Day 2 Grand Prix Warsaw Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on May 10, 2014

By Wizards of the Coast

Play on Day 2 of Grand Prix Warsaw has commenced! At the start of the tournament, yesterday, 1,005 players had entered into the event, the first outing of Journey into Nyx at the premier level. Through nine grueling rounds of Sealed Deck play the field had then been whittled down to but 130 competitors—all who managed to win at least seven of their matches.

Leading the pack overnight were just four with perfect records. Ivan Floch has been tipped by (25) Martin Jůza as the player to win the tournament, and alongside him on 9-0 are Bernhard Lehner, Patrick Tomelitsch and Pawel Podbielski. While these four lead the way, there is a whole host of talent chasing, including Joel Larsson, (14) Stanislav Cifka, and current number one-ranked pro player and Pro Tour Theros champion Jérémy Dezani.

Today, the 130 will need to show their prowess in Journey into Nyx/Born of the Gods/Theros Booster Draft. Two drafts with three rounds each need to be mastered before the best eight come together for one final draft and the single-elimination playoffs at the end of the day.

Join us, as we venture into the world of Journey into Nyx, and find out exactly how the new set has shaken up an already complex and challenging draft format. With both text coverage from Tobi Henke and Tim Willoughby, and video coverage from Rich Hagon, Matej Zatlkaj, Marijn Lybaert, Simon Görtzen, and Steven Leeming, all the action will be right here for you on

Saturday, 10:22 a.m. – Quick Question #4

by Tobi Henke

What's Your Favorite First Pick in This Draft Format?

(24) Raphaël Lévy: King Macar, the Gold-Cursed.
Wenzel Krautmann: Hour of Need. More than any mythics, more than anything.
Denniz Rachid: Sigiled Starfish.
(1) Jérémy Dezani: Revel of the Fallen God.
(25) Martin Jůza: No comment.
Thoralf Severin: Ajani's Presence.

Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – Drafting with Joel Larsson

by Tim Willoughby

Joel Larsson, the 2nd place finisher at Pro Tour Gatecrash, is at the forefront of a bevy of Swedish players making pushing for the highest level at Pro Tours. Along with Olle Rade and Denniz Rachid, he'll be flying out to Atlanta later in the week to prepare mentally and physically for one of the biggest events of the year.

In the meantime, Joel is in the enviable position of being at 8-1 going into day two of a Grand Prix. Sat at pod 3, he would be drafting twice on Sunday, in order to potentially earn the right to draft a third time in the top eight.

With Journey into Nyx still a fairly new set, Joel has not yet drafted with the set a great deal, but that doesn't mean to say he's not done preparation. Something of a theorizer, Larsson had supplemented his modest draft numbers with a substantial amount of team talk about the format, and how the new set had adjusted existing strategies/pick orders.

Joel Larsson

One colour that has been highlighted by a number of top players as being in a state of flux following the infusion of new cards is black. Where black had been a comparatively controlling colour in the first few sets of the block, some powerful attacking options in the latest set meant that a more aggressive black draft deck was far more achievable.

Settling down for the first pack, Larsson was immediately offered an opportunity to try move into black, with the powerful removal spell Silence the Believers. When given the option of staying in black or drifting into blue the very next pick, he was swayed by superior power, and took War-Wing Siren over Feast of Dreams. For pick three there was a real decision, between Hubris, a top quality bounce spell in blue, and Gnarled Scarhide, the 2/1 minotaur for one, that can reasonably bestow on your own creatures or your opponents, on those occasions where 'granting' the inability to block is the right call. Joel thought up until the last second before electing to take the minotaur.

Another shot at Hubris would come in the very next pack, being selected over Brain Maggot. Following this, fairly firmly set in his colours, Larsson had quite a clean pack from there. Disciple of Deceit joined the pile along with a Cast into Darkness that was snapped up fast by Larsson. He went into pack two clear on his colours, and hoping for an open that would support them well.

