Grand Prix–Lyon: Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on May 9, 2010

By Wizards of the Coast


Sunday, 8:15 a.m. – Drafting with Bram Snepvangers

by Rich Hagon

It's not that I don't like the idea of Bram Snepvangers first thing in the morning, but Drafting at eight o'clock? Seriously? Seriously. That's the deal if you want to be a Grand Prix Champion, with nine Rounds ahead today for the winner. On Day One, Bram put in a rock-solid performance, only losing to the rising Italian star Marcello Calvetto on his way to a 9-1 overnight mark. With Sealed banished to the backpacks, it's time for Draft to dominate. Let's take a look at how the old Dutch Master rose to the challenge.

An opening Staggershock was the only decent red card Bram saw for a long time. Joraga Treespeaker , Stomper Cub , and Kozilek's Predator seemed to cement him in green early, while he was pleased with Dreamstone Hedron at pick five. There wasn't a lot else to shout about, though, as a pair of late Skeletal Wurm s went into the pile without any real indication that he might be planning to use them anytime soon.

Pack Two began very nicely thank you with Ulamog's Crusher . While Hand of Emrakul was going around and around the table, Bram wasn't about to let the Crusher go. After Prey's Vengeance and Growth Spasm , he couldn't resist an upward twitch of an eyebrow, which is Bram body language for acute excitement, when he got passed a second Ulamog's Crusher pick four. The excitement intensified, if possible, when a small dilation of the pupils indicated the true adrenaline rush of finding Kozilek, Butcher of Truth nestling in the next selection. Once again, from there the booster tailed off quickly.

So what of the final pack? Staggershock opened, just as in booster one, but then Bram faced a horrid choice between two white cards, with nothing useful elsewhere. He took Soulbound Guardian over Dawnglare Invoker , but then things began to come together. Rage Nimbus arrived at three and four, before Vent Sentinel at six, and Battle Rampart at seven. With Puncturing Light forming a possible white splash, things were definitely improving. For a third time, though, the second half of the booster offered little.

As we headed for the build, how Bram would build his deck was still open. While it was clearly going to be red and green, there were possibilities for a white splash, a black splash, or no splash at all. Each had pitfalls, and it would be interesting to see how he finally cobbled together the last few cards.

Feature Match: Round 11 - Damien Reaubourg vs. Bram Snepvangers

by Rich Hagon

We already knew what Bram was playing, at least for the most part. For his French opponent, it would be more of a surprise.

Damien led with Caravan Escort into Knight of Cliffhaven , while Bram used Irresistible Prey as a cycler. The Caravan Escort levelled up, and Bram was at fifteen, using Sporecap Spider as his first defense. Makindi Griffin added to the pressure. Kozilek's Predator offered protection and acceleration, but Puncturing Light soon dealt with it, as Reaubourg continued to fling out monsters in what was increasingly looking like a mono-white deck., with Kor Line-Slinger up next.

When Bram laid a Plains , we knew that he'd gone with the white splash, almost certainly featuring Soulbound Guardians , Puncturing Light , and possibly Survival Cache . He cast Lagac Lizard and Joraga Treespeaker , but continued to take flying damage, leaving him at nine. Explosive Revelation was countered with Emerge Unscathed , and Reaubourg used his Kor Line-Slinger to tap down the Sporecap Spider .

Bram Snepvangers

Hyena Umbra landed on the Knight of Cliffhaven , and now Bram was at just four. Against the quick flying beats of his French opponent, there weren't many ways out of the situation, and Stomper Cub wasn't one of them. Mammoth Umbra went onto the Makindi Griffin , and that ended matters in double quick time.

Reaubourg 1 Snepvangers 0

Bram had started on the draw in the opener, and hadn't recovered, so it was no surprise when he reversed that tactic for game two. Joraga Treespeaker was just about the perfect opening, while Damien again had Caravan Escort . The Treespeaker quickly levelled up, and attacked for a princely one damage. Kor Line-Slinger continued the curve for the Frenchman, before Bram landed Rage Nimbus , potentially very good against small white men that might not want to be attacking too soon. Knight of Cliffhaven arrived for Damien, who now had a Mountain in play. A splash? Or a Sideboard plan?

With Kor Line-Slinger now able to tap the Joraga Treespeaker , Bram simply passed, leaving him room to activate his Rage Nimbus . However, Kor Line-Slinger works on any creature, and Damien used it to effectively save his own Knight of Cliffhaven from Rage Nimbus death. That should have allowed Bram access to his Joraga Treespeaker mana, but a timely Repel the Darkness in his upkeep once again kept him off the bonus mana. He had to be content with Daggerback Basilisk , and passed. Still, on the plus side, he wasn't being beaten to death.

