Grand Prix St. Louis Preview
Sixty-eight of the best teams from around the United States descended on St. Louis this weekend for the first Team Grand Prix ever held in the U.S. Day 1 consists of 6 rounds of Team Sealed deck. Before the first round each 3-person team receives two starter decks of Mercadian Masques along with four booster packs of Nemesis from which to construct 3 decks. They play three rounds with those decks and then they get new cards to build new decks from. After six rounds of Swiss, the top 20 teams advance to day 2.
The format for Day 2 is Team Rochester Draft. During each of the three rounds on Sunday, teams will draft against each other, build their decks, and then play. After round 9 the top 4 teams will advance to the finals, which is also Team Rochester.
One of the big storylines to follow this weekend is the Player of the Year Race between Darwin Kastle and Alex Schvartsman. Schvartsman traveled to Nagoya, Japan two weeks ago where he teamed up with Trevor Blackwell and Nick Wong. That incarnation of Team New Wave won Grand Prix Nagoya and thus Alex picked up 4 Pro Tour points, cutting Kastle's lead in down to 6 points. Both Schvartsman and Kastle will be competing this weekend, jockeying for more points. Schvartsman will be playing with his Team PT teammates Zvi Mowshowitz and Mike Pustilnik for the first time since September while Kastle is of course part of the Your Move Games juggernaut. After this weekend there are only 3 events left this season where the players can earn points: Grand Prix Copenhagen, grand Prix Pittsburgh, and Worlds (in Brussels, Belgium in August).
Teams to keep an eye on this weekend include:
Team Antarctica - Jon Finkel, Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz, Daniel O'Mahoney-Schwartz. This has been one of the top teams in the game ever since the team format was introduced. Finkel's interest in Magic may have been renewed by the additional money that has been added to the Pro Tour, especially the Masters events. That could spell trouble for the rest of the world.
Pudge - Mike Turian, Scott Johns, Gary Wise. Mike Turian is undefeated lifetime in his individual matches during sanctioned Team Rochester matches. He was almost certainly the most valuable player at the first Team Pro Tour. With the disintegration of Team CMU, Turian has joined forces with two members of Mogg Squad. Can this team be the first successful team that doesn't live geographically close to each other?
Your Move Games - Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys, Rob Dougherty. Speaking of players who are excited by all the new money at stake on Tour, Darwin and Rob have been dreaming about the possibility of professional Magic players for years. Now their dream is a reality - they believe the new money is enough that a professional player could indeed make enough money to turn Magic into a viable career option.
Team Paradox - Dave Price, Gary Krakower, Matt Vienneau. These three Pro Tour regulars will be making their debut as a team this weekend.
Our Move Games - Billy Jensen, Ben Rubin, Mike Bregoli. Rubin and Jensen would rather be playing with their friend Casey McCarrel. But his suspension doesn't end until tomorrow. Bregoli is no slouch though - he has 2 Top 8's on Tour this year.
Tight Club - Bob Maher, Jr., Dave Williams, Tim McKenna.
Fungasaur - Terry Tsang, Trevor Blackwell, Jeff Fung. Ever since winning PT LA, Trevor Blackwell has begun showing up near the top of other major events. He was playing for Top 8 in the last round of PT NY and he was on the winning team at Grand Prix Nagoya. Whether or not this team does well, I'm sure they'll have fun.
The Legion - Alex Schvartsman, Zvi Mowshowitz, Mike Pustilnik.
Tighttanic - Matt Rauseo, Chris Senhouse, Brian Davis. Rauseo and Senhouse had their original third back out this week, but Pro Tour Chicago runner-up Brian Davis was on irc and available.