Draft 2 Feature: Alex Shvartsman (United States)
by Tony Dobson
Alex has an unprecidented record in Grand Prix with 9 Top 8's and 2 wins; he has achieved success at both limited and constructed so following him as he begins his bid for another Top 8 will hopefully show some insight into his success.
His first pick was a bit of no brainer with Verdeloth the Ancient although he passed a Fact or Fiction to Marc Hernandez, his next few picks didn't help much but he forcefully drafted green going so far as to draft Quiron Trailblazer above better cards in other colours. Trying to force a colour has worked very sucessfully in the past but with 3 colour decks the norm, it will be interesting to see how it affects this format. Dominik Hothow was taking blue to Alexs right, while Marc Hernandez was mainly black with cards in all other colours presumably waiting for an opportunity to decide on his splash colour or two. Alex continued drafting powerful green cards such as Molimo, Maro Sorcerer and Serpentine Kavu but his second colour was unclear despite the fact that he had enough multi colour mana sources such as Harrow and Fertile Ground that he could in theory splash for several colours without any trouble. His second colour became more clear as he drafted a Tribal Flames then a Simoon then a Shivan Emissary, it had become clear at this stage that Marc was settling into U/B and Dominic was U/W so Alex's colour choices seemed perfect as he had his choice of cards in almost every booster. Alex highly rated Fertile Gound taking it very early but a 7th pick Armidillo Cloak made that decision seem very good as he could easily go 4 colours. He finished off the draft with some good removal in 2 Scorching Lavas and solid creatures in Ancient Kavu and Nomadic Elf.
Dominik Hothlow drafted what seemed to be a very good U/W deck with 2 Fact or Fiction and a high proportion of quality creatures but also splashing black for Do or Die, no one else really fought Alex for red or green and as such his deck looks as though it could be a 3-0 deck, if he and the deck live up to their ability Alex will be looking at yet another top 8 performance!
They key choices in both drafts I have seen were avoiding your opponents colours as much as possible, this seems obvious and is true for most draft formats but in Invasion a high portion of the decks go three colour so you don't want to start fighting for colours as your deck will end up with a very weak base. Alex seemed to value mana sources very highly but also drafted removal above very good creatures taking Agonizing Demise above Quirion Elves long after he had settled into heavy green. John Ormerod also drafted spells above creatures much more than you would normally find, apparently they were not afraid of being a little creature shy as was often the case in Masque block draft, in any case their strategies have been paying off so far and I hope that continues for both of them in the Top 8.