Day One Blog - 2008 Grand Prix–Vancouver!

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  • Saturday, 9:02 a.m. - Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • Nine lucky players managed to score themselves a triple-set of zero-hour byes to Grand Prix-Vancouver by taking advantage of the Grand Prix Trials on-site. In no particular order, here are the players and the decks they used to earn themselves some extra sleep this morning:

    Enrique Angelo
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists

    (Note: because players were allowed to request their decklists back for use during the main event, Gene John and Jeremy Fuentes' lists were not available at press time.)


  • Saturday, 9:40 a.m.: What's the Best Deck in Extended?
    by Bill Stark

  • Raphael Levy: "Hopefully the deck I'm playing!"

    Olivier Ruel: "Cephalid Breakfast? I haven't played a game in the format..."

    Jacob Van Lunen: "Dredge. It's definitely the most powerful."

    Steve Sadin: "Next Level Blue."

    Paul Cheon: "I haven't the slightest. The most powerful is Dredge."

    Luis Scot-Vargas: "Previous Level Blue."

    Antonino De Rosa: "Dredge."


  • Round 3 Feature Match: Gadiel Szleifer Versus Gabriel Carleton-Barnes
    by Bill Stark
  • Pro Tour-Philadelphia Champion Gadiel Szleifer is in the house for Grand Prix-Vancouver.
    Pro Tour-Philadelphia champion (and with enough career pro points to be Hall of Fame eligible already) Gadiel Szleifer sat down to face Portland, Oregon native Gabriel Carleton-Barnes for their round 3 feature match. Szleifer, who hails from Chicago, Illinois, found himself at the Grand Prix due to its proximity to his college which is in California. Gabriel, who does work as a documentarian, didn't have quite as far to travel.

    Carleton-Barnes won the die roll and watched contentedly while his opponent was forced to mulligan to 6. Their opening turns indicated the game might be long as Gabriel represented a black and green Death Cloud deck while Szleifer appeared to be playing a version of Next Level Blue, though a suspended Ancestral Visions drew an odd glance from Gabriel.

    The two parried back and forth, building up mana and card advantages. Szleifer spun and re-spun his Sensei's Divining Top with the help of some Onslaught era sac-lands waiting for his Ancestral Visions to unsuspend. Carleton-Barnes made lands for each of his turns and got an edge through a Sakura Tribe Elder before making the first truly active play of the game in a Death Cloud for 2. Szleifer, who showed some rust after focusing less on the game over the past year, had to read the card before considering countering. Eventually he opted to let the sorcery resolve.

    The next plays for the duo were creatures in the form of Tarmogoyf for Szleifer and Eternal Witness, returning Death Cloud, for Carleton-Barnes. After an attack from Gadiel the life totals stood 14-13 in Gabriel Carleton-Barnes' favor. Szleifer continued to work his Divining Top, hoping to recoup some of the lost momentum from his opponent's early Cloud.

    During his upkeep Gadiel's Ancestral Visions finally resolved. "Ummmm...I'm a legal target if you want to choose me," his opponent pointed out. Ever stoic Gadiel opted to draw the three cards himself while Carleton-Barnes returned to nervously shuffling the cards in his hand. The game started to bog down as Gadiel began keeping his Tarmogoyf on defense while his opponent built his board position with a second Eternal Witness, returning a land, and a Solemn Simulacrum. The second coming of Death Cloud was going to be considerable, but it was likely going to need some help to resolve though Gadiel's hand of (presumably) countermagic.

    An all-in attack from Carleton-Barnes left things at 14-7 in his favor but his post-combat Kokusho, the Evening Star was met with a Force Spike. Gadiel could do nothing on his turn but play a land, and Gabriel was all too happy to take advantage of that fact by playing a Death Cloud for 3, leaving things at 11-4 still in his favor. When he ripped a Sensei's Divining Top of his own the following turn, things were looking good for the Oregonian.

    Gadiel wasn't going down with a fight, however. A Tarmogoyf from the top of his deck followed by cashing in his Top to suspend a second Ancestral Visions meant his opponent was on a hefty clock and needed to find some action on the top of his deck. Szleifer's rust continued to show through as he declared an attack for 4 with his Tarmogoyf. Motioning to the Solemn Simulacrum in his graveyard, Carleton-Barnes indicated it was for 5.

