Sunday, Sept 3: 1:36 p.m. - Drafting with the Shu
Komuro drafts some bovine war crys.
Shu Komuro is a Limited Pro Tour winner. He had a very strong year last year, earning level 5 status in the Pro Tour Players' Club, but this season he's struggled a bit. However, after Day 1 here in Phoenix, Shu finds himself at the top table, drafting against both excellent pros and relatively unknowns. Here's Komuro's pod:
1 Sean Inoue
2 Carlos Romao
3 Gadiel Szleifer
4 David Hayes
5 Brian Brockway
6 Raphael Levy
7 Sam Stein
8 Shu Komuro
Shu saw Diamond Faerie, Boreal Centaur, Disciple of Tevesh Szat and Surging Aether in pack 1, and immediately hopped into bed with the Centaur. Pack 2 showed another Disciple, Krovikan Mist, Surging Sentinels, and Grim Harvest. Komuro then picked Boreal Druid and Squal drifter out of his next two packs, keeping with the weenie theme. Pack 5 delivered Aurochs Herd into his waiting hands while pack 6 game him Rimebord Aurochs and pack 8 a Bull Aurochs.
The first pick of pack 2 revealed which archetype Komuro was drafting when he chose Kjeldoran War Cry over a host of solid cards. Most of the War Cry decks that I have seen tend to take heavy advantage of white's weenies, but the Japanese like a green-white version that includes aurochs and green fat at the top end of the curve. After the War Cry, Shu snagged a pair of Ronom Hulks, another Boreal Druid, Gelid Shackles and two more War Crys. Another unexpected card that Shu was taking late was Martyr of Spores, though only one of them made it to his main deck.
He continued along the same path for the rest of the draft, picking cows, Hulks, and Gelid Shackles to eventually create the following very aggressive build:
Grand Prix Phoenix Coldsnap Draft
Sunday, Sept 3: 1:39 p.m. - Round 10 - Sean Inoue vs. Carlos Romao
Carlos Romao is back!
It's been a while since the world has seen Carlos Romao on a regular basis, and particularly lurking around the top tables in a tournament. When asked what he's been up to, Carlos said he's still a student in Brazil, but is now back in the game. Like many players, he tried to retire from Magic but found he just couldn't do it. Now he's one of two undefeated players left in the tournament, and he already has a free flight and invitation to Kobe (courtesy of winning the last PTQ in Brazil), so any prize winnings here are just gravy.
Romao won the die roll but then had to mulligan. Inoue kept his opening 7 and they were off. Romao's Krovikan Mist died to an immediate Skred, but the man they call Jabba rebuilt with Frost Raptor, while Inoue merely summoned forth a Krovikan Scoundrel to his side. Romao cast another Krovikan Mist, but it died to a Feast of Flesh, while the Raptor went down to a second copy. Inoue had plenty of removal to keep Romao's flying machine off balance, and then a pair of 10/1 Lightning Serpents on consecutive turns finished him off.
Sean Inoue remains undefeated!
Inoue 1 - Romao 0
Inoue got out to a fast start in game 2, casting Stromgald Crusader, Gutless Ghoul, and Balduvian Fallen. Carlos found a Surging Aether to staunch the flow of blood for a moment, but he was quickly conceding the second game of this ugly beating, giving Inoue the only undefeated record in the tournament.
Inoue 2 - Romao 0
Sunday, Sept 3: 3:49 p.m. - Round 11 - Gabe Walls vs. Andre Coimbra
After the first draft of the day, I told Gabe Walls to be ready for a feature match, because I wanted to showcase someone who was playing the Martyr of Ashes-Icefall archetype. His pairing against Worlds 2005 member Andre Coimbra was exactly what I was looking for, though to be fair, this was the last match before draft number two, so I couldn't exactly wait much longer if I wanted to feature Magic's mad jester and his draft land destruction deck.
Walls mulliganned his opening hand, while Coimbra kicked off the action with Sound the Call, casting a second one a turn later. Walls Icefalled Coimbra's Forest, but that just forced the Portuguese player to cast Disciple of Tevesh Szat instead. Martyr of Ashes revealing three red cards cleared the board. Coimbra played a Phobian Phantasm and was able to drop Walls to 5 life, but by that time the engine and the mana screw was in full effect, with a single Icefall recurring something like five times in the game.
