Sunday, 10:10 a.m. – Quick Question: Favorite Guild in Booster Draft
by Tobi Henke
Which rare or mythic from Gatecrash would you most want to have in your next sealed pool?
Elias Watsfeldt: Orzhov. I really like extort, it's so powerful.
Denniz Rachid: Gruul or Boros, any red-based aggro basically, probably Gruul. I'm staying away from black. It has a number of nice early picks but not the depth, so more people end up drafting black than should.
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: Hm. I like Orzhov, Gruul, and Boros equally. Not a very helpful answer, is it? But it's true!
Raphaël Lévy: Anything with black. Dimir or Orzhov, I don't care.
Round 11 Feature Match – Tom Reeve vs. Elie Pichon
by David Sutcliffe
Englishman Tom Reeve had delivered a devastating performance on the first day of Grand Prix London, battling from no byes to an impressive 9-1 record and proving his mastery of Gatecrash. After what he described as "not enough sleep" he had returned early on Sunday for the draft portion, hoping to pick up where he had left off. His first opponent would prove stern opposition, though, as he was facing the flair of Elie Pichon.
Pichon's aggressive Boros deck roared out of the gates with a quick flurry of creatures – Foundry-Street Denizen, Legion Loyalist, an Assault Griffin and Trueshot Cyclops, but across the table Englishman Tom Reeve was waiting with a band of Orzhov defenders: Gutter Skulk and a pair of Kingpin's Pets. That gave Pichon pause for thought, and the Frenchman chose not to trade his attackers, instead nibbling away with the dispensible Foundry-Street Denizen, before teaching his Legion Loyalist some Madcap Skills.
The Madcap Skills made blocking unpleasant for Reeve and the Englishman took a big hit right on the chin, dropping to 3 life and the brink of defeat. He had a Grisly Spectacle ready for the Legion loyalist on the next turn, but Pichon had already redoubled his offense with an Ember Beast and Ordruun Veteran.
Reeve's back was against the wall but he found an powerful ally in the form of an Ogre Slumlord, whose ability to generate 1/1 Deathtouch rat tokens put up an effective barrier against Pichon's rush, leaving the Frenchman to flail away with a Razortip Whip as his only means of dealing damage. With the immediate threat blunted, Reeve was even able to launch his own limited offense – sending a lone Kingin's Pet to bother Pichon – while reserving the rest of his mana to use Extort and rebuild his lifetotal.
Slowly, the lifetotals swung back towards parity, from 15-3 to 8-6, as the extortionate Orzhov did their dirty work behind the scenes. Pichon had an endless supply of creatures – Wojek Halberdiers, Bomber Corps and Armored Transport joined the fray – but no way of punching through Reeve's rodent defense. Building for one final assault, the Frenchman waited one crucial turn too long and allowed Reeve to draw Holy Mantle. Playing his aura with triple Extort, Reeve left Pichon on 5 life and facing a 5/5 Ogre Sluomlord he couldn't block. Game over!
Tom Reeve 1 – 0 Elie Pichon
The second game began with the typical Boros rush of... oh, nothing. Pichon spent his first three turns uncharacteristically laying nothing but land, making a Scorchwalker his first play by which time Reeve had already erected a Corpse Blockade as suitable defense.
"This isn't how it's supposed to work" Pichon apologised, adding a Towering Thunderfist to his team.
"That's ok, I'm not supposed to be doing this either!" Reeve replied, passing the turn to hide behind his Corpse Blockade before Smiting down both of Pichon's creatures one-by-one as they attacked.
Pichon turned to an Ordruun Veteran but the Corpse Blockade stood firm, and it took an Angelic Skirmisher to finally force Reeve to pick up his pen and register a change in life total, although a third Smite took the Skirmisher down on her next pass, when a Kingpin's Pet intervened! The Skirmisher had handed Pichon's creatures Lifelink, boosting the Frenchman to a whopping 37 life before she died, but as the pressure was on Pichon to win these games he had to be more interested in Reeve's lifetotal than his own.
Elie Pichon finally found his weenie rush, throwing down a Burning-Tree Emissary, Assault Griffin and Bomber Corps in quick succession, but across the table Tom Reeve had rediscovered his Ogre Slumlord, and was looking unmoved.
