Live Coverage of the 2004 Grand Prix Austin

Posted in Event Coverage on October 11, 2004

By Wizards of the Coast



Here were the standings after round thirteen.

1 Sonne, Jonathan 34
2 Finstrom, Jim * 34
3 Prochak, Chris * 33
4 Levin, Eugene 33
5 Reeves, Neil 33
6 Sklar, Jacob * 31
7 Rohan, Sean * 31
8 Thompson, Gerry 30
9 Jacob, Michael 30
10 Stein, Sam 30
11 Thompson, Mike 30
12 Hutchins, Robert * 30
13 Taylor, Jason 30
14 Krumb, Michael 30
15 Bitter, Victor * 30
16 Grimes, William * 30

As you can see, the thirty-four pointers and two thirty-three pointers could draw this round and be assured of a playoff berth. One person at 11-2-0 would have to play a 10-2-1 player and could not draw. That unlucky person turned out to be Neil Reeves…

Did I say, 'unlucky'?

Neil sat down for his final round match expecting that he was going to have to fight for the final round in order to make the Top 8. Imagine his surprise when his opponent offered the draw--a draw which put his opponent out of contention for the Top 8.

Jacob Sklar received some faulty intelligence from his friends who told him he was in with a draw and he extended the hand to Reeves who gladly--if somewhat bewilderedly--accepted.

Gerry Thompson vs. Jason Taylor

Gerry was the top 10-3 player and since everyone believed one or two 11-3 players would make it in, he had the best shot of accomplishing that feat. He was with green-blue while his opponent, Jason Taylor, was playing green-blue-white. The first game was a time consuming landlock that left only 18 minutes in the round for the remaining two games once Gerry was able to alpha strike for the win.

The second game was fast and furious with a land heavy draw from Taylor and Kodama of the North Tree from Thompson. Jason laid down a handful of land and scooped when Thompson flashed Consuming Vortex for his only blocker.

It seemed likely that Thompson would be advancing to the Top 8. As a consequence of Sklar drawing himself out of contention an additional seat opened up for an 11-3 player. Michael Jacob stepped up the plate and bashed Sam Stein in the hopes of occupying that chair. Mike Thompson, who defeated Sean Rohan in the feature match area was hoping he would be the third player with that record to make the final table.

The last match result slips are trickling in as we type and the Top 8 will soon be set.

Sunday, October 10: 5:13 pm - Round 13: Sean Rohan vs. Mike Thompson

by Mason Peatross

Both of these players are playing for top 8 - and they're used to playing each other, as they are both local players. From Seattle. These two friends travelled together to the Grand Prix and are now facing each other in an elimination match. Worse still, they are staying together, so the loser has to endure tales of the top 8. I asked if they were going to do a prize split, and they said "nah, we're raw dogging it." I have no idea what that means. These kids today. Mike has had a lot of success, and said that Pro Tour Columbus will be his 14th pro tour. We talked a little about what makes a guy a famous name on the PT, and Mike has the respect of the players that know him, if not internet fame. I asked him which was more important, and he said that being respected by the players was more important. Not me, I want your adulation!

Game 1

Sean is playing black-red and opened up with what most consider one of the best cards for limited in the set - Nezumi Graverobber. Mike is playing blue-green and his opener wasn't as bomb-tastic, but it was solid too, an Orochi Sustainer into a Burr Grafter. Sean stalled on three mana but still had creatures to play. An Ember-Fist Zubera met a grisly end when it tried to block an Orochi Ranger, and Mike had a Kodama's Might, along with a spliced Kodama's Might, to save his Ranger and punch more damage through. Graverobber finally got in for some action on the next turn when Sean attacked, and Graverobber and Sustainer traded. The following turn Sean conceded, having never drawn a fourth mana. His opening hand was what we like to call the "two-land tease", and the teasing cost him the game.

Game 2

Neither player missed any land drops in the early stages and Mike had plenty of action - an Orochi Ranger, Soratami Rainshaper, Budoka Gardener and Orochi Sustainer had all flown out of his hand in the time it took me to type this sentence. Sean was slow in developing his field, with a Nezumi Cutthroat looking might lonely until turn 5 when he played the first of two sucessive Oni. The first was put under Mystic Restraint, and the second just wasn't enough to stem the tide. Sean went down in defeat. He should still collect some amateur prize and Mike will now be qualified for the next two Pro Tours.

