Saturday, July 22: 10:18 a.m. - "I love the sound of sealed deck in the morning…"
The Grand Prix circuit offers a lot of different things for different players. There is the lure of points and prizes, with the former being sufficient to lure the likes of Olivier Ruel and Pierre Canali away from their own national championship, looking to level up and stay ahead in the Player of the Year race. There is the potential for travel. Players don't need a great excuse to take a weekend break in an unfamiliar city when there are Grand Prixs around, and the chances are that there will always be someone to go out with of an evening as such big affairs.
For us writers though, living vicariously through the achievements of the players that we are covering, bringing the big stories and the little incidents, there are occasional small things that are just as special. For me, I just love the sound of over 500 people cracking boosters at the same time. The magical Mexican Wave of sound doesn't last long, as players are eager to go about their deck construction, but for around 20 seconds or so, a GP is the auditory equivalent of Christmas, with all the gifts being unwrapped by eager children, looking for new toys.
These eager children quickly make the phase shift back into being players. At this point, I have to go back to being a writer.
Luckily at a 538 player Grand Prix, there is no lack of stories.
Saturday, July 22: 11:32 a.m. - Piles and Smiles
Frank Karsten has, in the space of the last block, become legend when it comes to taking the art that is sealed deck building, and turning it into a science. Watching his deckbuilding process, there is evidence of a routine that does a pretty good job of taking one of the most complicated sealed deck formats ever, and putting all the useful information in an order where difficult decisions can be made more quickly, easily, and with a better chance of success.
Frank Karsten, right, builds his deck
Karsten's 75 cards quickly got cut down by 15 or so, as in the process of laying out all his different colours and guilds the cards too weak to ever make the cut got turned face down and put into a pile indicating that they would sit on the bench for this GP.
From there, every guild, and mono-coloured creatures got rated on a two tier scale. The question was simple. Do I really want to play this card? In a format like Ravnica block sealed deck, while playing a lot of colours is more or less inevitable, playing all of them is probably a very bad idea. Karsten wanted to know which cards in his card pool were strongly pulling him towards a particular colour or combination of colours. The remaining cards became tapped in their piles. These would be the support cards, once colour decisions had been made.
To make the colour decisions that little bit easier, Karsten laid out his piles (now effectively split into two) into a rosette, so that he could see which colours had the most natural fit with each other. As is pretty common in the format, Frank couldn't play every powerful card he had, so at this point the tricky decisions had to be made about cutting colours.
Having cut down to three colours, it was time to build back up. With a curve laid out for creatures, and a separate pile of spells laid out, Frank moved efficiently to produce a neat curve of creatures to go with his removal. At this point he pulled out his splashes, and went with only the most powerful, giving careful consideration to his curve. Karoo land had been high on his list of 'cards that make me want to play this colour', so when they supported the splash he couldn't help but crack his calm mask with a small smile.
The final piece of the puzzle was the mana. Out came the pen and paper, with columns already laid out. For each colour, the number of mana symbols got counted, along with the total number of cards requiring the colour. From there the ratio of each colour was calculated, which in turn was used to work out how many of each basic land would be needed. This bit almost certainly was complicated, but to watch the Magic Invitational Resident Genius, you wouldn't have known it.
Karsten was ready to roll, and had a whole 3 byes in which to relax, safe in the knowledge that his deck was just fine.
Saturday, July 22: 11:58 a.m. - Pro Player Blog: An Introduction
Hello, this is Craig Jones here.
No time for love, Dr. Jones
No, I haven't returned to do the sideboard coverage. Today that's in the capable hands of Tim Willoughby. Instead we're going to try something new and try and get some coverage up through the eyes of a player. That would be me.
Yes, I do play, allegedly.
For those that don't know I am the same Craig Jones that used to cover the European Events (why they decided I might be able to do this). I'm also the same Craig Jones that top-decked that Helix in Honolulu before being beaten up in the final by Mark Herberholz. Technically that makes me a Pro player and quite good. Unfortunately that was constructed and the Grand Prix today is Limited.
I know, they should have picked someone else. You know, someone who is likely to build his deck correctly, play it competently and actually challenge top 8. You know, someone like Olivier.
Unfortunately you've got me, so let's cross our fingers and hope this lasts further than round 6.
