Pro Tour–Kuala Lumpur Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on February 15, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast

Welcome to Kuala Lumpur! The crack reporting squad of Nate Price, Bill Stark, Scott Johns, Richard Hagon, Greg Collins, Noel Neo, and Craig Gibson are combing the halls of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center for all the inside information.

Friday Blog Archive


  • 11:01 a.m. - Who Needs to Rare Draft?
    by Nate Price
  • 11:49 a.m. - Embracing Local Customs
    by Scott Johns
  • 2:06 p.m./1:06 a.m. Draft Viewing from a Distance
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • 2:17p.m. – It's a Head Scratcher
    by Scott Johns
  • 2:56p.m. – Force of Gill
    by Scott Johns
  • 3:23p.m. – Moose Ya!
    by Nate Price
  • 4:10p.m. – Trendy
    by Nate Price
  • 4:55p.m. – The Deck that Almost Was
    by Nate Price
  • 6:21p.m. – Tall Tales
    by Nate Price
  • 8:20p.m. – I Told You I Could Play
    by Nate Price
  • 9:24p.m. – Big Money for Amateurs
    by Chapman Sim and Devin Low





After a day or so of watching drafts, it's always interesting seeing the cards that drift to the tops of most pro's pick orders. Noticeably near the top are a bunch of rare cards—the planeswalkers, of course, as well as cards like Profane Command and Mirror Entity. Uncommons even get the nod, since Shriekmaw is so good. Cards like these change the game immediately, and players respect their power. Also swimming amidst the school of powerful bomb rares is an unlikely candidate. It's not as flashy, it clearly isn't as hard to get, and yet it's every bit as powerful as some of these rares can be.


Yeah, I said it. The flying fish isn't anything spectacular, and yet it's strong enough that most players consider it among the top ten cards in the set. I even saw it go over a Liliana Vess during a draft yesterday (a pick I don't really agree with, but the fact that it's even a consideration is a pretty strong statement). Quentin Martin perhaps said it best yesterday when I asked him what card he really wanted to see to send him down the path for a solid deck, and he said that all he wanted was Mulldrifters, seas and seas of Mulldrifters. Commons with that kind of respect and power level are fairly rare, to say the least.

Saturday, February 16: 11:49 a.m. - Embracing Local Customs

by Scott Johns

I'm pretty sure that, at first, the only thing I could think was, "It must be the jet lag. This can't actually be happening."

The fountain in front of the Petronas Towers is a lovely place for a Valentine's Day stroll. It was about this time, on a morning stroll below the breathtaking Petronas Towers, that a woman completely unknown to me was administering what can only be described as a "very enthusiastic" hug. Now, I was completely at a loss at this point why this woman was hugging me and I had no idea what to do. In fact, this was so unexpected that I basically just froze there. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've never found myself asking someone "Why are you hugging me?" In fact, as this went on a bit more, on some absurd level I began to worry that now, not only do I not know why I'm getting hugged, but I'm also now doing a pretty bad job of it myself, I'm so caught off guard.

After what probably wasn't anywhere near as long as it felt, the happy woman disengaged and shot me a big smile.

"You don't know why I did that!"

I'm a nice guy, and on some level I'm now worried that I'm letting her down for whatever it is I'm missing, so I go with straight honesty. "Yes, you are absolutely right!"

As the nice lady goes on to explain, in Malaysia (or, perhaps, just Kuala Lumpur, I admit I wasn't clear on this part) it turns out that Valentine's Day is a very popular holiday, and many locals celebrate it as a way of showing love not just for family and those close to them, but for all people, even complete strangers. As she explained it, what's more in the spirit of Valentine's Day than just giving a big hug to somebody you've never met, just to be nice?

Of course, not everybody feels quite so open about this kind of thing. So, as this mercifully helpful woman explained, those who really love this kind of Valentine's Day make sure to wear red very prominently while out in public. That way you know who to hug, and those that don't want such treatment get to opt out (which, I can only imagine, is a very important part for this kind of thing to work).

