GRAND PRIX VIENNA 2008
Polish Level Blue Polishes Off Dredge
March 15-16, 2008
Champion Mateusz Kope While the story of Grand Prix Vienna may have been Dredge, which positioned four players in the top eight, including Player of the Year Tomoharu Saitou and Grand Prix Vienna 2004 winner Nikolaus Eisner, the lightning fast graveyard based beatdown deck did not take the crown.
In the latest variation of levels of blue, Polish Level Blue, a blue green black control deck strongly influenced by Paul Cheon's winning deck from Grand Prix Vancouver was the choice of champions. Mateusz Kopec now not only walks away with a trophy, Pro Tour invite and a fat check, but also the knowledge that he was triumphant in the largest Extended Grand Prix of all time!
This tournament has been a huge amount of fun for both staff and players, and has highlighted the power of choosing the right deck for the day. With no more Extended for a while now, it remains to be seen if Dredge remains as big a part of the metagame as it has been this weekend, but even if it is not, there are lessons to be learned here. If there is a very powerful deck in the format, you need a very good plan.
Congratulations again to Mateusz Kopec, Grand Prix Vienna 2008 Champion!
top 8 bracket
(1) Gianluca Bevere [ITA]
(8) Tomoharu Saitou [JPN]
(4) Nikolaus Eigner [AUT]
(5) Horst Winkelmann [AUT]
(2) Mateusz Kopec [POL]
(7) Andras Nagy [HUN]
(3) Matija Vlahovic [HRV]
(6) Wojciech Zuber [POL]
Tomoharu Saitou, 2-1
Nikolaus Eigner, 2-0
Mateusz Kopec, 2-0
Matija Vlahovic, 2-0
Nikolaus Eigner, 2-0
Mateusz Kopec, 2-1
Mateusz Kopec, 2-1
- Finals – A little bit of history repeating?
Nikolaus Eigner vs Mateusz Kopećby Tim Willoughby
- Semifinals – Mulligan Madness
Nikolaus Eigner vs Tomoharu Saitouby Tim Willoughby
- Quarterfinals – Wojciech Zuber vs. Matija Vlahovic
by Tobias Henke
- Quarterfinals – Saitou's Ideal Matchup
Gianluca Bevere vs Tomoharu Saitouby Tim Willoughby
- Podcast: What's the Pole Position?
by Rich Hagon
- Info: Top 8 Decks
by Event Coverage Staff
- Day 2 Blog: Feature Match coverage, Podcasts, and more!
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Day 2 Decklists
by Event Coverage Staff
- Day 1 Blog: Feature Match coverage, St. Patrick's Day Solution, GP Trial Winner Decklists and more!
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown (Green)
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown (Blue)
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Day 1 Playerlist (Green)
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Day 1 Playerlist (Blue)
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Fact Sheet
by Event Coverage Staff
|1. Mateusz Kopec||$3,500|
|2. Nikolaus Eigner||$2,300|
|3. Matija Vlahovic||$1,500|
|4. Tomoharu Saitou||$1,500|
|5. Gianluca Bevere||$1,000|
|6. Horst Winkelmann||$1,000|
|7. Wojciech Zuber||$1,000|
|8. Andras Nagy||$1,000|
pairings, results, standings
March 16th – What's the Pole Position?
The Formula One season got underway this weekend, and here in Vienna there was no shortage of high-octane thrills and spills, including a little-heralded Pole, looking to make a slice of GP history. How far could Mattheusz Kopec go in his quest for the chequered flag? Click here for the full pulse-pounding story of a great Top 8. Thanks for listening, and see you all in Brussels!
Quarterfinals – Saitou's Ideal Matchup
Smiling Saito with a good matchup in the quarter finals Coming into this top eight, while Tomoharu Saitou may have snuck in in eighth, he must have felt pretty good about his chances. With the deck of the tournament in Dredge, the Player of the Year had both had fun and decimated much of the field. He even had a favourable matchup in the quarterfinals, in the form of Enduring Ideal.
