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Swedes Sweep Grand Prix Utrecht!

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Over 2,000 players descended on Utrecht in the Netherlands to play Gatecrash team limited, but of all the contingents of players that rocked up for team sealed and team draft, it was the Swedish contingent that most completely dominated the field as team on team competition whittled us down to an all Swedish finals.

Joel Larsson was chasing Pro Points wherever he could after a second place finish at Pro Tour Gatecrash, and teamed up with Elias Watsfeldt and Mikael Magnusson to do so. Throughout the Swiss portion of the competition, they received only two losses in total – to another all Swedish team of Jonathan Bergstrom, Tomas Westling and Fredrik Carlsson. That set up for an epic final where the two teams (being supervised by a Swedish judge and various Swedish fans) witnessed a tour de force from both teams.

It seemed that Bergstrom, Westling and Carlsson had the measure of their countrymen, powering through in successive rounds to take home the trophies as Grand Prix Utrecht champions!

It has been quite the weekend here in the Netherlands, and we hope that you've enjoyed watching along as much as we've enjoyed bringing you the stories from Gatecrash team limited. We hope that you'll join us again soon for the climax to the online season, with the Magic Online Championship Series finals, from PAX East.



Semifinals Finals Champion
1 Westling/Bergström/Carlsson Westling/Bergström/Carlsson, 2-1
4 Lippi/Estratti/Versari Westling/Bergström/Carlsson, 2-1, 2-1
2 Watsfeldt/Magnusson/Larsson Watsfeldt/Magnusson/Larsson, 2-1
3 Radloff/Kraft/Zimmermann






  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Utrecht provided Matej Zatklaj, Simon Görtzen, Rich Hagon, and Steven Leeming at twitch.tv/magicprotour.


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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

  • by Tobi Henke and Tim Willoughby
    Top 5 Cards

  • by Tobi Henke
    Finals
    Round 2

  • by Tim Willoughby
    Finals
    Round 1

  • by Tim Willoughby
    Semifinals
    Elias Watsfeldt vs. Martin Zimmerman,
    Mikael Magnusson vs. Tobias Radloff,
    Joel Larsson vs. Rene Kraft

  • by Tobi Henke
    Top 4
    Teams

  • by Tobi Henke
    Sunday, 9:25 p.m.
    Team Draft Chart: All the Players, All the Picks!

  • by Tim Willoughby
    Sunday, 8:45 p.m.
    Drafting with Joel Larsson

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.   Westling/ Bergström/ Carlsson $6,000
 2.   Watsfeldt/ Magnusson/ Larsson $4,500
 3.  Radloff/ Kraft/ Zimmermann $3,000
 4.  Lippi/ Estratti/ Versari $3,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Sunday, 8:45 p.m. – Drafting with Joel Larsson

    by Tim Willoughby

  • Joel Larsson has had a fairly consistent run of form throughout this weekend (typically winning hence his position in the top four). One thing I've learned while watching his play is that he is something of a fan of blue and green. As such it wasn't a colossal surprise to see that in his semi-final draft, he sifted Cloudfin Raptor to the front of his first pack. One of the premium cards in Simic, it was the card he described as the most important in his sealed deck from Saturday, so he was clearly happy to be playing with it again. Undercity Informer, Assault Griffin and Arrows of Justice would be going to his left, hopefully ensuring that he was able to keep people off his colours, and draft a strong deck.

    Crocanura came next, and a Zameck Guildmage third. Seeing the guildmage was a nice signal to Larsson that Mikael Magnusson, two seats to his right, was likely not going with Simic either. There was a good chance that he had plenty of space to draft his chosen guild. While a 4th pick Simic Guildgate was hardly exciting, getting a Frilled Oculus next, along with Armored Transport. Totally Lost came around on the lap, and while the rest of the pack didn't have too much for him, Larsson seemed in a fine position going into pack two.


    Joel Larsson

    Cloudfin Raptors two and three were the next picks for Larsson, whose deck was beginning to look like a bit of a monster. Scab-Clan Charger was the first four drop for Larsson's aggressive curve, and he took a Deathcult Rogue next. Metropolis Sprite over another Crocanura was an interesting choice, showing the respect that Larsson had for curving out aggressively in the format. A Frilled Oculus, Adaptive Snapjaw and Ivy Lane Denizen rounded out the pack.

    Going into pack three, Larsson's curve was dangerous and lean. He had much of what he needed, but was lacking a couple of cards to ensure his evolve curve would always be firing. This soon changed as Crocanura came for him as a first pick in pack three, and when he finally got a Shambleshark to add to his deck just one pick later. Shambleshark is potentially a very important card for the aggressive Simic decks, as it is the creature that can attack for three on turn three for the deck – an important addition indeed. A second Shambleshark came fifth for Larsson, who even had the luxury of taking some sideboard cards along the way. A Tower Defence would potentially make aggressive matchups easier, and a 9th pick Leyline Phantom would, if necessary, amp up his evolution plans.

