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Grand Prix Boston
Day 1 Coverage

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Saturday, 1:16 p.m. - Grinder Winning Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Rob Victory
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

John Paul Kelly
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Blake Macary
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Marcelino Freeman
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Riccardo Pileggi
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Johnny Cheng
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Sander Prato
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Michel Scouazza
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Hugh Kramer
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Jeremy King
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Juris Magararu
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Steve Osso
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner

Simone Aiken
Grand Prix Boston 2012 - Grinder Winner




 

Saturday, 2:11 p.m. - Sealed Deckbuilding Exercise - pt. 1

by Marc Calderaro

Because watching 1,800 people opening booster packs was just too much for me to handle, I grabbed a few myself and ripped them apart. I thought, if I were playing today, what would I do with this pool? I built a little something with it, but since I'm much worse at Magic than many people here, I decided to talk to some pros and see if they would build it like I had.

Later on today I'll be posting what a some pros did with the pool. But before that, here's your chance to shine. What would you do with this pile of cards?

Do you like the double Mogg Flunkies, double Krenko's Command and the Arms Dealer? What about the solid, if a bit unexciting black cards? Blue might not have enough to stand on its own, but with 3 Evolving Wilds, are some cards worth a splash? This pool asks a lot of questions, and some of the answers seem fuzzy.

Post your builds and thoughts on the message boards, and later today you can see how closely your take aligns with some of the top Grand Prix competitors here.

And remember, just because you can splash doesn't mean you have to . . . but sometimes you have to. Right?





 

Round 3 Feature Match - Shaheen Soorani vs. Joshua Martinez

by Blake Rasmussen

Typically at a Grand Prix, players with recognizable names don't start playing till Round 4, on account of the byes piling up next to their names. With a field this large, though, that simply wasn't the case this weekend, as recognizable players like David Caplan, Gerard Fabiano, Richard Hoaen, Ben Lundquist, Max Tietze and Shaheen Soorani were each lined up to play in the third round.

From that stacked lineup Shaheen Soorani was plucked to face Joshua Martinez under the bright lights of the feature match area. Both players were grinders on the StarCity Games tournament circuit but had elected to try and wind their way through more than 1,800 players here this weekend.

To do so, Soorani had put together a White-Green deck full of large, bomby creatures like Serra Angel and Primordial Hydra, while Martinez had matched utility creatures like Intrepid Hero and Xathrid Gorgon with a Red splash for Chandra the Firebrand and Flames of the Firebrand. The power was certainly there on both sides of the table, and a strong draw from either player could tie their opponent up in knots quickly.

Game 1

Martinez's Aven Squire drew first blood in the matchup of white-based decks, though Soorani hit harder with an Attended Knight followed by a Prized Elephant.

"My favorite elephant," Soorani made sure we knew.

Meanwhile, Martinez was struggling with lands, stuck on just two while Soorani was summoning Spiked Baloth. Pacifism took care of the pachyderm, but War Priest of Thune unlocked it and made things pretty bad for Martinez.

Down to just four life after a massive attack, even Intrepid Hero wasn't enough to save the day, and Soorani took the first game with ease.

Shaheen Soorani figured out one way to beat an Intrepid Hero – kill his opponent before it matters.

"If you had drawn that third land earlier, I'm just dead. I can't beat Intrepid Hero. You hit that third land, you're off to the races," Soorani said, ticking off the few outs he had in his deck.

Soorani 1 – Martinez 0

Game 2

Another game, another Intrepid Hero...only this one was on time.

"There it is," Soorani said, attacking with just an Aven Squire, afraid to play any of his larger threats.

"We can just do this all game if you want," Martinez said. "Play your elephant."

Instead, Soorani had a Centaur Courser, finding at least one creature he could play. It looked fine until Martinez dropped another bomb: Xathrid Gorgon.

"Oh boy," Soorani said, exhaling as he put Kitesail on his Aven Squire to take Martinez to 11.

Not that it much mattered. Martinez cast a Healer of the Pride and froze the Aven Squire, effectively shutting down Soorani's offense completely, even as he played Silvercoat Lion, War Priest of Thune and Thragtusk in succession. If he couldn't beat an Intrepid Hero, tackling the Gorgon seemed pretty much impossible.

Good luck getting through that.

Not that Martinez had any offense of his own to speak of. His trio of Intrepid Hero, Healer of the Pride and Xathrid Gorgon were effective at keeping him alive, but didn't do much to put a dent in Soorani's life total.

Soorani did manage to resolve a Primordial Hydra – for one counter – but it was a ticking time bomb that would soon throw itself under the Intrepid Hero's power.


"I could just concede I guess, but I kind of want to see how you're going to kill me," Soorani thought out loud before playing Predatory Rampage.

After the dust settled, only the Silvercoat Lion was able to attack as a 6/6, but Show of Valor kept Martinez' team from taking any casualties.

That was when Soorani started counting libraries to figure out if he should concede and Martinez flashed him the Chandra the Firebrand in his hand.

"Can you beat Chandra?" Martinez asked, even though he had no Mountains in play.

"I'll concede to that," Soorani said, now fully aware of how Martinez could kill him.

Soorani 1 – Martinez 1

Game 3

Martinez had the first mulligan of the match, but he didn't seem too upset about it.

"I would mull to three if it was two lands Intrepid Hero," Martinez said.

"And I would lose that game," Soorani offered, clearly hoping to dodge the rare 1/1.

Martinez kept his six cards, despite having a hand full of black spells and only Plains for mana. He quickly drew a Swamp and played Knight of Infamy to race Soorani's Aven Squire.

"If you don't do anything else for the rest of the game, I won't either," Martinez said. Soorani clearly wasn't going to take that bait and followed up with an Attended Knight.

Martinez boosted his exalted forces with a Duty-Bound Dead and a War Priest of Thune – killing nothing – but Soorani had an on-curve Serra Angel to really turn up the clock. When Yeva Forcemage pumped Aven Squire the following turn, Martinez fell to just six life and was in tons of trouble.

But a land off the top let him use Essence Drain to off Soorani's only nonwhite blocker allowing the Knight of Infamy to continue its march to 20 damage. After four turns worth of Knight of Infamy attacks, Soorani was at just four life, so one more unattended swing would seal the match for Martinez.

Centaur Courser gave Soorani the blocker he needed, but a Mark of the Vampire on his Knight of Infamy bumped Martinez to 10 life and turned the race completely on its hed. He fell to three on the attack, but Soorani found another green blocker to take the heat off for yet another turn.

"Come on Thragtusk," Soorani said has Martinez jumped to nine life on his next attack before playing Battleflight Eagle.

Instead it was Garruk's Packleader who jumped in front of the Knight of Infamy as a third chump blocking Green creature fell by the wayside. Martinez cast a risky Sign in Blood, falling to seven, but he still had enough blockers to survive the swing back.

Knight of Infamy gave Martinez a lot to smile about in Game 3.

Plummet removed Battleflight Eagle from the equation, but Soorani could only squeeze through six power. With no other Green blocker forthcoming and no way to stop the rampaging Knight of Infamy, Soorani met an infamous end.

Soorani 1 – Martinez 2




 

Saturday, 3:51 p.m. - The Return of William "Huey" Jensen

by Blake Rasmussen

One vote. One single vote from a selection committee member and the 2012 Hall of Fame Class would have been plus one William "Huey" Jensen. That's it. Just one vote.

It was the slimmest of margins, but it was enough to shine a spotlight on the old-school pro who was once one of the most feared players on the planet, and one of only a handful of players ever to defeat Kai Budde in the Top 8 of a Pro Tour.

But Jensen hasn't been heard from much since 2004, a fact that might have cost him some votes from players and selection committee members who simply never played against "Huey" in his heyday.

If this weekend goes well, though, they may just get their chance.

Jensen is making a quiet return to the game after almost a seven year hiatus from competitive Magic here at Grand Prix Boston.

William "Huey" Jensen is back on the scene at Grand Prix Boston more than eight years after his last Grand Prix Top 8.

"It's been a long time," Jensen said, unable to recall the last Grand Prix he even played in.

Part of the reason for his return is simple kismet – he has family in the area and happened to have some vacation time – but another part is his recent near miss into the Hall.

"In a sense, I guess so. You really reminisce and think of a lot of memories and people," said the player once known as "Huey" by his friends and fellow players. "It's good to see people, and I do miss being able to go to tournaments."

Back when Jensen could attend tournaments regularly, he was a force to be reckoned with. He racked up more than 200 lifetime pro points while winning two Grands Prix and a Pro Tour. He also Top 8ed another six Grands Prix and three other Pro Tours.