Ideal was the second most represented deck in day two, but unlike Dredge, it only had a single player in the top eight. Gianluca Bevere of Milan, Italy, whose previous Magic achievements were placing around 70th at Pro Tour Yokohama, had managed to finish top of the Swiss though, so he clearly has some skills. The 33 year old manga translator had to feel that he had a rough matchup in Dredge, but was happy to have qualified for Pro Tour Hollywood and won some money already, in what was originally planned to be a fun weekend spent with friends, without expectations.
Saitou kept his opener on the play, and led with a Careful Study, discarding Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Stinkweed Imp. A pretty solid start. From Bevere, there was as much pressure as he could reasonably apply, in a Tinder Farm and a pair of suspended copies of Lotus Bloom.
Saitou's turn two draw step dredged him to a Bridge From Below, Cabal Therapy and Golgari Grave-Troll in the graveyard, along with various other less useful dredgers. He played a second land and surveyed his hand intently. Finally he played Breakthrough with X as 1. The very first dredge hit a second Grave-Troll, but from there he ran out of dredgers, and had to draw cards before discarding down to one. One of the cards Saito drew was the third Grave-Troll, meaning that turn 3 would likely be messy.
In his third upkeep, Saitou returned Ichorid to play, before dredging a Grave-Troll again. He hit a Narcomoeba, and carefully counted the rest of his library before continuing. There was another Breakthrough, and when Saitou hit a Narcomoeba, meaning that he had sufficient creatures to cast Dread Return, off the first replaced draw, Bevere scooped up his cards. There was no point making Saitou go through the motions.
Gianluca Bevere 0 – 1 Tomoharu Saitou
As first games in a set go, Saitou's Game 1 was pretty straightforward. Against Enduring Ideal, he knew it was a straight up race that he should normally win. For games 2 and 3 though, there would be some very telling resistance that Bevere could put up. Both Tormod's Crypt and Leyline of the Void lay in Bevere's sideboard, and some combination of the two could make Saitou's plan much tougher to achieve. He had mentioned prior to the top 8 starting that a pair of turn 0 Leylines essentially spelled game over for him. For Saitou, this was where the match really started.
Game 2 started out somewhat rougher for Saitou. Gianluca was quick to keep his seven, suggesting a hand with some level of disruption. Saitou took a mulligan on his opener, and then shipped back his six also. Dredge is a deck that is more resilient than most to having a lower starting hand size, and it may well be that he was looking for a Chain of Vapor from the start.
Bevere had a turn 0 Leyline of the Void, but Saitou nearly bounced in his chair with glee when he found that that was the only disruption before the game started. He cracked a fetchland to find Watery Grave, and cast Putrid Imp.
On his turn two, thanks to a basic land, Bevere had a Pentad Prism with two counters. The much replicated Saitou Slaps began on his turn two. He attacked with Putrid Imp before waking himself up with a slap on the cheek. One Cephalid Colisseum later, it was Bevere's turn again. After a little thought, Bevere again played a Pentad Prism, along with a Burning Wish for Enduring Ideal. The clock was on Saitou, and he played Chain of Vapor on Leyline of the Void at the end of turn.
Saitou had nothing to discard to Putrid Imp during upkeep, and winced a little before drawing his card for the turn. He cast Breakthrough with X as 1, drawing all the cards, and discarding his hand, which now included Stinkweed Imp.
A Careful Study followed, which got him a Golgari Grave-Troll to dredge, and a Narcomoeba, but did not find a Cabal Therapy to keep him in the game by getting rid of Enduring Ideal. Saitou was tense now, carefully fanning out his graveyard and studying it to work out if he could have done something differently.
Bevere untapped and cast Solitary Confinement. This was another threat for Saitou to deal with, and there were only so many Chain of Vapors he could have. Tomoharu was forced to draw for his turn, and then activate Cephalid Colisseum to dig for an answer. He did not find one though. When Enduring Ideal came along the following turn, fetching Dovescape, Saitou scooped up his cards and declared "Next game!"
Gianluca Bevere 1 – 1 Tomoharu Saitou
Gianluca Bevere from Milan, Italy For the final game, dredge would be on the play, which would effectively give Tomoharu an extra turn in which to find answers to sideboard cards before Bevere could finish him. If it turned out that such cards weren't forthcoming, he would be heavy favourite, but if they were, he'd need all the time he could get.
