Day 1 Blog Archive

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  • Blog - 6:33 pm: A Deck Only John Shuler Could Love
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 6:01 pm: Canada is Burning
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 4:19 pm: Round Four: Shaun McLaren vs. Elijah Pollack
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 3:44 pm: Round Three: Murray "The Mauler" Evans vs. Liam Walker
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 1:50 pm: Round One: Mark Zajdner vs. Stephane Faure
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 12:34 pm: Where's the Bib?
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 12:03 pm: Canadian Meat Products
    by Brian David-Marshall

  • BLOG

  • Friday, August 26: 12:03 pm - Canadian Meat Products

  • There were five last chances for players to grind into Nationals last night. With four players from each event getting to play today it meant almost a full third of the field came from the Grinders. Here are the decklists from the first four events last night. As soon as I can track down the decks from the fifth event I will get them in as well - most likely tomorrow morning.

    This is the first look at Ninth Edition Standard and it is not much of a surprise the big hits early on seem to be Llanowar Wastes and Hypnotic Specter. Almost every grinder featured at least one player qualifying with a Rat deck that touched green for Viridian Shaman and featured some number of Hippies. There was one deck that went a little further and harkened back to Extended Rock builds. The only other intriguing card from Ninth that stood out was a couple of copies of Tidings in BlueTooth.

    Dennis Kreba
    Viridian Rats
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #1

    Adrian Gareau
    Mono-Red Burn
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #1

    Noah Long
    Shackles Control
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #1

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    17  Island
    Stalking Stones

    25 lands

    Jushi Apprentice
    Spire Golem

    6 creatures

    Echoing Truth
    Mana Leak
    Oblivion Stone
    Thirst for Knowledge
    Vedalken Shackles

    29 other spells

    Echoing Truth
    Mephidross Vampire
    Oblivion Stone
    Sun Droplet
    Uyo, Silent Prophet

    14 sideboard cards

    Dylan Procter
    Viridian Rats
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #2

    Tyler Blum
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #2

    David Fagnam
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #2

    Stephane Faure
    Viridian Rats
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #2

    Josh Roach
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #3

    Mike White
    Joshie Green
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #3

    Mon Lee
    Shackles Control
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #3

    Roman Iwaskiw
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #3

    Francis Toussaint
    Aggro Red
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #4

    Jared Gushattey
    Viridian Rats
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #4

    Shaun McLaren
    Tooth and Nail
    Standard Format
    Top 4 Canadian Nationals Grinder #4

  • Friday, August 26: 12:34 pm - Where's the Bib?

  • Head Judges eat free at Red Lobster.

    There was a funny moment this morning when Jason Ness thought one of the players in the tournament had gotten into his stash of Head Judge shirts for a laugh. Upon closer inspection it turned out that Filip Majcherkiewicz was simply wearing his Red Lobster shirt that he is required to wear for work. Rather that confuse people throughout the day by asking Filip for rulings and Jason for drawn butter, Filip agreed to change into his competitor's shirt.

  • Friday, August 26: 1:50 pm - Round One: Mark Zajdner vs. Stephane Faure

  • Mark Zajdner

    At first blush this may seem like a David vs. Goliath scenario with the seasoned Pro going up against the virtual unknown. Mark Zajdner is from Toronto and has been a fixture on the Pro Tour for the past few years. He has put up decent results over the years but he found himself playing this weekend for an invite to Worlds after a less than spectacular season. In fact he was not even qualified for Pro Tour Los Angeles.

    Mark agonized over his deck all day yesterday. He had been sent a green-black Rock deck by Israel's Uri Peleg which he had been tinkering with constantly. At any minute he was ready to jump to another deck. If anyone mentioned splice he would start building a blue-red deck with Shard Phoenix. If someone mentioned Hand of Honor was good against Rats he would start building a white weenie deck splashing blue for Mana Leak. After going into the Think Tank last night with Elijah Pollack and Jeff Cunningham he finally settled on a version of the green-black deck that he was - I don't want to say 'happy with' - let's just call it 'content to play'.

    He shook his head as he sat down against Stephane Faure who had ground in last night with Viridian Rats. "This kid is going to bash me. He paid $650 to get here."

    "I'm from Montreal," explained Faure. A quick look around the room did not turn up any other recognizable players from Montreal. I asked if Stephane was the only one. "No, but it is only me and my two friends."