Saturday, July 22: 12:20 p.m. - So… Any Drafts?
Deck construction over, and while the masses that have travelled to Malmö have games to play, Olivier Ruel has a box of Coldsnap and a hankering to spend his hard earned byes on getting in a little practice with the new format.
Oli's a drafter
With a cheeky smile and a box waved high above his head, he didn't have a lot of trouble rounding up such 3-bye luminaries as Julien Nujiten, and countrymen Pierre Canali and Raphael Levy. Even as he was busy being smashed by a mono-white deck in the hands of Levy, he noted that he really liked drafting the final set of Ice Age block, and expected to continue to do so right up until everyone else worked out how it was put together.
Of course, to be able to get to draft he would still have to make it through today's sealed deck. His card pool was unspectacular, with solid enough removal, but an unfortunate lack of quality creatures or mana fixing. All of a sudden, Oli's gamble on playing a GP rather than going to French Nationals seemed a little dicier.
From nearby on the draft table, Julien let out a small chuckle. His deck sported more or less every mana fixer in the format, along with the bombs to power out. Nujiten was merrily scribbling down his card pool, confidently declaring that he would write about his deck if he did well, and if not, he would be forced to leave the venue in shame.
From having seen the full deck, it seems pretty likely that Julien will be a drafter on Sunday, just as he is right now.
Saturday, July 22: 12:29 p.m. - Pro Player Blog: Building the Sealed Deck
Okay, so the waiting is over and I finally get to see what cards I'm playing with today. This is the pool I was given:
Duskmantle, House of Shadow
Simic Growth Chamber
Drift of Phantasms
Muddle the Mixture
Peel from Reality
Train of Thought
Strands of Undeath
Goblin Fire Fiend
Sabretooth Alley Cat
Elves of Deep Shadow
Agent of Masks
Glare of Subdual
Leap of Flame
Plumes of Peace
Rally the Righteous
Okay, so you have thirty minutes.
Ouch Ravnica is hard.
The obvious thing to notice is the Glare of Subdual. That was reason to pump the fist. After the Glare it gets a little tricky. Three Dreams is also a nice rare in that it provides both tutoring and card drawing. I thought that would make a good starting point. There is also a solid backbone of green creatures to build upon.
Then it's that familiar feeling in Ravnica sealed deck where you twist your brain into knots trying to make the mana base fit until it slowly starts oozing out of the ears. Red gives me Galvanic Arc and Streetbreaker Wurm. Black gives me Stinkweed Imp, Shambling Shell and another target for Three Dreams in Strands of Undeath. Blue gives me Helium Squirter and Plumes of Peace, as well as allowing me to cast Patagia Viper and have it live.
Unfortunately I don't have Civic Wayfinder, and while it would be nice to play all the good spells, it would be nicer to actually be able to play them. Something has to go.
I'm a big fan of being able to cast my spells, so I generally look to the lands and signets and let them tell me what to do. In this case they say blue. This isn't ideal as blue is the color I'd least like to play.
The Galvanic Arc is too juicy to turn down, as is the Wurm, so I added a red splash.
In the end I built this:
Sealed Deck Day One GP Malmo 2006
Actually it was more of a panic build. That thirty minutes isn't very long at all, especially as you also have to log the deck at the same time. I was frantically scratching down cards as time was called.
I'm off to play a few test games during my byes and I'll come back with further thoughts.
Saturday, July 22: 1:14 p.m. - Pro Player Blog: Panic is a bad thing
Yep, panic is a bad thing. Every time I think, "keep a cool and collected head", I get scared by the clock and try and put the deck together in the rush.
This is a bad thing when you count your cards after handing in the deck reg sheet and come to 41 cards. Oh, oh. One, playing 41 cards is not advisable in sealed deck and also I'm sure I registered 40.
There then ensued a panicked request to deck-checking team to actually find out what I should be playing.
I have these horrible visions of having to play the first game of every match without the Glare. Nooooooo!
Actually I'm fairly certain I miscounted my lands. There are 14 basic lands in my deck. I registered 6 forests, 5 plains, 2 islands and 1 mountain and then added it up to thirteen. All very easy to do under time pressure.
(I told them they should have used Olivier!)
I should only be playing 16 lands, so after the first game of each match I'll be correcting the deck by removing one of the islands to take the deck down to 40 cards and 16 land.
