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Grand Prix Lyon
Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 10:38 a.m. – What Would Frank Karsten Play?
    by Frank Karsten

  • Two weeks ago, I competed in Pro Tour Return to Ravnica as a member of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Today, I will bring you all the latest updates on the evolving Modern metagame as a member of the event coverage team. To start off, let me tell you which deck(s) I would consider playing if I would be participating in the Grand Prix, and why.

    If I would just want to have fun, then I would simply play my funky Mono Red Highlander deck again, with the dream of becoming the first player to make Top 8 at a Grand Prix with a full Singleton deck. Now, I won't be doing the Singleton challenge this weekend, but I know at least one player who will be. Exciting!

    If I would want to maximize my chances of winning the Grand Prix instead, then I would let go of the self-imposed Singleton restriction, but I would still go for the burn spells. Why? Well, I went 5-5 in Seattle despite running some iffy cards, while the only other burn pilot in Seattle (Egor Alashev) posted a 7-3 record. To me, that indicates that Mono Red Burn has solid matchups across the field. Turn 4 kills are common with the deck, and even turn 3 kills are possible when the opponent is dealing a lot of damage to himself with his lands. And while I was playing my matches in Seattle, I felt like Mono Red had an advantage against Jund, which will likely be the most popular deck in Lyon as well. Jund has so many bad cards against Mono Red: Thoughtseize and Dark Confidant in particular will not help them when their face is being burned. In addition, most Jund decks are shying away from Kitchen Finks these days. For reference, this was Egor Alashev's list from Pro Tour Return to Ravnica:


    Egor Alashev, Mono Red Burn
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Okay, so technically this is not a Mono Red deck since it splashes Bump in the Night, but that is one of the reddest black cards of all-time, so Mono Red still feels like an accurate nomenclature.

    I would take Egor's list as my starting point, although I might make a few tweaks. First, I might want Volcanic Fallout maindeck (probably over Flames of the Blood Hand) to deal with Infect creatures, Geist of Saint Traft and Deathrite Shaman. After all, Deathrite Shaman removing your Hellspark Elemental is quite devastating. Second, I would prefer Damping Matrix over Torpor Orb in my sideboard. Both cards deal with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or Splinter Twin combo, but Damping Matrix doubles as an answer to the Second Breakfast deck that has just won Pro Tour Ravnica. Thirdly, I would like to add a few Dark Confidants to the sideboard. Bob provides a repetitive source of damage and cards; this gives you game against Leyline of Sanctity and can help grind back against life-gain decks such as Soul Sisters.

    There are various other decks available that, on the surface, appear to have a good matchup against Jund -- Green-Red Tron comes to mind -- but the classic turn 1 "Mountain, Lightning Bolt you" opening is just too much maniacal fun to pass up.

    Okay, one more list. If I would have had sufficient time to tweak a novel deck, I would have been working on this brew in the days leading up to the Grand Prix:



    Form of the Dragon is the key attraction, as it seems good versus Jund. A hardcasted Form of the Dragon will typically win the game by itself, as most Jund decks don't run Maelstrom Pulse anymore (partly because it's weak in the mirror match). If you resolve an Enduring Ideal, the plan would be to go for the "lock" of Form of the Dragon with Phyrexian Unlife.

    Second Breakfast and other combo decks are dead to stuff like Dovescape, Leyline of Sanctity, Runed Halo, and Stony Silence. It is also worth pointing out that Echoing Truth from combo players' sideboards won't help them a lot against this onslaught of different 1-ofs. You can beat Affinity and Infect with a turn 3 Night of Soul's Betrayal.

    Will the turn 1 Utopia Sprawl into turn 2 Wargate for Lotus Bloom plan work? Will Idyllic Tutor for Dead Weight of Porphyry Nodes buy enough time? How often will Shadow of Doubt steal a game against an unsuspecting opponent? Is the deck fast enough for the Modern format? I frankly don't know as this list is completely untested, but I do believe that a deck like this might have potential. Here's to hoping that someone else will be winning with Form of the Dragon today!




     

  • Saturday, 10:44 a.m. – Trial Winning Decks
    by Tobi Henke

  • In theory Grand Prix start on Saturday, and the main event does indeed. In practice, however, the hall was already packed with players on Friday, slinging their Modern decks of choice in one of the many Grand Prix Trials.

    The winning decks, listed below, traditionally give a first impression of what to expect over the course of the weekend. In this case, expect a lot of Jund, followed by Affinity and Infect, and most of all: be prepared for an exuberant variety of decks! Splinter Twin, Mono-Red Burn, Soul Sisters, Merfolk, UW Aggrocontrol, Birthing Pod, and Second Breakfast—all of those decks were used to win a Trial. Will they continue to perform as well at the actual Grand Prix? We'll see.


    Andrew Simpson, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Steffen van de Veen, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Manuel Mayer, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Andrzej Lysek, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern



    Stefan Steiner, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern



    Marijn Lybaert, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Martino Valerio, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    Louis Deltour, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern

    Gabriel Camporgue, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern




    Lucas Terrier, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern



    Giacomo Landi, Grand Prix Trial Winner
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern




     

  • Saturday, 12:03 p.m. – Talking to the Traders
    by Tobi Henke

  • At Constructed events it always pays off to keep an eye on the best-selling singles. This time, for example, sales suggested a huge number of Infect players. "We've sold about 70 copies of Might of Old Krosa, by far the most of any one card," one of the professional traders told me. "And Groundswell and Vines of Vastwood aren't far behind in numbers. Plague Stingers are all gone too."

