by Frank KastenSunday, 3:41 p.m.Draft deck building with Antonino
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 3:32 p.m.Quick Question: What's Your Favorite Return to Ravnica Preview Card?
by Frank KarstenSunday 3:27 p.m.Cool Decks from the Second Draft
by Tobi HenkeRound 14 Feature MatchPetr Kuznetsov vs. Eugene Idzikovsky
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 2:12 p.m.Drafting with Hannes Kerem
by Frank KarstenSunday, 1:07 p.m.Sound the Trumpets!
by Frank KarstenSunday, 12:12 p.m.Quick Question: Funky Decks in the First Draft
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 12:11 p.m.Quick Question: Detain, Overload, Unleash, Scavenge, or Populate?
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 11:54 a.m.Quick Question: What's Your Favorite Place You Traveled to for Magic?
by Tobi HenkeRound 11 Feature MatchRaphaël Lévy vs. Oliver Rausch
by Tobi HenkeSunday, 11:07 a.m.Drafting with Raphaël Lévy
by Frank KarstenRound 10 Feature MatchAntonino De Rosa vs. Martin Juza
by Event Coverage StaffDay 1 Blog
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Round 10 Feature Match - Antonino De Rosa vs. Martin Juza
We don't always get to start off our Sunday feature match coverage immediately with a heavyweight battle, but we were lucky here in Moscow. With 7-2 records, both Martin Juza and Antonino de Rosa still have their sights set on another Grand Prix Top 8, but in order to make the cut they're (likely) going to need to go undefeated from this point forward.
Before the match started, the players exchanged some friendly banter, lamenting the fact that they were already paired against each other in the first round of the draft and chatting about their decks. "My deck is either really good or really bad," de Rosa mentioned. When Juza asked why, de Rosa explained that he simply hadn't drafted this format much. Well, let's see whether or not de Rosa's deck will perform...
Juza got to play first and didn't waste any time: a Farseek powered him into Talrand's Invocation on his third turn. Vampire Nighthawk from De Rosa quickly put a halt to the 2/2 flying tokens, though.
On his next turn, de Rosa enchanted his Vampire Nighthawk with Dark Favor and attacked with the 5/4 lifelinking flyer. Juza had an answer in his hand: Unsummon. But the clever Czech player did not cast it right away. He first double blocked with his 2/2 Drake tokens, which prompted de Rosa to use Arms Dealer (sacrificing Rummaging Goblin) to shoot down one of the tokens. Only then did Juza play the Unsummon, and de Rosa was unable to replay his Vampire Nighthawk because he had used his mana on the Arms Dealer activation. In fact, de Rosa had tapped himself out completely, which gave Juza the window to take out Arms Dealer with Prey Upon. Immediately after, Juza cast Tricks of the Trade on Scroll Thief and attacked with all of his creatures. With that sequence of plays, Juza had completely turned around the game in his favor.
De Rosa was not to be outdone, however. He Murdered the unblockable Scroll Thief and played a Reckless Brute in his second main phase to keep it back as a blocker. And when his Vampire Nighthawk traded with Deadly Recluse, he had a second Vampire Nighthawk ready as a replacement.
As the Vampire Nighthawk and the 2/2 Drake token started exchanging blows, Juza appeared to be out of gas. De Rosa's life total was swinging between 3 and 5, while Juza's life was slowly dwindling.
Two Chandra's Fury from de Rosa later, Juza revealed a grip of three lands and the players went on to the second game.
Antonino de Rosa 1 - Martin Juza 0
While they shuffled, they talked about the draft. "So I opened Odric, Master Tactian and Vampire Nighthawk; I took the Nighthawk because there also was a Pacifism in the pack and didn't want to fight for white," de Rosa said. "And then in the second pack I opened another Vampire Nighthawk." Juza just nodded, hoping he wouldn't face double Vampire Nighthawk again in the next game.
Juza chose to play first, but it was de Rosa in the aggressor role, with Chronomaton, Vampire Nighthawk, Reckless Brute, and two Tormented Soul (one even carrying Mark of the Vampire) that were putting a lot of pressure on Juza.
