by Mark Wraith
Alex is a very experienced player when it comes to Day 2 of a Grand Prix. He has been to more Grand Prix than probably any one else in the world, and he has definitely made more Top 8s than anyone else. He finished on tenth place after the first day, meaning that he would be drafting on the second table. He drafted between Olle Råde, and Janosch Kühn. This seating position could be quite good for Alex, as along with many other of the American drafters, he likes to draft Black and Blue in particular, whereas Olle, who would be passing to him in boosters one and three, likes Green cards, both in Limited and Constructed.
Still, the first pick of booster one did not go the way Alex might have hoped. He had a choice between Exotic Curse and Wash Out, both of which are in the colors that he hoped to play. Most players would consider Wash Out to be the better card, and this is what Alex took. However, Olle Råde had first-picked a Rainbow Crow, over cards such as Scorching Lava and Plague Spores. If Olle continued to pick blue cards then Alex would have been forced to change colors to a combination that he does not like as much as Black/Red.
Luckily for him, Olle found a card in the colors that he prefers to draft in the second booster, with a Sabertooth Nishoba. The Nishoba is a good card for Green/White, but I imagine that most players would have committed to black/blue at this point, as there was a Spite and Malice in this booster. Alex picked the Plague Spores that Olle had passed in booster one, and then of course picked up the Spite and Malice. Olle continued to pass black and blue cards, and further commit to green and white. Alex managed to pick up a Probe, a Rainbow Crow and a couple of Opts. At this point the was light on creatures, and a lot rested on what cards Janosch had picked as this would determine how good the black and blue was for Alex in booster two.
Luckily for Alex, Janosch was White/Red/Green at this stage, which was an ideal color combination from Alex' point of view. Both of the players two to his left and two to his right were playing Black and Blue. It was possible for Janosch to pick up black and blue cards like Exclude and Agonizing Demise, to build a five color green deck, but his first pick of Kavu Climber over Spite and Malice suggested that he was quite happy with green, red, and white.
The second booster started off very well for Alex, who peeled an Exclude from the first pack, and then received Spite and Malice, then Rainbow Crow. However, the blue and black dried up surprisingly quickly, probably because the packs were simply weak in those colors. The only things he picked up in this set of boosters were a Phyrexian Reaper, a Tidal Visionary, and a pair of Ravenous Rats - these aren't bad but he was hoping for some more powerful cards, although since his deck was light on creatures after the first set of boosters, perhaps picking up these cards was better than it initially seemed.
The first booster in the third set presented Alex with a difficult choice as it contained both a Void and a Zanam Djinn. At this point the only red card that Alex had was a Plague Spores, but if he picked the Void he would be more than happy to splash red for both of those. However since he was still light on good creatures he picked the Djinn - which is basically the best non-rare creature he could get in these colors. He gets a few more good cards for his deck in the next few picks - Fact or Fiction, Urborg Shambler, Slinking Serpent and Vodalian Zombies.
When he came to build his deck, it emerged that he was still light on quality creatures, which is a problem that black/blue decks often suffer, but he had good spells. He should do well against the green/white type of deck, because of his removal spells - although he might suffer if they play an Obsidian Acolyte.
Prediction: Alex will go 2-1 in this draft.