The_Week_That_Was

While We Were Sleeping

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 DCI Ratings Update  

From Wizards of the Coast:

As many of you have noticed, the DCI ratings have not been published since December 14. The ratings have been run each week, but the system that publishes the results is not currently functioning. We expect to have this problem solved early next week.

An additional issue is that the January 6 ratings are to be used to invite players to Pro Tour–San Diego.

When we publish the ratings the week of January 11, we will only include those events reported on and before January 4. We will use those published ratings to invite player to Pro Tour–San Diego. When we run and publish ratings the week of January 18, we will include all the events reported after January 5. Players that receive a ratings-based invitation to Pro Tour–San Diego will be contacted by email.

We appreciate your patience with this situation.

The letter H!appy New Year everyone! I hope the holiday season found you well and that your mental batteries are recharged as competitive Magic gears up for a brand new decade. For some players there was no rest over the winter break, as Magic events have continued to happen. Let's take quick trot around the globe and catch up on some of tournaments that took place over the past few weeks.

Just this past weekend there were two major tournaments in Los Angeles as the StarCityGames.com Open Series kicked off the new year in style. The Open Series—which has been dubbed the Magic "Joe" Tour by some Twitterati—consists of a series of weekends featuring a $5K Standard tournament on Saturday and another $5K Legacy tournament on Sunday. There are fifteen Open Series events over the course of the 2010 season, which adds up to a prize purse of $150,000. On top of that, players earn Open Points—Joe Points?—at each event that can qualify them for a year-end event with an additional $50,000 in prizes. In addition to a total of $200,000 in prizes, StarCityGames.com is going whole hog on the coverage front with in depth text and video coverage by Bill Stark and Rashad Miller's crew over at GGs Live.

This past weekend's event in Los Angeles christened the 2010 season with a win by one of the game's biggest stars. Luis Scott-Vargas and company brewed up a red-white-blue control deck that has been called All-American Control by some and "The Answer" by others. The latter is certainly appropriate, since LSV listed the deck's favorable match-ups as "Jund, Leechless Jund, Jund with Blue, [and] Mono-Red."

Luis Scott-Vargas's Red-White-Blue Control
Standard - StarCityGames Standard Open in Los Angeles


In the Finals of the event, LSV fittingly got to showcase his deck against the format's current boogie man, Jund, as played by Arthur Halavais. Luis used his main deck Spreading Seas in Game 1 and recovered from back-to-back Blightnings with Mind Spring—a template for how the deck fares against Savage Lands. In the second game, Luis settled in behind Baneslayer Angel and let her do the heavy lifting, with some help from his Flashfreezes to buy him the turns necessary to get there. All in all an exciting win in terms of deck technology and star power which promises another year of the Pro Tour Berlin winner playing some of the best Magic in the game.


There are two Legacy Grand Prix on the schedule for 2010. The existence of fifteen high profile Legacy events from the Star City Open Series could mean even bigger numbers for those events than we have seen in the past, as there will be plenty of competitively vetted decklists in circulation for players to utilize in breaking down the metagame. The first of those fifteen events was won by 29-year-old farmer Lou Christopher playing an Enchantress deck, although the Finals were not actually played out. Joining him in the Finals was 24-year-old aspiring sports broadcaster Shane Downey playing Zoo. In the Top 16 of the event—which had 142 players overall—there were thirteen different archetypes represented. I look forward to following these events over the course of the 2010 season to see if the metagame narrows under the focus of so much high-level play this season.

Lou Christopher's Enchantress
Legacy – Winner, Star City Games Open in Los Angeles


Shane Downey's Zoo
Legacy - Finalist, Star City Games Open in Los Angeles


There is another event in the 2010 Open Series taking place this weekend in Dallas/Ft. Worth. If you can't make it to the event you can always follow the coverage on StarCityGames.com. Good luck to everyone playing there this weekend.

Bramvitational

Bram Snepvangers, mainstay of Dutch Magic

In addition to being a long-standing Pro, 2009 Worlds Top 8 competitor Bram Snepvangers is a fixture of the Dutch Magic community. He has been organizing, judging, and inspiring an all-around high level of play in the Netherlands for as long as the game has been around. He and his events are a fixture at Cafe Twee Klaveren. The cafe is the site of the long-running and legendary Monday night drafts that have incubated the talents of famous Dutch pros ranging from Noah Boeken to Julien Nuijten.

"I don't understand those cards at all," said cafe proprietor Thea Kater, in an interview for the Dutch coverage of the event. "But Magic players are the best guests we can wish for. They are very friendly and loyal. We always love having them over for a tournament."

"Twee Klaveren is pretty much the only candidate to host the Bramvitational," said Bram Snepvangers in the same coverage. "The casual formats fit the atmosphere of the cafe. It's one of the most famous places to play Magic."