Disciple of Deceit

Born of the Gods didn't offer Larsson a blue or black rare to beef his deck up with, but he was certainly not unhappy to snap down an Aerie Worshippers, beginning a small inspired theme which would continue later in the pack with Sphinx's Disciple and a pair of copies of Siren of the Silent Song. There was certainly a point in pack two where Larsson would surely have been happy to grab a Springleaf Drum, but without one the instrument of his opponents' demise would have to be more direct - simply attacking.

Theros offered an interesting choice at the start of the pack. Gray Merchant of Asphodel has traditionally been one of the reasons to be drafting black during Theros block, and Larsson had the good fortune to open one. The rare was Bow of Nylea - no help there. As it was though, Larsson was drawn to an uncommon. Erebos's Emissary was the pick. Larsson had quite a few flyers, but few of them had much meat on their bones. With the Emissary, Larsson would be able to construct his own 'dragon', a bestowed upon monster of sizeable proportions. Shipwreck Singer and a pair of copies of Returned Phalanx came right on time, shoring up some concerns about early plays from what wasn't quite the all-out aggro draft deck that he might first have been intending. A seventh pick Griptide rounded things out nicely. Larsson had a plan. He'd be attacking in the air, removing creatures, and allowing a number of options with inspired (including the new Disciple of Deceit) to get him ahead on cards, keeping him in action, and hopefully finishing off opponents.

Joel seemed fairly happy with his deck overall. All he had to do now was win with it!

Sunday, 12:12 p.m. – Look at That

by Tobi Henke

Everyone loves to take a look at cool draft decks and players love to show off their babies. It's the perfect combination! So let's do our part then, shall we?

Need heroes? We got heroes.

Is mono-red a thing now?

Black devotion apparently still is a thing ...

... and is newly joined by devotion to black and white.

Awesome red-white is awesome!

A storm is coming … Or three!

Looking for rares?

Round 10 Feature Match - Elias Watsfeldt vs. David Reitbauer

by Tobi Henke

This round saw two highly-accomplished players sit down in the feature match area, potentially on their way to accomplish yet more. Elias Watsfeldt of Sweden could already boast four Grand Prix Top 8s, while Austrian David Reitbauer had been the runner-up at the 2009 World Championships. To add another major finish to their résumé, however, both needed to win out. With records of 7-2, even one more loss could effectively eliminate them from Top 8 contention. Of course, only one of them would be able to win this match ...

Would it be Reitbauer who had drafted red and blue cards? Or Watsfeldt piloting blue-white? Fliers and tricks featured heavily on both sides, with some extraordinarily strong cards to boot, and the games could easily go either way. A lot was to depend on the luck of the draw.

Game 1

It began with both players lining up some creatures: Sigiled Skink, Vaporkin, Flurry of Horns for Reitbauer, Oreskos Sun Guide, Daring Thief, and Elite Skirmisher for Watsfeldt. At one point, Watsfeldt managed to trade away his Oreskos Sun Guide for Reitbauer's Stormchaser Chimera via Daring Thief, and together with Skyspear Cavalry he achieved complete dominion over the skies.

David Reitbauer

Reitbauer was forced to try and race with Shipbreaker Kraken, but Ordeal of Heliod on Skyspear Cavalry put Watsfeldt solidly in the lead. Reitbauer could have still gotten there, but at the end Whitewater Naiads allowed Skyspear Cavalry to bypass Vaporkin and deal well in excess of lethal damage.

Elias Watsfeldt 1-0 David Reitbauer


Game 2

The second game was all Reitbauer's. Although Watsfeldt led with Lagonna-Band Trailblazer, Oreskos Sun Guide, and Lagonna-Band Elder, Reitbauer's creatures were simply better: Akroan Line Breaker, Felhide Spiritbinder, and Stoneshock Giant.

Watsfeldt turned his Lagonna-Band Trailblazer 3/8 via Nyxborn Triton, then double-blocked the incoming Stoneshock Giant but only got to trade his Lagonna-Band Elder for Reitbauer's Rise to the Challenge.

Next, Reitbauer's Shipbreaker Kraken spelled even more trouble for Watsfeldt, especially since Reitbauer was getting ever closer to having eight mana for his two monstrosities. Before that, however, Watsfeldt managed to cast Medomai the Ageless and to damage his opponent with it once. Still, even the extra turn didn't help. Once Reitbauer dropped his eighth land, Shipbreaker Kraken and Stoneshock Giant finished the game in short order.

