After watching US Nationals online, I feel like I've been left out of the action. Now USA - it's your turn. With the European Championship only hours away, the stage is being set for the largest tournament in Europe until next spring, when the Pro Tour stops in France. This tournament is the conclusion of the current Standard format. It is the last pre-Apocalyptic major event. All the major Nationals (save Canada) are in, along with those of the APAC Championships last weekend. What does it all mean? "It's metagame time, ladies!"
The current Standard metagame is based on the events of US Nationals, which introduced many new ways of handling the ever popular Fires deck. At the APAC Championships and the US Nationals the U/W Control deck has proven that it is the control deck to beat. The present CounterRebel deck was very popular at nationals all across Europe, and will be seeing more play than Gary Wise this weekend. With these assumptions, I and my associates at AlphaBeatUnlimited.Com got down to business!
The decks are not new, and we have had experience with all of them. We took a more relaxed approach to the Standard format, focusing on sideboarding details. It is difficult to test when our time was spent mostly on preparing for the draft, as the same format will be used at the World Championships. So basically after three days of playing sideboarded we felt like we had dealt with it.
Unlike the Standard portion of the tournament, Apocalypse is legal for the Rochester draft - go figure. While evaluating the new set, I noticed the flavour text on Lay of the Land: "Victory favours neither the righteous nor the wicked. It favours the prepared." So with this card in my right hand, I picked up the phone with my left and called Antoine and Olivier at "Palais Ruel" where they only stop testing to eat - and this only occasionally. Even though drafting weekly with the likes of Noah Boeken, Alexander Witt and Kamiel Cornelissen is good practice, I thought it would be useful for me to head to Paris for a few more days of intense playtesting. I like to draft with as many different groups as possible, as everyone sees draft quite differently. After drafting eight times in three days, I thought it was time well spent.
So who's going to win the 2001 European Championship? According to the stats, Kai's a shoo-in for first place if he can make it through the Swiss. My guess however would be someone from ABU, since they win everything except Pro Tours. "Broken Boeken" as we used to call him (and he still calls himself) is a little more specific - "I win again dis year."