Sunday, December 18: 5:45 p.m. - The Top 8 Player Profiles
Antonino De Rosa not pictured
Antonino De Rosa - The U.S. National Champion needs little introduction to most fans of the game. Over the last two years his game has improved dramatically, and he is now a frequent member of North American Grand Prix Top 8s.
Kyle Goodman - Goodman is a former JSS star who had his coming out party at Pro Tour-Columbus last season where he finished 9th. He also posted a solid finish at Pro Tour-Philadelphia, and then made the Top 8 at U.S. Nationals this year. This is his first Grand Prix Top 8, at least in part because his high school schedule keeps him too busy to attend many others.
Mike Krumb - This is Krumb's third Grand Prix Top 8. He was part of the monster Top 8 back at Grand Prix-Detroit, and ran the table here in Charlotte until he locked up a Top 8 slot.
Alex Majlaton - Majlaton is Maryland native who will turn 21 "soon." Alex was already on his way to Honolulu via PTQ slot, but will be going there a bit richer from whatever he pockets here in the Top 8.
David Shiels - Shiels is seventeen and lives in Boston. His first Pro Tour was in Los Angeles where he played Goblins to a 4-2 record before losing his last two rounds and missing the cut.
Alan Hubbard - Hubbard is a 25 year-old golf pro who made Top 8 in his first Grand Prix. He's not sure whether or not he's going to Hawaii, but admits that the lure of great golfing and even better Magic is strong for him.
Chris Boozer - Chris is a 21-year-old Magician from Atlanta, Georgia who already won a PTQ in this format, but is still an amateur so will therefore be receiving a flight, Grand Prix prize, and amateur prize for his performances this season.
Thomas LaPille - Fans of PTQ decklists might recognize LaPille's name, as he's always listed in the Top 8 of Ohio Valley PTQs. He posted an 0-5 at his first Pro Tour in Los Angeles, but won the PTQ the next day and was already qualified for Hawaii before this weekend.
Sunday, December 18: 6:08 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Kyle Goodman vs. Alan Hubbard
He may not be the most renowned person in this Grand Prix Top 8, but Kyle Goodman has a rather impressive resume. He finished 10th at PT Columbus, 44th at PT Philadelphia, and a few months ago, Top 8 at U.S. Nationals. As was previously noted, Goodman qualified for Hawaii last weekend. His opponent, amateur Alan Hubbard, just started playing tournament Magic last April. He says that most of his experience was gleaned from Magic Online. To his credit, he has played in six PTQs and finished in the Top 8 of four of them. Hubbard is playing Boros Deck Wins, while Kyle is playing the same deck that qualified him for Hawaii, Tooth and Nail. Before the match, Kyle commented how he had to play the card-for-card mirror match round 13; someone actually copied his decklist prior to the Grand Prix!
Hubbard won the roll and, after muilliganing, led off with a Sacred Foundry and a Savannah Lions. Goodman played an Urza's Tower and what Hubbard rightfully called Tooth and Nail's MVP, a Sensei's Divining Top. After playing a mountain and attacking with the Lions, Hubbard was forced to pass the turn without a play. Goodman contended himself with taking the Top for a spin. On his next turn, Hubbard found a Windswept Heath and played his second creature, a Silver Knight. On his third turn, with a Tower, a Power Plant, a Forest, a nd a Talisman in play, Goodman cast Sylvan Scrying for the final Urzatron piece. Hubbard attacked Goodman down to 12 and played another Silver Knight, but Kyle simply played the Urza's Mine and cast a more-than-fair turn 4 Tooth and Nail. He debated for awhile before ultimately choosing the "Boom-Boom" route, dropping a Darksteel Colossus and a Sundering Titan into play. Hubbard had a Magma Jet he wanted to play in response to the Sundering Titan's triggered ability, but since he waited until Goodman chose lands, he no longer had that option. Kyle attacked with both of his monsters. Hubbard chumped the Titan to falol to an 11-4 life total deficit, and a Goodman Triskelion ended Hubbard's dreams of any form of counteroffensive.
