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Day 1 Coverage of Grand Prix Atlanta

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The letter N!ine rounds of Theros block Sealed Deck have come and gone, and at the end of Day One here at Grand Prix Atlanta, only five players remain at the top of the standings with 9-0 records.

Alex Majlaton, William "Huey" Jensen, Jon Stern, Nathan Holiday, and John Espesito lead the way with undefeated records in Sealed Pack. It's quite a list of names when it comes to Magic accomplishments. Majlaton already had six Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, and is looking to add a win to that resume instead. Jensen, a Hall of Famer and Grand Prix champion already, is looking to add another to his resume along with some valuable Pro Points in an effort to lock up a World Championship slot. Grand Prix Atlantic City Champion Jon Stern hopes that a solid Grand Prix finish will bolster his chances at Platinum, and Nathan Holiday is seeking his second Grand Prix title. Espesito rounds out the undefeated players as the sole person in this group aiming for his first Grand Prix Top 8.

Will these players propel their already stellar start with a solid performance in tomorrow's Booster Drafts, or will the Top 8 instead be filled with those that made it through on the cusp at the end of today? Join us tomorrow starting at 9AM ET/6AM PT for live coverage of Day Two of Grand Prix Atlanta!











 

  • Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists

    by Olle Råde












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  • Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – The Mega Grinder!

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter A!lthough the actual Grand Prix doesn't begin until Saturday morning, there is a lot going on in the halls the night before. Side events are running, vendors are making sales and Grand Prix hungry players are battling it out for byes in Grand Prix Trials.

    The Grand Prix here in Atlanta also saw the premier for a Mega Trial Sealed on Friday night. The event is a 5-round sealed deck tournament with the opportunity to win both byes and VIP-packages for the Grand Prix. The premier Mega Trial had an impressive 169 players, much to event manager Jason Long's delight. "169 players was far more than we expected, but the event ran great, and it looked like the players really appreciated it," he says.


    169 players entered Friday's Mega Trial for a chance at free VIP and some Grand Prix main event byes.

    Unlike a regular Grand Prix Trial, players weren't eliminated after a loss, as prizes were given out based on match wins after the swiss. Where even a 4-1 record awarded 36 packs. Zan Syed, Rick Carr, Lucas Michaels and Ross Labny put up undefeated records, earning 2 byes for the Grand Prix, free VIP-upgrades and 18 boosters each. Right below them in the standings were Grand Prix Grinder Christian Calcano and 15th ranked pro Lee Shi Tian.

    Event Manager Jason Long pointed out the fact that you aren't eliminated after a loss, and the chance to play in a large warm-up tournament for the Grand Prix were key factors in the events popularity. He also ensures the concept will be continued at coming Grand Prix.

    "We're organizing Grand Prix Chicago in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure the event will be as big, if not even bigger there," he says.




     

  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – Sealed Deck Building Exercise

    by Olle Råde

  • 1,298 players have built sealed decks here in Atlanta. That is a minimum of 7,788 rares (not counting foils), so you can count on quite a few of them having some of the strongest cards in the format. As we like to do, here's a little exercise for you people at home. This sealed pool isn't actually being played by any of the competitors today, but during the day we will have some of them give their take on how to build it. Will it be a Green/Blue tempo oriented deck with good curve and tons of bestow? Or a controllish Blue/White deck based on evasion and defensive tricks? Or is the Red and Black removal good enough that the deck can win with any given 2/1 for 2 mana?

    You try and decide, and we will post updates with solutions to the sealed puzzle from some of the most notable players in the field today.

    Fire up the Sealed Deck Builder and give it a go!


     

  • Saturday, 12:15 p.m. – Trials and Tribulations with Davin Taylor

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The letter F!or many players, including those on the Top 25 Rankings, a Grand Prix in Atlanta simply meant staying for an additional week after Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, which also took place in the peach state's capitol. For others, a few days back home, whether it was for rest or for work, was the intermission between these two events. For many, a short (or long) drive or a flight was how they'd make the trip into town for this weekend's Grand Prix.

    But for Kansas Magic player Davin Taylor, his trip was anything but easy. A road trip from his hometown of Wichita to Atlanta spans around 950 miles and is a 14 hour drive, hardly an issue for someone who was starting his road trip on a Thursday...

