Place Blasts the Competition in Mainz

Cool, blustery winds sweeping off the Rhine River and hotly contested matches being played inside the Kurfürstliches Schloss (the Roman-German Central Museum) were both prevailing at Pro Tour-Mainz, Wizards of the Coast's second-ever overseas Magic Pro Tour event. The tournament, held December 5-7 in Mainz, Germany--approximately thirty minutes south of Frankfurt--sported a total of 291 competitors and featured a challenging Tempest Rochester Draft format.

"The Tempest environment isn't as balanced as Fifth Edition-Visions. But I think the mana-screw problem has been reduced a lot, so there's less luck with mana," said twenty-year-old Canadian player Eric Tam. "In Mirage-Visions, if you get behind in mana, you die. But that's not true for Tempest because you can draw just one key card and win."

After six rounds of Swiss-style pairings and two drafts, the Top 64 performers advanced to Day 2, including thirty-one Americans and four Germans. Darwin Kastle, a twenty-six-year-old marketing administrator from Allston, Massachusetts, and proven Pro Tour player, was not among them. "It was frustrating for me," he said. "I felt like in both my drafts I drafted well, but there are still certain disadvantages being one of the better-known players during a draft. For instance, I was the only person who people were counter-drafting against at my table. People were drafting cards just so I couldn't get them. I had a guy take a first pick--not so he could play it--but so I couldn't have it."

Those are the breaks on the Magic Pro Tour, especially with $151,635 on the line--including a first-place prize of $25,000. After all the dust had settled, one Magic mainstay was left standing: twenty-two-year-old Matt Place of Kansas City, Missouri. An experienced player who had recently earned a Top 16 finish at Pro Tour-Chicago in October, Place dominated the field during Sunday's final rounds to score his first Pro Tour victory.

"The atmosphere here is what it's all about," he said, moments after defeating Germany's Peer Kröger, 3-1, in the semifinals. "You get a definite sense of excitement just knowing you're in a different country. I mean just look out the window; it's not even close to being back home."

Place drafted a red-black burn deck on Sunday and proceeded to crush his opponents, one right after the other, losing only a single game during all three of his best-of-five-game matches. The eight players who advanced to Sunday included five Americans (Chris Bishop, Kurt Burgner, Mark LePine, Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, and Place); Germany's Kröger; England's John Ormerod; and Italy's Gabriele Pissicchio. The lineup was talented, but Place's overall knowledge of the game proved too tough to beat.

"The most important skill [in a draft] is to be able to just recognize which cards are truly better than others," said Place. "I try to give myself a lot of variety and set myself up well for the final packs by not choosing a particular color early on.

"I like Rochester Draft. I think it's the best format for testing someone's skill," he continued. "For training, all I did was look at every card and draft over and over again. And I memorized each of the cards by picture. You need to be aware of every card. The middle of a draft is no time to start learning what a particular cards does. It's definitely practice makes perfect in a draft format."

Place is currently traveling around the world, practicing his craft. He spent three weeks in Los Angeles before flying to Paris for a day of sightseeing prior to landing in Mainz.

Asked what he'll do with his recent prize winnings, he said: "I'm definitely gonna buy some more Magic cards, then I'll probably throw a $22,000 party. And I'll save the rest. I'm just a traveling bum right now." A bum who just got $25,000 richer with three days' work.

The next Magic Pro Tour event is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, March 6-8, aboard the world-famous Queen Mary oceanliner. Another $150,000 cash purse will highlight Tempest Constructed competition. Good luck to those who qualify.

Final Match: Place vs. O'Mahoney-Schwartz

When the crowd gathered for the final match of Pro Tour-Mainz, they watched Kansas City's Matt Place, playing a fast red-black deck, take on New York's Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, playing a green-black deck. Living Death looked to be Place's biggest advantage, although his hefty number of creature destruction and direct-damage cards helped tip the scales as well. In contrast, O'Mahoney-Schwartz's combination of quick, 2/1 creatures and powerful green creatures provided clear threats to Place's well-being.

Unhappy with his opening hand in the first game, Place opted to Mulligan down to six cards and began with a mountain, casting Mogg Fanatic. On his second turn he played his only other land, a swamp, and cast Fireslinger. Meanwhile, O'Mahoney-Schwartz cast a third-turn Rootwalla, which was quickly destroyed by the Fireslinger in concert with the Fanatic's sacrifice. Following up with a pair of Armodons, O'Mahoney-Schwartz went on the offensive.