Goodman 1 Hubbard 0
Between games, Hubbard flabbergasted the judge by asking if he could go to his car and get some Molten Rains in a skillful deadpan. Apparently, he was not confident in his chances with only a 15-card sideboard. Hubbard agonized over a questionable opening seven before ultimately cashing them in; his 6-card hand was a keeper, though. Once again, Hubbard had a Foundry and a Lions, and once again, Goodman had a Tower and a Divining Top. Hubbard smashed in with his Lions and trumped the Top (in a manner of speaking) with Kataki, War's Wage. Goodman peeked at his top three cards during his upkeep, then decided to simply let the Top hit the graveyard. The Lions and the Legendary Spirit took Kyle down to 14 before being joined by a Grim Lavamancer and a Silver Knight. Goodman's turn was spent playing his third land (and second Urza land) and a Sakura-Tribe Elder, which Hubbard promptly Firebolted. The White creatures took Kyle down to 8 and threatened to kill him next turn unless he could play something impressive. All he had was another Sakura-Tribe Elder, but he passed the turn with two lands untapped, representing Moment's Peace. He in fact had two Moment's Peace and was hence able to nullify Hubbard's attacks for the next four turns. On the last possible turn, Kyle plucked a Mindslaver and activated it. Hubbard cast a Magma Jet to put Kyle at 6 and ensure that the Slaver turn wouldn't be too devastating. The Mindslaver ended up being little more than a glorified Fog, but that's really all Kyle needed; a Tooth and Nail flew off the top of his deck the next turn. He searched for Platinum Angel and Leonin Abunas, then cast an Eternal Witness to retrieve his Tooth. Hubbard wasn't about to go down without a fight. On his turn, he drew the Lightning Helix he had safely buried with his Magma Jet, then used it and Lavamancer to scorch the Abunas. Following a Purge on his Platinum Angel, Goodman scooped in the face of lethal combat damage.
Goodman 1 Hubbard 1
To start off Game 3, Hubbard decided that, if he could still win after mulliganing once, he'd better mulligan twice just to make sure Kyle would advance to the Semis. "This is how Tooth and Nail wins," quipped Goodman. Kyle blah blah Top turn one blah blah. Kyle elected not to block Hubbard's turn one Isamaru, signalling gas at the top of his tank. On his third turn, he dropped a second Urzatron piece and--surprise, surprise--had the Sylvan Scrying to find the third. Kyle responded to Hubbard's Pithing Needle by fetching a forest with his Sakura-Tribe Elder; perhaps he would be able to make good on his threats of another turn 4 Tooth and Nail. Instead, he played and activated an Oblivion Stone, clearing away three creatures and the Needle. Hubbard came back with a pair of Lavamancers, but Kyle was sitting at a robust 14 life with actualll literally infinite mana on the table. Literally. Thanks to his trusty Top, Goodman had no difficulty finding a Tooth and Nail for Triskelion and Sundering Titan. The artifact monsters cleared Hubbard's board of all but a solitary Plains, and a gratuitous second Tooth and Nail sent him packing.
Kyle Goodman defeats Alan Hubbard 2-1.
Sunday, December 18: 7:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Dave Shiels vs. Mike Krumb
The ladies all love Dave's baby face.
Mike Krumb has positively steamrolled this event, the only real loss for his Ichorid deck coming in the very late rounds against Alex Majlaton's Affinity deck. Aside from that, he, Psychatog, and the house of horrors have slapped down competitors like Jrump was a pimp and the rest of the players were merely… unfinished similes not suitable for a family site like this one.
Krumb's opponent is the baby-faced teenager from Boston, David Shiels. This is Shiels's first chance in the spot light and he took advantage of it in the quarterfinals, dispatching Antonino De Rosa's Ichorid deck in three tough games. Shiels feels that his Gifts Rock deck has a pretty solid matchup against sticky icky, but he'll have to prove it again if he wants to snag a spot in the finals.