    "Oh, you have an artifact in your graveyard?"

    The extra damage ultimately wasn't that important as Gabriel failed to find a solution to the Tarmogoyf over the following two turns and conceded the first game to his opponent.

    Gadiel Szleifer 1, Gabriel Carleton-Barnes 0

    Carleton-Barnes, clearly with his eye on the dwindling clock in the round (the other feature match had already finished entirely) asked his opponent how much time they were allowed to shuffle during sideboarding. Gadiel offered a response, but Carleton-Barnes' underlying hint to shuffle faster was readily apparent.

    The Portland resident opened with a one-drop and two-drop for game 2 in the form of Sensei's Divining Top and Sakura-Tribe Elder. Both paled in comparison to Gadiel's opener which was a suspended Ancestral Visions into two more copies of Ancestral Visions on his second turn.

    Gabriel Carleton-Barnes' Death Clouds and Kokushos struggled against his opponent's countermagic.
    "Sick!" Said Carleton-Barnes.

    Still, Gabriel wasn't going out without a fight as he managed to successfully resolve a Destructive Flow, though neither player had any non-basics on the board, while continuing to work his Divining Top to find action. When Gadiel's first Ancestral Visions netted him a Sensei's Divining Top of his own, Carleton-Barnes summoned a judge to monitor the pace of the game and ensure both competitors played sufficiently fast. With less than 10 minutes on the clock and down a game, it was easy to see why he was concerned.

    The two players went back into parrying mode with Szleifer at a huge advantage thanks to his triple Ancestral Visions start. Two Kokushos from Carleton-Barnes met their demise at the hands of counters, the first from Counterspell and the second from Cryptic Command. Gadiel found a green source to play a Tarmogoyf when a judge interceded to determine why the players had different life totals listed. A somewhat lengthy discussion ensued before things were settled and, still with eyes on the clock, the table judge added two minutes to the match.

    Gabriel spent a Cabal Therapy trying to clear his opponent's hand of countermagic in order to resolve a Smother on Szleifer's Tarmogoyf, but the Pro Tour champion simply turned his Divining Top into a Counterspell and kept his Lhurgoyf. A second Smother from Carleton-Barnes got the job done, but with the totals 15-10 in Szleifer's favor as time was called, things didn't look good for Gabriel. He used an Eternal Witness to get back a Kokusho, hoping to eek out a win somehow, but Szleifer didn't appear to be too concerned.

    After Gabriel had drawn for the following turn Szleifer revealed why as he played an Extirpate on the second copy of Kokusho in his opponent's graveyard, nailing the one in his hand as well. With no help from the top of his deck, Gabriel extended his hand in defeat.

    Gadiel Szleifer defeats Gabriel Carleton-Barnes 1-0-1.


  • Saturday, 12:21 p.m.: Wild and Crazy Travel Stories from Grand Prix Vancouver
    by Bill Stark
  • Every high level Magic event is inevitably filled with interesting stories about how players from all over the world converged on the tournament site to compete for top dollar at their favorite game. Grand Prix-Vancouver is no different and in between feature matches and other coverage responsibilities a few players shared their tales of arriving to the event.

    Australian transplant THE Ben Seck
    One name readers might recognize being quit a bit of distance from his original home base is none other than "The" Ben Seck. TBS, as he's known amongst many professional circles, originally hails from Sydney, Australia. But was he willing to hop a plane for the mammoth excursion to Canadian soil for a shot at earning some Grand Prix dollars? Not quite.

    "I live in San Diego now, where I work." Seck explained. "I play most PTQ seasons and regularly try to qualify." He also added that he tries to make it to the Grand Prix tournaments in his area and that he's planning on attending Pro Tour-Hollywood whether he's qualified or not. How did he feel about his chances in Vancouver? "I feel like EVERY deck is good in this format." The Aussie sighed. Still, some mammoth testing sessions with none other than Antonino De Rosa are sure to help.

