Sunday, June 4: 9:09 a.m. - On Day One, the Undefeated Players Used Undefeated Decks
Kenji Tsumura - 8-0
Day One, Grand Prix-Kuala Lumpur
James Porter - 8-0
Day One, Grand Prix-Kuala Lumpur
Nan Tu - 8-0
Day One, Grand Prix-Kuala Lumpur
Sunday, June 4: 11:47 a.m. - Drafting with Kenji Tsumura and Eugene Levin
Compared to drafting with the full Ravnica block, building a Sealed Deck is easy. With the guilds spread out through the packs as they are, some draft combinations come together earlier than others. For instance, if you end up drafting a blue/green/white deck, you'll get some hot, hot Selesnya loving in pack one, but will be left wanting until pack three, where you'll suddenly be flush with Simic and Azorius goodness. A black/green/white deck will most likely be filled out by the time you're finished with pack two, and pack three with have but a garnish for your Selesnya/Golgari/Orzhov salad.
Three people managed to pull through Day One with eight wins and no loses to their names, and the biggest name of the three was none other than Kenji Tsumura. Tsumura snapped up the Player of the Year title last year through his tireless roaming of the globe, beating the stuffing out of people in Magic tournaments, and he's in a prime position to do it again here Sunday.
Quentin Martin secretly helps Tsumura build his deck with his telepathic super powers.
As I stood behind Tsumura, I noticed that Eugene Levin was seated a mere two seats downstream, and had a pleading "watch me, watch me!" look in his eyes. Well it was that, or his latte kicking in. Levin was in seventh place at the end of day one with his great deck (with Quentin Martin at 14th, maybe both players were right about the quality of their decks) and was also in great position to make a run for the playoffs himself.
Tsumura was rewarded with a Bottle Cloister in his opening pack, and was soon in black for Keening Banshee and Dark Confidant. Levin whipped out a first-pick Galvanic Arc, and matched it in Golgari with a Civic Wayfinder and both the Golgari Rotwurm and Rot Farm. Tsumura branched into blue for a fifth-pick Szadek, Lord of Secrets, which I guess he would hope never to reveal with the Confidant.
In pack two, both players ventured into Red; Gruul for Levin, and Izzet for Tsumura. Levin was clearly happy to see a fifth-pick Ghor-Clan Savage, and barely managed to stay in his chair when he got another one sixth. After a first-pick Debtors' Knell, Tsumura seemed less happy with how things were going. He scooped up a couple of Schismotivates, only to have two Leap of Faiths and another Schismotivate fall into his lap in the latter half of the pack.
After picking up a couple of Helium Squirters and Silkwing Scout, Tsumura looked to have a reasonable deck, but nothing too flashy. When I asked his how he rated his chances, he blurted out "0-3! 0-3!" with his characteristic grin. I haggled him up to a potential 2-1 "if I get lucky!"
In a blur, Levin hurries to finish registering his deck.
The last pack really pulled Levin's deck together, as he picked up a matched pair of Sporeback Trolls and Aquastrand Spiders. Despite claiming he had no idea what he was doing, Levin admitted his deck was most likely a go for 2-1, and that he'd win if he drew his Trolls.
How did they go? Well, Tsumura managed to pull out a win against Yujian Zhou to advance to one of only two 9 - 0's, and Levin crushed Buncha Siri-ek 2 – 0 with monsters like Galvanic Arced Glass Golem and his trusty Ghor-Clan Savages, taking himself up to 8 - 1.
Sunday, June 4: 12:17 p.m. - Round 10 Feature Match: Kenji Tsumura vs. Nan Tu
Two men enter, one man leave. Well, not quite, they're both still gonna be here after this round, but only one of them will be 10 – 0 and only one of them will be leading the pack in the race to the Top 8.
Tsumura verses Tu, who will be 10 - 0?
In Game 1, Nan Tu started out with a mulligan, and very quickly fell under Kanji Tsumura's Helium Squirter-led army. Thanks to the one-two punch of Perplex into Bottled Cloister from Tsumura, we were off to Game 2.
