Event_Coverage

Schmidt Did It!

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Drawing cards has always been really good in Magic, and Jan Schmidt proved that truth today. The German shot out from nowhere to take down Yuuya Watanabe in the finals of Grand Prix Prague. With Merfolk Looters and three Divinations in his draft deck, Schmidt ousted some stiff competition, getting his first ten pro points ever in the process. For Yuuya Watanabe, it was the third foiled attempt at taking a GP title – in three consecutive GP tournaments! That in itself is a feat worth noting.

The eight pro points that Watanabe gets give him a push to a fourth place in the Player of the Year race, tied with his fellow countryman Tomoharu Saito. A handful of other pros picked up a point here and there when all was said and done in Prague. Magic 2010, with its throwback to the fantasy in days of yore, attracted many of them and also old-timers like the 1997 World Champion Jakub Slemr, himself in contention for Top 8 until the very end.

Now the halls of Grand Prix Prague no longer lie under the spell of Magic 2010. For two days and 18 rounds of high-level Magic, M10 Limited held more than 1500 players in its sway. From Prague, Tobias Henke and Hanno Terbuyken on the text coverage and Richard Hagon on the audio side of things brought you the nitty-gritty of a Magic Grand Prix. But wait: If you want yet another side of the story, the judges here at Prague have it. They have been blogging all weekend, and you can find their stories on www.dcifamily.org/PRG09.

Join us here at dailymtg.com for the upcoming Grand Prix Melbourne, and of course Pro Tour Austin in October!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Yuuya Watanabe   Yuuya Watanabe, 2-0        
8 Marcel Kondrk   Yuuya Watanabe, 2-0
       
4 Bojan Zunko   Bojan Zunko, 2-1   Jan Schmidt, 2-0
5 Lukas Vozdecky    
       
2 Jan Schmidt   Jan Schmidt, 2-1
7 Julien De Graat   Jan Schmidt, 2-1
       
3 Ognjen Cividini   Ognjen Cividini, 2-1
6 Radek Kaczmarczyk    

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Tobias Henke
    Finals
    Yuuya Watanabe [JPN] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]

  • by Rich Hagon
    Podcast
    Cashing the Check

  • by Rich Hagon
    Semifinals
    Ognjen Cividini [HRV] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Semifinals
    Yuuya Watanabe [JPN] vs. Bojan Zunko [SVN]

  • by Tobias Henke
    Quarterfinals
    Julien de Graat [DEU] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]

  • by Rich Hagon
    Quarterfinals
    Ognjen Cividini [HRV] vs. Radek Kaczmarczyk [POL]

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Quarterfinals
    Marcel Kondrk [SVK] vs. Yuuya Watanabe [JPN]

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Top 8
    Drafting with Yuuya Watanabe

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8
    Decklists

  • by Tobias Henke
    Top 8
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Blog: Day 2 Coverage
    Undefeated Decklists, Top Pros Battling, Memorable Magic Moments, and much more!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Blog: Day 1 Coverage
    Undefeated Decklists, Top Pros Battling, Memorable Magic Moments, and much more!

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Jan Schmidt $3,500
 2.  Yuuya Watanabe $2,300
 3.  Bojan Žunko $1,500
 4.  Ognjen Cividini $1,500
 5.  Julien De Graat $1,000
 6.  Lukas Vozdecky $1,000
 7.  Marcel Kondrk $1,000
 8.  Radek Kaczmarczyk $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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Day 1
Blue Bracket
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Green Bracket
9
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1
9
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  • Top 8 - Player Profiles
    by Tobias Henke
  • Name: Yuuya Watanabe
    Age: 20
    Home town: Kanagawa
    Occupation: M10 Master (Three GP top eight, all with M10.)

    Previous Magic successes:

    Four GP top eight, National team twice, 2007 Rookie of the Year.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    Kamigawa DCI Island.

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Shatter!!




    Name: Julien De Graat
    Age: 27
    Home town: Munich
    Occupation: PHD Student

    Previous Magic successes:

    Qualifying for PT Kyoto 2009.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    All the lands by John Avon.

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Acolyte of Xathrid




    Name: Ognjen Cividini
    Age: 29
    Home town: Zagreb
    Occupation: “IT guy”

    Previous Magic successes:

    Nothing relevant.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    Psychatog

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Forest




    Name: Bojan Žunko
    Age: 30
    Home town: Slovenia
    Occupation: Slovenija

    Previous Magic successes:

    Worlds 2004 59th place, GP Copenhagen 29th place.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    John Avon lands.

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Regenerate




    Name: Marcel Kondrk
    Age: 15
    Home town: Bratislava
    Occupation: Student

    Previous Magic successes:

    Qualified for Worlds.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    Violent Outburst

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Tome Scour




    Name: Lukas Vozdecky
    Age: 26
    Home town: Brno
    Occupation: Student/Poker

    Previous Magic successes:

    None.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    Shivan Dragon

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Raging Goblin




    Name: Radek Kaczmarczyk
    Age: 27
    Home town: Szczecin
    Occupation: Technical Supervisor

    Previous Magic successes:

    Four times Nationals top eight.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    I do not have a favorite Artwork.

