Saturday, April 8: 12:30 p.m. - Name dropping from the green half
Organizing more than 1200 players is a challenge. Especially when as many players do not speak English as they do at this GP, or when the Grand Prix is their first tournament. Of course, not only beginners and local players have travelled to the Catalonian capital to play for the honor, the money and the qualification to PT Prague.
Among the veterans of the Pro Tour who made the trip to Spain, Ben Seck is the name that sticks out most in the green half. The Ben Seck is Australia's most well known player. His last stop on the circuit was the draft Pro Tour in San Diego in 2004, where he finished 73rd. Others have had more recent success, like Wesimo Al-Bacha and Maximilian Bracht who featured prominently in PT: Honolulu piloting the Heartbeat deck.
Also here is Bernardo Da Costa Cabral from Belgium, who is aiming for his second Grand Prix Top 8 after the one in Leipzig last year. The green side also features more names who don't need introductions: Frank Karsten from the Netherlands, Antoine Ruel, Sebastien Roux and Raphael Levy from France, and Johan Sagdepour from Sweden.
Saturday, April 8: 1:40 p.m. - Local Players to Watch
Ricard Tuduri, Spanish GP winner
With over 900 local players, chances are good that the winner will be one of them. The most experienced of these is Alejandro Dominguez, who has played in more than twenty Pro Tours. He had quit Magic for a while, but came back when he heard about the announcement for Pro Tour Prague. He started on the PTQ circuit again, and has already managed to qualify.
Other players starting a comeback are Carlos Borrado, former National Champion, and Ricard Tuduri, winner of GP Valencia six years ago. Both had been suspended for two years, and are hoping they still have what it takes to win.
The only level three player in Spain right now is Javier Dominguez, who is trying to pick up a few more Pro Points at this tournament.
The current Spanish champion is Omar Rohner. The championship may not have been his biggest accomplishment in Magic, though - he taught his brother Adriano Rohner to play back in 2004, and Adriano managed to place second in his nationals only four months later.
Many will recognize the name Jacob Arias Garcia, who finished 9th in Honolulu, and is hoping for a little more luck with tie-breakers in Barcelona.
Saturday, April 8: 3:03 p.m. - Photo essay: Barcelona through the lens
Barcelona, the capital of the Spanish region Catalonia, sways gently under a mild breeze, as does this sailship in Barcelona's harbour.
Traffic in central Barcelona is heavy, so heavy that buses and taxis need their own lane.
From 16th century Spain, ships went out to America to find and explore the 'new world' across the ocean. Ports like Barcelona played an important role in this time.
La Rambla is Barcelona's main street for entertainment, culinary experiences and a relaxing stroll in the afternoon sun.
From the Playa de Catalunya to the harbour stretches La Rambla. The wide road is lined with trees, 16th century buildings and mime artists.
Mime artists on La Rambla have to go a long way to stand out from the crowd. This one has disguised himself as a rubbish heap and will only move if you throw money in his hat. Maybe remaining motionless is easier laying under a rubbish heap than standing on a pedestal?
Catalonians love their ham.
From the main street, tourists pour into the narrow lanes of the city, together with taxis, buses and all the wild traffic that clutters the streets of Barcelona.
The escalator that seemingly leads nowhere goes up to the castle in the backdrop of the venue the GP is being held in.
Saturday, April 8: 3:41 p.m. - Round 2 Feature Match: Ben Seck (AUS) vs. Rogier Kleij (NLD)
Ben Seck is the best known player from Australia. PT San Diego marked his last Pro Tour, in 2004. He came to GP Barcelona because "I happened to be around, you know", and came into the tournament with the one bye he gets for being a level one pro player. He spent the last one-and-a-half years as a game designer for "that other card-game", but still enjoys Magic whenever he gets around to play. Rogier Kleij is a Dutch player from Utrecht who has made day two at GP Kopenhagen last year, but is still on the lookout for a major success.
