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Day 2 Blog Archive

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TABLE OF CONTENTS


  • Blog - 5:50 p.m.: On the Road with edt
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 5:34 p.m.: Round 14: Gerard Fabiano vs. Dave Shiels
    by Tim Aten
  • Blog - 4:51 p.m.: Round 13: Sam Gomersall vs. Gadiel Szleifer
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 3:23 p.m.: Round 12: Mark Herberholz vs. Tom LaPille
    by Tim Aten
  • Blog - 2:02 p.m.: Round 11: Mike Krumb vs. Antonino De Rosa
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 1:39 p.m.: Day 2 Metagame Breakdown and Four Rogue Decklists
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 11:27 a.m.: Round 9: Antonino De Rosa vs. Alex Lieberman
    by Tim Aten

  • BLOG

     
  • Sunday, December 18: 11:27 a.m. - Round 9: Antonino De Rosa vs. Alex Lieberman


  • Today's feature match action opens with a contest between two good friends sporting identical decklists. Antonino De Rosa needs little introduction. In addition to being the reigning U.S. National Champion, De Rosa had a rather successful weekend in Yokohama; he finished 2nd in the teams portion and top 32 in the individual portion. Alex Lieberman is another member of the infamous Seven Kings team. De Rosa himself had long called Lieberman "the best U.S. player that no one knows about," but after the past year, the last part of the title probably needs to be revised.

    These men are proven constructed masters, each having won a Grand Prix last season. Since the Kings are sitting at 7-1, there's a good chance that the winner of this match will repeat that feat. The Pros are playing what is likely the best deck in the format, the ill-nasty Ichorid dredge deck.

    Game 1

    Lieberman got to kick things off, albeit with a 6-card hand. He played a Polluted Delta and passed, then Antonino "entered the tank" for a solid minute before even playing his land. The Ichorid deck is quite explosive, but one must really work to maximize its potential; any misstep can cost a player the game. (Besides, if the game's only going to last a few turns, one might as well take the time to consider one's plays carefully). Lieberman played a turn 2 Zombie Infestation to answer Antonino's turn 1 Putrid Imp. Antonino then cast Tolarian Winds, chaining several dredge creatures and filling his graveyard. He attacked for 2, then flashed back Cabal Therapy naming Psychatog. Lieberman made a Zombie token in response by pitching an Ichorid and a Psychatog. Antonino, unfazed by Lieberman's ruse, named Psychatog anyway; Alex in fact had another one that he was forced to discard. Since Antonino's prior dredging action had netted him 3 Ichorids, Alex wasted little time scoopin' em up.

    De Rosa 1 Lieberman 0

    Game 2

    Alex played a Watery Grave tapped, and once again Antonino spent a long time thinking before even making a land drop. Antonino ultimately fetched an Overgrown Tomb, imprinted an Ichorid on a Chrome Mox, and dropped into play the Kings' mirror match tech--Compost. Lieberman had to content himself with a turn 3 Psychatog. Antonino cast Careful Study and answered back with a Tog of his own. Alex debated the pros and cons of going all-in with his Psychatog before sucking it up and going for it. After a Tolarian Winds and a lot of dredging, he managed to fill his graveyard enough to make Tog lethal and find a Filth to make said Tog unblockable.

    De Rosa 1 Lieberman 1

    Game 3

    De Rosa and The Wolf chat about Ant's win.

    Each player mulliganed, then it was Alex's turn to start the game with a Compost in play. De Rosa played one of his own, then Lieberman dropped a Psychatog. Antonino then played a Zombie Infestation. Lieberman sent Big Toofs into the red zone before playing another, and Antonino played one of his own. A Deep Analysis and Flashback over the next few turns netted Alex several extra cards, making his Togs much more potent than Antonino's, while De Rosa played another Compost. Somehow, even after several turns of hot Tog-on-Tog action, neither player allowed the other to draw any cards off Compost.

    Each player played a Stinkweed Imp, then the two spent several turns passing without attacking or playing any spells. Time ran out before Lieberman could break through with his Psychatogs. On his first turn of extra time, Lieberman commented that he had a plan, but he decided to sit tight for the turn. Antonino drew a card and passed.

    At the start of Lieberman's second turn, Lieberman had two Togs, two Stinkweed Imps, and 13 life to Antonino's Infestation, Stinkweed Imp, and 9 life. Nothing of relevance was in either player's graveyard. Lieberman tapped all but one of his mana sources to hardcast an Ichorid and attacked with all his men. Antonino made a Zombie token, blocked the Togs, and went down to 4 from the unblocked creatures.