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    None.




    Name: Jan Schmidt
    Age: 23
    Home town: Fürth
    Occupation: Student

    Previous Magic successes:

    None.

    Do you have a favorite Magic artwork, and which?

    Capashen Knight

    What card from M10 would you be most embarassed to play in your top eight main deck?

    Warp World




     

  • Top 8 - Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  •  

  • Top 8 - Drafting with Yuuya Watanabe
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • The Top 8 has a total of 139 Pro Points, 500 less than the last two GPs, and less than ten percent of Grand Prix Brussels 2008, which featured Kamiel Cornelissen, Gabriel Nassif, Raphael Levy, and Antoine Ruel! Now here, Yuuya Watanabe carries approximately two-thirds of those points on his shoulders alone. He is the clear favorite among the eight, so naturally, we went to watch his draft.

    And it kicked off with a bang: Liliana Vess. Not only was Watanabe going for the commonly preferred color black, he also got one of the cards you cannot pass on! And Cemetery Reaper as his second pick just sweetened the deal.

    From there on, Watanabe was locked into black. He considered the occasional off-color card, like Essence Scatter as third pick and Howl of the Night Pack seventh (after already letting one go through in the sixth pick). Besides that, he got from the first booster (in order): Kelinore Bats, Weakness, Vampire Aristocrat, Zombie Goliath, Drudge Skeletons (over Celestial Purge), and assorted last picks.

    Booster two had Looming Shade and Tendrils of Corruption staring at Watanabe. He took the precious removal card, and then the black aria continued. Black Knight 2nd, Child of Night 3rd, Drudge Skeletons, Sign in Blood, and then he had a sixth-pick decision between Warpath Ghoul, Wall of Bone and Duress, having cut off black pretty well to his left. He chose Wall of Bone, picked Terramorphic Expanse (over Cancel) 7th, got Windstorm 8th out of an otherwise empty pack and finished off with a 9th pick Looming Shade.

    Oh wait, he didn’t! Underworld Dreams had tabled around to him again as 13th pick, and he hesitated not a second to put it in his pile.

    Booster three saw Watanabe having a choice between Weakness, Pacifism, Blinding Mage, Elvish Archdruid, Warpath Ghoul and Child of Night. Giving away solid black was inevitable, so Watanabe decided he wanted Weakness most out of that pack. More removal came in pick two there, when he had to decide between Royal Assassin and Doom Blade! He took all the time he had, but when the judge called “Draft!”, Watanabe picked the obvious choice with Royal Assassin, although he was sad to see the Doom Blade go.

    Grave Digger over Dread Warlock was pick three, then Mind Rot (over Child of Night and Rhox Pikemaster). Warpath Ghoul, Kelinore Bats (over Zombie Goliath) and a random Llanowar Elves were his next picks. At pick 8, Watanabe once again had to make a decision: Sign in Blood, Vampire Aristocrat #2 or another Drudge Skeleton? He chose the card drawer, which would go well with his Underworld Dreams as a fancy little combo.

    Pick nine was Warpath Ghoul as obvious black pick, but Watanabe also saw Inferno Elemental and decided that one was to dangerous to be around. The rest of booster three gave him random late picks, but nothing relevant to his deck.

    During deck construction, Watanabe hedged his bets. “The deck is so-so,” he said, not wanting to commit to any prediction. The deck has game-winners, but the supporting structure could have been a little better. He was especially sad that no further Tendrils of Corruption had found their way to him. But Liliana? “How lucky!” And of course, a rock-solid mana base and playing skills should be enough to carry Watanabe further than the quarterfinals at least. In the end, Watanabe ended up splashing his few blue cards (Essence Scatter, Alluring Siren) into the mainly black deck.

     

  • Quarterfinals - Marcel Kondrk [SVK] vs. Yuuya Watanabe [JPN]
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Game 1:

    Repeatable tutoring is good, we hear.
    The first game was firmly a card advantage affair. Watanabe had his two Sign in Bloods early on and followed them up with Liliana Vess and Cemetary Reaper. That kept Kondrk’s hand small and his board under pressure. Even Blinding Mage fom the 15-year old Slovak could only do so much.

    Looking through Kondrk’s graveyard after the first few turns also revealed that his card quality was pretty low overall, save for one Fireball that had a brief stint as removal spell for two Drudge Skeletons – one of which regenerated.

    When the army of darkness Yuuya’s Cemetery Reaper amassed became too much for the empty-handed Slovak, Kondrk scooped.

    Marcel Kondrk 0 – 1 Yuuya Watanabe

    Game 2:

    Watanabe led with Royal Assassin, but Kondrk had Seismic Strike to prevent the Assassin from Assassinating – for a moment at least, as Watanabe used Gravedigger to get the dagger-and-cloak guy back. However, Excommunicate and Blinding Mage for Kondrk let the Slovak develop his board into Fiery Hellhound and Berserkers of Blood Ridge, putting Watanabe at 13 with just the Gravedigger in play.