Okay, so what do I think of my deck. Basically it seems very much Glare or bust. There's some nice synergy with the Glare in that I have Evangel, Viper, Bramble Elemental and even the Ragworm. There's also some nice synergy with Bramble Elemental and Three Dreams. The mana base is a little on the shifty side however, and quite a few of the cards are on the filler side.
A few people I asked said I maybe should have played the black. The black isn't bad, and goes reasonably deep. It was something I thought about during the inevitable rebuilding that happens during the 3 bye stage.
The problem is the deck isn't very deep in white but Glare is so powerful that I absolutely have to play it. If black had more removal then I could make the tough choice and bench the Glare, but I think I absolutely can't do without it, even if it means playing some sub-optimal cards.
At the moment the only other change I'd make is maybe replace the Divebomber Griffin with the Guildmage, even though it is quite hard to cast.
Join me later anyway. Providing I have time I'll try to provide a summary of each round.
Saturday, July 22: 3:07 p.m. - Enter the Pros!
With the first three rounds out of the way, it is time for the Pros to enter the fray, with their 3 byes all used up.
Eddy Mucha - the face of things to come?
The top tables just got a whole lot busier.
Raphael Levy has been getting more and more animated as the day goes on. Clearly he is loving his magic, and is eager to get onto the business of winning some competitive matches. The Pro's might have been out of the tournament so far, but they have been far from out of the game. In fact, they may well have played more games of magic this morning than anyone else in the venue. Wilco Pinkster could be seen looking rather pleased with his solid deck, which could quite happily compete even before his Skeletal Vampire came out to play.
Of course, not everyone on three byes got there by their rating or Players Club standing. Eleven year old Eddy Mucha from Ireland is here with three byes from a Grand Prix trial victory. Having spent much of Friday pulping people at Coldsnap draft, he is all set to do the same in Ravnica sealed, having opened a powerful deck, and practised with some of the best.
When asked by Jaap Brouwer whether he had a rating good enough for any byes, Eddy simply answered 'Not yet'.
Could we have another Julien Nujiten or Cole Swannock on our hands?
Saturday, July 22: 3:16 p.m. - Tap-dancing
The Evil Terry Soh
After 3 rounds on the bench, it was with some eagerness that Pierre Canali sat down against Craig Jones for his first match of the day. Nobody wants to have to play against a Pro Tour top eighter for the first round of the tournament, but given that both Pierre and Craig are more known for their constructed play, it could have been a lot worse.
When Craig led with an Elves of Deep Shadow, it was met with a 'How lucky!' from Pierre, who could only answer with a Golgari Brownscale.
Craig followed up with a Loaming Shaman and a Glare of Subdual in the turns that followed. This earned him a pat on the back from Ruud Warmenhoven, and a disparaging look from the Frenchman, who's Brownscale looked a little outclassed.
Even when Pierre found a Bramble Elemental to join his 2/3 beater, things didn't look great, with Jones powering out creatures at a similar rate. Sure, Jones' monsters were only the likes of Silhana Ledgewalker, but it didn't seem to matter when he had a Glare on the board, and could keep Canali's men tapped down.
In an effort to get around the Glare, and possibly even to find an answer, Pierre played Flight of Fancy on Bramble Elemental to draw some cards, and bring out some Saprolings, one of which was masquerading as an Evil Terry Soh, sporting a Ming the Merciless beard.
'There's a Terry Soh headed my way!' lamented Prof as he surveyed the scene the very next turn.
'This is no regular Terry Soh - he's mean…' replyed Canali, merrily getting in for his point of damage.
The board was filling up, which ultimately seemed to favour Craig, with his Glare of Can't Let You Attack or Block right. A Fiery Conclusion to kill a Jones Bramble Elemental seemed like a pretty fair trade for Canali, but when Jones brought out a Simic Ragworm (with blue mana up), the game seemed close to over.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Canali's deasperate measure was a Cleansing Beam, to cleanse the board of almost every creature, leaving him with his Brambles, to Craig's Ragworm, henceforth known as 'The Tapdancer' given his insane ability to tap down Canali's men.
Swings from the Ragworm took Canali to just two. A grave Warmenhoven came over and shook his head. Things did not look good for the Frenchman. He had to scoop it up, but before shuffling and sideboarding, he took a hopeful peek at his top card. The shake of the head said it all.
