The Eternals

Posted in The Week That Was on August 31, 2007

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

This week takes me to Japan’s National Championship, and with that all the complexities of traveling halfway around the world. Rather than tussle with my normal deadline and the International Date Line (a fight I’m bound to lose), I am turning over the reins this week to Bill Stark for his recap of the Legacy and Vintage Championships from two weeks ago.

Before handing things off, there are a couple of Nationals results that have been shipped my way since last week’s column that I wanted to make sure got some time in the spotlight.

At New Zealand’s National Championship, there were four different decks in the top four spots. Kerel Laycock won the captaincy playing a Gruul deck that bore more than a passing resemblance to the winning decklist from the MSS Championships a few weeks ago. Depending on which section of James White’s second-place deck you look at, you could think you were seeing several different decks ranging from Perilous Storm to Gruul to black-white control. The remaining spots were earned by Andrew Pilston with Blink Touch and Douglas Wilson with Dredge. Click here for the Top 8 decklists.

If you want to see the decklists from Philippines Nationals you can find the lists here with three different archetypes getting their pilots berths at Nationals. A Tarmogoyf/Rack list took the top honor in the hands of Jose Marie Sabale. The next two spots went to Jason Ascalon and Mark Baeyens playing AngelFire. The final spot went to Mark Herrin playing OmniChord. Good luck at Worlds, guys!

If you are looking for some more cutting-edge Standard technology, keep your browser aimed squarely at the Tournament Center all weekend long. I will be doing live coverage from Japanese Nationals while Hanno Terbuyken will be manning the internet connection from German Nationals. But that’s more than enough Standard for today...take it away Bill!

 

Team Spirit Dominates Legacy, Vintage Championships

By Bill Stark


Gen Con was a smashing success this year and the wealth of attendance at Magic events certainly goes a long way toward demonstrating the truth of that statement. Two of the more popular events (which have perhaps the most relevancy to their respective formats) were the annual Legacy and Vintage Championships. Vintage, with its active community and resurgence in popularity over the past few years, doesn’t have many premier-level opportunities to shine throughout the year, which means the Championship serves to highlight some of the Vintage community’s biggest stars. Legacy, on the other hand, benefits from the occasional Grand Prix and has even become a Pro Tour format when it was announced it would be one of three individual formats at Worlds this year.

Legacy Championship: Finding the Threshold

Team Supreme left-right: Marc Sims, James Harris, Ryan Trepanier, Steve Conway, Marty Birthelmer.The Top 8 of the Gen Con Legacy Championship was all about two things: the rise of Threshold in a post-Flash world and the wealth of Canadian players who took up most of the single-elimination slots. In particular, a group of Ontario players calling themselves “Team Supreme” made up an inordinately high percentage of the players playing for the title of champion. One of the team’s most outspoken members, Ryan Trepanier, took the time to answer a few questions about the exploits of the Team.

You might recognize Trepanier’s name from the Grand Prix–Columbus Top 8 class where he played Flash Hulk. Officially the team consists of Marty Birthelmer, James Harris, Steve Conway, Marc Sims, and Trepanier himself and of the five, three managed to find themselves seated during the Legacy Top 8 (Birthelmer, Trepanier, and Conway).

LEGACY DECKLISTS
A breakdown of the top 32 decks played at the 2007 Legacy Championship:
Threshold 9
Goblins 4
Cephalid Breakfast 3
Landstill 3
Aggro Loam 2
Iggy Pop 2
Charbelcher/Iggy Pop 1
Charbelcher 1
43Land 1
Lion's Eye Ichorid 1
Blue-white-green 1
The Hunted 1
Aluren 1
Stifle Naught 1
Blue-green (splash white-red) 1
For complete decklists from the Top 32, click here.

So how did the team get started? “Team Supreme is the brainchild of both Marc Sims and Steve Conway,” Trepanier said. “More or less it was just a really fun thing to do, to create a Vintage team. We all loved the format and usually faired pretty well at most tournaments. It just seemed to make sense to unite as a team.”

“While it seems our team was formed as a group of friends who all enjoyed the Supremes, I still hold firm that Marc and Steve really wanted a good reason to wear Diana Ross t-shirts to Vintage events,” Trepanier added.

But do the members of Team Supreme only focus on the Vintage and Legacy formats?