Pichon had to act, and the only option at his disposal was to plough forward as quickly as he could and after a pause for thought he went all-in on the red zone, playing a Hellraiser Goblin and Legion Loyalist and swinging hard at Reeve's face. The Brit blocked frantically, dropping to just 2 life, but as the dead bodies were cleared away it handed Reeve a bonus in the form of four 1/1 Rat tokens from the Slumlord – his lifetotal was critically, but Reeve seemed more in control of the board than ever before!
A Holy Mantle provided an opportunity for Extort, as did a Prismatic Prism and Assemble the Legion on the next turn and Reeve's lifetotal crept gradually upward, while Pichon was left to chew on the unblockable Ogre Slumlord/Holy Mantle combination, sending his lifetotal into freefall.
Pichon was ultimately caught out by the one-dimensional nature of his deck, which had all the creatures he could want but nothing in the way of removal or reach to help his deal those last few points of damage. The Ogre Slumlord was a one-card spoiler to Pichon's entire plan, making attacking painful and counterproductive and blocking impossible. The Frenchman kicked and struggled on the line, but was eventually and inevitably reeled in by the endless tokens from Ogre Slumlord and Assemble the Legion.
Tom Reeve 2 – 0 Elie Pichon
Sunday, 11:33 a.m. – Gatecrash Drafting: Raphaël Lévy
by David Sutcliffe
Toward the end of yesterday we caught Raphaël Lévy in feature match action, the veteran French star carving though the unfortunate Gregor Strubelj with his powerful Dimir deck. Lévy had gone on to suffer only a single defeat in the first day and was securely seated in the top draft pod at the start of Sunday, just one win behind the leaders.
Lévy had already proven his ability to gain a head start in a new sealed format, and now we had the opportunity to watch his draft skills. Lévy was stated fan of the Dimir guild – would he get his wish in the draft and be left alone to pick up blue and black cards?
Syndic of Tithes
Daring Skyjek > Executioner's Swing
Death's Approach > Orzhov Keyrune, Holy Mantle, Sepulchural Primordial
Those made for four strong early picks, but I was interested to know why Lévy had steered clear of Holy Mantle, a card many players would pick highly.
"I don't like Holy Mantle, and I love Death's Approach. The thing with Holy Mantle is that in Orzhov it's not exactly your plan – you want to be killing creatures - and I wasn't going Boros because I already had the Grisly Spectacle"
Court Street Denizen > Bomber Corps
When the Bomber Corps appeared in his booster I saw Lévy hesitate before taking the Court Street Denizen. With the Bomber Corps appearing after Holy Mantle, was that a signal that Boros was open after all? With Scorchwalker in the next booster it seemed like Boros might be there, but the red quickly disappeared and Lévy ultimately regretted his brief Boros experiment as they proved to be wasted picks.
Sage's Row Denizen
That had proven to be a frustrating booster for Lévy, with a solid Orzhov start quickly leading into a confused dabble with Boros, and little playable from the tail end of the booster. With no good blue cards coming his way the door to Dimir seemed firmly closed and Lévy would be hoping to open something powerful in his second booster...
Thrull Parasite > Daring Skyjek
Smite > Deathcult Rogue, Truefire Paladin
Court Street Denizen
Basilica Guards > Syndicate Enforcer, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
Prophetic Prism > Dinrova Horror, Boros Guildgate, Midnight Recovery
Those picks were all on-color for Lévy's Orzhov strategy, but Thrull Parasite and Smite are nobody's idea of strong opening picks. More importantly, the appearance of Lazav, Dimir Mastermind and Dinrova Horror seemed to suggest that Dimir was going undrafted on the table. That was a message that Lévy quickly picked up on, and he moved to take advantage of the better blue cards still circling the table...
Way of the Thief
Eight blue picks in eight cards meant that Lévy left the second booster with more blue cards than white cards in his Orzhov deck! The entirety of the second booster had been underwhelming, and it wasn't clear if Keymaster Rogue and Mindeye Drake were really any better for Lévy than Court Street Denizen and Basilica Guards. Dimir or Orzhov? Lévy was not convincingly in either guild, and the matter seemed likely to be settled in the third booster.