As you can surely guess by this point, I was wearing a very red shirt on my morning stroll. I got another big hug from another woman a couple blocks down the path on the way back to the hotel, so at this point I'm going to assume there must be something to the story. If anyone knows more, please make sure to enlighten us on the message boards because I admit I was mystified the rest of the day trying to figure out the best way to proceed. Afraid of messing something up, I switched to a blue shirt for the second half of the day, but that will definitely be a morning walk I won't forget any time soon!

Saturday, February 16: 2:06 p.m./1:06 a.m. Draft Viewing from a Distance

by Brian David-Marshall

I am going crazy here. Other than two trips to the doctor I have not left my house in the past nine days and I have two more days of doctor-ordered interment before I can rejoin the real world. Greg included my comment about my traveling with a cold to Southeast Asia triggering the start of The Stand, but at this point I am feeling more like I am trapped in the closing passages of The Shining. I am going stir crazy and my wife is hiding all my Lave Axes.

There is a Pro Tour going on, I am not there, Jon Finkel is tearing it up, and there is some Earth Two version of me and Randy in the Tournament Center. On the other hand it is kind of nice to wake up and have a full day's coverage waiting to be read. I can't remember the last Pro Tour I have been able to follow from home but I guess it would have to be Worlds 2002 when Carlos Romao burst onto the Magic scene.


Thorntooth Witch

The first thing I dove into when I woke up this morning was the Draft Viewer—the single greatest innovation in the history of Limited event coverage. The draft was pretty exciting for a kickoff draft; any draft with Kenji in it is going to be exciting. Did anyone else spit their morning coffee all over the computer screen when they saw his first pick? Admittedly it was not the strongest pack in the world, but Thorntooth Witch? I have to admit I did not see that coming. I probably had it third or fourth out of that pack but there is a reason I am watching the draft and that Kenji is being watched.

I was talking with Jon Becker as we both flipped through people's picks in draft one, and Yoshitaka Nakano's first pick in the second pack is Becker's nightmare. Jon is legendary for his no-pass list; cards he will simply never pass because he would A) gladly pervert his mana base to play them, and B) is certain that the card will come back to haunt him. Nakano opened Garruk Wildspeaker in his second pack and boldly passed it to Raphael Gennari—despite having highly drafted multiple green cards in the first pack!!!

It was obvious that green had dried up for Nakano and he had shifted his draft toward being blue-black. While I normally disagree with Jon about his no-pass list, I don't know that I would have the stones that Nakano displayed while taking Silvergill Douser over the game-breaking green card.

It is a fascinating table to watch and if you have not already checked it out you should do so immediately. After all, how many chances do you have to sit down and face the same exact decisions Kenji Tsumura had to face? And once you are done with that, you can skip ahead to the next draft viewer and put yourself in the place of Jon Finkel or Nicolai Herzog.

Saturday, February 16: 2:17p.m. – It's a Head Scratcher

by Scott Johns

What do Hall of Fame legends do when they clash against each other in the 7-1 bracket? Judging by the Round 8 feature match I just got to watch between Jon Finkel and Nicolai Herzog, either they have to think really hard, or they actually do battle directly with their minds, a la Scanners.

It's a real Hall of Fame head-to-head.

Saturday, February 16: 2:56p.m. – Force of Gill

by Scott Johns

It's no secret that Limited Information alum Quentin Martin loves those Islands. But judging by what I just saw in the Feature Match area, the Islands love Quentin Martin right back, so who can really blame him?

So, for your sadistic reading pleasure, here's one good way to totally demoralize an opponent. First, get a Sage of Fables into play. Then, play Silvergill Adept revealing Merrow Harbinger, putting a +1/+1 counter on the adept and drawing a card in the process. Next turn comes Merrow Harbinger (which gets a +1/+1 counter), fetching another Silvergill Adept. Once the Harbinger dies in combat, next turn use Makeshift Mannequin mid-combat to pop your harbinger back out (getting a +1/+1 counter again) to grab another Silvergill Adept! Silvergill Adept #2 comes into play revealing Silvergill Adept #3, getting a +1/+1 counter and drawing a card in the process.

