Grand Prix–Madrid: Day 1 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on February 28, 2010

By Wizards of the Coast


Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – Catching Up with the Rookie

by Tobias Henke

The Pro Tour season 2010 is still young and fresh, but has been packed with action nevertheless. It all started just two weeks ago in Oakland with a Grand Prix in the Extended format kicking it off and leading up to the Standard Pro Tour in San Diego. 14 days later pro players have crossed two constructed formats and nine time zones to convene upon the Spanish capital for yet another Grand Prix, this time playing Legacy.

One of them is Lino Burgold whose title as Rookie of the Year, awarded at the very end of last season, is arguably just as fresh. 2010 marks his first full year on the Tour and he's making the most of it, traveling the globe and slinging cards as if he's never done anything else. Rookie of the Year... No other title in Magic is so much about the idea of "things to come". Famous Rookies of the past include Randy Buehler who has ascended to the hallowed Hall of Fame and, not least, Yuuya Watanabe who switched from Rookie to Player of the Year. So, let's find out what Lino's been up to, shall we?

"At both, the Grand Prix in Oakland and the Pro Tour in San Diego, I only had two losses on day one", Lino said, smiled mirthlessly and added, "but managed to only get three wins on day two. That was rather frustrating, especially starting the PT at 8-2, then going on to play 1-5."

But first back to Oakland. "I actually had a very nice deck there. I was running Mystical Teachings , which absolutely destroys Faeries, Thepths, and a lot of others. It's only about fifty-fifty against Zoo, and loses to Burn, but still I liked that deck very much."

In fact his 10-5 record was good enough for 58th place, one pro point, and $200. Over to the Pro Tour, the big show: "I was playing Jund, actually two cards off from Simon Görtzen's winning list. However, playing Jund just isn't fun anymore. Six rounds of Standard at Worlds was fine, but ten rounds at the Pro Tour..." He left it at that and made an unhappy face. "The thing is, I can't win if the deck I'm playing is not even fun when I'm winning with it."

Nevertheless, he got in nine wins in that tournament, and while 80th place didn't come with a cheque, it got him four pro points.

About Legacy, the format du jour, he had the following to say: "Usually I'm more of a Standard and Extended player. Of course this changed quite a bit as soon as I figured I'd be making the trip to Madrid. I started testing weeks ago and talked to a lot of players who are more at home in this format. Basically, I found three things that set Legacy apart from any other constructed format. There are so many incredibly powerful and quick threats, but even more powerful and inexpensive answers. Most interaction takes place on the first two to four turns, so one might think Legacy is just about luck and getting a good starting hand, right?" Lino made a pause for dramatic emphasis. "But that's not true at all! On the first few turns, there is a huge fight for resources going on. Wasteland , fetchlands, Stifle , Daze , Æther Vial , Force of Will ... everyone's trying to get off to a good start, or to prevent his opponent from doing so. But when the dust finally settles, then the real game starts. And that can actually take a while."

"Of course not all the time", he quickly went on. "There are combo decks like ANT [ Ad Nauseam - Tendrils of Agony ] out there which can and will kill on turn two if they are not interfered with. Combo is a bit of a balancing factor in Legacy. It is at least one of the reasons why decks are so heavily geared towards the early game."

"Finally, there is what I like to call the phenomenon of playing with, or against, the whole deck. In Standard you get to see what? Maybe 15 to 20 cards in an average game. In Legacy that's different. Between fetchlands, Brainstorm , Ponder , and Sensei's Divining Top you can actually expect to find any specific card, even if only two copies of it are in your deck and even without any real tutors," Lino explained. "As you can probably imagine, this extremely changes the way decks are built. You get a lot more one-ofs and two-ofs, and while at first glance this might seem random, there really is a system within the chaos."

Whether Lino is able to put all of his theoretical insight to good practical use and to build upon last year's results... well, we'll soon find out.

Saturday, 1:45 p.m. – Size Matters (or does it?)

by Tim Willoughby

It isn't just Pro Tour Statistician Rich Hagon that likes random stats about Magic. I must confess to being lured in by the opportunity to throw out some new big numbers about the game. Conveniently, Madrid has produced quite a few.

With 2220 players, it is time to chair draft.

With 2,220 players, we have approximately 166,500 cards sleeved up here. If you desleeved them all (no small task!) and piled them on top of each other (a much bigger task), they would be nearly 250 feet high.

If you just take the Spanish players at this event (1,600ish), they represent the biggest constructed tournament ever. With so many players, even the incidentals can become tough.

Round turnaround times can be tricky when you have 1,110 slips to take in and enter. Here in Madrid we have three scorekeepers on the case, and pretty impressively rounds are not running much slower than at an event with 300 players. Getting enough chairs and tables together was a little tight, but the judging staff somehow conjured seats for all.

Judge calls are an issue that has met with a unique solution for Madrid. Normally at big GPs the tournament gets split to allow for easier logistics. Each of these tournaments is treated separately or scorekeeping and so on or day on. They get their own head judge too. Here in Madrid, we have 4 head judges. With so many players, the concern was that round time turnaround could be hurt by lots of head judge calls on rulings. The answer to this, Frank Wareman, Adam Cetnerowksi, Carlos Ho and Riccardo Tessitori are all wearing the red shirt today. Each has the authority to make ‘head judge' rulings for the event, meaning that nobody should have to wait too long for final rulings on appeals. This is something that is handy, as Legacy can throw up some pretty crazy rules interactions. Check Tobi's article for details of those.

Inspired by the barbershop quartet in San Diego, GP Madrid has 4 head judges.

While there is plenty about a big event that could threaten to derail things, it is amazing that GP Madrid is running just fine. Space is a little tight, but players are having fun and we are seeing some cracking Magic.