    Inkmoth Nexus also made it on the list of most popular cards, but likely as much for nefarious infecting puposes as for its role in the Robots deck. Arcbound Ravager sold out in record time and, interestingly, Welding Jar followed suit.


    The immense variety of viable strategies in Modern also made an impression on the dealers. Verdant Catacombs was in high demand, as were all the Zendikar lands, as was Vexing Devil, as was Inquisition of Kozilek. And of course many Magic players have a bad habit of completing sideboards on the morning of the tournament, so Blood Moon, Relic of Progenitus, and Fulminator Mage made it onto the best-seller list early on Saturday. Two cards from Return to Ravnica made it too: "Deathrite Shaman, which sold like crazy, and for some reason, Epic Experiment ..." Here's hoping for some epic experimentation.




     

  • Saturday, 12:40 p.m. – Country Meta Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Country Players
    France 715
    Italy 159
    Germany 119
    Spain 82
    Switzerland 60
    Belgium 40
    Netherlands 27
    Austria 19
    Czech Republic 14
    Sweden 11
    Poland 10
    Slovenia 8
    Russian Federation 7
    United States 7
    Ireland 6
    Hungary 6
    Portugal 6
    Nicaragua 4
    Gibraltar 4
    Turkey 3
    Argentina 3
    Luxembourg 2
    China 2
    Estonia 2
    Greece 2
    Ukraine 1
    England 1
    Venezuela 1
    Slovak Republic 1
    Brazil 1
    Australia 1
    Argentina 1



     

  • Saturday, 1:12 p.m. – Deck Tech: The Evolution of Jund
    by Frank Karsten

  • Jund was the most-played archetype at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle two weeks ago, and it came close to winning the whole tournament. The strong combination of disruption such as Thoughtseize, card advantage fueled by Bloodbraid Elf, efficient removal like Lightning Bolt, and mana acceleration in the form of Deathrite Shaman will certainly be a force to be reckoned with this weekend here in Lyon as well. But decks keep on evolving continually, and I was curious to see how Jund would evolve after the Pro Tour.

    To get the lowdown on the latest tweaks and card choices, I sat down with Jan van der Vegt, a 25-year old student from Amsterdam, who recently finished in the Top 16 of Grand Prix Amsterdam 2011. Jan is a prolific Magic online streamer --- you can check out his channel Dzyl at Twitch. "I have always found playing Magic Online to be a bit boring because you're all on your own. I started streaming because streaming provides interaction with the viewers, and I've really enjoyed it so far," Jan mentioned.


    Right after the Pro Tour results had come in, Jan started testing Jund for a few hours per day, and he has been tuning his list together with Marc Eric Vogt and Daan Pruijt. "I like mid-range decks, and Jund seemed like a solid choice," Jan said. "I have been surprised how many decisions I have to make during a match, and that makes the deck a lot of fun to play."

    So far, Jan has posted an impressive 68% match win percentage over roughly 100 online matches with his Jund deck. Here, take a look at his list:


    "I started with Yuuya Watanabe's list from the Pro Tour. First, I changed Victim of Night to Terminate because being able to destroy Olivia Voldaren is important. Next, I swapped out Kitchen Finks for Fulminator Mage. I felt I needed a bit more against Green-Red Tron and Scapeshift, and Fulminator Mage is good against those decks. It can also destroy manlands in the mirror match," Jan told me. "But I eventually replaced them with Jund Charm and Batterskull. Batterskull is amazing against other Jund decks, and Jund Charm is a great way to combat the Second Breakfast and Past in Flames combo decks while sweeping the boards of Affinity and Infect players." Seems like a good metagame call coming off of the Pro Tour.

    There was more innovation in the sideboard. "I added Creeping Corrosion to ensure I could beat Robots; you definitely need the extra sweepers against them. Golgari Charm is mainly meant against Storm, as it can deal with Pyromancer Ascension or Empty the Warrens, but I am also planning to bring it in against Infect, Robots, and decks with Leyline of Sanctity. It's a very versatile card. Finally, Magma Spray is an efficient way to deal with Kitchen Finks or Geralf's Messenger. Additionally, it's better than Liliana of the Veil against Robots or Infect; one mana instead of three is a huge difference. I liked Magma Spray better than Pillar of Flame because it can kill Inkmoth Nexus at instant speed."

    To round out his sideboard, Jan has the standard Ancient Grudge (against Robots, but it also comes in against Green-Red Tron and Infect), Fulminator Mage, Olivia Voldaren and Batterskull (for the mirror match), and a singleton Slaughter Games. "I cut down on the number of Slaughter Games compared to the Pro Tour lists because it is never extremely good. Opponents are prepared for it. Scapeshift opponents can kill me with Obstinate Baloth and Wurmcoil Engine instead, and Second Breakfast has Leyline of Sanctity."

