Day One Blog - 2008 Grand Prix–Madrid!

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  • Undefeated Decks: All Mysteriously Red/Green Decks!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Podcast: Viva Espana, Forza Italia
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature Match: Round 8 – Joel Calafell vs. Arjan van Leeuwen
    by Tobia Henke
  • Podcast: Getting Rid in Madrid
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Manuel Bucher vs. Jelger Wiegersma
    by Tobias Henke
  • 17:10 p.m. Most Wanted
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 4 – Steven Sadin vs. Sergio Hernandez
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: The Path to Glory Begins
    by Rich Hagon
  • 11:50 a.m.: Sealed Construction with Manuel Bucher
    by Tobias Henke
  • Info: Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • 12:55 p.m.: A Look Around and Some Quick Questions
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: The Reign In Spain stays Mainly in the Plains?
    by Rich Hagon
  • 10:55 a.m. - Summer in the City
    by Tobias Henke
  • 10:30 a.m. - Slightly Off the Record
    by Tobias Henke


  • Blog: 10:30 a.m. – Slightly Off the Record
    by Tobias Henke
  • Expectations were high when yesterday’s preregistration closed with 906 players. Usually, roughly half the players (rather less) take the opportunity to register on Friday, so a record-breaking attendance was looking like a real possibility. (Currently, GP Paris holds that with 1592 participants.)

    But apparently European GP players are simply getting used to the immense turnouts these events are known to generate, and to avoid the crowds on Saturday morning, most dropped in yesterday to say hello and give their DCI number to the friendly guys at the computers.

    Still, 1466 is not too shabby either. In fact, it is still the third-largest GP ever!

    That means there will be nine rounds of Sealed Deck play today, split into two tournaments, with the top 64 from each advancing to tomorrow’s draft rounds.

  • Blog: 10:55 a.m. – Summer in the City
    by Tobias Henke
  • When I left the -- highly air-conditioned -- airport building yesterday, the heat struck me like a truck. So that, I thought to myself, is what they call a Summer Grand Prix.

    And indeed, temperatures in the Spanish capital of Madrid on this weekend rise to the occasion, to about 40°C (104° Fahrenheit), that is. A sun Burn Trail is sure to leave its mark on some of the players today.

    The convention center (featuring a highly esteemed air-conditioning system itself) is located in the middle of the Casa de Campo, a park with a lake, a zoo, and other recreational amenities. Usually, there are lush green gardens reminiscient of Lorwyn, but at this time of year the vegetation is suffering considerably...

    Supposedly, this is grass, but neither is it green, nor growing, instead opting to turn into straw while still rooted.

    However, some refuse to show signs of weakness. Tomoharu Saitou, road warrior par excellence, made the trip from Japan and despite the heat, he is of course wearing what has become his trademark attire, or possibly, lucky charm.

    Tomoharu Saitou

  • 11:30 am - Podcast: The Reign In Spain stays Mainly in the Plains?
    by Rich Hagon
  • With 10 different stacks of hybrid cards to contend with, more than 1400 Magic players have their work cut out for this Sealed Day One workout. 128 spread across two gargantuan pods will advance to try out the virgin territory of Shadowmoor-Eventide Draft on Sunday, with a whopping 10 Pro Points available to the winner, plus a rather fine $4,000. In this first show, we feature Brandon Scheel, one of the hottest players in the world right now, as he takes on our Pro Deckbuilding Challenge. Keep it right here for all the action from the Spanish capital.

  • Click here to download!

  • 12:55 p.m. – A Look Around and Some Quick Questions
    by Tobias Henke
  • During the first three rounds the pros don’t have to play thanks to the byes that come with the status. Obviously, they’re doing it anyway! Trying to get a feeling for their decks, most play test games against fellow pro players, others simply take test draws, and still others show off their construction and ask for opinions on possible alternatives. Best time to have a little look around...

    Tomoharu Saitou sure is determined to make his pool work. “The best thing about it,” he says, “are the two Snakeform, the best common from Eventide. The worst is, no good rares.” He shows his Woodfall Primus which might be a little too expensive and his Spawnwrithe which is not exactly a gamebreaker in and of itself. If you mix it with Snakeform, however, the small trampler might be starting to sprout some cousins. Overall, Saitou likes his chances.

    Some say licking cards makes them extra lucky
    Jan Ruess lays down the law with Prison Term

    Jan Ruess from Germany is running with a (mostly) red and white deck. He is quite happy with the removal he got: Prison Term, Puncture Blast, Burn Trail, and the deadly combination of Jaws of Stone and Elsewhere Flask. “Oh, and Silkbind Faerie probably counts as well,” he adds. On the other hand he is not so well endowed in the rare department and he’s worried about his mana base. “Some cards really are a bit too difficult to cast.”

