Coverage of Grand Prix Bilbao Day 2

Posted in Event Coverage on January 20, 2013

By Wizards of the Coast


Sunday, 9:35 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Tim Willoughby

With the field shortening from a fairly hefty number close to a thousand to a much more manageable 131, I have had a fun round or so of reading every decklist left in the tournament. Let's see how they shake out.

Jund 15%
Spirit Jund 11%
Kiki-Pod 8%
Splinter Twin 8%
UWR Flash 5%
Boom Bust Zoo 5%
Burn (with Bump in the Night) 5%
Past in Flames 5%
Scapeshift 5%
Zoo 5%
Infect 4%
Affinity 3%
Auras 3%
Gifts Ungiven 3%
Red/Green Tron 2%
Boom Bust Jund 2%
Doran/Junk 2%
Eggs 2%
GW Aggro 2%
Living End 2%
UW Midrange 2%
BW Tokens 1%
Esper Control 1%
Mystical Teachings 1%
Red deck wins 1%
UR Tron 1%
UW Tron 1%

So Jund is a fairly hefty part of the metagame, but we can see it is far from the only player. Once you factor together the different versions of Zoo, they come second, and it's worth potentially looking at Boom/Bust decks as being an archetype just as we do Jund or Zoo perhaps. For control and combo players there are plenty of options, and it will be instructive to see how these 131 decks turn into eight as we fast approach the knockout stages of the tournament here in Bilbao.

Sunday, 9:55 a.m. – Day One Undefeated Deck Lists

by Event Coverage Staff

Martin Scheinin, 9-0

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Manders Mitchell, 9-0

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Jeremy Dezani, 9-0

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Lukas Jaklovsky, 9-0

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Louis Deltour, 9-0

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Round 10 Feature Match – Elias Watsfeldt vs. Bernd Brendemuhl

by Tim Willoughby

Coming in to day two of Grand Prix Bilbao the field is now quite a bit smaller, with just a little over 10% of players still in contention for top eight. For the first round of Sunday's play, we have two players who just snuck in with a 7-2 record yesterday, but who have the calibre of results in the past to suggest that they can still make a run at the top eight. Elias Watsfeldt of Sweden has just come off a second place at Grand Prix Lisbon, and is now here in Spain playing red/blue Storm, the Modern combo deck favoured by the likes of Jon Finkel, which can sometimes simply ignore an opponent's plan and race. His opponent, Bernd Brendemuhl of Germany, led his country at the World Magic cup and is also a regular on the top tables of the European Grand Prix circuit.

Bernd won the roll, and was quick to show what he was up to, with a turn one Glistener Elf. Here was a combo deck that might be able to race the storm combo of the young Swede. Elias, before even playing a land fired off a Gitaxian Probe for the cost of two life. He saw two copies of Groundswell, Ichorclaw Myr, Overgrown Tomb and Abrupt Decay. This game would not be a good one for him...

Elias Watsfeldt

Two more copies of Gitaxian Probe followed, and a Thought Scour. Bernd, somewhat predictably, used his two copies of Groundswell the following turn to make Glistener Elf a 9/9, putting Watsfeldt just a single poison counter away from death.

Watsfeldt had little to fear from taking pain from using fetchlands for the likes of an untapped Steam Vents, but everything to fear from Brendemuhl's creatures. He cast a Grapeshot to kill off the Glistener Elf, buying at least a turn.

Brendemuhl reloaded with an Inkmoth Nexus and Ichorclaw Myr. Either one would be lethal, giving Watsfeldt pause for thought. He cast a Seething Song, followed by Manamorphose. Faithless Looting dug him a little deeper as his storm combo deck tried to go off on turn three. Pyretic Ritual further built Watsfeldt's mana, following which he cast Pyromancer Ascension, Pyretic Ritual and Thought Scour. He had three mana and an active Pyromancer Ascension, but was unable to get any further with his combo. Facing the final point of poison the following turn, Watsfeldt picked up his cards. It was on to game two.