Caravan Escort levelled up, and the Daggerback Basilisk looked to trade with the Knight of Cliffhaven . Emerge Unscathed would once again save the Knight, but this time the luck ran out, and Bram had the answer with Puncturing Light in response.

Now we were back to Treespeaker tappage, but things were looking a lot better for Bram. Damien had plenty of tricks, but he wasn't making much headway. Next was Dawnglare Invoker , and a second Kor Line-Slinger . With Daggerback Basilisk , Bram was now the beatdown, adding a second Rage Nimbus , before leveling Joraga Treespeaker a second time.

Damien Reaubourg

For the first time in the match, Damien had little to do, leveling his Caravan Escort twice, and passing. The leveling continued on both sides. When Damien attempted to get Caravan Escort to full 5/5 First Strike status, Staggershock was ready, but so was Emerge Unscathed , and the Escort achieved full threat capability.

Now the game changed somewhat, as Vent Sentinel landed for Bram, representing a three point burn spell every turn. Mammoth Umbra made Caravan Escort an 8/8 First Striker, while Dawnglare Invoker also got involved. Bram had Naturalize for the Escort, but still took seven, leaving him at a perilous five life. He was up to seven land, and the draft had shown that he had plenty of expensive spells, if only he could cast them. Those Kor Line-Slinger s were making life very awkward indeed.

In the next attack, a discrepancy arose. When Bram double blocked with his pair of Rage Nimbus (Nimbi? Nimbuses?), Staggershock allowed Damien to kill both. This surprised Bram, who believed himself to be at two, rather than the five both Damien and I believed. As he pointed out with 100% honesty, and 100% lack of self-interest, the way he worded his earlier Naturalize on the Mammoth Umbra had made it technically too late to prevent the three extra damage. While his intent, as a 'correct' play, would obviously have been to Naturalize pre-damage, his communication wasn't perfect. Ever the gentleman, Bram called a judge over to insist that he was, in fact, on just two, and that the Rebound Staggershock would end things.

Damien Reaubourg 2 Bram Snepvangers 0.

Sunday, 10:15 a.m. – Winning With Walls

by Tobias Henke

This round I was playing fly on the wall, or rather on the Walls, sitting behind 2007 player of the year Tomoharu Saito whose draft deck is mostly just that. Many, many Walls. Of his 16 creatures, only five can even attack at all. The rest are two Enclave Cryptologist and a whopping number of nine defenders. So how does a deck like that win? We’ll see.

First turn Saito had an Enclave Cryptologist , which he used on turn two to cycle away Reinforced Bulwark . Meanwhile, his opponent showed Forest s and Overgrown Battlement – no big trouble there. Guard Gomazoa built up his defenses just in case. But the fact that his opponent’s Wall would have been so much better on his side of the table, must have bugged him. So he simply took it with Domestication .

That allowed him to ramp up his Enclave Cryptologist to level three in record time. Following that he drew two cards per turn, while the mana available to him increased by two every turn as well, thanks to Overgrown Battlement . There was one point where Madan mounted an offense with Snake Umbra on Kozilek’s Predator and another Snake Umbra on Wildheart Invoker , but Saito summoned a massive Soulsurge Elemental just in time to deal with it.

The board was completely stalled, but that didn’t affect Saito’s offense. Two Vent Sentinel s finished the game in short order.

Tomoharu Saito 1 – 0 Daniel Madan

In the second game, Saito struggled a bit, when Madan made Wildheart Invoker and Dreamstone Hedron . With eight mana available, the Invoker relentlessly crashed into Saito’s defenses turn after turn and eroded those considerably. Saito drew an answer in the nick of time: Heat Ray killed the Invoker and now, Madan found himself unable to get through anymore.

He cracked Dreamstone Hedron , but all he got was Broodwarden , a land, and a Narcolepsy . Not very useful in the uphill struggle this game had turned into. Already, Saito’s Enclave Cryptologist was operating on level three, and Saito fired left and right. Disaster Radius , Artisan of Kozilek ... OK, the latter simply got stuck under Narcolepsy . However, that simply forced Saito to win the match without ever attacking. Two Vent Sentinel s were happy to oblige.

Tomoharu Saito 2 – 0 Daniel Madan

Podcast - From Forty to Forty

by Rich Hagon

Saturday Sealed has gone, and Sunday Draft is here. While both may be forty card formats, there's a world of difference, and there are plenty of players still finding their way in the more brutal Draft format. How aggressive does Aggro have to be to stand a chance? How good is the blue-white Level deck? Can Kiln Fiend really work? And how many Eldrazi are going to get cast? We start finding the answers, including the tale of the player who made fourteen power of monsters for one mana, and regretted it moments later. As he said, awkward.