Do we really need to go on from there?

Silvergill Adept
Sage of Fables

Saturday, February 16: 3:23p.m. – Moose Ya!

by Nate Price

So here's a fun one for you. Round 11, I wandered around looking for fun stuff to write about when I happened upon Paul Cheon playing Mattias Kettil. It was Game 2 and Cheon was on the play. He played a turn-three Preeminent Captain and then went off. On turn four, the Captain brought his friend the Game-Trail Changeling across to say hello to Mattias. Cheon also played a Kithkin Zephyrnaut. The Kinship from the Zephyrnaut revealed a Kithkin Greatheart, effectively making the Zephyrnaut into a Serra Angel. On top of that, the Greatheart, once drawn, got to come into play tapped and attacking via the Captain and, thanks to the Game-Trail Changeling, was a bit bigger than average. Mattias just looked on in stunned disbelief—Cheon had just blown by him and killed him on turn five. Cheon laughed about his good luck after the game.

"That's the dream. [Preeminent Captain] turn three and then on turn four—MOOSE YA!"

Saturday, February 16: 4:10p.m. – Trendy

by Nate Price

One of the most important things players can study when preparing for any tournament is the current trend in the environment. For Constructed events, trends help you define the metagame, thereby making your deck selection and prospective test gauntlet a bit more focused. Here in Limited, it can help a player figure out what to expect during the course of a draft as well as helping figure out which archetypes are producing the statistically strongest results. If seventy percent of the undefeated decks in a Draft format are of a certain archetype, it stands to reason that the archetype must be fairly strong by comparison to the others available.

I wandered around to check out some of the trending happening here at Pro Tour–Kuala Lumpur, and wasn't at all surprised by my results.

Blue is one of the strongest colors in the format. Its commons pack an enormous punch both tribally and not. Cards like Silvergill Douser, Mulldrifter, Æthersnipe, and Pestermite are all very powerful cards that any player is usually happy to open. Perhaps more important than that, though, is how strong the synergy between the blue tribes is. Faeries and Merfolk combo together better than any other two tribes in the format.

When taking a look at the decks drafted by some of the best performers this weekend, trends definitely start to appear. Six out of the eight decks that Guillaume Wafo-Tapo and Jon Finkel drafted up to this point this weekend were base blue, including three decks that were almost monoblue. That's a pretty strong endorsement of the color. Admittedly, the blue decks tend to be more controlling, which does tend to fit Wafo-Tapo's and Finkel's play styles, which might also lend to their proclivity for the deck.


Orchard Warden

The other major deck I've been seeing perform strongly was a big surprise to me. Mattias Kettil and Rogier Maaten have managed to get near the top of the standings on the backs of Swamps and Forests. Between the two of them, they managed six decks featuring Treefolk and Elves, though mostly Treefolk. That really surprised me, but Rogier put it very well when he explained that "it's a very underdrafted deck, and it's got some very powerful cards. I never looked to specifically draft it, but it was always just there for me."

It had always seemed to me that Treefolk had the potential to be quite good. The creatures are all solid, and no one really seemed to want them since so many people were focusing on Elves in green. But every time I've gotten a Treefolk deck to come together, it looked really good, but failed to really do anything when it came time to play. But then again, I'm kind of bad.

Treefolk have the advantage of having very solid bodies , albeit a little more expensive than the other tribes. They also have access to a bunch of multiplicative abilities as the game goes on. You get an Orchard Warden, a Thorntooth Witch, and a Battlewand Oak in play, and each Treefolk you play gains you life, kills a creature, and pumps one of your men. It can get degenerate really fast, and once you've put it together, it's hard to stop because they're so hard to kill.