    All told, Larsson's deck looked to be something of a powerhouse for the semi-finals. He'd only have one match to play with it, and if his opponent's deck was remotely slow (a distinct possibility given a large number of quality Orzhov cards he'd passed) he could potentially maul it badly before it could get going.




     

  • Sunday, 9:25 p.m. – Team Draft Chart: All the Players, All the Picks!

    by Tobi Henke

  • Take a look at the following table. The vertical columns have all picks by the player listed at the very top, one after the other. You'll also notice different shades of grey moving in a weird way through the picks, first descending to the left, then right, then left again. As you might guess, the same shade of grey here denotes cards taken from the same booster pack. That's to help you see what choices the player faced when he made a particular pick. By going along the diagonal line of same-colored boxes downwards, you can see what cards were left in the booster at any point in the draft.

    Neat, isn't it?

    Fredrik Carlsson Joel Larsson Jonathan Bergström Mikael Magnusson Tomas Westling Elias Watsfeldt
    Kingpin's Pet Drakewing Krasis Kingpin's Pet Wrecking Ogre Firefist Striker Devour Flesh
    Warmind Infantry Rapid Hybridization Grisly Spectacle Skyknight Legionnaire Drakewing Krasis Basilica Screecher
    Syndic of Tithes Greenside Watcher Daring Skyjek Scorchwalker Legion Loyalist Corpse Blockade
    Wight of Precinct Six Pit Fight Dimir Charm Pit Fight Gruul Charm Duskmantle Guildmage
    Vizkopa Confessor Simic Charm Balustrade Spy Boros Guildgate Ember Beast Gift of Orzhova
    Rapid Hybridization Disciple of the Old Ways Orzhov Guildgate Basilica Guards Act of Treason Diluvian Primordial
    Debtor's Pulpit Nimbus Swimmer Orzhov Guildgate Millenial Gargoyle Hellraiser Goblin Godless Shrine
    Prophetic Prism Gutter Skulk Way of the Thief Armored Transport Ivy Lane Denizen Leyline Phantom
    Slate Street Ruffian Gridlock Totally Lost Ruination Wurm Simic Keyrune Scatter Arc
    Clinging Anemones Scorchwalker Leyline Phantom Aerial Maneuver Burst of Strength Merfolk of the Depths
    Zarichi Tiger Clinging Anemones Merfolk of the Depths Purge the Profane Unexpected Results Bioshift
    Purge the Profane Riot Gear Illness in the Ranks Knight Watch Forced Adaptation Foundry Street Denizen
    Furious Resistance Signal the Clans Bioshift Tin Street Market Naturalize Horror of the Dim
    Skygames Skygames Contaminated Ground Midnight Recovery Predator's Rapport Guildscorn Ward
    Fredrik Carlsson Joel Larsson Jonathan Bergström Mikael Magnusson Tomas Westling Elias Watsfeldt
    Basilica Screecher Incursion Specialist Smite Boros Charm Cinder Elemental Sepulchral Primordial
    Death's Approach Agoraphobia Bane Alley Broker Madcap Skills Firefist Striker Balustrade Spy
    Vizkopa Guildmage Shambleshark Biomass Mutation Mugging Zhur-Taa Swine Gutter Skulk
    Daring Skyjek Deathcult Rogue Sage's Row Denizen Homing Lightning Bomber Corps Orzhov Keyrune
    Hands of Binding Frilled Oculus Dutiful Thrull Truefire Paladin Act of Treason Dimir Guildgate
    Executioner's Swing Crocanura Nav Squad Commandos Glaring Spotlight Greenside Watcher Psychic Strike
    Mark for Death Breeding Pool Simic Fluxmage Ordruun Veteran Greenside Watcher Madcap Skills
    Coerced Confession Millenial Gargoyle Prophetic Prism Madcap Skills Scab-Clan Charger Way of the Thief
    Riot Gear Gridlock Nav Squad Commandos Court Street Denizen Ivy Lane Denizen Madcap Skills
    Shadow Slice Furious Resistance Martial Glory Towering Thunderfist Wildwood Rebirth Five-Alarm Fire
    Beckon Apparition Verdant Haven Skullcrack Way of the Thief Spire Tracer Dutiful Thrull
    Zarichi Tiger Scatter Arc Horror of the Dim Guildscorn Ward Tin Street Market Way of the Thief
    Forced Adaptation Crackling Perimeter Hydroform Enter the Infinite Shattering Blow Razortip Whip
    Contaminated Ground Primal Visitation Bioshift Guildscorn Ward Shattering Blow Tin Street Market
    Fredrik Carlsson Joel Larsson Jonathan Bergström Mikael Magnusson Tomas Westling Elias Watsfeldt
    Angelic Skirmisher Crocanura Death's Approach Assemble the Legion Skinbrand Goblin Alms Beast
    Boros Reckoner Crocanura Dinrova Horror Wojek Halberdiers Slaughterhorn Cloudfin Raptor
    Kingpin's Pet Scab-Clan Charger Orzhov Charm Bomber Corps Burning-Tree Emissary Grisly Spectacle
    Urbis Protector Totally Lost One Thousand Lashes Ember Beast Madcap Skills Metropolis Sprite
    Thrull Parasite Simic Fluxmage Executioner's Swing Guardian of the Gateless Mugging Sapphire Drake
    Court Street Denizen Pit Fight Death's Approach Urbis Protector Mugging Call of the Nightwing
    Basilica Guards Hands of Binding Sage's Row Denizen Bomber Corps Spire Tracer Dimir Guildgate
    Smite Ivy Lane Denizen Dimir Guildgate Assault Griffin Ruination Wurm Orzhov Guildgate
    Warmind Infantry Zhur-Taa Swine Aerial Maneuver Towering Thunderfist Wasteland Viper Sage's Row Denizen
    Adaptive Snapjaw Immortal Servitude Dutiful Thrull Slate Street Ruffian Massive Raid Aetherize
    Shadow Slice Beckon Apparition Voidwalk Martial Glory Mind Grind Last Thoughts
    Midnight Recovery Predator's Rapport Urban Evolution Shadow Alley Denizen Naturalize Last Thoughts
    Skygames Murder Investigation Primal Visitation Midnight Recovery Hydroform Last Thoughts
    Razortip Whip Skyblinder Staff Shadow Alley Denizen Skyblinder Staff Undying Wish Contaminated Ground



