Sunday, March 19: 10:37 a.m. - Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
7-0 Deck Day One GP Manila 2006
7-0 Deck Day One GP Manila 2006
7-0 Deck Day One GP Manila 2006
Sunday, March 19: 12:20 p.m. - Drafting with Masashi Oiso
Draft 1, Pod 2
Well it's day two and a bright and early (8:30 - ugh!) start to the first draft. I settled down behind Masashi Oiso in pod two to get the inside scoop on Ravnica, Ravnica, Guildpact drafting.
Oiso's first booster was a little on the underwhelming side. He had a choice between Sunhome Enforcer, Transluminant and Shambling Shell. He took the Enforcer. The next booster was devoid of Boros cards and so he took Disembowel over Trophy Hunter. A Thundersong Trumpeter dropped him back on target although the Boros cards seemed fairly weak in this run of boosters. After booster one he'd added a Bathe in Light, but his cards were mostly average: Boros Garrison, Ordruun Commando, War-Torch Goblin.
In contrast booster two was much kinder as Oiso first opened one Lightning Helix (over Faith's Fetters) and was then passed a second (over another Faith's Fetters). Viashino Fangtail and Galvanic Arc rounded off a much stronger start to the pack. The packs also ran a little deeper this time as Oiso got Trumpeter, Screeching Griffin and Rally the Righteous as picks 7 to 9.
But of course what we're really interested in is what happens when Guildpact comes around. For those that have been hiding under a rock for the past few months there's three completely new guilds in Guildpact. Oiso could conceivably stay in Boros by just taking the mono red and white cards, but as the single cards aren't too deep it's almost certain he would have to diversify into a third color at some point. Black seemed the most likely candidate as he'd already picked up a Disembowel from booster one.
Masashi Oiso works on his decklist
The first pick didn't shed any light on Oiso's third color preferences as it was a no-brainer in Skarrgan Firebird. The second pick saw him turn down possibly diversifying into blue (Izzet Chronarch, Steamcore Weird) and taking the safer Shrieking Grotesque. The third pick finally saw him move into Orzhov with an Ostiary Thrull. Revenant Patriarch, Douse in Gloom (over Blind Hunter) and a second Ostiary Thrull rounded out a nice suite of black cards to add to the deck while an Orzhov Signet would help with fixing duties.
I asked Oiso afterwards if this had been his plan from the start. Actually it wasn't as he'd wanted to draft a base blue deck with red and/or black.
Draft 1 Pod 2 GP Manila 2006
Sunday, March 19: 1:09 p.m. - Round 8: Mark Baeyens vs. Dominic Ortega
Anyone who's followed my coverage for any length of time will know I like to cover the guys with perfect records at the start of the day. This time I was going to break with tradition as I'd already covered Mark Baeyens yesterday. Instead it was going to be Katsuhiro Mori versus Takuya Osawa.
However as we announced the feature match Mori and Osawa announced they were going to draw rather than play what was effectively an elimination match. So it seems like I get to follow tradition after all.
Dominic Ortega commented this was the worst time to cover him as he'd been stuck with a pile. He won the coin flip and opted to start. His early plays were guild lands and a Spectral Searchlight while Baeyens ramped up to a Belfry Spirit off an Elves of Deep Shadow and Signet. He followed with a Conclave Equenaut. Ortega had a Pyromatics, but it was only going 1-for-1 with the Equenaut at this point.
Ortega was doing okay for card advantage at this point with a Surveiling Sprite (that traded off with the Elves) and then Flow of Ideas (now that's a card you don't see often). The board position was not good though as Greater Mossdog and Elvish Skysweeper joined the beatdown.
It was actually the little Skysweeper that turned out to be decisive. Ortega found a Tidewater Minion to stem the bleeding on the ground. He then used it to untap a Boros Garrison to be able to cast Blazing Archon. Wow, how to turn a game.
Or maybe not thanks to the annoying little elf. Ortega used Peel from Reality, but Baeyens had the extra land to bring it back and shoot the Archon from the sky.
Baeyens 1-0 Ortega.
