by David SutcliffeSunday, 3:57 p.m.Round Fifteen Round Up - The Numbers Game
by Rich HagonPodcast:And That's Why We Have Round Ten
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 3:15 p.m.Good Plays, Bad Plays
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round FourteenLino Burgold vs. Victor Rubio
by Tobi HenkeFeature Match: Round ThirteenMario Pascoli vs. Victor Rubio
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 2:40 p.m.Drafting with Mario Pascoli
by David SutcliffeSunday, 2:38 p.m.Photo Essay - Grand Prix Florence 2010
by Tobi HenkeFeature Match: Round TwelveKazuya Mitamura vs. Martin Juza
by Rich HagonPodcast:Keeping It Reale
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 12:12 p.m.Preparing for Worlds
by David SutcliffeSunday, 11:24a.m.By Royal Appointment
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round TenGiuseppe Reale vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
by David SutcliffeSunday, 9:30 a.m.Drafting with Shuuhei Nakamura
by Rich HagonPodcast:A Marathon, Not a Sprint
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 9:15 a.m.Day One Undefeated Decks
Sunday, 9:15 a.m. – Day One Undefeated Decks
You wana know what it takes to go 9-0 at a 1300-player event? Well, an awful lot of expertise and stamina, that's what!
But what really can't hurt your chances is, of course, to open a nice pool of cards. This weekend, three players had the material as well as the skill to make the best out of it, and managed to pull off the coveted 9-0 score. Here are their deck lists:
Podcast - A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Today in Florence, thousands of brave souls will exert themselves over twenty six gruelling miles in the annual city marathon, which attracts competitors from all around the world. While MTG may be more about rucksacks than running spikes, the traits of energy, toughness, and will to win remain the same. With the last Sealed decks of 2010 behind us, it's time to see if Shuhei Nakamura and Martin Juza can use Scars Draft to slipstream closer to Brad Nelson in the Player of the Year Race. And for Nakamura, that means trying to reach 10-0 to start the day.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – Drafting with Shuuhei Nakamura
When you have a one of the most successful players such as Shuuhei Nakamura on a 9-0 record going into Day Two of a Grand Prix, it's kind of a no-brainer who we should watch draft. The Scars of Mirrodin draft strategies are becoming well established now, after a string of Grand Prix have featured the format, but did Shuuhei retain an edge over the rest of the field?
P1: Contagion Engine was the bomb rare he couldn't ignore
P2: Cystbearer, which was preferred over Barrage Ogre, Tumble Magnet and Rust Tick
P3: Contagious Nim. Tempted by Galvanic Blast, Shuuhei stuck to his Infect guns.
P4: Tel-Jilad Fallen
P5: Throne of Geth, which was preferred over a huge Engulfing Slagwurm
P6: Plague Stinger
That Plague Stinger, coming round at sixth pick, was perhaps the most important card Shuuhei had picked up in the draft. With a key poison creature like that still in the booster it clearly signalled that Shuuhei was probably the only Infect player on the table!
At the end of the first pack Shuuhei's strategy was clear - he was going to be Green/Black Infect and he already had a lot of the staples of an Infect deck. What he was sorely missing, though, was any creature removal. Going into pack two he really wanted to see something like a Grasp of Darkness...
That was quick.
A Hand of the Praetors at 5th was a gift, and Martin Juza had received a similar gift in the Top8 in Bochum a few weeks ago. Once a player is established as the only Infect player in a pod then a Hand of the Praetors opened anywhere on the table will inevitably find it's way round to him.
P7: Sylvok Replica
P8: Ezuri's Brigade - an unusual choice, picked over Trigon of Infestation
P9: Tel-Jilad Defiance
P10: Bonds of Quicksilver
P11: Wing Puncture
P12: Blunt the Assault
P13: Soul Parry
P14: Razorfield Thresher
The Grasp of Darkness and Tangle Angler had briefly looked as though Shuuhei would be able to fill some of the gaps in his deck, but instead he had been left with more of the same - Infect creatures, but little removal, no good tricks, and still nothing like a Darksteel Axe or Trigon of Rage to make his 1/1 Infect creatures into a serious threat!
P1: Grasp of Darkness #2
P2: Ichor Rats, which was chosen over Flesh Allergy
P3: Perilous Myr, but it had been a tough choice and Shuuhei passed on a Contagious Nim, Bellowing Tanglewurm and Tel-Jilad Fallen!
P4: Sylvok Replica #2
P5: Plague Stinger #2
P6: Plague Stinger #3
P7: Sylvok Replica #3!
