Sunday, September 12: 5:28 pm - Top 8 Hijinks
The last round saw some confusion. Antoine Ruel went 1-0 up against his opponent Daniel Krutil, but didn't realize a win could give him top 8. Fearing an Onslaught of Slith Firewalkers in games two and three he offered his opponent a draw that was accepted. All of a sudden the way was then open for David Brucker, who managed to win his final round.
Then Jan Brodzak and Luka Gasparac agreed to draw. That meant both of them would make it and shut out the rest of the 36 pointers.
Andrea Paselli and Luca Cialini clinched the remaining two places with last round wins.
Sunday, September 12: 4:37 pm - Entering the Final Round
In the key matches of the last round saw four more players removed from contention as Stephan Fries, Vasilis Fatouros, Szymon Jankowski and Federico Cheli all lost their matches. It's shaping up to be a strong performance from the host nation as Ottatis can concede again in last round, this time giving a top 8 berth to fellow contryman Giovanni Gesiot. Davide Ghini ID's with Florian Pils to secure both their places.
Jan Brodzak of the Czech republic was the unfortunate player to get paired down and must scrap it out with Croatia's Luka Gasparac. The Italians are guaranteed another two places to go with the three already secured as Matteo Tosano gets to fight it out for a slot with Andrea Paselli while Rocco Palumbo takes on Luca Cialini.
Interestingly, because of the way the pairings have fallen the back door might have opened to allow Antoine Ruel to sneak in. The winner of his match with Daniel Krutil will probably take the last place.
Sunday, September 12: 3:41 pm - Two Rounds Left!
Round 14 is just starting and only the top 7 tables look to still be in contention. The challenge is to recognize any of the names. The likes of Barbero, Ruel and Brucker are now out with three or more losses. A draw in round 12 made the top 8 a lock for Domingo Ottati. This round he conceded to his countryman, Davide Ghini to decide the second Top 8 seed.
At least eight of the decks on the top 7 tables were Affinity with green-something decks and Big red making up the remainder.
Sunday, September 12: 2:13 pm - Expensive Salt!
Astute readers will remember a certain shaggy dog tale yesterday about some French players, a magician and very expensive bag of salt. To recap, a group of French players were offered some phones and a camera for €160, only for the goods to be miraculously switched for a bag of salt after the transaction took place. We can now confirm this story is actually true.
Step forward and hang your heads in shame KLB, Truffe and Steph!
Sunday, September 12: 1:08 pm - Fight the Machines!
A quick scan of the top tables and it seems like there's an Affinity deck involved in every match. Trying to fight against the machines is a ragged assortment of big red and various permutations of blue-green decks. One guy who's winning the fight is Domingo Ottati. Currently the Italian has yet to drop a point with his blue-green control deck.
One of the sideboard computers has caught the mood and now haughtily refuses to give me the feature match reports from the last couple of rounds. There will be a slight interlude while I go find a hammer...
Sunday, September 12: 11:22 am - The Curse of the Coverage
There are certain rules with tournament coverage.
Any deck receiving special coverage will then refuse to work for the player for the remainder of the tournament (just ask Brian Kibler).
Any players marked as ones to watch will bomb out.
Of the players I picked out yesterday a grand total of zero, zip, zilch made day two. Basically I suck, am cursed, or both.
Stephano Fiori and Luca Chiera both failed to pick up any points other than their byes. Raffaele Lo Moro, Dario Minieri and current national champ Mario Pascoli were all playing for day two in the last round, but none of them managed to win that crucial match.
However, one of the players I forgot to mention, Matteo Cirigliano, safely navigated day one. Cirigliano shook up GP Zurich with his innovative blue-green Crystal Shard deck. He's playing blue-green again today so maybe he can repeat the performance.
Or maybe I've just doomed him to 0-6 record.
Saturday, September 11: 7:13 pm - Servitor Beats Dragon
GP Rimini claims another high profile scalp as English stalwart Sam Gomersall picked up his third loss in the eighth round. He recounted a very frustrating deciding game.
In the affinity mirror his opponent got off to a screamer and emptied his hand on turn 2 with Ravager, Welding Jar, Welding Jar, Frogmite and Myr Enforcer. Gomersall also had a reasonable hand and struggled to hold on while he waited for a red source to bust out the Furnace Dragon in his hand. Down to one life he found the red source he needed and emptied the board of everything apart from the dragon. His opponent was on 14 life, had no permanents in play and had no cards in hand. Three turns was all Gomersall needed.
His opponent drew and passed, dropping to 9 in Gomersall's turn. The next turn his opponent drew a Nexus, dropped it and cast Myr Servitor. The dragon had to stay at home otherwise Sam would die to the Servitor. The next turn his opponent ripped the third perfect card in a row as a land enabled him to activate the Nexus and attack with both the Nexus and Servitor for the win.
"I'm sorry, I'm going to have to tell this to everyone."
Well, you just did.
Saturday, September 11: 6:48 pm - Big Money! Big Prizes!
