Saturday Blog Archive

  • Print


  • Blog - 10:22 p.m. - Cooling down, down down: who's through?
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 9:47 p.m. - Feature Match round 9: Bernardo Da Costa Cabral - Bogdan Bondarenko
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 8:54 p.m. - Heating up, up, up!
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 8:21 p.m. - Feature match round 8: Antti Malin (FIN) - Emanuele Canavesi (ITA)
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 7:35 p.m. - Round 7 feature match: Tiago Chan (PRT) vs Stefan Benedikt (AUT)
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 7:19 p.m. - Feature match round 7: Bram Snepvangers (NLD) - Marco Lombardi (ITA)
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 6:44 p.m. - Blasts from the Magic pasts
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 6:28 p.m. - Alan Pollack
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 5:52 p.m. - Round change
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 5:35 p.m. - Round four feature match: Stewart Shinkins (IRL) vs Wesimo Al-Bacha (GER)
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 4:20 p.m. - Deckbuilding with Bernardo Da Costa Cabral
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 3:41 p.m. - Grand Prix Trials
    by Jörn-Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 3:24 p.m. - This is a *side*-event?
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 3:03 p.m. - Talking tactics with the French
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 2:31 p.m. - Expected rush turns into trickle, Spain disappoints
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 1:57 p.m. - The Wrong Side of the Table
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 1:46 p.m. - Bling luck
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 12:59 p.m. - Casting the pod
    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Blog - 12:33 p.m. - Quick Questions: Who will win the FIFA World Cup?
    by Jörn Martin Hajek
  • Blog - 11:50 a.m. - The Gunslingers
    by Jörn Martin Hajek

  • BLOG

  • Saturday, June 3: 11:50 a.m. - The Gunslingers

  • The gunslingers

    Like in all European Grand Prix this year, the local players have the chance to meet some of the pros at the gunslinging tables. Usually, only the ones who don't make it to day two volunteer for this event, but the extra day at Grand Prix Torino allows the public to play against the best. Among the players yesterday were fan favorite Olivier Ruel, veteran Raphael Levy, and the Honolulu topeighters Tiago Chan and Maximilian Bracht. The pros take on any comers, whether they have weak sealed decks or Vintage-monsters. Every player who challenges them gets a booster, and the winners get an extra one. The atmosphere is very casual, and the pros have time to make jokes or show silly card tricks - and of course, to make fun of each other....

  • Saturday, June 3: 12:33 p.m. - Quick Questions: Who will win the FIFA World Cup?

  • Maximilian Bracht: I really don't care. Probably Brazil or Argentina

    Olivier Ruel: Japan.

    Bernardo da Costa Cabral: Brazil - the best country in the world!

    Raphael Levy: Trinidad and Tobago. I'm sure.

  • Saturday, June 3: 12:59 p.m. - Casting the pod

  • You know Randy Buehler's Pro Tour Podcast? I guess you do, if you read We don't have Randy Buehler, but we do have a podcast for you. For the first time, the lovely Brits behind moxradio are here in Torino to bring you the latest audio news from the Grand Prix. Four episodes from yesterday's Friday are already available for download here.

    David Sutcliffe (left) and Richard Hagon painting the audio picture of RGD Sealed.

    "As long as Magic keeps being made, you'll never run out of things to say", that's the credo Richard Hagon brings to moxradio. The lively Brit has started the internet radio in October last year. Together with former English Pro David Sutcliffe, Richard Hagon tries to reach a broad audience with easy-to-digest audio content: "There's just too much information on the internet if you have to read all the articles out there." And listening is just so much easier!

    The target audience for the regular moxradio program are "people with an mp3-player on the way to work", who don't have the time to digest the plethora of internet writing every day. For subscribers, moxradio has a two-hour show every four weeks, intended to be listened to "in ten minute chunks", so Hagon says. But of course, everybody interested in Magic will find something in the radio shows - including trivia contests, fun facts and Magic knowledge.

