Day 2 Blog Archive

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  • Blog - 4:29 p.m. - Podcast: Closing In on the Top 8
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog - 3:53 p.m. - Round 14: Olivier Ruel vs. Nicolas Bertos
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 3:18 p.m. - The Day 2 Metagame
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 2:09 p.m. - Stories from Around the Venue
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 1:36 p.m. - Round 12: Tiago Chan vs. Tomoharu Saito
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 12:44 p.m. - Pics from Strasbourg
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 12:11 p.m. - Podcast: Drawing Dead
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog - 11:02 a.m. - I'm Meeeeelllllting!
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 10:15 a.m. - Round 10: Christoph Huber vs. William Cavaglieri
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • BLOG

  • Sunday, May 20: 10:15 a.m. - Round 10: Christoph Huber vs. William Cavaglieri
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • French player William Cavaglieri is a playtester for Nintendo in real life.

    Christoph is the 9-0 leader of the green bracket, William came as the second place with 8-0-1 out of the blue bracket. Only one of them would keep his undefeated record.

    Game 1

    Both players began their day with Terramorphic Expanse, followed by a Wall of Roots on Christoph's side and a Shadowmage Infiltrator for William. Christoph had a Mwonvuli Acid-Moss that William couldn't stop, taking down an Island and setting Christoph up for hard-cast Riftwing Cloudskate. William Canceled, and swung in with Finkel. Both players made a morph.

    William had Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Christoph unmorphed Thelonite Hermit. When he attacked, William calmly showed his own morph to be Vesuvan Shapeshifter, and his tokens negated Christoph's tokens just like anti-matter meeting matter. "You are trying to tell me you have a counter," William assumed looking at Christoph's lands, and passed the turn without a play.

    Christoph's Hermit sat there unmoving, but William's Shapeshifter kept making tokens and the Frenchman had to dig deep in his purse for coins to use as Saproling tokens. The little army of metal quickly brought down the Swiss player.

    Christoph Huber 0 - 1 William Cavaglieri

    While sideboarding, the players agreed that the match played out just like their opening hands had promised: Christoph's had been mediocre, William was very content with the contents of his first hand.

    Game 2

    The Swiss felt this matchup was good for him, but reality proved him wrong.

    Christoph was on the play and off they went without mulligans. Again, both players had Terramorphic Expanse. William motioned to play a land before drawing his card, checking himself before he did: "That's Magic Online's fault, I don't have to draw there." Christoph had the first Action of the match, laying down Stormbind off a Prismatic Lens and apparently catching William off-guard, as the Frenchman had no counter and no Disenchant in his decklist, either. Two Snapbacks were the only outs his deck could give.

    But Christoph chose not to use the Stormbind on William, suspending Riftwing Cloudskate instead to bounce a charged storage land on William's side when it came into play. The 'skate drew the first blood of the match, while Christoph followed up with Mwonvuli Acid-Moss on Urborg. William sighed and Canceled, but Christoph had Mystic Snake! Small wonder he didn't want to discard to Stormbind. With four power worth of creatures and a Stormbind on the table, Christoph was well ahead.

    Mystic Snake fell to Premature Burial from William, Damnation from the Frenchman met another Mystic Snake, and the Stormbind was still there. Christoph played Vesuvan Shapeshifter face-up, copied the Cloudskate and returned one of his own lands to his hand, planning to finally use his Stormbind. William made a morph which got returned to his hand by another hard-cast Shapeshifter copying Cloudskate. William checked the time left in the round and conceded on 8 life with 23 minutes left to play.

    Christoph Huber 1 - 1 William Cavaglieri

    Game 3

    William chose to play first, as most players do in this format. Christoph had a mulligan, then a Wall of Roots and a morph, William had Shadowmage Infiltrator. The Frenchman was very focused on his opponent, predicting his Terramorphic Expanse to go for Island and correctly noting that Christoph missed his fourth land drop. William surged ahead with Careful Consideration and added a second Infiltrator to his side. Christoph morph had turned out to be Vesuvan Shapeshifter, copying one of the Infiltrators, and he re-gained a small edge with Mwonvuli Acid-Moss on William's storage land. Still, the Frenchman was ahead in cards and mana.

