Day 2 Blog Archive - Grand Prix–Boston

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  • Sunday, 1:36 p.m. – Undefeated Sealed Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • With 1500 possible card pools starting out yesterday you would imagine that the five card pools to post perfect records would be filth incarnate.Tomoharu Saito had two copies each of Garruck Wildsspeaker and Serra Angel in his card pool -- and he went 7-2 -- so the 9-0 decks must have been insane. Right? Let’s take a look.

    Jonathan Pearlman
    9-0 including 2 Byes - Grand Prix Boston

    Jason Lundborg
    9-0 including 1 Bye - Grand Prix Boston


  • Round 10 Feature Match: Ben Stark vs David Irvine
    by Josh Bennett
  • David Irvine
    New York mainstay Dave Irvine managed to put together about as sick a blue-white deck as you can get without any rares. Florida’s Ben Stark (whose draft was just featured) had his work cut out for him, and knew it.

    “I’m glad you won the roll, I have no idea what I’d do.” - Ben Stark

    “Yeah me either. I guess I’ll draw.” - Dave Irvine

    Stark made the first move with Phantom Warrior, and Irvine was not holding Essence Scatter. He did have a Veteran Swordsmith, but Stark had Giant Spider to keep it at bay. Undaunted, Irvine showed a second ‘smith and offered the trade. Stark accepted. He untapped and summoned the Ant Queen. He even had the good manners not to smile.

    Irvine was on one island and played a Sage Owl, then an Elite Vanguard. Stark went into the tank, trying to decide if he should attack for five, offering a trade and playing around the possibility of another island and Mind Control. Eventually he chose to hold back, sending only the Phantom Warrior. Naturally, Irvine had both ready and brought the Queen over to his side. Stark made three ants.

    Stark played Divination and shipped it back. He chumped the Queen with an ant and stopped Wind Drake with Essence Scatter. Divination had served up Entangling Vines for the Queen, and he had Negate for Irvine’s Flashfreeze.

    Irvine wasn’t done bringing the pain, though. He tapped four for Sleep and swung for seven. Luckily, Stark had been holding Gravedigger, getting back Spider and playing it. Irvine was kept back again. He summoned a Phantom Warrior of his own to break through.

    Stark untapped and cast Ponder. He kept Digger, Spider and Expanse on the top. He swung in with his Spider and Phantom, trading the former for the Swordsmith and Elite Vanguard. He dug up the Spider and played it. Irvine made a Griffin Sentinel and held back. Stark swung in again, and this time Phantom Warrior took down Gravedigger. Stark played another Spider.

    Irvine was getting low, but he turned things around quickly with a second Mind Control, this time on Phantom Warrior. Stark could knock him to three, but no further.

    “You have double Mind Control? Sick life.” - Osyp Lebedowicz

    Irvine 1 - Stark 0

    Ben Stark
    “I agree with your choice. I will draw.” - Ben Stark

    Counterspells from both sides kept Wind Drake and Giant Spider off the board. Palace Guard got to stick, though, as did Gravedigger, returning the Spider. They further built their defences with White Knight and Horned Turtle one one side and the reborn Spider on the other. Stark looked to break through with Craw Wurm. Irvine had one of his Mind Controls, but Naturalize took care of that nonsense.

    Irvine built his side with Phantom Warrior and Veteran Swordsmith, who teamed up with the Turtle to dispatch the Craw Wurm. Divination found Stark Entangling Vines for the Phantom Warrior. Irvine played Sage Owl and saw three lands and Ponder. Stark got back his Wurm with a second Digger, while Irvine Pondered away his lands.

    Down came the Wurm. Irvine played a second Phantom Warrior and hoped to catch the Wurm with Glorious Charge, but Stark had Negate. Irvine let the Wurm through. Stark had a Phantom Warrior of his own, but that was quickly stolen with the second Mind Control. Sage Owl dove in front of the Wurm while the two Warriors worked over Stark’s life total. Stark had a second Negate for Armored Ascension, but was fading fast. He continued to swing, and Irvine chose to let himself fall to three, banking on his Palace Guard for protection.

    Stark’s one out was Unsummon to steal the win. He peeked at his top card, then scooped up his cards.

