Grand Prix-Eindhoven Blog: Day 1

Posted in Event Coverage on February 28, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast

Saturday, Feb. 26: 12:22 pm - Back on Track.

Well not *literally* whacking little guys over the head.

After a slight hitch with the pairings, round two kicked off around 1pm and as the start of a Grand Prix is usually quiet for sideboard staff I had a wander off around the cavern to see what was being played. There's plenty of first turn Jackal Pups facing off against each other and a fair few second turn Wild Mongrels. There's also a fair few en-Kor and Daru Spiritualists, which is not so good for the guys running mountains. Three points to the dome doesn't really make much of a dent in 5 billion.

I got a shot of UK writer Dan Paskins doing what he does best: whacking the little guys over the head with a Cursed Scroll.

Saturday, Feb. 26: 3:33 pm - Round 4 - Olivier Ruel vs. Quentin Martin

Some feature matches you just have to cover. Olivier Ruel is the clown prince of Magic while Quentin Martin is the pretender to the clown throne of English magic (That title belongs to Johnny Chapman). Olivier Ruel is running Goblins while Quentin is one of four players running an odd Sceptre-Chant/Erratic Explosion-Draco thingy.

I was ordered to give a shout out to Saimah, so here it is.

Olivier Ruel

First discussion was how to decide who to go first. Olivier Ruel suggested Rock-Paper-Scissors, "Why not play rock-paper-scissors instead of magic". Eventually they decided to race to the end of the hall and back, seriously. Olivier won despite a last-minute slide from Quentin.

Once all the shenanigans had ended and Olivier recovered his breath the game kicked off.

Ruel kicked off with a Skirk Prospecter and followed with Mogg Flunkies. Quentin killed the Prospecter with Magma Jet and then Olivier missed his third land. A Meddling Mage from Quentin naming Goblin War Chief was especially annoying for Olivier and he showed me a hand containing three of them. A second Mage followed, this time set to Goblin Ringleader.

A Fire on a Piledriver kept the Flunkies out of the game as Quentin administered Meddling Mage beatdown. Ice tied down a Sharpshooter and then a Cursed Totem appeared to shut down any fancy creature abilities.

Ruel found an Aether Vial and had to patiently wait for three turns before it accumulated enough counters to bring a War Chief into play. A Skirk Prospector saved him the embarrassment of death to Mage beatdown and then the game started to swing back into his favour when War Chief's started jumping out of the Vial. Olivier got Quentin to pick the first one out of his hand and then showed him the other three.

Olivier was at three life, Quentin nine. The English player wasn't drawing anything though and the goblin horde quickly grew in size to overwhelm him.

Olivier 1-0 Quentin

Quentin Martin

Olivier thought but then decided to mulligan a double Wasteland, port, no mountain opening hand. Both players then forgot to find land although Olivier was much the happier with Aether Vial. Quentin got a Sceptre down with Orim's Chant but was lacking mana. He had to tutor for a Chrome Mox.

An Overload took care of the Sceptre and now Quentin was facing down Flunkies and Siege-Gang Commander with an empty hand. Olivier ported three of Quentin's land during upkeep and the English player scooped after his library offered nothing useful.

Olivier Ruel beats Quentin Martin 2-0

Saturday, Feb. 26: 4:20 pm - Round 5 - Julien Nuijten vs. Stewart Shinkins

About a year back the Dutch players were predicting great things for one of their young players. That prediction proved spot on when Julian Nuijten stormed to victory at the World Championships last year. Stewart Shinkins is one of Ireland's top players. Shinkins is more of a limited specialist and his choices in constructed can be somewhat... eccentric. Today is no exception as he's running what looks like Red Deck Wins, except it also has Arc Slogger, Terminate and Edicts. Nuijten has a more conventional Goblin deck.

