Saturday, February 18: 10:02 a.m. - The New New Guy
New Guy Hanno Terbuyken
Only three weeks ago, in Hasselt, Belgium, I was the new guy learning the tricks of the trade from coverage-dinosaur Craig Jones. Today, I will try to pass on the bits that got stuck in my brain to the next new guy, Hanno Terbuyken from Leipzig, Germany.
Unlike many of us, he actually has a formal education in writing, as he is a student of journalism - so maybe he will be the one teaching me, after all...
Saturday, February 18: 10:17 a.m. - Feedback appreciated
Check out the forums!
As we are two guys doing the coverage today, we wanted to try something new. We will open a thread in the forums and give you guys the opportunity to tell us how extremely thrilled you are to read our deep, well-written, and humorous articles. In the unlikely case that there is something you don't like about our pieces, you are welcome to write that as well. And most importantly, the thread will give you the chance to make a wish about the content of the coverage. So if you have any ideas for wacky reports, requests for certain players to be featured or just general suggestions for improvement, feel free to create an account for the forum (if you haven't already done so) and voice your opinion. We will follow the thread closely, although we may not reply a lot - after all, we are here to write coverage. However, we promise to read everything you write, and will try to fulfill as many wishes as possible at this or one of the following Grand Prix.
You can find the thread here.
Saturday, February 18: 10:33 a.m. - The Heat is on
Head judges Justus Rönnau, left, and Riccardo Tessitori with the trophies for the winner and runner-up.
Excitement is buzzing through the large hall. While a bleak, gray light from a rainy sky is coming through the few windows, the players get ready for the colorful word of Ravnica-Guildpact Sealed deck. At this moment, the seatings have been posted and crowds are streaming to their seats.
The head judges for this GP are Riccardo Tessitori from Italy and Justus Rönnau from Germany. A little more than 1000 players have registered, and as always the tournament will be split into two halves, blue led by Riccardo Tessitori and green led by Justus Rönnau. They are supported by another 34 judges from all over the world, two scorekeepers and a couple of WotC staff. The artist on site is Chippy, probably best known for the artwork on Grim Monolith and Ravnica's Faith's Fetters.
The tournament is taking place in the Westfalenhallen Dortmund, right next to the home stadium of German soccer team Borussia Dortmund. Not only soccer can be played here, though: Located next to the eight trade fair halls are an ice-hockey stadium and a riding ground. The magical action will remain in hall seven though, and now it's time to sling the cardboard.
Saturday, February 18: 12:24 p.m. - When Good and Bad Lie Close Together
Shuhei Nakamura concentrating on his card count.
Watching Shuhei Nakamura and Aaron Brackmann building their decks showed how close good and bad can lie together in this format. Shuhei Nakamura is one of only four Japanese members of the Pro Players Club who have reached level six. Aaron Brackmann was last year's finalist at the German Nationals, and both players sat at the same table for deck construction.
Whereas Shuhei received a card pool that did not trouble him, Brackmann's cards failed to deliver. Shaking his head angrily, the German commented: "This is just rubbish" after he laid out his cards. Despite a double Izzet Guildmage and two Izzet Boilerworks, he had to shunt the wacky guild aside. Gigadrowse, Train of Thought, Terraformer and Snapping Drake were not enough to pull him back into Izzet, especially since Aaron's red cards had nothing to offer either.
The Guildmage would have had only one card to copy anyway, since Lightning Helix remained the only instant or sorcery under three mana in his pool. Instead, Brackmann had to settle for a Selesnya/Golgari/Orzhov-combination. Stinkweed Imp, Brainspoil and Clinging Darkness together with Orzhov Euthanist made his removal suite, while Man's Best Fungus (Greater Mossdog), Watchwolf and Shambling Shell served as Brackmann's mid-game offense. His deck curved out with Conclave Equenaut, Belfry Spirit and Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. While he also had a Bramble Elemental in his card pool, ol' Bramby wouldn't find any Auras to power him up. And the fat beaters would not come out fast: A lonely Elves of the Deep Shadow was his only acceleration.
The silver lining in Aaron's deck might be the Sword of the Paruns he had in his pool. But asked what he expected from his deck, Brackmann only looked dejected and predicted: "With no signets, and no dual lands? I expect a 2-2-drop result, nothing more."
A downcast Aaron Brackmann is sleeving up his deck.
On the same table, Shuhei Nakamura showed how things could go better. Blazing Archon and Firemane Angel clearly pointed to Red-White, but he also had the much-lauded Lurking Informant, putting him into the eternal dilemma of Ravnica-Guildpact Sealed: Which bomb to cut? Why, none of course, of your name is Shuhei Nakamura and you have received a Godless Shrine in your card pool! Dimir Aqueduct, Gruul Turf and an Izzet Signet complemented Shuhei's mana. From that point, he concocted a four-color cocktail full of chocolate, cream and a cherry on top.