    At the GP, Hagon and Sutcliffe will be following five players through the day: Maximilian Bracht (Germany), Tiago Chan (Portugal), Geoffrey Siron (Belgium) and Raphael Levy (France), the fifth player being either Antti Malin (Finland) or Arnost Zidek (Czech Republic). There will be four shows today spread over the day. Also, moxradio gave the same Sealed pool to the four Pro players and made each of them build a deck out of it… you can find the very interesting results in the moxradio forums.

    On sunday, moxradio will cover the Top-8-draft, hoping that one of the chosen five players makes it to the final eight. Rich Hagon and David Sutcliffe also have a very daring feature in the works: They will do a football-like commentary re-enactment for Top 8 games. That way, a Magic match takes three minutes and is full of action: "Jones rips and… SCOOOORES!"

  • Saturday, June 3: 1:46 p.m. - Bling luck

  • Players want to open two things in their Sealed deck pools: Good cards, and money cards. Christian Kreher from Germany was lucky on the second count: He opened the ultimate bling. All other fourteen cards in his Dissension booster paled in comparison to this:

    Blinded by bling, a happy Christian Kreher shields his eyes from the shiny shine.

    His last card was a blank Foil. These misprints happen once in a while, but they are pretty rare. When a judge had to take the booster away, Christian was sitting in anxious anticipation, not knowing if he would get the card he opened back. He was given a replacement booster to add to his Sealed pool. When the judge came back to return the blank Foil to Christian, the German boasted a big smile, almost as radiant as the shiny bling with black borders.

  • Saturday, June 3: 1:57 p.m. - The Wrong Side of the Table

  • Craig Jones, wrong side of the table

    Craig Jones may be best-known for doing the coverage at many, many European Grand Prix. But after a second place in Honolulu and a decent finish in Prague, he will be focussing on playing for at least the rest of this season. So next time you see him coming to your table, don't get too excited about being featured on - he's most likely there to beat you...

  • Saturday, June 3: 2:31 p.m. - Expected rush turns into trickle, Spain disappoints

  • Look no further: Table 328, the last table of the GP.

    Expectations for the attendance numbers were high yesterday. With 450 players registered on Friday already, judges and organizers alike were prepared for a big rush on the gates this morning. When I arrived, though, the rush wasn't even a trickle. And when the last players slouched towards the tables, the final number stood at 656 players. That's not even enough to split the tournament in half, and will fill just eight rounds this Saturday.

    Spain had the biggest surprise in stock: Only five Spanish players came to Torino! All Spanish Regionals are being held this weekend. It's understandable that Spanish players would rather try their hands at qualifying for Nationals than playing the GP. But it's a sad sight, all these empty tables in the blue half of the hall...

    Italy brings more than half of all players, with 383 chosing to play Magic on this holiday weekend. On the other side of the spectrum, even one Malaysian has made it to Torino, despite GP Kuala Lumpur going on at the same time. Speaking of which, the weather in Torino is sunny and pleasant, with the snow-covered alps rising out of the clear sky on the horizon around the city.

  • Saturday, June 3: 3:03 p.m. - Talking tactics with the French

  • With the second round just about to end, all the players with three byes have nothing to do yet. The French have conquered one of the feature match ares and use them for a little testing. When I went over there, Julien Goron, Amiel Tenenbaum, Geoffrey Siron and the Ruel brothers were talking animatedly about Sealed deck. Asking if they preferred power over consistency, the French agreed that the distinction makes no sense.

    Antoine Ruel and Geoffrey Siron (left) smile at Julien Goron and Amiel Tenenbaum, while Olivier strikes his usual pose.

    Antoine Ruel in particular said: "I don't think it is really a choice. If you have powerful cards, you have to play them." He went on to say that even if you emphasize consistency, you still need to draw better than your opponent, otherwise his power cards will overwhelm you anyway. Geoffrey Siron agreed, and if you listen to last night's moxradio podcast, you can hear him explain that the format is really slow, so you will get all your colors eventually.

