Closing the First Day: The 9-0 Players

Posted in Event Coverage on December 3, 2016

By Tobi Henke

1,456 players had entered the tournament in total, full of hopes for fame and fortune. But after nine rounds of Standard, only 441 reached the requisite record of 6-3 or better to qualify for the second day. Five of them stood tall at the end of Saturday with pristine records of 9-0.


Philip van Donselaar

The first one to cross the finish line undefeated was 22-year-old Philip van Donselaar from Veenendaal in the Netherlands. Playing since 2007, van Donselaar couldn't boast any notworthy finish so far.

"Not really, no," he said. But fellow Dutchman Frank Karsten still held van Donselaar in high regard, adding, "It was about time!"

Van Donselaar had chosen Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel, the deck with which he had the most experience, from his options. It worked well for him so far, even making up for unfortunate mulligans with excellent topdecks. A smiling van Donselaar recounted his exploits, "Today in the eighth round, against Vehicles, I mulled to four on the draw and still won: Attune with Aether into Attune with Aether into Woodweaver's Puzzleknot into Aetherworks Marvel on turn four ..."

Philip van Donselaar's Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel – 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid 2016


Antonio Del Moral León

Joining the 9-0 club next was a familiar face: Antonio Del Moral León. The 22-year-old from Córdoba, Spain, was mostly known for his victory at Pro Tour Fate Reforged, but also had twice reached the Top 8 of a Grand Prix before. Neither was it his first time to be 9-0. Said Del Moral León, "I was 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid in Modern, 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid in Limited ... Madrid is good for me."

He was playing White-Blue Flash. "I think it's the best deck so I played it."

When asked for the most interesting moment from his matches today, Del Moral León told the story of a White-Blue mirror match: "I was going to win the next turn. My opponent really needed to topdeck something. He drew ... and cast Bruna, the Fading Light, returned Gisela, the Broken Blade to make one 9/10 monster with flying and lifelink and vigilance. I still won the match, but I didn't win this game."

Antonio Del Moral León's White-Blue Flash – 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid 2016

Sideboard (15)
1 Reflector Mage 1 Spell Shrivel 2 Declaration in Stone 1 Blessed Alliance 2 Linvala, the Preserver 1 Unraveler of Secrets 2 Fragmentize 1 Sphinx of the Final World 1 Negate 1 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Summary Dismissal


Julien Henry

Julien Henry, a 23-year-old student from Paris, France, was also no stranger to success at the Grand Prix level. Earlier this year, he had bested almost everyone at Grand Prix Manchester, except for Raphaël Lévy who eventually defeated Henry in the finals.

Henry, like so many, had brought the Black-Green Delirium to Madrid, "because of familiarity and because I believe it's the best deck."

How did he plan to beat the increasingly popular Aetherworks Marvel decks? "Today, they just didn't draw any Marvels," he said. "I got lucky. I mean, I don't think I played badly, my opponents just didn't draw very well."

Julien Henry's Black-Green Delirium – 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid 2016


Luis Gobern

Luis Gobern, a 23-year-old student from Lisbon, Portugal, had been playing Magic for five years now. This was his first major success.

"I almost didn't want to come because I hated Standard so much. But then a friend told me I should just play this deck," Gobern said, the deck in question being Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel with the inclusion of an unusual planeswalker ...

"Nahiri was just insane," he said. "In all of the seven rounds I played today, Nahiri was insane. Best main deck decision ever!"

Luis Gobern's Red-Green Aetherworks – 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid 2016


Daan Pruijt

Finally, after fifty minutes were long over, on his fifth extra turn, Daan Pruijt, a 29-year-old software developer from Amsterdam, won his ninth round as well. About his deck he said, "It's basically a combination of several components. First I noticed that Zombies was good against White-Blue Flash. Then I saw Neal Oliver do something with Ghirapur Orrery which seemed pretty good against Black-Green Delirium. Noose Constrictor brought it all together."

Fellow Dutchman Jan van der Vegt, who had helped building the deck and was playing it as well, pointed out: "We're 15-2 with the deck right now, not counting byes!"

Pruijt had previously reached the Top 8 at Grand Prix Strasbourg 2014 and had finished the first day with a record of 8-0-1 a couple of times. But he never had been 9-0 before. "I'm pretty stoked."

Daan Pruijt's Black-Green Zombies – 9-0 at Grand Prix Madrid 2016


Congratulations to Philip van Donselaar, Daan Pruijt, Antonio Del Moral León, Luis Gobern, and (not pictured) Julien Henry!

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