The 6-0 Drafters

Posted in PRO TOUR MAGIC ORIGINS on August 1, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

Often draft rounds get the short shrift when it comes to the Pro Tour. There are only six rounds, compared to the ten rounds of Constructed, and the 40-card decks just don't seem as sweet as the spicy new 60-card brews. But often, the draft rounds are what separates the pre-spark Planeswalkers from the post-spark ones, the prodigies from the unbound.

There were only six players to make it through the Pro Tour Magic Origins draft rounds without a scratch: Francesco Giorgio, Yuki Matsumoto, Mike Bryant, Peter Vieren, Bryan Gottlieb, and Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Zvi Mowshowitz. If you caught something particular in that list, both Gottlieb and Mowshowitz tested together on Team NYC. They're doing something right.

"Every color is good; there's none to really avoid," Belgian Peter Vieren said when we sat down to talk. That often makes for the most variable and most fun drafts, but Vieren continued that Blue was his favorite, probably because all of White's best cards get picked over a littler earlier than you'd like. The consensus seems to be that White offers the best open-ended cards (in the last 3-0 draft article Zvi discussed how White doesn't make you split draft archetypes as early as the other colors). This ensures that White cards get taken earlier. This also leaves Blue ripe for the picking.

Though Vieren said the blue commons he's happiest first-picking are Claustrophobia and Separatist Voidmage, there was another card in the color that stood out to him. "My evaluation of Scrapskin Drake really changed the more I tested," he explained. "Blue is very aggressive and tempo-based in the format. Usually Cloud Elementals aren't where you want to be, but here it's different."

Peter Vieren, one of six 6-0 drafters this weekend, was rewarded by respecting all open colors.

When it came to his draft preparation, he couldn't have been happier. He and other fellow Belgians Amand Dosimont, Benjamin Dupont, and Branco Neirynck had a draft day that consisted of six drafts and a barbeque. Viernen smiled about this as he told me about it.

"That wasn't the only drafting we did," he assured me. But clearly, it was the most memorable drafting. Well, that was until he won his sixth consecutive draft round of the Pro Tour.

When it came to 6-0 American Mike Bryant's testing, it was fairly straightforward. "Just Magic Online. No team. No nothing." Sadly, that meant there was no barbeque. Well, maybe there was, but there weren't Belgian Magic players around.

Though his suggestion when it came to drafting Magic Origins was to "stay open if you can," his pods seemed to cut against his own advice. In his first draft, by Pick 6 he had three Thunderclap Wyvern—settling him strongly in White-Blue—and in the second draft, by the end of Pack 1 he had three multicolored cards in Reclusive Artificer, Blazing Hellhound, and Zendikar Incarnate. "Hey, they all share a color!" he implored. Bryant continued that though he doesn't like the shallowness of Green (which has been said before), but if you read the signals that come to you, you'll draft a quality deck.

Mike Bryant also emphasized the same strategy of staying open to any colors.

And clearly keep an eye out for those multicolored uncommons; not only are they powerful, but they can be a great indicator that the people at the table aren't in a particular color combination.

There's an aspect here of understanding where you are in the context of the table, but there's another part to keep track of too: where you are with your deck. It was this part that 6-0 New York City–native Bryan Gottlieb told me is the most important. "Build while you draft." If you have a picture of what you're trying to do, you'll never mis-pick something that you didn't actually need.

Gottlieb said, "I used to play exclusively online, and I was known as a 'limited specialist,' but at my first Pro Tours, I couldn't figure out why I was doing so bad." He realized that Magic Online literally allows you to construct your deck while you are drafting, and he wasn't doing that when playing with physical cards. He's since corrected the oversight, and has reaped the benefits.

This method was instrumental in his second draft pod. After first-picking a Disciple of the Ring, a very strong, but particular build-around, Gottlieb knew he would need a certain amount of instants and sorceries. This particularity only grew after he picked up a Willbreaker. Because Gottlieb could see the parts and the deck slots as he was picking the cards, he successfully built a weird little instant deck (with three Send to Sleeps hanging around), and captured his second 3-0.

Bryant Gottlieb's strategy to 6-0 a Pro Tour weekend's drafts? Build your deck while you draft.

Gottlieb was thankful to be part of Team NYC with the New York locals; and something much have clearly worked well, as both he and Zvi Mowshowitz sailed through the draft rounds. "The funny thing, though," he explained, "was that we really didn't play that many games together. We all did our testing, and then reported back." As Gaudenis Vidugiris talked about yesterday, the team is mostly made up of people with jobs and families, so it was important to be able to work effectively. "We were very 'digitally efficient'," Gottlieb said.

It's interesting that of all the big teams here, it was the small teamed, the busy teamed, or the non-teamed that went through the draft rounds smoothly.

Although, we'll see how the Constructed rounds go soon. And at the end of the day we'll see just how important these draft rounds really are.

Oh, and because I'm sure some of you would love to see some draft data, here's the archetype break down of the 3-0 decklists from both the first and second day of Pro Tour Magic Origins, and how many decks contained any given color. Enjoy!

Archetype # of 3-0s
Red-White 13
White-Blue 11
Black-Green 10
Blue-Black 8
Red-Green 8
Blue-Red 7
Green-White 7
Black-Red 6
Blue-Green 3
White-Black 3
Mono-Green 1
Mono-White 1
Color # of 3-0 decks
White 35
Red 34
Blue 29
Green 29
Black 27