Grand Prix-Nashville Day 1 Complete Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on November 20, 2010

By Wizards of the Coast

Friday Night Feature – Learn to Weather the Coming Storm

by Marc Calderaro

Are you the type to arrive at events early? Show up with enough time to get a "feel" for the venue? Do you like to have your clothes laid out the night before? If so, you're rewarded on Grand Prix Friday nights. And if you're not that type, it's worth it to become the type. In addition to pre-registration, saving that precious sleep in the morning, Magic events run deep into the night, warming you up for the ensuing Grand-Prix onslaught, and winning you some cool stuff in the process. Here at Grand Prix—Nashville, Friday night was bumping. Complete with drafts, FNM, Win-a-Box battles, EDH tournaments (with winners awarded free entry to another EDH event in addition to packs – feeding the pubic event's "Endless EDH Weekend"), and of course, grinders.

Bummin' because you're a few ratings points shy of Grand Prix byes? Grinders are your last chance to secure an easy Saturday morning. Beat your opponents to a pulp and start your Saturday with a 3-0 record. There were fourteen grinders run last night with fourteen lucky individuals earning today's coveted three byes. And they weren't just amateurs looking for a shot at the big time. Two-time Grand Prix winner, Pro-Tour Boston Top-8er, Jonathan Sonne slung his Lux Cannon to the top of his grinder tables.

Perusing deck lists always reminds me of just how fun the Sealed format is. Sure it's rare that you see a Steel Hellkite left in the sideboard (my cohorts say "never", but I'll stick with "rare"), but it's the place where Blistergrub can show up, main deck, in winning lists. It's the format that really tests your "23rd-card" skill. And just in case you don't believe the open-ended nature of Scars of Mirrodin sealed, check out Chris Pait's sweet Myr Reservoir-powered Grinder #10 winner. What's the Magic number that makes the Reservoir pull its weight? For Pait it was seven, and with all his myr, other artifacts and proliferate, he threw in a Golem Foundry for that extra oomph.

Showing up early to the dentist only allows you a time to breathe, relax and read last month's Woman's Day magazine. On Grand Prix Friday nights, it's the best way to get used to the carnage, destruction and mayhem ready to be unleashed the following morning – and earn prizes while you're at it. If you missed out, next time try to book a flight a few hours earlier, or urge your carpool to get up just a bit earlier. It's worth the effort.

John Canville - Grinder #1 Winner

Josh Cho - Grinder #2 Winner

Peter Yong - Grinder #3 Winner

Dan Musser - Grinder #4 Winner

Jeff Lynch - Grinder #5 Winner

John Klauk - Grinder #6 Winner

Jonathan Sonne - Grinder #7 Winner

Isaiah Ley - Grinder #8 Winner

Kitt Holland - Grinder #9 Winner

Chris Pait - Grinder #10 Winner

Doug Tice - Grinder #11 Winner

Jharick Shields - Grinder #12 Winner

Brian Edgar - Grinder #13 Winner

Michael Laviolette - Grinder #14 Winner

Saturday, 11:00a.m. – Scars of Mirrodin Limited with Brad Nelson

by Bill Stark

Brad Nelson has been featured in plenty of Sealed and Draft deck techs. Rather than follow him building his Sealed pool specifically, and potentially giving away his card pool to his opponents throughout the day, I sat down with Nelson early to chat about the Scars of Mirrodin Limited world at large, as well as touching base on how he feels his deck will do this weekend and of course to discuss the Player of the Year race which he is presently leading.

Bill: How do you feel about the Scars of Mirrodin Sealed format?

Brad: It's interesting. The best part about it is that the games are really good. Sometimes you get the bomb draws. There's no way you can build a Sealed pool to just be aggro. In other formats, you could just build a deck to be aggro if you didn't have bombs, but in this format there are so many defensive cards you can't do that. Games can be really swingy because you can have board position when your opponent all of a sudden casts Myr Battlesphere and the game is over in two turns.

Bill: When you open your pool, what color combo are you hoping to be able to play?

Brad: White-red is probably the best because you're gonna get the cards like Arc Trail, Arrest, and Razor Hippogriffs. Those are the cards you're looking for. Arc Trail is RIDICULOUS in this format because everyone is playing off-casting cost Myrs and higher casting cost cards, so you take their Myr out and they're off a turn, so it slows them down in getting to their bigger end cards. A lot of decks run four, five, and six drops.