Ortega had a similar start to the last game: Gruul Turf on turn two followed by Spectral Searchlight. This time he had more action though as a Streetbreaker Wurm put in an appearance. Forget the similarity with Craw Wurm. That one mana really makes a difference. The Streetbreaker Wurm is seriously nasty when it shows up on turn 4.
Mark Baeyens sent a Nightguard Patrol into it regardless. This indicated he was probably holding a trick and as Nightguard Patrol doesn't tap to attack that trick would still be online should Ortega want to attack next turn.
Strangely Baeyens might have actually been better not to attack here as the attack tipped Ortega off to possible shenanigans. Rather than take chances Ortega searched with Telling Time first and then shot the Nightguard Patrol down with Steamcore Weird.
Bayaens had to pay the full cost for a Conclave Equenaut, but that at least allowed him to bloodthirst out a Ghor-Clan Savage. Ortega had a Goblin Flectomancer out at this point and so when the Gather Courage came it was pretty much a concession as the Flectomancer decided the Streetbreaker Wurm would be a much better target than Ghor-Clan Savage.
Baeyens 1-1 Ortega
Baeyens start in the decider was marred by a double mulligan. His five card hand turned out to be pretty good though. He had land, some Signets and then a nice fatty in Bramble Elemental. The classic Fists of Ironwood / Bramble Elemental combo everybody noticed when Ravnica first came out followed for Baeyens and all of a sudden pretty good was turning into pretty monstrous.
There's few things worse than the high when you see your opponent mulligan to five in the decisive game followed by the crushing low when you start to realize they're probably going to beat you.
Ortega was having a wretched time. His hand had started out okay with a Sprite and Sabretooth Alley Cat but then his first Telling Time revealed three land and then it did exactly the same again when he brought it back with an Izzet Chronarch. Ortega's deck choked on the glut of land and Baeyens was able to pull through despite the double mulligan.
After the game he asked if he could send out another hi, this time to his wife Valerie. Baeyens is now top of the rankings at 8-0. At the rate he's going we're going to run out of family members to send hi's to.
Mark Baeyens beats Dominic Ortega 2-1.
Sunday, March 19: 3:42 p.m. - Round 10: Terry Soh vs. Joselito Alberto Jamir
Joselito Alberto Jamir
In a few months time we'll be seeing a lot more of Terry Soh when his Invitational card comes into circulation. His opponent in round 10 is the runner-up at last years Filipino nationals, Joselito Alberto Jamir.
Soh won the coin flip and chose to draw. Both players were running islands so the game started out very slowly. Jamir didn't even cast a spell until a Belltower Sphinx on turn five. Soh wasn't really able to punish him as his first plays were a Surveiling Sprite and then Train of Thought. Soh finally started to grab the upper hand as a Mark of Eviction started to choke Jamir's development as his only monsters were the expensive Sphinx and a Snapping Drake.
Soh was unhindered and added Roofstalker Wight and Dimir House Guard to the board. An Ostiary Thrull would prevent Jamir's fickle forces from even being able to block or attack before they were evicted.
Jamir then found a creature Soh wasn't about to play Mark of Eviction on as his Vedalkan Dismisser sent the Thrull back to the top of the library.
Jamir was losing the race now though. He was at 9 life to Soh's 13. An end of turn Repeal on a freshly cast Snapping Drake was particularly brutal as the choked up Filipino then had to discard. Electrolyze on the Wight at least pegged the race back to some semblance of fair.
The Thrull came back and was bounced straight away by an Ogre Savant. I thought this was going to be Soh's all the way, but I hadn't quite realized exactly how much bounce Jamir was packing. He'd also reached enough mana to play out a Snapping Drake in the same turn and start to come out from under the Eviction choke.
Soh played out a Tattered Drake and stuck the Mark on the Drake. The next turn was brutal as Jamir cleared Soh's side of the board with Vacuumelt and struck for 8 to leave Soh at a none-too-healthy 2 life.
A Chronarch to fetch the Vacuument and they were onto the second gane.
Jamir 1-0 Soh
Soh made his opponent go first and in what's becoming a theme of the matches I've covered found himself on the receiving end of a fast clock in the form of a Snapping Drake accelerated out on turn 3.