P8: Molder Beast
P9: Ichorclaw Myr, which had tabled out of Shuuhei's opening pack, as had a Bellowing Tanglewurm
P10: Nihil Spellbomb
P11: Withstand Death
P12: Nihil Spellbomb
P13: Alpha Tyrranax
P14: Venser's Journal
A pair of Plague Stingers, a second Grasp of Darkness, and some Sylvok Replicas would all be added to Shuuhei's deck but his cardpool remained a little one-note. He had Infect creatures and... uh... more Infect creatures?
As the focus shifted to the building area, Nakamura began to confront his big problem - whichever combination of the cards in his pool he chose to play, none of them seemed to solve the weaknesses that were apparent. Toying with a couple of different options - to include the Ezuri's Brigade, Molder Beast and Tainted Strike, or to throw his weight behind more Infect and play his Carrion Call and the third Sylvok Replica - Shuuhei settled on his list. The Brigade stayed, the Molder Beast left, and Withstand Death, Carrion Call and Wing Puncture were all left on the side.
Was he happy?
“My deck is ok, but not right,” Shuuhei offered, making a face, “I have really good Infect creatures but that is all. But Contagion Engine first pick is very powerful, so I think with that and with Throne of Geth maybe I can Profilerate and win some games. Other than that maybe my best way to win is Tainted Strike.”
I had some specific questions for Shuuhei - on his second pick he had seemed to consider three cards: Barrage Ogre, Rust Tick, and Cystbearer. There was a Tumble Magnet in the pack but he hadn't even looked at it, when many players see the Magnet as a very high pick.
“The Magnet is very good, but sometimes all it does is buy three turns. The Cystbearer is the best Infect creature, and Barrage Ogre is also very powerful. Because I opened Contagion Engine I thought maybe I would build a slow deck, and that made Rust Tick better than Tumble Magnet for me if I went in that direction. Tumble Magnet is good, but I think the other cards were better.”
And Plague Stinger as a sixth pick?
“That made me very happy. It means I know that I am right to be poison. Plague Stinger is a very important card for poison - it's your best turn two play.” Shuuhei offered, but he admitted the draft had not been pefect, “I made a mistake, maybe. In the last pack I didn't take a Bellowing Tanglewurm and with two Tel-Jilad Fallen maybe I should have - they combo so well. I also passed on a Heavy Arbalest, but that was to take Hand of the Praetors... maybe that wasn't so much of a mistake”, he grinned.
We have seen poison decks sweep through many draft pods in Scars of Mirrodin, would Shuuhei's deck do the same? The feature match area beckoned...
Feature Match - Round Ten: Giuseppe Reale vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
Shuuhei's poison deck would be immediately tested against the 9-0 record of Giuseppe Reale, but despite the Japanese pro having a slew of possible turn 2 plays some Ichor Rats were the first thing to hit play - and they immediately dived in front of some angry Oxidda Daredevils that were heading the other way. Reale's deck was a Black-Red aggressive build chock full of 2/1s, and he followed quickly with a second Oxidda Daredevil and a pair of Dross Hoppers.
Shuuhei steadied the ground with Sylvok Replica then deployed his Phyrexian forces - a Contagious Nim and pair of Plague Stingers. With the ground secured from Reale's attack, Nakamura took to the air, but his Plague Stingers were each shot down - by a Fume Spitter and Instill Infection, respectively - and an Ichorclaw Myr met a sticky end at the claws of Reale's Skinrender. The two aggressive decks stared at each other across the table, with neither player ready to commit to an assault.
Having beaten off the Plague Spitters Giuseppe Reale took his opportunity to take to the air, playing a Necrogen Scudder, Bladed Pinions, and Hoard-Smelter Dragon! The aerial threat could not be ignored and the Japanese pro was forced into action - he played a Hand of the Praetors and sent his Cystbearer and Ichorclaw Myr into the fray. Reale blocked the poison-dealing Phyrexians as best he could, and remained on 6 poison.
The newly Double-Striking Hoard-Smelter reduced Shuuhei Nakamura's artifacts to slag seconds before doing the same to Nakamura himself! From 17 life to 0 in one attack!
Reale 1 - 0 Nakamura
Faced with that apparent flood of early 2/1 creatures Nakamura turned to his sideboard - the Tel-Jilad Fallen were almost useless as Reale clearly had very few artifacts, and in came a Carrion Call, Withstand Death, and Molder Beast.
Beginning his fightback Nakamura had a Necropede followed by a Cystbearer, while Reale played out some Oxidda Daredevils and a Perilous Myr. - neither of which seemed to want to block a Necropede. Nakamura followed up with an Ezuri's Brigade while Reale seemed to have his usual endless supply of 2/1 creatures and played a Dross Hopper and a second Oxidda Daredevil.