Galvanic Arc, Viashino Fangtail, Hypervolt Grasp, double Veteran Armorer (one foil), Last Gasp and a Darkblast for good measure went into Shuhei's deck. Not wanting to stretch his deck any further though, Nakamura filled his deck with on-color fillers like Restless Bones. Asked how he liked his deck, Shuhei smiled and replied, "it's not the worst deck." He added that he usually wouldn't play Blazing Archon. Apparently the Japanese pro has no great liking for the defensive strategy the Archon implies.
Will the heavy requirements on colored mana in his deck work out for Shuhei Nakamura? Keep checking in and we will provide the answers!
Saturday, February 18: 1:12 p.m. - Unpleasant Surprise
Marijn, *I* am your father
Imagine yourself playing a Grand Prix with over 1000 participants. You find your name in the first-round pairings, fight through the masses to get to your table, sit down, look up at your opponent - and see your father. Not how most people would like to start their day, but this is how it started for 16-year old Marijn Vanden Berge from Belgium.
Both players played their best game, shuffled each others decks, and even had to call a judge to settle an argument. In the end, the father, Jan, showed no mercy and won the game, 2-1.
Saturday, February 18: 1:55 p.m. - Different Kinds of Hard Choices
Julien Nuijten couldn't find a color combo he liked
As many of you will know by now, sealed deck construction in the Ravnica-Guildpact format can be quite daunting. The Dutch had created a system, which was featured in the Grand Prix Richmond coverage. Frank Karsten didn't really need it this time, though. Glare of Subdual, Tolsimir Wolfblood and Selesnya Evangel made green and white easy choices. Blue was out of the question for the third color, and the black cards were just superior to the red ones. So the deck almost built itself - but Frank still spend almost the entire deck-construction time trying to find out what the last few cards would be. He contemplated using black only as a splash, or as a main color, and he put in some weaker cards to try to go easy on his mana, as he was left without mana-fixers. Even a calculator was deployed in his search for the perfect build. In the end, he found a configuration he liked, and was very satisfied with the outcome.
Julien Nuijten had difficulties of another kind. None of the color-combinations really stood out, and when you put both Lightning Helix and Putrefy in your deck, you are asking for trouble. He spend his thirty minutes moving cards and entire colors in and out of his deck. Julien had quite a bit of mana-fix though, and when his deck was done, it had almost all the best cards in his pool. Whether the deck is consistent enough remains to be seen.
Saturday, February 18: 3:03 p.m. - Ruel Rules the Vote
Olivier Ruel pulling a funny face with the crowd - as always - behind him
French pro and crowd favorite Olivier Ruel is not only a very good Magic player, but also a media pro. When I asked him for a short interview, he immediately agreed and turned his attention away from the testing match with Kenji Tsumura that he had just completed. Naturally, the topic was the voting for the Magic Invitational, taking place in Seattle this May.
"I expected to win, but I didn't expect to get more than 50 percent of the votes", said Ruel, who played 15 Grand Prix last season. Asked if he already had an idea for a card, the Road Warrior had to deny. But it will be something wacky: "I'm going to submit something unplayable", Olivier foretold with a smile. As a level six pro player, his traveling life is made easy, Ruel says, and he will continue to show up at Grand Prixs and Pro Tours all over the world. "I'm thinking of traveling to GP Manila, if I can find someone to come with me", Ruel announced, before he stated the obvious: "I like Magic, and I like traveling, and it's great that I can do both."
Saturday, February 18: 3:49 p.m. - Artist on Duty: Chippy
At most Grand Prix, Wizards of the Coast invites a Magic-artist to sign their cards for the fans. This time, it is Chippy, who has been around for quite some time. His first illustrations were for Mirage, and since then he has been asked to do more on a regular basis. Over the years, his paintings have appeared on 43 cards, among them a few that will see heavy action today: Faith's Fetters and Greater Mossdog. He started on the job when the company he worked in was purchased by Wizards of the Coast UK.
Unsurprisingly, Chippy isn't his real name: As a kid, he loved the "cars" that he could ride on, but he was too small for the big version, the Chopper, and even the medium version was too big, so he was stuck with the "Chippy" - and as he was rarely seen without it, he quickly got his nickname.
Saturday, February 18: 4:34 p.m. - Jaap Brouwer's Day Off
Jaap Brouwer, left, vs. Marcus Reissenberger
Not many great names were playing in the second round, but we found one for the spectators to watch.
Jaap Brouwer is usually seen in a quite different role in the European Grand Prix: He is a level five judge, and usually he is either the head judge, or educating fellow judges.