With as much emphasis has been placed on creature type in this set, though, it appears that there's a dichotomy in how important being tribal is. Lorwyn and Morningtide have given players reason after reason to pay attention to the creature type listed on the cards, but some pro players have spent all weekend making it an afterthought to the quality of the cards in question. After all, if a deck is blue for Pestermite, Mulldrifter, Fallowsage, and a few other assorted creatures, what do you call that deck? Is it Merfolk? Is it Faeries? How about Elementals? Honestly, all you can call it is blue. It's seemed that more often than not, the decks have veered away from staying coherently tribal and let tribal themes support the strength of the cards rather than being the centerpiece.

Certain cards can force a deck to focus more on tribe, however. Drowner of Secrets, Lys Alana Huntmaster, and Wizened Cenn, for example, are cards that get exponentially better as the number of appropriately typed creatures goes up. If you have one of these cards, you usually tend to take a card of the appropriate creature type over an off-type card of slightly better card quality simply because it can become so powerful in conjunction with these cards. This is much different from the situation described in the paragraph above. There, your cards will have synergy simply because the mechanics within the colors tend to play well enough together that you focus more on the quality of the cards—you know that they're going to play well together regardless of creature type.

Saturday, February 16: 4:55p.m. – The Deck that Almost Was

by Nate Price

After extensively covering his third draft of the day, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to catch the tail end of Guillaume Wafo-Tapo's tenth round match. As I wandered the alley behind his table, something caught my eye. He was holding a copy of Rivals' Duel. He spent five minutes during deck construction agonizing over whether or not to include the red splash in his deck before eventually deciding that it wasn't worth compromising his deck's integrity. Thus, I was a little surprised to see him holding the red card in his hand. After the match (he won, by the way), I asked him about his decision to sideboard the red in.

"I really needed removal. My opponent's deck was quite fast and had many fliers, and I really don't have many. I needed something to prevent me from falling too far behind." Rivals' Duel and Tarfire made their way into the deck, replacing a Weed Strangle and another card. Considering his addition of a third color, getting rid of the colored-mana intensive Strangle seemed like the right play even though he was siding in the red because it was removal. Not to mention that if he was going to spend five mana to kill something against his opponent's deck, he should probably get to kill two creatures. "I spent the second game with the Weed Strangle in my hand, but no second Swamp. My opponent had lots of 1 and 2 toughness creatures, so the Rivals' Duel just seemed better."

Saturday, February 16: 6:21p.m. – Tall Tales

by Nate Price

Here goes. These two stories were collected by our editor Kelly Digges from Quentin Martin, one of which involves a game he wasn't even in. In other words, this is a transcript for the best game of telephone ever.


Colfenor's Plans

Do you like drawing cards? I know I do, and even I was amazed at this first story from Quentin. It all begins with a lowly Mulldrifter. With Quentin, did you really expect anything else? The Mulldrifter got him a Colfenor's Plans. Within those seven cards, he found himself another Colfenor's Plans. After he got those cards, he found a Mind Spring to draw the remainder of his deck, with mana left open to counter a spell on his opponent's turn. Thanks to the Colfenor's Plans, he wasn't in danger of decking himself, and the enormous number of cards he drew allowed him to crush his opponent with no cards remaining in his library.

The next story comes from a game Quentin was watching between Frank Karsten and Wessel Oomens. Frank had a Chandra Nalaar that he had just gotten to eight counters. Wessel, playing Goblins, was sitting on 10 life. He had a Mudbutton Torchrunner in play and knew that if he attacked Chandra, he could keep delaying the ultimate since if Frank ever chose to block and kill the Torchrunner, Chandra would lose even more counters.

What he didn't count on was Frank having a Stream of Unconsciousness on this crucial turn to avoid Chandra taking any damage at all. This plunged Wessel headfirst into the tank. When he came up for air, all he could do was try to Final Revels the board away after combat, killing his own Mudbutton Torchrunner (and the rest of his team in the process) to delay the ultimate a few more turns.

Frank wasn't having any of that. What would you do if your opponent was trying to kill his own Torchrunner? If you answered play Epic Proportions on it to keep it alive, you win the gold star, as well as the opportunity to deal 10 damage to your opponent's face and whatever's left of his team. Not to mention a million cool points. I mean, seriously, how many times have you had a chance to say "Epic Proportions your man" to win a game? Personally, I'm hovering somewhere between zero and never. But that's just me.