    If you've been working on a Jund deck yourself, Jan's build is a great place to look for ideas!




     

  • Saturday, 1:32 p.m. – Respect the Robots
    by Frank Karsten

  • Robots was the second-most played deck in Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. Its pilots posted excellent results in Seattle, winning 58% of their matches. Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating, and friends performed particularly well against Jund, the bogeyman of the Modern format. According to Paul Jordan's archetype breakdown, Robots won a staggering 67% of their matches against Jund at the Pro Tour.

    This lopsided matchup statistic is indicative of two things. First of all, Robots likely has a favorable game 1 against Jund. Fair enough. But more importantly, the Jund decks in Seattle were not prepared for Robots. Robots is a fragile deck that can be easily hated out, but the Jund decks in the Top 8 only ran 1-2 Ancient Grudges as artifact hate cards. That's not enough. You need a few additional Shatterstorm, Creeping Corrosion, Vandalblast, or something similar to turn the matchup around.

    Last night, I had dinner last night with several Dutch players, some of which were planning to play Jund. The dinner table quickly became littered with sideboard cards, and the discussion focused on how many and which ones to play. The final consensus appeared to be that two additional sweepers (Creeping Corrosion, Shatterstorm, or Vandalblast) should do the trick.

    The key benefit that these sweepers hold over Ancient Grudge is that they can deal with Etched Champion. This protection-from-all-colors creature is in most Robot players' sideboards, and it is a card that the Jund players should be very afraid of. You can't block it, you can't Lightning Bolt it, and it can take huge chunks out of your life total when enhanced with Cranial Plating or Arcbound Ravager. But the sweepers do not target (when overloaded in case of Vandalblast) and do not deal damage, so protection from green or red won't save Etched Champion from them.

    Which of the three sweepers is the best? Each has some advantage over the others. Creeping Corrosion is easier on the mana base than Shatterstorm, but Shatterstorm sidesteps Welding Jar. Vandalblast is more versatile and less damaging with Dark Confidant, but the difference between four and five mana can be huge. The Dutch Jund players I had dinner with ended up going with Vandalblast in the end.

    Now, I believe that exploiting Robot's vulnerability to hate would be a smart thing to do in this particular Grand Prix. I would be expecting quite a decent amount of Robots (say, 10% of the metagame) here in Lyon, since the archetype performed well in Seattle and is an easy deck to pick up and play. Looking at the Jund decks that won Grand Prix trials and the Jund version of Jan van der Vegt that we just featured, you can clearly see the trend of having 3-4 artifact hate cards in most lists.

    The problem with all the Jund artifact hate is that these cards don't do much against the other decks. Ancient Grudge can help a bit against Green-Red Tron and Infect, but you won't board in Shatterstorm against any non-Robots deck. In general, it is prudent to have sideboard cards that provide overlap. For example, if you expect a lot of Splinter Twin and Second Breakfast, you're likely better off with 4 Damping Matrix than with 2 Torpor Orb and 2 Rest in Peace. In this light, the White-Blue Control decks have a slight edge over Jund since they can run Stony Silence. This enchantment not only wreck Robots, but also doubles as a great way to stop Second Breakfast.

    We'll see how everything develops, but I would fully expect that the players who do well in Lyon this weekend are the ones that adequately respect the Robots.




     

  • Saturday, 1:46 p.m. – The Pro Metagame
    by Tobi Henke

  • 1,326 players, that means 1,326 deck lists, or altogether too much information. Try as we might, there's just no way we could tell you what all of those people chose to play. (Although guesstimates favor Jund as the frontrunner.) Something we can tell you about, however, is the deck choices of a select group of players who are generally known to make good decisions when it comes to Magic ...

    ... say: Frederico Bastos, Richard Bland, Lukas Blohon, Nico Bohny, Lino Burgold, Bernd Brendemühl, Joel Calafell, Marco Cammilluzzi, Samuele Estratti, Ivan Floch, Rémi Fortier, Andreas Ganz, Thomas Holzinger, Martin Jůza, Florian Koch, Matthias Künzler, Vincent Lemoine, Raphaël Lévy, Marijn Lybaert, Gabriel Nassif, Kenny Öberg, Carrie Oliver, Humberto Patarca, Florian Pils, Daniel Royde, Olivier Ruel, Shahar Shenhar, and Elias Watsfeldt.

    Here's the archetype breakdown of what they're playing:

    Robots 6
    Jund 5
    Storm 3
    Tron 2
    Infect 2
    Scapeshift 2
    Delver variants 2
    Second Breakfast 1
    Birthing Pod 1
    Zombie Station 1
    Soul Sisters 1
    Naya 1
    GW Maverick 1

    More on Sunday, when we have a detailed breakdown of all day-two deck lists for you!




     

  • Saturday, 3:52 p.m. – Hurricane Sandy and Unfortunate Travel Stories
    by Frank Karsten

  • Stanislav Cifka, the Pro Tour Return to Ravnica winner, is unfortunately not participating in the Grand Prix today. Not because he didn't like to play Magic anymore. The reason for his absence is Hurricane Sandy, the huge tropical cyclone that severely affected portions of the Northeastern United States last week and was responsible for a lot of damage and deaths there.

