Feature: Top 8 Draft Analysis

Posted in Event Coverage on June 13, 2011

By Steve Sadin

Wondering what happened during the Top 8 draft that enabled David Sharfman to build a deck that was able to go 9-0 in games and earn himself a Pro Tour trophy to go next to the Grand Prix Paris trophy that he earned a few months earlier? Want to know why Gaudenis Vidugiris, Elie Pichon, and Tsuyoshi Fujita were all scrambling for playables?

Then read on, and don't forget to check out the draft viewer for even more information on the only Pro Tour Top 8 booster draft of the year!


Toshiyuki Kadooka

Kadooka first-picked a Phyrexian Ingester, then grabbed a couple of Glissa's Scorns before getting passed a pack that contained Grim Affliction, Entomber Exarch, Caress of Phyrexia, and Blind Zealot. Taking this as a clear signal that black was open, Kadooka grabbed the Entomber Exarch, suggesting that he wanted to draft a very controlling deck. Kadooka opened up a Thopter Assembly in pack 2, and spent the rest of his draft sculpting his deck to the point where he would reliably be able to win long games with his two bomb rares.

From that point on Kadooka was solidly in black, but he bounced around a bit between green and blue, eventually ending up with a controlling black-green deck splashing a bit of blue off of three Islands and two copies of Viridian Emissary.

Kadooka brought down Luis Scott-Vargas in the quarterfinals thanks to his Thopter Assembly as well as his ability to protect his late-game spells with Entomber Exarch and Spellskite. Kadooka then swept Elie Pichon before some slow and/or mana-light draws saw him fall to David Sharfman in three quick games in the finals.


Fabian Thiele

Thiele started off his draft with a Sheoldred, Whispering One and then followed it up with a bunch of good black cards, including two Grim Afflictions and two Blind Zealots. A Kuldotha Flamefiend in pack 2 prompted Thiele to move into red, and while Elspeth Tirel might have momentarily tempted him to switch into white as his second color, Turn to Slag was enough to keep him in black-red.

Thiele wound up with a very solid black-red control deck that he used to defeat Gaudenis Vidugiris in a dramatic five-game match before falling to eventual champion David Sharfman in the semis.


Pat Cox

Cox spent his first pack taking a bunch of black removal spells, a Caress of Phyrexia, and a Porcelain Legionnaire. He spent pack 2 doing much of the same. He didn't move into his second color until Scars of Mirrodin, when he moseyed into green in order to pick up a bunch of dinosaurs, including three Alpha Tyrranaxes.

Pat definitely had a strong deck, but he had a very slow curve, which he was ultimately punished for in his quarterfinal match against Elie Pichon.


David Sharfman

Sharfman started off his draft with a Shrine of Loyal Legions, and then found himself in blue from the moment that he got passed a second-pick Phyrexian Ingester. With his third pick, Sharfman had the choice between Grim Affliction and Porcelain Legionnaire and ultimately chose the 3/1 first striker in order to leave his options open. Sharfman then spent the rest of the pack taking blue cards, artifacts and a couple of stray white cards.

When Sharfman opened a Kuldotha Flamefiend he decided that it was time to move into red, a decision that was more than validated when he got passed a fourth-pick Into the Core.

While Sharfman ended up scraping a little bit for playables, running Auriok Replica and Blade Sentinel in his blue-red deck, it was clear going into the Top 8 that he had one of the strongest decks at the table. He ended up having little difficulty fighting his way to the top, becoming only the third person to go undefeated in games in the Top 8 of a Pro Tour.


Luis Scott-Vargas

Scott-Vargas spent his first few picks taking solid black cards such as Pith Driller, Blind Zealot, Whispering Specter, and Grim Affliction and passing equally impressive white cards on to his left. When Luis took Pestilent Souleater and Caress of Phyrexia with his seventh and eighth picks, he seemed to be well on his way to drafting an infect deck.

A fourth-pick Phyrexian Crusader pretty much cemented Scott-Vargas's claim to the archetype. A late Rot Wolf and an even later Phyrexian Hydra put Luis firmly into black-green. Luis also grabbed a number of good red cards, including Burn the Impure and Oxidda Scrapmelter, which made for a nice splash.

While Luis Scott-Vargas definitely had one of the strongest decks at the table, he was ultimately unable to get past Toshiyuki Kadooka's controlling green-blue-black deck in the quarterfinals.


Gaudenis Vidugiris, Elie Pichon, and Tsuyoshi Fujita

Gaudenis Vidugiris, Elie Pichon, and Tsuyoshi Fujita all went into the draft looking to play a 15-land white-based Suture Priest beatdown deck like the ones that Michael Jacob had so much success with leading up to this Pro Tour.

The results were disastrous.

Vidugiris's draft started off strong with Act of Aggression, Master Splicer, Porcelain Legionnaire, Blinding Souleater, and Remember the Fallen. At this point Vidugiris could have taken his white deck in almost any direction.

When he picked up an Inquisitor Exarch sixth (because it was the best card in the pack), and then grabbed a couple of Immolating Souleaters late, Vidugiris found himself well on his way towards drafting a white-based beatdown deck—albeit one without any Suture Priests.

Vidugiris kicked off pack 2 with a Leonin Skyhunter and a Leonin Relic-Warder, two cards that are excellent in white beatdown decks, but then things took a turn for the worse. The white cards simply dried up. Vidugiris had to third-pick a Master's Call, fourth-pick a Myr Sire, and then grab up scraps throughout the rest of the pack.

Scars of Mirrodin went a bit better for Vidugiris, as he was able to pick up a Turn to Slag and a Shatter (giving him at least some removal) and a Golem Artisan. A third-pick Strata Scythe gave his deck a very really way to win in the mid-late game.

Vidugiris never completely recovered from getting cut off in pack 2, so while he did have some good cards, his deck lacked a lot of punch.

Meanwhile, Elie Pichon and Tsuyoshi Fujita, the two players seated immediately to Vidugiris' left, also kicked things off by taking almost nothing but white cards with their first few picks. While Pichon and Fujita made out a bit better in Mirrodin Besieged than Vidugiris, they had a pretty rough time of it in Scars of Mirrodin.

Elie Pichon was able to defeat Pat Cox (who had a very slow deck) in the quarterfinals, but that was the only match that any of the table's three white drafters were able to win.

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