Two-for-ones are great in general anyway; there aren't a lot of ways to gain card advantage in this format. White-red is where you want to be. I don't think you want to be blue, there isn't a lot of removal in blue. You don't want to be black-green, because you'll be half infect and half non-infect.

Bill: Much has been made of that ability in Draft. What would it take you to play an infect deck in Sealed?

Brad: I opened a pool today I would have gone infect with, but had to pass it. You need a decent curve and at least 10 infect guys I think, some removal and equipment too. You need a bomb, a Contagion Engine, a Skithiryx, something to push it over. It's hard for the infect guys to push through without the equipment and removal because everyone is going to play defensive spells. Corpse Cur is another card I think you need. A chain of Corpse Curs can just whittle down a person's board compared to two Gravediggers, which couldn't.

Brad Nelson
 

Bill: What ways do you have to deal with "bombs" in the common and uncommon slot?

Brad: Turn to Slag is one of the most important cards that I want in a Sealed Pool. It deals with almost all of the bombs, Steel Hellkite, Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Sunblast Angel, it deals with bomb equipment. People are starting to play with Accorder's Shield a lot more, and if you can't deal with that card games get a lot harder to win. Slag beats all the big spells, it beats all the equipment. It's one of the best all around removal spells. Arrest is fine too, it deals with most of the bombs, if not all of them. Shatter and Revoke deals with most of them. That's why Hoard-Smelter Dragon is so good, because it's not an artifact. My top three cards are, in order:

Sunblast Angel
Contagion Engine
Hoard-Smelter Dragon

None of those three cards are Tumble Magnetable. That's the problem with Wurmcoil Engine, it can just get tapped. That's how I did well at Grand Prix—Toronto, I had three Tumble Magnets.

Bill: How do you feel about your Sealed pool this weekend?

Brad: It's really good. It's the best Sealed I've had in this format, on Magic Online, anywhere. I feel very good. There are things about it that I dislike. I don't have a lot of options, which is what I liked about my Toronto deck. There I got to make a lot of decisions, there were a lot of on-board tricks. This weekend I have a lot of higher powered cards.

That's the great thing about this format, why great players win. The board gets bogged down with a lot of options, like "I can turn off my opponent's metalcraft with my removal spell," or "I can cycle my spellbomb now or hold it for more value." Little mistakes people can't even realize cost them the game until it's over.

Bill: You've stated publicly that you feel, results notwithstanding, that you don't understand this Limited format. How do you feel about your understanding of it now?

Brad: I actually think I've finally learned the format, but I just have a theory and that's about drafting the format. Sealed is a lot more straightforward. I feel like I have a good chance of doing well at Sealed because it's just about playing good Magic. In Draft, it's really complex. One of the interesting things I've found about this format is that people will take an archetype and beat into the ground that they're drafting it, but those decks will still have 3-5 bad cards I would rather not be playing. But they just ran RW Metalcraft into the ground, and then Accorder's Shield will just beat that.

So I've been drafting a lot of defensive and random midrange decks. What I've been valuing is removal and ways to deal with my opponent's deck. I haven't found one person who can take down a dinosaur (Alpha Tyrannax). It's a great Limited format, I really enjoy it. It is my favorite so far of all the ones I've played. It's so complex, it's always changing. A lot of formats are like that, but not at this pace. Accorder's Shield has gone way up for a lot of people, but Shatter isn't as good as it used to be because people aren't relying on metalcraft as much. People are relying a lot on poison.

Bill: Let's talk a bit about the Player of the Year race. Does that weigh on you when you play?

Brad: Nothing affects me when I'm playing. It gives me motivation, but I've always been motivated to do well regardless. When I'm playing, there's nothing that I'm thinking about. I'm just playing my matches and I want to win now.

Player of the Year does mean a lot to me. I'm going to work very hard to win it. The biggest problem people have is that they're thinking too much outside the game. They're letting too much emotion in, they're not just playing to win or lose. They don't take a loss and just move on. That happened to me in Toronto, I took a loss in Round 4 and let it get to me. I got a couple pep talks and shook it off.