    Pro Tour-San Diego champion Jacob Van Lunen wasn't planning on attending the Grand Prix. Heavy snows in his native New York were disrupting some flights, but a boring Friday afternoon spent sitting in empty classrooms left him plenty of time to conjure up decklists and do some testing. Happy with some of his results he decided he would purchase a last minute ticket if he could find one cheap enough. The phone call to the airline, he explained, went something like this:

    Resourceful PT Champion: "Hi, I'd like a round trip ticket to Vancouver please?"

    Exasperated Ticket Counter Clerk: "It's $400."

    Resourceful PT Champion: "How about $150?"

    Exasperated Ticket Counter Clerk: "Fine."

    A red-eye flight later and Van Lunen found himself trying to find a place to sleep at 2 a.m. in Canada. When a friend from school who happened to live in the city agreed to put him up for the night, Jacob was in business. What did Chris Lachmann, Jacob's co-champion from San Diego who opted to stay home for the weekend, have to say about his teammate's plans?

    "Dude, you're an idiot."

    Canadian Jeff Fung and Swede Jens Thoren enjoying their time together in Vancouver.
    Perhaps the most surprising name to see registered for competition this weekend is saddest robot Jens Thoren, whose Solemn Simulacrum Invitational winnings was seeing renewed interest in a number of the Death Cloud decks being played. When asked what he was doing in Vancouver and whether or not he was re-focusing on Magic more seriously Thoren explained "I'm here visiting my friend Jeff Fung." Fung, a former Canadian pro, piped up from the background "This whole week has been a party at my place!"

    The two players met on Tour where they quickly hit it off sharing hotel room expenses on their travels. When Jens got a break from school, where he studies biomedicine at Umea University, he decided the Grand Prix represented the perfect opportunity to visit his old friend. American Ken Krouner was also slated to join them, but wasn't able to make it. Still, Fung and Thoren seemed to be getting along just fine. "I have a break from school and I'm just traveling." Said Thoren, before mugging with his pal for the camera.


  • Saturday, 3:15 p.m.: Round 5 Jens Thoren Versus Otto Zoell
    by Bill Stark
  • Before the round started a table judge stopped by to inform Jens Thoren, already seated and calmly shuffling his deck, that Otto Zoell would be late for the round. Apparently he had managed to injure his hand and was receiving minor medical aid in the hallway outside the convention center.

    Let no one say Magic isn't a dangerous sport.

    When the Los Angeles native did manage to find his way to the table he was mum about what had happened. Jens won the die roll and led with a Grim Lavamancer. His opponent opened on Irrigation Ditch indicating a potential bad matchup for Jens' aggro deck in the form of Enduring Ideal. Jens didn't seem fazed as he calmly untapped and played Gaddock Teeg. The legendary 2/2 could be a potential game-ender for Zoell, but Otto surveyed his hand and calmly nodded. A Burning Wish for Pyroclasm readily made apparent why Zoell wasn't concerned with the Teeg and for a four-mana investment he managed to reset the board to just lands for both players with the life totals tied at 14 thanks to Thoren's painful manabase.

    Former Invitational winner Jens Thoren finds himself back in the feature match area.
    Jens missed playing a creature for a few turns while his opponent made land drops and artifact mana in the form of a Lotus Bloom and Pentad Prism. It was a countdown to see if Thoren could find pressure before Zoell found either an Enduring Ideal or Burning Wish to tutor for said epic sorcery. Both players made it interesting by playing card-drawing permanents, Jens in the form of Dark Confidant and Zoell a Honden of the Seeing Winds. The totals stood 10-7 in favor of the Swedish player and Zoell did not have many turns left to find one of his outs.

    His Honden netted him an extra card for his turn, and he went deep into the tank determining his plays. Eventually he opted to play a Solitary Confinement before using all of his additional mana resources to play a Form of the Dragon. With the Honden in play Zoell could perpetually feed his Confinement and the Form meant Jens was on a two-turn clock. Could the former Invitational winner have an answer maindeck?