Nakamura struck, and despite the threat of a Tainted Strike on Ezuri's Brigade Giuseppe Reale decided he had no choice but to let it through and take the risk. As it turned out Nakamura didn't have Tainted Strike, and the Brigade dealt four ordinary damage, dropping Reale to 16.
Reale certainly wasn't going to wait for Nakamura to kill him and delivered a bold ‘alpha strike' - sending all his forces racing into the red zone. Unfortunately for the Italian, Nakamura had the perfect response to an attack from a bunch of 2/1 creatures - his side boarded Carrion Call. It was an expensive attack for Reale as he lost most of his forces, and although an Instill Infection meant he could finish off Nakamura's Cystbearer after combat the Italian was now well behind on board position. He deployed a Necrogen Scudder, but after the Ezuri's Brigade struck again that dropped Reale to a perilous 9 life.
Obviously seeing that threat, Reale threw his Scudder and Perilous Myr under the hooves of Nakamura's Brigade on the next turn but Nakamura's side boarded instants again proved their worth - Withstand Death ensured the Brigade survived the fight! Reale was now stuck firmly between the ‘rock' of 8 poison counters and the ‘hard place' of 5 life. He searched for answers, but nothing could answer all of Shuuhei's threats in the time remaining and the match was levelled.
Reale 1 - 1 Nakamura
Reale's Perilous Myr looked a little unhappy as Nakamura deployed a Plague Stinger, but when the Japanese pro stumbled in finding a third land the Italian was quick to seize the initiative. He played a Moriok Reaver, but Nakamura found his third land and a Contagious Nim in time to protect himself. Neverthless the damage was done - the Japanese played was now firmly on the back foot in the deciding game. An Instill Infection accounted for Nakamura's Plague Stinger, and the Perilous Myr was blocked and traded with Nakamura's Sylvok replica as the Japanese pro fought to stay in the game.
Reale had been the player bringing the pressure, but despite it all the only product he had to show for it in this third game was a Rust Tick in play and a few points of damage dealt. A Necrogen Scudder was the Italian's first real threat, and Reale then handed his Scudder and Accorder's Shield. Swinging hard, Reale put his opponent to 10.
Nakamura had tricks though - he had played possum in allowing Reale to attack with his Scudder. At the end of his opponent's turn he played Carrion Call, then untapped and added a Hand of the Praetors before attacking to deal 4 poison!
Reale was back on the defensive, although his Vigilant Necrogen Scudder could still attack, but when Shuuhei threw in a Tangle Angler the Italian's blocking options shrank to nil. The Italian did his best to fight back, but when Shuuhei's Throne of Geth proliferated enough -1/-1 counters onto Reale's Scudder to kill it, and leave Reale himself on 8 poison, the struggle was over.
With a big sigh of relief, Nakamura took the match - but he knew it had been close!
Reale 1 - 2 Nakamura
Sunday, 11:24a.m. – By Royal Appointment
Looking beyond next month's climactic World Championships in Japan the schedule for 2011 Grand Prix tour has been announced and one date stands out as having been suddenly given a special significance.
April 30th-May 1st - Grand Prix London - London, England
Ok... and why is it special?
April 29th - Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton - London, England
At European Grand Prix it has become a tradition that the Friday before an event features something a bit special alongside the usual array of tournaments, Grand Prix Trials, Super FNMs, and other many side events... but this is the first time that Wizards of the Coast has been able to arrange for a royal wedding to be held just a mile away!
We asked the Queen to comment:
“My loyal subjects, One is extremely gratified to have learnt that so many people will be celebrating the marriage of my eldest Grandson by playing with magical spells and fantastic creatures. Truly I cannot think of a greater tribute, and I know that William was very disappointed when he realised that he would be unable to attend the Grand Prix Trials on Friday afternoon as he had hoped. I do expect, however, that he and Kate will be find some way make a little Friday Night Magic of their own. Lolz”
While the Prime Minister, David Cameron, had this to say:
“Of course we had always intended that the Friday before the Grand Prix would be announced as a bank holiday - it is just a happy coincidence that William and Kate have chosen to have their wedding on the same day. Of course the occasion demands that I will be attending the wedding in my official capacity, but I hope I will be able to slip away before the reception and squeeze in some games of EDH”.
So, there you have it. By royal appointment you are hereby invited to the first ever Royal Wedding Commemorative Grand Prix! It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event so you know that you have to be in London over that weekend (and I'm sure you'll find that we Brits still know how to throw a good party when the occasion demands). Don't you dare miss it - but make sure you book those flights and hotels early because next year Grand Prix London is going to be EPIC.
