Gen Con Winners Roundtable

Posted in The Week That Was on August 24, 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, 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.

The summer can be a little rough when you are in the tournament commentary and coverage game. The last Pro Tour ended on the first day of July and the last Grand Prix occurred the week before that. We had a brief respite with U.S. and U.K. Nationals getting some big-box coverage, but other than that it has been a pretty sparse schedule of events to report on in this column.

Well apparently tournaments are like buses...none come along for months and then eight come along at once. This past weekend saw $1,000 Constructed tournaments, multiple PTQs, several different Championship events, and a triple-digit Melee tournament all taking place at Gen Con. You can read about the events – and a whole bunch of other Wizards related stuff regarding Gleemax, Dreamblade, and Dungeons & Dragons – on the coverage page from the four-day weekend of gaming in Indianapolis. It also provided me the perfect opportunity to bring back the roundtable format for this week as I caught up with seven different winners from the weekend.

Here are the participants:

Stephen MenendianName: Stephen Menendian
Age: 27
Occupation: Attorney
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favorite movie: Citizen Kane and basically any David Lean film (Doctor Zhivago, Laurence of Arabia, Gandhi, etc). I know it's a cliché, but I consider Kane the quintessential American story—a man who could have been something great had he not been corrupted by influence of money.
Favorite Magic Card: Moat and Lion's Eye Diamond
Favorite deck of all time: The Deck
Previous Magic Accomplishments: Nearly a dozen SCG P9 Top8s. I've won thousands of dollars in "Power" (i.e. Moxen, etc), over the years. Most recently, I got 21st at Grand Prix–Columbus in a field of nearly 900. I've been writing for SCG for five years. Perhaps the accomplishment I'm most proud of is bringing Type Four to the Magic community.

Name: Brandon Scheel
Age: 23
Occupation: Student/Pizza Delivery
Hometown: Ames, Iowa
Favorite book: My opponents
Favorite movie: Gladiator
Favorite Magic Card: Mindslaver
Favorite deck of all time: Turboland
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 11th at Pro Tour–Charleston, 11th at Nationals 2006.

Sam BlackName: Sam Black
Age: 25
Occupation: Game store owner
Hometown: Madison, WI
Favorite deck of all time: 1x Birds (the Chord of Calling deck I won 2006 Midwest Regionals with)
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 2006 Midwest Regionals winner, Top 32 Grand Prix–Saint Louis, Qualified for Pro Tour–Honolulu, Day 2 at Pro Tour–Kobe, Geneva, and San Diego. Qualified for all of those through PTQs

Name: Matt Hansen, a.k.a Cheeks
Age: 19
Occupation: None really, starting college on the 27th
Hometown: Ames, Iowa
Favorite book: Haven't read a book in forever, but I guess Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Favorite movie: Rounders or Pulp Fiction
Favorite Magic Card: Tooth and Nail
Favorite deck of all time: Tooth and Nail
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 10th at Grand Prix–St. Louis
12th at Pro Tour–Charleston

Name: Kyle Boggemes
Age: 18
Occupation: Student at Oakland University
Hometown: Waterford, MI
Favorite Magic Card: Remand
Favorite Deck: MBC (odyssey block)
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 2005-2006 Constructed State Champion, 5 JSS Top 8s; 5 GPT Top 8s, 7 PTQ Top 8s, Legacy Championship Top 8, Day Two Pro Tour–Charleston

Peter OlszewskiName: Peter Olszewski
Age: 28
Occupation: Graduate Student + MCAT/DAT/SAT Instructor
Hometown: Toronto, CA
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 3 Top 4 finishes and 1 Top 8 finish at
Starcitygames Power 9 events in the last 2 years. Other than those events much of my tourney success has been at a local level.

Name: Owen Turtenwald
Age: 18
Occupation: Unemployed
Hometown: Milwaukee Wisconsin
Favorite movie: Anchorman
Favorite Magic Card: Tarmogoyf
Favorite deck of all time: Goblins =)
Previous Magic Accomplishments: 1 GP T8, 10+ PTQ T8s

TWTW: Why did you go to Gen Con and how many times have you been before?

Brandon: I went to play Magic for four days and to hang out with friends. It was my first Gen Con. I also went because Gerry Thompson invited us to stay at his place, which was only 20 minutes away from the convention center.

Stephen: To compete in the Eternal events. This is my fourth Gen Con experience.