    Dave Irvine defeats Ben Stark 2-0


  • Round 11 Feature Match: Melissa de Tora vs. Jamie Parke
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Depending on who you talk to about drafting black in M10 you will get very different stories. Some players will tell you that black is pretty much terrible and a trap while others, including US National Team member Adam Yurchick will tell you it is the only color. Certainly, if you can be the only black drafter at your table the color offers some pretty powerful rewards for playing only -- or mostly -- Swamps. Jamie Parke’s first draft on the weekend was an example of this as he was monoblack with Hypnotic Specter and multiple copies of Consume Spirit. Melissa De Tora, who was sitting top Jamie’s direct right during the draft, started out attempting to draft black but moved in on green after about three picks although she still had black as her support color.

    Game 1

    Melissa de Tora
    Melissa kicked off the action with Centaur Courser and it was followed by a Kelinore Bat for Jamie. Assassinate took out the Courser but the Bat had to stay home since Melissa locked up the ground and air with Giant Spider. Melissa decided the best defense was offense and attacked with the Spider and played Vampire Aristocrat. Jamie swung back with the Bat and cast Sign in Blood for two cards. An Aristocrat for Jamie hit the table. Melissa found a fifth land with Borderland Ranger and attacked with her Aristocrat. Jamie blocked with Aristocrat. Melissa ate her Ranger. Jamie ate his flier and they traded. Melissa Signed in Blood.

    Jamie replenished his army with Hypnotic Specter and Dread Warlock but he dumped the rest of his hand to Melissa’s Mind Shatter which hit his Assassinate, another Warlock, and Whispersilk Cloak. He could only attack for two with Warlock. Melissa played Craw Wurm. Jamie tried to scratch his way back with Sign in Blood. He played Duress and saw a hand with Rampant Growth, Entangling Vines, Mind Rot, and another Aristocrat -- he took the Vines. Jamie double teamed the Craw Wurm but Melissa brought it back for another round with Gravedigger. Looming Shade is a compelling reason to be the black mage and it looked good for Jamie when he passed the turn back to Melissa with a Shade and a whole lot of untapped Swamps. Howl of the Night Pack for four wolves was enough for Melissa to get around Jamie’s Shade.

    Mind Shatter was insane,” groaned Jamie. “I was going to get the Cloak on the Hippy.”

    Game 2

    Jamie went straight to a turn three Hypnotic Specter but Melissa had just what she needed to hold it at bay -- the under-appreciated Deadly Recluse. On turn four Jamie had to decide if he wanted to Sign for a fourth land or play one of his three drops. He decided to wait a turn on the land and summoned a Dread Warlock. Melissa played one of her own. Jamie swung his in and they traded. He drew his fourth land but Signed in Blood first -- he drew Deathmark and played Swamp and a second Sign in Blood.

    “You have seven cards?” asked Melissa who played Borderland Ranger. Jamie untapped to Deathmark the spider and attacked with the Specter, hitting a Naturalize. Again he had to choose between improving his hand or his board. He decided to Tutor for Tendrils of Corruption and hope Melissa did not have Mind Shatter for four waiting in the wings. She attacked with her modest army and then played Mold Adder and locked up the Hypnotic in Entangling Vines. Jamie began deploying his hand and dropped Aristocrat and Looming Shade generously giving two counters to Melissa for the Adder. Melissa played Sign in Blood and attacked with Borderland and Adder. Jamie blocked the Ranger with his Aristocrat and traded -- perhaps forgetting about the locked up Specter available for sacrifice. He attacked for five with his Shade and Assassinated the Adder. Melissa’s Mind Rot hit two Swamps that Jamie had been saving for exactly this rainy day. He attacked for eight with Shade after Duressing to see only a Giant Growth in hand.

    Game 3

    Deadly Recluse led off the action for Melissa with a Aristocrat to follow. Once again Jamie had Hypnotic but this time it actually got to do some work. Consume Spirit took out the Recluse and and hit Mind Rot in Melissa’s hand. She crack backed for four but had no play. Hypnotic took a Forest out of four cards remaining and Jamie played an Aristocrat. The two players traded ground creatures for the rest of the game while the Specter dismantled her hand. By the time Melissa drew Giant Spider Jamie had the Tendrils to take it out and Consume Spirit finished off what the Specter could not eat.