Sunday, 12:12 p.m. – Preparing for Worlds
With only two more weeks before the final event of the 2010 pro season, let's talk to some of the players who will be competing in the World Championships as part of their country's national team.
Simon Bertiou is the reigning Greek national champion and will be leading his team in Chiba. “That is, if the Greek authorities manage to finally give me a new passport,” he said, talking about one of the troubles a world-travelling Magic player must face. “I think, I should be fine, although I might have to reschedule my flight.”
He did most of his testing on Magic Online with other Greek players. “For Extended, I'm pretty much set on playing Jund. The new dual lands from Scars of Mirrodin really did a lot to improve it. Back in Standard, people were always complaining about the fast starts with turn two Putrid Leech and turn three Sprouting Thrinax. But with all the tapped lands, Jund couldn't actually do that all that often. Currently, I'm working to make the deck as fast as possible, including stuff like Woodlurker Mimic.”
“I think it's a good choice for a format as wide-open as Extended,” Bertiou went on. “ It's fast, powerful, and quite flexible. As for Standard, I'm leaning towards Boros. You might be able to tell: I like aggressive decks.”
The runner-up from German Nationals, Tobias Gräfensteiner, had a different story to tell about his preparations. “The fact is, I haven't played a single game in any of the Constructed formats so far,” he admitted. “And I'm the one of us who's going to play Legacy.” However, he will be joining Sebastian Thaler and his test group next Friday, then travel to Japan with the others on Sunday. “This leaves about a week of serious testing. That's the time when you get the most work done, anyway.”
Robert Jurkovic is on the Slovakian national team and has made similar plans: “I did research and testing on Magic Online, but so far nothing's set in stone. I'll be in Japan next week, and that's when most of the testing is going to take place.” He himself only needs a Standard and an Extended deck. “No Legacy for me,” Jurkovic said with a sigh of relief.
England's national team member Daniel Gardner is also still doing well in this Grand Prix, thanks to his extensive draft preparation. “I haven't done all that much Constructed games. I spent more time just talking to people or watching others play. I always feel like when I'm playing myself I miss quite a lot,” he said. “Sometimes, playing isn't the best option to learn about a format.”
So how is this process working so far for him? “I'm more or less settled on blue-white for Standard unless anything else comes up. I just always seem to do well with blue-white. And apparently in Extended, these ramp decks with the hideaway lands are quite good.”
Tine Rus of the Slovenian national team gave a sad little chuckle when asked about his preparation. “This year's Worlds really has a great set of formats: Standard and especially the new Extended. I only wish I had more time to test, to really get creative. There are so many options! In Standard I currently like Vampires with red, and the blue-red-green control is obviously a strong deck, and I'm sure one could even build a good version of mono-red, but it all depends on the metagame which is really hard to predict,” he praised (and lamented) the diversity of the format. “I'll probably end up playing some sort of control deck. I usually do that.”
“For Extended, nothing yet. And Legacy ... well, we haven't decided yet, but I hope I won't have to play Legacy,” said Rus and made a face. “I have zero experience.”
Podcast - Keeping It Reale
Ruel. Grafensteiner. Orsini-Jones. Karamazov. All pairs of brothers you might expect to see at the top of the standings. Except Karamazov, who you'd expect to see in an arthouse cinema. Reale? The surname of the two brothers who are threatening to dominate their home Grand Prix. Coming into round twelve, they have just one loss each. A win here, and they'll be in great shape for top 8. Also in action, can Shuhei Nakamura reach 11-1? And who will win the shootout between Martin Juza and Kazuya Mitamura? You know how to find out.
Feature Match - Round Twelve: Kazuya Mitamura vs. Martin Juza
Both players were currently at 8-3, on the very brink of elimination. Martin Juza was still shaken from his loss last round. “I just couldn't believe he would be lucky three times in a row. I could have played differently and might have won then, but I just couldn't believe it,” he rambled and, with a nod to his opponent, added: “then I wouldn't have played you this round.” He was obviously unhappy to face off against three-time PT Top 8er and one-time champion Kazuya Mitamura. Mitamura smiled and deadpanned: “You have enough GP Top 8s.”
Juza opened with Myrsmith, Mitamura had the red counterpart, Embersmith. Juza cast Culling Dais and made a Myr token, before attacking with the Smith. Mitamura was willing to trade. And more trades were to follow. Mitamura countered Juza's Gold Myr with Halt Order, then shattered his Rusted Relic. Juza got to three artifacts with Vulshok Replica and took out Mitamura's Sky-Eel School with Galvanic Blast.