Ben Seck wins the die roll and choses to play. The Australian is happy with his initial seven, while the Dutchman goes down to six. "Not very good", Ben comments, as Rogier takes yet another mulligan and keeps his five.
Ghost Warden from Ben Seck marks the first play of a game that starts out real slow. Rogier answers with a Nightguard Patrol, and Ben keeps up the pressure with an end of turn Seed Spark. Golgari Rotwurm fits nicely into the Australian's curve. Rogier lays another land and doesn't look too happy as he stares at the Wurm. The stare made the Wurm look like a target, though, as a Pillory on the Rotwurm and a Gruul Guildmage even things out a bit on Rogier's end.
Conclave Equenaut puts more pressure on the board for Ben. A Lightning Helix from Rogier tries to take down the Equenaut, but it is saved by the Ghost Warden instead of dying - after the match, Rogier admitted that he simply missed that. Rotwurm sacks itself, and Pillory of the Sleepless from Ben incapacitates Rogier's Nightguard Patrol. Nothing to really worry Rogier, who brings Sandsower with Fists of the Ironwood to the table. He is well ahead in the race to more permanents, as a Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree and a Greater Mossdog add to his offense. Vitu-Ghazi does not crank out tokens yet, which Rogier might come to regret later in this game...
With life totals at 13 for Rogier and 15 for Ben, things look about even but the Sandsower makes any successful attack from Ben difficult. Presetnly, he dispatches the tapper with a Putrefy and hopes that the Pillory still sitting on Rogier's Nightguard Patrol will allow him to win the slow race, slowed down even further by a Benevolent Ancestor on Ben's side.
Mourning Thrull gives Rogier a vital flier. Nevertheless, Courier Hawk and Conclave Equenaut take Rogier to 7. Then Ben passes the turn with six mana untapped and three cards in hand, and Rogier tales his time to consider his options. Gruul Guildmage allows him to potentially deal a lot of damage with his eight open mana, two of which are red. Ben blocks the Thrull, the Greater Mossdog and a Fists token. Gruul Guildmage makes the Mourning Thrull bigger, and with only eight life Ben and his army are in danger of being wiped out soon, before the Pillory can do Rogier in.
Stinkweed Imp joins Rogier's ranks and takes out Conclave Equenaut. The situations look dire for Ben Seck but a timely Hour of Reckoning leaves only one of Rogier's 1/1 tokens on the board. The Hour is followed up with Screeching Griffin, and it looks like rogier's Vitu-Ghazi will not be fast enough to stop the flying beats. As Ben Seck puts down a Skeletal Vampire like he's never done anything else in his life, the game is over. Ben: "I like the art, because you are always happy when you see it!" Rogier doesn't like it as much and scoops up his cards instead.
Comments Ben after the game, "What a fight for a double mulligan!" And Rogier points out his misplay: "That Helix -- the moment I played it, I thought "wait a second...'"
Ben Seck 1 - Rogier Kleij 0
The second game starts with a mutual "good luck" and Rogier gives Ben the right to play first. Ben seizes the opportunity and leads with a turn two Ghost Warden, prompting Rogier: "Him again!" as he drops a bounce land, which he calls "a Time Walk for one damage" (from the Ghost Warden). Restless Bones joins his side and runs into battle with a regeneration shield on it. Elves of Deep Shadow and another bounce land enable Rogier to drop a Selesnya Evangel and an Ostiary Thrull, while Ben Seck is stuck on two Plains and a Forest, discarding.
His next turn Benevolent Ancestor is matched by Nightguard Patrol from Rogier. The active Evangel and Rogier's Lightning Helix on the Ghost Warden make Ben take eight damage on the attack, drop him down to 9 life and putting him one attack from dying. Hour of Reckoning can't save him either in this game, as he has just four lands. Carven Caryatid makes a half-hearted effort, but the Evangel token army and the rest of Rogier's forces bring Ben down to 4 life despite the carved wall. The fifth land and a Belfry Spirit cannot prevent Seck from lethal damage, and he scoops.