Sunday, October 10: 4:40 pm - Round 12: So you want to come to a Grand Prix?

by Mason Peatross

Not everyone comes to a Grand Prix event to play in the event. There are plenty of additional tournaments to play in, including Booster Drafts, various Constructed Events and on Sunday there's a PTQ. They ran nearly twenty booster drafts here yesterday and had 104 players in the Pro Tour Nagoya qualifier that started this morning. You can also see some fairly familiar faces in the PTQ, even if you're not local. For example, in this particular PTQ Ken Krouner and Patrick Sullivan both are fighting for the chance to go to Nagoya - neither is qualified through the "traditional" pro way (think gravy train or rating). There are also a slew of faces from our local coverage from yesterday, including Jeffery Meyerson, Jim Bob Sixkiller, and Jason Krysak.

There are other reasons to come to a Grand Prix as well. While Event Horizons was unable to get an artist, most Grand Prix tournaments have one. There are also dealers from all over the country selling every possible imaginable card - I saw more Moxen in one dealers case than I've ever seen in all total before in my life. I also saw a card that was blank instead of the black border around it - what a weird print error! Besides the dealers supplying cards, there's also more trading to be had than you could ever accomplish in a weekend.

The most important reason to go to a big tournament like a Grand Prix is for the camaraderie. There's nothing like a road trip to a big tournament to forge (or occasionlly destroy) friendships. At this particular tournament, a group of really fun guys came up to me looking for directions to an area barbecue joint (which is actually not all that close) but that they had heard was the best in the area. I gave them directions and asked why they would be willing to drive all that way for the meal. Their reply was that "We're only going to be here once". I like that attitude. Live life to the fullest... the fullest belly.

Sunday, October 10: 4:21 pm - Round 12: Osyp vs. Kate

by Mason Peatross

Both of these players still have a chance to make the top 8, though they need to win twice to do it. Osyp and Kate are obviously friends and there was a lot of joking to begin the action and Osyp was the cause of quite a bit of laughter. These guys are serious about their play though, and once combat began, both of them cut the chatter to let the other person think. You get the impression of a lot of mutual respect - they like to game and want to win on the back of strong play and better drafting, not due to mana problems or just plain good luck (though I think they would take those wins too).

Game 1

Osyp opened up with a Plains, Bushi Tenderfoot, gaining a "You love that guy" from Kate and a sing-song "he's tender" from Osyp. Osyp was playing green-white, with a lot of guys and a smattering of combat tricks. Kate has a red-blue deck that seems pretty balanced between red creatures holding the ground with flyers to take the victory. The game was over pretty quick though. Osyp played at least one creature a turn and Kate wasn't able to keep up. Nagao, Bound by was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, and after a turn or two of beats, Kate conceded.

Game 2

Osyp and Kate were taking about the Tenderfoot and Osyp represented that he had it, all the way until he actually played out Devoted Retainer. "At least I'm curving out" said Osyp as he played a Humble Budoka and Kami of the Hunt (implying that while the creatures weren't spectacular, at least he was playing something every turn. He used a Nine-Ringed Bo to take out Kate's Kami of Fire's Roar after combat. Bushi Tenderfoot did eventually make his appearance on turn 5, and it was joined with a Sakura-Tribe Elder, something I imagine would hit the graveyard at the end of Kate's turn (or after blocking) because Osyp had missed his last two land drops. That fourth land (it was at end of turn in case you care) allowed Osyp to drop Nagao, which looked like it was very disturbing to Kate. The Bo was making life difficult for Kate, like removing an Ember-Fist Zubera from the game when it died instead of being able to take out the Bushi Tenderfoot. Kate was pretty much on the ropes the entire game though - I think that her blue-red deck either didn't come together how she wanted it, or that the colors are just underpowered. It seemed like every creature that Osyp played was able to trump every creature that she played. Even a Frostwielder from Kate couldn't do much to save her. Nagao is pretty darn good.