    Final result: Jamie Parke won 2-1 over Melissa

    Jamie Parke
    Draft One - Grand Prix Boston


  • Draft 1: Ben Stark
    by Josh Bennett
  • Floridian greybeard gravytrainer Ben Stark isn’t exactly a household name, but among pros he’s known as one of the game’s best. After a smooth 9-0 Day 1, he sat down at the top table to determine his fate.

    Stark’s path was pretty well set with his first few picks. First Air Elemental out of an otherwise unexciting pack, then Giant Spider when the only other contenders were Sparkmage Apprentice, Gravedigger and Horned Turtle. He followed up with Wind Drake, Essence Scatter (over Craw Wurm), then another Spider. He snagged another Scatter and a Naturalize, but was uninterested in taking Sage Owl or Fog, leaving them behind for Griffin Sentinel and Mind Rot. The one bright spot was a late Ponder.

    So going into pack two he was a little lean on playables. As if to compensate, his first pack showed him an Ant Queen. Next came a Merfolk Looter (Over Snapping Drake and Oakenform), but then the cards seriously dried up. He took Gravedigger in a pack whose on-color possibilities were Ice Cage, Fog, Ponder and Zephyr Sprite, then turned down Coral Merfolk and Runeclaw Bear for Terramorphic Expanse. His fifth pick was a Flashfreeze. He did manage to collect a Negate and a Ponder, but he was getting long on cards he had no interest in playing.

    His third pack had Phantom Warrior, Gorgon Flail, Unsummon and Deadly Recluse, and Stark almost went for the Warrior, but audibled to the Recluse at the last minute. He snatched up a second Gravedigger and a replacement Phantom Warrior, then faced another agonizing choice: Oakenform or Prized Unicorn. He went to time before settling on Unicorn. Finally his patience was rewarded as he scored a full ten playables out of his pack.

    Surveying his card pool afterwards, Stark was less than thrilled. “Most people are getting to cut cards at this point. I’m just struggling to fit cards in.” He continued his monologue as he put the pieces together.

    “I guess I have to play this guy [Prized Unicorn]. He’s like Sleep, except it’s only one turn instead of two, and he dies to Shock.”

    “I’m so glad I took the Recluse. I really needed the two-drop.”

    Eventually he finished. He wound up with something playable, but far from great.

    “It would’ve been hard for me to move away from blue-green. I think Giant Spider is the best green common. If I opened a pack of fifteen green cards, and they were all common, I would take Giant Spider. But I saw those diggers and knew I’d be splashing black, it just depended on what fixers I could get. Ideally this deck would have a Borderland Ranger, a Rampant Growth, a Doom Blade, then I’d be pretty happy.”

    Ben Stark
    Draft One - Grand Prix Boston


  • Round 12 Feature Match: Michael Jacob vs Josh Ravitz
    by Josh Bennett
  • “My deck’s pretty bad. This hand is pretty bad. I’ll keep.” - Michael Jacob

    The first game started out in Ravitz’s favor. He had Kelinor Bat and Centaur Courser to start the beats past Jacob’s Borderland Ranger (fetching his fourth color, naturally), and then a Doom Blade for Lightning Elemental. Jacob’s Berserkers of Blood Ridge stalled the ground temporarily. Ravitz tapped three for a Mind Rot that caught Solemn Offering and Borderland Ranger.

    Jacob swung in with both his creatures, losing the Ranger to the Centaur, but then wiped the board with Pyroclasm, leaving his 4/4 as the lone presence. Ravitz calmly untapped and played Howl of the Night Pack, netting himself five 2/2’s. Two of them traded for the Berserkers, and Jacob still had some cards in hand, but Ravitz showed him a second one, this time for six more. That was enough to send them to Game 2.

    Ravitz 1 - Jacob 0

    “You like the equipment in this format?” - Josh Ravitz

    “Yeah.” - Michael Jacob

    “You passed me Whispersilk Cloak.” - Josh Ravitz

    “Well not that. That’s poop soup.” - Michael Jacob

    Both players led with three forests, but only Jacob had a play: Borderland Ranger fetching Plains. Ravitz played a fourth-turn Llanowar Elves (“Right on time.”) and took two. Jacob added the Emerald Oryx to his team. Ravitz outclassed it with a Craw Wurm, but Jacob had Pacifism at the ready.