In two cards, Lévy had been handed a convincing win condition – a Mind Grind, and a Crypt Ghast to ensure that his Swamps would be able to power the Grind to victory! But if that suggested Lévy was now all-in on Dimir the next few picks would paint a different picture
Smite > Gutter Skulk, Millenial Gargoyle, Paraniod Delusions
Cartel Aristocrat > Smog Elemental
Arrows of Justice
From a Dimir win condition to a couple of white removal spells, Lévy bounced back into Orzhov. Was the plan to play Orzhov with a splash for the Mind Grind?
Wight of Precinct Six > Psychic Strike, Bane Alley Broker
In three picks, Lévy received a frustrating boost to his deck – a second Mind Grind and Duskmantle Guildmage made the millstone plan that much stronger, but in the final booster there were three cards that would have been perfect in his deck! Unfortunately, sheer dumb luck had seen all three cards put into the same booster, and Lévy would only have his pick of one of them.
The third booster quickly turned out to be unexciting, with only a Clinging Anemones threatening to make the cut, and Lévy was left unhappily shaking his head as he began building a 40 card deck from his pool.
"It's pretty bad... I'm not attacking, I'm not blocking. I just mill with Mind Grind."
That was Lévy's first reaction as he looked at the cards in front of him - a deck that seemed to be split pretty evenly between Orzhov and Dimir, but without the mana support to make playing three colors reliable.
"Maybe this is a plan instead – I take out my White, because it's not exactly great", Lévy muttered to himself, excising Syndic of Tithes and Basilica Guards from his deck, "then I play Keymaster Rogue and Paranoid Delusions instead. Maybe keep the Smites and Arrows of Justice, just the white removal. I'm not sure about the Delusions, although I have Keymaster Rogue, so maybe I keep that out. But this way I don't have to play so many Plains, and it's probably just better".
Surveying his new mostly-Dimir deck Lévy still didn't like what he saw, and the white Extort creatures were quickly back in hand.
"Like, if i play Syndic and Basilica Guards... am I going to be able to cast them fast enough? Probably not. But Rogues and Last Thought is a win condition too, of a sort. But then if I go blue I have four cards that don't do anything – Last Thoughts, Delusions and the Mind Grind. But then if I have white I just don't think the creatures will do anything either. In my deck, with my mana, these guys just aren't two drops and three drops... I'm pretty sure I'm better off without them."
It had been a tough draft for Raphaël Lévy, battered from Orzhov to Boros in the first booster before swinging back through Orzhov on his way to Dimir in the final booster, and the build had not been smooth either, caught between being tempted by two different half-realised strategies.
The French pro finally settled on the millstone plan, maindecking his Paranoid Delusions alongside a mill suite that included a pair of Duskmantle Guildmage, a Sage's Row Denizen, double Grisly Spectacle and two blowout Mind Grinds. If Lévy could hang around in a fight he certainly had the millstone power to win games. IF he could hang around in a fight...
Round 12 Feature Match – Pierre Pigeon vs. Fabrizio Anteri
by Tobi Henke
Going into this round, these were the last two undefeated players. Both had gone 11-0 so far, but only one of them would remain on this path. Pigeon had drafted an aggressive Boros deck, while Anteri was on Gruul.
Pigeon started on double mulligan, but fast nevertheless, with Wojek Halberdiers on turn two. The 3/2 was immediately killed off by Anteri's Ground Assault and a Slaughterhorn followed. Pigeon had Zarichi Tiger and Mugging for Slaughterhorn, Anteri had Scab-Clan Charger and Greenside Watcher as replacements.
Gradually, Pigeon's mulligan's started to show effect. He dropped land after land, whereas Anteri continued to cast creatures, first Ripscale Predator, then Ivy Lane Denizen. In fact, Pigeon only made one more spell for the remainder of the game: Daring Skyjek.
With Hellraiser Goblin and Act of Treason, Anteri soon took the game.
Pierre Pigeon 0-1 Fabrizio Anteri
No mulligans this time, and both players started with two-drops: Syndic of Tithes for Pigeon, Greenside Watcher (off Simic Guildgate) for Anteri. Pigeon added Blind Obedience to his side of the table, but, with one Plains, two Mountains, couldn't extort, and wasn't looking to do much extorting in the future either. Greenside Watcher accelerated into a turn-three Ivy Lane Denizen, while Pigeon made a Skinbrand Goblin.