Jensen's current inability to go to tournaments has more to do with his location than his love of the game. He has lived on the small island of Curacao for the past several years with a contingent of some of the game's best players, such as Ben Rubin, Matt Linde, Eugene Harvey, Jelger Wiegersma, and others.

"It's very competitive," Jensen said of the Curacao crew's kitchen table drafts with a group that collectively has more Pro Tour Top 8s than most kitchen table games can ever dream of. "It gets the fire and the competitive juices flowing."

Jensen said if he were elected into the Hall of Fame, he would find a way to exercise that competitive fire every year with at least two Pro Tours and even a third if his schedule allowed. And, for his part, Jensen thinks he has a solid shot to make it in after falling just short.

"I think have I have a good chance next year, thanks in no part to this tournament," he said, ruing his weak pool and 0-2 start.

Jensen said he hopes to keep playing more over the next year, most likely at Grand Prix London in February where he says work will likely take him near enough to the Grand Prix to make it possible.

"I expected to do better than 0-2," Jensen said. "I don't think I'm going to win the tournament, but I think I still have the capability."




 

Round 4 Feature Match - Xavier Biron vs. Tzu Ching Kuo

by Marc Calderaro

Tzu Ching Kuo is one of the biggest names to come out of last week's World Magic Cup. Knocking out twelve wins in a row, Kuo helped lead his Chinese Taipei national team to a great win to clinch the coveted first World Magic Cup.

Xavier Biron is a strong Canadian Magician. Las month, he took down a Montreal PTQ with a solid Blue-Green Infect build. Though Mono-Green is the standard nowadays, Biron used Blighted Agent and Ponder he was allowed thanks to some Islands, earning him a spot at the next Pro Tour.

The two players rolled, shuffled and drew for the first game.

Game 1

Kuo led, but it was Biron who cast the first stone. A War Priest of Thune off a Swamp and Plains got in there for two. This attack, combined with Kuo's second-turn Sign in Blood gave the Canadian an early lead. Crusader of Odric joined the Priest and after a pre-combat Captain's Call on turn four, turning the Crusader into a 5/5, Kuo was quickly down to 9. And he was yet to cast a creature.

Game 1 goes quickly to Xavier Biron

Kuo found his fourth land and tapped out for a Shimian Specter to block, but Biron flashed the Murder sitting in his hand before he untapped. At the first opportunity, Biron murdered the Specter and swung again, this time with the help of the 1/1 Soldiers. That was a whopping ten damage. Just like that, we were ready for the second game. A fifth-turn kill in Sealed is not a common occurrence, but with a little land stumbles and a little murdering, it can happen.

Xavier Biron 1 – 0 Tzu Ching Kuo

Game 2

Kuo's first-turn Duress revealed this hand from Biron: Dark Favor, Evolving WildsIntrepid Hero, Captain's Call, Bloodthrone Vampire, Swamp, Plains. The Taiwanese took the wannabe Spectral Procession and followed with a 3/2 Crimson Muckwader, then a Reckless Brute. The 1/1 Vampire came out from Biron and traded with the Brute. The Canadian was down to 14 when he begun to stabilize. Kuo had not added any friends for Muckwader and Biron had an Intrepid Hero and Shimian Specter.

After some thought, Kuo attacked in for three and used a Volcanic Geyser to kill the Intrepid Hero, unsettling Biron's stabilization process. Biron went to 11 and then 8 the following turn. Though far behind (it was 8-20 with Kuo leading), Biron had cleared his opponent's hand with Shimian Specter and played a Dark Favor on Ajani's Sunstriker to get back into the game. The cat-and-ghost attack made the totals 11-12 for Biron. After that turn, the cat stayed indoors because Kuo's Hellion Crucible had the right amount of counters to make it dangerous to venture out on the ground. But the Specter still plinked Kuo down to 9, while ensuring Kuo was playing off the top of his library. Biron added extra insurance with a Captain's Call before passing the turn back.

World Magic Cup Team Champion Tzu Ching Kuo can't find a way to deal with his opponents flyers.

Kuo made his 4/4 Hellion at the end of his opponent's turn and cast Liliana's Shade. But still without flyers, Kuo couldn't keep anything in his hand. Anything he kept would end up removed from the game. He dug for an answer with Sign in Blood, but still came up short. He sighed a bit as he passed the turn back. He knew this might be his last turn.

Biron untapped, confidently slammed a second Dark Favor on his Specter and sent in a big ol' alpha strike. Kuo only needed to glance at all the sideways creatures before he was ready to call it quits.

Xavier Biron 2 – 0 Tzu Ching Kuo

Advancing to 4-0, the Canadian Xavier Biron had taken a decisive win off the big up-and-comer and World Magic Cup Team Champion, Tzu Ching Kuo.




 

Round 5 Feature Match - Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Craig Krempels

by Blake Rasmussen

"Long time," Craig Krempels said, greeting All-World All-Star Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa at the start of Round 5. Surely an understated welcome when facing off against a Hall of Famer still in his prime.

But at 4-0 with solid decks at their fingers, it's not like either player was hurting for confidence in their ability to win.

Krempels had a fast, beefy Red-Green deck highlighted by Yeva, Nature's Herald. He could hit fast and he could hit hard, but he lacked anything truly bomby.

Damo da Rosa, on the other hand, had all of the bombs in a White-Black deck that was somewhat reminiscent of the deck that he fell short with at Grand Prix Sao Paolo. Practicing the weekend before the Players Championship, the Brazilian was certainly hoping for a better result in Boston.

Game 1

With a lightning quick pace from both players, the board was quickly cluttered with creatures, especially for Damo da Rosa, who curved Aven Squire into Attended Knight into Bloodhunter Bat into Shimian Specter, while Krempels started with only a Centaur Courser.

In fact, Krempels start was so stunted that, even with an overwhelming board presence early on and Krempels' lone creature tapped from attacking, the Brazilian was weary when making his next attacks. Still, he saw no combat tricks after attacking with just his fliers and hit Krempels to 10.

However, Krempels did have a trick of a sorts at the end of turn that made Damo da Rosa's non-attack with his ground creatures look positively sage-like, as Yeva, Nature's Herald jumped on to the battlefield to shove seven power worth of attackers in Damo da Rosa's face. Centaur Courser traded with the Attended Knight and its squire before Krempels cast Furnace Whelp.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa had a lot to ponder over against Craig Krempels in Round 5.

But Damo da Rosa was firing on all cylinders, hitting Captain of the Watch right on time. Furnace Whelp traded with the Shimian Specter, but Krempels otherwise dropped to just six life. When Damo da Rosa declined to block Yeva on the next attack, it set up a lethal swing for the Hall of Famer.

Damo da Rosa 1 – Krempels 0

Game 2

After being run over by a curve of hard hitting beats, Krempels opted to play with a sigh. His Green and Red deck was built for speed, but had stumbled in the early turns in Game 1.

And speed it did, as Arbor Elf enabled a Rummaging Goblin in short order, but he had no follow up.

Instead, it was Damo da Rosa who took control once again, trading his War Falcon with the Arbor Elf and casting a very dangerous Vampire Nighthawk.

With a "hee-ya," Krempels cast and attacked with Flinthoof Boar. Attempting to race Vampire Nighthawk was usually a losing proposition, but it was all Krempels had for now.

Then Damo da Rosa played possibly the sickest Sign in Blood I've ever seen, drawing both Captain of the Watch and Sublime Archangel. When he also had Cathedral of War on his next turn, the Vampire Nighthawk was suddenly hitting for five.

Yup, five.


Forced into action, Krempels used Titanic Growth and Prey Upon to kill the Sublime Archangel ... just in time for Damo Da Rosa to play what would have surely been a backbreaking Captain of the Watch. If the Sublime Archangel were still around, the Vampire Nighthawk could have attacked as a 9/10.

"Yeah, why wouldn't it be that," Krempels said, sighing at his board of Centaur Courser, Flinthoof Boar, Rummaging Goblin and newly cast Arms Dealer.

Wary of the death-dealing Goblin, Damo da Rosa attacked with just a single Soldier token after casting Angelic Benediction. Krempels fell to six life before using Arms Dealer to kill Vampire Nighthawk (sacrificing the Rummaging Goblin).

A second activation of the Arms Dealer removed the Captain of the Watch while another Flinthoof Boar suddenly put Damo da Rosa and his bevy of bombs on the back foot.

Now with just two Soldier tokens on the table, Damo da Rosa shifted to chump blocking mode with a hand was just five lands.

