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Pro Tour Atlanta Feature: Pulling Back the Draft Curtain

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The letter W!e posed a series of questions to some of the top Pros here in Atlanta about how they run a Rochester Draft, particularly because of the unique Champions-Champions-Betrayers set-up being used this weekend. If you learn nothing by reading this, you're just not paying attention.

Team: Von Dutch
Name: Jeroen Remie

Jeroen Remie

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Me and Jelger. We tested for two weeks at TOGIT and know the format best. Kamiel was busy in school.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

White! Waxmane Baku is by far the best common.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

We have a very flexible strategy so that we don't have to rely on what we expect at all.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

No, we were very well prepared.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Kabuto Moth is by far the best common.

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Waxmane Baku, Matsu-Tribe Sniper, and Horobi's Whisper. The rest of the commons are just bad but these cards just win games by themselves.

Team: Dave's The Boss
Name: Paul Rietzl

Paul Rietzl

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Everyone, because we're all competent and trust each other to know what is important in a matchup.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

White on the left for Waxmane Baku. The green deck on the right needs to be done by the Betrayers packs.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Basically. Lots of miscommunication and lack of confidence in the third pack.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

Some cards that went up in value: Sakura-Tribe Springcaller because it has a big butt and allows you to cast a six-drop on turn four with a 2CC accelerator. Teardrop Kami, and Bile Urchin both were better than expected due to ninjas.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Glacial Ray, Kabuto Moth, and Sakura-Tribe Elder are all essential to each archetype you want to draft.

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Waxmane Baku and Ninjas -- 'cause they are sneaky!

Team: Hired Muscle
Name: Murray "the Mauler" Evans

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Every man for himself. No one on my team ever listens to me.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

The third pack is the weakest so it is something I don't even think about.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Not applicable. We didn't even have another team to draft against us.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Glacial Ray, Scuttling Death, Kodama's Might, Kabuto Moth, and Teller of Tales.

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Matsu-Tribe Sniper just shuts down their blue and/or white deck.

Team: Sherman's March
Name: Craig Krempels

Craig Krempels

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Picks are by committee. We practiced a lot together so we are all basically on the same page.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Generally, yes.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

Because of the amount of testing we put in before the draft we had a handle on everything.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Hey! I don't write Magic strategy articles for a reason!

Team: Free Yayo
Name: Zach Parker

Zach Parker

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Me, I'm the most experienced player on the team.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

Didn't really test so I don't know but Waxmane Baku and Torrent of Stone are pure gas . . . so I guess those would be the colors.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Didn't test -- LOL!

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

Not really but I have done some spicy sideboarding Day 1 and some really spicy main deck cards today. I had Reito Lantern against the triple Soratami Mindsweeper -- the slowest matchup ever.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

White: Moth, Blademaster, Cage
Black: Greed, Scuttles, Cutthroat
Red: Ray, Flame, Fire's Roar, Frostwielder
Green: Might, Reach, Elder, Sustainer, Moss Kami
Blue: Mirror-Guard

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

White: Waxmane, Kami of False Hope
Red: Torrent, Frostling
Green: Roar of the Jukai, Child of Thorns
Blue: Shinobi, Deep Hours
Black: Shinobi

Team: Big Tyming w/A.Derosa
Name: Antonino DeRosa

Antonino DeRosa

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

All three of us. It is too hard to keep track of three decks. If all the members work well together it is best to do it this way.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

Red on the right because it is the worst color. White goes on the left because Waxmane Baku is the best common.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Not at all but that is because this is the first team format where it is pick dependant and not color-dependant so everyone does something different.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

It is all matchup dependant on the value of the cards.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Not a specific card . . . it is all about matchups, synergy, and mana curve.

Team: NFC
Name: Osyp Lebedowicz

Osyp Lebedowicz

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

John Fiorillo, he's awesome.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

White on the left (C seat) because of Waxmane Baku.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

They have been drafting much worse than expected.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

Nothing really. We tested enough to know what's good and bad by now.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Glacial Ray and Kabuto Moth are just more powerful than anything else.

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Waxmane Baku is so good.

Team: Boat
Name: Tiago Chan

Tiago Chan

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

Me, because I'm the one with more experience playing Kamigawa Block Limited.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

Red-black in the C seat for Horobi's Whisper and Torrent of Stone. We don't like to pass good removal in any expansion.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

Yes, with either the conventional plan of red-black, blue-white, and green-X or the plan that is supposed to beat it -- white-black, blue-black or blue-red, and green-X. Though we don't believe very much in match-up advantage. At least it isn't working that way for us.

Have there been any cards that have shifted in value for you over the course of this tournament? What are they and what is the reason?

Devouring Greed is diminishing value. We never win with that card. Indomitable Will is on the rise. The opponent may know it is coming but even if they do nothing it is still good.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Waxmane Baku, Horobi's Whisper and Torrent of Stone. None of us have played much with Betrayers and reusable removal is always good and Waxmane is simply amazing.

Team: Squads, Packs, Souls
Name: Joseph Crosby

Joseph Crosby

Who is calling your team's draft? Why?

I am. Obviously everyone is very involved but we feel it is important for someone to have the final say in order to prevent communication breakdown. We chose me simply because I have the most team Rochester experience.

What colors/cards do you want to position yourself for in the third pack? Why?

Most of the time white will be in C to take advantage of Waxmane Baku. Red is best in B or A because it has a lot of depth but not many top cards. I prefer green in A because it very shallow in Betrayers and while it has several solid cards none are generally first picked.

Have your other opponents approached the draft as you expected during playtesting?

We tested against players from several countries with different ideas on color placement and the value of being reactive, so there were diverse strategies but that wasn't very surprising. In particular, I find the black in B and A strategy that some Japanese teams were using to be intriguing.

What are the key cards -- staple cards, not rares -- in Champions and why?

Glacial Ray -- top quality, deck defining in a format based on synergy
Teller of Tales -- one of the best Faerie Squadrons ever, requires draft adjustment
Kodama's Might -- See Glacial Ray
Kabuto Moth -- Just very good, soul shift & abilities like Teller help Devouring Greed -- potentially devastating burn spell but it requires synergy

What are the key cards in Betrayers and why?

Waxmane Baku -- allows for green-white, best common by a mile, further synergy encouragement
Matsu-Tribe Sniper -- not only the first good green answer to fliers but a permanent and versatile one
Okina-Gang Shin obi -- requires significantly different play due to its existence

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