Anteri summoned a 4/3 Slaughterhorn, thanks to the Ivy Lane Denizen which then died to Smite. Next, he attacked with Greenside Watcher and Slaughterhorn. A surprise Beckon Apparition threatened to take down the 2/1, but Skinbrand Goblin bloodrushed to the rescue. Pigeon, still stuck on three lands, made a Daring Skyjek and got in for some damage of his own. Anteri's Slaughterhorn returned the favor, then he cast Verdant Harvest and Skarrg Guildmage.
A land, animated via Skarrg Guildmage, and the 4/3 Slaughterhorn attacked. The latter was blocked with Daring Skyjek but saved via Scab-Clan Charger. Bloodrush had thrown Pigeon's combat math at every point in the game, and Skarrg Guildmage took care of the rest.
Pierre Pigeon 0-2 Fabrizio Anteri
Sunday, 12:39 p.m. – What's In A Name?
by David Sutcliffe
A striking element of Gatecrash limited, particularly in Sealed, is how willing players are to break their guild affiliation and look for third splash color. Powerful removal in red and black make it particularly attractive to make the stretch and add a few Mountains and Swamps for a Mugging, Clan Defiance, or Orzhov Charm. All the wonderful Guildgates obviously help in this regard, as do the sturdy Prophetic Prism or Verdant Haven, and half of the undefeated decks took advantage of this to play a third color.
I was also interested in a tweet by the Spanish player and Lvl 2 judge Omar Diez (@kostompy on Twitter) who described his Day One decklist as being "Orzhoros" or, after sideboarding, "Orzhimir" – clearly a black/white deck with a splash or either red or blue, depending on his mood.
Orzhov + Boros = Orzhoros
Orzhov + Dimir = Orzhimir
As a naming solution goes that's simple, elegant, and extremely descriptive. Gatecrash is a set where the traditional 'shard' names like Naya, Bant, Jund don't apply because the Guilds are aligned across the color wheel, so had Omar stumbled upon a whole new naming convention for Magic decks?
Because I'm writing this article I'm going to say an exultant "yes!", so let's look take a look at what other names we need to know... how about:
Gruul + Boros = Gruulos
Simic + Gruul = Simuul
Dimir + Simic = Dimic
Is this the Dimic badge, or Simir?
That covers off the basics, with a name for each combination of three colors, and that seemed like the job was complete. But then it occurred to me that both of Omar's Orzhoros and Orzhimir decks were based in Black/White and taking a splash from a third color. Undoubtedly his Orzhoros deck (Black/White with a splash of Red) would be probably completely different to somebody else's Borzhov deck (Red/White with a splash of Black), for instance, so it was back the drawing board once more...
Boros + Orzhov = Borzhov?
Boros + Gruul = Borosuul?
Dimir + Orzhov = Dimirhov?
Simic + Dimir = Simir?
Gruul + Simic = Gruulic?
Not all these guild alliances trip off the tongue as easily as an "Esper" or "Grixis" (well, ok, maybe they're no worse than Grixis) but when you're trying to explain that you're in Boros with a hint of green for Rubblehulk and Clan Defiance what better way that to describe your deck as Borosuul?
Let us know what you think on @magicprotour with the #gplondon tag – and if can you improve on Borzhov or Gruulic then shout up!
Sunday, 3:26 p.m. – Drafting with Matteo Orsini Jones
by Tobi Henke
Englishman Matteo Orsini Jones, with one Pro Tour Top 8 and one previous Grand Prix Top 8 under his belt, was clearly looking for a third Top 8 this weekend. His record of 12-1 so far put him in an excellent position to make that happen. The only thing left for him to do, was to navigate this draft to one more win.
He opened his first Gatecrash booster, and while flipping through the cards, three quickly made it to the front of the pack: Treasury Thrull, Kingpin's Pet, and Mugging. Passing two strong Orzhov cards seemed better than passing one and a red card, so he went with the Mugging.
The next pack offered Grisly Spectacle which made Matteo wince for a second, until he discovered another Mugging as well as a Foundry Champion at the back of the pack. Foundry Champion was the pick, and it was followed by Wojek Halberdiers, settling Matteo comfortably into Boros.