Sam: I've been every year since 1994 except for the first year it was in Indy. I go every year because I like the con, but this year I was also there for the Dreamblade 50K, [staying] in the hotel room Wizards provided me for being the highest ranked Dreamblade player.

Peter: I went once previously in 2004. I decided to make this trip to get away from work, which was getting quite taxing and I needed a vacation. Plus, this was a chance to reconnect with some of my friends and acquaintances that I hadn't seen or spoken to in many months.

Owen: I went for Legacy Worlds and Time Spiral Block Championships, and I've been four times before.

Matt: I went to Gen Con because I knew there were going to be two PTQs there and Gerry Thompson said my friends and I could stay at his house. This was my first Gen Con.

Kyle: I went to Gen Con because there were two PTQs and a bunch of my friends from out of state were going to be there. I have gone the past three years.

TWTW: How would you describe going to Gen Con to someone who has never been there before?

Owen: Non-stop gaming! Tournaments for every skill level at every hour of the night.

Kyle: It's the best four days in gaming!

Matt: It was a blast. Tons of tournaments, lots of stuff to do, a million gamers.

Peter: I can't say—I wasn't there for the convention, and had little interest in any events beyond the Legacy and Vintage Champs and Prelims.

Sam: There are a ton of people and you can play basically any game in a casual or competitive setting 24 hours a day.

Brandon: It's a chance to fully immerse yourself in the games you enjoy.

Stephen: The biggest and most spectacular gaming convention in the world.

TWTW: What event did you win and what deck did you play?

Stephen: The Vintage World Championships. I played GroAtog.

Steve Menendian -- GAT

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Sam: TSP Champs, Gerry's deck with Blessings instead of Takes basically... so we'll call it "Bless GerryT."

Sam Black

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Peter: I won the Legacy Champs event with blue-green Threshold, a deck designed by Lam Phan, my teammate.

Peter Olszewski -- Threshold

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Brandon: I split with Owen Turtenwald in the finals of the 1K Time Spiral Limited tournament. Top 8 was TPF draft. Owen the enchanter was directly passing to me from the right. I went into slivers with a third-pick Telekinetic Sliver and a fourth-pick Watcher Sliver. I also was able to deal 10 points of damage with Shadow Sliver in the Top 4.

Matt: I won the first Valencia PTQ. I had been playing Teachings control the whole season and had Top 8'd three out of three PTQs but I just didn't like it very much and decided to switch to monoblue after talking to Owen Turtenwald the night before.

Matt Hansen

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Kyle: I won the second PTQ for Valencia with a Teachings deck that DJ Kastner got second with the night before.

Kyle Boggemes

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Owen: I won the Extended 1k and I played a red deck of my own creation: "Chocolate Rain."

Owen Turtenwald -- Chocolate Rain

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TWTW: Why did you choose to play in that particular tournament and how much prep did you put in before the event?

Peter: I originally had no intention of playing as my interest lies primarily in Vintage, but was convinced to play by my teammates Lam Phan and Richard Mattiuzzo. I had a preconception that Legacy was a boring format controlled by two archetypes (Goblins and Threshold), but I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity and by how exciting Legacy is right now post Flash banning and the printing of Tarmogoyf.

I put in no hours of preparation for either the Vintage or Legacy events, as I had little time to prepare. Fortunately, I received some valuable advice from Lam on how to most effectively play the deck, and I used the prelims (where I went 3-2 before scooping in round 6) as an opportunity to prepare for the Championship. I was also influenced by my match against Chris Coppola in the prelims, who demonstrated the effectiveness of the
Counterbalance + Sensei's Divining Top combination in the Threshold mirror. Lam and I decided to incorporate this combo into our sideboards for the Championship event, and it was definitely instrumental in winning a significant number of matches. In fact, I rarely needed anything else out of the sideboard in almost every match that I played.

Kyle: I played in the PTQ because I wanted a plane ticket to Valencia and to play on the Pro Tour. I practiced Block Constructed by playing numerous Magic Online premier events, seven PTQs, and many hours of games in practice rooms.

Sam: It was the most profitable tournament in its time slot. I've been playing PTQs every week, and been playing only this deck since the Kentucky Open.

Matt: I chose to play in the PTQ because I wasn't qualified for Valencia yet. I didn't put in much prep before that specific event, but I did a lot of testing throughout the season and felt like I had a good handle on the format.