    He apparently thought so, playing a Duress on his next main phase and almost immediately realizing his mistake. Calling the judge on himself and before his opponent could reveal his hand Thoren picked up a warning before passing the turn to his opponent. Zoell made sure not to forget to pay for Solitary Confinement and dropped his opponent's life total by 5 with Form. Jens drew for his turn, considered his options, then played a Vindicate on his opponent's Form of the Dragon. The plucky pro DID have answers maindeck; the question now was whether or not he could find a second one to deal with the Confinement before his opponent or his own Dark Confidant could kill him. Not willing to risk it he used a Terminate to kill the 2/1.

    The players spent some turns passing back and forth. With only one land in play, a Sacred Foundry, Zoell was going to be hard pressed to get enough mana to play more relevant spells. That meant Jens had time to build up his forces before hitting the Vindicate to do his opponent in, but inevitably Zoell was going to find enough Lotus Blooms to enter play and allow him to cast Form of the Dragon or Enduring Ideal.

    After a series of turns of simply drawing and discarding, the Californian came up with an option B: he used a Lotus Bloom coming off suspend to Fire//Ice his opponent. On a precarious single point of life, Jens had no choice but to concede.

    Otto Zoell: 1, Jens Thoren: 0

    On the play again in game 2 Jens quickly led with Mogg Fanatic and another Gaddock Teeg. His opponent found a Fire//Ice to deal with the problematic 2/2 and Jens followed up with an interesting play considering the course of the previous game. He used a Vindicate to destroy his opponent's Sacred Foundry. Considering how key the Apocalypse rare had been in keeping Jens in game 1 it seemed a bit surprising he would spend it so quickly in the hopes of manascrewing his opponent, but the gambit quickly paid off as Zoell missed multiple land drops in a row.

    A pair of Tribal Flames for 5 quickly took things home for the Swede, forcing a Game 3.

    Otto Zoell: 1, Jens Thoren: 1

    "Good luck!" Zoell offered to his opponent before beginning the deciding game of their match. Though Thoren offered the same, it didn't seem to pay off for Otto who was forced to send his opening grip back for a new set of six cards. The American could only look to the heavens for help when he saw his second hand was no better than the first and somewhat exasperatedly sent it back for five, which he kept. His opponent was happy with seven.

    Otto Zoell considers his plan of action
    Otto came out of the gates with a surprising turn 1 play as he suspended a Greater Gargadon. Could he possibly be playing or have transitioned into some type of Balancing Act combo deck for the sideboarded games of his matches? A Cabal Therapy from Jens didn't make help to answer that question as Zoell revealed a Pentad Prism, Dovescape, and Flooded Strand.

    Jens got on the board with a Dark Confidant while his opponent built up mana sources in the form of lands and a Pentad Prism. An attack from the Bob brought things to 15-14 in Thoren's favor thanks to a flurry of sac-lands from both sides of the table. Both players sought to grind out an advantage, but things weren't looking good for Otto Zoell as his Swedish opponent's board quickly exploded into a cluttered mess of legendary Kithkin, Mogg Fanatics, and Kamis of Ancient Law. A Duress quickly sealed the deal for Thoren as his opponent revealed a hand with no action.

    Jens Thoren defeats Otto Zoell 2-1 to remain undefeated at 5-0.


  • Saturday, 4:25 p.m.: Round 6 Feature Match William Dooley Versus Shuhei Nakamura
    by Bill Stark
  • Shuhei Nakamura, one of only two Japanese players to make the trip to Vancouver this weekend and with one Grand Prix victory so far this season (Stuttgart), quietly shuffled his deck waiting for his opponent. William Dooley, a local player from Surrey, managed to lose the die roll and was quickly forced to take a mulligan. His second hand was of no help either and he was quickly down to five cards against a world class opponent.

    Nakamura led with an Irrigation Ditch indicating he was playing combo of some sort, though a quick check of his hand didn't immediately indicate whether it was Enduring Ideal, TEPS, or Door Number 3. Dooley, on the other hand, represented a Doran deck leading with Murmuring Bosk before playing an Overgrown Tomb, a Forest, and the 0/5 namesake. Down two cards he needed to apply a lot of pressure or a lot of disruption to have a shot as Nakamura was likely able to go off out of nowhere and quickly.

