Welcome to Pro Tour–Berlin! The crack reporting squad of Bill Stark, Rich Hagon, Tim Willoughby, Dave Guskin, Monty Ashley, and Craig Gibson are combing the halls of The Station for all the inside information.
TABLE OF CONTENT
While many of you will be busily data-mining deck lists aplenty, at the halfway point it's useful to note that in our global laboratory, it's 454 players who have made those results. Special kudos to Yoni Skolnik and Tim Olliges of the United States, who doggedly played their way to a 1-7 record as dozens dropped from the tournament in the later rounds of Day One. In total, 301 players completed the eight round assault course, with exactly 160 making it back for Saturday play. Gaudenis Vidugiris of the US was the first player to miss out, discovering as many have before him that a draw on Day One can be very bad news.
So what of the 160 we will see in action today? Here's some of the players to keep an eye on as the second day progresses.
From Japan: Koutarou Ootsuka and Masahiko Morita.
From the Americas: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa Tyler Mantey, Zac Hill, Adam Yurchick, Rashad Miller, Melissa de Tora, Gabe Carleton-Barnes, and Ben Lundquist.
From Europe: Raphael Levy, Olivier Ruel, Gabriel Nassif , Manuel Bucher, Roel van Heeswijk, Mario Pascoli, Armin Birner, Ruud Warmenhoven, and Paulo Carvalho.
From Japan: Shouta Yasooka and Shuhei NakamuraGadiel Szleifer hasn't let success change him one bit.
From the Americas: Rich Hoaen, Mike Hron, Charles Gindy, Patrick Chapin
From Europe: Christophe Gregoir, Helmut Summersberger, Amiel Tenenbaum, Marijn Lybaert
Once we get past there, it's into the Top 16. Kim Valori of Finland and Daniel Rodi of Germany ended with a draw on 19 points. Twelve players have 21 points. These include eight Europeans, two Japanese, plus lone representatives of the United States and Panama. Yet again the Czech Republic is showing its prowess on the European scene, with three players—Daniel Krutil, Jan Brodzak, and Martin Juza. None of these are mugs, as their records show, but you can take it to the bank that Juza is very, very good at the game. Saul Alvarado represents Panama, while flying the flag for the U.S. is Luis Scott-Vargas, no stranger to the top tables. Both Japanese players riding high are also routine high achievers, Kazuya Mitamura and Tomaharu Saito. But pacing the field are the last two undefeated players, destined to face off first thing today: Kenny Oberg of Sweden and Gadiel Szleifer of the U.S. As the day begins, all 160 left standing can dream of a place at the final table on Sunday. But at the highest level, just one mistake can end the ride. Racers, start your engines.
Saturday, November 1: 9:51 a.m. – Czech Mates by Rich Hagon
No, this isn't a deck check—that's what the deck looks like in action. Now imagine that on both sides of the table.
One of the big success stories of recent times has been the rise of Magic in Eastern Europe. Starting the day on table six, Mateusz Kopec of Poland has already won a premier Extended event this year, Grand Prix–Vienna back in March. Sitting next to him, two of the three Czech players in the top dozen were facing off, Jan Brodzak and Martin Juza. I arrived at this Elf-on-Elf battle of the 1/1s to find a mere 42 monsters in play—42, which as we know is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Here in Berlin, that was just the start of the bonkers turn-three activity, as Juza continued to formulate his Combo in a blinding torrent of tokens, monsters, card-draw, mana production, and life gain. I confess, gentle reader, that your coverage reporter was somewhat overwhelmed, not least since the machine-gun conversation between the two was taking place, alas, in a language with which I am not familiar. As the turn progressed—and we're talking 20 minutes plus here—a growing enclave of Eastern European players congregated around the titanic tussle. Clearly this was both mind-blowing and hilarious stuff, especially if you could understand the players.
As the crowd increased, a succession of judges allowed their eyes to briefly flicker across the impossibly convoluted board, taking in the tattered confetti-like scorecards vainly keeping track of mana and life totals, and mysteriously found somewhere else they had to be, urgently. Make no mistake, if these two had ever got as far as a discrepancy over life totals, this was one turn that wasn't being rewound this side of the Second Coming. (Or Sheldon Menery, delete as applicable.) When the dust settled, the life totals stood at, wait for it, 263 for Brodzak and a pitiful 134 for Juza. Still, Juza was the aggressor, remember, and he soon found a way to, er, almost halve the opposing life total with a minorly inconvenient 142/142 Predator Dragon. With flying. And haste. One-hundred-forty-two-power Predator Dragons are generally expected to get the job done. Thankfully, this one did, but it still required two bites at the cherry. And that, Extended fans, was just Game 1...