    Cifka is alive and well, but he is currently still stuck in the U.S. Along with his compatriots Lukas Jaklovsky and Martin Juza, he competed in Grand Prix Philadelphia last weekend. As all Monday flights from Philadelphia were canceled, Cifka had to reschedule his flights, and he was unable to get on a flight that could arrive in Europe before Saturday.

    Martin Juza was a bit faster in rescheduling his flight, and he used his Platinum frequent flyer status to obtain a seat on a flight that could get him back to Europe in time for the Grand Prix. I talked to him during the byes. "Sandy wasn't as bad in in Philadelphia as in New York," Juza told me. "It kept raining for two days and it was very windy. But we experienced no floods and no power outages."

    It wasn't easy for Juza to arrive in Lyon, though. His flight from Philadelphia arrived in Paris on Thursday morning and his connecting flight to Prague would not leave until Thursday evening. "This seemed was crazy; I would have to wait for 11 hours in France before I could finally arrive home on Thursday night. And then on Friday morning, I would immediately I would have to take an 11-hour drive back to France again! I was eventually able to get on an earlier flight after some spots opened up, but then they lost my bags and I didn't have a single card on me. Fortunately, my bags were located and delivered to me on Friday afternoon, but that did delay my departure to Lyon. I arrived here at about 4 am last night and only slept for 2 hours."

    Still Juza is glad he gets to compete here today. The man is sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, and tired from all his travels, but he did make it to the Grand Prix in time.




     

  • Round 4 Feature Match – Federico Bastos (Second Breakfast) vs. Ivan Floch (RUG Delver)
    by Frank Karsten

  • With round four, any players who had earned themselves 3 byes were thrown into the fray here at Grand Prix Lyon. Among them were both Federico Bastos and Ivan Floch. Bastos is one of the more recognizable Portugese players, with multiple Pro Tour Top 8s to his name. He is running Second Breakfast today. Ivan Floch is a two-time Slovak National Champion and a Gold member of the Pro Player Club. He came to battle with RUG Delver.

    Game 1

    Bastos won the die roll and led off with a suspended Lotus Bloom, two Sleight of Hand, two Chromatic Star, and a Conjurer's Bauble on his first three turns, setting up for a combo finish on turn 4.

    Floch, in the meantime, dug through his deck with multiple Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand, and found a Deprive that countered Lotus Bloom when it came out of suspend on Bastos' fourth turn.

    Ivan Floch

    With his Lotus Bloom gone and without a Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward in hand, it would be difficult for Bastos to go off on turn fourth turn. Then again, why would he try? Floch hadn't played a single creature yet and wasn't pressuring him at all. So Bastos simply played two Chromatic Sphere on his fourth turn and passed.

    Over the course of the next couple of turns, Bastos added the Chromatic Stars that he was drawing to his board and passed, patiently awaiting his time. Floch, in the meantime, started to get on the offence with Burst Lightning and Lightning Bolt and two Snapcaster Mage that flashed back the red burn spells.

    After the Snapcaster Mages had attacked Bastos down to 4 life, it was time to go for it. The combo player started off with Silence. It was countered by Cryptic Command, but that left The Slovakian tapped low, with only a Steam Vents open and unable to stop a Faith's Reward.

    Bastos sacrificed his Eggs, Ghost Quartered himself, Reshaped into Lotus Bloom, cast Faith's Reward, put it on the bottom with Conjurer's Bauble, sacrificed all the Eggs once more, played another Faith's Reward....

    A couple minutes minutes later, Floch asked: "Do you have another one of those white spells? I'll concede if you show me another one." Bastos revealed a Second Sunrise, and Floch scooped up his cards.

    Federico Bastos 1 - Ivan Floch 0

    Game 2

    Floch had a slightly more aggressive start this game, leading off with Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage. He started getting into the red zone while countering opposing Chromatic Stars with Mana Leak. A couple turns later, Vendilion Clique came down. Facing a board of Island, Ghost Quarter, Pyrite Spellbomb, Conjurer's Bauble, Chromatic Sphere, and Chromatic Star, he saw that Bastos' hand contained Reshape, Faith's Reward, and Silence After some thought, Floch decided to put Silence on the bottom.

    When Bastos tried to combo off, Floch had Spell Snare to counter the Reshape (with X=0) and attacked for the kill on the subsequent turn.

    Federico Bastos 1 - Ivan Floch 1

    Game 3

    Bastos started by suspending Lotus Bloom, again setting up for a possible turn 4 combo kill. He next added three Eggs (two Conjurer's Bauble and a Chromatic Sphere, to be precise) to his board.

    Floch had mulliganed down to six, and had settled on a hand with quick pressure (courtecy of two Delver of Secrets and Tarmogoyf) but without countermagic or disruption.

    Federico Bastos

    On turn 4, Bastos resolved Lotus Bloom and could feel relatively safe as Floch only had a single Steam Vents untapped. Silence took out any Spell Snare worries, and Bastos went for it. He sacrificed all of his artifacts and cast Second Sunrise. Everything came back, he drew more cards, and another Second Sunrise was played. Well, you know the drill.

