t this point in the tournament, Antoine Ruel is the only player without a loss. This is not terribly surprising, seeing as how Ruel has been present at practically every Grand Prix during the Mirrodin
Block Booster Draft season, and probably knows the format better than just about anyone on the planet. To give you an idea of his schedule, he started with Grand Prix Madrid, came to Japan for Pro Tour Kobe, went to Grand Prix Hong Kong, returned to Japan for Grand Prix Sendai, then went to Grand Prix Birmingham. Along with him on the long trip was his brother Olivier, and Sam Gomersall, who has played well enough so far to be on track for a Top 8 finish. Both are at the first pod on day two, which shows you that practice does account for a lot of success in Magic.
1. Masashi Ooiso
2. Sam Gomersall
3. Christophe Haim
4. Angel Perez del Pozo
5. Antoine Ruel
6. Kazyua Hirabayashi
7. Nicolai Herzog
8. Ben Seck
The first pick was very easy, as it contained Spikeshot Goblin and nothing else that was on its level. Electrostatic Bolt was an easy second pick too, although Ruel did have to pass a Goblin Replica. From this point the quality dropped significantly, as he had to settle for a Talisman third pick, and went into blue with a Cobalt Golem fourth. Red was solidified with a Vulshok Berserker and Krark-Clan Grunt, and when the seventh pick came around, Ruel switched into a different second color. He grabbed Tel-Jilad Exile, and took Battlegrowth over Annul and Elf Replica over Neurok Familiar, essentially giving up on blue. The second pack provided a first pick Shatter, although Ruel had to settle for Leaden Myr with his second pick, passing Terror, Blinding Beam and Arrest. A third pick Shatter made things look far better, and One Dozen Eyes came fourth. Another Myr provided additional acceleration, and surprisingly, Ruel took Leonin Scimitar over Isochron Scepter.
At this point, Ruel's deck looked solid, but not spectacular. However, things changed drastically once Darksteel came around. He opened a Fireball, and then got two Barbed Lightnings with his second and third picks. Interestingly, he drafted Arcbound Hybrid over Tangle Spider (he didn't have a great deal of artifact creatures), but a pair of Spiders followed anyway. Tangle Golem came as a nice gift sixth pick, and an Ageless Entity that was passed in favor of a Barbed Lightning managed to make its way back tenth pick.
TW: How do you think it went?
Ruel: It went well. I just didn't want to go into green, but my deck is good. Look at this! Two Barbed Lightnings, Fireball, two Shatters, Electrostatic Bolt, Shatter. I need to go 2-1 to Top 8, so it should go fine.
TW: What I was wondering about is that you took the Spikeshot and then the Bolt, and things seemed to slow down. I don't know if it was the packs, or if you were getting cut off. Then you took the Exile, and went right into green. Was there any reason for that?
Ruel: The Exile was the only card in the pack, so I was like, "Okay, I'll take it, and we'll see if something comes." No one drafts green, because it's bad.
TW: And then you grabbed Battlegrowth right away and passed Annul, so I'm guessing you dismissed blue as an option. You took Cobalt Golem, and I guess you decided no blue was coming.
Ruel: I have a Spikeshot Goblin and blue wasn't really coming, and I wanted to be sure I would be able to pump my Spikeshot to win the game.
TW: In the second pack, why take the Scimitar over Isochron Scepter?
Ruel: I think it was a mistake, actually. I didn't think about all my cards. I don't like Isochron and I have a Spikeshot, so I was waiting for equipment to come.
TW: Yeah, I was thinking, "He's got two Shatters already, he's got Electrostatic Bolt." It seems like that's the optimal time to draft the Scepter.
Ruel: I don't really like Isochron Scepter.
TW: If you have the cards to go with it though, it's pretty good right?
Ruel: Yeah, if you have them at the same time, and you don't draw them in the wrong order. But you're right, I should have taken it.
TW: It seemed like things were going slow in the first pack, and a little in the second one. Do you think you read the table in a certain way? In pack three you seemed to clean up, and I don't know if it was the packs, or just being in the right place. What do you think happened in Darksteel?
Ruel: I have no idea. I think the guy to my right was black, so he took all the black cards, which are very good in Darksteel. He passed me the red ones. In the first booster, there was nothing.
TW: Why did you take Arcbound Hybrid over Tangle Spider? A lot more came around, and you even got one eleventh, but I was wondering.
Ruel: Because I have lots of burn, so if I can go fast I should win.
TW: I was surprised to see Ageless Entity come around so late.
Ruel: When I first saw the pack, there were four green cards- Tangle Walker, Echoing Courage, Tel-Jilad Outrider and Ageless Entity. I thought this one (the Entity) was the best one!
TW: So did I, and I was very surprised to see it come all the way around.
Ruel: The only one that came back was the best one. I don't really understand it.
TW: Maybe because it has two green in the casting cost? I don't know.
Ruel: Probably because it's green, and they hate drafting it.
TW: So you need a 2-1 here?
Ruel: 2-3 in the next five rounds.
TW: Do you think this deck can get it done all at once?
Ruel: I hope so. I have enough stuff to steal games, like Fireball.
TW: Also, you're the only undefeated player at the moment. Did you have any specific strategy this weekend?
Ruel: Yeah, I didn't want to draft green. My only strategy was not to draft green.
TW: Did you do that in your first drafts?
Ruel: This is the first time I've drafted green, and I'm not very happy with it. I hate it.
TW: Why? Any specific reasons?
Ruel: When you play green, you just lose.
TW: Not even…
Ruel: You just lose. Your deck seems good, but you lose, and I don't like losing.
TW: Which colors have you been looking for then?
Ruel: Red, mostly red. Then white or black. I don't really like affinity, because everyone wants to draft it.
TW: Do you think that trying to avoid affinity has helped you so far?
Ruel: I drafted affinity in the last draft because I got third and fourth pick Hoverguards. I like drafting white- Raise the Alarm, small creatures, equipment.
TW: So do you think these preferences have made a difference so far?
Ruel: No. I just draft what's coming. I'm not stupid enough not to play green when it comes.