The Unusual Suspects
The Unusual Suspects are composed of David Brucker, Reinhard Blech and Dirk Hein. Brucker is a former European Champion from back in 2002. Since then he hasn't really performed and his last money finish was back at PT Venice. Brucker is 22 and is a student living in Munich. He has played on a team with Reinhard Blech for a bout a year now. Blech is currently working as a Language Assistant just outside of London. The 23 year old has really made a mark on the Grand Prix circuit in the last year with a win in Genova and a second place finish in Munich. They picked up the third member, Dirk Hein, after he and Blech discussed it in Madrid. Hein has done well recently with Quarter-final and Semi-final finishes at GP Madrid and GP Munich
The only person who came with a draft strategy was Reinhard Blech but it was one they altered over the day.
"Don't give Reinhard black."
Hein likes to play White in Seat C while Brucker is now the black mage. Blech now takes the Affinity deck. They're flexible on this to try and get a good matchup. For instance they'll try and put black against their opponents white or green deck. Last draft they hardly touched white at all. They follow the thinking that the good white and red cards in Darksteel are better than the deeper black cards and it makes sense to cut off the one good card and get back the black cards.
They are going to go to PT Seattle as a team and are happy to qualify here.
This Scandinavian super team certainly has the most experience in the top 4. Anton Jonsson from Sweden, Nicolai Herzog from Norway and Tuomo Nieminen are all familiar names on the Pro Tour circuit. Nieminem made top 4 at Worlds and the final of the team competition but has been slacking of late. Herzog won Pro Tour Amsterdam earlier this year to add another title to an impressive resume that includes twice winning the European Championships. This isn't a one-off alliance between good Pro's but a team they intend to take together to Seattle. Originally Nieminen and Herzog were teaming up with Tomi Wallamies, but the Finnish champion has quit Magic to become a stand up comedian. Anton Jonsson also lost his team as Jens Thoren now no longer plays seriously.
"So we took him in like a stray dog."
They were very happy with how the drafts went. As they hadn't practised together they were expecting miscommunications. This didn't happen and most of the time they found themselves the fortunate beneficiaries of other team's slip ups. Anton thinks a lot of this is because their opponents stuck rigidly to set plans. They treated the draft more as an ultra-friendly Rochester draft and picked the colour combinations where the good cards fell. Anton is convinced it doesn't matter as much in this format which seats the colours fall into.
Schietkoe (it means "shooting cow" in Dutch and is a reference to Anaba Shaman - the Cornelissen brothers always use a Minotaur related name for their teams) is a team consisting of former World Champion Tom van de Logt and the other two Cornelissen brothers, Jesse and Stijn. As Stijn said, they're probably more known for being the brother of Kamiel than for performances.
"I turn up to international events. People say you're Kamiel's brother and are happy when they beat me."
Jesse doesn't really take the game that seriously but did manage to be Dutch champion once.
On the other hand Tom van de Logt has won a World Championship, made the top 8 of another, made top 8 of Euro's as well as a number of Grand Prix. He's won the Dutch nationals three times.
Ironically the more famous brother Kamiel went looking to form a strong Pro Team has fared worse here today than his brothers.
They didn't really think too much about their draft strategy. They think the best plan is to play the decks they know best. As a consequence Stijn always likes to take the Green deck in seat A, Jess the Affinity deck in seat C and Tom the white-red equipment deck in the middle.
NPC All Stars
This French team took a huge gamble in the last round by ID'ing with The Unusual Suspects when a win by the other toernooicentrum.nl/laap would put them out in 5th. Fortunately the result went their way. Alexandre Peset came out of nowhere to finish 3rd at Pro Tour Kobe. His team mates Sylvan Lehoux and Loic Degrou are less accomplished although Degrou finshed in the top 8 of Grand Prix Lyon.
The team has only played together on three occasions. The first time they made the team regional in France and won it. The second time they finished in the top 4 of the French team nationals and the third time is here.
Ironically the team won't be playing together at Seattle as Peset and Degrou have already qualified at a team PTQ with Kevin Desprez (by coincidence Desprez, judging at this event, was acting as my translator and also made the top 8 back in Lyon).
Their draft strategy is more reactive as they like to wait to see what early picks their opponents make and then try to set up favourable matchups: Black vs Green, Red vs White, White-equipment vs creature heavy and Green vs Blue Affinity. The secondary colours are usually decided by how the cards fall.