Grand Prix Rimini 2008
Justice for Emanuele Giusti!
September 13-14, 2008
Grand Prix Rimini 2008
From 700 players to just one, and the young Italian, Emanuele Giusti, has vanquished them all. They came, he saw, he conquered!
A theme of this weekend has been how strong Italian Magic is right now, and it seemed inevitable that we would have an Italian champion with three of the semi-finalists being Italians – and none of them the household names that you may already have heard of. After dominating the Swiss rounds Matthias Künzler's long undefeated streak ended abruptly in the Quarter-Finals. The Japanese superstar Shuuhei Nakamura tried his best to upset the almost inevitable Italian homecoming win but fell to a shockingly swift defeat in the Final to the Kithkin armies of Emanuele Giusti, and we crown yet another new Grand Prix champion!
And that was Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed. We began at Grand Prix-Birmingham with a Kithkin winner, and ended up here in Rimini with another Kithkin winner. Sandwiched between those two mono-white victories we've seen decks of every color, and decks with every color. While Shadowmoor may be a land of eternal night it has created a format with a glittering rainbow of colors and a constantly surprising metagame.
We look forward to meeting you again in just a month's time for Grand Prix-Paris, which will be fought out, for the first time, on the five Shards of Alara.
Until then, ‘Good Eventide' to you all!
top 8 bracket
(1) Künzler, Matthias [CHE]
(8) Calvetto, Marcello [ITA]
(4) Nahodil, Petr [CZE]
(5) Emanuele, Giusti [ITA]
(2) Renedo, Rodrigo [ESP]
(7) Nakamura, Shuuhei [JPN]
(3) Calafell, Joel [ESP]
(6) Salemi, Claudio [ITA]
Calvetto, Marcello 2-0
Emanuele, Giusti 2-0
Nakamura, Shuuhei 2-0
Salemi, Claudio 2-0
Emanuele, Giusti 2-0
Nakamura, Shuuhei 2-0
Emanuele, Giusti 2-1
by Tobias HenkeFinalsShuhei Nakamura vs. Emanuele Giusti
by David SutcliffeSemifinalsShuuhei Nakamura (JPN) vs Claudio Salemi (ITA)
by David SutcliffeQuarterfinalsMatthias Künzler (CHE) vs. Marcello Calvetto (ITA)
by Tobias HenkeQuarterfinalsShuhei Nakamura vs. Rodrigo Renedo
by Tobias HenkeTop 8 Profiles
by Rich HagonPodcast: Sunday, September 14th, 14:30 p.m.Kelpie No Helpie
by Tobias HenkeBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 14:20 p.m.Meet the Artists
by Event Coverage StaffFeature: Top 8 Decklists
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round 15Joel Calafell (ESP) vs Michal Marciniszyn (CZE)
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round 13Giusti Emanuele vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
by David SutcliffeBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 12:55 p.m.Applying some Future Sight
by Tobias HenkeBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 12:40 p.m.The Horde of Nations
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round 12Massimiliano Ruffilli (ITA) vs. Gennaro Mango (ITA)
by Tobias HenkeBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 11:10 a.m.Kelpie on the Rise
by Rich HagonPodcast: Sunday, September 14th, 10:30 a.m.Metagame Musings
by Tobias HenkeBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 10:10 a.m.Crazyness abounds
by David SutcliffeFeature Match: Round 10Shuuhei Nakamura (JPN) vs. Mario Pascoli (ITA)
by Event Coverage StaffBlog: Sunday, September 14th, 9:15 a.m.The Metagame
- nfo: Day 2 Player List
by Event Coverage StaffI
- Info: Day 2 Country Breakdown
by David SutcliffeInfo: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Read Day 1 Blogs, Feature Matches, and More!
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
|1. Emanuele, Giusti||$3,500|
|2. Nakamura, Shuuhei||$2,300|
|3. Salemi, Claudio||$1,500|
|4. Calvetto, Marcello||$1,500|
|5. Künzler, Matthias||$1,000|
|6. Renedo, Rodrigo||$1,000|
|7. Calafell, Joel||$1,000|
|8. Nahodil, Petr||$1,000|
pairings, results, standings
Info: Day One Undefeated Decklists
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 9:15 a.m. – The Metagame
Let's start with the numbers...
Quick' n Toast 5
Demigod Red 1
Mono Green 1
And now off to a little bit of explanation: Kithkin, Faeries, Doran, and the like probably need no further introduction. Quick' n Toast would, but it's near-impossible to sum up everything that's going on within the boundaries of that archetype. Five-colored control, let's call it.
Also, a spin-off of the famous and succesful Quick' n Toast deck emerged, for now being called “that Kelpie deck” because of River Kelpie, which moved up ranks from a spot in the sideboard to being the centerpiece of the deck's card-drawing department. Oona's Grace, apparently, is quite a big deal, when it's drawing two cards.
The deck we inexpertly call “Pascoli” for the moment is of course the one designed by Mario Pascoli, Italy's premier pro player (who by the way has crossed the benchmark of 30 pro points / level 6 with his performance this weekend). The deck includes: Stonybrook Banneret, Firespout, Mirror Entity, Bitterblossom... Go figure!
Feature Match: Round 10 – Shuuhei Nakamura (JPN) vs. Mario Pascoli (ITA)
With day one out of the way we returned bright and early to the Palacongresi in Rimini for the final day of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block and the top of the field was already throwing up some top quality matches. Shuuhei Nakamura was leading the Player of the Year race and with his closest rival, Olivier Ruel, failing to make it through day one he has a great chance to improve his position in the top spot. His opponent for the first round was Mario Pascoli, however, and the most successful Italian player of all time was unlikely to simply lie down and die.
Shuuhei NakamuraNakamura began badly by having to send away his first seven cards, and judging by the face he made as he picked up six it wasn`t much of an improvement, although he chose to keep it. It was the Italian who took an early lead in the matchup, and Mario Pascoli played a Bitterblossom on his second turn, and the first Faerie token traded with Shuuhei Nakamura`s Silvergill Adept before Pascoli followed up with a Stonybrook Banneret and a Mirror Entity. Bitterblossom? Stonybrook Banneret? Mirror Entity? What was Pascoli playing here - Fish, Fae, or `lark?