Both players decks are very controlling though and it took no time for Soh to gain the upper hand. Douse in Gloom dealt with the Drake, only for Jamir to fetch it back with Mausoleum Turnkey.
Soh's board was an incredibly defensive Drift of Phantasms, Ostiary Thrull and Benelovent Ancestor. Mark of Eviction was again deployed to stunt Jamir's board development.
Think I might go and make myself a cup of coffee. This could go on for a while.
A Belltower Sphinx changed sides with Dream Leash, but with the amount of bounce in Jamir's deck it was only ever temporary.
Twenty minutes to go and the life totals were firmly refusing to budge. The scores were 19-18 in Soh's favor.
The board was Drift, Thrull, Ancestor, Tattered Drake and Golgari Guildmage. On the other side Jamir had a flying Turnkey (Flight of Fancy), Vedalkan Dismisser, Snapping Drake, Ogre Savant and Tidewater Minion.
An attack from Jamir cleared the board a little, as did the Steamcore Weird he followed it with.
The next turns were big for both players. Soh played an 8 mana Train of Thought and found a Castigate to rip a Chronarch from Jamir's hand. Then Jamir ripped a Drake Familiar off the top and netted two more cards from Flight of Fancy. Galvanic Arc stopped Soh's Guildmage from getting tricky.
Both of the decks had virtually cancelled each other out it was difficult to see the result being anything other than 1-0.
I'm thinking Jamir maybe should have played with that in mind. At 1-0 down the pressure was on Soh to try and take the game back. Jamir played a big Vacuumelt to knock Soh's board back, but it only really dropped Soh to around 10 and the Invitational winner soon bounced back.
At this point too many beers and a very late night had the inevitable effect as my brain disengaged with a big clang.
Both decks had hit various fully recursive attrition effects at this point. Soh was using Mark on his own creatures to steal Jamir's guild lands with a Vedalkan Plotter and empty Jamir's hand with a Shrieking Grotesque. Jamir had all kinds of tricks with Drake Familiar, Galvanic Arc, Peel from Reality and Izzet Chronarch.
He hadn't really been given time to get it rolling though and Soh was slowly chiseling away at his life with an extra flier and Infiltrator.
They hit extra turns with Jamir at a vulnerable 1 life. He tried to find a way to hold on with some combination of Peel from Reality tricks but it wasn't to be as Soh squared the match on the second of extra turns.
Terry Soh and Joselito Alberto Jamir draw 1-1.
Sunday, March 19: 4:13 p.m. - Halfway Point
Players busy building decks in the 2nd draft.
Well well well. We're at the halfway stage and the expected Japanese charge has faltered somewhat. Here's the situation. There are no players left with perfect X-0 records. Instead Lionel Weng Foo Yuen of Singapore has joined overnight leaders Dominic Ortega and Felix Gonzales at the top of the standings. Just one win from the last pod should be enough to put them into the top 8.
Just below them is a whole mess of players who basically need two wins. Jake Hart, formerly of Australia and presently in China, is at the head of a group of four players with an extra point from a draw. But in all likelihood that extra point isn't going to make any difference. It's two wins or bust. Somewhere near the bottom of that group, in 12th place, we finally hit the first Japanese player, Tomoharu Saito.
When we get to pod 3 things get really hot. In the first round today Katsuhiro Mori and Takuya Osawa ducked an elimination match by ID'ing. They then went on to win out their first pod. This puts them into the pod of death number 3. One player can make the top 8 from this pod, but they'll need to win out. Somehow I can't see Mori and Osawa drawing this time. Shuuhei Nakamura is also in the same pod. The Japanese have all managed to avoid each other for round 11, but my guess is we'll get a juicy match from here at some point.
Sunday, March 19: 5:09 p.m. - Round 11: Jake Hart vs. Lionel Yuen
I was little late to this one because of having to get the previous article out. I came in to see a bit of a bloodbath as Jake Hart had just wiped a Birds of Paradise and Wild Cantor for a 2-for-0 with Electrolyze. A Snapping Drake and Izzet Guildmage was in play and Hart had just transmuted for Moroii.