    It was nice to see that Bastos knew the little tricks with the deck. "With the Elsewhere Flash trigger on the stack, I put Second Sunrise on the bottom of my deck. After that, I shuffle my deck with Ghost Quarter. I now draw for my Elsewhere Flask," I overheard him say while comboing off.

    A couple minutes later, Bastos continually had a deck consisting of only Pyrite Spellbomb and Second Sunrise, as he started looping the 2-damage artifact together with Conjurer's Bauble.

    Federico Bastos 2 - Ivan Floch 1

    After the match, the players discussed different lines of play. "I misplayed in the second game," Bastos said. "I should have played Reshape for X=1, not for X=0. Reshape tells you to search the library for an artifact card with converted mana cost X or less, so I would've been able to get Lotus Bloom in both cases, but I could've evaded Spell Snare by playing it for X=1."

    "I could have played differently in the first game as well," Bastos continued. "I could have played Silence in response to my Lotus Bloom suspend trigger on turn 4 in game 1. That way, the Lotus Bloom wouldn't have been on the stack yet, and you would have been unable to Deprive it."

    All in all, Second Breakfast is certainly not the easiest deck to play, but the Portugese player managed to take the match with it nonetheless.




     

  • Round 5 Feature Match – Florian Koch vs. Martin Jůza
    by Tobi Henke

  • Czech platinum pro Martin Jůza really needs no introduction, with two Pro Tour Top 8s and thirteen Grand Prix Top 8s. Germany's Florian Koch only has two of the latter, but he did win the last Grand Prix Lyon, back in 2010. While shuffling the players discussed the state of Modern, but carefully so in order to not reveal what they were playing themselves.


    Game 1

    "I guess that reveals everything," said Koch as he dropped Darksteel Citadel, Signal Pest, and Memnite on turn one. Jůza chuckled, played a Darksteel Citadel of his own and a Mox Opal, revealing himself to be playing the Robot deck as well.

    Koch had a second Signal Pest and started to beat down, while all Jůza could muster was a Cranial Plating off Glimmervoid, with still no creature in sight. Koch summoned a mighty Master of Etherium and attacked for another 8 points worth of damage. Jůza looked at his next card and conceded.

    "I think my hand was fine, but it definietly turned ugly when I topdecked two more Moxes," Jůza explained. "It had Darksteel Citadel, Glimmervoid, Mox Opal, Cranial Plating, Thoughtcast, and Master of Etherium."

    "So basically, if you draw one free creature, you have the nuts, and if you don't, you just have a lot of clunky stuff. Yes, the deck sometimes does that," Koch commiserated.

    Florian Koch 1-0 Martin Jůza


    Game 2

    This time, Jůza went off to a quick start. By turn two he already controlled Darksteel Citadel, Mox Opal, Blinkmoth Nexus, Cranial Plating, as well as an attacking Ornithopter.

    So far, Koch had only played Springleaf Drum and a land, and Mox Opal couldn't speed things up for him either (even if it did get rid of Jůza's Mox). All he had was Arcbound Ravager on turn two and Master of Etherium on turn three, while Jůza summoned Steel Overseer, then Arcbound Ravager, and simply killed Koch through the air.

    Florian Koch 1-1 Martin Jůza

    Game 3

    Koch started on Vault Skirge, followed by Ornithopter and Arcbound Ravager, with Cranial Plating on turn three. Meanwhile, Jůza had just cast Springleaf Drum and Steel Overseer and already he was down to 11.


    Koch went for the kill, cast a second Cranial Plating, equipped his Ornithopter, and swung in. Jůza thought long and hard, counted and re-counted Koch's artifacts, then shot down the equipped Vault Skirge with Galvanic Blast, took 2 from Arcbound Ravager and 7 from Ornithopter, falling to 2.

    Barely alive, but still hanging on, Jůza chump-blocked with Blinkmoth Nexus and Memnite, then cast and re-cast Ancient Grudge. Not only was he still alive now, Koch had lost most of his offensive. Another Ancient Grudge for Jůza turned "most" to "all", and soon it was Jůza who started the attacks. With an active Steel Overseer, his creatures didn't take long to finish the game.

    Florian Koch 1-2 Martin Jůza




     

  • Saturday, 5:50 p.m. – Deathrite and Wrong
    by Tobi Henke

  • In a format with as gigantic a card pool as Modern's, surely lots of weird interactions and crazy rules questions are bound to come up, especially with some of the older cards. But in fact one of the culprits responsible for most judge calls so far was none other than Return to Ravnica's Deathrite Shaman.

    First, the basics: Deathrite Shaman has three abilities, each with a single target. Now as you might know, if the single target of an ability becomes illegal between the activation of said ability and its resolution, the ability will be countered and won't do anything.

    Say, for argument's sake, you activate Deathrite Shaman's second ability targeting the Think Twice in your opponent's graveyard. If your opponent responds by casting this Think Twice via flashback, the card's no longer in the graveyard and no longer a legal target when it comes to resolving the Shaman's ability; the ability will be countered upon resolution and your opponent won't lose 2 life. Easy.

