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Day 2 Blog Archive

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  • Blog - 5:03 p.m. - Round 15: Alex Ledbetter vs. Tim Cozine
    by Julien Nuijten
  • Blog - 4:57 p.m. - Round 14: Analynn Bustamante vs. Jesse Hawkins
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 4:15 p.m. - Extra Credit Decks
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 3:29 p.m. - Round 13: Kenji Tsumura vs. John Pelcak
    by Julien Nuijten
  • Blog - 2:48 p.m. - Deck Tech: King in the Castle
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 12:55 p.m. - Round 11: Mark Herberholz vs. Gerard Fabiano
    by Nate Price
  • Blog - 12:21 p.m. - Deck Tech: Meet the Beat Stick
    by Julien Nuijten
  • Blog - 12:09 p.m. - Day 1 Undefeated Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog - 11:33 a.m. - The King is Back
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 9:41 a.m. - Metagame Madness
    by Ted Knutson

  • BLOG


     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 9:41 a.m. - Metagame Madness
    by Ted Knutson


  • Diversity of the format was the secret word yesterday and that has continued into the Day 2 field, where 25 different archetypes are on display among the 64 competitors.

    Archetype Number
    Loam 11
    Tron 8
    TrinkeTog 6
    TEPS 4
    Boros 4
    Affinity 4
    Elvish Opposition 3
    Goblins 3
    DC Rock 2
    King in the Castle 2
    Pet Cemetery 2
    Old School Tog 2
    Other different 1-ofs 13

    As you can see, Loam put the most players into Day 2, which makes sense because it was probably the most played deck in yesterday's field. After that come the various Tron and Tog decks (most of the Tron decks chose not to play Trinket Mages, while the vast majority of Tog decks did). After that you get the usual suspects we've been seeing from the PTQ circuit with a couple of interesting decks that I had not seen before.

    DC Rock are Rock decks that are running 2-3 Death Clouds - a hit to the mana base, but one made more palatable by Birds of Paradise and Ravnica dual lands. We'll have a deck tech on King in the Castle a bit later, so I won't spoil that except to say that it's a multi-color green midrange aggro deck (that makes it sooo much clearer, right?). Pet Cemetery is what I'm calling the black-white animal decks with creatures like Spectral Lynx, Savannah Lions, Isamaru and Jotun Grunts. They also run everyone's favorite card drawing Invitational winner (Dark Confidant), Vindicates, Gerrard's Verdict, discard, and the very spicy Extirpate out of the sideboard.

    Then you get a mess of one-of decks that make this format basically impossible to metagame directly. Extended is alive and well, and as you can see, you can play almost anything and win.

    As the day progresses, we'll type up some of the more interesting decklists in the Day 2 field, as well as do a couple of deck techs and bring you the usual Top 8 goodness, so stay tuned.



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 11:33 a.m. - The King is Back
    by Nate Price


  • Its name once conjured fear into the minds of players around the globe. Its mere existence was the driving force behind the restriction of many cards in Vintage. It was the most dominant creature in Magic for over two years. And then Sudden Shock came off the printing reels. It was official-Psychatog was dead.

    Or not. Tog players have managed to find a way around the two-mana instant with the help of the Counterbalance control engine common to the blue-based Trinket Mage decks circulating around the format. In fact, the newest Tog evolution seems more like a modified version of the Trinket Mage control deck than the mass card-drawing, burst kill Psychatog of old.

    With the addition of Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top to the aggressive creature base in these decks, players are able to get a decent board presence and then lock the game down with careful manipulation of their Counterbalance. If some thing goes wrong, the marquee card of Planar Chaos, Damnation, shows up to set this back to normal. In addition, the profusion of shuffling effects in this deck allows the pilot to always have a fresh Top if desired.

    Even in the face of this new tech, some players have stuck to their guns and are rocking an older, more recognizable version of Psychatog.

    The formula is as simple as it ever was. Psychatog plus some permission and removal alongside a large amount of card drawing usually equals one dead opponent.