Again Tsumura started the damage race with his flyers, but this time Tu was ready, calling forth his burly protector Isperia the Inscrutable to defend him. Tsumura's small flyers stood there helpless as the 3/6 flying legend flew over to take chucks out of their master, summoning forth an army of additional flyers in the process. Every time Tsumura tried to muster a gang to take Isperia down, Tu had a Peel from Reality or a Dogpile to wreck him and it wasn't long before both players were shuffling up again to ready themselves for the tiebreaker.
Tsumura's first real play was a turn-four Enemy of the Guildpact, for whom very little seemed to stand in the way. Tu dug for a Boros Garrison with his Court Hussar, before getting his Isperia Perplexed by an obviously pleased Tsumura. Kenji followed the Counter with his Bottled Cloister again, and this time if drew him into his Debtors' Knell.
There was very little Tu could do to stop the flow of monsters, some of them even his own, so he packed in his cards. Kenji Tsumura now advances to the top of the field at 10 – 0. Not bad for a kid who claimed at the World Champs in Japan last year that he couldn't draft to save himself.
Kenji Tsumura defeats Nan Tu 2 – 1.
Bottled Cloister and Debtors' Knell. How would you rate your chances?
Sunday, June 4: 1:36 p.m. - rk post Talks Art
I like art, which is probably why completed a Bachelors Degree in Visual Communication, Art and Design. The long, difficult and often stressful hours, days, months and years spent achieving this qualification probably have something to do with the fact that I haven't picked up a pencil since then. One person who still picks up a pencil is rk post, known for prettying up such Magic cards as Thorn Elemental, Dawnstrider and the Avatars from Prophecy. I grabbed a crack squad of the best judges, and together we kidnapped Mr. Post and took out the back for some questioning.
post has signed just about everything imaginable.
How many Magic events have you attended now?
"A plethora. A couple shy of a million, I think. Wait, do you include prereleases in that? That would take it over a million."
What non-Magic related work do you do?
"I work full time for the software company Gas Powered Games. I do all kinds of art and design stuff for them."
Favorite Magic piece?
"Unmask. It's my standard answer, and I'm sticking to it."
What is the card you're most asked to sign?
Obviously, I replied.
Is there anything that you'd refuse to sign?
"Nothing, and I've signed pretty odd stuff. Anything and everything. Body parts, wallets. I've even been asked to draw some reasonably questionable stuff on people's cards, but hey, why not? Surprise me!"
Where did you train to be an artist?
"I grew up on a farm where I mostly taught myself. I did get a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts at Northern Illinois University though, but it hasn't done me any good. All the good stuff I learned after school."
What is your favorite medium to work with?
"If I have enough time, I like to work with oils. It gives you something solid to hold once you're done. I usually work digitally though."
How many pieces do you have in Coldsnap?
"Umm, two! One of them is a critter."
What do you like most about your job?
"With Magic, I like that I get to travel. With my other job, I like that I get a salary and insurance and I get to work on fun stuff. I've also picked up a few skills along the way there, so that's great too."
Sunday, June 4: 2:17 p.m. - It's a Photo Montage!
Like any good tourist, I made sure to snap early and often. But rather than waste the excess, here are a few to give you a taste of the good times going on here.
A pretty fountain, with people gathered around it, generally chilling out on their Friday night.
The dealers got what choo neeeed. If what you need is sleaves and singles and stuff, anyway.
This mall was very big, at least by my standards, which probably aren’t very high. Well, I thought it was cool at least.
Quentin Martin is shown in the country breakdown as being from Malaysia. Apparently this isn’t the first time it’s happened either, and he’s still not entirely sure why it keeps happing to him. He’s been from Belgium, Suria, Eastern Mongolia and this one time, the back of the second closet on the left.
It’s weird. I never eat the stuff at home, but always seem to end up having some when I’m overseas. Maybe it’s the fact that the temperature is just right where I live, and unbearably sweltering everywhere else. Yes, that guy on the bottom left is actually blowing on his ice cream to cool it down even more, that’s how hot it is here in Kuala Lumpur.
I was all set to run for Mexico, but before I got too far, someone told me that giant checks don't actually count as legal tender. Curses.
We lost our Internet connection here at the convention center last night, just after Round 8 finished up. I had to skip the judges dinner to head back to my hotel room to continue working. This is my first ever room-service experience. The fries were cold, but the sammich was very nice, thanks for asking.
