Drafting with (22) William Jensen

Posted in Event Coverage on April 17, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Hall of Famer William "Huey" Jensen, currently ranked 22nd in the Top 25 Rankings, is widely considered to be one of the best Limited players of all time. Yesterday, he went 9-0 in the Sealed portion, which meant that he was in a prime position to add another Grand Prix Top 8 to his résumé if he could navigate the draft tables well.

Jensen didn't play professionally during the original Innistrad block, so this was his first professional-level event where each booster contained at least one double-faced card. Since this was a new experience for many of the players in Day 2, everyone found a sheet of paper on their draft table with instructions on how to handle double-faced cards (DFCs). At Professional Rules Enforcement Level, this piece of paper with guidelines read as follows:

1. Open and count to 14
2. Show DFCs
3. Cards go to a single pile. Last card always on top.
4. Looking at who picks DFCs is OK. Looking at players' hands is not. Eyes on your hand or on the table.
5. Cards in hand -> Very close to you
6. When the call is made to draft, you really need to draft
7. When laying out cards, make DFCs visible
8. There will be time to see cards layed out

Remember, you must not look at the cards in other players' hands!

Pack 1

At the start of the pack, everyone held up their double-faced cards for a few seconds for everyone to see. Jensen opened Thraben Gargoyle, and the player to his left opened Convicted Killer. The player directly to Jensen's right opened Skin Invasion and Westvale Abbey. The player to that player's right opened Daring Sleuth.

Pick Jensen's choice Other options
1 Goldnight Castigator Murderous Compulsion, Graf Mole, Thraben Gargoyle
2 Reckless Scholar Skin Invasion, Forgotten Creation, Puncturing Light
3 Byway Courier Uncaged Fury, Pieces of the Puzzle, Ghoulsteed
4 Howlpack Wolf Moorland Drifter, Solitary Hunter
5 Reduce to Ashes Dauntless Cathar, Malevolent Whispers
6 Gatstaf Arsonists Uncaged Fury, Bloodmad Vampire
7 Gatstaf Arsonists Uncaged Fury, Stoic Builder
8 Spiteful Motives Convicted Killer
9 Tormenting Voice Ember-Eye Wolf
10 Gibbering Fiend  
11 Ghoulsteed  
12 Vampire Noble  
13 Stromkirk Mentor  
14 Vessel of Malignity  

The very first pick of any draft is always exciting, and Jensen started the draft by taking Goldnight Castigator. "I don’t like that card very much, but I still thought it was the best card in the booster."

A crucial element not shown in the table of picks above are the selections of DFCs made by his neighbors: Jensen's right neighbor first-picked Westvale Abbey, passing the booster with Reckless Scholar as the best card to Jensen, and subsequently picked Daring Sleuth as his second card!

"I was surprised to see that he picked Daring Sleuth," Jensen told me after the draft. "In my mind, I ripped up Reckless Scholar after that." This shows wisdom on Jensen's part because it is almost always a bad idea to draft the same color as your right neighbor, as that player will have the better choice in two out of the three packs. However, being in the same color as your left neighbor is not that much of an issue, as that will only hamper your picks in one of the three packs.

With that in mind, the fact that Jensen's left neighbor took Skin Invasion third didn't bother him too much. The red cards kept coming from the right, and after the first booster, Jensen had a collection of eight playable red cards, along with a stray green and a stray blue card.

During the review period, I took a look at his neighbors' selections and saw that the player to his right was drafting green-blue and that the player to his left was nearly mono-red, with green or black as a possible second color.

Pack 2

During the review period, Jensen looked at his picks so far and rearranged his cards so that Gatstaf Arsonists was on top of his pile afterwards, visible to everyone. "I made sure this was legal by asking a judge before the draft, and I figured you might as well let your neighbors know what colors you are in," he explained.

Once the boosters were opened, everyone again held up the double-faced cards they opened. Jensen opened Autumnal Gloom, his left neighbor opened Convicted Killer, and his right neighbor opened Solitary Hunter. Three other players opened Solitary Hunter as well, which led to some chuckles around the table—maybe that guy is not so solitary after all.

Pick Jensen's choice Other relevant options
1 Reduce to Ashes Tormenting Voice, Nephalia Moondrakes, Stensia Masquerade
2 Ulrich's Kindred Dual Shot, Pyre Hound, Convicted Killer
3 Rabid Bite Solitary Hunter, Confront the Unknown, Ulvenwald Mysteries
4 Bloodmad Vampire Sleep Paralysis, Gloomwidow, Solitary Hunter
5 Silverfur Partisan Rush of Adrenaline, Quilled Wolf
6 Veteran Cathar Might Beyond Reason
7 Loam Dryad Watcher in the Web
8 Mad Prophet Equestrian Skill, Ember-Eye Wolf
9 Tormenting Voice Root Out
10 Convicted Killer  
11 Ulvenwald Mysteries  
12 Cryptolith Rite  
13 Ulvenwald Mysteries  
14 Equestrian Skill  

"I thought for a period of time that I could be mono-red, but the green cards I got were too good," Jensen told me. "If I target my Silverfur Partisan with Rabid Bite, I even get a free 2/2!" His pick of Ulrich's Kindred also matched his red-green werewolf theme perfectly.

Pack 3

Jensen again left Gatstaf Arsonists on top of his pile, and newly opened double-faced cards were revealed once more (nothing noteworthy this time around) before the players got to look at the front faces of the cards in their boosters.

Pick Jensen's choice Other relevant options
1 Gibbering Fiend Sanguinary Mage, Byway Courier, Explosive Apparatus
2 Rabid Bite Gibbering Fiend, Convicted Killer, Reduce to Ashes
3 Ulrich's Kindred Village Messenger, Tormenting Voice
4 Rabid Bite Reduce to Ashes, Convicted Killer
5 Falkenrath Gorger Dual Shot, Skeleton Key
6 Bloodmad Vampire Convicted Killer, Spiteful Motives
7 Uncaged Fury Watcher in the Web
8 Insolent Neonate Gatstaf Arsonists
9 Sanguinary Mage  
10 Convicted Killer  
11 Epitaph Golem  
12 Convicted Killer  
13 Dual Shot  
14 Grotesque Mutation  

"There were definitely some picks where I took a worse card just to fill out my curve," Jensen said. But that's just good drafting, as you want cards of different mana costs to be able to cast something impactful every turn.

Jensen registered the following 40 cards.

William Jensen's Red-Green Werewolves – Grand Prix Barcelona 2016 Draft #1

"It was a pretty straightforward draft and build," Jensen said. Although he had some werewolf-themed cards, there was no reason to go all-in on that, and since he already had plenty of alternative three-drops, all copies of Convicted Killer ended up in his sideboard.

Jensen's record with the deck was 2-1, which meant that he would go into the second draft with an impressive 11-1 record.

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