Saturday, February 16: 8:20p.m. – I Told You I Could Play

by Nate Price

You've all heard of Conan Blackwell, right? Well, if you've played at a Magic tournament in the San Francisco bay area, chances are that you should have. Conan is the Tournament Organizer from the bay area and is here in Kuala Lumpur competing in his first Pro Tour, and he wasted no time getting adjusted to being on this side of the table. After losing his Round 12 feature match (boo!), he sits at 8-4 and is incredibly pleased to be where he is.

Conan Blackwell fights it out in the feature match area."I'm happy to be where I am, and at this point, I really just want to Top 32 and get a chance to go to Hollywood. It's a pretty short drive. I'd really like to do well enough there, though, to get to go to Berlin." If he keeps playing like he has so far this weekend, that shouldn't be an issue.

"I enjoy being on this side of the tournament. As a TO, I'm used to the players being kind of stand-offish, and it's nice to be able to relate to them as a player. It's also kind of nice because as a TO, people don't expect me to be able to play." Well, as I reminded him, there are many players that have been around the Pro Tour longer that are doing much worse than he is. Clearly the man can play.

Conan used to own a card store in the Bay Area and was used to being up on what's going on in the Magic world, but recently had found himself with time to spend playing the game and putting his knowledge to the test. With more free time and an interest in playing in more PTQ's, Conan started honing his skills in preparation for the eventual run. While visiting his family in Hawaii, Conan won a PTQ and his passage here to Kuala Lumpur.

"It was a little strange playing in the PTQ in Hawaii. Back in San Francisco, we're used to seeing 150ish people at a PTQ. In Hawaii, it was 30." PTQs are the biggest barrier to entry (by design) to the Pro Tour. There are many players who are good enough to play at or near the average PT player's level who don't get a chance to play because they have to win a PTQ to get there. Ask anyone who has ever played in a Neutral Ground PTQ how tough it can be to win some PTQs and you'll understand. However, making it through the fire tempers a players skill, and, ultimately, they're better for it.

Don't judge a book by its cover, though. Just because a player comes from a small PTQ doesn't mean that they lack the skill of a person who won a PTQ that had 40 pro points in the Top 8. Don't assume that just because a person is judging, running, or *ahem* covering a tournament means they can't play. You might just be playing against someone like Conan Blackwell.

Saturday, February 16: 9:24p.m. – Big Money for Amateurs

by Chapman Sim and Devin Low

Along with the main event, a Pro Tour is loaded with public events. The $2000 (USD) Amateur Challenge was one such event, so we thought we'd share these Standard decklists with you.

Here is the breakdown of the complete event:

17 black-green Elf Warriors
11 white Kithkin
9 green-white-black Doran
8 blue-black Faeries
6 red Dragonstorm
5 red-green Goyf-Crusher-Gargadon
5 blue-black Mannequin
5 black Rogues
5 white-blue Reveillark-Body Double Combo
3 blue-red Goblins
3 blue-green Damnation Control
3 white-blue or blue-red Merfolk
2 red-green Big Mana
2 white-blue Wrath Control
2 black-red Damnation Control
2 blue-white Damnation Control
1 blue-black Reanimator
1 white-red Wrath Control
1 white-blue-red Momentary Blink
1 red Elementals


Lucas Wong - 1st Place

Download Arena Decklist

Joshua Yang - 2nd Place

Download Arena Decklist

Lai Chien-Shie - Semi-Finalist

Download Arena Decklist

Sam Shi Xian - Semi-finalist

Download Arena Decklist

Keng Wei Yang - Quarter-finalist

Download Arena Decklist

Lim Teng Chek - Quarter-finalist

Download Arena Decklist

Wong Wei Quan - Quarterfinalist

Download Arena Decklist

Allen Zhang - Quarter-finalist

Download Arena Decklist

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