“Honestly I don’t consider myself a Vintage/Legacy player.” Ryan said. “My first and foremost priority is the PTQ format. Marty Birthelmer is also a fellow PTQ player. Marc Sims and James Harris strictly play Vintage (I believe Gen Con was Marc’s first Legacy tournament). Steve is about the exact opposite of me...primarily a Vintage/Legacy player.”

That label certainly seems accurate as Conway was the only player at Gen Con this year to achieve the rare back-to-back Top 8 in the Legacy Championship on Friday and again at the Vintage Championship on Saturday. He fell during the quarterfinals of both events but his performances add credence to Team Supreme’s prowess of the game’s oldest formats.

Legacy Championship Top 8 Profiles

Name: James King
Age: 23

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Occupation: Artist/Contracting

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 6

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 2

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
Joining Team ICBM.

What deck are you playing and why?
I'm playing Jeff Rabovsky's Threshold list because it is AMAZING. I like to make it rain, and this deck facilitates that.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Force of Will. It is the nuts in every format and is the only thing that keeps things in check. Tarmogoyf. is a close second. That card let Threshold run a-train on Goblins.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Mine, obv.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Owen Turtenwald is my hookup on the sweet list. Jeff Rabovsky helped coach me and make a sideboard. Alex Groh tested the combo match with me almost infinite and ICBM always is there for help with my play and lists. I watched a lot of sports (Cubs suck and the Bears suck. Go Brewers!).

James King, Threshold

 

Name: Marty Birthelmer
Age: 21
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Occupation: Student/Super Cool Dude

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 1

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 0

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments: PTQ and JSS wins

What deck are you playing and why?
4 Color Landstill. It beats everything and loses to everything on bad land draws.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Aether Vial or Brainstorm with a fetchland out.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Ryan Trepanier's. It's my only auto-loss apparently. He's a sack.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Mild testing with Team Supreme.

(Shout out to TEAM SUPREME!)

Marty Birthelmer, Landstill

 

Name: David Caplan
Age: 19
Hometown: Toronto

Occupation: Student/IT Technician

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: This is my first

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 0

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: Day 2 at Grand Prix-Columbus with the same deck.

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: None.

Other previous Magic accomplishments: None.

What deck are you playing and why?
Ugr Thrash because I am comfortable with it.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Tarmogoyf/Brainstorm

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
It is too diverse to tell.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Lam Phan, Grand Prix–Philadelphia Top 8er, helped me build. I prepared with a nice 8 hour drive overnight.

David Caplan, Threshold

 

Name: Ryan Trepanier
Age: 19
Hometown: Hammer Town, Ontario

Occupation: Professional Loudmouth Extroardinaire/Student/Idiot

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 1

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 1st

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 1 Pro Tour, 2 Grand Prix Day 2s

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 1 (Grand Prix-Columbus)

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
2004 Provincial Champion, joining "Team Supreme"

What deck are you playing and why?
43Land.dec. Not only is the deck ridiculously fun to play, but it has a favorable aggro, control/aggro matchup. Also, I wanted to prove that I can do well with a deck OTHER than Flash.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Brainstorm. However, it is such a skill-testing card that half the time it is played incorrectly.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Threshold. It has all the best cards in the format and can put on a fast clock with great disruption.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
No preparation whatsoever. I picked a deck, got opinions from good players, and came to my final build. My team, "Team Supreme," helped out as much as they could, but no one knows too much about 43 Land.

Ryan Trepanier, 43Land

 

Name: Ernest Turck
Age: 23
Hometown: Rootstown

Occupation: Cook

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 2

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 2

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments: N/A

What deck are you playing and why?
Lion's Eye Ichorid because I didn't think people would expect it and because Joe George handed it to me.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Tarmogoyf

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Anything that uses the yard.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
I just kinda walked through the door. A friend said "play this" and I said "ok."

Ernest Turck, Lion's Eye Ichorid

Name: Jesse Hatfield
Age: 17
Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA

Occupation: N/A

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 2

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 2

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
Occasional success at various Legacy tournaments such as Starcitygames Duel for Duals and Mana Leak Open.