    Antoine Ruel is obviously confident in his deck, which is "both powerful and consistent". He also said that this GP would be "a good one" for the Pros, because there are not many name players here. A group of Dutch players around Frank Karsten have flown to Toronto because they expected GP Torino to have over a thousand players, and that Toronto would be easier to win at. Antoine smiled happily as he looked at the field. And when he was told that there would be only eight rounds on saturday, he raised his arms in a victory pose and his grin almost threatened to make his ears fall off. We'll see if his hopes come true!

  • Saturday, June 3: 3:24 p.m. - This is a *side*-event?

  • Stefan Rentzsch

    With an attendance of 301 players, the side-event PTQ was the third largest in Europe ever. Even some Grand Prix have had less participants.

    While most of the participants were Italians, celebrating the Day of the Republic by playing Magic, a few foreigners had made their way here as well. Among them were two German GP Top 8 players from earlier this year, Stefan Rentzsch and Wesimo Al-Bacha. Austrian Thomas Preyer also played in a GP top 8 once, but is better known for his 2nd place at Pro Tour London - back in 1999.

    With this many players, nine rounds had to be played, followed by a draft and two rounds of Top-8-play. The tournament didn't finish until 1:35 in the morning. The top 8 players were

    Thomas Preyer

    Guillaume Wafo-tapa
    Adrian Aranyos
    Jan Brodzak
    Armin Birner
    David Reitbauer
    Thomas Preyer
    Christian von Kalkstein
    Marco Lombardi.

    Lombardi was the only Italian at the final table, but still managed to secure one of the two slots for his home country. Armin Birner got to draft next to his frequent two-headed giant team mate David Reitbauer, and his deck was good enough to secure him the second flight.

  • Saturday, June 3: 3:41 p.m. - Grand Prix Trials

  • In addition to the large PTQ, a number of smaller tournaments was held on the extra day before the Grand Prix. A total of nine Grand Prix Trials as well as three "Free registration" standards - or "satellite," as it would be called in the poker world - were held, with at least 32 players each. .

    Of the 254 players in the trials, the following got three byes:

    Eero Palomaki
    Francesco Stillio
    Andrea Benato
    Roman Kathriner
    Carlo Mazzurco
    Fabio Rossi
    Alessio Angeli
    Marco Pillitteri
    Giovanni Scandella

    These three players won free entry to the main event:
    Noham Maubert
    Sandro Gervasi
    Andrea Lontri

  • Saturday, June 3: 4:20 p.m. - Deckbuilding with Bernardo Da Costa Cabral

  • Bernardo Da Costa Cabral

    Bernardo's way of building a sealed deck is pretty unique. As most people, he starts by throwing away the trash cards. Then he will look at each color, determining whether it has the potential of being a main color or just a splash. If it can't be a main color, everything but the best cards will be joining the chaff. After this sorting process, he takes everything that is left and sorts it by casting costs. This time, he had close to forty cards to consider. The highlights were a Moldervine Cloak, Flame Fusillade, and the ever-tempting Razia, Boros Archangel. Most of the solid cards were in blue, but despite opening five Signets and two bounce lands, non of his mana-fixers produced blue mana, so he was forced to cut most of his blue cards. He ended up using white and green as his main colors, with splashes in all other colors. Razia had to go because of mana-issues, but the deck still looked very good. When asked whether he would make day two, he answered, "If I get my colors, yes" - a statement that will be true for a lot of the pros this weekend.

    Bernardo Da Costa Cabral
    GP Torino 2006, Sealed Deck¨

    Main Deck

    41 cards

    Golgari Rot Farm
    Rakdos Carnarium

    16 lands

    Aurora Eidolon
    Beacon Hawk
    Blind Hunter
    Boros Guildmage
    Carven Caryatid
    Centaur Safeguard
    Conclave Equenaut
    Oathsworn Giant
    Silhana Starfletcher
    Simic Ragworm
    Steamcore Weird
    Stinkweed Imp
    Veteran Armorer

    13 creatures

    Biomantic Mastery
    Cackling Flames
    Douse in Gloom
    Fists of Ironwood
    Flame Fusillade
    Moldervine Cloak
    Orzhov Signet
    Seed Spark
    Spectral Searchlight

    12 other spells

  • Saturday, June 3: 5:35 p.m. - Round four feature match: Stewart Shinkins (IRL) vs Wesimo Al-Bacha (GER)

  • Flame away

    Marco Ardoino (Italy) against Maximilian Bracht (Germany) was the match I had originally planned to cover, but that feature match was delayed by a deck check, so I covered Wesimo Al-Bacha (Germany) against Stewart Shinkins (Ireland) instead of waiting.

