Feature: Draft 1, Pod 1 Analysis

Posted in Event Coverage on December 9, 2010

By Event Coverage Staff

Complementing the Draft Viewer from the first Scars of MIrrodin Booster Draft here at Worlds, we checked in with each player before and after their three rounds of play to see what they thought of their decks.

Seat 1: Ivan Floch

By Ray Walkinshaw

Ivan Floch's draft didn't exactly start with a bang, as he found himself all but forced to pick a blue card downstream of well-known blue drafter Guillaume Wafo-Tapa.

"I knew he liked blue, and there were some okay red cards, but I didn't feel like any other cards were better than Darkslick Drake," Floch admitted. He felt his deck was okay after pack one, but the Myr Battlesphere waiting in pack two gave his deck direction.

"As soon as I picked the second Riddlesmith (over a Chrome Steed) I felt like it was a mistake, but then I remembered that I want to draw to the Battlesphere," he laughed. His instincts served him well, as his deck had only one actual metalcraft card in it in the end.

How did he think he'd go? "3-0, I hope! But 2-1 would be more realistic."

Ivan Floch, 2-1

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And realistic it was. After blitzing Mario Castillo and Pierre Canali 2-0 apiece, he finally succumbed to Brian Kibler in three games. “He had the worst deck, but… he beat me.”

Seat 2: Pierre Canali

By Tim Willoughby

Pierre Canali sat down with a 6-0 record for the draft, but with only a handful of drafts in experience of the format. He had been undefeated in a Day 1 at the Pro Tour before, when he won Columbus, but for this event, he was entering Day 2 with a whole new format to work with.

With this in mind, Canali's plan was fairly straight-forward. Pierre was looking to take the powerful cards and removal, relying on power to defeat the sorts of synergies that he did not have the necessary format knowledge to shoot for. A first-pick Argent Sphinx set him on a path toward blue, which he followed where he could. While an early Arrest tempted Pierre toward white, red offered better removal in the form of an early Turn to Slag.

Pierre Canali, 1-2

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One of the biggest regrets that Canali had for his draft was in picking a Darksteel Juggernaut over a Turn to Slag. Inexperience in the format meant that he did not properly value the rare, which he would happily have traded for another removal spell. In spite of all Canali's own suggestions that he was still learning the format, he did have a few nice synergies to exploit in his deck, including the nice endgame plan of Liquimetal Coating and Barrage Ogre, for consistent fuel to throw around as necessary

Seat 3: Mario Castillo

By Bill Stark

Setting in to watch the first pod of the first draft this weekend I found myself standing behind Ecuador's Mario Castillo. At every World Championships, there are players who find themselves qualified for the Pro Tour via their National Championship, cutting their teeth at the PT's marquee event without any warm-ups during the regular season. Often times these players find themselves in deep water as the seasoned pros start circling, the fresh smell of blood strong in the water.

I thought that might be Mario's situation, but quickly learned in chatting with him that he was a far more self-aware player than his unknown status indicated. The 33-year-old programmer is his country's national champion, a title he held five years ago as well, again when the World Championships were held in Japan. In fact, his is the first DCI number ever registered in the country of Ecuador. He had managed to get to 5-1 by taking a gamble and playing a Valakut deck heavily biased towards beating the mirror at the risk of losing to "anything else." The gamble paid off as Mario faced the mirror four times, getting lucky and beating a RUG deck in another match. That left him 5-1 and in 8th place from the first day.

His strategy for the draft? Another gamble: poison. "I knew I'd be playing against big names who couldn't afford to ignore that strategy, but I had to take a chance," Mario explained to me. He opened on Embersmith, but quickly abandoned the red card for Contagion Clasp, then Contagious Nim. By the end of the draft he'd find two more copies of the 2/2 Nim in his deck as well as some Tel-Jilad Fallen, a Liquimetal Coating to go with the 3/1s, and a few other poison cards as well.

Mario Castillo, 1-2

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How did he feel about his deck overall? "I think it's pretty good, but it could use more removal and two-drops," Castillo explained. With two other Infect players at the table, it wasn't a surprise Mario felt his deck was missing a few playables. In the second pack he had opened a Myr Battlesphere as a rare, the type of card that might make other players' eyes bulge. "I picked Iron Myr instead. The Battlesphere is good, but it takes my deck in a whole 'nother direction, and at seven mana I might not be able to cast it," said Mario.