    ...until you factor in the dead car engine that threw a wrench into his plans. "Everything went fine until our engine seized in Alabama," he said. "The car is totaled, so the engine has to be replaced. We were stuck in Alabama for about ten hours, and we made some calls to figure out what we could do, such as friends and family. They all had the same solution – that I need to get back to Wichita so that we can take care of this."

    This was not the solution Taylor was fine with, and it was not the one he was going to take. He found someone who could help him replace his engine in Alabama, but it would not be ready until next week. "I came here to play Magic. I came here to do what I love, meet people, and just enjoy a Grand Prix. I wasn't going to let this stop me," he said.

    Taylor and his friend got a ride to a bus stop, chartering that into Atlanta and abandoning his car for the week in a state he does live in so that he could attend and enjoy this weekend's Grand Prix.


    Davin Taylor was intent on attending his third Grand Prix, so much that he was unwilling to let a silly little thing like a shot car engine stop him from making the journey.

    Taylor's car engine won't be ready to go until Wednesday, meaning that he and his friend will be taking an extended stay in Atlanta. However, it was easily worth it to him. "I'm not going to let something that's going to resolve just ruin my weekend. I'm going to come here and enjoy it," he said.

    Grand Prix Atlanta marks Taylor's third ever Grand Prix, his first being in Oklahoma City last year, when he first made the jump into the Grand Prix circuit after playing for a decade. Taylor made it on time to play in the Mega Trial that took place yesterday, where he got half a box for his record. And a solid finish in this weekend's main event would be quite a way to cap off an adventurous trip in!




     

  • Saturday, 1:00 p.m. – Hits and Misses from Journey into Nyx

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter O!ne of the most interesting things about new limited sets is how people value the cards in it. You might think that the best players figure out all the secrets in their testing for the Pro Tour. But in reality even the games best change their minds about the cards as they play more with them. Some of the cards turn out to be worse than they thought and some perform way better than suspected. We took the opportunity to ask some of the limited specialists about their hits and misses from Journey into Nyx.

    Players (column 1) and their picks for most surprising (column 2) and most disappointing (column 3) cards from Journey into Nyx in Limited:

    Jeremy Dezani Font of Fertility Feast of Dreams
    Christian Calcano Bladetusk Boar War-Wing Siren
    Valentin Mackl Hour of Need Fleetfeather Cockatrice
    David Ochoa Harness by Force Dictate of Erebos
    Patrick Dickmann Deadbringer Lampads All White cards
    Craig Wescoe Akroan Mastiff Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
    Owen Turtenwald Hour of Need Satyr Hoplite
    William Jensen Grim Guardian Feast of Dreams
    Jamie Parke Oakheart Dryads All heroic creatures


    Valentin Mackl

    Although most of the players had different answers one card stood out in particular, Hour of Need. The powerful uncommon was high on many draft orders coming into Pro Tour Journey into Nyx last weekend. Austrian pro Valentin Mackl admitted he wasn't sure exactly how powerful it was until he played against it at the Pro Tour. "I actually took a rare over Hour of Need in my first draft at the Pro Tour, but came to regret it when i lost to it," he says.

    Several players were also impressed by how good Red has turned out to be in Journey into Nyx. Christian Calcano went as far as saying he now regularly first picks Bladetusk Boar as it wins games by itself.

    When it comes to the disappointing performers from Journey into Nyx the consensus seems to be that creatures with Heroic has gotten a lot worse with one pack less of common bestow creatures and only one pack of the sought-after ordeals. The Black removal spell Feast of Dreams was ranked high last weekend, but the lesson from the Pro Tour seems to be that it's not as strong as one might think.


    Jeremy Dezani

    "First I thought it'd be a Doom Blade, but it turns out it's really not," says (2) Frenchman Jeremy Dezani.

    (24) William Jensen, another of the top ranked players here this weekend couldn't agree more. "It's a lot more situational than you think," he says.




     

  • Saturday, 2:15 p.m. – Mystery Sealed: The Pool

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The letter A!s per tradition, one of the 1298 players in the room was presented with a Sealed Pool that we had access to. While that player's deck has already been built, we are not ready to reveal it just yet. Instead, we offer you that player's Sealed pool.

