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Enter the Russians

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Nicolay Potovin wins Grand Prix-Stockholm!

It was only a few years ago that Magic was first printed in Russian, with a fanfare launch tournament in Moscow featuring a selection of top pros. Now the country has its second Grand Prix champion in Potovin. When Pro Tour-Philadelphia Top 8 member Andre Müller beat Kenji Tsumura in the semifinals, he proudly declared "For me the tournament is over" -- but he had not reckoned with the might of Nicolay Potovin and his powerhouse red/blue deck, which romped to victory in two games straight.

The Russian contingent was out in force at Grand Prix-Stockholm, and while there were many Germans, a local hero and a tiny hero from the far east all vying for the title, none could stop Potovin from lifting the trophy with his countrymen at the end of the day.

Congratulations to Nicolay Potovin, Grand Prix-Stockholm champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Samuel Korsell   Oliver Oks, 2-1        
8 Oliver Oks   Nicolay Potovin, 2-1
       
4 Nicolay Potovin   Nicolay Potovin, 2-0   Nicolay Potovin, 2-0
5 Bas Postema    
       
2 Klaus Joens   Kenji Tsumura, 2-1
7 Kenji Tsumura   Andre Mueller, 2-0
       
3 Andre Mueller   Andre Mueller, 2-0
6 Thomas Refsdal    


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Nicolay Potovin $3,000
 2.  Andre Mueller $2,000
 3.  Kenji Tsumura $1,400
 4.  Oliver Oks $1,300
 5.  Bas Postema $900
 6.  Thomas Refsdal $900
 7.  Klaus Joens $900
 8.  Samuel Korsell * $2,400

* includes amateur award.

Pairings Results Standings
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  • Sunday, May 6: 9:01 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Klaus Jöns vs. Kenji Tsumura
    by Tim Willoughby


  • Kenji's Top 8 began with a mulligan, but quickly improved with a Knight of Sursi suspended on turn one. He followed up with a morph on turn three, while Jöns was looking to take the shadow path, with both a Looter il-Kor and an Infiltrator il-Kor. The race was on, and Klaus got to draw extra cards into the bargain.

    Wake up Kenji!

    Aven Augur gave Klaus his first non-shadow monster, but with the way that each player was attacking all the time, it might as well have. The life totals were quickly 12 to 10 in Jöns' favour, and when a big Fomori Nomad came down for the German, suddenly Kenji was on the defensive. He carefully read Aven Augur, and got to experience its ability first hand in the very next upkeep. As there were two targets for the ability, his morphed Willbender could do nothing about it, and without blockers, he was quickly taken down to 2.

    A Whip-Spine Drake joined the German team, and Kenji briskly scooped up his cards.

    Klaus Jöns 1 - 0 Kenji Tsumura

    Kenji's Knight of Sursi suspend came on turn two for game 2, while Klaus had a Looter il-Kor. Kenji played D'Avenant Healer, an answer he'd brought in to deal with shadows, and passed, forced to take a single hit from the Looter before his guy came online. An Aquamorph Entity got hit by Spell Snare when Kenji tried to play it as a morph, but Kenji still had his small victory of holding back the Looter, which didn't want to attack into certain death. Klaus played Coal Stoker and a morph before passing.

    Kenji had a Cloudchaser Kestrel, who blocked the following turn when Klaus' two new creatures swung in, but when he used his Healer, it got hit by Leaden Fists. Klaus' morph that was blocked didn't even die, as it turned out to be a Fathom Seer, who unmorphed.. Kenji used Piracy Charm to kill the Looter, and when Gossamer Phantasm came out, he used his Kestrel's ability to finish it off.

    Kenji jumped ahead on tempo in the game with a Jedit's Dragoons, and then by bouncing an Aven Augur with Venser's Diffusion. He attacked Klaus down to 6, and even in the face of an Infiltrator il-Kor, was ahead enough on life that he looked good for a race.

    Attacks forced Aven Augur into a trade with Cloudchaser Kestrel, but still took Klaus to four. Each player had a morph, but it seemed that Kenji had the only flyer. In upkeep, Klaus showed his morph to be Shaper Parasite, but was trumped by a Willbender, allowing Kenji to kill of one of the German team, and swing for the win.

