2008 Germany Nationals Day 1 Blog

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EVENT COVERAGE

  • Blog: Friday, Aug 29, 7:03 p.m.
    Day one recap
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Feature Match: Round 8
    Raul Porojan vs Manuel Wolf
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Feature: Metagame Breakdown
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog: Friday, Aug 29, 5:35 p.m.
    Jan Ruess’ misery
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Feature Match: Round 5
    Jan Ruess vs. Arne Meier
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog: Friday, August 29: 3:08 p.m.
    Drafting with Thomas Jungmann
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog: Friday, August 29: 2:52 p.m.
    Standard fare, and side stories
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Feature Match: Round 2
    Raul Porojan vs Christian Reinschmidt
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog: Friday, August 29: 10:45 a.m.
    Meet the contestants: Jan Ruess
    by Hanno Terbuyken

 

  • Blog - Friday, August 29: 10:45 a.m. -- Meet the contestants: Jan Ruess
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • To get an inside view of German Nationals 2008, we’ll be following the progress of three players picked from the throng. Thomas “Teardrop” Jungmann, blogger, community voice and self-admitted casual player. Raul Porojan, GP Strasbourg finalist and riding on the crest of the next wave of German Magic pros. And Jan Ruess, fresh off his second place at Pro Tour: Hollywood on the wings of the Fae, and currently Germany’s best player according to pro points.

    Jan Ruess had no trouble qualifying for Nationals, as he was invited on two counts: Rating, and pro points. With his finals appearance in Hollywood, he had propelled himself to the top of the pick order of German pro players. “I’ve set myself new goals for every year”, explains the 28-year old. First he set his sights on getting to the Pro Tour, then he aimed for a spot on the PT train (that is, today’s pro level 4). When he finally got there, he says, “it was a very, very good feeling”. And he set his sights higher once again, shooting for Top 8.

    It taken Jan years to get to that point. He touched his first magic card in 1995, and quit the game twice over the years. But he kept returning to the cards. When he moved to Hamburg, Jan finally found a magical environment to thrive in. in 2003, he played in his first tournament, and was hooked.

    When he’s not travelling the world for Magic, Jan Ruess is on his way to a PhD in chemistry. “Exchange processes between oceans and the atmosphere” is what he analyzes. Maybe it was that connection that made Germany’s current leader of the pack turn to the watery fae for PT: Hollywood. But today, “I find Faeries to be unplayable”, says Jan Ruess.

    For Nationals, he expected mostly Mono-Red, knowing that it is the best deck. “Many underestimate Mono-Red, but the best deck is always underestimated.” His own involvement with deckbuilding is usually adaptive: “I’m not the type to build a completely new deck. I like tweaking and adapting.” To be successful, Jan reckons, deckbuilding is the least important skill anyway. “Preparation, talent, concentration”, that’s his formula to success. “I value practice and training lower than many others, but you still have to be prepared properly for any tournament.”

    Among others, German Magic legend Jim Herold is part of the strong Hamburg testing group that Jan works with – but only on weekends. During the week, he’s researching in his lab. “I can schedule my time independently, so I usually do Magic on the weekends. Of course, all of my vacation time is spent on travelling to Magic events”, says Jan Ruess, who is a hot pick for a top spot at this years German Nationals. We’ll examine his deck and decklist tomorrow, when the second Standard portion of the tournament is underway.

     

  • Feature Match: Round 2 -- Raul Porojan vs Christian Reinschmidt
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • There are no byes at Nationals. That means even in the first rounds, players have to bring their A-game, because there are no easy matches. Nationals always bring stories of heartbreaking defeats, tasking pros and amateurs alike to deal with anything the tournament throws at them.

    Game 1:

    Both players kept their opening hands, but Raul secured the first edge n this match by winning the die roll. The environment feels super-fast, with the aggro decks capable of winning on turn 5 and the combo decks being even faster.

    Raul Porojan lost in concentration.
    And that looked to be the matchup here, too. Raulk suspended Ancestral Visions and Riftwing Cloudskate, while Christian brought action to the table with Wren’s Run Vanquisher. His Civic Wayfinder met Raul’s Rune Snag, and Raul supended a second Ancestral Vision.

