Grand Prix Antwerp Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on October 26, 2013


A whopping 1,600 entered the tournament yesterday, making this one of the largest Modern Grand Prix of all times. After nine rounds of Swiss play only 202 players remained, with four players sharing the coveted spot atop the standings. Fabrizio Anteri, Ron Cadier, Alexandre Bonneau, and Rasmus Björklund, running Tron, Black-Green Rock, and Living End, went 9-0 yesterday.

But at the beginning of Day Two one can find several household names not far behind, like French Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy and World Champion Shahar Shenhar, along with Louis Deltour, Michael Bonde, Arjan van Leeuwen, and Lino Burgold, all sporting respectable 8-1 records. It's going to be interesting to see who will navigate the additional six rounds most succesfully. Just as interesting is going to be our in-depth look at the Modern format which continues to evolve.

Who will rise to the occasion and make the second cut to the final eight? Which deck will ultimately leave the opposition behind and emerge victorious as the new champion of the Modern format? Join us when we bring you all the answers to these questions, all the news straight from the battlefield, and more in our live coverage of Grand Prix Antwerp!


Sunday, 10:15 a.m. – Live Streaming on Site

by Oliver Gehrmann

Even though Rich Hagon had quite a few things to say about the Streaming Highlights from Day 1 (more on that later), he wasn't quite done there. One other thing that he pointed out was this:

"The idea that players can sit in the cafeteria being able to watch the stream live in the building is a really nice touch."

He added: "Fortunately, the feature match tables couldn't see the stream because they were right behind the big screen on the other side!"

So what's this live streaming area on site we just mentioned? Here you go:

This weekend, players in attendance can watch the stream live on site!

I also sat down with some of the players that have been watchting the stream to collect some feedback.

Remy Lachaud: "I wouldn't say we can learn too much from watching the stream. We know the players and we know their decks. Normally, you don't get to see the cards they're playing, but with this set-up, it's really easy to follow the action. I only knew this from the Pro Tour, but I'm glad they adapted the feature for the Grand Prix."

Fabrizio Anteri, who just lost his round 10 Feature Match, also made use of the time in between games to kick back and relax.

Fabrizio Anteri & Daniel Fior: "The thing we like the most is that you can sit down and relax and at the same time watch some exciting Magic. I've never been watching the Feature Matches because it was always so crowded and you couldn't make out much, but with the big screen, it's really easy to do so. The only thing that we don't like so much yet is that the contrast is a little bad, so there's some room for improvement."

Alright, we'll take that advice to heart and see if we can make it even better when the Grand Prix returns to Europe in just a few weeks. However, let's not get ahead of ourselves too much, since Grand Prix Antwerp is just about to make it to the most exciting stage.

Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – Undefeated Decks

by Tobi Henke

Of 1,600 players only four emerged after yesterday's nine rounds with pristine records. Fabrizio Anteri, Alexandre Bonneau, Rasmus Björklund, and Ron Cadier beat all comers and went 9-0. The decks they used to accomplish such a feat may be surprising however. Powerhouses like Birthing Pod or the ubiquitous Jund and Junk decks didn't make it to the very top yesterday. Splinter Twin, UWR, or Scapeshift were also suspiciously absent from this, admittedly small, sampling of decks. Instead we got Urzatron, two Living End decks, and, of particular note, a black and green Rock deck, similar to Jund but definitely not the same. Ron Cadier's list has more discard and features Desecration Demon; instead of a third color, he has additional disruption in Tectonic Edge, supplemented by Fulminator Mage out of the sideboard; and where other lists pack Lingering Souls, he has boards Night of Souls' Betrayal. A sweet and evidently strong deck ...

Ron Cadier (9-0)

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Fabrizio Anteri (9-0)

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Alexandre Bonneau (9-0)

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Rasmus Björklund (9-0)

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Round 10 Feature Match: Fabrizio Anteri vs. Rasmus Björklund

by Tobi Henke

These players are no strangers to the spotlights of the feature match area. Fabrizio Anteri has a third place at Grand Prix London 2013 to his name, Rasmus Björklund did one better with a second place at Grand Prix Rimini this year. Obviously, both were looking to add another Top 8 to their résumé this weekend, and went off to a good start yesterday, each going 9-0.