Owen: It was $1,000 in prizes and seemed like good practice for the upcoming Pro Tour–Valencia. A few weeks of casual playtesting on Magic Online.

Brandon: I love playing Limited. I've played in many sealed tournaments with Time Spiral and I draft online.

Stephen: The DCI unrestricted Gush, which made this previously banned deck a metagame competitor. A decent amount of testing and local tournaments.

TWTW: How many other events did you have a chance to participate in? Did you come close to winning/win anything else?

Brandon: I got 11th in the Legacy Champs playing a TurboLoam deck that Gerry Thompson loaned me. I lost in the Top 4 of the Extended 1K tournament playing TEPS—a deck that I hadn't played much since last Extended season when I stormed into a PTQ win.

Stephen: I played in only two other events: the Thursday four-round Vintage tournament and the Friday night Vintage Preliminary tournament (55 players). I won the Prelim tournament and went 3-1 in the Thursday event.

Sam: I 3-2/dropped the PTQ and finished in an extremely disappointing top 32 in the Dreamblade 50K.

Peter: 3-0-1 in the Vintage side event on Thursday with WGDX; 3-3 Legacy Prelims with blue-green Threshold; 3-3-2 Vintage Champs with Gush-Tog.

Matt: I played in the Time Spiral Block Championship the night before the PTQ and went 3-2-1 which was kinda what made me switch decks. Then on Saturday night I played in the 1K Extended Tournament, I messed up in sideboarding in the round playing for Top 8 and lost.

Kyle: I played both PTQs and the Time Spiral Block Championship. I went x-2 drop in all of the other tournaments.

Owen: I played in four events: Time Spiral Championship where I lost in the first round of Top 8; Legacy Championship where I dropped at 4-2; the Sealed $1K where I split in the finals; and the Extended $1K where I finished first.

TWTW: Was there a key play or decision that your victory hinged on and can you describe it?

Stephen: In the final game of the final match, Rich Shay tried to provoke a counterwar over my Fastbond. I let him counter it despite having a Force of Will in hand. He topdecked Yawgmoth's Will and my Force ensured that I won the game.

Owen: There wasn't any one particular decision I made that won me the tournament but I played a red deck so there was a decision to be made on every turn.

Peter: My key play of the event came in the first game of the finals against Ryan Trepanier, playing "43 land" (with 42 lands). I did not like my chances pre-sideboard, as Ryan has a lot of stoppers (man-lands, Maze of Ith, Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, and Wasteland) and recursive ability (Life from the Loam).

Nimble Mongoose
Ryan got off to a fast start with his Loam recursion and a Maze of Ith, which was quickly joined by a Tabernacle. The key play was when I avoided Stifling a Wasteland on my Tropical Island when very low on lands in play; because that Stifle needed to be saved for an event that transpired 4-5 turns later. I had two Mongeese in play that were dealing damage past the Maze of Ith, and they were supported by two unwasteable Islands against the Tabernacle. The problem cards were Ryan's man-lands that he eventually played to stop the damage, but a Mongoose managed to devour a key Mishra's Factory with the assistance of a Stifle that I saved earlier, which was used to prevent the Factory from inflating itself to a 3/3 and kill the Mongoose.

I still needed a top-deck to punch through Ryan's last line of defense (a Treetop Village and Nantuko Monastery, only one of which could be activated), although I had five outs (two Stifle, two Wasteland, and one Snapback). I managed to draw the Snapback to bounce the man-land once it was activated and punch through a Mongoose for the win. I believe that I did everything in my power in that game to maximize my chances, even though the odds were very much against me and the situation looked quite hopeless in Game 1.

Kyle: Playing around Take Possession by transmuting for Urza's Factory instead of Academy Ruins, then playing the Ruins once the Take Possession was played. In a few turns, my opponent scooped to the Triskelavus recursion.

Matt: Unfortunately I can't really think of a really awesome play that I made. I mainly just played tight and capitalized on my opponents' mistakes throughout the tournament.

Sam: I decided it would be a good idea to draw running outs against white weenie in the Top 4 when I was at two and he had two guys. First Consideration into Damnation. Then he played two more guys and I drew Teachings to get Tendrils.

Brandon: I could have done better in the two Legacy matches I lost if I played Engineered Explosives over Swords to Plowshares like Gerry told me to.

TWTW: What did you win for your efforts and how do you plan on using your prize?