    With some powerful White cards – including the devastatingly fast Fabled Hero – how tempted would you be to move into White? Can the color's other cards support its bomb? If so, how would you build it? If not, what colors draw you away from White? Let us know on Twitter!

    Fire up the Sealed Deck Builder and give it a go!


     

  • Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Sealed Deck Build Exercise with Denniz Rachid

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter S!wedish powerhouse Denniz Rachid might be known for making the top 8 at both Pro Tour Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored a few years back. But what few people know is that his combined limited record at those events was 11–1, certainly making him a limited specialist. Although he admits not getting in as much draft and sealed deck practice as he used to, it was with familiar moves he took on our exercise pool to build a deck of it.


    Denniz Rachid

    "White looks nice," was the first thing he exclaimed, looking through the pile of cards, while sorting out cards he rates as unplayable, like Fleetfeather Sandals and Evanescent Intellect.

    When he got a closer look at the colors however, it was clear that Green was the color that stood out as the strongest, containing the two rares Arbor Colossus and Scourge of Skola Vale. "The pool even has a Mischief and Mayhem, which is my friend Kenny Öberg's favorite card in the format," he said, admitting however that it might be better in draft than in sealed.

    After acknowledging Green to be as good as it was, Rachid's set his eyes on Blue. He explained how he's always looks to build Green/Blue if Green is good enough, as the colors complement each other nicely. "Good curve, along with good creatures and hopefully some bounce is what I think is the strongest archetype in sealed deck," he explained.


    The Blue looked like it was just what Rachid was looking for as it had interaction in the form of Sudden Storm and Voyage's End along with tricks like Aerial Formation and Triton Tactics to go with the creatures that fit good on curve with the Green monsters. In the end the the Swede topped off his deck with borderline cards like Pillar of War (over Breaching Hippocamp) and opting to play Crypsis over Savage Surge.

    Finally, after tinkering with the Green/Blue build, Denniz took a final glance at the other colors, seeing if he had missed anything. White didn't really have anything, Black just had a few appealing cards and Red was never really in contention. After looking at his build, the Gold Pro Level chaser sighed and explained how wished he had opened this pool for the actual Grand Prix."This is really the sort of deck I was looking for, but unfortunately my own pool isn't as strong."




     

  • Saturday, 3:35 p.m. – Quick Questions: How has Journey into Nyx changed the Sealed format?

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • No. 1 Ranked Player Reid Duke: I think the format's a little more balanced, a little slower, and a little weaker since Theros was the strongest booster. Whenever you add another set, it makes the gameplay more challenging since there's a higher number of tricks and possibilities.
    No. 2 Ranked Player Jeremy Dezani: I think White is worse now. White was the best color when you had a lot of Theros. With Journey into Nyx, it's not the best color. Now I think it's Green.
    No. 3 Ranked Player Stanislav Cifka: It's changed a lot of things. There is much less bestow so all the heroic creatures become slightly worse. Journey into Nyx has slowed things down.
    Two-time Limited Grand Prix Champion Frank Skarren: Pretty significantly. I think when it was all Theros, the format was extremely powerful. Now I think the decks are a little slower and a little clunkier, and the cheap heroic aggro decks got a lot worse.



     

  • Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – Sealed Deck Build Exercise with Frank Karsten

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter W!hile different pro players might have the same view of how a sealed deck pool should be built, they certainly have different methods of getting there. If anyone is a thorough sealed deck builder it is Dutch Hall of Famer, and recent PhD graduate Frank Karsten, who was next up to dissect the pool in our sealed deck build exercise.

    Fresh off from Pro Tour Journey into Nyx last weekend, Frank Karsten had focused mainly on drafting, but also had a good sealed deck practice at Grand Prix Warsaw the weekend before where he ended up in 38th place, adding to a resume of multiple Pro Tour and Grand Prix top 8's.


    Frank Karsten

    His first course of action was piling up all the colors with cards that stood out as particularly good in one pile, with the merely playable ones in a pile below it. A very good method to get an overview of how the colors are looking. His selection classified the best cards in each colors as following:

    "Black has the strongest card in the pool in Silence the Believers, but other than that it is not very deep. While Green is the deepest color of the pool and has several strong cards like Arbor Colossus," he summed up the sorting.