Nothing to see here, just keep moving along, as the old cliché goes about an accident.
Actually Lionel Yuen wasn't going to go that quietly as he summoned a Conclave Equenaut and saved it with Bathe in Light when a Snapping Drake loomed.
Hart's hand was just insane. I saw Disembowel, Cleansing Beam and Steamcore Weird. Yuen had been complaining about his deck after the draft and it seemed a little … erm … unusual. At first glance it seemed like a Selesnya type deck with a black splash. Then he dropped an Izzet Boilerworks and made Circu. A few turns later and Vedalkan Entrancer was on the board. Okay so I don't have a clue what's going on here.
Yuen made a few monsters but they seemed largely irrelevant as Hart bashed for 4 a turn with Moroii, content to sit on a hand of about a billion removal spells. Finally he made a move which saw Cleansing Beam only manage to take out Courier Hawk. That was enough, Moroii got in for 4 and then Char did the rest.
Hart 1-0 Yuen.
Yuen bust out with Elves of Deep Shadow and Lore Broker. They looked fine until Hart hit 4 mana and dropped Moroii onto the table. He followed it with Steamcore Weird and it was looking fairly ugly. Conclave Equenaut fell to Char, ouch.
The worse part was Yuen's own Lore Broker was just feeding Hart more gas.
Then, somehow Yuen was back in the game. Castigate ripped a Snapping Drake from Hart's hand and revealed he was holding nothing but land and Signets. Thunderheads took down Moroii and now Hart was left with just a 1/3 weird.
The Lorebreaker kept the game going at a nice pace. Yuen's Equenaut was answered with Disembowel and then Hart again took the upper hand with a Dimir House Guard.
Now he'd built a strong enough hand Hart decided the fun and games with the Broker were over as he aimed an Electrolyze at the wizard. Yuen had a Bathe, only for Douse in Gloom to kill the Broker stone dead. And it had been so helpful as well.
The House Guard kept chipping away, dropping Yuen to 6. Hart looked to a Gelectrode to accelerate Yuen's demise. A Douse in Gloom on the Gelectrode was fizzled with Peel from Reality.
Yuen kept trying. Repeal on the House Guard, another Douse on the Gelectrode, but lets be honest here, these decks could not be described as evenly matched.
Move along, nothing to see here. Oof.
Jake Hart beats Lionel Yuen 2-0
Sunday, March 19: 6:34 p.m. - Round 12: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
Yes, finally. They've either been avoiding each other or ID'ing or just generally scrubbing out, but finally I get that all-Japanese feature match. Unsurprisingly it's from Pod 3, the pod of death. Only one player will make top 8, and they need to 3-0 the pod.
Katsuhiro Mori and Shuuhei Nakamura both successfully navigated the round 11, but now it's unavoidable. One of them is going out right now.
Yowzers, this was off to a real flier. Nakamura ripped in with Elves of Deep Shadow and then accelerated out a Dimir House Guard. Mori thrashed back with Shrieking Grotesque. The only time there was a pause was for Mori to find some coins to signify bloodthirst on a Rabble Rouser.
Crunch, Moldervine Cloak on the House Guard and in.
Smash, back came Mori with the Rouser and Grotesque. He added a Bloodscale Prowler and Thundersong Trumpeter.
Ouch. Fingers hurting. Can't type fast enough.
Basically this boiled down to the Elves trading with the Thundersong Trumpeter. Now Nakamura was down to just the House Guard the way was open for Mori to sac a Wild Cantor for black and take out the Cloaked House Guard with Mortify.
Mori 1-0 Nakamura
Yikes, we're five turns in already.
Okay so this one isn't going to be typed live. I don't think I've ever seen magic played at such a blistering pace (although Ruel vs Ruel at the Moscow Invitational comes close).
...& Katsuhiro Mori both pass the 1+1 photo quiz
Basically Nakamura's Plagued Rusalka sac'ed itself to kill a Thundersong Trumpeter. Mori simply followed up with Shrieking Grotesque and then a bloodthirsty Bloodscale Prowler. Nakamura attempted to hold the ground with an Ostiary Thrull, giving it a Moldervine Cloak to make it larger.