    These Tog decks both have the same concerns with the field, though. While most of the aggressive match-ups are a relative easy time, they have some troubles with the other control decks in the format. U/W Tron has a decent advantage in the first game, but with Dwarven Blastminer, Duress, and a decent amount of artifact removal, the Tog player has a relatively easy go of things for the remaining games. The one real problem that the newer breed of Tog has is Gifts Rock. Pernicious Deed, discard, and recursion of large creatures causes some problems for the Tog player. Even still, Tormod's Crypt recursion still offers a chance to put the Tog player back into the driver's seat.



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 12:09 p.m. - Day 1 Undefeated Decks



  • John Pelcak
    Affinity
    GP Dallas 07 - Extended



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 12:21 p.m. - Deck Tech: Meet the Beat Stick
    by Julien Nuijten


  • So here I am, doing coverage again at the second day of the GP, which I'm probably better at than playing nowadays, since I rarely win matches of Magic anymore. Forgive me for my slight whining, it's what we Magic pro's do best. I'll stop that now.

    Personally I'm not a big fan of the Extended format in general, but particulaly the current environment. There are too many decks available and most of them are equally good, but they all just have a few unsolvable problems. For instance, Aggro CAL can rarely beat a deck with Counterbalance and the UW Tron deck has too many difficulties dealing with one-drops and Dark Confidants. In a format with fewer decks to play, this could be resolved with good metagaming, but in an Extended format like this one, it's really hard to say which decks you're going to play since the difference between a popular deck and a less popular deck is 15 and 5 percent. On the other hand, the format does allow for a lot of deckbuilding creativity. Check out Alex Ledbetter's variant of the No-Stick deck called Beat Stick. It's a much more aggressive version of the deck, with a lot of cards in it that are new to the archetype. He is currently 9-2-1 with 2 byes.

    JN: Did you build this deck yourself? What inspired you to pick up the No-Stick deck and turn it into a more aggressive deck?
    I did build it myself. I liked the old No-Stick deck, but it seemed like nowadays people are too prepared for the Scepter-Chant lock. That's why I put in the Counterbalances and Tops; it really helps against cards like Ancient Grudge whereas the old version with Counterspells needed a lot more mana and more cards to deal with that card. Meddling Mage of course also helps here. I put in the creatures because most players are very comfortable in taking a lot of points off their lands when they play against Scepter/Chant, and if you draw something like a Lightning Angel and Helix you can just punish them for that.

    JN: How do the aggressive elements in the deck combine with the more controlling elements?
    It's only a little bit aggressive, it's not really focused around the creatures. It's just a way to win the game if your draw happens to come out that way. It's also good to have a couple of four-mana spells for Counterbalance, and Lightning Angel is the best four-mana creature for the deck. I considered just playing Teferi, but people know how to play around it, and I think most of the time the lock is too slow anyway.

    JN: What would you say is the biggest problem of the deck?
    Its worst matchup is the UW Tron deck because there are no more hard counters in the deck, and Counterbalance doesn't do so much against their business spells. That's why there are four Dwarven Blastminers in the sideboard, just to try and fix that matchup. I'm not too confidant in the Agro CAL matchup either, since it's hard for the deck to deal with their threats if they come out early. You still have Counterbalance/Top though, so that always gives you a decent shot.

    JN: What about its biggest strength?
    It's very hard to lose against TEPS and other combo decks, since the deck plays 4 maindeck Meddling Mage and the Scepter/Chant lock. It's quite good against aggressive decks too, like Boros and Affinity, because of the Lightning Helixes and Angels.

    JN: Would you play it again? If so, would you make any changes?
    I'm not sure I'd play it again, Trinket Tog might be just better. But I do like playing my own decks, so that might cause me to play it again. The sideboard is pretty tight because of the Cunning Wishes, but I do think you want something against the Loam deck, perhaps splashing Extirpate as a Wish target is good enough. But it's hard to say what you want to focus your deck on, because of the large variety of decks you could encounter.



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 12:55 p.m. - Round 11: Mark Herberholz vs. Gerard Fabiano
    by Nate Price


  • These two players are mainstays on the Pro Tour and are long time friends. Herbie had a pretty decent last year, including a win at PT-Honolulu. In fact, he's playing an Extended version of the Zoo deck he used to take down the title on the beach. Gerard is playing an old-school version of Psychatog featuring some green control bombs, such as Pernicious Deed and Life from the Loam. As expected, the banter started as soon as the two hit the table.

