gprim13

Rimini Falls To Aukenthaler

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The letter M!agic 2014 Limited arrived in Grand Prix Rimini, giving us a spectacularly quick Top 8. Rimini played host to players from all over the world as many used the Grand Prix as a landing point ahead of next week's World Magic Cup in Amsterdam, giving the tournament specially international feel. Players from as far afield as Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica and Israel came for their first real taste of Magic 2014 Limited, which will be played in the World Magic Cup and the upcoming PTQ Season.

Austrian Christoph Aukenthaler claimed the coveted title from a Top 8 that saw the domestic Italian challenge blunted in the Semi Finals, with both Federico Del Basso and the 2008 Grand Prix Rimini champion Emanuele Giusti falling just one hurdle short of the final. In the end it was the superfast Rasmus Björklund whose Red/Green draft deck swept past Ben Stark and Federico Del Basso to meet Christoph Aukenthaler in the final, only to have his deck malfunction at the last minute and hand Aukenthaler the win. Aukenthaler's Blue/Green deck harnessed many of the most efficient commons in the format, with creatures like Rumbling Baloth, Nephalia Seakite and Messenger Drake happy to join the fight while cards like Time Ebb and Frost Breath gave him tempo, and Domestication and Clone turned his opponent's best creatures against them – a powerful mixture.

What did we learn about Magic 2014 Limited? That the format is slower than we expected but that blisteringly fast decks are possible. We learnt that the draft archetypes are still wide open, and that even the best of the Blightcaller or Red/Black sacrifice decks can be beaten if they focus too closely on their interactions and not enough on staying alive long to set those interactions up. With truly powerful bomb rares pretty scarce on the ground this is a Limited format that is won by good use of commons and uncommons, with many of the best cards being simple uncomplicated removal cards or efficient creatures.

The forthcoming World Magic Cup and PTQ season will surely see players unlock a better understanding of Magic 2014 Limited but Rimini has given us the building blocks for that, along with a new champion. Congratulations once again to Christoph Aukenthaler!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Emanuele Giusti   Emanuele Giusti, 2-0        
8 Pierre Sommen   Christoph Aukenthaler, 2-0
       
4 Tamas Nagy   Christoph Aukenthaler, 2-1   Christoph Aukenthaler, 2-1
5 Christoph Aukenthaler    
       
2 Federico Del Basso   Federico Del Basso, 2-0
7 Stjepan Sučić   Rasmus Björklund, 2-0
       
3 Ben Stark   Rasmus Björklund, 2-0
6 Rasmus Björklund    









  Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Rimini provided Matej Zatlkaj, Simon Görtzen, Rich Hagon, and Steven Leeming at twitch.tv/magic.



EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Christoph Aukenthaler $3,500
 2.  Rasmus Björklund $2,300
 3.  Emanuele Giusti $1,500
 4.  Federico Del Basso $1,500
 5.  Ben Stark $1,000
 6.  Tamas Nagy $1,000
 7.  Stjepan Sučić $1,000
 8.  Pierre Sommen $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 8 – Players

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Ben Stark

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Tamarac, Florida
    Occupation: None
    Guild: None

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Four Pro Tour Top 8s, ten Grand Prix Top 8s, won Pro Tour Paris 2011, Grand Indy 2012.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Archangel of Thune, UW, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Shivan Dragon, UR, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Primeval Bounty, GW splash B, 2-0-1.




    Tamas Nagy

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Balmazújváros, Hungary
    Occupation: IT manager
    Guild: Simic

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    WMC Top 4, second Top 8 in a row (last was in 2010), five times national champion.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Trading Post, Sliver Construct, Liliana's Reaver, BG, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Liliana's Reaver, BG, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Trading Post, mono-black, 2-0-1.




    Stjepan Sučić

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Sisak, Croatia
    Occupation:
    Guild: Orzhov

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    WMC Top 8 with Team Croatia, several Grand Prix and Pro Tour money finishes.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I was playing RG splashing blue for Clone. Best card was Fireshrieker, or maybe Ogre Battledriver. I went 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I was playing BG, and my best card was Fireshrieker, or maybe Liliana's Reaver. I went 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I was RG, went 3-0, and the best card was Kalonian Hydra, or maybe Ogre Battledriver again.