    Outclassed in cards and pro points, Kondrk offered little resistance.
    Royal Assassin came back and Weakness weakened the Berserkers, but Watanabe still took 6 from them and the Hellhounds. 7 life, and Kondrk sat at a comfortable 20! Royal Assassin, though, was still there to do his dirty work on Blinding Mage.

    Kondrk attacked, and Yuuya cleared the board by blocking with Gravedigger and his new Zombie Goliath. All Kondrk could muster after that was Soul Warden, and Liliana Vess from Watanabe made sure it stayed that way. Kondrk was able to point a Fireball at Watanabe and the Assassin, taking the Japanese to 5 life. But with Zombie Goliath on the prowl and Liliana providing firepower through her tutoring ability, Kondrk’s cards were simply outclassed.

    Tendrils of Corruption on Kondrk’s only blocker, Soul Warden, ended that game – and match! – quickly.

    Marcel Kondrk 0 – 2 Yuuya Watanabe

     

  • Quarterfinals - Ognjen Cividini [HRV] vs. Radek Kaczmarczyk [POL]
    by Rich Hagon
  • With a hugely-inexperienced Top 8, these quarter-finalists represent two of the more seasoned campaigners who have made it this far. While the Croatian Cividini has 20 lifetime Pro Points, Kaczmarczyk is up to 15, so both have the chance to significantly up their totals over the next few hours.

    Game 1:

    Radek Kaczmarczyk
    Cividini opened with a Plains, while Kaczmarczyk was all action with a Llanowar Elves and Elvish Visionary. White Knight came the other way, but Cividini refused to block the Visionary when it opened the red zone action. Radek’s Centaur Courser came down, followed by another three power monster (Warpath Ghoul) for Cividini.

    The Courser apparently offered a trade, but again Cividini was reluctant to get involved, preferring to fall to 16. Great Sable Stag was next for the Pole, who was establishing a decent-sized battlefield position. Cividini elected to pass, with the early momentum clearly with Kaczmarczyk.

    The Great Sable Stag and Centaur Courser came in again, but this time Cividini was ready, with Divine Verdict for the Stag, and the Warpath Ghoul taking the proferred trade with the Courser. Kaczmarczyk ended the turn with Prodigal Pyromancer.

    Neither player was able to develop much in the following few turns, with the Polish Red-White deck adding Canyon Mintaur, and the Croatian team being bolstered by a second White Knight. Meanwhile, as this ‘phoney war’ continued, the Prodigal Pyromancer was slowly eating away at Cividini...15..14..13.12..11.

    Sparkmage Apprentice arrived for Kaczmarczyk, but Glorious Charge from Cividini kept his White Knights out of range. He aimed Tendrils of Corruption at the Prodigal Pyromancer, and the board stalled once more. Child of Night added to his team, and we were back to Draw-Go Magic.

    With Cividini at 11, Stone Giant gave Kaczmarczyk the chance to send a variety of small men to the air, but he elected to keep his assorted 1/1s at home. Seismic Strike looked to take out a White Knight, but Harm’s Way from Cividini sent the Strike into the face of Kaczmarczyk’s Llanowar Elves. That was the cue for the Pole to wheel out the first serious Rare of the encounter, Earthquake.

    Divine Verdict dealt with the Stone Giant, but Kaczmarczyk kept the pressure on. Goblin Piker and Inferno Elemental came down, while Cividini could only muster a Drudge Skeletons and a temporary Excommunicate for the Elemental. When it returned, the Croatian man saw the writing on the wall, and a strange game ended with barely a whimper, let alone a bang.

    Kaczmarczyk 1 – 0 Cividini.

    Game 2:

    Once again, Cividini declined the initiative, allowing the Pole to start the second game, but not before Kaczmarczyk mulliganed down to six. And then five. He at least had two land, but both were Forests, and he was quickly behind to, of all things, the usually defensive Drudge Skeletons. White Knight represented a much more normal threat, and a third Forest didn’t allow Kaczmarczyk to open his account.

    Ognjen Cividini
    Razorfoot Griffin followed up, and Armored Ascension on the White Knight meant the game was virtually over before it had begun. A fourth land for the Pole allowed him to finally cast a vastly-necessary Entangling Vines for the White Knight, but Dread Warlock added to the misery, and it was inconceivable that four Forests were going to do anything other than be picked up moments later.

    Kaczmarczyk 1 – 1 Cividini.

    Would we get an exciting decider, after a lukewarm affair thus far? After fifteen Rounds of Swiss action, either player would settle for the most routine of victories in the game for all the marbles.

    Game 3:

    This time both players kept their opening hand, and, despite Kaczmarczyk starting on the play, it was Cividini who opened up first with White Knight and Child of Night. Four mana featuring both Red and Green meant Canyon Minotaur for Kaczmarczyk, while Armored Ascension went piling on to the Child of Night, granting +3+3 and Flying to the Lifelink Vampire.