Walls 1 - Coimbra 0
Coimbra cast a turn 2 Boreal Centaur, while Walls got stuck on two lands. Surging Flame killed the Druid, but a major lack of lands and fat beats made game 2 a quick one. This was in spite of the fact that Coimbra forgot to pay the upkeep on his Hulk the first turn it was in play. Mana screw plus Void Maw cures most play mistakes.
Walls 1 - Coimbra 1
Game 3 was curious, with Walls showing no action whatsoever to Coimbra's start of Boreal Centaur and then Ronom Hulk three turns later. With the Hulk on the board, Walls cast Thermopod. Stromgald Crusader and Martyr of Spores hit the board for Coimbra, as he looked to foil any Martyr action Walls would summon. The game turned uneventful at that point, since Walls flooded out and could not find a way to deal with the Hulk before it dealt with him.
Walls finishes 2-1 with his MartyrFall deck.
Coimbra 2 - Walls 1
Sunday, Sept 3: 3:49 p.m. - Common and Not-So-Common Draft Archetypes of Coldsnap Draft
A draft archetype designed to abuse bad white 1/1s and opponents alike, this one might just provoke certain opponents to hit you, especially if you are playing in some event that doesn't have a time limit. Martyr of Sands + Grim Harvest and a lot of white cards in hand can form an annoying lock, especially if Jotun Grunt is hanging around and the Life player plans on winning by decking you. It's a tough deck to draft and win with, but it's also something that sticks with you for years once you do it.
Martyr of Ashes-Icefall
A nearly mono-red deck, this archetype does just what it sounds like - clear the board with Martyr of Ashes, and use that trigger to bring back Icefall and land screw your opponent into oblivion. This deck is occasionally inconsistent, but it utterly mashes most black decks or a Surging Sentinels archetypes.
Kjeldoran War Cry
This archetype is designed to abuse the overwhelming number of cheap white weenies and white pump spells. It's somewhat risky if you don't end up with a stack of War Crys in your piles because then you just have a bunch of undersized men, but if you get a good version of the deck, it's nearly unbeatable. While most decks that I have seen in the weeks leading up to Phoenix were white with a small splash, the Japanese have been drafting a green-white version of this deck that tries to find synergy with weenies and aurochs (moo!), plus the occasional Ronom Hulk. Something about pumping up creatures with trample warms the cockles of my heart.
Red cards are good, especially when combined with green fat, pump spells, and problematic little creatures like Goblin Rimerunner. These colors used to have problems generating card advantage, but chaining Aurochs at the top end of the curve seems to have overcome that. Of course, with more and more players falling in love with green in this environment, it's getting tougher to draft enough fat to go along with the red cards.
Widely considered the best archetype to draft by many pros, this archetype has suffered recently from overdrafting and a lack of snow lands. Rimewind Taskmages need a very healthy number of snow lands to be good and so does big daddy Heidar, so if anyone upstream is gobbling up snow lands (or cacking them late when you were hoping to wheel them), you might just end up with a pile of unplayable cards. This archetype is still gas, since it has fliers, tappers, and black removal, but it can feel a lot like a muddy Christmas in Tampa if you don't get the snow.
That doesn't begin to cover all of the Coldsnap archetypes, but it does give a healthy sampling of both some popular and obscure archetypes. For a small set that typically has a large number of repeats, there's a substantial amount of variety in Coldsnap, and while pro reaction is mixed, there's no question that Coldsnap creates a lot of fun and interesting play situations.
Sunday, Sept 3: 3:49 p.m. - Round 12 - Alex Sittner vs. Paulo Vitor Da Rosa
Alex is a nice guy - just don't call him John
This feature match showcases two of the best young Magic talents on the planet. Paulo Vitor Da Rosa has had a monster year, putting up a string of impressive Pro Tour performances that just missed a mythical Top 8 before finally landing one with his Brazilian teammates at Pro Tour-Charleston. His opponent is Alex Sittner (though the standings show him as John), a Utah University student who nearly made the Top 4 as well in Charleston, and then followed that with a Top 8 at U.S. Nationals. Sittner is yet another young, exciting American Magic player who has a substantial heaping of skill to complement the fact that he's actually a nice guy.
Sittner led off with a turn 1 Karplusan Wolverine followed by Surging Sentinels two turns later, but the ripple was a whiff. Da Rosa's board was a lowly Rimewind Taskmage, and Phyrexian Ironfoot, though he stalled for a turn on land. Jotun Owl Keeper plus another Wolverine on the board signaled Sittner was clearly the aggressor in this match, and a pair of Sentinels came into play a turn later (one ripple), while all Da Rosa could do was cast Frost Raptor.