Brandon: $625 minus splits, 24 Boosters of TPF, 1 Kamahl deck box, 1 2HG stocking cap, 1 Italian Legends booster, 1 Italian Revised booster, 1 Revised starter, 1 foil
promo Reya Dawnbringer, 6 10th edition booster packs, 1 Kamahl life counter, 1 collectors Akroma card binder, and a swag bag.

Spending the money on Valencia and hopefully Worlds.

Stephen: Mox Jet painting by Volkan Baga. It is on the market!

Sam: Four foil sets of Time Spiral (with Timeshifted cards) and Planar Chaos. Not Future Sight, as I split the finals. Already sold it. No special plans for the money.

Peter: I won three oversized cards ("Legacy staples": Force of Will, Goblin Warchief, and Bloodstained Mire). I also picked up some booster packs as prizes.

Unfortunately, all of the prizes had to be sold off because it was entirely unfeasible to transport such prizes in a van crammed with 6 people taking a nine-hour trip. I must say that I am very disappointed by the prize support for an event touted as the Legacy World Championships. While I played primarily for the enjoyment, it would have been nice to receive, for instance, commemorative cards for the event that could actually be used in decks.

Matt: A trip to Pro Tour–Valencia. I plan on attending the Pro Tour and hopefully Top 32ing so I can go to Worlds too!

Kyle: I won a plane ticket to Valencia, an invite to Pro Tour–Valencia, a box of draft sets and a Top 8 pin. I am going to go to take a week off from school and go to Spain.

Owen: I won $500 in the Extended 1K and $375 in the Sealed 1K. I plan on using the money I won to get a plane ticket to Valencia.

TWTW: When did you start playing Magic and how did you get started with the game?

Stephen: When I was in middle school. I went to a summer camp, probably the summer of my 7th or 8th grade year (1993?), and a kid there had a starter deck that had Juggernaut. He taught me to play and I played it until I quit my sophomore year of high school due to the phasing out of Type 1 (the creation of Type 2). My last tournament was the Alliances prerelease. I got back into Magic in late 2000.

Brandon: Started playing casually with Tempest. Started drafting at card shops with Odyssey.

Sam: 1994, taught by a friend.

Icy Manipulator
Peter: I started playing in 1994 with my cousin who was visiting from Germany and we wanted to find a game to play. I saw a Duelist by chance and saw a picture of a Beta Icy Manipulator, which I thought looked amazing, so I decided to try out MTG.

Matt: I started playing in Legions and basically jumped right into tournaments, I never really played casually. My friend Aakash Sethe showed me the game.

Kyle: I started playing Magic in 1998, my cousin taught me.

Owen: I've been playing Magic for six years and got start through a friend at a local game store.

2007 Magic Invitational: The Field is Set

Congratulations to Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa as the Fan Favorite for this year's Magic Invitational at Spiel in Essen. Paulo was a runaway winner but the battle for the second and third positions was quite tight between Olivier Ruel, Craig Jones, and Andre Coimbra. That battle could be pretty relevant if the rumors that World Champion Makahito Mihara cannot attend turn out to be accurate.

The R&D slot went to none other than the newly crowned Vintage Champion Stephen Menendian. Aaron Forsythe has more on the selection in his column.

South African Nationals: Bad Moon Rising

Are you looking for something for Standard that is both aggressive and not Gruul? How about giving South African National Champion Seraj Haroun's monoblack beatdown machine a try? Seraj barreled his deck through a Gruul build in the quarterfinals, a black-white Rack deck in the semis, and Blink deck in the finals. Joining Seraj on the team are John Wood, David Hofmeyer, and Werner Cloete all playing distinctly different decks.

If you are more of a combo sort you should check out the deck played by Cloete. If Werner's name seems familiar to you, it is because he was one of the players who forged Hatori Hanzo Tron at Worlds a couple of years back. Werner was playing the Aussie Storm deck that uses Pyromancer's Swath to power up lethal Grapeshots. We have seen tournament-quality decks with Dragonstorm, Ignite Memories, Empty the Warrens, and now Grapeshot—can the tournament debut of Ground Rift be far behind?

Seraj Haroun, First Place

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John Wood, Second Place

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David Hofmeyer, Third Place

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Werner Cloete, Fourth Place

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Michael Redford, Fifth Place

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Christof Kuun, Sixth Place

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Kayolan Petkov, Seventh Place

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Dale Fienberg, Eighth Place

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Sideboard (15)