Elias Watsfeldt 1-1 David Reitbauer


Game 3

The all-deciding final of the match began somewhat anticlimactic. Reitbauer had kept two lands and only drew his third after discarding twice. By then, Watsfeldt was already attacking with an Akroan Skyguard that was Chosen by Heliod and Nyxborn Triton.

Elias Watsfeldt

Then—the miracle! A flurry of lands brought Reitbauer squarely back into the game. Prophetic Flamespeaker, Stormchaser Chimera, and Flurry of Horns were looking to take back the initiative.

However, Watsfeldt would have none of that. Hold at Bay meant his Akroan Skyguard could take down the opposing flier, Elite Skirmisher increased the pressure, and on the very last turn of the match his Whitewater Naiads and Gods Willing sealed the deal—just in time before Reitbauer's larger monsters would stabilize the game and take over.

Elias Watsfeldt 2-1 David Reitbauer

Sunday, 3:00 p.m. – Quick Question #5

by Tobi Henke

Name a Card from Journey into Nyx Which Is Underrated in Limited

(24) Raphaël Lévy: Ajani's Presence.
Wenzel Krautmann: Rise of Eagles.
Denniz Rachid: Sigiled Starfish.
(1) Jérémy Dezani: Font of Fertility.
(25) Martin Jůza: No comment.
Thoralf Severin: Sigiled Starfish. Also Daring Thief! People don't yet realize how many insane interactions this got, especially with Auras. Or with Retraction Helix.

Sunday, 4:00 p.m. – What is better than an Ajani, Mentor of Heroes?

by Tim Willoughby

This is a multiple choice question.

Within the space of about 15 seconds into the second draft of the day at Grand Prix Warsaw, I got a chance to see all three of these options play out.

Tomoharu Saito, the Japanese phenom who is one of the great thinkers of the game is someone I knew I wanted to watch draft at some point in the weekend. When I saw him open a pack with Ajani in, my immediate reaction was option A. I'm sure that many of you would feel the same way.

Saito, it seemed, had different ideas. He looked at the pack and elected to take a journey in a different direction. Seeing a fair spread of other cards, knowing that he didn't want to commit to two colours early (especially those two), he took Sigiled Starfish instead. Saito considers both white and green to be 'main' colours, rather than support colours, and was concerned that he'd find himself fighting over more picks by taking Ajani, and potentially getting stuck in a difficult colour combination for the powerful mythic rare. Meanwhile, he rates the fish as the third best common in the set (after Akroan Mastiff and Supply-Line Cranes).

So we've seen option A and option C. What about option B? Well as it turns out, the player to the left of Saito also opened Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. He initially went with option A, and then got passed another copy of Ajani, causing him to hastily adjust his answer. For comic effect, he also took Ajani's Presence third.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Sigiled Starfish

So what happens once you take the Saito route of pick one Sigiled Starfish? Well, as it turns out, things seem to go really rather well. In total Saito ended up with three copies of the starfish, along with two copies of Akroan Mastiff. He snagged sixth pick Daring Thief, who plays rather well with a couple of incidental tappers. Saito had a game-plan, and while it wouldn't let him steal any planeswalkers, it would likely work on most other things. If you are looking to tap creatures for fun and profit, tapping your own Aerie Worshippers is not the worst choice, and using Retraction Helix to get value is also not a bad choice. Oreskos Sun Guide inspires a little bit of life gain, while Sphinx's Disciple inspires a touch of card drawing.

Speaking of card drawing, Saito picked up a Bident of Thassa over Sea God's Revenge in pack 3. For honest to goodness winning the game, Saito had some nice ones too. Thassa's Emissary and Nimbus Naiad were very workable bestow options, with the likes of Tromokratis as a massive monster to finish things.

It would appear you don't need a planeswalker to have a great deck in this format. This is convenient, as most of us simply don't have the option. Some of us that do have the option, choose not to use it.