He still likes to play though, and the Grand Prix also gives him the chance to see the whole experience from the other side - something that all the high-level judges should remember to do once in a while.
Jaap's unfamiliarity with the new cards showed during deck-construction - he had to read all the Guildpact-cards, and when he registered his deck, he accidentally registered an off-color card that is almost impossible for him to actually cast.
His opponent in round two was Marcus Reissenberger. In Game 1, they quickly were engaged in a stand-off, with Ghor-Clan Savage enchanted by Pollenbright Wings on Marcus' side and Skyrider Trainee enchanted by Strands of Undeath on Jaap's side being the main actors. Marcus got tricky with Boros Guildmage at some point, and got a little advantage. Jaap only chance was then to alpha-strike, but Marcus blocked correctly, and won Game 1, with only fifteen minutes left in the round.
Game 2 was dominated by Jaap's Stratozeppelid. The key play was when Markus' Char was countered by Withstand, however, the time ran out one turn to soon for Jaap to win the game, and Markus beat him 1-0
Saturday, February 18: 4:57 p.m. - Round Three: Andreas Kruschel vs. Hans-Joachim Höh
Arriving five minutes after the round started, Hans Joachim Höh and Andreas Kruschel are already in full swing. Andreas, with a Gruul/Selesnya deck, brings the beats on with a Ghor-Clan Savage and has a Nullmage Shepherd to back him up, whereas Hans-Joachim's board looks fuller indeed: Vedalken Dismisser, Dimir House-Guard, Mortipede and a Snapping Drake for offense in the air stand on his side to defend against Andreas' mighty army of one.
The bloodthirsted Ghor-Clan Savage comes in to smash face and is intercepted by house-Guard and Mortipede, and Andreas saves him with a timely Grifters Blade. Despite that, he scoops up his cards while I type this, unable to hold the fort against Hajo's swelling ranks. Andreas started this game with a mulligan, so the quick win for Hajo does not come entirely unexpected.
Both players are old-timers on the German Magic scene. Hajo had disappeared for a while, drawn away by another recently popular card game (and it's not poker), but a disqualification over a rules misunderstandings made him come back to Magic. Andreas is a mainstay on German Magic boards and well-known in the community.
Again, Andreas starts the second game with a mulligan, while Hajo comments on the previous game: "That was quite a bloodthirsty guy, wasn't it?"
A Snapping Drake on Hajo's side is matched by a Centaur Safeguard for Andreas, which nevertheless cannot hold off the first damage in this game. Hajo adds to his offense with Mortipede (again), while Andreas can only frown and take the two damage from the Snapping Drake like the man he is. "I'll not do anything either, that's fair", says Hajo, seeing that Andreas has no play. But a Scatter the Seeds from Andreas elicits the comment "that's not really fair" from Hajo, and a Siege Wurm on Andreas' side makes him exclaim "holla!".
Playing for time to think, Hajo asks for Andreas' cards in hand, hears "four" and feigns annoyance before diving back into his thoughts. That results in a double attack with six mana in every color open, and Andreas is not sure whether to take the beats or put his Wurm in front of the Mortipede. He does block, and Hajo loses the Mortipede only to finish the Wurm off with a Flame Fusillade.
Fortunately for Andreas, he has a Fiery Temper to deal five to Hajo's long-haired dome and can continue his offense with a bloodthirsty Centaur Savage. Calmly, Hajo taps out for Sisters of Stone Death and says "go", making Andreas shrug. Flight of Fancy on the Ghor-Clan Savage delivers another five in the air to Hajo who retorts by beating with the Sisters and killing the two remaining Saprolings - but a Boros Fury-Shield from Andreas takes Hajo down to a precarious six life. He has no immediate way to deal with the flying Centaur Berserker (Ghor-Clan Savage), and scoops.
"Weird", says Hajo, losing this game despite drawing both Flame Fusillade and Sisters of Stone Death, and the two German old-timers are tied at one game each. Like in the games before, Hajo plays first.
While Hajo keeps his initial seven, Andreas should know his way around Paris by now, taking his third trip to the French capital in this match. He seems to like it there, as yet another mulligan takes him to the back alleys of town.
Both players don't look happy after their initial plays of Mortipede and Centaur Safeguard, but Hajo seems to be more confident, as the double mulligan Andreas had to take puts him in a favorable position. Fists of Ironwood on the Mortipede further cements his stake in this game. Mortipede and the enchantment go down against the Safeguard, but Hajo has two tokens left to savagely beat down with. Recollect gets back the Fists, and Andreas faces a little horde of pro player cards imitating Saproling tokens. Scatter the Seeds and Nullmage Shepherd bring Andreas into the Saproling war, but still Hajo has more cards in hand. The crowd around the feature match area is slowly gathering, as these two don't really want to hurry up and trade token beats instead.