    Game 1

    Stewart Shinkins

    The Irish was taking off here with two mulligan on the play, so Wesimo was daring to play with his initlial seven that he might have mulliganed, at least that's what he told his opponent and the spectators. Both players managed a bounceland start, but Stewart Shinkins had had the first play and first blood with an unpumped Gristleback and a Nullmage Shepherd. Odds and Ends from Wesimo took out the Irish's Sandsower and Gristleback, but Shinkins recovered with a Paladin of Prahv.

    "You're slowrolling me", he said jokingly to Al-Bacha, who mustered a Helium Squirter. From the top of the German's deck came Land and a Stinkweed Imp, and a Transmuted Drift of Phantasms for Compulsive Research. Shinkins wasn't deterred: "Here goes,", he exclaimed and Al-Bacha looked stressed. Faith Fetters took the Irishman up to 27 life and inhibited Al-Bacha's Stinkweed Imp, while the Paladin gained Shinkins enough life to take him above 30. Al-Bacha struggled at four life, taken there by Shinkin's trusty Paladin the German could not stop, and conceded in the face of lethal damage.

    Stewart Shinkins 1 - Wesimo Al-Bacha 0

    Meanwhile, Marco Ardoino on the other table had to take a gameloss for failure to desideboard. Unlucky for the Italian, who came into the GP with no byes and won his first three rounds.

    Game 2

    Shinkins smiled as he opened with a Blood Crypt on the play and hit his second-turn Golgari Signet, which brought him an Aquastrand Spider to open the game. Al-Bacha had rock-solid mana, too, and answered with Assault Zeppelid. The high-powered plays continued with Shinkins making a 6/5 grafted Golgari Rotwurm and a Skeletal Vampire. Al-Bacha Remanded the Vampire, but went to 13 from a single attack. Shinkins: "Please don't have a Castigate!" Al-Bacha did not.

    For the second time this match, Al-Bacha forgot to attack with his Zeppelid, but the three damage were unlikely to matter with Shinkins' Vampire coming down successfully on the second attempt.
    I had seen Al-Bacha's deck beforehand and he does have the removal to handle the Vampire, but then Shinkins went nuclear with Shambling Shell and Seal of Doom. Al-Bacha and his lonely Zeppelid didn't see a way out, because there was none, really.

    Although Al-Bacha had Flame Fusillade with six permanents untapped, he tried to play it in his opponents turn, which at first neither Shinkins nor Al-Bacha realized wasn't possible. The judge attempted a ruling by putting the Fusillade into Al-Bacha's graveyard, who appealed, and head judge Tessitori gave Al-Bacha the warning he deserved. Al-Bacha then had Odds//Ends during Shinkin's attack instead, taking out a Bat token and the Spider, but the German still went to three life with an empty board and no more outs in hand, and conceded. Even his Fusillade couldn't save him.

    Wesimo Al-Bacha

    Stewart Shinkins 2 - Wesimo Al-Bacha 0

    On the other table, Max Bracht tucked away his match against Marco Ardoino neatly with a turn two Rakdos Guildmage, and that was game over there.

    When both matches were over, Shinkins admitted that he might have misbuilt his deck, at least by putting Pollenbright Wings in. He has two Orzhov Guildmages in his sideboard, saying "I should have probably played at least one." The Irishman said that he was really scrambling to get his deck together during deck construction, because the combinations are almost infinite: "With this format, they should really give us five more minutes for construction."

    Shinkins' sideboard looks very strong with not only the two Orzhov Guildmages, but also a blue component of Ogre Savant, Repeal, Ocular Halo and Mark of Eviction. "I could easily have splashed blue, but I like playing a deck that I can go aggressive with", the Irishman commented. With his three bouncelands, he wants to go first and start aggressively, but I think most players would still have drifted towards the blue package in that sideboard. Stewart, on the other hand, wants to "sideboard into it in the right matchup".

