Junior Super Series Championship
14 and under Division
Fifteen year old Rodney from Vancouver, Washington managed to qualify for the bracket just before crossing the age limit. A regular at "Eternal Elysium," Rodney playtested a Necro deck for this tournament. He got the original idea from Brian Hacker's version, then modified it adding Nausea and Persecute maindeck.
"I have had some good luck today," Rodney refers to his 4-0-2 performance on Sunday. "I drew Necropotence when I really needed it a few times." Burt qualified for this event by winning a JSS Challenge in Los Angeles.
Fourteen year old Aaron Hiemstra has traveled from California to compete in this event. He navigated a "Deadguy Red" Sligh deck to a 2nd place finish in the swiss rounds. The only significant change he introduced to the deck was adding a pair of Lightning Dragons. Hiemstra is happy with the change: "I managed to hit an opponent for fifteen points of damage in one turn today," he explained excitedly.
Hiemstra is a member of team More Games, sponsored by the store of the same name.
Thirteen year old Eric Dyke of New Hampshire's Concord Cards & Memorabilia fought his way through the Open qualifier yesterday, finishing in 23rd place - just enough to make it to the second day. He elected to play a "5 Minute Sligh" deck, named so because the deck wins or loses in that amount of time. About the only deviasion from all the other Sligh decks is the single Rathi Dragon Dyke threw in.
Nick Hartman, fourteen, is one of the two Florida residents in this top 8. A regular at "Sanctuary" game store in Jacksonville, Hartman settled on playing a mono-red land destruction deck at this tournament after qualifying in the JSS East Division.
Hartman saw a deck list for a similar deck on the Internet and modified it to fit his play style.
The only local player in this top 8, Landers is here to represent his city of Orlando and his local gaming store - Giant Comic Book Warehouse. Landers qualified for this tournament on the strength of his DCI rating and, after some playtesting, decided to play a black weenie deck with Hatred, Cursed Scrolls and Culling the Meek designed by himself and Terry Robertson.
Landers' favorite story of this tournament is being stuck at one life vs Sligh.. he drew an Urza's Bauble off the Bauble he had in play and drew a Drain Life off that Bauble, casting it for 10 and coming back to win that game.
Even better is the war story from his top 8 match, where Landers was able to Persecute four Ball Lightnings, a Viashino Cutthroat and a Goblin Lackey out of his opponent's hand.
This thirteen year old Mississippi player was able to qualify for Junior Super Series in the Open tournament held the day before.
He played a version of a Necro deck designed by Charles Kornblith - a version featuring no Corrupts at all. Winnard's best war story is actually about losing the game instead of winning it.
While playing against a combo deck he managed to play first turn double ritual, Necropotence, double Duress. He followed it up with a Rain of Tears on the second turn and still managed to lose turn three! His opponent was able to generate just enough mana with his artifacts to Fireball Winnard for 10 points of damage, after 10 life points were paid to feed Necropotence.
A fifteen year old member of Kansas City based Team Cache qualifed for the Junior Super Series via his DCI ranking and prepared for the tournament with the help of his teammates. Together they came up with the combo deck he played in the tournament.
Fifteen year old player from Nebrasca also chose Necropotence as the deck that would carry him into the top 8. He got the original idea on the Internet and tested with his friends on team Hobby Town and team LK of LK's Cards and Comics.
His only real variation of the deck was adding a Terror instead of one Diabolic Edicts. Behler says that Terror saved him in a few games where Edict would be ineffective.
Jeff Sluzinski played in the first Junior Super Series Challenge at Origins in 1997, without even knowing what the Super Series was. It took two years, but he finally got to the Top 8 of the Super Series.
Despite his young age of fifteen, Sluzinski has remained one of the top Magic players in Detroit area for about four years now, and he keeps getting better. He elected to play a Necro deck this weekend with some unusual card numbers - for example he only used three Wills and three Disks.
Having qualified on DCI rating, Sluzinski finished top 64 in the first place with a 5-0-1 record. He was very modest when commenting about this performance: "All my matches were very close, almost coin flips," Sluzinski shrugs off the accomplishment.