    Klaus Jöns 1 - 1 Kenji Tsumura

    Kenji led off with a suspended Ivory Giant for Game 3, and followed up with a suspended Knight of Sursi. Jöns had a suspended Infiltrator il-Kor and a morph. Kenji had a Cloudchaser Kestrel, but it died to Shaper Parasite, leaving Jöns clear to attack. Kenji killed off the shadow creature with Piracy Charm, but took two on the other swings. Jöns played a morph and passed.

    Kenji played a 1/5 face up Aquamorph Entity to stem the bleeding, and used it to block Jöns' Shaper Parasite the following turn when the German attacked. Then down came Jodah's Avenger. Kenji had taken a Dust Elemental over one of these in the draft, and though it seemed unlikely to be the same one, it was definitely scary for the little master. His Ivory Giant came off suspension, and he swung in with is team into a fully tapped-out German board. A Walk the Aeons allowed for another attack - to take Klaus to 8. Aven Augur then joined the Japanese team.

    Klaus feels the hurt.

    Jöns attacked with his Jodah's Avenger. Kenji let his 1/5 block, to which the Avenger gained double strike. Kenji used Pongify to turn his wall into a 3/3 Ape that looked curiously like Richard Hoaen. The game was now very tight on life. Kenji went to the tank, looking for the right play for his turn, as Jöns had the turn before. In his upkeep, he sacrificed Aven Augur, bouncing Jodah's Avenger, and Jöns' own Aven Augur, before drawing and swinging with his team. All Jöns had was a morph and a Shaper Parasite to block with, and both went in front of Ivory Giant - with the morph (a Slipstream Serpent) falling to the 3/4.

    Aven Augur came back for Klaus, but it was not enough to keep him out of the deep water he was in. The following turn, one extra threat on the board from Kenji was enough to seal it. Jöns scooped up his cards. There was some confusion as to life totals, but the extra Knight of Sursi that was lurking on top of Kenji's deck suggested that even if Jöns hadn't scooped when he did, the result would not have changed.

    Kenji Tsumura wins 2-1



     
  • Sunday, May 6: 9:44 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Thomas Refsdal vs. Andre Müller
    by Tobias Henke


  • Andre Müller

    The name Refsdal rings a bell from a time long, long ago. But actually it's his older brother Gunnar who won a Grand Prix back in the last century and finished in the Top 8 of another, as well as in the Top 8 of Pro Tour-London in 2000. One more example of family relations at work, as his brother can of course be seen on the sidelines routing for him. While he's never actually been in the spotlight like his brother, Thomas Refsdal is by no means a slouch either. He's been playing Pro Tours since PT Paris in 1997, each season qualifying for one or two (a total of 14), with a couple of Top 32s along the way.

    Andre Müller might as well be one of the best known players of all time in Germany. Being a long-time crowd-favorite, he actually backed up the public's confidence in his capability by Top 8ing Pro Tour-Philadelphia and spending the best part of the last two years as Level 3 professional. Now he's back trying to rack up enough points. Stockholm is his second GP Top 8.

    The two players both drafted green-based decks, so it will be a battle of big monsters. Andre is pairing green with black cards, while Thomas's deck is of the red variety.

    Thomas won the die roll and chose to play first. His opening hand, though, consisted of two Mountains, a Stingscourger, and a bunch of unplayable green cards, so he shipped it back. He was fine with his next six, as is Andre with his seven, although it might have be a little heavy on the dark side, with no source of green mana.

    The first play was Ashcoat Bear from Thomas, but he could only frown when not drawing a third land. Frown and attack.

    Next up was a Deepcavern Imp from Andre, which returned the favor of hitting for two. Thomas missed out on the land drop again, while Andre paid the upkeep cost of his Imp by playing Gorgon Recluse at discount rate.

    While he still had no land, Thomas at least could drop a Utopia Vow on the 2/4, keeping up the bear beatdown. This gave Andre his first source of green mana, but he will need two if his Sporoloth Ancient should ever see play. Instead he simply laid his fifth Swamp, attacked, and passed the turn back to Thomas, who finally got his third land, adding a Nessian Courser to the board, which was -- in a world full of 2/2s -- quite dominating.