    We'll see how the Irishman, who started into the tournament with two byes, fares today. Stay tuned!

  • Saturday, June 3: 5:52 p.m. - Round change

  • Time turned back: Players have one more round to make day 2.

    Many faces turned in astonishment towards the stage when head judge Riccardo Tessitori announced that there will nine rounds today. At the beginning of the day, eight rounds had been announced, but: "We screwed up", says an unnamed official. The rounds were miscalculated because the number of round one byes was much higher than originally anticipated: 130 people could sit out the first round. So, we are going through nine rounds before we cut to the top 64, who will advance to sunday's competition!

  • Saturday, June 3: 6:28 p.m. - Alan Pollack

  • Alan Pollack signing Plague Wind, his favorite piece

    Alan Pollack entered a plane in New York yesterday, and was expecting to be almost in Europe five hours later. Instead, a storm prevented the aircraft from lift-off, and he spend these five hours sitting in a standing plane instead. When he finally arrived in Paris, he had missed his connecting flight to Torino, and had to wait even longer. Despite arriving tired and hungry in Torino late yesterday night, he was more than happy to meet his fans here at the Grand Prix this morning.

    Alan has been doing Magic Illustrations since Tempest, but has worked with fantasy art much longer. He did a lot of work for TSR, especially Dungeons and Dragons. Besides Magic and D&D, he is doing book covers, game boxes, and pretty much everything that needs fantasy or science fiction art.

    My playmat got a little prettier during the interview

    If you want to know more about him, or see some of his works, you can check his website here.

  • Saturday, June 3: 6:44 p.m. - Blasts from the Magic pasts

  • Two left to crack. What will they hold?

    Old blocks drafts are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you will get. Players can sign up for drafting with out-of-print cards, and once eight players are together, the format will be chosen at random from the following formats (youngest to oldest): Odyssey block, Invasion block, Tempest block, Urza block, Mirage block, Fourth Edition, and Revised.

    Each of those formats has something special to offer, especially Tempest with its blisteringly fast environment and Urza block with some of the brokenest cards in Magic. Players can test their Ravnica-honed skills in Invasion's similarly multicolored environment. Or they can get the format which is at least as much about which cards you open as it is about the decks you build: Revised booster draft.

    Of course, everybody who gets a Revised draft hopes to pull an original dual land. But for drafting purposes, the players don't really like the set: "I was definitely not hoping for Revised, because it's the only set I never drafted and it wasn't made for that anyway", complained Zsolt Tokoli from Hungary, who had to draft the 1994 set. Philipp Neusser from Germany was in the same draft and had this to say: "It's fun, actually. But clearly, the cards haven't been made for drafting." Neusser was not too miffed to get Revised packs, though, because he first-picked Birds of Paradise from his second booster.

    A little history is repeating itself between the 1994 reprint of the original core set and the 2006 Dissension finale of Ravnica block: Just as today, the red X-spell was a certain first-pick no matter what colors you were in. Demonfire, say hello to your most distant ancestor Fireball and your close cousin Disintegrate. In fact, about halfway through the years those three could throw a family meeting with Kaervek's Torch in Mirage block!

  • Saturday, June 3: 7:19 p.m. - Feature match round 7: Bram Snepvangers (NLD) - Marco Lombardi (ITA)

  • Marco Lombardi is one of the better-known Italian players. He has played in a handful of Pro Tours already, and won the 300-men PTQ just 17 hours ago. The lack of sleep doesn't appear to be a problem for him, as he has the maximum 18 points. So has his opponent, Bram Snepvangers, a well-known face on the European Grand Prix circuit.

    Marco Lombardi's winning streak, that started 35 hours ago, ended when he had to face Bram Snepvangers

    The players had already started when their feature match was announced, so the judges had to move their cards to the feature match area for them. Apparently, this meant bad luck to Lombardi, who had to mulligan twice, and still discard on turn four. Snepvangers was up one game before the match had even really started.