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Sunday, 11:55 p.m. – The Killing Fiend

by Tobias Henke


Yesterday, the round 9 feature match already had Kiln Fiend smashing across the red zone as a 7/2 as early as turn four, with two blockers shot dead on top of that. Naturally, Booster Draft, where players assemble their own card pool, favors specific strategies like that even more. So here it is, the definite guide to Fiendish Attacks.

Kiln Fiend
Distortion Strike

First of all, you need Kiln Fiend , preferably in large quantities. Then you pair that with instants and sorceries. Thankfully, red offers a variety of options here, from Staggershock to Heat Ray , from to Traitorous Instinct to even Wrap in Flames . All of them come with the handy bonus of ensuring your opponent’s inability to declare blockers. The same goes for Distortion Strike , which usually places the infamous Kiln Fiend deck in red and blue.

The two commons combined can deal ten damage within two turns, no matter how many creatures the opponent may have. Throw in a Surreal Memoir or Mnemonic Wall , and that’s 20 (or even more). But one does not have to pair it with blue. Black offers more removal, and even white can play at that game, for example with the usually disregarded Repel the Darkness .

Take a look at these three examples:

David Caplan

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Miguel Hidalgo

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Gwen Colin

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Feature Match: Round 13 – Simon Görtzen vs Raphael Levy

by Tim Willoughby

“Do you like your deck?”

“Yeah... the table was a little bit weird... but, yeah.”

Raph is a level above.

Görtzen and Levy were by far the biggest names at their draft table, and neither the Pro Tour San Diego winner nor the Hall of Famer seemed phased by being in the feature match area again. Each player had found themselves in blue based archetypes at the table, while many of those around them had avoided the color. As with any draft format, zigging while others zag had produced some solid decks.

Görtzen won the roll, and kept a slightly risky one, with but a single Island for land. Levy was on the blue plan too, starting with Skywatcher Adept , and following up with Prophetic Prism , off an Island and a Swamp . Görtzen’s keep did not look like a good one as he was forced to discard Bala Ged Scorpion having missed two land drops, while Raph cast a Dawnglare Invoker , and soon an Enclave Cryptologist too.

As Görtzen cast See Beyond Raph smile. “I see the reason why you kept” he remarked, noting all the two mana card drawing that was at the German’s command. Levy was well in front on board development and life, and that Cryptologist even kept him with a similar number of cards in hand to play with. Cadaver Imp (getting back that Bala Ged Scorpion ) and Zulaport Enforcer were the first creatures for Görtzen, who was already languishing on just 10 life.

Levy looked to turn the screws a little, pushing his Skywatcher Adept up to the top level, and swinging with it and Dawnglare Invoker . Görtzen snap blocked the Invoker only to lose his creature to Puncturing Light . On just 6 life now, he needed something good. A Last Kiss on Skywatcher Adept bought him a little time, but Raph had two levelers to replace the one that had gone away, in Ikiral Outrider and Kabira Vindicator .

Görtzen frowned a little as he surveyed the board. His 1/1 Zulaport Enforcer looked a little outclassed by the competition. A Corpsehatch afforded the German more time to mount a defence, killing Dawnglare Invoker , and providing some blockers, but it seemed a long wait before he might be able to attack. Levy pushed Kabira Vindicator up to level 2, turning on its Glorious Anthem ability. This let even Enclave Cryptologist attack, putting Görtzen down to just 3.

Görtzen was not beaten yet though. He cast first Coralhelm Commander , and then that Bala Ged Scorpion to kill off Enclave Cryptologist . Even having made his board look a little healthier though, he was still facing down Raph’s levelers that were gradually creeping up in levels. A Wall of Omens came out for Raph, along with a Narcolepsy to shut down Coralhelm Commander .

Cadaver Imp #2 returned Cadaver Imp #1 for Görtzen, who also had a Bloodrite Invoker . He couldn’t afford to be too precious about keeping them in play for long though, and for the second straight combat found himself chump blocking Levy’s team to stay alive.

It only took one more creature from Levy (a Makindi Griffin ) and another draw step for Görtzen to convince him that the jig was up. It was on to Game 2.

Simon Görtzen 0 – 1 Raphael Levy

Görtzen thinks it through.

The early game in Game 2 was not peppered with plays, as each drew extra cards in their own way; Görtzen with Prophetic Prism , and Levy with Wall of Omens . The first aggressive creature of the game came from Görtzen in Skywatcher Adept . Now that things had got started, Raph was keen to keep up, and played a Kabira Vindicator .