    It gets a little more interesting, however, once you look at Deathrite Shaman's first ability. This one generates mana, so you might assume it's your standard run-of-the-mill mana ability, right? Well, it's not. (Rhetoric questions tend to be answered in the negative.) Usually, the rules of Magic don't allow for players to respond to mana abilities (like tapping a land for mana); if they did, all kinds of chaos would ensue. But they invariably do allow players to respond when things are being targeted. The logical conclusion: if the targeted land card gets exiled in response to Deathrite Shaman's ability, no mana will be produced.

    Of course, the one commonly-played card that might exile a land from a graveyard in response to Deathrite Shaman's ability is ... another Deathrite Shaman.

    I've seen my fair share of Jund-versus-Jund games today where both players opened with Deathrite Shaman on turn one. Sometimes the player going first had a three-mana follow-up, but sometimes he didn't and instead used his Deathrite Shaman to negate the opponent's use of Deathrite Shaman. Then again, quite often a player would simply miss this option.

    Helpful advice: Don't be that player!




     

  • Round 7 Feature Match – Olivier Ruel (Storm) vs. Till Riffert (Robots)
    by Tobi Henke

  • Olivier Ruel, the French Hall of Famer, hasn't been seen at Grand Prix for quite some time, but a Grand Prix close to home in a format where one can play lots of older cards brought him out of the woodwork once again, and he immediately proved that he's not a Hall of Fame member for nothing, posting a 6-0 record so far. His German opponent Till Riffert, conversely, is still in the process of making a name for himself.

    Game 1

    Riffert won the die-roll and kept his seven, while Ruel mulled to six. Riffert started with Memnite (eliciting a comment of "Hello there!" from Ruel), Ornithopter ("Hi!"), Mox Opal, and Signal Pest ("Howdy!"), but had no land.

    Ruel cast Serum Visions and passed the turn back to Riffert who played Thoughtcast, Darksteel Citadel, Springleaf Drum, and Vault Skirge.


    Ruel cast Desperate Ritual, Seething Song, Pyromancer Ascension, another Seething Song, and Grapeshot. That gave him one counter on Pyromancer Ascension as well as a total of five Grapeshots, which he used to kill all of Riffert's creatures, but also left him with just one card in hand.

    Riffert restocked with Cranial Plating and Vault Skirge, actually deploying more power to the battlefield than he had had before. Ruel's next two cards didn't allow him any further attempts at going off, and the plated Skirge didn't give him any more draws than that.

    Olivier Ruel 0-1 Till Riffert

    Game 2

    This time, Ruel went first and slowed down Riffert's start with Lightning Bolt. Riffert also spent some time on casting Rest in Peace. All of that meant that at the end of Riffert's fourth turn Ruel was still at 11 (but facing lethal damage next turn).

    Until now, Ruel had only played one land and said Lightning Bolt. No second land—not on turn two, not on turn three and not on turn four either. This was his last shot, and in truly dramatic fashion his deck finally decided to oblige him. What followed was Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, Manamorphose, and Shatterstorm. Once again, Riffert regrouped with Cranial Plating and Vault Skirge, but lost the Skirge to a single Grapeshot.

    When Riffert found a third land, however, Blinkmoth Nexus picked up right where Vault Skirge had left, that is, picked up Cranial Plating and put Ruel at 7.


    Ruel found a third land himself, Shivan Reef, cast Serum Visions (6), then chained a couple of rituals for ten Goblin tokens off Empty the Warrens. Riffert's Blinkmoth Nexus brought Ruel to 2 and demanded an answer.

    Shatterstorm off another ritual certainly qualified and left Riffert with just Darksteel Citadel, Blinkmoth Nexus, and Blinkmoth Nexus, with himself just one attack from dying to the Goblins. "So if I draw a land now, I win?" asked Riffert. He slowly went for the top card of his deck ... and slammed his second Darksteel Citadel! "Yup, that works," said Ruel and offered his hand.

    Olivier Ruel 0-2 Till Riffert




     

  • Saturday, 9:12 p.m. – Overheard at the Grand Prix
    by Tobi Henke

  • "Path to Exile on your last blocker, attack for the win?"

    "Then I'm dead. Good game."

    "Phew, you had me really worried there you might have Searing Blaze."

    "Well I did, but I would have needed to draw a land to kill you."

    "Actually ..." [Player points to Path to Exile.]

    "Oh no!"



    "Judge, I shuffled my hand into my graveyard."

    "Wait, what? Why?"

    "It was an accident!"



    "Electrickery, killing Memnite, Signal Pest, and Steel Overseer."

    "—!"



    "When Blood Moon and Life and Limb are on the battlefield simultaneously, all your nonbasic Forests are either 1/1 Mountains or noncreature Mountains and all your Saproling tokens are either 1/1 SaprolingMountains or 1/1 SaprolingForests, depending on whether you have only tokens or only nonbasic Forests, or both in which case it depends on whether Blood Moon or Life and Limb entered the battlefield first."

    [The above is actually true.]



    "Lightning Bolt on one token, Lightning Helix on another."

    "Timely Reinforcements, gaining six and creating three more tokens?"

    "Oh come on now!"



    "Grave Pact? How am I supposed to beat Grave Pact in the Jund mirror?"

    "Well, you're not."