Another Nullmage Shepherd for Andreas elicits the response "very good" from Hajo, who has Compulsive Research and nothing else except for the ultimate beatdown... with a Julien Nuijten Sparoling token. Orzhov Euthanist from Hajo deals with Shepherd #1, and Sisters of Stone Death come down shortly afterwards looking to seal the deal on this game.
With five minutes left in the round, Andreas concedes with the comment "I have no removal" and Hans-Joachim Höh wins 2-1 against Andreas Kruschel.
Saturday, February 18: 5:32 p.m. - Round Four: Andre Müller vs. Hannes Scholz
For the home country players the feature match tables hold a tasty match this round: German national champion Hannes Scholz versus his countryman Andre Müller, eternal trash talker and pro player.
An entertaining pair of Germans: Andre Müller and Hannes Scholz.
The first game went to Hannes without a fight, as Andre had mis-registered his deck and received a game loss. He had noted only 38 cards instead of the 40 he brought to the table, forgotten his two blue Guildpact cards. Müller is bringing a Dimir-Izzet combination to the table, while Hannes has a Dimir-Orzhov creation with Mark of Eviction and Three Dreams to take this game. The second game was Müller's, after Faith's Fetters locked out Hannes' offense.
These two guys know each other and they get a blast out of it. Constant talk makes the match interesting for all those who can understand their comments. "If it's already hard to play", says Hannes in the third game after putting Mark of Eviction on Müller's first creature, "what about later?" "No problem", Müller randomly replies, "I'll just draw my Fiery Conclusion". It is impossible to accurately write down what these two entertainers at the Magic table are throwing around the feature match area, but it is a lively match.
After the first initial rushes, Consult the Necrosages makes Müller discard Viashino Fangtail and Orzhov Euthanist, leaving only one card in his hand which is a Repeal. Hannes ups the stakes with Belfry Spirit, and Müller is left with only a Vedalken Plotter, going down to 14 life from a bat attack.
Followed Footsteps on the Belfry Spirit and Pillory of the Sleepless make things look up for Hannes, but Müller replies with a Hypervolt Grasp, saying "go ahead, kill it!" and true to that prediction, Hannes negates it with Faith's Fetters from his enchantment heavy deck. Müller forgets that the creature can still ping - Faith's Fetters stops only the Hypervolt Grasp from returning! Without shooting down the tokens that keep attacking him and no cards in hand, Hannes overwhelms Müller's puny defense.
Hannes Scholz beats Andre Müller 2-1, and Müller storms off in rage. Hannes Scholz is now 4-0 after two byes and has a quite insane deck, featuring Three Dreams and an impressive suite of enchantments: Pillory of the Sleepless, Mark of Eviction, Faith's Fetters, Followed Footsteps, Clinging Darkness, and he also has a Lurking Informant to boot. He is confident going into the next round.
Saturday, February 18: 6:16 p.m. - Round Four: Two Juliens in the Extra Turns
Two Juliens locked in concentration.
Julien Nuijten (Netherlands) and Julien Goron (France) have just gone into the extra turns on the second feature match table. Nuijten had two Steamcore Weirds in play, but Goron managed to clear the board, only to find himself up against a Blind Hunter, a Belfry Spirit and a Nullmage Shepherd threatening to smash him as he has nothing to defend with.
Golgari Guildmage for Nuijten enters play on the fourth extra turn and dishes out his +1/+1 goodness, but the question is: Will it be enough to kill Goron? Goron is at four life and plays Seize the Soul, which Nuijten has to read, thinking how he can kill Goron after that to prevent the draw.
On the last extra turn, Nuijten brings on the Golgari Rotwurm in his hand, but now he needs to punch through four damage across three tokens on Goron's side, one of which is haunted with Seize the Soul. Then Nuijten saw how he would win on this very last turn, showing how tight he can play.
He sacrificed the newly cast Rotwurm to the Guildmage and got back a Steamcore Weird. Goron was able to counter the Weird with Convolute, but Nuijten sacrificed the Blind Hunter dealing two to Goron, haunting another of his creatures. Nuijten was able to get rid of that creature, too, dealing the final two damage to Goron via Blind Hunters Haunt ability.
Saturday, February 18: 6:27 p.m. - The Japanese on the Circuit
Tsumura, Masashi and Nakamura (from left) enjoy their game
Probably the most attention on this Grand Prix goes to the three Japanese pros who have made the trip to Europe on the bac k of their level six benefits from the Pro Players Club: Worlds T8-competitor Shuhei Nakamura, Team World Champion Masashi Oiso and Player of the Year Kenji Tsumura. The three have been hanging around with Olivier Ruel mostly, no wonder since the Road Warrior has stayed with the Japanese a couple of times. Kenji Tsumura's feature match just drew the biggest crowd so far.