To recap, Damo da Rosa cast Vampire Nighthawk, Sublime Archangel and Captain of the Watch ... and was now losing, thanks in small part to some pretty severe flooding and in large part to Krempels relentlessly tearing through his team.

When another land was all that greeted him on top of his deck, Damo da Rosa had somehow lost a game where he cast a multitude of the format's best cards over a series of several turns.

"I guess you got an above-average pool," Krempels said.

"It's pretty good," Damo da Rosa offered back.

Damo da Rosa 1 – Krempels 1

Game 3

Slumbering Dragon stared things off for Krempels, though it wouldn't be involved in the action for some time. Or, actually, at all (foreshadowing!).

Meanwhile Crippling Blight, well, crippled a Deadly Recluse and Searing Spear killed a Duskmantle Prowler.

Then Krempels cast his bomb, flashing in a Yeva, Nature's Herald. Damo da Rosa attempted to kill the Green legend with War Falcon plus Show of Valor, but Chandra's Fury killed it before the trick resolved.

Krempels then added a Canyon Minotaur to the battlefield, further squeezing Damo da Rosa's already taxed board.

Craig Krempels was clearly unfazed sitting across from a Hall of Famer and Players Championship competitor.

Captain of the Watch was certainly an answer, but Krempels had already shown that his deck was full of tricks ... including the Titanic Growth he used to save Yeva from the blocks of two Soldier tokens. Once again, Damo da Rosa was in a hole.

Battleflight Eagle let Damo da Rosa get in his first attack of the game – ticking up the Slumbering Dragon by one – but he was still pretty far behind. Bladetusk Boar only served to deepen the Hall of Famer's hole.

He attempted to fight back with a Bloodhunter Bat, but a hand full of lands made that difficult, especially as Krempels continued to use Rummaging Goblin to tear through his deck.

Flinthoof Boar upped the pressure even more, forcing Damo da Rosa to reluctantly start blocking with his Captain of the Watch. After the attack, Damo da Rosa's board was clear while Krempels still had his Bladetusk Boar. Damo da Rosa tried a desperation Sign in Blood, but finding no removal for the intimidating Boar, he was out of options...and out of life

Damo da Rosa 1 – Krempels 2




 

Saturday, 6:10 p.m. - Sealed Deck Exercise - pt. 2

by Marc Calderaro

If you hadn't yet seen the Sealed Pool from earlier, scroll up, or click here if you're lazy. I gave this list to a couple Pros to see what they would do with it. First up was Sam Black.

Immediately Black threw out the blue, saying, "the good cards are doubles and there's not enough of the rest." Even though the white pile gave him pause, his first build after perusing everything was full of red and black. He liked the aggressive look of it, but when I asked was what missing, as he piled the cards back together, he muttered, "Cards." There were about nineteen playables, and a splash wasn't going to make up for the deck's deficiencies. Red was aggressive but lacked removal and enough speed to not worry about such removal-lacking.

Tom Martell, Sam Black, and Gaudenis Vidugiris

Black then vacillated among three colors: red, white and green. He did every iteration – White-Red, White-Green, Red-Green – before he stared at the three Evolving Wilds and put all ingredients into the pot. Black seemed the most excited about this build. "You've got the synergy of the Healer of the Pride, Krenko's Command and Predatory Rampage." It was about this time that everyone else at the table started turning towards Black looking at what he had constructed. Tom Martell, Gaudenis Vidugiris, and Brian Kibler all cocked their heads at the extremely greedy brew Black had put together. Kibler took one look and said "Are you trolling the world with that?"

Martell's eyes widened seeing the aggressive red and white and tried to make a Red-White deck work shoving the green to one side. Cards that Black had previously cut were thrown back into the mix. Silvercoat Lions, Warclamp Mastiff and Kindled Fury were all being considered. "Whenever I see a Trumpet Blast, I'm all in." Martell continued, "And the Warclamp Mastiff goes well with the Mogg Flunkies. There's a good tokens deck here." Kibler remained unconvinced.

"Tokens?! You've got two Krenko's Command. That's it. And are you really playing Ajani's Sunstriker, Krenko's Command and Elvish Visionary?" Black was quick to point out all of the cards that went well with those Commands. Healer of the Pride, Crusader of Odric, Griffin Protector all worked well, and this was the same rationale that was later used to keep in Elvish Visionary.

Black went back and forth between two colors and three. But finally, after realizing that a splash of blue wasn't worth the shaky mana because all the cards he wanted were five-drops, he seemed content with his three-color build. He wasn't too happy to be relying so much on the two Healer of the Pride, but as long as they didn't immediately die to a Searing Spear, the life-gain would give him the time he needed to set up for a perfect Predatory Rampage.

The deck Black settled on looked like this:

The last card was still being shuffled around, but Black liked it the best out of his other iterations. However, he wouldn't have swapped this pool for the one he's currently using. Martell on the other hand, said he'd definitely trade this pool for his own and was ready to force the red and white and drop the Spiders, Wurm, Rampage, Rancor, Farseek, Courser and the Elf. Though he didn't make an exact build, it's safe to say it would've contained the Silvercoat Lions, Kindled Fury, Hellion Crucible, Volcanic Strength (Oh, I love Volcanic Strength") and nary a Forest in sight.

If Black's deck is a little greedy for you, or Martell's ideas too aggressive for your Sealed tastes, perhaps Jon Finkel's build is good for what ails you. Finkel was markedly more decisive, and never really strayed from his first impressions. He quickly laid out the colors, tossing aside any cards he didn't want to play.

"I can't imagine not playing White here. The blue is fine. The red has good beatdown, but isn't deep. The green just isn't enough."

Sam Black and Tom Martell

After making no real remarks about black, he laid the color back out, ordering by mana cost, then put his hand to his chin. He matched those cards with the white ones and then the Hall of Famer started counting cards. He only had to cut a few to get the deck to fighting weight. Out came the Glorious Charge; out came the Ring of Xathrid; out came the Rise from the Grave.

"I'm not real happy to be playing the Lions, but they are necessary." I asked him if he had trouble with the large amount of four drops represented on the table, as there were two Healer of the Pride, Griffin Protector, Bloodhunter Bat, Sublime Archangel, Divine Verdict, Liliana's Shade, Duskmantle Prowler and Mark of the Vampire all crowding the slot. He started to move the double-colored spells into the five-drop slot took a random half of the pile and moved it into the empty five-drop slot. "If the curve looked like this, people would still be happy to play this deck."

Finkel creating his sample deck from the Sealed Deckbuilder Pool

It looked as if Finkel grabbed the two deepest colors, saw they didn't look awful next to each other and just went to town. On the three Evolving Wilds, Finkel said the only card he would be excited to splash at all was Switcheroo and that it wasn't worth it for him. "It's good, but it's not that good. And I don't need it." He finished with, "Just because you can splash doesn't mean you should." Words I've never lived by, but probably should. The final deck from Jon Finkel looked like this:

The land count and distribution is speculative as we didn't talk much about it. Finkel did say that he would likely play a couple of the Wilds, but probably not all of them as he didn't want to get too slowed down.

I did talk to one last person who never minds being slowed down by a couple extra colors, but that will wait until the last installment. If you are a budding Sealed deck-builder, you might not want to read it; it's not for the faint of heart. Because when you give Luis Scott-Vargas three Evolving Wilds, you never know what'll happen.




 

Saturday, 6:29 p.m. - Grinding through Grinder Data

by Blake Rasmussen

Grinders – the single-elimination, no-room-for-error tournaments that award three byes – are often a fun side event from a coverage perspective, a way to highlight some performances and show some neat decklists if the grinders happen to be from a constructed format.

But because of the massive size of Grand Prix Boston-Worcester, we've actually been able to mine quite a bit of data out of the 21 grinders that fired on Friday.

For example, of the winning decks, I can tell you that Plains and Forests were the most played cards, while Islands and Mountains lagged behind the rest.

I can tell you that Pacifism was easily the most played card, with 16 copies spread out among 21 decks. I can also tell you not a single Craterize made the cut, in case you were curious about Demolish's younger, far less talented cousin.

So for those stat-heads out there and people looking to get a let up in M13 Limited, here's a fire hose of information about the decks that did the best when their backs were against the wall.

Plains and Islands in decks
  • Decks with at least one Plains (out of 21 possible): 14
  • Decks with at least one Island: 5


Blue was easily the least represented color, and also had the ignominy of being the only color that not a single player splashed in their winning deck list. Meanwhile, White was splashed everywhere, mostly for Oblivion Ring and...