    After carefully pondering his decision the Dutchman also fell for Green/Blue.

    "At a first glance i like Green/Blue the best. It has the deepest colors, a decent curve and good tempo spells, although it might not have enough good creatures," said Karsten.


    It turned out the colors had as many as 12 spells that Frank considered playable. But an optimal build he explained has around 16 creatures and 7 spells, and he would be very hesitant to go lower than 13 creatures in any build.

    After looking over the other colors quickly he laid up the Green and Blue cards according to mana cost to get the best look of how the deck could perform, also looking for synergetic combos.

    "Guardians of Meletis for example, goes very nice with Scourge of Skola Vale, to sac it and give +6/+6. But in the end it might be better to run the Opaline Unicorn to be able to ramp into the 5-drops," he said.

    Being the analyst he is, Frank took a good look at other color combinations, even laying out a Green and Black build before making his final decision. He ruled out Green/White due to lack of interactive spells, Blue/Black due to lack of creatures and Black/White because of not enough playable cards. In the end his final decision was the Green/Blue he had initially dubbed the best build, and his deck ended up close to Denniz Rachid's build. Although Frank wasn't as enthusiastic about the decks strength.

    "I'd give it a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10," he explained. "I am not that confidant that this is the best build, but it has a serviceable creature base, a serviceable mana curve and a good mix of interactive cards and pump spells."




     

  • Round 5 Feature Match – Tom Ross vs. Conley Woods

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter T!he players barely had time to enjoy their three byes as action started here in Atlanta. Fresh off a fourth round win each, round five saw friends Tom "the boss" Ross and brewmaster Conley Woods square off for a shot at day two and the continuing hunt for Pro Points.

    "Tom and I had this thing where if one of us made top 8 the other would too, but then Tom stopped playing, and I started doing worse, but for a while we had a good thing going," Woods explained as the two shook hands before the match.


    Aggro deck aficionado Tom "the Boss" Ross

    Regarding their decks, Conley Woods had tweeted his Green/Black build as "Nothing too flashy but a solid curve and a Sylvan Caryatid". Tom Ross was on Blue/Green, with multiple Sudden Storms and a Mistcutter Hydra as his rare all-star.

    As the match fired off, it turned out it would be Conley's Caryatid who gave him the upper hand. In the first game he curved Sylvan Caryatid into Cavern Lampad and bestowed it with Spirespine for what looked like a clock almost as quick as the pace of the super fast turns the players were taking.

    Ross had to 2-for-1 himself with Time to Feed on his Chorus of the Tides to get rid of the lethal Cavern Lampard. But when Conley followed up with Vulpine Goliath and Heroes' Bane the game was quickly over in favor of the Caryatid-powered army.

    Tom Ross started off game two with a mulligan and Conley Woods, fresh from a 33rd finish at the Pro Tour last weekend once again had his trademark Sylvan Caryatid. Ross got his hopes up when Conley didn't have a turn three play, but seeing as Ross's hand was all Sudden Storms, Aspect of Hydra, Triton Tactics and no creature but a turn five Prescient Chimera, he wasn't out of the woods quite yet.

    On Woods's side of the table big beasts came in the form of Ravenous Leucrocota, Vulpine Goliath and an Eater of Hope. "I just keep putting down larger and larger things," he exclaimed, unable to hold off a laugh at his heavy curve.

    Ross did have a Sudden Storm to lock down Woods offense for a turn, while summoning a Setessan Oathsworn to get a race going. But when Woods added a Sedge Scorpion and gained six life from a Nylea's Disciple things were looking grim for the Louisianan.

    Woods added a Baleful Eidolon, beefed it up with the all too familiar Spirespine and not even a second Sudden Storm from Ross could keep him alive for a turn when Woods finished the job with an Aspect of Hydra.


    Brewmaster Conley Woods

    In the end, it turned out that Woods mana accelerant Sylvan Caryatid allowed him to get ahead in both games, and he does indeed hold it as the best card in his deck.