Da Rosa finally found a fourth land and stole Sittner's Owl Keeper, giving him a trio of Owls a turn later, but by that point it was too late, and Da Rosa capitulated to Sittner's army of red and white weenies.
Sittner 1 - Da Rosa 0
Hello! I am Paulo!
Da Rosa had much better start to game 1, with Taskmage and Ironfoot early, though Sittner did ripple a Sentinel into a twin, so he was doing alright. Balduvian Frostwalker for Da Rosa gave him a way to turn snow lands into beatsticks, but Sittner was non-plussed, choosing to cast Gelid Shackles on both Ironfoot and Da Rosa's Taskmage, leaving the Frostwalker unfettered. Sittner was clearly only interested in smashing face and advancing his ability to do so.
Da Rosa was interested in smashing face back this game, casting a Thermopod with haste, foregoing the creation of a snow-covered elemental, and bashing for 8 (including the Frostwalker), making the life score 16-12 in his favor. That only lasted until Sittner's attack, where he smashed back for 6. At this point it became apparent that Sittner was hampered by a lack of red mana, though he finally found it a turn later, bringing his burn in hand online. Da Rosa always appeared on the cusp of taking control of this game, but in the end, Sittner's beatdown was just a step ahead of Da Rosa's ability to stabilize, and a final Kjeldoran War Cry gave him just enough damage to finish the Brazilian off.
Sittner 2 - Da Rosa 0
Sunday, Sept 3: 6:20 p.m. - Round 14 - Takuya Osawa vs. John Pelcak
Pelcak mulliganned his first hand, but kept a second six, casting Into the North for Scrying Sheets on turn 2. Osawa started the beatdown plan early, casting Boreal Druid into Kjeldoran Outrider, and then Surging Might on the soldier, but Pelcak stopped that nonsense with Arctic Nishoba. Gelid Shackles on the Nishoba plus Surging Might on his Druid completely changed the momentum of the game, dropping Pelcak to 8 on the attack. Zombie Musher provided a regenerating blocker for the blond Minnesotan, and Osawa was forced to hold back for a turn, choosing to cast Juniper Order Druid instead. Boreal Griffin a turn later gave Osawa an evasive attacker, but Pelcak's Nishoba had gone to the graveyard by that point, moving him back to 14 life, and then 18 when he cast Soul Spike on the flier. The board was now mostly reset.
This changed substantially when Pelcak put Panglacial Wurm on the table. Chill to the Bone blew up a double-block, letting Pelcak smash Oosawa to 8, but Aurochs Herd plus the Druid's special help swung the game back to a stalemate. Even with Scrying Sheets, Pelcak was having a hard time finding an advantage. However, just when it looked like the Juniper Order advantage would take things home, Pelcak put a Chilling Shade into play and used that to whittle down Osawa's life. Finally the Panglacial Wurm was thrown into the red zone again, and Pelcak used another Chill to the Bone to trample through for the win in a very tight game.
Pelcak 1 - Osawa 0
Osawa again had a fast start in game 2, but this time it was backed up with Adarkar Valkyrie. Pelcak had Sek'Juar Deathkeeper on his side, but the Valkyrie certainly seemed like trump in that situation. It's possible that Pelcak could have dealt with the snow angel by itself, but when Osawa added Aurochs Herd and Karplusan Strider to the party, it was all over.
Pelcak 1 - Osawa 1
Game 3 started with dueling Druids on both sides of the board, but quickly became packed. Osawa had Outrider and super-monkey (ape) Simian Brawler on his side of the board to Pelcak's Gristle Grinner and Chilling Shade. Sek'Kuar for Pelcak, three members of the Aurochs family made things dramatically more complicated, but Death Mark took out the largest of the Aurochs, letting Pelcak bash for 8, dropping Osawa to 10, with Pelcak at 10 as well from monkey beatings.
Pelcak pushed his Chilling Shade into the red zone again, pumping it with all of his snow lands to put Osawa at 5 life, one turn away from victory. With Pelcak at 10, Osawa cast Gelid Shackles on Gristle Grinner, and swung with the team, losing two men and dropping Pelcak to 7, but looking as though he just gave away the game to the Chilling Shade. That was when he dropped an elbow on Pelcak, throwing Freyalise's Radiance onto the board just as time was called, locking down Pelcak's source of offense. Pelcak was crestfallen, extending a defeated hand when his final draw yielded nothing more than a Snow-Covered Mountain.
Osawa 2 - Pelcak 1