Ben Seck 1 - Rogier Kleij 1
With ten minutes left in the round, Ben chooses to draw and Rogier leads off in the first turns with a 2/2 beater, shortly joined by Mourning Thrull and Greater Mossdog. Ben has his four lands but can only say go, and Rogier takes him to nine life while sitting at a comfortable 22. Ben hasn't even made a play yet as Shrieking Grotesque forces him to discard (a Forest - "easy", smiles Ben). With eight power against him and not a play in sight despite his five lands, the Australian scoops up the cards in his first match of the day.
Ben Seck 1 - Rogier Kleij 2
The players talk a bit about their match, and Ben shows his opening hand from Game 3: 2x Swamp, 2x Forest, Plains, Belfry Spirit and Hour of Reckoning. "I can't mulligan this", he sighs, but maybe he should have: His next draws were three land, Skeletal Vampire, Conclave Equenaut and Belfry Spirit before Rogier had overwhelmed him.
Saturday, April 8: 4:20 p.m. - Feature match round 4: Anton Jonsson - Juan Carlos Adebo Diaz
In this round, we have a feature match between one of the best limited players in Spain, Juan Carlos Adebo Diaz, and one of the best limited players in the world, Anton Jonsson from Sweden. Juan was top-ranked in Spain for many month until losing points in the PTQ-circuit. Both were playing the popular color-combination white-green-black, with small splashes for extra power.
Each player started quite slow, very typical for this format, by playing lots of different lands and mana-fixers before putting anything of significance on the table. For Anton, it was a Bramble Elemental and a Carven Caryatid, which clogged the ground up real good, while Juan build a flying offense with Screeching Griffin, Blind Hunter, and Courier Hawk. The Hawk might have looked puny to begin with, but after it got enchanted by Moldervine Cloak, it was the dominant creature on offense and defense. Anton had no answer for it, and when Juan added a Ghost Council of Orzhov to his side, Anton just scooped instead of playing it out.
Game 2 started like Game 1, with both players fixing their mana and playing a few random dorks. It got a lot more exciting when Juan played Firemane Angel, and Anton answered with Skeletal Vampire. The Vampire even got enchanted by Necromancer's Magemark. Using the Vampire as token generator, Anton recruited quite a large number of creatures, which made the Plagued Rusalka he played particularly dangerous. Juan got a token generator of his own, Selesnya Evangel, but was forced to use his creatures as chump-blockers against Anton's Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, and eventually had to concede against all the bat tokens.
Juan Carlos Adebo Diaz
In the deciding game, Anton started out very aggressively, with Transluminant, Druid Sophisticate and Greater Mossdog, enchanted by Necromancer's Magemark. Juan answered with Last Gasp on the Transluminant and a Centaur Safeguard enchanted by Moldervine Cloak to hold of the other two from attacking. The Safeguard eventually traded with the Mossdog, and Anton could add three saprolings by playing Scatter the Seeds. Juan then cleared the board with a Savage Twister. Anton got back the Mossdog, but it cost him the Skeletal Vampire, which was lurking at the top of his library. Juan presented another gamebreaker: Woodwraith Corrupter. He used it to create two more 4/4 creatures, and Anton's lonely Mossdog couldn't do anything else but look at his master getting torn into pieces.
Juan Carlos Adebo Diaz defeats Anton Jonsson, 2-1
Saturday, April 8: 4:33 p.m. - Round 4 feature match: Andreas Andreou [GRC] vs. Tiago Chan [PRT]
Andreas plays first, and both players match their plays with the first drops being a Wojek Embermage on each side. The match proceeds in silence, as a Keening Banshee with Gaze of the Gorgon from Andreas takes out Tiago's Fist of the Ironwood tokens and the Embermage in combat. Tiago tries to refil his board with a non-bloodthirsted Gruul Savage, but Andreas has the Douse in Gloom for it.