Osyp 2-0

In the other feature match, Josh Ravitz was taking on Antonino de Rosa. I wandered over in the middle of game 2 (Ravitz had taken Game 1) and things weren't looking good for Antonino - there was a Yosei, the Morning Star on Ravitz's side of the board and just a handful of Zuberas along with a Teller of Tales. Then, time stopped. No, time wasn't called - when Ravitz swung with his entire team (the Dragon and pals) and Antonino cast Time Stop. With all of his attackers tapped down, de Rosa was able to sneak in enough damage to win the game on the next turn when he was able to tap down some blockers with Teller of Tales and it was on to game 3. I wandered back over to watch Kate and Osyp and when I came back to this match, things weren't looking good for the smiling de Rosa. His board consisted of 3 Floating-Dream Zubera and a random dude - and he was thinking really hard about something. At the end of Ravitz's next turn (and Ravitz's board was solid, with 2 Pain Kami, a Frostwielder and a couple of other creatures) Antonino cast Devouring Rage and sacrificed all 3 of his Zubera, drawing nine cards. Nine. On his next turn he dropped a Teller of Tales and a Guardian of Solitude. When Ravitz dropped Yosei, Antonino had the answer in a Mystic Restraints. When Ravitz played anything, it seemed like Antonino had the answer. Despite missing an on the board kill ffor a turn, de Rosa's overwhelming card advantage couldn't be stopped.

Sunday, October 10: 3:47 pm - Draft Two Coverage

by Brian David-Marshall

Neil Reeves plowed through his last draft and his 3-0 record meant he needed to go 2-0-1 in the pod to ensure a Top 8 berth. Kate Stavola and Osyp Lebedowicz, TOGIT teammates, both needed the clean sweep of the table to earn one more draft on the weekend (only one of them would be able to do that since they were--unbeknownst to them--heading for a round twelve pairing after the draft.).

Draft Pod 2

1 Kevin Quirk (27 points)
2 Jonathan Pechon (27 points)
3 Michael Jacob (27 points)
4 Kate Stavola (25 points)
5 Osyp Lebedowicz (25 points)
6 Neil Reeves (27 points)
7 Sam Stein (27 points)
8 Jacob Sklar (25 points)

Quirk opened his first pack and took a Nezumi Shortfang. Pechon took a Samurai Enforcers hoping to declare white. Jacob showed red with Kami of Fire's Roar and Kate tried black on for size with a Nezumi Ronin. Osyp took Order of the Scared Bell and Neil went blue with Consuming Vortex. Stein and Sklar picked up green and white cards, respectively.

Pechon opened up a second Shortfang and suddenly the dynamic at the table began to shift. Teller of Tales told of Pechon wanting to be blue-white while Jacob jumped in black for the Shortfang. Kate was being challenged for black and she sidestepped it for a Frostwielder letting the Cursed Ronin go to Neil. In between Osyp took the only green card that was there--Gale Force.

Kate was had seemed prepared to let go of black but Jacob took Uncontrollable Anger over Rend Spirit and Kate took the kill spell. Osyp made his move into with one of the best cards in the set, Nagao, Bound by Honor. Osyp cracked up loud enough to make the whole hall crane their necks when Sklar, Quirk, and Pechon all took white cards one way and two of them took green cards on the way back. I think at that moment he knew it was going to be a long draft. He was somewhat limited as to what colors he could get into since he was drafting cooperatively with his neighbors.

The next two packs that Osyp had early and first picks in yielded him a Cage of Hands and Myojin of Cleansing Fire. Kate took a red Honden out of her first pick and Neil picked up a couple of black bears--Cruel Deceiver and Nezumi Cutthroat. Neil took Pull Under out of the pack he opened and Osyp nearly lost his mind when Stein second picked a Cage of Hands meaning five players were now drafting white.

Sklar was scooping up Kitsune Blademasters that Osyp needed to fully exploit his Nagao--he got three in a row--and then when the packs swung back around he opened his own Nagao. Osyp did get a Blademaster out of that pack. Meanwhile, Kate and Neil settled on splitting red with Kate going into blue-red. Jacob was black-red and she could not fight him for both colors. Neil threw in his modest attempts at blue and went black-red as well.

When the packs swung around for the for the third time the decks were shaping up like such:

1 Kevin Quirk Green-Black-Red
2 Jonathan Pechon Blue-White
3 Michael Jacob Black-Red
4 Kate Stavola Blue-Red
5 Osyp Lebedowicz Green-White
6 Neil Reeves Black-Red
7 Sam Stein Green-White
8 Jacob Sklar Green-White

Pechon had been sulking through almost all of the second round of packs as he was--like Osyp--heavily committed to white and was getting mauled as no white cards had been reaching him. He glowed lovingly as Jacob opened Yosei and took Glacial Ray over the Dragon giving him a card. His joy was short lived as he first-picked a blue Zebra with his first pick in the next pack.