     

  • Saturday, 9:44 p.m. – Quick Question
    by Tobi Henke

  • What's the Most Powerful Card in Modern?


    Shahar Shenhar: Never thought about that. Snapcaster Mage.
    Kenny Öberg: Dark Confidant. No wait! Scapeshift, that's four mana "win the game".
    Frank Karsten: Hmm, there surely must be a card more powerful than Dark Confidant. No?
    Lino Burgold: Lightning Bolt.



     

  • Saturday, 9:57 p.m. – Deck Tech: Liliana's Gifts
    by Tobi Henke

  • Andre Müller, the two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor from Germany, is known to often play crazy decks and this time is no different. Originally, he brewed the following for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica where he went 6-4 with it. He took it home, made some adjustments, and now brought it back to the action, all new and improved.



    So how did that come about? "Well, I actually started out by testing a Zombie/Smallpox deck and soon realized just how good Liliana of the Veil is. I knew I was going to play that card at the Pro Tour, I only needed to find 56 others, and I basically tested every possible combination," explained Müller. "At one point I even had a black-white-red control deck featuring Smallpox, Boom // Bust, and Ajani Vengeant."

    "In the end, I decided to simply play all the best cards: Path to Exile, Snapcaster Mage, Lingering Souls, some discard, and Gifts Ungiven," said Müller. "Gifts is especially nice with Liliana because it is such a sweet topdeck. Also, Liliana allows you to search for more than just Unburial Rites plus Iona/Elesh Norn and still end up with the creature in the graveyard."


    "The deck is full of answers for every possible scenario," Müller pointed out. "For example, at the Pro Tour, Gaudenis Vidugiris made twenty Goblin tokens with Empty the Warrens. I cast Gifts Ungiven for Maelstrom Pulse, Crime // Punishment, Snapcaster Mage, and another card, and after reading it, Gaudenis asked me whether Crime // Punishment even was a real Magic card."

    "So the deck can win against everything. Of course, the flipside of this is that it can also lose against everything," Müller said. "I still believe in the deck, but today it has done a bit too much of the losing."




     

  • Saturday, 9:57 p.m. – Deck Tech: Hive Mind
    by Frank Karsten

  • Most players at Grand Prix Lyon opted for more traditional strategies, but several Belgian players are running Hive Mind combo today. I sat down with one of them, Mark Dictus, to pick his brain on what makes the deck tick.


    Mark Dictus, Hive Mind
    Lyon Grand Prix - Modern


    The basic idea of the deck is to ramp into a turn 3-4 Hive Mind and subsequently play any of the 10 Pacts. Hive Mind would then force the opponent to copy the Pact and lose the game as a result of being unable to pay the upkeep cost.

    When asked why he decided to play this deck, Mark said: "I wanted to play a combo deck, specifically one that wouldn't be hated out, like I expected Second Breakfast to be. A buddy of mine, Johan Verhulst, piloted Hive Mind to a 14th place finish at the Modern Grand Prix in Turin earlier this year, and it seemed like a solid deck. I like that Hive Mind is under the radar and that many opponents are unfamiliar with my deck. Most of my opponents today did not have good sideboard cards against me, and they didn't know how to play against my deck."

    A new addition to the deck from Return to Ravnica is Izzet Charm. "All three modes are very useful," Mark mentioned. The sideboard provides more techy cards: Sudden Shock and Electrolyze are both excellent against Infect. While an Infect player can effectively counter Lightning Bolt with Giant Growth, that won't work against the split second burn spell.

    Some fun stories have emerged regarding this deck already. Mark told me that he actually won two games today by attacking with 4/4 Giant creatures. "I played one game against Infect where I locked him out with Blood Moon, and then I just started hardcasting Pact of the Titan and Simian Spirit Guide. I don't need to resolve a Hive Mind to win; I can attack with creatures as well!"

    But the craziness went further. "In playtesting, I have beat Jund after all of my Hive Minds were removed by Slaughter Games," Mark continued. "I simply moved to the aggro plan with Pact of the Titan and Ethereal Usher. I had always thought of Ethereal Usher as a three-mana card that could search Hive Mind, but I actually won that game by making my 4/4 Titan tokens unblockable."

    An unexpected interaction came up when another Belgian Hive Mind pilot, Benoit Leterme, faced Chalice of the Void. Here's what Benoit had to say. "I started off with two byes. In the third round, I got an amazing opening hand featuring a turn-2 Hive Mind kill. But my opponent started the game with Chalice of the Void for zero. Yesterday, I had been talking to Mark Dictus about our deck, and he had mentioned that a Chalice of the Void for zero would spell game over. With that in mind, I didn't give it any additional thought during the match. So I despondently started casting my Simian Spirit Guide, hoping to race, but it wasn't good enough. And in the next game, pretty much the same thing happened. Only after the match, Bart Verbiest (a Belgian Legacy player) told me that I could still play the Pacts and get the copies through Hive Mind. Chalice of the Void only counters spells that are being cast, and Hive Mind puts a copy on the stack. So my original Pact would be countered, but my opponent would still lose the game due to the copy. Once I realized that I had scooped twice with the combo kill in hand, it didn't feel like the greatest start of the day."

