Grand Prix Madrid 1998 Results
January 24-25, 1998
No Stopping Steven O
Circulo de Bellas Artes, a historic theater and exhibition hall in sunny Madrid, hosted the first Grand Prix tournament of 1998. At 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, the lobby was packed with players, including a number of familiar faces: France's Michaël Debard (winner of Grand Prix-Como), Italy's Gabriele Pisicchio (a quarterfinalist from Pro Tour-Mainz), and Ivan Garcia Gonzalez and Rafael Jimenez Bano from Spain. Even a number of American competitors made the cross-Atlantic voyage to compete, including Pro Tour-Chicago champion Randy Buehler and Pro Tour-Mainz finalist Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz.
Saturday's competition ran smoothly once initial registration difficulties were sorted out. At the end of the day, the 315 players who began the competition were winnowed down to 64 for the second day of play. In addition to the main event, many side tournaments were held, including Limited events featuring the very popular Asian-language boosters. In the art gallery, Jeff Miracola, a mainstay on the Magic art scene since the Mirage expansion, signed cards and sketched on players' card boxes and binders.
Five rounds of Swiss pairings on Sunday identified the Top 8 players in the tournament, including perennial top contenders Debard, Pisicchio, and O'Mahoney-Schwartz. In the quarterfinals, France's Jérémie Lagarde defeated Christian Celades of Spain, who played a red burn deck, two games to one. Despite the originality of Pisicchio's five-color deck (which had many opponents confused as to what it was trying to achieve), he lost to O'Mahoney-Schwartz 2-1. Hervé Drevillon of France triumphed 2-0 over Spaniard Omar Sagol (playing a deck with white creatures and direct damage), while Debard swept Spain's Marc Iglesias and his Goblin deck 2-0.
The semifinals pitted Lagarde against O'Mahoney-Schwartz and Debard versus Drevillon. Lagarde, who played a red-white Scroll Tax deck, won the first game of the match, but the second ended in a draw. A clutch victory by O'Mahoney-Schwartz in Game 3 forced a decisive fourth game, due in part to a number of mental errors on the part of Lagarde, who was late for his train back to Paris. These errors proved crucial as O'Mahoney-Schwartz's Frenetic Efreet finished off Lagarde, who then swept up his cards and ran off for the train.
The other semifinal match finished more quickly as Debard's Bottle Gnomes-Corpse Dance combination proved too difficult for Drevillon's red-white-blue deck. With a 2-0 victory, Debard moved on to face O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals.
The final match was a close-fought struggle between Debard's Pox deck, which was picked by the judges as the most original of the tournament, and O'Mahoney-Schwartz's red-white-blue deck. The life-gaining potential of Debard's Bottle Gnomes, when combined with his reanimation spells, was extremely potent. However, he was very concerned about Aura of Silence and Disenchant, as well as "combo" decks, as he had no way of breaking game locks. O'Mahoney-Schwartz's deck depended on fast creatures, with the final push provided by Cursed Scrolls.
Debard won Game 1 thanks to his Triskelions, which were able to destroy O'Mahoney-Schwartz's creatures. However, in Game 2 O'Mahoney-Schwartz sideboarded in two of the cards Debard feared most: Aura of Silence. The second game went to O'Mahoney-Schwartz as he quickly played an Aura of Silence and was able to use Wasteland to destroy Debard's land. Soltari Monks provided the finishing damage as the matched evened at one game apiece.
Game 3 was very close as the advantage swung back and forth between the two players. Debard got his creatures recycling while O'Mahoney-Schwartz summoned his Monks. An Aura of Silence slowed down Debard, who began to lose concentration due to an imminent plane flight. One final attack by O'Mahoney-Schwartz brought Debard to the brink of death, and a Lightning Bolt pushed him over the edge.
|1||Steven O'Mahoney Schwartz||USA|
|15||Cyrille De Foucaud||France|
|15||Ivan Garcia Gonzalez||Spain|
|17||Antonio Barange Talanen||Spain|
|18||Gonzalo Moreno Huerta||Spain|
|19||Fernando Escribano Cantero||Spain|
|20||Rafael Jimenez Bano||Spain|
|23||Jordi Soldevila Palau||Spain|
|24||Jose Luis Lopez Huaman||Spain|
|26||Eduardo Morrisey Noyes||Spain|
|29||Guillermo Barro Calvo||Spain|
|30||Alejandro Dominguez Ramos||Spain|
|31||Sergio Alonso Gallego||Spain|
|32||Enrique Pascual Alvaro||Spain|
|33||Joaguin Gasa Thoma||Spain|
|35||Juanjo Garrido Gomez||Spain|
|38||David Perez Fernandez|
|39||David Vall Brillas||Spain|
|40||Alberto Garcia Bona||Spain|
|44||Javier Briz Herrezuelo||Spain|
|46||Jose Ignacio Ortiz|
|48||Eugenio Juan Rincon||Spain|
|50||Antonio Chaves Puente||Spain|
|51||Alex Menal Coronado||Spain|
|53||Daniel Diaz Risueno||Spain|
|54||Jorge Palacios Sanchez||Spain|
|55||Inigo Baztan Madoz||Spain|
|61||Marcelo Dos Santos||Portugal|
|63||Carlos Barrado Lopez||Spain|