Julien Nuijten

Nuijtens dropped a turn one Aether Vial. There was a scrap over land as Nuijten offed a Port with a Wasteland. The Vial got online quickly with Mogg Flunkies and then Piledriver appearing. Magma Jet left the Flunkies waiting for support. It was quick in arriving as an end of turn Matron fetched a Ringleader. The Ringleader called forth Piledriver, War-Chief and a Mogg Fanatic. Shinkins was in danger of being swamped. Only Nuijten's lack of land was choking the tide.

The Vial carried on up to five counters. Shinkins terminated the Mogg Flunkies and Nuijten whipped out a Siege-Gang Commander with the vial to throw the dying Goblins at Irishman's head. It looked grim for Shinkins, but then a Burning Wish plucked a Pyroclasm from his board and Nuijten was back to square one, with a hand packed with goblins.

Removal traded for goblin as a Magma Jet fried a War-Chief. A Piledriver followed. Shinkins thought for a while and flopped an Arc-Slogger onto the table. He was at a precarious three life.

Nuijten summoned Prospecter and Matron. The Matron fetched a Mogg Fanatic and then Nuijten sacc'ed the Matron and Piledriver to give him enough red mana to cast it and the other two Fanatics in his hand.

Nuijten 1-0 Shinkins

As he looked through his board Nuijten said "Now I have no idea what to do." It's a fair comment, no one ever has a sideboard for one of Shinkins' decks.

Shinkins led off with a Mogg Fanatic to be met with another turn one Aether Vial from the Dutchman. The Irishman had an answer, as he summoned a Hearth Kami. Nuijten wasn't about to let him use it as his own Fanatic took down the Kami.

Shinkins had a second Kami but was looked mana-screwed on his two land. Nuijten took a mana burn to sac his War-Chief rather than let Shinkins scry with a Magma Jet.

Nuijten fetched a Ringleader with a Matron only to be on the receiving end of a hammer blow as Shinkins played an Engineered Plague on Goblins. Nuijten was now severely handicapped as he swung for a meagre two damage with a War-Chief and Ringleader. Shinkins picked off the War-Chief with a Lava Dart. Nuijten follwed with a goblin big enough to stick around: Mogg Flunkies. He followed it with a second Flunkies and all of a sudden looked to have an offense going again.

Shinkins deck almost has as much removal as Nuijten's has goblins. Terminate took care of one set of Flunkies. The Lava Dart came back to pick off a Siege-Gang Commander and then a second Terminate popped up just when Nuijten thought he'd found light at the end of the tunnel with a Goblin Goon.

The game continued in this fashion until Shinkins fetched a Tendrils of Agony from his sideboard with a Burning Wish to end the game.

Nuijten 1-1 Shinkins

Stewart Shinkins

Game 3 kicked off with just five minutes remaining on the clock. Nuijten was trying to play to hastily and went Mountain, "Go" before casting one of the Aether Vial. Burning Wish for Meltdown smashed up two of the vials when he did cast them.

Both players were trying to play too quickly as Shinkins needlessly sacc'ed a mountain to flashback a Lava Dart to kill a War-Chief rather than burn it with a Lavamancer.

Nuijten dropped the third Vial and then powered out a Siege-Gang Commander. Shinkins chopped it down with a Magma Jet and took out one of the crew with Diabolic Edict. He took two from the remaining goblins as time was called on the round.

Nuijten rushed in with War-Chief and Goblin Goon but was unable to administer the killing blow within the extra turns.

Match drawn.

Saturday, Feb. 26: 5:41 pm - Good plays, bad plays

The early rounds of an Extended tournament are always likely to feature a range of decks and skills. Here are some of the best and the worst:

What Does That do?

Player with a Life deck had managed to get Daru Spiritualist and Nomads-en-Kor into play, so was just waiting for a Worthy Cause to finish off his opponent, who was playing a Goblin deck with no way to deal with the infinite toughness of the Spritualist. In desperation, the Goblin player attacked with four Goblins. The Life player, obviously not having played for a while, decided to block a Goblin Ringleader and a Goblin Warchief, and let the other two Goblins through. A brief conversation followed, in which the Goblin player explained how the Goblin Piledriver, which had not been blocked, actually worked. Then the Life player packed up his cards and the Goblins celebrated claiming another victim.