Next, Mitamura summoned Plated Seastrider which stopped all of Juza's combat. And soon after, the Japanese went on the offensive himself with Lumengrid Drake. Juza made another Myrsmith, but Mitamura topped that with Hoard-Smelter Dragon. Juza cast Arrest on the Dragon, but Mitamura returned it with Disperse and recast it.Martin Juza
Juza had no immediate answer to the Dragon. He attacked with all of his creatures. The resulting carnage left him with an additional counter on Culling Dais which he cracked. He summoned an additional two Smiths, this time Embersmiths. One was taken down by Mitamura's Turn to Slag which left Juza with not nearly enough power to race the dragon. In fact, one more attack and it was over.
Kazuya Mitamura 1 - 0 Martin Juza
Juza had Auriok Sunchaser followed by Glint Hawk Idol, while Mitamura had Silver Myr followed by Neurok Invisimancer. Juza made Auriok Replica and attacked; Mitamura had a blocker with Sky-Eel School, Juza had a removal in Arrest.
At this point, both players were stuck with four lands, none of which were Mountains. Juza was ahead on the board, but Mitamura got out of his color-screw first and summoned Oxidda Scrapmelter. This might have changed things, but Juza redoubled with Precursor Golem!
With the damage Mitamura had taken earlier, the Golem trifecta didn't take long to even out the score.
Kazuya Mitamura 1 - 1 Martin JuzaKazuya Mitamura
Mitamura chose to draw first for the final game, a choice that came back to hurt him, as Juza was able to cast his Embersmith first. Mitamura cast his Smith anyway, and followed it up with Neurok Replica, but that was all he did, whereas by turn five, Juza had already assembled an impressive army of Embersmith, Auriok Replica, Auriok Sunchaser, with a side order of Contagion Clasp and Sylvok Lifestaff. He attacked and got Mitamura down to 11.
Mitamura held Oxidda Scrapmelter but didn't draw the fourth land he so desperately needed. He passed his turn without play. He did have Galvanic Blast to kill Auriok Replica, but when his next turn didn't bring a fourth land either he reached across the table to congratulate Juza on his win.
Kazuya Mitamura 1 - 2 Martin Juza
Sunday, 2:38 p.m. – Photo Essay - Grand Prix Florence 2010
Sunday, 2:40 p.m. – Drafting with Mario Pascoli
Italy's Mario Pascoli was the last undefeated player in the tournament (at 11-0) and entered the second draft comfortably on his way to the Top 8. He would possibly only need one more win to make it in.
His first pack had Rust Tick, Turn to Slag, Quicksilver Gargantuan, and also one reasonable first pick, which he took: Razor Hippogriff. His second pick was a bit of a let-down, with Prototype Portal over a lot of nothing (Culling Dais and Neurok Replica being among the best of the rest.) The quality of the boosters continued to disappoint: Soliton, Molder Beast, Kemba's Skyguard, and Auriok Sunchaser were the best options for pick #3. He took the Sunchaser, then a Trinket Mage over another Sunchaser. A couple of Copper Myrs with frankly no alternative were followed by his second Auriok Sunchaser. Memnite next was at least a nice combo card, both for his Prototype Portal and his Trinket Mage.
The second booster brough about some head-scratching. With Vedalken Certarch and Embersmith, it was indeed possible for Pascoli to part with his blue and jump into red. After some consideration, he stuck with blue and took the Certarch. Next up, he had the rather unfortunate choice between his third Copper Myr or his third Auriok Sunchaser. Shaking his head, he took the Myr. The following pack offered yet another Auriok Sunchaser, as well as Soliton, Myr Reservoir, and Kemba's Skyguard which he took. Origin Spellbomb and Accorder's Shield came next and were actually an improvement. Necrogen Censer had no competition, and then he took Painsmith over Plated Seastrider. And his eighth pick gave him his third Auriok Sunchaser anyway.
Booster #3 once again included Auriok Sunchaser, along with Palladium Myr, Snapsail Glider, and Barbed Battlegear. Snapsail Glider it was. Among all the mediocrity, his second pick really stood out like a beacon of hope in an otherwise cold and uncaring universe. He quickly snatched up the Razor Hippogriff. But business as usual returned with a third-pick choice between Grindclock and Sunspear Shikari. With only one equipment so far, he took the rare artifact. Artifacts were certainly given top priority: he then took Tumble Magnet over Arrest! Next, he considered Necropede, but in the end went with Glint Hawk instead. Once again, there was no competition for a sixth-pick Darksteel Sentinel and neither for a seventh-pick Copper Myr. Pick #8 was surprising, though: Glint Hawk, Darkslick Drakeand Vedalken Certarch? Options! Pascoli took the Hawk.