    A Ravenous Baloth from the Canadian helped the cause, but before it could go on the offensive Shuhei started doing calculations. With access to seven mana from three Invasion era sac-lands and an Archaeological Dig Nakamura flicked through the cards in his hand crunching some numbers. With his right hand he played a series of imaginary spells adding and subtracting mana before nodding his head, playing a Tinder Farm, and passing the turn back to his opponent. William, glad to get a momentary reprieve from the gallows, was happy to attack Shuhei to 6 and play a second Ravenous Baloth. Dead the following turn, it was all down to whether the Japanese pro could put together what he needed to finish off his opponent.

    Shuhei brought yet another innovative deck to battle
    An Insidious Dreams during Dooley's end of turn set up the top four cards of Nakamura's library, though he discarded a Draco to do so. If he was going to try to burn his opponent out, he needed a second copy of the over-costed artifact in his deck to Erratically Explode AND a way to re-cast the sorcery. During his mainphase Shuhei used a Fire//Ice to tap his opponent's already tapped land, drawing a second card. A Balancing Act followed, wiping out Dooley's entire board as Nakamura sacced all of his lands to play the sorcery, then summoned a suddenly ominous Terravore to enter the endgame.

    Dooley had to break a sac-land on his own turn to play a Birds of Paradise but with no Smother or removal coming the following turn, he quickly scooped.

    Shuhei Nakamura: 1, William Dooley: 0

    Dooley came right out of the gates in the second game leading with a second turn Doran, the Siege Tower thanks to a Birds of Paradise before following it up with a Ravenous Baloth. Shuhei had a quick start as well with a suspended Lotus Bloom on the first turn as well as a pair of Invasion sac-lands. That meant his fourth turn had the potential to be very explosive, but Dooley threw a wrench in those plans with a turn four Thoughtseize.

    Local boy William Dooley tries to make good against a superstar
    After thinking for a moment Nakamura made an Insidious Dreams for five, costing him two Terravores in the process as he discarded his hand to pay for the casting cost of his black instant. Dooley attacked his opponent to 5, then was forced to bin all his permanents as Shuhei managed to Balancing Act with zero permanents in play and no cards in hand. The two players quickly moved into a game of draw-go with the caveat of Nakamura having stacked the top three cards of his library. They quickly revealed two lands that allowed him a Terravore which was very large thanks to two graveyards teeming with lands. When Dooley failed to draw anything useful from the top of his deck he was forced to concede to the pro.

    "A guy from Vancouver playing against a big name pro?" One of Dooley's friends asked from the crowd. Dooley simply shrugged.

    Shuhei Nakamura defeats William Dooley 2 to 1.

    After the match Shuhei smiled excitedly. "Woo!" He said "Maybe I've got at least one pro point!" Having locked up day 2 at 6-0 the Japanese player was surely hoping for a little more.


  • Saturday, 5:21 p.m.: Scott Larabee Saves the Day!
    by Bill Stark
  • Most of us who love playing Magic never get to hear about the trials and tribulations of those involved at the highest levels both competitively and organizationally. We don't realize that Russian players have to struggle to get visas to compete in Japan over a decades-old conflict regarding the Kurile Islands. We never consider the fact that the giant Serra Angel statue that guards over each Pro Tour and the World Championships has to be shipped (by sea) weeks in advance of each event. And of course, who amongst us has ever considered what cows from Brazil have to do with the judges at Grand Prix-Vancouver?

    Certainly no one in the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. If they had, they might have realized that some of the black and white uniforms intended for use by the fine members of the Grand Prix-Vancouver judging staff had been manufactured in Brazil. Normally that wouldn't be a problem except for one thing: a tiff between the Canadian and Brazilian governments regarding beef imports and exports has made Canada a bit stingy about allowing textiles from Brazil into the country. Imagine North and South American Event Manager Reid Schmadeka's surprise when he arrived on-site Friday only to discover many of his judges were in danger of going without their zebra stripes for the weekend.