The matchup here was Urzatron, played by Anteri, versus Björklund's Living End deck. The Tron deck would try to assemble the trio of Urza's Power Plant, Urza's Mine, and Urza's Tower with the help of Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying to pump out six- and seven-mana spells as early as turn three, while the Living End deck is cycling lots of expensive creatures, then follows it up with a cascade spell such as Violent Outburst to find and cast its namesake card—reliably, as the deck has no spells which cost less than three mana, apart from Living End itself.

What would make the match interesting, however, was that Björklund's deck included four Fulminator Mages and two Avalanche Riders, whereas Anteri's had four Relic of Progenitus. As Björklund put it, "Our decks basically have the best sideboard cards for this matchup already in the main deck."

Rasmus Björklund

Game 1

Anteri started quickly with Urza's Power Plant, Chromatic Star on turn one, Urza's Tower, and Sylvan Scrying for Urza's Mine on turn two. Come turn three, Anteri already had a Wurmcoil Engine on the battlefield. Still stuck on two lands after some cycling, Björklund cast a Fulminator Mage thanks to Simian Spirit Guide. It blocked Wurmcoil Engine and killed Urza's Mine—but not before Anteri had dropped another bomb in Karn Liberated.

Karn Liberated reduced Björklund to a single land. More cycling by Björklund followed and Karn Liberated sacrificed itself to kill another land. Facing lethal damage at the hand of Wurmcoil Engine and unable to cast any of his three-mana spells, Björklund picked up his cards in concession.

Game 2

Anteri basically had the same start into the game, but this time he was on the draw and had his Urza's Mine destroyed before he had even played his third land. On turn four, Björklund cast Demonic Dread, cascading into Living End, killing Anteri's Spellskite and reanimating Fulminator Mage as well as Valley Rannet. The latter brought the beatings, the former provided the disruption ... This was over soon.

Game 3

For the first time Anteri was unable to play three different Urza lands on the first three turns, thanks to a timely evoked Ingot Chewer destroying Expedition Map. He did have Relic of Progenitus though which slowed things down for Björklund as well. With just two Urza's Mines and an Urza's Tower on the battlefield, Anteri felt the need to draw an extra card off his Relic and sacrificed it, just exiling a pair of recently-cycled Monstrous Carabids. But the card draw didn't help and Fulminator Mage reduced Anteri to just Urza's Mines now.

Fabrizio Anteri

An Expedition Map may have changed that but Violent Outburst cascaded into Living End returned Fulminator Mage and Street Wraith. The two creatures proceeded to attack for the first points of damage, and put Anteri one additional step away from Urzatron mana. Another Fulminator Mage sealed the deal.

After the match the players were discussing the key play of the third game. "I'm not sure you should have cracked that Relic of Progenitus there," said Björklund. "I had Stone Rain in hand," Anteri justified his decision, revealing his sideboard card, "if I draw a red source I can keep you off three mana." Unfortunately it didn't come to that and Anteri fell to 9-1, with Björklund advancing to 10-0.

Round 11 Feature Match - (9) Stanislav Cifka vs. Heiner Kolp

by Oliver Gehrmann

Stanislav Cifka is the No. 9-ranked player in the Top 25 Rankings. He's a Pro Tour Winner and he's advanced to the Top 8 of a Grand Prix twice before, so he's somewhat used to playing at the top tables.

Heiner Kolp was the underdog in this match-up!

Heiner Kolp on the other side hasn't been quite so fortunate. And if game 1 was any indication, that wouldn't change today, with him going down to 4 cards in his starting hand while Cifka felt confident with his opening 7.

Considering that Cifka was playing his take on the Splinter Twin archetype (instead of going with red blue, he went red white) and Kolp was bringing a Kiki-Pod deck to the table, it won't surprise you to hear that we were done with the first game in a mere 7 minutes. This is how it went:

Kolp tried to pull ahead with two copies of Noble Hiearch and he also had Birds of Paradise, but Cifka had enough removal to slow his opponent down before a Village Bell-Ringer at the end of Kolp's turn into one of Cifka's combo pieces the following turn spelled doom on Kolp's plans.

A Village Bell-Ringer indicated the end of this game prematurely.

Game 2 - score: 1:0 Cifka

This time, Cifka had less of an advantage since Kolp was happy with his opening 7. Once again, Cifka's removal (Lightning Bolt and Magma Jet) dealt with Kolp's acceleration (Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch), providing Cifka with the time he needed to set up his combo.

Stanislav Cifka seemed to have all the answers he needed!