Popular Cards


Right behind them were Searing Spear (11), Elvish Visionary (10) and Essence Drain (10). No other card had double-digit copies in among the winning decklists.

Number of lands played (lands per Deck):
  • 15: 1 deck
  • 16: 3 decks
  • 17: 16 decks
  • 18: 1 deck


The 15 land-deck was an aggressive Black-Red deck with three Mogg Flunkies and only two cards that cost five mana. The 18 land deck, interestingly enough, also had two Arbor Elf and a Farseek, but also had two Rummaging Goblins and was three colors.

Most popular individual cards


There were more Oblivion Rings in the 21 winning decklists than Evolving Wilds (7), Spiked Baloths (8), Murders (6), Prey Upon (6), Primal Clay (6) and Arbor Elf (5), for example. There were more Captain of the Watch than Goblin Arsonist (3), Mogg Flunkies (3), Scroll Thief (3) and Divination (2).

What do you call seeing these two cards in your sealed pool? A good start.


Most popular card by color


Green had 11 cards that were as popular or more so than Unsummon among the winning decklists.

Non-rare/mythic cards that had only one entry among the 21 winning decklists: War Priest of Thune, War Falcon, Vedalken Entrancer, Trumpet Blast, Tormented Soul, Torch Fiend, Switcheroo, Safe Passage, Rise from the Grave, Ring of Xathrid, Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Kalonia, Plummet, Pillarfield Ox, Mindclaw Shaman, Kraken Hatchling, Knight of Glory, Jayemdae Tome, Jace's Phantasm, Harbor Bandit, Glorious Charge, Furnace Whelp, Duskdale Wurm, Duress, Bond Beetle, and Augur of Bolas.

There were a total of 26 non-rare/mythic cards that had just one copy in the winning decks.

Most copies of any one card in any single deck: 3 (Centaur Courser, Mogg Flunkies, Deadly Recluse, Searing Spear, Pacifism, Timberpack Wolf)

Surprisingly, the three copies of Mogg Flunkies in one deck were the only three copies to see play in any Grinder winning deck.

"So, uh, we attack, right guys?"

Want more? If you've gotten this far in the article, you probably do! If so, here's a chart of every card (besides basic lands) played by the Grinder winning decklists along with the number of copies of each one played, in order from most played to least. Enjoy!

Number of Cards Card Name
16 Pacifism
12 Centaur Courser
12 Timberpack Wolf
11 Searing Spear
10 Elvish Visionary
10 Essence Drain
9 Attended Knight
9 Aven Squire
9 Bloodhunter Bat
9 Crippling Blight
9 Deadly Recluse
8 Oblivion Ring
8 Spiked Baloth
7 Ajani’s Sunstriker
7 Evolving Wilds
7 Serra Angel
7 Yeva’s Forcemage
6 Griffin Protector
6 Guardians of Akrasa
6 Murder
6 Prey Upon
6 Primal Clay
6 Primal Huntbeast
6 Rancor
6 Titanic Growth
6 Turn to Slag
6 Unsummon
5 Arbor Elf
5 Bladetusk Boar
5 Chronomaton
5 Duty-Bound Dead
5 Essence Scatter
5 Farseek
5 Knight of Infamy
5 Liliana’s Shade
5 Mark of the Vampire
5 Public Execution
5 Rummaging Goblin
5 Show of Valor
4 Captain of the Watch
4 Cower in Fear
4 Dragon Hatchling
4 Duskmantle Prowler
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Giant Scorpion
4 Healer of the Pride
4 Prized Elephant
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Sentinel Spider
4 Walking Corpse
4 Wind Drake
3 Acidic Slime
3 Archaeomancer
3 Battleflight Eagle
3 Captain’s Call
3 Chandra’s Fury
3 Crusader of Odric
3 Fire Elemental
3 Firewing Phoenix
3 Flames of the Firebrand
3 Garruk’s Packleader
3 Goblin Arsonist
3 Kitesail
3 Mogg Flunkies
3 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
3 Quirion Dryad
3 Sands of Delirium
3 Scroll Thief
3 Servant of Nefarox
3 Sign in Blood
3 Silvercoat Lion
3 Sleep
3 Staff of Nin
3 Sunpetal Grove
3 Thragtusk
3 Vastwood Gorger
3 Welkin Tern
3 Xathrid Gorgon
2 Angelic Benediction
2 Arctic Aven
2 Arms Dealer
2 Canyon Minotaur
2 Crimson Muckwader
2 Disentomb
2 Divination
2 Divine Verdict
2 Elixir of Immortality
2 Faerie Invaders
2 Fog Bank
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hydrosurge
2 Krenko, Mob Boss
2 Krenko’s Command
2 Mind Sculpt
2 Odric, Master Tactician
2 Primordial Hydra
2 Rhox Faithmender
2 Ring of Thune
2 Roaring Primadox
2 Shimian Specter
2 Silklash Spider
2 Stuffy Doll
2 Talrand, Sky Summoner
2 Talrand’s Invocation
2 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Volcanic Geyser
2 Watercourser
1 Augur of Bolas
1 Bond Beetle
1 Cathedral of War
1 Chandra, the Firebrand
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Duress
1 Duskdale Wurm
1 Furnace Whelp
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Glorious Charge
1 Harbor Bandit
1 Intrepid Hero
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Jace’s Phantasm
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Knight of Glory
1 Kraken Hatchling
1 Mindclaw Shaman
1 Negate
1 Pillarfield Ox
1 Plummet
1 Ring of Evos Isle
1 Ring of Kalonia
1 Ring of Xathrid
1 Rise of the Grave
1 Safe Passage
1 Spelltwine
1 Switcheroo
1 Torch Fiend
1 Tormented Soul
1 Trumpet Blast
1 Vampire Nocturnus
1 Vedalken Entrancer
1 Void Stalker
1 War Falcon
1 War Priest of Thune



 

Round 6 Feature Match - Pat Cox vs. David Shiels

by Marc Calderaro

Both Pat Cox and David Shiels have three Grand Prix Top 8s under their belts. Though the highest Cox has finished is 2nd at Grand Prix Austin, Shiels took down the entire Grand Prix Dallas-FortWorth. Both Texas GPs ... interesting.

Game 1

Cox started off showing a Forest and a Swamp but he stumbled after that. He had kept a hand with both Vampire Nighthawk and Elvish Archdruid, but not finding the third land spelled trouble (with a capital "T" and rhymes with "V" and that stands for Vampire Nighthawk). Shiels already showed a Harbor Bandit and a Liliana's Shade by the time Cox found a land. But even that draw taunted Cox as it was an Evolving Wilds and didn't help him cast anything he needed to.

David Cox

Cox searched out a Swamp rather than a Forest because if any three-drop can get you back into a game, it's that crazy flying, lifelinking, deathtouching beatstick. But since his new draw had revealed another black three-drop, Murder, Cox waited to kill the Harbor Bandit on Shiels next attack. And that land had come just in time. After Shiels's attack step, Cox had dropped to 6.

The following turn Cox played the vampire and immediately used a Prey Upon to kill the Shade (while gaining two life for his trouble, with "T"s rhyming with "P"s for Prey Upon, et al.). Shiels cast an Essence Drain on the Vampire Nighthawk and the last two creatures on the board were two innocuously cast Giant Scorpions for Shiels. They didn't seem like much when Shiels was busy making the life totals 6-23. But maybe the two 1/3s could be just enough to seal the deal for David Shiels.

Cox played an Elvish Visionary and had a good-looking grip of Essence Drain, Liliana of the Dark Realms and a Mark of the Vampire, but Shiels made him discard everything but the Drain with a Mind Rot. The next turns were consumed with trades for one damage back and forth until it was 3-19 and David Shiels cast a Talrand, Sky Summoner. Cox laid an Oblivion Ring and continued the one-damage trade-offs, 2-18.

With another draw step, Cox thought he might finally be out of the woods. He summoned an Arbor Elf, then a Phyrexian Hulk the turn after. But when only the Hulk was left to block, Shiels used the final two cards in his hand – Murder and a Duty-Bound Dead. With Cox at two and with nothing to block but a murdered Hulk, this dribbling game came to a close when an exalted Scorpion scuttled over to give the final sting to Pat Cox.

David Shiels 1 – 0 Pat Cox

"That is definitely the most damage my Giant Scorpion will do all day." David Shiels smiled. The two shuffled up and played game number two.

Game 2

Shiels cast the first spell of the game in a Duty-Bound Dead, but Cox immediately obsoleted it with a Knight of Glory.