    Christian went for Tarmogoyf, which found itself back in his hand by the means of the Cloudskate. Raul had a second Cloudskate, and paying full cost he sent Christian’s Vanquisher flying, too. Raul had just gained the initiative. His Cloudskates evened out the life totals at 14, and Momentary Blink ensured that Christian’s fresh Tarmogoyf wouldn’t cause trouble.

    When the Tarmogoyf came down a third time, Raul had Cryptic Command to stop it once and for all, and Christian was left with nothing to speak of, save two Mutavaults. Raul added Reveillark to his board. Christian killed it with Eyeblight’s Ending. But Raul had his second Ancestral Vision coming in, Aven Riftwatcher put him out of all the non-existent danger, and Christian found no answer to the two flying Cloudskates.

    Raul Porojan 1 – 0 Christian Reinschmidt

    Game 2:

    Nationals 2008 has 60 minute rounds, but these two wouldn’t be needing all that time. With 44 minutes left on the clock, Christian kicked off Game 2 fast and furious with a turn two Bitterblossom, followed by Tarmogoyf.

    Christian Reinschmidt can't wriggle out.
    Raul dug for answers with Mindstone and had Condemn for the ‘goyf, but Christian had another plus Kitchen Finks. Raul kept on diging, this time with Mulldrifter.

    Christian thought to press his advantage with Thoughtseize and saw Cryptic Command, Condemn, Venser and number of irrelevant cards. He took the Command and bashed Raul to nine. A second Tarmogoyf for Christian then put Raul in a tight spot. Raul saved himself with Venser, Shaper Savant and Condemn, but still had to take five damage from Treetop Village and two Bitterblossom token.

    Raul was on four life and played Reveillark, facing an all-out attack from Christian. Two Tarmogoyf, Treetop Village, three Bitterblossom token and the 2/1 Kitchen Finks visited the red zone. Raul blinked his ‚Ark momentarily, bringing back Venser and Mulldrifter. He blocked with everything, and the dying Ark brought the two blue creatures back after combat. Still, Raul had to take three damage, going to one. He was going to get lucky to pull this one out, despite the Reveillark shenanigans.

    But when Christian played his umpteenth Tarmogoyf of the match, Raul had nothing to stop Christian’s ongoing onslaught.

    Raul Porojan 1 – 1 Christian Reinschmidt

    Game 3:

    Raul chose to start the decider, a common choice this weekend. Christian had a mulligan instead, a not so common and not very popular choice. The fast format makes mulligans even more punishing, because the players often don’t have the time to actually come back from that missing card.

    Raul had a flying start by suspending Riftwing Cloudskate. Christian had one half of his deck’s dream team in hand, Tarmogoyf, and followed with Kitchen Finks while Raul suspended a second Cloudskate.

    Christian had to build more momentum to stop the Cloudskates from resetting the entire board. Raul knew that he had to attack that possibility and started bouncing land with Venser, Shaper Savant, and two subsequent Riftwing Cloudskates. That was the deal-breaker in the match. In his seventh turn, Christian was finally able to assemble four mana again, but by that time his Squall Line was useless.

    By that point, Raul had already played Reveillark, ready to spring into action to save two of any species at a moment’s notice. He aimed to close the match with Crovax, Ascendant Hero, simply shrugging off Christian’s Eyeblight’s Ending.

    Raul took five from Tarmogoyf and Kitchen Finks, but Christian had no ressources to mount any bigger offense. “I’d be surprised if I can turn this one around”, mumbled Christian, taking eight damage from Raul’s attack and going to six. When he had predictably lost Game 3, Christian noted that not only had Raul crippled his development, but he had also added to his demise by playing one of his lands too early, allowing Raul to bounce Treetop Village and giving Christian no opportunity to bring it back into play.

