A lot of variables go into a draft. There are the cards you open, the draft strategies of the players at your table, the decks you get paired against, the parts of your deck you see too often or not enough, and a million other minutiae.
It takes talent, perseverance, skill, and a little bit of luck to win a draft. Even more so to win two drafts back-to-back. Against 24 of the world's best players who have spent hours upon hours sculpting their pick orders and contemplating card evaluations, it could seem impossible.
Unless, of course, you're Hall of Famer William "Huey" Jensen, in which case it's all part of a World Championship performance that passed impressive, outstanding, and even incredible. Amazing doesn't even do it justice, but it'll have to do. After ten rounds of Magic against the best players in the world, Jensen was 10-0, and the only player with a perfect Limited record across both drafts.
On Day 2, Jensen didn't start out in the Black-Red Pirates deck he ended up with. The differences between his first two picks and where his draft ended up are a showcase in reading signals and staying flexible and open with your draft strategy. This was especially key in a format where finding the open tribe early can make a marked difference in the number of wins and losses.
Jensen began his draft with a Glorifier of Dusk, followed by an Emissary of Sunrise. While the two may have some personal differences, they're both flexible white cards that can fit into a few different decks.
Then, fourth pick, Jensen took a Headstrong Brute, a red three-mana 3/3 that's well suited to an aggressive, pirates-based strategy.
He followed it up with another Brute. And then another.
It's a card that works well in multiples, since they're all-in on being aggressive, and they give each other menace. In three picks, Jensen had completely morphed his draft. A few picks later he was firmly in red and beginning to pick up a few pirates in black as well.
Then, Pick 2 of Pack 2, Josh Utter-Leyton, who was drafting Red-White Dinosaurs, passed Jensen a Hostage Taker, one of the best, if not the very best, card in the set. With a few Dire Fleet Hoarders and a Drowned Catacombs he wheeled, Jensen didn't even need a basic Island in his deck to play the impressive rare.
"I had a lot of pirates and two copies of Fiery Cannonade," Jensen said, summing up his deck's strengths after the draft. "It's a really strong synergy of course, dealing 2 damage to all of your opponent's creatures. It wasn't as strong in my deck today as it's been in some of my other decks because two of my two-drops were vampires, so it killed those, but it's usually not hard to trade off a two-drop if you know you have Fiery Cannonades in your deck."
Speaking of those two-drop Vampires, Jensen's prioritization of a good curve led to some disciplined decisions in Pack 3.
William Jensen's draft deck featured a solid curve and one of the best rare cards in the set.
"I had to first-pick a Queen's Bay Soldier out of one of the packs, just for curve reasons, over a Deathless Ancient," Jensen said. "I ended up wheeling it and then not playing it, so I guess that pick worked out."
In Round 10, the last of the tournament's six draft rounds, Jensen faced off against Sam Black who, playing Green-White Dinosaurs, had drawn Round 9 with Brad Nelson only minutes before, when time ended on a Game 3 battlefield flooded with creatures and dice and few ways for either player to push through damage.
Black would have access to a lot of toughness on his side of the battlefield,
In Game 1, Jensen curved a Queen's Bay Soldier into a Headstrong Brute into a Dire Fleet Interloper. Black had established a board with a Territorial Hammerskull, considered by many players here to be one of the best commons in the set, and a few other Dinosaurs.
Jensen swept away Black's board with a pair of Fiery Cannonades. Black couldn't muster enough blockers to get in the way of Jensen's three attackers, two of which had menace, and over three turns they made short work of Black's life total.
Jensen was thoughtful with his side boarding decisions as the players prepared for Game 2. It's something players can overlook in a draft, preferring the powerful cards they chose for their main deck over the situationally good cards might be living in their sideboards.
Jensen brought in his Marauding Looter, a March of the Drowned, and a Demolish (Black had a Vanquisher's Banner in his deck), knowing that his less powerful creatures would potentially need the help of some card advantage.
On the play in Game 2, Black had more time to develop his board, and this time he was able to effectively dissuade Jensen from attacking a few turns into the game. When Black played a Bellowing Aegiosaur on a field where each player had seven or eight creatures apiece, Jensen's positioning on-board began to look dire.
Jensen's back was against the wall in Game 2 of his Round 10 match against Samuel Black.
An Atzocan Archer poked the dinosaur and put a counter on all of Black's creatures. A Pounce repeated the process, and took care of one of Jensen's creatures as well. Black was able to attack and put Jensen to four, though he lost a portion of his board in the process. The lost creatures meant he couldn't find another successful attack over the course of his next few turns.
Then, Jensen drew his Hostage Taker. In a single turn, he stole and cast Black's Bellowing Aegiosaur. Next turn, with one card left in his library, it was time to make an attack. Jensen swung in with a handful of creatures.
Two Fiery Cannonades enraged Jensen's Dinosaurs. Sun-Crowned Hunters dealt Black 6 damage, and Bellowing Aegiosaur put two counters on all of Jensen's creatures. Jensen mercilessly finished off the Aegiosaur with a Lightning Strike to put a third counter on everything and reduce Black's life total to 4.
The resulting series of plays from Jensen left with a board filled with super-sized creatures.
Facing more than lethal damage on the same turn that Jensen would draw his last card, Black scooped up what remained of his dinos.
At the end of Round 10, Jensen had widened his lead over the rest of the field yet again. While Jensen sat at 10-0, the next closest player, Josh Utter-Leyton, had a record of 7-3, while three more trailed at 6-4.
"I'm just stunned," he said after the rounds was over. "I don't know what to say."