Feature Match - Round Thirteen: Mario Pascoli vs. Victor Rubio
We've seen him draft, and now it was time for some action. Mario Pascoli and his blue-white metalcraft deck were paired against Victor Rubio from Spain, who had drafted a green and black infect deck of questionable quality.Mario Pascoli
Pascoli went off to a good start with Copper Myr followed by Trinked Mage into Memnite along with Glint Hawk on turn three. His opponent only had Painsmith on turn two with no follow-up at all. Trinket Mage and Painsmith traded in combat, then Pascoli cast Vedalken Certarch and Prototype Portal imprinting Memnite. Rubio's turn-four Plague Stinger couldn't really compete with that.
Pascoli began building Memnites and summoned Kemba's Skyguard. Rubio made Corpse Cur and ... a sad face. On his next turn, Pascoli tapped the Cur with his brand-new Tumble Magnet, attacked, and summoned Auriok Sunchaser. Rubio took a look at his next draw and picked up his cards.
Mario Pascoli 1 - 0 Victor Rubio
Rubio chose to play first, drew his cards, sighed, and mulliganed to six. Another sigh, another mulligan.Victor Rubio
As a result, Rubio didn't do much for the first couple of turns, while Pascoli cast Vector Asp, Auriok Sunchaser, Snapsail Glider, and Origin Spellbomb. Yes, Vector Asp. With four Auriok Sunchasers in Pascoli's deck, a 1/1 artifact creature, whose ability he couldn't activate, didn't seem terribly awful after all.
Rubio made his first move: Skinrender killed Snapsail Glider, bringing Pascoli down to two artifacts on the battlefield. Not for long, though. Pascoli cast Accorder's Shield and Razor Hippogriff. Rubio cycled Tel-Jilad Defiance and passed the turn. Pascoli replayed his Glider and attacked. Rubio cycled another Tel-Jilad Defiance and made Blight Mamba. Pascoli attacked and attacked, and that was it.
Mario Pascoli 2 - 0 Victor Rubio
Feature Match - Round Fourteen: Lino Burgold vs. Victor Rubio
Lino Burgold probably can't wait for 2010 to end - the young German had a smashmouth 2009 and was crowned the Rookie of the Year following two Grand Prix Top8s, including a win at Grand Prix Hanover. His sophomore year on the Pro Tour had been less kind and Burgold had only accrued 10 Pro Points over the course of the season. The final Grand Prix was offering Burgold an opportunity to end on a high note, however, as he was still very much in contention for a Top8 berth here in Florence.Lino Burgold
His opponent, the Spanish player Victor Rubio, was in no mood to offer his opponent an easy route though, curving out a Vector Asp and Plague Spitter, then adding a Painsmith to the battlefield and following it with a Corpse Cur Burgold summoned a Perilous Myr to his defense but again had to pass the turn without laying a third land. Rubio sent his forces into the red zone, and a Tel-Jilad Defiance kept his Plague Spitter alive in the face of Burgold's attempt to swat it with his dying Myr.
Burgold finally found his third land but it was all too late - Rubio flashed his opponent an Untamed Might to take the first game.
Burgold 0 - 1 Rubio
Poison decks often thrive on making quick starts, so it seemed unlikely that Rubio was on a path to victory when he played four lands without casting a single spell. The Spaniard's first card out was a Carrion Call, but by then he was fending off a Necropede, Gold Myr, and some hasty 6/6 Blade-Tribe Berzerkers!
Playing a Cystbearer and leaving two swamps untapped to threaten a Grasp of Darkness did enough for Rubio to persuade Burgold to step off the gas for a turn. From there the two players traded creatures and removal spells - Necropede and Twisted Image for a Cystbearer, Grasp of Darkness for the Berzerkers, and the board was clear.Victor Rubio
Rubio was the first to recover - his second wave began with a Corpse Cur that returned his Cystbearer to his hand, and then to play. Burgold hit back with an Oxidda Scrambler - that destroyed the Corpse Cur but the German wasn't happy to see Rubio play a second Corpse Cur and the return the first from the graveyard immediately.
Burgold found a Neurok Replica and Ichorclaw Myr to aid his defenses, and even managed to sneak a couple of attacks in. He had Rubio to 8 life while being on only 2 poison counter, but critically the German was down to 1 card in hand while the Corpse Curs had traded well for Rubio and he had plenty of ammunition left with 5 cards in hand. From that position the Spaniard could afford to play an attritional game - he bumped his creatures into Burgold's but in the same way that a Hydra's head is replaced by two, his Corpse Cur's demise only announced the arrival of a Contagious Nim and Cystbearer!