    "Wanna play for the Superman hat?" Gerard offered. "Whoa, I don't wanna play for that high of stakes," Mark fired back.

    After winning a friendly game of "Find the Sudden Shock," Mark chose to play first. Mark lead out strong with a turn 1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda followed up by a Grim Lavamancer instead of a 2-drop to get around Gerard's Force Spike. After countering Mark's Watchwolf on the next turn, Gerard tapped out to play a Psychatog. Mark took advantage of this to sneak in a Tribal Flames for four, which left Gerard at a very precarious six life, well within Lavamancer range. Fortunately, Gerard had the Pernicious Deed for one in time to clear Mark's side of the board while he still had some life to spare. He looked to be in control now with a full grip to Mark's depleted hand and empty board. Still, Mark managed to muster a Lightning Helix to put Gerard to one. After countering Mark's next play, Gerard got off a Cunning Wish for a Gifts Ungiven that he hoped would end the game soon. However, after doing some quick math, Gerard realized he needed a turn or two to set it up. With a Sensei's Divining Top in play, Mark was able to set his next couple of turns up so that we was able to get the final point of burn in around Gerard's lone Force Spike.

    Mark Herberholz 1 - Gerard Fabiano 0

    Mark lead off fast again with a turn 1 Kird Ape, but this time Gerard had answers for his next couple of plays. Mark's deck refused to cough up a third land, and Gerard appeared to be taking the lead. He had survived the initial beatings and was able to set up a Gifts Ungiven, netting himself the land drops he needed to get Meloku the Clouded Mirror into play. It looked like it would be hard for Mark to catch up. However, his deck finally provided him with the third land he needed, and it was a good one too, as it gave him the black mana he needed to Vindicate Gerard's Meloku. Gerard simply picked up three land and put Mark on a flying clock. A Smother on his following turn left Mark with no creatures in play and a depleted number of options. Gerrard played a Psychatog a couple of turns later, and when Mark's deck didn't provide the answer he needed, he packed it in and they moved to game 3.

    Mark Herberholz 1 - Gerard Fabiano 1

    Fabiano and Herberholz ham it up after the match.

    Mark would be playing first in the rubber game, which was greatly to his advantage, especially after boarding in his land destruction. Efficient creatures and LD have been a bane of control decks since the dawn of Alpha. Mark's first draw, however, didn't have too much in the way of gas, and he had to head back for a second try. With a turn 1 Kird Ape, he found his second draw much more to his liking. A turn 2 Watchwolf put him firmly ahead of the race despite being down a card. Mark's deck failed to give him a third land yet again, but he did have a few creatures in play, in addition to reserves in his hand. Gerard kept the bleeding to a minimum, though, with a Smother on Mark's Watchwolf. The Jotun Grunt hiding in Mark's hand came down to replace the fallen dogs, but Gerard trumped him with a Psychatog. When Mark had the Chainer's Edict in his hand for the Psychatog, Gerard sighed, "I would have won this game, too, if I had just made the other play. . .maybe." He had a Smother for Mark's Grunts and then ripped a Pernicious Deed for Mark's last creature. However, this left him tapped out and vulnerable. When Mark's deck decided to provide him with the second source of red, Gerard sighed in frustration and packed up his cards. Herberholz showed him the Molten Rain that Gerard knew he had and put the match to a formal end. After the match, Gerard said that he had the chance to Smother the Grunts instead of playing the Psychatog, which would have left him Spell Snare mana up, which counters a good portion of Mark's deck. However, Mark's cast would have been a Molten Rain, which the Snare doesn't stop.

    Mark Herberholz 2 - Gerard Fabiano 1



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 2:48 p.m. - Deck Tech: King in the Castle
    by Nate Price


  • Extended is filled to the brim with decks that use a veritable toolbox of cards to adapt to any situation they could face. Consequently, it makes sense that this Extended season has seen the newest incarnations of the toolbox deck, and there are many different avenues from which to choose, including Gifts Rock, which uses a Gifts Ungiven engine powered by Eternal Witness and Genesis; the new Trinket Psychatog deck, which uses Trinket Mages and an arsenal of cheap artifacts to handle problems; and King in the Castle.