Or so it appeared. For his fourth pick, nothing Boros, nothing white, and nothing red was anywhere to be found. The booster did have a Grisly Spectacle, however, and this time Matteo took it. Next, he chose Kingpin's Pet over Ordruun Veteran and Angelic Edict, apparently abandoning Boros for Orzhov after all.
Sixth pick was a Shadow Alley Denizen out of a pack where Simic Fluxmage was by far the most powerful card, but another Kingpin's Pet seventh seemed to establish Orzhov once and for all. The rest of this first round of boosters, however, only gave him Slate Street Ruffian, Armored Transport, Mark for Death, and Riot Gear—somewhat disappointing.
While sorting through his cards, Matteo realized he only had six really good cards, three in Boros (Mugging, Foundry Champion, Wojek Halberdiers) and three in Orzhov (Grisly Spectacle, two Kingpin's Pets). So the decision for Orzhov wasn't necessarily set in stone just yet.
Meanwhile, Andreas Nordahl to his left had opened Gideon, Champion of Justice as his first pick, first pack, then picked up all the Orzhov cards Matteo had passed early in the draft. With players now passing to their right, likely Matteo would be cut off from Orzhov by Nordahl.
Of course, Matteo didn't know that when he opened Obzedat, Ghost Council and took it, passing Truefire Paladin which certainly must have looked like a good idea at the time ... Then, as his second pick, he got a measly Corpse Blockade (after Andreas Nordahl had taken Syndic of Tithes from this booster).
Matteo was committed to Orzhov and third-picked a Gutter Skulk over yet another Truefire Paladin, but took a Sacred Foundry over Smog Elemental next.
His seventh pick was Horror of the Dim, but eighth and ninth were a pair of Wojek Halberdiers, followed by Nav Squad Commandos, Towering Thunderfist, Foundry Street Denizen, and Martial Glory. Was it Boros? Was it Orzhov? Orzhoros? Matteo clearly wasn't happy with where this was going.
To kick things off, Warmind Infantry and Assemble the Legion got Matteo back on track to Boros. Basilica Guards as third and fourth picks were in-color, at least, but didn't really gel with his battalion theme. When his fifth pick was Executioner's Swing and sixth was Prophetic Prism, Matteo finally had to resign himself to three colors for good.
More Basilica Guards, a Cartel Aristocrat, Shattering Blow, Mark for Death, Skinbrand Goblin, and Purge the Profane rounded out the pack.
During deck construction Matteo went on record saying, "This is a mess. Three colors, and I have one theme here" — indicating his five extort cards — "and another one there"—pointing at his three Wojek Halberdiers. "Usually, when I end up with something like this, I at least know where things went wrong," he said. "This time, I'm really not sure what I could have done differently."
Round 14 Feature Match – Jan Van Der Vegt vs. Lasse Norgaard
by David Sutcliffe
Lasse Norgaard may have a lot more hair now, compared to when he won Grand Prix Madrid back in 2008, but he was on a similar charge towards the Top 8 here in London. Fighting around the top tables, Norgaard was pitched against the wily Dutchman Jan Van Der Vegt, with a spot in the Top 8 now tantalisingly close for both men.
Norgaard was bringing Simic to the table, while Van Der Vegt had allegiance to the barbarous Gruul, and had a Mugging on hand for Zameck Guildmage. The Dutchman aimed to get onto the front foot with a Furious Striker, but found his Crocanura countered by Mystic Genesis, giving Norgaard a 3/3 Ooze token into the bargain.
Norgaard added a Leyline Phantom to his team and went onto the offensive, rapidly beating Van Der Vegt down to 7 life. The Leyline Phantom returned to hand, only to be replaced by a 5/5 Nimbus Swimmer, and Van Der Vegt was under no less pressure!
"Battalion and Bloodrush are not so good when you're blocking", Norgaard said, offering his opponent some sympathy.
"No", Van Der Vegt agreed, sadly.
The Dutchman activated his Gruul Keyrune, using Miming Slime to create a blocker, but Norgaard revealed a Pit Fight from hand and swept up the first game in a hurry.
Jan Van Der Vegt 0 – 1 Lasse Norgaard
"That draw was pretty nice", Van Der Vegt commented, as the two players shuffled.