Kolp seemingly came close, casting Birthing Pod, but a pass without actions indicated a Village Bell-Ringer from Cifka. It then seemed that Cifka had wrapped things up when Grafdigger's Cage hit the field, however, Kolp instead tried to bring the beatdown with Restoration Angel and Zealous Conscripts.

While he got Cifka down to 12, it still wasn't enough, since a timely Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker wrapped things up a turn later for the former Pro Tour Champion.

Kolp seemingly came close, but Cifka had this game wrapped up already!

Since it didn't seem like the players had to make too many decisions in these matches, I instead asked Cifka about the match-up in general. He pointed out that both players want to go for the combo as fast as possible in this match-up, but they're both looking for different pieces.

Kolp's big advantage is having access to Birthing Pod, while Cifka has some creature removal to stop his opponent's combo. For him, it's very important to not give his opponent any time by getting rid of his creatures whenever he has the chance (we saw that in the second game).

He boarded in Stony Silence to have yet another answer to Birthing Pod, so at the end of the day, it's more about the mulligan decision than anything else. "You need creature removal to stop him from going off while he can't stop you. So overall, I think it's a good match-up for me", Cifka commented.

Hard to argue after this performance and if this game was any indication, we might see Cifka again in the Top 8 later today.

Round 12 Feature Match - Michael Bonde vs. Patrick Dickmann

by Oliver Gehrmann

For the very last Swiss round we invited all around nice guy Michael Bonde from Denmark to our table as well as Patrick Dickmann from Germany. Bonde advanced to the Top 8 of a Grand Prix before and he thought that Dickmann did the same. The German corrected him right away, though, explaining that his twin made it to the finals of Grand Prix Bochum.

"Ah, that makes sense, then. He had a pretty sweet sideboard, though!", Bonde claimed, to which Dickmann immediately replied: "It was very random." Despite of what was on the line, the mood at the table was good.

Both are sitting on 9 - 2 records, Bonde brought a Jund deck to the table and Dickmann called his deck "Tempo Splinter Twin" because it tries to combine the strategies of Splinter Twin and a burn deck.

"High roll fine with you?" - "Sehr gut!", Bonde replied, showing the results of his German classes.

"Good games, have fun" - "Likewise, but don't get too lucky!"

Bonde went straight for the mulligan while Dickmann kept his opening 7. "I will keep this", Bonde explained, he then had Misty Rainforest and that concluded the game.

Bonde lost the first game without his opponent ever making a play.

"Why?", you might ask...

Turns out Bonde realized while looking through his deck that he hadn't sided out his cards from the previous game.

Game 2 - Dickmann leading 1:0

"I really didn't want to lose to myself and now that happened", Bonde commented on his error. Still, he seemed focused enough to turn things around.

In the second game, Bonde stayed for several turns on 1 mana, but he wasn't out of options, thanks to a Deathrite Shaman and a Thoughtseize. He saw these cards:

Bonde tried to slow his opponent down to make up for his low mana.

Dickmann then upped the ante with 2 copies of Grim Lavamancer and they quickly started to reduce the Danish player's life. Bonde lost another turn with no second land showing up, but a turn later, he had a fetch land to be able to cast Abrupt Decay to deal with one of the Grim Lavamancers.

Dickmann wanted to wrap things up with a Vendilion Clique, but Bonde had a Path to Exile to buy him one final turn. This time it was Dickmann who saw his opponent's hand:

Bonde had plenty of cards and still he was out of options.

When Dickmann wanted to start writing down the contents of his opponent's hand, Bonde replied: "I'll play with them open. If I don't draw into Abrupt Decay, I lost." Dickmann took the invitation, Bonde didn't draw what he needed and he then extended the hand.

This was one of the easiest matches for Patrick Dickmann this weekend.

How did you come up with the idea for the deck, I asked Dickmann and that's what he had to say: "I've been playing Splinter Twin for 2 years already, I then added Snapcaster Mage and after that, I advanced to the Top 8 of PTQs 4 times. I kept working on the deck constantly, this is the current iteration and it's serving me quite well."

Sunday, 12:30 p.m. – Streaming Highlights

by Oliver Gehrmann

We've produced hours and hours of video coverage and if you haven't had the time to watch it all live, here are the recommendations of our dedicated video coverage team. You can find all videos here: The Magic channel on Twitch TV.