Saturday, 1:50 p.m. – Rules Q&A

by Tobias Henke

With so many cards in the format, some of them errata'd to conform to current templating standards, is Legacy more taxing on judges?

"Well, mostly it's just different," said head judge Frank Wareman, actually one of four head judges today due to the large number of competitors. "Of course older cards interacting with newer cards in weird ways is an issue, but our staff of judges came well prepared to deal with even the most tricky questions they might encounter. Raul Rabionet, Kepa Arriéta, and Cesar Fernandez deserve special thanks for compiling an extensive Legacy primer."

"In addition, Daniel Solé and Daniel Mencía wrote a guide on card alterations that has been very helpful," Wareman stated. "Often players extend or replace the artwork of their cards. Some of those look beautiful, but if it's too hard to make out the original card, we can't allow them for tournament play."

"Legacy players typically know their deck, the cards therein, and the interaction between them," Wareman pointed out. "Something that's not as true for Sealed Deck events, even! 2,220 players though...," Wareman was momentarily lost for words. "This is the biggest issue we face today. But right now we manage quite well."

So let's take a look at some of the more difficult rules questions which came up today. Thanks to all the judges who reported them and helped to figure out the answers!

The first one is a real classic. Nevertheless, it is one of the more absurd corner cases and naturally pops up at every Legacy tournament rather sooner than later. How do Magus of the Moon and Humility interact?

Magus of the Moon

For all the interaction between such continuous effects we need to look at Magic‘s layer system (#613.1. of the Comprehensive Rules, in case you care). In layer four "type-changing effects are applied" and in layer six "ability-adding and ability-removing effects are applied". So Magus of the Moon turns all nonbasic lands to Mountain s and Humility makes him lose the ability to do so but leaves the lands in their current state: that is, as Mountain s. Admittedly this seems weird and somewhat counter-intuitive, but I'm being told there really is an inherent logic and, furthermore, that all hell would break loose if the rules were different. Still, everyone can agree that calling Princess Layer complicated is serious understatement.

The next star of our little tour is Circle of Protection: Red . The little enchantment that could found an unsuspecting victim in the form of one unlucky Bant player. Having made a lot of sacrifice (literally) to summon up Progenitus by means of Natural Order , he found his legendary Hydra promptly disabled by the Circle.

Circle of Protection: Red

"But it... it does have protection from everything!" he protested in despair... and in vain. Circles of Protection manage quite well without the word target, and whereas Progenitus would not be a legal target indeed, the 10/10 creature is a very legitimate choice.

More difficult is the following (admittedly) hypothetical scenario: A player controls Meddling Mage , set to " Cabal Therapy ". He also got a Cabal Therapy in his graveyard and wants to cast it by sacrificing Meddling Mage . Now, does that work?

Meddling Mage
Cabal Therapy

Nope. Casting a spell is not finished before all the costs are paid, but even starting the casting process is forbidden by Meddling Mage .

Probably the most intricate rules question judges had to answer today, however, is taken directly from the realm of Zendikar / Worldwake limited. Player A played a Swamp , enchanted this exact same Swamp with Vastwood Zendikon , then summoned Arbor Elf , and finally activated his Oran-Rief, the Vastwood to dispense some +1/+1 counters. Meanwhile player B wanted to cast Whiplash Trap for the reduced cost of one blue mana. Could he do that? And did the Swamp , recently turned to a green 6/4 creature, get a counter or not?

Whiplash Trap
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Turns out, Whiplash Trap is interested in "real" creatures only. So while the Swamp in question had entered the battlefield this turn and was now a creature, it didn't count, since it wasn't when it first set foot on the table. Oran-Rief, the Vastwood on the other hand asks two separate questions: Is it a green creature? Did it enter the battlefield this turn? The answer to both is yes, and thus, the Swamp got to be 7/5. At least until player B cast Whiplash Trap on his next turn... at full price.

Podcast - The Grid in Madrid

by Rich Hagon

Qualifying for this event is over, and it turns out that two thousand, two hundred, and twenty players have made it to the start line. Hear the news as it happened this morning, with a sight that almost beggared belief. With plenty of time before their round four date with destiny, we get to spend quality Legacy time with two Pros. First, Sam Black of the USA takes us through the 38 land deck, and then Martin Juza shows us how it's done with Ad Nauseum Tendrils. Great chat and insight to get us under way at the largest event in Magic history.

Download MP3

Deck Tech - Conflux

by Tim Willoughby

With a Legacy event I knew that there was a good shot at seeing some cool decks. That was before the numbers of this event started having commas in them. Suffice to say, here in Madrid there are a whopping number of decks on show. For day one, categorising them and doing a metagame breakdown is likely going to be a bit more than we can manage. However, what we can do is introduce you to some of the awesome decks that we have come across.

Out of respect for the players involved (and the power of iPhone access to coverage), we're not going to be showing names by decks for now, as we don't want anyone creative to have their chances hurt by tipping people off to some of the more surprising decks out there. Suffice to say, we don't want you to miss out on these decks either.

Here's the first that caught my eye. It has won a GP trial in Germany and is now being played by a few players here. Check it out

Conflux (Lino Burgold)

Download Arena Decklist
Creature (5)
4 Progenitus 1 Bogardan Hellkite
Artifact (2)
2 Lotus Petal
Enchantment (4)
4 Dream Halls
60 Cards

If we travel back in the way back when machine, it was Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz who first showed how Dream Halls can be broken. His way of doing it involved a very long convoluted process of casting Lobotomy again and again before finally decking one's opponent with Inspiration. This did not play nice with tournament rules, as it took a long time, but was all one turn – not cool if you win after time is called.