Osyp had to sulk through most of the final pack as he saw almost zero cards for his deck besides untargetable green man, the occasional Kami of Ancient Law, and a Ghostly Prison. The real winner at the table seemed to be Neil Reeves who benefited from long stretches of green-white players to pick up late red and black bears along with a Devouring Greed that he slammed down triumphantly.

Osyp wished he could have traded places with Neil, "I can't believe how lucky you are. There were two green-white drafters in a row and all they did was take green white cards and ship everything through to you."

Neil needed a definition of 'everything', "Show me my good cards. Show them to me."

"My seat was really good for white," Osyp explained after the draft. "I don't know what happened. Kate was already sharing red with Neil and Jacob--" Osyp just threw all of his playables into a pile and began registering his deck. "Whatever. I don't even care any more. Like I am pretty sure I can 3-0 considering the way almost everyone drafted."

"I predict my first round opponent will fall down and dribble on himself. My second round opponent will have a 'bathroom emergency', and my third round opponent will get hit by a truck. Those are my predictions."

Neil was equally harsh about the draft table, "It was the worst table I have ever been at for an X-2 table."

"I was waiting to see if Kate would go red or blue but she went into both so ended up short a few cards. When that guy Jacob had the chance to pick up a Rend Flesh after his black flip card but took Uncontrollable Anger…he made Kate try black for a few more packs and a couple of cards that would have been in my deck went to her."

"I looked at my cards and I had a couple of Unearthly Blizzards and other aggressive cards so I figured what the hell. I already had four bears…" Neil ended up with seven two drops--five of which are spirits for his Devouring Greed. He needed to go 2-0-1 in order to make Top 8.

"I'm not sure who is going to come out of this."

Osyp Lebedowicz Draft Two

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Kate Stavola Draft Two

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Neil Reeves Draft Two

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Sunday, October 10: 2:55 pm - Reeves Update

by Brian David-Marshall

"I think this is the first time in all the year's I have been playing Magic that I want to keep my draft deck," beamed Neil Reeves as he swept through his pod for a 3-0 start to the day. His two dragons, Uyo, and Hikari came through for him and left Neil at 10-1 going into the final pod.

At first Neil groused about the new legends rule when in an earlier round he could not play dragons on successive turns using the second one like Blinding Beam. He seemed mollified in the third round today when he played both dragons and locked ten of his opponent's permanents down for two turns. "He did draw a Forest and play a one-drop which I was kind of hot about, though."

Neil needs to 2-1 the final draft to secure a seat at the Top 8 table.

Sunday, October 10: 2:36 pm - Round 10 Feature Matches

by Mason Peatross

Neil Reeves vs. Josh Ravitz AND Jacob Sklar vs Dan Burdick

In the Sklar-Burdick match we have a meeting of 2 of the last 3 undefested players. In the other match, we have Neil Reeves and his monster deck (full of monsters like Yosei).

Game 1 for both sides of the feature table featured plenty of back and forth action. Neil had a couple of weenies and some Indomitable Wills, but not much in the way of really good spells (except for a Cage of Hands enchanting a Thousand-Legged Kami). At some point things just went horribly down hill for Neil, and his side of the board was empty and Josh had what seemed like infinite creatures. A Mystic Restraints tied down a Ronin Houndmaster that had Serpent Skin and Uncontrollable Anger on it. Another Ronin Houndmaster continued to come in and the only thing that Neil could offer was a Teller of Tales. There were so many creatures on Josh's side of the board that the only one that was really important to share with you is the Soratami Seer that drew Josh somewhere like 9 additional cards along with the Petals of Insight that drew him another three. It wasn't close. On the other side of the table, Burdick picked up what seemed like an easy win over Sklar who seemed to be making mildly questionable plays.
Burdick 1-0
Ravitz 1-0

When I joined game 2 of the Sklar-Burdick match, I spied a Hideous Laughter in Dan's hand, but it seemed like a backup plan is was never going to need. Dan had a handful of creatures out, one of which was a Soratami Mirror-Mage which Dan used to gain a big tempo advantage by bouncing a Venerable Kami. The Kami got it's spirit Rended when it came back down, and then Dan came across for the win with a little insurance policy - Hisoka's Defiance for the Candles' Glow that would have bought Sklar another turn. Then, in a blink if you missed it moment (and I was typing this paragraph, which is a lot like blinking, except with your fingers and not with your eyes so not really like blinking at all) - the Reeves-Ravitz match was all squared at a game a piece. I was informed that Neil didn't miss any land drops and dropped Uyo and then Yosei, earning a concession from Josh. Josh was not happy.
Burdick 2-0
Ravitz 1-1