    Faceless Butcher took care of that problem, and a Prodigal Pyromancer fell victim to Midnight Charm. Meanwhile the Imp brought Thomas to 10 life, while the Butcher held the ground against Ashcoat Bear. To increase pressure Andre dropped a second Deepcavern Imp, which put Thomas on dangerously low life, with no answer to any flyer to be seen, let alone two.

    The next upkeep showed that Andre's deck was indeed well equipped to pay for his Imps, as he smoothly discarded Grave Scrabbler right into play. Sitting on two life, Thomas takes a quick glance at his next draw, then scoops up his cards.

    Andre Müller 1 - 0 Thomas Refsdal

    Neither player sideboarded, although Thomas thumped thoroughly through his pile.

    Thomas Refsdal

    Thomas elects to play first once again, and this time he's not forced into a mulligan. Neither is Andre, so they're off to game 2.

    The game began remarkably like the first one, with Ashcoat Bear on Thomas' second turn, followed by Deepcavern Imp on Andre's third. But while Andre had no good follow-up to discard into his Imp, Thomas dropped land number three along with a Nantuko Shaman, which forced Andre to trade his Imp with the 3/2, rather than attacking.

    Thomas added Stingscourger to his side of the board and even sneaked a tricky Pendelhaven into play alongside the endless 1/1-supply that is Mogg War Marshal. This offense got Andre down to 9, but then suddenly comes to a halt when Andre dropped first one and then a second Sporolth Ancient, getting his own -- and much more impressive -- token-production online.

    Instead of attacking Thomas now changed his mind and takes his shot at... well, shooting damage directly to Andre's head. First in line was Riddle of Lightning, simultaneously bringing his opponent down to 6 and revealing Prodigal Pyromancer. Another Nantuko Shaman -- this time suspended -- digged deeper into his library.

    But in the end he missed out on a good chance to draw one of about five cards left in his deck that might be capable of dealing the last few points. Andre's superior fatties grew even larger with a Gaea's Anthem and dealt the final damage just in time to avoid a fiery death.

    Andre Müller 2 - 0 Thomas Refsdal



     
  • Sunday, May 6: 10:20 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Bas Postema vs. Nicolay Potovin
    by Julien Nuijten


  • Bas played first and both players kept their hands. Nicolay had the better start with Errant Ephemeron, Bonded Fetch and Primal Plasma as a 1/6, while Bas played Essence Warden, Bonesplitter Sliver and Reckless Wurm. Coal Stoker and Ephemeron joined Nicolay's side of the board and he flashed back Think Twice with the Stoker mana, and Bas chose to Lightning Axe the Bonded Fetch rather than Ephemeron. Jodah's Avenger and later Whip-Spine Drake were added to Nicolay's forces, and Bas couldn't deal with any of them.

    Nicolay Potovin

    Game 2

    Bas played first with a Mire Boa, and then paused for a second when it got Sudden Shocked on his next attack step. No sir, there is really nothing you can do. Bonded Fetch gave Nicolay some more gas to work with again, but Bas kept up with a Llanowar Empath, revealing Bogardan Rager. Nicolay took control of the board with Serendib Sorcerer, nullifying both Bas' Empath and his suspended-for-one Aeon Chronicler. Whip-Spine Drake builds up an offense for Nicolay and the game looked to swing his way again, but Bas passed the turn with five cards in hand and six mana open, indicating Lightning Axe for the Sorcerer.

    He had to change plans though, as Nicolay discarded Thunderblade Charge to his looter, and Axe took out the 3/3 flying instead. Nicolay shrugged and played out morph and Ephemeron in his next two turns, and Bas made two Julien tokens with Sprout Swarm. The Ephemeron got in for four next turn and Charge came back from the graveyard to take out Bonesplitter Sliver, and Bas made two more Juliens.

    The turn pretty much repeated itself, and Bas took a long while on his next turn to figure out what the right play was. He did some math, and settled on making another token and played Boom/Bust to destroy all the lands. But Nicolay had a response... He flipped over Fortune Thief! And all of Bas' math seemed irrelevant at this point... since without lands he couldn't deal with the Fortune Thief and Ephemeron took down the match.