A Nameless Inversion ate Nakamura`s second Silvergill Adept to leave the Japanese player entirely defenceless, but with all his lands suspiciously untapped. Mario Pascoli sent his forces into the red zone, and the Mirror Entity made them all 3/3 to drop Nakamura to 10 life. Despite having all his lands untapped, Nakamura had nothing to do with all his mana during Pascoli`s turn! Back onto his own turn the Japanese phenom attempted to Firespout in defence, but Pascoli had a Spellstutter Sprite in answer and as the annoying little guy hit play Nakamura scooped up his permanents!
Shuuhei Nakamura 0 – 1 Mario Pascoli
As the two players looked for sideboard options they each looked to be finding it tough to read the other`s deck – certainly Mario Pascoli had been surprised to see a Firespout come out of a of Fish deck and would have to keep that in mind! He was also a little concerned about what he would see in the second game, as he was mindful that Shuuhei had a poor draw in Game 1.
Mario Pascoli“Did you keep a one-land hand?” he asked
“No!” reading between the lines, that suggested that things may not go the Italian`s way quite so easily in the second game...
Both players began with a Stonybrook Banneret, but then one Sower of Temptation later Nakamura had both of them on his side of the table. Undeterred Pascoli used his third turn to cast a second Banneret. It was the last thing he got to do. For his fourth turn Shuuhei cast a second Stonybrook Banneret of his own to give himself three in total, then tapped three more land and played a turn 4 Oona, Queen of the Fae!
That was too much for Pascoli and he scooped up his permanents. WOW! A turn four concession for Pascoli after one of the most ridiculous and explosive starts you could possibly imagine from Shuuhei Nakamura!
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 1 Mario Pascoli
Pascoli led the way into the third game with a pair of Stonybrook Bannerets – an unassuming card that has dominated this match to date. Shuuhei Nakamura answered with a Silvergill Adept then a Firespout, but as he began to scoop away the creatures Pascoli raised an eyebrow – his trademark pen still clenched between his teeth - and tapped a single land for a Sage`s Dousing, thanks to the pair of Bannerets. Pascoli countered a Japanese Banneret with a Spellstutter Sprite and added a second Sprite then went onto the offensive, sending all four of his 1/1s into the red zone. Nakamura took down the two Bannerets with a Silvergill Adept and a Nameless Inversion, cutting off Pascoli from his cheap spells, but by now Pascoli had lands anyway, and simply tapped four of them for his Mistbind Clique.
Nakamura, taking beatdown from the Clique and a Spellstutter Sprite, turned to Jace Beleren for answers and began drawing cards, but nothing he drew could answer the flying Faerie army. 15 life... to 10 life... to 5... Nakamura had a Nameless Inversion for the Spellstutter Sprite but nothing for the Mistbind Clique and dropped to 1 life. That bought him one last turn and two more cards. He finally drew an answer to the Mistbind Clique, but unfortunately that answer was Cloudthresher and the 2 damage it would deal on coming into play would kill it`s master, and he conceded defeat.
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 2 Mario Pascoli
Well I really enjoyed that match, and I think so did both of the players. Shuuhei Nakamura`s 5-colour Merfolk is very tricky, but it seemed to be trumped by Mario Pascoli`s 5-color Faeries deck. Yes, you read that correctly, he`s 5-color Faeries.
“I think his deck is the best deck for this tournament” was the tribute that Nakamura paid his opponent after the match, and it`s not easy to disagree. Look out for a deck tech focus on Mario Pascoli`s rainbow of Fae flavours in a later round!
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 10:10 a.m. – Crazyness abounds
In the final days (day actually) of Lorwyn / Shadowmoor Block Constructed players seem to finally have discovered all the wonders of this magical plane. For a long time a thoroughly multicolored mana base was limited to control decks like the popular Quick' n Toast.
Apparently, without need. Lands that come into play tapped are no reason to not go with an aggro or aggro-control strategy.
Especially, when one mixes Lorwyn's two-color tribal lands with Shapeshifters and Shadowmoor's Vivid lands with Reflecting Pool, crazy stuff is bound to come out of it. Take for example Mario Pascoli's deck, that's
This is not Faeries with a small splash for sideboard cards, but runs the full amount of Chameleon Colossus, the biggest Faerie around. And, quite handily, also the biggest Wizard...
Turn two Stonybrook Banneret followed by turn three Chameleon Colossus can also come out of another deck. Current leader in the player of the year race Shuuhei Nakamura came here with a similar deck. Despite the fact, that Pascoli's basis is Faeries, while Nakamura started with Merfolk, the two decks ended up not that different at all, after the best cards from all colors (mostly except red) were added into the mix.
Podcast: Sunday, September 14th, 10:30 a.m. – Metagame Musings
Welcome back to the audio coverage here on Day Two. Great interviews in our opener today, featuring the Team World Champion Manuel Bucher, the former Italian Champion Mario Pascoli, and man-on-the-rise Matej Zatlkej from Slovakia. Great players, great thoughts, and a little bit of Sunday morning Rich and Ben. Who could ask for anything more?
Click Here to Download
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 11:10 a.m. – Kelpie on the Rise
Patrick Chapin and Manuel BucherThursday last week eight players met at David Besso's house in Milano: Paul Cheon, Patrick Chapin, Michael Jacob, and Luis Scott-Vargas from the United States, Manuel Bucher and Leonard Barbou from Switzerland, Rasmus Sibast from Denmark, and of course the generous host from Italy.
Oh boy, that is a pretty impressive line-up, and this is what the international top team came up with:
Manuel Bucher & Patrick Chapin
Most of the design was done by Chapin and Bucher and we caught up with them for a little interview. So what is the thing about the now already infamous River Kelpie?