A Bala Ged Scorpion offed Wall of Omens , before Görtzen swung for two in the air. Levy didn’t like that, and cast a Skywatcher Adept of his own, along with Guard Gomazoa . For the second time in the game, Görtzen had a Bala Ged Scorpion to keep the board clear of defenders. Görtzen’s draw was proving much more solid in Game 2, and while Görtzen remained all business, he was leaning in a little more, and seemed comfortable being the one getting into the red zone with monsters for a change.

Raph levelled up each of his team once, and attacked for 2 in the air. He kept his Vindicator back to block, but found that it died to a Last Kiss when he did so. Görtzen was back up to a happy 20 life, while Levy was at a much more precarious 12.

It was time for Raph to start dropping bombs, and that he did with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief . He was fortunate to have the double black mana he needed, from a Prophetic Prism . If he could buy time to start eating Görtzen’s creatures with his legendary vampire, he could quickly turn things around. Görtzen did not want this to happen. He swung in with his team, and though he lost a Zulaport Enforcer and a Skywatcher Adept in the attack, he still got Levy to just 8. A Nirkana Cutthroat came next from the German.

Levy was quick to devour the Cutthroat, and had a Luminous Wake in order to allow him to attack with his vampire and gain back the life he had lost on Görtzen’s last attack. That 4 point life swing each turn would be huge, but all Levy’s eggs were in one basket. Görtzen cast Cadaver Imp , to get back Skywatcher Adept , which he played before attacking Levy back down to 8.

Levy had a Sea Gate Oracle , and used it before eating Cadaver Imp and swinging Görtzen to 7. A post combat Guard Duty meant that Görtzen was not going to be able to race in, and a draw step later the Pro Tour Champion extended his hand in defeat.

Raphael Levy defeats Simon Görtzen 2-0!

Hail to the chief

Sunday, 1:45 p.m. – Draft (Our Key Types)

by Tim Willoughby and Rich Hagon


[12:39:02] Tim Willoughby: Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s draft!

[12:39:16] Tim Willoughby: Woop woop!

[12:39:43] Richard Hagon: Raul Perez seems like a good guy, little does he know he faces Saito in round one!

[12:39:44] Tim Willoughby: This sort of online drafting is way more fun than when I do it

[12:40:14] Tim Willoughby: Not going to lie, Saito’s first pick is sauce

[12:40:22] Richard Hagon: hmm, clearcut Puncturing Light here

[12:40:40] Tim Willoughby: All Is Dust here... I hope that Perez remembers to pick some colorless cards

[12:41:20] Richard Hagon: Heat Ray and Forked Bolt in red, but Totem-Guide Hartebeest to the top, then a switch to Domestication

[12:41:40] Tim Willoughby: Flame Slash pick two over Last Kiss and Corpsehatch

[12:42:00] Richard Hagon: I spy a blue-white Level plan, with Venerated Teacher

[12:42:16] Tim Willoughby: Kiln Fiend nice and early for Saito

[12:42:22] Tim Willoughby: plenty of time to pick up instants

[12:42:44] Richard Hagon: Totem-Guide Hartebeest , no change this time

[12:43:20] Tim Willoughby: Grotag Siege-Runner pick three, mono red so far, with Ogre’s Cleaver keeping up that plan in pick four

[12:43:35] Tim Willoughby: That cleaver survives All is Dust too

[12:43:58] Richard Hagon: Boo! Nothing good, Bala Ged Scorpion taken with a sigh. Still, there’s a ton of Black coming, with Gloomhunter next

[12:44:05] Tim Willoughby: ZOMG! Opt ions here, Forked Bolt , over Splinter Twin seems a nice signal that red is just fine

[12:44:44] Tim Willoughby: Saito has finally settled on a second color, black with Zulaport Enfocer

[12:45:00] Tim Willoughby: looks like it worked out as he got a Null Champion the very next pick

[12:45:12] Richard Hagon: Bloodthrone Vampire , Lone Missionary . Not sure all is well in Spainland.

[12:45:34] Richard Hagon: Essence Warden , sorry, Soul Warden , sorry, Soul’s Attendant

[12:45:36] Tim Willoughby: Goblin Tunneler next. Packs are drying up a little, but there are still picks for Saito

[12:45:52] Tim Willoughby: A Time of Heroes still in this pack, and Saito took Zof Shade

[12:46:10] Tim Willoughby: if Perez is leveling, shouldn’t he be looking at that enchantment?

[12:46:23] Richard Hagon: Someone’s going to like that Time for Heroes, but it isn’t Perez. He couldn’t find any levelers at all

[12:47:18] Tim Willoughby: Shrivel , Death Cultist and another black card to round things out. I don’t want to be pre-emptive, but Saito looks to be having a good draft on this one.

Saito and one of the type cast.