Tiago refills his hand with Izzet Chronarch, getting back Compulsive Research. Both players drop lands but not much else. Tiago tries a Scab-Clan Mauler which is promptly exited by a Darkblast from Andreas. Pyromatics takes out Andreas' Banshee, and the Gruul Guildmage Tiago has sticks for the moment and promises to make life difficult indeed for the Greek, and Izzet Chronach gains unblockability from an Infiltrator's Magemark.
The match rolls on in silence, broken only by Tiago's "two, and two" from a reolicated second Pyromatics which takes out Thoughtpicker Witch and Wojek Embermage on Andreas's side, leaving him with only Izzet Chronarch to match Tiago's board of Chronarch and Gruul Guildmage. The two creatures enter imaginary red zone and Andreas blocks Gruul Guildmage with his Chronarch despite Tiago's possible double pump. Andreas has no tricks and his nine life face Tiago's six on an empty board. Tiago adds Elves of Deep Shadow and Gelectrode to wrap this up as soon as possible.
But Andreas isn't done in yet. He fights back, bouncing the Chronarch with Ogre Savant and Darkblasting Gruul Guildmage into oblivion, then trading his Savant with Tiago's Elves of Deep Shadow (supported by Gelectrode). Fists of Ironwood go on Tiago's Chronarch and proceed to smash face, a point at a time, and Tiago wraps it up with yet another Pyromatics.
Andreas Andreous 0 - 1 Tiago Chan
The second game starts as silently as the first one, the background rumblings of the GP broken only by the sound of Tiago shuffling up for his mulligan.
Andreas opens with land and no drops for his first three turns, while Tiago is off to a blazing start with War-Torch Goblin and Farseek. Steamcore Weird is the first, but solid play Andreas makes, killing the fiery Goblin dead. The Weird acquires Fists of Ironwood from Tiago, but the two tokens are not really a match for the Wojek Embermage for Andreas, and Infiltrator's Magemark doesn't exactly help. It's enough to attract a Douse in Gloom from Andreas, even on a Saproling token, and Tiago's board is empty. A Gruul Scrapper he tries meets a fast and fiery death from an Electrolyze Andreas peels.
Desperately, Tiago digs for answers or even just a play with a Flight of Fancy on Andreas' Embermage, finding him an Embermage of his own only to have it die to Keening Banshee. Now facing four damage a turn, Tiago goes to six. None of his creatures seem to want to hang around: His Gruul Guildmage meets Disembowel, and Tiago packs it up with a ton of lands and nothing else on the board.
Andreas Andreous 1 - 1 Tiago Chan
Game 3 begins with Tiago taking a mulligan and the judge announcing that the round ends in ten minutes. Tiago plays first but has no drop to make and, worse, also misses his third land drop with a frown. He peels a Plains (sideboarded in together with Absovler Thrull) from the top of his deck and thinks about his play, seemingly a little desperate and finally bringing down Courier Hawk. But Andreas continues to keep Tiago's board threat-light and kills the bird with a Steamcore Weird. Again, Tiago enchants it with Fists of Ironwood. Clearly, Andreas really wants to keep the board empty, taking out the two Saprolings with double Sparkmage Apprentice.
Tiago follows it up with Ostiary Thrull. A creature for Tiago Chan? No way, thinks Andreas, and blasts the Thrull with Electrolyze. Tiago puts down both Gruul Guildmage and Roofstalker Wight. Disembowel and Clinging Darkness kill those, too, accompanied by impressed groans from the audience. Another Ostiary Thrull meets Ogre Savant, and Tiago is slightly annoyed. Andreas parries blow by blow and Tiago could not make anything stick for longer than a turn yet. The life totals show this with 20 to 13 in Andreas' favor.
Tiago's next attempt at a threat is Absolver Thrull. Alas, in the face of an attack from Andreas' entire board of Ogre Savant, Steamcore Weird and double Sparkmage, Tiago sees himself forced to block the Savant and the Thrull goes the way of his fellow creatures.