After allowing a Trained Armodon enchanted with Endless Scream to attack him unblocked, Place drew his second swamp. This allowed him to target the beast with Enfeeblement and finish it off with a ping from the Fireslinger. When O'Mahoney-Schwartz's Crazed Armodon was blocked by Place's Rats of Rath, Steven activated the Armodon's ability, giving it +3/+0 and trample. Unfortunately, he made a key mistake when he placed the Armodon in the graveyard at the end of combat. Since the Armodon's destruction effect doesn't happen until the end of the turn, this action meant that O'Mahoney-Schwartz was declaring his turn over. Later, O'Mahoney-Schwartz admitted this mistake probably cost him the game. "I could have cast a Krakalin and won in a few more turns."

Still, O'Mahoney-Schwartz led, 10 life to 4, and cast the Krakalin on the next turn. However, Place soon drew his fourth land and quickly won the first game in a flurry of direct damage, including Searing Touch, Kindle, and two Lightning Blasts.

Match Score: Place 1, O'Mahoney-Schwartz 0

As Game 2 opened, O'Mahoney-Schwartz again appeared to be on the offensive with a Dauthi Marauder and Crazed Armodon facing off against Place's Rats of Rath and Opportunist. After "Enfeebling" the Opportunist, O'Mahoney-Schwartz attacked for 6 damage. At the end of the turn, however, Place mysteriously activated the ability of his Rats of Rath, destroying his only creature. The conundrum was quickly solved as Place unleashed Living Death, wiping the board of his opponent's creatures and returning his to play. O'Mahoney-Schwartz could only stare wordlessly at the Rats of Rath in his hand, which would have allowed him to effectively counter the Living Death had the creature been in play.

But O'Mahoney-Schwartz wasn't out yet. On his next turn he cast Evincar's Justice, once again clearing the board. Place responded on his turn with Gravedigger, allowing him to retrieve and summon his Opportunist. Drawing a Marsh Lurker, O'Mahoney-Schwartz summoned both the Lurker and his Rats of Rath, but Place was already in the driver's seat. The mana problems of Game 1 a distant memory, Place destroyed the Marsh Lurker with Enfeeblement and the Rats with Searing Touch, and attacked with his creatures. Despite O'Mahoney-Schwartz summoning his Krakalin--a decision that prompted cheers from the crowd--Place was unfazed, finishing off the game with yet another Lightning Blast.

Match Score: Place 2, O'Mahoney-Schwartz 0

Knowing he needed an exceptionally fast start against Place's deck, O'Mahoney-Schwartz Mulliganed when his opening hand held six lands and a Rats of Rath. Though many in the crowd disagreed with the maneuver, his new hand featured three lands and a trio of quick, strong cards. O'Mahoney-Schwartz couldn't have known that Place had drawn an even better hand, including a Mogg Fanatic, Fireslinger, and both Lightning Blasts.

O'Mahoney-Schwartz's early Heartwood Dryad blocked Place's Mogg Fanatic just before the Fireslinger appeared. Matt soon summoned a Dauthi Marauder and Wall of Diffusion, which prevented O'Mahoney-Schwartz's Trumpeting Armodon from inflicting damage. An Evincar's Justice cast by O'Mahoney-Schwartz cleared out Place's creatures, which prompted a Lightning Blast of the Armodon in response.

Place quickly restocked his creatures with a Gravedigger (returning the Dauthi Marauder from his graveyard to his hand) and a Marsh Lurker. At the same time, O'Mahoney-Schwartz summoned a Darkling Stalker and Telethopter. Attempting to put a dent in Place's life total, O'Mahoney-Schwartz cast Endless Scream on his Telethopter, turning it into a formidable 7/1 flying creature. Once again, Place had the right card at the right time as he took down the 'thopter with Searing Touch.

With only 10 life remaining and no defense against the re-summoned Dauthi Marauder, O'Mahoney-Schwartz realized his time was limited. Place "Blood Frenzied" his attacking Marauder, creating a 7/1 shadow creature, and finished his opponent off with--what else--a Lightning Blast.