Burgold was working hard to fashion a defense from the few resources he had left, but the Flight Spellbomb he drew seemed unlikely to help much. It meant he could block Rubio's Plague Stinger but what about the other three Infect creatures? Rubio attacked with his whole team and then threw down an Untamed Might that would deal lethal poison. Burgold had his Neurok Replica but knew it wouldn't be enough - Rubio wouldn't have cast the Untamed Might if he didn't have Tel-Jilad Defiance. Sure enough, the Spaniard handed his creature Protection From Artifacts to prevent it being returned to hand and completed his victory!
Burgold 0 - 2 Rubio
Sunday, 3:15 p.m. – Good Plays, Bad Plays
Mirrodin is a world of artifice. Wherever you look you see intricate machinery, little cogwheels turning, moving in mysterious ways, cyborgs fighting at cross purposes and so on and on. Obviously, on a plane like this there are more tricky combinations than usual. Knowing the ins and outs of your cards and the rules that govern their interaction is more difficult than ever and, likewise, more rewarding too.
Yesterday, player A had Snapsail Glider, Rusted Relic, and two Spellbombs on the battlefield, with his opponent on 4, himself on 3. He attacked with the flying Glider to put player B on 2, then passed the turn, threatening lethal damage on the next. Player B, however, had Liquimetal Coating and Sunspear Shikari equipped with Sylvok Lifestaff, which would be lethal as well. With no other outs, he attacked. A blocked with the Rusted Relic, then proceeded to sacrifice his two Spellbombs. The Relic stopped being a creature, so it would neither kill the Lifestaff-equipped attacker nor receive lifelinked damage from it. Meanwhile, B wanted to use his Liquimetal Coating to turn the Relic back into a creature. Unfortunately, he couldn't actually respond to A sacrificing his Spellbombs. The sacrifice is part of the cost, not part of the ability. Responding to the ability doesn't change the fact that in between there was a point when A didn't control three artifacts. What B would have needed to do instead was to use Liquimetal Coating before blockers. This way, A cast another artifact on his next turn and flew in for the win with Snapsail Glider.
Another game came down to unusual use of Mimic Vat by player C. His Oxidda Scrapmelter and the opponent's Vulshok Replica traded in combat. Player C proceeded to put the Mimic Vat's triggered abilities on the stack in such a way that he first imprinted Oxidda Scrapmelter. Then, with the other imprint ability still waiting to resolve, he used his Mimic Vat to make a copy of Oxidda Scrapmelter and destroyed the only troublesome artifact his opponent was left with. Finally, the other trigger resolved and he imprinted Vulshok Replica which, with his opponent at 6 life, provided a much better route to victory than the Scrapmelter.
And more fun with Rusted Relic! Player D cast Turn to Slag on player E's Rusted Relic. Player E also controlled Sylvok Lifestaff (equipped to the Relic), two Silver Myr, and a Neurok Replica. He responded to Turn to Slag by sacrificing his Replica to return one Myr to his hand. Now, he was down to three artifacts. Then, Turn to Slag dealt five damage to Rusted Relic and destroyed Sylvok Lifestaff. The way Magic works, however, is that creatures with lethal damage are only put into graveyards after a spell's resolution, whereas the destruction of the equipment is carried out during the spell's resolution. The end result: Rusted Relic had five damage but was not a creature and consequently didn't die. Player E untapped, replayed his Silver Myr, and attacked for lethal damage with his other Myr and the reactivated 5/5.
Podcast - And That's Why We Have Round Ten
While only the hardest of the hardcore players want to be in the building at midnight at the end of a day one that starts at 9am, the absence of a tenth round on day one certainly makes for drama down the stretch on day two. With just two rounds to go, a veritable smorgasbord of talent could yet be sitting down for the top 8 draft. Will any of the four feature matches in round fourteen cement a place, or will it go right to the wire? Click to find out.
Sunday, 5:40 p.m. – Round Fifteen Round Up - The Numbers Game
Rarely do we get a Grand Prix final round with so much left to play for. It's common to see the top tables take Intentional Draws to ensure their berths in the Top8 and leave just a couple of spots open for players to scrap for. At this point it seemed like the magic number to be guaranteed a place in the Top8 was qualification was going to be 38 points - so many players could make it to 37 points that it would be down to the lottery of tiebreaks for anybody daring to ID from 36 points.