Bevere peeked at his hand one card at a time, looking for something to slow Saitou down. There was nothing there though, meaning a swift mulligan. Good news for Tomoharu. While decks certainly can mulligan to answers against Dredge, any time they do so, it is at the expense of their win conditions.
Bevere's six card hand drew a look suggesting it was worse than his seven. He shuffled it back in and went for another go. The five he kept.
"No Leyline... so sorry!"
Saitou smiled and got on with his plan. A turn one Careful Study let him discard Golgari Grave-Troll and Dread Return. Bevere patted his deck affectionately, hoping it would bring him some love. The Italian did have a turn one Lotus Bloom and Sensei's Divining Top, but at this point his best chance was to get a Tormod's Crypt down, and he didn't have long to do so.
Saitou dredged back his Grave-Troll on turn two, and thought for a while before playing a Careful Study, which could only dredge the once, as Saitou was still a little short on dredgers. With a second land, Tomoharu did have another play though, which was to use Chain of Vapor on Sensei's Divining Top, lessening the chance of that Crypt.
Saitou on his turn got back an Ichorid, before using Cephalid Colisseum to dredge back three Golgari Grave-Trolls. He hit, amongst other things, two copies of Bridge From Below, and two Narcomoebas. With 3 creatures on the board, Saitou could cast Dread Return to get a Flame-Kin Zealot and six zombie tokens. When the team attacked, that was enough.
Tomoharu Saito wins 2 – 1
Quarterfinals – Wojciech Zuber vs. Matija Vlahovic
These two are playing in their first GP top 8, trying now to make that a GP top 4. Zuber is with Dredge, while Vlahovic is running blue-green Urzatron with one maindeck Tormod's Crypt and three Tolaria West.
As it turned out Vlahovic didn't even need Tolaria West. His opening seven luckily contained the lone Crypt. But still, it is only a one-shot answer – at least as long as he doesn't get Academy Ruins as well. In turn three he was finally forced to crack the Crypt, but before that, Zuber did get one Ichorid into play, which joined forces with Putrid Imp to attack Vlahovic down to 16. Then Zuber discarded two Bridge from Below to his Imp, trading his Ichorid for two zombies to at least keep up a minimum of pressure.
Turn six, however, saw Vlahovic transmute his Tolaria West for Urza's Tower. With his newly completed Urzatron he then cast Platinum Angel, forcing a concession from Zuber, whose deck doesn't have a way to overcome the flying life insurance.
Zuber 0 – 1 Vlahovic
Zuber played first and got off to a really good start, with Careful Study on turn one followed by Breakthrough (X = 1) on the next.That was not quite enough, as Zuber missed another dredge card to keep his deck going (going into his graveyard, that is). Vlahovic topdecked Tormod' Crypt and got rid of quite a good graveyard, now basically stuffed with dredge cards. The one card Zuber had been hanging on to, turned out to be yet another Breakthrouh, but unfortunately that didn't turn up any more dredge cards. Meanwhile Vlahovic got to cast Gifts Ungiven for Tolaria West, Life from the Loam, the missing tron piece, and Academy Ruins.
On his next turn, Vlahovic played Simic Signet, and transmuted Tolaria West into Tormod's Crypt. Without Pithing Needle anytime soon, things would soon be getting unwinnable for Zuber. Platinum Angel again sealed the deal.
Matija Vlahovic wins 2-0 and advances to the semifinals.
Semifinals – Mulligan Madness
For the semi-finals we have a historic match. Nikolaus Eigner's last Magic tournament was Pro Tour San Diego, while Saito is the reigning Player of the Year. However, Eigner has something of a history with Grand Prix Vienna. In 2004 he beat Antoine Ruel to become the champion of the last Grand Prix Vienna. If he wins two more rounds he will be the first person ever to defend their 'home' Grand Prix.
Both players played Dredge at this event, and revelled in how well it had worked for them given the metagame. Saitou was hesitant to call it the best deck, but he would concede that it was the best deck for this tournament. Both he and his friend Yui Tagaki finished well in the money with the same 75 cards. For Saito this is nothing new, but for Tagaki, who has just qualified as a doctor, and was treating the trip as a holiday before starting work, it was something a little more. Now qualified for Hollywood, Tagaki , who finished in 12th, had quite a trip.