    Frank Karsten is here today and ready to give some insight into the workings of the brand-new format: “I’m not sure I build my pool correctly. That’s why I gave it to him.” On cue fellow Dutch Robert van Medevoort comes over, and adds: “And he’s building my pool. Especially now with Eventide there are so many options, it’s really interesting to just shuffle up all the cards and pass them to someone else.”

    Frank Karsten
    Robert van Medevoort

    “It may be difficult, but I really like the format, because it’s so skill-intensive,” Karsten says. Meedevort agrees while he’s pondering over Karsten’s pool: “You certainly have to think more. With all these hybrid cards one can realistically play any color. Unlike other formats, here you cannot easily eliminate one of them.”

    About building a Sealed deck Karsten states: “First of all, I sort the cards by color and color combination, resulting in fifteen piles. Next I take out all the unplayable cards and then I go through those piles, trying to figure out – where are the bombs? Where are lots of solid cards? And which of the ten possible two-color combination will allow me to play most of them?”

  • 11:50 a.m. – Sealed Construction with Manuel Bucher
    by Tobias Henke
  • In case you’re wondering about the time stamp -- it took a little while to assemble this. In fact, the young Swiss was one of the first players to be finished with the construction of his deck. Also he was happily bouncing around the hall, rejoicing over the pool he received. Certainly two good reasons for further inquiry.

    First of all, for all of you at home who might be interested in seeing for yourself, here’s the complete pool he was working with:

    Ballynock Cohort
    Barrenton Medic
    Goldenglow Moth
    Inqisitor’s Snare
    Kithkin Rabble
    Kithkin Shielddare
    Rune-Cervin Rider
    Kithkin Spellduster
    Silkbind Faerie
    Thoughtweft Gambit
    Zealous Guardian
    Edge of the Divinity
    Nip Gwyllion
    Consign to Dream
    Merrow Wavebreaker
    Prismwake Merrow
    Banishing Knack
    Indigo Faerie
    Merrow Levitator
    Gravelgill Duo
    Memory Sluice
    Oona’s Gatewarden
    Crag Puca
    Inside Out
    Noggle Bandit
    Noggle Bridgebreaker
    Crowd of Cinders
    Plague of Vermin
    Crumbling Ashes
    Merrow Bonegnawer
    Talara’s Bane
    Splitting Headache
    Ashenmoor Liege
    Fists of the Demigod
    Manaforge Cinder
    Torrent of Souls
    Traitor’s Roar
    Gift of the Deity

    Blistering Dieflyn
    Bloodmark Mentor
    Inescapable Brute
    Mudbrawler Cohort
    Chaotic Backlash
    Fiery Bombardment
    Hatchet Bully
    Heartlash Cinder
    Scuzzback Scrapper
    Belligerent Hatchling
    Tattermunge Witch
    Woodlurker Mimic
    Crabapple Cohort
    Gloomwidow’s Feast
    Tower Above
    Tilling Treefolk
    Elvish Hexhunter
    Raven’s Run Dragoon
    Safewright Quest
    Favor of the Overbeing
    Grazing Kelpie
    Shorecrasher Mimic
    Madblind Mountain
    Blight Sickle
    Lurebound Scarecrow
    Fang Skulkin
    Puncture Blast
    Boggart Ram-Gang
    Deus of Calamity
    Runes of the Deus
    Rendclaw Trow
    Double Cleave

    Manuel Bucher
    “In other formats I usually start out on deck construction by sorting the pool by color,” Bucher said. “But in this one first of all I just take look through the whole pile to see if anything sticks out. Any bombs, any color with an unusually high number of solid cards. More often than not, that already yields an answer.”

    In this case, the answer was clearly red. “I could have even built a mono-colored deck, but that would have included Blight Sickle, Scuzzback Scrapper, and Heartlash Cinder, which aren’t really good. Especially the Cinder might seem okay, but when one plays with it, one soon realizes it’s just a 1/1 for two mana most of the time.”

    When asked about the Runes of the Deus he apparently didn’t even consider, he stated: “No no, Shadowmoor‘s Wisps are strong and should see lots of play and Eventide brings some more problems... The new Pacifism, Ballynock Trapper, and the best of them all... Banishing Knack -- a real beating with any creature that has an untap ability!”