    He also played a second Ranger, this time getting a swamp. Ravitz freed his Wurm with Acidic Slime and bashed in for six. Jacob held back and traded his two Rangers for the big monster on the next attack. Ravitz upped the ante with Howl of the Night pack for six wolves.

    Jacob calmly played the mountain off the top of his deck and wiped Ravitz’s board, the Oryx sending him closer to death. Ravitz had the second Howl, but Jacob came right back with one of his own for five. Unable to stop the Oryx, Ravitz packed up his cards.

    Ravitz 1 - Jacob 1

    Game 3 started off with a whimper when Ravitz’s deck refused to cooperate and send him down to five on the play. He had a turn-two Rampant Growth but couldn’t get beyond three land, playing only a Kelinore Bat. Jacob had Blinding Mage, which fell to Doom Blade, but stuck a Stone Giant and Borderland Ranger. Ravitz maintained a steady frown.

    Jacob Pacified the now-defensive Bat and swung in. Naturalize let the Bat trade with the Ranger. Jacob just replaced it with Centaur Courser, then Giant Spider. Ravitz drew a Deadly Recluse that ate the Giant, but was already at four. In an ironic twist, the last play of the game was Jacob’s Howl of the Night Pack, getting just one wolf.

    Michael Jacob defeats Josh Ravitz 2-0


  • Round 13 Feature Match: Josh Wludyka vs. Owen Turtenwald
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • As these two good friends sat down to play they had a laugh at the Head Judge’s attempts at pronouncing Josh’s last name. The trick is that the “W” is silent but most people try to pronounce it. The resulting pronunciation this round was something that sounded vaguely like “Woolly Thoctar”. Josh has become pretty much immune to any accidental mangling of his name after a lifetime of deliberate ones.

    “It was pretty brutal in school,” admitted the Michigan native who is still waiting on his first notable Top 8 finish. His opponent was looking to secure his second career Top 8 at the GP level but was not terribly excited about his chances of closing strong with what had apparently been a draft that featured some not ready for prime time players in his starting 40.

    Game 1

    Josh Wludyka
    Owen came roaring out of the gate with Raging Goblin. “Wow,” marveled Josh who played Drudge Skeleton -- the natural predator of Raging Goblins. “You are not kidding around.”

    Without mana to regenerate the Drudge Skeletons, Josh let the Goblin get in again. Owen played Seismic Strike to take out the black creature. Josh passed the next turn with no third land. Owen followed up with his first white source and an Elite Vanguard, which died to Consume Spirit a turn later but was replaced by Stormfront Pegasus and Veteran Swordsmith. Josh took out the tapped Pegasus with Assassinate and Owen played Blinding Mage. Josh gave him a Snapping Drake to play with and it looked like he would climb right back into the game when he used Diabolic Tutor for Tendrils but Owen had Lava Axe for the balance of Josh’s life total.

    “I am going to have the sickest bad beat story...” groaned Josh about losing to Raging Goblin.

    “That guy got in for nine that game,” laughed Owen.

    “This reminds me of the random games we play at 3am on MTGO -- Jhoira, Mormir,” said Josh.

    Owen did not have great expectations for his deck coming out of the draft and was going to be happy coming away with a good story to lord over his friend.

    “I am pretty comfortable losing after getting that one in the bank.”

    Game 2

    No Goblin for Owen this game as he played two Plains with no action on the opening turns.

    “Should have mulliganed,” joked Owen about his lack of plays on the first turn.

    “Oh, wow,” deadpanned Josh when the turn was handed back to him with no turn two play.

    “That can’t possibly be sincere,” said Owen who untapped to play Viashino Spearhunter. Josh played Warpath Ghoul and then a turn later an Illusionary Servant.

    “I am going so deep,” slow-rolled Owen as he came up with Holy Strength to kill the flier. He followed up with Veteran Swordsmith and then played Lava Axe. Josh could only play a Couple of Drudge Skeletons, Phantom Warrior, and Wall of Frost.

