Podcast - Check Out

by Rich Hagon

With twelve Rounds gone, only the fittest survive, and with a Day Two field of almost 200, that's a lot of culling that needs to take place before we get down to the Top 8. Ognjen Cividini faces Yuuya Watanabe for the right to claim the only perfect record in the building at 12-0, with Watanabe on a startling run that includes Top 8s in the last month in both Bangkok and Niigata. Find out if he takes a step towards a third appearance in a row, plus all the latest news from around the top tables. Oh, and a very strange little item to end the show, starring a lot of top players with a sense of humor...

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Sunday, 1:50 p.m. – Drafting With Matej Zatlkaj

by Tobias Henke

Borderland Ranger, Essence Scatter, Goblin Artillery, and Dread Warlock. Those were the options Matej Zatlkaj was faced with in his first pack of today's second draft. After some consideration he went with the Ranger.

He didn't seem to be entirely happy with the next booster too: Berserkers of Blood Ridge, Oakenform, and Child of Night were options he contemplated, but ultimately he settled on Sign in Blood. Next he picked Deadly Recluse, after taking a long and hard look at Enormous Baloth's casting cost.

Green stayed strong: Out of pack one Zatlkaj got another Borderland Ranger, another Deadly Recluse, Giant Spider, Rampant Growth, and Oakenform... Mist Leopard and Bountiful Harvest, too. He picked Mind Rot over Wall of Bone, but apart from that and Sign in Blood, no black cards went to his pile.

He opened his second booster and found, among others, a Gravedigger, a Rampant Growth, and Vampire Nocturnus. Gravedigger it was for Zatlkaj.

Next up was Tendrils of Corruption, which Zatlkaj might not be running enough black for to make worthwile. But Black Knight was hardly a better option at this point. He was glad to see Giant Spider in the next pack, but then he noticed Cudgel Troll and took that immediately. Pick four had him choose between Entangling Vines and Rod of Ruin, and he was visibly torn between the two, flipping the cards, nearly deciding on the enchantment, then going with the artifact.

Elvish Archdruid and Craw Wurm were his next picks, and then he had to read Lurking Predators, before determining it was indeed better than yet another Craw Wurm. An eigth-pick Stampeding Rhino gladly joined his draft pile. He also scooped up a Duress, then Elvish Visionary, and finally Runeclaw Bear, before Wall of Faith, Disorient, and Dragon's Claw rounded out pack two.

The third pack he opened held Stampeding Rhino, Gargoyle Castle, and Doom Blade, and he opted for the latter. Then Gravedigger was edged out by a second Cudgel Troll. A second Tendrils of Corruption found his way into Zatlkaj's pool, then Centaur Courser (rather than Rise from the Grave). Concerns about the mana curve also made him pick Elvish Visionary over Stampeding Rhino as pick number five.

But not to worry! He was passed yet another Stampeding Rhino only three picks later with Emerald Oryx and a pick-seven Borderland Ranger in between. Apparently, green really was underappreciated at this table. Regenerate, another Emerald Oryx, Bramble Creeper, Bountiful Harvest, Fog, and Shatter finished things up.

Podcast - Check Raise

by Rich Hagon

The stakes are getting higher here at Grand Prix Prague, where the final Draft of the Swiss has taken place. Now the fifty or so players still in contention must stick by their choices, and hope that their combination will unlock entry to the Top 8. Standing in their way, a formidable table of opponents, each of them also on track for high honors. Stand by for some outstanding Feature Match action, as Ognjen Cividini attempts to defend his undefeated stats all the way to the Top 8 and beyond. Magic doesn't get much better than this.

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Sunday, 1:14 p.m. – Drafting with Ognjen Cividini

by Hanno Terbuyken

Ognjen Cividini fom Croatia has run a 12-0 streak to take his place at table one for the final draft of the Swiss. And looking at what he drafted, he had a good chance to advance to the Top 8.


Tendrils of Corruption
Like so many pros, Ognjen concentrated on black when the opportunity arose, and that was – for him, at least – in the (weak) first pack. Between Dread Warlock, Goblin Artillery and Serpent of the Endless Sea, Cividini found it an easy choice. His second pick was Divine Verdict over Warpath Ghoul and the much-loved Divination, showing off a love for removal, whatever it might be. The third pick firmly entrenched him in black, as Ognjen happily took Tendrils of Corruption out of an otherwise uninteresting pack.

More removal in Gorgon Flail and Divine Verdict fourth and fifth showed that the overall card quality was low. Warpath Ghoul and Zombie Goliath completed Ognjen's cards from the first round of M10 cards, as the final seven picks from that booster amounted to nothing in terms of a black-white deck, with stuff like Oakenform (over Cancel and Polymoprh, both of which were still in the pack), Enormous Baloth, Negate, Acolyte of Xanthid, Bramble Creeper.

