Grand Prix Lyon 1998 Results
February 7-8, 1998
Over 450 players braved the cold and gathered at the Tête d'Or Conference Center on February 7-8 in Lyon, France, for the second European Grand Prix tournament of 1998—and the first ever in France.
The most famous French players in attendance were Michaël Debard, Raphaël Lévy, Michaël 'No Fear' Sochon, Philippe Mongauze, and Emmanuel Vernay. Internationally renowned stars also turned up, such as Switzerland's Alexander Blumke and Italy's Gabriele Pisicchio, as well as Americans Jon Finkel (Grand Prix-Rio Champion) and Randy Buehler (Pro Tour-Chicago Champion).
As the second day of competition began, perennial European Grand Prix competitor Michaël Debard was at the head of the sixty-four-player field. The matches on the second day were quite heated as players competed for the $15,000 in cash on the line. In a break from recent trends, the Top 8 was surprisingly free of American competitors; Pittsburgh's Randy Buehler finished closest to the top at sixteenth place. Buehler, who claimed to be there only for the fun, agreed that the level of play in Europe has definitely improved over the years. In fact, Kurt Foket of Lokeren, Belgium, was the only player in the Top 8 not from France.
The quarterfinals matched Paris's Michaël Debard against Bordeaux's Laurent Laclaverie, hometown favorite Manuel Bevand against Loïc Degrou of Chapelle D'Armentier, Nicolas Lacorne (also of Lyon) against Toulouse's Raphaël Lévy, and Kurt Foket against Emmanuel Beltrando of Paris.
Advancing to the semifinals were Debard, Foket, Bevand, and Lévy, with the sixteen-year-old Lévy defeating Foket in the finals three games to none to take the title of Grand Prix-Lyon Champion. Meanwhile, Bevand defeated Debard in the consolation match to claim third place. The win was Lévy's first in a major event, though many onlookers agreed that this was no fluke and that the young champion would be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
In addition to the main event, dozens of side Magic and Legend of the Five Rings tournaments were held throughout the day and also into the night. This formula, which has proven so successful at past Pro Tour events, warmed the hearts of Magic insomniacs throughout the night. Two Magic artists, Nathalie Hertz and L.A. Williams, also attended this tournament to sign cards.
The growing popularity of team sponsorship was also evident in Lyon, as demonstrated by a veritable invasion of team colors and T-shirts. These team affiliations, which often grow out of the need to practice and test decks together, have become the norm at top-level tournaments as the ranks of successful independent players continue to shrink.
|22||Aurélien Le Quéré|
|38||Richard Van Cleave|
|40||Reginald De Ponton|