    Raul Porojan 2 – 1 Christian Reinschmidt

     

  • Blog - Friday, Aug 29, 2:52 p.m. -- Standard fare, and side stories
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • The three players I’ve thrown a watchful eye on for this Nationals haven’t shown great prowess in the first Standard portion. Rounds 1 through 3 were Constructed, and of the three, the highest-ranked pro fared worst. Jan Ruess, playing a Swans-Combo deck, only had a 1-1-1 record to show; a win, a loss and a draw. Raul Porojan, sporting a not-really-standard Reveillark deck, did better, cashing in six points on the way to the Top 8 with 2 wins and a loss. Thomas Jungmann ran with the majority and Mono-Red, netting a 2-1 result in the Standard rounds.

    As always, yesterday the grinders happened. In six open tournaments players tried to grab the last six slots to Nationals. Two notable stories happened in the grinder’s progress. First, former Phoenix Foundation member and Hall of Fame eligible Dirk Baberowski surprised everyone by showing up and trying to register for Nationals. Unfortunately, he hadn’t played a sanctioned Magic tournament in over a year. So his rating had been put on hold, and he wasn’t able to play in Nationals. Dirk tried his hand in the grinders, but to no avail.

    Former Nationals champion Hannes Scholz was luckier. Not being qualified, he had to battle through a limited grinder to get a shot at participation. In the finals of the last grinder of the day, he proved that sometimes, you really need to be better lucky than good. During the match, Hannes – with small creatures galore – played around Hurly-Burly all the time. He even went so far as to ask the judge for the Oracle wording of Hurly-Burly to find out if it was a Sorcery.

    Only Hurly-Burly is from Lorwyn, and the grinder was Shadowmoor/Shadowmoor/Eventide. Hannes went on to win that game.

     

  • Blog - Friday, Aug 29, 3:08 p.m. -- Drafting with Thomas Jungmann
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Thomas 'Teardrop' Jungmann concentrating on his Lorwyn picks.
    Teardrop’s draft did not go the way he had intended. While he was greeted by a first-pick Shriekmaw and a second-pick Crib Swap, he passed up two Primal Commands – one in his first booster, one in the second. “If I had known that, I’d gone and drafted green bombs”, Thomas commented afterward. Instead, he got a deck that was very light on synergy, but heavy on removal. “If I run into a synergistic pile of Kithkin or Elves, I’m dead. But if everybody had a draft as disrupted as mine, then I can be fine.”

    Starting the draft, Thomas aimed for Kithkin with a black splash. He got some Kithkin in the first pack – Kithkin Balloonist as fourth pick, two Goldmeadow Ausreißer, and the appropriate Vivid Meadow, and Springleaf Drum.

    But the Kithkin dried out and Thomas had to look out for something to supplement his Shriekmaw. Oblivion Ring first, Boggart Logger second was his start to booster #2. He oscillated between Ghostly Changeling and Kithkin Greathart as third pick, but took the Changeling in the end. A late Fodder Launch as eighth pick was a signal to Thomas: “The others picked for synergy, which I noticed by getting very late non-synergistic removal.”

    Some forklift driver must have had a bad day.
    In Morningtide (booster #3), the draft was delayed for a couple of minutes. On every table, hands went up and judges called out for a halt. As it turned out, a good number of the cards were heavily marked from the get-go. The booster packs had to be replaced, and then replaced some more, until no more faulty product turned up.

    If that happens to you at home, Wizards representative Ingo Muhs noted that you should stop opening boosters from that box, contact Wizards and get a replacement from them. “That way, we can tell where the fault lies.” Even the empty booster wrapping helps Wizards of the Coast to trace back the damaged cards to their origin.

    Hands up! Baby, hands up! Gimme boosters, gimme gimme boosters...
    Back to Teardrop’s draft, Morningtide bestowed two Pack’s Disdain (first and third pick) on him, as well as Violette Blüte for his second pick. He ended up with a 41-card deck that had more than ten actual removal spells. “I hope I can go 2-2 with this”, said Thomas Jungmann. That largely depends on his opponents. His Mono-Red deck took him to a 2-1 result in the first three Standard rounds, so 2-2 would not be enough to keep Thomas Jungmann in serious contention.



