We're at the halfway mark of Worlds, and the perverbial wheat is being separated from the chaff. The eight players at table 1 had each proven that they could both draft and play Standard.
Cast of Characters:
- Jan Tomcani - Slovak National team member who finished 9th at Pro Tour Barcelona. He was the last undefeated player in the tournament, dropping his first match 2-1 to Tom van de Logt in round 9.
- Dave Humpherys - the Hump helped Team Your Move Games to a win at Grand Prix-Columbus a week and a half ago, coming from behind to win the third game of the final match. He's a PT champion (also as a member of Team YMG) and also has an individual PT Top 8. He went 3-0 from table 3 to earn his seat at the top table.
- Antoine Ruel - Ruel is more known for his achievements as one third of team Black Ops, but he and his brother Olivier have both been having individual successes as well, though mostly on the Grand Prix circuit, not the Pro Tour itself. Ruel was on table 1 for the first draft as well, and went 3-0.
- John Ormerod - Ormerod is widely regarded as probably the best player in England, and certainly the best drafter. He has a Top 8 at PT Mainz (which was Rochester draft) on his resume, plus a 9th place at Chicago '99 with Cocoa Pebbles. He's a crucial cog of the playtesting machine that has turned out the top deck at each of the last two constructed Pro Tours and he went 3-0 at draft Table 4 to earn his seat here. Ormerod actually hasn't lost yet this Worlds, but he does have 2 draws.
- Tom van de Logt - The Dutch National Champ has his country tied for first in the team competition and has himself in position to put up a second consecutive Worlds Top 8. He also went 3-0 at table 1 last draft. (Because not everyone had the same record and the Swiss pairings are based on overall records, he and Ruel weren't paired against each other and were both able to 3-0 the same table.)
- Jon Finkel - Um, this guy finished 3rd in the juniors portion of PT-Columbus. And he did some other stuff too, including a 3-0 record at table 2 in the first draft.
- George Kapalas - The Greek National Champion has led his team to a first place tie in the team competition (with the Netherlands). He went 2-1 at table 3 this morning (losing only to Humpherys) and snuck onto table 1 as the 7-2 player with the best tiebreakers. His two previous PT performances include 159th at Worlds last year and 37th at Barcelona.
- Gab Tsang - Tsang is defending his home turf this weekend. Not only is he Canadian, he's actually from Toronto. Tsang has two PT Top 8's on his resume along with a Worlds team title (the only year the USA didn't win it, his team Canada did). He announced his return to the Pro Tour with authority in Columbus a week and a half ago with a 3rd place performance. He 3-0ed table 5 and is the only player in the field with 22 points, good enough for 7th place.
|DH||Zap||Fight or Flight|
|AR||Explosive Growth||Llanowar Calvalry|
|JO||Vodalian Serpent||Wings of Hope|
|vdL||Viashino Grappler||Essence Leak|
|GK||Yavimaya Kavu||Strength of Unity|
Tomcani got the only really good card from this pack, and everyone else was much more interested in signaling than actually drafting cards they intended to play with.
|JF||Wordly Counsel||Turf Wound|
|GT||Cursed Flesh||Vodalian Hypnotist|
Ruel followed up his third pick Explosive Growth with a second pick Harrow and everyone at the table knew exactly what he intended to do. Humpherys predisposition toward drafting blue probably would have sent him this way even if he hadn't opened Faerie Squadron.
|JT||Marauding Knight||Thunderscape Apprentice|
|GK||Obsidian Acolyte||Explosive Growth|
It's interesting that Ruel, planning to draft all five colors, felt Exclude was the best card in this pack. Plague Spitter does kill elves, I suppose. Ormerod seemed delighted at the opportunity to add it to his own red-black deck.
Finkel continued to position himself for black and blue .
|JT||Kavu Scout||Dismantling Blow|
|DH||Tsabo Tavoc||Coastal Tower|
|AR||Fertile Ground||Hypnotic Cloud|
Ormerod's Demise pick was pretty easy. Van de Logt had a lot of options, but with black-red on one side of him and blue-black on the other, he had a really good seat for green so he went with Pincer Spider. I and the other spectators all thought this was a wise move, though the packs never did reward him. Everyone stuck to their colors for the rest of the pack, but no one seemed to want the expensive Tsabo Tavoc until Humpherys finally drafted it, figuring it would probably end up in his sideboard.
|DH||Vodalian Merchant||Capashen Unicorn|
|AR||Fertile Ground||Urborg Skeleton|
|GT||Phyrexian Reaper||Aggressive Urge|
Another straight-forward pack where everyone stuck to their gameplan. Poor Jan Tomcani didn't have much of a gameplan, though. Since he had to draft first, all he really had was that one Demise. He spent the rest of his picks just taking whatever scraps were left on the table, but there just weren't many yet.