    At the end of the turn, up to seven cards in hand compliments of his Composts, Antonino decided to make a move. He cast Tolarian Winds, milling almost his entire deck--including all four Ichorids--in the process. With the three Zombie tokens he would be able to make, Antonino actually found more than enough damage to kill Lieberman on his final turn. If Alex had played more conservatively, he would have been able to Coffin Purge all of Antonino's Ichorids and likely force the draw. He didn't seem to mind too much; since one of the friends would enter round 10 with an 8-1 record, at least one of them would have a very good chance of making Top 8.

    Antonino De Rosa wins 2-1.


     
  • Sunday, December 18: 1:39 p.m. - Day 2 Metagame Breakdown and Four Rogue Decklists


  • Friggorid 11
    Boros Deck Wins 8
    Heartbeat Combo 6
    Affinity 6
    Rock Variations 9
    (Gifts Rock) 4
    (Aggro Rock) 4
    (THE Rock (Sol Malka)) 1
    CAL 3
    Tooth and Nail 2
    U/W Control 2
    G/W Aggro 2
    Scepter Chant 2
    PT Junk 2
    Psychatog 2
    Rift/Slide 1
    Chapin.dec 1
    B/W Control 1
    Aggro Green 1
    Squirrel Opposition 1
    Deep Dog 2005 1

    There were some worries that the transition to new Extended would ruin last year's incredible format, where there were seemingly limitless possibilities in terms of good, viable decks and your options for deck constructed were limited only by your imagination. I think it is now safe to say that things are as good as they ever were, due at least in part to the bevy of Ravnica dual lands that are currently available, and it only gets better through the rest of the block. Here's the Day 2 metagame breakdown for the last Grand Prix of this Extended season:

    As proof of this, here are four decklists that are a bit off the beaten path, but ones that were still good enough to land their players in Day 2. Who knows, these might even be the archetypes that will turn into the best decks after Guildpact and Dissension are released.





    Squirrel Opposition
    Troy Brestel





     
  • Sunday, December 18: 2:02 p.m. - Round 11: Mike Krumb vs. Antonino De Rosa


  • Even from an odd angle, Krumb is stylin'.

    When all the other undefeateds were voted off the island, Mike Krumb was the last undefeated left standing. With four rounds left to play, Krumb is a virtual lock for an invitation to Hawaii, but he still needs at least one more win to earn a Top 8 spot. His opponent is Antonino De Rosa, current U.S. National Champion, multiple time Grand Prix winner, and loveable buffoon. Both players are running the Ichorid deck today, which seems to either mean that this match will go quickly, or we will be here until the full time.

    Both players took a long time thinking over their opening hands before choosing to keep them. "Alright, I'm all-in," said De Rosa on turn 1, playing two imprinted Chrome Moxes and a first turn Zombie Infestation without laying a land. Krumb played an Infestation of his own, but actually had the Watery Grave to go along with his Mox. De Rosa got his dredge engine going early while Krumb had to use Tolarian Winds to dig for his, failing to find a dredge card but casting a Psychatog instead, giving him a clear upper hand. Krumb found a Grave-Troll two turns later, and that combined with dredgariffic Deep Analysis action plus Cephalid Coliseum meant De Rosa was very dead.

    Keeping a questionable hand and not drawing a land is a recipe for death.

    Krumb 1 - De Rosa 0

    Both players kept one-land, no Mox draws for game 2 and then whined throughout the early turns about how bad their hands were. De Rosa really needed a single land to turn his hand into gold, but failed to find either a land or Mox for the first four turns. "As you can see," observed Krumb, "I'm playing a Putrid Imp this turn and I haven't drawn any cards, so I may have had that in my hand when I passed last turn (with black mana open). See… this is how I got all those bad nicknames about myself. They are all true." It didn't matter, since neither player drew a land for the rest of the game and De Rosa died from repeated Imps to the face.

    Krumb 2 - De Rosa 0


     
  • Sunday, December 18: 3:23 p.m. - Round 12: Mark Herberholz vs. Tom LaPille


  • Mark Herberholz made Top 8 in a constructed Pro Tour this year and a limited Pro Tour last year, but this gives little insight into the extent of his mastery. No, to see the true Mark Herberholz in action, one must watch his compelling performance on The Price Is Right. Not even Bob Barker could contain himself. In addition, "Herberheezy" has run the "not paying" for sums exceeding $400,000...but we won't get into that. Someone should probably write a biography. Meticulous Ohio player Tom LaPille has had a great deal of success in the Ohio Valley PTQ circuit but has yet to make a splash on the Pro Tour. He didn't win any matches at this year's PTLA, but he did earn a slot for Hawaii at the grueling Day 2 PTQ. Herberholz is playing Aggro Rock, while Tom is with the insidious Ichorid deck. Both players are 9-2, so a victory here would go a long way toward clinching a Top 8 berth.