     
  • Sunday, May 6: 10:53 p.m. - Semifinals: Andre Mueller vs. Kenji Tsumura
    by Craig Jones


  • "Who's going to win?" I asked Andre Mueller before Kenji arrived at the table.

    "Kenji. He has a better deck. And he's Kenji."

    Kenji Tsumura

    The K-factor has returned. Before we had Kai, now we have Kenji. Europe might be the other side of the world from Japan, but it hasn't stopped the Japanese star from consistently raiding the Grand Prix circuit over the past couple of years.

    Andre Mueller is no slouch either. The German player already has a PT Top 8 (Philadelphia) and this is his second Grand Prix Top 8. Mueller will need some luck to advance much further in this tournament as Kenji has a pretty zippy looking blue-white deck while Mueller has green-black, a colour that is traditionally a little on the clunky side.

    For Game 1 Tsumura started out with a suspended Knight of Sursi, but missed a bit of action as he didn't play another guy until Malach of the Dawn appeared a few turns later. He got a few hits in through the air but the game quickly stalled out with the appearance of Mueller's Penumbra Spider.

    From then on the forces stared at each other across the red zone as Tsumura brought in a few tricksy morphs while Mueller went for traditional big fat men with Phantasmagorian and Tombstalker.

    The game was not looking too bad for Mueller. He had a Deathspore Thallid in play and a Sporoloth Ancient to power it up.

    Seeing that the long game didn't favour him, Tsumura went on the offensive. He used an Aven Augur to bounce Mueller's Spider and Tombstalker and swooped in with his fliers. When the Deathspore got active, its sickening effect was thrown straight back at it with Willbender.

    Mueller threw a sacrificial Deepcavern Imp in the way to slow down the damage. Flying attacks took him down to 11 and then 7, but now his heavy ground pounders were starting to rumble back in as the Phantasmagorian and Sporoloth Ancient smashed back across the red zone.

    The tide was turning against the Japanese player. The Spider was back on defence and then a Faceless Butcher plucked the Malach out of the skies. Now there were no good attacks and Kenji had to hold his forces back.

    At the end of turn Mueller pulled off some brutal madness tricks. Undertaker discarded a Grave Scrabbler, which was madnessed into play. This allowed Mueller to fetch back two monsters and was enough to force Tsumura to scoop as he was completely overwhelmed on the board.

    Mueller 1-0 Tsumura

    Tsumura's start in the second game was much better. He suspended Knight of Sursi and followed with a Blade of the Sixth Pride. He skipped a third turn play but had an Aven Augur on turn four.

    Mueller wasn't out of the game by any stretch. Stronghold Rats showed up on turn three and started taking chunks out of Tsumura's hand, forcing him to discard first Walk the Aeons and then Castle Raptors to leave Tsumura with no cards. A Faceless Butcher took out the Aven Augur and then a Penumbra Spider appeared to slow down the incoming damage.

    It was just a little too late though as Tsumura's air force of Knight of Sursi and Ghost Ship were able to carry him over the finish line just as Mueller's ground forces were starting to look dangerous.

    Mueller 1-1 Tsumura

    It was Mueller's turn to get off to a flyer. A suspended Dustwasp was followed by a hasty Deepcavern Imp. Mueller even got to turn the echo to his advantage as he madnessed a Grave Scrabbler into play for the bargain price.

    Tsumura wasn't hanging around either. For the third game in a row he suspended Knight of Sursi on turn one (well he does have three of them!) and followed up with D'Avenant Healer and a couple of morphs.

    This game wasn't looking too hot for Magic's hottest player. Mueller had managed a really aggressive start and Tsumura was stuck on three land.

    Mueller was on top and piling on the pressure. A Penumbra Spider appeared and was sent into the red zone with the freshly unsuspended Dustwasp. Tsumura had the active Healer and blockers to try and stem the assault, but Mueller was utterly relentless as a Sporoloth Ancient entered the play area.

    On the following turn Mueller hammered home the last nail. Tsumura, still stuck on three land, tried to double block the Ancient and then Pongify his own Knight of Sursi after damage to leave himself with a fresh Hill Giant. He was undone by a lowly Muck Drubb, as it flashed from Mueller's hand to take the bullet. Tsumura was now even further behind on monsters and it got worse as even more jumped from Mueller's hand.