Izzet Chronarch for Disembowel means that Tiago's next creature will not live long, either. Time is called while Tiago musters Ostiary Thrull and Orzhov Euthanist. The Thrull gets Disemboweled in the first extra turn, and the lone Orzhov Euthanist stands in the way of Andreas' Alpha strike. Tiago is at 7 (Andreas at a healty 20) and faces down exactly 7 damage. Euthanist blocks Chronarch and Haunts a Sparkmage, and the Portugese goes to 2 life. Does he have Pyromatics to kill Andreas' board? No, and he extends the hand.
Andreas Andreous 2 - 1 Tiago Chan
The only comment Andreas could make after the match was: " There are no win conditions in my deck, only removal." That's certainly how the games played out. Tiago was dejected and expected no good performance from his blue-green-red deck: "I'm going to go 0-3 for sure", he predicted for his deck, which has no mana fixers apart from a single Farseek and nothing to offer, really.
Saturday, April 8: 5:50 p.m. - Confusion in the names
How many Garcias may be among these players?
Grand Prix happen all over the world, and every country has its own quirks. Here in Spain, players' names have led to confusion all day long, especially during registration. Apart from many similar and identical surnames, Spanish naming tradition also means that many players have more than one name they use regularly. It's common to see three players with the same name on the pairings boards. If you shouted certain names across the hall, whole rows of players might think you called them.
Here is a list of the most common surnames among the 1200+ players at GP Barcelona:
Garcia - 22
Fernandes/Fernandez - 19
Martinez - 18
Rodrigues/Rodriguez - 18
Lopez - 15
Gonzales - 12
Sanchez - 11
Saturday, April 8: 6:26 p.m. - Feature Match round 6: Franck Canu - Carlos Sanchez Brito
Carlos Sanchez Brito
Carlos is one of the countless locals in this tournament, and got here from Galicia. He had managed to go 5-0 without any byes, and was now playing Franck Canu, a veteran of the Pro Tour, struggling to get back on the train. Carlos had a solid green-white-black deck with Ghost Council of Orzhov as the only outstanding card, while Franck had to add a fourth color to his black-blue-red deck to play with Savage Twister.
Franck started with a mulligan, but could overcome the card disadvantage with Consult the Necrosages, Ribbons of Night and Flight of Fancy. He also played a bit of removal, and soon Carlos' offense was down to a Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree that produced a few tokens. Franck had a Tattered Drake that convinced the saprolings it would not be a good idea to attack, so Carlos just kept on making more, until he played Putrefy on the Drake and attacked for seven. Franck had a Savage Twister to clear the board, but that didn't prevent Carlos from making more tokens. Franck got Vedalken Entrancer as a blocker, and Carlos traded a token for a few points of damage each turn, until he got the powerful Ghost Council of Orzhov, which, as it turned out, was a rather good combo with Vitu-Ghazi. Franck couldn't overcome this, but kept on playing as long as he could, to get the Entrancer to reveal as much of Carlos' library as possible.
Franck held a one land, one signet hand after a lot of thinking, but had to discard once before he drew his second land. Meanwhile Carlos had a fast start with Veteran Armorer, Daggerclaw Imp and Centaur Safeguard. He even had Withstand for the Douse in Gloom Franck played, and it looked like the game was over already. At three life, Franck got a Disembowel for the Armorer and a Rain of Embers for the other two creatures, but he had no way to keep on dealing with the Stinkweed Imp that entered play on Carlos' side a little later.
Carlos Sanchez Brito defeats Franck Canu, 2-0
Saturday, April 8: 6:41 p.m. - Why Are You So Slow?
For some reason, I have been much more interested in what other people think of the Grand Prix coverage since I started doing writing for this site. One thing people complain a lot about is the speed of the updates. Why are there no feature matches until after noon? Why aren't the results published as soon as you have them? Why isn't the feature match for round x online at the same time as the results for that round?