     

  • Feature Match: Round 5 -- Jan Ruess vs. Arne Meier
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • While André “TrashT” Mueller and Sebastian Thaler occupied the feature match area in a spectator brawl, Jan Ruess fougt among the ranks of his fellow drafters to stay alive in the competition. Mueller and Thaler, by the way, were both on three points with just one win after four rounds of playing. (Thaler won that match after Mueller received a game-loss for an illegal decklist.)

    Jan Ruess came into this match with a poor 1-1-1 Standard record and a loss in the first round of draft. Given his reputation and ability, that was below par in every respect. This was his chance to recover some ground – not only because he wanted to, but because he needed to.

    Jan Ruess contemplating his next move.
    Game 1:

    With his white-green draft deck, Ruess fought a lopsided ground war against the red-black-blue draft creation his opponent had. Ruess was on the defense from the midgame on. Timely removal forced him to spend Earthbrawn for defensive purposes. With life totals at 12 to 11 against Ruess, the pro lost his only creature to blocking and had to succumb to two Nevermaker soon after.

    Jan Ruess 0 – 1 Arne Meier

    Game 2:

    The players shuffled up after just 13 minutes in the first game. This time, it was Ruess to blaze out of his green-white gates, with Heritage Druid and Winnower Patrol against Meier’s Mudbutton Torchrunner. Ruess added Nath’s Elite against a Nevermaker on the other side.

    Ruess had the advantage of Elf synergy, but thought carefully through his next move: Kithkin Balloonist, for which he had to tap out. Dreamspoiler Witch from Meier shut down the airspace that the Balloonist had planned on occupying. Ruess saw an advantageous attack that involved his activated Mutavault, but Meier had Peppersmoke against the Elite, forcing Ruess to save them with Earthbrawn. The now 5/3 Elf Warriors ran into all of Meier’s creatures, trading with Dreamspoiler Witch and Nevermaker.

    Table 80. Home of the pro's demise.
    Meier went to 9 without having dealt a single point of damage to his opponent yet. Ruess kept going, with Lys Alana Huntmaster and Winnower Patrol. Another Peppersmoke from Meier dealt with Ruess’ Balloonist, denying him the ability to go airborne. Instead, Meier rebuilt with Changeling Berserker.

    Ruess didn’t want to let the game slip away and attacked with his team, forcing Meier – still on 7 life – to react. Meier took five damage and went to a precarious two life. On the other hand, his blocks left both him and Jan with much less. Goldmeadow Harrier from Jan promised to provide openings to plink away Meier’s remaining life. But the savvy opponent had Benthikor to bolster his forces.

    Ruess saw no way through it. All he needed was one mistake, one opening to push through two damage. Instead, Nevermaker kept hitting him in the air, Benthikor and its minions clogged up the ground and Meier added Sunflare Shaman to his board.

    The board threatened to clog when Ruess showed Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile. Unfortunately for Ruess, she met the Roar of the Crowd. Ruess’ trump was trumped, and Sunflare Shaman took his tapper out as well. Ruess was vulnerable through the air, and Meier knew it, taking a seven life chunk from Ruess via Benthikore and her minions.

    The pro needed something, and he needed it now. Meier added more fliers, playing it slightly safe, but Ballyrush Banneret failed to save Jan Ruess from certain demise.

    Jan Ruess 0 – 2 Arne Meier

     

  • Blog - Friday, Aug 29, 5:35 p.m. -- Jan Ruess’ misery
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Jan Ruess, Pro Tour: Hollywood finalist, has had a pretty bad streak thus far. He won just one match until the end of round 5, totalling out at 1-3-1: one win, three losses and a draw.

    Ruess attributed his losses in the draft rounds to bad luck in the first match, as he lost those two games to mana flood and mana screw. After the second match (the round 5 feature match), he riffed through his deck throughfully, but couldn’t find fault. The green-white Elves deck with a little Kithkin called Brigid should serve him well.