These days Dream Halls can be a little more explosive. When paired up with Conflux, some crazy things can happen. With Dream Halls in play (often snuck in early using something like Show and Tell), it is possible to cast Conflux by discarding any card. Conflux can then fetch more copies of itself, and a brace of Cruel Ultimatums. Three Cruel Ultimatums and a Bogardan Hellkite is 20 damage right there. The deck has some nice things going for it, in that it can play a different game too at times. Progenitus is a nice card to discard to Dream Halls, allowing any card to be cast, and can be fetched with Conflux nice and easily too. On top of this, a Show and Tell can enable it super fast, and allow for a nice straightforward set of attacks for the win.

One thing to watch out for with the Show and TellProgenitus plan though is that if the opponent has a Baneslayer Angel, the white mythic trumps the multicoloured one in a race. Additionally, as Perish has been a popular seller this weekend, Progenitus isn't quite as untouchable as he (she? It?) seems.

The Conflux deck is a great example of everything that Legacy is all about. Cards from across the history of the game, interacting in ways that nobody ever imagined they could, and creating some of the most powerful Magic as a consequence.

Saturday, 3:20 p.m. – Talking to the Traders

by Tobias Henke

With 2,220 players in the tournament (yes indeed, we can barely mention that number as often as we'd like to; 2,220, 2,220, see?) there is not much room to figure out any metagame trends just yet. However, talking to the traders has proven time and again to at least give us a few hints as to what one might expect in the later rounds.

So what are the best-sellers this weekend? "Uhm... err... Basically there are just so many different decks, a field so diverse that a lot of very different cards were in high demand. One that particularly stuck out, though, was Natural Order. So expect to see Progenitus show up quite often."

Maybe tied to that, Perish has been one of the most sought-after sideboard cards, the black sorcery being among the most efficient answers to the legendary Hydra god and also clearing the battlefield of any Noble Hierarchs or Tarmogoyfs left over. "In general we have had many requests for all the typical sideboard cards: Price of Progress, Back to Basics, Submerge, and especially Carpet of Flowers." The green enchantment being sold out everywhere is certainly a testament to the power of blue decks in the Legacy format.

The usual suspects also included Dual lands and of course Tarmogoyf, the all-time all-star evergreen solution to opponents' life totals. Players were actually seen buying and cracking every Future Sight booster pack they could get their hands on.

Packs were also frantically ripped open, on the complete other side of the spectrum, for Spell Pierce! The inconspicuous common from Zendikar apparently really shines in the Legacy format where decks are built with a tight mana curve and a lot more noncreature spells than anywhere else.

Round 4 Feature Match – Robert van Medevoort vs Bram Snepvangers

by Tim Willoughby
Bram Snepvangers is all smiles.

With 2,220 players, there was a bit of a concern that finding a good feature match might prove tricky. That was true in part, as tracking down Bram and Robert in a sea of faces was a little problematic, but the pair of Dutch pros proved a welcome matchup, at least from the perspective of showing.

Bram led with an Æther Vial off an Island, while Van Medevoort used a fetchland to find a basic Island to allow a Sensei's Divining Top. That Island meant that Bram's Wasteland on turn two wasn't as good as it could have been, but he did have a Standstill, which would play nice with the Æther Vial, that ticked up a turn. Robert wasn't keen to break the Standstill early, and looked on as Snepvangers was able to use his Æther Vial to sneak a Silvergill Adept into play. In the end he did break it with a Brainstorm, at such a time that Bram couldn't use all of the cards in his hand. Bram discarded a Sower of Temptation, which seemed a good choice given that Robert soon followed up with a trio of copies of Lotus Petal, and an Orim's Chant.

Robert was looking to Go Off. It wasn't clear what his combo deck was, and after he cast Lion's Eye Diamond, he smiled to himself.

"I had no plan as I was expecting Orim's Chant to be countered. Now I have so many options!"

Ponder came next, then Ad Nauseam. This whittled down Robert to just four life, but got him a whopping 14 cards, including the mana and search he needed to cast a lethal Tendrils of Agony.

Bram dramatically tapped his Æther Vial and... put a Wake Thrasher into play. Not good enough.

Robert van Medevoort 1 – 0 Bram Snepvangers

Robert thinks his hand is good - LSV knows it is.

Bram, on the play for the second game, took a mulligan. He had Wasteland as his only land, and while he did have an Æther Vial, he didn't have much of a plan for if the Vial wasn't good enough, and certainly couldn't disrupt van Medevoort much with his seven.

The six yielded a turn one Æther Vial off an Island, while van Medevoort led with Island and Ponder. Bram again had the Standstill for turn two. As we had seen in Game 1, the Standstill wasn't enough to give van Medevoort too many worries, but the counters that it could draw Bram meant that Robert had to be a little careful.

One counterspell from Bram had legs (or at least fins) in the form of Cursecatcher, which popped out thanks to Æther Vial. When the Cursecatcher and Mutavault attacked, tapping out Bram, van Meedevoort pulled the trigger on a Mystical Tutor for Dark Ritual. With Bram tapped out, he had as good a chance as he could hope for to go for it, even if there were some more cards in Snepvangers' hand.

A Chrome Mox, imprinting Infernal Tutor gave van Medevoort access to black mana. Cursecatcher made Orim's Chant cost a little more, but when it resolved, Robert knew that his only opposition to win the game would be his own misplays or misfortune. He cast a pair of copies of Dark Ritual, a Lion's Eye Diamond, and an Ad Nauseam.