Seeing them play, the three Japanese players are really into this game. Even before their tournament started (all three Japanese players came here with three byes), they could be seen playing their decks against Ruel and the French pros, clearly enjoying themselves.
Saturday, February 18: 7:06 p.m. - Round Six: Rasmus Sibast vs. Olivier Ruel
Olivier Ruel should need no introduction, but Rasmus Sibast might not be a name to recognize immediately. He is the current Danish National champion and has a Grand Prix Top 8 under his belt which propelled him up to level three in the Pro Players Club. Sibast brings a Selesnya-Orzhov deck to the table, whereas Ruel has a Selesnya-Boros deck full of flying creatures.
Ruel begins this game and the players exchange early beats. Benevolent Ancestor and a Souls of the Faultless on Ruels side face off against Stinkweed Imp, two Saproling Tokens from a Scatter the Seeds and a bloodthirsted Ghor-Clan Savage as well as a Carven Caryatid, all of which unfortunately do not fly. The Frenchman adds to his board of Sould of the Faultless with Skyknight Legionnaire and Mourning Thrull, taking his offense to the air.
Centaur Safeguard provide respite for Sibast, his Stinkweed Imp takes out Ruel's Legionnaire and Gaze of the Gorgon kills the Souls of the Faultless, while Ruel quickly rebuilds with a Selesnya Guildmage. A Dimir House-Guard transmutes into one of the two Blind Hunters Ruel has in his deck and Sibast soon scoops against the flying beats that the Magic pro with the highest amount of frequent flyer miles puts on the table.
Sibast, a game behind, lets Ruel play first in the second game. Mourning Thrull and Centaur Safeguard constitute the offense Sibast brings on, and Ruel staves off the first beats with Withstand and Benevolent Ancestor before bringing his first flyer, a Daggerclaw Imp to the table. Selesnya Guildmage shows up for a mere second before jumping in front of Sibast's Centaur Safeguard, while the Dane churns out a bloodthirsty Ghor-Clan Savage, a creature that has seen plenty of play in various decks today.
It doesn't look too good for Ruel as he calls a Dimir House-Guard to his aid, but the Blind Hunter that follows makes things better. It is not enough, however, as Sibast summons Silhana Starfletcher and Harrier Griffin and Ruel scoops up his cards at four life, compared to Sibasts 17. With the games evened out, Ruel choses to play first again. Will his flying offense overcome the ground beaters that Sibast plans to bring to the table as they did in the first game?
Ruel starts off with a mulligan, having only one land in his first seven, but the six cards he keeps yield an impressive Blind Hunter on the third turn (with the help a Signet), against which Sibast's Centaur Safeguard is not exactly effective. While Ruel takes to the sky again with Stinkweed Imp, the Greater Mossdog Sibast casts fails to get into combat. Ruel shows an impressive curve, as a Firemane Angel makes her graceful appearance on turn five.
Ruel puts on the face of a thinking man even though this match is unlikely to get lost. Sure enough, the next turn Skyknight Legionnaire shows up to seal the deal, and the Frenchman swings for nine in the air. Rasmus Sibast can only extend the hand, and Olivier Ruel wins the match two games to one.
Ruel 2 - Sibast 1
Ever the joker, Ruel then proceeds to tell me a story of Belgium's Geoffrey Siron: According to Ruel, Siron conceded the first game against his opponent because he mis-built his deck, sideboarded in a huge chunk of cards and proceeded to win the next two games straight.
Saturday, February 18: 7:38 p.m. - Round Five: Kenji Tsumura vs. Manfred Hermann
The judges inspect the decks
I showed up a tad late at the feature match table, but it didn't matter, as the players were deck-checked. After more than fifteen minutes of waiting, it became apparent that there were some issues with one of the decks. Both players were a bit nervous because they didn't know who's deck had the problem. Finally, the judges arrived. They had investigated for marked cards, but in the end, it wasn't so bad as it initially seemed, so both got to play without penalties.
It was an uneven match-up in many ways. Tsumura was the reigning Pro Tour Player of the Year, Hermann didn't have a single Pro point to his name. Tsumura came all the way from Japan, while Hermann is a local player here from Germany. Even their decks were quite different: Tsumura had opted to build a solid three-color deck, using the popular green-white-black combination. Hermann had assembled all the mana-fixers and all the good cards he could find to build a five-color monstrosity, with a far greater average power level than Tsumura's cards.
