Pro Tour-Los Angeles 1999 Second Draft Pod: Featuring Nate Clarke and Erik Lauer

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In this draft, we feature "The Mad Genius" of Team CMU, Erik Lauer and Top Eight Worlds 1997 player, Nate Clarke. During the draft, Clarke sat to the right of Lauer, choosing first during the first and third packs. Below are the picks they decided to choose (showing in parentheses the order of which they picked for each pack). The first player shown at the top was the first to choose between the two during each pack.

Pod Order of Drafting

1. Oyvind Odegaard
2. Adrian Sayers
3. Jose Cintra
4. Lucien Bui
5. Mauro Rossetti
6. Nate Clarke
7. Erik Lauer
8. Matt Severa

1st Round of Eight Packs
(Clarke sixth in order passing to Lauer seventh)
Players are choosing cards in clockwise order.

Sometimes it pays to draft outside of the tournament with other Pro players, something both Nate Clarke and Erik Lauer have done with each prior to this event. Knowing that Clarke had a preference for drafting Red in Urza's Saga, Lauer was looking for any sign from Nate that this was the way he wanted to go. With the pressure on, both players began the draft.

1st Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Viashino Runner (6th Pick)     Absolute Grace (7th Pick)
Goblin Cadets (11th Pick)      Rune of Protection: White (10th Pick)

Right off the bat, Clarke was able to go into his favorite color (Red), while Lauer had to settle for an Absolute Grace, as the pack was weak throughout. Although his choice of White on the first turn wouldn't pan out for him, this choice of cards proved to be invaluable when it became apparent he'd be able to pick up Black while drafting next to Nate.

2nd Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Smoldering Crater (5th Pick)   Bog Raiders (6th Pick)
Elvish Herder (12th Pick)      Sandbar Merfolk (11th Pick)

A 5th pick Smoldering Crater was a bold statement by Nate, telling others at the table he was committed to Red. Lauer was more than willing to go along with Clarke, netting himself a Bog Raiders to start the building of Black.

3rd Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Exhaustion (4th Pick)          Endoskeleton (5th Pick)
Lay Waste (13th Pick)          Carrion Beetles (12th Pick)

The only questionable draft choice in Clarke's strategy was his selection of Exhaustion over Goblin Spelunkers. With Nate going strong into Red, it appeared to be suspect. Still, Exhaustion is much more powerful than the Spelunkers, and Clarke might have had aspirations of jumping into Blue at this point. With no strong Black choice, Lauer found an excellent brown selection with Endoskeleton.

4th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Viashino Runner (3rd Pick)     Skirge Familiar (4th Pick)
Carpet of Flowers (14th Pick)  Rejuvenate (13th Pick)

5th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Arc Lightning (2nd Pick)       Pestilence (3rd Pick)
Telepathy (15th Pick)          Exhume (14th Pick)

This and the previous pick proved Clarke's friendliness towards Lauer, and a harmonious drafting union was created. As Lauer would comment later, "Nate and I were very close during the draft." Not only was Nate and Erik working towards strong decks, but Mauro Rossetti to the right of Clarke was keeping his drafts centered around White.

6th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Treetop Rangers (1st Pick)     Ravenous Skirge (2nd Pick)
                               Darkest Hour (15th Pick)

With Nate having the first pick, it was time to find a second color and claim it, as Shower of Sparks was the only strong choice in Red. Intending to go into Green throughout the draft, the perfect opportunity presented itself to Clarke in the form of a Treetop Rangers. Also, those players surrounding Nate had kept away from Green, so it was now or never. Meanwhile, Erik continued gathering about him quality black creatures and removal.

7th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Goblin Spelunkers (8th Pick)   Befoul (1st Pick)
Raze (9th Pick)	

Though Lauer opened to the ultra-powerful Befoul, he considered it a very tough choice, especially at this juncture of the draft. He had thoughts on going into Blue, and with Confiscate and Somnophore showing, he was half tempted to jump at this time. However, he had second thoughts. "I didn't know if I was Black/Blue at the time, so I didn't go there," said Lauer. "It wasn't the right time."

8th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Acidic Soil (7th Pick)         Vebulid (8th Pick)
Reflexes (10th Pick)           Dromosaur (9th Pick)

2nd Round of Eight Packs
(Lauer 2nd in order passing to Clarke)
Packs are being passed counter-clockwise.