    The Canyon Minotaur attacked, and Kaczmarczyk added Centaur Courser to the board, but Cividini continued the beats, enchanting the White Knight with Holy Strength, causing Kaczmarczyk to block, sentencing his Centaur Courser to death.

    Viashino Spearhunter and Llanowar Elves showed no signs of stemming the bleeding.

    In came Cividini again, and in moments Kaczmarczyk was down to just three life. With a shake of his head, the match was over, with Armored Ascension taking the honors. A first Top 8 for Kaczmarczyk had come to an end, while Cividini advanced one step closer to Grand Prix glory.

    Kaczmarczyk 1 – 2 Cividini.

     

  • Quarterfinals - Julien de Graat [DEU] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]
    by Tobias Henke
  • Two German players made their first-ever top eight today, but only one of them will make it to the semifinals. Julien de Graat drafted a blue and green deck with some heavy hitters in green, lots of fliers in blue, whereas Jan Schmidt is with the blue and white air force, coupled with a lot of card drawing.

    De Graat had the perfect curve of Ponder, Sage Owl, Illusionary Servant. Schmidt matched those with Stormfront Pegasus and an Illusionary Servant of his own. De Graat added Snapping Drake to his side of the battlefield, while Schmidt summoned the potentially devastating Blidning Mage. De Graat was dismayed.

    Julien de Graat
    “You know me,” Schmidt teased. “I always have Blinding Mage.” De Graat went for Acidic Slime, destroying one of Schmidt’s Plains, but Schmidt instantly restocked with the help of Divination. Illusionary Servant went to the bin thanks to Blinding Mage’s blinding magic, but Acidic Slime connected. Schmidt’s Illusionary Servant, however, returned the damage (with interest).

    De Graat had a big one next in Craw Wurm, while Schmidt only had Wind Drake. In the face of Blinding Mage, though, size does not really matter. This changed for a moment when de Graat enchanted the Mage with Entangling Vines... and didn’t really matter once again, when Craw Wurm was caught in Schmidt’s Ice Cage.

    All the while Schmidt’s llusionary Servant applied beats uncontested. To make matters worse, de Graat had no play for several turns, whereas Schmidt added a couple of additional attackers to his offense: Siege Mastodon and Siege Mastodon.

    De Graat’s Merfolk Looter might have had a chance to make up for his severe mana flood, had it appeared a little earlier. However, the very next attack by Schmidt already had de Graat in the ropes chump-blocking, then conceding.

    Julien de Graat 0 – 1 Jan Schmidt

    Game 2 started off fast with Merfolk Looter and Centaur Courser for de Graat. Schmidt had his own early offense in Wind Drake and could also dig for cards with Divination, but both on a much lower level than de Graat’s respective counterparts.

    De Graat only added Deadly Recluse to his side of the board, while Schmidt caught up to some extent, when he found a Looter for himself and cast a second Divination. Trading beats (two damage a turn from Wind Drake, four damage a turn from Deadly Recluse and Centaur Courser) had Schmidt in a losing position for now, but obviously big things were to come: Schmidt summoned two Griffin Sentinels and a second Merfolk Looter, and had Pacifism at the ready for de Graat’s Cudgel Troll.

    Wind Drake and one of the Sentinels blocked Centaur Courser dead. De Graat did have Illusionary Servant, though, to possibly come in for a few more points of damage, but Schmidt stopped all further advances with Guardian Seraph. For a couple of turns, the game purely consisted of both players activating their respective Merfolk Looters.

    “One Looter is bad enough,” de Graat commented, when he took Schmidt’s second one out with Entangling Vines. “Just my point”, Schmidt replied, indicating de Graat’s Looter.

    Schmidt played Blinding Mage as well as Gargoyle Castle, and set the Gargoyle free. Slowly, this game was turning against de Graat. As a last-ditch effort, he tried Sleep, but Divine Verdict took out Illusionary Servant so Deadly Recluse and Wind Drake came in for... one point of damage, thanks to Guardian Seraph. However, that was well enough, when de Graat, on his next turn, cast Overrun, while Schmidt’s creatures were still asleep.

    Julien de Graat 1 – 1 Jan Schmidt

    Once again, de Graat had the turn-two Merfolk Looter, while Schmidt went the aggro route with his turn-three Illusionary Servant, turn-four Guardian Seraph. Centaur Courser for de Graat couldn’t quite match up to these.

    Unsummon took down the Servant and Wind Drake joined de Graat’s team, but Schmidt was not out of gas yet. Siege Mastodon provided another passive-aggressive body, well suited for either offense or defense. Guardian Seraph attacked for three, Wind Drake, in return, attacked for one. Deadly Recluse threatened Guardian Seraph but Schmidt was having none of that. Ice Cage took out the spider, while Siege Mastodon and Guardian Seraph went in to reduce de Graat’s lifetotals to eight.