    "So you go to Mauro's store a lot?" asked Zajdner, referring to the shop Carta Magica owned by Mauro Bongiovani in Montreal.

    "Yeah I play in PTQs there a lot."

    "I was supposed to go last week for the PTQ but I didn't," shrugged Mark.

    "You're not qualified?" asked Stephane with eyes fully bugged. "I was actually qualified for Atlanta but we didn't go. I am going to Los Angeles."

    So there is your daily requirement of irony folks. In the tussle between David and Goliath it is David who is Q'd for the next Pro Tour while Goliath still needs to pull out an invite in the waning weeks of the season.

    Game 1

    Stephane kicked things off with a mulligan. While Mark silently pumped the fist he offered words of encouragement. "My hand is not that good. Don't worry about it. Marginally playable. This hand could easily go down to a five card hand."

    Mark led off with a Forest and Llanowar Elf and Stephane tried to figure out the opposing deck, "Tooth and Nail?"

    Mark followed with a turn two Troll Ascetic and smiled at his opponent. "I told you I have never played an internet deck and I don't plan on starting now."

    Faure could only play Jitte on the next turn while Mark made a second Troll. He was missing a third land still but once he took the Jitte out with his own Jitte there was nothing Faure could do.

    "Why couldn't you just play Blue Tron?" sighed the Grinder winner.

    Game 2

    It was another mulligan from Stephane and another fist pump from Zajdner. "One away from perfection," sighed Faure.

    "May your six be better than the five you are about to take," smiled Mark.

    Stephane shrugged dejectedly and kept his next six. Mark peered at him, "Is that hand really good? You're not Hollywooding me with that shrug are you?"

    It was Mark's turn to send back his hand which prompted a smile from his opponent, "Cool."

    "I guess we are even."

    "No, you have to mulligan to five because I mulliganed last game," corrected Faure.

    Stephane Faure

    Mark shuddered at the thought, "This deck does not mulligan well. I need my Moxes to be on the bottom of the deck."

    He did have to send it back though and announced that for his next hand, "I'm pretty much keeping this one blind."

    Unfortunately for Mark the hand that Stephane had shrugged over featured one land, Aether Vial, two Ravenous Rats, and two Chittering Rats. He drew into lands on turns three and four and systematically destroyed Mark's hand and they were quickly onto Game 3.

    Game 3

    "Please!!! One good draw!" Mark was pleading with his deck to not deliver a repeat performance.

    "No mulligans," agreed Stephane and then added, "…for me!"
    Mark looked at a hand with six mana sources and a Sword. "I can't keep that. I don't like my chanced now."

    "Are you a good drafter?"

    Stephane quickly dismantled Mark's mulligan hand with Nezumi Shortfang and Blackmail and Mark was off to an 0-1 start.

    "That's Nationals for you."

    Final result: Mark Zajdner - 1 Stephane Faure - 2

  • Friday, August 26: 3:44 pm - Round Three: Murray "The Mauler" Evans vs. Liam Walker

  • Murray The Mauler Evans

    "The Mauler" has been a fixture at Canadian Nationals since the mid to late nineties. It was not until last year that he had a break out performance with a Top 8 at Worlds and another Top 8 in Nagoya. He was also a member of the Canadian National team with a second place finish to Mike Thicke. Murray was sporting a Reeves-ish blue deck this weekend.

    His opponent was Liam Walker who had ground in with an agro-red in the last grinder on the day. In Game 1 he got off to what looked like a fast start but Murray quickly stabilized and was able to Vedalken Shackle a Slith Firewalker with a couple of counters on it and turn the tables on the red player. Murray sided out 3 Annul, 3 Jushis, and a Condescend to bring in 4 Sun Droplets and 3 Culling Scales.

    When Liam announced he was going to play the judge laughed, "Big surprise."

    Murray was reminded of a Canadian Nationals from long ago. "In 2000 I was playing Stompy and Gab Tsang was playing sort of blue deck and he chose to draw first. He was misinformed about what I was playing. Sadly I only played a Treetop Village on the first turn.

    Liam Walker

    Game 2 saw Liam resolve an Arc-Slogger via Seething Song only to have it Boomeranged. That was the only threat he resolved for the remainder of the game as Murray always had mana available while casting Spire Golems and turning on Stalking Stones.

    Final result: Murray - 2 Liam - 0

    Murray was now 2-1 with his only loss coming in the first round. "I lost to the same exact red deck in round one. I had a couple of fewer mulligans this time around."