[12:47:27] Richard Hagon: 4 white, 3 blue, 2 black in playable spread, much of it unexciting.

[12:48:16] Richard Hagon: Vendetta - good then, good now.

[12:48:36] Tim Willoughby: Heat Ray looks like the pick for Saito, in what is another stacked pack for the discerning red/black drafter

[12:49:17] Richard Hagon: Totem-Guide Hartebeest over black removal in Last Kiss . He likes his 2/5s

[12:49:33] Tim Willoughby: Oof, nothing at all in black pick two though, only a Grotag Siege-Runner

[12:49:46] Tim Willoughby: Has Perez got much to fetch with his Hartbeasts yet?

[12:50:17] Richard Hagon: Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre , but not for Perez. Corpsehatch is nice, but he still thought about another Hartebeest

[12:50:23] Richard Hagon: No, nothing!

[12:50:26] Tim Willoughby: Looks like Saito might be being cut a bit. These packs are not ideal for him color-wise

[12:50:49] Tim Willoughby: he took another Ogre’s Cleaver

[12:50:59] Tim Willoughby: Just need guys to give it to

[12:51:03] Richard Hagon: Knight of Cliffhaven . Isn’t the Cleaver super-clunky?

[12:51:18] Tim Willoughby: Pawn of Ulamog might well do nicely there

[12:51:53] Tim Willoughby: Ok, it’s official, I’m now pretty sure that Saito is being cut this pack. Luckily it is on his left, so at least he gets to return the favour next pack.

[12:52:32] Richard Hagon: Another Knight of Cliffhaven , maybe that Time for Heroes would have come in handy after all

[12:52:47] Richard Hagon: Caravan Escort , see what I mean?

[12:52:53] Tim Willoughby: I quite like the cleaver. I’m not so sure about the Lust for War that Saito just took though, maybe he can redeem himself

[12:53:05] Tim Willoughby: or maybe he can be left with Akoum Boulderfot

[12:53:14] Richard Hagon: nice.

[12:53:17] Tim Willoughby: another Pawn of Ulamog

[12:53:22] Tim Willoughby: *Ulamog

[12:53:34] Richard Hagon: Kor Line-Slinger - that card is so versatile.

[12:53:43] Tim Willoughby: there might be some spawn wielding swords in your boy’s future

[12:54:03] Tim Willoughby: ok, now we have *THREE* Pawn of Ulamog

[12:54:17] Tim Willoughby: all your spawn are belong to Saito

[12:54:26] Richard Hagon: lol

[12:54:57] Richard Hagon: Totem-Guide Hartebeest . I’m going to set up a macro for that

[12:55:13] Tim Willoughby: if you set up a macro, it’s spelt Hartbeast

[12:55:34] Tim Willoughby: onto the dregs now, but in spite of seeing very little red, I think we might be ok here

[12:56:36] Tim Willoughby: Pack C. Lets C what we can C here

[12:56:42] Richard Hagon: Hartebeest, according to Gatherer. Read and weep.

[12:57:07] Tim Willoughby: man... I hope the editors caught that when I misspelt it yesterday

[12:57:27] Tim Willoughby: Vendetta or Artisan of Kozilek ?

[12:57:30] Tim Willoughby: What would you do?

[12:57:31] Richard Hagon: Another Vendetta , leaving someone to try and make use of Artisan of Kozilek

[12:57:38] Richard Hagon: WOW, that’s surreal

[12:57:43] Tim Willoughby: yup

[12:57:44] Richard Hagon: Identical choice

[12:57:47] Tim Willoughby: Saito also took the Vendetta

Raul Perez and the type-cast.

[12:58:02] Tim Willoughby: Ok, Magmaw , Forked Bolt or Heat Ray ?

[12:58:16] Richard Hagon: Hyena Umbra - now the power of the 2/5 is revealed.

[12:58:19] Richard Hagon: I love the Ray

[12:58:20] Tim Willoughby: Magmaw has to be good with all those pawns right?

[12:58:26] Richard Hagon: but yes, you’re right

[12:58:33] Tim Willoughby: Saito went with the Magmaw

[12:59:28] Tim Willoughby: Mortician Beetle would be *unreal* in Saito’s deck wouldn’t it? He took the black invoker, which seems a little hopeful to me

[13:00:09] Tim Willoughby: Pawn of Ulamog number four? Bloodthrone Vampire got the nod over it

[13:00:40] Richard Hagon: Smite , another Hyena Umbra . Vamp is nice, Traitorous Instinct would be nice for you now

[13:00:45] Tim Willoughby: Your Artisan of Kozilek is still in the pack, and Saito is going for Thought Gorger

[13:00:52] Tim Willoughby: what do you think about that one?

