Another weekend, another European Grand Prix. Every two weeks, it seems that some of the same faces meet up to play Magic - the location may be different, but the game is the same.
This time it is the turn of Cologne to play host to our competitors. The venue is in a fairly central location - overlooking the Rhine, and from it you can see the famous Cathedral, one of Germany's best known sites.
It was snowing this morning when the competitors began to arrive, but that didn't stop 541 of them from turning up - making the venue seem a little cozy, perhaps even crowded.
With a Grand Prix in Boston on the same day, this is the first European GP in a while not to see a posse of top American Pros. However, even without these, the event still attracted a very strong field. Let's take a look around the European countries to see who has turned up.
We start off with my home country, England, who have managed to send only one player - Ben Ronaldson. The Germans, of course, have a lot of good players here, as it is their home event - among them are Kai Budde, Dirk Baberowski, and Andre Konstanczer, to name just a few.
The Dutch have also put in a good turn-out, with Noah Boeken, Bram Snepvangers, Kamiel Cornelissen, and of course Ryan Fuller, Canadian but now living in Holland. The Dutch are becoming fixtures at most Grand Prix recently, sending a group of players to Valencia two weeks ago as well.
We also have Trey Van Cleave from Denmark, the Norwegians Sigurd Eskeland, Eivind Nitter, and Oyvind Odegaard, and from France we have Team Black Ops (Olivier and Antoine Ruel, and Florent Jeudon), as well as Nicholas Labarre, Raphael Levy, and Franck Canu.
With so many of the same players playing the same format as Valencia, you may be wondering if the event will not be a repetition of that Spanish Grand Prix, with the same decks winning in the Sealed and Draft. Well, perhaps, but it is quite possible that players have altered their drafting strategies as their knowledge of Planeshift increases, as despite many top players maligning Green, it was the unknown Ricard Tuduri who prevailed with a great Red/Green deck in the finals.
So will it be another unknown who makes it all the way here this weekend, or will the recognized players show us just why they get so much coverage in interviews and feature match reports? Well, if you're not here, there is only one way to find out - stay tuned for regular Sideboard Coverage from today and tomorrow.