    King in the Castle at first glance seems like a typical beatdown deck. It has the cheap efficient creatures like Call of the Herd and Troll Ascetic. It has the Umezawa's Jittes. It even has Armadillo Cloak. But that's where the similarities end. Besides the beatdown element, the deck has enough disruption to solidify the matchup against the control decks, and enough control to pave the way against the aggressive decks.

    Kyle Sanchez, the deck's designer, says that the deck can go any way you need it to go. Its Trinket Mage engine gives the deck the utility it needs to disrupt any opposing deck just enough that the beaters are able to get their job done. Pithing Needle stops Pernicious Deed and Seismic Assault. Tormod's Crypt ruins Life from the Loam and Genesis. Chalice of the Void and Engineered Explosives just wreak havoc on most aggressive decks.

    According to Kyle, the deck has favorable matchups against the most popular decks in today's field. "Tog is almost impossible to lose. U/W Tron is a little harder. You can wreck their hand early, but they have so many big cards that it may not matter in the long run. Loam is dependant on the player. If they're good it's close, but if their not that great, this deck crushes them." The deck's versatility allows it to handle most situations, but the glue that holds it all together is the aggressive core. You can have all the fancy tricks in the world, but sometimes, you just win games by turning men sideways.



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 3:29 p.m. - Round 13: Kenji Tsumura vs. John Pelcak
    by Julien Nuijten


  • John Pelcak

    John Pelcak's on a roll. He hasn't dropped any points yet, and is paired down against Kenji, who's got five fewer points in the standings. Kenji brought the popular Aggro CAL deck while John is playing Affinity, so it should be pretty good for Kenji, as he's got access to 3 Shattering Spree in the board and 4 Burning Wishes to get them in Game 1.

    Game 1

    Kenji won the roll, always a big advantage in this format. He started off with a Birds of Paradise and missed his Cabal Therapy on Arcbound Ravager after John had played an Arcbound Worker. John did reveal Cranial Plating and two Myr Enforcers, so there was no doubt that Kenji's second Therapy would be good. John played out his Plating but the Worker couldn't get in yet because Kenji had just played Wall of Roots. On his next turn, Kenji played a 2/2 Terravore and flashed back Therapy sacrificing the Wall to take out the Enforcers. John revealed two lands and Blinkmoth Nexus, and traded the Worker for the Terravore, putting the modular counter on the Nexus. Kenji had another Terravore, but it couldn't stop the Nexus with a Plating, now putting Kenji at 7. John had found another Myr Enforcer as well, and things were looking very bad for Kenji, who didn't have an answer to either of John's creatures.

    Pelcak 1 - Tsumura 0

    Both players boarded in a few very good cards; Kenji's got 2 Krosan Grip, 2 Shattering Spree leaving one in the sideboard for Burning Wish, Hull Breach, Darkblast and another Devastating Dreams. He took out all four Duress and three Cabal Therapy.

    Apparently John didn't really know what to sideboard, and started laughing when I picked up his deckbox. He'd taken out 2 Shrapnel Blast and one each of Myr Enforcer, Thoughtcast, Ornithopter and Cranial Plating. He put in 4 Tormod's Crypt and 2 Stifle.

    Game 2

    Kenji played first and had to mulligan a slow hand of Life from the Loam, Devastating Dreams, Terravore, Wall of Roots, Burning Wish and a red and green cycle land. John mulliganned as well, and started off with Pithing Needle on Seismic Assault, two Ornithopters, Arcbound Ravager and a Blinkmoth Nexus, but he didn't really have a lot of power. When he activated his Nexus on the next turn, Kenji responded with a Krosan Grip on the Ravager putting the modular counter on an Ornithopter, and he could only attack for two with his fliers. Kenji played Terravore on his fourth turn, getting ready to play Devastating Dreams on his next turn, but John killed it and Kenji's graveyard with Tormod's Crypt. John again didn't have anything, and lost his entire board except for a 1/3 Ornithopter and a Pithing Needle to the Devastating Dreams. Kenji only had three lands and no cards in hand though, but his next two draw steps were a Shattering Spree and Life from the Loam, providing him with plenty of gas while the Shattering Spree took out John's board once again. John came up with Arcbound Ravager and Cranial Plating, but Kenji had found another Terravore which was just too big to stop at this point.