     

  • Top 4 – Teams

    by Tobi Henke


  • Jonathan Bergström

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Malmö, Sweden
    Occupation: Drifting


    Guild:
    Orzhov

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    One Grand Prix Top 8, six Nationals Top 8s.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    We are old friends who always have good times together.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Orzhov - Obzedat, Ghost Council won me the most games.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Orzhov - Obzedat unsurprisingly won me the most games.Gruul - Bomber Corps killed a few dudes.
    Orzhov - splashed a Cinder Elemental which was nice.




    Tomas Westling

    Age: 34
    Hometown: Malmö, Sweden
    Occupation: Software developer


    Guild:
    Simic

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 2 Svenska Magic-Mästerskapet.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Jonathan Bergström and Fredrik Carlsson, close friends and previous roommates, part of the same team, Team Habo.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Dimir, Sage's Row Denizen.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Orzhov, Merciless Eviction.Four-color mono five-drops, Orzhov Keyrune.
    Esper Hold the Gates, Hold the Gates.




    Fredrik Carlsson

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Malmö, Sweden
    Occupation: Designer/developer mobile apps


    Guild:
    All of them!

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Played a Pro Tour.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Old-time friends, part of a small gang of on-and-off players.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Boros, Skyknight Legionnaire.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Naya, Rubblebelt Raiders.Simic, Forests.
    Boros, -.



    René Kraft

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Mainz, Germany
    Occupation: -


    Guild:
    Boros

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    A few Grand Prix Top 8s a long time ago.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Tobias Radloff, Martin Zimmermann. We team draft together on a regular basis.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Boros - Foundry Champion.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Boros - Madcap Skills.Simic - Elusive Krasis.
    Boros - Angelic Skirmisher.




    Tobias Radloff

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Wiesbaden, Germany
    Occupation: Student


    Guild:
    Azorius/Orzhov

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    One Grand Prix Top 8 a long time ago.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Martin Zimmermann and René Kraft. We've been friends for years.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    I played Orzhov splashing Assemble the Legion. Most important card was Undercity Informer.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?

    Always Orzhov. Most important cards were Grisly Spectacle, Undercity Informer, Purge the Profane.




    Martin Zimmermann

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Wiesbaden, Germany
    Occupation: Student


    Guild:
    Gruul

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    -

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    René Kraft and Tobias Radloff because we live close to each other and have already played together for several years.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Simic - Cloudfin Raptor.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Gruul - Ghor-Clan Rampager.Orzhov - none.
    Boros - Skyknight Legionnaire.




    Matteo Versari

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Livorno, Italy
    Occupation:


    Guild:
    Izzet

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Won Grand Prix Malmö.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Lippi and Estratti. Too much fun playing with them, and also they're good players.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Orzhov - Gift of Orzhova, especially on Alms Beast.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Orzhov - Zarichi Tiger.Boros - Sunhome Guildmage.
    Dimir.




