Würzburg is a small city with 130 000 inhabitants. It is located a one and a half hour train ride from Frankfurt, right in the middle of Germany. In spring, it seems to be an intimate, green city, not totally buried in grey buildings and asphalt. High up on a Würzburg hill, you find the Festung Marienberg, an old stone fortress from the middle age which is also the most important landmark of the city. A stone-paved road leads up to the hill and the park where the fortress is located. Walls of stone, sometimes covered with small and rather chilly barred holes, greet the visitors, which include tourists from all parts of the world.
While Magic players might tend to sightsee less than other players, this year a whole lot of German players have gathered inside the oldest area of the Festung. During the middle age, the fortress avoided the biggest battles, however, this weekend, Magic players will compete in a battle to become the 2001 German National Champion. 153 people qualified for the German Nationals, two of them in the last chance qualifiers the day before the Nationals. 126 players chose to use their right to play.
Last year, Andre Konstanczer won the title. This year, he has chosen to retire from professional Magic and play for fun instead, and so he opted not to compete in the Nationals. The rest of last year's national team, Kai Budde, Jan Brinkmann and Wolfgang Eder will fight though for a new slot this year. In addition, the name-players of Germany have come to Würzburg to play. Christian Lührs, Daniel Brickwell, Dirk Baberowski, Gunnar Refsdal, Holger Meinecke, Janosch Kühn, Jim Herold, Marco Blume, Patrick Mello, Peer Kröger and Stephan Valkyser are all names that most people will recognise.
The 2001 German Nationals, or, "Deutsche Magic Meisterschaft 2001" starts off with two Rochester Drafts and six rounds of play. Then, the second day consists of six rounds of Standard with 7th Edition. Sunday is dedicated to the final playoff for the top eight players. They will take their Standard decks to the table to fight for a slot at the national team, and of course, for the National Champion title.
Little suggests that the Hofstube is the site of a major Magic tournament. Two small signs outside the entrance are all that indicates that playing will take place inside. The site itself is more Magic-ish, although still unusual. Some expansion banners hang from the wooden roof, and wooden tables cover the floor. Eight players sit around each table, concentrating on the cards that are put out in front of them. Judges, all wearing green shirts, make sure that everything runs smoothly. The first Rochester Draft has started. The dream is still alive.
"There is a very big Hamburg fraction here, with a lot of good players from Hamburg," Claudia Loroff says. Germany's most well-known female player unfortunately failed to qualify for the nationals this year, and so she ended up doing coverage instead. While she hopes that the Hamburg players will do well in the tournament, she still thinks it is hard to predict what will happen. "Normally, you will get a big surprise at the German Nationals. The team always has an unknown player. Some of the best players will be there, but they will not always win. Everybody will probably say that Kai Budde will win, but people like him never wins the German Nationals."
The Sideboard is on-site and will be giving you live coverage from the German Nationals throughout the weekend. For German-speakers, Claudia Loroff will be doing live coverage for the Forum on the Amigo website. Stay tuned for more!