Final Match Score: Place 3, O'Mahoney-Schwartz 0

And so Matt Place finished off what was possibly the most entertaining Pro Tour final match yet. Anyone who had only watched the final match would have believed Place's deck was nothing but amazing, but his skillful, calculated play style was evident as he lost only a single game all day (to semifinal opponent Peer Kröger). That was no comfort to Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, who only saw Place's deck perform at the top of its game. Worth Wollpert may have said it best: "We should call Matt ‘Radio Shack' because he had all the answers."

Finish Name Winnings
1 Matt Place $25,000
2 Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz $15,000
3 Peer Kroger $10,000
4 Kurt Burgner $8,000
5 John Ormerod $6,500
6 Chris Bishop $5,500
7 Mark Le Pine $4,800
8 Gabriele Pisicchio $4,300
9 Andrew Nishioka $4,000
10 Bob Wagner $3,750
11 Michael Turian $3,520
12 Raphael Levy $3,310
13 Mark Justice $3,110
14 Ron Kotwica $2,920
15 Scott Valleroy $2,750
16 Henning Rimkus $2,590
17 John Chinnock $2,440
18 Masami Ibamoto $2,300
19 Truc Bui $2,170
20 Jon Finkel $2,050
21 Michael Sochon $1,940
22 David Price $1,840
23 Stewart Shinkins $1,750
24 Ben Bleiweiss $1,660
25 Matt Cass $1,580
26 Julien Mozziconacci $1,500
27 Gabriel Tsang $1,430
28 MichalSrba $1,360
29 Gary Wise $1,290
30 NoahBoeken $1,230
31 Holger Meinecke $1,170
32 BrianWeissman $1,110
33 Eric Phillipps $1,060
34 Taerthrum Bluett $1,010
35 Michael Lucarello $960
36 Rudy Edwards $920
37 Manuel Bevand $880
38 Paul Ferker $840
39 Randy Buehler $810
40 Michael Debard $780
41 Brian Hacker $750
42 Mike Nykoluk $720
43 Ivan Garcia-Gonzalez $690
44 David Korejtko $660
45 Scott Richards $630
46 Jess Means $610
47 Viktor Rovo $590
48 Alan Comer $570
49 Shawn Davies $550
50 John Park $530
51 Eric Tam $510
52 Kai Budde $490
53 Thomas Dall Jensen $480
54 Riad Mourssali $470
55 Hjalti Andrason $460
56 Pierre Malherbaud $450
57 Benedikt Klauser $440
58 Johan Cedercrantz $430
59 Bryan Goethals $425
60 Dennis Nichols $420
61 Dominic Crapuchettes $415
62 Goro Matsuo $410
63 Jan PieterGroenhaf $405
64 Michael Katz $400
65 Matthew Vienneau  
66 Trevor Blackwell  
67 Marcus Lemke  
68 James Ridgway  
69 Rei Hashimoto  
70 Patrick Van Beek  
71 Robert Jurkovic  
72 Kenichi Fujita  
73 Tuomi Nieminen  
74 Jean-Louis D'Hondt  
75 Peter Guevin  
76 Jason Means  
77 Gerardo Godinez-Estrada  
78 Kare Jantunen  
79 Feming Chan  
80 Philippe Mongauze
81 Chris Pikula
82 Olle Rade
83 Huei-Saint Shwe
84 Mark Chalice
85 Elijah Pollock
86 Jason McHale
87 Andrea Redi
88 Evan Van Lissum
89 Ivan Stanoev
90 Cory Ferguson
91 Jin Okamoto
92 Joe Ohrt
93 Nikolai Weibull
94 Sturla Bingen
95 Gary Rush
96 John Yoo
97 Bjorn Falenski
98 Scott Dodson
99 Berard Martial
100 Gregory Dube
101 Jason Woodburn
102 Bjorn Jocumsen
103 Kevin Dixon
104 Rodrigo Costanza
105 Oyvind Odegaard
106 Craig Sheppard
107 Bryce Currence
108 Helge Richter
109 Benjamin Champion
110 Sean Fleischman
111 Frank Adler
112 Jason Gordon
113 Roger Leu
114 Tomi Walamies
115 Warren Marsh
116 Antonio Cardenas Alonso
117 Marc Tschirch
118 Paul Smith