Sluzinski was able to continue his winning streak today, defeating a combo deck in the round of 8 and fighting his way through two grueling mirror matchups to win the title.
For his efforts this weekend Sluzinski will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
Quelle is a regular at Costa Mesa club in Los Angeles, California where he tests regularly with Sean Keady, Steve Schoers and other players. With some help from his friends this seventeen year old player designed what he feels is "the best deck in the field."
Quelle drew in the last round of the Western Division Challenge held at PTLA only to find out that his tiebreakers placed him ninth. Nine isn't a lucky number of Quelle - that is how many DCI points he was short of being invited to this event on rating. Quelle was finally able to qualify in the Open event the day before the tournament. During the last swiss round his opponent offered Quelle a draw but he would not accept a draw this time - Quelle played for the top 8 spot and won.
Quelle is the only player to make top 8 twice at the JSS. He placed 5th last year. Quelle also won the South California regionals and is now preparing for the National championship in July.
Also from Costa Mesa gaming club in California, sixteen year old Adam Prokopin playtested with Blake Quelle and chose to play his "PalinFlare" deck this weekend.
The thing Adam likes best about the deck is its ability to pull off wins in some tight situations. "I managed to beat Stompy while at one life with Winter Orb out, simply by top-decking an Ancient Tomb," Prokopin remembers one of his games.
Derek Del Rosario
A sixteen year old from Paco, Texas, Rosario qualified for this tournament on his DCI rating. He elected to play a modified version of Brian Hacker's Necro deck.
Many of Rosario's matches ended up being decided by Persecute. He was able to pull of a turn two Persecute against mono-color decks a few times but found himself on the receiving end of that play as well. Rosario actually managed to win one game where he was Persecuted on the second turn.
Sixteen year old McArthur is a veteran on the tournament scene. He managed a top 8 finish at this year's regionals, a top 8 finish in the Texas Semi-Pro Tour last year and 19th place in GP Austin.
McArthur is a member of Team Quest sponsored by the Wizards Quest store in Austin, TX. He built a version of a Necro deck he was very confident in - the deck performed very well for him during the regionals and, obviously, did not fail him in this tournament either.
Sometime in the early rounds, McArthur managed to run into a guy playing four ROP Black and still win that game. In the top 8 McArthur had a chance to face every archetype successful in this tournament - he beat a Sligh deck and a combo deck but was unable to take down another Necro deck in the finals, losting 1-3. McArthur won a total of $7500 in scholarship money.
Sixteen year old Forlanlski is a member of team Assassins based in Houston, TX and is a regular player at the Browser Game Center.
He chose to play the Necro version designed by Team Houston and Sidd Roa. His deck plays three Persecute and three Rain of Tears, greately increasing its chances of winning game one of the mirror matchup. However, this tech was unable to help Fornalski in the semi-finals against teh eventual champion Jeff Sluzinski.
Fornalski's best war story of the tournament was being able to cast a Drain Life for seventeen points of damage.
A seventeen year old player originally from France, Laurent has lived in Indiana and only recently moved down to Florida.
The only player to make top 8 with a Sligh deck, Laurent used a very aggressive Lackey Sligh version, taking a calculated risk of being very vulnerable to Engineered Plague. Laurent was especially happy with two maindeck Viashino Cutthroats - they worked out very well for him throughout the tournament.
Laurent pulled off a couple of third turn kill, thanks to his Goblin Lackeys.
A seventeen year old Ryan Carpenter is among seveal Texas players to make top 8 this weekend. He played what is perhaps the most original deck of the tournament - a Recycle/Hurkyl's Recall combo deck designed by Pat Chapin and Brian Schneider. As if the deck was not off the wall already, it sideboards a Tinker/Phyrexian Colossus combo to have an alternative way to win.
"I owe this whole weekend to Dave Williams," Carpenter says. "He told me to play Necro yesterday [in the Open qualifier] and this deck today. It worked out very well."