Bernd Brendemuhl 1 – 0 Elias Watsfeldt

A turn one Gitaxian Probe from Watsfeldt showed him that he might have a tiny bit more time for the second game than the first. With Phyrexian Crusader, Abrupt Decay and Thoughtseize as Brendemuhl's main action, the German's poison plan was a little more controlling now that it was on the draw.

Bernd Brendemuhl

Brendemuhl's Thoughtseize saw Pyromancer Ascension, Manamorphose, Steam Vents, Lightning Bolt and two copies of Seething Song. He took the Manamorphose, as the one card drawing spell in Watsfeldt's hand. Pyromancer Ascension came down on turn two for Watsfeldt, while Brendemuhl had an Ichorclaw Myr who soon fell to a Lightning Bolt.

Phyrexian Crusader was not about to fall to lightning. If Watsfeldt was to get this infect creature off the board, he'd need a blue spell. Watsfeldt was content to bide his time, and lost one of three copies of Seething Song in hand to Thoughtseize, with no way to combo out. Brendemuhl, meanwhile, had his combo all ready. Knowing that he was safe to do so, Bernd cast first Might of Old Krosa, and then Vines of Vastwood with kicker on his 2/2, attacking in for 10 poison in one noxious hit.

Bernd Brendemuhl wins 2-0, advancing to 8-2 in the tournament.

Round 11 Feature Match – Valentin Mackl vs. Thomas Holzinger

by Tobi Henke

Valentin Mackl is an up-and-coming player from Austria with a number of Grand Prix day two finishes to his name. A little more than a year ago, the same could have been said for fellow Austrian Thomas Holzinger. Of course, he did go on to finish in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Avacyn's Restored and is now one of the elite few in the highest level of the Pro Players Club. Before the game the two friends lamented the unfairness of having to play each other. In all likelihood, one would now kick the other out of Top 8 contention.

Game 1

Mackl won the die-roll and started on a tapped Stomping Ground, while Holzinger had Forest and Glistener Elf. The Elf died to Lightning Bolt, but Holzinger had Noble Hierarch and Inkmoth Nexus to keep up the threat of sudden death by poison.

Valentin Mackl

Mackl took a Groundswell out of Holzinger's hand via Inquisition of Kozilek, leaving him with Might of Old Krosa as his only spell. Holzinger did keep a second Inkmoth Nexus, though, and that came down just in time to replace the first which died to a second Lightning Bolt.

Meanwhile Mackl was stuck on two lands. He cast a Tarmogoyf, but that was no help against the Inkmoth Nexus which flew in for six thanks to Might of Old Krosa and Noble Hierarch. Mackl summoned Lotus Cobra and went to eight poison counters, Holzinger played another flier in Plague Stinger. Mackl implored the top of his deck to "Come up with something good!" It didn't and that was that.

Valentin Mackl 0-1 Thomas Holzinger

Afterwards Holzinger summarized game one as such: "You see, he knew I was playing Infect, so he kept a hand with two of the all-important Lightning Bolts, but I knew he was playing Jund, so I kept a hand with two of the all-important Inkmoth Nexus."

Game 2

Mackl mulliganed to six, then led with Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing Noble Hierarch, Abrupt Decay, Misty Rainforest, Pendelhaven, Mutagenic Growth, Inkmoth Nexus and taking Gitaxian Probe. "So you can look at my hand, but I can't see yours?" Holzinger whined. In truth Mackl had kept a hand with his only spells being the Inquisition of Kozilek and a Tarmogoyf, and was reasonably afraid of what would happen if Holzinger knew as much.

Thomas Holzinger

Holzinger played Noble Hierarch followed by Inkmoth Nexus on his turn two, while Mackl dropped a 2/3 Tarmogoyf followed by Deathrite Shaman.

