Warming Up in Rotterdam

Posted in Event Coverage on November 12, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Team events are a celebration of friendship and it is the top reason that such tournaments are so popular. Spending quality time among good company and engaging in well-natured competition is perhaps the best experience a Magic player could ask for. It also helps that Kaladesh has been one of the most fascinating planes and expansions to have ever been crafted.

In addition, many players here at Grand Prix Rotterdam are actually en route to the 2016 World Magic Cup! What does this entail?

For many players, this is a first trip out of their countries and one of the first opportunities to participate in foreign Grand Prix. For seasoned globetrotters and far-flung travelers, it is a great excuse to land early and explore the city or even traverse to neighboring countries for a short vacation. For the dedicated card-slingers, it is a perfect setting for playtesting and ironing out strategies for the fortnight. Regardless, it is also a wise move to arrive ahead of time, to not only recover from jet lag but also to get accustomed to the weather.

Well, what can I say?

Having Grand Prix Rotterdam in the same city as the 2016 World Magic Cup is pretty much a godsend to the couple hundred of World Magic Cup participants who are present today. Out of 700 registered teams at Grand Prix Rotterdam, 15 teams are comprised of only their respective country's team members. As soon as the National Champion and three World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners were decided, it was only natural for them to want to group up!

  • Poland
    • Grzegorz Kowalski — National Champion, 2 GP T8s
    • Maciej Janik — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Piotr Głogowski — WMCQ#2 Winner, 1 GP T8

The Poland National Champion, Grzegorz Kowalski, very nearly made Platinum in the past season and has cashed every single Pro Tour since Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. To further demonstrate that the Polish are great at putting up fascinating winning streaks, Maciej Janik is another of Poland's best. During the 2014 – 2015 season, put up not one, not two, but three consecutive X-5 finishes!

Just on the back of these three performances alone, that was more than enough to secure Janik Gold level. Since then, he's played every Pro Tour and also went on to win the very first WMCQ in Poland. Głogowski also participated in two Pro Tours during the past season, which means that the Polish team is in good hands.

  • Luxembourg
    • Steve Hatto — National Champion, 2 GP T8s
    • Geoffrey Martinelle — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Artur Queriroz — WMCQ#2 Winner

Steve Hatto might be a familiar name to you if you've been paying close attention to Standard. Known for designing and popularizing White-Blue Flash, he is not only the current leader for Standard Master, but also Luxembourg's National Champion. He leads the first and second WMCQ winners, Geoffrey Martinelle and Artur Queriroz.

What happened to the third WMCQ winner, Ben Gusenburger?

Since he was the final one to win the WMCQ, he really couldn't complain about it since the others have already synced up the travel plans. Besides, Gusenburger is currently residing in Leuven, Belgium, making him the only member who is unable to practice locally. Because of that, the trio felt that it was only natural for them to tackle Team Limited while Gusenburger would practice Modern with them on Magic Online. Coincidentally, all four members on the Luxembourg team are certified judges which makes them knowledgeable about the rules since they're often in close contact with the format.

Hatto shares that “it is very important for us to be physically present when preparing for Team Limited. We have to manage our time efficiently, move cards around and make a lot of discussions. We wouldn't be able to practice on the internet.”

Martinelle and Queriroz echoed those sentiments and also let me know that they have built and played out at least five sealed pools within the last seven days, and many, many more in the past month.

Hatto mentions that “Luxembourg has traditionally done poorly in the Limited portion of the World Magic Cup and he would like to step things up. Martinelle and Queriroz are all returning members and have a lot of experience. We hope to do better.”

At the end of the day, Team Sealed is mostly about identifying and then assembling “overpowered” draft decks. With sufficient practice, players will be able to quickly determine whether an archetype is present and whether it is strong enough. The more card pools you look at, the faster you'll be able to arrive at your three final decks!

Currently sitting at 6-0, Hatto is naturally very proud of his team!

  • Japan
    • Shota Yasooka — National Champion, 4 PT T8s, 20 GP T8s
    • Toru Takeshita — WMCQ#2 Winner, 1 GP T8
    • Kenji Tsumura — WMCQ#3 Winner, 6 PT T8s, 13 GP T8s

The most formidable team on this list, however, has to be the Japanese team.