Hermann had won the die roll almost 20 minutes earlier, and chose to play. He only had two lands in the beginning, but still got his Loxodon Hierarch into play by turn four, thanks to his signets and Birds of Paradise. Tsumura also had a little mana-acceleration, but Mourning Thrull and Junktroller were far less impressive than the Hierarch. The Junktroller was first bounced by Vedalken Dismisser, than killed by the Hierarch and a Steamcore Weird. Tsumura finally got rid of the Hierarch, by using a newly summoned Dimir House Guard together with a Last Grasp. He then slowly built an offense, first with Pollenbright Wings on the Dimir House Guard, then with Dryad Sophisticate, Gruul Nodorog and Pillory of the Sleepless. Hermann fought back bravely, but he ran out of answers.
Kenji Tsumura, left, vs. Manfred Hermann
Game 2 was less spectator-friendly. Tsumura only got to play two creatures with his three lands, and his Mourning Thrull died to Steamcore Weird, while his Trophy Hunter was returned to the library by Vedalken Dismisser the turn before he conceded.
In Game 3, Hermann got to play first again, just like in the other two games. He showed his best possible opening, Forest + Birds of Paradise. He followed up with turn two Nightwatch Patrol, Blind Hunter, and Loxodon Hierarch, and Tsumura was on the defense right away. He dealt with the Hierarch by enchanting Gruul Scrapper with Necromancer's Magemark, but lost valuable card-advantage when he double-blocked the Nightwatch Patrol with Shambling Shell and Dryad Sophisticate, as Hermann had Devouring Light. Tsumura tried to stabilize with Dowsing Shaman and Mourning Thrull, but Hermann was too far ahead, and won the game in a very convincing way.
Manfred Hermann beat Kenji Tsumura, 2-1
Saturday, February 18: 8:24 p.m. - Girl Power
Photographic evidence that females actually do play Magic
Our youngest contestant today is Morgane Kelterbaum from France. She is twelve years old - but she had actually been playing Grand Prix since she was nine. When I found her in the playing area, she was just calling the judge over, as her male opponent, twice her age, apparently didn't know the rules as well as she did. She is here with her father, her sister and her brother, who are all playing as well.
Most guys around here don't like losing. But losing to a girl half their size and age is a lot worse than that - although it is hard to be mad at the cute Morgane. But to protect the innocents, I will refrain from mentioning the ones who she defeated today (although I obviously cannot keep you from looking at the results from rounds two and five...)
Saturday, February 18: 9:01 p.m. - Round 8: Andreas Ganz vs. Bernardo Da Costa Cabral
Andreas Ganz, left, vs. Bernardo Da Costa Cabral
Bernardo, the Grand Prix veteran, was playing little-known Andreas Ganz from Switzerland. Again, I had gotten the feature match that was deck-checked, but this time the judges didn't have to discuss anything, and the players could start rather fast.
Bernardo opened with a Golgari Signet leading to a turn-three Indentured Oaf, and followed up with another four-power-guy, Ordruun Commando. Meanwhile, Andreas powered up his Shrieking Grotesque with Necromancer's Magemark, but chose to enter a damage-race instead of using it as a blocker. Andreas made a Transluminant, a Roofstalker Wight, and a Grave-Shell Scarab, and that clogged up the ground pretty good. Bernardo had cast a Wee Dragonauts as well as a Pollenbright Wings on his Ordruun Commando though, and the early hits Andreas had taken put him in a very tough spot. The very strong Skarrg, the Rage Pits allowed Bernardo finish to the job.
1-0 Bernardo Da Costa Cabral
A turn-two Transluminant on Andreas' side started the action in Game 2, but after that he was out of gas already, as he got stuck on three lands. He managed to cast a Pillory of the Sleepless on Bernardo's Streetbreaker Wurm, but Gruul Guildmaster, Halcyon Glaze and the lowly Vedalken Plotter were able to hit unopposed. Andreas had a small chance after Bernardo forgot the Pillory's upkeep ability for the second time and got a warning, but he didn't forget a third time and could avoid the game loss.
Bernardo Da Costa Cabral defeated Andreas Ganz, 2-0
Saturday, February 18: 9:30 p.m. - Frank "Fanatic" Karsten
Having just featured him in a marathon match that took 40 minutes for the first game alone, I had the chance to ask Frank Karsten about winning the Invitational vote in the category "The Fanatic". Asking how he felt about winning the vote and going to the Invitational, a grin spread across his friendly face and he replied "Feels good!" That was of course not everything he said, going on to explain: "I was really hoping to be voted into the Invitational. It sounds like a lot of fun!"
The category in which Frank received the slot was just the right one, says the guy who became famous for his extensive list of draft picks for Champions of Kamigawa: "The Fanatic is a category that suits me. My approach to Magic can definitely be called fanatic", explained the 21-year-old student, "in my deck construction this morning I even used a calculator to figure out my manabase!"
Frank explains his success in the voting process with his performance last season. "I had a great year", he says, "and people got to know my name. I think that's why they voted for me. I am honored and happy that I made it", adds the amiable Dutchman, as he goes off to playtest with his friends before the last round starts.