    Instead he opted to include one and a half small splashes: Rendclaw Trow, Woodlurker Mimic (both green-black hybrid), and Crabapple Cohort. “Obviously splashing a two-drop is not optimal, but my deck could really do with another early drop and counting Manaforge Cinder I do have six sources. I had to include Inside Out,” Bucher said not too happily, but then added, “At least it could be pretty nifty to save Ashenmoor Liege from combat damage with this card.”“

    Noteworthy -- despite Crabapple Cohort, Deus of Calamity, and the total absence of monoblack cards, Bucher chose to run one Swamp. This is done to (along with Manaforge Cinder) support Torrent of Souls’ black half.

    The pool might be strong but it takes a good player to work out all the small -- but relevant -- details like that. Here is the finished deck, including sideboard cards Bucher said he might be boarding:

  • 3:24 pm - Podcast: The Path to Glory Begins
    by Rich Hagon
  • Eighteen Rounds from now somebody will be crowned champion. That final matchup will be the culmination of something approaching 5000 matches. That's a lot of duels baby. Even the greatest champion has to start out somewhere, and in our Path to Glory feature we take you every step of the way through nine rounds of Sealed, six rounds of Draft and the last-chance shootout of the Top 8. In this show we look at the first three rounds, and meet with Dutch National Champ Robert van Medevoort taking our Pro Sealed Challenge. Have we already met the winner this weekend?

  • Click here to download!

  • 4.52 pm - Feature Match, Round 4: Steven Sadin vs. Sergio Hernandez
    by Tobias Henke
  • Sergio Hernandez
    Sadin made the long trip from the US and is determined to get some use out of his free 3-0 start. His opponent from Spain had three byes as well from winning a GP trial. So we might not be seeing 3-0 decks in action, afterall.

    Hernandez went off to a quick start with Oona’s Gatewarden and Inkfathom Witch on his first two turns, while Sadin only had a pair of Forests. Things changed beginning on turn three, when Sadin started piling fat on more fat. First he dropped Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers (which killed Hernandez’ faerie and took two permanent points of damage), then Wickerbough Elder, then Crabapple Cohort.

    Meanwhile Hernandez didn’t have anything to cast, but thanks to some witchcraft brought Sadin to six anyway. Sadin took control of the witch with Biting Tether and again send in his troops. That left Hernandez at seven.

    Hernandez’ Outrage Shaman and Flame Jab could slow down the bleeding, but couldn’t stop it. The green fatties came in once again and Hernandez went to four. His River’s Grasp took down the Cohort, but when Sadin cast Idle ThoughtsWickerbough Elder was able to get through for the final four...

    Steven Sadin 1-0 Sergio Hernandez

    Hernandez had the first play once again, this time in the form of Scuzzback Scrapper, followed by Tatterkite, while Sadin had Trip Noose, followed by Hoof Skulkin.

    Steve Sadin
    Turn four saw Hernandez without a play and he opted to block Sadin’s Skulkin with his Scrapper. That finally allowed Sadin to drop the bomb, a potentially very big Wakethresher, which otherwise might have died to the lowly Scuzzback Scrapper. Hernandez chose to clear the board (excepting his Tatterkite) by means of Firespout.

    Now it was Hernandez turn to reveal some bling-bling. Demigod of Revenge came in and brought Sadin to seven. However, he did have Biting Tether again and took control of the big avatar... and then the game.

    With Tatterkite safely tucked away under Trip Noose there already wasn’t much Hernandez could do. But when Sadin cast Gift of the Deity on brand-new Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, his domination was complete. Hernandez didn’t draw any big creatures and certainly not enough small ones to try and overpower the 3/4 against an active Trip Noose.

    Soon after this quick match was over.

    Steven Sadin 2-0 Sergio Hernandez

  • 17:10 p.m. - Most Wanted
    by Tobias Henke
  • Despite not being a Constructed format GP, the traders at the venue are very happy with sales so far. Apparently, quite a lot of Spanish players use the opportunity to get their hands on some of the new cards and on many older ones as well.

    When asked about the best-selling card from Eventide, all the dealers unanimously answered: “Talara’s Battalion!” Apparently, the new hybrid lands are selling well too, and one dealer’s best-selling list included Wake Thrasher...

    But nothing’s even close to the green 4/3. Even his smaller cousin Nettle Sentinel is in high demand if one goes as far as taking a look at the set’s commons. Seems like we might see a lot of Stompy soon, possibly in Standard as well as Block Constructed. Manamorphose plus Talara’s Battalion appears to be quite the start in a format without Tarmogoyf.