Game 3 of the match saw both players dropping out two drops, but Josh's more aggressive deck getting in the damage first with a Ronin Houndmaster. Neil didn't waste any time in this game either, dropping a turn 6 Yosei and a turn 7 Uyo. Josh spent a lot of time on his turn thinking about what to do, eventually sending in the Ronin Houndmaster with Uncontrollable Anger added in for good measure. It didn't seem like enough to stem the blood loss, though. It wasn't. Yosei and Uyo took it home for Neil.

Reeves wins 2-1.

Sunday, October 10: 1:44 pm - Draft 1 Coverage

by Mason Peatross

A new day, a good night's sleep and a chance to draft a brand new set for the first time. The argument is whether or not Rochester Draft is more skill-testing than Booster Draft. If you're at a table of top pros, you'll find that Booster Draft is probably more difficult, because you don't know what the people next to you are drafing. In Rochester, you can see the cards as they are taken, so you'll know when your neighbor is sticking the knife in your back. The best table of Grand Prix Austin was (and I know this will come as a shock to you) table 1! With Dan Burdick, Kate Stavola, Gerry Thompson, Brock Parker, and Mitchell Tamblyn. The other players were Chris Prochak and Jacob Sklar (our two 8-0 players) and Jim Finstrom (who was 7-0-1). Brock was passing to Kate who was passing to Dan.

The cardinal rule of Rochester Draft is that if you cooperate, your deck will be better and so will your neighbors. Brock, Kate, and Dan seemed to subscribe to this theory from the beginning (and we'll see if the rule is in effect today). Gerry Thompson opened the first pack and took a Yamabushi's Flame. Following the rule of cooperation, his neighbor Jim took a Honden of Infinite Rage... wait a second, it appears that Jim is a rule breaker, an OUTLAW! His pick said "I want RED, and I am NOT getting out of it". Brock was next and picked up a Sakura Tribe-Elder, Kate picked up a Mothrider Samurai, and Dan picked up a blue flyer - all clearly signalling their color intentions. Brock followed that up with a Kodama's Might, Kate with a Kitsune Riftwalker and Dan with another blue spell - solidfying all of them in their color selections. The first interesting development was in pack 3, when Brock's pack offered no white cards for Kate to draft at all. She surprised me by picking Brothers Yamazaki, but it made sense when you think that she was setting herself up for a quick Samurai based deck.

The rest of the pack went as you would expect with players settling into two colors, thinking about the possibilites offered them with each new open. Brock eventually picked up a second color with a touch of black, Dan was solidly black and green, and Kate had a very solid white-red deck coming along. A funny thing happened when Moonring Mirror was opened. Everyone had to read it. It found it's way to Dan on his eighth pick, and I'm surprised that it was so undervalued when we saw it be so impressive in Jim Bob Sixkiller's match yesterday. The the table worked out to this:

1 Gerry Thompson G/R
2 Jim Finkstrom W/R
3 Brock Parker G/b
4 Kate Stavola W/r
5 Dan Burdick U/B
6 Chris Prochak W/B
7 Jacob Sklar ???
8 Mitchell Tamblyn B/u

So after the first pack it looked like Brock, Kate and Dan all looked like they were set up to have very solid, if not amazing decks. But sometimes even the best laid plans come out wrong. Despite setting himself up for great black cards and a one person cushion for green going left and then at least three players the other direction for green, Brock just wasn't getting the cards he needed. The sorceries he needed weren't coming - no Rends, no Befouls, no Kodama's Reach. The cards just weren't falling in his favor. Eventually he was so pushed into a corner for something besides dudes that he decided to drift into another color and picked up a Consuming Vortex, much to the chagrin of Dan who had hoped to get it on the rebound.

Kate's story is less interesting, if only because a sunny day, flowers in her hair, everything is hunky dory story just doesn't have much reader interest. At one point I looked over at Kate and she was having a hard time suppressing her smile. Even an extremely late pick Soulblast (passing through at least two red players) didn't seem surprising or out of the ordinary. Dan's deck was looking pretty saucy too, but it seemed a bit controllish - too many four drops and not enough early plays or ways to ramp up his mana means that he may end up with cards stranded in his hand because he can't get to eight mana fast enough.