    Jan Schmidt
    Acidic Slime (destroying one of Schmidt’s lands) and Siege Mastodon traded; Guardian Seraph got de Graat down to five, Schmidt replaced his Siege Mastodon with another, and finally, after six activations of his Merfolk Looter de Graat came up with a solution to Schmidt’s 3/4 flier: Air Elemental. Schmidt shrugged and attacked nevertheless, threatening Harm’s Way. De Graat decided to rather chump-block with Sage Owl. (Going down to two life wasn’t really an option if he was to play around Harm’s Way.) His Air Elemental rather started its own short-lived offense, before Schmidt dispatched of it with Vivine Verdict.

    For a short moment it looked as if de Graat was actually making a comeback, putting Entangling Vines on Guardian Seraph and dropping Craw Wurm. But his attack went awry, when Schmidt revealed Safe Passage. This left de Graat without options, and settled the game and match.

    Julien de Graat 1 – 2 Jan Schmidt

    After the game the players talked about their respective misplays. (Did you notice?) In Game 2 Schmidt had activated his Gargoyle Castle too early. Had he simply kept the land, the Gargoyle would not have been affected by Sleep and would have also been able to fend off the lethal damage delivered at the hands of Overrun.

    De Graat on the other hand had completely missed his opportunity to destroy the Ice Cage in Game 3. His Acidic Slime had destroyed one of Schmidt’s (at that point unimportant) lands instead, while his (very important) Deadly Recluse was forever stuck in the eternal ice.

    “That’s about even,” they agreed, and de Graat added, “obviously, now you have to win this thing.”
    No objections from Schmidt.

     

  • Semifinals - Yuuya Watanabe [JPN] vs. Bojan Zunko [SVN]
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Bojan Zunko reached the semifinal through a drawn-out struggle with his Czech opponent Lukas Vozdecky. He rode his green-black deck with a dash of red for Fireball to a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Yuuya Watanabe, the most experienced player in this Top 8, faced little resistance from Marcel Kondrk in the quarters.

    Game 1:

    Watanabe, playing first, led with Terramorphic Expanse for Island, played Alluring Siren and Kelinore Bat and swung for two before Zunko had his second land drop. Centaur Courser and Prized Unicorn from Zunko were no match for Yuuya’s Cemetery Reaper, especially with Weakness on the Unicorn.

    Yuuya Watanabe
    Zunko put Cudgel Troll onto the battlefield, but green decks have shown this weekend that they are notoriously prone to dying to any flying army. And so far, despite Swamps in play, Zunko hadn’t shown anything non-green.

    Then Zunko used Borderland Ranger to get a Mountain, and Yuuya sharply drew in his breath. He figured there’d be a Fireball looming. Drawing cards with Sign in Blood, making a Zombie out of every creature Zunko’s graveyard offered: Yuuya knew he had to make every move count before Fireball would decimate his team. Zunko went to 11 life.

    The Slovenian tapped red... black... black... and that paid for Prodigal Pyromancer, his other red card besides the powerful sorcery. Weakness from Yuuya removed the Pyromancer from the battlefield before it could do any harm, and of course that game Cemetery Reaper yet another Zombie. And 17 cards down into his library, Watanabe showed yet another trump: Liliana Vess.

    The combination of Alluring Siren forcing small creatures to attack, a 3/3 Zombie blocking them and Cemetery Reaper then making more Zombies out of them was really getting into gear, but Zunko kept casting small critters. What else should he do? Either get them into play and eaten, or get them discarded by Liliana. Watanabe essentially had Zunko locked out, and the Slovenian was in eternal topdeck mode.

    Realizing that, Zunko packed it in.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1 – 0 Bojan Zunko

    Game 2:

    Bojan Zunko
    Zunko had the first play and the first attack, both through Elvish Visionary, and followed with Runeclaw Bear. Watanabe considered for a moment, tapped to and Essence Scattered the Bear away. On his turn, he produced Royal Assassin, but wasn’t to enjoy it long: Zunko had Tendrils of Corruption for the little removal man. Watanabe replied with Cemetery Reaper, also a quite good card.

    Zunko had Cudgel Troll. When Watanabe played Alluring Siren, the board position mirrored that of game 1 almost to a tee: Watanabe even had the Drudge Skeletons! The only difference: This time, Zunko had the Fireball, going for Cemetary Reaper and a Zombie token. The Reaper made one last Zombie out of Watanabe’s own Royal Assassin (Zunko was out of creatures) and went away – for a while at least.

    Because when Zunko put Magebane Armor onto the battlefield for his creatures to wear, Watanabe (at 15 life) played Gravedigger and returned Cemetery Reaper to life. Undeterred, Zunko put Magebane Armor on Elvish Visionary, added Elvish Archdruid, and sent the 4/6 Visionary lumbering into the red zone.

    Gravedigger and a Zombie token united their power to kill it (thanks, Cemetery Reaper, Zombie Lord!). Watanabe bolstered his defense with Wall of Bone, yet another regenerator. Then Emerald Oryx for Zunko picked up the Magebane Armor, only to also die to the call of the most alluring of all Sirens and its cemetery-reaping black cousin.