    Christoph had to catch up somehow, and decided to suspend Aeon Chronicler for two turns. That left him tapped out, open for anything the Frenchman might have in store. It was a suspended Chronicler, suspended for just a single turn. William: "I probably should have played it face-up."

    Improvised Saproling tokens for the win!

    Christoph decided on Riftwing Cloudskate, bouncing one Finkel. "I've been greedy, I guess," lamented William as he felt his advantage slipping. But he at least had a Cancel for the Chronicler that wanted to come into play for Christoph. It didn't help, as Mystic Snake flashed to the scene, and Christoph's 7/7 Chronicler took William to 11, the Frenchman declining to block. He cracked back with his own morph (a Shapeshifter, as the attack revealed) and Chronicler, taking Christoph to 9.

    Christoph attempted a morph after turning his own Shapeshifter back down, but William had the Spell Burst to snatch it for just one mana. Yet another morph from Christoph stuck. "So, you're on nine," said William, scheming how to win this game against a face-down Shapeshifter, a mystery morph, and a tapped-out opponent. His whole team of Chronicler, Shapeshifter-Chronicler, and Finkel cracked in for a lethal total of 11 damage. Christoph chose to take six damage, chump-blocking with his Wall of Roots. William killed Christoph's younger morph with Premature Burial - a Thelonite Hermit - and when Christoph's Riftwing Cloudskate met a Cancel on the next turn, the Swiss conceded.

    Christoph Huber 1 - 2 William Cavaglieri

  • Sunday, May 20: 11:02 a.m. - I'm Meeeeelllllting!
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • The heat-stricken laptop, balanced on a cookie box for better air circulation.

    Apart from the reporters, GP Strasbourg is also covered by a crew of German reporters for their website PlanetMTG. And just like us, they were subject to the heat in the hall that made everybody break into sweat. One of them, Tobias Henke, had even worse trouble: His laptop started melting, actually melting. The plastic cover over the speakers got so hot that it deformed itself into a wavy line. Every so often, Tobi had to switch the computer off and place it on the cold, concrete floor to prevent a complete meltdown of his laptop.

  • Sunday, May 20: 12:11 p.m. - Podcast: Drawing Dead
    by Rich Hagon

  • Sometimes, just sometimes, a draw can be as good as a win. When you convert a near-impossible matchup into a draw, that solitary point lifts you ahead of your near rivals. Once you hit day two, especially in a slow format like TS Block Constructed, draws are gonna kill ya. As we head down the day two path to glory, more and more players are finding they're losing two points rather than gaining one. We talk with Gabriel Nassif, currently undefeated but with THREE draws already. Drawing dead is the early story of day two right here on

  • Click here for the Podcast!

  • Sunday, May 20: 12:44 p.m. - Pics from Strasbourg
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • In Strasbourg, home to the parliament of the European Union, old and new merge seamlessly. The city attracts visitors from all around, leading to a truly babelian mish-mash of language in the streets.

    Fresh vegetables and seafood, affordable shirts and shorts and even WWII memorabilia can be had in this market in front of the the opera house.

    Little cafés are everywhere in the inner city, offering tasty Tarté Flambe and a brew or two. Of course, all priced according to the tourists' purse…

    …then you turn a corner and forget about the prices as the famous Strasbourg Cathedral looms up in front of you.

    It's too big for one picture. Waves of tourists wash around and through it, but the Cathedral has weathered every storm since.

    If you do not send a postcard home from Strasbourg, it's not for want of motivs.

    Like most old European cities, Strasbourg has a plethora of churches to offer. The one at the end of the street is standing in the old town, where Strasbourg once began.

    After you thread your way through the gap, you are surrounded by tourists. Watch their horses thunder past!

    The aforementioned visitors. In the heart of the city, it is almost inevitable that you become one yourself. Resistance is futile.

    If you are in the city to play Magic, you might as well find appropriate accomodation.

    Strasbourg can be stunningly beautiful. The players who do not make it into the sunday rounds would do well to go and see the city while they can - it's worth it.