Wessel Oomens came over, and Pierre bemoaned his luck.
'He topdecked the Lightning Helix!' declared the Frenchman, in reference to Craig's famous $15,000 topdeck that had taken him to the finals of the Pro Tour.
Craig Jones wins game 1.
Following a mulligan, Canali kept his six with a small smile, before giving the table a little thump when Craig indicated he was happy with his seven.
Prof had a turn one Terrarion, which meant that he could get out an Izzet Boilerworks without having to discard, while Canali's first play was the one card every Pro dreams of having in their pool, Civic Wayfinder.
Neither player was up for being the beatdown in the matchup, as Craig made a Soulsworn Jury, to his opponent's Vedalken Entrancer. And so, the board began to fill again.
'The Glare is here you think?' asked Canali, pondering activating his Entrancer.
'It's obviously in my hand' retorted the Englishman, as he calmly countered a Bramble Elemental with is Soulsworn Jury.
It was not coming out yet though, with Prof more than happy to just drop a Streetbreaker Wurm and start beating.
Canali seemed to like the Wurm plan, and played on of his own in the form of Siege Wurm. If there was to be a fight in the red zone, there would not be a lot of hands involved. Wurm to Wurm comb at anyone?
If you are intending on making your Wurms fight, you might do well to follow the example of Mr Jones, who played a Galvanic Arc on his, to kill Civic Wayfinder, and allow for some safe swings.
Canali wiped some sweat from his brow. This wasn't the way it was meant to go.
The next turn Canali was forced to block the Streetbreaker with his Entrancer, and it was with a look of glee that he surveyed the cards on their way to the bin. No Glare, but a Patagia Viper was one less threat to worry about. When a Fiery Conclusion then took the Wurm out of the equation, the board suddenly looked much better for the Frenchman. The last Wurm on the board wins.
It was at this point that Craig played out his Glare of Subdual, eliciting a sigh from Canali who had worked so hard to get the board back to relative parity. With a Siege Wurm and an Aquastrand Spider against Silhana Ledgewalker and Nightguard Patrol, Canali would normally have been way ahead.
Even a foolish attack with the Ledgewalker into a spider that learned to block in a hurry was not enough to throw away Prof's game, while he had the powerful enchantment on the board.
With each passing turn, Canali would playfully peek at his card as he drew it, hoping beyond hope for an answer. Time was not on his side, as Craig continued to deploy threats, sufficient to tap down Canali's attackers, and allow for swings back.
Pierre transmuted a Drift of Phantasms to find Golgari Brownscale, thinning his deck in the hope of drawing an answer. It was not forthcoming though, and Craig took the Frenchman down.
Craig Jones' Glare of Subdual 2 - Pierre Canali 0.
Saturday, July 22: 3:54 p.m. - 'But the weather forecast said warm?!?'
As the afternoon sun warms the hall almost as much as the rising tensions as day one here at GP Malmo, there are more than a few pre-emptive pros looking eagerly towards the new format of Coldsnap draft.
There are some pretty unique challenges to triple Coldsnap, being a smaller set than is traditional for a triple pack draft format. Decks have a nasty habit of looking more like constructed decks than ever before, as the small cardpool makes having multiple copies of key commons more and more likely.
The biggest winner with this is clearly anything with the Ripple mechanic, and we will be in full Ripplewatch mode tomorrow, looking for the most over the top number of spells played while only paying for one. Much talk has been made over the potential for a turn two Mind Twist with Surging Dementia, but it will be interesting to see if anyone can pull it off in the competitive environment of a Grand Prix day two.
Beyond Ripple, there are cards like Krovikan Mists and Kjeldoran War Cry, which get multiplicatively better the more copies of them there are around. These seem like more likely candidates for drafting in volume, as it isn't until you face down the extra copies that it becomes as clear just how much economies of scale can demolish opponents during a cold snap.
It seems likely that as the draft format settles down a little, players will get into the habit of being a little more proactive than normal in grabbing copies of some of these key 'good in volume' cards, but for the first draft event featuring Coldsnap tomorrow, we may well see some of the most wacky and unbalanced decks ever in draft.
Frank Karsten has run the math on the format, and apparently there should be about 4.2 copies of any one common at a table. Far be it from me to question the mad genius' calculations, but I think I would still be picking Thrumming Stone over more or less anything if I saw it in pack one.
