What's the Pick?

Posted in GRAND PRIX HONG KONG 2015 on August 9, 2015

By Chapman Sim

As we set aside our Sealed Decks and move into Day 2, it makes perfect sense to start writing about Booster Draft. Magic Origins might be a Core Set, but that doesn't mean that drafting is any less fun or challenging.

Here, we have a Booster Pack on steroids, laden with juicy picks. What's the fun without a little brainteaser?

What will you pick out of this pack? Once you've made your decision, scroll down and hear what some of the Pros have to say!

I separately approached (4) Yuuya Watanabe and Tomoharu Saito and was pleasantly surprised to find out that both had come to the same conclusion.

Yuuya Watanabe will be headed for the World Championships in two weeks time, so let's give him a little puzzle to solve. He could only repeatedly mutter "crazy pack, crazy pack" under his breath but eventually settled on Undercity Troll.

His argument was that there was an off-chance for Possessed Skaab to table, allowing him to play a Blue Green deck with a Black splash, or a Black Green deck with a Blue splash. "If I am lucky, Rhox Maulers may even table," Watanabe explained, fanning out seven other cards that the other players are likely to pick.

Yuuya Watanabe

Saito's reasoning for picking Undercity Troll was plain and simple.

"It is a two drop that is powerful in both the early and late game. The only other very powerful card I will consider is Harbinger of the Tides, but it is double blue and I didn't want to pass Claustrophobia as the wrong signal. Risky!"

Tomoharu Saito, kissing Nissa

I was also taken aback when a rare visitor was sighted at the Day 2 draft tables. 2009 World Champion André Coimbra was here on his honeymoon with his lovely wife, and wisely chose to coincide the joyous occasion with a visit to a local Grand Prix.

"I've spent the last two weeks in Asia. I met my wife at a Grand Prix, and I thought it would be meaningful to end our honeymoon at a Grand Prix too!"

Coincidentally, Li Bo happened to wander by and I motioned for him to come over. I asked both Coimbra and Li if they recognized one another and the answer was a unanimous no.

"Well Andre, this is Li Bo. He won the Team portion when you won the Individual portion at the World Championships in Rome."

"Oh yes, you're André Coimbra! You lost so much weight!", Li was clearly surprised that both World Champion's paths have crossed in an unlikely city.

André Coimbra and Li Bo, World Champions 2009.

Anyway, I held on to Coimbra's Starbucks cup, while he thought hard about his first pick. Minutes later, he reduced his options down to just Lightning Javelin or Unholy Hunger.

"I don't want to pick any of the green or white cards. They are all very deep. The only other black cards in the booster are Deadbridge Shaman and Possessed Skaab. Nobody is going to be super excited by those, so Unholy Hunger is a fine choice. But, it is a 5 mana card that cannot be splashed. Maybe I will go with Lightning Javelin."

Li's reasoning was vastly different. He decided to pick Topan Freeblade despite War Oracle and Enshrouding Mist also in that booster.

"If I take Topan Freeblade, the next four players are likely to pick Unholy Hunger, Lightning Javelin, Undercity Troll and either Claustrophobia or Harbinger of the Tides. It is unlikely that the next four players will take Enshrouding Mist or War Oracle over these cards. Hence, the other white player will be at the opposite side of the table and if I am lucky, I might even get to table Enshrouding Mist."

Seems legit.

Lastly, I approached two well-known Taiwanese players, Tzu Ching Kuo and Chen Liang. Chen was peeking at the insane booster over Saito's shoulders just now and has already made his choice.

"It is a 2 drop with early and late game applications. I think it is clearly the most powerful card in the pack, even though everything is also very good."

Kuo initially wanted to go with Topan Freeblade but decided to switch gears and follow in Chen's footsteps.

Kuo attributes a lot of his success to Chen. "I trust Chen Liang and he has always built many great format-defining decks for me. His judgement is usually more correct than mine, so I will pick Harbinger of the Tides too!"

Tzu Ching Kuo and Chen Liang