    Pierre Sommen

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Acheres, France
    Occupation: Student in engineering school
    Guild: Simic

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Won Grand Prix Amsterdam 2011, Top 16 Ghent 2012, Top 32 at Grand Prix Madrid and Turin 2012.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    UG, 8-1, Domestication.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    RG, Chandra's Outrage or maybe Lava Axe (I won to matches with the latter), 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    RG, 1-0, then double ID, Kalonian Hydra.




    Federico Del Basso

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Benevento (Naples), Italy
    Occupation: Working in a bank
    Guild: Selesnya

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I won two City Championships in Nola.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Indestructibility, WB, 7-2.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Path of Bravery, WR, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Chandra's Phoenix, WR, 3-0.




    Christoph Aukenthaler

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Innsbruck, Austria
    Occupation: Student
    Guild: Azorius

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Water Servant. I played UBw, 8-1.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I played WR without any good cards, the deck was really bad. 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Played GB, Doom Blade, 3-0.




    Carl Gustaf "Rasmus" Björklund

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Lund, Sweden
    Occupation: Personal assistant
    Guild: Golgari

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Some PTQ Top 8s, BOM Vintage Trial winner.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    I played UB Evasion and Removal. Best card was Opportunity or maybe Frost Breath. Not sure.

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Again, Frost Breath. Played UR and went 2-1.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Volcanic Geyser. I played RUG Slivers and went 2-1.




    Emanuele Giusti

    Age: 22
    Hometown: Arezzo, Italy
    Occupation: Writer for MTGMadness
    Guild: Gruul!

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Won Grand Prix Rimini 2008 and Grand Prix Brussels 2010.

    What was the best card in your Sealed Deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Blood Bairn! RB, 7-2 (three byes).

    What was the best card in your first draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Bubbling Cauldron plus Act of Treason, RB, 3-0.

    What was the best card in your second draft deck, what color combination did you play, and what was your record?
    Blood Bairn plus Tenacious Dead, RB, 3-0.






     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Emanuele Giusti, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Federico Del Basso, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Stjepan Suèiæ, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Rasmus Björklund, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Ben Stark, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Tamas Nagy, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Pierre Sommen, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft


    Christoph Aukenthaler, Top 8
    Grand Prix Rimini 2013 – Booster Draft




     

  • Sunday, 8:50 p.m. – Top 8 Draft with Emanuele Giusti

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter E!manuele Giusti, along with Ben Stark, was clearly one of the favorites going into this Top 8. With two Grand Prix wins under his belt, one incidentally right here in Rimini in 2008, all he needed was one more strong draft deck. So far today he had drafted black-red and black-red, both times with a strong sacrifice theme, both times going 3-0. One more time, eh?

    And indeed, when his first pack offered the choice between Rumbling Baloth, Messenger Drake, or Bogbrew Witch, the Italian took the latter. Next was Flames of the Firebrand, followed by Blood Bairn over Mindsparker, Gnawing Zombie, and Deathgaze Cockatrice.


    Emanuele Giusti

    Pick three then was Molten Birth, passing another Messenger Drake. The choice of red-black was almost certainly set in stone at this point, and Giusti never looked back. Bubbling Cauldron, Wring Flesh, and Accursed Spirit were next, and the rest of the pack gave him a Minotaur Abomination, a Shrivel, a Rod of Ruin, and a 13th-pick Festering Newt, completing the three-act combo started with Witch and Cauldron.

    The second booster he opened may have had a couple of more splashy cards, like Rootwalla or Banisher Priest, but Giusti was happy to stick to his guns and take Tenacious Dead. The decision for his second pick was apparently close, though again he fully committed to the sacrifice theme and took Act of Treason over Liturgy of Blood.

    Pick three was an obvious disappointment, however, and he hatedrafted Serra Angel. Duress fourth wasn't much better, and already it appeared as if his draft was coming apart. But his perseverance paid off, when the next two picks were another Bubbling Cauldron as well as another Blood Bairn. Barrage of Expendables and Dragon Egg followed suit, and things were solidly back on track. Still, the rest of the pack also didn't provide much additional input.

    Off to the third booster. Here, Giusti opened Volcanic Geyser, and followed it up with Pitchburn Devils (over Shock and Child of Night), more Pitchburn Devils (over Undead Minotaur), and Shiv's Embrace (over Child of Night and Accursed Spirit).

    His fifth pick posed a difficult decision between Tenacious Dead and Festering Newt. Either would have been his second copy and he clearly would have liked to have both. Seeing as he had earlier got a Festering Newt 13th, he figured the Newt was more likely to come back than Tenacious Dead, so he took the latter.