    What irked the pro more than the Limited losses was his poor Constructed record. Rues brought a combo deck centering around Swans of Bryn Argoll and Seismic Assault, that he thought had a good game against the field, including the almost ubiquitous Mono-Red.

    From the first match of the day, Ruess brought a bad beat story like they so often happen in Magic: He went for the combo with good odds, as his opponent needed four disruption spells or would lose. “Of course”, Jan told with a bitter face, “he had all four.” Ruess proceeded to lose that match.

    His draw result came from a match that he had almost in the bag, but couldn’t win against the clock. Ruess won the first game of the match, but in the second, his opponent had used Extirpate to get rid of all the Dakmor Salvages. “It took me too long to beat him down,” said Ruess, who had his opponent down to one life when the extra turns ended. “You should have picked someone else to follow in this tournament.”

    But at least round 6 saw Ruess winning again, and with a win in round 7 (the last one on this Nationals’ Friday), he could keep an outside chance at the top 8.

     

  • Metagame Breakdown
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • The typing monkeys PlanetMTG employs for a bunch of bananas have sat down and dropped their knowledge on the decklists from the Standard portion. Here are the collected stats from the Standard decks. Mono-Red is not only the best deck, it’s also the deck that most players picked as their weapon of choice. Elves and Faeries together made up as much of the field as the popular beatdown choice.

    The distribution looks just like most people expected. The over/under on Mono-Red was 20 % among the judges the night before the tournament. Maybe the one interesting thing in the stats was that Swans, the combo deck centered around Swans of Bryn Argoll, Dakmor Salvage and Seismic Assault, was played by both Jan Ruess and André “TrashT” Mueller.

    However, in the 105-man strong PTQ for PT Berlin that was also running today, 39 players chose to play Kithkin, more than a third! And that deck is nearly absent in the main event.

    Here are the stats:

    Mono-Red (37): 22,4 %
    Elves (18): 10,9 %
    Faeries (18): 10,9 %
    U/W Lark (17): 10,3 %
    R/B Tokens (11): 6,7 %
    Quick ‘n’ Toast (10): 6,1 %
    U/W/r Lark (9): 5,5 %
    U/W Merfolk (8): 4,8 %
    TarmoRack (7): 4,2 %
    Swans Combo (7): 4,2 %
    Mono-Green Aggro (6): 3,6 %
    Kithkin (5): 3,0 %
    R/G-Aggro (3): 1,8 %
    U/G-Merfolk (2): 1,2 %
    Red Storm (2): 1,2 %
    Random (5) 3,0 %

    Total: (165) 100 %

     

  • Feature Match: Round 7 -- Raul Porojan vs Manuel Wolf
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Game 1:

    A distressed Raul Porojan chided himself and his deck for losing the last round of the day.
    Both players decided to keep their hand. Moonglove Changeling from Raul marked the first play from his blue-black Faeries draft deck, but Manuel was geared up for a race, as his red-black deck decided to go Constructed for the first couple of turns and play mono-red, with support from Springleaf Drum.

    Glarewielder from Manuel allowed an unimpeded attack that took Raul to a mere 12. Faerie Trickery from Raul kept Sunrise Sovereign at bay, but even so, Manuel led with 18 to 8 life and showed no sign of stopping.

    Raul made Turtleshell Changeling to stem the crimson tide Manuel was rolling up. Raul also had Weed Strangle for one of Manuel’s creatures, and Moonglove Changeling deathtouched away Changeling Berserker.

    But it was only frequent blocking that kept Raul alive in the face of Manuel’s attacks. When his opponent showed Footbottom Feast to resume his attack position and do it all over again, Raul knew that he couldn’t beat all that, and packed it in.

    Raul Porojan 0 – 1 Manuel Wolf

    Raul: “I don’t think you can draw any better.”

    Game 2:

    Manuel lead with Springleaf Drum again, but this time, Raul had the fast start with Blightsoil Druid, Inspired Sprite, Dewdrop Spy, Aethersnipe, supported by Pepersmoke, while Manuel had nothing. Nothing at all.