Yeva's Forcemage traded with Reckless Brute, but Juza didn't play anything else on his fourth and fifth turn and could only muster a Vastwood Gorger when he hit 6 mana. That didn't really help much against the evasive black creatures, and it seemed that Juza would be picking up another loss.
But then everything turned around when Juza played Elderscale Wurm. As long as it would stay in play, Juza simply couldn't lose!
The players asked a judge to confirm how the Wurm worked and also asked the judge about the interaction between lifelink and Elderscale Wurm. Apparently, lifelink still works even if the opponent is at 7 life.
So while the Elderscale Wurm ensured that Juza wouldn't die to de Rosa's attacks, he still had to find a way to actually win the game. Tricks of the Trade on Elderscale Wurm did the trick. Now, putting an enchantment on an already big creature may seem risky as you are putting all eggs in one basket. But, as Juza said, "If this guy dies, I die," so the Wurm was actually the perfect target for Tricks of the Trade.
De Rosa had a couple of turns to draw an answer, but did not find any. He resignedly scooped up his ineffectual permanents.
Antonino de Rosa 1 - Martin Juza 1
Antonino showed his love for aggressive 1/1 creatures by starting off with Tormented Soul and two Krenko's Command. Augur of Bolas for Juza bricked, but provided a good blocker for the tokens nonetheless.
Various creatures then traded against removal spells: Murders and Prey Upons were flying everywhere. But de Rosa's Tormented Soul still survived and kept on pressuring Juza, who was stuck on three lands.
De Rosa then added Bloodhunter Bat and Mark of the Vampire to his board, while Juza looked at the Primal Huntbeast and Tricks of the Trade (a nice combo, by the way) in his hand that he was unable to cast due to mana problems.
While sympathizing for Juza's bad luck, De Rosa was able to attack for lethal.
Antonino de Rosa 2 - Martin Juza 1
Sunday, 11:07 a.m. - Drafting with Raphaël Lévy
At the end of yesterday's Sealed portion, the French Hall of Famer and all-time Pro point leader Raphaël Lévy, having lost only one round, found himself in eighth place, so today he took his seat at draft table number one. I took up station directly behind him and watched his draft.
Lévy opened a booster with all kinds of goodness, from the more expensive Stormtide Leviathan to the more aggressive Crimson Muckwader. However, the Muckwader was red like Mogg Flunkies, and a Harbor Bandit that was in consideration was just as black as Servant of Nefarox, Sign in Blood, and a number of other cards. Instead Lévy chose Sentinel Spider, which at least was the only card of its color.
The best green card to follow it up with would have been a measly Vastwood Gorger. That was quickly relegated to the back of the pack. Having just passed a host of black cards, Lévy also had no intention to move into that color for Bloodhunter Bat. White on the other hand appeared to be wide open, with Planar Cleansing, Aven Squire, Ring of Thune, and Knight of Glory, which he took as his second pick.
Next up was a booster in which Krenko's Command and Furnace Whelp were arguably the strongest cards. Lévy switched back and forth between the latter and a War Falcon, in the end deciding against taking up another color just yet.
For his fourth pick, though, that simply wasn't an option anymore. The best white card was Show of Valor, the only green card Fog. No, here Lévy took Encrust, passing both Essence Scatter and Dragon Hatchling.
Next was Captain's Call, then Battleflight Eagle—at least some white from admittedly weak packs. And indeed white continued to come his way, with a seventh-pick Aven Squire, eighth-pick Attended Knight, and tenth-pick Ring of Thune. In between he picked up a Trumpet Blast, and the rest of the cards from the first round of boosters were just as unimpressive: Disentomb, Merfolk of the Pearl Trident, Downpour, Warclamp Mastiff.
So far Lévy had pretty much settled into white, dabbled the teensiest tiny bit in blue and green, less so in red, and had strictly avoided everything black. So obviously he opened a booster with lots of that, including the likes of Cower in Fear, Murder, and Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis. He sent an inaudible sigh skyward, then concentrated on the rest of the pack. Timberpack Wolf wasn't quite enough to sway him from taking another white card, so in the end he settled on Griffin Protector.