[13:01:12] Tim Willoughby: More Pawn of Ulamog . I can feel a joke coming on

[13:01:14] Richard Hagon: All Thought Gorger s I’ve seen in play this weekend have been moderately poor

[13:01:49] Richard Hagon: Mortician Beetle - no spawn to make use of it though, apart from that early Corpsehatch

[13:01:56] Tim Willoughby: Battle-Rattle Shaman over Traitorous Instinct

[13:02:07] Tim Willoughby: I reckon that Saito might have hoped the beetle would lap

[13:02:20] Tim Willoughby: the Beetle will be good against Saito too

[13:02:44] Richard Hagon: Artisan here again, and Puncturing Light , he took Zulaport Enforcer

[13:02:49] Tim Willoughby: Grotag Siege-Runner again. Any walls in your deck?

[13:02:58] Richard Hagon: Nope

[13:03:11] Tim Willoughby: Spawning Breath . Any little dinky creatures?

[13:03:21] Richard Hagon: do 2/5 Hartebeests count?

[13:03:31] Tim Willoughby: Vampire. Om nom nom. Going to eat some spawns

[13:03:56] Richard Hagon: Welcome to Rise - the set where 7/7 is a last pick almost every time

[13:04:08] Richard Hagon: Hand of Emrakul , you are the new Chimney Imp

[13:04:13] Tim Willoughby: I feel like Saito has a theme deck here. It will be fun. Not sure how he’s killing 2/5 monsters, but he kills players really well

[13:04:29] Richard Hagon: So what do you think overall?

[13:04:46] Tim Willoughby: I reckon that Saito has pretty solid deck here

[13:05:08] Tim Willoughby: with a good set of removal spells in pack one, he also has this spawn theme going on

[13:05:22] Richard Hagon: Not sure the same is true for Perez. We should discuss further.

[13:05:27] Tim Willoughby: with a couple of vampires to eat them, and pawns to make more of them, he could be really aggressive

[13:05:38] Richard Hagon: By the way, you know you’re sitting opposite me?

[13:05:46] Tim Willoughby: what?!

[13:05:52] Richard Hagon: Hi (waves)

[13:06:03] Richard Hagon: Why are we still typing?

[13:06:10] Tim Willoughby: Tim Willoughby shrugs

[13:06:13] Richard Hagon: Let’s go talk.

Sunday, 1:55 p.m. – Drafting With Marcello Calvetto

by Tobias Henke
Marcello Calvetto

Marcello Calvetto may only be 17 years young, but so far he’s already had a promising career. He made the Italian national team last year, finished 41st at Pro Tour – Kyoto, and is now the youngest level-four pro player on the Tour. In this tournament he’s 13-0 so far, the last kid standing, if you will. Time to watch him draft!

He opened a pack with Dawnglare Invoker , Awakening Zone , and Induce Despair , and picked the latter. Never can go wrong with removal, after all. Disaster Radius in pack two may have raised an eyebrow. At least Growth Spasm and Drake Umbra were no match for the red rare, which soon went into Calvetto’s draft pile.

Null Champion over Pawn of Ulamog and Bloodrite Invoker over Kiln Fiend came next. However, pack five led to a little uncertainty when Mammoth Umbra and Smite might have been the strongest cards in the booster. In the end Calvetto just stuck to black and took Null Champion . Last Kiss (over Dread Drone and Kiln Fiend ) continued the path to the dark side, punctuated with Puncturing Light from pack seven. The rest of the pack gave Calvetto nothing noteworthy, except for Caravan Escort , which meant that Disaster Radius was probably out. Apparently, black and white was the way the draft wanted him to go.

He opened a pack that once again challenged his choice of colors. Dread Drone and Flame Slash were the options, and Calvetto was not quick with his decision, taking the full amount of time, eventually opting for Flame Slash . His third Null Champion was up next, then Knight of Cliffhaven . Black / white with splash for red, maybe?

This question had to be postponed. First, Calvetto took Warmonger ’s Char iot from an otherwise empty pack, then Domestication for lack of better in-color options. Dread Drone , Escaped Null , and Bloodthrone Vampire rounded out the second booster. Also, he picked up a late Frostwind Invoker .

Off to booster number three: Calvetto took Makindi Griffin over Thought Gorger , Pawn of Ulamog , and Ulamog’s Crusher for his first pick. Nirkana Cutthroat , Survival Cache , and Emerge Unscathed came next, then Wall of Omens , Suffer the Past , and Ogre’s Cleaver. The quality was dwindling fast: Glory Seeker , Essence Feed , two Death Cultist s, two Nighthaze , and Demonic Appetite wrapped things up.