    Alessandro Lippi

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Massa, Italy
    Occupation: Travel agent


    Guild:
    Simic

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 4 Grand Prix Turin.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Samuele Estratti, Matteo Versari. I play with them because we're all Tuscans and funny. Obviously good players too.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Boros - Frontline Medic.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?

    Simic, Orzhov splashing blue, and Simic. Shambleshark is my captain!




    Samuele Estratti

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Pistoia, Italy
    Occupation: Student


    Guild:
    Simic

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Top 8 at Grand Prix Malmö, Verona, Milan. Pro Tour win. Two Top 4s at Nationals.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Lippi and Versari. Really funny playing with them.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Simic splash red, Skarrg Goliath.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Gruul, Ghor Clan Rampager.
    Gruul splash blue, Ghor-Clan Rampager.




    Joel Larsson

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
    Occupation: Administrator and receptionist at a small clinic


    Guild:
    Simic

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Second at Pro Tour Montreal, third at Grand Prix Manchester, Top 8 at Grand Prix Prague and Pittsburgh, tenth at Pro Tour Nagoya, Swedish national team 2011.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Mikael Magnusson and Elias Watsfeldt. Good friends and good players.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Simic, Cloudfin Raptor.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Simic - Cloudfin Raptors.Orzhov - various extort guys.
    Boros - Skyknight Legionnaire and lots of two-drops.




    Elias Watsfeldt

    Age: 19
    Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden
    Occupation: A little bit of everything to be honest


    Guild:
    Boros

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Third Grand Prix Top 8 this season!

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Joel Larsson, a skillful magician.Mikael Magnusson, a well-dressed fellow.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Orzhov - Grisly Spectacle.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Dimir - Bane Alley Broker.Dimir - Bane Alley Broker.
    Gruul - Stomping Ground.




    Mikael Magnusson

    Age: 34
    Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
    Occupation:


    Guild:
    Simic

    Previous Magic accomplishments:
    Vintage champion at Grand Prix London 2013.

    Who are your teammates, and why did you play with them?
    Joel Larsson and Elias Watsfeldt. I just picked the best two Swedish players.

    What color combination did you play in Sealed, and what was your most important card?
    Boros - Aurelia, the Warleader.

    What color combination(s) did you play in your drafts, and what were your most important cards?
    Boros - Aurelia again!Boros - the three Madcap Skills!Orzhov splashing Hands of Binding - Undercity Plague.

    For the Top 4 draft, can I please have Aurelia one more time?




     

  • Semifinals – Elias Watsfeldt vs. Martin Zimmerman, Mikael Magnusson vs. Tobias Radloff, Joel Larsson vs. Rene Kraft

    by Tim Willoughby

  • Match one

    Gruul against Dimir was the first matchup, and Watsfeldt's aggressive Gruul deck was able to win game one before most of the other decks at the table had even begun to set up. His second game looked likely to go in similar fashion, with Foundry Street Denizens soon joined by a pair of copies of Ember Beast. Meanwhile the Dimir deck of Martin Zimmermann had found some way of racing, with Keymaster Rogue an ever-present clock on Watsfeldt. Gridlock stopped attacks from Watsfeldt for a turn, and that was enough to sour the race for the young Swede. Swing after swing from the rogue took Watsfeldt to six, and then three. One draw step left – could he find the removal spell he needed to stave off the unblockable 3/2? The answer came soon enough, as Watsfeldt scooped up his cards.

    Game three looked pretty good for Watsfeldt. Zimmermann missed a land drop, while he was able to deploy a terrifying force featuring a pair of copies of Ember Beast, Legion Loyalist and Skarrg Guildmage. The Gruul team only had Metropolis Sprite and eventually Undercity Informer to deal with this aggressive start, and they simply could not do so. In the amount of time it had taken the other players in his team to get through one game, Watsfeldt had won his match 2-1

    Magnusson had something of a combo for his deck, with Agoraphobia and Simic Manipulator potentially setting up an undefeatable creature stealing plan. One Thousand Lashes from Tobias Radloff's Orzhov deck put a stop to that though, and attacks from an Assault Griffin soon dropped Magnusson to four. An attempted Vizkopa Guildmage was stopped by Mystic Genesis, but Magnusson was on perilously low life, and his Keymaster Rogue was not winning the race. Soon Magnusson found himself scooping up his cards. He wasn't winning that game.

    Incursion Specialist for Magnusson faced off against Vizkopa Guildmage and Thrull Parasite from Radloff in game two. There was a bit of a stare off for a while, as Magnusson played more and more lands, while Radloff was a little short on them himself. Magnusson found some good things to do with those lands though. Gruul Ragebeast killed off a Knight of Obligation before falling to Orzhov Charm, and Magnusson had follow up in a Ruination Wurm, and then a Nightveil Specter. A Hydroform from Magnusson got a good read, but did exactly what the Swede needed, allowing a successful block on Balustrade Spy.