No. 2-ranked Shota Yasooka most recently won Pro Tour Kaladesh and logic dictates that he has to know a thing or two about Kaladesh. Six-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Kenji Tsumura is also a fellow Hall of Famer, and took down the third Japan WMCQ to return to the team. It might also be a great moment to remind you that Tsumura made the Top 8 at the World Magic Cup last year. Together with WMCQ #2 Winner, Toru Takeshita, they decided to arrive early to prepare for the event.

I posed a hypothetical. What happens if you were one man short?

Tsumura explains, “We were coming to Rotterdam regardless because it is an opportunity to pick up Pro Points and also to practice for the World Magic Cup. If our teammates can't attend, it is okay! We will probably have gotten Shuhei Nakamura, Ryoichi Tamada or Yuuta Takahashi. They are Hall of Fame / Platinum and all very hardcore Magic players.”

As a matter of fact, that exact team arrived in Rotterdam regardless, even when they were not playing the World Magic Cup next week! Kaladesh Team Limited is just that fun!

  • China
    • Liu Yuchen — National Champion, 5 GP T8s
    • Yu Yin — WMCQ#2 Winner, 1 GPT8
    • Li Ang — WMCQ#3 Winner

An interesting scenario occurred in China as well. Five-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Liu Yuchen won WMCQ#1 and then went on to secure National Champion. Hence, his slot was passed down to Ding Yi, who came in 2nd place at that WMCQ. Liu approached Ding and expressed interest in attending Grand Prix Rotterdam. However, due to work commitment, Ding had to say no.

And then, a former China National Champion, Yu Yin, won the second WMCQ and committed to attend Grand Prix Rotterdam. Liu shared, “at that point, we were hoping at the third WMCQ winner would want to go as well. Since Ding couldn't come along with us, we would be in trouble if we couldn't find a third teammate. It is not easy to convince someone from China to make such a long trip even though it is a lot of fun.”

Thankfully, Li Ang, the third WMCQ winner was more than happy to fill the roster. “It is an excellent chance to visit Europe and I want to practice for the World Magic Cup. This Grand Prix is perfect! The most important thing is that we get to practice at a very high level tournament instead of only in our hotel rooms.”

In addition, here are the remaining 11 teams who are warming up in Rotterdam. Interestingly, Singapore (where I happen to be from) is the only team here in Rotterdam comprised of only WMCQ winners! Let's wish all of them good luck this weekend as well as the next!

  • Australia
    • David Mines — National Champion, 1 GP T8
    • James Wilks — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Ryan Cubit — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Belgium
    • Peter Vieren — National Champion, 2 GP T8s
    • Pascal Vieren — WMCQ#1 Winner, 1 GP T8
    • Branco Neirynck — WMCQ#3 Winner, 3 GP T8s
  • Estonia
    • Hannes Kerem — National Champion, 1 PT T8, 2 GP T8s
    • Karl Sarap — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Juhan Rebane — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Finland
    • Lauri Pispa — National Champion
    • Tuomas Tuominen — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Leo Lahonen — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Indonesia
    • Christian Wijaya — National Champion
    • Bushh Pangestu — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Taufik Indrakesuma — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Northern Ireland
    • Stephen Madden — National Champion
    • Rene Verheesen — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Thomas McKiernan — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Paraguay
    • Eduardo Filippi — National Champion
    • Oscar Bachmann — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Felipe Palei — WMCQ#2 Winner
  • Russia
    • Alexander Semkin — National Champion
    • Alexey Isupov — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Nikita Yurochko — WMCQ#3 Winner
  • Singapore
    • Felix Leong — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Xavier Tang — WMCQ#2 Winner
    • Eugene Wong — WMCQ#3 Winner
  • Turkey
    • Caner Aktas — National Champion
    • Yusuf Kemal Vefa — WMCQ#2 Winner
    • Ibrahim Celik — WMCQ#3 Winner
  • Venezuela
    • Daniel Fior — National Champion, 5 GP T8s
    • Luis Azocar — WMCQ#1 Winner
    • Arturo Torres — WMCQ#2 Winner

 

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