|AR||Crimson Acolyte||Urborg Skeleton|
|JO||Nightscape Apprentice||Cursed Flesh|
|vdL||Explosive Growth||Aggressive Urge|
Finkel had managed to stick to just two colors up to this point - black and blue. He didn't seem as excited about Pyre Zombie as he might have been, since it meant adding a third color already, but that's precisely what he did. He certainly wasn't going to pass the broken rare to someone else. Tomcani grabbed the Thornscape Apprentice that no one around him was really in a position to play. Angelic Shield 5th was just the beginning of Dave Humpherys' blue-white adventures.
|vdL||Kavu Scout||Sunscape Apprentice|
Tomcani finally got another good card, adding Reckless Spite to his deck. The real news in this pack was Finkel absolutely destroying Tom van de Logt, savagely counter-drafting his Quirion Trailblazer. While many players think Rochester is all about playing nice, Finkel adamantly refuses to hand late pick gifts to his neighbors. He and Mike Turian got into a well-publicized argument about a very similar pick at U.S. Nationals this summer. Finkel's theory is that if you let your neighbor "bounce" cards off of you when you're the wheel, they'll take advantage of you by drafting a card of the color you share first, expecting to get back the card they really want 10th because you aren't playing that color. Here you see that van de Logt took Kavu Scout, which Finkel could in theory have played since he's black-red-blue, hoping Finkel will give him back the Trailblazer. But Finkel would have none of that.
|JT||Darigaaz, the Igniter|
|vdL||Armadillo Cloak||Llanowar Calvalry|
|JF||Sparring Golem||Phyrexian Battleflies|
|GK||Samite Archer||Samite Ministrations|
Gab Tsang had also managed to survive to his first pick with only black and blue cards in his stack of drafted cards. He busted a dragon and spent the full 30 seconds thumbing through his cards, trying to figure out if he wanted to add not one, but two colors in order to play Darigaaz. Tsang decided the answer was "no" and suddenly Tomcani's deck had direction. Meanwhile van de Logt got an Armadillo Cloak because Ruel preferred Kavu Climber. Samite Archer lasted all the way to the wheel, and I'm not sure whether Kapalas will play it in his base-green deck or not.
By the end of Invasion the table had 4 green drafters - everyone in an odd numbered seat was green.
|GK||Ancient Spider||Sunscape Familiar|
|vdL||Horned Kavu||Steel Leaf Paladin|
|JO||Bog Down||Thunderscape Familiar|
|AR||Darigaaz's Charm||Gaea's Might|
|JT||Kavu Recluse||Samite Pilgrim|
Darigaaz wasn't worth adding red and green for, but Flametongue Kavu was certainly worth adding red for Gab Tsang. Kapalas preferred to keep his colors sane (and Ancient Spider is just plain good) so Finkel got a nice third pick Terminate. Van de Logt took aggression over power with Horned Kavu in his green deck, not Darigaaz's Charm. Humpherys' 7th pick Hobble may sound good, but just wait and see what's coming.
|GT||Death Bomb||Kavu Recluse|
|JT||Lava Zombie||Magnigoth Treefolk|
Kapalas opened the second consecutive Flametongue-Terminate pack. Finkel preferred to draft Stormscape Battlemage, so the Terminate slid all the way to Ormerod 5th. Humpherys got 6th pick Silver Drake. This pack had some serious power - note the 10th pick Magnigoth Treefolk!
|GT||Allied Strategies||Dralnu's Pet|
|GK||Steel Leaf Paladin||Stratadon|
|AR||Sea Snidd||Sisay's Ingenuity|
|JT||Gaea's Might||Aura Blast|
Not much noteworthy here. A third consecutive 4-mana red kavu goes first.
|JF||Crosis's Catacombs||Stormscape Familiar|
The first pick kavus just keep getting weaker. Humpherys takes his second Silver Drake. Finkel loves land and couldn't ask for much better than 8th pick Crosis's Catacombs.
|GT||Morgue Toad||Stormscape Familiar|
|GK||Treva's Charm||Death Bomb|
|JF||Terminal Moraine||Sea Snidd|
|vdL||Amphibious Kavu||Pollen Remedy|
|AR||Nemata, Grove Guardian|
Yet another Silver Drake for Humpherys, this one over a Rushing River, which Tomcani took, finishing his Darigaaz-deck's migration into a fully five color green build despite not having much in the way of mana fixers. Ruel was the one 5-color mage who actually seemed to have the fixers to support it, so he got to take a powerful green card.
|GK||Horned Kavu||March of Souls|
|vdL||Gaea's Might||Stone Kavu|
|JO||Kavu Recluse||Sisay's Ingenuity|
|DH||Voice of All|
Another good card for the 5-color Frenchman. Another great flier for Humpherys.