"Well that's lame." Shiels was exaggeratedly defeated.


The Knight beat Shiels uncontested for a few turns to take him to 14. Shiels attacked into Cox's new 2/2 Harbor Bandit with his 1/3 skeleton, a possible bluff, but Cox played it safe – assuming Crippling Blight – and took the damage.

Harbor Bandit from Cox only had Plains and Swamps to play with and was severely outmatched by Shiels's Island-aided Bandit. But with the help of Cox's Oblivion Ring it was the last Bandit standing. When Cox followed up with a Ravenous Rats and Shiels pitched the Blight, Cox nodded and said, "I knew you had it."

Throughout this Game Two, just as they had both been drowning in mana last game, they were both dehydrated here. It was at least turn seven and both players had three lands to their names. The Giant Scorpion from Shiels should have brought the game to a standstill, but the Knight of Glory was causing Shiels fits. The two-drop dealt twelve damage by itself. However, the Scorpion was still useful with the help of exalted triggers, and kept Shiels afloat. When the Bloodhunter Bat came down for the Grand Prix Dallas-FortWorth winner, it was all but even at 11-10 – barely in Cox's favor.

Shiels wins an important match over cox

Better news for Shiels came in the form of a Chronomaton next turn. After a little pumping it was able to finally kill the Knight. Cox was happy to trade, because at the rate the game was progressing giving the artifact +1/+1 each turn would make it very big, very quick.

Cox had on his board Ravenous Rats, Harbor Bandit, Attended Knight and a 1/1 Solider token on his team. They all stared down Shiels's Bloodhunter Bat, Duty-Bound Dead and Giant Scorpion. Cox went for the win with a Mark of the Vampire on his Knight, but Shiels was holding the goods. He cast a Murder on the intended target and then coasted to victory on the wings of a 2/2 Bat and an Essence Drain to speed the process along.

David Shiels 2 – 0 Pat Cox

A humble Chronomaton was what turned a struggling Shiels into a happy Shiels. And though Pat Cox now drops to 4-2, David Shiels jumps up to 5-1.




 

Round 7 Feature Match - Stefan Ellsworth vs. Yuuya Watanabe

by Blake Rasmussen

"I want to be on camera!" Stefan Ellsworth, a Boston native said as soon as he sat down.

If he keeps winning, he might just get his wish. As one of the few remaining undefeated players, Ellsworth was just one match win away from locking up an invite back tomorrow, something he had never accomplished before.

But standing in his way was "the player who is about to destroy me," as Ellsworth eloquently guessed before Yuuya Watanabe even sat down. As one of the 16 players qualified for the 2012 Players Championship and the captain of the Japanese national team at the World Magic Cup, Watanabe was certainly one of the last players in the room anyone wants to face, especially since he had yet to drop a match today.

Game 1

In what looked like a Green-Red deck splashing Black, Watanabe kept a fairly speculative hand, with no red mana and only an Elvish Visionary as a castable card.

He was soundly punished when he missed his fourth land drop and immediately begin drawing five and seven drops...including the Duskdale Wurm he was forced to discard, slumping in his seat as Knight of Glory and Wind Drake were beating down from across the table backed by Guardians of Akrasa.

This is Yuuya Watanabe not casting spells. It looks kind of like Yuuya Watanabe casting spells, but with less to do and more cards in hand.

A Mountain gave a sudden ray of hope, letting him cast Firewing Phoenix to stand in the way. But even that was short lived as Oblivion Ring removed it from play.

Sighing as he drew yet another uncastable card, Watanabe was quietly scooped up his cards, pinned in by his mana.

Ellsworth 1 – Watanabe 0

Game 2

Watanabe saw a very similar hand in the second game as he did the first, with a series of four and five drops plus two lands and an Elvish Visionary. Never one to second-guess himself based on past actions, Watanabe kept it once again...

...and immediately started drawing cards he couldn't cast again, missing land number three while drawing another four drop and shaking his head again. He also used his Evolving Wilds to find a Swamp rather than the Mountain that would have unlocked much of his hand.

Ellsworth, meanwhile cast a Chronomaton and Ajani's Sunstriker, starting his attacks when the pair were both 2/2s. He even added a second Sunstriker to the board.


That was when Watanabe finally found his fourth land and first Mountain. Bladetusk Boar, however, wasn't terribly impressive at this stage of the game, especially after it died to Divine Verdict on the next attack.

But a Forest was just what the doctor ordered. Land number five and Forest number two enabled Acidic Slime, which not only killed Chronomaton, but gave a pretty fantastic blocker. For a moment it looked like he might be able to turn the match around.

Yet Ellsworth wasn't out of his own tricks. Clone copied Acidic Slime and destroyed Watanabe's lone Mountain, stranding a group of red cards in the Japanese player's hand. When Watanabe found Essence Drain, Ellsworth had the Negate to keep his Clone chugging along.

A few turns of three-point exalted attacks from the Clone, and Ellsworth had qualified for his first Grand Prix Day Two, doing it while stepping over one of the best players in the universe, nonetheless.

Stefan Ellsworth not only is making his first Day 2 at a Grand Prix, but he's doing it in style, going 7-0 and defeating one of the best players on the planet.

"I don't know what to say. Holy crap," Ellsworth said, beaming from ear to ear. "Sorry about that. Good luck."

Ellsworth wouldn't need any luck of his own to move on. At 7-0, he was riding high at the top of the tournament.

Ellsworth 2 – Watanabe 0




 

Saturday, 8:02 p.m. - Quick Hits: What card has been your MVP so far today?

by Blake Rasmussen

Samuel Estrati - "Primordial Hydra"
Sam Black – "Krenko, Mob Boss (he really wanted to say Chronomaton"
Jackie Lee - "Roaring Primadox"
Reid Duke – "Murder"
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa - "Sublime Archangel"




















 

Round 8 Feature Match - Ben Murray vs. Samuele Estratti

by Marc Calderaro

You know, it wasn't long ago that I was rooting for a relatively unknown Italian player named Samuele Estratti as he battled uphill at Pro Tour Austin with his All-In Red deck in 2009. Adorned with a red scarf, Estratti almost made it to the Top 8, but for a few draft missteps.

Nowadays, if you don't know Mr. Estratti, it's because you've have your head too close to a Glacial Chasm, if you catch my drift. He won Pro Tour Philadelphia in convincing fashion and has been a force of savagery ever since.

Ben Murray is in the feature match area with 0 byes

But don't count out Ben Murray. Anytime someone is in the feature match area with no byes, it's because they have the goods – either in skill or in cards, or a little of both. When Estratti heard that Ben Murray had no byes he made a show of it.

"No byes?! Your deck must be good." He said. His eyes widened as he looked at his opponent in partial-facetious astonishment.

Murray nodded and the two shuffled up for the match.

Game 1

Murray won the coin toss and elected to play. His first spell was a Plummet on Estratti's turn-two Aven Squire. The American followed his kill spell with a Centaur Courser and a Canyon Minotaur. Estratti made a Crusader of Odric, a Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, then searched and played a Sentinel Spider.

During this time, Murray attacked the Italian down to 11 (Murray was still at 20) and played a Goblin Arsonist. Once the 4/4 spider came down from Estratti, Murray had to stop and think before he attempted to reduce his opponent's life total further. He rested his chin on his hands and passed the turn back after casting a second Arsonist and declining to attack. Not to be outdone by double creatures, the Pro Tour champion cast a second Sentinel Spider.

"You know you're only allowed to have one of those, right?" Murray said stone-faced.

Murray had a Cleaver Riot in his hands and he was clearly trying to find an opening just wide enough to deal the remaining 11 damage. But Estratti was playing carefully, with his trademarked pained face, and made his moves with caution. After Murray made a Flinthoof Boar (fully charged), Estratti felt safe to attack with both vigilant spiders and his 4/4 Crusader. Murray took 8 (12-11 in Murray's favor), and chump-blocked a creature with an Arsonist, taking out the Tracker on the gobbo's way out. Oblivion Ring had taken out Murray's Canyon Minotaur so now the Spiders were giving Estratti a clear, strong advantage.

Samuele Estratti takes game one

Murray, after drawing yet-another land tapped down to one and made a desperation Cleaver Riot. He was hoping to trade his Boar and Courser for both of the Spiders, but a Titanic Growth from Estratti saved one of the big guys. Left with only a Goblin Arsonist on the board and land in his hand, Murray could only watch while Estratti just ran dudes into Murray's face until it exploded.