    Never fear! A quick phone call to none other than DCI Program Manager Scott Larabee and the problem was resolved. Larabee grabbed a different box of shirts and trucked his way up to the tournament site just in time for the beginning of competition Saturday. Nary a player seemed aware of the disaster that had been narrowly averted thanks to Larabee's efforts. Judges dressed in REGULAR attire? The mind can barely comprehend...

    Some quick thinking from Scott Larabee manages to save the day!


  • Saturday, 5:37 p.m.: Round 7 Feature Match Paul Cheon Versus Jacob Van Lunen
    by Bill Stark
  • Paul 'Neon' Cheon squares off in the feature match arena
    "Neon Cheon!" Said Jacob Van Lunen as he sat down to square off against former U.S. National Champion and level 8 mage Paul Cheon.

    "Man, I haven't heard that nickname in a long time." Said the Colorado native, before his comrade Luis Scot-Vargas piped up from the peanut gallery.

    "Put in a joke about the fact that Jacob Van Lunen will flip into Chris Lachmann when he attacks!" Both players in the feature match area laughed at the Kamigawa block reference, clearly a jab at the fact Van Lunen had a number of cards from the block in his deck earning plenty of jeers from his friends amongst the professional community.

    Van Lunen lost the die roll and started on a mulligan while his opponent opened with a Polluted Delta. Prior to the match the Pro Tour-San Diego champion had pointed out his deck was VERY good against Next Level Blue the deck a number of American pros, including Paul Cheon, had decided on coming into the weekend. Unfortunately for Jacob he missed a second land drop and Cheon wasted no time coming out of the gates with two Tarmogoyfs.

    When Jacob played a Swarmyard Cheon needed a moment to read the card. "Okay, so no Ninjas, right?" He inquired of his opponent, who was unabashedly playing a version of the Ninja deck which has seen some PTQ success recently. A flurry of Echoing Truths from Van Lunen were met with a flurry of Spell Snares from Cheon keeping his Tarmogoyfs in play as Van Lunen tried to catch up on lands.

    A third Echoing Truth from Van Lunen met yet another counter from Paul Cheon in the form of a Seventh Edition Counterspell. At a precarious 9 life facing double Tarmogoyf Van Lunen found no help on the top of his deck and quickly scooped.

    Paul Cheon: 1, Jacob Van Lunen: 0

    Neither player needed a mulligan to start game 2 and Van Lunen quickly came out of the gates with a turn one Mothdust Changeling which quickly traded places with a Ninja of the Deep Hours. Paul Cheon could only shrug his shoulders in dismay as he waited for his turn one Ancestral Visions to wind down on suspend. He made a Tarmogoyf to help block, and Van Lunen verified it was only a 1/2 before charging in with his Ninja.

    After a few turns the board hadn't developed much for Cheon, who had only managed more land drops. When Van Lunen attacked with a flying Mothdust Changeling, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Cloud Sprite things got interesting. Cheon blocked the 2/2 with his 1/2 'Goyf. Before damage he attempted a Repeal on Van Lunen's Sprite which merited a Mistblade Shinobi Ninja'ing into play instead. With Cheon tapped out, Van Lunen used an Echoing Truth to send the Tarmogoyf back to his opponent's hand.

    With only a single turn until his Ancestral Visions resolved, Paul could only watch in horror as his opponent continued playing creatures via Ninja with Higure, the Still Wind entering play and promising to make things interesting with the Ninja of the Deep Hours and Mistblade Shinobi already on the board.

    Paul wasn't going down without a fight, however, playing and activating a Vedalken Shackles to steal his opponent's 3/4. Van Lunen used a second Mistblade Shinobi to bounce his own creature back to his hand, and the life totals stood 20-6 in his favor. Cheon was definitely back pedaling, and needed a miracle to keep him going. Van Lunen's board consisted of multiple Cloud Sprites, Mothdust Changelings, and Ninjas, almost too many for the feature match table.

    Cheon got his miracle in the form of a Cryptic Command which fogged his opponent by tapping all of his creatures and drew him a card. He used his Vedalken Shackles to steal one of Van Lunen's Mistblade Shinobis, then played a Sower of Temptation to steal an untapped Ninja of the Deep Hours. By attacking with the stolen Mistblade Shinobi he was able to bounce a Cloud Sprite and get in for his first point of damage against his opponent. Following that he used a Threads of Disloyalty to steal yet another creature from Van Lunen before passing. The turn had been huge for Paul as he had managed to stem the tempo tide for the short term and possibly turned the entire game around.