Saturday, February 18: 10:22 p.m. - Round Seven: Frank Karsten vs. Stefan Rentzsch
Newly voted invitationalist Frank Karsten (Netherlands) faces off against Stefan Rentzsch from Dresden (Germany). Both have Selesnya-based decks, Frank with black supplementing his green-white guild and Stefan with red cards rounding out his 40-card deck.
With a mighty clang of hooves, Centaur Safeguard leads off Frank's ranks, while Stefan uses his powers for a Voyager Staff and the heavenly Selesnya Evangel. First blood is drawn from his magical veins, which powers up a Gristleback for Frank. To hold off this oh-so-threatening offense, a Boros Guildmage comes running on her quick feet to throw herself heroically in front of the charging Centaur Safeguard, which is in turn saved by Frank's Withstand.
Mourning Thrull takes wing to strike for Stefan. Alas, Frank has the one adversary that flying creatures hate to wage war upon: Trophy Hunter sneaks her sleek figures into the fray on Frank's side. With Frank at full health and Stefan at a still safe 14 life, both take a breath from the flurry of the few first turns.
Absolver Thrull swells Frank's ranks to four creatures. Frank himself provides a potential target by hampering the Boros Guildmage with Faith's Fetters. Trophy Hunter attacks for Frank, while Stefan's Evangel has already called three 1/1 tokens into existence and Stefan finds his first source of Red mana, a Gruul Signet. Clearly, Frank is unsure and fears a combat trick, nonetheless sending in Absolver Thrull and Gristleback. The Gristleback is stopped by the three Saproling tokens and dies channeling his life to Frank, while one of the tokens performs the noble deed for Stefan to power Selesnya Evangel. The German replenishes his board with Ghost Warden.
Frank goes for an alpha strike and attacks with his formidable offense after adding Selesnya Sagittars to it. All his mana is untapped, he seems to be saving energy for one big strike, and yes: there is the Wildsize on Centaur Safeguard! In response, Stefan uses his single red source to cast Pyromatics on the now helpless Safeguard, whose dying deed is a gift of life to Frank. Faith Fetters from Stefan immobilizes the Trophy Hunter and brings the German back to nine life (Frank is now at a comfortable thirty).
Galvanic Arc from Stefan kills Absolver Thrull, who stays as a dread specter and haunts Frank's Sagittars. With a powerful surge of Orzhov magic, Frank conjures a Pillory of the Sleepless on the Evangel and as Stefan is at eight life, it threatens to kill him. But there comes Stefan's own Absolver Thrull, killing the Pillory and making Frank swear under his breath, who can only answer with Mortipede, while Stefan makes a token every turn.
Apparently, Frank had hoped for the Pillory to take out his opponent. He is now lacking plays, doing nothing at all. Stefan brings forward a Divebomber Griffin enchanted with Moldervine Cloak, adding up to 14 power on the board for a potential attack. Frank has 28 life left and his Mortipede to eventually force through an attack. Siege Wurm on his side gives him a potentially lethal attack... if only he could get through the army Stefan has conjured so far, and if Stefan has no tricks up his sleeve, which seems unlikely.
Frank can be heard saying: "This must be the worst game I've ever played", as the situation gets more complicated. 21 minutes are left on the clock and the two opposing armies aren't moving one inch. But lo! a Lurking Informant comes to Frank's aid, giving him an additional way to victory besides attacking. Stefan sees this and he seems to know that he has to try and win. With 11 Saproling tokens and a Tin-Street Hooligan added to his side the ground becomes more bogged than a quagmire after a rainstorm in fall.
Off the top of Frank's deck comes help for him, a Mortify which takes out the Faith's Fetters on his Trophy Hunter. It is not enough to solve the clogged board because Frank's downfall appears from the top of Stefan's deck: Glare of Subdual. The constructed-worthy enchantment and many Saprolings tap Frank's board down and he falls shortly after to the horde he cannot stop.
Stefan leads 1-0, and with just 11 minutes left on the clock, the two players shuffle up for the next game.
Again, Frank choses to go first, and this time ships his hand. The six cards he receives next he keeps, as does Stefan with his initial seven. Land drops dominate the forst couple of turns until a Boros Guildmage for Stefan and Selesnya Sagittars start the dance on the green-red battlefield of the feature match table. Thundersong Trumpeter and Moldervine Cloak make Stefan dangerous, which is why Absolver Thrull from Frank takes doen the cloak but can't stop the Selesnya Evangel Stefan has.