  • Sunday, May 20: 1:36 p.m. - Round 12: Tiago Chan vs. Tomoharu Saito
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • Tiago Chan was out of options, out of luck and out of smiles in round 12.

    The match between the two level 6 mages drew a crowd of spectators from the very start. Both players were well aware of being in the spotlight of the feature match area - although for both of them it was nothing new.

    Game 1

    Saito won the die roll, slapped his face in his trademark way, and chose to play first. A glance to the ceiling preceded his decision to keep, while Tiago had no need to think, immediately saying "keep".

    Saito kicked off with Mogg War-Marshal, accompanied by a little plastic pig to mark the goblin token. Pendelhaven joined his side, and he smashed in for three. Tiago was more deliberate than the fast Japanese player, and Saito had all the action for himself: Suspending Greater Gargadon, attacking for two, the Browbeating himself, while all Tiago could do was to sacrifice his Terramorphic Expanse and charging his Dreadship Reef.

    If you slap your face often enough, you might just end up just where he is: on top.

    That small charge enabled Aeon Chronicler, hard-cast, to provide a 6/6 speedbump against Saito's attacks. At least that was the plan, but Saito had the red bounce and swung for another two points, adding a Blood Knight to his team afterwards. Tiago, now on 13, replayed his Chronicler. The Gargadon on Saito's side was ticking down nicely, but the Japanese wasn't ready yet to commit his entire board to bring in the beast while Tiago was tapped out. Instead, he attacked with his team. Tiago's Chronicler blocked Blood Knight, which died taking a counter off Gargadon, and Tiago went to 10. A Disintegrate for 4 finished off the Chronicler, and Tiago was hard pressed to find an answer, any answer, to Saito's Onslaught.Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, provided him with the black mana he needed to activate his removal, but so far, none was forthcoming.

    Saito slapped his face and Tiago down to 7. Saito Browbeat himself again, and Tiago had nothing to stop it. The card drawing yielded a Rift Bolt to Taigo's face, taking him to 4. The Portugese played an end-of-turn Careful Consideration, needing to find Tendrils of Corruption or at least Damnation just to stave off the immediate pressure. He discarded two Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Prismatic Lens, and on his turn put down Shadowmage Infiltrator with four mana to spare. One attack and a burn spell would put Tiago out of the game unless he had a counter in hand, and Saito was willing to try. He pointed Disintegrate at Tiago, and wordlessly, the Portugese scooped up his cards.

    Tiago Chan 0 - 1 Tomoharu Saito

    Game 2

    Saito used little plastic pigs to pose as goblins. This little piggy did certainly not stay home: It went to Tiago and took his life.

    Saito, on the draw, opened with turn two Blood Knight and no turn three play, giving Tiago time to reach Cancel mana. Tiago was thinking long and hard about what color of land to get with Terramorphic expanse, but as he had picked up a slow play warning yesterday, the Portugese needed to be mindful of not getting another one. Two warnings of the same kind would upgrade to a game loss, under the new Penalty Guidelines, and that was clearly not what Tiago would want for his tournament. The Expanse went for a Plains. Saito flashed in a Sulfur Elemental at the end of Tiago's turn, beat him down to 13 and suspended Rift Bolt.

    Tiago still had nothing but lands and a Prismatic Lens, having played no business spell yet. He even missed his third land drop, and Saito flashed in a second Sulfur Elemental. With Rift Bolt bringing Tiago to 10, Saito smelled blood and attacked with both Sulfur Elementals and Blood Knight. All Tiago had was Strangling Soot, going to 5, but against Saito's next plays, Blood Knight and Mogg War-Marshal, the Portugese and his puny 4 mana stood no chance unless he would find Damnation. What he had was Aven Riftwatcher, a 4/1 due to Saito's Elementals, but that would not be enough. Saito cut it short and finished the game with Disintegrate, with 23 minutes left in the round.

    Tiago Chan 0 - 2 Tomoharu Saito

  • Sunday, May 20: 2:09 p.m. - Stories from Around the Venue
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • When only 128 players come back to play in the main tournament, everybody else is turning his attention to different matters. These are Magic players, and they do not just disappear to enjoy the sights of beautiful Strasbourg. No, they come back to the greenhouse-style hall that the GP is set up in to play some more Magic, or to get their cards signed, or to spectate at and speculate about the ongoing GP tournament.