Did the Ecuadorean have any regrets about his deck decisions? "I wouldn't have played Argentum Armor; I should have played Accorder's Shield instead. It's SO good in infect decks. I played Relic Putrescence as a proxy removal spell, but I should have known people would have prevented it from getting online."

Seat 4: Ian Chung

By Rashad Miller

While Ian's deck doesn't easily fit into any of the major draft archetypes, I believe it to be a solid collection of picks. Most noticeable of these were the Indomitable Archangel he opened in pack two and the Myr Battlesphere he was passed in pack three. Even without counting these powerhouses, Ian could maintain a presence on the ground with token generators while taking to the air with a pair of Kemba's Skyguards.

Ian's deck looked to be light on actual removal. Aside from an Arrest, he really didn't have any way to deal with a non-artifact creature threat. This could turn out to be an issue if he faced any creatures that don't need to attack him to be problematic. Only time would tell, but I think Ian will win most games on the back of Myr Battlesphere.

Ian Chung, 0-3

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Ian told me how he considers himself a very open-minded drafter. Instead of going in with a set archetype in mind, he lets the card quality of the cards in the packs determine what he would be playing. He settled on white-green during the middle of pack two and was excited to get passed Myr Galvanizer for his green-white tokens deck pack three. His strategy while building his deck was to stall the ground with Myr and Insect token while winning through the air. This plan, though great in theory, did not pan out.

Brian Kibler's mono-blue deck was full of fliers, all of which were bigger than Ian's, and were able to ignore the forces on the ground. His next two opponents were both infect decks and Ian admitted his inability to keep creatures on the board in this match up. When I asked how the Battlesphere was for him, he replied that he wasn't able to cast it in any of his matches despite playing 17 land.

Seat 5: Eric Froehlich

By Brian David-Marshall

Eric came into the draft hoping to force Infect and took a Grasp of Darkness over his other considerations—Riddlesmith and Cerebral Eruption—but did not see anything that allowed him to pursue that strategy in the next few picks. He took Darksteel Axe second and fourth and that really dictated the remainder of the draft for him. He picked up Bloodshot Trainees, Sunspear Shikaris, and evasive Kemba's Skyguardsfor the rest of the draft. It seemed like he might be the only white drafter at the table when, in pack two, he got an eighth-pick Arrest and tabled Auriok Edgewright but the player to his right was heavily in white. Eric was in visible agony when he was passed—and subsequently passed—Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon second pick in the third pack.

He was not thrilled with how his deck turned out despite not feeling like there was much he could have done differently.

"Grasp of Darkness was the right pick," said Eric of his wasted first pick. "In hindsight I wish it was Cerebral Eruption but Grasp was correct. If one of the Turn to Slags in my deck was actually a Galvanic Blast I would feel much better about the deck."

Eric Froehlich, 2-1

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While Eric was pessimistic coming away from the build period his deck performed beyond his expectations in the three rounds of play. He lost the first round to a land heavy draw when just about any spell would have won him the critical third game. Watching the next two rounds his deck delivered on the promising combinations between his pair each of Darksteel Axe, Sunspear Shikari, and Bloodshot Trainee. In the final round, paired against Pierre Canali he was able to toss his Axe back and forth between a Shikari—to catch up on lost loss—and the Trainee—to shoot down Pierre's superior air force.

Seat 6: Lukas Jaklovsky

by Monty Ashley

Lukas Jaklovsky frequently flipped back and forth between two cards before making a pick in the first draft of Worlds 2010. Here's a look at the cards he chose between in each pack.

Pack One

Pick One: Contagious Nim and Cystbearer. Final choice: Cystbearer
Pick Two: Cerebral Eruption and Sylvok Lifestaff. Final choice: Sylvok Lifestaff
Pick Three: Contagious Nim and Heavy Arbalest. Final choice: Heavy Arbalest
Pick Four: Chrome Steed, Clone Shell, and Tumble Magnet. Final choice: Tumble Magnet
Pick Five: Blackcleave Goblin and Sylvok Replica. Final choice: Sylvok Replica
Pick Six: Barrage Ogre and Ichorclaw Myr. Final choice: Ichorclaw Myr
Pick Seven: Carrion Call and Trigon of Infestation. Final choice: Carrion Call

Pick Eight had an Untamed Might that Jaklovsky didn't hesitate to scoop up. The rest of that pack was easy, and even the beginning of Pack Two featured picks that didn't have much competition: Skinrender as the first pick, followed by Putrefax, Vector Asp, and Painsmith. A few more decisions came up, starting at Pick Five of Pack Two.