Lion's Eye Diamond
Misty Rainforest
Orim's Chant
Sensei's Divining Top
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Mystical Tutor
Flooded Strand
Chrome Mox
Xantid Swarm
Tendrils of Agony

This bunch of spells dropped Robert to just four. Did he have enough to win with? He certainly had a lot to work with. He played his mana artifacts, used Brainstorm to put Tendrils of Agony back on his deck, then sacrificed his Lion's Eye Diamond to get mana before swapping Sensei's Divining Top for the Tendrils on top of his deck. That was the game, and the match.

Robert van Medevoort 2 – 0 Bram Snepvangers

Deck Tech – Who Needs Workshops? The many colours of Stax

by Tim Willoughby

Deck Tech – Who Needs Workshops? The many colours of Stax
Tim Willoughby

Our next deck tech sees us taking a trip to the factory. Stax is a fairly well known and liked strategy in Vintage, where Mishra's Workshop can power out some pretty nuts starts. All those moxes don't hurt much either. The nuts starts tend to involve a whole mess of ‘lock pieces', like Sphere of Resistance, to stop opponents getting too much action going.

In Legacy, there are various forms of Stax too. While Mishra's Workshop is banned, along with the Moxen, Trinisphere, a massive threat that is restricted in Vintage, is entirely legal in Legacy as a 4 of. This means that there is sufficient incentive for players in this format to have a bash at slowing down the game.

Some ‘lock pieces' are universal in Stax lists in Legacy. Tangle Wire, Crucible of Worlds/Wasteland and Trinisphere are pretty universal, and Chalice of the Void is also a key player. From there though, lists tend to diverge. Dragon Stompy includes many of the lock pieces, but also accelerates into red threats like Rakdos Pit Dragon, as well as the powerful disruption of Blood Moon/Magus of the Moon. In White Stax, Suppression Field is one of the key draws, along with powerful removal spells in Path to Exile/Swords to Plowshares.

Then we have the deck that I wanted to highlight, as it came as a bit of a surprise, at least to me. This version eschews coloured mana entirely, with a powerful anti-aggro plan in Ensnaring Bridge, alongside the new power of Lodestone Golem in the sideboard for when what is needed is some power beating down.


Mono-Brown Stax (Borja Giraldo)

Download Arena Decklist

Those creature-lands can let you beat down, but more often than not, this build is designed to grind out games where opponents lose due to just not being able to play spells in a timely fashion. One interaction that is particularly nice, from the sideboard, involves Bottled Cloister. During your turn it means you get extra cards, but in your opponent's you have none, which is exactly the number that Ensnaring Bridge wants you to have to be able to fight.

Podcast - Mr. 16-0

by Rich Hagon

With the Pros waiting to make their entrance, we're delighted to present a special interview with the man who made Magic history last weekend. Luis Scott-Vargas entered the tournament as one of the elite Level 8 mages, and he went away, albeit after a disappointing semi-final exit, having accomplished something that will be talked about for many, many years - the perfect sixteen round winning record. We talk about his testing before the event, and then walk through the epic run that may one day be equalled, but never broken. An extraordinary tale of an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary Magic player.

Download MP3

Round 5 Feature Match – Gaudenis Vidugiris vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

by Tobias Henke

Gaudenis Vidugiris from the United States finished the 2009 Player of the Year race in ninth place, Brazil's Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa made it all the way to fifth. This introduction should well suffice, off we go!

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo went first, fetched Tropical Island, and cast Noble Hierarch, while Gaudenis simply laid an Island and passed the turn right back. Paulo made Sensei's Divining Top and another fetch land, and again the turn was passed. It looked like the typical early-game procedure of blue mages across the ages, not trying to make too much of a commitment while being vulnerable to early countermagic.

But no! This is Legacy we're talking about here, so the action started soon enough. On turn two Gaudenis dropped Mutavault and Standstill, which Paulo had to allow after consulting Sensei's Divining Top. He broke the Standstill with Counterbalance right away, though, setting up one of the deadliest combinations of the format. However, his deck was light on three-mana spells, so when Gaudenis went for Merrow Reejerey on his next turn, Paulo had to use Daze to stop it; or try to stop it, rather, since Gaudenis was well willing to fight for it with his full Force of Will. To no avail, though, as the Brazilian smoothly took the Reejerey down with Swords to Plowshares. The board again empty, Paulo looked to be even more in control than ever. Gaudenis was not going to resolve any spells anytime soon, but did not despair, for he at least had two Mutavaults. The two lands charged into the red zone, but Paulo had a second Swords to Plowshares. On the next turn he put down Wall of Roots too, which finally forced Gaudenis to pass his turn without any action at all.

With Paulo clearly in control, Gaudenis shuffled it up for Game 2 as soon as his opponent found a source of damage, even though it was just a measly Trygon Predator.

Gaudenis Vidugiris 0 – 1 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Gaudenis Vidugiris

This time it was Gaudenis's turn to go first and both players led with basic Islands. Gaudenis's follow-up was Mutavault plus Silvergill Adept, while Paulo had Sensei's Divining Top, and then nothing to stop Gaudenis's Lord of Atlantis. The two Merfolk were not going to get the job done, however, as Paulo cast Engineered Explosives for two on his third turn. They did get to do an awful lot of damage, though: Gaudenis activated his Mutavault, went in for the full eight damage to put Paulo at nine, and also had Wasteland for Tundra. His own Windswept Heath and Gaudenis's Mutavault put Paulo at six life. But the Brazilian came well equipped to deal with attacking man lands, plopping down Tsabo's Web, which Gaudenis needed to read.

Gaudenis had Merrow Reejerey, Paulo stopped it with Swords to Plowshares. Paulo had Tarmogoyf, Gaudenis stopped it with Force of Will. Gaudenis had Æther Vial, Paulo stopped it with Engineered Explosives. Then Paulo had two more Tarmogoyfs... and Gaudenis didn't stop them at all.