Not large enough as Mori made a Ghost Warden and used Fiery Conclusion to throw it at the Thrull.
Nakamura, who'd mulliganed, was left with only a Sadistic Augermage. In contrast Mori's hand was hyper hyper aggro. Skyknight Legionnaire screamed in. Nakamura got out a Ghor-Clan Savage, but even with bloodfirst it felt slow and clumsy. Mori bypassed it with the Trumpeter.
Nakamura tried to stem the haemorhaging with Pillory of the Sleepless on the Legionnaire, but it wasn't enough.
In all the entire match maybe took around 5 to 10 minutes.
Katsuhiro Mori beats Shuuhei Nakamura 2-0.
Sunday, March 19: 6:53 p.m. - Nervous Calculations and What they're playing for
Round 12 has just finished and the standings have just gone up. As expected there is the usual scrum as players try to calculate what's good enough, can they draw, how much amateur money are the eligible for?
Players make nervous calculations
One more round to go and in case anyone needs reminding, here's what they're playing for. This helpful little reminder has been behind my seat all weekend.
A reminder of why the players are here
Sunday, March 19: 7:36 p.m. - Last Round Action
Mori vs Osawa
Well it's the last round where the top 8 gets decided. Usually I'd give a run down of who's in and who's playing to be in and so on. This time I don't have a clue as the pairings are all over the place.
All I know is that Jake Hart and Bo Sun are definitely in for sure. They have 31 points have the luxury of bunking off for an hour while everyone else sweats.
Below them and it's messy, real messy. Both Dominic Ortega and Cynic Kim are on 30 points. I'm sure they would have liked to ID but both have been paired down. Theoretically they could be safe even with a loss, but their problem is that 28 points goes right down to 11th place, and not all of those guys are paired against each other.
Ortega vs Porter
Beyond 11th and you start to hit the 27 pointers. It's not impossible for someone to crawl in from out of here but with all the pairings up and down it's going to be fingers crossed.
The first interesting match of the round is between Felix Gonzales and Pavel Matousek. Matousek is actually here all the way from the Czech republic. Talk about dedication to qualifying for a Pro Tour in your home nation. Both are on 28 points and are win-and-in. In the end it was the local player who emerged triumphant. Bombtastic rares have been loving Gonzales all weekend and it seemed appropriate that he should book his top 8 berth on the back of Crown of Convergence in Game 2 and the most busted of all, Glare of Subdual, in the deciding game.
The other match is the all-local clash between Dominic Ortega and 11th place James Porter. Ortega has been there or thereabouts at the top of the standings all weekend. I suspect he's probably in even if he loses, but it'd mean sweating on the other results. I think actually he's only out if all of the other 28 pointers win. Porter took the first on the back of a Viashino Slasher with an Infiltrators Magemark of all things. He gambled on not blocking and being able to attack back for the win in Game 2, but fell afoul of Ribbons of Night on Sell-Sword Brute. The decider was actually looking interesting. Porter was well back on the ropes and facing Divebomber Griffin with Moldervine Cloak and other equally fat green and whiteness with just a Sell-Sword Brute and Wee Dragonauts. Ortega used Ribbons to kill the Brute and then attacked for what looked like the win only for his Griffin to switch sides as a result of Flash Conscription. Then news came in that one of the results had gone his way and Ortega promptly conceded.
Matousek vs Gonzales
I'm saving the best to last though. Rather than force an elimination match in the first round of today Katsuhiro Mori and Takuya Osawa chose to ID. Since then they've won all their matches and now find themselves paired against each other for a straight knockout match into top 8. Mori's match against Nakamura was played as if both players had planes to catch in the next half hour. This match against Osawa went all the way to time as Mori's lightning fast red-white-black deck butted heads against Osawa's black-blue-red deck. Game 1 went to Osawa as Mori decided Tidewater Minion plus Viashino Fangtail was quite enough. Game 2 and Osawa never left the gates as Mori simply ran him over. Game 3 went all the way to the end of the fifth extra turn. Obviously a draw was no good for either player and Mori, deciding his deck was never getting through double Tidewater Minion and Stinkweed Imp, was the one to scoop.