Now Pendelhaven, Noble Hierarch, Might of Old Krosa, and Inkmoth Nexus conspired to deliver the first seven poison counters, safe from potential Lightning Bolt interference because of Mutagenic Growth. Mackl checked his next draw ... and conceded.

Valentin Mackl 0-2 Thomas Holzinger

Mackl complained bitterly to the three Spellskites he had brought in, none of which showed. Meanwhile Holzinger revealed a pair of Sylvan Scryings he had sideboarded (along with Abrupt Decay) because "Inkmoth Nexus is just so good in this matchup."

Sunday, 12:22 a.m. – Talking with Daniel Royde, Kenny Öberg, and Elias Watsfeldt

by Tobi Henke

As it turns out, "Tell me something about Gatecrash," is not the best opening when you encounter a group of players who're feeling funny. "Well, it is the next set, you know," was Daniel Royde's reply. "I believe there are five guilds in it," Elias Watsfeldt chimed in, to which Kenny Öberg added: "And one of them is ... Selesnya, right?" Well wrong, at least that last bit.

But in all seriousness the players did of course have some opinions about the previewed cards from the upcoming set. "We're all looking forward to playing with Boros Charm," said Royde to general nods of agreement. "That card is amazing."

Left to right: Daniel Royde, Kenny Öberg, Elias Watsfeldt (with Matej Zatlkaj on photobombing duties)

Watsfeldt liked Obzedat, Ghost Council. "Especially with Restoration Angel. That's like Drain Life for a million. And it can't be killed by Supreme Verdict or other sorceries. A really strong card." Öberg was a little more skeptical. "Most cards seem very straightforward," he mused. "I still think Standard will in large part be shaped by Supreme Verdict and Thragtusk."

Royde added another idea to the mix: Huntmaster of the Fells, hardly a new card but potentially with a new trick up its opaque sleeve. "Huntmaster with bloodrush seems like it might be a thing. You get a spell-like effect without actually casting a spell, and then you can transform it," he explained.

Bloodrush clearly was the first of the new keywords on everyone's mind. "In the new Limited format, blocking may not be a very good strategy because of it," Öberg speculated, and Watsfeldt added, "It reminds me a lot of reinforce from Morningtide. As far as I recall you just couldn't block back then."

Round 12 Feature Match – Tiago Chan vs. Jonas Kostler

by Tim Willoughby

Invitational winner Tiago Chan of Portugal has had a surprisingly long Christmas break. He had intended to come to Portugal for Christmas, from China where he now lives. That trip got extended a little for Grand Prix Lisbon before Christmas, and once Tiago found out that there was a large contingent of Portuguese players hiring a bus to come to Bilbao, his trip ended up being a little longer still.

Playing blue/white/red flash, this is the first time that Chan has been able to play with the card that he designed for winning the Magic Invitational. That card, Snapcaster Mage, has become something of a powerhouse in more or less every format, and he's been able to leverage it to some success thus far here in Bilbao. Chan's opponent, Jonas Kostler was not a big player on the tournament scene when Chan was at the height of his success, but has since become one of the regular faces seen at the top tables here in Europe on the Grand Prix circuit.

Tiago Chan

Kostler won the roll, and led off with a Noble Hierarch, which was soon followed by Spellskite. Kostler's deck was Birthing Pod, with a vast variety of creatures for every situation which could be searched up as necessary. The deck has received a shot in the arm from being able to include the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker / Deceiver Exarch combo, which it can search up with surprising consistency, while also having the option of more directly attacking.

While Kostler had a Wall of Omens, Chan's deck was slow to start playing spells, simply developing its mana base, and keeping that mana up to stop any big threats from the German player. Kostler seemed happy to wait. He had another Wall of Omens and another Noble Hierarch, but wasn't about to start throwing down combo pieces. At end of turn, Tiago used Electrolyze, split between Spellskite and Noble Hierarch, such that Kostler couldn't redirect damage away from his mana creature. Chan then passed the turn, holding up mana ready for a Remand on Birthing Pod.