Let's start with our man behind the scenes (more commonly called "producer"), the "Voice of Magic", Richard Hagon:

"One of my personal highlights this weekend were the more than 2 hours of original content that we were able to show in between matches, making sure that our audience was engaged throughout the whole day. Yesterday, we had Jeremy Dezani in the booth who did a "DVD commentary" on the Pro Tour Theros final that we'll be showing later today."

What can we expect from this interview?

Rich: "One of the stand-out things he said to us was that "testing beats talent almost everytime".

"So what he's saying is that even if you're amazingly talented, if you're not testing, you won't come out successful. If he had the choice, he would rather be less talented if it meant he had more devotion to playtesting."

Our Video Coverage Team is hard at work to bring you live impressions from Antwerp!

Oh wow, that certainly sounds like something to look forward to. Anything else?

"Another thing worth mentioning is that over the course of 6 rounds, we managed to show 24 different matches on the stream. That meant we saw tons of different decks in the hands of some of the most gifted Magic players. My personal favorite was probably the last round where all of the 4 matches decided who would advance to day 2.

"Peter Vieren brought the most creative deck to the table, however, he couldn't best the Scapeshift deck of Sjoblom. Apart from that, we saw Jeremy Dezani, Stanislav Cifka and Florian Koch securing a spot in competition on day 2."

I also asked our commentators Marijn Lybaert and Matej Zatlkaj about their favorite part and Marijn quickly answered for both of them:

"My personal highlight was giving the seminar of all the Modern archetypes before the tournament began!"

If you missed this very recommendable watch, you can find it - just like all the other past broadcasts - on the Magic channel on Twitch TV. Also, we have a write-up of the article in our text coverage.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – Day Two Metagame Breakdown

by Tobi Henke

Deck: Number: Percentage:
Birthing Pod 26 12.9
Jund 26 12.9
Affinity 23 11.4
UWR 18 8.9
Splinter Twin 17 8.4
Urzatron 13 6.4
Junk 12 5.9
Merfolk 9 4.5
Scapeshift 7 3.5
GW Hatebears 7 3.5
Living End 6 3.0
Naya 6 3.0
Hexproof 5 2.5
Gruul Aggro 4 2.0
Five-Color Zoo 3 1.5
Burn 3 1.5
BG Rock 2 1.0
Infect 2 1.0
Ad Nauseam 2 1.0
Others: 11 5.4
Total: 202  

Sunday, 10:45 a.m. – Mono Blue Devotion in Modern

by Oliver Gehrmann

When Shahar Shenhar, who is ranked 4th in the Top 25 Rankings, popped up on our Magic stream on Twitch TV yesterday, there seemed to be one question on the minds of many viewers: Why is no one trying to make a Mono Blue Devotion deck work in the Modern format? (That was probably before we also featured Raphael Levy.)

Rather than starting a poor attempt to answer the question myself, I instead approached Shenhar with the question so he could explain to us why that might or might not be a good idea.

Shahar, do you think that it's possible to build a competitive Mono Blue Devotion deck in Modern?

"I could definitely build a Mono Blue Devotion deck, I just don't think that it would be that competitive. The closest thing we currently have to this archetype is the Merfolk deck that is trying to make some waves this weekend, but I'm not quite convinced. So what I'm saying is that in a way, such a deck IS out there, but it's struggeling for a number of reasons."

Shahar Shenhar's verdict for a Mono Blue Devotion deck wasn't so positive.

Please elaborate.

Shahar: "For a real devotion deck, you need a lot of pieces. With Thoughtseize, Lightning Bolt and many other cheap cards, you can easily dismantle the strategy."

"While I still think that there's room for this kind of deck, nobody has been able to break it so far."

What are the reasons to try and build such a deck?

"The single best reason is Master of Waves in my opinion. Your opponent can't get rid of it with Magma Spray and Liliana of the Veil doesn't work on him either, so that makes it a very good card.

"You have to answer Master of Waves immediately, otherwise, you've basically lost the game right there."

"The problem with the deck in Modern is that most games play out like a '1 threat against 1 threat' and it then often comes down to who has the last answer. So players are prepared for powerful cards and they tend to have cheap and efficient removal for them and that's why you won't get as much out of the strategy as you do in other formats."

So there you have it. According to one of the best players in the world right now, there's very room for such a deck in the current Modern format. Another high-ranked player in the Top 25 Pro Rankings, Raphael Levy, is trying to prove him (and all the other doubters) wrong this weekend. Who are you rooting for? Shahar Shenhar or Raphael Levy? Join the conversation and let us know on Twitter with the hash tag #gpantwerp.