Pack Two

Pick Five: Grafted Exoskeleton and Livewire Lash. Final choice: Grafted Exoskeleton
Pick Six: Blistergrub and Carapace Forger. Final choice: Carapace Forger
Pick Seven: Carrion Call and Trigon of Infestation. Final choice: Carrion Call -- This was the same decision Jaklovsky faced in Pick Seven of the previous pack, and he made the same call.

Pack Three

Pick One: Blight Mamba and Contagious Nim. Final choice: Contagious Nim

Pick Two had no choice at all, as Jaklovsky picked up Grasp of Darkness. Pick Three was even easier, as Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon was not only the best card in the pack, but possibly the best card Jaklovsky could have hoped for in the entire set.

Pick Four: Moriok Replica or Tainted Strike. Final choice: Tainted Strike
Pick Five: Tainted Strike was taken without even a pause to consider the Alpha Tyrranax
Pick Six: Accorder's Shield or Withstand Death. Final choice: Accorder's Shield

That was the last of the hard decisions. From then on, cards like Strider Harness (Pick 7) and Bladed Pinions (Pick 9) went straight into the pile of drafted cards without competition.

When the deck was put together, it looked like this:

Lukas Jaklovsky, 2-1

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Neither of the Alpha Tyrranaxes made it into the final 40, as there wasn't room for creatures that weren't pulling their weight. In all, there were eleven creatures in Jaklovsky's main deck (plus two Carrion Calls, and the only ones without at least conditional infect were Carapace Forger, Painsmith, and Skinrender. Because he was able to put together a high concentration of infect, two of the three Tainted Strikes had to stay in the sideboard as well.

Jaklovsky won his first match, and was 7-0 when he sat down to face Brian Kibler in a battle of the undefeateds. As you can read here, Kibler won 2-0.

Seat 7: Brian Kibler

By Kelly Digges

Brian Kibler's first draft of the weekend unfolded with mechanical precision. He started by first-picking a nice big colorless bomb in Myr Battlesphere and didn't take a nonartifact until pack 1 pick 6, letting him position himself well for a focused metalcraft strategy while staying as open as possible as far as his actual colors. As it happened, after passing an Arrest pack 2 pick 4 in favor of a less powerful card he knew he wouldn't have to splash for, he finally settled on his second color in pack 3 with a first-pick Oxidda Scrapmelter.

Kibler said that he considers flexibility a huge advantage in this format, and prefers not to splash a third color if he can help it. But mind you that's a third color of spells; he was perfectly content to "splash" the two green-mana activations on his Wall of Tanglecord duo off of a Forest and a Copperline Gorge. And since his second "main" color consisted of Oxidda Scrapmelter and four Mountains, his finished deck had rock-solid mana.

Asked how many Chrome Steeds is too many—he snapped up three—Kibler replied, "As many as you can get." He qualified this by saying that curve considerations would of course come into play at some point, and settled on six Chrome Steeds as a number he'd be more than happy to play, especially with some Myr to accelerate (of which this deck has three).

Also of note is Golden Urn, a late pick that found its way into his deck. Kibler explained that the card does good work in some decks. This deck really wants early metalcraft, ideally curving out with a turn-one artifact, a turn-two Myr, and a turn-three Chrome Steed. Kibler also noted that an early Urn can tilt a race situation firmly in his favor.

Brian Kibler, 3-0

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Seat 8: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

By Rich Hagon

Within the first three picks, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa's archetype was locked in. There was little to choose in any case over the quality infect card Cystbearer, and following up with the excellent Tangle Angler and the competent Contagious Nim saw him firmly heading down a poison route. While a critical mass of infect creatures is key, he couldn't pass up Genesis Wave pick five, a card that saw plenty of Standard action on day one.

With little coming from his right, he hoped to open good stuff in pack two, but Livewire Lash and Instill Infection were the best first two picks he could muster. Was that the time to hit the panic button? Talking after the draft rounds, Guillaume was philosophical.

"There wasn't a lot of choice early, and once you're in infect, you don't have much chance, other than to keep going all the way to the end."

The deck improved with a run during pack two that included Ichorclaw Myr, Corpse Cur, Cystbearer, Blackcleave Goblin, and Ichor Rats. However, pack three brought more unexcitement, as Blight Mamba pick three was arguably the best of his entire third pack series of drafts. As he built his deck, it was clear that Guillaume was unexcited.

"I'm missing plenty of two drops, so I'm kind of the poison control deck, but without any control cards. That means I may struggle."

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, 1-2

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And he did, ending up 1-2. Good job he went 6-0 on Day 1...

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