A Co-operative Effort

Culling Scales

Facing a blue-green Madness deck, one player with a mono-red deck decided to play Culling Scales. The Scales did its work, and got rid of all the non-land permanents except for itself and a Wild Mongrel. Which meant that it was slightly surprising when the mono-red player decided to cast Flamebreak, killing the Mongrel, and then a Grim Lavamancer, which would die to the Scales. Not to be outdone, however, the Madness player, after some thought, decided to cast Circular Logic to counter the Lavamancer. Most odd all round.

Very Sneaky

Moving from bad to good, I witnessed a Sneak Attack deck in action. On turn two, with the help of a Chrome Mox and a Seething Song, the player managed to cast Sneak Attack and Sneak a Darksteel Colossus into play. While effective, I didn't think that there was anything particularly sneaky about attacking with an 11/11 trampler. On the next turn, though, the player laid a land and ended his turn. All became clear when his opponent tried to attack with a Jackal Pup, in response to which he used the Sneak Attack to put Rorix, Bladewing into play and block the Pup. Now *that* is sneaky.

The Solution: Giving the Opponent Your Creatures

Playing a white-blue creature deck nicknamed 'The Solution', one player had managed to equip his Meddling Mage with a Sword of Fire or Ice. Unfortunately, his opponent had a pair of Putrid Imps ready to block the Mage, and was getting ready to reanimate something nasty. The Solution to this particular problem turned out to be for the blue-white player to cast two Gilded Drakes, taking the Putrid Imps and leaving his opponent with a pair of 3/3 fliers - both of which were blue and therefore unable to block the Mage, which duly attacked for the win.

Deck Construction Skills

False Cure

Walking past one table, I saw a Diabolic Tutor, a Wrath of God and a Counterspell in the graveyard. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the same player also had Browbeat in his hand, and a Sakura-Tribe Elder and a Pentad Prism, so he could cast all the cards. It turned out that this was a combo deck, with the combo being Nourish and False Cure, with the intention of casting Nourish on the opponent, and then False Cure to make them lose twice as much life. Unforunately, since Nourish does not allow you to target the opponent, this combo doesn't, er, actually work. Happily, the first round parings saw this player matched up against a Life deck, who was rather surprised to be on the receiving end of a False Cure in response to his attempt to gain millions of life.

Sad News

By round five of the Grand Prix, the death total amongst Goblins had climbed to more than 1,000. Between sacrificing themselves, being targeted by red damage spells and being blocked by other creatures, the life expectancy of a Goblin in Eindhoven is currently barely one turn. And with almost every table seeming to feature at least one Goblin deck, casualties have been enormous. Speaking exclusively to, the Goblin Matron blamed the Goblin Ringleader who, she said, was a bad influence on the other Goblins and was always leading them into problems. Others blamed the Goblin Pyromancer, who commented, 'hahaha, fire, death, fire, attack for 23, ahahaha."

Saturday, Feb. 26: 6:18 pm - Prize Winners

Every European Grand Prix features a raffle with the first prize being a free trip to the next GP. Felix Huybrechts announced the winners after round 5 and the lucky guy was Gert Coeckelbergh.

Felix Huybrechts looking good in a Grand Prix sweater.

There are also a number of runner-up prizes including the rather natty Grand Prix sweater you can see modelled by Felix himself.

Below are a list of the winners. Apologies to anyone whose name I've managed to mangle.

GP sweater:
Hugo Stender
Ondrej Rosenkranz
Sebastien Mattes
Alan Meaney
Michel Chevalier
Raymond Janssen
Simon Leroy
Christian Hubacsek
Jonathan Vryhof

Free side event:
Marco Esposito
Vincent Lemoine
Dennis Moons
Max Mally
Arnost Zidek
Kjell Lutz
Jip Merrema
Geoffrey Siron
Peter Brinkman
Wessel Oomens

Saturday, Feb. 26: 7:08 pm - Round 7 - Frank Karsten vs. Kamiel Cornelissen

Round 7 and we've got a clash of Dutch titans to offer up for your edification. Frank Karsten has picked up a lot of press recently over variations on Affinity builds. Kamiel Cornelissen managed back to back final appearances on the Pro Tour a few years back and has been on the fringes ever since. Both are running combo. Karsten has Aluren while Cornelissen has the double combo of Cephalid Life. Both are very deliberate players so the match will be short on turns and long on thinking.