One of the features of the European Grand Prix at the moment is the opportunity to win a trip to the next Grand Prix for free. All the players have to do is to fill in their name and details in a little green form and drop it in the box. The winners are announced later in the day by Event Manager Erwin Dielens.
Besides a free trip to the next Grand Prix, lucky players can pick up a Snowboard and free booster drafts. Pierluigi Di Camillo from Roma was the lucky guy who snagged the snowboard.
Winner of the first prize was Caterina Serafini. She gets a free flight to and from Vienna, 3 nights in a hotel and a free side event for each day.
Saturday, September 11: 5:25 pm - Too Much Choice Can Be a Bad Thing
We're midway through round 7 here and the Sideboard has a treat as Gabriel Nassif guests for Feature Match writing. Nassif doing coverage in round 7, but doesn't that mean...
Yep, that's right, newly crowned Pro Player of the Year Gabriel Nassif is out of the tournament. With three decks to choose from Nassif plumped for Ironworks. This was a choice he regretted as the deck failed to give him a single win.
"If I'd have known there were going to be this many green decks I'd have played Tooth and Nail," he said afterwards.
In a twist of fate the match he got to cover involved Jose Barbero, also playing the same deck. The final kicker was that Barbero won his match to go 7-0, which only goes to prove Magic is a funny game sometimes.
Saturday, September 11: 3:44 pm - French Tales of Woe
Not a strong start for the French as the Ruel brothers and Nassif fail to win their first round. Judge Kevin Desprez tells me a story about what happened to a group of French players during the drive down. At a gas station a guy offers them a cell phone for €100. When they decline he offers them two for €150. That fails so he chucks in a camera for a nice round €200. The French players check their wallets and have only €160. The guy reluctantly accepts. He opens a bag, puts the camera in the bag and then the two cellphones. Then he puts the bag in another bag and hands it to the French. They drive away and then find out the guy was a magician and they've bought a very expensive bag of salt.
Personally I think Kevin's pulling my leg, but there isn't much else interesting going on at the moment.
Round 5 is up and I'm staring at a sea of names I don't recognise. In the end I defer to head judge Sylvio Viteli's suggestions and give Emanuele Canavesi and Andrea Paselli a chance to stut their stuff in the feature match area. Andre Mueller gets sent up for a second time, this time against Georgios Kapalas, part of a strong Greek contingent here today. Sadly their efforts go unrecognised as I take the opportunity to grab some food.
Saturday, September 11: 1:33 pm - Top Italian Players
Round 3 is about to start and it's time to think about which of the good Italian players to follow. Unfortunately, the names of the top Italian players don't come as easily to mind as say Budde, Nassif or Herzog. This doesn't mean Italians are bad at the game, any country that puts three players into the top 8 of a Pro Tour is certainly no slouch, just that their players don't seem to get the same level of recognition.
Anyway, here's a few names to look out for over the weekend. Easiest place to start is with that trio from the top 8 of Kobe: Raffaele Lo Moro, Luigi Sbrozzi and Stephano Fiori (not to be confused with Stephano Fiore, an Italian with a string of good Grand Prix finishes). Lo Moro is the most recognizable name there, an old school Italian player with a top 8 appearance way back at World's '99. Dario Minieri and Luca Chiera are both players with Pro Tour experience. Current national champion Mario Pascoli is also worth keeping an eye on.
Anyway the pairings for round three are up and Pascoli, Fiore and Chiera are all in action. Round three also includes a few surprising names as German players Reinhard Blech and former European Champion David Brucker find themselves with only two byes. Brucker and Chiera are paired together and as Olivier Ruel is bored with his three byes, he's bounded off like an eager puppy to bring that match for your edification.
Saturday, September 11: 12:45 pm - Deck Breakdown
|Tooth and Nail
|R/G Artifact Hate
Unsurprisingly the most popular deck is Affinity, although it falls some way short of the 50% people expected. A large proportion of the field decided to hate it instead, with Big red and red/green decks making up another third of the field. Blue-green control - some with Crystal Shard, some without - is a popular choice. There isn't much surprising with Tooth and Nail, Death Cloud (about half with green), Mono Green and blue-white control (mostly cogs) rounding out the rest of the field.
Thanks to the Judging Staff for gathering the information.
Saturday, September 11: 11:25 am - Judges Hard at Work
In keeping with the new tradition, we (well me until I crack the whip and grab some slaves, BWAHHAAAA!) at the sideboard will keep the blog going.
Action kicked off in Rimini just before eleven, which is good going. The tournament is lacking a few of the big name players. The format is pretty much mined out, making it difficult to gain an edge. Gabriel Nassif had three decklists in front of him and was trying to make up his mind which to play. When you're one of the deck constructors in the world I guess you get more choices than most people. There was mention of Ironworks making a possible appearance, but it feels a bit ballsy to play combo when there's a beatdown deck that on average kills quicker.
Back to the subject of slaves...erm volunteers...those hard working judges are working hard right now to bring you the breakdown of decks. I may give them a cup of water later on if they're well behaved. There's looking like a lot of ticks next to affinity, but it might fall just short of 50%.