Hanno tries to type faster
First of all, the reason why we rarely write about interesting feature matches before around 5 pm is usually this: There aren't any. A good feature match includes at least one and preferably two well-known players, and most of these have three byes, so they will not get to play until round four.
At most European Grand Prix, the players get to register the day before the event, or until 9 am on the morning of the event. Most players think that it is an extremely good idea to show up at 8:55. When everybody is registered, the scorekeepers need to divide up the tournaments into two - at least in Europe. This takes almost half an hour. Then people have to register card pools and create their decks. In an event like this one in Spain, where ten percent of the participants didn't have a DCI-number two days ago, it may take somewhat longer then elsewhere. Round one then finally starts some time after noon, and with an average round length of maybe 65 minutes at the big Grand Prix, this means that round four will not start until 4 pm.
At this point, the feature matches start. So the players get to play for almost an hour, while the reporter sits and writes. After the game, he has to finish his writing, maybe look up some facts and card names, read it a few times to weed out the errors, find a picture, and send the whole stuff to the editor, who then finally publishes it. Sometimes, when the game is long, the writer can't finish the article before the next round starts, and when there is a feature match that just can't be missed, the current one is put on hold and completed when there is time.
So I hope you can understand why the articles do not come instantly. As for pairings, results etc., the scorekeepers upload these files from the DCI-reporter. However, as their main responsibility is to keep the tournament running, the upload isn't always very high on the priority list. Usually, they have time to send in results for round x just after the start of round x+1 - but sometimes they are busy with other things, and it is just more important to not delay the tournament more than necessary.
Saturday, April 8: 7:07 p.m. - The Idea Box
Head Judge David Vogin and the idea box
The European Grand Prix staff has had an idea box for the last few events now, and I think I should mention it here so that more people can use it at the next tournaments. There haven't been too many suggestions yet, but some of the better ones have been implemented already, like a separate registration line for level three players. One thing the staff has not yet decided to do is to hand out free beer vouchers to players, like it was suggested by an Irish bloke at GP Cardiff two weeks ago...
Saturday, April 8: 7:38 p.m. - Two-Hatted Giant
Ben Goodman, one of the creators of Ghost Dad, styles himself Ridiculous Hat. Well, he does have competition now, by the name of Anthony Dorle from France:
A great influence on the hat wear of the modern Magic player came from Pro Tour Honululu. The fancy Hawaiian shirts go well with a straw hat, and Martin Scheinin and Arias Jacob have pounced on the opportunity to wear the hats they purchased in Hawaii:
And a group of Germans have also taken to the hats today, among them the leading player in the Rookie of the Year race, Wesimo Al-Bacha. He even wears a matching jacket, looking pretty comfortable. While he is not on his best game today, he is currently winning the award for best-dressed GP player of the day:
Saturday, April 8: 8:08 p.m. - Feature Match round 7: Jose Barbero - Jelger Wiegersma
Jose was playing a solid three colors, red, green, and blue, while Jelger had found enough mana-fix to play all five.
They started off small, building up some mana, but then Jose brought out the big guns and had Streetbreaker Wurm and Ogre Savant stare down a helpless Ghost Warden. Jelger tried finding something to put in the way, but it seemed like Jose always had that extra trick that would make his Wurm survive. Jelger finally got rid of it, but by then his board was empty, and Jose had Centaur Safeguard, Wee Dragonauts and Ghor-Clan Savage, which made the situation hopeless for Jelger - or almost hopeless, as a well-timed Savage Twister leveled the playing field. Jelger mounted an almost epic comeback, with a Conclave Equenaut and a Gruul Nodorog, but he was very low on life, and just when he got his hopes up, Jose revealed Galvanic Arc, ending the game.