“This card makes the mirror match-up very easy,” Bucher said. “Having two of them in the maindeck puts you at a big advantage. In one game yesterday I was able to draw up to seven new cards. Every turn.” “And of course there's the combo withOona's Grace,” Chapin threw in. “Especially now, with a second copy of both.”
The second Oona's Grace, it turns out, is extremely important in the Kithkin match-up. “Yeah, the Kithkin deck has such a lot of threats, and big threats at that... running out of answers has been a real problem,” said Bucher. And Chapin added, “The Grace is not that good in the mirror, though, as you need all of your lands in play instead of the graveyard.”
“We run 27 lands,” Bucher stated, apparently quite happy about the fact. How many of those come into play tapped? Rolling his eyes the young Swiss admitted to having a whopping eleven of them in the deck.
The mirror, Kithkin... That leaves the question about what's going on in the match-up against Faeries. “We moved the removal slots around a little bit to fit a second Plumeveil,” Chapin said, “also we have Vexing Shusher in the sideboard.” “Which is especially good, as the Faerie players usually board out some of their spot removal.”
Paul CheonSo there are no bad match-ups at all...? “Oh yes, we tend to lose against Merfolk for example,” said Chapin. Bucher added, “And the Demigod of Revenge deck is a really unfavorable match-up. We have no Runed Halo, no... nothing.”
“We wanted to beat Faeries, Kithkin, and the mirror,” Chapin explained. “Against everything else we lose.”
Not the worst decision considering the amount of Faeries, Kithkin, and assorted Quick' n Toast decks in day two... However, while their team did post solid results overall, once again it is Paul Cheon who still has got a shot at the title... Unfortunately, he'll have to go 3-0 from now on to clinch a top 8 berth. Nevertheless, that certainly is something the two-time GP champion certainly is capable of doing!
Feature Match: Round 12 – Massimiliano Ruffilli (ITA) vs. Gennaro Mango (ITA)
Both of these Italian players had been among the three undefeated decks at the end of day one but had stumbled slightly at the start of the second day. Rufilli`s faeries had taken an early loss, while Mango`s kithkin deck had just fought to a tight 1-1 draw with Paul Cheon in feature match. The winner of this classic Lorwyn/Shadowmoor matchup would be in great shape for a run to the Top 8, but the loser they would find themselves in the last chance saloon.
Mango mounted a token offense to begin with – three tokens from his Spectral Procession, to be precise – but that was met by a token defense from Ruffilli, in the form of his Bitterblossom tokens. As Mango attacked he created another swarm of spirit tokens via a Windbrisk Heights` and Spectral Procession, but the Figure of Destiny under a second Windbrisk Heights had its ambitions broken.
Gennaro MangoA Mistbind Clique came to Ruffilli`s defense but Mango`s third Windbrisk Heights was met with a deep sigh of unhappiness. Would this Kithkin deck ever stop Impulsing cards into play? The kithkin spirits attacked and dropped Ruffilli to 9 life, and then another Spectral Procession emerged from that third Windbrisk Heights, but was Cryptic Commanded. No matter, Mango revealed his fourth Spectral Procession from hand and `unzipped` yet more creature tokens from the one sorcery!
Desperate for defense Ruffilli had to settle for Sower of Temptation to steal a spirit... then Mango played his FOURTH Windbrisk Heights. Four Procession, four Heights - Ruffilli was feeling down on his luck, and rightly so! Mango attempted to `unzip` even more creatures with a Cloudgoat Ranger, but Ruffilli had a Spellstutter Sprite for the Giant and began to attack back, sending his Mistbind Clique and Mutavault into the red zone.
Gennaro Mango attacked straight back but all his spirit tokens perished against the faerie defenders – not before a Wizened Cenn had arrived from the Heights, and a Cloudgoat Ranger, which Ruffilli could do nothing about, joined that. Pzzzt, unzip! Three more creature tokens hit play, this time Kithkin.
Ruffilli hung back to defend against this new army, but on Mango`s next turn he played Ajani Goldmane.
I don`t speak Italian but I`m willing to bet that`s not good news for Massimiliano Ruffilli. All the Kithkin gained +1/+1 tokens and attacked, Ruffilli blocked frantically and added a Scion of Oona to boost his defenders but Mango threw a Mirrorweave down, targeting the Mistbind Clique. That resolved and everything became a 4/4 flyer but all Mango`s creatures had a +1/+1 token as well, and Ruffilli swept up first his creatures, then the rest of his permanents.
Massimiliano Ruffilli 0 – 1 Gennaro Mango
Massimiliano RuffilliRuffilli had gone a game down and bemoaned his luck to the watching Italian spectators. “Quattro Alture di Vento Pungente, Quattro Processione Spettrale!” – Game 2 was unlikely to be a repeat of that!
The Kithkin began their assault in more typical fashion, with a Goldmeadow Stalwart and Figure of Destiny, while Ruffilli made a strong start with a pair of Bitterblossom, and a Peppersmoke to allow his Faerie token to trade up with the Figure before it could become a 4/4. Stillmoon Cavalier galloped out of Ruffilli`s sideboard – the Stillmoon Cavalier has been seen on both sides of the Kithkin-Faeries war this weekend. Pzzt, unzip! Spectral Procession for Mango, but it didn`t seem like that was going to be enough and he couldn`t make any headway against the growing swarm of Faerie tokens at Ruffilli`s command. Instead, Mango`s spirits stayed on defense, blocking away Faerie attackers – his plan was obviously to hang in long enough for Ruffilli to die to his own Bitterblossom upkeeps, and Pzzzt unzip! Another three spirits emerged a turn later.
Ruffilli needed a plan B as it seemed his Faeries wouldn`t get through in time as his life had already dropped to 9 from Bitterblossom. He sent the Stillmoon Cavalier into action... pump, pump, pump, and in for 5 and dropping Mango to 15. With Ruffilli`s Protection from White knight away from home Gennaro Mango saw his chance and played a Wizened Cenn, activated his Mutavault, and swung back – the Faeries blocked but Ruffilli dropped to 6 life.
