The first day of Italian Nationals has come and gone, and as the players are going home to get some rest for tomorrow, lets look at some of the main happenings of the day.
291 players entered the 17th Italian National Championship, making it the biggest one yet. The record-setting started yesterday, when a whopping 840 people enrolled for the various meatgrinder and last chance tournaments. In standard, CawBlade was the deck that collected a third of the available slots, but other decks were also represented in multiples: Valakut, Tempered Steel, Vampires and Splinter Twin/Birthing Pod.
The metagame today reflected the popularity of those decks, but it was Valakut that put up the largest numbers, followed by CawBlade and the rest. These decks were all represented at the standard top tables, proving that the bans have actually opened up the format, although not wiping out the dreaded UW deck altogether, it's mechanics are still very powerful.
The M12 draft format kept its promise of entertainment. A lot of powerful decks were built, with horror stories of powerful mythic rares not being first-picked being told around the room. The more experienced limited players came into the drafts with varied ideas and strategies, but in the end they were all doing well: applying the basics of booster drafting to the base-set format.
We also saw our fair share of interesting decks. Gionata Dal Farra, one of Italy's best limited players of the past, managed to draft a constructed-worthy UW deck, demolishing his opponents and intentionally drawing with one of his friends. At the same time Pro Samuele Estratti was entertaining the crowds with his Goblin/Empires deck, featuring enhanced effects from the trio of the M12 artifacts.
After the four rounds of Standard and three from the first draft, two players had won all their matches: Gabriele Montresor and Luca Gaviglio. Just behind them Gionata Dal Farra and Fabio Catta also didn't drop a match and closed on 19 points. The undefeateds will come back tomorrow hoping for a clean run to top8, but many others are just behind them with same objective. Amongst them some popular names in Italian magic: Marco Santopadre, Gennaro Mango and Marco Cammilluzzi on 6-1, Alessandro Portaro, Andrea Garella and Marcello Calvetto on 5-1-1 and a long list of others on 5-2.
Join us again tomorrow to see who will follow on the steps of Federico Ronchi and become 2011 National Championship, who will be on the team with him at Worlds in San Francisco, as well as more decklists, interviews and articles from a great day of Magic!