Saitou is rocked up and ready to play.For the dredge mirror, there would be a large component of the match coming down to the luck of the draw, and indeed the die roll. Saitou gleefully declared that he would play first in Game 1 when Eigner rolled a 1 on the 20 sided die he was offered. Even when he had to mulligan all the way down to three, he seemed up-beat about the match.
"Surely you can't win if you mulligan to 3!?"
Saitou simply nodded his head with a smile.
"Three is ok, three is ok!"
As Saitou looked at his three, it was unclear that this was true in this case though. With Cabal Therapy, Darkblast and Breakthrough, he elected to mulligan to two. The Player of the Year would make history if he somehow won this one.
On two cards he chose to keep, played Polluted Delta and passed. Eigner had a turn one Putrid Imp, and end of turn Golgari Grave-Troll to dredge. When on his own turn, Eigner discarded another Grave-Troll and cast Breakthrough, that was enough for Saito to scoop up (if that is the word for one land) his cards an move on to the second game.
"I guess that's the way you win in this matchup on the draw!"
Nikolaus Eigner 1 – 0 Tomoharu Saitou
Vienna's own was just one game away from getting to the final. Now the sideboard cards would come in on both sides. When they played in the Swiss rounds, Eigner was victorious having lost game 1, thanks to beating the hate in one game, and having double Leyline of the Void in the decider.
Saitou was understandably quite keen to shuffle a great deal after having had so poor a set of draws in Game 1. Thus far the shuffling in the match had taken significantly longer than the abortive game 1.
On the play again, Saitou took his sixth mulligan of the match. While his opener had contained a Chain of Vapor to contain Leyline of the Void from Eigner, it had neither disruption nor the sort of start that would secure him victory.
The six card hand was much closer. With two copies of Breakthrough, Careful Study, land, Ichorid and Bridge From Below, the hand would be able to battle anything but Leyline of the Void, against which it could be a lame duck. Saitou shipped it back.
"Three Leyline please" asked Saitou of his deck.
It didn't appear to be listening to him. His five card hand had Breakthrough and Golgari Grave-Troll, along with lands, which would have to be good enough. When he declared that he would keep, he got a round of applause from his opponent and the crowd.
Again Eigner kept his seven, and this time, he had a turn zero Leyline of the Void. This stopped any nonsense from Saitou turn one. Eigner had a turn one Putrid Imp, but no end of turn discard of a dredger. When Saitou cast a Narcomoeba, Eigner's turn was reduced to playing a Narcomoeba of his own before passing.
A Careful Study from Eigner did not find any dredgers, but there was a Bridge From Below that meant that when Narcomoeba's traded, Eigner did very much better on the deal. Leyline even meant that his Bridge hung around. Eigner looked to seal the deal with a second Leyline of the Void, this time 'hard cast'. Saitou would need a miracle at this point to take the game, in the form of back to back Chain of Vapor, along with some gas to allow him to win fast having done so before the got replayed.
Saito cast a second Putrid Imp and passed. His two Imps double blocked a Zombie, but when Eigner cast Cephalid Sage, Saito placed his score pad on the table, and beckoned Eigner to flip it over. The message was pretty clear.
Nikolaus Eigner wins 2 – 0!
Nikolaus is on his way to the finals!
Finals – A little bit of history repeating?
If you assume that every player that shows up to a Grand Prix has an equal chance of winning, the chances of Nikolaus Eigner winning both GP Viennas would be 1,119,379 to one. We know though, that the right player, on the right day, with the right deck, can shorten these odds a lot.
Eigner's choice of Dredge for this tournament has turned out to be a very good one, in a field that must surely be described as unprepared given the deck's performance over the weekend. Eigner had to win a pair of Dredge mirrors to make the final, but upon arrival, he felt confident that he could achieve the impossible.
His opponent, Mateusz Kopeć, is playing an evolution of Paul Cheon's Previous Level Blue, which has been dubbed Polish Level Blue, after his homeland. Notable for its lack of Trinket Mage as much as its additions, it has proven effective all weekend, and is one match short of taking its designer all the way.