Ruffilli now seemed stuck between the rock of his upkeep, and the hard place of Mango`s attack phase. He hang back in defense for a turn, then played a Scion of Oona and attacked for four with a pair of Faeries, putting Mango to 11 life. On the next turn he would drop to 2 and be able to attack for lethal damage in the air!
But Mango had a plan to survive - at the beginning of Ruffilli`s final turn he cast Mirrorweave targeting his own 1/1 Spirit token, shrinking Mango`s creatures to non-lethal size... but in response Ruffilli played Nameless Inversion to remove Mirrorweave`s target! With the final Kithkin resistance dealt with his faeries flew past the rest of Mango`s blockers to level the match just seconds before the end of the round.
Massimiliano Ruffilli 1 –1 Gennaro Mango
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 12:40 p.m. – The Horde of Nations
An interesting tidbit has been passed my way by Rich Hagon and Ben Coleman, doing their usual sterling service on the podcast coverage (go listen!). They`ve spotted that there have been a couple of odd things in which nationalities are represented in day two. I`ll throw a sample of numbers at you:
Italy – 27 in day two out of 457 on day one
Czech Republic – 9 out of 30
Switzerland – 5 out of 17
France – 1 out of 33
Germany – 3 out of 27
USA – 3 out of 6
Netherlands – 1 out of 4
Japan – 2 out of 2
There`s some big results there! Leading the way is Japan (who'd have guessed) with an astonishingly 100%. Second place goes to the USA because 50% of their players made it into day two. Close behind them are both Switzerland and the Czech Republic, where around 30% of the players made it through. For the Czech Republic in particular that`s a huge success because they aren`t typically at the forefront of the Grand Prix circuit. Those are the success stories, but where are the Germans – only 10% made it through?
Worse still are the French and Dutch (classically Magic powerhouses). Despite having hugely successful players here - both Ruels, Raphael Levy, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Christophe Peyronnel, and Remi Fortier – only one Frenchman is in the top 64! And the Netherlands, while 25% of them made it into day two that only constitutes one player, because only four Dutchies turned up at all!
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 12:55 p.m. – Applying some Future Sight
Often you get to the end of a Block Constructed season and the focus has shifted away from the decks that players are using. It`s often the case that the best players have settled on a few top decks. And at the tail end of Block Constructed who cares what the decks are anyway, because you`re probably never going to play them again. That`s not the case today, though, not by a long way!
If you think that Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed is boring and everybody knows what the best decks are, try telling that to Mario Pascoli (5-colour Faeries) or Shuuhei Nakamura (5-colour Merfolk). And if you think that all the best tech has already been found? Try telling that to the American contingent here, players like Patrick Chapin or Paul Cheon, who are plying their trade with the oft-maligned River Kelpie and Oona's Grace.
And if you think that the decks that win here today won`t matter tomorrow then I think you`re mistaken. When Time Spiral block leaves Standard, and a certain Magus of the Moon with it, you can expect that the Vivid Lands and Reflecting Pools of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block will flourish. I mentioned yesterday that I think this tournament will have a huge influence on the post-rotation Standard metagame and I really think we`re seeing the shape of things to come.
Obviously we are all waiting to see what Shards of Alara will bring and it could easily change everything. But as the first of the new smaller `big sets` it only adds 209 new cards to the format (it will be only 20% of the new card pool, if you ignore the basic set). Shards will need to do something dramatic to prevent the new Standard from looking a lot like Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block constructed. Moreover, Shards` three-color theme plays right to the strengths of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor decks – their multicoloured mana bases – and the best Shards cards could well slot right into existing decks.
Time will tell, and R&D have a habit of throwing us players curveballs, but what Grand Prix-Rimini block is showing us, with it`s 5-colour decks of all kinds, is that whatever Shards of Alara brings - be it from Esper, Naya, Bant, Jund, or Grixis - you`ll be able to play with it in Standard!
Feature Match: Round 13 – Giusti Emanuele vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
Shuuhei NakamuraBoth players have a score of 10-2, which means they need two more wins out of the next three rounds in order to make it to the final eight...
Emanuele started with Burrenton Forge-Tender, Knight of Meadowgrain, and Spectral Procession on consecutive turns, while Nakamura only had a pair of Silvergill Adepts, which were no match for Emanuele's creatures, even less so, when the Italian player added Ajani Goldmane to his side of the table and turned one of its loyalty counters into five +1/+1 counters.
Nakamura finished off the Burrenton Forge-Tender by means of Nameless Inversion and cleared the board with Firespout. Nakamura followed it up with Oona, Queen of the Fae, but Emanuele had Unmake. With the table completely reset on both sides, now the race was on. Who could recover more quickly? The Italian player added Knight of Meadowgrain and a Burrenton Forge-Tender to his board, both of them being enhanced by Ajani Goldmane's second ability.
When Spectral Procession came down for Emanuele, things were looking grim for the Japanese. His deck relies on the fact that usually it can regain the offensive once it stabilizes the board position. But even his Chameleon Colossus along with Merrow Reejerey could not help – it simply was too late and Nakamura was too far behind. The flyers did him in.
Shuuhei Kanamura 0 – 1 Giusti Emanuele
Giusti EmanueleWhile Shuuhei started Game 2 with Stonybrook Banneret, possibly enabling a quick Chameleon Colossus. Giusti had a slow start, with Burrenton Forge-Tender on turn one, just Windbrisk Heights for turn two, and Spectral Procession on turn three.
Firespout cleared the board once again, but Giusti immediately rebounded with Spectral Procession. One of the tokens was taken out by Nameless Inversion, one by Cryptic Command, but both were replaced: Yet another Knight of Meadowgrain, and Wizened Cenn came down on the Italian side of the table. Nakamura's lifetotal soon started to plunge dangerously.
He was still troubled by mana problems, and this why he actually had to chump-block Knight of Meadowgrain with Chameleon Colossus, and then even Oona. (The knight had grown to be 5/5 via Ajani Goldmane and Rustic Clachan.)