Samuele Estratti 1 – 0 Ben Murray

Game 2

The two players started the second game with duel between a Timberpack Wolf and its double. Flinthoof Boar broke the short-lived stalemate and gave Murray an early lead. A Yeva's Forcemage and another wolf attack from Estratti kept Murray's aggression some-what in check, but Murray had no fear about running his Flinthoof Boar right into a Spiked Baloth the following turn. His eagerness for the trade was likely because Murray also had a Bladetusk Boar (which was quite unblockable) and a Thragtusk incoming onto the battlefield. The score was 19-9 for Murray and the beast attack was still coming hard.


Estratti made a 3/3 Primordial Hydra, and declined to trade with the Thragtusk the next turn. He choose instead to chump with the Timberpack Wolf and sink to 6 life. Murray cast a post-combat Krenko's Command and passed the turn, watching the Hydra double its size to 6/6. In another turn it would be a trampling monstrosity.

Estratti shuffled his hand around and moved his fingers back and forth, counting invisible damage, wincing and remaking his face over and over. He attacked with the 6/6 and Murray tried to read his opponent while throwing a 1/1 goblin in front of it. A post-combat Bloodhunter Bat, made the scores closer – 19-8. However, after the next attack, Estratti sunk to 4 and a Chandra's Fury finished the job for Ben Murray.

Samuele Estratti 1 – 1 Ben Murray

Game 3

Ben Murray kept an exciting hand this game. He knew Estratti was already going to Paris at least once and was on the play. So Murray kept a hand consisting Thundermaw Hellkite, Cleaver Riot and land. I suppose his plan is to lay the land, then play Thundermaw Hellkite, then give it double-strike. I mean, that's the way it appeared anyway.

Estratti kept his six-card hand a cast the first creature with a 1/1 Crusader of Odric. A Yeva's Forcemage jumped alongside the Crusader to take Murray to 16. Though Murray had some drawn spells of his own aside from his Plan A of giving a big dragon double-strike. He made a turn-three Centaur Courser and turn-four Primal Huntbeast. He was getting to the big guy. It was coming. The Timmy in him was bubbling below the surface, ready to explode.

But in the meantime, Estratti was turning up the heat on his side. On his next turn he cast both a Guardian of Akrasa and Aven Squire and attacked with a 6/6 Crusader, sinking Murray to 10. It was 10-17 in Estratti's favor. But then Timmy came out to play. When the Hellkite came down, Estratti, who had been perched at the edge of his chair slumped backwards, hard. The attacks from all the creatures brought the Italian to 9. Was Plan A going to work?

Yup.

Though Estratti had another Guardians of Akrasa and attacked Murray to 4, everything was going according to Murray's inner Timmy. He untapped, cast Cleaver Riot, giving everything double-strike, and the giant, twice-hitting dragon of my ten-year-old Magic dreams flew over all Estratti's creatures and snatched away the Pro Tour champion's remaining life.

Ben Murray 2 – 1 Samuele Estratti

Like I said, don't discount anyone with zero byes. They've got the goods.




 

Saturday, 9:22 p.m. - Sealed Deck Exercise - pt. 3 With a (Sorin's) Vengeance*

by Marc Calderaro

* - Please note, there is not actually a Sorin's Vengeance in this Sealed deck exercise. The card is illegal in the M13 Sealed format. If you register a Sorin's Vengeance in your deck, it will not go well for you.

So we've reached the last installment of the Sealed deck exercise. The original plan was to only do two, but after Player's Championship combatant Luis Scott-Vargas took a swing at the deck, I really wanted to showcase the different ways to go with the pool. Scott-Vargas's build went back and forth in-between colors and strategies; there were some crazy little gambits considered and even taken. This session I did with Scott-Vargas was the first time I've ever heard a crowd go "Ooooo!" just while watching somebody build a deck. Warning: Don't try this stuff at home, kids. LSV is a professional.

LSV

The build started simple enough as Scott-Vargas sat down and immediately said, "Well, white is obvious. Sublime Archangel is simply the best and the rest is fine enough to carry it." As he shuffled through the white again he reiterated, "Yeah, it's fine." Though this feeling was universal among the other pros, he made slight card-evaluation deviations from those before him. For example, unlike Jon Finkel, LSV didn't immediately throw out Mwonvuli Beast Tracker when assessing the green part of the pool. But for the most part, all the players were on the same page at first blush.

On Blue, LSV quipped, "It's is just not as good as Black. Vampire Nighthawk is so good with exalted." He continued, "And Disentomb and Rise from the Grave are so good when you are playing things like Sublime Archangel and Nighthawk."

Scott-Vargas blazed through the Red and Green and built the White-Black deck that Finkel had built. He deviated from Finkel's build only by considering the Veilborn Ghoul and the two aforementioned Raise-Dead-like cards.

By this point a crowd was beginning to gather. Both pros and amateurs were watching LSV shift cards around and back and forth. Ben Stark yelled from the peanut gallery to cut Disentomb. "You're not going to play that and you know it." Scott-Vargas cut the card, but kept it close. He was at 23 spells when he went through the leftover cards one last time. The deck looked very similar to Finkel's and everyone was talking to the person next to them about what slight changes they would make, while agreeing the deck looked good.

But then Luis paused on the Evolving Wilds. He quickly cut the three worst cards and added two Krenko's Command and Arms Dealer. This was when the crowd made that audible "Oooooo" sound.

Josh Utter-Leyton said, "I have to take another look at your Sealed pool for the GP." He was referring to the fact that Scott-Vargas was playing quite an ugly four-color beast in the main event, and was wondering if it actually had to be so ugly or if Scott-Vargas was just being really greedy.

The onlookers had not been aware of the three fetch lands sitting under Luis's other cards, and when he broke them out, everyone understood. The pros immediately started looking at the rest of the Player's Championship-qualified pool to see what could be splashed.

During this rummaging, Luis turned to me and told me his problem with the current build is that he'd only ever have one Mountain on the field at a time, and Arms Dealer is at its best with more than that. Ben Stark, who was rifling through the stack said, "Why don't you go White-Red?" In a flash the Black was out and the Red was in. The new build resembled what Tom Martell was talking about except the Planar Cleansing was still in, as was a Fervor. All the pros seemed to take notice of how good the deck was looking. The skeptics were starting to warm up.

Scott-Vargas, after surveying the new look, summarized, "White-Black is pretty good, but this gives you a much better curve. Your two-drops are better and you're not dependent on the top end." This echoed Sam Black's statements earlier. So the deck, though slightly different, now resembled Tom Martell's plan.

And then Scott-Vargas made the crowd groan again.

He took out the mediocre cards and tossed in Essence Drain, Bloodhunter Bat, Crimson Muckwader and a Switcheroo. Someone in the audience did a face-palm and both Utter-Leyton, Stark and now David Ochoa condemned this gluttonous, but all-too-common Luis-like decision. They told him to at least cut the Switcheroo for Mark of the Vampire. And the card went in and out during a couple iterations of the build.


Though we likely could have continued these mutations ad infinitum, as everyone seemed to be having fun, the next round was getting ready to start. At the end of this delightful session, Luis had a White-Red-splash-Black-and-possibly-Blue build. After going back and forth he scooped the cards into a pile, handed them to me and said, "Here's the deck. I got it."

Here's what it looked like:

It was a wonderful looking pile. In my mind, he had taken a simple Sealed pool and made art. It was a living embodiment of a Switcheroo.

I can't even begin to make the land work for this deck. LSV was off and running to check his pairings and left me to wonder how to add land to this masterpiece. What is up in the list right now is just my place-holder, please don't take it seriously. Though, there was one lingering question I still had for the land. I doubt even LSV would do such a thing, but the pile he handed me did include the Hellion Crucible. But surely no one's that crazy. Right?

A bunch of different Pros, a bunch of different decks. Which pro's deck did your build most resemble?




 

Round 9 Feature Match - Martin Juza vs. Whit Froehlich

by Blake Rasmussen

Whit Froehlich – no relation to Eric Froehlich, no matter what his Twitter account will have you believe – is a Michigan native and Amherst student who has been tearing through the field all day with, quite simply, one of the best decks in the room.

Just listen...

"Did you have three byes?" Martin Juza asked Froehlich as they sat down.

"No byes."

"So your deck's very good," Juza said, frowning a bit.

"I've won some games."

Cold, man, cold.

"Some" games was at least 14 at this point, as both players had racked up seven match wins with just a single loss each, only Juza had three byes to get him to this point.