    Game 1

    Herberholz's turn 1 Therapy for Putrid Imp missed, but his turn 2 play of Withered Wretch with a mana up--courtesy of Chrome Mox--was a bit more impressive. Unfazed, Tom cast an end step Tolarian Winds, dredging back a Grave-Troll in the process. Because of pain lands, fetch lands, and a flashed back Deep Analysis, Herberholz's first swing with the Wretch put Tom down to 12. Mark missed with another Therapy, saw a mittful of Ichorids, played a Jitte, and passed the turn. Over the next few turns, Tom played a Zombie Infestation and a Stinkweed Imp while Herberholz found a Mongrel to carry his Jitte and set his Wretch to work cleaning out Tom's graveyard. Mark then Putrefied the Stinkweed Imp and sent in with the Jitted Mongrel. Naturally, Umezawa's Jitte is one of the cards the Ichorid player does not want to see. LaPille tried to fight back with Zombie tokens and a Grave-Troll, but between the Jitte and the Wretch, LaPille was facing too much pressure.

    Herberholz 1 LaPille 0

    Game 2

    LaPille seemed rather frustrated that he had to mulligan to start off the second game, while Herberholz was somewhat more stoic about a mulligan of his own. LaPille started with a turn 1 Zombie Infestation and a turn 2 Psychatog, while Herberholz once again had a turn 2 Wretch with mana to spare. He emptied the rest of Tom's hand with a pair of Duresses, then removed the Duressed cards from the game. With one card in hand and none in the yard, LaPille attacked with his Psychatog. Herberholz blocked with Wretch, and after LaPille pumped, he revealed the last card in his hand to be Putrefy. Herberholz's only real attack force was a Withered Wretch, so LaPille's Infestation allowed him to stabilize at 5 life while Herberholz drew essentially worthless Cabal Therapies. LaPille played another Psychatog and a Stinkweed Imp, and Herberholz dropped a Dark Confidant into play. On Mark's upkeep, he dropped to 11 life when he revealed a Jitte. Mark drew a Putrefy during his draw step and killed the Stinkweed Imp with it. Once again, Jitte proved too much for LaPille to handle, and he quickly succumbed.

    Herberholz 2 LaPille 0


     
  • Sunday, December 18: 4:51 p.m. - Round 13: Sam Gomersall vs. Gadiel Szleifer


  • Gadiel Szleifer

    Ah, the Gadiel vs. Bannoner feature match, or young Master Szleifer vs. dashingly handsome English skinhead Sam Gomersall. However you bill it, this is a match between two of the more notable names still in contention for a Top 8 slot, though just barely. Gadiel has had a slightly subpar weekend when compared to his normal expectations and must win out plus get help if he's to clinch another Top 8 berth. The same is true for Gomersall, though for Sam this is his natural position, as he rarely makes it to the elimination rounds but can frequently be found in the Top 16 or 32 of whatever tournament he is attending. Gadiel is playing a slightly modified version of Olivier Ruel's CAL deck, while Gomersall hitched his wagon to the back of the horrormobile and is smashing with Ichorids.

    Gomersall cast turn 1 Putrid Imp and then put more than half his deck in his graveyard on turn 2 via Golgari Grave-Troll dredging and Tolarian Winds. Gadiel had the slightly less impressive play of turn 2 Sakura-Tribe Elder, go. At the end of Gomersall's turn 3 Gadiel was at 12 and Gomersall had two cards left in his library, and on his turn 4 Gadiel was scooping. And that, my friends, is what they define in overused and exceedingly trite poker parlance as "The Nuts."

    Sam Gomersall

    Gomersall 1 - Szleifer 0

    Both players again had to mulligan for game 2, and both hands were curiously slow. Gomersall used multiple Cabal Therapies to rip Gadiel's hand apart and then dredged a bit, cast Golgari Thug and sacrificed it to another Therapy to get Psychatog back, cast the Psychatog, and then killed Gadiel at his leisure. (Which, in Sam's case, should be read as leh-zhure.) Gadiel's deck never even gave him a chance, though he still feels that the matchup is pretty good for CAL decks with the right sideboard.