Another fountain. This one is outside my hotel, and also very pretty.
I’m in room 429. The door is unlocked.
Also, funny story. I’ve been linking that picture all weekend to Greg Collins, our esteemed coverage manager, to give him a giggle or two. He’s working from home in Seattle getting the back-end side of things sorted out so that you guys can actually read all of this. Anyway, at one point, I failed to notice that Greg’s girlfriend Adrienne had taken control of the computer while he was away doing important stuff, and I linked it to her as well. Job security? Who needs it!
Sunday, June 4: 2:45 p.m. - Making it All Tick
None of this could happen without the judges. Well, it couldn't happen without a great number of the other people involved in this event, either. In fact, I'm probably the only superfluous person here. Anyway, the judges are still very important, and snappy dressers to boot. Here are the judges who have patrolled the floor (and continue to, for that matter) at this weekend's Grand Prix.
Jacky Yang (head Judge)
Wearn Ee Chong
Shing Nien Fong
Eum Sung Dae
Clifford Yap Tsiang Ming
Sashi Kumar Balakrishnan
Charlie Sun Yu-Li
Micheal Yong Hiong Tee
Martin Wong Kwong Teck
Mohd. Ezzanie B. Shamsul
And lastly, but by no means least, my chief chocolate fetcher and man who makes electricity happen in the feature match area:
Bonus question: How do you fit a dozen judges into a ladies' dressing room?
No, I have no idea how they did it either.
Sunday, June 4: 5:29 p.m. - Round 13 Feature Match: Quentin Martin vs. Osamu Fujita
Quentin Martin has been begging me for a feature match pretty much all day. Just two rounds out from the playoffs, he only needs one win to make the Top 8, it seems he's finally gonna get his name in little computer screen lights. Also needing one win is Osamu Fujita, a seasoned player in his own right, who wasn't going to stand aside easily.
Both players got off to a fine start with nobody falling short on mana or cards and whatnot. Martin had his small white critters, and Fujita had his small green ones. Both players then upsized their board positions – Fujita with a Leafdrake Roost, and Martin with a Sky Hussar, which is always gonna be faster in a race. One timely Peel from Reality later and Martin had taken Game 1.
Quentin and Osamu battled to the wire.
Fujita came out with a blinding turn-three Patagia Viper in Game 2, which started racing against a Guardian of the Guildpact. Creatures joined the battle on both sides of the table, but they all pretty much cancelled each other out, while the Patagia and the Guardian marched on to the same beat. The game played on for what seemed like several hours, and just as Martin looked about to press an advantage taken from an Overrule, Fujita dropped the Skarrgan Skybreaker bomb on him, taking the match score to one apiece with a scant few minutes left on the clock.
While they both wanted a result, there was no finishing the match quickly. Fujita managed to get out his Skybreaker again, but Martin had the Vedalken Dismisser to keep it away, and the match ended in a draw. Both players could be looking for their win in the last round instead.
Fujita 1 – Martin 1
Sunday, June 4: 5:42 p.m. - Round 13 Feature Match: Ruud Warmenhoven vs. Yujian Zhou
Ruud Warmenhoven and Yujian Zhou were both in the unenviable position of needing to win their last round to make the Top 8. While it seemed like Zhou might be short on mana to begin Game 1, he quickly found more with his Lurking Informant. Warmenhoven started the beat with his Greater Mossdog, only to have Zhou use a Scatter the Seeds to power up a Ghor-Clan Savage to stop it.
Eugene Levin congratulates Ruud on the victory.
Pushing back, Warmenhoven dropped a Glare of Subdual on Zhou. The Glare held off Zhou's monsters for quite a while, but a timely Twinstrike put Warmenhoven on the back foot, at least until he could drop more guys into play. But into play they came, and the Glare gave Warmenhoven the win for Game 1.
In the second game, Warmenhoven crashed into play with a whole pile of fat, leaving Zhou gasping for air. A Clinging Darkness slowed things a little, but couldn't do enough to stop the oncoming tide of limbs, teeth and sharp pointy things. Zhou quickly succumbed to Warmenhoven's assault.
Ruud Warmenhoven defeats Yujian Zhou 2 – 0 to earn a spot in the Top 8.