In the end Nakamura ran out of chump-blockers for Emanuele's first striker and that was it.
Shuuhei Kanamura 0 – 2 Giusti Emanuele
Feature Match: Round 15 – Joel Calafell (ESP) vs Michal Marciniszyn (CZE)
My coverage co-conspirator, Tobias Henke, mentioned earlier that the Czech Republic players have put in a great showing at Grand Prix-Rimini. Still standing is Michal Marciniszyn, and he finds himself playing for a spot in the Top-8 against Joel Calafell's merfolk deck.
“What have you played against mostly?” Calafell began by probing for a little information. “Faeries, Kithkin?”
“Yeah mostly. Some five colour control, some burn decks in day one” no Merfolk deck, which would hearten Calafell. He still didn't what he was up against though.
Winning the dice roll, the Spaniard began the match with a Silvergill Adept and Merrow Reejerey, while Marciniszyn laid out Vivid Crag and a Figure of Destiny. Calafell added a second Reejerey but didn't dare to attack into the Figure, and it grew to 4/4 before Marciniszyn swept away the Fish with a Firespout. Without a Stonybrook Banneret to reduce the cost, the Sage's Dousing cost one mana too much to stop that, but next turn a Cryptic Command to bounce the Figure of Destiny back to hand left the board clear once again.
Calafell's second wave started more conservatively with a Stonybrook Banneret and a Silvergill Adept, but this time the red deck played it's own Command – an Incendiary Command that destroyed a land and swept the fish away again. Calafell came back with Plan C – that was C for Chameleon Colossus. Marciniszyn was into his Plan D, though. D for Demigod of Revenge, of course, and Calafell was quickly low down to 7 life.
The Spaniard stole Demigod with a Sower of Temptation but immediately had to return it when Eyeblight's Ending killed the Sower. He had a Cryptic Command to bounce the Demigod, but that just opened the way for a Flame Javelin to the skull and it was game over.
Joel Calafell 0 – 1 Michal Marciniszyn
Joel Calafell“Have you played against Merfolk before?” The second round of the Calafell's interrogation wasn't so subtle, it seemed. He looked worried doing sideboarding, though – the amount of mass removal Marciniszyn was packing in his main deck did not make for a favourable matchup, on the face of it.
“I guess you're good against Kithkin, yeah?” he asked, probing the red deck's abilities once again.
“True – I think it's also good against Faeries. I lost to Paul Cheon and Wafo-Tapa with Quick n Toast. It also looks good against your deck.”
“Yeah” Joel Calafell conceded – he certainly couldn't argue with that!
A pair of Silvergill Adepts began the fightback for Calafell, but it was business as usual and Marciniszyn was happy to sit back behind the threat of a 4/4 Figure of Destiny to prevent attacking. Calafell tried to hit the Figure with a Nameless Inversion but found that his lands had betrayed him and he had no black mana available. Fighting for time, the Spaniard dropped a Vendilion Clique and cycled away a Demigod of Revenge from his opponent's hand but it was immediately assassinated by Eyeblight's Ending. Still cementing his foothold in the match, Calafell's Sower of Temptation stole the Figure of Destiny then traded it with a Marciniszyn's Chameleon Colossus the next turn – not a bad result at all!
Calafell definitely had the edge, but now the Czech player had five lands, and five lands spelt Demigod of Revenge - Calafell dropped to 15, but he immediately attacked back to put Marciniszyn on just 6 life, and a Cryptic Command ensured that he levelled the match 1-1 on the following turn.
Joel Calafell 1 – 1 Michal Marciniszyn
Michal MarciniszynThe first game had been won by the Czech player's Firespout and Incendiary Command, and the second game lost precisely because he couldn't sweep the board. It seemed like both players now knew what needed to happen for them to win, which was essential with a Grand Prix Top 8 spot on the line.
The two player's wished each other luck and launched into battle – Marciniszyn confidently announced he would keep his opening hand but Calafell shuffled his away for six different cards. Marciniszyn began with a Vexing Shusher then a Flame Javelin onto Calafell's Stonybrook Banneret. The Shusher traded with a Merrow Reejerey on the following turn but as soon as it left play a Figure of Destiny entered by the other door. Undaunted, Calafell stuck a Recumbent Bliss onto the Figure, and as the Czech player stalled on four land the Bliss began to rebuild Calafell's lifetotal.
A Thoughtseize gave Joel Calafell an insight into his opponent's mind but it wasn't a pretty sight – two Demigod, Firespout, Incendiary Command, and a Flame Javelin – with Calafell choosing to axe the Javelin that would be able to kill a Chameleon Colossus. Marciniszyn finally found his fifth land and turned to Plan D – the Demigod. Calafell took the blow to the face, but responded by Thoughtseizing the second Demigod from the Czech hand, and slapping a second of his sideboarded Recumbent Bliss on the Demigod that was in play.
This was bad for Marciniszyn as Calfell was now picking up two life per turn – he had to change the came and cast an Incendiary Command to deal 4 damage to the dome and draw a new hand. That new hand contained new gas for the Czech player and he cast a Figure of Destiny and swiftly grew it to a 4/4 and knocking Calafell down to 8 life... but he had a Cryptic Command to return the Figure when it became 8/8 next turn, and another Cryptic Command to counter it's return. All the while the pair of Recumbent Bliss continued to rejuvenate his lifetotal each turn. Marciniszyn lashed out with a second Incendiary Command, this time dealing 4 damage to Calafell and sweeping the board to remove his own Figure of Destiny, and the Recumbent Bliss that encanted it.
Vendilion Clique for Calafell, that died instantly but not before the Spaniard had cycled away his own unwanted card and drawn into a Chameleon Colossus. Marciniszyn had finally run out of burn and the Colossus doubled in size to 8/8, then quadrupled to 16/16! Marciniszyn was on 16 life. 16 minus 16 is zero, and Joel Calafell had stomped and romped his way into the Top-8 of Grand Prix-Rimini!