"Yeah it was good, I had the counterplay for everything you did" Norgaard agreed.
It was Van Der Vegt's turn to start, and he led with an Ember Beast and Ivy Lane Denizen, while Norgaard only found Clinging Anemones. A Miming Slime created a 3/3 Ooze token, allowing the Ive Lane Denizen to boost the Ember Beast to 4/5, punching through the Anemone. Norgaard took the hit on the chin, but wasn't happy to see Firefist Striker hit the table, threatening to shut his Anemones out of the game.
Norgaard turned to another burly defender – a Leyline Phantom – but it wasn't enough to deter Van Der Vegt from swinging with his team after playing Ruination Wurm and handing out another +1/+1 counter with Ivy Lane Denizen. The Firefist Striker kept Leyline Phantom from blocking before being blocked and killed by the Clinging Anemones, but then meant 10 damage got past and Norgaard was down to 6!
As the dust settled, Van Der Vegt realised he had made a mistake with Firefist Striker .
"I targeted the wrong creature – I should have made you block with Leyline Phantom and return it to hand"
"I think so too", Norgaard agreed, but after a brief pause the Norwegian passed the turn back and braced to repel another assault.
Van Der Vegt untapped his creatures but found his 3/3 Ooze token locked in a Pit Fight with Leyline Phantom before it could attack. The Ruination Wurm and 5/6 Ember Beast attacked, despatching Norgaard's Anemones and bouncing Leyline Phantom back to hand.
Norgaard was back down to no blockers, and Van Der Vegt ensured it stayed that way by playing a Wildwood Rebirth to recall his fallen Firefist Striker. There was no way out for Norgaard, and we were into a third game.
Jan Van Der Vegt 1 – 1 Lasse Norgaard
Norgaard had rolled Van Der Vegt in the first game, only to suffer the same treatment in the second – as Simic met Gruul it seemed like tempo was everything. Lasse Norgaard made his start with a Metropolis Sprite, only to see Van Der Vegt play Crocanura as a perfect counter... and the Dutchman wasn't done.
"Mug your Sprite?" offered Van Der Vegt.
"But I need it", complained Norgaard, "for later!" nevertheless, the Sprite was gone.
Van Der Vegt added an Ember Beast and Ivy Lane Denizen and the game took a familiar shape as Norgaard chose to hide behind his Leyline Phantom, sending his illusion into a Pit Fight with the fledgling Crocanura. No sooner had the Phantom returned from combat but he was plunged straight back in, this time trading blows with the Ivy Lane Denizen in a second Pit Fight! Van Der Vegt found a Greenside Watcher, while Norgaard shored his defences up with the Clinging Anemones.
On paper this meant Norgaard had stabilised, but that was only part of the stort. Van Der Vegt swung both the Ember Beast and Greenside Watcher, using Bloodrush from Zhur-Taa Swine and Skinbrand Goblin to ensure that both of Norgaard's creatures perished when they blocked!
That was a huge turn and left Van Der Vegt's creatures as the only things on table. The Dutchman ramped up a Gruul Keyrune and pushed his advantage, with a Pit Fight on hand to stop Norgaard's flashed Shambleshark from interfering.
Norgaard was in trouble – he deployed a 5/5 Nimbus Swimmer but Van Der Vegt was undeterred and immediately attacked again with his creatures. The Swimmer blocked, but was struck down by the Arrows of Justice after eating the Ember Beast and Van Der Vegt's offense rumbled on, dropping Norgaard to 5 life, then to 2!
On the brink of defeat, Lasse Norgaard pulled a key card – a Gruul Ragebeast that arrived with bad intentions and swallowed up the Greenside Watcher. That finally stopped the rot for Norgaard, but Van Der Vegt immediately pulled a Ruination Wurm that demanded a trade with the Gruul Ragebeast and Norgaard was only able to survive the unblocked Gruul Keyrune thanks to 2 life gained from Verdant Haven!
1 life, no creatures for Norgaard, one card in hand.
Gruul Keyrune in play for Van Der Vegt, and the Dutchman threw down his coup de grace to seal the win – an Adaptive Snapjaw...
MYSTIC GENESIS! MYSTIC GENESIS! MYSTIC GENESIS!