119 Sam Waller
120 Jan Malina
121 Gary Krakower
122 Dale Taylor
123 Christer Ljones
124 Brad Swan
125 Peter Leiher
126 Pasi Virtanen
127 Matt Smith
128 Shawn Regnier
129 Toni Rissanen
130 Michael Loconto
131 JP Sohi
132 Chris Honan
133 Tommi Hovi
134 Dirk Roth
135 Oliver Krebs
136 Jan Brandenburg
137 Ulrike Haustein
138 Worth Wollpert
139 Eric Thompson
140 Michael Suwald
141 AndrewWolf
142 Frede Tunsjo
143 Brook North
144 ScottReinfeld
145 Patrick Chapin
146 Erik Lawson
147 FredricPrigge
148 Justin Schneider
149 Lukas Ladra
150 Terry Borer
151 Byron Bickes
152 GillesMartinau
153 Benjamin Roth
154 Arto Hiltunen
155 Tim Lieder
156 Adrian Sayers
157 David Bartholow
158 Martin Mauve
159 Donald Gallitz
160 Dennis Bentley
161 Scott Wills
162 Darren Williams
164 Ondrej Baudys
165 David McMinn
166 Otmar Jatsch
167 Vincent Guilleux
168 Milos Prohazka
169 Bohumir Nepozitek
170 Frank Gilson
171 Bob Maher, Jr.
172 Toshiki Tsukamoto
173 Svend Sparre Geertsen
174 Jeff Zandi
175 Janosch Kuhn
176 Federico Dato
177 Damian Brown-Santirso
178 Francesco Berti
179 Antonin Agliani
180 Brian Harding
181 ThomasRefsdal
182 David Mills
183 Lee Steht
184 Petr Posolda
185 Sol Malka
186 Darrell Wyatt
187 Ben Possemiers
188 Igor Frayman
189 C. Allen Martin
190 Michael Pustilnik
191 Robert Bolick
192 Gerrit-Alwis Loeber
193 Darwin Kastle
194 Graham Thomson
195 Stephane Gentric
196 Martin Beenhakker
197 Martin Bjorda
198 Markus Heyduk
199 JosephFleming
200 Phillip Oakley
201 Richard Oszwald
202 Juha Ilmari Helppi
203 Massimo Esposito
204 Masahiro Nishiwaki
205 Tadayoshi Komiya
206 Salomon Chacon
207 Khanh-Quan Tran
208 Clement Merville
209 Karol Kosik
210 Martin Jonsson
211 Mikael Magnusson
212 BenFarkas
213 David Redfern
214 Minh Tran
215 Raffaeil Gennari
216 Tony Tsai
217 Jurg Haberli
218 Pefanis Dimitris
219 Jeroen Weyden
220 Alejandro Dominguez
221 Jamie Parke
222 Dominique Coene
223 Chris Tuten
224 Yann Hamon
225 Thomas Froment
226 LarryChatfield
227 Ryan Roe
228 Eric Kirkman
229 Jacob Stirler Jr.
230 Yanez Busi
231 Karsten Hoppe
232 Chris Herdeman
233 Tszegi Szabolcs
234 Adam Lemke
235 Eric Grob
236 Ryan Morgan
237 Koichiro Maki
238 Rui de Aguiar
239 Cory Jones
240 Aaron Souders
241 Andre Konstanczer
242 David Dewaelsche
243 Alex Ware
244 Rodrigo Castro
245 Claudio Sikorsky
246 Pierre Vandercamere
247 Florian Boschenfeld
248 Marc Philipp Hugo
249 Thomas Guevin
250 Martin Eriksson
251 Al Lavoie
252 Serge Gariglio
253 Karl Schmidt
254 Boris Buschardt
255 Tom Cleaver
256 Michael Long
257 Leland Simmons
258 Satoshi Kajitani
259 Oscar Rubi
260 David Bachmann
261 Michael Donovan
262 JoaquinGasa
263 Ron Franke
264 Luca Chiera
265 David Gunnarsson
266 Andreas Pischner
267 Jakub Slemr
268 Anthony Goh
269 Jakob Steinaa
270 Javier Ruiz
271 Joao Isidro
272 Marcel Baran
273 Giulio Cappellano
274 Robert Thornburg
275 Noel Cassidy
276 Patrick Casey
277 Kurt Foket
278 Jeff Simoneau
279 Paul Carmouche
280 Robert Martinez
281 Bryan Maun
282 Luis Marias
283 Ellen Koberer
284 Michael Callahan
285 Sven Dijt
286 Victor Van den Broek
287 Martin Brown-Santirso
288 Mark Venhaus
289 Paul McCabe
290 Kazuyuki Momose
291 Steven Wolfman