|GT||Nightscape Familiar||Malicious Advice|
|GK||Slingshot Goblin||Steel Leaf Paladin|
|vdL||Aura Blast||March of Souls|
|JO||Lava Zombie||Dromar's Cavern|
|AR||Phyrexian Bloodstock||Arctic Merfolk|
|vdL||Quirion Explorer||Steel Leaf Paladin|
|JO||Slingshot Goblin||Mogg Jailer|
|DH||Silver Drake||Treva's Charm|
Yes that really is an 8th pick Silver Drake for the Hump. Yes that really is the fourth one he's drafted. It's good to be the only blue-white mage.
|vdL||Lay of the Land|
|JF||Zombie Boa||Desolation Angel|
|GK||Tundra Kavu||Bloodfire Dwarf|
|GT||Evasive Action||Mournful Zombie|
Humpherys got to Apocalypse with an amazing blue-white deck and no third color. That's the same recipe Tom van de Logt used to 3-0 table 1 in the morning draft and, like van de Logt, Humpherys dipped into red for a great power card in the first pack of Apocalypse.
Ormerod was also happy with being blue-red. Ormerod was one of three blue-black-red mages at this point. He and Finkel and Tsang each had each of those three colors.
No one at the table was capable of both casting and kicking Desolation Angel, so Finkel wound up drafting it 11th.
|JT||Temporal Spring||Tundra Kavu|
|GK||Savage Gorilla||Orim's Thunder|
Humpherys' air force just keeps getting bigger. All he really needed were some random 1 and 2-drops that he could gate with Silver Drake and/or block with to buy himself time. Those are precisely what he drafted for the rest of Apocalypse and his deck looked like it was clearly the best deck at the table.
|JT||Standard Bearer||Lay of the Land|
|DH||Reef Shaman||Vodalian Mystic|
|GK||Jungle Barrier||Raka Disciple|
|GT||Ceta Disciple||Putrid Warrior|
Ruel took his second straight early pick Phyrexian Rager. This one was first out of a pack that included several nice alternatives, including a Vindicate that - like the Desolation Angel - wound up in Jon Finkel's hands because no one else seemed to want it.
|DH||Dega Disciple||Orim's Thunder|
|JT||Manacles of Decay||Coalition Flag|
|DH||Shield of Duty and Reason||Bloodfire Infusion|
|AR||Kavu Glider||Putrid Warrior|
|JO||Bloodfire Dwarf||Unnatural Selection|
|GT||Quagmire Druid||Dega Sanctuary|
|JO||Kavu Glider||Ana Disciple|
|vdL||Orim's Thunder||Goblin Ringleader|
|*JF||Coalition Honor Guard|
Remember what I was saying about how good Humpherys' deck looked? That was before he got handed 5th pick Gerrard. I talked to Humpherys after the draft and all he could do was smile. He's usually very modest and very restrained, but he still admitted "if I don't get mana-screwed, I shouldn't lose." He wound up playing an essentially 2-color deck too - there was no reason to risk mana problems when your 2-color deck is as good as his was so all he ran was the Jilt (with Reef Shaman as his primary red source).
Finkel continued his drift into white with a first pick Coalition Honor Guard.
|AR||Ana Disciple||Necra Disciple|
|JO||Zombie Boa||Gerrard's Verdict|
|vdL||Brass Herald||Orim's Thunder|
|JF||Grave Defiler||Kavu Glider|
Kapalas got a dragon for his green deck. When you can pay all their kickers, the Volvers are just as good as the Invasion dragon legends.
|JT||Lay of the Land|
|JO||Phyrexan Gargantua||Raka Disciple|
|vdL||Penumra Wurm||Dwarven Landslide|
|JF||Goblin Legionnaire||Ceta Disciple|
|GK||Squee's Embrace||Angelfire Crusader|
Rager goes first again and Tomcani follows up with a mana fixer that he desperately needed. Finkel's drift into white is complete with this late Goblin Legionnaire. The defending World Champ will be taking a 4-color non-green deck into battle for the last three rounds of Day 2. His only mana fixers are 1) a Terminal Moraine, 2) a triple land, and 3) crossing his fingers. He seemed unhappy with the packs that were opened near him, claiming that several ran out of quality picks right before they got to him. He did seem happy about the prospect of riding Desolation Angel to some splashy victories, though.
All in all Humpherys seemed to have the best deck and I expect him to be in first place when Day 2 is over. The two green decks that were drafted next to Finkel (van de Logt and Kapalas) seemed to be the weakest decks at the table, followed in weakness by Finkel's, just because of its mana problems.
There you go, folks, the best of the best showing what they can do in the toughest draft format the Pro Tour has ever seen.