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U.S. Nationals 1999 Reports

Draft Coverage: Pat Chapin and Mark Justice

- Alex Shvartsman

During the pre-tournament interviews, Pat Chapin was the players' favorite pick to finish in the top 4. Chapin felt particularly good about the draft portion of the event, hoping for a 6-0 or a 5-1 finish. Mark Justice is just out of retirement. He may be a little rusty, but his track record is excellent and he is a player one cannot afford to underestimate.

Draft table #20 saw Justice seated to the left of Pat Chapin. In turn, Justice would be passing to Andrew Cuneo, a very solid player, even if his name isn't as well recognized as the other two. To Chapin's right were several competitors that qualified through regionals. To his immediate right was Sean Fitzgerald from Arizona.

Chapin was seed number five. A pack was opened and Chapin drafted a Looming Shade - a solid choice since this is the first black card to be drafted out of the pack. Jutice took a Thundering Giant and picked up Goblin Spleunkers on the way back - the only two red cards in this pack. Chapin grabbed a late pick Hush.

Chapin drafted a Blanchwood Treefolk out of the second pack. He chose this large creature over Treetop Rangers. A close call, for the Rangers' evasion ability and lower casting cost make them a very high quality pick in green. Justice snatched a Viashino Outrider, the only red card in the pack, and drafted a Vebulid, leaving Chapin nothing but a Dark Ritual.

Chapin got a Sanctum Custodian from the third pack, and ended up with a Windfall on the way back. Justice was still on top of red - he took a Vug Lizard and even drafted a Bravado to make sure he dominates the color.

Chapin took yet another white card - an Opal Gargoyle from the next pack. Justice picked up a third pick Heat Ray and grabbed a Guma on the way back. So far a Dromosaur is the only playable red card on the table Justice did not manage to draft.

Next, Chapin opened an amazing pack, featuring first picks like Worship, Corrupt, Humble and Pacifism. He took the Worship and Justice got the only red card in the pack again, a second Heat Ray.

It was now Justice's turn to open a pack. He opened fewer good cards, his best options being Barrin, Master Wizard, Shivan Raptor and Pegasus Charger. It wasn't in his best interest to fight Chapin for white, so the Charger wasn't an option. Barrin however is an amazing pick. Justicehas already set himself up with good red cards and there are no players drafting blue for three seeds to his right, which means he would get passed a lot of excellent blue in Destiny, where that color is especially powerful. Justice elected instead to draft a Shivan Raptor, alloowing Cuneo to have the Barrin and virtually forcing him into blue.

A couple of weak picks closed up the Saga pack for the two players, with Justice picking up a Dromosaur and a Pendrell Flux and Chapin drafting an Opal Cartyarid.

At this point Chapin's draft was reasonable but unamazing. He had several black cards while seemingly trying to draft green/white. Two players to his right are also drafting at least some green, so he might expect a difficult time getting solid green cards in Destiny. Likewise, white is being drafted heavily at the table.

Justice on the other hand could hardly be doing better. He is the only player out of eight drafting red. He hasn't even chosen his second color yet and might not ever have to.

Justice had a choice of Lava Axe and Goblin Medics in his first Legacy pack. He elected to draft Lava Axe to go with the fast creatures he already drafted. Chapin had a choice of Simian Grunts, Treetop Village and Yavimaya Wurm. He decided to take the Village and managed to pick up a Multani's Acolyte on the way back.

Justice opened a pack with no playable red cards at all. He got to choose between Mother of Runes and Phyrexian Reclamation as his first picks. He taook the Mother and Chapin drafted Yavimaya Granger. Reclamation made it all the way around the table to Cuneo.

The draft did not go well for Justice in the next several packs. He is still the only player at the table to draft red, but there are simply no good red cards available. He picked up a few black cards - Engineered Plague, Phyrexian Denouncer and Sick and Tired as well as several Defenders of Chaos. Eventually Justice did get a Ghitu Slinger but his available selection in Legacy was very sub-optimal.

A first pick Rancor was a very important aquisition for Chapin. Chapin picked up some neat toys such as another Treetop Village, Hope and Glory and a Multani, Maro Sorcerer. He did not succeed in forcing Fitzgerald out of green though and so he would need some solid white picks in Destiny to come his way.

Throughout the Destiny packs, Justice continued to draft three-casting-cost red creatures and direct damage. He gots three Reckless Abandons and a number of Wild Calos', Goblin Masons and Goblin Berserker. Late in the draft he managed to get a few more direct damage spells - Scent of Cinder and Flame Jet.

Chapin mostly drafted creatures. He picked up a couple of Capashen Knights, a Mantis Engine (choosing it over Yavimaya Elder and Tormented Angel) and several other creatures. He received a late-draft gift, managing to pick up Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and Yavimaya Enchantress as his seventh and eighth picks. He first-picked a Fodder Cannon, an amazing removal spell especially for his green-white deck.

Chapin has managed to draft a decent deck but it is by no means great. He has virtually no removal and good tricks to speak of, although his creature base is very solid - a problem common to green decks. Justice is able to build a very fast mono-red deck, but this is a high risk strategy. Anything but an excellent start may put such a deck in the position where it cannot master up enough damage lacking evasion creatures.

Andrew Cuneo ended up with the best deck at the table by far. He had four people to his left who weren't drafting his colors. His blue-black deck features two Corrupts, Thieving Magpie, Barrin and many other excellent cards. He is the most likely candidate to win this draft table.


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