    So is the deck any good? Well, Mark told me that he wasn't confident in the Jund matchup unless he could stick Leyline of Sanctity. And none of the Belgians playing it today have been able to make it to Sunday, with Mark narrowly losing a bubble match in Round 9. Still, it certainly something different for the combo players among you to consider.




     

  • Saturday, 10:39 p.m. – Quick Question
    by Tobi Henke

  • What's the Most Powerful Card in Your Deck?


    Shahar Shenhar: I wish I could say Snapcaster Mage now. Bloodbraid Elf or maybe Tarmogoyf.
    Kenny Öberg: Past in Flames.
    Vincent Lemoine: Spectral Procession.
    Lino Burgold: Hunting Wilds.



     

  • Round 8 Feature Match – Florian Koch vs. Martin Jůza
    by Frank Karsten

  • This feature match pitted together two big name players sitting at 7-1. Frenchman Olivier Ruel is a member of the Hall of Fame and globetrotter Martin Juza from the Czech Republic may very well be a future member of the Hall of Fame. Ruel is on Storm, while Juza is playing Robots.

    Game 1

    Juza rolled 10. Olivier announced that was not nearly enough to beat him, won the die roll with a 12, and Juza's chair promptly broke down. Juza received a new chair, and we were underway!

    You know, I can already tell you how this matchup is going to play out. At least in game 1, there won't be a lot of interaction, with both decks trying to goldfish as quickly as possible. So I'll just share some of the table chatter to give you a feel of the matchup.

    Martin Juza watches on as Olivier Ruel plays a lot of spells in a single turn.

    Ruel: "Serum Visions, keep both on top."

    Juza: "So lucky!"



    Ruel, after Juza had played a turn 1 Memnite: "Ah, so you're on Affinity."

    Juza: "I don't know why we still keep on calling this deck Affinity. I'm not playing any Frogmite or Myr Enforcer."

    Frank: "We've been calling it Robots for that reason."

    Ruel: "Meh, Robots doesn't inspire the same dreadful feeling that Affinity does."

    Ruel, after Juza cast a Thoughtcast: "Hey, there is an Affinity card!

    Juza: "Oh, yeah, there is!"



    Ruel: "Gitaxian Probe you and Grapeshot your two 1/1s."

    Juza: "Interesting."



    Ruel: "Sleight of Hand."

    Juza, shaking his head: "A white-bordered one? Oh god!"



    Ruel, in extremely heavy French accent: "Un Signal Pest? From ze top of ze deck!? D'accord."



    Ruel: "So this is my turn to go crazy. Okay, dice! Red mana, blue mana, and a green one for the number of spells."

    Juza: "Don't go too crazy!"

    Juza did offer a helpful hand in sorting out the red and green dice, as Ruel is colorblind.

    Two minutes later...

    Juza: "Yeah ok, I'm dead. By the way, if you copy the Grapeshot with Pyromancer Ascension, do you get another storm trigger?

    Ruel: "No, it's just one more damage."



    Olivier Ruel 1 - Martin Juza 0

    Ruel boarded in Lightning Bolt, Empty the Warrens and Shatterstorm, taking out Pyromancer Ascension, Past in Flames, and Desperate Ravings. Juza boarded in Ethersworn Canonist, Rest in Peace, Thoughtseize, and Unified Will, taking out Steel Overseer and Galvaic Blast. These are definitely some funky sideboard plans, especially Ruel's "transformational" one, and I was hoping to see an interesting game.

    Game 2

    Unfortunately, Juza started off by taking mulligans down to 5 in search of a keepable hand.

    Juza: "This one has to be really good."

    Juza draws the five-card hand.

    "It's not very good. Oh, god."

    Juza thinks for half a minute.

    Ruel: "That bad?"

    Juza eventually reveals Mox Opal, Mox Opal, Unified Will, Blinkmoth Nexus, Glimmervoid and goes down to four cards.

    Ruel: "Hey, you had a possible turn 3 Counterspell."

    Juza: "Darksteel Citadel, Mox Opal, Memnite, Cranial Plating. That's the 4-card hand I am hoping for."

    Ruel: "How about Glimmervoid, Thoughtcast, Thoughtcast, Unified Will?"



    Olivier Ruel combo'ing off.

    Juza goes down to 4 and only has a Memnite in play on his third turn.

    Juza: "Am I dead?"

    Ruel: "You're gonna lose this one, but you're not dead on this turn yet."

    Juza: "If you were playing a Sealed deck, that would probably be good enough."

    Two turns later...

    Ruel: "Twelve Goblin tokens, go."



    Olivier Ruel 2 - Martin Juza 0

    Ruel: "Wanna play another one? "
    Juza: "Sure."

    Ten minutes later...

    Ruel: "Okay, dead."

    Juza: "One more?"



    Olivier Ruel 2 - Martin Juza 1

    A large crowd has gathered to watch the battle between these two Magic heavyweights.

    Man, these guys really love to play Magic!

    Ruel: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine artifacts? Yup, that's good enough."

    Olivier Ruel 2 - Martin Juza 2

    After that, the two pro players had enough, wished each other luck for the next rounds, and parted their ways, Olivier Ruel another 3 match points richer.




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