    Jacob played a main phase Higure, the Still Wind before passing the turn. Cheon had no choice but to untap his Vedalken Shackles relinquishing control of the Mistblade Shinobi to steal his opponent's 3/4. When he did so, Van Lunen opted not to tap it to give his Mothdust Changeling flying providing Cheon an extra blocker. When Paul passed the turn, Van Lunen seemed to realize what he had done.

    "Man I played that badly."

    Jacob Van Lunen double mind tricks...HIMSELF!
    The game stale mated with neither player getting a clear advantage. Paul repeatedly tried to resolve a second Vedalken Shackles which Van Lunen contained with countermagic. Unfortunately for him, an Academy Ruins from Cheon meant eventually the creature-burgling artifact WOULD resolve whether the East Coaster wanted it to or not. Van Lunen decided to make an all-out attack and hope for the best. He activated two Mutavaults and prepared to send his team into the red zone. Paul halted him, revealing a second Cryptic Command. Jacob did some math to determine how much damage PAUL could attack for, then quickly extended the hand.

    Paul Cheon defeats Jacob Van Lunen 2 to 0.

    After the match Jacob pointed out why he had been so upset with how he played the turn in which his Higure was stolen admitting he had forgotten to tap it for his Mothdust Changeling. "I hadn't been doing it on previous turns to make Paul think I didn't know, then the turn it mattered my Jedi mind trick Jedi mind tricked ME!" Paul goes on "undefeated" at 6-0-1 while Jacob is 5-1-1 and needs to win to make day 2.


  • Saturday, 6:50 p.m.: Round 8 Feature Match Adam Yurchick Versus Olivier Ruel
    by Bill Stark
  • American Adam Yurchick sat down to square off against French player Olivier Ruel in a sudden elimination match. Both players needed to win to play on day 2; anything less and they'd be watching Sunday's action from the sidelines.

    The American managed to win the roll but started on a mulligan. His opponent followed suit while Hall of Famer Raphael Levy watched from the peanut gallery. The two French players made up two-thirds of the European players in attendance with the road tripping Jens Thoren the final member of the group. Yurchick opened on a Sacred Foundry into Sensei's Divining Top, a solid start for his Enduring Ideals deck. The Ohio player had plenty of experience with the deck using it to earn a money finish at Pro Tour-Valencia.

    Olivier Ruel figures out the best way to go off with his Cephalid Breakfast deck
    Ruel was also playing a lightning fast deck in the form of Cephalid Breakfast and used a Chrome Mox to end-of-turn an Eladamri's Call to search up Cephalid Illusionist. He promptly played the 1/1, then made a Steelshaper's Gift searching up Shuko and threatening to win on the following turn if Yurchick didn't do something to stop him.

    After spending a fair amount of time considering his options, Yurchick opted to Top on his turn, then passed back to Ruel holding him in his upkeep to use an Orim's Chant to keep Shuko off the board. That bought him the turn he needed to Seething Song out an Enduring Ideal.

    "Cards?" Yurchick nervously asked his opponent.

    "Ummmm...does it matter?" Olivier responded, laughing.

    Yurchick searched up a Dovescape before passing the turn and Olivier could do nothing but attack with his Illusionist before playing a Narcomoeba and running his Shuko into the Dovescape to get himself a 1/1. Yurchick searched up a Solitary Confinement and Olivier shook his head, trying to determine a way out of the game. Daru Spiritualist gave him a shot as an arbitrarily large amount of life would force Yurchick to kill him with something other than Form of the Dragon. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the necessary Starlit Sanctum didn't present itself and he was forced to pack in the first game.

    Adam Yurchick: 1, Olivier Ruel: 0

    While pile shuffling his deck for game 2 Yurchick inadvertently flipped over a Leyline of the Void. Jokingly Olivier reached for his own deck hinting at changing how he had sideboarded.