1st Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Corrupt (2nd Pick)             Winding Wurm (3rd Pick)
RofP: Land (15th Pick)         Clear (14th Pick)

2nd Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Despondency (1st Pick)         Acridian (2nd Pick)
                               Goblin Matron (15th Pick)

3rd Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Disciple of Law (8th Pick)     Gaea's Embrace (1st Pick)
Annul (9th Pick)

4th Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Disciple of Law (7th Pick)     Hidden Stag (8th Pick)
Annul (10th Pick)              Elvish Herder (9th Pick)

Though Lauer didn't get quality picks during the 3rd and 4th packs, he did manage to grab two Annuls, giving him more of a reason to delve into Blue where he could. And to show the love was still alive, Erik picked two Disciples of Law to prevent them from being played against Clarke by other opponents.

5th Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Sicken (6th Pick)              Titania's Chosen (7th Pick)
Cackling Fiend (11th Pick)     Headlong Rush (10th Pick)

6th Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Sanguine Guard (5th Pick)      Treetop Rangers (6th Pick)
Remote Isle (12th Pick)        Viashino Sandswimmer (11th Pick)

7th Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Sicken (4th Pick)              Elvish Lyrist (5th Pick)
Hidden Spider (13th Pick)      Shower of Sparks (12th Pick)

8th Pack
Lauer's Choices                Clarke's Choices
Intrepid Hero (3rd Pick)       Treetop Rangers (4th Pick)
Veil of Birds (14th Pick)      Falter (13th Pick)

By the end of the second packs, Lauer continued to be taken care of, though Rossetti to the right of Clarke began jumping into Green. This proved to be a thorn in Clarke's side throughout the rest of the draft.

3rd Round of Eight Packs
(Clarke 6th in order passing to Lauer 7th) Players are choosing cards in clockwise order.

1st Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Shivan Raptor (6th Pick)       Hermetic Study (7th Pick)
Hidden Spider (11th Pick)      Spreading Algae (10th Pick)

At the beginning of the third round of drafts, it was apparent that Lauer had Blue on his mind. Receiving virtually nothing from the left side during the 2nd group of packs (due to Matt Severa's drafting of Blue), Lauer turned the tables, cutting off four strong Blue cards (2 Pendrell Drakes, 1 Hermetic Study, 1 Veiled Apparition) from Matt while giving himself a solid second color.

2nd Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Congregate (5th Pick)          Pendrell Drake (6th Pick)
Fertile Ground (12th Pick)     Victimize (11th Pick)

3rd Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Arc Lightning (4th Pick)       Skirge Familiar (5th Pick)
Argothian Wurm (13th Pick)     Carpet of Flowers (12th Pick)

4th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Shower of Sparks (3rd Pick)    Pendrell Drake (4th Pick)
Breach (14th Pick)             Goblin Offensive (13th Pick)

5th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Cave Tiger (2nd Pick)          Veiled Apparition (3rd Pick)
Disruptive Student (15th Pick) Scrap (14th Pick)

At this point in time, Rossetti decided to do some Hate Drafting on Clarke, taking an Arc Lightning while there were still strong cards in the colors he'd been drafting up until this point. During an earlier pack, Mauro had also taken away a Goblin Patrol from Nate, though there were better cards in his own colors. This upset Clarke, as he felt his deck got shafted during this draft hate. He'd been friendly enough to his neighbors and he couldn't understand why one would turn against him at the expense of his own deck.

6th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Symbiosis (1st Pick)           Bog Raider (2nd Pick)
                               Sunder (15th Pick)

7th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Falter (8th Pick)              Corrupt (1st Pick)
Lull (9th Pick)

8th Pack
Clarke's Choices               Lauer's Choices
Viashino Runner (7th Pick)     Rumbling Crescendo (8th Pick)
Vug Lizard (10th Pick)         Hush (9th Pick)

In the last act of generosity, Lauer picked Rumbling Crescendo and Hush in order to give Clarke a Vug Lizard 10th pick. As Erik put it, "What do I care that he has an echo creature? My deck's fast enough so it won't matter."

Summary

With players such as Clarke and Lauer drafting side by side and staying away from each other's colors, both players ended with strong decks, though Erik's would prove the stronger. The only fault that either had found with the draft was the color jumping display put on by Mauro Rossetti. This color jumping would cost Clarke a fast creature (Goblin Patrol) and creature removal (Arc Lightning), making his deck slightly less powerful than it could have been. Not only did it hurt Clarke's deck, but by taking creatures he had no intention of using, Rossetti also weakened his own deck's potential. When asked if he had any advice to give to potential Rochester drafters, Clarke could only say, "Don't hate draft."