For his second pick, he had to pass yet another Murder, but at least got a bomb for himself: Captain of the Watch. Pick three was Ajani's Sunstriker over Healer of the Pride, pick four was War Falcon, and then white kind of dried up on him. Rain of Blades fifth, Ravenous Rats out of desperation sixth, and Captain's Call seventh wasn't exactly what the signals of the previous pass had promised.
He closed out pack two with Faerie Invaders, Safe Passage, Mind Sculpt, Tricks of the Trade, Plummet, Ranger's Path, and Angel's Mercy. Rather disappointing, with blue tentatively moving to secondary color being the silver lining.
Next was Aven Squire over Fog Bank (passing yet another Murder), then Serra Angel over another Sleep. Arctic Aven was a no-brainer, but pick five got interesting again, offering a choice between two-drops (Silvercoat Lion, Welkin Tern), manafixing (Evolving Wilds), or a second Griffin Protector to go with Lévy's two Captain's Calls. Griffin Protector it was.
Next up was Faerie Invaders over Captain's Call and Healer of the Pride, then War Falcon over Glacial Fortress, then Healer of the Pride over Silvercoat Lion. Unsummon wheeled, and most of the white cards Lévy had seen the first time around came around again too: first Captain's Call number three, then Guardians of Akrasa, then Glorious Charge.
After the draft, Lévy specifically mentioned these last two, his eleventh and twelfth pick respectively. "I knew nobody was white after pack one, but there just weren't any white cards in pack two. No Pacifism in the draft either." With all of his Soldier tokens Glorious Charge certainly seemed nice.
Talking about his chances Lévy said, "Worried for a while, but pack three really saved me."
Round 11 Feature Match -Raphaël Lévy vs. Oliver Rauschy
Raphaël Lévy simply needs no more introduction. His opponent this round was Oliver Rausch, an up-and-coming player who had been terrorizing the PTQ circuit in his native Germany for quite a while now. Maybe it finally was going to be his time for a breakout performance on the Grand Prix stage?
Lévy won the die-roll, but had no plays for the first couple of turns, starting off with Guardians of Akrasa on turn three. Meanwhile Rausch had cast Crimson Muckwader, attacked into the defender, then finished it off with Crippling Blight before adding yet more pressure with Mogg Flunkies.
Lèvy summoned Griffin Protector, Rausch summoned Liliana's Shade, searching up a third Swamp. Lévy held back with his flier and passed the turn with three Islands, two Plains untapped. Faerie Invaders, anyone?
Rausch thought long and hard about it, then played his Swamp and attacked with everything anyway. Griffin Protector blocked Mogg Flunkies and was indeed pumped via Faerie Invaders. Still Lévy fell to 9. Another Crippling Blight took out the Griffin and Walking Corpse made an appearance on the German side. Rausch's onslaught was relentless.
Raphaël Lévy 0-1 Oliver Rausch
Lévy had Ajani's Sunstriker followed by Guardians of Akrasa, while Rausch summoned the distinct non-combo of Mogg Flunkies and Servant of Nefarox. Lévy's second attack with the exalted lifelinker turned the totals to 26 to 14 in his favor, and afterwards he cast Attended Knight to also make any kind of retaliation quite impossible.
Rausch passed without play. Unable to attack himself, Rausch might have been much more inclined to double-block Ajani's Sunstriker, so Lévy just attacked with his Soldier token, 2/2 thanks to Guardians of Akrasa. Lévy once again passed with five mana up. At end of turn, Rausch shot Attended Knight with Searing Spear, then attacked with Servant of Nefarox which was blocked by Ajani's Sunstriker, then cast Krenko's Command.
Lévy restocked his team with the inevitable Faerie Invaders at end of turn and with Knight of Glory on his. The Invaders invaded for 5 damage to put Rausch at 7. A turn later that turned to 2 and soon the score stood at:
Raphaël Lévy 1-1 Oliver Rausch
Rausch opened on Crimson Muckwader, Lévy on Knight of Glory. Rausch cast Knight of Infamy pre-combat and attacked for 4. Since he had so few nonwhite creatures—a total of three in his deck—Lévy definitely had to enter the race now.