Gaudenis Vidugiris 0 – 2 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Podcast - Legacy Weapons

by Rich Hagon

Once you reach round four, the full firepower of this awesome format is unleashed. We sit with Brazilian superstar Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, as he takes us through the Counterbalance-Top deck, and then we head out onto the floor, searching through a seething mass of humanity in search of the Pros just beginning their journey to the Legacy summit.

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Saturday, 7:07 p.m. – Metagame Sample

by Tobias Henke

With 2,220 players (again) in the tournament, there is absolutely no way we are going to be able to do a full run-down of all the deck lists. But to give you at least some idea about the composition of the metagame we took one random sample of about a hundred lists. Here is the breakdown of all the players whose last name starts with the letter A.

CounterTop 7
Survival 5
CounterTop + Natural Order 3
Natural Order 2
Total: 17
Hymn to Tourach Eva Green 5
Green/Black Pox 3
Yin Yang 2
Others 3
Total: 13
Goyfsligh/Zoo   14
Tempo Threshold   6
Fish   6
ANT   6
Merfolk   6
Goblins   6
Affinity   6
Dredge   6
Thopter Foundry   6
White Staxx   6
Mono Red Burn   6
Dreadstill   6
Nonblue Survival   6
Landstill   6
Faeries   6
Enchantress   6
Belcher   6
Others   6
  TOTAL: 106

To some of you all those fancy names might not mean a thing, so now the explaining starts. Bant, of course, is the blue-green-white aggro-control deck with impressive, inexpensive creatures spearheaded by Tarmogoyf in team with Rhox War Monk, Qasali Pridemage, and Noble Hierarch. Blue adds Force of Will, Brainstorm, and Daze while white turns Swords to Plowshares. This is the base line of the deck. Still, that leaves some room, most players decided to fill with this mean combination of Counterbalance plus Sensei's Divining Top which you might have heard of before. About a third of them added another combo with Natural Order to summon Progenitus, and some even had both. Also popular is Survival of the Fittest, sometimes to search up a bunch of Spellstutter Sprites, but mostly for the deadly combination of Iona, Shield of Emeria and Loyal Retainers.

Next up is Goyfsligh/Zoo, creatures in green, burn in red, and some white to pump Wild Nacatl, for Qasali Pridemage, and to send blockers on their Path to Exile. Pretty straightforward deck, let's leave it at that.

Suprisingly, more players than usual turned to Hymn to Tourach, mostly part pairing it with green. That can go two ways. On the one hand there's an aggro strategy with Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, called “Eva Green”; on the other there's Smallpox, Life from the Loam, and often one of Zendikar's new treasures: Gatekeeper of Malakir. A true control deck with a strong mana/hand denial component. “Yin Yang” is the name for the aggro variant that eschewes green for white.

Tempo Threshold is similar to Bant, but without any of the combos, instead running the full set of four Stifle and four Wasteland to cause mana problems on their opponents' side. Also they're running no white, but rather red for Lightning Bolt and Fire // Ice with Nimble Mongoose as another quick beater alongside Tarmogoyf, further stressing the tempo aspect. Fish is also blue and red, and sometimes green but always more... playful? One can find Grim Lavamancer, Standstill, and even Spellstutter Sprite in those lists.

Merfolk and ANT show up five times each. Merfolk is pretty self-explanatory, but ANT is cryptic shorthand for Ad Nauseam / Tendrils of Agony, your basic storm combo deck with Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual and a host of other mana accelerators, with Ad Nauseam drawing an insane amount of cards and Tendrils of Agony providing the actual kill.

You've probably seen Affinity and Goblins before, however Thopter Foundry (with Sword of the Meek) is new to Legacy. Three decks aiming for that combo might suggest some form of family project, so possibly we have finally reached the limit of sensible analysis and entered the area of pure statistical variance. Talking about variance, 40-land decks and Aggro Loam are the most notable absentees from this list

Nevertheless, this sample provides a pretty good idea of what's going on. Actual numbers might be off a little (or a little more), but one thing's for certain: the field is very diverse and full of fun and innovative ideas.

Round 6 Feature Match – Joel Calafell vs Juan Montanes Gonzales

by Tim Willoughby

Joel Calafell is playing the role of local hero here in Madrid. While Barcelona is his home town, he is one of only a few Spanish pro players, and the last time a GP came to his country he defeated allcomers with Cascade Swans. There was an understandably large crowd around his match, against Juan Montanes Gonzales, who also hails from Spain.

Both players started out their games with a mulligan, and exchanged some friendly bandter in Spanish as they shuffled vigorously. Gonzales led with a fetchland into Taiga, before passing the turn. A fetchland was the start from Calafell too, to find Underground Sea. His Thoughtseize revealed Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Horizon Canopy, Qasali Pridemage and a Path to Exile which was sent to the grumper.. Joel followed up with a Lotus Petal and passed.

Calafell doesn't like anyone winning GPs on his turf but him.

Gonzales drew and immediately played Tarmogoyf, which was pretty large by the end of turn, as Calafell sacrificed his Lotus Petal to play Mystial Tutor, fetching an Entomb. It looked that Joel was playing an aggressive reanimator strategy, but he was taking things slow and did nothing more than play a land for his turn, taking a hit down to 12 when Qasali Pridemage showed up for Gonzales, whose Zoo deck was much like an Extended build, with a much less painful mana base.

Calafell fetched a second Underground Sea at the end of turn before playing Entomb to find Sphinx of the Steel Wind. The sundry protections and lifelink of this Sphinx would be pretty saucy if it could get into play, and Joel also played a Mystical Tutor for Exhume in order to ensure that exactly that happened.