Round 13 Feature Match – Fabrizio Anteri vs. Robin Dolar

by Tim Willoughby

Once you get to the last draft of the day, that is the point where a place in the top eight of a Grand Prix is a target close enough to start really thinking about. Three wins is a reasonable goal, and realistically for almost all, three wins would be needed. As such every match from here out would be critical.

Stepping into the feature match area, both Fabrizio Anteri of Italy and Robin Dolar of Slovenia looked pretty comfortable. Dolar has seen a fair run of success in recent years, with a top 25 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica and a finalists trophy at GP Vienna in 2013. Anteri too had managed to take home a finalists trophy in 2013, falling to Patrick Dickmann at the last hurdle at GP Antwerp. Suffice to say, each was hungry to go one better.

Anteri was particularly happy with his deck, an aggressive red white deck which he felt was a little ahead of the curve power-wise, and had the removal to punish bad draws. The concern though was that the overall power level of the packs at the draft had appeared strong - he would have to hope that Dolar's blue green build was not similarly powerful.

Robin Dolar

Robin Dolar had a mulligan on the play with his blue green deck, and started with a Sedge Scorpion. There was a Stymied Hopes on Sigiled Skink, before War-Wing Siren came out on turn three. The flying hero did not have a chance to get heroic, as a Lightning Strike shot it out of the sky.

Dolar was short on green mana and passed on turn four with just his scorpion alive. He looked on as Anteri laid out a Spearpoint Oread to go with an Elite Skirmisher from the previous turn. Bolt of Keranos cleared a path and Anteri got stuck in. Akroan Skyguard and Akroan Mastiff were enough to finish things in Anteri's favour. Dolar had never found a second Forest after his mulligan, and scooped up his cards without having given much away in the opening game of the set.

Fabrizio Anteri 1 - 0 Robin Dolar

Dolar had a workable seven and the initiative in game two, leading with a Swordwise Centaur, and soon buffing it with an Ordeal of Thassa, to swing for four. Bolt of Keranos was enough to put a stop to those shenanigans, but Dolar had a follow up in Coastline Chimera, who matched up nicely against Anteri's Eagle of the Watch.

Fabrizio Anteri

Anteri made his air force a little stronger, with Akroan Skyguard and a Nyxborn Rollicker to make the flying hero a little tougher to beat in a fight. Supply Line Cranes, the next addition from Anteri, got hit by Stymied Hopes. This left the coast clear though for Anteri to further improve his Akroan Skyguard with Spearpoint Oread. Now a 6/6 flying first striker, it seemed unlikely much could match it in a fight. That didn't stop Dolar trying though, flashing in a Fleetfeather Cockatrice. The deathtouch on the cockatrice wouldn't work out against first strike on the other side of the board, but it was a noble effort.

When Dolar tried to use the monstrosity ability on his cockatrice, a Fated Conflagration was enough to finish it off. Dragon Mantle from Fabrizio Anteri served a similar purpose when it came to finishing off Dolar himself. With the ability to pump his attacker, there was simply too much damage coming from too many angles for Dolar, who scooped up his cards in defeat.

Fabrizio Anteri defeats Robin Dolar in two quick games.

Sunday, 4:05 a.m. – Added Value with Journey into Nyx

by Tim Willoughby

Any time I find myself talking with Marshall Sutcliffe at Pro Tours about limited, it's only a matter of time before I hear the word value. Marshall isn't an economics professor, but given his focus on limited, it isn't necessarily surprising that he's thinking in these terms. In draft, everyone has 42 picks. From those picks you are probably looking at getting 23 cards to play in your main deck, plus a handful of reasonable sideboard options.

While in reality you only get three 'first picks' (choices from a fresh booster unhampered by any of your draft opponents having already taken a card), there are ways that you can feel like you've ended up with more. If you cut a colour really strongly in pack one, then in pack two you might get passed a card that you would value as if it were a first pick. If you correctly read the colours or strategies that other players are focusing on, you might be able to maneuver your picks to get particular cards to 'wheel' or go around the whole table and come back to you. Any time you get to pick a card that you value highly late, you are doing well, while any time you are stuck picking a card you don't value highly early, it might feel a little rough.