Saturday, July 22: 4:33 p.m. - Anything for a sandwich!
Towards the end of round three, I found an uncharacteristically sad faced Olivier Ruel playing a little practice game against Raphael Levy. He was winning, but not looking very happy about it.
It seemed that Olivier Ruel was well on his way to sewing up level 6 status again, but couldn't afford to get himself any lunch.
It was time to make a deal. As a resourceful magicthegathering.com reporter, I was looking to get any help I could in making this coverage the best Grand Prix coverage possible. Would you trade a sandwich for a story from one of the best players in the game today? I did.
It took 3 rounds coming, and I was beginning to think that I might have been gamed by one of the best gamers around. Then I arrived back at my computer and found the following story sat on my desktop. I'll let you decide if it was worth the sandwich…
"Sometimes, when you have many spectators, including pros watching the game, you want to impress on them. That's what happened to me on my last round vs Stefan Fischer. I had four power on the table, and he had only one creature. Drawing a removal, I'd win for sure, but as he was recovering from a color screw his hand was still looking scary.
So during my upkeep, as I'm about to smash my library's top card on the table, I just take a second to think if there is anything really embarrassing to reveal. Hmm, Thunderheads would be, one card out of 25, I've the odds. And if I flip a removal I'll look so cool!
So I flip and smash(!!!!!!!) Hour of reckoning. Man! How unlucky!
I still won, as that Hour of Reckoning actually made the game.
I wanted to look smart, but I only go Ruud Warmenhoven to tell me he would ask me if that was the optimal play in my Ask the Pro feature.
However, I'm still 6-0 so there are pretty good chances for I don't regret skipping my Nationals for the GP. Well at least if I stop making this kind of plays…
Saturday, July 22: 5:20 p.m. - Round 7 - Tearing it up with the Pros!
Sometimes, picking feature matches can be a little tricky. You can't feature the same players round after round, and some players aren't necessarily the most entertaining or whathaveyou. Sometimes though, it is just too easy.
When Johan Sadeghpour was paired up against Anton Jonsson, it was one of the easy ones. Two of the best limited players in the world, the Swedish angle. As a writer, you love it when things write themselves. This was just one such occasion.
Both players started out a little slow, with a pair of lands, and a signet apiece. It was Johan who escalated, playing a Civic Wayfinder, to which Anton responded with the killer play of missing his land drop, but playing a Daggerclaw Imp.
The aggro plan seemed strong, right up until Johan dropped a Shrieking Drake on the board. The race was well and truly on. Anton had a Golgari Guildmage, but still no third land, while Johan was racing all the way up to six, which allowed a Vedalken Dismisser one turn, followed by Twisted Justice on the following, decimating Jonsson's board while drawing Johan 3 cards.
Anton slammed down a Greater Mossdog.
'Great.' Remarked Sadeghpour - his ground attack slowed.
'Great-er' remarked Anton, pointing out the power of his dog.
The dog was actually not nearly enough though, with Johan continuing to clog the ground with threats which were quickly joined by those in the air. It wasn't long before Jonsson scooped it up and went on to Game 2.
Game 2 Anton had the first play of the game, slamming down his 3/1 flying imp, with a cry of 'Daggers!'
Johan's reasoned response was a Keening Banshee to take down the imp. Anton's threat gone, he brought out a new one. In fact it was two Saproling tokens from a Fists of Ironwood.
With a little shrug Anton tore in half his own Pro card to make the tokens. Johan's shrug came as he played a Siege Wurm. Hardly fair.
The Raphael Levy Pro Card in Anton's possession was torn into three as Scatter the Seeds filled Anton's board a little more. The following turn he slammed down an Angel of Despair to take down the Wurm, and for the first time really looked to be turning the match around, suddenly able to beat for quite a bit.
Forced onto the defensive, Johan was holding back and defending as best he could, but in the face of so many bits of Pros, being led by an Angel, he couldn't help but succumb.
The game went to a 1-1 decider.
'We don't do tight games in Sweden' declared Anton with an uncharacteristic grin. 'We'd rather have blowouts in feature matches so you don't get to see us making mistakes'.
