New vs. old, youth vs. experience. The contrasts between these two teams are as obvious as Kai Budde's chances of victory on Sunday. Les Plus Class only feature one player, Nicolas Olivieri, with more than one Pro Tour appearance, while the Germans have four Pro Tour victories between them. The question of the contrasts in their draft styles and which is more effective would be answered in just a few moments. Les Plus Class won the coin toss and chose to receive, then the first pack was opened.
With the Germans showing a propensity for putting blue-black-based control decks in the B seat all through the tournament, the first pack provided easy answers, with Baberowski taking Annihilate and Budde choosing Benalish Trapper. The French made some unusual decisions, with Amiel taking Pouncing Kavu and his countrymen taking two blue-black cards, Urborg Emissary and Recoil respectively. Blume selected Death or Glory and Dream Thrush as his opening picks and color scheme was set. Pack two offered Kai a tough choice: Blazing Specter or Zanam Djinn? He and Dirk argued with a flurry of gestures before Dirk finally conceded to the choice of Zanam in what would likely be a base-green deck, with Amiel the beneficiary, receiving the rare.
Pack three saw Les Plus Class take Shivan Zombie for the red-black deck, leaving Agonizing Demise for Gabriel, with Nicolas taking Fertile Ground for what would assuredly be a five-color deck, as proved next pack when he took Scorching Lava, the best card in the pack. When he then opened his own pack, he immediately seized Harrow, leaving no doubt. The Germans got three solid picks, including Faerie Squadron for Dirk and were then pleased with Marco's pack, which rewarded them with Repulse, Agonizing demise and Kavu Titan, but they chose to pass the Titan, giving Kai the Demise and Dirk Vodalian Zombie. This left Kavu Chameleon and the Titan for Olivieri; who had to be pleased with that wheel.
After one pack, the A match up appeared to be in Amiel's favor despite a good color match for Marco, while Dirk appeared to have a slight advantage in his blue-black mirror and Kai the slight disadvantage thanks to Nicolas' mana diversity and those two late fatties.
Pack two wasn't kind to the Germans, with Marco taking Silver Drake, leaving Allied Strategies, Phyrexian Scuta and Terminate for the French. Les Plus Class' good luck continued, with their first Planeshift pack containing Stormscape Battlemage and Cavern harpy, which were picked in that order. Kai managed to pick up what was sure to be an outstanding Slay, but it was starting to become obvious that the Frenchmen were just getting better luck with these packs, suggesting they were fortunate to have chosen to go against convention in receiving.
The next pack was no better for the Germans, with Gabriel and Amiel getting Rushing River and Voice of All while leaving nothing of substance for their opponents. Amiel's pack was somewhat weak, but he wisely took Bog Down over Lava Zombie, which none of his opponents could play for the moment, but Dirk decided to take it, potentially leaning towards a splash in red.
Kai's Planeshift pack paid the Germans dividends in the form of Hunting Drake for Kai and Cavern Harpy for Dirk, while the French seemed to have some communications problems, with Nassif taking a card Amiel wanted. Things got a little worse for them when Dirk picked a Terminate and Marco a Magma Burst a pack later, but the pack was a good one, with a number of solid cards left over.Les Plus Class drafts
After two sets, the advantage seemed to belong to the French, who had definitely out-opened the Germans, but the Foundation's strategy appeared to have put Marco in very good shape going into Apocalypse, as he was the only pure red-white player at the table and also had blue-red cards as an option.
Apocalypse started satisfactorily for the Foundation, with Dirk taking Razorfin Hunter, leaving Kai AEther Mutation. Nicolas' five-color strategy seemed to be paying off with Cromat, and things got even better for the French a pack later, when Kai's Lay of the Land pick left Gerrard, Phyrexian Rager and Minotaur Illusionist for the French.
After an uneventful third Apocalypse pack, the French got another strong pack that saw Nicolas take a second pick Coalition Honor Guard, the veteran of Les Plus Class opened and took Ebony Treefolk, passing Jilt to Dirk, with Kai getting his second Lay of the Land. In the final pack, the Germans gained some measure of hope, with Marco getting the much-feared Raka Sanctuary, Dirk a Degavolver and Kai a Penumbra Bobcat, but overall the draft didn't go well despite their outmaneuvering the French in the A seat while the other seats were mirrors. Time will tell if the more established Germans, with experience, skill and Kai Budde's day three blessing on their side, will be able to prevail over the superior card stockpile of the French.