    "Outside of a bomb rare it's the card I most want in my deck. I have that and a Voyaging Satyr, but without those my deck would be pretty bad, " he explained after the match.

    "I actually peeled the Caryatid of the top, so I got a little lucky keeping a slow hand," he admitted before wishing his friend Tom Ross the best of luck for the rest of the weekend. Both players are looking to score a few Pro Points to continue their quest for Silver and Gold level Pro Status.

    Ross 0 – Woods 2




     

  • Saturday, 5:15 p.m. – Quick Questions: What is your color preference
    in Theros block Sealed?

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • No. 1 Ranked Player Reid Duke: I would say Black, with my second choice being White. White is probably the best color in Draft, but Sealed Deck is a little slower, so having access to the Black and removal and card advantage is definitely my preference.
    No. 2 Ranked Player Jeremy Dezani: In Sealed for sure it's Green. It's deep and has a lot of good cards.
    No. 3 Ranked Player Stanislav Cifka: I think Green is the best color in general. It was before as well.
    2013 Magic Online Championship Competitor Bruno Dias : I really enjoy Blue. Blue is the best color since it has a lot of tricks and other things you can do.



     

  • Round 7 Feature Match – Denniz Rachid vs. Jon Stern

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The letter S!wedish pro Denniz Rachid has amassed 21 Pro Points going into this weekend, but at this stage, his chances of hitting Platinum are low. While he still has a couple of Grand Prix slots that could add points to his overall total, he will need a Top 8 or better at Pro Tour Magic 2015 if he wants any shot of hitting Platinum once more.

    His opponent, Jon Stern of Canada, is also trying to make a run for Platinum. His 31 Pro Points aren't bad, but he will need a solid Pro Tour finish in Portland at the end of the season to stand a chance at that. However, a solid Grand Prix finish will put him in a better spot for hitting that coveted status.

    The Games

    Despite going first, Stern was second on board with a Reverent Hunter, following up Rachid's Spirit of the Labyrinth. Rachid had another three-power creature with Lagonna-Band Elder, as the Spirit and Hunter traded.

    However, the game quickly turned into Stern's control with a fourth-turn Courser of Kruphix, netting him an Island off the top. Ray of Dissolution took care of the Courser, but put Rachid behind a card. The Elder cracked in not once but twice, and was joined by Leonin Iconoclast after the second attack. Stern, however, had an end-of-turn Fleetfeather Cockatrice, which was joined by Chorus of the Tides after an attack. Pin to the Earth made made sure the Chorus was not a threat, allowing Rachid to keep attacks going.

    The Iconoclast was particularly troublesome, and a bestowed Nyxborn Triton allowed Rachid to dispose Stern of the enchantment creatures that soon followed. With Stern at 6 and his opponent at 18, racing was hardly an option.


    Jon Stern

    At least, that's what it seemed. An attack dropped Rachid to 15, and an upkeep Suddent Storm left Rachid's attackers locked down. Rachid deployed two creatures, hoping to take Stern out before the Cockatrice did its job. Quarry Colossus from Rachid ended that hope Stern had grasped onto, and Stern was off to the second game.

    Font of Fertility gave Stern a faster start in the second game, ramping him into a Font of Fortune to draw two cards. Snake of the Golden Grove came down on the fourth turn, while Rachid struggled to find any early action at all. Nessian Asp joined Stern, while Rachid finally got on the board with creatures significantly smaller than Stern's. Rachid had Evangel of Heliod to clog the board with some chump-blockers, but Fleetfeather Cockatrice and a bestowed Nylea's Emissary made quick work of Rachid, and the match proceeded to a third game.

    Before the third game got underway, the two were moved under the camera as a back-up match. "Good thing they moved us," Stern said. "I thought of a card I'd like to bring in." Stern took out a Divination for a card that matches up a little better against his opponent's Spirit of the Labyrinth...

    ...which ended up playing a factor, as the enchantment creature hit play on the second turn from Rachid. It earned a Pin to the Earth from Stern, and each player had different three-power flying creatures on the fourth turn: Rachid with Cloaked Siren and Stern with Chorus of the Rides. The two creatures traded, with Rachid deploying Leonin Iconoclast and Loyal Pegasus on the next turn. The Swedish pro used Launch the Fleet on the next turn, giving him three attacking tokens and dropping Stern to 15.