Brock's day wasn't going all bad when he finally opened some cards for his deck - Painwracker Oni, Marrow-Gnawer, and Nezumi Graverobber all in one pack. The pick was pretty obviously Nezumi Graverobber, but it was a nice silver lining to a deck that resembled a cloudy day. Brock ended up picking up a total of three Consuming Vortex (though only two made his deck).

After the draft I sat down with all three of our coverees, and Kate seemed pretty pleased with her deck. She didn't come out and say it, but I think she expected to go 3-0. Her biggest problem was "too many good cards" and having to cut some. She picked up a really late No-Dachi that no one else seemed to want, a 4th pick Yambushi's Flame, a Soulblast through two other red players - things were just going her direction all the way. Brock wasn't ecstatic about his deck, and having to splash a third color wasn't the best. Dan seemed pretty pleased about his deck, and when I sat down with him he seemed pretty happy about things and was looking to cut his last card, which ended up being Time Stop.

Kate won her round and so did Dan, while Brock fell quickly.

Kate Stavola

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Dan Burdick

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Brock Parker

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Sunday, October 10: 1:28 pm - Round 9 Feature Match Roundup

by Brian David-Marshall

Gerry Thompson vs. Brock Parker

Gerry Thompson, Brock Parker, Kate Stavola, and Mitch Tamblyn all made the Top 8 of Limited GPs last season and were well on their respective ways to repeating that this weekend. If they don't bash each other's heads in for the next three rounds. All four players were facing off this round with Gerry and Brock kicking things off with a base-green match-up.

Gerry's deck was green-red with fast critters, removal, and Uncontrollable Angers to break through creature parity. Brock's deck was green-black but he was touching blue for Consuming Vortex--he just couldn't pick up any black removal in the draft and that was the closest to it he could approximate.

Game 1

Gerry led off turn two with an Orochi Sustainer which he parlayed into Kami of Fires Roar on turn three. He followed with Brutal Deceiver on the next before Brock made his first play--a Feral Deceiver.

Gerry sent in everyone, including the elf, on the next turn and Brock sighed deeply but still nudged his Deceiver into the path of the Kami of Fire's Roar. "Yup," was his response to the Uncontrollable Anger that made it a 4/5.

Brock played a Sakura-Tribe Elder on the next turn but he couldn't chump block with it when Gerry played Moss Kami and used the red Kami's ability. Brock fell to 8 and scooped on the next turn facing down 11 damage with no answer on the top of his deck.

Game 2

Brock accelerated with a turn two Tribe Elder into a Burr Grafter, which Gerry promptly smoked with a Glacial Ray. When Thompson untapped he ramped up his mana with a Kodama's Reach. It was all mana all the time on both sides of the table as Brock followed with a Sustainer and then a Nezumi Graverobber on the next turn--Gerry had Feral Deceiver and then Moss Kami.

Brock had a number of options on the sixth turn and weighed them carefully. Finally he decided to tap out for a Kami of Lunacy. Gerry untapped and scorched it with Yamabushi's Flame. Brock eyeballed the Burr Grafter in his bin and frowned, "Remove from the game, huh?"

He had to think about whether or not their was going to be land on top of Gerry's deck for the Feral Deceiver and reluctantly put his Graverobber in the way. Gerry peeked at his top card but decided to use Serpent Skin instead.

From there it was all downhill for the Pro Tour Boston winner as he could not deal with the trample ability of either creature.

Final result: Gerry Thompson - 2 Brock Parker - 0

Kate Stavola vs. Mitch Tamblyn

Game 1

Mitch had an explosive draw in Game 1 with a turn two Nezumi Cutthroat, Villainous Ogre, and two Cruel Deceivers by turn four. Kate had all the answers though as she crisped the Ogre over Yamabushi's Flame and took out the reaming three with a Yamabushi's Storm. Mitch never recovered as Kate played out a series of white fliers over the next few turns and quickly ran him over.

Game 2

I came into the middle of Game 2 with both players in an old-fashioned creature race. Mitch had a Cutthroat and a Cruel Deceiver while Kate was sitting behind a Kabuto Moth, Kitsune Riftwalker, and No-Dachi. She played a Brutal Deceiver and after Mitch's next attack phase the life totals stood at 10-8 in favor of Tamblyn. He played a Wicked Akuba post attack.