  • Friday, August 26: 4:19 pm - Round Four: Shaun McLaren vs. Elijah Pollack

  • Elijah Pollack

    "I'm actually getting covered this time?" Elijah Pollack had been in the Feature Match area earlier but did not get covered while I was catching up on decklists and other coverage tasks.

    Despite not playing much Magic for some time, Elijah Pollack's advice was still highly sought after last night since some things never change - like a keen mind. Zajdner was relying on Elijah to provide him with the magic number for his mana base last night. Elijah was not terribly concerned going into the draft since he felt that the Kamigawa block was fairly straightforward as far as card valuations. Since there were no game breaking mechanics like Affinity or Madness that force you to look at your picks in a different light (although to be fair, soulshift does lead one down the road of janky guys occasionally) you can simply make your picks based on the quality of the cards as compared to older sets.

    Elijah knows a thing or two about older Limited formats. Elijah has been playing since the old Junior Pro Tour and had his greatest success with 2020 over two seasons where they finished second to Phoenix Foundation in one team Pro Tour and second to PS2 in the Venice Masters.

    His opponent was Shaun McLaren. Shaun was on a 7-0 run in Constructed after grinding in last night and running the tables this morning. He did not look happy about having to switch formats.

    Shaun's Skullsnatcher was dispatched with First Volley. Kuro's Taken for Shaun was followed by Elder Pine of Jukai from the former 2020 member. Shaun got in for one and silenced the Elder with Horobi's Whisper.

    Ronin Houndmaster got in for one. Shaun attacked again and taped our for Kemuri-Onna - Elijah pitched Scaled Hulk. Elijah sat back on his next turn with no play wary of the Onna. Shaun attacked and Elijah decided to block. With damage on the stack, Shaun burned a Veil of Secrecy to return the snidd-shaped creature to his hand.

    Elijah had been protecting something in his hand and it turned out to be Ryusei, the Falling Star. Kiri-Onna bounced it back and Elijah took one. He replayed the dragon next turn. The Onnas switched places and Elijah pitched a land. He got in for five in the air and played Burning-Eye Zubera and Dripping Tongue Zubera.

    Drippy stepped in the way of the Kemuri and when Kiri bounced the dragon this time its black cousin stuck around. Elijah got in for three with his red Zubera and replayed the dragon. Shaun bounced it by parlaying Shapeshifter into Kiri-Onna.

    Ryusei and Burning-Eye hoped to hold the fort down but Shaun bounced them both with Consuming Vortex and Kiri-Onna. The score was eleven to nine in Elijah's favor as he replayed his dragon for the umpteenth time.

    Patron of the Moon returned the Kiri-Onna and Shapeshifter got in for one. Elijah though long and hard about attacking with his dragon but ultimately sent it over to drop Shaun down to four. He added Haru-Onni and the Burning-Eye to his board. Shaun sighed and got in for five with his flier and bounced the dragon.

    Elijah replayed the dragon and added Kami of the Hunt - returning the green Onna - he needed Shaun to not have a spirit or arcane that cost three or fewer mana. Instead Shaun sent all of his men into the red zone. The fliers traded and all the ground pounders except for Kuro's Taken were killed. Elijah fell to three. Shaun hoped to break parity with Honden of Seeing Winds.

    Elijah drew a card and played Scaled Hulk. Peer through Depths for Counsel of the Soratami.

    Haru-Onna and Shinen of Fury's Fire dropped Shaun to two - he bounced the 8/8 Scaled Hulk off of his regenerator. Jade Idol joined the team. Exile into Darkness killed the hasty 2/2. Another black Onna took a land from Pollack's hand but he still had the card drawer in hand. It yielded him a Frostling which took out the taken and Shaun could not resist both the Scaled Hulk and animated Jade Idol.

    Game 2

    Shaun McLaren

    Shaun made the first play with Shapeshifter but had no third turn play other than attacking for one. Elijah played Cunning Bandit and laughed at his unfamiliarity with the new cards, which could have given his opponent a read on the cards in his hand. "I almost flipped this guy over in my hand to check on his other ability."

    Soratami Mindsweeper made a brief appearance but it was crisped with Spiraling Embers. Shaun upgraded to Shinen of Flight's Wings. Elijah turned on his Cunning Bandit with Blademane Baku and Kami of the Hunt.