Round 13 Feature Match - Lino Burgold vs. (18) Raphaël Lévy

by Tobi Henke

French Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy really doesn't need a big introduction, what with his three Pro Tour Top 8s and a whopping nineteen Grand Prix Top 8s including four wins. His opponent this round was Lino Burgold, a former Rookie of the Year and no slouch either with three GP Top 8s and one win to his name. But résumé-wise Lévy, currently ranked 18th in the world, was the clear favorite here.

The decks facing off here, however, were Merfolk, played by Lévy, and Birthing Pod, a match-up Lévy called "terrible."

Both entered the round with ten wins and two losses, unable to afford another defeat if they were to make it to the Top 8.

Game 1

The early game was characterized by mana problems on Lévy's side, who found himself with a single Island and two Tectonic Edges, unable to cast Master of the Pearl Trident even after drawing an extra card with Silvergill Adept. Meanwhile, Burgold had cast Noble Hierarch and Domri Rade on turn two, followed by Deceiver Exarch to deny Lévy the use of his Æther Vial for one additional turn. One Birthing Pod met Spell Pierce and a second Silvergill Adept died to Murderous Redcap. But now Lévy's Æther Vial was active and pumped out Coralhelm Commander which was leveled up four times and killed Domri Rade. Now tapped out, he was unfortunately unable to stop a second Birthing Pod, which Burgold used to sacrifice the Redcap to get Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. An army of infinite Deceiver Exarchs took game one.

(18) Raphaël Lévy

Game 2

Lévy quickly kept his opening seven but, curiously, took a long time to decide on his first-turn play. Burgold was amused. "You don't even play fetchlands," he said. "It can't be that hard. You either play Æther Vial or you don't."

Lévy smiled and did play the artifact, but the difficult part had been which land to start with. In this case it was Mutavault. Lévy used Æther Vial to make a turn-three Coralhelm Commander which immediately went to level two. Unfortunately, after his Mutavault and Island, Lévy had stopped playing lands. Æther Vial provided another Commander which also went to level two and a Master of the Pearl Trident.

Meanwhile, Burgold had summoned Spellskite, Voice of Resurgence, and hit one Commander with Path to Exile. The additional land was almost quite as good for Lévy as the creature, and after Dismember and Vapor Snag, he attacked for lethal damage and evened the score.

"This would have been easier if I could have played my Islands," said Burgold after the game. "But I'm too afraid [of Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident]."

Lino Burgold

Game 3

Lévy had an extremely slow start into the game with Silvergill Adept on turn two followed by Master of the Pearl Trident and Æther Vial on turn three, whereas Burgold came out fast with Noble Hierarch, Wall of Roots, Kitchen Finks, Birds of Paradise, and another Wall. Having played all but one card in his hand, Burgold was thoroughly out of gas though. Still, the Walls put up a solid defense, even when Lévy added another Master to his team. Finally, he found Spreading Seas. He brought Lord of Atlantis via Æther Vial, attacked for 13 points of unblockable damage, and, on the next turn, for the win.

Burgold revealed his hand of one more land and Voice of Resurgence, and looked at the top couple of cards of his library. "Nothing here either," he commented. "Maybe this should have been a mulligan," he wondered. "Then again, the mana dudes usually are so good in this match-up."

Sunday, 3:00 p.m. – Raphaël Lévy, Master of Waves

by Tobi Henke

French Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy has been riding the waves masterfully this weekend, making his way to a 11-2 record in the first thirteen rounds, still well in contention for a Top 8 berth. The deck he chose to do battle with? A new version of Merfolk with four copies of Master of Waves and two-off Thassa, God of the Sea.

So why this deck?

"A few days back I heard from Willy Edel who was complaining about the lack of Modern events in his part of the world," Lévy recalled. "He claimed to have a new deck that was 'unbeatable' in the format."

Lévy didn't ask for a decklist then, but a chance encounter did help him out there. "Then I ran into Thiago Rodrigues here, our French-Mexican, who had this deck he was really excited about ... 'It's Willy's,' he said, and I remembered the earlier conversation. I liked the deck and almost immediately made the switch from Jund."

Raphaël Lévy, Thiago Rodrigues (L–R)

"I didn't want to play Jund. Anything would have been better than Jund," said Lévy.

But is this deck really as good as advertised? "I love it!" he said. "It has tough match-ups against Pod and Affinity, but everything else is great. Tron is fine, Jund is fine, I'm really happy with the deck choice."