Krumb kept a tough hand of three lands, a Chrome Mox, Deep Analysis, Putrid Imp, and Zombie Infestation. Shiels won the die roll and cast a Birds of Paradise and Sakura-Tribe Elder while Krumb threw down the Infestation on his first turn, discarding Deep Analysis and Ichorid to create a zombie, and beginning the beats.
Shiels cast an early Genesis and then Living Wish for Withered Wretch a turn later, threatening to eat all the useful items from Krumb's graveyard provided he got to untap. The first card the Wretch ate was Wonder, allowing Shiels to block while falling to 9 life. After his untap, Dave then ate Ichorids and dredge cards plus the remaining Cabal Therapy in Krumb's graveyard. This left Krumb hopelessly without gas and the cleanup was relatively simple from there.
Shiels 1 - Krumb 0
Krumb mulliganned his first hand in game 2 into another stinker, but kept it because it contained lands and a turn 2 Psychatog, but none of the cool things the Ichorid deck usually does. Krumb gave a little pump of the first when he saw Shiels grab a Temple Garden with his fetchland, thus being assured he would not have to face down a turn 2 Withered Wretch.
Krumb hardcast Wonder on turn 3 and began his assault, but ran into a turn 3 Gifts Ungiven, putting Putrefy and Eternal Witness in Sheils's hand and sending Withered Wretch and Living Wish to the graveyard. Unfortunately for the young Bostonite, he had the slow, but powerful side of the Gifts Rock draw, and -at least in this game- once Krumb's engine got going it was unstoppable. Ichorids rained fire from the sky and suddenly the match was even, despite what looked like a lopsided early game in favor of Shiels.
Shiels 1 - Krumb 1
Krumb talks a good game and even backs it up.
"Real thinkers I have in this match - all tournament I haven't had thinkers, but against you every hand is a tough one. Alright, I'll keep." What Krumb was talking about was a hand that contained only one land and then everything else except Tolarian Winds that he would want to see in his opener. With a land or a Mox the hand would be amazing, and even without it, he had two Cabal Therapies to rip Shiels's hand apart. A land on Krumb's first draw step brought most of his hand online, and a second one a turn later gave him access to Psychatog as well while he left Shiels with a hand of only lands, having sent Living Wish and Putrefy to the graveyard. Deep Analysis into double dredge made Krumb's Psychatog lethal a turn later as he ducked a Pernicious Deed that would have cleared the board for Shiels if he'd only gotten one more turn.
Krumb 2 - Shiels 1
Sunday, December 18: 8:01 p.m. - Finals: Mike Krumb vs. Alex Majlaton
Finally, we will get an answer to the question we've all been asking since the dawn of time: Will a man wearing a pink hat--and wielding sleeves to match--win a Grand Prix?
Alex Majlaton knows how to accessorize.
Mike Krumb is an intimidating presence on the Grand Prix circuit. He Top 8'd Grand Prix--Kansas City in 2003, got an unfortunate 9th place at Grand Prix--Austin last year, and finished in the Top 4 of star-studded Grand Prix--Detroit this spring. Apparently, according to Krumb, there's a rule that 9th place finishes are stricken from the record once one has three legitimate Top 8s, so this is the last time you'll be hearing about it. Maryland native Alex Majlaton is in fact wearing a pink hat. A more relevant factoid is that he handed Krumb his only loss this entire tawalla tournament in round 13, but Krumb maintains that he didn't bring his A-game, since he was already a lock for Top 8. In two to three short games, a new co-leader in the Player of the Year race (alongside Helmut Summersberger) would be decided.