Booster two opened with a choice of various gifts for Ognjen when he peeled the wrapper off and saw White Knight, Dread Warlock, Blinding Mage, and Razorfoot Griffin. He took the Knight, and the goodness continued: Nightmare over Harm's Way as second pick, and Vampire Nocturnus found its way into Ognjen's pile as third pick over Black Knight, Blinding Mage, Divine Verdict and Zombie Goliath.


Vampire Nocturnus
But Cividini wouldn't be lacking for Black Knights. Picks four and six each featured the 2/2 first striker, with a Warpath Ghoul in between. Undead Slayer made it over Safe Passage as seventh pick, and then once again the supply of white and black dried up. He got a Razorfoot Griffin in the mix, which was good, and he ended the first two boosters with 14 quality cards and some filler as a base for a really good black-white deck – given that he'd pick up some more removal in booster three, because two Divine Verdicts and a Tendrils wouldn't cut it alone.

And booster #3 did indeed deliver. But Cividini didn't want the removal that badly, it seemed. Pick one was the hard choice between Hypnotic Specter and Tendrils of Corruption. Cividini picked the flier over the removal, and also took Black Knight #3 over Doom Blade as second pick, probably trying to maximize his first strikers. A third-pick Tendrils of Corruption set him back on the removal track, a fourth-pick Shivan Dragon was just a random outlier, and Assassinate came to Cividini as pick five.

After that, he picked up a Sign in Blood and a Gravedigger, and his deck was complete.

Had he indeed set his eyes on black with a splash from the very start? “It wasn't a plan, it was a hope,” said Cividini, knowing full well that everybody would be on the lookout for a black plus x combination. He was very content with his deck and felt that his draft went well enough to carry him easily into the top 8.

Feature Match Round 13: Ognjen Cividini [HRV] vs. Matej Zatlkaj [SLV]

by Hanno Terbuyken

We watched both players draft, and both of them do have strong decks. Zatlkaj's green creatures provide a formidable assault force. With three Cudgel Trolls, Zatlkaj doesn't even need all the Stampeding Rhinos that he drafted for his green-black deck. But Cividini's Tendrils of Corruption are stronger than Zatlkaj's, as Nightmare and Vampire Nocturnus have pushed him into a really swamp-heavy build for his black-white combination.

Game 1:

Matej ZatlkajZatlkaj kicked off with a hand “that I would have kept on the draw”. Sinde he had decided to play first, though, he shipped it. But the next six looked good. Deadly Recluse entered the battlefield, preempting Cividini's Hypnotic Specter before Zatlkaj killed it with Tendrils of Corruption.

Cividini had more, though. Vampire Nocturnus came into play and revealed Assassinate on the top of Cividini's library. Zatlkaj's Borderland Ranger was irrelevant, especially when Cividini returned Hypnotic Specter with Gravedigger. Zatlkaj pinned his hopes on big monsters, like Craw Wurm, but he knew that Cividini had the Assassinate in hand and the monster would get just one attack in.

Craw Wurm took Cividini to 12 and died, predictably. Cividni took a good while to deal the first damage, with Black Knight, and Zatlkaj used his Deadly Recluse to good effect through blocking, then returning it with Gravedigger after it died in combat.

Zatjkaj had another Craw Wurm, Cividini had Divine Verdict. But Zatlkaj's army grew and grew, with Centaur Courser and Craw Wurm being just the spearhead that brought Cividini to 9. Even Vampire Nocturnus had to go on blocking duty, and Zatlkaj brought Rod of Ruin to the post-combat battlefield to mop up the undead monster.

It became a convoluted battlefield before either player made a move.

The table became cluttered. Cividini had Nightmare on defense, bigger than any single creature Zatlkaj could muster, and swung through the air with Hypnotic Specter. Zatlkaj fell to 12. Rod of Ruin was pinging away at Cividini, and the Croatian would never win that race, since Zatlkaj still had Deadly Recluse sitting there, waiting to block.

Cividini plunked down his third Black Knight, clogging up the ground even more. All that mattered at that point was Cividini's flier that Zatlkaj did apparently not want to block with Deadly Recluse. Maybe he should have done, because when Cividini revealed Tendrils of Corruption, Zatlkaj scooped up his cards.

Ognjen Cividini 1 – 0 Matej Zatlkaj

Game 2:

Cividini kicked off with White Knight and Gorgon Flail. Zatlkaj decided to do acceleration, because his Rampant Growth and Elvish Archdruid enabled a turn four Craw Wurm. Cividini continued the knight's parade with Black Knight and yet another White Knight. Zatlkaj had a lot of mana, including Borderland Rangers, easily paying for Lurking Predators, not lacking mana in the slightest. He was lacking for life, though: the White Knight with the Gorgon Flail had knocked him down to 12. Zatlkaj just amassed big creatures.