Joel Calafell 2 – 1 Michal Marciniszyn
Feature: Top 8 Decklists
Blog: Sunday, September 14th, 14:20 p.m.– Meet the Artists
For every Grand Prix Wizards of the Coast invite two artists. Signing and/or altering cards this weekend were Justin Sweet and rk post:
Justin Sweet and rk post
And which cards are the true crowd favorites, which cards did they sign the most?
Podcast: Sunday, September 14th, 14:30 p.m. – Kelpie No Helpie
We have a Top 8, and the title of this show might give you a clue as to a major deck that hasn't made the final cut. The five color control decks narrowly missed out, leaving us with a final octet packed with Faeries, Kithkin, Merfolk and a solitary Doran representative. Join us later for full coverage of the knockout rounds. Can a mighty Japanese Pro take a giant leap towards the Player of the Year title?
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Top 8 Player Profiles
Name: Matthias Künzler
Residence: Bern, Switzerland
Occupation: Engineer in Microtechnic and I co-own a games store
Number of GP Top 8s: 3,now
Number of PTs played: 11
Other Magic achievements:
What has been your best card this weekend: Bitterblossom
Are you going to win: Considering I haven't lost a match yet, I feel pretty confident!
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? The Dark Knight and yes, I liked it.
Name: Rodrigo Renedo
Residence: Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Number of GP Top 8s: 1
Number of PTs played: 2
Other Magic achievements: JAJAJA Clan Captain, I won 2 RSP ballots for the Invitational.
What has been your best card this weekend: Glen Elendra Archmage (singleton) Thanks to txep!
Are you going to win: Of course!
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? Don't Mess With The Zohan, it was amazing!
Name: Joel Calafell
Residence: Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain
Number of GP Top 8s: 2
Number of PTs played: 7
Other Magic achievements: Top-8 Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur 2008, won 1 ballot for RSP Invitational
What has been your best card this weekend: Glen Elendra Archmage (singleton) Thanks to txep
Are you going to win: Of course!
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? Don't Mess With The Zohan, same as Renado. It was probably the worst film ever!
Name: Petr Nahodil
Residence: Brno, Czech Republic
Occupation: Student, and I work in an M:tG shop
Number of GP Top 8s: 2
Number of PTs played: 10+
Other Magic achievements: Twice Czech national champion, and Top-32 at Pro Tour London.
What has been your best card this weekend: Hallowed Burial – I won every mirror match with this card.
Are you going to win: Possibly
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? Eurotrip
Name: Emanuele Giusti
Residence: Arezzo, Italy
Number of GP Top 8s: 0
Number of PTs played: 0
Other Magic achievements: Nothing in Magic but I was the Yu-Gi-Oh national champion.
What has been your best card this weekend: Absolutely, Rise of the Hobgoblins!
Are you going to win: Sure! Wait... what?
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? Kung-Fu Panda, it was good.
Name: Claudio Salemi
Residence: Catania, Italy
Number of GP Top 8s: 0
Number of PTs played: 4
Other Magic achievements: 35th at PT Columbus
What has been your best card this weekend: Doran (the most weird)
Are you going to win: Sure
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? The new Batman movie. It was good.
Name: Shuuhei Nakamura
Residence: Not Kansas, but maybe Kyoto (ooh... clever! -Ed)
Occupation: Continental Walker
Number of GP Top 8s: 10+
Number of PTs played: 20-30
Other Magic achievements: Not making Top-8 in Grand Prix
What has been your best card this weekend: Jace Beleren. I'm it's not a Tribal Wizard, though.
Are you going to win: So so...
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? I saw Iron Man on the flight over. My favourite Italian movie is Cinema Paradiso.
Name: Marcello Calvetto
Residence: Ivres (italy)
Number of GP Top 8s: My first, today
Number of PTs played: 1
Other Magic achievements: None
What has been your best card this weekend: Beseech the Queen
Are you going to win: No, I think Salemi will win.
What was the last film you saw? Was it good? The Mummy III, and I liked it a lot!
Quarterfinals – Shuhei Nakamura vs. Rodrigo Renedo
Apparently, 5-color Merfolk is all the rage now; two of them even meet in the quarterfinals!
The first game started fast and furious, with Renedo's Stonybrook Banneret into Vendilion Clique. Nakamura answered both with Firespout, but Renedo redoubled his grip on the game with double Chaneleon Colossus.
Nakamura himself only had a Silvergill Adept and Jace Beleren. Renedo didn't even bother with the Planeswalker, instead bringing the Japanese down to three with one mighty swing of an 8/8 Colossus and one usual-sized one.
However, Nakamura was not to be defeated that easily. He even attacked for two and then cast Cryptic Command to buy some time. Next, a combination of clever chump-blocking and Sower of Temptation meant a comeback for the Japanese superstar.
Renedo attacked with his one remaining Colossus and his Mutavault. When Nakamura chump-blocked the Colossus and tried to dispatch the land with Nameless Inversion, Renedo countered and tapped all but two of his lands in the process.
Nakamura untapped, laid his eigth land... hesitated a second, but then shrugged and simply attacked with the stolen Colossus and his Sower of Temptation for 18.
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 0 Emanuele Guisti
Nakamura got rid of the Silvergill Adepts and Renedo's Cryptic Command bounced Chameleon Colossus. Unfortunately, the young Spaniard couldn't do anything about Nakamura's Jace Beleren that now followed.
For about thirteen turns the Planeswalker kept drawing cards for his master. (Well, some for his master's opponent too, of course.) Meanwhile, threats were played, countered, destroyed, bounced, or even discarded... Nothing stayed on the table, allowing Jace to “keep up the good work”.
When Nakamura finally let his Planeswalker-ally die and then called upon another for even more card-drawing, it became apparent that this game wouldn't be taking long anymore. Soon after, he dropped some Stonybrook Bannerets, Silvergill Adepts, a Chameleon Colossus, and a Sower of Temptation. Next turn he attacked and... well...