Jose was in the offense early on in the second game, with Elvish Skysweeper and Vinelasher Kudzu, but he was stuck on three lands for a bit, which didn't really improve the Kudzu, and gave Jelger the time to get going. He played Golgari Rotwurm and Conclave Equenaut in consecutive turns, and controlled the board, although his flier would be in great danger once Jose found an extra land and a creature suitable to sacrifice to the Skysweeper. Sparkmage Apprentice appeared to be such a creature, but Jelger had Disembowel for the Elf before enough mana was ready. He then upgraded the Wurm to a Dragon with Flight of Fancy, and Jose had no way to deal with this monster.
Once again Jose opened with an early Kudzu that couldn't live up to it's potential due to a lack of lands and a timely Repeal. The players started trading creatures and a bit of damage, but no one was in a dominating position until Jose revealed a Streetbreaker Wurm, that got enchanted by Galvanic Arc shortly after it hit play. Jelger again had the Savage Twister. Time had run low, and neither player had enough strength left to win the game, although Jose got very close with a Viashino Fangtail.
Saturday, April 8: 8:22 p.m. - Round 7 feature match: Mark marks the match
Although Omar is originally from Switzerland, he has been living in Madrid for five years now and is the reigning Spanish national champion. The 22-year old also taught his 19-year old brother to play, who made Top 8 at GP Sevilla after playing the game for just four months, and finished second in last year's Spanish nationals.
Jacob goes first but has his first drop, a Roofstalker Wight, in his fourth turn. Keening Banshee from Omar takes it out. Farseek for Jacob searches up his Stomping Ground, which together with the Watery Grave he already has in play makes a nice addition to the table as well as his collection. Omar has a Nullmage Shepherd to go with the Banshee, and Jacob answers with Elves of Deep Shadow and Vedalken Entrancer. Blind Hunter and Mark of Eviction on the Vedalken put Omar ahead, but Jacob pulls a Golgari Rotwurm to get rid of the mighty Mark and his Vedalken.
The joy of having a Rotwurm is not for long, though, as Omar quickly disembowels the game-turning Wurm. Attacking with Shepherd, Blind Hunter and Banshee puts the life totals to 8 to 21 in Omar's favor. Jacob repeals the Banshee but has to put his Elf in the way of the attack to stay alive. Omar taps out for a Belltower Sphinx and it doesn't look as if Jacob's deck delivered what he needed, so Jacob scoops up the cards and Omar wins a quick eight-minute game!
Omar Rohner 1 - 0 Jacob Arias Garcia
No mulligans in the second game. Jacob puts the first money on the table in the form of Watery Grave, but Omar has the first threat, an Orzhov Euthanist. All Jacob has is a Mourning Thrull, which is helpful though because it enables the bloodthirst on a Ghor-Clan Savage. Omar answers the threat with a beast of his own, a Siege Wurm, but that falls victim to the tempo-stealing Ogre Savant from Jacob.
Jacob Arias Garcia
Omar seems not worried as he Disembowels the Savage and puts Mark of Eviction on the flying Thrull. His Orzhov Euthanist and Jacob's Ogre Savant stare each other down, while the life totals are at an undecided 13 (Omar) to 18 (Jacob). The Euthanist is killed and Mark comes down on the Savant, which comes back to bounce a Siege Wurm from Omar. Belltower Sphinx from Omar is met with a block from the Savant and a timely Electrolyze from Jacob, taking five cards to the grave with it. The only thing left on the board is Jacob's Mourning Thrull. The game picks up again as Jacob summons a Golgari Rotwurm, but Omar has Keening Banshee taking out the Mourning Thrull and of course the Mark of Eviction that promptly bounces Jacob's Wurm.
The Mark makes it difficult for Jacob to keep up in this game while Omar has a Daggerclaw Imp. Jacob tries, makes Mortipede and replays the Rotwurm. It doesn't help, as both creatures can't evade the Mark and it's Siege Wurm and a newly cast Scion of the Wild from Omar against nothing from Jacob. He recovers a bit with an Ogre Savant bouncing Scion and Flight of Fancy on it, but he can't keep up and his six life is not enough buffer against Mark of Eviction invalidating his potential offense. Omar makes Dimir House-Guard, Jacob casts Tattered Drake but it's just for show as Scatter the Seeds from Omar makes Jacob extend the hand!