Vampire Nocturnus from Cividini triggered Lurking Predators, but Zatlkaj revealed just Duress and put it on the bottom of his library.

“You have a lot of first strike,” Zatlkaj said.

“Some.” replied Cividini.

Cividini was just waiting for a black card to show up on his library. Zatlkaj was powerless against fliers, so Ognjen's Razorfoot Griffin prepared the airwaves for the massive message of pain Vampire Nocturnus was eager to deliver. Zatlkaj was at 8 life when Ognjen finally had Gravedigger on top of his library.

Ognjen went to equip Gorgon Flail on the Nocturnus, but Zatlkaj stopped him: Tendrils of Corruption gave him 4 life back and killed the Vampire. Cividinis had no choice but to play Zomie Goliath instead of attacking. Then Gravedigger (returning Vampire Nocturnus)... and every time, Zaltkaj had predators lurking, always hitting a creature. With 11 green men already on the board, Zatlkaj's army looked impressive. But none of them was black, so Ognjen's Dread Warlock got in for two every time. And of course, Gravedigger had helped Vampire Nocturnus return to the battlefield.

Ognjen CividiniZatlkaj fell to 8 and used Duress to see two Divine Verdict and Tendrils of Corruption in Cividini's hand. “Nice deck!” quipped the Slovak, taking away Tendrils. The match had amassed a giant crowd by now.

Zatlkaj put ten creatures in the red zone. Ognjen: “I'm still at 20, so I am not worried,” but of course he had to do something there, facing 29 points of power in the red zone. Ognjen blocked with everything but Razorfoot Griffin, letting 7 damage through, going to 13. His first strikers made short work of Zatlkaj's smaller attackers, and the whole affair did not look profitable for the Slovak.

Ognjen still had his Vampire Nocturnus, held at bay by two Deadly Recluses on Zatlkaj's side. But hey – who cares about spiders when you have first-striking Gorgon Flail-wielding Black Knights and a Dread Warlock taking Zatlkaj to 8 life? Tendrils of Corruption took out the Flail-wielding Knight and gained Zatlkaj two life. And double Cudgel Troll made blocking more difficult for Cividini. He went to 9 life and responded with an all-out attack: Razorfoot Griffin, Black Knight, Black Knight, and Vampire Nocturnus. Only the White Knight with Gorgon Flail staid back.

The board on Zatlkaj's side was: two Deadly Recluses, a Giant Spider, and two Cudgel Trolls. One Recluse took out Vampire Nocturnus, and Zatlkaj fell to 4. Ognjen followed with Undead Slayer, giving Zatlkaj the opportunity to use Lurking Predators, getting Stampeding Rhino.

Ognjen kept up the pressure. Razorfoot Griffin aquired Gorgon Flail, and took Zatlkaj to a mere 1 life.

“So what happens now if I attack?” Zatlkaj asked. “Some creatures die, some creatures live,” was Ognjen's answer. Zatlkaj also had just four cards left in his library, from too many Rampant Growths and of course Lurking Predators. He was forced to do something – but what? He picked up a slow-play warning by thinking too long and passed the turn.

Razorfoot Griffin took Gorgon Flail and attacked, and this time, Zatlkaj (still on 1 life) threw the remaining Deadly Recluse in front of it. Giant Spider feathered the attack on the next turn, but Zatlkaj had no outs – he couldn't attack without dying, he couldn't block profitably against the first strikers, he had just two cards left in his library: Matj Zatlkaj was simply dead on all counts.

Ognjen Cividini 2-- 0 Matej Zatlkaj

Sunday, 3:39 p.m. – Crowd Control

by Hanno Terbuyken

How do you get a long line of Magic players to stand around patiently for 20 minutes, shuffling along slowly from time to time, without running away for a draft or a game of Planechase or a stint with Duels of the Planeswalkers? Simply paint lots of beautiful land art, and be called John Avon. That's right, the maker of all lands beautiful is in the house, and man, is he drawing a crowd. Not literally, of course!

Opposite John Avon's table, Anthony S. Waters delivers a steady stream of signatures for all those who want their Tar Fiends and Circular Logics signed. Both Artists have been here all weekend, giving everybody the chance to get their favorite cardboard rectangle signed, or to buy prints or original artworks. Unless you weren't here, though – then check the GP schedule for the next Magic artist near you.

Anthony Waters, seen here delivering a signature every four seconds. There's a John Avon somewhere in the crowd.

Sunday, 3:40 p.m. – The (D)ecks Files

by Tobias Henke

“Know what I just did?” Manuel Bucher asked excitedly, after sucessfully finishing his round 13 match. “My opponent had 15 life, my only creature was Griffin Sentinel. I attacked... and won!”