"I was so happy when Vancouver was all about blue decks... people stopped preparing for Dredge, and now I'm here!" declared Eigner, shortly after winning the die roll.
Shuffle up, it's time for the finals
His seven card hand was a tricky choice regarding mulligans. It had Watery Grave, a pair of copies of Breakthrough, Cabal Therapy, Golgari Thug, Golgari Grave-Troll and Flame-Kin Zealot. After a good degree of thought, Eigner chose to keep. Ideally he'd want to get a second land to cast Breakthrough for one (keeping the second Breakthrough) at which point he'd be able to dredge a huge amount. In the matchup though, he may have been tempted to go super aggressive, and get his Dredge outlets in the right place before any of Kopeć's counterspells could get online.
Kopeć had a double mulligan.
"Do you want to do it like Saitou? If you mulligan to two as well, people will think that I have some special shuffle."
For the first turn Eigner played Cabal Therapy targeting himself, to allow himself to discard Golgari Grave-Troll. This meant that the following turn he could cast Breakthrough with X as zero, and dredge quite a bit. He finished up with two Narcomoebas in play, along with Cabal Therapy and Dread Return to play with, but nary a Bridge From Below was to be seen.
Kopeć was calmly sitting back and watching, without a great deal of action beyond using some fetchlands. Eigner got to return Ichorid, but his dredges still didn't find him a Bridge. Ichorid got stuck in before being sacrificed to Cabal Therapy, ripping a pair of Counterspells from Kopeć's hand. Kopeć had just two land in play, and was left with a Vedalken Shackles and a pair of Cryptic Command in hand. The game was Eigner's to win or lose.
When Kopeć drew for his turn, the crowd behind him all started laughing, and it soon became clear why. The lone maindeck Tormod's Crypt was there, and suddenly all the game that Eigner had was a pair of 1/1 flyers attacking in each turn.
While Kopeć was definitely fortunate to have found his Tormod's Crypt, he was still stuck on 2 land, without any form of gas. Narcomoeba's attacked him to three, and Kopeć was forced to Counterspell a third to stay alive. He drew for his turn though, and there was no help. In spite of Tormod's Crypt, Kopeć had to scoop it up.
Nikolaus Eigner 1 – 0 Mateusz Kopeć
For Game 2, Eigner's life would be a little tougher. A set of Leyline of the Void plus Extirpates joined that lone Tormod's Crypt, and could prove problematic. If anything Extirpate is the trickiest hate card for Dredge to fight against, as it is one that they can't see coming or easily answer with a spell of their own. For Eigner, the tense times were all ahead, with victory in sight.
Eigner watched Kopeć as the Pole surveyed his opening seven.
"You looked at your deck... that looks like a mulligan to me."
It seemed that Eigner had the measure of his opponent, as Kopeć did indeed go down to six before keeping. Eigner was happy with his seven, but presumably less happy to see a turn zero Leyline of the Void. He cast Pithing Needle naming Tormod's Crypt and passed.
Breakthrough into Chain of Vapor offers Eigner hopeIt appeared that Kopeć had taken quite a gamble on that Leyline hand, as he was without a second land, meaning that Eigner's optimistic plan of a hard cast Narcomoeba and some beats didn't look so bad. Kopeć played Sensei's Divining Top, and Eigner struck back with Breakthrough where X equaled 2. He drew into Chain of Vapor, and found himself with the spell plus a Golgari Grave-Troll when it resolved.
When a Putrid Imp joined Eigner's hand it seemed that the fight might be on. Chain of Vapor successfully bounced that darned Leyline, and Putrid Imp joined the team. Kopeć went in for some slightly frantic Toppery. He had his third land for the turn, and a Tarmogoyf, leaving black mana up. Golgari Grave-Troll didn't get hit by Extirpate when it was discarded to the Imp, but there was a Stifle to stop Cephalid Colisseum from allowing Eigner's deck to go nuts.