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 0 Emanuele Guisti
Quarterfinals – Matthias Künzler (CHE) vs. Marcello Calvetto (ITA)
Matthias Künzler was on the verge of history, here. At Grand Prix-Copenhagen last month Tomaharo Saitou won every round of the Swiss until he lost the last round, but Künzler has gone one better and managed a draw instead of a loss. If he is able to win the Grand Prix he would become the first player to ever go undefeated on both days. Many years ago the British deckbuilding master, John Ormerod, made it into the Top-8 undefeated but failed to take the crown - having surpassed Saitou, history awaited Künzler's next move. As did the 16 year old Italian Marcello Calvetto, who was hoping to upset the odds
Künzler spent a long while thinking over his second turn before casting Bitterblossom but Calvetto had the Broken Ambitions ready, and when he won the clash also managed to mill away both of Künzler's Thoughtseize from his deck. It was early days but would that prove crucial? Calvetto played Scion of Oona but Künzler activated his Mutavault to give himself a Faerie, then Peppersmoked the Scion away and drew a card.
“How many cards?” asked Calvetto.
“Just seven,” replied the Swiss master calmly “You?”
Künzler cast a Spellstutter Sprite and began nibbling away at Calvetto's lifetotal. At the end of the turn Calvetto attempted to cast a Mistbind Clique. Künzler allowed it into play but used a Cryptic Command to bounce the Mutavault that activated to make a Faerie for the Champion effect, and the Mistbind Clique went away again in a puff of smoke. That had been expensive for Calvetto, but it gave him an opening and he used it to resolve a Bitterblossom.
Künzler attempted to get his own Mistbind Clique into play the next turn, but it was Cryptic Commanded and Calvetto drew a card. It was now four cards apiece in hand, and Calvetto had Bitterblossom in play as well, which definitely gave him the edge. Seizing the initiative Calvetto cast a Thoughtseize and tore away a Cryptic Command from the Swiss player's hand. Unfortunately for the young Italian he had nothing to stop Künzler playing the Bitterblossom he had topdecked seconds after Thoughtseize had finished looking at his hand. With both players now having a Bitterblossom in play the lifescores became critical, and Künzler led in that race 17 to 13.
Künzler attacked, and after blockers played a Scion of Oona that would change the combat maths. Calvetto countered the Scion with a Spellstutter Sprite, but lost a Mutavault to Künzler's Nameless Inversion and went down to 11 life, 10 in his upkeep. Both players were reduced topdecking after that exchange, and Calvetto found gold in a Sower of Temptation and then a Spellstutter Sprite to protect it from another Nameless Inversion that Künzler had drawn. For all his tight jockeying for position, Matthias Künzler found himself facing down 7 creatures with only 2 of his own, and two attack phases later it was all over.
Matthias Künzler 0 – 1 Marcello Calvetto
The pull of history had gotten fainter after his first game loss, and seemed to slip away even further as Künzler mulliganed away his first hand, and only reluctantly held onto his second hand of six. Künzler played a second turn Bitterblossom, and on his second turn Calvetto cast two Thoughtseize to leave the Swiss player with only land in hand! Would the Bitterblossom be enough?
With nothing better to do Künzler began the aerial assault but Calvetto followed up his devastating second turn with a Stillmoon Cavalier from his sideboard. Künzler Pondered into a Thoughtseize of his own, and left Calvetto with only a Broken Ambitions and land in hand, then attacked in with his faerie and a Mutavault, capitalising on the four life Calvetto had paid for his Thoughtseizes and dropping him to 11 life.
With the Italian having mana available to give the Stillmoon Cavalier flying, Künzler sat back and allowed his Fae swarm to grow before attacking again. The Cavalier accounted for the Mutavault, but the faerie tokens got through and Calvetto mistakenly took a point of mana burn. He had given the Cavalier First Strike via a Sunken Ruins and forgot to sink the extra mana. Künzler followed up with a second Bitterblossom, and Calvetto fought right back with two Peppersmoke and a second Stillmoon Cavalier!
Those two Peppersmoke had utterly transformed the damage race in Calvetto's favour - Künzler was on 9 life, but the Cavaliers and the Bitterblossom upkeeps would get to him before his remaining Faeries could get to Calvetto... he attacked, putting Calvetto to 5 life but would only have 4 tokens the following turn. Calvetto attacked, reducing Künzler to 4 life.
Matthias Künzler was almost out of the Grand Prix and went for the Hail Mary play, the only play he had left. He cast a Cryptic Command to draw a card and return an Island to Calvetto's hand, leaving him only two mana untapped. Künzler knew the only card in his deck that would help him out was a Scion of Oona, and by returning the Island he ensured it wouldn't get countered by Broken Ambitions. If either of the two cards he would draw were Scion of Oona, he would win. But they weren't the saviour that he had prepared for, and Matthias Künzler unhappily extended his hand to concede the match.
Matthias Künzler 0 – 2 Marcello Calvetto
After the match, Künzler pondered over whether he had played correctly by casting the second Bitterblossom, and while it was the play that eventually killed him at the time that he cast it, with the information available, it was the right thing to do. The double Peppersmoke was the killer response, and that was an unlikely scenario to plan for.
History must wait a little longer for an undefeated Grand Prix winner, and it's Marcello Calvetto who advances into the Semi Finals!
Semifinals – Shuuhei Nakamura (JPN) vs Claudio Salemi (ITA)
You know that the world has gone mad when Faerie decks are able to play Doran, the Siege Tower but that was what that faced Shuuhei Nakamura as he looked through Salemi's decklist at the beginning of this semi-final match. Not that Shuuhei's own five-colour Merfolk deck was any less greedy, mind you – such is the reality of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block mana bases that the 1UUU of Cryptic Command can sit comfortably alongside almost any other mana costs. Shuuhei had a more pressing problem, however – his deck appeared to only contain 59 cards!