When a new set comes out, there is an interesting time where people are still working out the true values of cards. They simply might not know how good or bad a card is, having not played with it much. This is a really exciting time to draft, as it's where a little knowledge can pay dividends. Early in a format, those in the know can truly dominate in a way that might not be possible once the world catches up.

With Journey into Nyx, are there any cards that might be tricky to evaluate, and take a while to settle down in how people rate them? Absolutely. Asking around the room, here are some of the cards that have particularly drawn the attention of some.

Oppressive Rays

Oppressive Rays

This one mana enchantment that puts a fairly hefty tax on creatures to do anything is a card that alters in value quite a bit over the course of any given game. On turn two or three, it more or less takes a creature out of the game for quite a while. On turn seven, this card will do comparatively little, though it is worth noting that with monstrosity costs in the mix, it is pretty tough to both activate the ability and attack or block in the same turn, so it isn't completely without use even later.

How do we get value from this card? Well, chances are nobody is picking it super early, we just need to find the right home for it. The best shell is probably in an aggressive white deck, such as red white heroic. Here, the early tempo play of disrupting an early blocker is particularly valuable, as your early turns are the best turns for getting in damage. If we can grab these on the lap then they are certainly worth a look.

Daring Thief

Daring Thief

The ability on the rare Daring Thief is a complicated one. Switching control of permanents looks kind of symmetrical, but in point of fact there is lots of opportunity to switch your worst permanent for one of your opponents' best. This is powerful, and as such deserves a second look. Could this be a 'build around me' rare? If so, what are the other pieces of the puzzle, and how highly might we have to pick them?

This is the quandry that Swedish Hall of Famer Olle Rade has challenged himself with. Is the thief a 'build around' card? Your best chance of being able to make it work is to first pick it in pack one and then work on engineering the right way of making it shine, but is that worth it?

Tomoharu Saito managed to get one in the second draft of the competition, and has paired it with a couple of copies of Akroan Mastiff to potentially get inspired action going without having to get into the red zone as an attacker. Inspired is certainly part of the challenge of a card like Daring Thief - the other part is what to swap?

A simple answer is 'your worst X for their best X'. Assuming a fairly busy board, that will be fairly good. Where things get really interesting though is in the interaction between Daring Thief and static auras. The combo that Rade was looking at was dropping a Karametra's Favor on the Thief. The aura gives it a tap ability, meaning inspired is going to get going at some point. When inspired triggers, you also now have a nice boring enchantment to give control of, in return for whatever enchantment you fancy from the other side of the board. Remember that on the plane of Theros, that might well include an enchantment creature or two!

Another great enabler suggested by Thoralf Severin is Retraction Helix. After you've already done a switch or two, how about using Retraction Helix to tap your thief, to bounce one of the permanents you've given to your opponent, so you can cast it again?

All in all, Daring Thief remains something of a challenge, but the more I see it in action, the more it seems like a challenge worth undertaking. There's plenty of value there.

Sunday, 3:33 p.m. – 3-0 Draft Decks

by Tobi Henke

Especially with Pro Tour Journey into Nyx looming on the horizon, players all over the world may be quite interested to know what kind of deck it actually takes to go 3-0 in draft. Well, we can show you ...

This is one for the data miners. I'm sure there is more information to be gained from analyzing these lists in detail, however one thing is apparent even at a quick glance, and that is green! Of 16 players, only four managed to win their three rounds without green. In fact, the number of people who had ten or more Forests in their deck was greater than the number of players who had zero!

Ivan Floch (3-0)

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Nicolas Vanderhallen (3-0)

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Javier Dominguez (3-0)

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Ben Yu (3-0)

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Steve Hatto (3-0)

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Richard Jana (3-0)

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Bernd Brendemühl (3-0)

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Robin Dolar (3-0)

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Fabrizio Anteri (3-0)

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Marek Tichý (3-0)

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Christian Berkemeier (3-0)

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Lukáš Dušek (3-0)

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Léo Carbonell (3-0)

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