    Zunko had merely two creatures out, one of them an Elvish Archdruid that saved itself continuously from the siren’s call by tapping for mana. The Kelinore Bat that Watanabe found didn’t even matter, as the Japanese had enough creatures anyway to crack Zunko’s life total in two big swings.

    Yuuya Watanabe 2 – 0 Bojan Zunko

     

  • Semifinals - Ognjen Cividini [HRV] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]
    by Rich Hagon
  • After a lengthy Quarter Final, Jan Schmidt of Germany faced the Croatian Ognjen Cividini, himself fresh from a routine victory in his opener in this Top 8. Both players featured White, with Cividini adding plenty of Black, and Schmidt majoring in Blue for tricks aplenty on both sides.

    Game 1:

    Ognjen Cividini
    Schmidt led with Island, and the now-familiar pattern of turn two White Knight for Cividini followed. Wall of Frost was a neat foil for early beats from the German, and he added Illusionary Servant.

    White Knight number two and three came up next for Cividini, meaning only Gladys (Knight) was missing from the full set. Child of Night was his only non-Knight as he smashed into a board featuring the Wall of Frost and a newly-laid Siege Mastodon. After blocks, Divine Verdict ended the Mastodon, and Schmidt was down to ten. A replacement Siege Mastodon came down for the German, as his Illusionary Servant took a second bite out of Cividini, leaving him at fourteen.

    In came the two non-frosty Knights, and the Illusionary Servant made it three turns in a row for Schmidt. Tendrils of Corruption and Divine Verdict sprayed the battlefield, and the German was assuming control. A fourth hit from the 3/4 flyer took Cividini down to eight, and Schmidt added Guardian Seraph, further complicating the situation for the Croatian.

    Holy Strength functioned as a removal spell, finally finding a way to target the Illusionary Servant, but Guardian Seraph continued the 3/4 flying theme, dropping Cividini to five, then two. Merfolk Looter became active for Schmidt, who piled through his deck with the Looter and Divination.

    Serra Angel for Cividini looked to give him hope, but Pacifism was a deadly answer from Schmidt. Only one mana remained for Cividini, which was enough for Harm’s Way to send two points of damage back onto Schmidt’s Merfolk Looter. Even so, he was at just one life, and there was no second chance, as the Guardian Seraph crashed over for the win.

    Schmidt 1 – 0 Cividini.

    Game 2:

    Cividini invited Schmidt to open the second game, which he did with a turn two Stormfront Pegasus off a Plains and Glacial Fortress. Griffin Sentinel was his turn three play, which Cividini used to cast Warpath Ghoul. Three flying damage dropped him to fifteen, and Schmidt reloaded with Divination before passing the turn.

    The Ghoul lived up to its name and went on the Warpath, Cividini making some nice defense with Razorfoot Griffin. Schmidt therefore went back to the ground, bringing out a hefty Siege Mastodon. Vampire Aristocrat joined the Croatian side, leading Schmidt to dig further into his deck with a second Divination. Two spare mana gave him Blinding Mage, and one of that mana was a Rare Gargoyle Castle, which might soon become relevant.

    “It’s not Mind Control, but it’s close!” joked Cividini, as he used Deathmark to kill the Blinding Mage, and then promptly used Rise from the Grave to put it into play for his team, ready to make perfect use of it with his Plains. Pacifism shut down the Razorfoot Griffin, and Schmidt’s Stormfront Pegasus went back into the red zone, leaving Cividini at twelve, with Schmidt adding to his flying battalions with Griffin Sentinel. The life totals were soon twelve apiece as Warpath Ghoul and Vampire Aristocrat returned the favor. White Knight completed the Croatian’s turn.

    Griffin Sentinel and Pegasus smashed in, and Guardian Seraph was not what Cividini wanted to see come down. The German Schmidt was establishing dominance once again, and Cividini couldn’t afford a misstep. Armored Ascension on the Vampire Aristocrat certainly changed his outlook for the better, and his Blinding Mage tapped down Schmidt’s Griffin Sentinel. Schmidt was happy to block the Aristocrat with Guardian Seraph, and Harm’s Way from Cividini sent the Stormfront Pegasus to the winged graveyard in the sky.

    For the third time in the game, Schmidt sought answers from Divination, but the Armored Ascension was starting to look mighty fine for Cividini. The Siege Mastodon dropped him to five, with Schmidt leaving just the Griffin Sentinel back on defense.

    Warpath Ghoul was Cividini’s only attacker, with Schmidt accepting the three damage that sent him to nine. A second Griffin Sentinel followed up, with Cividini’s Blinding Mage tapping down the Siege Mastodon at end of turn.

    Once more, the Warpath Ghoul entered the red zone alone, and once more Schmidt took three damage, now at just six to five ahead. He passed almost immediately, and it was like deja vu all over again as the Warpath Ghoul....you know the deal, except this time, with only one card in Cividini’s hand, Schmidt decided to create a rather huge 3/4 blocking Gargoyle off his Rare land. Before it could block, Blinding Mage tapped it out of the way, and both Griffin Sentinels blocked, trading one for the Warpath Ghoul, which had more than done its job.