When I'm playing Top 8, sometimes I get into a mode where I forget I'm even there. After I get done playing I look around and I'm like "Oh, there are people watching. There's a coverage reporter."

Bill: Does the fact you would become the first American in a decade to win the title hold any special value to you?

Brad: I didn't know until BDM's article that it's been 10 years since an American held that trophy. As a nation that's really cool, but I've never looked at Magic with global barriers. We're our own people. Everyone in the world that plays Magic is part of its own family. If I do win, that's cool that it comes back to the United States because that's where it belongs. We have a lot of skill here in the U.S. I wouldn't be the player I am without team ChannelFireball. LSV, Wrapter, PV, Ochoa have taught me a LOT about the game. Ultimately I want Player of the Year for myself, and for my dad. He's really gotten into Magic and he loves this lifestyle that I'm doing. He watches coverage everyday, my grandma Delila and my uncle too. It would mean a lot.

Feature Match Round 3 – Osyp Lebedowicz vs. Jon Sieber: "It's not a misplay if it's illegal."

by Marc Calderaro

As an amateur, coming to a Grand Prix can be daunting. With tons of players, tons of famous talent and tons of media, bringing your A-Game can be difficult. And Jon Sieber has it harder than the usual GP amateur. Though he came in with one bye and won his second round, round three paired him against Pro-Tour winner and all around Magic staple, Osyp Lebedowicz. Though he hadn't been in the game for a while, he's still strong and certainly wouldn't make a humorous misplay over the course of the match that his on-looking friends would goad him about and make the Sieber feel more at ease, right? Spoiler Alert: He does.

Game 1

Jon Sieber

Osyp won the dice roll and elected to draw. "It's good to know you're not playing infect," Sieber quipped. A turn-two Myrsmith for Sieber was joined by a Glint Hawk Idol (+1 Myr from the smith). He sent the 2/1 in to take Osyp to 18 while Osyp answered with a Moriok Reaver.

After Sieber played his drawn Vulshok Replica (+1 Myr) he attacked Osyp again. The Pro Tour—Venice winner spent his next turn Arresting the Vulshok Replica Lightning-Bolt Replica and sinking to 11 on Sieber's next attack, though he was killing off the Myr tokens one by one. Osyp smirked only slightly when he dropped Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon but Sieber smirked larger when he promptly Arrested it.

Osyp, now at 7, finally drew the Revoke Existence for the Idol that was pinging him from the skies, but Sieber continued with drawing gas. A Contagion Engine (+1 Myr) came down and things were looking bleak for Osyp. He still had a Razor Hippogriff and a Darksteel Sentinel in his hand waiting to strike, but would it be enough?

Osyp had hope yet however, as a Strata Scythe (+1 Myr) from Sieber revealed his own nervousness; he forgot to search for a card to Imprint. Though Sieber remembered quickly enough, finding a Plains, it allowed Osyp to play more confidently as he leaned back in his chair and cast a mid-combat Darksteel Sentinel to infi-block any Strata-Scythed Myr that would wander into the red zone.

Iron Myr and Tumble Magnet came from Osyp, then he simply shipped back, as a Myr Galvanizer (+1 Myr) added more and more little strips of paper to the board. Now Osyp joined the token fun as both players played and sacrificed Origin Spellbombs (+1 Myr for Sieber) the following turns.

The board was stalemated by paper tokens, but with the life totals 19-7 in Sieber's favor with an active Myrsmith and Contagion Engine, and seemingly endless Myr, it would seem the rookie had the advantage. But Tumble Magnet tapped his Myrsmith, then his Galvanizer and Sieber knew what was coming. "Sunblast Angel," he said. He barely blinked and the Angel came crashing down.

Sieber needed to make something happen fast and equipped the Strata Scythe to a token (granting +3/+3) and attacked with five Myr and a freshly cast Flameborn Hellion. Sentinel blocked the Hellion and they bounced off one another while Angel took the 4/4 token, sinking Osyp to 5. Cool as a cucumber he laid land nine and cast the last card in his hand, the Razor Hippogriff, returning Origin Spellbomb and he quickly cast and cycle it. He attacked with the Angel and Sentinel. Sieber was now at 11.