    The rest of the pack provided a third copy of Pitchburn Devils as well as Mark of the Vampire, two Cyclops Tyrants, Mind Rot, Undead Minoatur, and, sadly, no Festering Newt. Still, Giusti could be quite happy with his deck and a repeat victory seemed all the more likely.




     

  • Quarterfinals – Roundup

    by David Sutcliffe

  • The letter C!hristoph Aukenthaler started strongly in his quarterfinal against the Hungarian national champion Tamas Nagy, with his Rumbling Baloth and Messenger Drake outmuscling the smaller creatures coming from Nagy's Black/Blue deck. Nagy turned to a Nephalia Seakite but the bird turned against its owner when Aukenthaler enchanted it with Domestication. Attempting to use a novel route around Domestication Tamas Nagy enchanted his opponent's creature with Illusionary Armor! That might have worked except that Aukenthaler was able to target the Seakite with a Frost Breath to destroy the Illusionary Armor. It was a bizarre sequence of plays "I'll give your creature +4/+4", "no I won't let you, and I can't untap it next turn" but it handed Aukenthaler the initiative.


    Nagy stabilised with a pair of Nightwing Shades but even after his black removal kicked in the Hungarian was unable to take advantage as he was down to his last few life and couldn't send his Nightwing Shades into the attack. Finally Christoph Aukenthaler drew his Shimmering Grotto for a second black mana and Liturgy of Blood cut a path for his creatures to end the game.

    Christoph Aukenthaler 1 – 0 Tamas Nagy

    Ben Stark's draft deck was pretty unconventional (if you're being charitable) and the American was quickly under pressure from the more direct Green/Red deck of Rasmus Björklund. Enchanting his Sliver Construct with Lightning Talons held the hordes back, and then became a deadly punchline to the terrible jokes of the Goblin Diplomat as Stark began to taunt and slay his way back into the match. When his Sliver Construct finally traded with a Mindsparker the board was clear and Stark was able to begin outdrawing his opponent with Scroll Thief... would the pesky Merfolk hand him the win? NO! Victory was stolen away as Björklund pulled a Blur Sliver then attacked with the Sliver and Elvish Mystic, throwing a Ranger's Guile on top to deal lethal damage from standing start!

    Ben Stark 0 – 1 Christoph Aukenthaler

    Emanuele Giusti had been allowed to draft a very synergetic B/R sacrifice deck and his engine was in full flow against the unfortunate Pierre Sommen. Sommen's creatures were just fair game to Giusti's Pitchburn Devils and Barrage of Expendables and Giusti swept up a comfortable win.


    Emanuele Giusti 1 – 0 Pierre Sommen

    Stjepan Sučić 0 – 1 Federico Del Basso

    Federico Del Basso had swept his first game in no time with an aggressive R/W deck, but found himself up against it in the second game. The Italian had three Plains and a Mountain in play but was nursing a hand of Chandra's Outrage and Awaken the Ancient! He had creatures in play, such as a pair of Capashen Knights, but they were outclassed by the larger green creatures of Sučić. With a hungry Rootwalla taking chunks out of his life total Federico Del Basso was relieved to finally draw a second mountain, bringing his hand alive.


    Del Basso stabilised the ground threat but Sučić took to the air with an unstoppable Seraph of the Sword. The Croatian was a single attack step away from winning the game when Del Basso ripped an Act of Treason off the top of his library and stole the win, taking the first spot in the Semi Finals!

    Stjepan Sučić 0 – 2 Federico Del Basso

    Act of Treason had only just finished sending one Italian player into the Semi-Finals when it repeated the feat for Emanuele Giusti. Giusti's second game had gone much the same way as the first, with the Italian taking full advantage of cards like Grim Return and Pitchburn Devils to pull ahead. Victory was nearing, and Pierre Sommen running low of creatures, when Giusti drew an Act of Treason to steal an Advocate of the Beast for the home team and send the former Grand Prix Rimini champion to just two matches away from repeating his 2008 victory!

    Emanuele Giusti 2 – 0 Pierre Sommen

    In the matchup between Christoph Aukenthaler and Tamas Nagy the Hungarian champion had battled his way back to even the score at 1-1. Aukenthaler had pushed with some tough threats like Messenger Drake and Windreader Sphinx, but each time Nagy had removal on hand to counter the incoming creature. As the end approaching Aukenthaler turned to a Rumbling Baloth but Nagy had trumped it immediately with a Colossal Whale that ultimately sunk Aukenthaler's hopes and levelled the match.