    Magebane Armor from Schmidt got a curt nod from Cividini who passed back, and a stack of cards in Schmidt’s hand suggested the worst might be over. The Magebane Armor equipped the Siege Mastodon, and Wall of Frost looked to shore up the defenses. With six plains in play, the Vampire Aristocrat was now an 8/8, even without sacrifices. Cividini used the end of turn to tap down the 3/4 Gargoyle, but passed once again.

    A second Siege Mastodon arrived for Schmidt, and Cividini this time missed the opportunity to tap down the Gargoyle. Back we went again, and Serra Angel for Cividini was met with Essence Scatter. Drudge Skeletons were much less of an issue, and resolved. Merfolk Looter joined the German board, and when he attempted to equip the Magebane Armor, Cividini wasted no time aiming a five point Tendrils of Corruption at the Merfolk Looter, leaving the Magebane Armor attached to Schmidt’s Siege Mastodon.

    Wind Drake was yet another flyer for Schmidt, while Cividini cast a second Blinding Mage. Wall of Faith for Schmidt became the thirteenth creature on the battlefield, which was getting ugly fast. The two Blinding Mages prevented Wind Drake and the 3/4 Gargoyle from getting involved in combat, but Schmidt still went to work with two Siege Mastodons – one with Magebane Armor attached – and Griffin Sentinel.

    Cividini took his time reading the Magebane Armor, which certainly didn’t prevent the Siege Mastodon dying to Divine Verdict. Just one damage got through, with Cividini now at nine. Child of Night was Cividini’s only play, who seemed determined not to risk his Vampire Aristocrat in combat. Griffin Sentinel attacked for a couple of turns, and now Cividini was back down to seven. Meanwhile, Schmidt was fast running out of cards. Yet again, two Blinding Mages dealt with Gargoyle and Drake, and yet again the Griffin Sentinel dealt one damage. Ice Cage from Schmidt looked to turn off one of the Blinding Mages, before he passed the turn.

    Holy Strength from Cividini put paid to that plan, and it was as you were. Attack... tap, tap... Sentinel... one damage...

    Four cards were now left in Schmidt’s library, and a suicidal attack from Child of Night allowed Cividini to go back up to seven life. He cast a second, which was also likely not to be long for this world. The Sentinel took him to six, and he aimed Excommunicate at the Gargoyle token, which couldn’t go to the top of Schmidt’s almost-empty library. Now just two cards remained. Then just one card remained... and then Schmidt shuffled up his permanents, and we were off to a decider.

    Schmidt 1 – 1 Cividini.

    After the epic game, Cividini confirmed that he was worried about either Divine Verdict or Safe Passage, either of which would have left the obvious plan (of tapping all Schmidt’s flyers and attacking with a lethal flying Vampire Aristocrat) in ruins.

    Game 3:

    Merfolk Looter opened for Schmidt, while Cividini had a start of Drudge Skeletons and Warpath Ghoul, which quickly dropped Schmidt to fifteen, followed up by Rod of Ruin – rather good against a German board position that now had a second Merfolk Looter.

    Jan Schmidt
    Gargoyle Castle helped to fuel Divination for Schmidt, who cast Solemn Offering at the Rod of Ruin, killing it handily, and speeding him back to nineteen, if only briefly. In came Cividini’s team, but Razorfoot Griffin met Essence Scatter, and the German was back to screaming his way through his deck with red hot Looter action. Siege Mastodon ended his turn, but Cividini had nothing to offer, so priority was soon back with Schmidt.

    Guardian Seraph looked to tilt things his way, but Serra Angel was bigger and badder, until Ice Cage encased it in frosty uselessness. The Seraph dealt three, and Blinding Mage arrived for Schmidt. Cividini had the Holy Strength trick ready, getting rid of the Ice Cage and piling in with the still-awesome Serra Angel, now with added Holy Strength mitigating the Guardian Seraph ability.

    Thirteen played eleven, as Blinding Mage had at least temporary control of the game, with Cividini adding White Knights aplenty, neither of which were an answer to a 3/4 flyer backed up by a tapping Blinding Mage. And then there was the Gargoyle Castle to worry about...

    Schmidt pushed the go button on the 3/4 at end of turn, and six damage left Cividini at just four life. One more activation of the Blinding Mage... one more foray into the red zone by Gargoyle and Guardian...

    ...and we were done. Cividini had pulled off an epic win in the second game, but it wasn’t enough. And Schmidt, in that Game 2? He had the Divine Verdict. And the Safe Passage.

    Schmidt 2 – 1 Cividini.

     

  • Podcast - Cashing the Check
    by Rich Hagon
  • Multi

    Final time at Grand Prix Prague, and after a brief hiatus behind the keyboard for the Quarters and Semis, it's back to the headphones and live thick-of-the-action reporting from courtside, as Yuuya Watanabe takes on Jan Schmidt for the Title of Grand Prix Prague Champion 2009. Who will take home the loot? Click to find out.