Sieber's and Osyp's hands were merely sandbagged lands and if the gamestate didn't change, Osyp's Angel was threatening to fly to victory. Sieber drew and drew, but couldn't answer the Angel in time.

Jonathan Sieber 0 – 1 Osyp Lebedowicz

Game 2

Osyp Lebedowicz

Osyp boarded in a Flesh Allergy and a Ghalma's Warden while Sieber still bet on his maindeck.

Sieber chose to draw and they were off, keeping both their openers. Perilous Myr from Osyp faced off against Sieber's Myrsmith. A quick Grasp of Darkness took the white smith down as Sieber followed with a Myr Galvanizer. It crashed into the red zone (as much as a non- Myr Battlesphere Battlesphere Myr can crash) making the totals 19-18 in Sieber's favor, then Sieber added a Vulshok Replica. Osyp trumped it with a turn-five Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, but again Siber's deck delivered the immediate answer. He cast an Origin Spellbomb, and now Metalcrafted, a single red mana Galvanic Blasted the dragon away.

Both players continued to add to the board, and a few turns later it was Sieber's Galvanizer, Replica, Glint Hawk Idol, a 1/1 Myr token (via Origin Spellbomb) and Tumble Magnet facing off against the Perilous Myr, Kemba's Skyguard and Darksteel Myr. Sieber's timely Contagion Engine swung things in his favor: Darksteel Myr, and Perilous Myr hit the bin, and Osyp used his Perilous trigger to kill the activated Idol. But Osyp still had tricks; Arrest and Flesh Allergy were sitting in his hand. He thought long and hard before attacking with his lonely 1/1 Skyguard then emptying his hand – using the Allergy to trade the Galvanizer for the Skyguard, and the Arrest to hit the Vulshok Replica. Alas, it was all for naught. An unanswered Flameborn Hellion, a Revoke Existence on the Arrest, and two empty draw steps were enough for Osyp to concede and go to game 3.

Jonathan Sieber 1 – 1 Osyp Lebedowicz

Game 3

They both wished each other good luck in the final game, both kept their opening hands and Ospy led with a Origin Spellbomb. Answering with a turn-two Spikeshot Elder, Sieber again had a turn-three Galvanizer while Osyp cycled the Spellbomb, net a Myr, then cast a Kemba's Skyguard. The Galvanizer questionably swung for two and Osyp changed his mind on blocking and decided to trade with his flyer. A drawn Fume Spitter killed the Elder (who was missing a second Mountain to kill the token), and Osyp's lowly 1/1 got in there before being joined by Ghalma's Warden. Land six brought about Contagion Engine, yet again, and Osyp used Razor Hippogriff Razor Hippo to get his Spellbomb back. 17-23 were the life totals and it looked to stay that way, what with a Tumble Magnet tapping down the Hippogriff, and the Engine to refuel it. But Osyp was holding a secret. His hand was Arrest, Arrest, Grasp of Darkness, Revoke Existence, Sunblast Angel. There was no way a Pro like Osyp could screw it up, right? Osyp immediately cast an Arrest illegally on the Tumble Magnet. "I'm as tight as I've ever been!" Uh oh, maybe not.

"There was definitely a card in Mirrodin that did that," he appealed to the crowd. "It was ten years ago and a different color," was the response he got. The correct white card, Revoke Existence, soon took out the Magnet and the 3/3 flyer started getting there against a Vulshok Replica and a Copper Myr (while the Engine sat unused and sad). The cards mounted in each player's hands while the board remained the same. Sieber's Revoke Existence and Oxidda Scrapmelter sat waiting for juicy targets, while Osyp was content to poke away with the flyer while drawing even more removal in the form of Flesh Allergy. Ok, so maybe Osyp's not on the top of his game, but I think my grandma would have this game in the bag, right?

Right. It took an empty draw step after the Sunblast Angel wiped Sieber's board for the amateur to pack it in against the self-admittedly rusty pro.

"Hey, it's not a misplay if it's illegal." Words to live by.

Jon Sieber 1 – 2 Osyp Lebedowicz

Saturday, 2:00p.m. – Corrupting America's Youth: An Interview with Zac Hill

by Marc Calderaro
Zac Hill

Wizards of the Coast has been known to recruit Pro players to their team up in Renton. Pros-turned-R&D have been a large reason for the great sets and great success Magic has had over the years. They are all smart, hard-working people. But in Zac Hill, in addition to those attributes, they've found a personality that's always shined in the spotlight. He's a very nice guy and a great bastion for the game. I sat down with him in between slinging his guns, to get his impressions of the return to Mirrodin and the return of the Phyrexians.