What deck are you playing and why?
Cephalid Breakfast because it is a two-card combo that wins the game for three mana and fits in a synergistic shell that can consistently assemble and protect it.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Probably Brainstorm, but many powerful cards like Force of Will and now Tarmogoyf might come close.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Cephalid Breakfast if unprepared for. Threshold is also amazing (personally I prefer UGR).

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Most of my testing is with dedicated Legacy players at the Lucky Frog in Annandale, VA.

Jesse Hatfield, Cephalid Breakfast

Stregoneria (7)
1 Dread Return 2 Cabal Therapy 4 Portent
Incantesimo (1)
1 Dragon Breath
ALTRI (4)
4 Aether Vial
60 Carte
 

Name: Peter Olszewski
Age: 28
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Occupation: Grad Student/Instructor

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 2

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 2

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments: None

What deck are you playing and why?
U/G Threshold. It's Lam Phan's creation and he told me to go with it. It seemed to work out well!

What card is the most powerful in the format?
I don't know what 80% of the cards do. I don't know what else to say except James Horris asked me to include his name.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
I have no clue – it seems a number of archetypes could be considered most powerful. Threshold seems to be quite powerful and consistent.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
No preparation – all credit goes to Lam Pham and Rich Mattiuzzo for their suggestions and help at the event. I came primarily to play Vintage, but was convinced to try the Legacy event. I had to read Serum Visions and Mental Note when I played them. : )

Peter Olszewski, Threshold

 

Name: Steve Conway
Age: 24
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Occupation: Feng Shui Consultant

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 1st time attending

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 1st time attending

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: Never played in one

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: None

Other previous Magic accomplishments: I've won some multiplayer games

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Islands

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Threshold

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
I didn't prepare at all.

Steve Conway, Threshold

 

Still, despite taking up so many slots in the Top 8 it was a second group of Canadian players who managed to walk away with the Legacy Championship title in tow. Relative unknown Peter Olszewski from Toronto took home the trophy but admitted being familiar with the guys from Team Supreme. “We all know each other, we’re all friends. We [Peter’s team] don’t work with them, but we see them all the time at events.”

Teamwork is apparently an important aspect of playing Magic in Canada and Olszewski gave all the credit for his Threshold deck to teammate Lam Phan. Phan, the diminutive Grand Prix-Philadelphia Top 8er, is a well-known name within the Vintage and Legacy communities. Going into the tournament Peter had had some specific thoughts on the potential metagame, saying that he thought the format would reset to Threshold/Goblins archetypes after the Flash banning.

Phan believes the Divining Top/Counterbalance combination has become the key to Threshold decks.

While Goblins didn’t see as much play as many had expected, there was plenty of Threshold. “Our particular build of Threshold was supposed to have an edge against the mirror, and I felt that,” Olszewski said. He explained the advantage comes from their sideboard “consisting of Counterbalance and Divining Top, that we have four Wasteland, and that we don’t splash for a removal color that’s mostly dead in the mirror. I didn’t lose a mirror match at the event.”

Lam added his thoughts on how important the Counterbalance/Divining Top combo will be in the future: “Top/CB will be in all winning Threshold decks. Games two and three will just be a race to see who gets their combo down first.”

That wasn’t the only card which made a difference, however. Said Phan “Tarmogoyf completely pushes Threshold over the top. I can now go ‘aggro’ against Goblins and if enough pressure is applied early gobbos must start blocking and can’t mount a counter attack. I strongly believe that ‘Goyf is here to stay.”

It was Phan who had come to that conclusion for his “team” (which includes Olszewski and Rich Mattiuzzo, who Top 8ed the Vintage Championship this year), and Peter couldn’t overstate the importance of his teammates’ efforts in his success. “[My deck choice] was entirely based on what my teammates had suggested to me. They told me what kind of stuff I could expect to face.”

The respect was mutual and Phan described Olszewski by saying “Peter is our resident genius. He’ll take our results and decks and just win.” That statement seems accurate when one considers Peter admitted he had done no testing for the Legacy tournament.

Vintage Championship: Masters at Work

Shifting to Vintage, our focus moves from the dominance of Canada to an all-American finals—and what a finals it was! Vintage standouts Rich Shay and Steve Menendian were the two players in the Top 8 playing Gro-A-Tog (GAT) and after hard-fought quarterfinal and semifinal matches they found themselves staring each other down for the title of champion. What did they think about playing one another?