    Even the youngest dig the game.

    Roughly 20 of the youngest Magic players have gathered to play in the Junior tournament for players under 16 years of age. Of course, most of them have seen GP action the day before, like young Morgane Kelterbaum who we featured yesterday. Their format is Standard, and - time permitting, because this is a busy day - we'll see if we can scrounge up some young and fresh ideas.

    Legacy has not only lured players to Columbus, where more than 800 competitors are wading through the Flash flood, but also back into the hall here. Scheduled to start very soon, about 50 players have registered for the Legacy side event that has become a good tradition on the European GP circuit by now.

    Jan Ruess and Jim Herold enjoying a casual Two-Headed Giant draft.

    Rather more players decided to play Sealed deck. 200 players registered for the GP Firenze Trial, with 3 byes as the prize but more importantly, a chance to play even more tournament Magic. n addition to all that, more than 20 real-life eight-man queues have fired up across the various formats, mostly Booster draft.

    Artist Anthony Waters, of Wild Mongrel fame.

    As for the artists, John Avon and Anthony Waters are on site to sign their cards, sell art prints and talk to their fans. Both have an extensive portfolio, being part of Magic's past and present, and plenty of signing to do. But they do it willingly and with a smile all day long, and, as John Avon has written on his booth sign, "then I die."

    Artist John Avon, most famous for his land art.

  • Sunday, May 20: 3:18 p.m. - The Day 2 Metagame
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • The count is in, and all 128 decklists from day 2 have gone through the hands of the friendly typing monkeys in the PlanetMTG-Team. While I was covering the round 12 feature match, they pored over the lists and came up with the following breakdown:

    R/G/u(/b) Big Mana - 30
    U/B/w(/r) Teachings - 20
    Mono Red - 20
    White Weenie - 15
    U/G Shifter - 14
    Mono Blue - 12
    U/B Pickles - 7
    Mono Green - 2
    Other - 8

    The previous observations of the coverage team were mainly correct, except that we underestimated the number of White Weenies in day two. Also, some of the Mono Red decks play Timbermare as their sole green card, basically using it as just another burn spell. Stormbinds are found in some of the U /G Shifter decklists, splashing red just to take advantage of the powerful enchantment.

    The R/G Big Mana decks, either with a blue or black splash, were a sign of the high number of amateurs in day 2, as these decks are typically played by the PTQ players. The gravy trainers, i.e. the regulars on the Pro Tour, gravitate to the blue-based control decks. Surprisingly many players (among them Olivier Ruel) sleeved up Mono Blue, which has a rock-solid mana base but is vulnerable to fast aggro decks. For the Mono-U pilots, their gamble paid off.

  • Sunday, May 20: 3:53 p.m. - Round 14: Olivier Ruel vs. Nicolas Bertos
    by Hanno Terbuyken

  • A joyful Olivier Ruel is happy to play Magic at the highest level.

    The two Frenchmen were on 33 points each, at 12-2 records. A loss would put either player out of the running for Top 8.

    Game 1

    Oliver Ruel still is a crowd favorite after returning from his time under the banhammer. and for good reason. The French star is good times, especially at the feature match table, where he and his French opponent joked around before they got to the serious business of kicking each other out of Top 8 contention.

    Olivier had neither paper nor counters, so he grabbed the prepared 2-0 sign with a snigger, saying that they wouldn't need that one anyway. Counters and dice he borrowed from Anthony Dorle in the audience.

    The game itself went off fast, with Olivier suspending two Ancestral Visions and losing his Shapeshifter-morph for Nicolas', which became a 0/4 Wall of Roots after blocking to survive. While Olivier was taking counters off his Ancestral Visions, Nicolas came in with Weatherseed Totem to reduce Olivier's life to 10. Both players had morphs staring at each other. Nicolas tried to move things along with Harmonize, but that just moved Draining Whelk from Olivier's hand to the in-play zone as a 5/5, taking Nicolas to 15 on the next attack.