Joel looked to have turned the game around, but slumped a little in his chair when Gonzales showed a Path to Exile that he must have drawn in the past couple of turns. Now he was facing down beating s from Tarmogoyf that were likely to be lethal given the burn that Gonzales had already revealed to Thoughtseize. It was time for action for Joel, who played Brainstorm to dig for an answer. It was not forthcoming though, and Gonzales took the first game without incident.

Joel Calafell 0 – 1 Juan Montanes Gonzales

For game 2 Calafell thought long and hard before keeping his seven, while Gonzales was again forced to play with 6. A Thoughtseize revealed this six to be a pair of Grim Lavamancers, a pair of Path to Exile, a Savannah and a Tarmogoyf. One Path to Exile went away, and Joel had to think about what best to do about the other, which would rather stand in the way of his reanimation plan if things went anything like game 1. Duress on turn 2 did it, taking the second Path, and showing that Gonzales had drawn Qasali Pridemage.

Juan Montanes Gonzales should really be using his death stare on his opponent.

For a few turns the game was a bit of a farce, as each player was stuch on one land. For Calafell this wasa Swamp, while Gonzales had a Savannah for mana. Such poetry in motion was not good enough though as the simple basic Swamp had already cast a couple of spells, and got a third in Entomb for Sphinx of the Steel Wind, while Savannah had done nothing.

The next thing that The Little Swamp that Could put forth was Reanimate on Sphinx of the Steel Wind. The life loss would soon not be relevant if the big flyer could connect. Joel didn't have a second land, but it didn't matter – his flyer was far bigger and better than the Tarmogoyf that Gonzales could muster.

Calafell finally found a second land, in a fetchland. This found Underground Sea, which allowed for a Brainstorm from the Pro. A second Entomb put a Terastodon in the graveyard. Exhume got it right back out again, and turned Gonzales' lands into Elephants, putting the game far out of the reach of Gonzales, who was soon shuffling up for game 3.

Game 3 began with a Plateau and Goblin Guide, which revealed an Entomb in Calafell's future. Calafell cast a Brainstorm and a Lotus Petal for his turn, and passed. A fetchland from Gonzales was met with Stifle thanks to that Petal, and Calafell only continued to face the onslaught of a lone 2/2. That Entomb soon came out for Calafell, finding Terastodon. Calafell followed up with Brainstorm, and had little in answer to a Lightning Bolt aimed squarely at him. Another fetchland from Gonzales managed to find a Taiga unhindered, but there was no action to go with it before Joel's turn.

A Duress from Joel revealed Path to Exile, Ligthning Helix, Qasali Pridemage and Tarmogoyf. It was not a tough decision for Joel, who motioned for the Path to Exile to hit the graveyard. Now the coast was clear for Terastodon to get brought back into play with Exhume. The ability of Terastodon nuked two of Calafell's own lands, and the Plateau of Gonzales. This meant that Path to Exile would be doubly unlikely. That Gonzales got a 3/3 out of the deal was little consolation – he soon succumbed to a formidable set of attacks from Calafell

Joel Calafell 2 – 1 Juan Montanes Gonzales

Round 7 Feature Match – Rodrigo Borba vs. Tomoharu Saito

by Tobias Henke

The match started with Tomoharu Saito leveling the battlefield, literally, in his attempt to smoothen down the table cloth. In a more figurative sense this of course would be an uphill battle for Portugal's Rodrigo Borba, with the Japanese super pro the clear favorite.

Rodrigo Borba (left) and Tomoharu Saito (right)

Borba might have the odds of the match-up on his side, though. Tundra and Cursecatcher on turn one showed he was playing Merfolk, traditionally thought to be a good deck against Saito's ANT combo. Saito's turn one play was Lotus Petal followed by Duress. Which missed! Borba revealed a hand full of Lords but no further disruption. Saito would have to only play around the Cursecatcher, if he could go off before Borba was able to draw a counter.

So naturally turn two saw Saito enter the think-tank. When he emerged, he put Lion's Eye Diamond and Chrome Mox onto the battlefield (imprinting another Duress) and quickly passed the turn. Borba could only add another Lord to his army and attack to bring Saito down to 11. End of turn the Japanese cast Mystical Tutor and on his turn went for it. Cursecatcher increased the cost of Ad Nauseam to six, but cracking Lion's Eye Diamond still left Saito with two blue mana in his pool, when Ad Nauseam went to do its dirty work.

Dark Ritual
Polluted Delta
Mystical Tutor
Chrome Mox
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Chrome Mox
Cabal Ritual
Flooded Strand
Dark Ritual

Tomoharu Saito

... all entered Saito's hand. He stopped revealing cards at four life. First he cast Lion's Eye Diamond, then Chrome Mox (imprinting Cabal Ritual), then Dark Ritual, then Dark Ritual, then Mystical Tutor (searching Tendrils of Agony), then Brainstorm (drawing Tendrils of Agony), then Tendrils of Agony... and that was it.

Rodrigo Borba 0 – 1 Tomoharu Saito

Saito made a face when considering whether to mulligan for Game 2, apparently not quite happy either way. In the end he went down to six. Borba was fine with his seven, but ended his turn one without a play. Saito mirrored his game-one turn one. Underground see off a fetchland, followed by Lotus Petal and Duress. This time though, Borba did have spells: two Standstills and one Daze. Saito took the latter.

Then Borba raised some eye-brows with the unusual choice of casting Standstill without any pressure on the table. This resulted in several turns being spent in typical draw-go fashion until Borba found a Mutavault. When the land first attacked, and with seven cards in the Portuguese player's hand, Saito broke the Standstill at end of turn. His Brainstorm was countered by Borba's Force of Will, his Mystical Tutor however was allowed. Borba discarded one Silvergill Adept, and now all eyes were on Saito who drew the Cabal Ritual he had just tutored for.