“Exhilaration,” said Menendian. “I have the utmost respect for Rich. Playing Rich in the finals was surreal; He is a phenomenally successful Vintage player.”

Rich echoed similar sentiments saying “Steve is an excellent player and I am glad to have had him as my opponent in the finals of Vintage [Championship]. Before the match I told him that I hoped for three close games, regardless of the winner. I consider Steve a friend and am happy to see that he did well.”

Vintage Championship Top 8 Profiles

Name: Alex Franson
Age: 19
Hometown: Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Occupation: Student/unemployed

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 6

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 1

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments: 5 Color Worlds Top 8, twice

What deck are you playing and why?
GWS Pitch Long with my own special twist...

What card is the most powerful in the format?
I would have to say Black Lotus because it won me the most games.

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
The one I'm playing.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
I looked up a decklist at 3 a.m. this morning with a cell phone. I didn't play a single game with the deck until Round 1.

Alex Franson, GWS Pitch Long

 

Name: Rich Shay
Age: 26
Hometown: Norwood, Massachusetts

Occupation: Grad Student in Computer Science at Purdue

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 3

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 3 each

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: About 3 Pro Tours, 3 Nationals, 3 Grand Prix Day 2.

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: None

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
Rhode Island state champion, won Waterbury, 20th at Grand Prix–Philadelphia, around 12th at Grand Prix–New Jersey.

What deck are you playing and why?
Gro-a-Tog (GAT): It is consistent and powerful. It is strong against everything from degenerate combo to aggro. I am very happy Gush is unrestricted—it keeps the format safer from combo.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Black Lotus

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Flash has the most raw power. GAT is, I think, the best deck.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Thanks to my teammates on Reflection for all their help preparing. New England has a wonderful Type 1 scene and I was fortunate to have played the format at many events this summer. The New England Vintage scene has great players, too numerous to name. Much thanks everyone.

Richard Shay, GAT

 

Name: Nick Calcaterra
Age: 18
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Occupation: Freshman in college

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 1st time

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 1st time

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments: Top 16 Regionals

What deck are you playing and why?
Ichorid. The deck plays no power and was cheap to build. Although Leyline was probably a 4-of in 90 percent of the decks, it didn't scare me from playing it. However, it did scare everyone else so that loosened the pressure on Ichorid.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Black Lotus - OBV

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Flash – Fast, easy to play, and hard to disrupt. Being able to back up a turn 1 win with double counter backup is ridiculous.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
I goldfished a couple of times and went to a couple of tournies. My friends at Team Ogre playtested with me a bit, and then made fun of me for picking a virtually suicide choice.

Nick Calcaterra, Ichorid

 

Name: Ray Robillard
Age: 26
Hometown: Waterbury, Connecticut

Occupation: Math Teacher/Department Head

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 4

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 4

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 1

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: 0

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
Tournament Organizer of TMD and TML Open (Waterbury) Tournaments

What deck are you playing and why?
Staxless Stax. I have played this deck religiously since I created it two years ago. It is the best Workshop-based deck in Vintage.

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Jagged Poppet, obviously

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
Tie: Staxless Stax and The Mountains Win Again

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Playing in local events (Myriad Games, ELD's Mox events, Hadley, etc.). Playtesting with Team TPS.

Raymond Robillard, Staxless Stax

 

Name: Vincent Forino
Age: 30
Hometown: New York

Occupation: International Real Estate Agent

Number of Times Attending Gen Con: 2

Number of Times Playing Vintage and/or Legacy Championships: 2

Number of Times Playing on the Pro Tour/Nationals/Grand Prix Day 2: 0 (never entered a Pro Tour)

Number of GP/PT Top 8s: I only play Vintage

Other previous Magic accomplishments:
Top 16 about every Vintage event I've been to. Second place in a 700 person tournament 10+ years ago.

What deck are you playing and why?
FSB: Forino Sui Black or as Josh Meckes likes to call it "Ghetto Storm."

What card is the most powerful in the format?
Black Lotus

What deck is the most powerful in the format?
No one deck is best; as for most powerful probably Flash.

How did you prepare for the event? Who did you prepare with?
Praying – to God goes all the glory. I also played with my NY crew: Roland, Raffaele F. Josh Meckes.

Vincent Forino, Suicide Black