Here’s the deck he ended up with:

Marcello Calvetto

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Sunday, 2:26 p.m. – Level Up!

by Tim Willoughby

Back in the old days the only people in Magic that were leveling up were judges. At higher judge levels, there are higher expectations in terms of rules knowledge, but also in terms of running bigger and more complicated tournaments, and helping mentor lower level judges.

Five levels of judges.

For a while now, players have been able to level up too, chasing Pro Player points to net all sorts of benefits from Nationals and Pro Tour qualifications, all the way to flights, hotels and appearance fees for coming to major events. Yuuya Watanabe, the current player of the year is loving his level 8, and getting all those Pro Points hasn’t been too shabby for Rookie of the Year Lino Burgold either.

Yuuya and Lino are happy with their levels, which are much higher than two.

For some, that level chase is harder than others. Ben Stark of the United States is over in Europe again, frantically chasing the final Pro Player point he needs to be qualified for Pro Tours for the rest of the year.

Ben Stark

Martin Juza, in spite of having had an exceptional season in 2009, was chasing the top level of Player of the Year, only to miss out to Watanabe.

Martin Juza

Meanwhile Olivier Ruel needs to score just one more point to take the lead in the lifetime Pro Points race, that has been led by Kai Budde for years.

Stark’s race for points got a little stuck in Round 11 today, when he ran into a wall of level-up creatures. If you are looking for a combination of rares that is pretty tough to beat, check these out.

The student outshines the master.

While the rares are definitely the splashier elements of many decks sporting level up, many of the key players are actually the commons. Venerated Teacher and Champion’s Drake are the source of just as many blowouts as this guy.

All it will take is one level up to make Scary Echo Mage have some Scary Champion Drake friends.

One way or another, level up is a mechanic not to be ignored. Virtually every creature with the ability is powerful enough to play, and they players that have levelled up are scary good too.

Sunday, 2:45 p.m. – Draft (Our Key Types) part 2

by Tim Willoughby and Rich Hagon

[13:41:09] Richard Hagon: So, who won the Saito Perez match?
[13:42:09] Tim Willoughby: Saito, 2-1. While he did get a little shut down by the Mortician Beetle he should have drafted for his deck in game 2, in game 1 he got to cast All Is Dust with Ogre's Cleaver and Pawn of Ulamog in play. That did it.
[13:42:25] Richard Hagon: Bother.

Sunday, 3:55 p.m. - From Player To Trader

by Tobias Henke

Have you heard the name Kelterbaum before? You should, and if you're French you probably have. Richard Kelterbaum and his two daughters, Catherine and Morgane, travel to GPs all over Europe and have already made quite a name for themselves. Of course, a Grand Prix in their home country again had them in attendance. But this time Catherine Kelterbaum found herself in an unusual spot. Preferring Constructed formats, she decided to not enter the tournament as a player, but to instead work at one of the trader's here in Lyon. Troll and Toad's Nigel Rowledge was happy to have a well-known French player on his staff.

Nigel Rowledge and Catherine Kelterbaum

"It's my first time as trader," said Catherine, "and yes, the experience is very different from my usual perspective. As a player you do not only play Magic yourself, but also get to watch a lot matches being played. I like that. Unfortunately, this weekend I haven't been able to see much of anything of what's going on in the actual tournament."

"On the plus side, though," Catherine went on and smiled, "I have been able to get an idea what the metagame in the upcoming Standard PTQs will look like. We sold so many Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Eldrazi Conscription s these past two days, there's bound to be a high number of Mythic Conscription decks."

Feature Match: Round 15 – Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs Florian Koch

by Tim Willoughby

For Pro Tour Yokohama winner Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, the last season or so has not been his best. Known for his deliberate play style, and great skill with control decks, Wafo-Tapa did not find himself in his comfort zone with Zendikar. With the slower Rise of the Eldrazi limited format though, he is well positioned to make top eight here at Grand Prix Lyon where there are only two rounds left to play.

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

On the play, Wafo-Tapa led with an Island , and using it and a Forest , he played a turn two Ogre’s Cleaver, which would take a while to be at its best. A turn two Bloodthrone Vampire from Koch would also need some help to become truly scary, but it did provide a first source of damage for the German’s red/black deck.

Nirkana Cutthroat came next from Koch, while Wafo-Tapa used See Beyond to set up his hand for big plays to come, but could not find a land to work with. Soulscour ge Elemental came out as a 3/1 for Koch, and with Wafo-Tapa short on lands, there seemed little to impede it from getting even bigger. Guillaume looked to his deck expectantly.