    Christoph Aukenthaler 1 – 1 Tamas Nagy

    No sooner had Emanuele Giusti advanced to the semi finals than Rasmus Björklund joined him. Ben Stark's unconventional deck had clung to life for a long time in the first game but had been much more quickly overwhelmed in the second by an aggressive G/R draw, sending the disappointed American out of the Grand Prix.

    Ben Stark 0 – 2 Rasmus Björklund

    That left Tamas Nagy and Christoph Aukenthaler to fight it out for the final spot in the Semi Finals. Nagy was faster out of the blocks but Aukenthaler had the bigger creatures. Nagy turned to Mark of the Vampire to scale his offense up, but Aukenthaler was ready with a Claustrophobia. A Trollhide transformed Seacoast Drake into a real threat and then Aukenthaler pulled a string of removal spells to fend off Nagy's defences long enough for the Drake to get the job done... Time Ebb, Doom Blade, Domestication and Liturgy of Blood kept Nagy's creatures off the table and sent the Austrian into the Semi Finals!

    Christoph Aukenthaler 2 – 1 Tamas Nagy




     

  • Semifinals – Christoph Aukenthaler vs. Emanuele Giusti

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter G!oing into this round, Emanuele Giusti was still well on his way to become a repeat his Grand Prix Rimini victory from 2008. The Italian national team member had drafted a sweet red-black deck and had easily dispatched Pierre Sommen, another former GP champ, in the quarterfinals. But missing his third land-drop in the first game, then mulliganing and never drawing a fourth land put an untimely end to his remarkable run through the tournament.

    Though at first newcomer Christoph Aukenthaler and his blue-green deck didn't have an impressive start into the game either. Nephalia Seakite was the first of his creatures that stuck around, soon joined by Seacoast Drake. When Giusti found a third land to cast Undead Minotaur, Aukenthaler boosted his Seacoast Drake with Trollhide.


    Emanuele Giusti

    This wasn't going to be much of a damage race either way, but Giusti tried with Accursed Spirit, only to lose it to Domestication. With the number of sacrifice effects in his deck this was especially vexing, even more so when Blood Bairn made its appearnace exactly one turn too late. Next, Frost Breath meant Giusti's Blood Bairn couldn't even block Giusti's own Accursed Spirit, and that was all for game one.

    In the second game, despite a mulligan (or because of it), Giusti started strong with Tenacious Dead and Bubbling Cauldron, and beginning on turn three, he sacrificed the former to the latter for 4 life per turn. This kept Seacoast Drake and Rumbling Baloth at bay, but didn't really develop his side of the board. A fourth land never showed.


    Christoph Aukenthaler

    Soon after, Aukenthaler's Hunt the Weak killed the Tenacious Dead dead for good, and Giusti was left with just three lands, a useless Bubbling Cauldron, and no creatures. Then he drew Blood Bairn and immediately lost it to Domestication. That was doubly painful, for one, because Blood Bairn is the first of its kind that can't sacrifice itself, and two, because of the Bubbling Cauldron that Giusti couldn't use as he had failed to draw a fourth land turn after turn after turn. Facing, by now, Seacoast Drake, Rumbling Baloth, his own Blood Bairn, and Messenger Drake, Giusti had to admit defeat.




     

  • Finals – Rasmus Björklund vs. Christoph Aukenthaler

    by David Sutcliffe

  • The letter C!hristoph Aukenthaler is the champion of Grand Prix Rimini – the Austrian swept aside the resistance of Sweden's unfortunate Rasmus Björklund 2-1 in the Final to claim the coveted trophy, winning the first major Magic 2014 Limited event.

    After two very swift Semi Finals had ended the Italian challenge to defend their home Grand Prix we saw an equally swift final that was dominated by Mulligan decisions, with the deciding game effectively won once Aukenthaler decided to keep an unpromising seven cards that seemed to offer little, but ultimately came good. Forced to mulligan down to five cards in the first game Aukenthaler benefitted from the same fate befalling Rasmus Björklund in the next two games as the final ended in one-sided fashion.