Norgaard revealed that one card in hand down was the rare counterspell, not only countering the Adaptive Snapjaw but creating a 5/5 Ooze that could block the Keyrune! It was a 2-for-1 play that hauled the Norwegian back from the very brink of defeat!
Van Der Vegt was furious with himself for walking into the Mystic Genesis, which he already knew Norgaard had in his deck. The Dutchman rocked back in anger but recovered quickly when he drew a second Adaptive Snapjaw and was able to trade with the 5/5 Ooze.
Unfortunately for Van Der Vegt, Norgaard had used his brief respite well and was now secure behind a Crocanura and Zameck Guildmage, and the Guildmage was huge this late in the game - allowing Norgaard to bring any new creatures into play with +1/+1 counters, and to draw extra cards from those counters.
Just when it seemed like the chance had gone, Jan Van Der Vegt pulled victory from defeat in the form of a Rubblehulk – he attacked with his Gruul Keyrune and handed it +8/+8. Norgaard had one card in hand, but it wasn't anything that could help, and Van Der Vegt finally won a gruelling match!
Jan Van Der Vegt 2 – 1 Lasse Norgaard
Round 15 Feature Match – Elie Pichon vs. Marcel Schuler
by Tobi Henke
Both players entered the fray with records of 12-2, on the brink of Top 8 elimination, needing a win. Elie Pichon was playing Orzhov, whereas Marcel Schuler had drafted an extremely aggressive Gruul deck.
Schuler opened on Disciple of the Old Ways and Armored Transport, to Pichon's Basilica Screecher and Undercity Informer. Schuler put Madcap Skills on Armored Transport and attacked with both of his creatures. Undercity Informer blocked Disciple of the Old Ways and promptly died to Skinbrand Goblin. "Yeah. As expected," Pichon commented.
Pichon summoned Syndicate Enforcer which died to Mugging, and Schuler summoned Warmind Infantry. Pichon passed without play, then on Schuler's attack cast Devour Flesh (killing Disciple of the Old Ways) and Beckon Apparition, triggering extort twice. This brought him back to 8, but to no avail. Zhur-Taa Swine's bloodrush turned Armored Transport lethal just the same.
Elie Pichon 0-1 Marcel Schuler
Things started even faster this time, with one-drops on both sides: Dutiful Thrull for Pichon, Spire Tracer for Schuler. Pichon's next play was Basilica Guards, whereas Schuler had Disciple of the Old Ways, then Madcap Skills for his Spire Tracer and another Spire Tracer. No dawdling here.
Pichon had had no play on his second turn, now he again had no play on his fourth and, stuck on four lands, nothing on turn five either. Meanwhile, the Spire Tracers brought him to 6 already, and Schuler added Rust Scarab to his team.
Pichon again passed without play and fell to 1. Pichon drew his card, then revealed his hand in concession: All game long, two copies of Death's Approach had been stuck in his hand. If he had ever been able to kill a single one of Schuler's creatures, or got him to use bloodrush, this would have been a very different game.
Elie Pichon 0-2 Marcel Schuler
Round 16 Feature Match – Andreas Nordahl vs. Ondrej Maly
by David Sutcliffe
Andreas Nordahl and Ondrej Maly were thrown together for a second time in this Grand Prix, and for the second time they would meet in the last round of the day, having duelled each other close to midnight on Saturday night! Nordahl had won that meeting to finish on 10-0, while Maly had recovered to build two strong draft decks and remain in contention. With one round to play the two would meet again with even more on the line – the winner would play in the Top 8, while the loser would be out of the Grand Prix.
Maly had lost the pair's duel last night but was determined not to suffer a repeat defeat, dropping a Cloudfin Raptor on his first turn then adding Thrull Parasite to begin an attack, although the offense stalled when the Czech player couldn't find a third creature. A Metropolis Sprite appeared on the fourth turn, but that point Maly's attack had hit obstacles in the form of Undercity Enforcer and Balustrade Spy.
Maly needed a way through, and he played a Hands of Binding to tap the Balustrade Spy, imprinting the spell onto Metropolis Sprite and attacking to tie the Undercity Enforcer down as well. Nordahl took the hit and dropped to 12 life before playing Millenial Gargoyle as a second aerial blocker. The Gargoyle was afflicted by Agoraphobia and chose to chump the incoming Metropolis Sprite on Maly's next turn, which at least prevented more of Nordahl's creatures being pinned down by Hands of Binding.