The standings at the beginning of the round looked like this, but how would they change as the results came in?
|1. Shuuhei Nakamura||37|
|2. Guido Citino||37|
|3. Jorg Unfried||37|
|4. Mario Pascoli||36|
|5. Tommi Lindgren||36|
|6. Victor Rubio||36|
|7. Mattia Rivello||36|
|8. Pierluigi Aceto||36|
|9. Christian Seibold||36|
|10. Anders Malin||36|
|11. Nicola Landoni||36|
|12. Lubos Pejhovsky||36|
|13. Robert Jurkovic||34|
|14. Lino Burgold||34|
|15. Simone Giovannetti||34|
|16. Robin Dolar||34|
|17. Sebastien Thaler||34|
|18. Terenc Dedaj||34|
|19. Gabriele Vistarini||34|
|4:09||DRAW - Shuuhei Nakamura and Guido Citino|
We expected this result, and the two players who could afford to ID do so - both advance to 38 points and should be guaranteed of a Top8 slot.
|4:11||DRAW - Jorg Unfriend and Victor Rubio|
A little more surprising. This is fine for Jorg Unfried, who moves up to 38 points but there's an element of risk for Victor Rubio - his 37 points only puts him into the tiebreaks mixup. His tiebreaks were very good going into the round, however, so if any player on 37 points made it into the Top8 it was likely to be Rubio.
|4:28||WIN - Gabriele Vistarini defeats Sebastien Thaler.|
This was the first result to come in from a live round, with Vistarini keeping his slim hopes of a Top8 berth alive with a quick win. The Italian made it up to 37 points, but shooting from 19th place he was still likely to miss out on tiebreaks
|4:37||WIN - Anders Malin defeated Lubos Pehjovsky|
This was the second result to come in from a live round, with Malin taking less than half an hour to despatch the Slovakian, Pehjovsky. With this result Malin leapfrogged the IDs to 39 points and first place, while Pehjovsky missed out on the Top8.
|4:44||WIN - Mario Pascoli defeats Robin Dolar|
The Pascoli train keeps on running in top gear, and the Italian pro locks up his Top8 slot with a 2-0 victory over the Slovenian, Dolar. Pascoli moving to 39 points is good news for Rubio and Pehjovsky as well - the fewer players who win from 34 points will mean players already on 37 have to worry a little less about their tiebreaks.
|4:45||LOCKED IN - Nakamura, Citino, Unfried, Pascoli, Malin
TIEBREAKED - Rubio, Vistarini
STILL PLAYING - Lindgren, Rivello, Seibold, Landoni, Jurkovic, Burgold, Giovanetti, Dedaj, Aceto
|4:48||WIN - Tommi Lindgren defeated Simone Giovanetti 2-1|
Lindgren joined Pascoli and Malin on 39 points while Giovanetti remained on 34 points. This was another piece of good news for those on tiebreaks
|4:49||WIN - Lino Burgold defeated Riccardo Reale|
The Rookie of the Year forced his way into the tiebreaks mix with a 2-1 win over Reale. Reale had been out of Top8 contention but was still playing for position in the Grand Prix and had put up stiff opposition. Burgold's tiebreaks before the round had been good, and his win seemed like particularly bad news for Gabriele Vistarini.
|4:53||WIN - Nicola Landoni edged past Christian Seibold 2-1|
This had been a tight matchup between two players on 36 points - the winner would take Top8, the loser would go home. Matches like this can really test players unused to the Feature Match splotlight, but Landoni had seemed unmoved and another Italian moved into the Top8 to join his countrymen Pascoli and Citino
|4:55||LOCKED IN - Nakamura, Citino, Unfried, Pascoli, Lindgren, Landoni, Malin
TIEBREAKED - Rubio, Vistarini, Burgold
STILL PLAYING - Rivello, Aceto
That result had seismic implications for the Top8, and those players whose hopes were pinned on tiebreaks. There were now seven players on 38 points or more, with two players on 36 points playing each other - Rivello and Aceto. If that match ended in a winner then the Top8 would be sealed up with a clean break at 38 points. Only if the Rivello-Aceto match ended in a draw could one of the players on 37 points scrape into the final Top8 berth.
|4:58||WIN - Pierluigi Aceto defeated his countryman Mattia Rivello|
Dressed for businees, Pierluigi Aceto had a businesslike air around him as he disposed of his countryman and locked up the Top8 - both for himself and for everyone else on 38 points or more!
|4:59||WIN - LOCKED IN - Nakamura, Citino, Unfried, Pascoli, Lindgren, Landoni, Malin, Aceto|
We have our Top8, and it's been produced by a clean break at 38 points. Despite their best efforts both Gabriele Vistarini and Lino Burgold fell short in their last gasp charge, but spare a thought for poor Victor Rubio. He had obviously felt secure when he accepted the ID with Jorg Unfried at the start of the round, but it turned out that he had IDed himself out of the Top8 entirely! That has to be a bitterly cruel lesson to learn.