The 32 qualified players competed in two formats: three rounds of Chaos Draft and three rounds of Bring Your Own Auction Constructed. Chaos Draft featured players sitting down to tables with 25 different boosters per table, ranging from Antiquities and Legends all the way through to Coldsnap and drafting the packs they would use to draft. Bring Your Own Auction Constructed features each player bringing one Constructed deck of any format. After sitting down for their match, the two players take a look at the two deck lists and start bidding cards and/or life. The player who wins the auction gets to choose what deck to play for that match, but has to pay the bid and thus start at a disadvantage.


The Top 4 players fought for the title of Bramvitational winner playing in a Zendikar Silent Auction draft. Players came to the draft table with 200 points and could secretly bid any amount of those points on cards in an open pack before them. Any player who bid the most points for a card would get that card and have that amount of points deducted from their account (having more leftover points than your opponent would also earn a player the right to choose who played first in the Top 4).

Among the players qualified were former Dutch National Champion Robert van Medevoort, 2009 Dutch National Team members Tom van Lamoen and Niels Noorlander, GP–Rotterdam and GP–Paris 2008 winner Arjan van Leeuwen, and all the Dutch up-and-coming Pro Tour players. Additionally, two Dutch Tournament Organizers, Teun Zijp and Jasper Boelens, were extended invites to play. Teun, who has written about the event, hoped that having the spotlight turned on the Bramvitational would help to illuminate Hall of Fame voters this year about why Bram Snepvangers should be elected to the Pro Tour Hall of Fame.

Stefen Van de Veen won the event and, along with finalist Nai Jai Lee, finds himself qualified for the "more serious" Dutch Masters event later this year.

The Finals

The Finals is an annual end-of-year tournament in Japan that is among the most prestigious and long-running Constructed tournament events in Magic history. Players earn the right to play in The Finals, which is traditionally held on the Saturday after Christmas, in open events throughout the year. This year there were more than 4,000 players who took part in qualifer events and a staggering 341 players showed up for four rounds of Standard and four rounds of Extended. When the dust settled, there was an impressive array of talent seeding the brackets, including 2006 World Champion Makihito Mihara, multiple Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Osamu Fujita, and 2009 Rookie of the Year contender Akimasa Yamamoto. It was Yamamoto, a Pro Tour–Kyoto Top 8 finisher, who emerged from the bracket as the winner of 250,000 Yen and a new found confidence going into the 2010 Pro Tour season.

Makihito Mihara, Osamu Fujita, and Akimasa Yamamoto.

For Akimasa, who was disappointed with his stumbles down the stretch of his Rookie of the Year run, the past successes of other Finals winners buoyed his spirits for the coming year. In Japan The Finals is known as "The ticket to Pro Tour success" as players who have won this event have gone on to fare quite well at the highest levels of competition. Past champions include:


You can see the Top 8 decks from the event here. (We will try to bring you the top Extended lists in next week's column for all of you out there grinding away in the San Juan PTQs.)

The Limits

The Limits is a companion tournament to The Finals that began in 2006 and is rapidly growing in size and reputation. The event was played on Sunday after the Swiss rounds of the Finals. One Top 8 competitor had to drop after one free pod of cards since he had to play in the Top 8 of the Constructed event that afternoon, but the remaining 226 players played through three rounds of Zendikar Sealed Deck and three rounds of Zendikar Booster Draft in order to determine the Top 8 which had a rare treat in store for them in the form of a foil Rotisserie draft which utilized two complete sets of all the commons and one set each of all the uncommons, rares, and mythic rares. What card would you take with the first overall pick of all the cards in Zendikar? Here are the first picks as they went around the table:


With two different drafters going into black after him, Koutarou Otsuka abandoned black and went red-green allies with a wheel pick of both copies of Oran-Rief Survivalist. Eventual winner Shingou Kurihara kept waiting for someone to dip into his white—especially with two easily splashable Journey to Nowhere looming in the queue—but no one ever did, and he ended up with a dominating mono-white deck that did not drop a game in the Top 8. You can see the deck lists here.


Shuhei Nakamura covered the Top 8 draft and expressed a love of the spectacle of this kind of draft, which is essentially a modified Rochester Draft format. There have been no premier-level Rochester draft events since Shu Komuro won Pro Tour Kobe and many Japanese Pros look forward to this event as a chance to try their hand at a format that rewards diplomacy and, of course, the precisely placed hate draft.

Friday Night Magic: The Best Night of the Week

Because of the holidays we weren't able to bring you January's foil promo card in time for the first Friday of the month. So now, gaze upon this month's Friday Night Magic prize card:


Find an FNM Near You!
Find an FNM Near You!

If you want to get your hands on one of those, find an FNM location near you with the handy locator tool to the right!

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