Finals Draft: Illuminati vs. Prodigy

Posted in Event Coverage on June 1, 2003

By Aaron Forsythe

By this point, you know who these two teams are, even if you didn't know at the beginning of the weekend. If you don't know, please go back and enjoy the rest of our fine coverage before proceeding.

A: Justin Gary
B: Zvi Mowshowitz
C: Alex Shvartsman

A: Jamie Duguid
B: Charlie Gindy
C: Manny Orellana

Zvi opened the first pack and split the two good removal cards—Solar Blast and Infest—between himself and Alex. Normally Illuminati likes to be reactive—see where the other team wants to put its colors—before locking in any major decisions. But removal cards go in all decks, so their options were open.

Prodigy, on the other hand, has a recipe for success. Duguid almost always drafts green, Gindy blue, and Orellana black. They split and splash other colors based on what they open, but generally prefer to stick to the plan.

Of course, people that stick to the plan should be easy pickin's for Illuminati.

Duguid took Wirewood Savage from that first pack, sending a strong signal to Illuminati that he was going to be the "Beast Guy." Gindy took Lavamancer's Skill next, again sending a strong signal, and Orellana took a Haunted Cadaver.

That left a Riptide Biologist and a Lonely Sandbar for Gary—perfect reacting. By getting a "free" Biologist, Illuminati was already up a good card on Prodigy and could start shaping their other decks to fit the matchups.

Zvi went into a conniption fit when pack two was opened. Alex had to choose from Slice and Dice, Akroma's Vengeance, Cruel Revival, and Riptide Shapeshifter. Not wanting to commit to another color, Alex sucked it up and took Cruel Revival. Even though the other team got the lion's share of the goodies, at least Illuminati would get a good read on what colors they were going to be. Duguid took Wirewood Savage number two, Gindy grabbed the Slice and Dice, and Orellana did a silly little dance as he deliberately put the Vengeance in his pile. Oddly enough, Gary did not take the Shapeshifter (which ended up in Zvi's sideboard), but instead took a pair of Soldiers, Daru Lancer and Pearlspear Courier. Zvi picked up a Battering Craghorn off the floor and put it in his draft pile, and wondered where all the good cards went.

Duguid took a Symbiotic Elf from pack three, hinting subtly at green-black, and then Gindy showed he was indeed red-blue with Ascending Aven. Orellana then took the techy Anurid Murkdiver, which was a problem for Shvartsman.

All the players stuck to their colors in the next pack except Shvartsman who took an Erratic Explosion. Perhaps he and Zvi could split the red on Illuminati's side.

In pack six, Shvartsman took Prowling Pangolin over Nantuko Husk, shipping the Husk to Duguid. It was a tough pick, especially since the Husk is very good in green-black, but Gary had no problem letting Duguid have the 2/2.

Gary opened the first Legions pack and had a slew of good blue-white cards to choose from. He took the rare Essence Sliver, giving Duguid a White Knight and Gindy an Echo Tracer. The next pack was more goods for Prodigy: a Windborn Muse for Orellana and a Frenetic Raptor for Gindy that should be amazing against Zvi's red-green Beasts.

Later, Gindy passed on a second Raptor, perhaps not appreciating how nuts it is. Instead he took a Macetail Hystrodon, allowing Shvartsman to get the 6/6.

The biggest bomb in the set went to Gary in the form of Chromeshell Crab. Then it was on to Scourge.

Alex added the "good" Zombies to his deck—Zombie Cutthroat and Putrid Raptor—but the bad new was that Orellana added a Silver Knight to his two White Knights. The rest of Scourge went relatively uneventfully, with Zvi getting a Decree of Annihilation on the wheel at one point, and Orellana getting a Decree of Justice late to further Torment Shvartsman.

After the draft, Illuminati we very happy with their decks, although they thought Alex would have serious problems with all of his opponent's Knights. Granted, Justin said he's played so much today that he's having trouble remembering what his opponent has.

I believe that Illuminati's reactive strategy worked as well as it ever could in this draft, and that they have the advantage in two of the matchups. Of course, Prodigy is the team with all the mass removal, which gives them the ability to steal matches. I predict that Illuminati will win 2-1.

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