He tried to fight back with Arctic Aven, but he lost that to Searing Spear and a Plains to Ravenous Rats. Rausch's attack (with Knight and Muckwader) brought Lévy to 11. The latter's Griffin Protector didn't stop the beatdown either, at least not until Faerie Invaders showed up a turn later. By then, Lévy was already down to 6 and was facing an attacking army of Crimson Muckwader, Knight of Infamy, and now two Ravenous Rats. Also, his Griffin Protector was shot down with Murder before blocks. Faerie Invaders still ate Knight of Infamy, but Lévy fell to 1.
On his turn he summoned Ajani's Sunstriker and attacked with Faerie Invaders which put Rausch at dangerously low life as well. However, now Lévy only had two blockers for Rausch's total of three attackers, relying on lifelink to survive the attack. When Bloodthrone Vampire showed up pre-combat, allowing Rausch to simply sacrifice whichever creature would be blocked by Ajani's Sunstriker, there was no life to be gained. Soon no life left either.
Raphaël Lévy 1-2 Oliver Rausch
Sunday, 11:54 a.m. - Quick Question: What's Your Favorite Place You Traveled to for Magic?
Sunday, 12:11 p.m. - Quick Question: Detain, Overload, Unleash, Scavenge, or Populate?
Sunday, 12:12 p.m. - Funky Decks in the First Draft
Deck construction is a sweet time to take a peek at draft decks spread out on the table in all their glory. When walking around while players were building their decks, three in particular looked picture-worthy.
But wait ... do I see two Merfolk of the Peal Trident lurking over there on the left? What are they doing in the deck? Well, with two Switcheroo, a Master of the Pearl Trident, and a Quirion Dryad, even a vanilla 1/1 for one blue mana becomes playable.
Although the deck looked like a blast to play, Marcin lost all three matches with it. "Raphael Levy overran me in the first round with a lots of tokens, and Switcheroo was no good against it," Marcin explained. "And then I lost to Planar Cleansing and Harbor Bandit in rounds two and three."
The largest number of Timberpack Wolves I've seen in a single deck so far today is three. This Blue-Green deck belongs to Lukas Jaklovsky, who seems to like his cards in multiples. Next to his three Timberpack Wolf, he has as many as 4 Prey Upons!
The dream start of turn 2 Timberpack Wolf, turn 3 Timberpack Wolf, turn 4 Timberpack Wolf and double Prey Upon is a definite possibility with this deck. Lukas managed to win all three matches with it.
You know, I was hoping that someone would go the mill route today, so I was thrilled to see this deck by Sergey Stolyarov. Four Mind Sculpt and a Vedalken Entrancer? That's a great game plan if I ever saw one. And he also has Jace's Phantasm to go with it.
Sergey posted a 1-2 with this deck, so maybe it doesn't always work (especially if opponents board into 50-60 card decks for games 2 and 3) but it's still fun to win in an alternative way!
Sunday, 1:07 p.m. - Sound the Trumpets
"And at the gates the trumpets rang."
- Farewell, by Summoning
Vladimir Votintsev was one of our undefeated Russian players overnight, and he drafted an aggressive red-green deck featuring triple Krenko's Command and triple Trumpet Blast in the first draft today. This color combination is an exact fit with Vladimir's guild affiliation: he is a self-proclaimed Gruul guild member. "It's fast, mindless, and will crush everything in its path. Really my style of deck," he explained.
For reference, here is his draft decklist.
When asked about his draft, Vladimir mentioned that he started with Rancor and a second pick Flinthoof Boar. But then the green dried up, and the red came flowing. He didn't pick up Trumpet Blasts early, but they were perfect for his deck. If you've ever played Trumpet Blast on a board filled with Goblin tokens and a Goblin Battle Jester, you know the feeling.
He also has Rummaging Goblin and Wild Guess to dig for his "combo" pieces. Furthermore, his deck features the most impressive assortment of 2-mana, 3-power creatures that I have seen today: 2 Mogg Funkies, 2 Flinthoof Boar, and 1 Crimson Muckwader!
