Highlights from Day One at MagicFest Prague

Posted in Event Coverage on January 12, 2019

By Olle Rade

Oh my, the first MagicFest in Europe did not disappoint! Players from all over Europe made it to the Czech capital for a chance to play the last high level event with Ultimate Masters this weekend. Dreams of opening a foil Tarmogoyf were both crushed and fulfilled when more than 2,500 players stormed the halls of PVA Expo Praha. Here are some of the stories that stood out from the first day of action at #MTGPrague.

Players En Masse

Sure, I might be repeating myself, but it is always nice when a tournament exceeds expectations in terms of numbers of competitors. The ultimate show of Ultimate Masters turned out to draw quite the crowd. Around 2,500 players entered the Grand Prix main event, which makes it Europe's second largest Magic tournament ever - trumped only by Grand Prix Utrecht 2015, where Modern Masters drew 3,613 players. Who knows, maybe this will open the door for an Ultimate Ultimate Masters eventually?

To get a picture of how big the MagicFest really is, let me say that getting caught between a 2,500 headed crowd on their way to look for pairings made this coverage reporter was unable to get to his seat several times today. Before the halls got too crowded this morning I recorded a short video to give you an idea of how big this place really is:

Organizer Channelfireball also concluded that the event was, in fact, huge.

Box Toppers En Masse

With 2,500 players in the Grand Prix quite a few boxes of Ultimate Masters were opened to provide them with boosters. In fact, it took two people most of the Thursday leading up to the event just to open boxes and sort out box toppers and stacking boosters in piles of six. Add side events and you quickly realize the vast number of, much desired, box toppers floating around the event this weekend. Who got them though? Judges? The Top 8 players? Or the hard working people that opened boxes all Thursday? Not really, said Jonas Drieghe of the event staff.

"We decided to put them up on the prize wall from side events, so instead of collecting say 30 boosters of Guilds of Ravnica, a side event winner can get a box topper and open anything from a Stirring Wildwood to a Liliana of the Veil"

Winning Ultimate Masters box toppers - a rare opportunity for side event players.

And a lot of them were opened in front of his eyes at the side event prize wall. Just the visual appeal of over a hundred of the small packages made at least this coverage reporter smile and dream of a full art foil Snapcaster Mage or Cavern of Souls.

There were literally boxes of these highly sought after packs up for grabs.

Sweet Combos

With sets like Ultimate Masters it is always interesting to see how the top pros tackle the challenge of building sealed decks. With the power level of the cards being so high it is not rare to see some really spicy combination of both synergy and two card combos being put into decks and hopefully executed on the paying field. Someone who managed both to build a sweet synergistic deck and pull together his combo more than once was Sweden's Vidar Hesselman, who built a nice Blue-Red decks, featuring both several madness cards and several enablers. What got the coverage team's attention however, was the direct damage output of Blast of Genius and Vengeful Rebirth. Add two copies of Treasure Cruise, a Dig Through Time and an Artisan of Kozilek and you have a deck able to deal almost the full 20 damage without attacking with a single creature. His deck even had a Living Lore, that could become quite the monster with one of the expensive sorceries in his graveyard.

In one of the early rounds of the day Hesselman actually managed to pull off his combo twice against the same opponent, as he cast Blast of Genius, discarded Artisan of Kozilek to deal 9 to his opponent. Next turn he casually resolved Vengeful Rebirth to deal another nine, finishing both games in style after dealing only a few points of damage via creatures. His opponent could only shake his head in disgust.

A MagicFest is not only a Grand Prix, there were also several chances to draft Ultimate Masters in side events. And I wouldn't be surprised if people were having as much fun trying to assemble the sweetest combo decks in those. Someone told me he succeeded in drafting a deck with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Entomb and Goryo's Vengeance told me he got the combo at least once and that his his opponent condeeded after taking 15 damage and having to sacrifice all of his permanents already on the third turn of the game. The deck even had a copy of Through the Breach, which allows a hasted 15/15 monster even if he was unlucky enough to draw it.

And while it may not be a combo in the classical meaning of the word, something that did catch my eye was when Jérémy Dezani in round 7 managed to assemble a Sigarda, Host of Herons with Flight of Fancy, Spider Umbra and Daybreak Coronet on it. A nasty flier indeed, but his opponent also couldn't be more frustrated, as he held an All is Dust in hand, that was turned useless by Sigarda's extra ability that turns of sacrifice effects. All in all a lot of sweet interactions took play both off and on camera and I'm sure we'll see even more tomorrow, when people get the chance to draft to assemble all the synergies of Ultimate Masters.

What was the sweetest combo you saw this weekend? Let us know on Twitter @magicprotour and we'll see what we can do to share them.

An Obvious Answer

Oh I mentioned that dreams of opening a foil Tarmogoyf were fulfilled. One player even opened two of them. But the funny moment didn't appear until someone answered my tweet about it:

Pascal Maynard, who caused quite a stir when he drafted a copy of foil Tarmogoyf in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Las Vegas 2015. #GoyfGate apparently never dies.

Undefeated Players

They came, they gamed and they conquered the sealed deck portion of Grand Prix Prague. Thoralf Severin, Marc Tobiasch, Pascal Vieren, Arne Huschenbeth, Ondrej Smetana, Kazutaka Naide, Alexander Rosdahl, are the players with a perfect 9-0 record.

These were the last seven men standing with 9-0 records after Day One.

And here are their decklists:

Kazutaka Naide, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Marc Tobiasch, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Ondrej Smetana, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Pascal Vieren, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Thoralf Severin, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Alexander Rosdahl, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

Arne Huschenbeth, 9-0

Download Arena Decklist

And Last But Not Least ...

... someone very special to us in the coverage team had his birthday on the Friday of MagicFest Prague. We might not know for certain what the future of coverage brings, but I sure hope it has a whole lot of Rich Hagon in it. Once again, happy birthday Rich Hagon, and thanks for the awesome work you have put in with the European coverage team over the years!

Rich Hagon, as happy when he is getting ice cream to his fellow co-workers or interviewing a cosplaying Karn, Liberated on camera.

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