Omar Rohner 2 - 0 Jacob Arias Garcia
Saturday, April 8: 8:57 p.m. - Feature Match Round 9: Roustam Bakirov (RUS)- Antonio Sirvent (ESP)
Roustam Bakirov is the only Russian ever to win a big title - he became Grand Prix Leipzig 2005 champion almost exactly a year ago.
Antonio Sirvent is no stranger to success as well, with Pro Tour top 16 under his belt (from PT Atlanta last year.)
Both players had 18 points, and most likely had to win to make day two. There was a small chance they might make it with a draw, but neither one was willing to risk it.
Antonio almost received a game loss at the beginning of the match, as he wasn't aware that he would be featured. He was found in his place in time though, so the game could start without any penalties.
After a mulligan on each side, Roustam came out a bit stronger with Centaur Safeguard and Ostiary Thrull, as well as an obvious pump-spell, when he attacked with both creatures into Antonio's Agent of Masks. Antonio didn't take the bait, and waited a turn until he had Disembowel ready, which sure enough countered a Wildsize. Now it was time to build some armies, and Roustam was better equipped for that, with Fists of Ironwood and Belfry Spirit. The Spirit proved to be to much for Antonio to overcome, as his only flier, a Conclave Equenaut, was being tapped by the Ostiary Thrull before each attack.
Antonio opened strong in Game 2 with Gruul Guildmage, one of the better representatives of his profession. It traded two-for-one with Absolver Thrull and Druid Sophisticate, and Antonio kept the initiative with a Dimir House Guard that used it's fear to power up a Ghor-Clan Savage the next turn. Roustam found a solution in Ostiary Thrull, but it turned against him when it was enchanted by Pillory of the Sleepless. With very little life left, Roustam was desperate with getting rid of the Pillory, and didn't use the Thrull's ability before the next attack, planning to chumpblock with the disloyal beast. Obviously, that didn't work, and he quickly conceded when his error was pointed out.
Antonio got to start going into the deciding game, but slumped into his chair after having to take two mulligans. Roustam took one of his own for fairness' sake, and then the game was on. Both were trying to race with some smaller creatures, Ghost Warden and Gruul Guildmage on Antonio's side, and Centaur Safeguard and Elvish Skysweeper on the other. Roustam couldn't resist playing a Pillory on the Ghost Warden when he saw the chance for some quick damage, and was promptly punished when Antonio got a pumped-up Ghor-Clan Savage the next turn. Roustam couldn't deal with it, and died with exactly zero life on the last extra turn.
Antonio Sirvent defeats Roustam Bakirov, 2-1, and advances to day two.
Saturday, April 8: 9:33 p.m. - Day 1 Wrap
Day one of Grand Prix Barcelona is done, over and finished! So are many of the players. After a slow start, this gigantic Grand Prix (in a trade fair hall that is more than 100 years old no less!) went off smoothly. A couple of well-known players have made it to day 2. Leading the pack in the green bracket are Johan Sadeghpour from Sweden and Ricard Tuduri from Spain, both racking up 27 points. The blue bracket has one player at 27 points, Aniol Alcaraz from Spain.
Among the 53 Spanish players who made it to day two, the Germans stand out as a group that is performing exceptionally well. Probably carried by the recent success of their countrymen at PT Honululu, 13 out of 42 Germans made it to the draft day. The second biggest group tomorrow are the 22 French players out of 109, among them Raphael Levy and Olivier Ruel, whose brother Antoine missed out.
We will bring you the draft action from the Fira de Barcelona from tomorrow morning until the end of this Grand Prix. Stay tuned how the country breakdown will be reflected in the T8! Cheer with the players who are the only representatives of their countries tomorrow: Nicolai Herzog from Norway, Ben Seck from Australia, Tuomo Nieminen from Finland, and last but not least Bojan Zunko from Slovenia!