    An Arrows of Justice shot down Nightveil Specter, but that wasn't the real kicker. The trouble was when Court Street Denizen combined with Knight Watch to chop out all of Magnusson's blockers from beneath him for some decisive attacks. Magnusson fell, leaving Larsson as the lone hope for the Swedish team to win through.

    Larsson had drafted a very aggressive Simic deck and found himself up against Boros from Rene Kraft. Given the potential speed of the matchup, neither player could afford to stumble, and Larsson's start was near textbook; Cloudfin Raptor, Frilled Oculus, Crocanura. Kraft had a pair of Syndic of Tithes to begin, but when Hands of Binding came down for Larsson he was able to effectively put together quite the start.

    Kraft was far from out of it though. He knew he wouldn't be facing much in the way of removal, and pieced together a board of Wojek Halbardiers, Sunhome Guildmage and Warmind Infantry too. Towering Thunderfist was next. He had plenty of creatures, but could he deal with Larsson's flyers?

    Sunhome Guildmage built up quite a force and it looked like an attack in could only mean disaster for Larsson. He made desperation blocks, where it seemed his team was inevitably to be consigned to the graveyard. It turned out that the tricky Swede had a tricky Swedish trick though, in the form of Tower Defence. In the face of all those creatures surviving, and being able to attack back for the win, Kraft simply scooped up his cards.

    Game two was more of the same from Larsson. He had Cloudfin Raptor, Frilled Oculus, Crocanura and friends, but this time the draw from the Boros deck looked if anything a little more aggressive. Larsson was forced into blocking mode a little sooner, with rather more lands in play than might have been ideal for him. Sunhome Guildmage from Kraft was a clear and present threat, and soon Larsson was at just 7, to his opponent's 13 life. Hands of Binding bought him a little time, but with the Boros side of the board growing thanks to Boros Guildmage, it looked to be a race that Joel was still not winning.

    Kraft swung for the fences, and for a second time found a big Tower Defence block brick-walling his attack. After combat he used Act of Treason to untap a blocker, suddenly looking to his life total with concern. Larsson cast an Adaptive Snapjaw, reaching for dice. He had a bunch of creatures to evolve, and an Ivy Lane Denizen from the turn before to add a counter too. From nowhere, the evolution team on Larsson's side of the board was massive. Before he'd even finished turning them all sideways, the German team were extending their hands, congratulating the Swedes who would be playing their countrymen in the finals.


     



     

  • Finals – Round 1

    by Tim Willoughby

  • Clearly, with a final that was entirely in Swedish, this reporter was unable to fully understand all the nuances going on with the laughing and joking between these two teams. As a handy shortcut, I kind of assumed that a large amount of any banter was about some combination of Joel Larsson's hair, Mikael Magnusson's lack of hair, and Watsfeldt being a wunderkind like Dougie Howser or the kid from the Star Wars movies. One way or another, while this match was as high stakes as a match could be at this Grand Prix, the tone was a relaxed one. Just one more draft to win. When they'd met earlier in the day, it was the less well known team of Jonathan Bergstrom, Fredrik Carlsson and Tomas Westling that won out. Would the same be true the second time around?

    Joel Larsson vs. Tomas Westling

    Larsson found himself with Simic against Gruul, and it was an aggressive Gruul deck at that. Westling had a Legion Loyalist, a Hellraiser Goblin and an Ivy Lane Denizen in the red zone in short order. Larsson back pedalled where he could with Crocanuras to block, but had little answer to such a brutally fast start from the Gruul deck. In little time at all, Larsson was scooping up his game one cards.

    Game two started a little better for Larsson. He had Frilled Oculus and Millennial Gargoyle early, while Westling's start seemed a little fairer in Skinbrand Goblin and Ivy Lane Denizen. The latter creature fell in a Pit Fight with a pumped Frilled Oculus, meaning that Larsson could happily keep swinging into the red zone.

    Hellraiser Goblin was back though, and a Madcap Skills on Skinbrand Goblin suddenly meant that Larsson had a race on his hands. Nimbus Swimmer came down as a 4/4 that could happily do some big blocks, and Larsson's Millennial Gargoyle continued to bash. The tough thing for Larsson though wasn't so much Hellraiser Goblin, as all of the friends that came along with him. Westling may not have started as strongly for the second game, but with massive green monsters, he finished strong, quickly putting down Larsson for a second successive game.