Rodrigo Borba

He cast the Ritual and paid for his opponent's two Dazes. That left him with exactly five mana in his pool, which unsurprisingly were quickly used up to cast Ad Nauseam. Borba responded with yet another Force of Will. Saito, now with just four cards in hand, passed the turn.

Borba attacked with Mutavault and summoned Meddling Mage, set to Tendrils of Agony. Saito Pondered to set up another attampt at the combo for his next turn. And indeed, at twelve life he cast Dark Ritual, then Ad Nauseam, and proceded to flip...

Tropical Island
Chrome Mox
Misty Rainforest
Dark Ritual
Chrome Mox
City of Traitors
Lion's Eye Diamond
Infernal Tutor
Dark Ritual
City of Traitors
Dark Ritual

That gave Saito an awful lot of mana as well as a way to find Tendrils of Agony but still no way to get rid of Borba's Meddling Mage. As it turns out, the Slaughter Pact was already hidden in his hand. Carnage ensued...

Rodrigo Borba 0 – 2 Tomoharu Saito

Deck Tech - Winter Wizards

by Tim Willoughby

This is the deck that has got me most excited so far at GP Madrid this weekend. Part of the reason for this is that it seems a very strong application of a card that has not really been played a great deal in the format, and also because it looks like a bit of a rough diamond that is apt for polishing up and trying at my own local events.

The deck’s designer, Pierre Devillers, had a bit of a rough set of matchups this weekend, and though he isn’t going to be playing on day 2, he seemed enthusiastic about the direction that the deck was taking. I have to say, I feel very much the same. The deck makes very good use of Winter Orb, the original piece of all good prison decks from the early days of Magic. Winter Orb probably saw the greatest success in Alan Comer’s Miracle Gro deck, which proved the answer to Trix when it was big in Extended. While times have changed a bit since then, Legacy remains a format with quite a bit of combo, in which mana denial is a nice strategy to keep things honest.

Here is Pierre’s full deck

Winter Wizards
Pierre Devillers

Winter Wizards (Pierre Devillers)

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Now Pierre would be the first to admit that this is not a deck he considers ‘finished’, but it is playing on a lot of interesting synergies that are a great avenue for further exploration. Working with a limited collection it is full of synergies that seem worth building on.

The thing that first drew me to the deck was the synergy between Winter Orb and Patron Wizard. With a few friends to back him up, Patron Wizard can put a real hurt on opponents’ mana, and Winter Orb can reinforce this pain by meaning that even if Patron Wizard doesn’t fully counter a spell, making it cost more is still good. Thinking of friends for Patron Wizard, there are few better than Stonybrook Schoolmaster. He can quickly flood the board with wizards to put the lock on.

Another key component of the deck is Scryb Ranger. When there is a Winter Orb out, this little faerie is great at keeping mana up, while also providing more untapped creatures for a whole host of effects. There are also a couple of neat tricks the Ranger can do while Winter Orb isn’t around. With Dryad Arbor, this deck can block, bounce and replay to keep counters off an Umezawa’s Jitte.

These little synergies gradually build up to making an interesting Wizards / Orb deck. I think that were I to build it I would likely go for a little more countermagic, including a full set of Spellstutter Sprites, and more Patron Wizard/Schoolmaster, along with perhaps Force of Will.

If you are looking for a something to polish, it feels like this is a deck where the work might well pay off. Winter Orb in blue/green/white was a great fit for Super-Gro, the final version of Miracle Gro. Have a miracle go.

Podcast - Down to Business

by Rich Hagon

It takes a while to get into high gear, but once these events start revving, they don't let up. In this show, we bring you snapshots of top table action, including a top-speed blow-by-blow account of Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa against Gaudenis Vidugiris, plus a glimpse of the Rookie of the Year doing unspeakable things with Dream Halls, Conflux, and Cruel Ultimatum. Probably in that order.

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Round 8 Feature Match – Richard Bland vs Lino Burgold

by Tim Willoughby

Coming into round 8 we have a nice matchup between two undefeated players. Lino Burgold, the current Rookie of the Year, from Germany, is playing a pretty sweet combo deck, while Bland, from the UK has a rather more traditional offering. Both these two are mainstays of the European GP scene, and are solid players from whom we can expect a good match. Richard, who has yet to have the same sort of breakout success to Lino, regularly plays the same FNM as both the Orsini-Jones brothers, and Daniel Gardner, the current Great Britain National Champion. Dan had a great performance last weekend at Pro Tour San Diego, and both Orsini-Jones have had fair amounts of success at the Pro Tour level. Clearly not an FNM that could be considered an easy ride, but almost certainly one where there is plenty to learn.

The 'My Progenitus lost the race' face.

Lino won the roll for the match, and led with just an Island. Richard had Forest and Wild Nacatl. It wasn’t until turn two that each player broke out the dual lands. Burgold had an Underground Sea, while Bland had a Plateau which made his turn one cat much scarier. He followed up with Gaddock Teeg. At the end of turn Burgold had the other awesome blue uncommon instant from Alliances – Lim Dul’s Vault. He used this to set up for a big third turn.

The play from Burgold on turn three was Show and Tell. As it turns out, Burgold had a more powerful card than Bland here. Progenitus is just a tad larger than Qasali Pridemage. Now Bland had pause for thought. He was suddenly on a two turn clock, but Lino, at 16 life, was potentially within range of his Zoo deck. After a little thought, Bland cast a Knight of the Reliquary, and swung with his whole team, unafraid of blocks from Progenitus. Burgold dropped to 12.