He was quite pleased with his gun-slinging choices for the day (though I'd just watched him get his face smashed in by two Grave Titans and a Mimic Vat imprinting his fallen Baneslayer Angel). He's carrying around a UWr Venser Control deck chock full of Enter-the-Battlefield effects, a Mono-Red Aggro, Sam Black's Azusa, Lost But Seeking EDH deck, and a Mono-Green Infect deck. "That infect deck is probably the best I've ever slung." (ok, "slung" is my word – but it's so good!) He's taken down multiple Vintage and Legacy decks so far with it. The surprise factor of going from 0 poison counters to 10 (and sometimes 15) in one turn is a level of awesome that just makes my skin tingle. And when asked which side of the Phyrexian-Mirran battle he supported, the answer was already pretty obvious.

"I like corrupting the youth of America," was his first remark on the subject. He was already known to be promoting the black-oily ones at the player party in Amsterdam. "And plus, Mark Purvis is just too adorable to be my team leader." Purvis, the Brand Manager for Magic (check out his dossier) is a well-known advocate for the Mirrans; and he is quite adorable. As far the design-development end of Phyrexia's chief helper, Infect, Hill talked to me about the function of the mechanic, especially how it applies to the limited formats. "It's easy for artifacts to lead to very grinding, incremental games." Infect, however, was designed as a counter to that. If endless Instill Infections and Trigon of Thoughts are bringing you down, Infect brings the pain in an inevitable, poisony death.

"And unlike a lot of people, I love playing just five or six infect guys in my sealed deck." He feels that since the last guy you stick is going to win you the game anyway (echoes of Jamie Wakefield), it doesn't matter if it wins with 20 damage or 10 poison counters. "Infect, for me, is all upside." Especially, he says, because there are great support cards like Trigon of Rage that help out both attack strategies. I can attest to this after listening to a frustrated cry from Conley Woods earlier. He was up against a deck with both infect and non-infect and on turn four he groaned, "I don't know which card to kill!" Having both types of damage dealers gives your opponent more opportunities to misplay, as they don't know your deck as well as you do. It's in these decks that the equipment-without-a-home, Grafted Exoskeleton, finds a great place to settle down and start a family.

Zac Hill and Donnie Noland

Hill is so happy to be in Nashville for the Grand Prix, since tournament organizer Donnie Noland is one of the reasons Hill became involved in the game at all. "He loaned me a deck for my first tournament" – the 1998 JSS. As Noland told me, "Oh man, that kid was as green as they come." Noland, along with then Tennessee local player and judge, John Carter (now a level three judge and former DCI Judge Coordinator), took him to his first Nationals tournament in 1999. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Magic is a game of community. As the community thrives, the players within it also grow in step. Noland told me, "Take time to nourish young talent and help them any way you can. You never know who's going to surprise you." Just look at these three locals ten years later; one works for R&D, one is highly respected in the judge community, and the third is organizing a 1,486-player Grand Prix. It's pretty inspiring, even if one of the them roots for Magic' big bad guys, the Phyrexians, and loves youth corruption.

It was great talking with Zac, but he had more unwitting combatants to infect. He'll be here all weekend and he's always happy to talk to anyone and everyone willing. Zac Hill is a fun, exuberant guy and proof positive that with enough zeal and personality, we can all live the dream of one day working in Magic R&D, then coming back to your home state to poison people to death.

Feature Match Round 4 – Sam Black vs. Gerry Thompson

by Bill Stark
Gerry Thompson

Gerry Thompson and Sam Black are both storied North American Magic players who supplement their Pro Tour winnings with income as writers for the same digital gaming magazine: StarCityGames.com. Despite the fact hundreds of other competitors in the event were NOT their coworkers, the two found themselves paired as the last of the bye rounds wore off.