    Game 2 was just as lopsided as Game 1. Snepvangers was a little low on lands, and desperately cycled Repeal and Wildsize, while Lombardi's army grew steadily. When his only blocker, Plaxcaster Frogling, was targeted by Disembowel, he could do nothing to hold Lombardi's forces back, and quickly conceded.

    In the deciding game, Lombardi quickly stabilized the ground with Carven Caryatid, but was facing a graft-enhanced Assault Zeppelid in the air. He could deal with it in round seven, when he had collected eight mana for his Trophy Hunter, but by then he was at six life, and Snepvangers could use Lightning Helix and Galvanic Arc to win the game.

    Bram Snepvangers beat Marco Lombardi, 2-1

  • Saturday, June 3: 7:35 p.m. - Round 7 feature match: Tiago Chan (PRT) vs Stefan Benedikt (AUT)

  • Tiago Chan is Portugal's most prolific Pro player and catapulted himself into the spotlights with his third-place finish at PT Honululu. Stefan Benedikt is one of the 20-strong Austrian contingent, and with 18 points currently the highest in the standings. He came into the tournament with only one bye and has gone 5-0 with his deck so far.

    Game 1

    Neiter player mulliganed, but Stefan had a first turn Seal of Fire, guaranteed to make Tiago stumble at some point. Stephan did the first damage of the game with Snapping Drake, and Tiago snaped back with the Seal-proof Guardian of the Guildpact. The Portugese got a shrug from Stefan when he put Shielding Plax on his opponent's Snapping Drake, but the extra card did not help Tiago to stay even because the Austrian had Electrolyze, offing just a Nightguard Patrol.

    Lurking Informant helped matters further along for Stefan, when a Benevolent Ancestor for Tiago threatened to make Seal of Fire less useful. Dissension met Dissension as both players dug into position, Tiago with an unblockable Azorius Herald and Stefan with the walking Impulse, Court Hussar. The game was pretty entrenched now, and Stefan kept lurking himself instead of Tiago.

    That proved to be a bad decision, because Tiago ripped Simic Sky Swallower off the top of his deck, an excellent way to break any stalemate. Stefan was in trouble and he knew it. He picked up the Sky Swallower, read it and casually tossed it back on the table. "Big bad bitch", the Austrian sighed, and presented a Minister of Impediments, which didn't help either, really. Life totals were 11 for Tiago and 8 for Stefan, and two hits from the "big bad bitch" ended the first game.

    "Jesus, I don't think I have any answer to that big thing!" Stefan observed. "That was the critter I didn't want to see." Obviously, Tiago does not agree. Stefan considered if he had lurked wrong during the game, but he did take two unncessary lands off the top. Still, milling seems to be the only answer to Simic Sky Swallower Stefan has.

    Tiago Chan 1 - 0 Stefan Benedikt

    Game 2

    This is how it looks when you get beaten by a Simic Sky Swallower...

    Again, no mulligans and the first play went to Stefan, with Boros Guildmage, while Tiago opened with the dreaded bounce-land, discard sequence. Tiago agonized over playing a fourth turn Azorius Herald to go with his Shrieking Grotesque, because he smelled the Electrolyze that Stefan did indeed have, and Tiago's board bit the dust - a nice 3-for-1 for the Austrian.

    Tiago rebuilt with Vedalken Dismisser which traded with a Boros Guildmage that Stefan failed to use. The players were just exchanging beat for beat now, with Tiago's Seal of Doom taking out Stefan's Screeching Griffin. If only Tiago had saved that Seal for the Razia, Boros Archangel that Stefan brought down two turns later! He didn't and directly scooped.

    Tiago Chan 1 - 1 Stefan Benedikt

    Game 3

    So it came down to a third game, Simic Sky Swallower versus Razia, Boros Archangel. Tigo chose to play first to avoid the bounce-land trap, and kept his hand. Stefan had to trip to the French capital twice. While he shuffled up for his second mulligan, Stefan told Tiago that he had worked in Portugal 18 years ago, as a golf instructor.