Anton led off in game 3 with an Elvish Skysweeper, who had a whole one turn of unhampered beats before Johan played a Civic Wayfinder to stop the clock, and find a Swamp to allow for double black, signalling a Keening Banshee in hand.
Either Anton was wary of taking the Banshee bait, or he just didn't have a lot of threats to play, as he stuck with just his elf for a turn, before finally playing a Golgari Guildmage only after a turns wait.
The Guildmage did die, but not to a Banshee, instead it was the Pure half of Pure//Simple that did for the powerful two drop. Anton was currently in a losing race, with Civic Wayfinder doing rather more beating than he's normally allowed to.
Ultimately, sooner or later though, the Wayfinder had to run into a trick, and the trick that Anton chose was Chord of Calling, which found Guardian of the Guildpact. Post combat, Johan played Dimir Doppleganger and a Simic Ragworm. He was not going to be intimidated by Anton's new four drop.
A Disembowel took down the Doppleganger, at which point Anton passed in relative safety, with a blocker who could sit in front of Johan's Wurm all day long. Sit was not what it did for very long though. After a single turn on defence, Anton was swinging for two with his Guardian, before playing a Celestial Ancient. Now was Johan's turn to play Disembowel, allowing for a swing from the Wurm, followed by Stinky the Stinkweed Imp.
Anton was back in defence mode. Each player had plenty of lands to work with now, but was running out of cards. Stinky plinked in, and Anton used a Putrefy to clear the way for a big swing back.
Johan continued to plink, before filling the ground with a Sporeback Troll and a couple of Saprolings thanks to Fists of the Ironwood. Two Thirds of Raphael Levy sat back on defence for Sadeghpour.
From somewhere in the crowd, a Swedish fan of Sadeghpour's did what can only be described as the Truffly Shuffle. Apparently this inspired great things from the Swede, as he played out a Siege Wurm immediately thereafter, with a +1/+1 counter that looked remarkably like the top half of an Anton Jonsson card. In the words of George Baxter; Deep Magic.
Anton had an Orzhov Euthanist in play, to help stall the ground, but in the face of a 6/6 trampling regenerator was looking a little despondent. When Gather Courage further shortened the clock, it looked that Johan was looking to end the game this turn.
He transmuted Dimir House Guard for Cackling Flames, which would be enough to finish Anton even without the Hellbent. Anton responded to the flames with Wildsize, digging for an unlikely answer. He drew a Swamp. Not good enough.
Johan Sadeghpour wins!
Saturday, July 22: 5:57 p.m. - Pro Player Blog: Round 5 vs. Wilhelm Dubber
Wilhelm Dubber got to 4-0 on zero byes. That generally means his deck is quite good.
This was interesting. He Castigated me and took Divebomber Griffin over a Galvanic Arc. I had both Bramble Elemental and Glare in play, so I smelled something was up. I guessed on Peel from Reality and was proved correct when my pressure plus Glare forced him to use it. At this point the Arc came down, spawned a few Saprolings off the Bramble Elemental and I took control.
At one point it looked like I might actually win a game without casting silly broken enchantment. Helium Squirter plus Bramble Elemental (with a counter) plus Ghor-Clan Savage (with more than one counter) equals a lot of flying fatties. Unfortunately they all cost 5 mana, which meant Punishment was rather brutal. So yes, I had to win with the Glare.
Funnily enough the card that dug me to both the Glare and the Galvanic Arc I needed was Dimir Guildmage.
Dimir Guildmage. So good it starts on my bench.
Player's Blog 1, 17:00 - Tom Christofferson
I won without Glare, yay! An unanswered Divebomber Griffin did it this time with Evangel support on the ground. What was really scary was that Christofferson had somehow managed to open two Vedalkan Dismisser.
Unfortunately the Glare decided that as I was doing fine it was safe to go on a holiday. Not that it would really help me as Christofferson's deck looked very scary.
Izzet Chronarch and Ogre Savant were added to the list of good cards. The game was stable for a while. I just thought I was getting the slight edge when he made Followed Footsteps on a Dismisser. I didn't have an answer to that so it was on to the decider.
My draw pretty much petered out in this one with Govern the Guildless and Skarrgan Skybreaker appearing at the death to nail down the coffin.
First loss, but can't really complain. I think I would be fairly happy to end up with Christofferson's deck as a solid UGR draft deck.