Alex mulliganed then played a turn 2 Arcbound Ravager. On his second turn, Mike played a Zombie Infestation. In response to Alex's turn 3 Pithing Needle, Mike pitched his grip of dredge cards, Wonder, Ichorid, and Psychatog to make three stunningly attractive Zombie tokens. Alex completed his turn with a Pyrite Spellbomb, a Myr Enforcer, and an attack for 3 with his Ravager. Krumb bashed in with the Zombies and Ichorid to put Alex to 11. After flashing back a Deep Analysis and taking 8 on the chin from mechanical animals, Mike found himself at a paltry 6 life. After another Deep Analysis, Krumb was down to 3. Because of Alex's menacing board, Krumb was only able to attack with his Ichorids, putting Alex down to 5. After combat, Krumb played a Putrid Imp that didn't have a prayer of ever blocking this game before shipping it back to Majlaton. Majlaton decided that his best course of action was to sacrifice his Spellbomb to draw a card. He didn't find anything interesting between that and his draw step, so one chump block later, he was shuffling up for game 2.
Krumb 1 Majlaton 0
Between games, we found out some more about the fabled pink hat. Apparently, Alex was at the 7-11 buying a slurpee, and he saw the hat on a rack. Since it was a steal at $4.99, he would have been foolish not to buy it. No arguments here.
Alex looked at an opener of Seat of the Synod, Vault of Whispers, two Pithing Needles, Pyrite Spellbomb, Darkblast, and Thoughtcast. He decided that the disruption would buy him enough time to draw threats, so he kept. He played a Needle and named Zombie Infestation. On his next turn, he peeled a Frogmite, then dropped the Spellbomb and it into play before Thoughtcasting. Krumb played a second Polluted Delta, joking that Alex should have blindly named Delta with his Needle; Alex admitted that he had been tempted to do just that many times throughout the tournament. Alex attacked with Frogmite and ended his third turn with seven nonland permanents, including another Frogmite and a Myr Enforcer. Facing a potential 10 damage on the ensuing turn, Krumb dropped to 11 to flash back a Deep Analysis. Alex cycled his Terrarion and Pyrite Spellbomb and found Shrapnel Blast; this turned the 10 damage into 13 and ended the game on the spot.
Krumb 1 Majlaton 1
While Majlaton has Pink sleeves, Krumb actually has purple sleeves. I'm sure Rainbow Brite, Hello Kitty, and the Powerpuff Girls would all be very proud.
Alex played the first spell of the game in Arcbound Worker. On his second turn, Krumb had the Zombie Infestation. Alex played an Arcbound Ravager and passed the turn. Krumb decided against making Zombies, instead opting to cast a Stinkweed Imp. Rarely short on octane, Alex tossed out a Pyrite Spellbomb and a pair of frogs before attacking with his two arcbounds. Mike made a Zombie, then put the Zombie in front of the Worker and the Imp in front of the Ravager. Alex Darkblasted the Stinkweed Imp--as fine a play in Extended as it is in Ravnica limited--and sacrificed his Worker to make the Ravager 3/3. Krumb made a second Zombie with his last two cards. After dredging an Imp back during his draw, his graveyard featured a Deep Analysis and two Moment's Peace. After casting the Deep Analysis, the life totals were Krumb-13 and Majlaton-20. Mike's Deep cards netted him a Wonder, so he made a third Zombie and swung in with the two legal attackers to put Majlaton at 16. Krumb took 7 from the counterattack, then hit Alex back for 4. Alex's next attack was lethal, so Krumb wisely chose to nullify it with Moment's Peace. Mike brought back an Ichorid, dredged another Peace and another Ichorid into his yard, and smacked Alex down to 5. Even though Krumb was a little short on graveyard fuel, Alex dredged Darkblast to fend off Krumb's Ichorids. After burning one of Mike's Peaces, he shipped it back. Mike dredged back a Grave-Troll, finally finding some black creatures to remove, and attacked Alex down to 3. Alex burned Krumb's last Peace and passed the turn with three lands untapped. On his upkeep, Krumb brought back both Ichorids. Thinking for a moment, Krumb swung in with both Zombies and both Ichorids. Alex examined his hand and his Blinkmoth Nexus, realized he couldn't survive the turn, and extended the hand.
Mike Krumb is your Grand Prix Charlotte 2005 Champion!
And no, the blessed Zombie tokens aren't for sale. They're going right back into my room next to Gadiel's giant novelty check and Anton Jonsson's boxers. Er, I mean...