Frank Karsten, left vs. Kamiel Cornelissen

Cornelissen led off with Aether Vial and Shuko while Karsten ramped up his mana with two BoPs and a Havenwood Battleground.

Turn three is usually where the action kicks off. Cornelissen dropped an Illusionist and then milled himself for three cards by equipping the Shuko for free. He then Brainstormed before milling his entire deck by continually re-equipping the Illusionist. My rules knowledge is so lousy I didn't even realise you could do that, which is probably why I'm here writing this instead of playing.

A flashbacked Cabal Therapy sent the now useless Illusionist to the graveyard while plucking an Aluren from Karsten's hand. Cornelissen finished off the turn by wishing for a Meddling Mage.

In contrast Karsten's turn was far less exciting. Without the Aluren he had to content himself with a pair of Raven Familiars.

Cornelissen gave himself a library of one Reanimate with a flashbacked Krosan Reclamation. Because the Sutured Ghoul wouldn't be quite big enough he Vialed out a Meddling Mage and then flashbacked a Cabal Therapy on himself to discard a Gilded Drake and put and extra 5 power into the graveyard. He didn't need to Reanimate the Sutured Ghoul as Karsten scooped.

7 turns total, 15 minutes.

Cornelissen 1-0 Karsten.

Now it was Karsten's turn to go first. He played land-Go for the first couple of turns while Cornelissen dropped a turn 1 Aether Vial and then Wished for a Kami of Ancient Law.

The critical turn 3 loomed. Karsten missed, managing only to summon a Birds of Paradise.

Cornelissen hit, savagely. Nomad's en-Kor appeared at end of turn through the Vial. He untapped, cleared the way with Duress and then, in combo parlance, went off.

6 turns, 10 minutes.

In all the entire match was settled in 13 turns between both players.

Kamiel Cornelissen beats Frank Karsten 2-0

Saturday, Feb. 26: 7:33 pm - Topdeck

"Topdeck" is the new deck from Nicholas West. It combines the Scepter-Chant strategy which he used to finished in the top 4 of the last Extended Pro Tour with the ability to do 16 damage for three mana by casting Erratic Explosion with Draco on top of the library.

The idea for the deck came from trying to make a black-red Draco-Explosion deck. The problem was that while this deck could consistently get its combo off, using Vampiric Tutor, it had great difficulty doing the extra 4 damage before dying. So the black cards got swapped out for Enlightened Tutor and the whole Scepter-Chant set of cards.

There are four players playing the deck, Jelger Wiegersma and Ruud Warmenhouven are 6-1 and 6-0-1, Nick is 5-2 and Quentin Martin is rather letting the side down with his 4-2-1 record. When compared to regular Scepter-Chant, the deck is much better against beatdown decks against which Scepter-Chant usually struggles, while it is worse against control. The deck's best matchups are Ravager and Aluren. Against Red Deck Wins, Reanimator and Goblins, Nick feels that the deck has an advantage, and that Game 1 against blue-green Madness is very good, although after sideboarding it gets much harder. The toughest matchups are control decks like Rock, Tog and regular Scepter-Chant. Nick says that he would keep the main deck the same, but further testing might improve the sideboard.

And the name? Apparently, it was originally called 'White Explosion', but people kept on asking what 'that deck with the Sensei's Diving Tops was', hence the name 'Topdeck'. If nothing else, it is much more fun to win by casting a red spell and dealing sixteen damage then is usual for blue-white control decks.