    “Two cards in hand?” double checked Owen as he played Armored Ascension for +7/+7 on the Swordsmith. Josh had Assassinate for the flier but he was behind in the race was at 10 -1. Josh dug for cards with Mind Spring and came up with Illusionary Servant.

    “Sparkmage?” asked Josh but all Owen played was a Stormfront Pegasus, which would be lethal if he could target the Illusionary Servant.

    Owen showed his opponent Panic Attack.

    “You can’t tell me you are the unluckiest person in the world anymore,” laughed Josh as he packed up his cards.

    “Yeah,” beamed Owen. “That is the last time I will say it.”

    Final result: Owen won 2 -0 over Josh Wludyka.

    Josh Wludyka
    Draft Two - Grand Prix Boston


  • Sunday, 3:05p.m. - The Worst That Could Happen
    by Josh Bennett
  • Imagine you’re on a cross-country road trip with some fellow mages. Given that you have to get from Wisconsin to Boston, you have wisely decided to catch up on your sleep in the back of the van. In the middle of the night, somewhere east of God-Knows-Where, you wake up to find your vehicle is making a pit stop. You get out to stock up on snacks.

    Now imagine that you are the driver of the van and it is three hours later. Your phone rings. You ask one of your car-mates to check the back seat.

    Just add Michael Cera and Ellen Page and you’ve got yourself another can’t-miss feel-good nerdcore blockbuster. Instead we have Sam Black, Brad Nelson, Misha Gurevich and Jared Pierce, this last standing in the moonlight, confused at his sudden lack of transportation. He checks his pockets. His celphone is in the van. He has no contact information for his erstwhile companions.

    He also had no change. Preying on the sympathies of passers-by (and armed with a whopper of a story) he collected enough change to call information, who were truly sorry that they couldn’t help him get an out-of-state number. They gave him the number of the interstate information line, but cannot remember the area code of his recently-moved mother. He settled for his grandmother’s number, and got her to call his Mom with the number of the booth he was staying in.

    Now it was a simple matter of guiding his mother through the labyrinth of facebook to get the phone numbers he needed. Total time on the whole process was just under three hours. Then, after a suitably awkward phonecall to the Black Van and another three hour wait, he was back on the road to Boston.

    Said carmate Brad Nelson “He’d been snoring the whole way, too. You’d think we would have noticed.”


  • Sunday, 3:25p.m. - What’s Worse Than Losing?
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • One of many very cool public events going on this weekend at Grand Prix Boston was a raffle drawing for an M10 draft for a first prize Black Lotus. Other prizes in the draft included a Mox Ruby, foil M10 sets, and packs of Portal Three Kingdoms. As they were calling out the names of the raffle winners, New Yorker, and DraftCap programmer, Mark Schmit was crestfallen to hear his name called. Still playing in the main event Mark was saddled with three losses. He was pretty sure he was going to pick up his fourth loss and knew that even if he pulled it out he was out of Top 8 contention. At the same time he also knew that if he managed to somehow win he could possibly qualify for Austin if he managed to make the Top 16. Mark had to pass his ticket off to his friend Kevin An and hunker down for his best possible finish.

    Sure enough he picked up his fourth loss just past the time where he could have reclaimed his ticket and got top public events just in time to watch Kevin draft in his stead from along the rail.


  • Round 14 Feature Match: Jamie Parke vs Seth Spinner
    by Josh Bennett
  • Spinner got on the board with Blinding Mage, but had no play on three mana. Parke made a Fiery Hellhound, answered by a Razorfoot Griffin. Parke played Divination and a fourth land, holding the full seven.

    Spinner continued to exert pressure with Siege Mastodon and then another Blinding Mage. Parke had Wall of Fire and Air Elemental, but couldn’t get out from under the tappers. Serra Angel further complicated matters.

    Parke played Jace and dug for answers, finding only Prodigal Pyromancer. Spinner shut down the Wall and swung in with Mastodon, Angel and Griffin. Parke looked at his options, hated all of them, and pushed Air Elemental in front of the Angel. Spinner showed him the Harm’s Way.

