- Kim Eikefet
After a relatively short day one, where the all seven matches were done really quickly, the second day started at nine, giving most of the players enough time to sleep, that is, those who didn't spend the night doing some final playtesting or playing Texas Hold'em.
Even though fewer players were playing in the main event, the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus was still full. The side event areas were crowded, people were queueing up to get their cards signed by artists Kev Walker, DiTerlizzi, Donato Giancola and Scott Fisher, and people could test their decks against for instance World Champions Brian Selden and Alexander Blumke or get their decks refined by other Pro Tour players. In addition, there was a Team Pro Tour Qualifier, and several teams came to see if they could earn a qualification for the Team Pro Tour in Washington DC this September.
The biggest action was at the Pro Tour area, though, where 96 players were fighting for different goals - some fought for a top eight spot, some for a top 32 finish so that they would qualify for the next tour, and some for a top 64 finish to be in the money.
As the rounds went by, competition was tougher. Canadian Terry Tsang was 9-0-1 after ten rounds, but then he lost two times in a row and he was pretty worried that he wouldn't make top eight. Fortunately, he then won a match, securing a spot in the top eight.
After the 14th round of the swiss, eight players were ready for the final eight playoff. Zvi Mowshowitz reigned on top of the list with 34 points, and he had definitely not expected that. In fact, he lost the first match of the tournament because he Stroke of Geniused his whole deck and realized that he had forgotten to add his Palinchron.
"It was totally my fault. I drew my deck, and there was no Palinchron there. So between rounds, I asked Alex Shvartsman for one," Zvi explains. But after perhaps one of the worst starts possible, he was really happy to make top eight - his first Pro Tour top eight.
"Partly, it was because of the deck, but I also played it well. I outsmarted at least two of my opponents, so I think I earned it. It's a hard deck to sideboard with, but I've played it a lot. Team Mogg Squad has been a big help, and I don't think I would have had the best deck without them. Now, the deck was exactly right, and I didn't mulligan once throughout the entire tournament," Zvi smiles.
The other players that made top eight were Rob Dougherty and David Humpherys from Team Your Move Games, Shawn Keller, Christian Lührs, Casey McCarrel, Nicolas Labarre and Terry Tsang. In the quarterfinals, Zvi is up against Terry who plays the same deck as McCarrel and Keller - a red and blue Academy-deck with Phyrexian Processors and Phyrexian Colossus. If he makes it to the semi-finals, he will possibly meet the same deck there, as Casey McCarrel is facing a mono-green deck in the quarterfinals, and mono-green is normally a very good matchup against the red/blue deck.
"I made some last minute changes to the deck when I realized that there would be a lot of decks based on artifacts, I altered it so that it would be better against those decks. During the player meeting, Feming Chan told me to take out a Shivan Hellkite and a Hibernation from the sideboard and put in Meltdowns, and the Meltdowns won me more games than either of those cards would have done. People didn't expect it, as I was playing a lot of artifacts myself. But I would just sideboard in Meltdowns and sideboard out artifacts. That's how I beat Zvi," Casey says, hoping that he'll get to beat Zvi again.
Actually, there could be four players in the top eight playing that blue and red deck. Ryan Fuller and Adrian Sullivan both had 31 points, but they barely missed top eight on tiebreakers - and Ryan played the same deck as Casey, Shawn and Terry. Even though he was number nine, though, he wasn't that disappointed.
"It's no problem, I'm pretty much satisfied. But I had already called and told my girlfriend and my parents that I'd made top eight, and that's kind of bad," Ryan says after getting to know that he didn't make it anyway.
Now he gets to play in the Sideboard Invitational instead. The Sideboard invitational is a tournament for the players that just didn't missed something; number eight and nine, number 33 and 34, number 65 and 66 and number 97 and 98. Those players are going to Rochester Draft with oversized cards, and the winner gets to choose a two-digit DCI number. And Ryan Fuller already knows what he will choose if he wins. "I'll choose number 19 - because that's my hockey number," he smiles.