Unfortunately, he kept some risky 1-landers this morning, which didn't pay off. He also lost a match because he lacked removal spells to deal with problem creatures. Nevertheless, Vladimir should still be in a reasonable position to make it to the final eight if he manages to do well in the next draft.
Sunday, 2:12 p.m. - Drafting with Hannes Kerem
Estonian Hannes Kerem is no stranger to the spotlight, having made previous experiences in this regard at Worlds 2008 where he finished in fourth place. Going into the second draft of the day, he was 11-1, well on his way to another Top 8, so this time a (comparatively smaller) spotlight was reserved for his draft process.
Essence Drain, Serra Angel, or Stuffy Doll? Kerem went for the artifact creature as his first pick. He continued with Fog Bank over Crippling Blight and Hellion Crucible. Pick three gave him the most options yet, with a pack that still had Faerie Invaders, Essence Drain, Bloodhunter Bat, Planar Cleansing, and Crimson Muckwader. He was willing to move into black and took Essence Drain, then was visibly shaken when the next booster held a second Crimson Muckwader as the by far best card in sight. Having just passed one, he clearly would have preferred something else, but there was nothing remotely close in power, so the Lizard it was.
Next up was Bloodhunter Bat, then Rummaging Goblin, then Liliana's Shade. Not the most spectacular cards, but this gave him a solid base in black and red, to which he added Mark of the Vampire, Bloodthrone Vampire, and a couple of Goblin Arsonists. He scooped up a Wild Guess and a late Fire Elemental, and it was off to pack two.
Krenko's Command over Sign in Blood was not a particularly hard decision. Neither was Akroma's Memorial over ... well, in fact Kerem didn't even look at the rest of the cards in the booster as soon as he had spotted the mighty artifact.
And for some reason black and red continued to elude him this round. A fourth-pick Chandra's Fury was followed by a rare-drafted Glacial Fortress. A sixth-pick Goblin Arsonist was followed by Liliana's Shade (passing more Sentinel Spiders). Another Liliana's Shade and another Bloodthrone Vampire, along with Disentomb and Smelt rounded out this, overall rather disappointing, pack.
First, Kerem picked up what could have been his third Crimson Muckwader but was actually "only" his second. Then he took Public Execution out of a booster which also had: Turn to Slag, Mogg Flunkies, and Giant Scorpion—too much at once!
His third pick was Searing Spear over Knight of Infamy, then came Fire Elemental over both Rise from the Grave and Walking Corpse, then Krenko's Command over another Fire Elemental. A sixth-pick Rummaging Goblin beat out another Krenko's Command and a Goblin Battle Jester. Seventh was Chandra's Fury, eighth Fire Elemental number three, ninth was Bloodthrone Vampire.
Overall, black and red certainly were either open, or there simply were more black and red cards in the packs than usual. Kerem's deck looked solid enough, although it exhibited a little "disconnect" between its separate parts. Small aggressive creatures like Mogg Flunkies and Bloodthrone Vampire on the one hand, five, six, and even seven-mana spells on the other. But in the end, Rummaging Goblin is amazing at stitching things together (and Kerem had drafted two of those), so there was really nothing to worry about.
Round 14 Feature Match - Petr Kuznetsov vs. Eugene Idzikovsky
At the beginning of this all-Russian feature match both players still only had two losses. A win here would almost certainly secure a Top 8 berth, a loss might eliminate from Top 8 contention. Petr Kuznetsov was on white-blue, Eugene Idzikovsky entered the fray with black-red.
Neither player seemed to be in a hurry, with no plays on either side for the first two turns. Both had 1/3 creatures on turn three, though: Scroll Thief for Kuznetsov, playing first, Giant Scorpion for Idzikovsky. The Scorpion was put under a spell of Pacifism and Scroll Thief netted its first extra card.
Idzikovsky didn't have a fourth land and had to content himself with casting Rummaging Goblin—no good blocker for Scroll Thief, which provided its second extra card. Kuznetsov made two Drakes with Talrand's Invocation and passed to Idzikovsky who made a 2/2 Primal Clay. That and Rummaging Goblin blocked Scroll Thief while the Drakes got in for 4.