    Also high in demand are cards signed by their respective artists. Mark Tedin and Rob Alexander have done so today hour after hour and still the line of waiting players, holding their favorite cards, is densely populated. In case you’re interested, Rob Alexander narrowly beats Mark Tedin with a line of 31 people to 28.

    Mark Tedin
    Rob Alexander

  • Feature Match Round 6: Manuel Bucher vs. Jelger Wiegersma
    by Tobias Henke
  • Because of a delay in the blue bracket of the tournament the players had to wait for quite some time, after Bucher had won the die roll and both players had laid out their opening seven (facedown). During that time Antoine Ruel passed by and took a look at Bucher’s hand, stating: “Your deck is really good.” Bucher to Wiegersma: “So in all probability I’ll have to take a mulligan.”

    But no, in fact Bucher started with Noggle Bandit and Hatchet Bully, while Wiegersma only had Umbral Mantle on turn three followed by an immediately equipped Harvester Gwyllion. The Swiss played Lurebound Scarecrow and Woodlurker Mimic and again attacked with his Bandit.

    Manuel Bucher & Antione Ruel

    Barrenton Medic came down from Wiegersma, but when the 4/4 scarecrow and the Bandit attacked he still couldn’t block and went to ten. Bucher furthered his offense with Belligerent Hatchling. Wiegersma got his Medic to carry the equipment and passed the turn. This did not only stop all of Bucher’s creatures except for the Noggle from attacking, but also allowed Wiegersma to prevent those two damage. However, Bucher added Deus of Calamity to his side of the board.

    Things were looking interesting, but not for long. Wiegersma changed the Umgral Mantle back to his 2/4 and then enchanted it with Elemental Mastery. That would potentially allow the Dutch to make one gazillion of tokens over the next few turns. At end of turn Bucher shot two damage to Wiegersma face with Hatchet Bully, but when his next draw step didn’t yield any answer for the token-engine he quickly shuffled it up for Game 2.

    Manuel Bucher 0-1 Jelger Wiegersma

    This time Bucher had Tattermunge Witch on turn two, Wiegersma Battlegate Mimic -- a much quicker start from both. The Witch traded with the Mimic, but Bucher’s third-turn Mudbrawler Cohort came in for the first two damage. Wiegersma again had Umbral Mantle, while Bucher populated the board with Crag Puca and Noggle Bridgebreaker. Wiegersma only had a Shrewd Hatchling. Unfortunately for the Swiss, on the next turn Wiegersma said the magic words of doom: “Let’s try it again.” He played Elemental Mastery on the Hatchling...

    But this time it was to slow. Wiegersma had already taken too much damage in this game and succumbed to Puncture Blast.

    Jegler Wiegersma

    Manuel Bucher 1-1 Jelger Wiegersma

    Wiegersma went first for the first time in this match and was promptly rewarded by his deck with a mulligan.

    Woodlurker Mimic from Bucher was followed by a turn-three Boggart Ram-Gang, and both smashed in, dropping Wiegersma to fifteen. Meanwhile, however, the Dutch had summoned Thistledown Duo and now upgraded it with some Steel of the Godhead. The race was on!

    Bucher added Tattermunge Witch and Fang Skulkin to his team, Wiegersma had Recumbent Bliss for the Ram-Gang. B retorted with Lurebound Scarecrow. He dropped to five, Wigersma to eight, and now it all came down to whether Wiegersma had another white spell to trigger his Duo...

    He finally drew his fourth land to cast Harvest Gwyllion and that was enough.

    Jelger Wiegersma 2-1 Manuel Bucher

  • 8:28 pm - Podcast: Getting Rid in Madrid
    by Rich Hagon
  • With each passing round, legions of players queue up to drop from the tournament. With Release events, 8-man Drafts galore, and the wonders of Madrid awaiting, the temptation just sometimes gets too much. At the sharp end, players are trying to prolong their Main Event experience, and in this penultimate show on Day One we focus on Rounds 4,5 and 6, where nobody can win the event, but plenty put themselves out of contention. Find out the who and the why right between the ears, then join us for our late-night update on the final Rounds.

  • Click here to download!

  • Feature Match: Round 8 – Joel Calafell vs. Arjan van Leeuwen
    by Tobias Henke
  • Both players have one loss already and desperately need to avoid another one. After Leeuwen had won the die roll, a judge came over and collected the player’s decks for deckcheck. That gave some time for friendly banter...

