While the great and the good were asleep in their beds, getting much-needed sleep ahead of the first day of the GB National Championships, there was still action going on back at the Ponds Forge in Sheffield, our venue this year – the Last Chance Qualifier was underway. As the clock chimed midnight we confirmed our final entrants into the main event and the Top 18 players in the LCQ could look forward to a few short hours of sleep before returning to the fray.
As the first four standard rounds drew to a close I went to catch up with one of the Last Chance Qualifiers to see how he was getting on – the broad-shouldered veteran of many years of Magic, Mark Voisey, who had missed out on 2010 Nationals by losing the final round of the LCQ but gone one better this year. Firstly, how did he wind up in the LCQ?
"I only went to one qualifier, unfortunately because of work commitments. I'm a referee for a few sports – Football, Rugby, Cricket – so I don't get many weekends to go to qualifiers. That left me Last Chance Qualifying again."
How did the LCQ go?
"Last year I was playing Jund, I think, and yeah – I lost on the last round. This time I've brought Cawblade and made it in, scraping through in 18th place! I was on 5-1-2, only losing once but playing out two draws. The round that I lost I felt really unlucky about, actually – it was against Valakut and I was sat there with presence on the board, and Flashfreeze in hand, thinking that I could counter anything he did anyway... and he played Karn, the one card in his deck I couldn't counter. Then he followed that with a Slagstorm, and yeah... that was that."
How have you gone on today, in the main event?
"I'm on 3-1, so overall I've gone 8-2-2 and yeah, I'm chuffed to bits. My only loss was to Red Deck Wins, which is a pretty awful match – I had Mental Misstep for Goblin Guide, but he had the other 1-drops, Grim Lavamancer and Spikeshot Elder, and they just destroyed me. But aside from that it's gone well – I beat a Grand Arbiter artifact deck, won a mirror match, and my first round was against a sort of Aggro Pod deck. I really like Cawblade – I picked it up just before Jace and Stoneforge Mystic got banned, and people were just outplaying me all the time. But since then I've learnt the deck and I think I play it well. It's a good all-rounder, like it can be aggressive when it needs to be, or it can be controlling. It's a really good deck, but everyone already knows that. My version is pretty standard, but I think most people are playing 26-27 lands and I'm just running 25 after I saw Gerry T's deck, so I have a couple more big guys at the top end than other Cawblade decks. So far I haven't regretted that."
So you're happy with Standard, how is your draft?
"I drafted a bunch of M12 online so I'm pretty confident. I really like the format, actually. I'm going to try and go bloodthirst red, get two Goblin slingers... but I that doesn't work then I'm happy with U/W flyers. Basically white and anything is good. I've actually drafted mono-black a few times online and been successful with that too, because everybody leaves black alone and you can make cards like Consume Spirit and Drifting Shade really powerful. I'm really looking forward to the draft, but I'm just taking each game as it comes."