    Pelcak 1 - Tsumura 1

    Kenji Tsumura

    Game 3

    John made a few more sideboard changes, as he put in Cabal Therapies instead of Stifles. He played first and both players kept their hands, and John started off with Blinkmoth Nexus, Arcbound Worker, Pithing Needle on Seismic Assault and Chromatic Star. Kenji had a Dark Confidant, and John attacked with his Nexus and Worker and made a Myr Enforcer. Bob revealed a Birds of Paradise, but much more relevant was Kenji's third turn Shattering Spree for Myr Enforcer and two of John's three lands. The Worker and Nexus got in there again, but that's all John could do as Kenji was setting up Terravore/Devastating Dreams for his next turn. The Confidant kept working on Kenji's life total though, as he'd now revealed a Terravore and Seismic Assault, dropping him down to four. John played a Tormod's Crypt which caused some confusion when Kenji went for Terravore/Devastating Dreams, but the end result was that John had a Chromatic Star and a Pithing Needle while Kenji had a 6/6 Terravore, which quickly sealed it.

    Tsumura 2 - Pelcak 1



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 4:15 p.m. - Extra Credit Decks
    by Ted Knutson


  • I always like to throw in some additional interesting decks we ran across during the course of the weekend, especially when we're dealing with a new and wide open format like Extended. Here are four Day 2 decks that feature archetypes you may not have considered (at least one of which still has a good chance to Top 8).


    Kirk Dalton
    Pet Cemetery
    GP Dallas 07 - Extended


    Conlay Woods
    8-Post Wildfire
    GP Dallas 07 - Extended




     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 5:03 p.m. - Round 15: Alex Ledbetter vs. Tim Cozine
    by Julien Nuijten


  • Alex is playing the Beatstick deck that we talked about in the coverage earlier, while Tim brought a more conservative deck to this event; Boros. Alex told me that he thinks he's a favorite in this matchup, but it's still a close one, because red decks sometimes just do win.

    Game 1

    Tim won the roll, making all of his spells almost twice as good. He mulliganned and played the first spell of this match for top 8: Silver Knight. It got in for two and Tim surprisingly passed the turn with a land and a Pillage in hand, against Alex' board of Mountain and Hallowed Fountain. Tim Lightning Helixed Alex when he played a Sensei's Divining Top, and Helixed him again after he tapped out for Ice on the Silver Knight, again choosing not to play the Pillage. Orim's Chant with kicker bought Alex some time and he used that to lay down Counterbalance, and now things weren't looking so good for Tim although he put his opponent down to nine in the next attack step. Tim tried to lure Alex to put the Top on top of the deck by playing Firebolt, but he just spinned it first and found another Top on top of the deck. Tim didn't try the Silver Knight he had in his hand and just passed the turn. Meddling Mage came down for Alex, naming Firebolt, and it seemed like Alex was ready to race Tim when he end-of-turn Lightning Helixed him. While Alex had all of Tim's spells under control with Top/Counterbalance, he didn't have a solution to the Silver Knight yet, but surely he would be able to find something for it in one of the next four turns he had. He did, as he Cunning Wished for a Condemn which took care of Tim's last threat on the board, but somehow Pillage on the Top, putting the Top on top, was able to force through another Silver Knight as Alex still hadn't found anything. Lightning Angel for Alex came down soon after that though, putting Tim at 8 while Alex was still as 6. A Lightning Helix from Alex put him even further ahead, and the lone Silver Knight couldn't get the job done.

    Game 2

    Tim played first again and both players kept their seven. Tim had a rather weak start for a Boros deck: no turn one drop and just a Jitte on the second turn. A third-turn Jotun Grunt seemed like a good creature but when Alex played Orim's Chant without kicker in Tim's next upkeep, Tim put his Jotun Grunt in the graveyard for some reason, despite having two fetch lands in his own graveyard. In the meanwhile, Alex was setting up Top/Counterbalance again, but couldn't find a two mana spell on top when Tim Disenchanted the Balance. Another Jotun Grunt came down to carry the Jitte, but it was Tim's only creature so Alex was able to solve it with Porphyry Nodes. Thirst for Knowledge refilled Alex' hand and he played another Counterbalance while still being at a very healthy 15. Things got even worse for Tim when Alex played Isochron Scepter and imprinted Lightning Helix, and at this point there was simply nothing Tim could do.