Manuel BucherUnbelievable story, so we investigated. The Swiss pro actually tapped eight mana and cast two Might of Oaks to turn his lowly 1/3 into a monstrous 15/17 creature. With all of three Might of Oaks in his deck, that's not even completely unlikely. (Although one could argue that three Might of Oaks are rather unlikely all by themselves.)

“This deck doesn't have any bad cards at all,” Bucher joked. “Even Runeclaw Bear is great. As soon as the opponent takes two damage, he's in terrible danger.”

And indeed, it's extremely difficult to avoid being hit by Might of Oaks, when up against this deck. With three Stampeding Rhino, one Serra Angel, and two Griffin Sentinel there are always good targets. Oh, and there are also two Prized Unicorns in Bucher's deck, which is just evil in combination with Might of Oaks.

Manuel Bucher

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Have you heard the rumors abouth this crazy Tome Scour deck? Well, here is one very fine example of this particularly unorthodox archetype, that wins solely by running its opponent out of cards.

Petr Boruvka

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Feature Match Round 14: Richard Parker [ENG] vs. Shane Dalliston [AUS]

by Tobias Henke

At the beginning of the match the two players struggled with the die-roll. No die was available, so they used local currency... or tried to, at least.

Richard Parker“What is heads and what is tails on these?”
“No idea, let's just go with this here for heads.”

Shane Dalliston started quick with Soul Warden, then Blinding Mage, while Richard Parker's first play was Mind Rot on turn three, which took Rod of Ruin and Stampeding Rhino out of his opponent's hand.

When Dalliston added Llanowar Elves to his team the score of creatures was three to none in his favor, but unfortunately all of his creatures only had one power. Parker, meanwhile, was stuck on three lands, but killed the Elves with a pin-point Consume Spirit for one, then dismantled Blinding Mage with Assassinate

“Check this out, Shroud!” Dalliston quipped and summoned Mist Leopard. But Parker had finally hit land, and cast Bog Wraith, which immediately caught Pacifism from Dalliston. Next up, Dalliston's Mist Leopard traded with Parker's Zombie Goliath to clear the way for the latter's Stampeding Rhino. However, Parker had Disentomb to retrieve Zombie Goliath and, when that traded with the Rhino, Rise from the Grave to get his own Rhino.

Dalliston was utterly out of gas by now, and went without play for multiple turns, while his own Stampeding Rhino attacked him again and again. If it had not been for his Soul Warden still hanging around Dalliston might have been dead by now already.

Richard ParkerBut then Dalliston came back. First, Entangling Vines stopped the Rhino, then Cudgel Troll posed a serious thread. Parker had Drudge Skeletons to handle the Troll, though, so the game entered a phase of draw-play-kill-go: Doom Blade killed Deadly Recluse, Tendrils of Corruption killed Serra Angel, Assassinate killed Centaur Courser, another Assassinate killed Soul Warden.

Unfortunately, this period of piece came to a sudden end, when the Howl of the Night Pack resounded. Parker couldn't do anything about the pack of eight hungry 2/2-sized wolves closing in in him and soon it was over.

Richard Parker 0 – 1 Shane Dalliston

Dalliston started “card advantageous” with Elvish Visionary and Borderland Ranger, while Parker's first play was Bog Wraith in turn four. The small green man smashed in regardless, and Parker chose not to block, fearing Giant Growth. Post-combat, Dalliston summoned Awakener Druid, turned one Forest into a mighty 4/5-Treefolk, still having Giant Growth mana at the ready.

Parker thought long and hard about his options, but apparently the best his deck could muster was Zombie Goliath, which was not such a sturdy defender at all. Dalliston attacked with his team (except for the Awakener Druid he left back), and Parker could only block Borderland Ranger with Bog Wraith and watch helplessly when Giant Growth was delivered as expected. Dalliston also added Blinding Mage to the battlefield.

Assassinate took down the animated Forest, and Parker, in the face of Blinding Mage, simply attacked with Zombie Goliath. That, however, allowed Dalliston to swing in with all of his men (Elvish Visionary, Awakener Druid, Blinding Mage, and Borderland Ranger, four creatures, five damage). Also, Dalliston summoned Soul Warden and Mist Leopard. Six creatures to one, this board needed some powerful black magic.

One Consume Spirit (which took out Blinding Mage) was not enough. Parker had already fallen behind too much. So when Dalliston cast Rod of Ruin and started shooting additional damage, Parker soon offered his hand in concession.

Richard Parker 0 – 2 Shane Dalliston

Podcast - Check Mate

by Rich Hagon

We've reached the endgame here at Prague, but while 1526 must sit on the sidelines, eight get to Draft one last time, and this time many thousands of dollars are at stake. But which eight? In a convoluted final Swiss Round of carnage, we look for four winners who will/might/might not/won't/can't/shouldn't/daren't make it in. Still following? Spare yourself, and get listening.

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