Kuznetsov had a Primal Clay of his own, his a 3/3. But now Idzikovsky summoned Fire Elemental, rendering the groundbound lump of clay rather useless. He traded his flying lump of clay away for one of the Drake tokens, while the other Drake put him at 12.
Kuznetsov had another Scroll Thief and an Odric's Crusader which in turn traded with Fire Elemental. Idzikovsky was falling behind on cards and life, and soon even a freshly-cast Xathrid Gorgon wasn't enough anymore to help him out of his predicament. His Essence Drain might have helped, but when Idzikovsky tapped out for it, Kuznetsov showed Negate, and that was that.
Petr Kuznetsov 1-0 Eugene Idzikovsky
The second game started much faster, had Goblin Arosnist trading with War Falcon as early as turn two. Over the next couple of turns, Kuznetsov first built a Welkin Tern, then built it up via Ring of Evos Isle. Idzikovsky's Rummaging Goblin went digging for answers or something to race with, but when his Fire Elemental came down on turn five, Welkin Tern was already 4/3 and growing ever larger still.
Kuznetsov always kept two lands untapped to prevent any undue tampering, and churned out enough creatures to chump if needs be. Not that it was necessary; the monstrous 6/5 Welkin Tern ended the game long before that became an issue.
Petr Kuznetsov 2-0 Eugene Idzikovsky
Sunday 3:27 p.m. - Cool Decks from the Second Draft
As I walked around the tables during deck construction after the second draft and got some tips from judges and Valeriy Shunkov, I was able to spot several interesting decks. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.
Alexandre Habert decided that one color was enough. It certainly helps mana consistency!
And did you know that Scroll Thief is a Merfolk? Master of the Pearl Trident certainly does, and Alexandre has three of them. The only downside: if you have been the one picking up all the blue cards during the draft, then it is unlikely that you will face opponents where the islandwalk ability will help you.
Phylactery Lich rarely makes your deck. After all, it's a wasted card if you have no artifacts to go with it, and there is not a single common artifact in M13. But there are several uncommon ones, and Dmitri Dolmatov managed to pick up three of them. This made Dmitri feel comfortable enough to put the Lich in his maindeck.
Ah, the classic Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker; Gem of Becoming; Trading Post deck. Once this deck gets to the late game, it should have no difficulty winning. The aggressively-minded Welkin Tern seems a bit out of place in this deck, though, as attacking with 2-power flyers does not help much if your plan is to survive until 7 mana. Still, this deck really looks like a blast to play.
Now this is really the most control-minded list I've seen today. We again see a Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, and the blue mages should love this deck. Triple Divination, triple Augur of Bolas, two Archaeomancer, and a Spelltwine is just a dream for anyone who likes to draw cards. And the triple Fog Bank will help survive until the most powerful planeswalker of the Multiverse can come down.
Sunday, 3:32 p.m. - Quick Question: What's Your Favorite Return to Ravnica Preview Card?
Sunday, 3:41 p.m. - Draft deck building with Antonino
Booster draft is not only about making the right picks but also about building the right deck. And from time to time, it's a good thing to be reminded that even the pros sometimes also have difficulty finding the correct build for their draft decks. Take a look, for instance, at the deck that Antonino de Rosa registered for his second draft:
The maindeck features the combo of Krenko's Command and Predatory Rampage, but the sideboard is still filled with several decent red and green options. Take a moment to consider how you would have built this deck.
During deck construction, Antonino was unsure whether or not he should go all-in combo with Fungal Sprouting and Trumpet Blast. He ended up putting some of these "combo" pieces in his sideboard, but regretted his decision afterwards.
"If I would have built the deck again, I would have cut Furnace Whelp and Rummaging Goblin for Trumpet Blast and Fungal Sprouting", Antonino explained. "I can't cast Furnace Whelp reliably since I'm only playing 7 Mountain, and Rummaging Goblin is weak because it only provides one power for Fungal Sprouting." Your coverage reporter agrees with that build because the dedicated token & pump synergy can really win games out of nowhere.