Drooling Groodion comes to Frank but Galvanic Arc from Stefan immediately ends its existence in this game. Frank's attacking Absolver Thull meets its demise at the hands of a Seeds of Strength, but Frank follows with Divebomber Griffin to continue the flying beats. Stefan gets a Selesnya Evangel and a Glare, again potentially spelling the Dutchman's doom. Faith's Fetters takes Frank up to 19 life against Stefan's 15, and Pillory of the Sleepless threatens to damage Stefan seriously. He draws the Sundering Vitae that kills Fetters dead, though, and time is called.
Frank is at 19, Stefan at 10 life. Frank's own Glare of Subdual shows up, finally revealing that this match was a Glare mirror from the start. With both players having Glares, the match is unlikely to finish as none can break through the defenses of the other.
This is exactly the case, and Stefan wins the match 1-0.
Both players agree that the first one was "a crazy game", and Frank summarizes the game in a nutshell: "In some strange course of events, you got the Glare."
Saturday, February 18: 10:57 p.m. - Name Players on the Edge
On the green side, it looked like 19 points and a decent opponent's score would be required for day two. Four name players still didn't know if they had to be at the site again early next morning:
Raphael Levy squeeked into Day 2
Bram Snepvangers from the Netherlands had 16 points and needed a victory and a little luck to make it to day two. His opponent was Hendrik Delakowitz from Germany. Bram won a game where he double mulliganed, mostly because of Vulturous Zombie and Moldervine Cloak, but Hendrik had a spoiler of his own and won the other games with Glare of Subdual.
Hans-Joachim Höh had 18 points and probably would have made it with a draw, but chose to play against fellow German Rüdiger Klings. He managed to cast Vedalken Dismisser multiple times over the course of the match, and won 2-0, putting himself in a good position for a run for top 8 tomorrow.
Christian Lührs was in the same situation as HaJo, but decided to take the draw against Jan Ruess. Both made it in.
Raphael Levy was paired up against Marti Danti from Holland, and didn't get to draw. He was far behind in Game 1, when a timely Savage Twister turned it around. He lost Game 2, but when his opponent mulliganed twice in Game 3, the match was decided, and Levy made yet another GP day two.
Saturday, February 18: 11:19 p.m. - Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
9-0 Sealed Deck GP Dortmund
9-0 Sealed Deck GP Dortmund
Saturday, February 18: 11:41 p.m. - Blue Bracket Bubbles
They could be twins; Frank Karsten, left, was knocked out by Tobias Rasir.
The bubble matches for day two on the blue side of the tournament are over. Probably the fastest advance came from Michael Diezel, a Grand Prix veteran from Leipzig (Germany), who finished his opponent Pavel Matousek from the Czech Repubblic in 13 minutes and finished the day on 21 points.
Geoffrey Siron (Belgium) clinched his way to day two in a tight match against Germany's Stephan Meyer. Meyer's Dimir-Orzhov concoction looked strong on paper but wasn't strong enough to win two games against Siron's Izzet-Gruul-deck, who scored a 2-1 win.
German pro Andre Müller failed to secure a slot for day two against fellow German Andreas Sander, who made it in with a 2-0 win over Müller. The long-time pro was clearly not amused as he left the scene of his defeat.
Frank Karsten (Netherlands) with his Orzhov-Selesnya-Glare deck faced another green-white-black deck piloted by Tobias Rasir from Hanover (Germany). Rasir was able to overwhelm Karsten's Glare to knock the Invitationalist out of day two with a clean 2-0 sweep.
Another German Grand Prix mainstay, Luc Ta, made day two in a 2-1 nail-biter against Martin Zimmermann (also Germany), who earned himself a warning in the match for looking at extra cards from his opponent's library and proceeded to lose, ending up in73rd place.
French player Olivier Ruel also made day two with a 2-0 sweep over Johan Verhulst from Belgium, but did not knock the Belgian out, who finished the day in 55th place. Fellow Frenchman Amiel Tenenbaum nearly earned himself a warning in his match against Eugen Perman (Germany), because he was humming and singing to himself. Not only did that earn Amiel a reprimand from a floor judge, but also a strong complaint from Andre Müller, who was losing his match at the table next to the French singing sensation. Tenenbaum and Perman took an intentional draw when their match was tied 1-1, and both ended up in the Top 64 of the GP's blue half.
Up and down the tables, players tried to get into day two, like Amiel Tenenbaum, left, who succeeded.
Rosario Maji (Germany) lost his match against Karl-Heinz Rohde (also Germany) with 0-2. Both players were happy with that result, as they both will be back to play tomorrow.
The unlucky man of the day, in the blue half at least, was the Austrian Helmut Summersberger. He drew with his opponent Holger Wiedenbein, resulting in both of them missing day two in 67th and 68th place.
And last but not at all least, the match on top of the blue standings between David Brucker and Wesimo Al-bacha (both Germany) went to time and ended in a draw.
Tune in tomorrow, when we will bring you more coverage, stories and matches from day two of Grand Prix Dortmund!