A Ponder came from Burgold, who had to respect the damage potential from Bland’s deck at this point. He attacked Bland to 9. The swings back took Lino to 5. A Chain Lightning and a Lightning Bolt finished it.

Richard Bland 1 – 0 Lino Burgold

The second game was left looking dicey for Burgold before a card was played, as the Rookie of the Year took a pair of mulligans. Finally he shrugged and kept his five card hand. Both players started out a little slow, with the first spell coming on Bland’s second turn, in the form of Gaddock Teeg. The little legend is a touch problematic for Burgold’s deck, which aims to win much of the time by resolving various expensive spells. Burgold was quick to aim a Deathmark at the 2/2.

Blando Throws Down a Face Down to Show and Tell.

Bland followed up with a Qasali Pridemage. Burgold, meanwhile, was stuck on two land, and seemed to have little action. Bland played first Grim Lavamancer, and then a Sylvan Library. Knowing that he was playing against a combo deck, Bland would likely be fine with drawing a few extra cards with the Library, forcing Burgold to try to win sooner rather than later.

A Brainstorm came from Burgold, who had a fetchland to shuffle away those cards that he didn’t want. A Ponder was next, but nothing further. Bland drew an extr card of his own, thanks to Sylvan Library. He attacked Burgold to 13, and played out a Kird Ape, keeping quite a bit of mana open. Could there be some burn spells in Burgold’s future?

Lino was fast approaching the moment that he just had to go for it. Bland’s board was growing, and the German had to assume that he was on a short clock. At the end of turn a Lightning Helix made life totals 17 to 10 in the Englishman’s favour. Grim Lavamancer then put Lino on 8. Richard attacked to put Lino on four. A Chain Lightning from Bland threatened to make that one, drawing a Force of Will from Burgold, who was very much on the ropes. Lightning Bolt finished it, as Blando Calrission and the British Empire struck back.

Richard Bland wins 2 – 0!

Saturday, 10:31 – Quick Questions

by Tobias Henke

Three times three. We’ve got Czech level-eight pro player Martin Juza, Luis Scott-Vargas, level eight from the United States, and from the Netherlands Bram Snepvangers, recently Worlds top-eight competitor and Pro Tour player from way back.

Luis Scott Vargas

What was your most awkward loss today?
Two of my losses were against Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s ultimate. In Legacy!

How do you manage to prepare for four different formats played over two weeks?
We skipped testing for one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. [Luis dropped from the tournament at 4-3.] But I don’t think it was for my lack of preparation, I just chose the wrong deck. Enchantress isn’t actually bad. If I thought Enchantress was terrible I wouldn’t have played it. On the other hand if I had gone for CounterTop I know I would have been wishing I’d played Enchantress all day.

If players want to meet you, where can they find you playing FNM?
I play at the Super Stars Game Center in San Jose.

Martin Juza

What was your most awkward loss today?
Not really awkward, but my opponents always had the Force of Will. Always!

How do you manage to prepare for four different formats played over two weeks?
Well... I think you just have to sacrifice one of them, which for us meant Legacy. And of course you practice the most fun format the most. That of course was booster draft for Pro Tour San Diego!

If players want to meet you, where can they find you playing FNM?
The Wizards Play Network location in Pilzen.

Bram Snepvangers

What was your most awkward loss today?
Possibly the round four match against Robert Van Meedevort. I played test games against him before the tournament and won most of them.

How do you manage to prepare for four different formats played over two weeks?
I... I don’t. That’s why I took a friend’s deck, Merfolk, and went with that. Also, because it’s rather easy to play as opposed to some of the decks.

If players want to meet you, where can they find you playing FNM?
The Joker in Utrecht.

Sunday, 00: 21 a.m.– On the Bubble

by Tobias Henke

In the last round some familiar names were, so to say, on the infamous bubble. With two losses (or, in one case, one loss and a draw) those players needed to win to make it into day two.

Sam Black sitting across from Marco Prete.

Sam Black of the United States made it. He and his "Lands" deck were up against Marco Prete playing ANT, a match-up which is... difficult, and that might be serious understatement even. He smashed him 2-0 though, after in game one Prete went: "Sacrifice Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual... go." Black's Life from the Loam / Wasteland engine took the second game with a little help from Leyline of the Void. GP Paris top-eight competitor Bern Brendemühl was up against Michael Filler in an all-German knock-out match. Brendemühl's Dredge deck overcame the little resistance his opponent could muster with more mulligans than lands.

Mark Dictus (left), Rodriguez Reyes (right)

The Belgians sent Mark Dictus into the fray with ANT. Rodriguez Reyes, playing on home soil, proved victorious here. Despite a whole bunch of friends cheering him on, Dictus quickly succumbed to Ape and Nacatl beats with Gaddock Teeg for good measure.

Gaudenis Vidugiris, deep in thought, across from Guillaume Michel. Gaudenis Vidugiris and his Merfolk were paired against Guillaume Michel of France, playing Tempo Thresh. In the first duel, Wasteland and Stifle succesfully dismantled his opponent's mana base, and Umezawa's Jitte finished the game in short fashion. Game two was a whole different story, however. Vidugiris did manage to make it into Sunday, if only because the long drawn-out affair was the last match still in progress, ten minutes past midnight. Talking about draws, yes, this was also the anticlimactic result. Vidugiris's score 6-1-2, sadly not enough for day two.


Podcast - Late Night Legacy

by Rich Hagon

Nine rounds have gone, and eleven remain. 2220 players began, now 237 remain. In this last show of day one, we give you the head to head between Spanish favorite Joel Calafell and German Pro Jan Ruess. Plus we roundup the events of the day, and prepare for a mighty day of Legacy Magic tomorrow, when another Grand Prix Champion will be crowned. Join us then!

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