    Raul Porojan 1 – 1 Manuel Wolf

    Manuel Wolf spoiled Raul's ambitions at finishing the day with just a single loss.
    Game 3:

    Manuel chose to be on the play, hoping to coax out a fast opening. His Flamekin Harbinger sought out Changeling Berserker, but Raul had Weed Strangle for the the big guy. Alas, Manuel had a second one, and a Goatnapper to steal Raul’s Turtleshell Changeling to boot. Raul looked at his hand, at the board, at his lonely Changeling that was his only creature, at his hand, and sighed. He tried to figure out how he’d wriggle out of this: with an empty board, nothing really relevant in hand, facing at least seven damage per turn.

    He didn’t see a way out, and extended the hand.

    Raul: “He really can’t draw better than that.”

    From his good draft deck, Raul had expected more than the 3-1 performance. Especially losing this match bothered him plenty. Raul was severely disappointed, as his opponent had missed several opportunities to press his advantage in the first game. “In this season, I haven’t been as annoyed by losses as today,” quoted Raul. Even more than his 5-2 performance on the day, his anger at himself and his tense body language betrayed his hunger for success. The competitive edge that you need to be successful is clearly strong in this one. A 5-2 day one is not the best starting position for a run at the top 8, but after his ninth place last year, it is still Raul’s goal to reach Sunday at German Nationals 2008.

     

  • Blog - Friday, Aug 29, 7:03 p.m. -- Day one recap
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Day one of German Nationals is done and over, and of the three players we are watching only one has catapulted himself out of the race to Top 8. Jan Ruess finished three rounds of Standard and four rounds of Lorwyn/Lorwyn/Morningtide draft at a dismal 2-4-1. Two wins, four losses and an unfortunate draw put him squarely outside of the top 8. His Swans combo deck did not help, either, although Jan remains convinced of the deck’s quality. He didn’t look happy, but certainly less fazed than Raul Porojan.

    Despite his 5-2 record, Raul vented his anger at himself clearly. Both in Standard and in draft, he lost matchups that he claimed he shouldn’t have lost. His U/W Reveillark deck held up as he wanted, but still lost him the match against Tobias Gräfensteiner, “against my best matchup”, Mono-Red. It will be interesting to watch how this energy influences his game tomorrow. Will he dwell on his mistakes, or will he use it to fuel his attentiveness and step up his game even more?

    These are the luscious prizes you can win if you happen to play Magic in Hanover!
    Thomas Jungmann, on the other hand, was more than content with his 5-2 finish, even a little surprised. His draft deck did not look that good to him: “It’s more of a 2-2 deck, but you can inch out a 3-1 record.” The selection of unimpressive but solid creatures and a big bunch of removal worked. Even though he mostly blogs about casual decks, he still can think his way through a limited deck. “Sometimes I make plays that not everybody would do that way, but when people think about it, they go like “yeah, ok, that works, too”. My goal here was to go at least positive, and to pick up some boosters, reach the Top 32.”

    With a 5-2 start into Saturday, even pro points are still in reach for Thomas Jungmann. German Nationals awards no prize money, but booster prizes instead, so the pro points are a massive improvement. There are 10 pro points for the winner, 8 for second place, 6 for third and fourth, 4 pro points for fifth through eighth place, 2 points for ninth through twelfth, and 1 pro point for the four players down to sixteenth place.

    That is what the players will be fighting for tomorrow, when we return to Hanover for three rounds of Shadowmoor/Shadowmoor/Eventide draft and four more rounds of Standard.

    Meanwhile, players are still competing in the first PTQ of the weekend. Tomorrow, we have a Two-Headed Giant event scheduled, and on Sunday, another PTQ and the German Legacy championship will be held. Wizards is offering a very special price: The winners in the 2HG event will receive an uncut Foil print sheet of Abendkühle commons (German for Eventide). The winner of the Legacy champs will receive an uncut Foil print sheet of Abendkühle uncommons. And the German National champion gets the uncut Foil Rare sheet to take home with him.

    Join us tomorrow, when the Top 8 Sunday is even less hours away!

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