Nordahl stepped onto the front foot by casting Gift of Orzhova onto his Undercity Enforcer, creating a 3/4 Flyer with Lifelink, and repairing some of the damage to his lifetotal by attacking, before adding a Vizkopa Guildmage to his team.
It was Maly's turn to sit back on defence, and the Czech player summoned a Balustrade Spy to assist his defense, passing the turn back to Nordahl – the Norwegian wasting no time in playing Gideon, Champion of Justice and adding 5 loyalty counters to his new Planeswalker ally! Maly added a Syndicate Enforcer while Nordahl merrily added counters to Gideon – 15 Loyalty, 21 Loyalty...
Maly collected his cards – with Gideon's ultimate ready to activate and Exile all the permanents he was finished. Once Gideon had cleared the board there would be nothing to stop the Planeswalker from turning into a 6/6 creature for the next few turns and ending the game, which Maly recognised.
Andreas Nordahl 1 – 0 Ondrej Maly
Cloudfin Raptor and Basilica Screecher were Maly's opening gambits to claw his way back into the match, but Nordahl made the stronger opening with Vizkopa Guildmage and Kingpin's Pet. Hands of Binding gave Maly the window to attack but it only led to Nordahl summoning a Balustrade Spy as another important blocker!
Grisly Spectacle accounted for the Balustrade Spy and ensured Maly could still attack, but that still only meant 2 damage and Nordahl was far from in danger. Untapping his lands, but not his creatures, Nordahl used Death's Approach to slay the Ciphered Cloudfin Raptor and remove the threat of Hands of Binding, and the Metropolis Sprite Maly played would hardly have caused Nordahl much consternation either as he replied with a Treasury Thrull!
Ondrej Maly seemed to have cornered the market in 1/2 Flyers during the draft, but that didn't seem to be much worth boasting about as his creatures began to be ground under the hooves of Nordahl's larger men. Metropolis Sprite traded with Kingpin's Pet, then the Treasury Thrull attacked, returning Death's Approach to Nordahl's hand. A Syndic of Tithes gave Nordahl a second Extort creature, then the Death's Approach was replayed to kill Maly's Basilica Screecher.
Nordahl was bossing the game, and by Maly's body language the Czech player knew he was out of contention even before Nordahl revealed his planeswalker ally for a second time: Gideon, Champion of Justice.
Maly smiled as his fate was sealed and could only wait patiently for the killer blow – it wasn't long in coming and Andreas Nordahl eased himself into the Top 8 with a resounding win!
Andreas Nordahl 2 – 0 Ondrej Maly
Sunday, 5:25 p.m. – Getting Aggressive
by Tobi Henke
"It's very, very aggressive," Kenny Öberg said about the Gatecrash draft format. "Basically, all the keywords are aggressive, battalion, bloodrush obviously, and even Cipher wants you to attack. So most games end up in a race."
"Madcap Skills is one of the most important commons in my opinion," Öberg said. "It denies most interaction, unless someone has an answer, of course, but there aren't a lot of them, and Madcap Skills demands an answer really, really quickly."
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa agreed: "It's pretty aggressive, but games can also go long. It's different than Zendikar, for example, where you just couldn't block. With Gatecrash, there's a lot happening early in the game, but sometimes what's happening is a lot of trading of creatures, and then you need something bigger."
His recommendation: "Prepare for a fast start, but don't expect games to end quickly. You can't get away with running cheap creatures only."
"Compared to Return to Ravnica, you definitely have more aggressive guilds now," said Matej Zatlkaj. "Even Simic can be aggro. Ideally, the deck curves out with lots of evolve and adds more pressure every turn. Dimir seems to be the only guild that takes a more controlling approach, and because of it, I don't think it's very good in draft.
"Since all guilds try to do something very different, they mostly prefer to play their own game instead of interacting with the opponent's. So naturally a lot of games develop into a damage race. Another contributing factor is that there's not a lot of removal, and most of it is rather expensive, like Grisly Spectacle and Angelic Edict."