    So the Austrian golf instructor kept his five-card hand and didn't miss a single land drop for the first three turns. It didn't help, because with the help of a Verdant Eidolon, Tiago powered out a fourth turn Simic Sky Swallower, demoralizing Stefan pretty badly, since he had considered killing the Eidolon and didn't. He probably has a better golf swing than Magic luck.

    Faith's Fetters on Tiago's other creature bought Stefan a little time, but even Court Hussar couldn't find him an answer to the trampling, untargettable 6/6. Tiago showed his prowess by correctly guessing that the end-of-turn play Stefan was planning a Lightning Helix to Tiago's head, buying the Austrian yet another turn and on that turn, a Cerulean Sphinx to block the Sky Swallower.

    ...and this is how it looks when you've got it!

    Tiago attacked full-scale with everything and Stefan suspected "Gather Courage, or Wildsize, or same crap". He was wrong, and his Cerulean Sphinx and Ghost Warden brought the Sky Swallower down. With life totals 5 to 16 in Tiago's favor, the situation was still precarious but not as desperate as before, because Stefan did find the Riot Spikes to take down Tiago's only flier, a Shrieking Grotesque.

    Then, just before the extra turns, Stefan was on one life and threatened by a lethal Guardian of the Guildpact on Tiago's side. But Stefan made a Flash Conscripton on Tiago's attacking Selesnya Sagittars, blocking Tiago's Siege Wurm and Guardian of the Guildpact with it. He also stopped the Wurm's trample damage with Vedalken Dismisser and Court Hussar. But that almost cleared his board and when Tiago made a post-combat Vedalken Dismisser, the game was over in favor of the Portugese.

    Tiago Chan 2 - 1 Stefan Benedikt

  • Saturday, June 3: 8:21 p.m. - Feature match round 8: Antti Malin (FIN) - Emanuele Canavesi (ITA)

  • Emanuele Canavesi is a veteran of the Italian Magic scene, who played in his first tournament more than ten years ago. He has been a fixture at the Nationals for almost as many years, and has played in a number of Pro Tours.
    Antti Malin's biggest achievement in the Magic world was his top 8 finish at PT London last year, which made him a level 3 Pro Player for this season.

    Even his female fan club couldn't keep Emanuele Canavesi happy

    Canavesi mulliganed twice in the first game, and was stuck on one mana for several turns, which meant that even the rather slow start Malin had with Silhana Starfletcher, Dimir Infiltrator, and Blind Hunter was enough to take the lead.

    The Starfletcher and the Infiltrator showed up again in the next game, but this time they had to combat Golgari Brownscale, Greater Mossdog, and Siege Wurm, and they weren't exactly good at that. They got a little help from Scatter the Seeds and the rarely seen Crystal Seer, but when Canavesi started dredging Darkblast every turn, Malin quickly realised he stood no chance.

    The first turns in the final game were a bit weird, as both players had mana problems. Malin was a bit better off, as he had Elvish Skysweeper and Elves of Deep Shadow while Canavesi was discarding, but it wasn't enough to get a significant lead, as both drew lands eventually. However, Malin could play Drooling Groodion, Golgari Rotwurm, and Helium Squirter, where Canavesi drew Civic Wayfarer, Nightguard Patrol, and Golgari Brownscale, and Canavesi couldn't hold the fort very long facing this kind of opposition.

    Antti Malin beat Emanuele Canavesi, 2-1

  • Saturday, June 3: 8:54 p.m. - Heating up, up, up!

  • Round eight is over, and players are gearing up for or writing off the elusive day 2. The upcoming last round will determine which lucky 64 players will play for the money, the glory and their mom's home-made custard pie.

    Wins the prize for freakiest beard: Tobias Henke, he of the dreaded locks.

    22 points, a 7-1-1 record, is the safe line for everybody who wants to go on to sunday. 32 players are going into round nine with 21 points, and all of them could intentionally draw their matches to play it safe. Our audio friends from moxradio are following Maximilian Bracht this round, because he is still on the edge with a 6-2 record and good tie-breakers. Our feature match will follow Bernardo Da Costa Cabral (19 points).