Celestial Colonnade

Chan used Izzet Charm to dig a little for action, but was content to keep up mana in Kostler's turn to stop whatever was coming next. Kostler cast Birthing Pod a second time, and lost it to Cryptic Command. This did leave a window for Kostler to resolve a Restoration Angel, but life totals even after the angel got its first attack in were even at 13 apiece, thanks to damage Kostler had taken from fetchlands and phyrexian mana.

Chan played an end of turn Restoration Angel of his own. He used Path to Exile targeting Kostler's angel, and the German sank into thought, working out if now was the time for his Spellskite to jump under a bus or not. In the end, he decided it was, letting the 0/4 be exiled.

On Chan's turn, he animated a Celestial Colonnade, and attacked in the air with it and the Restoration Angel. A Birds of Paradise jumped in the way of the Colonnade, and Kostler dropped to 10 life. Half way there.

Now though, there was a window of opportunity for Kostler. He cast a Birthing Pod, and used it to turn Wall of Roots into a Kitchen Finks. The Finks, with persist, would be an ideal creature to sacrifice to Birthing Pod in future turns, as well as a nice source of some extra life. Chan needed to be very careful. Removal would break up the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo, but with an active Birthing Pod, there was plenty more than simply that which Kostler could do.

Chan animated his Celestial Colonnade, only to see it tapped down by Deceiver Exarch. Could this be it? Chan elected not to attack at all, and could only look on as Kostler turned Kitchen Finks into Glen-Elendra Archmage. He then simply cast Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and was able to protect it from countermagic with the Archmage.

Jonas Kostler 1 – 0 Tiago Chan

Birds of Paradise

The players shuffled and sideboarded carefully for the second game. While Chan was on the play, it was unsurprising that Kostler had the first play of the game, in Birds of Paradise. Chan's deck is more reactive than Kostler's, and he was quite happy to begin taking the passive role. A turn two Wall of Omens was joined by a second Noble Hierarch, putting Kostler well ahead in the mana development race in spite of being on the draw.

Those mana creatures would, it seemed, be pivotal to Kostler's game, as he missed a third land drop. Chan wasn't able to punish with an Electrolyze though, casting just a Spellskite for his turn, and looking on as Kostler resolved an end of turn Restoration Angel. The best Chan could manage was a Lightning Bolt on Noble Hierarch, but he was still taking his hits in the air from the Angel.

An Avacyn's Pilgrim came from Kostler, who at this point would likely have preferred a more straightforward land as a mana source. Chan cast a Batterskull for his turn. He lost his Spellskite to Path to Exile, and Jonas suddenly had an opportunity to go off. Chan was entirely tapped out, and Kostler resolved a Birthing Pod, which he used to find a Harmonic Sliver to remove Batterskull.

That Birthing Pod now being on the board, Chan was in a position where he had to hope his aggressive plan with Celestial Colonnade would be good enough. He attached Kostler to nine life, and passed hoping not to face anything too damning. He took an attack which put him to seven, and saw Restoration Angel upgraded into Sigarda, Host of Herons by Kostler. The 5/5 hexproof flyer would be great insurance for Kostler against whatever Chan had in mind, and was one of the few cards in his 75 to be able to profitably withstand a Celestial Colonnade offensive.

Jonas Kostler

Kostler went straight to his combat phase for the turn, and rumbled in with Sigarda, Avacyn's Pilgrim and Harmonic Sliver. On just six life, Chan had to do something, and animating Celstial Colonnade was his first choice. Path to Exile forced the Portuguese player to look for other options to stay alive. He had a Lightning Bolt for Avacyn's Pilgrim, but when he tried another on Harmonic Sliver, a Dispel from Kostler was enough to keep exactly six damage coming in.

Jonas Kostler wins 2-0

Round 13 Feature Match – Mark Dictus (WB Tokens) vs. Till Riffert (Jund)

by Tobi Henke

Both players entered the fray this round with scores of 10-2, still in contention for Top 8 but probably unable to afford any more losses.