Kate activated he Brutal Deceiver during upkeep and flashed a land. She moved the No-Dachi to her Moth and attacked with her two first-strikers. She had her Riftwalker back on guard duty. Mitch chump blocked the red guy with his Akuba and dropped to seven.

He pecked away his rat and tried to stay alive through chump blocking. He would win the second game if he could just get one more turn. He played out his chump blockers and pleaded with Kate to hurry up, "Either you have me or you don't."

"I don't know," Kate showed him the Uncontrollable Anger she had just drawn. "I really don't know."

She did the math carefully and realized she did know. There was no way that Mitch could let any less than five points of damage through and with the boost of an instant speed Anger she could make it lethal.

Final result: Kate Stavola -2 Mitch Tamblyn - 0

Sunday, October 10: 12:50 pm - Lan D. Ho Disqualification

by Head Judge Sheldon Menery: Level IV

During a mid-round deck check in round seven, Mr. Lan D. Ho confessed to failure to desideboard for game one, an infraction that normally carries the penalty of game loss. During the ensuing interview, I determined that he had knowingly and intentionally presented his opponent an illegal deck in the first game of the match. I disqualified him.

The Penalty Guidelines presume unintentional infractions. Any infraction, regardless of how minor, committed intentionally is cheating. It was clear that Mr. Ho had intentionally performed an action that he knew to be illegal. He accepted the judgment with the utmost grace. In fact, during the entire process, Mr. Ho was the model of gracious behavior and sportsmanship, expressing a deep regret for momentary lapse in judgment.

Sunday, October 10: 11:08 am - Day One Undefeated Sealed Decks

by Brian David-Marshall

Best…Hill Giant…ever!

Kamigawa has found its champion and his name is Nagao, Bound by Honor. There were four undefeated decks yesterday - two 8-0 and two at 7-0-1 - and they all featured the legendary and uncommon Samurai. In fact, of the eight players sitting down at the top draft table this morning, five had Nagao in their deck.

It's not hard to figure out what makes this guy so good as he attacks as a 4/4 with Bushido and makes all of your Samurai bigger. Of course, as you look at these decklists you will find that all the decks without a loss had multiple bombs from the much bally-hooed Kumano, Master Yamabushi to the less heralded but also devastating Kiki, Night's Flower.

Chris Prochak 8-0 Day One

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Jacob Sklar 8-0 Day One

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Jim Finstrom 7-0-1 Day One

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Dan Burdick 7-0-1 Day One

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Sunday, October 10: 10:55 am - A Rare Feat

by Brian David-Marshall

After kicking off his draft pod with a first pick Yamabushi's Flame, Gerry Thompson was visibly annoyed when Jim Filstrom followed him right into red with a Honden of Infinite Rage. One of the biggest challenges for someone new to Rochester drafting is learning how to play nice with your neighbors. Jon Sonne, who drafted at the second table with seven less experienced players was registering his deck nearby and shook his head. "There was a lot of that going on at my table."

Neil Reeves was at the fourth table, along with a couple of cooperative pros, and was giggling about his draft deck which featured abundant bombs. He waved me over to gleefully show off his concoction. Neil couldn't even muster his normal level of aw-shucks self-deprecation and sighed, "There are a couple of bad cards for me at the table but I should 3-0."

Neil Reeves Draft Pod One

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Sunday, October 10: 10:32 am - But Not Too Well…

by Brian David-Marshall

Squeaking in to Day Two in 64th place was a local fourteen year-old girl named Debbie Cohen. Debbie was wandering around the hall last night collecting advice on how to Rochester Draft as she wanted to do well today…

…just not too well. If she finds herself in danger of making the Top 32 it is very likely that she will drop from the tournament. Debbie is a regular competitor on the JSS circuit and if she garners a Pro Point this weekend it will leave her ineligible to ever compete on that circuit again. "I'm going to be fifteen soon so I have to take advantage of the college scholarship money while I can."

Sunday, October 10: 9:14 am - Speaking of Dropping

by Brian David-Marshall

Jim Finstrom finished yesterday in third place but was ready to drop after the eighth round of play. If his buddy Victor Bitter failed to make Day Two as well he was going to drop and attend a baseball card show today instead. Fortunately for him, Victor squeezed in at the second to last draft pod in 55th place.

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