    Download MP3

     

  • Finals - Yuuya Watanabe [JPN] vs. Jan Schmidt [DEU]
    by Tobias Henke
  • This is it: the final battle of the tournament, the final match, for glory, for the trophy, for the title, and for eternal fame. Facing off against each other are Japan’s Yuuya Watanabe and Germany’s Jan Schmidt. The former is a seasoned veteran of the international pro scene and on a hot streak right now that saw him make top eight at three consecutive Grand Prix around the globe. The latter is here in his first top eight and, naturally, the underdog. If he is one of the sort that barks or one that bites, however, is yet to be determined.

    Watanabe had the fist play of the game with Drudge Skeletons on turn two, but that would not do him any good, as Schmidt immediately took to the air with Illusionary Servant. Both players skipped a turn without play, then Watanabe had Kelinore Bat, while Schmidt went for Merfolk Looter.

    Yuuya Watanabe
    On turn five, Watanabe went to the think tank for quite some time, before finally emerging with Liliana Vess, making Schmidt discard and then chump-blocking Illusionary Servant. Schmidt refilled his hand through Divination but had no other play. Right now, his position in this game completely depended on Illusionary Servant, possibly the most fragile creatures in the format. Yuuya tried for Gravedigger, but Schmidt had Essence Scatter. Unable to sustain his Planeswalker any longer, Watanabe tutored for a card, before Schmidt took it down by attacking with his Servant and Merfolk Looter.

    Looming Shade and Zombie Goliath came down for Watanabe, Blinding Mage, Wall of Frost, a second Looter, and Stormfront Pegasus for Schmidt. Now his deck was operating on full power, cycling lots of cards every turn with the help of the amazing Merfolk. Watanabe had Weakness to get rid of Illusionary Servant (too late, sadly) and then another to kill Stormfront Pegasus, but with two active Looters, Schmidt was in no need to hurry. In fact, he was already beginning to discard Divination. He summoned Siege Mastodon, then cast and used Magebane Armor. A 5/9 Mastodon went to attack; it died in a trple-block but left Watanabe with a lonely Vampire Aristocrat to Schmidt’s Blining Mage, Wall of Frost and two Merfolk Looters.

    It didn’t take long before Watanabe scooped up his cards and the players started shuffling for Game 2.

    Yuuya Watanabe 0 – 1 Jan Schmidt

    Playing first, Watanabe took on the role of aggressor right from the start with Child of Night, then Kelinore Bat, and double Drudge Skeletons on turn four. To this point, all Schmidt had to offer was one Merfolk Looter, but the Merfolk dug up one of the finest blockers available in Griffin Sentinel. Watanabe just attacked with his Drudge Skeletons, regenerating one of them (blocked by Griffin Sentinel) and getting in a total of one damage.

    Next, Schmidt summoned Guardian Seraph to shut off this option as well as providing an offense of his own. Watanabe was looking to Looming Shade to get himself out of this predicament, but Schmidt had the Ice Cage already waiting.

    Guardian Seraph and Griffin Sentinel were attacking for four damage a turn now, and soon Watanabe had to do something about them. But also, he had to worry about the steady stream of reinforcements, happily provided by Merfolk Looter. Weakness killed Illusionary Servant but the original clock kept ticking. With Watanabe down to five, Schmidt went for the throat and tapped low for Wind Drake. Actually, though, this was just what Watanabe had been hoping for. With the danger of Safe Passage out of the way, he directed Tendrils of Corruption at Guardian Seraph, geting back to eleven life.

    Suddenly, Schmidt’s air force was reduced to just Griffin Sentinel (Wind Drake stayed back), while Watanabe made a comeback in the form of Zombie Goliath. The Looter kept working, though, and came up with Stormfront Pegasus and Blinding Mage. Next turn, Pegasus, Drake, and Griffin went in. Wind Drake was blocked, but saved by Safe Passage, while Watanabe lost Kelinore Bat, his only flier. Watanabe took three damage (down to seven), then ran his Child of Night into its certain death (back to nine).

    Gravedigger dug out Kelinore Bat and this time around it traded with Wind Drake (Griffin Sentinel and Stormfront Pegasus getting Watanabe down to six). Schmidt cast Wall of Frost, Watanabe cast Royal Assassin.

    The Pegasus and Griffin Sentinel recklessly attacked despite the Assassin (three life left for Watanabe). Also, when Watanabe declared combat, Blinding Mage tapped down Zombie Goliath. Lots of viable targets for Watanabe’s Assassin, but really, he had to kill off Schmidt’s 2/1 flier to stay alive at all. Griffin Sentinel attacked (two life) , and another Griffin Sentinel entered the battlefield, threatening a potential match win for Schmidt on the very next turn.

    And indeed, the vigilant fliers flew to victory.

    Yuuya Watanabe 0 – 2 Jan Schmidt

    Congratulations to Jan Schmidt, the Champion of Grand Prix - Prague 2009!

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