Game 1

Dictus opened on Thoughtseize followed by Inquisition of Kozilek, taking Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil out of Riffert's hand. Riffert had a replacement 'Goyf, but that was sent on a Path to Exile. His Dark Confidant stuck, however, and Dictus's Tidehollow Sculler didn't but was sacrificed to Liliana of the Veil.

Mark Dictus

When Dictus's Dismember took out the Dark Confidant, the game entered a phase without much action. The board was completely empty except for lands and Riffert's Liliana of the Veil, a painfully slowly ticking time bomb. Dictus hit land after land, while Riffert was still on three lands and discarded spell after spell to add counters to Liliana.

In the end, Liliana didn't quite get there though. At one point Dictus found Spectral Procession and Riffert found a Tarmogoyf, now 6/7. The tokens didn't stand much of a chance, and soon neither did Dictus.

Mark Dictus 0-1 Till Riffert

Game 2

Dictus started the game at a severe disadvantage, with two mulligans. "Usually Jund is a good match-up for me. I'm 6-1 against Jund so far," said Dictus, "but not this time, it seems."

Till Riffert

But at first it appeared to be Riffert's deck which malfunctioned. Stranded on two lands, Riffert soon found himself on the wrong end of a serious beating by various tokens from Lingering Souls and Raise the Alarm, despite two Maelstrom Pulses and a Jund Charm in his hand. At least a Tarmogoyf provided a veritable roadblock for the pedestrian forces.

The Charm and one Pulse were discarded to Dictus's Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize before Riffert got his third land, but the second Malestrom Pulse got rid of all flying tokens. The fortune had reversed itself. Again, Dictus was left with too many lands, too little action, not to mention still suffering from the double mulligan, whereas the Jund deck was firing on all cylinders. Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, Huntmaster of the Fells, Liliana of the Veil ... Riffert had it all, with Lightning Bolts to boot, and it didn't take him long to turn the turnaround into a round win.

Mark Dictus 0-2 Till Riffert

Sunday, 3:23 a.m. – Diversity!

by Tobi Henke

You don't have to like Jund to work here, but it sure helps ... Sometimes it appeared like every second match this weekend featured at least one Jund player, and Jund won quite a number of those matches too. Now, there's no way to deny the utter power of the deck, but it's also way too easy to overlook all the other interesting archetypes in the mix today.

They might not have made it to the very top here in Bilbao, but coming close to the top of a Grand Prix is no small feat either. Under different circumstances these decks might just as well carry somebody to, say, a PTQ win. Some of them already did.

Take for example the deck Invitational winner Tiago Chan played:

Tiago Chan, UWR Flash

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Counterspells, lots of burn, and a host of flash creatures, highlighted by Chan's Invitational card Snapcaster Mage. A beautiful deck with a lot of play against Jund—and basically against everything else as well.

Mark Dictus, WB Tokens

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Meanwhile, Mark Dictus can claim a win percentage against Jund of 75%. His white and black token deck ran circles around most Jund players, although a revival of Maelstrom Pulse's popularity proved at least somewhat tricky.

Helmut Summersberger, Scapeshift

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Summersberger already won a PTQ with this same deck (except for a few different sideboard cards). At one point yesterday, he regretted his deck choice, but then Scapeshift gave him six 2-0 wins in a row and he was kind of reconciled.

Thomas Holzinger, Infect

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Meanwhile, Platinum pro Thomas Holzinger tuned his infect deck specifically with Jund in mind. Sylvan Scrying out of the sideboard was especially important as Jund is notoriously weak against Inkmoth Nexus.

Andy Cooman, UR Tron

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Then, of course, there's always the possibility of not grinding out small advantages but simply, brazenly going over the top. And it doesn't get much more over the top than Through the Breach plus Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Well, a hardcast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn may be considered more over the top. Luckily, Andy Cooman could do both.

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