Download Arena Decklist

Saturday, Feb. 26: 8:13 pm - When Hate Just Isn't Enough

This was brought to me by the guys doing the Dutch coverage today. You can check out their coverage (in Dutch) here

Raphael Puleo is really worried about red. Just look at this listing:

Untitled Deck

Download Arena Decklist

Not only is he running Sword of Fire and Ice and Weatherseed Fairies, he has two main deck Chill as well. In a twist of irony he managed to win the first six rounds without meeting a single red deck only to pick up his first loss against Sven Dijt's goblin deck in round seven.

Sometimes red deck just wins…

Saturday, Feb. 26: 8:34 pm - Where are the Betrayers?

This tournament marked the first opportunity for players to put cards from Betrayers of Kamigawa in their decks. People were not overwhelmed by this opportunity. Below is a list of the cards which your reporters have seen in play from the latest expansion:

Tendo Ice Bridge

Tendo Ice Bridge (in a variety of multicolored decks)
Shuko (in the Life deck, to target Daru Spiritualist thousands of times to boost its toughness)
Akki Raider
Disrupting Shoal
Flames of the Blood Hand

And, er, that's it. We'll wait to see whether the Pros manage to find more possibilities from the new cards in the next couple of weeks, or if Betrayers will have to wait until players no longer have the chance to use cards from expansions like Tempest before they are tempted by what Betrayers have to offer.

Saturday, Feb. 26: 8:39 pm - Round 9 - Jeroen Remie vs. Ruud Warmenhoven

To finish what has been a long and demanding first day, these two Dutch team mates find themselves facing each other. Each has managed a record of 7 wins and 1 loss so far, so another win would put them in a great position for the second day.

Jeroen Remie, left, vs. Ruud Warmenhoven

Jeroen is playing a Rock deck, because that is what he always plays. Ruud has the new 'Topdeck' deck, which we analysed earlier. Deck designer Nick West says that Rock is a bad matchup, but we'll see.

Jeroen wins the dice roll and chooses to start.

Game 1

Ruud just taps Jeroen's deck, rather than cutting it, and Jeroen returns the favour. Both players keep their hands.

Jeroen opens with a Forest and some Birds of Paradise. Ruud's turn is rather more exciting, with a Shivan Reef, a Chrome Mox imprinting Orim's Chant, and a Meddling Mage naming Pernicious Deed.

Jeroen has a Swamp and a Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Ruud has a Plains, and an Isochron Scepter with Orim's Chant imprinted on it. Rather pleased with the situation, he informs Jeroen that this is a turn two kill, because he will be able to cast the Orim's Chant with kicker every turn. Jeroen plays a Swamp and a Cranial Extraction so that he can see Ruud's deck, and then concedes.

1-0 to Ruud

Game 2

Jeroen brings in 3 Phyrexian Negators, one Viridian Shaman, 2 Oxidises and 2 Naturalises for 2 Pernicious Deed, 3 Wall of Blossoms, 1 Birds of Paradise, 1 Sakura Tribe Elder and an Eternal Witness. Ruud spends rather longer pondering what to sideboard.

Even after shuffling his deck for some time, he is still unsure and decides to change things back round, eventually deciding on Wrath of God, Ensnaring Bridge and Tsabo's Web, taking out 2 Magma Jets and a Erratic Explosion.

Jeroen laments that he didn't shuffle Ruud's deck in the first game, jokingly accusing Ruud of having mind tricked him. This time, they do shuffle each other's decks.

Jeroen, unsurprisingly, chooses to play. Both players keep their hands, Jeroen immediately, Ruud after some thought.

Jeroen starts again with a Swamp and a Cabal Therapy on Isochron Scepter. Ruud's hand is Scepter, Meddling Mage, Wrath of God, Sensei's Diving Top, Flooded Strand, Chrome Mox and Enlightened Tutor. On his turn, he plays a Shivan Reef and a Top. Jeroen plays a Forest and a Sakura-Tribe Elder. Ruud plays a Flooded Strand which gets a Plains, and casts Meddling Mage on Pernicious Deed. Sakura-Tribe Elder hits the graveyard to fetch a Forest. He is lacking a fourth land, so just plays Birds of Paradise and passes the turn. Ruud attacks for two, has a look at the top cards of his library with his Top, and plays a Flooded Strand.

