by Scott Wills
Potato Nation settled into their colors very early in this draft and maintained them throughout. Gary Wise in seat B quickly picked up several Rebels in Masques along with a couple of green cards. Mike Turian settled into red in seat C after snagging a Kyren Negotiations from his Mercadian Masques booster. Opposite him on Draften und Spielen Stephan Valkyser moved into white in their seat C. This should give him an advantage against Turian as white's damage prevention is typically able to negate a lot of red's removal, and in addition to this by seating their white player in seat C it gives Draften und Spielen the best chance for Stephan to pick up Troubled Healer in Prophecy.
Christian Luhrs started drafting black/blue opposite Gary Wise's green/white. This might give the advantage to Luhrs as his combination of colors typically has a lot of annoying spellshapers, 'fear' creatures and fliers that green/white can often have great difficulty dealing with. Scott John's was the second player on Potato Nation to draft red, pairing his off with green. This gave Potato Nation a very strange set up as they had two red drafters, two green drafters sitting next to each other, and no-one drafting black at all.
Opposite Johns, Patrick Mello quickly started drafting green also, although he paired his with black which meant that Draften und Spielen also had two adjacent drafters drafting the same color although this time it was black which is normally a lot deeper than green and so can support two adjacent players without too much difficulty.
Early in Nemesis, an incident occurred which completely stopped the draft. During Stephan Valkyser's pick Mike Turian, pointing at a Laccolith Grunt he thought Johns should take, accidentally made contact with the card. When it came round to Turian's pick he went to select a different card and Valkyser complained to the judges that Turian should be forced to pick the Grunt as he had touched it. A similar thing had happened in a feature match involving Turian the previous day and judge James Lee had ruled that as long as you didn't touch a card during your pick you wouldn't be forced to take it. Potato Nation had confirmed this with the judges and although Turian had received a warning they had not been forced to pick the card that had been accidentally touched. Despite this prior ruling head judge Dan Gray who was watching the match overruled and indeed reversed the previous decision and did force Turian to take the Grunt. This wasn't too bad for Potato Nation as Turian was playing red, but it definitely disrupted their picks for that round.
Potato Nation showed some great signaling during this draft, all the time letting their teammates know how many playable cards they had for their deck, and even whether their mana curve was particularly high or low.
Gary Wise (green/white) vs. Christian Luhrs (blue/black)
Wise's deck was very good and he was clearly happy with it. His first comment as the team sat down to construct their decks was "guys, my deck is nuts." Gary had four Rebel searchers and an additional 6 playable rebels including a Glider, a Trenching Steed and a Pious Warrior which can both be recruited into play. Gary has some powerful rares in Oracle's Attendants and Copperleaf Angel and he will need them if he is to defeat Luhrs. By far Wise's best card against Luhrs is his Flowstone Armor. Luhrs has a lot of creatures with only a single point of toughness and if they Armor hits the board he has no way to deal with it. As far as other card go Gary also has a Parallax Wave and a Thrive which were very good against Luhrs. All in all, Wise looks to have a very strong deck.
Despite Wise's power cards, Luhrs is by no means out of this match. As expected, he has numerous problematic spellshapers including Waterfront Bouncer and Stronghold Biologist which will both totally dominate Wise if Wise doesn't draw his Flowstone Armor. Luhrs even took time to draft Squee to make his spellshapers even more unfair. A Stinging Barrier and several fliers make up Luhrs' main offence but he also has some powerful rares of his own in Cateran Slaver and Coffin Puppets. A Vicious Hunger, Seal of Doom and Dominate will give him chances to break up Wise's Rebel chain which might otherwise cause trouble for Luhrs.
Overall this match looks pretty tight and will depend greatly on the draws the two players get. Both have the tools to win but both players have also drafted cards that their opponents will absolutely hate to see.
Scott Johns (red/green) vs Patrick Mello (black/green)
Mello looks definite favorite in his match against Johns. Both players have numerous fat creatures although Mello's are slightly superior with two Blastoderms, two Thresher Beasts, a Silverglade Elemental and a Living Terrain. Johns has a very high curve with numerous four and five casting cost guys but most of them have difficulty taking out a Blastoderm. Johns does have a Rupture which will be a key card in the match as Johns can use it to kill even Blastoderm if he's able to combine it with cards such as his Flowstone Crusher. Mello's black cards include some small but perfectly formed Mercenaries with a Rathis Fiend, Spineless Thug and an Agent of Shauku. He has an Invigorate, a Wild Might and a Sever Soul as well, which are all great cards against Johns. Due to his slightly better creatures and some good removal spells Mello is definitely favorite against Johns although perhaps only marginally so.
Mike Turian (red/blue) vs Stephan Valkyser (red/white)
Both Turian and Valkyser had drafted very well and had answer to each others broken cards. Valkyser has picked up an Aura Fracture to deal with Turian's Kyren Negotiations, and Turian had picked up a Mogg Salvage to deal with Valkyser's Power Matrix. Turian's deck is perhaps more stable than Valkyser as he has a nice curve, fliers, removal and some decent tricks too. Valkyser doesn't have a lot in the way of aggressive creatures, his deck does shape up tremendously well against Turian. Due to his excellent position in the draft, he was able to pick up two Troubled Healers, which are excellent against Turian. In addition he has two Defender en-Vecs and a Mageta the Lion which are all amazing in this match. On top of this Valkyser has great removal with Thunder Clap, Rhystic Lightning, Last Breath and Arrest. Turian will have a very difficult time against Valkyser and will probably need Valkyser to have very bad draws in order to win.
With the match-ups involving Mello and Valkyser looking difficult, and even Wise's match against Luhrs looking like to could go either way Potato Nation are going have to work incredibly hard in order to advance to the finals. Draften und Spielen have to be happy with their chances and are definite favorites to win this semi-final.