    Shaun had no play. Elijah went to First Volley the Shapeshifter but was stymied by Veil of Secrecy. Elijah piled up Blademane counters with Gnarled Mass but forgot that he could not steal the Shapeshifter due to the Veil. He sent in everyone anyway and Shaun fell to two.

    A turn later Elijah turned all his guys to one side and attacked for the win and a 4-0 record.

    Elijah - 2 Shaun - 0

  • Friday, August 26: 6:01 pm - Canada is Burning

  • Mike Thicke

    Things are not going so well for the majority of the Pros in the room this weekend. Mark Zajdner started off 0-1 and after five rounds had only picked up one more win. Jeff Cunningham got off to a decent enough 2-1 start with his Tooth and Nail deck but despite a solid looking green-red draft had picked up two quick losses to kick off Limited.

    Mike Thicke was squaring off with Jason Olynyk in Feature Match area for round five. Mike was a member of the National team last year. Mike had started out 1-1-1 and had picked up his second win last round with a sharp looking blue-red draft deck. In Game 1 of his match with Jason - who qualified for the event at Manitoba Regionals - Mike was besieged by a ragtag army of black and white clerics, spirits, samurai, and insects (or insects and samurai for all you Oingo Boingo fans). Eventually Mike stabilized the ground but could not deal with a Moonwing Moth that eventually pecked him to death.

    Jason Olynyk

    Game 2 looked great for Thicke throughout as he came out of the gate very quickly while Jason scuffled for a second black mana. Mike thought he was swinging for the kill when he was able to Blind With Anger and Ogre Marauder and render one of Jason's remaining blockers ineligible with Kami of Fire's Roar. Mike Thicke sat stunned in his seat as the near certain victory was snatched away from him by the unexpected Curtain of Light allowing Jason to live through the turn at one light.

    Jason untapped and killed Mike from 14 with Dance of Shadows. Mike went on to lose again in the final round against Taylor Putnam to finish the day at 2-3-1.

    Jeff Cunningham

    Jeff Cunningham was looking to level out his day in the final round with the mirror record to his 2-1 in Standard. His opponent was Newell Chung who had Q'd for this event at his local Regional in Alberta. Jeff had a fine looking draw in the first game with Yamabushi's Flame and Torrent of Stone to clear the way for his creatures - one of which, Pain Kami, could double as removal. Unfortunately for Jeff his opponent played three straight Shimmering Glasskites to gum up the works.

    Jeff did his best to shoot down the fliers. His Akki Drillmaster gave him a way to target each turn but they just kept coming. There was one turn when Jeff went all in to deal the final two points of damage but Newell had Consuming Vortex for the unblocked guy. The board settled into parity but Newell drew better and his surviving Glasskite finished Jeff off.

    Newell Chung

    In the second game Jeff never saw a third land while Newell played creatures on every turn. Jeff conceded after discarding twice. After the match Newell revealed that his draft deck featured four Shimmering Glasskites.

    Jeff and Mark Zajdner both ended up with very disappointing 2-4 starts to their weekends. Four losses could make the Top 8 but neither player had any margin for error in the remaining six rounds. Michael Thicke was in the same boat but with a slightly better 2-3-1 record. All three players could easily end up at the same draft table tomorrow morning which would mean only one of them would have even the slightest chance at the Top 8.

    Murray Evan was at the same table as Jeff and posted a 2-1 record to finish Day One at 4-2. The winner of the table was Derek Denholm who had been quite nervous about drafting alongside the Canadian legends. Of the five big name favorites in attendance it was Elijah Pollack who sported the best record at 5-1.

  • Friday, August 26: 6:33 pm - A Deck Only John Shuler Could Love

  • One of the highlights (for me anyway) of Pro Tour Philadelphia was a befuddled John Shuler driving all the way to Philly simply to ask Jim Roy what the heck he was thinking. Jim had won a PTQ to get to Philly with an unusual ScepterTog deck that featured Metamorphose. More perplexingly, it also featured Rotting Giant in the sideboard. John could think of no possible reason for the Giant and waited until Philly to find the answer.

    Jim Roy

    Jim Roy was at it again this tournament with a deck so far outside the box that it might be obscured by the horizon line. Jim ended up going 1-2 with his mono-blue Beacon of Tomorrows deck. He 2-1'd his draft pod to go 3-3 on the day and right his ship. I am hoping the deck can come back and post some results tomorrow because it features plenty of under utilized cards in the current format and plays something like TurboStasis. I will definitely be doing a detailed piece on the deck tomorrow despite the poor showing thus far.

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