    Elias Watsfeldt vs. Jonathan Bergstrom

    Watsfeldt started off with a Cloudfin Raptor, but was really an Esper deck rather than Simic, with a Dimir Guildgate and an Orzohov Keyrune to follow up. For his first match, he had a mirror of sorts, as there were guildgates aplenty from Bergstrom too, and a Sage's Row Denizen.

    A Sage's Row Denizen came down for Watsfeldt, and it was soon followed by Sapphire Drake. The 4/4 flyer got hit by One Thousand Lashes though, meaning it would not be getting stuck in any time soon. Dinrova Horror further set back Watsfeldt, and when Dimir Charm offed his Orzhov Keyrune, and Death's Approach his Denizen, he was quick to scoop up his cards.

    Game two was pretty back and forth between Watsfeldt and Bergstrom, with neither really committing substantial threats to the board and being able to get them to stick. Leyline Phantom died to Grisly Spectacle, leaving Bergstrom without much of a board, while Dimir Charm killed off Metropolis Sprite for Watsfeldt. Horror of the Dim for Watsfeldt looked like a trump in this removal heavy fight, being able to gain hexproof at a moment's notice. All Bergstrom had to fight back was Simic Fluxmage, which could not really compete.

    Watsfeldt sat back, not needing to cast more spells, and holding up mana to threaten all sorts of tricks. Soon Bergstrom was on just five life from his attacks, and his draws seemed more clogged by land than anything else, meaning he could never quite stabilise.

    Game three saw Watsfeldt able to get a big threat on the board early in the form of Alms Beast. He wasn't about to recklessly start attacking with it though, sitting back with mana up to potentially keep it safe. This changed when he found a Gift of Orzhova to make Alms Beast a 7/7 flying lifelinker. He swung in unimpeded, making life more than a little tough for Bergstrom. When Bergstrom held back a blocker for the 7/7, Watsfeldt simply declined to attack, just casting Cloudfin Raptor.

    An Orzhov Charm on a 7/7 Alms Beast is worth a lot of life, but Watsfeldt preferred to keep his creature around, playing a Psychic Strike to keep it safe from harm. The next turn Grisly Spectacle killed off the Balustrade Spy that might have blocked, and Watsfeldt was again in the red zone. The life totals were 6 to 32 in Watsfeldt's favour, and soon enough Bergstrom was scooping them up. The match would be down to Magnusson.

    Mikael Magnusson vs. Fredrik Carlsson

    Magnusson was the Boros drafter at the table, and led off with Truefire Paladin into a board of lands that looked like an Orzhov deck. Executioner's Swing dealt with the 2/2, and while Zarichi Tiger looked a good answer to Armored Transport, it would do little about the Assemble the Legion that followed. Magnusson had had a blast playing with Assemble the Legion in his sealed deck, and seemed just as happy to have it in the finals of this Grand Prix.

    Magnusson didn't seem in a hurry to attack with his soldier tokens, and soon had Assemble the Legion on three counters, with all six of his soldiers still around. A Court Street Denizen would ensure that Carlsson would have little in the way of blockers at any point, with the never ending stream of creatures he'd be producing.

    Once Magnusson had ten soldiers he started attacking. That was plenty enough for Carlsson, who packed it in for the next game.

    Game two saw a little more from Carlsson in terms of early offence, with Syndic of Tithes into Kingpin's Pet. A Vizkopa Guildmage also came along, while Magnusson was a touch slower with Wojek Halbardiers and Millennial Gargoyle. Aerial Manouvre let the Halbardiers win in a fight with the guildmage, and a follow up Pit Fight let them also kill off Kingpin's Pet. Keen to win back some sort of card advantage, Carlsson went for Purge the Profane, hitting Skyknight Legionnaire and Martial Glory in Magnusson's hand, leaving him to play off the top of his deck. Carlsson traded off his Syndic of Tithes for Wojek Halbardiers, and had a Debtor's Pulpit ready to lock down Millennial Gargoyle.

    Zarichi Tiger from Carlsson would stave off any aggression from Magnusson, but Urbis Protector from him threatened more of a clock than the tiger alone could redress. Soon thereafter he had Homing Lightning to kill off the kitty, though he had little he could do about an Urbis Protector on the other side of the board. While Magnusson was able to get something going briefly with Madcap Skills, Debtor's Pulpit presented a problem that meant he was losing the Urbis Protector race. He defended for as long as he could, but could not ultimately answer the angel. This match would go to a deciding game.

    A turn two Bomber Corps was the first play for the deciding game, soon matched by a Basilica Screecher on Magnusson's side of the board. Mikael was unworried and attacked in, using Martial Glory to kill off the bat before it became problematic. Court Street Denizen from Carlsson was matched by Millennial Gargoyle from Magnusson, who was keen to get to Battalion.