    Kenji might be the best player on the planet right now, but he hasn't got the Top 8 invulnerability field that Kai used to possess. Mueller simply blew him out of the water with that third draw.

    I think Mueller might have undersold his deck a little. There's a fair bit of meat in there and he has a whole toolbox full of madness tricks.

    Andre Mueller beats Kenji Tsumura 2-1 and advances to the final.



     
  • Sunday, May 6: 11:30 p.m. - Finals: Andre Müller vs. Nikolay Potovin
    by Craig Jones


  • Nikolay Potovin

    After 17 rounds of full Time Spiral block Limited, Grand Prix-Stockholm came down to a single match. On one side, Andre Müller, German pro with a Pro Tour Top 8 to his name and plenty of Pro Tour experience besides. On the other, Nikolay Potovin of Russia, a master of Magic Online, who periodically ventures into real world Magic when the rewards are great enough. Kengur is his name online. Watch out for Russian Sharks next time you draft.

    Game 1

    Andre won the roll, and had the first play of the game in the form of Deathspore Thallid. He followed it up with Deepcavern Imp, to allow for three points of attacking. Only two got through, as Nicolay had a Dead to kill the 1/1, who would be particularly powerful in Andre's green/black deck. The following turn Aether Membrane looked good to keep the Imp on the defensive, but it still brought out a Gorgon Recluse via madness when its echo was paid. Andre tried for Undertaker, but before it could come online Nicolay used a Ghostfire to take it down.

    Andre played Stronghold Rats and passed. Nicolay checked that there were no creatures with shadow on his opponent's side of the board, and played a Jodah's Avenger, drawing an ooh from the assembled crowd.

    Andre played Penumbra Spider and passed. Nicolay had Serendib Sorcerer and a morph. He took a hit from Deepcavern Imp, and smashed back the following turn with an Avenger that had both shadow and vigilance.

    Andre was on the defensive, but couldn't do much about the Avenger, or indeed the Primal Plasma or Triskelavus that joined it. A Midnight Charm killed off Serendib Sorceror, but that was the least of the German's worries. Both Nicolay's 4/4 creatures ran into the red zone, forcing a double block on Triskelavus with both Penumbra Spider and Deepcavern Imp from Müller. Triskelavus died, but made 3 tokens on the way out, and killed the Imp. One token killed Stronghold Rats, and then Nicolay had a Bonded Fetch.

    Jodah's Avenger attacked for four thanks to shadow and double strike, and Nicolay made another morph before passing. Andre just had a Muck Drubb for his turn, and got hit for four again after passing. Nicolay then refilled with Think Twice - just in case.

    Müller was stuck without answers to Jodah's Avenger, and quickly scooped up his cards when he saw that he had no outs this game.

    Andre Müller 0 -1 Nicolay Potovin

    Game 2

    Andre had an Undertaker but no dead bodies for it at the start of game 2. He simply bashed in with it for a turn, before seeing it humbled in its status as biggest creature on the board by a Spiketail Drakeling. Nicolay had a morph to follow up, and commenced his air assault. Andre played Gorgon Recluse as a test spell, but it was not good enough to kill off the Drakeling. Nicolay had a Coal Stoker and Aether Membrane to build his board with, and Andre a Faceless Butcher to cut it down. He took Spiketail Drakeling with it, but this was soon replaced in the flying beatdown role by Whip-Spine Drake.

    While the air was undoubtably Russia's, Andre tried to claim the ground with a Sporoloth Ancient. He was humbled in this too, by a Serendib Sorcerer. The only constant source of damage that Andre had was Gorgon Recluse, which Nicolay was hesistant to block. The air force grew with Triskelavus, which seemed to outclass the Muck Drubb for Müller - known as 'TrashT' (his Magic Online nickname) to many of his friends.

    Trash had a Deathspore Thallid, which immediately used Sporoloth Ancient's fresh Saproling to kill Serendib Sorcerer. It was all for naught though. The air force would inevitably take it.

    Just a turn later, a Dead/Gone from Nicolay cleared the way enough for a lethal attack -- one that made him Grand Prix-Stockholm champion!

    Nicolay Potovin wins 2-0!



     
  • Sunday, May 6: 11:55 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
    by Staff











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