    Alex Ledbetter won 2-0 and takes his rogue reroll deck to the Top 8!



     
  • Sunday, Feb 25: 4:57 p.m. - Round 14: Analynn Bustamante vs. Jesse Hawkins
    by Nate Price


  • Jesse Hawkins

    Jesse Hawkins is an up and coming Magic player who, after his performance yesterday, was able to shrug off the amateur label despite being only 15. He comes into this game playing the incredibly powerful Gifts Rock deck. His opponent this round is none other than the Analynn Bustamante, who you should remember from the blog coverage from yesterday. She is playing a hyper-aggressive three-color deck that straddles the line between Boros and Zoo.

    Analynn started the game fairly strong with a turn 1 Isamaru followed by a turn 2 Kataki, War's Wage. Jesse whiffed on his turn 1 Cabal Therapy naming Boros Swiftblade. However, he found out that beyond the Kataki and a Jotun Grunt, Analynn didn't have too much he'd have to be worried about. Since this was Jesse's first trip to the feature match area, he was a little confused by the playmat's setup. After casting his Therapy, he remarked, "Which of these is the discard zone. . .er, graveyard. . .whatever it's called in this game." "What do you usually play," Analynn wanted to know. After a long pause, Jesse managed out a resigned "Magic."

    When he managed a turn 2 Sakura-Tribe Elder, it seemed he would gum up the board fairly well. Analynn pressed her advantage and cast Molten Rain on Jesse's Overgrown Tomb. This brought him into single digits, always scary when facing off against a Zoo deck. You never know when things could take a quick turn for the worse. However, on his next turn, Jesse played a Birds of Paradise to flash his Therapy back and crippled Analynn by hitting two Jotun Grunts from her hand. Regardless of the hit to her hand, Analynn kept drawing men and kept putting them into play. Jesse couldn't find more than a fourth land and a couple of spot removal spells. After a turn or two, that left him at a very scary three life facing down an angry Isamaru.

    Luckily for him, Analynn didn't have the Lightning Helix to finish him off, and he was able to hold the line down with a Genesis he finally was able to cast. Analynn really put it to him, though with a Sudden Shock straight to the face. That left Jesse at one. Any burn, and especially a Sudden Shock, would seal the deal. Jesse decided to see where he was and played a Therapy naming Dark Confidant. He whiffed and saw her hand of a land and two more Isamarus. Yay, legends rule! While she wasn't able to get the litter of puppies onto the table, Analynn did have the fortuitous rip of the final points of burn required for the kill.

    Analynn Bustamante 1 - Jesse Hawkins 0

    Analynn Bustamante

    Jesse got to start the fight for game 2 and lead off with a first turn Duress. It knocked a Krosan Grip out of Analynn's hand, and revealed a grip of five animals and a single land. When Jesse played a turn 2 Cabal Therapy and was able to know both of the Lavamancers out of Analynn's hand, things were looking good for him. She hadn't managed to draw a second land yet, and a slowly developing board definitely favored Jesse. Jesse then reset the board with a quick Engineered Explosives for one. Analynn's second land finally arrived in the mail, and she flipped a Silver Knight onto the board. Jesse kept his advantage by playing Living Wish twice on the next turn for some really heavy hitters in Meloku, The Clouded Mirror and Loxodon Hierarch.

    Analynn managed to pick up an Umezawa's Jitte for her knight and began putting counters on it the turn after. Despite the Hierarch and Meloku coming down on Jesse's side, Analynn still managed some cool tricks with Jitte and Helix to clear Jesse's side of the board. After that dominating performance by Jitte-one of many-Jesse was going to find it hard to come back. When his deck provided nothing but land over the next two turns, Jesse conceded the match.

    Analynn Bustamante 2 - Jesse Hawkins 0


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