It's also worth noting that Juza is one of the fortunate 16 players playing in the Players Championship this upcoming week. We'll do a roundup next round of how all of the 15 competitors in attendance this weekend have done today, giving a slight preview of the upcoming All-Star contest.

Game 1

Froehlich chose to draw first, the first time I had seen any player make such a choice all weekend.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off.

Juza started with a pair of one drops in Chronomaton and Goblin Arsonist, accidentally flashing the Arms Dealer in his hand that would make that Arsonist something to be truly feared.

Froehlich, riding high on his extra card, curved an Elvish Visionary into Vampire Nighthawk, surely a future target for that Arms Dealer in Juza's hand.

Yeva, Nature's Herald jumped into play for Juza at the end of Froehlich's fourth turn, only to be met with Froehlich's own copy of the flashy Green Legend. After losing his beater, Juza simply killed Vampire Nighthawk with a Searing Spear and left mana up to pump his Chronomaton.

Froehlich, however, offed the offending artifact beater with Acidic Slime – an uncommon interaction that has been all too common this weekend – then cast a second copy of the five-mana 2/2 to destroy one of Juza's Mountains the following turn. Juza had managed to play a Furnace Whelp, but was losing the race.

"Your deck is pretty sweet," the Czech superstar offered as Froehlich continued to back him into a corner with a Timberpack Wolf.

Farseek helped Juza get back up to four lands, but he was clearly trying to get to five to take immediate advantage of his Arms Dealer. He got there, but Froehlich Murdered the Goblin Arsonist in response to keep Juza from abusing the uncommon Goblin.

On the next attack, Juza traded his Arms Dealer and Furnace Whelp for both Acidic Slimes, clearing his side of the battlefield, but also leaving Froehlich with just a Timberpack Wolf for offense.

At this point, Froehlich had 16 life to Juza's 10.

Juza, now getting back on his feet, played Mwonvuli Beast Tracker to fetch up a Primal Huntbeast. Froehlich played a second wolf on his turn, and the 3/3s traded on the American's next attack.

By now it had become apparent that Froehlich was extremely flooded, and when his second Timberpack Wolf traded with an Elvish Visionary and a Chandra's Fury, he was suddenly without any action at all.

An Elvish Visionary of his own gave Froehlich a Centaur Courser, but Juza simply killed it with Turn to Slag.

For every move Martin Juza made, Whit Froehlich seemed to have an answer.

With the life totals knotted at 6 each, Juza resolved a Spiked Baloth to face down a Walking Corpse, but Froehlich one-upped him with Xathrid Gorgon. Juza passed once again, and it appeared he might be just as flooeded as Froehlich was.

Mutilate from Froehlich drew a look of surprise from Juza, but that and a Sentinel Spider were enough to convince him to concede when he drew yet another land off the top.

Froehlich 1 – Juza 0

Game 2

Juza sideboarded more than a few cards for the second game of the series, and even put Froehlich on the draw again, likely right where they both wanted to be.

Even playing second, Froehlich started first with an Elvish Visionary, but had kept a hand with no black sources plus Mutilate and Vampire Nighthawk.

Juza made his first play with a Mwonvuli Beast Tracker searching for...

"Nothing," Juza said, giving his deck a gamely shuffle anyway.

Froehlich, finding his first Swamp, went slightly bigger with a Centaur Courser, but held it back on defense to face down Spiked Baloth. Juza didn't bite and instead cast a Furnace Whelp without attacking.

That, of course, just gave Froehlich the perfect opportunity to draw a second Swamp and sweep the board with Mutilate, save for his 3/3 Centaur Courser.

Juza gave a little smile, nodded his head and cast Chronomaton and Primal Huntbeast.

When Froehlich attacked the next turn, Juza asked him how many cards he had in hand.

"Six."

"I feel like I'm playing the wrong format here," Juza said, holding just two cards and increasingly falling behind despite an otherwise solid draw.

"Hm, so if I 2-for-1 him here, 2-for-1 him next round, then I can get a 3-for-1 the round after that," though Whit Froehlich every turn of the tournament.

Two Elvish Visionaries kept the cards flowing for Juza, but his force was once again outclassed as Froehlich flashed in Yeva, Nature's Herald. Juza then simply shrugged as his Primal Huntbeast traded for Froehlich's Centaur Courser. Froehlich, in turn, shrugged as he played Vampire Nighthawk.

But when he attempted to use Prey Upon with the Nighthawk to kill Chronomaton, Juza was ready with the Searing Spear. Considering Froehlich had a 4/4 Yeva on the battlefield, the play was perhaps a bit greedy.

Not that it seemed to matter, as his cards simply outclassed Juza's at every turn, including when an Acidic Slime killed Chronomaton ... again.

Chandra's Fury let Juza's Elvish Visionaries trade for Froehlich's 2/2s, but Rise from the Grave brought back Vampire Nighthawk, and it appeared the writing was on the wall. Not even an Arms Dealer could stop the inevitable.

"I think your deck is a little better than mine," Juza said, scooping up his cards, left with the consolation that, at 7-2, he was still a lock for Day 2.

Froehlich 2 – Juza 0




 

Saturday, 10:44 p.m. - Tracking the Players Championship Participants

by Blake Rasmussen

Besides just being an awesomely large tournament, Grand Prix Boston-Worcester is also a preview of sorts for the Players Championship happening this upcoming week.

With 15 of the participants for the first-ever 16-man tournament playing here this weekend (World Champion Jun'ya Iyanaga is the lone exception), we get a pretty good view of those player's chops in Magic 2013 limited, one of the formats that will be featured when the action shifts to Seattle on Wednesday.

So let's take a peek and see how the famous 15 did after 9 rounds (the cut for Day 2 was after 9 rounds, though a 10th round of sealed is being played today). Six of the 15 players were among the 240 who made the cut to Day 2.

2011 Player of the Year Owen Turtenwald: 4-3 (dropped after Round 7)

2011 Magic Online Champion Reid Duke: 7-2 (won Round 9 to make the cut)

Pro Tour Philadelphia Winner Samuele Estratti: 6-3 (lost Round 9 to miss the cut)

Pro Tour Dark Ascension Winner Brian Kibler: 5-3 (dropped after Round 8)

Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Winner Alexander Hayne: 5-4

Top Pro Points in North America, Josh Utter-Leyton: 3-3 (dropped after Round 6)

Top Pro Points in Latin America, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: 8-1

Top Pro Points in Europe, Martin Juza: 7-2

Top Pro Points in Japan, Yuuya Watanabe: 6-3 (lost Round 9 to miss the cut)

Top Pro Points in the Asian Pacific, Tzu Ching Kuo: 3-3 (dropped after Round 6)

At-large invitees (top Pro Points not already invited)

Jon Finkel: 8-1

Luis Scott-Vargas: 6-3 (lost his win-and-in round)

Shouta Yasooka: 8-1

David Ochoa: 5-4

Shuhei Nakamura: 8-1

And here it is in the order of how they finished:

Shuhei Nakamura: 8-1

Shouta Yasooka: 8-1

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: 8-1

Jon Finkel: 8-1

Martin Juza: 7-2

Reid Duke: 7-2

Samuele Estratti: 6-3

Luis Scott-Vargas: 6-3

Yuuya Watanabe: 6-3

Brian Kibler: 5-3

Alexander Hayne: 5-4

David Ochoa: 5-4

Owen Turtenwald: 4-3

Tzu Ching Kuo: 3-3

Josh Utter-Leyton: 3-3

Is this a taste of things to come or can the players who didn't make the cut flip the script? Tune in later this week to find out. In the meantime, find more information on the Players Championship and the 16 players vying for the title at http://www.wizards.com/magic/tcg/events.aspx?x=mtg/event/playerschamp/2012/main.




 

Saturday, 11:19 p.m. - Quick Hits: If you could have four copies of any common card in your Sealed pool, what would it be?

by Marc Calderaro

Luis Scott-Vargas - "Probably Murder. The card is just so good. I don’t know why I wouldn’t want more of them."
David Sharfman – " I think my answer on any other day would be Searing Spear, but look at my outfit! I'm saying Kraken Hatchling. Wait, wait, Horseshoe Crab. That's much more lobster-like. [I was wondering why he didn't say Rock Lobster myself.]"
Tom Martell - "I'm going to answer as if you'd said four copies of any two cards, because then the answer would Krenko's Command and Trumpet Blast. I like that better than your question."
Martin Juza – "If Blue weren't terrible, definitely Divination. But you don't draw into anything good with it – just more Blue cards. So, my first thought is Searing Spear, but there are definitely some other good ones. Four Evolving Wilds would allow me to play every bomb I got, and four Mogg Flunkies would be pretty nuts."
Conley Woods – "I like Murder, but it's definitely not Murder. The card's not splashable enough. I think the answer is Searing Spear, because it stacks so well. It can kill creatures or go to the face. Although, I think Pacifism is a good answer too. Either Pacifism or Searing Spear."

