Both players opened on mulligans, but only Sam had to ship his second set for five cards. That put him at a disadvantage against his seasoned opponent, but he gave no indication that it affected him mentally. Thompson led the way with an Iron Myr, on color as he revealed blue and red lands, then cast and equipped an Accorder's Shield on his third turn. Black fired back with Hand of the Praetors, but a Galvanic Blast from his opponent took the 3/2 down.

Corpse Cur bought the Praetor right back for Sam, who was representing an infect deck with his black and green manabase. The 2/2 Cur began attacking Thompson, who blocked with his equipped Iron Myr. Soon a Blight Mamba and Cystbearer joined Black's team, each shooting Gerry with a poison counter as a result of the Hand of the Praetors on the battlefield.

Under the gun after a strong start, Gerry cast a Snapsail Glider and equipped it with Accorder's Shield. He passed the turn, but when Sam Black began doing calculations for combat, Thompson did his own math. "I'm dead?" He asked, to no one in particular. "I'm dead," he confirmed to himself, then scooped up his board for the second game.

Sam Black 1, Gerry Thompson 0

Sam Black

"You can play," Gerry informed his opponent, opting to draw an extra card rather than stay ahead on tempo by taking the first turn.

Sam wasted no time taking advantage, casting a Blight Mamba which began infecting his opponent. Thompson had Snapsail Glider and Liquimetal Coating. A Rusted Relic soon joined the blue-red player's team, giving him a sizable force of metalcraft threats. After the Glider blocked Blight Mamba, Instill Infection allowed Black to take it out, but Tumble Magnet soon had his 1/1 Snake on lockdown and he began soaking up hits from the Rusted Relic.

Trigon of Infestation helped Black to stabilize, but he soon lost the artifact as his opponent cast Volition Reins to steal it. That put Sam back on the defensive, casting a Cystbearer and passing without attacking. But the board was stalled for both players, as even Thompson with his hijacked Trigon didn't feel it was safe to attack. The complicated board made Sam's topdeck of Contagion Engine all the more devastating for Gerry who could only watch as all of his creatures picked up -1/-1 counters, his infect total at risk of lethal proliferation after the early attacks from Blight Mamba.

The Engine proved to be too much. Though Thompson worked on sneaking attacks through his opponent's defenses, Black carefully wore the metalcraft team down before proliferating a poison victory. After a tough battle, Gerry had no choice but to pack it in.

Sam Black 2, Gerry Thompson 0

Video Feature – Who Will Win POTY?

by Bill Stark

Photo Essay - Faces in the Crowd

by Bill Stark

The Grand Prix circuit is a unique opportunity for people to meet some of the biggest names in Magic. This weekend at Grand Prix—Nashville has not disappointed in that regard, with dozens of the world's best players here trying to soak up the last few Pro Points of the season. In addition some bonus VIPs are here, like Wizards R&D member Zac Hill. Here's a look at some of the players in the house.

Brett Blackman (L) loves getting his chance to play professional Magic when he's not working as a professional Harry Potter stand-in. To his right is Kyle Boggemes, the Pro Tour—San Diego runnerup from earlier this year. All kidding aside, the two were clearly excited about playing ten rounds of Scars of Mirrodin Sealed!

Midwest stalwart Brian Kowal just realized he opened a foil Koth. Or he normally looks like that. Your call.

Two men who go by three initials: Luis-Scott Vargas, aka LSV, on the left and Ben Seck, or TBS for THE Ben Seck. Both have Pro Tour Top 8 experience, and Luis managed to rip off an incredible undefeated run at Pro Tour—San Diego earlier this season before finally succumbing in the Semifinals.

A recent Grand Prix champion, Europe's Martin Juza crossed the pond to chase Brad Nelson on the quest to become Player of the Year.

Pro Tour champion and Japanese superpro Kazuya Mitamura joined countrymen Shuhei Nakamura, Yuuya Watanabe, and Tomoharu Saito in an attempt to steal a title from North American soil.

Pro Tour—Venice champion Osyp Lebedowicz. The first lesson you learn in the Coverage Reporter Training Manual: take everything this jokester has to say with a grain of salt. . .

Brazilian wunderkind Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is the player with the best shot at stealing the title of Player of the Year from Brad Nelson, who leads the race by some 15 points. Paulo has had an incredible year, including a Pro Tour championship at Pro Tour—San Juan. Through his career, Paulo Vitor has AVERAGED an amazing one Pro Tour Top 8 for every four Pro Tours he competes in.