Saturday, July 22: 6:39 p.m. - The Final Countdown
The last round of the first day of a GP is always pretty tense. With only 64 players making it through to draft on Sunday, it is inevitable that there will be some big names on the bubble, having to play to ensure their place among those final few as the field gets cut significantly.
Going into the round, there were 50 players already on 6 or more wins. The result of 6-2 that had been bandied around at the start of the day suddenly seemed pretty optimistic. Those players on less than 18 points going into the round had to win, and then get pretty lucky on tiebreakers to say the least.
Among these big names were Stuart Shinkins, Anton Jonsson and Julien Nujiten, who were all on 16 points, which represented a strong 'Win and In' place to be. As I walked past Nujiten's match, he was busy playing double Putrefy and double Last Gasp of a Djinn Illuminatus. Suffice to say, he won that won and should be a safe drafter on the morrow.
In even more precarious position were Raphael Levy and Pierre Canali, who along with the likes of Tiago Chan and Bram Snepvangers were sat on 15 points. For them, the win would have to be backed up by a fair amount of good fortune as to how tiebreakers worked out. It seemed that the French Gambit run by three of the French pros who skipped out on their nationals was not quite the resounding success that it had been hoped to be.
While Canali won his match, he was left hanging on to the hope that he would be one of the lucky ones to get in. Having practiced Coldsnap draft a great deal, to the extent that he was already talking about matchups and pick orders, it would be a real shame if his trip on the hunt for Pro Points had been in vain.
Saturday, July 22: 7:06 p.m. - Player Disqualification
This statement was prepared by Lubos Lauer - Head Judge GP Malmo
A spectator witnessed Olivier Ruel shuffle an opponent's deck while looking at the cards. In a later round a senior judge witnessed this as well. After thorough consideration he was disqualified. The DCI will determine further steps.
Saturday, July 22: 7:25 p.m. - Decklists: The 8-0 Decks
At the end of eight rounds of swiss on day one of GP Malmo, eight players stood undefeated prior to Sunday's Coldsnap draft. While good cards alone aren't enough to get you there, they certainly do help. Here are the lists.
GP Malmo Day 1 Undefeated Deck
GP Malmo Day 1 Undefeated Deck
GP Malmo Day 1 Undefeated Deck
GP Malmo Day 1 Undefeated Deck
Saturday, July 22: 7:40 p.m. - Pro Player Blog: Round 7 vs. Tiago Chan
Ok, so it's not going to be the easy route then. Tiago Chan is a very solid Pro and has several years of actually playing these events, whereas I tend to just watch them.
Tiago mulliganed and I made Glare.
Actually I'm lying. Glare of Subdual has been on holiday since round 5. He did mulligan though. I got a fast flying offensive of Mourning Thrull and then Patagia Viper, and was able to force it home with Peel from Reality.
Game 2 was much tighter as Tiago got the early offence with a Snapping Drake made unblockable with Infiltrator's Magemark. I hit back with an Infiltrator's Magemark of my own on a Bramble Elemental. I was far behind, but again Peel from Reality came to my rescue. This dealt with the Infiltrator's Magemark and also allowed me to clog up the ground with more snakes. The Drake came back, but I was already ready with an answer as I got to cast Three Dreams for the first time in the tournament. That fetched me Galvanic Arc and that was enough to push me ahead for the nervous last few turns where I hoped he wouldn't find an answer. Admittedly I was possibly attacking a little too over aggressively, but fortunately I wasn't punished.
The win was great as it means I almost certainly get to play in my first ever Limited GP day two.
Saturday, July 22: 7:43 p.m. - Pro Player Blog: Round 8 vs. David Brucker
Craig Jones makes day 2!
Sorry, I was a wuss.
Originally I was going to play this. I didn't bother to check the standings and was drawn against Philip Fetzer. Then there was a re-pair and I got to look at the standings. An awful lot of people were not going to make it on two losses. I thought I was safe even with a loss, but I did have visions of some kind of catastrophic tie-breakers accident that would make me feel very foolish.
I was also paired against David Brucker, a very good player. We took the ID. With so many people ID'ing it would still leave me in a solid position for day two.
I finished up in 15th place so I'm afraid this experimental player's blog is going to continue. Join me tomorrow when I try and pick my way through the icy wastes of Coldsnap draft.