    “How is your deck?” Calafell inquired.
    “Good so far,” Leeuwen stated the obvious.
    “On a scale from one to ten?”
    “Seven maybe. Yours?”
    “Well, I might just be trying to scare you.”

    The decks returned without any problems and after some more thorough shuffling we were off to Game 1.

    Leeuwen started with a pair of Swamps, while Calafell cycled Manamorphose on turn two and cast Briarberry Cohort. Turn three saw Leeuwen revealing white as his second color, but still no play. Calafell attacked for one and also passed right back.

    Finally, on turn four Leeuwen dropped Harvest Gwyllion. Calafell cycled Inside Out... These decks really didn’t look like quality seven or even nine.

    Now, Leeuwen summoned Rune-Cervin Rider, halting Calafell’s 1/1 offense. The Spanish player once again had no play, but when all of Leeuwen’s creatures attacked disabled the Gwyllion with the help of Torpor Dust. Rune-Cervin Riders was pumped and Clafell fell to 15. Now, he drew a fifth land and took out the 2/2 flyer with Outrage Shaman.

    Cenn’s Enlistment did some recruiting on Leeuwen’s side of the board, while Gravelgill Axeshark entered on Calafell’s. When Leeuwen undid all of Calafell’s creatures with one stroke of Incremental Blight it slowly became apparent, why both players consider thier decks to be good. And when Calafell smoothly retorted by first casting Dominus of Fealty, then Oona, Queen of the Fae it became downright obvious...

    Joel Calafell 1-0 Arjan van Leeuwen

    Arjan van Leeuwen takes it all in stride

    Calafell had to take mulligan for Game 2 and Arjan started with Restless Apparition, while Calafell had Riverfall Mimic. Next up Puncture Blast killed the Apparition, Torture tortured the Mimic. Once again the board was bereft of creatures. Leeuwen’s Blowfly Infestation didn’t change this, but his DuergarAssailant and his second Restless Apparition did.

    Dominus of Fealty entered play for a reprise and things were looking dim (and grim) for the Dutch. He could only smile and shake his head, when Clafell’s third rare -- Furystoke Giant made an appearance. Mostly smile, that is, because when the Dominus dared to enter the red zone he was immediately struck down by an Inquisitor’s Snare. Meanwhile Restless Apparition worked on Calafell’s lifetotal, but when Leeuwen pumped it twice, Consign to Dream took care of that attacker, at least for two turns.

    He couldn’t really use this time though, because when he attacked and tried switch his Crag Puca’s power and toughness, Scar and the activated ability from Duergar Assailant took it down. There was a bit of confusion about how Leeuwen intended to do this, but he did know to play the Scar and activate his wannabe Mogg Fanatic in response to the Puca’s activation.

    Restless Apparition was recast and Leeuwen expanded his offense with Ballynock Cohort, while Calafell reavealed more lands...

    Joel Calafell 1-1 Arjan van Leeuwen

    Joel Calafell makes his move

    In this game a very interesting, high-power stalemate developed: On one side there was Calafell who had Furystoke Giant, a token from Call the Skybreaker (revealing his fourth rare of the match), Dominus of Fealty, Oona, among some smaller creatures, on the other side Leeuwen had Trip Noose, Blowfly Infestation, Souls Snuffers (a deadly combo with the Infestation), some minor creatures, and Mercy Killing to get rid of Oona.

    Between Trip Noose and having to avoid cataclysmic Blowfly Infestation action, Calafell couldn’t muster any offense, despite his amazing line-up of rares. On the other hand, Leeuwen would surely succumb to Call the Skybreaker sooner or later. But then the Dutch topdecked Incremental Blight, which killed about twelve creatures (including tokens) on the Spanish side!

    Suddenly things were looking bright for Leeuwen player and he could even start attacking.

    Unfortunately, time was running out and both players were in the stage of frantical game play already. So Leeuwen attacked with one creature too many and died on the return attack.

    Joel Calafell 2-1 Arjan van Leeuwen

  • 12:00 a.m. - Podcast: Viva Espana, Forza Italia
    by Rich Hagon
  • A fantastic Day One in Spain is done, and while the hosts still have plenty of spellslingers in contention, both green and blue segments of the event are led by Italians, David Besso and Patrizio Golio, who ended the spectacular 14-0 run of Grand Prix: Indianapolis winner Jelger Wiegersma. For the story of the final rounds of Day One, you know where to click.

  • Click here to download!

  • 12:10 a.m. - Undefeated Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Here they are -- those decks and players that went unscathed throughout nine rounds and now sport a perfect 9-0 record. Curiously, all of them are red-green...

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