    Gomersall 2 - Szleifer 0


     
  • Sunday, December 18: 5:34 p.m. - Round 14: Gerard Fabiano vs. Dave Shiels


  • Gerard Fabiano has been playing better Magic than you since forever. He is the president of the Gerard Fabiano fan club, and in a way, he also recently appeared on The Price Is Right; Mark Herberholz was wearing a shirt bearing his likeness when he "came on down." Fabiano had a reasonable season last year, unfortunately finishing in "34-point Hell," just shy of receiving level 4 benefits. Dave Shiels, a young upstart Boston, is the trusty sidekick of Jonathan Morawski (THE jono mizer on Magic Online). His first Pro Tour was PTLA, but it seems likely that he'll be headed for Hawaii regardless of the outcome of this match. All joking aside, the winner of this match will make Top 8 of Grand Prix Charlotte. Simple enough. Gerard is playing Aggro Rock, while Dave is with a more controlling variant featuring Living Wish and Gifts Ungiven.

    Game 1

    Gerard mulliganed then whiffed with a turn 1 Cabal Therapy on Cabal Therapy. Shiels played a Withered Wretch (removing the Cabal Therapy), then Putrified Gerard's Dark Confidant before it could net him any cards. Gerard played a Jitte but had no creatures; he pleaded for a good topdeck. His deck did not oblige, as his only response to Shiels's Hierarch was another useless piece of equipment. Gerard Duressed in hopes of gaining a tiny bit of information, then he promptly died in an elephant stampede. He did manage to draw a hearty chuckle from the crowd, though, when he calmly placed his Jitte and Sword in the red zone as blockers.

    Shiels 1 Fabiano 0

    Game 2

    Both players mulliganed, then Gerard took 3 from his lands to play a Withered Wretch. Shiels used his turn casting a Living Wish for a Golgari Rot Farm, which he played. Gerard played a Mongrel, and Shiels answered back with a Loxodon Hierarch. After successfully Therapying a Putrefy, Gerard sent his Mongrel into the Elephant, pumped three times, then sacrificed it to flash back Therapy and rid Shiels of his Gifts Ungiven. Shiels Putrefied Gerard's Wretch, and Gerard, still stuck on two lands, replaced it with a Dark Confidant. Shiels had plenty of lands, and he used them to play an Eternal Witness for Putrefy, which killed Gerard's Confidant. The next turn, Shiels Witnessed back his Hierarch. Gerard could only muster a Birds of Paradise. With only two cards in hand and nothing of note on the board, Gerard topdecked a Troll Ascetic and bought himself enough time to draw into a Phantom Centaur. It looked like Gerard may have succeeded in turning the game around, but Shiels plucked a Living Wish. He grabbed a Meloku and cast it with three lands up. Gerard slowrolled for a few minutes, but there was nothing he could do about the Champions of Kamigawa legend.

    Shiels 2 Fabiano 0


     
  • Sunday, December 18: 5:50 p.m. - On the Road with edt


  • One of the more surprising names to pop up on the road warrior ballot for the last Magic Invitational was Eric "Dinosaur" Taylor, or as the writing world knows him, edt. Minus Japan, the old man seems to go almost everywhere I do, attending practically every North American Grand Prix in recent times, though he rarely finds himself qualified for most Pro Tours anymore. Curious as to his motivation, I asked him why he's been traveling so much lately. His response? He's three Pro Tour Points away from hitting the Hall of Fame ballot, something that carries a great deal of importance to him. That is currently what drives him, and explains why he's at every Grand Prix, and why his name appears with frequency in Midwestern PTQ Top 8 lists.

    It's not as if edt is a bad player, either. He frequently makes Day 2 at Grand Prix, but in recent times it's rare that the dinosaur can muster the kind of record needed to land himself in Top 8 contention. This weekend he's been running something deemed Chapin.dec, which is a deck that Pat Chapin has been tweaking and tuning for months. Chapin has a lot of free time these days, and he corresponds with Mike Flores and edt frequently, giving him access to two of the best theoretical minds in the business. In fact, the black-white cycling deck that Mike Flores played at Pro Tour-Los Angeles was the result of his collaboration with Chapin as well. Thus, even though Chapin no longer plays, he still has an effect on the game.

    As I write this, edt sits in 51st place with one round to go meaning there is likely no chance that he will add to his points total this weekend. Regardless, I fully expect to see him in Richmond come February, Madison come March, and whatever other American GPs take place until he reaches his goal and he becomes Hall of Fame eligible. Then again, with edt I get the feeling that we'll see him for years after he's eligible as well.


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