    Riftwing Cloudskate from Olivier bounced Nicolas' main attacker Weatherseed Totem, so Nicolas made his Shapeshifter-morph into a copy of Wall of Roots with the mana from the Totem. The Totem came down again, but Olivier had the initiative, attacked Nicolas to 8 and hard-cast a Vesuvan Shapeshifter to copy the Cloudskate and bounce the Totem once more. One attack later, Nicolas was dead from combined Whelk, Cloudskate and Shapeshifter beats.

    Olivier Ruel 1 - 0 Nicolas Bertos

    Game 2

    Olivier was hoping for Gemstone Cavern on the draw, and he had it, but he dropped his hand on the table with a smile: the Cavern had five Islands and Vesuvan Shapeshifter for company, and that wasn't good enough for Olivier.

    Both players got a chance to make their mana flow, Nicolas with Search for Tomorrows, Olivier with Prismatic Lens. Nicolas brought on Riptide Pilferer, drawing a "Merde!" from Olivier, who had just another Lens to play out. He then went for Teferi, but Nicolas had a Cancel waiting and another Riptide Pilferer. Ancestral Visions from Olivier - who meanwhile drew a warning for accidentally not tapping enough lands for Teferi at first - meant he could maybe bounce back from his empty hand against two Riptide Pilferers, but he seemed doubtful himself.

    14 life for Oliver, 20 for Nicolas was the score when Olivier started to make one Assembly-Worker a turn, which paled in comparison to the four Saprolings that Nicolas got off his Thelonite Hermit. Nicolas also had Serrated Arrows to help against the token defense, and Olivier could do nothing but pack it in.

    Olivier Ruel 1 - 1 Nicolas Bertos

    Game 3

    With one game apiece, Olivier could continue to use the 2-0 sign to record his life totals. after sideboarding, Olivier added a Serrated Arrows to his deck as an afterthought, thumbing through his deck to find something to remove for it. In the end, he took the Serrated Arrows out again, making a show of having made a last-minute change.

    Muligan from Olivier on the play, but suspending Ancestral Visions on turn one promised to mend matters. Again, Nicolas had turn two Riptide Pilferer, prompting a half-joking outburst from Olivier against the Pilferer. He just doesn't like the card on the draw, seeing no sense in playing it. Nicolas played Serrated Arrows, a card Olivier would now have dearly liked to draw. Nicolas attempted a morph, but Olivier had Spell Burst, dispatching the would-be Thelonite Hermit with one mana, and another one next turn with another Spell Burst. Pilferer drew a Vesuvan Shapeshifter out of Olivier's hand and even though he had another Visions suspended, he needed to kill the hand ripper.

    Nicolas Bertos quietly enjoys how much fun winning can be.

    Olivier went for a morph, and Nicolas attacked into it, hoping to take it down with Serrated Arows after blocking. The effect got Willbendered back to his own Pilferer, and Olivier suspended another Ancestral Visions. Suspend was a common strategy, as Nicolas suspended Detritivore which came in and took Olivier's Urza's Factory to become a grand 2/2.

    Nicolas had a morph, Olivier answered with Spell Burst with buyback. The counter met Cancel, and both players were out of cards in hand, with Ancestral Visions coming up for Olivier. Or not? (*cue foreshadowing*) Nicolas' morph turned out to be Vesuvan Shapeshifter, turning face up to copy Olivier's Willbender and thus redirecting Oliver's Ancestral Visions to Nicolas. That made Olivier concede, as he saw no way for his deck to overcome the resulting card advantage.

    Olivier Ruel 1 - 2 Nicolas Bertos

  • Sunday, May 20: 4:29 p.m. - Podcast: Closing In on the Top 8
    by Rich Hagon

  • We bring you the emerging stories of day two, as rounds 12-14 help define the shape of the final octet. As the final round began, two names were assured a place under the spotlight. Find out who they are, as Ben Coleman brings you insider tech, great plays, and discovers that drawing 5 cards a turn is quite good, astonishingly. Meanwhile, we join the Head Judge Frank Warmeren of the Netherlands, as he explains the ins and outs of the new DCI penalty guidelines, following the Antoine Ruel matchup late Saturday. Tune in for more right here at the home of MTG.

  • Click here for the Podcast!

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