    The first game had been over in a blur. A Blur Sliver, to be precise. Björklund opened with an Elvish Mystic then a pair of Blur Slivers rushed into the red zone soon after. Starting from only 5 cards, Aukenthaler attempted to defend himself but a Shock, Giant Growth and Seismic Stomp saw the Austrian unable to fight back and 1-0 down within 5 turns.

    "I'm going to start in this game" Aukenthaler decided, patching up his bruises after the first game. In the face of Björklund's determined rush this seemed like a wise decision.

    Unfortunately for Rasmus Björklund the mulligan problems that had plagued Aukenthaler were infectious and it was hit turn to begin the game with just five cards in hand. The Swede made a decent fight of it from his reduced hand, fighting back with a Blur Sliver and Regathan Firecat while Aukenthalers Trollhide-enchanted Seacoast Drake and Warden of Evos Isle passed overhead in the other direction. Domestication tamed Björklund's Kalonian Tusker and Clone duplicated the Beast, while a Frost Breath finished the job and levelled the match.

    "Now it's my turn," Björklund mused, as he once again opened seven cards he couldn't keep in the final game, and then as he sent away six cards for another five, "ok, it might get tough".

    This time the five cards that Rasmus Björklund decided to keep were less stellar, and he sheepishly missed his second land drop. Björklund seemed braced for swift punishment to descend on his one-land hand but Christoph Aukenthaler had made a decision to keep an opening seven hands that contained nothing in the way of rapid attackers, just Frost Breath and Time Ebb ahead of a Messenger Drake that would arrive later in the game. On his third turn the lands started to flow for Björklund but his opening Blur Sliver gambit was devoured by a Nephalia Seakite. Hitting his fifth land Aukenthaler added a Messenger Drake, and then a Clone of the Messenger Drake as the game rapidly slipped away from the young Swede. Academy Raider arrived, only to be hit by a Time Ebb that ate away time that Björklund simply didn't have and Christoph Aukenthaler wrapped up the Grand Prix with his flying armada.


    Congratulations to Christoph Aukenthaler, champion of Grand Prix Rimini 2013!




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Rimini 2013

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter C!hese were the cards that shaped the tournament, that were most heavily debated, that won games and matches, and turned Grand Prix Rimini into an event to remember ...



    5. Enlarge

    +7/+7 is quite the boost, trample literally adds injury to the package, and killing one of your opponent's creatures is the final insult. Time and again, Enlarge proved to be a card that turns games around. It doesn't necessarily end games, as predecessors like Overrun and Overwhelming Stampede so regularly did, but it certainly puts the hurt on unsuspecting opponents. Our favorite targets to enlarge: Child of Night, which attacked for 9 damage and 9 life any number of times throughout the weekend, and Deadly Recluse, which interacts with Enlarge in two ways. For one thing, a player will often hold back specifically his best creature when faced with the deadly Spider, leaving himself particularly vulnerable to Enlarge. And two, deathtouch means the Recluse will always trample over for 7.





    4. Nephalia Seakite

    At this Grand Prix, whenever a player had four lands including one Island untapped during his opponent's attack, there always was a slight hesitation: Do they have Nephalia Seakite? Are they just bluffing? Should this 2/2 creature attack? There's no worse feeling than trading a card for nothing. Two-for-one trades sometimes can't be helped, but the Seakite does it even better. Then again, not attacking is no solution either, right?








    3. Blood Bairn

    Slivers were the big story coming into the weekend, and while we've seen several impressive hive assemblies over the course of the tournament, the red-black sacrifice deck turned out to be an even bigger story. This draft strategy put Emanuele Giusti into the Top 8 and got him all the way to the semifinals. At this point, he was 7-0 in drafts matches, and only against eventual champion Christoph Aukenthaler did it fail—not even because of a bad matchup, but because of some severe mana troubles.







    2. Domestication

    This distant cousin of Mind Control is not quite as beloved, but still plenty powerful. The straight-up two-for-one trade with tempo advantage to boot proved its worth numerous times throughout the tournament, not least in Christoph Aukenthaler's blue-green winning deck, where it was instrumental in both his semifinal and final victory.










    1. Frost Breath

    Basically the epitome of a pure tempo card with no long-term board influence, Frost Breath was extremely popular here in Rimini (not just because of the immense heat outside). Even in this format, or maybe in this format in particular, losing two creatures for a full two turns turned a lot of games around or sealed someone's fate in a close damage race, especially during Sunday's draft rounds. Watch out, winter may be coming, I hear.






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