Raphaël Lévy – Merfolk

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Round 14 Feature Match – Reto Sormani vs. Joel Calafell

by Oliver Gehrmann

We're closing in on our Top 8 for this weekend and invited 2 players to the table that desperately need a win to keep living the dream: Reto Sormani and Joel Calafell.

Calafell had advanced to the finals of a Pro Tour before, he already won a Grand Prix and he reached the Top 8 of 2 more Grand Prix. That made Sormani appear like the underdog in this match, whose track record didn't list a Top 8 so far.

Reto Sormani felt confident with his choice of Kiki-Pod this weekend!

Sormani, who played Kiki-Pod, won the die roll. Calafell was yet another successful player that piloted the Living End deck this weekend and both players opted to keep.

The first game seemed like a clear cut case with Sormani pulling ahead with Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks. Calafell tried to stop his opponent's plan from unfolding with 2 copies of Fulminator Mage, but not before Sormani also added a Scavenging Ooze, courtesy of Chord of Calling.

Shortly after, Calafell was already down to 6 life, but that was when a Living End turned the field upside down!

Calafell came back with Living End, but Sormani found Aven Mindcensor!

The game had morphed into a stalemate, with no player attacking the following turns, until Calafell went in with Jungle Weaver to make it 20 on his opponent again. That's when Sormani cast the flying Aven Mindcensor and the following 2 turns, he cleared it's path with Deceiver Exarch, tapping the Djungle Weaver that had Reach.

An all-in attack from Sormani basically wrapped things up, with Calafell not finding an answer the turn later to stop the opposing forces.

After a long-build-up, Sormani went all-in!

Game 2 - Score: 1:0 Sormani

Things went much more smoothly for Calafell the second game, despite Sormani acting as the aggressor from early on once again with Noble Hierarch and Glen Elendra Arcmage.

That was certainly reason enough to anger the Gods or so Calafell thought, casting Anger of the Gods to wipe the board. A Living End later, Sormani lost his Restoration Angel that was his attempt at rebuilding while Calafell now sported an impressive field.

Sormani wanted to use Calafell's weapons against himself, but would it be enough?

Zealous Conscripts made sure Sormani would be the first to attack with Calafell's Pale Recluse, but Calafell was still left with plenty of life. Attacks on the following turns wrapped things up which meant we'd be playing an all-deciding third game.

Game 3 - Score: 1:1

Sormani kept his opening 7 while Calafell went down to 5 cards! This didn't seem to have too much of an effect, however, with Sormani not finding as much early aggression as he did in the games leading up to this.

Could Joel Calafell keep the momentum for the final game?

The game then took a turn in Sormani's direction when he found two copies of Kitchen Finks to threaten Calafell, who was eventually forced to cast Violent Outburst to hang in there.

Calafell flipped the table once again!

Now Calafell found himself in the driver's seat, also thanks to Shriekmaw, that dealt with 1 copy of the resilient Kitchen Finks once and for all. Despite a Restoration Angel that blinked the remaining Finks, Calafell was seemingly ahead, but Sormani found a Noble Hierarch to pull ahead in life totals after attacks with his creatures.

Sormani's Ethersworn Canonist was met with an Ingot Chewer and when Sormani would attack once again with Restoration Angel and Kitchen Finks, Calafell cast a second Violet Outburst. He then realized that this was probably not the best play, asking his opponent whether he could take it back. Before Sormani could reply, the judge stepped in, so Calafell went searching, finding a Living End. Time was called at that very instant, too.

Time was called when Calafell used Violent Outburst.

During the extra turns, Sormani added more blockers and he also had a Deceiver Exarch to buy himself yet more time while Calafell didn't feel like committing to any risky plays with only 8 life remaining. Eventually, he extended his hand, ending the game in a draw.

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. – Ringing the Bell with Stanislav Cifka

by Oliver Gehrmann

Stanislav Cifka's opponent in round 11, Heiner Kolp, went down after only 15 minutes and he could still hear the bell faintly ringing after the match. The lightning-fast deck that Cifka and MartinJůza had been running this weekend could go off as early as turn 4 and not all of their opponents saw the combo kill coming. We sat down with Stanislav Cifka who is still in competition to discuss their strategy.

Stanislav, how did you decide on the deck that you've been playing this weekend?