    Denniz Rachid

    Stern, however, was far from dead, and Arbiter of the Ideal threatened to bury Rachid if left unchecked. The first inspired trigger only netted him a land, and with Stern at 10, he was forced to hold the Arbiter back, having flooded for far too long and with Rachid's board fairly intimidating. Rachid bestowed Hopeful Eidolon on one of his soldier tokens, and after the Arbiter ate the Pegasus, Stern dropped to 6. Another attack dropped Stern to 4, Rachid's board dwindling.

    Stern, sitting with 11 lands in play, one in hand, and one on the bottom, was drowning in mana flood. Font of Fortunes gave him a chance to find action, but with Spirit of the Labyrinth suppressing how good that effect could be, Stern's options were limited. When Stern had nothing to Rachid's all-out attack on the next turn, Rachid went for Gods Willing on one of his attacking creatures that had Pin to the Earth stuck on it. Stern responded with Countermand.

    "What does that do?" asked Rachid.

    "It's crap," Stern replied. "Mill four!"Among the milled cards was Heliod, God of the Sun. The top of Rachid's deck quickly stopped cooperating after the big turn.

    Stern fell to 2 on the attack, and Rachid's attacks left him with no way to punch through. Courser of Kruphix off the Font was a shaky blocker for Stern, as Rachid had Leonin Iconoclast, but a Nessian Demolok gave him a way to halt both of Rachid's soldier tokens. Stern, needing action, attacked with his Arbiter, gambling on whether Rachid had a way to target the Iconoclast. Rachid found a Pin to the Earth of his own, which he used on his Iconoclast to take out the Courser. However, Rachid still had no way to finish off Stern.

    And with that, Stern began to climb back into the game. Arbiter netted Stern nothing on its first untap due to Font of Fertility resting on top, but that quickly changed. On the next turn, a Reverent Hunter. After that, Fleetfeather Cockatrice. And in a matter of turns, Stern's board became insurmountable in the skies. Rachid quickly found himself one attack away in the air to losing a match he had led. With no way to stop Stern's flying creatures, Rachid offered the handshake.

    Rachid 1 – Stern 2




     

  • Saturday, 8:20 p.m. – Mystery Sealed: The Deck and the Player

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • The letter E!arlier today, we posted the Sealed pool of a mystery player who is playing in this Grand Prix. You had a chance to build a deck from that Sealed Pool, as this player did. Now, take a look at the deck this player decided to sleeve up for today's nine rounds of Limited.

    Mystery Sealed
    Theros block Sealed Deck – Grand Prix Atlanta 2014


    Oh right! You may be curious who the player was that had the Sealed pool we posted from earlier. See for yourself!


    Why it was No. 1 Player Reid Duke, of course!

    No. 1 Player Reid Duke tackled that Sealed pool with the intent of playing white-blue, giving Duke access to bombs Fabled Hero and Dictate of Heliod, as well as double Ajani's Presence and more.

    "I opened six really good rares, evenly split between my two colors. White was really a no-brainer since it had two of my really good rares," Duke said, gesturing toward the Dictate and Fabled Hero. "I paired with blue because blue gave me the most solid creature base, which is really important when Dictate of Heliod is one of your bombs."

    "Basically, I find the most important thing in Sealed deck to be your creature base, and this has a good one. It has a couple of cards that are particularly good at breaking through creature stalls," Duke elaborated, referring to the two Ajani's Presence, Sudden Storm, and the flying creatures. "Even though I have to play some filler-type creatures, I really have no complaints. I think it's quite a good deck."

    Filler-type creatures was something that required a little more clarification. Which cards were the filler in Duke's deck? Specifically, the Sphinx's Disciples were one of the cards he gestured at with that comment. "A lot of people have a low opinion on Sphinx's Disciple since the draft format's really fast, and investing five mana into a 2/2 – both a fragile creature and not a real good blocker – means that it's kind of a weak card," Duke explained. "In Sealed Deck, as I was eluding to before, the board tends to stall out a lot, so even an overpriced evasion creature and overpriced card advantage is still fine. Combine that with it being good for devotion with Master of Waves, and I'm not really too disappointed to put Sphinx's Disciple in this deck in particular, even though I usually view it as a weak card."