    Zarichi Tiger did a good job of controlling the ground even while Millennial Gargoyle attacked in the air. Court Street Denizen fell to a Mugging, but Magnusson had little in the way of follow-up. Carlsson seemed content to attack with his tiger, and play out a Slate Street Ruffian.

    With the ground getting a little busy, Magnusson continued his air assault with Assault Griffin, the creature named for the task. He took swings from Carlsson to go to 12, and came right back with his Battalion, trading Bomber Corps for a fresh Viskopa Guildmage that blocked. It was a straight forward race, until the Orzhov started getting tricky with extort. Thrull Parasite came first, then extorted when Wight of Precinct Six came along as a 2/2. Magnusson, after a little pause, decided to hold back on attacking further.

    The reason for this soon became clear. When Carlsson attacked in, Magnusson was able to secure a very tidy set of blocks, with Boros Charm keeping his team alive while much of Carlsson's perished. Carlsson didn't seem to mind. Urbis Protector gave him the biggest creature on the board, and Vizkopa Confessor revealed that all that Magnusson had left in his hand was land. Carlsson rumbled in with his squad.

    Magnusson needed something big to get back in the game, and drew the top card of his deck very carefully. He very slowly peeked at the card, willing it to be an answer to his opponent's potentially game winning board. It was a land though, flung down in mock disgust. If Watsfeldt, Larsson and Magnusson were to win Grand Prix Utrecht, they would have to take both the next sets of games.




     

  • Finals – Round 2

    by Tobi Henke

  • Joel Larsson (Simic) vs. Jonathan Bergström (Esper)

    This match started with Simic Fluxmages on both sides, but Bergström had more creatures to go along with that, including a Sage's Row Denizen which soon learned the Way of the Thief and put Larsson on a particularly fast-moving clock. Larsson found one of the few outs in his deck, in Simic Charm's third mode, then build an effective defense with the help of Crocanura, Greenside Watcher, and the always busy Simic Fluxmage. So the game dragged on.


    Joel Larsson

    But that wasn't to Larsson's advantage either as the top 20 cards of his library at the start of this game turned out to have been eight spells and 12 lands. That simply wasn't enough.

    Joel Larsson 0-1 Jonathan Bergström

    Shambleshark, Disciple of the Old Ways, and Drakewing Krasis, together with a Pit Fight which took out Bergström single creature, Dutiful Thrull, evened the score at a moment's notice.

    Joel Larsson 1-1 Jonathan Bergström

    After the perfunctory exchanges early on, the third game came down to a war of resources and their attrition. Larsson hung in there surprisingly long and managed to, for example, hit One Thousand Lashes with Scatter Arc. But in the end, nothing could compare to the (virtual) card advantage generated by Bergström's Bane Alley Broker.


    Jonathan Bergström

    Close to the end, with a full board on both sides, Larsson's Gridlock would have nearly stole a victory there, but Bergström's Grisly Spectacle sealed the deal.

    Joel Larsson 1-2 Jonathan Bergström

    Mikael Magnusson (Boros) vs. Tomas Westling (Gruul)


    Tomas Westling

    Westling started strong on Legion Loyalist, Bomber Corps, and Ember Beast versus Magnusson's Truefire Paladin and Skyknight Legionnaire. Nevertheless, an ill-fated attack saw Westling lose several of his creatures when Magnusson turned his team indestructible with Boros Charm, and his replacement Firefist Strikers met Homing Lightning. Soon he was left with a lonely Ember Beast as his sole creature, and everyone knows by now how helpful that is.

    Mikael Magnusson 1-0 Tomas Westling


    Mikael Magnusson

    For the second game, both players took things slower. Westling's Hellraiser Goblin met Magnusson's Mugging, and Westling's next creature, Scab-Clan Charger wasn't really aggressive either. Soon the board was dominated by Magnusson's Truefire Paladin and Towering Thunderfist, and Westling never recovered.

    Mikael Magnusson 2-0 Tomas Westling

    Elias Watsfeldt (Dimir) vs. Fredrik Carlsson (Orzhov)

    Watsfeldt, with his trusty Dimir deck, opened strong on Cloudfin Raptor and Gutter Skulk, but the board was soon bogged down with various 2/3 and 1/4 creatures except for the Cloudfin Raptor which grew to 3/4 thanks to Leyline Phantom, which in turn died to Smite.

    Said Cloudfin Raptor smashed again and again, then Carlsson had an answer in Urbis Protector. Watsfeldt, however, had an answer to the answer, turning his Raptor 4/5 with Gift of Orzhova. Carlsson's Zarichi Tiger and Debtor's Pulpit succesfully stopped Watsfeldt's offense anyway, and soon it was Carlsson's 4/4 Angel as well as an assortment of extorters that were killing Watsfeldt. When Angelic Skirmisher joined the fray on Carlsson's side, in what was already a favorable position for Carlsson, it was soon over.