"I was testing the Splinter Twin UWR for quite a while, but I felt like I'm taking too much damage with the duals and I also lost often to Blood Moon. I ended up asking myself: 'Why should I even play blue?', because it didn't seem like there were enough reasons."

Stanislav Cifka was among the top seated players this weekend!

"I prefer to play the active deck with some value instead of being the less aggressive player. So I ended up cutting blue and it meant I would now be able to add Blood Moon myself, which seemed like another good reason."

For the players who are not that familiar with the interactions, can you explain the different ways how the deck can go off?

It really depends on the match-up. Basically, you have the combos with Splinter Twin and Village Bell-Ringer (Splinter Twin creates a token copy of Village Bell-Ringer, triggering its effect. The enchanted Village Bell-Ringer untaps, so you can create another copy. Rinse repeat until you have enough tokens to go in for a lethal attack since the tokens also have Haste).

Village Bell-Ringer

Or you have Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (Kiki-Jiki creates a copy of Restoration Angel, which then blinks Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. This means you can repeat the same procedure infinite times to end up with an army of Restoration Angels).

But, in most games, you just use these options as a threat. Whenever your opponent taps out you can punish them with these combos and end the game and most of them know that. So they simply don't tap out. Which in turn allows you to apply pressure, with your opponent not being able to cast the best answers. Many times, you end up winning by dealing enough damage instead of going for one of the combos.

If you're going up against another combo deck, you need to rely on your own combo, but against the "fair decks", you want to go aggressive. So sometimes, you even side out parts of the combo, which might come to you as a big surprise if you haven't put too much thought into how the match-ups are playing out.

What are the disadvantages of cutting blue?

"You don't have as much card selection since you're missing Serum Visions. It's also harder to add situational cards to the sideboard, because I can't put them on the bottom of the deck with Scry. Also, sometimes you draw into too many lands and that can also give you a hard time."

"Furthermore, you have less combo pieces, so you don't always go off as fast. So there are quite a few disadvantages."

Apart from Village Bell-Ringer, what else do you gain by going white?

"The power level of the Village Bell-Ringer is lower compared to Deceiver Exarch. But you get Path to Exile, Spellskite, Blade Splicer, Restoration Angel and Wall of Omens. Most of them can net you card advantage and it just gets worse (for your opponent) once you add Splinter Twin."

A Village Bell-Ringer often marks the end of the game for unprepared opponents!

"It's a very different deck when compared to Splinter Twin. You never want to face Jund with Splinter Twin, while this deck prefers to go up against Jund."

"Oh, and Stony Silence is great against Affinity, Aven Mindcensor is also quite useful."

Thank you for the interview, Stanislav!

Here's the complete decklist of both Cifka and Jůza so you can give the deck a try at your local events:

Stanislav Cifka– RW Splinter Twin

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Sunday, 4:35 p.m. – Patrick Dickmann, Tempo Twin

by Tobi Henke

Patrick Dickmann is not a name many people will be familiar with, his best result to date being a Top 25 at Pro Tour Nagoya. However, the username "Ofelia" is well-known in the Magic Online community, and as such, Dickmann is a feared opponent, especially when the format is Modern.

"I believe I can say I am somewhat famous for playing Splinter Twin by now," said Dickmann. "I made the Top 8 of four PTQs with it, and when I recently mulliganed into a game-one concession in a Modern queue, my opponent correctly boarded for Splinter Twin without having seen a single card from my deck."

Patrick Dickmann

Several other German players worked with Dickmann for this event, but Grand Prix Warsaw champion Wenzel Krautmann said "Dickmann was definitely the mastermind behind the operation. I know of no one who has more experience or expertise with the deck." Grand Prix Lyon chamion Florian Koch played it as well, and two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Andre Müller also trusted Dickmann's deck-building skills blindly. Fun fact: another Grand Prix finalist who made it into Day Two with the deck is twin brother Fabian Dickmann.

"The trick with this version is that it's not a single-minded combo deck. I almost win half my matches through combat damage, or burn, or with the help of Grim Lavamancer," Dickmann said, "especially after sideboarding when people are better prepared for the actual combo." His own sideboard reflects this strategy as does his choice to have more Pestermites than Deceiver Exarchs in the main deck.

And in the end all his work did pay off here in Antwerp. His version of the deck, which he likes to call "Tempo Splinter Twin," did secure him a spot in the Top 8 and, with it, a qualification to Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

Patrick Dickmann – Tempo Twin

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