    While Duke's main deck has some great cards, the pool did not allow the No. 1 Ranked Player much wiggle room when it comes to sideboarding. His options were slim to nil, meaning he would have to rely on the strength of his registered 40 cards if he wanted to win with white-blue.

    However, as seen in the picture above, black is another option Duke has available, so white-blue is not something he has to stick to every game. "I actually did sideboard into white-black one match," he said. "I have Doomwake Giant, a good amount of cheap removal, and a Dark Betrayal."

    "Earlier in this tournament, I faced a super aggressive white-red deck with a lot of one-toughness guys. The Doomwake Giant was going to be a bomb in that match-up, I didn't want to have the two-toughness blue creatures that weren't really good at blocking, and the removal like Viper's Kiss and Pharika's Cure was going to be really good in that match-up, so I sided into white-black for that," Duke said. "I can also do it against another black deck for Dark Betrayal if I wanted to."

    Going into the ninth and final round of the day, Duke sits at 6-2, having just dropped his second match of the deck in Round 8. How will he do? Will his white-blue deck from the Mystery Sealed pool get him through? Find out in our bubble-match round-up at the end of the day!




     

  • Saturday, 9:00 p.m. – Bubble Match Round-up

    by Olle Råde

  • The letter A!lthough the Grand Prix is running late, most players were still hungry for victory. Especially those who has to win their last match to end the day with a 7-2 record and make it to Day Two. As it turned out a lot of big names had their back against the wall as they shuffled their decks for the last time of today and battled it out.


    Reid Duke

    Dimitriy Butakov (Blue/White) vs. (1) Reid Duke (Blue/White)

    The match that got the most attention from spectators was Reid Duke, and his Blue/White deck, that was matched up against one of the Magic Online players, formed MOCS-champion Dimitriy Butakov of Russia. Butakov was also on Blue/White with a deck, as strong, if not stronger than Duke's.

    In Game one Duke had an optimal start, casting a Fabled Hero and enchanting it with Hopeful Eidolon. Butakov however, managed to hold it off with high toughness creatures, stalling the ground and taking the offense with a Prognostic Sphinx. The Sphinx was in turn enchanted with a Ghost Blade Eidolon, and the double striking flier took the game for the Russian.

    In game two, Butakov matched Duke's flying forces and was able to out tempo Duke by boosting one of them with a Supply Line Crane and casting first Retraction Helix, then Voyage's End and finally Sudden Storm to get through for lethal damage in the air.

    Dimitriy Butakov 2 - 0 Reid Duke


    Owen Turtenwald

    Minh Diep (Red/Blue) vs. (5) Owen Turtenwald (Blue/White)

    Things were looking grim for Owen Turtenwald as his opponent won the first game, and looked to be building quite a board in game two, backed up by Sea God's Revenge. Turtenwald however, managed to grind that game one and finishing the job with a Silent Sentinel. In the deciding game he got a quick start and was able to 2-for-1 his opponent with a timely Retraction Helix, sealing the deal and locking up Day Two.

    Owen Turtenwald 2 - 1 Minh Diep


    Ben Stark

    Canon Mead (Blue/Green) vs. (10) Ben Stark (Blue/Green)

    Ben Stark looked to be both out of the game and out of the day when he got stuck on two lands and a Golden Hind in game one. He looked to be back in it when he hit a few lands though, and cast a Prophet of Kruphix, only to have it stolen by his opponents Hypnotic Siren. Stark proved why he is considered one of the world's greatest limited players though, by using Triton Cavalry to repeatedly bounce the Hypnotic Siren and slowly clawing his way back in the game. In the end his opponent could only watch as Stark took down the game. Game two wasn't quite as exciting, as Stark managed to triumph the Nessian Asp stalemate by using Vortex Elemental and a whole lot of mana to return Mead's best blockers to his library while getting through with his team lead by Nessian Asp.

    Ben Stark 2 - 0 Canon Mead




     

  • Saturday, 9:05 p.m. – Day One Undefeated Decklists

    by Mike Rosenberg








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