    "Of all the cards to flip over..." Yurchick grumbled.

    Ruel got to start on the play for the second game, a fact that promised to be very relevant for both players' very aggressive combo decks. He agonized over whether he should keep his opening hand, just a few cards short of a superb opener. Could he risk keeping it hoping to draw exactly what he needed and blow his opponent out? Or would he spend the entire flight back home kicking himself for not risking a six-carder? Ultimately he opted to ship the hand, then quickly sent those back for five. The odds of Olivier Ruel playing on Sunday were not looking good.

    His opponent helped the cause by keeping things a bit more fair and shipping his opening hand back for a set of six. After considering his paltry six he decided to ship those back for five as well.

    "What have you been doing for the past 10 minutes?" Olivier admonished the coverage reporter teasingly over the fact a fifth of the match clock had disappeared while the player did nothing.

    The game started, understandably, slow. Neither player had much action with Yurchick playing a Tormod's Crypt and Ruel using a Living Wish to find Starlit Sanctum before playing Cabal Therapy to check the American's hand for any copies of Enduring Ideal. Seeing none he played a Daru Spiritualist and passed the turn.

    Yurchick used a Burning Wish to find Solitary Confinement, then Crypted his opponent on his upkeep to prevent Cabal Therapy from becoming relevant. Unfortunately for him, Olivier had the Steelshaper's Gift to gain an arbitrarily large amount of life, putting himself well into the seven digits. Yurchick was going to have to get creative in order to beat Olivier the traditional enchantment way.

    After spending too much time considering a Sensei's Divining Top activation, the table judge issued Adam a warning for slow play, extending the time in the round for the match. Yurchick asked if he could appeal the ruling while continuing to play the match, but on appeal head judge Seamus Campbell let the warning stand. Adam went epic with his Enduring Ideal searching up Solitary Confinement, then Dovescape. His follow up search, however, was confusing as he opted to not find anything. It looked like the American was happy to simply lock his opponent out and force Olivier to find a way to kill him before the clock ran out. The two players began a fast-paced game of draw-go in which Olivier played out creatures hoping to draw an answer to Solitary Confinement while Adam simply milled a card from the top of his deck each turn, drawing from a Honden of Seeing Winds and paying for his Solitary Confinement.

    Olivier used a Flooded Strand only to realize he had no legal targets left to search out in his deck prompting Yurchick to do a quick count of the libraries to see if he might be able to deck his opponent. Olivier continued playing spells until he had enough creatures to swarm his opponent. Finally his out appeared: the singleton copy of Wispmare he had boarded in, the only solution left.

    Adam Yurchick: 1, Olivier Ruel: 1

    The players moved into the final game with just 12 minutes on the clock. Yurchick had to send his first hand back and the competitors were entering awkward territory. A draw did neither of them any good but they were running low on time. Adam wasn't happy with his six cards and sent those back for five.

    Adam Yurchick had to get creative to find a way around his opponent's arbitrarily large life
    A Leyline of the Void from the American kicked things off, making it hard for Ruel to actually kill the Ideals player. He would need to find a Living Wish or his maindeck Wispmare in order to deal with the enchantment before he could go off. The Daru Spritualist/Starlit Sanctum combo was still an option, however.

    Olivier wasted no time in assembling Cephalid Illusionist and Shuko before using a Living Wish to find a sideboard Wispmare. Using the evoke from the 1/3 he destroyed his opponent's Leyline of the Void and began the process of going off. He patiently equipped his Shuko to the Cephalid Illusionist milling himself for three. He repeated the process over and over eventually flipping three Narcomoebas and putting a Dread Return and Dragon's Breath into his graveyard. He flashed back Dread Return targeting a Sutured Ghoul which entered play as a 20+/20+ creature with Dragon's Breath. Reading the writing on the wall, Adam extended his hand in defeat.

    Olivier Ruel defeats Adam Yurchick 2-1 to advance to day 2.


  • Saturday, 8:24 p.m.: The Undefeated Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • The following, in no particular order, are the undefeated decklists from the end of the first day of competition at Grand Prix-Vancouver. They include all players at 7-0-1 records or better.

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