The missing culprit was a Nameless Inversion that was found among the cards of his quarter-final opponent, and after a few minute's delay to reshuffle we finally got underway. Shuuhei's start was a little tentative, though, leading with a Stonybrook Banneret then using a Cryptic Command to counter Salemi's Scion of Oona,and bounce a Vivid Creek to hand, giving the Japanese Pro an early mana advantage, which he used to put Jace Beleren into play. Nakamura began drawing extra cards from his new Planeswalker ally, cutting down a second Scion of Oona with a Nameless Inversion on the way.
When Nakamura played a Sygg, River Guide his opponent made a critical error, though. Claudio Salemi played a Spellstutter Sprite in response but allowed the ability to go onto the stack before he activated a Mutavault for a second Faerie. A judge confirmed the error, Sygg resolved as a result, and Salemi picked up his permanents and conceded the match. He was obviously disappointed in his own error, but it had never seemed like Salemi had a foothold in the match and seemed to just want to get into a different game as quickly as he could.
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 - 0 Claudio Salemi
The second game started more brightly for Salemi, and he found a second turn Bitterblossom, only to have Nakamura remove it with a Wispmare before he could spawn a single Faerie from it. Shuuhei Nakamura found a little more of his classic Merfolk offense than he had in the first game and began to attack with a Stonybrook Banneret and Silvergill Adept. Salemi killed the Banneret with a Nameless Inversion and attacked back as best he could with a lone Scion of Oona, but his body language was suggesting a player resigned to his fate.
Still, Salemi managed to counter a second Silvergill Adept with a Spellstutter Sprite and edge his way back into the damage race, but before he could capitalise on that a Nameless Inversion took down his Scion and after another Japanese attack the Italian was 10-14 down on life. Fighting back, Salemi hit Nakamura with a Thoughtseize but it revealed a host of power cards – two Cryptic Command and a Chameleon Colossus. He took a Command, and in Nakamura's next attack traded away both of the attacking creatures for a Spellstutter Sprite and a Crib Swap.
That Crib Swap going away gave Nakamura an excuse to play the Chameleon Colossus from hand. Salemi had an Oblivion Ring for it, but Nakamura had drawn into a second Colossus! The Italian had no answer for the second Colossus and stuck out his hand to congratulation Shuuhei Nakamura on his win.
Shuuhei Nakamura 2 – 0 Claudio Salemi
Podcast: Sunday, September 14th, 15:30 p.m. – Just Desserts
We are done here in Rimini and a blistering Top 8 has left us with a worthy champion. Join us for coverage of some great matches, as Shuuhei Nakamura attempts to deal a massive blow to his rivals in pursuit of the coveted Player of the Year title. Then, set your watches, as Grand Prix: Paris, with Shards of Alara Sealed Deck and Draft, is just a month away. All Magic, all the time, here on magicthegathering.com.
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Finals – Shuhei Nakamura vs. Emanuele Giusti
So this is it: The finals; seven-hundred players have been narrowed down to just these two and only one of them will walk away with the trophy. The match-up is one of extreme contrasts: 5-color Merfolk against mono-white Kithkin, far-traveled Pro Tour superstar against local hero...
A pretty good start, provided he draws at least one more land anytime soon. Unfortunately, he didn't. In fact, not a single one showed up over the whole course of this game, which, admittedly, didn't take very long.
Shuuhei Nakamura 0 – 1 Emanuele Giusti
The second game started off with a mulligan to six from the Japanese side. Giusti's start, though, was staggeringly slow: No play on turn one, nothing on turn three and no action on turn four. Only turn two saw his Wizened Cenn immediately send to the bin by means of Nakamura's Nameless Inversion.
Nevertheless this format's most aggressive beatdown deck does have some big spells (and removal) to make up for slow starts. Not this time though... Cryptic Command countered Cloudgoat Ranger and Sower of Temptation took care (actually, took control of) Figure of Destiny. However, Spectral Procession resolved, but one of the tokens found itself enchanted with Recumbent Bliss, to ensure Windbrisk Heights wouldn't come up with anything dangerous.
Now it was Nakamura's turn to bring on some action: The stolen Figure of Destiny grew bigger and bigger, and two Silvergill Adepts and a Stonybrook Banneret meant that Giusti's remaining tokens stayed home to block. None of them did, though, as one was taken out by Nameless Inversion and the other bounced via Cryptic Command.
Bereft of all creatures, he soon received the final points of damage.
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 1 Emanuele Giusti
After these two very lopsided games, both players wished for a “nice game” now at least. And indeed, Figure of Destiny came down on turn one, attacked for two then, and...
...that was the last play for quite some time. Afterwards the game developed into some eloborate sort of staring contest. While Nakamura always had the mana to cast Nameless Inversion, Giusti always kept the mana to activate the second ability of his Figure.
Giusti blinked first and to his dismay did indeed lose his little beater. He did have a replacement, though, and not the worst, in form of Wilt-Leaf Liege.
Silvergill Adept and Mutavault entered play on the Japanese side of the table, but it was soon shown that two 2-power guys are not quite as good as one 4/4. When both blocked the Liege, Giusti had Unmake to remove one of them before the damage went to the stack... but wait! Nakamura had of course accounted for that, and had the Cryptic Command ready. What he didn't see coming was the secondUnmake! He lost both his creatures and soon found himself at six life.
To make matters worse, Giusti added Figure of Destiny to his team. Looking at his own lands, five of which were of the Vivid variety and one a Reflecting Pool, Nakamura played Sower of Temptation at took the Figure of impending awesomeness.
It didn't get that far though. Giusti had Mirror Entity with four mana up, so the only thing Nakamura could do was cast one and then another Firespout. Giusti immediately restocked with Spectral Procession. Nakamura emptied his hand (a Chameleon Colossus among other minor creatures, none of them flying, and a Jace Beleren) to the board and passed right back.
Finally, the Italian went for the killing move. Attack with all three tokens, Mirrorweave, that's it! Grand Prix-Rimini has found its Champion!
Shuuhei Nakamura 1 – 1 Emanuele Giusti
Congratulations to runner-up Shuuhei Nakamura and Emanuele Giusti, winner of Grand Prix-Rimini 2008!