    Spinner confirmed with a judge that if he had Harm’s Way redirect damage from the Air Elemental to Parke, he wouldn’t be able to then have that damage hit Jace, since the source of the damage was controlled by Parke. He settled for killing the pinger.

    Parke pulled up a Seismic Strike for the Angel and played a Fiery Hellhound, but still couldn’t answer the tappers. He held on as long as he could, digging for answers with Jace and Divination, but none came.

    Spinner 1 - Parke 0

    Parke mulliganed to six and kept a one-island hand with Pyroclasm. On his third draw he hit the mountain he needed. Spinner’s hand was sluggish, with his first play coming on turn four, a Razorfoot Griffin. Parke’s Unsummon played Time Warp, and he finally got a third land for his Pyromancer.

    Spinner served for two and played Elite Vanguard, and offed the Pyromancer with Sparkmage. Parke continued to play it patient, adding Stone Giant to his board. It paid off when Spinner Excommunicated the Giant and played Blinding Mage after attacking. Pyroclasm’s 4-for-1 got a gasp from the crowd.

    Unfortunately for Parke, Spinner had no shortage of gas. His next two plays were Berserkers of Blood Ridge (outclassing the replayed Stone Giant) and Serra Angel. Parke hit for three with his Giant and played Seismic Strike for three on the Angel. Spinner jumped the gun with Harm’s Way to the dome, rather than waiting for the Sparkmage he knew was coming and clearing off the chump blocker.

    It didn’t much matter. Even with another Seismic Strike, this time for the full four, Parke’s life total was dwindling. Divine Verdict stopped the Giant from causing any trouble and Parke extended the hand.

    Seth Spinner defeats Jamie Parke 2-0


  • Round Fifteen Round-Up
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • David Irvine vs. Ben Stark

    David Irvine
    At this point late in the tournament these two players were the last two names standing from the top tables full of breakout players, relative unknowns, and PTQ veterans. Only one of them would advance to the Top 8. Ben Stark had a pretty good idea of who that would be.

    “I don’t think i have ever lost to someone twice in one tournament,” mused Ben as he shuffled up for what would be the final round for one of these two players. He had lost to David earlier in the event. I had misheard him though and asked if he had said that he had never lost playing for Top 8. He repeated what he had already said to clarify but added: “I don’t know if I have ever lost to someone while playing for Top 8... Actually I think I did playing for Top 8 in Detroit when I was 15.”

    Ben Stark
    Ben came out strong in both games the two Floridian Magic players had this round and his Dragon Whelp went the distance keeping Ben’s record playing for Top 8 while of voting age intact.

    Brian Lynch vs. Anthony Shaheen

    Brian Lynch
    “You know we are going to be talking about this for a long time,” said Brian Lynch to Anthony as they prepared to play for a lot more than just a Top 8 berth. The two players are regulars have a weekly Cube Draft where bragging rights have tremendous value. “I can’t lose this match -- I don’t even care about the Top 8. This is going to be epic.”

    “I got nothing. A whole lot of nothing. I have a couple of Pro Points but that’s about it,” said YMG veteran Anthony Shaheen. Anthony has done his share of winning playing other card games and he pleaded with his hand to be what he needed to have his good fortune carry over to Magic. “Be good. All of you be good.”

    Lynch got a lot of green fat rumbling into the red zone in Game 1 and Shaheen could not find a profitable way to use his Safe Passage other than as a straight up fog. It looked like Anthony was going to stabilize at 1 but Lynch had Sparkmage Apprentice to put a bow on the first game. In the second game, after Excommunicating Lynch’s awakened Forest, Shaheen got Oakenform on his Stormfront Pegasus and was able to ride that to victory.

    Both players include Rookie of the Year leader Brian Robinson amongst their friends and play regularlly with the Kyoto Top 8 competitor. The last the time they played Anthony declared that he was going to win this event which prompted Robinson to vow: “If you win the GP I am going to outright quit Magic.”

    Anthony Shaheen
    “I am going to save the B-Man,” assured Lynch.

    “Whoever the second place guy in the RoY race is, he had better be rooting for me,” laughed Shaheen.

    In the end, Robinson’s Rookie of the Year campaign was safe and Brian Lynch advanced to the first individual Grand Prix Top 8 of his career.

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