Saturday, November 1: 1:31 p.m. – I Think I'll Go Sightseeing
Yesterday, 454 players competed on Day One of the Pro Tour. Today, almost 300 of them have to find something else to occupy their time. Now you might suppose that after a day of having combo in your face or all your monsters sent packing repeatedly, that would be enough to make players want to take a break from the blood, sweat and tears (well, the sweat anyway) of Magic. Having just walked for what felt like half a mile through today's PTQ field, that supposition would be wrong. A mere 342 players decided that their Saturday schedule should look something like this:
8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
8:30 p.m. – Journey to site
9 a.m. – Register for PTQ
10 a.m. – Register Shards of Alara Sealed pool
10:30 a.m. – Build PTQ winning Sealed deck
11:15 a.m. – Play and win Round 1
12:30 p.m. – Play and win Round 2
1:45 p.m. – Play and win Round 3
3:00 p.m. – Play and win Round 4
4:15 p.m. – Play and win Round 5
5:30 p.m. – Play and win Round 6
6:45 p.m. – Play and win Round 7
8:00 p.m. – Play and win Round 8
9:15 p.m. – Intentional Draw Round 9 into final table
10:30 p.m. – Top 8 Draft
10:50 p.m. – Build PTQ winning Draft deck
11:20 p.m. – Play and win Quarterfinal
12:20 a.m. – Play and win Semifinal
1:20 a.m. – Play and win Final
2:20 a.m. – Qualify for Pro Tour
With such an easy schedule, it's no surprise that people are keen to take their chances! Still, presumably there'll be nobody good in the field? Well, let's see. Here's who you could have faced round one (and trust me when I say that the talent goes a lot further than these standouts):
U.S. National Team member Sam Black
Italian National Champion William Cavaglieri
Pro Tour–Amsterdam runner-up Osamu Fujita
Team World Champion Christoph Huber
Semifinalist at Worlds 2006 Nick Lovett
2006 World Champion Makahito Mihara
2007 World Champion Uri Peleg
Dutch National Champion Tom van Lamoen
Hmm. That sounds like quite a good Top 8. Then you add in a ton of pros both active and former and a slew of glory-hungry gamers desperate to get on Tour, and you have the makings of a day of incredibly competitive card-turning excellence.
Then again, I hear there's a very historic wall to see somewhere around here....
Saturday, November 1: 2:08 p.m. – The Extended Dimension
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call... the top tables.
Respectfully submitted for your perusal:
"I want to know your deck!" the All-In Red player exclaims, unhappy that his opponent might concede Game 1 before even playing a card.
"I'm just trying to figure out whether I can topdeck my way out of this."
Two of the more interesting and roguish decks at the top were a Martyr of Sands-based red-green-white control deck, and a variant on the Rock with red for Firespout and the sleeper combo of Life from the Loam and Worm Harvest.
A Plasma Swans player tapped out on turn two to play a double Chrome Mox-assisted Swans of Bryn-Argoll, only to discover that his opponent was playing Elves! Combo, not a Rock variant like he suspected. He was comboed out with a mass of sacrificial Elves on the altar of Predator Dragon shortly thereafter.
A Dredge player untapped on his second turn with the graveyard-friendly Goblin Lore and Magus of the Bazaar ready. He milled himself for 38 cards that turn via the dredge mechanic, only to find that his entire set of "free" creatures, including Narcomoebas and Fatestichers, were still in the stack remaining. The Zoo player opposite was ready to take advantage, pummeling him to death with various undercosted beaters.
Two players squared off with Blue-Red Storm Combo versus Tron, both content to sit back and draw cards on each other's end steps. The interesting part came when Blue-Red Storm's Lotus Bloom came off suspend, causing no less than three Remands to be played in swift succession to force the Lotus Bloom back to hand.
Saturday, November 1: 6:35 p.m. – Tezzeret the Suited
With Kenny Öberg's Tezzerater deck tearing up the standings, we got to wondering: what would happen if Tezzeret had gotten in on the plan for everybody to wear a suit? Well, we decided it would probably look like this:
While we're on the subject (that subject, in case you were wondering, is "things Craig Gibson does to pictures in his spare time"), here's what the judges and staff would look like if they were brain-gnawing creatures of the night. In case you were wondering. So say hello to Scott Larabee...
...and some fearsome judges!
Saturday, November 1: 7:20 p.m. – Leg Up In Legacy
Half of the hall was taken beginning Saturday afternoon for a tournament with even crazier combos and even faster undercosted beaters. The format? Legacy. 115 players converged for a chance to win dual lands and boosters in this exciting clash of old and busted and new hotness all at once. The top player after eight rounds got 30 dual lands, and the second place nabbed 10 for their trouble. Since there was no cut to Top 8 in this event, everyone with three or fewer losses got some number of boosters, ranging from 9 up to 48 packs for undefeated players!
Here are some stories from the early rounds of the tournament:
The saying goes: in old, powerful formats, the early game is the coin flip, the mid-game is mulliganing, and the end game is turn one. One flabbergasted player watched quietly as this saying became reality. His opponent jumped to five mana turn one on the play to pay for Ad Nauseam, then went off with multiple Chrome Moxen and Lotus Petals into Tendrils of Agony. The really unfortunate part was that the helpless watcher was playing blue, home to combo-breaker Force of Will, but had none in hand!
Two-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Andy Stokinger, although not participating in the main event here in Berlin, was here anyway, in part for side events. He found time to sleeve up and do battle with a five-color control deck built along the lines of The Rock. He had surprises in wait for at least one opponent, with a tutor package including Genesis, Eternal Witness, and... Sliver Queen.
Plenty of classic archetypes, like Storm, Zoo and the mono-white control deck Parfait, received updates from Shards of Alara. These included mid-combo refueling station Ad Nauseam, the disruptive Tidehollow Sculler, the innocuous-looking Sigil Blessing, and, finally, the powerful Elspeth, Knight-Errant. The planeswalker was ironically quite mighty next to Humility on one match featuring an updated Parfait list.
This tournament also hosted perhaps the most disparate matchup ever seen in a Constructed event: a powered-up Recurring Nightmare / Survival of the Fittest deck versus... the Jund ALA Intro pack with a few additions from various opened boosters. Both players were having a blast all the same!
Check back to magicthegathering.com in the coming weeks for deck lists played this Legacy event!