After some time away from the game, Paul Rietzl burst back onto the Pro Tour stage at Pro Tour—Honolulu in 2009. Since that time he has added MORE Pro Tour Top 8s to his resume.

The ever cheerful Steve Sadin already has one Grand Prix title on his mantle. Can he come up with a second one this weekend?

Old school player and burn aficionado Pat Sullivan has his game face on for the tournament.

Japanese all star Yuuya Watanabe works on building his deck alongside friend Gabe Walls.

Wizards of the Coast R&D member Zac Hill is gunslinging all weekend long. Beat him and earn yourself a free booster pack! Gunslinging is also a great opportunity to chat with R&D members about what it's like working for Wizards of the Coast, making Magic, or what their favorite stories from their history with the game are.


Feature Match Round 5 - Flashing the Blast: Tom Martell vs. Kazuya Mitamura

by Marc Calderaro

Both sitting at 4-0, seasoned pros Tom Martell and Kazuya Mitamura chatted as much as two combatants who don't share a language can chat. Worlds is on everyone's mind, and they discussed their Pro points going into today's event and how much they were hoping to earn. Mitamura is disappointed with his 19 so far this season, but was looking forward to upping that number in Chiba, his home country, as well as today.

Game 1

Kazuya Mitamura

Mitamura led off and both players cast turn-two mana Myrs. Mitamura then cast a Snapsail Glider off two Mountains and a Copper Myr, while Martell cast a Perilous Myr and attacked with a Sylvok Lifestaff-equipped Iron-y Myr; it was actually rather expected. Contagion Clasp, Turn to Slag, Arrest, Saberclaw Golem, Arc Trail and Engulfing Slagwurm were great in Mitamura's hand, but no land was not. Martell attacked with his dual Myrs, sinking the former Pro Tour champion to 15 before casting and equipping a second Perilous Myr – a Tel-Jilad Fallen and Grafted Exoskeleton in his grip. Mitamura found land three (all Mountains), as Contagion Clasp killed the Iron Myr and turned Snapsail into a flyer. A Forest for Mitamura's next turn, and after a full minute of thought, Mitamura Arc Trailed the unequipped Perilous Myr and the freshly cast Fallen (Martell offed Mitamura's mana Myr in the process). He took the totals to 12-16 in Martell's favor and passed the turn to the American.

Another attack put Mitamura at 10, and Vulshok Replica came down. Chrome Steed re-upped the Japanese player's Metalcraft, albeit momentarily, as Martell, now Metalcrafted himself, used a Galvanic Blast to bin the Steed before untapping for his turn. Snapsail killed the Perilous Myr on the next attack and it was quickly 8-19 for Tom Martell who added more and more Myr in the form of another Iron-y; this time it was a little less expected. Mitamura tapped out for his Saberclaw Golem, while Martell cast a pre-combat Myr Galvanizer, equipped his Iron Myr and attacked the Japanese pro down to 5, trading his Replica for the Golem in the process. Turn to Slag took out the Iron Myr and the Lifestaff, while Mitamura loaded up on mana Myr himself (Gold and Iron). In concurrent turns Martell played the Exoskeleton and a Trigon of Infestation. Though the 1/1 with Poison looked measly compared to the Chrome Steed and Engulfing Slagwurm that Mitamura played, Martell added a Bellowing Tanglewurm variety to even things out.

The totals were 5-19 but neither player could attack profitably, so they were content to draw and pass as Martell slowly emptied his Trigon of Infestation counters onto the board. Mitamura's hand was Galvanic Blast, Darksteel Juggernaut and Arrest (still no Plains). While Martell had a Turn to Slag and a Mountain, casting and equipping his Grafted Exoskeleton onto an infecting Insect token.

Engulfing Slagwurm finally felt safe to attack and took Martell to 12 and Mitamura cast a 5/5 Juggernaut, poised to strike himself. Next turn, Mitamura found his Plains and the Arrest quickly enchanted the Insect with the extra exoskeleton. Chrome Steed, Engulfing Slagwurm and Darksteel Juggernaut all attacked. The other two infectors blocked everything but the Steed, so after a -1/-1 on the Juggernaut and the life ga