by Adrian Sullivan
At the end of Day One, there were four players tied for the top position at 7-0. Pro Tour veterans Svend Geertsen, Adrian Sayers and Erno Ekebom were joined by Pro Tour freshman Wilfried Ranque. At 18 points, 11 other players joined the chase, with regulars like Jon Finkel, Scott Johns, and Trey Van Cleave close behind the leaders.
One of the big stories of Day One was the amazing success of players from Austin, Texas. With a combined 19-2 Day One record, the Austin playtest group of relative newcomer Jonathon "Sigmund" Pechon and former AustiKnights Adrian Sayers and Jeff Clark put themselves into an extremely enviable position. The Japanese players also had a good day, with over half of the competitors placing in the Top 96.
The new Day Two policy was put to the test here, as well. Where previous Pro Tours cut to the Top 96, this one would allow all players of a similar record to continue, with an unprecedented 169 people making it to Day Two through a combination of draws in the draft Pods and an unusually small number of players with a 4-2-1 record.
Mike Long put the fledgling Red Zone to another kind of test. Introduced at Pro-Tour Chicago, the Red Zone is not just a deck by Brian Kibler, it is also the name of the "active area" used in Feature Matches. Attacking creatures and spells currently on the stack are all placed in "The Red Zone" in the middle of the play area. In one feature match, Mike Long repeatedly failed to put his attacking creatures into the Red, and invited the judges to give him a warning.
"I am not going to do it. Give me a warning, whatever. I'm not playing with the Zones."
When he learned that he might receive a game loss for continuing to fail to use the Red Zone, he grumbled, "Well, you've got to do what you've got to do." But he used the Red Zone.
Finally, a Play of the Day.
At the top tables, Canadian Matt Vienneau and Pro Tour Chicago Top 8 Finisher Jay Elarar were in the midst of an important match. Vienneau's hand was empty, and his board was mostly clear, with the exception of all-important Benalish Herald and Dromar the Banisher. Elarar had no real way to deal with the Dragon in play, but he draws a Recoil for the Dromar. Now all he will have to do is wait until Vienneau tries to draw a card with the Herald, and a Recoil for Dromar will destroy it.
Instead, however, Elarar casts the Recoil immediately, giving Vienneau the chance to draw a card in response and keep his Dromar.
Vienneau sighed, returned the Dromar to his hand, and discarded it. "At the end of your turn, draw a card with Herald," he declares.
Afterwards, spectators certainly had a bit to say to both of them. Sometimes even a pair of pros can play like they are a bit new.