    Elias Watsfeldt 0-1 Fredrik Carlsson

    Watsfeldt started yet again with Cloudfin Raptor, this time followed by Metropolis Sprite on turn three, while Carlsson had to make do without two-drop or Swamp — or so it seemed. Turn three he cast Boros Reckoner off his three Plains.


    Elias Watsfeldt

    But Watsfeldt had a better trump of his own, teaching his Metropolis Sprite the Way of the Thief. The 3/4 could now potentially attack for 6 unblockable damage per turn! Not satisfied with that, on his next turn, Watsfeldt went all in on the Sprite and cast a second copy of Way of the Thief before attacking for 5. Another turn later, Watsfeldt tapped his two Islands and two Dimir Guildgates and made his Metropolis Sprite attack for 9, and after one more draw step Carlsson picked up his card to move to game three

    Elias Watsfeldt 1-1 Fredrik Carlsson

    In the final game of the tournament, it was Carlsson who for once took the early lead, with Syndic of Tithes and Kingpin's Pet all while Watsfeldt had no play. His first was actually Call of the Nightwing on turn four, encoding the spell on the very token it had created. On his turn, Carlsson attacked regardless, then summoned Boros Reckoner extorting twice to put Watsfeldt at 8 already.


    Fredrik Carlsson

    Carlsson lost the Reckoner to Grisly Salvage, but had Urbis Protector as an adequate replacement. Watsfeldt tried to stop the bleeding with Duskmantle Guildmage plus Gift of Orzhova, but all in vain. A Thrull Surgeon with double extort brought him to 4, and an all-out attack ended the game, when Carlsson cast Smite on his own attacker, both for another two points of extort and to prevent the lifegain from Gift of Orzhova.

    Elias Watsfeldt 1-2 Fredrik Carlsson

    Congratulations to Fredrik Carlsson, Tomas Westling, and Jonathan Bergström, champions of Grand Prix Utrecht 2013!




     

  • Top 5 Cards

    by Tobi Henke and Tim Willoughby



  • 5. Prophetic Prism

    Hate drafting, i.e. picking cards simply so that no other drafter would have them, was a key element of virtually every team's strategy this weekend. Since every player was seated between two members of the opposing team, a Dimir drafter, for example, would often pick, say, a Clan Defiance first, without any intention of using the card themselves. Sometimes, however, the less extreme cases of hate drafting led to something of a happy end. Quite a lot of players would find themselves, at the end of a draft, with the ability to play the hated cards after all. Thanks to Prophetic Prism various Alms Beasts found a home in Dimir decks, Firemane Avengers ended up in Orzhov decks, and Consuming Aberations in Simic decks. In one case, even Clan Defiance made it into a deck that contained nothing but white, black, and blue cards otherwise, but three copies of Prophetic Prism. That deck went 2-0 too!




    4. Aurelia, the Warleader

    Throughout the tournament, the Warleader proved to be a valuable finisher again and again, usually again and again in the very same turn! Often she led the charge into battle of whole armies but even all on her own Aurelia was a force to be reckoned with. All pump effects, like the ubiquitous bloodrush work amazingly well on the Angel, not to mention the battalion effects of her native Boros Legion. Ever attacked with Boros Elite, Aurelia and one other creature twice in the same turn? You should, it's healthy for you!









    3. Tower Defense

    Not just a popular type of computer game any more, Tower Defence proved the decisive trick to power Elias Watsfeldt, Joel Larsson and Mikael Magnusson into the finals of Grand Prix Utrecht. Not once but twice Larsson deployed the powerful instant in a close race to ensure that a huge Boros attack hit a brick wall, allowing for game ending swings in the opposite direction. In a Simic deck heavy on creatures and light on tricks, it was exactly the trick to trump any kind of shenanigans from the other side of the board.





    2. Way of the Thief

    Enchant creatures used to be looked down on as the poor relation among Magic cards, for the fear of losing a creature and the enchantment on top to a single spell. Today, enchant creatures have never been better, and Way of the Thief is the latest to have shown its worth at the top level. Elias Watsfeldt unlocked a special achievement by using the enchantment to let a Metropolis Sprite do more or less the whole 20 points of damage in one of the games he played in the final draft. He dropped two copies of the enchantment on the Sprite, and then started pumping it like crazy to win in epic fashion.





    1. Hellraiser Goblin

    Granting haste to your entire team has a long and storied history of success at the highest level in Magic, going back to cards like Fires of Yavimaya which spawned whole archetypes back in Invasion. The latest way of doing it, Hellraiser Goblin, was able to accelerate Tomas Westling's aggressive Gruul deck to breakneck speeds – just one piece of the puzzle that left him holding a winner's trophy.




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