    The 79 players with 18 and 19 points are praying for good tiebreakers and a win. Stewart Shinkins from Ireland, who we covered earlier, is in that group with 18 points and the second-best tiebreakers of the 18-pointers - just behind Tobias Henke from Germany, who may or may not have pulled the good tiebreakers out of his dreadlock beard. Roel Heeswijk (Netherlands) - who is pretty good, says Tiago Chan -, noted deck designer Guillaume Wafo-Tapa (France), Helmut Summersberger (Austria) and limited expert Rasmus "Big Oots" Sibast (Denmark) are also in this group.

  • Saturday, June 3: 9:47 p.m. - Feature Match round 9: Bernardo Da Costa Cabral - Bogdan Bondarenko

  • Both players had accumulated 19 points so far and needed a win to make day two.

    Bernardo Da Costa Cabral

    The first game quickly degenerated into a stalemate, as both players just had lots of walking creatures. Bogdan broke it by playing Sisters of Stone Death. He forced Bernardo to block with two of his creatures, but Bernardo opted to block with everything, walking right into Bogdan's Gaze of the Gorgon. It was quite devastating, although a Stinkweed Imp among the blockers at least insured that the Gorgon would die. It gave Bernardo a fighting chance, but in the end, the six to one card disadvantage was too much to overcome.

    Game 2 saw a ground stalemate again, but this time, Bernardo had a Trygon Predator. Bogdan got in a little damage here and there, but the Predator slowly and steadily dealt 16 damage to him, before Bernardo showed a Flame Fusillade for the last few points of damage.

    Game 3 went even worse for Bogdan: The Predator cam down on turn three again, but this time it was enchanted by Moldervine Cloak. Bogdan quickly build up some mana, and could forecast Pride of the Clouds for chumpblockers a few times, but Bernardo added Halcyon Glaze to his forces, and Bogdan had to find another plan. He managed to kill a flyer with Trophy Hunter, but the other one got in, and again, Flame Fusillade dealt the final points of damage.

    Bernardo Da Costa Cabral beat Bogdan Bondarenko, 2-1, and advanced to day two.

  • Saturday, June 3: 10:22 p.m. - Cooling down, down down: who's through?

  • Two players lead the field into day two on a perfect 9-0 record: Bram Snepvangers (Netherlands) and Gorgios Kapalas (Greece). There were less intentional draws than we expected. In the end, more big names made it through than not. Notable absences from day two include Rasmus Sibast, Olivier Ruel, Arnost Zidek and Craig Jones - but we already knew that Limited is not Jones' providence.

    One made it through, the other didn't: Rasmus Sibast next to Maximilian Bracht.

    The Germans advanced 19 players out of 60, including Maximilian Bracht, PT Prague finalist Aaron Brackmann and Wesimo Al-Bacha, who has learned how to properly use a Flame Fusillade by now. In his round nine match, Al-Bacha defeated Stefan Benedikt (Austria) by first Flaming away his board, and then Fusillading away Benedikt, with the help of Izzet Chronarch. Al-Bacha and David Brucker lead the Germans into day two with 8-1 records.

    The French put through 11 of 75 players, with Antoine Ruel, Raphael Levy and Jonathan Rispal showing 8-1 records. The French notables are all present with the exception of Olivier Ruel, but Julien Goron, Pierre Canali and Guillaume Wafo-tapa will all be showing up tomorrow.

    The home team, Italia, brought 17 of 383 players to the next rounds, with Enrico Torazza, Andrea Garella and Giacomo Mallamaci reaching 24 points and an 8-1 record. It will be interesting to see how the Italians fare, as they have not had a high-profile finish recently. Usually, the home turf Grand Prix is the chance for the home team to shine, if only through sheer numbers.

    The rest of day two is a scattering of quality players from all over Europe. It looks like Antoine Ruel was right in saying that this GP would favor the Pros. Tune in tomorrow to see how it turns out!

    • Planeswalker Points
    • Facebook Twitter
    • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
    • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
    • Magic Locator