 

Round 10 Feature Match - Rob Dougherty vs. Craig Wescoe

by Marc Calderaro

Craig Wescoe pulled out a happy-face dice and said, "Whoever rolls the happiest face wins. Ok?" He then explained the different faces of the dice and rolled a "kinda-sad" face. He was disappointed, but Rob Dougherty was more so when he rolled the "awfully sad" face. Oddly enough, the faces aptly represented their expressions after the roll. Wescoe had won the face-roll.

Though both these players had already made it into Day Two, as the cut-off was last round, there was one more round of Magic to be played before they could rest up for the drafting tomorrow.

"I'll let you go first, because you look really sad," Wescoe said. Dougherty graciously accepted.

Game 1

Rob Dougherty went first and opened a Dragon Hatchling. The baby attacked for zero the next turn and then Dougherty laid a Centaur Courser. He put his hand on the baby dragon and said, "He just wanted to get in there," as he passed the turn to Wescoe.

Craig Wescoe answered with a Harbor Bandit (fully 3/3) and traded it with the Courser the next turn. Dougherty refueled with a Canyon Minotaur, also known as "Centaur Courser for One More Mana" and passed the turn back. Wescoe laid a Vampire Nighthawk, and goaded, "Let the dragon attack now." The next turn he laid a Scroll Thief and made the totals 18-19 in his favor.

Canyon Minotaur and an Acidic Slime (which had taken out an Island) crashed towards Wescoe and sunk him to 14. A Thragtusk from Dougherty soon followed. "Is that all you got?" Wescoe asked, then laid down a Giant Scorpion. The Nighthawk made the totals 21-16.

Dougherty had an even bigger beast than the Thragtusk waiting in his hands. He had the mother of all big dudes, the Hamletback Goliath. He still needed one mana to cast it, but he knew getting the Scorpion out of the way before playing the giant would be integral. So Dougherty attacked with the Slime, the Hatchling and the 'Tusk. The Scorpion took out Tusker-doo, getting the Hall-of-Famer a 3/3 beast in the process; and the totals adjusted to 21-12.

Craig Wescoe

Wescoe passed with all his mana untapped. He had mentioned before that the reason his deck has had success was not because it had powerful cards, but because it has the ability to stop powerful cards. Dougherty was throwing a lot of powerful cards in his general direction and we would have to see if Wescoe's deck really had the stopping power he referred to.

Slime, Minotaur, Beast and a new Mogg Flunkies went into the attack zone. A flashed Faerie Invaders traded with the Canyon Minotaur. The rest of the business got through and Wescoe went to 4. Dougherty had two cards left in his hand. One of which was the Goliath. He flashed the other one to Wescoe, which caused him to scoop up his cards. It was a Chandra's Fury.

Rob Dougherty 1 – 0 Craig Wescoe

As Wescoe shuffled for the next game he said to his opponent, "I was wondering if you had any non-creature spells in there – that Chandra's Fury."

"Yeah. It's all fatties and Fury." Dougherty replied.

"As far as I can tell." Wescoe finished shuffling and presented his deck. He again chose to draw.

Game 2

Dougherty mulliganed once, then led with an Evolving Wilds into a Mountain. He played a Deadly Recluse, which ended up as a perfect counter to the Welkin Tern Wescoe played right after. Dougherty used his spider to attack, then cast a Dragon Hatchling. Like last game, Wescoe laid a Harbor Bandit and passed the turn back.

Dougherty was on the beat-down plan until he drew a Sands of Delirium. He thought for a bit and laid it down. Now it was Wescoe who would be on the aggression. Wescoe cast a Duskmantle Prowler and sent in a 3/2 Welkin Tern. Dougherty declined to block and milled Wescoe for one before he untapped. The milled card was a Hamletback Goliath.

"You're not the only one with Giants in your deck!" Wescoe smiled. "Although now you might be." The he frowned.

Dougherty gave Wescoe another cause for sadness when he cast a Flames of the Firebrand which killed both the Tern and the Prowler. Wescoe, undeterred, followed with another exalter in Servant of Nefarox and took Dougherty to 11 with an unblockable Harbor Bandit. It was 11-19 when the Hall-of-Famer milled two more cards off of Wescoe's library. However, for this mill plan to work, Dougherty was going to have to find an answer to a 4/4 unblockable dude. And right quick. Dougherty went to 7, then 3. This is not working Dougherty; I mean, quicker.

On his last turn, Dougherty drew Titanic Growth. If he were going the damage route, this would've been helpful, but now, all he did was mill some more cards before he was killed so he had just a bit more information for the next game.

Dougherty looked. Void Stalker, Talrand, Sky Summoner (foil, too) Public Execution and Negate were the pertinent cards. And after getting a good look-see, Dougherty scooped for the final battle.

Rob Dougherty 1 – 1 Craig Wescoe

Game 3

Wescoe went first and on turn two he posited, "Are you ready for the beating?! BAM!" Wescoe slammed down a 0/4 Kraken Hatchling.

Dougherty again had to choose between the aggressive plan of Mogg Flunkies, Bladetusk Boars, Dragon Hatchlings and the like, and the Sands of Delirium he had again in his hand. He laid a Dragon Hatchling to join his Deadly Recluse and passed the turn.

"So there's three creatures on the board and a total power of one?" Wescoe was a little amused by both the player's decks revolving around slowing the board to a stall and then winning big. Next turn, Wescoe offered a trade of his new Vampire Nighthawk with Dougherty's Deadly Recluse and Dougherty accepted. The Sands of Delirium came down, then a Bladetusk Boar from Dougherty the following turn. The scores were 20-21.


Duskmantle Prowler changed that life total in a jiffy for Wescoe and he again had some pressure on the board. But the Boar was equal pressure from Dougherty and the Thragtusk the next turn? Well I guess that was more pressure. Combined with the Millstone for X (that sounds a bit like a Prog Rock band name), Dougherty was seemingly ahead in all counts. It was 22-18 and Wescoe had 24 cards left in his library.

But don't count Craig Wescoe out, he's kind of made a career out of powering through and succeeding when people don't expect him to. He took the beastly damage, then made a Faerie Invaders. After it attacked on Wescoe's next turn, the totals was 18-15 (Wescoe went down to 17 cards in his library). Wescoe added a Harbor Bandit and a Giant Scorpion to complicate matters further. When Dougherty got his turn back, he had to think about where things should go. He had a Prey Upon, but anything he wanted to kill would also kill his Thragtusk, and every mana he spent was one fewer card milled.

Dougherty eventually sent in the beasts. The Giant Scorpion stung the Thragtusk and left behind a slightly smaller Thragtusk. Dougherty made a Canyon Minotaur and a Mogg Flunkies before passing the turn back. It was 18-12, with 16 cards in the library. But Wescoe made another two exalted creatures and attacked the totals to 12-12.


After Dougherty made the Faerie Plummet, all his creatures came in. The Beast, the Boar, the Flunkies, the Minotaur and the Hatchling. Duskmantle Prowler blocked the 3/3 Beast, Servant of Nefarox took out the Canyon Minotaur and the rest went through. Dougherty pumped the Dragon for three and the totals became 12-3.

When Wescoe drew his card for the turn, he gave an involuntary shrug and rolled his eyes a bit. I don't think it was a very good draw to get when you're at 3 and staring down at least nine point of damage the next turn. Wescoe attacked for four damage with the Bandit, then sacrificed it to a Disciple of Bolas. He gained four life (8-7) and drew four cards (10 cards left in the library). Wescoe laid a Watercourser and passed the turn back. Two more cards in his library hit the bin. There were eight cards left for Wescoe and Dougherty had eight untapped lands.

Congratulations for Rob Dougherty in his win over Wescoe

Dougherty did the final points with flying Dragon Hatchling and an unblockable Bladetusk Boar instead.

Rob Dougherty 2 – 1 Craig Wescoe

What made Dougherty's deck perform so well was the dual attack paths that Sands of Delirium allowed. If Wescoe committed resources to stop the milling, he would have lost to damage and vice versa. The appearance of the artifact made Wescoe try to split his resources and it just didn't work. That card is dangerous.




 

Saturday, 11:34 p.m. - Day One Undefeated Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff




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