Jeroen plays a Cranial Extraction on Isochron Scepters, and then after a moment's thought also flashes back the Cabal Therapy to take Enlightened Tutor. He does this because otherwise Ruud could draw Erratic Explosion, cast Enlightened Tutor to put Draco on top of his deck, and cast Explosion to deal 16 damage.

Ruud does indeed draw the Explosion, and has nothing better to do than to attack for 2 and play a Plains.

Jeroen casts another Cranial Extraction after laying a Swamp, and takes all of Ruud's Erratic Explosions. Effectively this is the end of the game, as all Ruud has to win with are Meddling Mages, while Jeroen has a hand full of creatures. The game lasts a few more turns with Jeroen playing a Shaman, an Elder and an Eternal Witness, and Ruud activating his Top a couple of times until even the spectators supporting him start heckling him to give up. Eventually Ruud decides to concede and try again in the third game.

Game 3

Jeroen brings one card back in, Ruud also makes one change. There are eighteen minutes left for the third game. Between games there is plenty of banter between the players, in both Dutch and English. I can't comment on the Dutch, but the comments in English are not at all suitable for a family website such as this one, involving suggestions for possible uses of the Diving Top which cannot be what Sensei would have intended.

Jeroen offers the draw, Ruud refuses.

Ruud plays first and is sunk in thought about what to do. Eventually he decides to mulligan. He keeps six cards. Jeroen keeps his hand.

Battlefield Forge

Ruud starts with Battlefield Forge, and the Sensei's Diving Top. Jeroen has a Swamp, and a Cabal Therapy on Isochron Scepter. Ruud reveals his hand of Erratic Explosion, Draco, Meddling Mage and a Battlefield Forge. He draws a Flooded Strand, and casts Meddling Mage on Pernicious Deed. Jeroen plays a Forest and is done. Ruud attacks for two, activates his Top and plays a Battlefield Forge. Jeroen plays a Llanowar Wastes and an Eternal Witness.

At the end of Jeroen's turn, Ruud puts Sensei's Top back on his library. He then casts Brainstorm, setting up a lot of pain for Jeroen. He untaps, draws a card, plays a Shivan Reef and casts Erratic Explosion, revealing the Draco which he put there. Jeroen falls to one.

Jeroen plays a Swamp, which means that he cannot cast his Ravenous Baloth because he would take a point of damage from the Llanowar Wastes. Instead he use Duress and Cabal Therapy to empty Ruud's hand, taking the Tsabo's Web and the Enlightened Tutor.

Ruud shows that the deck is not called Topdeck for no reason, and draws Fire/Ice to win the game and advance to 8-1.

Ruud Warmenhoven 2 Jeroen Remie 1

Saturday, Feb. 26: 8:48 pm - Last Round Action

Kai Budde caught playing professional Magic!

6 players went into the last round with a chance of ending the first day with perfect 9-0 records. On the top table Hung-Anh Nguyen-Khac faced off against Rob Coenen in the battle of the block decks. Coenen pulled back the second with Energy Flux, but the hoser didn't save him in the third game as an Atog slipped through for too much damage. The other two matches were also close as the deciding game took both into extra turns.

Bas Postema took on Sven Dijt in a battle of the goblin decks. An Overload on Dijt's turn one Aether Vial in the third game looked decisive as Dijt failed to find a third land. Overload has been a useful weapon of choice in a lot of sideboards today.

The third match went right to the knuckle. Kai Budde was looking in control against Ruben Snijdewind's Aluren deck. He had an Engineered Plague out and a Psychatog. Then, on the third of extra turns, Snijdewind managed to pull into a Naturalize and Aluren off a Raven Familiar and went off.

Saturday, Feb. 26: 9:27 pm - Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

Bas Postema

Download Arena Decklist

Hung-Anh Nguyen-Khac

Download Arena Decklist

Ruben Snijdewind

Download Arena Decklist

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