A third land for Wafo-Tapa allowed an Awakening Zone to enter the battlefield for the Frenchman. This would do some combination of fixing his mana woes, and giving him blockers. Before it could power out even a single token though, he was in trouble. A Dread Drone upped the creature count by three. One big attack let the Soulscour ge Elemental deal its first strike damage, and then the Bloodthrone Vampire chowed down on much of Koch’s board, in order to secure the remaining damage for a decisive victory.

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 0 – 1 Florian Koch

As they shuffled up for game two, the players compared day one records. Each had cruised into day two with only a single loss. With records such as theirs, eyes had to be set firmly on reaching the final draft of the day, which only eight players would be able to reach.

Koch is a lock for the top 8

For game two, Wafo-Tapa again led with Ogre’s Cleaver. This time he had mana, but by turn three it was all blue. The first creature of the game came from Koch once more, in Arrogant Bloodlord . A followup Gloomhunter only served to add to the pressure on the Frenchman.

For the second game in a row, mana was a problem for Wafo-Tapa. He never got a non-blue source of mana, and when Dread Drone joined Koch’s team, it was not long before the beatdown draw of Koch ended things.

Florian Koch wins 2-0!

Sunday, 4:10 p.m. - Drafting Preconstructed Decks

by Tobias Henke

From Levelers to giant colorless Things from another dimension, Rise of the Eldrazi features plenty of interesting themes to build and, in this case, draft decks around. We already discussed some of these, however, there are still more. For example, tokens deserve some credit in their own right, not only as a snack for huge Eldrazi monsters. You can actually do fun stuff with them, like use them to get a giant boost from Might of the Masses or Pennon Blade . Or create an enormous Bramblesnap , or... Or you could simply take a look at Simon Görtzen's draft deck here:

Simon Görtzen

Download Arena Decklist

And then there's the subtheme of Auras. Most of them manage to do quite well on their own (well, obviously on a creature), thanks to Totem armor, but a few creatures take a special interest in having lots of Auras around. Most notable (because common) among them is Aura Gnarlid . See? It even has "Aura" in its name. Anyway, one of the best openings you can get in this format is Aura Gnarlid turn three, followed by Snake Umbra on four. And now, look what we've got here:

Jerome Lachevre

Download Arena Decklist

Podcast - Time to Level Up

by Rich Hagon

In Rise of the Eldrazi, taking it to the next level can be about counters, or it can be about your play, or it can be about your results. Here in the penultimate round, it doesn't matter how many counters your creatures have, or how good you are. What matters is winning, and that's what you get here. And the losing too. Always that too.

Download MP3

Multi-Feature - Round 16 Round-Up

by Tim Willoughby

Going into the final round here at Grand Prix Lyon there were a lot of players with plenty to play for. While a talented few had already locked up their place in the top eight, many more were in the position of having to play. In this last moment, where fortunes could be made or lost, I cruised by some of the important matches to get the scoop on what was going on.

Bram Snepvangers was playing Marcello Calvetto of Italy. While Calvetto had started out 13-0, he had dropped a few rounds, and was suddenly in a position of having to play. A draw wouldn’t help Snepvangers, so the game was on. Game one was a war, going deep in turns, with Snepvangers eventually pulling it out thanks to the annihilating power of Ulamog’s Crusher.

Game two was faster, but ended in similar fashion, as Artisan of Kozilek took over annihilation duties. Bram was by no means a lock at top 8 following this, but he had done everything he could to manoeuvre for position in the last round.

Marcello Calvetto (Left) and Bram Snepvangers (Right)

Tobias Grafensteiner was against Samuele Estratti, with an aggressive red/black deck sporting multiple copies of Kiln Fiend . These should have been a bit of a dog to double Brimstone Mage , but when backed up by removal, were good enough to go all the way. A big turn with Treacherous Instinct took Estratti low in the second game, and while he had an Ulamog’s Crusher to fight back with, it couldn’t get the job done before Gloomhunter ended the game.

Tobias Grafensteiner (Left) and Samuele Estratti (Right)

Florian Pils and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa were locked in for a fight for the chance to make top eight that ended up falling in Pils’ favour. The powerful combination of Pawn of Ulamog and Bloodthrone Vampire was enough to finish things there, leaving Pils crossing his fingers on creeping into the top eight.

Florian Pils (Left) and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa (Right)

Finally, Tim Michels of Germany was up against Joakim Almelund of Sweden. One would be in the top eight for sure, but they had to play. Michels was quickly up a game, and needed just one more win to advance to the elimination stages. It was not to be though, as Gravitational Shift warped game two into an airborne assault that Michels had no answer to. The deciding game saw Skeletal Wurm and Gloomhunter teaming up for Almelund to decide things and earn him a slot at the top of the standings.

Joakim Almelund (Left) and Tim Michels (Right)

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