Kopeć again played a Tarmogoyf and passed. On 11 from flying beats, he was facing down a force, but for the first time threatening back. Ichorid came back for the turn, and after beating for 3 in the air, Eigner flashed back Cabal Therapy naming Vedalken Shackles. He saw Counterspell, Leyline and Engineered Explosives. With one Bridge From Below, Eigner's blockers were pretty solid, turning into zombies upon death, but Kopeć's Engineered Explosives, which came down set to zero, would be a problem. Eigner sat back on defence. Kopeć was gradually making life more and more difficult for him. He got up to three Tarmogoyfs, and had Miren, the Moaning Well to stymie Bridge From Below tricks if necessary. There were those Explosives. Eigner had some hoops to jump through to get to the final 8 points of damage. His dredges were a virtual blank, but the Ichorid in Eigner's graveyard came back to attack Eigner to one. He couldn't stop the swing back though, and succumbed to a team of lhurgoyfs who were hefty thanks to the size of his graveyard.
Nikolaus Eigner 1 – 1 Mateusz Kopeć
The crowd around this Grand Prix final was one of the largest in recent European Grand Prix history. With Eigner being a local player, he had a great deal of support, while there was definitely also a contingent of Poles who seemed keen to let Kopeć know that he wasn't alone in these finals.
On the play Eigner found himself forced to mulligan to five. He chose to keep with a pair of copies of Breakthrough, Narcomoeba, Ichorid and an Island. Would it be good enough when Kopeć had already shown himself willing to mulligan aggressively into Leyline of the Void? Kopeć did ship back his seven for a new six, which he kept, thanks to a Leyline. He had a suspended Ancestral Visions to follow, but had to smile and shake his head when he again saw a Narcomoeba ready to attack on the other side of the board.
A Putrid Imp tried to join the illusion, but with a declaration of "That's quite scary" Kopeć said no in classic fashion, with a Counterspell. He had a Tolaria West to transmute for Tormod's Crypt also, making Eigner's main plan all the harder.
Mateusz Kope takes his lumps from NarcomoebaThe beatdown plan from Nikolaus was going alright. Helped by the pain of fetchlands, that lone Narcomoeba took Kopeć to 13. Eigner played a Careful Study, looking for answers, and then a Cabal Therapy, successfully hitting Cryptic Command in Kopeć's hand.
While Kopeć was essentially playing draw go, Eigner got in his little hits, and played a Breakthrough for two, netting that Counterspell he knew about. A second Breakthrough for two the turn later resolved, but didn't find the Austrian much help. Kopeć was ready to go on the offensive, and played a Tarmogoyf.
Eigner had yet another Breakthrough, this time for three. He attacked Kopeć to nine. After taking a 3 point hit from Tarmogoyf, he got in again, before playing Stinkweed Imp. The flyer hit play, and Eigner passed.
Kopeć's play was an Engineered Explosives for 3, which he immediately popped. Nikolaus seemed ready for this, with a Chain of Vapor to bounce first his Stinkweed Imp, and then Tarmogoyf. When Stinky came back, there was a Counterspell waiting.
Narcomoeba was going all the way, getting Kopeć down to six before Eigner played a new Stinkweed Imp. His troublesome flyers forced Kopeć to Top, sacrifice a fetchland for the shuffle effect, then Top again. He couldn't stop the Imp from resolving though, and frowned a little at the situation he was in.
Tarmogoyf knocked Eigner down to five, before Vedalken Shackles came out from Kopeć. This appeared bad for Eigner, but he was willing to push the tempo with an Ichorid. This forced Kopeć to sacrifice his Tarmogoyf to Miren, the Moaning Well, just to stay alive, on five life. Eigner cast Chain of Vapor on his own Ichorid to set up for more attacks of a similar nature for the following turn, and copied it onto Vedalken Shackles.
Kopeć played Tarmogoyf and those Shackles again. One swing from Tarmogoyf would be enough to finish Eigner, and with the Shackles to steal Stinkweed Imp it looked that the Viennese dream might be shattered at the last. Eigner cast Putrid Imp, and let his Narcomoeba die blocking the lhurgoyf. He was fighting a losing battle though. When Kopeć sacrificed the stolen Stinkweed Imp to Miren, the Moaning Well, that battle was too much though. Eigner extended his hand. He was beaten.
Congratulations to Mateusz Kopeć, Grand Prix Vienna 2008 Champion!